Tag Archives: Alcoholics Anonymous

Joy to the World: Jesus is More than a Higher Power

My father was a man of many fascinating tools, and though he did his best to protect them from us, he did occasionally leave the house for work or bowling and abandon his precious tools to us kids. Accordingly, my siblings and I took full advantage of his lapse in judgment and often played games with some of his more tempting tools. One of our favorite and more sadistic games included my dad’s electric fence charger. This intriguing tool consisted of a rectangular, round-cornered wooden block with a crank handle on one side and two small, cone-shaped wire coils on top. I’m not really sure how the contraption functioned besides that when we cranked the handle it made a mellow grinding sound, and if you grabbed the wires attached to the two coils while someone cranked the handle, the machine delivered a shock sharp enough to knock you over. Our game was to dare each other to grab the wires while someone furiously charged the thing and then count how long we could hold on. None of us made it beyond two or three.

Is that what God’s power is like?

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week. And after the first of the year join us for our new blog The Neighborhood Cafe: A Faithblog Community.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Zechariah 2:1-3:10

Revelation 13:1-18

Psalm 141:1-10

Proverbs 30:18-20


Zechariah 2:1-3:10: There is a Christmas message even in Zechariah. “Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.” The birth of Christ was the beginning of the fulfillment of this promise. Since that day, God has lived among us in a way never before imagined. And this Christmas people of every tongue and in every nation will be united in celebrating the birth of Immanuel.

Revelation 13:1-18: Notice that the Beast and his offspring rule through coercion and validate their power through signs and wonders and shallow miracles. What is missing? Love. Read this section and then read Luke 1-3 and compare how God and his only begotten Son begin God’s rule through love and validate it through transforming lives.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends. Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: www.bibleconversation.com.


Somehow I think of that crazy game whenever I hear someone talk about God in terms of a Higher Power. It makes me wonder if calling out to God is similar to grabbing those old wires, and if I really made a connection, God would shock the hell out of me. Not that God is sadistic; but God can be quite shocking.

I say this because I don’t believe any of us knows what we are playing with in God. In truth, when grappling with God, we are not dealing with Clark Kent—impotent and bespectacled.

I mean, really, even calling God a Higher Power is mild when describing the Being who holds the very fabric of the universe together. When we puny humans discovered how to split the atom, the explosion that ensued was beyond any power we had ever seen or imagined. Tragically, lives, families—whole cities vaporized. Imagine if God let slip just a few of the billions of atoms held together in His tireless grip. Higher Power indeed!

No matter the IQ, can any human, with a mere three pounds of gray matter, fathom the vast intelligence of God coursing through the cosmos? I don’t know about you but I struggle to make sense of algebra much less Einstein’s theory of relativity. Much less God.

Totally Other is how some have described God. Compare: The purest of human love—a teenage crush. The greatest sculpture—a stick figure. The most ingenious machine—a toy. So beyond us God is, we could never hope to leap that far.

Holy, or set apart, and different, is how much of Scripture portrays God from us. One of my seminary professors loves to point out that even Moses only glimpsed the backside (derrière) of God because God’s “face must not be seen.” (Exodus 35:23) When I am honest about how puny I am and how powerful God is, I picture myself approaching God in one of those hazardous material suits. There I am draped in some heavy, white, canvas-like suit (boots, gloves, the whole deal) shaking like Jell-O, peering out of a protective helmet, fumbling with robotic arms on the other side of thick glass, and attempting to touch God. Who dare approach God? Who is able to?

Not me! The reality is, however, that despite God’s fearful omnipotence, we need not wrap ourselves in literal or emotional protective suits when attempting to touch God. God took care of the problem Himself. Once upon a time God took His immense power and cloaked it in mere human flesh, the soft, smooth skin of an impoverished Jewish baby. This God did so that we could come close, just as Joseph and Mary, and the shepherds, and the wise men in fact did. Bruce Cockburn sings about this miracle of Immanuel, God Almighty with us in his song “Cry of a Tiny Babe”:

Singer/songwriter Bruce Cockburn

“It’s a Christmas gift that you don’t have to buy

There’s a future shining in a baby’s eye

Like a stone on the surface of a still river

Driving the ripples on forever

Redemption rips through the surface of time

Through the cry of a tiny babe”

So, come on, come close. Shed that ridiculous hazardous material suit; it’s of no use anyway. God won’t hurt you. Love you, forgive you, redeem you, transform you, mess up your hair, and turn your world upside down, yes. But harm you, never!

