Finding Freedom Through Faith: A Christian Perspective on Addiction

Show Notes

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with David Zailer, an author and addiction recovery specialist. As someone who struggled with alcohol, drugs, and other addictions for years, David has an incredible story of redemption that I think you’ll find compelling and hopeful. In our conversation, David shares openly about his journey to sobriety after getting arrested, as well as the underlying issues he had to face along the way. I was particularly moved by his perspective on the value of community and accountability in the recovery process. He offers fantastic insight into the nature of addiction and why quick fixes rarely work. David also talks about the connection between addiction recovery and Christian faith. As a follower of Jesus, he explains how God’s redemption applies not just to eternity, but to the here and now of our daily lives. I love his distinction that while we can’t solve our problems, we can have hope in God’s grace to transform us. In addition to David’s personal story, he provides fantastic recommendations for those currently struggling with addictions like alcohol, drugs, or pornography. I’ll include links to the resources he suggested so you can explore further. I hope David’s wisdom and experience gives you new understanding and compassion, whether you’re battling addiction yourself or walking alongside a loved one. Let me know your key takeaways in the comments!


Parenting Gender Confused Children Support Group:
https://faithfullyengaged.com/support-group/

Davids Links:

Website: https://operationintegrity.org
X: https://twitter.com/davidzailer
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/davidzailer/
Book: https://www.amazon.com/When-Lost-Men-Come-Home/dp/B0C6793VVV/

Podmatch:

Want to be a podcast guest?  Have your own podcast and want to find guests?  Use podmatch!  https://www.joinpodmatch.com/faithfullyengaged

Faithfully Engaged Substack: https://faithfullyengaged.substack.com/

*This description contains affiliate links.  These links add no cost to you and help support the show.*

#AddictionRecovery
#ChristianFaith
#FaithBasedRecovery
#HopeInRecovery
#OvercomingAddiction
#SupportingAddicts
#ChristianRecoveryCommunity
#FaithAndHealing
#CompassionInRecovery
#AddictionEducation

TIMESTAMPS:
00:00:00 – Supporting Parents of Gender Confused Children

00:01:18 – Introduction to Addiction Recovery

00:03:13 – Personal Journey into Addiction Recovery

00:06:33 – Writing as a Reflection of Experience

00:17:56 – Church’s Role in Addressing Addiction

00:20:45 – Importance of Stability and Real-World Wisdom

00:21:39 – Personal Journey to Sobriety

00:24:47 – Understanding Frailty and Underlying Issues

00:30:24 – Pornography Addiction and Recovery

00:39:40 – Embracing Pain and Struggle

00:39:55 – The Journey of Growth and Redemption

00:41:45 – The Value of Love and Relational Support

00:43:00 – The Redemption and Forgiveness of Christ

00:46:52 – The Pathway to Healing

00:53:31 – Striving for Health and Wholeness

00:58:25 – Journey to Sexual Integrity

00:58:49 – Personal Transformation

00:59:20 – Book Recommendations

01:00:14 – Future Collaboration 

01:00:53 – Connection and Collaboration

Transcript:

00:00:00 – Johnny Sanders
Do you have a child that is gender confused? Are you the parent of somebody that is either identified as transgender using different pronouns, or some other type of gender confused, just proper Gandha being shoved down your kids throats? Well, I created the biblically parenting gender confused children support group for parents just like you. The support group is completely free. We meet monthly and you are able to connect with other like minded christian parents that are struggling with how to parent children that are gender confused. They’re getting all sorts of nonsense brought to them by the world and I want to help connect parents that are going through similar struggles and be able to tackle this issue through a biblical worldview. If you are interested in joining this group or know somebody that might be interested in this group, head on over to faithfullyengaged.com. And there’s more information about the support group there. I have a link down in the description below. Well, welcome back everyone, to another episode of faithfully engaged. Today I have an author and somebody that works in kind of the addiction recovery side of things. His name is David Zailer. So, David, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

00:01:31 – David Zailer
Well, Johnny, thanks for having me on your podcast. I work in the addiction recovery field mostly now in the area of communications and education advocacy. I still do a little bit of private practice with counseling and coaching, but mostly I’m just trying to help people understand the pervasive nature of addiction. Addiction does not respect cultural boundaries or social or economic boundaries. It does not respect religious boundaries. And my job is to help people have an understanding of what addiction is. I think from understanding it’s an education. There comes insight, and with insight we can build a platform for compassion. Not just compassion for other people who we see as having obvious horrible addictions, but also compassions for ourself. And so that we can also begin to address the hidden areas of addiction that are affecting us and our loved ones. So that’s what I do.

