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In Loving Memory of Vic

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Need to get to a meeting and speak to someone right away? Below is a list of online meetings and resources to help you find a meeting and fellowship.

+ Alcoholics Anonymous Online Meeting Finder
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+ Narcotics Anonymous Meeting Finder
+ Al-Anon Online Meeting Finder

Daily Recovery Readings – March 16

Just For Today
March 16
Inventory

“The purpose of a searching and fearless moral inventory is to sort through the confusion and the contradiction of our lives so that we can find out who we really are.”
Basic Text p. 27

Using addicts are a confused and confusing bunch of people. It’s hard to tell from one minute to the next what they’re going to do or who they’re going to be. Usually, the addict is just as surprised as anyone else.

When we used, our behavior was dictated by the needs of our addiction. Many of us still identify our personalities closely with the behavior we practiced while using, leading us to feel shame and despair. Today, we don’t have to be the people we once were, shaped by our addiction; recovery has allowed us to change.

We can use the Fourth Step inventory to see past the needs of the old using life and find out who we want to be today. Writing about our behavior and noticing how we feel about that behavior helps us understand who we want to be. Our inventory helps us see beyond the demands of active addiction, beyond our desire to be loved and accepted—we find out who we are at the root. We begin to understand what’s appropriate for us, and what we want our lives to be like. This is the beginning of becoming who we really are.

Just for today: If I want to find out who I am, I’ll look at who I’ve been and who I want to be.

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Daily Reflections
March 16

AS WE UNDERSTAND HIM

My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea . . . “Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?” That statement hit me hard. It melted the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last. It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself.  Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning.
–ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, p. 12

I remember the times I looked up into the sky and reflected on who started it all, and how. When I came to A.A., an understanding of some description of the spiritual dimension became a necessary adjunct to a stable sobriety. After reading a variety of versions, including the scientific, of a great explosion, I went for simplicity and made the God of my understanding the Great Power that made the explosion possible. With the vastness of the universe under His command, He would, no doubt, be able to guide my thinking and actions if I was prepared to accept His guidance. But I could not expect help if I turned my back on that help and went my own way. I became willing to believe and I have had 26 years of stable and satisfying sobriety.

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Twenty-Four Hours A Day
March 16

A.A. Thought For The Day

Before we decide to quit drinking, most of us have come up against a blank wall. We see that we’re licked, that we have to quit. But we don’t know which way to turn for help. There seems to be no door in that blank wall. A.A. opens the door that leads to sobriety. By encouraging us to honestly admit that we’re alcoholics and to realize that we can’t take even one drink, and by showing us which way to turn for help, A.A. opens the door in that blank wall. Have I gone through that door to sobriety?

Meditation For The Day

I must have a singleness of purpose to do my part in God’s work. I must not let material distractions interfere with my job of improving personal relationships. It is easy to become distracted by material affairs, so that I lose my singleness of purpose. I do not have time to be concerned about the multifarious concerns of the world. I must concentrate and specialize on what I can do best.

Prayer For The Day

I pray that I may not become distracted by material affairs. I pray that I may concentrate on doing what I can do best.

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As Bill Sees It
March 16
Losing Financial Fears, p. 75

When a job still looked like a mere means of getting money rather than an opportunity for service, when the acquisition of money for financial independence looked more important than a right independence upon God, we were the victims of unreasonable fears.  And these were fears which would make a serene and useful existence, at any financial level, quite impossible.

But as time passed we found that with the help of A.A.’s Twelve Steps we could lose those fears, no matter what our material prospects were. We could cheerfully perform humble labor without worrying about tomorrow. If our circumstances happened to be good, we no longer dreaded a change for the worse, for we had learned that these troubles could be turned into great values, for ourselves and for others.

12 & 12, pp. 121-122

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Walk in Dry Places
March 16
Anger…. A dangerous weapon
Self-control

One reason some of us have trouble overcoming anger is that we’ve used it too often as an offensive weapon. It can be employed as an excuse to leave the house, it can bring an argument to an explosive end, and it can make others fearful and defensive. In the past this brought results of a sort, and helped reinforce the idea that anger works.

