Dick B.’s Christian Recovery Radio Interview on February 23, 2013 of Greg P., One of a Number of Christian Recovery Leaders at Cornerstone Fellowship, Livermore Campus, Livermore, California
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You may listen to Dick B. interview Christian recovery leader Greg P. on the February 23, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show here:
Episodes of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show are archived at:
Introduction to Greg’s Interview
Greg P., our guest today, is one of the dynamic Christian recovery leaders who has helped us in the launching and growth of a number of International Christian Recovery Coalition projects, meetings, and groups in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. These important efforts include stocking and distributing a large inventory of A.A. history/Bible study volumes, conducting biblical recovery groups, reaching out to the suffering in the community, and hosting conferences for those in A.A., N.A., the dependency arena, and others who seek God's help in overcoming addictions and being delivered from their life-controlling burdens.
Greg works with the Turning Point group, part of New Hope Ministries of Cornerstone Fellowship--Livermore Campus, in Livermore, California. In our working group of Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena--along with another Cornerstone Fellowship Christian recovery volunteer, Dominic D.--Greg has been a major California supporter of the International Christian Recovery Coalition, our informal fellowship of Christian recovery leaders and workers who emphasize the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible have played in the astonishing successes of early A.A. and its Christian predecessors, and can play right now.
Today, Greg will tell us a little about himself, his family, his religious background, his education and regular employment, and his connection with the alcoholism/addiction arena. Particularly on the large campus of Cornerstone church at Livermore.
We are very thankful to have stalwart Christian recovery leaders helping grow California's Christian Recovery Movement in Livermore, Brentwood, San Jose, Pleasanton, Los Gatos, Foster City, Oakland, San Francisco, and reaching north to Santa Rosa and Oroville, California.
And with that, take it away Greg.
[I want to open with something new at Cornerstone, something that Greg announces at the close of his interview. This is the video play which Cornerstone is preparing to do and which they asked me to write the script for. This unusual presentation will briefly cover a live enactment of what early A.A. Christian Fellowship meetings in 1936 in Akron’s founding place in Ohio were actually like. Many many more of this presentations could soon be shown or reproduced in many parts of the United States and the world. They will bring, in what Dr. Bob referred to as “terse and tangible” form, the heart of how early AAs developed their remarkable self-sufficient, highly successful Christian technique for cure that put Alcoholics Anonymous on the map. They will enable newer alcoholics, addicts, codependents, and others to see proof of how “old school” A.A. can be applied to, and enhance the successes of, recovery today. Dick B.]
Greg was introduced to Christianity at 9 or 10, in the 4th Grade. His school conducted religious training in a barn near his school. They had a Christian Bible teacher. And Greg was able to enthuse over what he learned about everlasting life, the forgiveness of sins, and the fact that there was more to life than homework and chasing girls.
However, the Bible teacher told the class Jesus came into her room regularly and that she washed his feet. Craig became afraid that Jesus would come into his room. In fact, Greg’s dad found Greg pacing the hallway, fearful and awaiting the arrival of Jesus in his room and of his duty to wash the feet of the Savior.
Nonetheless, Greg developed a sound relationship with God. But he also developed a strong relationship with alcohol at age 16 in high school. By that means, he acquired new found strength from his friend alcohol. But his connection with God ran away. He was not connected. He was moved toward sex and romance and the excitement thereof. He had been shy and scared of women. And liquor, said he, “fortified me.”
In a decade, he [like both Dr. Bob and Bill] had become jittery, and he began mixing booze with tranquilizers [In Bill and Bob’s case, it was “high powered sedatives.”]. And Greg soon developed problems with debt, food, and relationships.
He found the beginning of his new answer—12 Step groups. Since his son had developed drug problems, and Greg was a single parent, he was an ardent Al-Anon for 6 years. But he saw that those rooms were packed with alkies. He concluded “I am one.” And he turned to being an A.A. newcomer and then an AA with 29 ½ years continuous sobriety. He liked A.A. a lot – the emphasis on honesty and sharing. At the same time, he was close to his mother (who just passed away); and her emphasis on Jesus brought him back to that fold. He pursued Christ. He married again—this time to a woman raised in the Bible belt. He found himself in A.A. meetings where Bible verses were quoted, and members asked “What Step” those familiar ideas came from.
