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The Life Recovery Workbook: A Biblical Guide Through the Twelve Steps

The Life Recovery Workbook: A Biblical Guide Through the Twelve Steps

5.0 1
by Stephen Arterburn, David Stoop, Larry Werbil (With)
As a complement to The Life Recovery Bible (more than 800,000 copies sold), The Life Recovery Workbook leads the recovering addict into reflection and practical application. By placing the 12 steps of recovery into a firm biblical context, the workbook brings scriptural principles into personal focus. Contemporary “Recovery Profiles,”


As a complement to The Life Recovery Bible (more than 800,000 copies sold), The Life Recovery Workbook leads the recovering addict into reflection and practical application. By placing the 12 steps of recovery into a firm biblical context, the workbook brings scriptural principles into personal focus. Contemporary “Recovery Profiles,” expanded descriptions of each of the 12 steps, and open-ended questions work in unison with The Life Recovery Bible. Far more than just teaching about the 12 steps, the workbook is a guide to an in-depth working of the steps, making the principles of recovery come alive for “one day at a time” living.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
It’s time to take the first step! This workbook is about transformation: from death to life, from addiction to recovery. It is about walking with God, humbly accepting and doing his will. As you work through each of the Twelve Steps, you’ll discover challenging spiritual lessons that will allow you to live your life free from addiction.

Features include:

  • Profiles of Recovery Each step includes a real-life story of a fellow traveler on the road to recovery. As they share their experiences— and successes—you’ll be comforted, encouraged, and inspired.
  • Guided Questions Open-ended questions, designed to encourage introspection, personal growth, and self-discovery, will give you the tools needed to build a renewed life grounded in biblical truth.
  • Scripture Helps Foundational verses point you back to the Bible and help to guide you through the Twelve Steps.

Though the path to recovery is hard work, it is definitely worth the effort! God will be with you on this journey as you find freedom, healing, and peace of mind.

Product Details

Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

THE Life Recovery WORKBOOK

A Biblical Guide through the 12 Steps

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-1328-3

Chapter One



After seventeen years of partying and drinking, Barry decided that the only way to handle life was to stay drunk. For the past year, he had kept an iced case of beer in the trunk of his car at all times. He couldn't understand why his wife wanted a divorce, why his kids were distant and angry with him, or why his life was always so chaotic and stressful. He had made repeated attempts to control events, his wife's behavior, his kids, and his job, but he always ended up in a crisis after a heated, tumultuous argument that left him feeling bitter. Drinking was the only way for him to de-stress and find composure.

One night, after Barry had been drinking all afternoon and into the evening, his wife became fed up with his disappearing into the bottle, and she contemptuously announced that she was leaving him. Though the particulars of the fight were hazy to him, Barry woke up the next day full of shame and fear. His pain, loneliness, and aggravation became unbearable. Life with alcohol didn't seem worth continuing, but he wasn't sure that he was able to live without it. His previous attempts to quit had left him restless, irritable, anddisgruntled. With a beer in one hand, he called the Alcoholics Anonymous hotline to look for help. They told him that there was hope and recommended that he attend meetings.

When Barry arrived at his first meeting, the chairman asked for the topic to be Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable. As members shared their experiences, Barry was stunned to identify with most of their stories. He began to recognize his powerlessness over alcohol, and that by continually using alcohol to seek relief, he had allowed his life to become unmanageable. He understood their stories of painful experiences while under the influence, and the resulting hopelessness. His other amazing discovery was that others in the room were not only sober, but content. Recovery seemed like a positive option, instead of the drudgery he had imagined.

Barry learned that powerlessness did not mean helplessness, and that he could take actions such as attending meetings, having a sponsor, reading recovery literature, and drawing close to God. As he took action on what he was able to do, he could admit his powerlessness over alcohol.

After he had been sober for a while and worked the subsequent steps, his overall life did improve. Barry learned that he was powerless over more than alcohol, and that the consequences of his years of drinking were not magically removed. The relationship with his wife fell apart because his drinking had caused her so much pain that the bond between them had been destroyed. His children continued to hold resentments toward him, and his relationships with them were compromised. However, to stay sober, Barry had to accept his powerlessness over their responses and to accept responsibility for his behaviors that had provoked them.


We admitted we were powerless over our problems and that our lives had become unmanageable.

