Code Talking

speakingincodescreengrabJoining any new community involves a certain amount of transition time. This is especially true when you encounter those communities that are prone to speaking in codes or acronyms, in which case the it can be a little like learning a ‘new language’.

Amongst the Military and First Responder/Dispatcher communities, these acronyms and codes are often universal; however, there can be some variances in the 10-code between various police departments. This is equally true in the Military where the same acronyms can mean different things to different Branches. Even within the same Branch/Service, there are often instances in which the same acronym can have a completely different meaning based upon the nature of the job or the community of interest you are dealing with.

There is certain degree of comfort derived from this common mode of communication, one that can cause some degree of anxiety or frustration when dealing with those who do not understand. In this regard am reminded of the time when I was overseas and my wife was back in an area where there was little military presence. It got to the point where she went into the local Marine Corps recruiting office and said, “Quick, somebody talk to me in acronyms!”

This is also true when it comes to the area of Recovery. For those new to the Recovery arena, it can be like having to learn yet another language when you finally step out to attend that first meeting. This unfamiliarity with the words being used can sometimes inject additional angst into an already stressful situation. Yet, we tend to become more comfortable as we become more familiar with the ‘language’ spoken by any group we join, and it is this comfort level that encourages us to relax and share our hurts, needs, and struggles.

However, we must bear in mind that as we become more fluent in this new language, there are others who may become increasingly frustrated; our family, friends, and other loves ones. If we do not include these people in our recovery, we are not using some of the most important resources available to us, and one key to this is ensuring they know and understand “Recovery Speak”. Unless they are familiar with all the new terminology we come home with, those closest to us will not only have a hard time understanding our struggles or progress, they may draw false conclusions concerning the status of our faith. This can be especially true when dealing with some of the more common and more secular recovery groups. Although we may understand what we are meaning, using phrases such as “Higher Power” rather than referring directly to God, Jesus, or Christ have caused those unfamiliar with these groups to question one’s faith, particularly when they are unaware of some of the restrictions placed on what can and cannot be said at some of these meetings. Hopefully, this confusion can quickly and easily be overcome and those around you will seek out an understanding of what you are saying, much like Paul’s encounter with the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers in Athens, “…And some said, ‘What does this babbler want to say?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods’… for you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore, we want to know what these things mean.” (Acts 17:18-20 NKJV)

No matter if the ‘language’ you are speaking is from work or from recovery, it is to our advantage to ensure those around us can understand what we are saying. However, there is one language that is universally understood, and that is the language of Love. But what does this language sound, feel, and/or look like? I will address this in my next post but, for now, know that Love, in its purest sense, looks like God because, “… God is Love.” (1 John 4:8)

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect & Guns’n’Hoses
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Encouragement and Fellowship

thUDMBK2HCFeeling alone and isolated can be bad enough when there are no “major” issues in our lives, but it can be a very serious and dangerous place to be when we are dealing with addictions and compulsive behaviors.  Isolation breeds depression and can lead a recovering addict to look to the wrong places for relief and, eventually, (re)turn to self-medicating and falling back into addiction(s) – either the old ones or new ones.

In Hebrews 10:24 & 25, Scripture tells us, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”  (NKJV)  Unfortunately, this can be hard when one is isolated due to corruption in the church, or conflicting beliefs, and/or physical circumstances.

In contrast, it is refreshing and renewing to come along side to assist one another, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”  (Proverbs 27:17)  This truth was brought home to me this past weekend in a very tangible way.  While at an annual Homeschool convention with my daughter we met and spent a few hours talking with a like-minded Brother and his family.  The time spent was very refreshing for my daughter and me in that it showed us we were not alone, and that there are others out there with the same beliefs and are walking in the same path(s).

Unfortunately, they live in another state and we will not be able to see each other frequently but, we can still keep in contact to encourage one another until (hopefully) we can meet again at next year’s convention:  “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.  Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone?  Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”  (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

These verses from Ecclesiastes are particularly applicable in the realm of Recovery and tie in with past posts pertaining to accountability, etc.   We are strongest when we are able to partner with someone who shares the same goals and concerns, and is willing to come alongside to assist in those times when we falter.  Such partnerships are key to recovery, but they are the strongest and most effective when God is included, making a “threefold cord” for us to use as a life-line.