00:02:50 – Johnny Sanders
I think that’s a very needed, specific part here in the field. Addiction is all over the place. And I’m just kind of curious off the bat here. What kind of made you get into the addiction side of things? That’s a pretty specific part of the field. What kind of drew you into that side?

00:03:13 – David Zailer
Personal experience. By the way, my best work has never been my idea. It’s always been something like, oh gosh, is that it? Is that what I’m supposed to do? Dang it. I am a recovering man. I refer to myself as a grateful recovering alcoholic. All the drugs that were popular in the cocaine and I smoked heroin and I snorted meth. Of course I had a problem with women. I was a young man, and I don’t know of too many young men that have problems with alcohol and drugs that don’t also have problems with women or sex. Those were my issues that had been, and many of them had followed me since as a young man and followed me into my early middle age. I’m now sober 25 years, but I’m not a young man anymore. And I came into this just needing to solve some problems. And I went to a twelve step program. From the twelve step program, I found a deep and profound abiding faith in Jesus, which I had never found growing up in church. In church, I found kind of religious training and socialization and kind of some cultural training. But when it came to a deep sense of inner presence, it was never there. Once it was there, I just followed that and continued to work my recovery program along with the twelve steps and in community as a way of fellowship and enlarging my faith. And then the recession came along. I’d been in the construction business for many years. The recession came out and pretty much wiped me out. And a friend of mine said, well, you know, you’re really good at this stuff, at helping others. Why don’t you go to school? And I said, that’s about the dumbest idea I have ever heard of. But I said I was praying. I said, jesus, I don’t know what else to do. And it was kind of like, well, I don’t think you have anything else to do, so should go to school. So that was, gosh, about 15 years ago. And I had written my first book even prior to that. And I went to school and got my schooling done and went to work in treatment programs and developed a counseling practice and wrote some more books and began to do face to face education for like family groups or church groups, that kind of thing. And that’s what has led me to do what I do and to be here with you today.

00:06:33 – Johnny Sanders
I think that’s fantastic. And that’s part of why I asked that question. I actually like asking with anybody that’s in the mental health world, I kind of like asking just their story, how you get wrapped up into it and people have some type of personal connection or personal reason why they get in. I find those stories fascinating and kind of transitioning into just more on being an author. Obviously, this is going to involve your own experiences. What led you into starting to writing? What about making a book? Kind of drew to you and got you to the point where you became an author.

00:07:13 – David Zailer
Well, I was a reader. Not always. In fact, I should tell you that prior to getting sober, I had never read a book. As a teenager, I would read my Bible, both because I was told that I was supposed to do that. And I was generally a well behaved kid, but also I had a longing. I had a longing to know and to be known. But when it came to reading a book, I’d never read a book. I was a terrible failure in school, dropped out of high school, terrible. But early on in my journey of recovery, I was part of a kind of a startup group of men who were addressing their addiction to pornography. And we would meet once a week. The group started with just three of us, but within, certainly within a year, we had like, 30 or 40 guys, and we were working to apply the twelve steps to these areas that we struggled. And I was so impressed with the conversation. I would go home and I would write down these conversations. Actually, I would type it, and then I did my best to just kind of create paragraphs of these thoughts and these things that I had written down from our conversations, and I would bring it back to the group, and I would say, hey, check this out. And the guys would read it, and they really liked it. And they said, where do you get this stuff? I said, well, that’s what we talked about two or three weeks ago. And I just kind of wrote it down. Wow. Well, David, keep doing that. All right, I’ll keep doing that. I did that for a couple of years. And that became the first book when Lost Men come Home, which has now just had its third revision. After the first book came out, we actually had women engage the book, women who struggled with porn or women who were struggling with sex addiction. And they became part of the dialogue. We had separate meetings for men and for women, but there was this interchange of information between the two. And by the way, a quick sidebar note here. Talk together about this, because if they don’t, it becomes a gender war. And men start pointing fingers at women, and women start pointing fingers at men. There has to be an exchange of experience, an exchange of heartbreak and of suffering in these areas of human struggle, because quite honestly, especially in a christian world, we kind of assume, well, you know, the men, they’re going to do these things, and they’re kind of known to be the bad boys, and they’re going to look at the bad pictures, and they’re going to masturbate too much, and the poor little women are going to suffer well, now we’ve created this expectation of victimizer and victim. That doesn’t always hold true. Also, what about the women who are struggling with pornography addiction or struggling with sex addiction? It gives them no place for fellowship. So when these women started engaging with us in the conversation, there wasn’t a lot of them. There were just three or four of them. I paid a lot of attention to them. And in the second book and then certainly in the third version, I’ve worked very hard to make their voices and their contributions part of the entire narrative. Because when it comes to pornography and sex struggles with sex addiction, it’s not a male or female issue. It’s a human issue. So forgive me for the long answer for that, but as you know, and I think most of your listeners will understand that this is not a simple conversation here. And if it was so simple, people would.