The recovery journey begins when we confront the very first word in Step One: We. This immediately challenges the loner/ isolationist in us when we are in our addictions and dependent on people and substances. Although we would be more comfortable with the word I and would prefer to get better alone, only we can recover. The Twelve Step program guides us into community, where all involved are a part of each other's recovery. The Twelve Steps are worked and lived in a group; independence is deadly for any addict.

Actually, spiritual transformation for anyone begins in community. When Jesus began his ministry, he created a group. When we look at the church in the book of Acts, we find groups meeting in homes. Living in open and honest community appears to be necessary for spiritual growth-we have to accept help from others in order to recover from whatever addiction or codependency issues we have.

We admitted we were powerless. Admitting that something or someone has beaten us and is more powerful than our own will confronts our pride, so we keep on acting out in our dependency/addiction, trying to prove that we can control it. By attending meetings and listening to other people's stories, we become more open to the possibility of recovery. Our pride must be shattered, a little at a time, because we will not recover without an admission of powerlessness.

Our very human nature rebels at the idea of powerlessness, which signifies our inability to escape our life of dependency/ addiction on our own strength. We must let go of image seeking and pride and tell the truth about our demoralized condition. Step One contains a potent paradox: by telling the truth about our complete powerlessness over addiction, we receive the power of choice in return.

To jump into recovery waters with both feet, we must go even deeper. Not only must we admit and accept our powerlessness over our dependencies and addiction, but we must also concede that our lives are unmanageable. This strikes a second blow to our pride and self-sufficiency. When under the influence of addictive thinking, a person believes, "I can handle anything. I can fix this by myself, without anyone else having to be involved." We have wanted others to believe that we "have it all together" and are self-contained. We continue in the delusion that there should be something we can do on our own, especially to clean up our own lives.

However, addiction leads to inefficiency on our jobs, dissatisfaction in our relationships, and quite often, to a sense that life is not worth living. Our emotional pain underscores the reality of our inability to manage our lives. Our loner, pull-myself-up-by-the-bootstraps mentality must give way to joining the "we" of recovery. We have to be rid of the "just Jesus and me" belief system that leads to more isolation and shame. When we realize that even God is in community (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), we become aware of the fact that human beings were created to be connected to others. The rebel within us must now get off the throne long enough to accept the need for help from both God and others. Then we will find that God is willing to meet us in our unmanageable lives.

The meditations for Step One include some examples from Scripture of people struggling with powerlessness. Naaman had position and power in the military that blinded him to his powerlessness (see 2 Kings 5:1-15). He began to demand things from life, thinking that he was special because of his position. We may do this as well, both at work and at home. We may have an inflated sense of importance because of our ministry. We may demand things from our families or coworkers based on our way. Like Naaman, we will find that this type of pride that resists input and direction from others leads to isolation. Only God can deal with this rebellion in our hearts. The consequences of addiction are sometimes the only way by which God can break through to us.

Sometimes we arrive at powerlessness and unmanageability by losing everything, as Job did. Being in recovery and trying to walk a spiritual path does not mean that we will be spared our share of snags and obstacles. In these times, recovery can appear to be hopeless and not worth the work. The rebel in us that wants control will counsel, "This is just too hard. Your troubles must mean that God doesn't like you." At this point, we need a group of people to continue pointing us to God no matter what happens. We need people who will nurture hope even in the most difficult places. As we hit bottom and face our powerlessness over all of life, we need encouragers. We need to be reminded of Jesus' saying that "if you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it" (Luke 9:24). This is another way of describing powerlessness.

By exploring our powerlessness, we will have to confront and oppose negative ideas that tell us that being powerless means being a victim. By coming to the end of our own power, we develop enough humility to hear the voice of God and do his will.

The apostle Paul-before his conversion and transformation, when he was still known as Saul-could not explore powerlessness at all. He was intoxicated by the power he could wield, even if it placed him in opposition to God's plan for his life. Yet, God pursued Saul, despite his power-hungry, murderous state of mind, to call him to a new direction, a totally transformed purpose. So that he could stop persecuting the gospel and start preaching it, God made him totally blind and dependent on others to lead, feed, and shelter him. He had to accept powerlessness and unmanageability in order to be used by God in powerful and amazing ways.

We must also first accept our powerlessness and inability to manage before we can be freed from addiction and become a channel for God in ways we could never imagine. We are so schooled in the thought that we can do anything we put our minds to that it is almost impossible to envision the power of God in us, doing what we have not been able to do to this point. God in us, shining through human vessels, gives us the ability to recover, to accept powerlessness, and to accept unmanageability. We are then opened to a life powered by God rather than by our dependencies, our addictions, or our fallible selves.