The trouble with anger, though, is that it’s destructive. Once angry, we hurt ourselves and we hurt others. Terrible things said in anger leave wounds that never heal, creating problems that lead to more anger.

The AA program can show us that there is virtually no justification for anger, under any and all circumstances. If we sense it coming on, we have the choice of taking charge of our feelings. If we’re angry over another’s behavior, we can remember that anger might be a way of reacting, but it’s not necessary in our lives.

I’ll make it through this day without a trace of anger. I’ll frequently remind myself that anger is destructive and that my real purpose is to build a better life.

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Keep It Simple
March 16

Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.
–Oscar Wilde

We all change. We learn, and change, and grow. We once made alcohol or other drugs our Higher Power. Perhaps we had other higher powers too—like money, gambling, food, or sex. But, it’s never too late to be in touch with a true Higher Power. Each day we follow a false higher power, we aren’t.

Prayer for the Day: Higher Power, help me put my life and will in Your hands today. Help me be a saint, just for today.

Action for the Day: How have my ideas about saints and sinners changed since I got into a Twelve Step program?  I’ll talk with my sponsor about it today.

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Each Day a New Beginning
March 16

True intimacy with another human being can only be experienced when you have found true peace within yourself.
–Angela L. Wozniak

Intimacy means disclosure–full expression of ourselves to another person. Nothing held back. All bared. There are risks, of course: rejection, criticism, perhaps ridicule. But the comfort we feel within is directly proportional to the peace we’ve come to know.

Each day we commit ourselves to recovery, we find a little more peace. Each conversation we have with our higher power brings us a little more security. Each time we turn our full attention to another person’s needs, we feel our own burdens lightened.

Peace comes in stages. As we continue to accept our powerlessness, the depth of our peace increases. Turning more often to a power greater than ourselves eases our resistance to whatever condition prevails. Forgiving ourselves and others, daily, heightens our appreciation of all life and enhances our humility. Therein lies peace.

We each are a necessary part of the creative spirit prevailing in this world. The details of our lives are well in hand. We can be at peace. Who we are is who we need to be.

Intimacy lets me help someone else also live a full and peace-filled life. I will reach out to someone today.

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Alcoholics Anonymous
March 16
HE LIVED ONLY TO DRINK

– “I had been preached to, analyzed, cursed, and counseled, but no one had ever said, ‘I identify with what’s going on with you. It happened to me and this is what I did about it.'”

In early sobriety I had to continue to live in a flop-house filled with active drunks. Not drinking, I became acutely aware of my surroundings–the foul smells, the noise, the hostility and physical danger. My resentments mounted at the realization that I had flushed a career down the drain, disgraced and alienated my family, and been relegated to the meanest of institutions, a skid row shelter. But I was also able to realize that this bonfire of resentment and rage was beckoning me to pick up a drink and plunge in to my death. Then I realized I had to separate my sobriety from everything else that was going on in my life. No matter what happened or didn’t happen, I couldn’t drink. In fact, none of these things that I was going through had anything to do with my sobriety; the tides of life flow endlessly for better or worse, both good and bad, and I cannot allow my sobriety to become dependent on these ups and downs of living. Sobriety must live a life of its own.

pp. 450-451

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Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
March 16

Step Two – “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Now let’s take the guy full of faith, but still reeking of alcohol. He believes he is devout. His religious observance is scrupulous. He’s sure he still believes in God, but suspects that God doesn’t believe in him. He takes pledges and more pledges. Following each, he not only drinks again, but acts worse than the last time. Valiantly he tries to fight alcohol, imploring God’s help, but the help doesn’t come. What, then, can be the matter?

pp. 31-32

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Xtra Thoughts
March 16

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart…Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.”
–Carl Jung

No matter how long a room is dark, turn on a light and the room brightens. Today marks a new beginning. You can claim a clean slate with God.
–Mary Manin Morrissey

