Monthly Archives: April 2014
Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?” Proverbs 23:29-35
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18
According to the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism, drinking too much – on a single occasion or over time – can take a serious toll on your health. Here’s how alcohol can affect your body:
Brain: Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.
Heart: Drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart, causing problems including:
- Cardiomyopathy – Stretching and drooping of heart muscle
- Arrhythmias – Irregular heart beat
- High blood pressure
Research also shows that drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may protect healthy adults from developing coronary heart disease.
Liver: Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver, and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations including:
- Steatosis, or fatty liver
- Alcoholic hepatitis
Pancreas: Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
Cancer: Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing certain cancers, including cancers of the:
Immune System: Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease. Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much. Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections – even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.
Based on the analyses of 100 individual country profiles, The World Health Organization (WHO) has released The Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health focused on analyzing available evidence on alcohol consumption, consequences and policy interventions at global, regional and national levels.
The harmful use of alcohol is a global problem which compromises both individual and social development. It causes harm far beyond the physical and psychological health of the drinker, including the harm to the well-being and health of people around the drinker. Alcohol is associated with many serious social and developmental issues, including violence, child neglect and abuse, and absenteeism in the workplace.
The harmful use of alcohol (defined as excessive use to the point that it causes damage to health) has many implications on public health.
• Harmful use of alcohol results in the death of 2.5 million people annually, causes illness and injury to millions more, and increasingly affects younger generations and drinkers in developing countries.
• Alcohol is the world’s third largest risk factor for disease burden; it is the leading risk factor in the Western Pacific and the Americas and the second largest in Europe.
The harmful use of alcohol is also associated with several infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This is because alcohol consumption weakens the immune system, reduces inhibitions, effects judgment and has a negative effect on patients’ adherence to antiretroviral treatment.
In the United States:
- Each year, more than 600,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
- 95% of all violent crime on college campuses involves the use of alcohol by the assailant, victim or both.
- 90% of acquaintance rape and sexual assault on college campuses involves the use of alcohol by the assailant, victim or both.
- Every day, 36 people die, and approximately 700 are injured, in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. Drinking and drugged driving is the number one cause of death, injury and disability of young people under the age of 21.
The origins of Alcoholics Anonymous can be traced to the Oxford Group, a religious movement popular in the United States and Europe in the early 20th century. Members of the Oxford Group practiced a formula of self-improvement by performing self-inventory, admitting wrongs, making amends, using prayer and meditation, and carrying the message to others.
In the early 1930s, a well-to-do Rhode Islander, Rowland H., visited the noted Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung for help with his alcoholism. Jung determined that Rowland’s case was medically hopeless, and that he could only find relief through a vital spiritual experience. Jung directed him to the Oxford Group.
Rowland later introduced fellow Vermonter Edwin (“Ebby”) T. to the group, and the two men along with several others were finally able to keep from drinking by practicing the Oxford Group principles.
One of Ebby’s schoolmate friends from Vermont, and a drinking buddy, was Bill W. Ebby sought out his old friend at his home at 182 Clinton Street in Brooklyn, New York, to carry the message of hope.
Bill W. had been a golden boy on Wall Street, enjoying success and power as a stockbroker, but his promising career had been ruined by continuous and chronic alcoholism. Now, approaching 39 years of age, he was learning that his problem was hopeless, progressive, and irreversible. He had sought medical treatment at Towns Hospital in Manhattan, but he was still drinking.
Bill was, at first, unconvinced by Ebby’s story of transformation and the claims of the Oxford Group. But in December 1934, after again landing in Towns hospital for treatment, Bill underwent a powerful spiritual experience unlike any he had ever known. His depression and despair were lifted, and he felt free and at peace. Bill stopped drinking, and worked the rest of his life to bring that freedom and peace to other alcoholics. The roots of Alcoholics Anonymous were planted.
An alcoholic from New York has a vision of the way to sobriety and is introduced to a like-minded doctor from Akron. Their first meeting will lead to the creation of a Twelve Step recovery program and a book that will change the lives of millions.
Following Bill W.’s spiritual awakening at Towns Hospital (late 1934), he and wife Lois join the Oxford Group — a nondenominational movement whose tenets are based on the “Four Absolutes” of honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love — and begin to attend meetings at Calvary House, behind Manhattan’s Calvary Episcopal Church there. Bill is inspired by the charismatic rector Rev. Dr. Samuel Shoemaker, who emphasizes one-on-one sharing and guidance.
A short-term job opportunity takes Bill to Akron, Ohio. In the lobby of his hotel, he finds himself fighting the urge to join the conviviality in the bar. He consults a church directory posted on the wall with the aim of finding someone who might lead him to an alcoholic with whom he could talk. A phone call to Episcopal minister Rev. Walter Tunks results in a referral to Henrietta Seiberling, a committed Oxford Group adherent who has tried for two years to bring a fellow group member, a prominent Akron surgeon, to sobriety.