Find yourself an accountability partner, someone you can trust to be charity-1299988_960_720there to encourage you and to help you back onto your feet should you stumble and fall on your recovery journey.  “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”  (Proverbs 17:17)

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect & Guns’n’Hoses
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Discernment In Recovery

wolves-in-sheeps-clothingSupport is an important element in our recoveries, and there are any number of groups and organizations available dedicated to assisting us in developing a support network to help us through and over the rough spots.  Equally important, however, is ensuring any network we do develop provides proper support in a safe environment that also encourages our Spiritual growth and health.

On the job, we are the Sheepdogs, watching over the sheep entrusted to our care.  However, when it comes to recovery and dealing with addictive and compulsive behaviors, we need to transition from being the Guardian to being the Guided and, hopefully, the Guarded.  In so doing, we allow those who have gone before us to guide our steps down the path of recovery and restoration.  It is here that it becomes imperative we exercise discernment in determining whom we are allowing to lead us; we must be able to determine whether those leading us, as well as those ‘supporting’ us, are fellow sheep or Wolves in sheep’s clothing?  Jesus warns us of this very thing in Matthew 7:15, when He states, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”  Likewise, Jude provides a similar warning in verse four when he writes, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NKJV)

Be clear on this, those who don’t love The Lord will not help us serve The Lord since it is not possible to fight fleshly temptations with fleshly weapons, or by following the advice or counsel of fleshly/worldly people: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

This is especially true when dealing with the spiritual aspects of our addictions since, as Paul warns us in Ephesians 6:12, our struggle extends beyond our physical bodies: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”  Unfortunately, if we are not careful we can hook up with an individual (or group) that only pays lip service to overcoming their various addictions, treating their weekly meetings as merely a social gathering with no discernable effort made to break free from their besetting sins.  It is not possible to fight a fleshly appetite by indulging it, just as it is not possible to lose weight on a diet by eating unhealthy foods, or to break free from alcoholism while having an occasional drink.

Carefully observe the behaviors and character of those you might potentially collaborate with to ensure they are truly following God and leading their groups to seek His face for their delivery.  We are warned in 1 Timothy 5:22 not to appoint (ordain) someone to a leadership position without fully examining their character and commitment to God and His Word, and it is equally important that we do not to rush into an accountability partnership, either with a group or an individual.  We see additional guidance as to whom we should associate with when we read Paul’s words to the church in Corinth: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness?”  (2 Corinthians 6:14)

The bottom line is we are all accountable for how we conduct our own recoveries and the choices we make along the way.  Do not blame your poor decisions on others, or even God, which is something the Scriptures specifically speak to in James 1:13-15, where it says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God “; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

Be cautious whom you join yourself to as you continue working to achieve and maintain recovery.  Remember, God loved us even when we were at our worst and were under the direction of “the prince of the power of the air” and, through His mercy, “made us alive together with Christ”.  (Ephesians 2:1-9)

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect & Guns’n’Hoses
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Routines vs. Ruts

Stuck in RutAs I mentioned several weeks ago, routines can be a comfort to us when we are working through our recoveries. They provide an element of control in a world/life run amok with sin, chaos, and addiction(s).

Routines in training can be beneficial when they are appropriately applied, such as physical fitness workouts which can certainly help us maintain our physical and mental health, so long as we don’t overdo it. If we will continue to put forth effort both in the gym and in recovery, we will continue to make progress, no matter how slow, if we don’t give up when we don’t see immediate results, or when the results are not readily apparent. The military training maxim, “Train as you Fight” is the fundamental principle upon which most military training is based. This training must ensure that individuals and units receive realistic training that simulates wartime conditions and should prepare them to perform their tasks and meet operational standards during the complex, stressful, and lethal situations they will encounter in war.

Routines can be beneficial when we are learning a new skill or making new, or breaking old, habits. Even though repetition of healthy activities can replace old, negative, behaviors, we need to guard against falling into ruts. If we are not careful, routines can turn into a dependency on these routines, posing the risk of potentially trading one addiction for another. For example, I ride a train to/from work most days, and it is apparent everyone has developed a routine as to which car they get on and which seat they sit in. However, there are those occasions where the train stops in a slightly different location relative to the platform or there is someone new on the train who sits in “their” seat. While these are trivial inconveniences, people often become visibly disconcerted and/or upset at the disruption to their routine.