00:11:49 – Johnny Sanders
What I was just going to say is, I think you bringing this up here is really important, though, in our current cultural climate. We’re seeing this with the rise of the, quote, red pill movement and things of that nature, where now we’re seeing a lot of young men go the complete opposite way, men on their own way, or whatever they call it. Men go in their own way, I think is what it’s called, where essentially now we don’t need women at all. We just do our own little thing. And that’s not good. We need each other. And like you say, we need to have this discussion.

00:12:25 – David Zailer
Well, people love to create these illusions about how strong they are, and they love to delude themselves with this notion of their independence and strength. And we are independently strongest when we’re in a healthy, honest, knowing community. Now, I will tell you this. The whole world does not need to know everybody’s stuff. It’s not necessary. I think there’s a great mistake when people, especially when people, if they get sober or they start working a recovery program, there’s kind of this reactionary impulse to shed shame by oversharing. And I did a lot of that, and I suffered for that. And I see a lot of people do that. Very few people need to know everything about you. We all have to have someone in our life, a few people that know everything about us, but not the whole world. But back to what you were talking about, is that in response to pain or shame or embarrassment or humiliation, people tend to want to jump from one ditch on one side of the road and they overreact and find themselves in the ditch on the other side of the road. And it’s the old saying, how do you get experience? Well, you make mistakes, and from mistakes come experience. And believe me, I am not going to deny someone the value of their mistakes. I’m just not going to do that.

00:14:34 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah, no, I think that’s a really good point there. If we try to do everything on my own, do it perfectly, you’re not going to do anything that’s not helpful. I think we looking at this as sure men fall more so in one camp on some things and women more so fall on some things more than men do. But bringing a christian perspective, we’re all made in God’s image that’s male and female. So we need to understand that. Yeah, these human condition issues, we’ve got to be able to tackle some of these things together and tackle them with the right people together. To your point, not just anybody and everybody, but people that I can trust, people that have my best interests in mind. We got to tackle some tough issues.

00:15:24 – David Zailer
Right. And you kind of interesting how our conversation is going here because at least in my mind, it takes me back to the topic of education and information. Because one of the things that education does for people is that it helps us identify resources. It helps us to understand where to go. I grew up in a nice church in Houston. Lots of nice churches down in Houston, by the way. And as a child growing up, I was raised with this idea that you keep all your secrets hidden at home because nobody can know. But church is the safe place, and that’s the place where you go to get all your problems solved. You go to church and you make another commitment, you sign another pledge card, you get involved in another Bible study or another service, opportunity, whatever it might be. I’m going to tell you right now, for Christians and non Christians, church is not always the best place to deal with an addiction. And those are fighting words for some people. And I think many churches. Well, gosh, all right, I’ve stepped into it now, Johnny. I’ve stepped into it. I think sometimes churches get territorial and they get jealous and they fear losing people to outside areas, other things. Okay, so be it. So be it. I know this is when I first got sober. I quit going to church for a while. I had to. I needed to step away and have some time to understand what it meant for me and Jesus to know one another outside of this influence that really had to do with culture or people imposing what they thought I needed to be or do in this life. Okay, there, I stepped in it. There’s no cleaning that up. Don’t even try.