Bill is asked to speak at a large Oxford Group meeting at Calvary House. His subject is alcoholism, and after the meeting Bill is approached by a man who says he desperately wants to get sober. Bill invites the man to join him and a small group of alcoholics who meet at nearby Stewart’s cafeteria after the meetings. Bill is unsuccessful in his efforts to reach these alcoholics. Eventually his ability to help alcoholics grows, after he seeks counsel from Dr. William Silkworth of Towns Hospital. Dr. Silkworth suggests he do less preaching and speak more about alcoholism as an illness.
Henrietta Seiberling, daughter-in-law of the founder of the Goodyear Rubber Company, invites Bill to the Seiberling estate, where she lives in the gatehouse. She tells him of the struggle of Dr. Robert S., and the meeting of the two men takes place the next day — Mother’s Day, May 12, 1935. In the privacy of the library, Bill spills out his story, inspiring “Dr. Bob” to share his own. As the meeting ends hours later, Dr. Bob realizes how much spiritual support can come as the result of one alcoholic talking to another alcoholic.
Bill joins the Smiths at the weekly Oxford Group meetings held in the home of T. Henry Williams and his wife Clarace, both particularly sympathetic to the plight of alcoholics. Soon, at the suggestion of Dr. Bob’s wife Anne, Bill moves to their home at 855 Ardmore Avenue.
Dr. Bob lapses into drinking again but quickly recovers. The day widely known as the date of Dr. Bob’s last drink, June 10, 1935, is celebrated as the founding date of Alcoholics Anonymous. Dr. Bob and Bill spend hours working out the best approach to alcoholics, a group known to be averse to taking directions. Realizing that thinking of sobriety for a day at a time makes it seem more achievable than facing a lifetime of struggle, they hit on the twenty-four hour concept.
Dick B. is considered the world’s leading Alcoholics Anonymous historian and has written several books about the Biblical roots of A.A. Some of the following information is taken from his book, “Cured: Proven Help for Alcoholics and Addicts.”
…But we [Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob] were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book [the Bible]. To some of us older ones, the parts that we found absolutely essential were the Sermon on the Mount, the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and the Book of James”
The Basic ideals and principles found in A.A. were originated by Christian believers, who used Christian-based practices to cure an unbelievably high percentage of early alcoholics, commonly referred to as the “Pioneer Program of Recovery,” or, “Pioneer AAs.”
“Bill Wilson frequently declared that AAs did not ‘invent’ their program; nor did anyone invent it, he said. The AAs borrowed it. And they correctly called their ‘spirituality’ reliance on the Creator.”
The Pioneer Program of Recovery which acknowledged our Creator and was based on practices rooted in the Bible had an amazingly high success rate of curing alcoholics.
The success rate of A.A. today has plummeted since the days of early A.A. as members now use terms like, “Higher Power,” instead of applying and adhering to its true Christian roots. In the pioneer days members would proclaim, “They had been cured by Almighty God! They had merely to look in their Good Book. What’s to fear!”
Today, from the moment a newcomer enters the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, they are told that they have the “incurable disease” of alcoholism.
The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. Proverbs 29:25
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
The simple fact that there is a cure makes it wrong to tell the newcomer that there is no cure. The newcomer would feel extremely better and more confident knowing that there is a cure through belief in God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Here are Dick B’s comments on this issue, “What a prescription for life-long bondage-bondage to illness, bondage to treatment, bondage to therapy, bondage to negatives, and bondage to endless sick ideas within and outside of A.A.” Furthermore, “The Creator, God Almighty-whose name is Yahweh, not ‘Higher Power’-can cure, has cured, and has healed alcoholics”
The original 12 Steps of A.A.
One: We admitted we were licked. Alcohol was our master. We prayed: “O, God, manage me because I can’t manage myself.”
Two: We became “willing to believe” that God could cure us; to “act as if” He would; and to take the action that proves God really can and does cure.
Three: We “made a decision” to “rely on the Creator” for help and to “do His will.”
Four: We gave ourselves a written, moral test, checking our life by the “four absolutes”-the standards of God’s will taught by His Son Jesus-honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love.
Five: We admitted our moral failures to God, to ourselves, and to another believer.
Six: We became “convicted” of sin against God; were “willing” to “hate and forsake” the sins uncovered, and to ask that God “remove those sins” from our lives.
Seven: We “humbled ourselves, submitting ourselves to God;” were “born again” of His spirit and therefore became a “new creature in Christ;”could thereafter be renewed in the spirit of our mind; and could put on the new man which is created in righteousness.
Eight: We became “willing” to “agree with our adversaries,” obey God’s command to “love you neighbor as yourself;” and to set things right with others.