It was then that Greg turned heavily to helping others. He started a group for Christian men. These were souls who were turned off with A.A. where they rejected talk about Jesus; and they got drunk and stayed drunk. They also had long-term bad experience with church. So Greg was determined to form a bridge that could lead these men back to church. To a place where they would be in a comfortable environment [and this plan is the one that has taken root in the new, burgeoning Christian Recovery Movement of today—“Bible friendly, recovery friendly, A.A. friendly, 12 Step friendly, Christian friendly, newcomer friendly, and just plain friendly.”
This group was the Genesis of “Turning Point” which meets at Cornerstone Fellowship in Livermore. He works with Dominic D.—one of the earlier members.
From there, the outreach became Christian-based and like Alcoholics Anonymous. It met Monday and Thursday. Soon there was a similar Al-Anon “counter-point” group, Then co-dependency group. Then a transformation group dealing with sex issues. Finally a group for Teens, calling “Landing.” And Greg himself began reaching out to prisons with similar A.A. meetings.
Greg now is planning two new projects that are consistent with the Cornerstone approaches. The first is a play, a video, depicting what 1936 A.A. meetings were actually like; drawing on what is in the 46 Dick B. books and articles and relevant. He asked Dick B. to prepare the script; and plans are to put the production on the Internet via YouTube.
Three years ago, Greg’s life took a new and constructive recovery arena turn. In his professional life, he began wide travels in the U.S. and abroad. It struck him that there was not a parable of Jesus and the alcoholic. And he didn’t know why. But then he believed he found it in the powerful verses in Luke 11:20-26 dealing with Jesus’s casting out demons. When the demons left, they began to walk in dry places, and then return again to their clean-swept homes. But the afflicted. needed to fill the barren with God through the Holy Spirit. Greg also was struck with the relevance that we are not God.
[The relevant verses—Luke 11:20-26—are:
“But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divedeth his spoils. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will
return unto m y house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man I worse than the first.”
I understand Greg’s parable and reasoning. Do you? When I was delivering a seminar at the Wilson House at Bill W.’s birthplace in East Dorset, Vermont, Ozzie Lepper—founder and President of Wilson House—heard me teaching on Tenth Step origins and the necessity for continuing to clean house lest the Adversary return to tempt and steal and destroy, making matters worse than ever. Ozzie cited this very parable.]
Greg is planning another important event at Cornerstone in April. It will reach out to many recovery groups and to the public. Its theme is a One-Stop program. You don’t have to go to a variety of meetings when you have a One-Stop sponsor, Jesus, who is fully informed on all addictions. He said the A.A. Founders—in their wisdom—chose not to grow A.A. into a large well-funded commercial group. Instead to stress that it needed to be self-supporting to maintain the spiritual environment. Not commercial—self sufficient.
In closing, Greg returned to the lessons he began learning 15 years ago as he applied his tech class professional talks in the United States and the world. In his travels, he sought out A.A. meetings first. They were following Steps, getting sober with an “higher power.” In Tel Aviv, he attended meetings in a Bomb Shelter where Arabs, Jews, and West Bankers closed their meetings holding hands. They had a grasp of the power of the program, the need to surrender, and to ask God’s help for peace and love. This unique power of the A.A. program in so many places in the world today stands, he believes, as a strong example of how important A.A. is in joining people of all faiths, self-supporting, and dedicated to overcome the ravages of addiction—whatever their ethnic and religious beliefs may be. And this uniting of personal workers for the primary purpose of helping the rock-bottom suffering persons is still an important answer to those who criticize a non-monolithic A.A. as too religious or too secular or too unfit for Christians or too bereft of “evidence-based” research. This when success abounds where the afflicted “thoroughly follow the path.” And, I, like I believe Greg believes, that the time has come to return recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous itself to the simple formula that enabled it to succeed so well and grow in its old school days: Renounce liquor and drugs for good. Turn to God for help. Immediately reach out to help “others” recover. The “others” didn’t come to A.A. to find God or a religion. They came to get out of a misery they soon ascribe to abuse of alcohol and mind-altering drugs. And whatever its formats or groups or “steps,” it enables the afflicted to make a new start, a new approach, with brotherly help.