When God's power lives in us, we can be pressed by troubles, perplexed by life, and haunted by our addictions/dependencies, and at the same time experience peace in trouble, hope in perplexing situations, and a lifting of the compulsion to act out. When we admit our powerlessness, God's power flows in to fill us and accomplish what we could never do on our own.


No-Win Situations Genesis 16:1-15

1. What feelings do I experience as I acknowledge people in my life who have power (such as supervisors, spouse, religious leaders, and sponsors)? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

2. What do I try to escape from? What do I feel trapped by? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

3. How do I escape my feelings, such as anger, boredom, fatigue, or loneliness? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

4. When things do not go my way, or when I am in a no-win situation, what is my reaction (with relationships, work, promotions, kids who question or rebel, traffic, drivers in front of me, people talking on cell phones in public places, financial difficulties, people who hurt or disappoint me, or God, who seems to be silent)? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

5. If I could, how would I change my response? ________________________________________________________________

Dangerous Self-Deception Judges 16:1-31

1. What is the longest time I have been able to stop addictive behaviors or using addictive substances? ________________________________________________________________

2. What are some of the reasons I use for starting my behaviors or substance abuse again? ________________________________________________________________

3. What are the things I think I can control? How do I lie to myself, and about what? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

4. What is so scary about telling the truth? ________________________________________________________________

5. As I explore powerlessness, what blind spots have I discovered? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

6. What are the results of pride in my life? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

A Humble Beginning 2 Kings 5:1-15

1. What is the difference between humiliation and humility in my life? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

2. How do I regard myself as being a little more important than other people? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

3. What makes me think I am in control of anything? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

4. How do I try to influence or control God or his representatives? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

5. When have I placed expectations on other people or God? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

6. When have my attitudes shown that I believe I know better than God? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

7. Why is it difficult for me to follow another's instructions? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Hope Amidst Suffering Job 6:2-13

1. What kind of people do I hang around with and trust-people who criticize, or people who encourage truth? ________________________________________________________________

2. What emotions can I identify when I am at the bottom? ________________________________________________________________

3. What have I done in the past to deal with pain or sadness? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

Like Little Children Mark 10:13-16

1. What happened in the past that still provokes fear in me today? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

2. When do I feel the most cared for? ________________________________________________________________

3. What do I see in my life that reveals God's care for me? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

A Time to Choose Acts 9:1-9

1. When I continue to pursue my own agenda without asking God for direction, what happens in my life? ________________________________________________________________

2. Are there areas of my life in which God may have to use extreme measures before I will listen for direction? Which areas? ________________________________________________________________

3. What will it take for me to listen to God? ________________________________________________________________

The Paradox of Powerlessness 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

1. These are examples of when I have demonstrated acceptance of my own powerlessness and God's powerfulness: ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________

2. How do I respond to trouble? ________________________________________________________________

3. How do I respond to being perplexed? ________________________________________________________________

4. What do I do when it seems that God or someone else has abandoned me? ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________


Our temptation now is to think that we have finished the Twelve Steps. The reality is that the steps are never really done because we never quit growing emotionally or spiritually. By practicing the Twelve Steps, we have a path for life and a connection with God that yields greater humility and reverence for his grace and power.

You never have to wonder how to carry this message of transformation to others. It happens when you integrate the Twelve Step principles into every area of your life. You don't have to loudly proclaim the message; your changed life speaks for itself. Attending weekly meetings and working the steps are only meaningful if they result in a remarkable life that is noticeably different than before-without the same destructive habits and patterns. The message is carried further and better by a kind tongue than by articulate lips. So carry the message of hope and transformation as you love others with all you have and all you are.

We conclude with this blessing and encouragement from Peter:

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world's corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God's promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. (2 Peter 1:2-7)

Prayer for Recovery Let me focus my will today on my eagerness to do the will of God (through working the Twelve Steps) and not to "chase evil desires [addiction]."


Excerpted from THE Life Recovery WORKBOOK by STEPHEN ARTERBURN DAVID STOOP Larry Werbil Janelle Puff Copyright © 2007 by Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Life Recovery Workbook: A Biblical Guide through the Twelve Steps 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We have been using this as the basis for our recovery meeting at our church for well over a year and the group as well as myself believe the contents to be spot on and a wonderful source for us to work and learn with. Easy to understand and it brings the scripture and the twelve steps to light wonderfully. I believe it to be invaluable as a companion to the Life Recovery Bible.