The principle we are working with today is STILLNESS. It is accomplished through the act of meditation, which is stilling of the physical/conscious mind to all external stimuli.  Continuous, contemplative thought given to truth. A steady effort of the mind to know and hear the voice of God from within the being.  The act of not doing in an attempt to expand the awareness of being.  When we quiet the conscious mind to hear the Divine presence.
–Iyalna Vanzant

Is my way of handling anger pleasing to God?
–Marilyn Watson

I Am Responsible . . . When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there.  And for that: I am responsible.
–Declaration of 30th Anniversary

International Convention, 1965
As Bill Sees It, p. 332

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Father Leo’s Daily Meditation
March 16
RISK

“A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.”
— Adlai Stevenson

Tough love requires that at times I must say or do things that make me “unpopular”. That is part of the spiritual risk of loving: to be popular is not always to be right!

As an alcoholic I was a people-pleaser; concerned with saying what people wanted to hear, do what people expected, remain silent rather than cause upsets. I was afraid that if I said what I really thought, I might be rejected. My self-esteem was secondary to what other people thought of me.

Today in my sobriety I love myself enough to say what I believe and do what I consider right. I refuse to remain silent when confronted with injustice or the addictions of others. My spiritual program risks the possibility of being unpopular.

Teach me to always say and do what I believe to be true.

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Bible Scriptures
March 16

“For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.”
–Psalm 33:4

Thine, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty.
–1 Chronicles 29:11

Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger.
–Ephesians 4:26

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Daily Inspiration
March 16

Prayer turns the attention from ourselves to God and helps us see His hand working in our lives. Lord, You give me reasons for a daily commitment to achieving a full and energetic life.

Allow the power of God to work within you because He is able to accomplish far more than we can dream. Lord, Your spirit empowers me. May I do Your Will and always give glory to You.

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A Day At A Time
March 16

Reflection For The Day

The Program teaches us that we are bodily and mentally different than our fellows.  We are reminded that the great obsession of every abnormal drinker — and every one of us who is otherwise addictive — is to prove that somehow, some day, we will be able to control our drinking,, eating or gambling.  The persistence of this illusion is astonishing, we are told, and many  pursue it to the gates of insanity or death.   Have I conceded to my innermost self that, for me, “One is too many and a thousand not enough..”?

Today I Pray

May I have no illusions about someday becoming a moderate drinker or drug-user after being an obsessive one.  May I muffle any small voice of destructive pride which lies to me, telling me that I can now go back to my former addiction and control it.  This is  a Program of no-return, and I thank God for it.

Today I Will Remember

My goal must be lifelong abstinence — a day at a time.

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One More Day
March 16

Time ripens all things.  No man’s born wise.
–  Cervantes

One moment in time, a phrase from an old song that still rings true.  In a single moment we could decide the balance of how we will live our lives.  Split-second decisions, not all good ones, permeate the fabric of our lives, of everyone’s lives — regardless of medical problems.

Sometimes we are very sorry about a decision we made too quickly, a decision which may alter the course of our lives for a short while or even permanently.  Perhaps the car we insisted on having is a lemon, or we may not like the new community into which we impulsively moved.  We have to learn to live with our decisions, at least until we make a decision to change.  Ponder a decision just a moment longer.  Each experience can deepen our wisdom.

I will attempt to take my time when making decisions.

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One Day At A Time
March 16
Serenity

“Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.”
–Anonymous Quote

Why is serenity so important to our recovery? Because darkness cannot exist where there is light! If we can maintain a serene state of mind as established through our faith in HP and the BB Promises, negative emotions and behavior will have no power over us. Stress, fear, compulsiveness, obsessiveness, resentment, guilt, shame, willfulness, doubt, distrust, greed and envy, have no power over a mind that is kept in serene repose. Serenity allows us to see situations clearly and make wise decisions. Most importantly, by maintaining a serene mind, we keep the door to our High Power open.

One Day at a Time . . .
I will face each challenge with grace and serenity.
~ Rob R.