If you live in the Denver area and have no faith community to celebrate the birth of Christ with, consider joining us at The Neighborhood Church for “Christmas at the Movies: Grace Unexpected” featuring “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  We will worship at 5:30 and 7.  See our website tnc3.org for details.

If you’re reading this blog on Facebook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here. www.bibleconversation.com.

Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO.

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The Secret To Overcoming Our Addictions

All Bill Wilson needed was one drink for him to be hooked. “I had found the elixir of life,” he wrote. But soon his elixir escorted him down a very dark path as alcohol became the driving influence in his life.

He failed to graduate from law school because he was too drunk to pick up his diploma. So instead, he became a stock speculator and enjoyed success traveling the country with his wife, Lois, evaluating companies for potential investors. Lois, however, had a hidden agenda: she hoped the travel would keep Bill from drinking. However, his constant drinking made business impossible and ruined his reputation.

Four times he was committed to a hospital in hopes that he could find deliverance from his addiction, which he was told would lead to an early death.

Eighteen years after his first drink, he met an old drinking buddy who had been sober for several weeks—something Wilson was unable to do. The influence of his friend led to his sobriety, and their friendship resulted in the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous.

While regularly criticized by the medical community, Alcoholics Anonymous has achieved success far beyond their critics. What is the secret to their success?

Please join us as we explore this topic in our daily Bible conversation.


Jeremiah 16:16-18:23
1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3
Psalm 81:1-16
Proverbs 25:6-8


Jeremiah 16:16-18:23. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) As western culture moves from modernism to post-modernism, the heart becomes an ever-increasing influence in our beliefs and the decisions we make. We’re told to “follow our heart.” While ignoring our hearts is foolish, we need to remember that our hearts can also lead us astray. In fact, according to this verse, our hearts can deceive us, too.

At the end of our reading (Jeremiah 18:18-23), we see a veiled reference of retaliation toward Jeremiah. He’s been thrown into a pit because he called out the sin of Judah’s leaders. Jeremiah paid a price for obeying God.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-5:3. Paul’s words in 4:1 echo Jeremiah’s choice to obey God: “live in order to please God.” I wrestle with this because my deceptive heart wants to please people or live for myself. In this particular context, Paul is referring to sexual purity. “Avoid sexual immorality” he writes. The Greek word for “sexual immortality”—porneia—applies to sexual acts outside the boundaries of marriage. Our society and deceptive hearts try to convince us that our sexual practices don’t matter. But they do. Paul addresses a root problem underlying our sexual habits. All too often we don’t want to live with self-control. Again, we want to follow our deceptive hearts, which only lead us to destruction—both spiritually but also relationally.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.


In his final hospital stay, Bill Wilson reached the end of himself. While lying in his hospital bed depressed and despairing, he cried out, “I’ll do anything! Anything at all! If there be a God, let him show himself!”

Suddenly, Wilson was engulfed in a sensation of bright light, a feeling of ecstasy, and peace. Not only did he experience an encounter with God Almighty, but he later considered this an important step in following Jesus. He never drank again for the remainder of his life.

This experience provided the foundation to recovery for every alcoholic:

  1. We are powerless over our addiction.
  2. Only a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
  3. In order to recover from our addiction, we must turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him.

Originally, Alcoholics Anonymous was a Christian organization, heavily influenced by an intriguing Christian movement called the Oxford Group.

The secret to recovery from addictions should really come as no surprise. God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength” (Jeremiah 17:5–6).

We want to save ourselves. Heal ourselves. Relying on outside help is an admittance of weakness. We’d like to overcome our sins and demons on our own. Yet the truth is, we can’t save ourselves. Nor can we heal ourselves and make ourselves better. Friends are important, but they can’t cure us. Our help only comes from above:

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7–8

When we battle addictions or demons like depression or discouragement, we must recognize that the solution to our problems never come from within: “Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise” (Jeremiah 17:14).

Sometimes working harder at our problems only makes them worse. Surrendering, working less, yielding to God, helps us realize that true change can only come from God.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. In what areas of your life are you trying to hold together on your own?
  3. What prevents you from surrendering them to God?
  4. What lies do you choose to believe?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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