00:18:05 – Johnny Sanders
With this kind of bring your church into it though. Let’s say, you know, somebody in church that they confessed or whatever. Hey, I’ve got a drinking problem. I have a porn issue. Whatever that addiction is. Through your experience, both personally and professionally, how can the church help assist in maybe a more effective and more fruitful way than it generally does?

00:18:33 – David Zailer
Well, I think the church is actually, churches as a whole are getting better and better, I think as the church has learned to be referring people to. If an alcoholic goes to his pastor, hey, I have a drinking problem. It is my opinion that the pastor would encourage that person to get involved in AA and get a counselor or therapist. Could be counselor or therapist is someone who’s going to be understanding and endorsing the twelve step community and the twelve step process as both support and a growth path. Whereas go back 30, 40 years, it was generally like, okay, pray a little harder, let’s keep you busy. And what I’m looking for is not just something that will clean the guy up for a week or two, but something that’s going to be sustainable long term and put that person in a position where they can begin to build a life that is so valuable and so important to them that they don’t ever want to risk it again. And I think one of the great dynamics of the twelve step addiction recovery programs is that you’re going to be relationally engaged with people who are all across the spectrum of experience. You’ll see a guy who’s 3 hours since his last drink and you’re going to see people who are 30 years since their last drink. And seeing and observing both of those people is so very important. Of course, the old timers, the people with great experience, they have maturity to offer. They have stability to offer. They have real world wisdom to offer. The guy who’s still walking in the door reeking of alcohol, just looking at him should be a reminder. That’s so very important. Let me share a personal experience with you. So I got sober because I got arrested for a tiny little bit of cocaine. It was a little bitty bit, but back in the 90s, if you got arrested with a little bitty bit of cocaine in California, that was a big deal. And the courts told me to go to a long term treatment program and I said, okay, fine, because I didn’t want to go to jail. That was it. And I went to this program, and this program made me pee in a cup and I had to check in every day, and I had to go to groups and I had a counseling session every week. But I had no intention of staying sober. I just couldn’t imagine it. But slowly, over time, I began to feel okay, and I’ve been to feel good. And then next thing you know, I’m three months sober, and then six months sober. And then one day, I was a year sober. And this whole time, I’m seeing people who have long term sobriety, and I’m seeing people who go out and relapse. Every time I saw one of those people relapse, I was reminded of the misery and the horror that follows that. And it was a deterrent for me. It was like, you know what? I don’t want that. I think I’ll just kind of keep doing this for a while. I was a year sober when I realized, this is good. I think I’ll keep doing this for a while. I mean, there’s a liquor store in every corner. I can always go back anytime I want. And here I am, 25 years later. Excuse me. Let me correct my math. It’s 24 years. Sorry about that. I’m already thinking, we’re in 24. We’re close. But it’s seeing both the examples of hope and the examples of the misery. Those two things are so important for us to find our path forward. Once again, sorry for the long answer.

00:23:34 – Johnny Sanders
No, it’s good. I really like how you ended that there. That we need for that change. Oftentimes, we need both. And I’ll say this often with clients that I work with for various different issues, that I don’t want us to forget the failures, either of you or of somebody else that you know, because sometimes we need that reminder of hurt to say, hey, I don’t want that. That was bad. It’s kind of the classic example. If kid puts his hand on the hot stove, they usually don’t do it twice because they learned that doesn’t feel good. I don’t like that. So we don’t want to dwell on that, but we also don’t want to forget that. But that can’t solely be it. If it’s solely just to avoid the bad that dries up after a while, I have to be shooting for the hope, something positive on that other direction. Right. When you’re that year in and you’re starting to kind of piece that together, what sustained you for that next 24 years? Did you find other hopes, or did you feel like you just kind of perfected what you were seeking after?

