Summary: Opening of a series on the 12 Steps as a Spiritual Discipline

25 years ago this past fall, I bought my first car. It was a 1976 Chevy Vega. I loved it.

Now my parents had found one of those AMC Pacers in Ohio (remember those, looked like an egg and had lots of glass) but I did not want one of them as unique as they were. So my parents came to Illinois to help me buy a car and I bought this Vega.

Well in early December, I was with a friend of mine driving out on the flat Illinois prairie when I encounter a large pothole out in the middle of nowhere. (The road I was driving on was pretty chewed up with them but this one was unavoidable.) With a loud bang as the front right tire hit it, my car came to an abrupt stop.

We got out and surveyed the damaged. The force of the hit caused one of the front wheel joints to break and the tire folded under the car. So we were forced to walk about 3, maybe 4, miles back to my friend’s house and call a tow truck that took it back to town.

Potholes can do great damage to front ends, can’t they? They are ruts that can cause plans to change quickly when they inflict damage.

Life has potholes, doesn’t it? It has moments when we hit a rut and everything goes out of whack and we are left shaken and hurt and wondering what to do next. Some of these ruts are the result of other’s actions and some of these ruts in life, these potholes, are the result of our own choices. Some of our life ruts are visible to others, fire, accident, layoff, etc., and some are invisible to others but very known to God and, as time goes by, known to us.

Last week I informed you that our initial 2006 series would be entitled, ’12 Steps to a Better Life.’ I have changed it to ’12 Steps to God’s Way of Living’ because I believe that these steps, the 12 steps of AA, are based on Biblical principles and can help us live life God’s way, as He has always wanted us to live.

As we begin this series I must give credit where credit is due. The outline in your bulletin comes from the work of my colleague in Oklahoma City, Marty Grubbs. (I am adapting it for this series so it is not word for word.)

Marty is pastor of a sister congregation in that city and offered his outlines to us during a gathering at Potowanomi Inn almost two years ago. I recall that the series was one that impacted his life as well.

Now as we begin this series, I want to make clear a couple of things to set all of us at ease: (Overhead 1)

First, in using the 12 Steps as part of this series I am using the important principles behind the 12 steps as suggestions to help us make important changes in our lives and to draw closer to the Lord.

Second, I am not implying that all of us are addicts. Addiction is a major problem in our society. And addiction is not just about substance abuse and alcoholism. It is also about things like power, need, and money. But, I bring this series in the hope that I have experienced as I have read and understood classic 12 Step materials and listened to friends who have worked through these 12 steps. There is a great deal of help in them.

Third, this sermon series is not therapy and we are not a therapy group. Each of us may encounter some personal issues as we go through this series that need to be addressed through an actual 12 Step group and/or through some counseling. But, this time is a time to learn, reflect, and pray about the importance and necessity of personal change in our lives that will help us live God’s way.

Now, having said all of this I call your attention to the listing of the 12-steps on the back your bulletin insert before we walk through our main text for this morning.

In his series, Marty began with the illustration of a rut. Now what is a rut? (Overhead 2) A grave with both ends knocked out.

Many of us have experienced being stuck in a snowdrift or a rut filled with snow and or ice this time of year. What are our options when we have those experiences?

Well, for one we can rock the car back and forth back and forth to try to get out. I had to do that a few weeks ago with the church van prior to the teen Christmas party. We had it parked out back and I finally had to shovel some snow out of the way so that I could enough traction to get it out to the street after trying to rock it out. I thought that I would never get it out onto the street.

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