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day March 16

“Each of us must know in our minds and believe in our hearts that even though we are different, you are like me and I am like you.”
–Larry P. Aitken, CHIPPEWA

One of the definitions of humility is having an awareness of one’s own character defects. To recognize and acknowledge that one has imperfections is being humble. We should never pray for ourselves unless by doing so it would help another person. To have self-importance puts self first and this is not humble. We each have strengths and we each have weaknesses. Both the strengths and weaknesses are sacred. Life is sacred. We learn sacred things from weaknesses also. Therefore, all lives are developed through trial and error, strength and weakness, ups and downs, gains and losses – all of these are part of life and life is sacred.

Great Mystery, let me see and know about the sacredness of life.

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Journey to the Heart
March 16
Become Willing to Heal Your Heart

We don’t open our hearts by being a tower of strength. We don’t open our hearts by glossing over things in our head. We open our hearts by feeling what we feel. We open our hearts by being vulnerable, honest, and gentle.

We’ve become so strong, so self-sufficient. I can deal with that we say. No big deal. I’ll keep moving on.

Yet many circumstances we’ve been through, and some we’re going through now, cause break lines in our heart. Some of the fractures are small. Some are big. They really hurt. Maybe certain people in our lives weren’t there for us, aren’t there for us now in a way we’d like them to be. Maybe some deceived us unconsciously or betrayed us deliberately. I can deal with that we say. I understand. They have their own issues. I forgive.

Yes, people do have their own issues. And we do forgive. But now it may be time to learn gentleness, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness for ourselves as well.

We don’t open our hearts by ignoring the break lines. We take our hand, knowing it’s held by God, and gently run our fingers across each crack. Yes, it’s there. Yes, I feel it.

Yes, I’m ready to heal my heart.

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Today’s Gift
March 16

‘Tis God gives skill, but not without men’s hands. He could not make Antonio Stradivarius violins without Antonio.
—George Eliot

When she was four years old, she climbed onto the piano stool. To her parents’ astonishment, a simple prelude she’d heard on the radio flew across the keys from her fingers. That very week they found her a teacher, and the house was filled with the music of her developing talent.

While other girls played, made the honor roll, starred on the basketball team, and dated boyfriends, she sat inside at her beloved piano and practiced. At seventeen, when she made her debut, the critics said, “She’s a natural. A genius!”

We know she was no natural, but through hard work, she made her piano playing part of her nature. When we put love into our labor, our own dreams grow into being.

Am I willing to make some sacrifices today to do the things I really want to do?

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The Language of Letting Go
March 16
Positive Energy

It’s so easy to look around and notice what’s wrong.

It takes practice to see what’s right.

Many of us have lived around negativity for years. We’ve become skilled at labeling what’s wrong with other people, our life, our work, our day, our relationships, our conduct, our recovery, and ourselves.

We want to be realistic, and our goal is to identify and accept reality. However, this is often not our intent when we practice negativity. The purpose of negativity is usually annihilation.

Negative thinking empowers the problem. It takes us out of harmony. Negative energy sabotages and destroys. It has a powerful life of its own.

So does positive energy. Each day, we can ask what’s right, what’s good – about other people, our life, our work, our day, our relationships, ourselves, our conduct, our recovery.

Positive energy heals, conducts love, and transforms. Choose positive energy.

Today, God help me let go of negativity. Transform my beliefs and thinking, at the core, from negative to positive. Put me in harmony with the good.

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More Language Of Letting Go
March 16
Don’t be a back seat driver

I was walking through a toy store one day when I saw a little toy steering wheel attached to the tray of a stroller. The child could play with the wheel and pretend that he or she was controlling the direction of the cart. The steering wheel wasn’t attached to anything; someone else was behind the stroller, pushing it here or there. The child could steer all he or she wanted to, but if Mom was going to the hardware department, then the child was going there,too.

What a good lesson to teach children at such an early age: no matter where you steer, something bigger than you is going to push you wherever it wants.

We soon outgrow the stroller and then burst into adulthood. First we learn to drive– finally a wheel that does something! Now we’ve got real freedom! But the car needs gas, we have a curfew, and there are speed limits and driving laws. Or we graduate from school and move into the real world. Finally no more parents controlling our every move. But then there is rent, and the boss, and the roommates, or a spouse and children to consider.