On a spiritual/mental level, we must also beware that we don’t become so dependent upon routines that, when those routines are disrupted, we completely fall apart in our recovery efforts and relapse into our addiction(s) due to faulty thinking that our whole world is coming apart and then falling back on our old, comfortable, and familiar habits. As 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, Satan is always looking for an opening through which he can attack us and tear us down, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

While routines are helpful in many situations, they can be dangerous, or even deadly, as well. Routines in training and in the performance of our jobs can lead to complacency. This can lead to our being caught unawares or unprepared and could easily lead to death or serious bodily harm for ourselves and/or those around us. This brings to mind the oft repeated story of warning about some Police Officers who have been killed in shootouts only to find their spent brass in their pants/coat pockets because this is how they had trained over and over again while on the range. Fortunately, training has improved to the point where realistic training is taking precedence over range cleanliness and collection of spent brass.

Fear of change is normal and expected. Remember – as scary as change can be, what is even scarier is allowing fear to prevent you from growing and achieving ultimate fulfillment. Often, we will avoid making changes that we know deep down we need to make because we are afraid of change. It is not uncommon for us to forget all of this at one point or another along our journey of recovery, and begin feeling dissatisfied with the current state of things. We may feel bored, restless, or stuck in a rut.

Instead of falling back into a rut of the familiar and risking relapse, I encourage you to find healthier ways of reducing stress, anxiety, and depression that won’t serve as triggers for relapse or lead to temptation.

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect & Guns’n’Hoses
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Spiritual Anorexia

thH4SLUD00Today I would like to cover a difficult and emotional subject:  The issue of Eating Disorders; more specifically, Anorexia and its spiritual correlation.  While this is not one of the issues I have had to overcome, it is still one that hits very close to home and, as a result, this post may be much longer than most.

Several years ago, I led a recovery program, and one of the precepts of the program was the separation of men from women when it came to the more personal aspects of recovery work.  While I maintained overall responsibility for the program, I had a female Co-Leader to focus on the ladies while I focused on the men. Unfortunately, this caused me to not pay close enough attention to one of ladies who attended on a regular basis, but tended to remain on the periphery of the organization.  In hind sight, I should have realized this was because she struggled with an Eating Disorder and all of our meetings had some form of food-related fellowship time.  Unfortunately, this gender separation led me to miss her symptoms in time to take appropriate steps to get her the professional help she needed, and she ultimately starved herself to death.  This really hit me hard, and is something that I still second guess myself about quite often.  How did I miss the signs? Why didn’t someone tell me what was going on? Why……?  The song “Courage”, by SuperChick, has been a great help to me in understanding how those dealing with Eating Disorders learn to hide their struggle from those around them.

Anorexia can be, simplistically, defined as:  A serious disorder in eating behavior primarily of young women in their teens and early twenties that is characterized especially by a pathological fear of weight gain leading to faulty eating patterns, malnutrition, and usually excessive weight loss – or – an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat.  However, according to the Mayo Clinic, while Anorexia may be more common in girls and women, boys and men have been increasingly developing eating disorders, perhaps because of growing social pressures. And, unlike my previous experience, I want to ensure I push out a warning to all concerning the dangers of Spiritual Anorexia and ensure everyone knows of the treatment/help that is readily available to all…

In general, we all share an innate desire/need for physical food.  Similarly, if we are honest, we have a similar Spiritual need and, in Scripture, we see that God desires to feed and sustain us spiritually, “And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst’.”  (John 6:35 NKJV)

But how did those dealing with Eating Disorders get into that situation, and why do they continue in their destructive behaviors?  It usually starts with a need for control and running from pain; the pain of being unloved, of shame, of self-hate, and of abuse.  They develop a lack of self-worth, an unrealistic body image, and a fear of intimacy.  Eating Disorders are unique, with behaviors ranging from daily binges and excessive exercise, to starvation and vomiting. They use their bodies to create an illusion, a false sense of self-worth.  Meanwhile, Satan exploits these weaknesses to drag them further into bondage and to continue these destructive behaviors through which their relationships, health, jobs, morals and values are jeopardized and they are left physically and spiritually bankrupt.  And the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”  (Luke 22: 31 & 32)

Some people see the issue of Eating Disorders being called out in Scripture, where we are told some will eat and not be satisfied.  This equates to an emotional dissatisfaction that manifests in the form of anorexia and/or bulimia (as well as compulsive overeating): “When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.” (Leviticus 26:26) In a similar vein, placing such a focus on one’s outward appearance is akin to idolatry, and in Micah 6:1-14, Scripture lays out the cases against those charged with idolatry (self as an idol in this instance) and, as punishment, their food shall not nourish them: “You shall eat, but not be satisfied,” (v. 14) either because the food won’t digest or the appetite will be made insatiable.

