The mad cycle is addiction, cleaning up, freedom, then complacency. Some of you reading this article have just started the cleaning up phase. Sometimes this is the simple phase. Your addiction caused destruction again and you are committed to change no matter what. A few of you are in the freedom stage. You are currently free from your addiction and you have motivation to stay that way. Not many of you watching are in the complacency stage. This stage is a big problem. This is the problem stage that causes the mad cycle to begin again.
This is the stage where we skip A meetings. We don’t work on our discipline anymore. We become overconfident and try to do it on our own. We settle into a new rut.
But be aware. When we settle into a new rut we will most assuredly find our way back into our old rut. Here is an example. If you were committed to gambling and now you are committed to watching a lot of great movies, you have committed to being in a new rut. Sitting around hoping that you will stay clean does not help you or anyone else. Instead get involved in helping at overcoming addiction meetings. Get involved in working at your Church. Be the person who helps out the little old lady who lives around the corner. By helping others the person you help the most may be yourself.
Quitting addiction permanently is actually quite mathematical. Let’s look at a few addicts who have quit their addiction. Which of the three following people do you think will have the best chance to quit permanently? First we have Bill who is/was a former gambler. Bill now spends his free hours the following ways. Monday night is softball night with his new clean friends. Tuesday night is game night with his family. Wednesday night is Church night. Thursday night he spends with his new friend mike recording original songs just for fun. Friday night is GA. Saturday is helping out at the shelter and he has Harry coming over to watch the football game. Sunday is going to Church, doing a few odd jobs around the house and getting refreshed physically and spiritually.
Next we have Joe who is/was a former drinker. Monday night is AA. Tuesday is free. Wednesday he plays cards with his clean friends. Thursday is free. Friday he tries to get a date if possible. Saturday is mostly free but he often plays pool with his buddies on Saturday night.
Last we have Peter who is/was into drugs. Peter hates scheduling and loves going with the flow. His only planned activity for the week is NA on Monday night. His drug addiction caused him immense destruction and he is very determined to quit.
Even though the only person we said was determined to quit was Peter, most of us would say that Bill is more likely to stay clean than Peter. I would say that Bill is three times more likely to stay clean than Peter. Reason number 1 is because he is busy. Staying active gives him less time to be tempted. Reason number 2 is because he is developing new friendships with people who care about him. Now he can start to lean on them in hard times instead of only having his drugs to lean on. Reason #3 is because always has something to do, he rarely is bored. Being bored is a springboard back into addiction. Reason #4 is because now he is doing things to help other people. This gives him a satisfaction that he has never felt before. Reason #5 is because he is balanced. He is busy but he has a planned day of rest-Sunday.
Just as important as the addiction mad cycle is the Spiritual mad cycle. The Spiritual mad cycle is bondage, repentance, freedom and complacency. This cycle is vitally important for us because when we become complacent spiritually it often leads us back into addiction.
We fight complacency by what we do every day as Christians. We read the Bible every day. We have a time and a place for prayer. We learn to fear the Lord. The Bible says 100 times that we should fear the Lord. Philippians 2:12 (NKJV)
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
If you don’t have a joy and a light in your life ask God why it is this way. If you are sincere in asking He will show you the problem. Then if you commit your life to following him He will be with you every step of the way.
Father, help me to choose living in your light instead of gambling. Knowing that as I learn to like other things to do (over time) – my joy overall will increase.
Matthew 5 is about how we can change so that we will start to be blessed by God. www.relijournal.com noted the following
The Fifth Beatitude v7
God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Mercy is love toward those that need some sort of support, especially in the area of forgiveness. God shows us mercy. We need His mercy every day because were are not perfect and we sin daily. If God is willing to give us mercy then we should be happy to extend mercy to others. In the Lord’s Prayer we say, “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”. We must forgive and show mercy if we expect God to do the same for us.
Pride prevents God showing us mercy and us showing mercy to others. Self righteousness brings about pride and prevents us from learning from God because it puts a barrier up straight away. Ephesians 5:1-2 talks about following Jesus’ example in showing mercy by living a life of love. The Old Testament speaks on it too (Psalm 41:1 and more!)
We all can Increase Self-control: if you are still struggling you need to believe it. You can increase self-control in some area of your life. And when you do that, it will at some point help you with your addiction.