No matter how much we grow, where we go, or how old we get, there is someone else above, someone bigger, pushing us in this direction or that. Sorry, no new car this year, you’ve got a different lesson to learn.

We can want things, pray for things, and hope that things will come to pass. But ultimately, we’re not in control. Instead of spending our time and energy trying to get someplace else, we can learn the lesson and enjoy the beauty of the life we’ve been given.

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Touchstones Meditation For Men
March 16

When a man’s self is hidden from everybody else … it seems also to become hidden even from himself, and it permits disease and death to gnaw into his substance without his clear knowledge.
—Sidney Jourard

A man’s recovery is in knowing himself honestly and learning to have loving relationships with others. Many of us have had close calls with death as the consequence of our addictions or codependency. We ignored the dangers in our lives and many of us neglected our health. We wore ourselves out and wasted our energies.

Spiritual recovery and physical health go hand in hand. In recovery, moving toward fullness in life, our selves are returned to us. We leave behind our old learning and habits because they were lethal. We are becoming men who tune in to ourselves and to others around us. We are looking at ourselves and saying, “I’ll work with it!”

I will not hide myself; I will continue to be open with myself and others.

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DailyTAO
March 16
BREAKTHROUGH

Lake shadows color of cold,
Willow branches weep ice.
Swan rises dazzling in the sunlight.

After long self-cultivation, one’s accumulated energy reaches a threshold and then bursts out full, breathing, and vibrant. Without the careful building of momentum, this moment of release would never have been possible. With long years of preparation and experience, the freeing of the soul will not be mere dissipation but will be so strongly focused that it lifts one into a higher state of awareness. When one’s spiritual energy emerges, it feels like a swan rising from the water.

Once you have reached this level of stored energy, you will be a different person. On one hand, you may take genuine comfort in the point of attainment that you have made. On the other hand, you now see all the other possibilities that remain for you to explore.

With the emergence of great possibilities comes the need for responsibility. If you diverge from your life’s path in order to explore new vistas, remember how far you are flying, and remember to return at the proper times. Only you can decide how to arrange your life. Once you are a strong flier, you must still use wisdom to direct your flight.

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DailyZen
March 16

Stop searching for phrases
and chasing after words.
Take the backward step
and turn the light inward.
Your body-mind of itself
will drop off
and your original face will appear.
If you want to attain just this,
immediately practice just this.

– Dogen (1227)

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Food for Thought
March 16
Difficult Times

When we have hard things to do, we especially need our abstinence. We know from experience that maintaining it is the only way we can feel good and cope effectively.

Formerly, we turned to food to strengthen us and prop us up during difficult times. We invariably ate too much and were less able to manage the troublesome situation. Food then became an escape, and we sometimes ended up doing nothing at all about a problem, since we had eaten ourselves into oblivion.

We know now that instead of strengthening us, extra food incapacitates us. No matter how difficult the situation we face, we know that eating unnecessary food will eventually make it worse.

We have come to believe that whatever happens, our Higher Power will give us the strength we need if we will rely on Him.

May I rely on You, Lord, instead of food.

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In God’s Care
March 16

As the ripples caused by a flung stone stir the surface of a whole pond, so your joy-making shall spread in ever-widening circles.
~~God Calling, March 10th

We might all have friends who stir up bubbles of joy within us. We love being in their presence. A gloomy day doesn’t darken their mood, as it might ours, and we wonder where their joy comes from. The answer is simple. Somehow, they have discovered that they have some choice as to their mood, and in most situations they decide to experience joy. We can choose the same for ourselves.

Our feelings, actions, and attitudes are within our personal realm of control. To pretend that only people and circumstances are what make us happy or angry is denying what God has given each of us: the power to make choices about who we are every moment.

To feel joy is often a decision no more difficult than to feel sorrow. Choosing to see our blessings, even in the wake of turmoil, will bring us joy. And then we, too, can encourage joy in others.

My joy can be my decision. I’ll make joy my mood of choice whenever possible today.