But why do we do these things, when we should know better and, seemingly, desire not to continue down these paths?  Romans 7:15-25 tells us of the war that is ongoing within us; a struggle for control over our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls; and control of self; is at the heart of both Eating Disorders and spiritual anorexia.  However, there is a solution presented in this passage as well, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”  (Romans 7:24 & 25)

On the spiritual end, we can tend to either extreme, we can ‘feed and feed’ on great quantities of God’s Word, only to purge it all away through disobedience and failure to act on the knowledge we had gained: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  (James 1:22) – “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap for he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”  (Galatians 6:7 & 8)

The other extreme is a total disregard for, or even aversion to, the teachings of the Word of God.  “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  (1 Corinthians 2:14) In a similar disposition are those who do not spend enough time reading the solid and unchanging Word of God; they are unable to chew it, digest it, or gain the use of the spiritual nutrients available through making this a regular practice: “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”  (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)

In 1 Timothy 4:1-6, Paul warns of those who will fall away “from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (v. 1).  Amongst these false teachings is the forbidding to eat certain physical foods for nourishment to the body, but we are admonished to remain in the faith and follow sound doctrine to ensure we are fed spiritually, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.”  (v. 6)

First, one needs to decide, “Do I WANT to get well”?  Am I finally ready to give up this weakness of character and any related sin?  We see this reflected in Scripture when Jesus speaks to the infirm man at the pool of Bethesda, “When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’”  (John 5:6)

To find the willpower to gain recovery, we must first desire to be made well, righteous, and free of addiction(s).  God will be faithful and true to help in the ensuing battle.  You must provide the WILL, others will ENCOURAGE, and God provides the POWER: “For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete.”  (2 Corinthians 13:9) – “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  (2 Corinthians 12:10) – “Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.”  (1 Thessalonians 3:1-3)

May we all follow the advice of the ancient Psalmist, who wrote, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”  (Psalm 34:8)

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect & Guns’n’Hoses
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Are You Building Sand Castles or a Secure Structure?

Sand CastleIn recovery, like construction of a new building, a good-solid foundation is required if any structure or progress is expected to survive and last. When we build, it is important to choose not to build on sand for a foundation. In recovery, we need to ensure our efforts are built with the Solid Rock as our foundation. “He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be moved.” (Psalm 62:6 NKJV)

The chaos and loss of control experienced from addictions leads those in recovery to thrive on routine and structure as they seek to get their life back on track. But what is structure?

Structure can be defined as: A building or other object constructed from several parts; or the quality of being organized. While there are a number of synonyms that can be used in place of structure (e.g., construction and organization), one of the listed synonyms is ‘framework’ or support, which brings us back to foundations, of which I want to briefly touch on three: Bones, Belief system, and Organizational structure.

Bones: Are essential as a support system for life (skeleton). However, as we read in Ezekiel 37:1-14, even dead, dry bones can be brought back to life through the restorative power of, and infilling by, the Holy Spirit. Bones can also be equated to the structure and Foundations of the Earth, making this a VERY sound and secure base on which to build. “You who laid the foundations of the earth, so that it should not be moved forever.” (Psalm 104:5 NKJV)

Belief System: A foundational belief for Christians is that our bodies are to be temples, dwelling places for the Holy Spirit, and we need to treat them as such. ”Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Organizational Structure: While many people equate the term ‘church’ with a building, it is the aspect of ‘The Church’ as an organizational structure that pertains to this discussion. The Church is a gathering of likeminded Believers with the purpose of exhorting and edifying one another in our faith, victories, and struggles. Scripture records that Jesus not only established the church on the foundation of The Rock (Himself) (Matthew 16:17&18), but it instructs us not to forsake gathering as The Church: “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)

These ‘systems’ require solid Bible-based teaching as a foundation. The Church, and our own lives/faith/recovery, must be built on a solid foundation, one that is based on the full Gospel Message of Jesus Christ. Such a foundation is spelled out in the “Apostles’ Creed” where the concepts are distilled into a short, easily remembered statement:

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. (Lutheran Service Book)

Without this foundational teaching to build on, the structures of the Church and our personal lives are prone to building on the ‘sand’ offered as security in the world today. However, when the storms of life hit, sand shifts, sinks, and washes away; leading to damage and collapse. A concept specifically called out in Scriptures when Jesus talks in Matthew 7:24-27 about the ‘wise man’ and the ‘foolish man’ who built their houses on rock and sand, respectively.