Increasing self-control: When self-control is absent Eve will look at the forbidden fruit and take it. We will likely do the same “if” we don’t focus on self-control daily.
How is self-control attained? The decision to put aside or crucify our own desires is attained through daily following the Lord. “Then He said to them all, if anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)”
Step one – deny yourself. People who know me think it is extreme that I will look away from the TV when a borderline sinful scene comes on. Or if I focus on moderation with sugar or fatty foods. But they don’t understand that I am denying myself so that I can try to be strong so that I can follow Christ and do what He wants me to do. Results: when a TV evangelist denies himself a luxury car all of a sudden a bunch of poor people get saved. Pastor Jentezen Franklin fasts (40 days of intense prayer while denying yourself food) to start every year –his first 5 or 10 sermons on the year are not to be missed.
In what 3 ways can you deny yourself 1:____________ 2:_____________ 3:________________
Step two – take up your cross daily. Many people have gone to Christian rehab for drugs/alcohol/sex/gambling and 3 weeks after they get out and they are dead. They had a great experience at rehab but they did not develop a lifelong habit of taking up their cross daily. Every day Jesus has something for you to do. You must be fully motivated to get the sin out so that you can do it. You can’t take even one day off from taking up your cross. You can’t even take one day off from Bible study and prayer. You can’t even take one day off from seeking your purpose or from fulfilling your purpose. Taking up your cross daily means fighting sin tooth and nail as if God really has a purpose for you.
Step three – follow Christ. Every day Jesus has something for me to do. Now you may say, that’s you but I am me. Wrong – I was you 10 years ago. Jesus has something for you to do every day. I pray every day believing that the Holy Spirit will lead me today. If you are going to war with sin you can pray every day that the Holy Spirit will lead you as well.
Practice self-control – Charles Box had this great article on self-control.
“Where Christians must practice self-control: Self-control must be practiced in good and right things: (1) eating, (2) pleasure, (3) work, and (4) sleep. Self-control must be practiced as Christians completely abstain from: (1) fornication, (2) lying, (3) gambling, (4) drunkenness, and (5) stealing. Christians must control their temper. (Proverbs 14:29) The tongue must also be controlled by Christians. “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” (James 1:26)”
“Self-control results from bringing our thoughts into captivity to Christ. “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 10:5) Do you have self under control?”
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037.
Read Matthew 14, and Acts 3-4
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Day one: Quitting addiction exercises
Day two: It is important to admit you are powerless
Day 3: Learn the right way to live
Day 4: Getting rid of negative emotions
Day 5: Remember – money lost is not yours. Don’t try to get it back or you will lose more.
Day 6: can you increase your pleasure by gambling?
Day 7: Staying clean in all ways helps you quit the addiction
Day 8: Decide what pain and pleasure you want
Day 9: Analyze what leads you back to your addiction
Day 10: Change your emotions and your mindsets. Stop believing that your big score will come in.
Day 11: Where the Spirit of the Lord is – there is liberty
Day 12: Learn how to worship God. Also try to develop positive addictions.
Day 13: Write out a letter saying why you want to quit
Day 14: Overcoming cravings and negative emotions
Day 15: You have some self control
Day 16: Have a list of coping statements. Have a list of substitute activities.
Day 17: How to find living water that will always satisfy you
Day 18: Do not have faulty beliefs abourt gambling odds
Day 19: Interview with a professional poker player
Day 26: Which prayers are answered quickly – which prayers time more time and persistence
Day 27: How to fill the vacuum that addiction caused
28: Finding a good church
29: Knowing why you can’t quit can help you plan how to quit
30: How to eliminate the vacuum created by quitting
31: Tripping your addiction trap. Overcoming sloth
32: You need clean people around you if you are going to stay clean
33: Use real math not gambling math
Day 34: Don’t condemn yourself
Day 35: Don’t test yourself to see if it is safe to gamble a little bit
Day 36: Knowing why you can’t quit can help you quit
Day 37: Do not chase pipe dreams
Day 38: Getting the anger out
Day 39: The vice of greed
Day 40: Specific planning helps break addiction
Day 41: Embrace the truth about gambling. Know your odds of hitting the big score.