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Faith’s Check Book
March 16
To Others an “Ensample”

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:9)

It is well when a man can with advantage be so minutely copied as Paul might have been. Oh, for grace to imitate him this day and every day!

Should we, through divine grace, carry into practice the Pauline teaching, we may claim the promise which is now open before us; and what a promise it is! God, who loves peace, makes peace, and breathes peace, will be with us. “Peace be with you” is a sweet benediction; but for the God of peace to be with us is far more. Thus we have the fountain as well as the streams, the sun as well as his beams. If the God of peace be with us, we shall enjoy the peace of God which passeth all understanding, even though outward circumstances should threaten to disturb. If men quarrel, we shall be sure to be peacemakers, if the Maker of peace be with us.

It is in the way of truth that real peace is found. If we quit the faith or leave the path of righteousness under the notion of promoting peace, we shall be greatly mistaken. First pure, then peaceable, is the order of wisdom and of fact. Let us keep to Paul’s line, and we shall have the God of peace with us as He was with the apostle.

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This Morning’s Meditation
March 16

“I am a stranger with thee.”
–Psalm 39:12.

DES, O Lord, with Thee, but not to Thee. All my natural alienation from Thee, Thy grace has effectually removed; and now, in fellowship with Thyself, I walk through this sinful world as a pilgrim in a foreign country. Thou art a stranger in Thine own world. Man forgets Thee, dishonours Thee, sets up new laws and alien customs, and knows Thee not. When Thy dear Son came unto His own, His own received Him not. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. Never was foreigner so speckled a bird among the denizens of any land as Thy beloved Son among His mother’s brethren. It is no marvel, then, if I who live the life of Jesus, should be unknown and a stranger here below. Lord, I would not be a citizen where Jesus was an alien. His pierced hand has loosened the cords which once bound my soul to earth, and now I find myself a stranger in the land. My speech seems to these Babylonians among whom I dwell an outlandish tongue, my manners are singular, and my actions are strange. A Tartar would be more at home in Cheapside than I could ever be in the haunts of sinners. But here is the sweetness of my lot: I am a stranger with Thee. Thou art my fellow-sufferer, my fellow-pilgrim. Oh, what joy to wander in such blessed society! My heart burns within me by the way when thou dost speak to me, and though I be a sojourner, I am far more blest than those who sit on thrones, and far more at home than those who dwell in their ceiled houses.

“To me remains nor place, nor time:
My country is in every clime;
I can be calm and free from care
On any shore, since God is there.
While place we seek, or place we shun,
The soul finds happiness in none:
But with a God to guide our way,
‘Tis equal joy to go or stay.”

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The Evening Meditations
March 16

“Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins.”
—Psalm 19:13.

UCH was the prayer of the “man after God’s own heart.” Did holy David need to pray thus? How needful, then, must such a prayer be for us babes in grace! It is as if he said, “Keep me back, or I shall rush headlong over the precipice of sin.” Our evil nature, like an ill-tempered horse, is apt to run away. May the grace of God put the bridle upon it, and hold it in, that it rush not into mischief. What might not the best of us do if it were not for the checks which the Lord sets upon us both in providence and in grace! The psalmist’s prayer is directed against the worst form of sin—that which is done with deliberation and wilfulness. Even the holiest need to be “kept back” from the vilest transgressions. It is a solemn thing to find the apostle Paul warning saints against the most loathsome sins. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” What! do saints want warning against such sins as these? Yes, they do. The whitest robes, unless their purity be preserved by divine grace, will be defiled by the blackest spots. Experienced Christian, boast not in your experience; you will trip yet if you look away from Him who is able to keep you from falling. Ye whose love is fervent, whose faith is constant, whose hopes are bright, say not, “We shall never sin,” but rather cry, “Lead us not into temptation.” There is enough tinder in the heart of the best of men to light a fire that shall burn to the lowest hell, unless God shall quench the sparks as they fall. Who would have dreamed that righteous Lot could be found drunken, and committing uncleanness? Hazael said, “Is Thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?” and we are very apt to use the same self-righteous question. May infinite wisdom cure us of the madness of self-confidence.

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