Nine: We took action to (1) reconcile ourselves with any brother that had anything against us; (2) restore to him anything wrongfully taken from him; and (3) forgive him for any of his trespasses against us.
Ten: We continued to watch for, and pray for the removal of, those “major” sins blocking us from fellowship with God-namely resentment, selfishness, dishonesty, and fear. When they cropped up, we applied the same corrective steps involved in our initial housecleaning; we tried to adhere to a new code of love and tolerance; and we began reaching out to others.
Eleven: Before retiring, we checked our behavior against Christ’s moral standards, asking forgiveness where we had failed to observe them and guidance toward doing better in the future. We sought daily fellowship with God and other believers through Bible study, prayer, seeking His guidance, reading Christian literature, and often through church attendance. We turned to God for peace, and our reliance on Him provided relief from anxiety and fear.
Twelve: Having received the power of God through accepting Christ, and having the ability to bring into manifestation that power of the Holy Spirit, we passed on to others the Steps we had taken, and tried to do God’s will in all our affairs-particularly emphasizing the principles spelled out in 1 Corinthians 13.
Deliverance from alcoholism comes from repentance and submission to God by receiving Christ as both Savior and Lord of your life.
There are several ways that we can hear the voice of God. He may speak to us by means of Scripture, dreams, visions, nature or through His still small voice. Although there are several ways that God speaks to mankind we first must listen, not just with our ears, we must also be ready to receive His words in our heart.
Moreover he said to me, Son of man, all my words that I shall speak to you receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. Ezekiel 3:10
Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. Job 22:22
It is not simply enough to hear the Word of God; His instructions must be received whole-heartedly and obeyed.
To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it. Jeremiah 6:10
The great prophet Jeremiah lived during the most crucial period of Judah’s existence as a kingdom. He had incessantly warned his people to turn from their sins before it was too late. Although the LORD spoke to the people of the Southern Kingdom through His prophet, their hearts were hardened so that they did not heed the warnings. Because they failed to listen to the LORD, Jerusalem and the holy Temple were destroyed and the survivors were taken captive into Babylon.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:22
The primary way that a born-again believer hears God is through the Bible – God’s Holy Word. Through Scripture, God speaks both to the individual and to the body of Christ. But again, it is not enough to be exposed to the divinely inspired written word; a person must receive the message in his heart (a person must have a listening ear).
“Indeed God speaks once, or twice, yet no one notices it. In a dream, a vision of the night, when sound sleep falls on men, while they slumber in their beds…” Job 33:15-16
There are several biblical accounts that record that God has spoken to mankind through dreams or visions. A dream is a succession of images, thoughts, or emotions passing through the mind during sleep. On the other hand, a vision portrays scenery or dramatic circumstances to the human recipient while the human is awake.
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” Acts 2:17
The “last days” began at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out in power. The “last days” continue until the return of the Lord. Today, God still speaks through dreams and visions.
Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.
So it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. Suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”1 Kings 19:11-13
In Exodus 20:18-19, the people of Israel trembled with fear when they saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw Mount Sinai in smoke. They cried out to Moses, “Do not have God speak to us or we will die”
Although the voice of the Almighty is like the noise of many waters (Ezekiel 1:24), He often chooses to speak to us with a still small voice. Again, we must be attentive and listen for His still small voice as we receive it in our hearts.
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. Psalm 19:1-4
God also speaks to us through His creation, and He does so without using audible words. When we look up into the sky in the daytime and see the beauty of a sunrise, or on a clear evening when we contemplate the vastness of outer space, God speaks to us of His glory and power.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:20-21
The heavens and the earth speak of God’s glory. He has given all people a revelation of His eternal power and nature, but those who are not ready to receive His message with a humble heart cannot hear His voice.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” Revelation 3:6-8
If you are willing not only to hear, but to listen and receive, the Spirit tells God’s people that we can hear the voice of God through the circumstances of life. There will be times that we may discern God’s will because of an opened or a closed door. The will of God will never contradict the word of God or His character. An opened or a closed door must be evaluated in the light of God’s character and according to the “plumb line” of Scripture. We usually desire an opened door because it often means opportunity, progress and/or promotion. But is it God’s will? What appears to be an “opened door” needs to be confirmed according to God’s word and character. We need to seek God in prayer and have an inner peace to help us confirm the circumstance as God’s will for us. We are often frustrated or disappointed when we encounter a “closed door.” A closed door is for our good. The door may be closed so that we must wait upon the Lord in order to develop patience and build our faith. A door may be closed because God wants to take us in a different and better direction or a closed door may result in more fervent prayer and closer communion with God.
Whether God is speaking to you through His Word, a dream or vision, with a still small voice, through natural revelation or circumstances, you must be prepared to listen with a heart ready to receive and obey His voice.