Society today places so much importance on the ‘security’ of things and minimizes the importance of ensuring the eternal security of our souls, a concept that is epitomized in the song, “American Dream”, by Casting Crowns (Casting Crowns), which speaks to the empty pursuit of ‘things’ rather than concentrating on building a sturdy life on a firm and true foundation: “All work no play may have made Jack a dull boy, but all work no God has left Jack with a lost soul.”   While this song serves as a warning, it also encourages us to reach for the better things when it concludes, “I’ll take a shack on a rock over a castle in the sand.”

While sand may not be suitable to support the main foundation of a building, it does have many useful construction applications when it is used as an ingredient: concrete, grout, etc. Sand can be used as a base when laying decorative items, such as step stones and the like, but would not be suitable for the building itself.

While it may not be suitable as a foundational material, there is another use for sand that can be applied to our recovery journeys: Sand (silica) + heat (adversity) = glass. From glass, we can make a mirror by which we can assess those areas in our lives and recovery needing correction/reinforcement, while the glass itself affords the transparency necessary to allow visibility to others from the outside to facilitate proper accountability.

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect & Guns‘n’Hoses
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Defensive Preparations

1971905_8d9d9b26Physical defensive measures and preparations can teach us important lessons when it comes to defending our sobriety gained during recovery. For example, many Medieval Castle defenses included carefully designed staircases that spiraled up to towers, curving in such a way that attackers coming up the stairs had their sword hands (right hand) against the wall, impeding their ability to effectively swing their swords. Conversely, the sword arms of the defenders were away from the wall so they could freely swing their swords in defense as they descended the staircase.

We are certain to face attacks and temptations as we work through our addictions and attempt to maintain sobriety. In order to provide the best chance of success we must have a plan already in place to defend against those inevitable attacks. However, just having a plan does no good unless one practices the plan, like practicing quick-reaction drills over and over until the response becomes second nature; defined as: “A characteristic or habit in someone that appears to be instinctive because that person has behaved in a particular way so often.” Let’s look at some parallels that could be applied regarding our daily jobs and our spiritual/recovery progress:

First, in both situations it is necessary to have a partner; whether it is your patrol partner or the Holy Spirit, they are often the one who gets your bacon out of the fire: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you (John 14:26 NKJV).

Next, just as we would don protective vests prior to hitting the road, we need to put on the ‘whole armor of God’ (Ephesians 6:11-18) before going out to face the temptations and trials of the world. Additionally, our flashlights are essential for seeing our way and ferreting out danger, and can be equated to Scripture in that God’s Word is, …a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105 NKJV). Weapons proficiency is essential to our physical and spiritual safety and survival. Just as we need continual practice to maintain intimate familiarity with our sidearm, we need to spend regular time in God’s Word to remain proficient with our spiritual weapon, the Sword of the Spirit – which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

One last key item essential to our safety and survival is communications. Proper radio procedures/discipline allows us to ensure those who are working with us, and will come to our aid when called, have full situational awareness on our whereabouts. On the spiritual and recovery side, this equates to keeping our channels of communications open with God, through prayer, and ensuring we are open and honest with those to whom we are in accountability relationships.

As the saying goes, ‘if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’. This is definitely true when it comes to our recovery progress; if we do not anticipate temptations, and have a plan in place for dealing with them before they appear, we are likely to fall prey to the attack and relapse back into our addiction(s). One of the best defensive strategies is always avoidance – don’t put yourself into compromising positions in the first place and, if this is unavoidable, have an Escape & Evasion plan in place, to include backup support.

If necessary, and all else fails, install a ‘moat of isolation’ until you are secure/strong enough to resist. Get away and spend time alone with God in prayer and immersed in His Word. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7 NKJV).

Taking Every Thought Captive!

Scott Pipenhagen
Recovery / Transition Chaplain
Serve & Protect
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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