00:24:56 – David Zailer
Well, I would certainly say that over the years, I’ve developed a more articulate understanding of my frailty. I used to think that alcohol and drugs were my problem, and they certainly were a problem. They were an identified addiction. But once I stopped those things, the underlying issues begin to bubble to the surface. And I remember that first year, and I would go to AA meetings, and I would hear these people say, well, I’m five years sober, or ten years sober. We had a doctor that came to the AA meeting every day, and he was 40 years sober. He’s a retired doctor and 40 years sober. And he would say, well, I used to drink every day. Why wouldn’t I go into solution every day? And I thought, okay, that stuck with me. But at the same time, Johnny, I couldn’t really believe that anyone could ever really be five years sober, or ten or 20. I just couldn’t quite believe it. But I thought, you know, what it meant is that they were not getting caught. Okay, I would like to learn how not to get caught. But what did impress me were the people who were six months sober, or a year sober, or maybe 18 months sober, and they were smiling, and I would see them at a Christmas party, and they’re holding hands with their wife, and they’re going to the gym, and they’re healthy, and they’ve quit smoking. And I would look at them and go, wow. Because that looked like it was possible, but it wasn’t going to work if I didn’t begin to address the underlying issues. And I will also tell you this, because I was working a twelve step program. The twelve step program guides someone into identifying and working through underlying issues. And I began to face the deep core of hurt and betrayal that I had suffered. What was easiest to see was my anger. I was a very angry, aggressive young man, worked in the construction business, had done sports, and I was just a very aggressive person. And as the layers, they say, as the layers began to slough off and peel away, I began to understand that below that anger, there was deep sadness and heartbreak and hurt that I had had with me since I was a little bitty boy. Now, quick rabbit trail, here I am, a lowly addiction counselor. I’m not a therapist, but I do think that there’s a misconception that believes that if we get down to the core root, that all the addictions kind of just go away. And I quite honestly, in all due respect, I think that’s a little bit asked backwards. As long as a person is continuing to dilute themselves with their drugs or alcohol, their codependency, their spending, their eating, their pornography, they’re not going to have much success in identifying and addressing underlying issues. I think you have to bite the apple from both sides. And this is where the therapy or the counseling and the twelve steps are such an helpful integrated partnership because the therapist and the counselor can guide the individual and help them get them out of the mud bog, so to speak, while at the same time that person becomes a great ally and becomes a partner in their own success by doing their twelve step work. In answer to your question, in these first few years, and I was doing some twelve step work every day, doing some journaling and some writing, and I’m talking with my sponsor and I’m going to therapy, I began to see these things that I couldn’t see before the scales were lifted from my eyes. Not in just some great miraculous moment of enlightenment, but each and every day I began to have a little bit better understanding of who I was and how I struggled. And from there I could learn to be more honest with myself, honest with God, and with other people. And quite honestly, if we can’t be honest with ourself, how in the world can we ever be honest with God or with another human being? It’s just not going to happen.

00:30:24 – Johnny Sanders
I’m thinking of somebody that’s listening to this interview, and maybe they are dealing with alcohol addiction, porn addiction. I think porn is definitely going to be one that’s going to be pretty heavy for probably a lot in the audience. And it’s such a difficult topic because that happens with so many people.

00:30:49 – David Zailer
Pornography, no doubt. Pornography, codependency and pornography were my two original addictions. When I was a boy of eight years old, I found my father’s pornography, and that blew the doors open for me. And I was a pretty active porn consumer until I was a year sober. And when I was a year sober, it just became obvious that I could no longer have this ongoing relationship with pornography because it was going to lead me back to alcohol and drugs. Sorry, I apologize.

00:31:31 – Johnny Sanders
That’s good. I think that’s great information because a lot of these, yeah, they bounce off each other like you’re saying there, but yeah, somebody that’s dealing with that, maybe even a mixture.

00:31:42 – David Zailer
Yeah. Pornography is a drug. Pornography. Okay, let me just say that I know you know this, Johnny, but most people have never heard this. Pornography at the level of the neurosynaptic connections in the human brain, it is a drug, it is mood altering, it is mind altering. It creates an intoxication, it creates a high. Once the person looks at pornography and masturbates, or closes the app on their phone or their computer, whatever they’re doing. Then there’s the comedown and the hangover. And it will affect their functioning both personally and in their relationships, just like alcohol or drugs does.

00:32:36 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah. And obviously it’s a very damaging thing, especially in today’s culture. What you were saying earlier, going in and finding your dad or your uncle or whoever’s magazines, it’s not like this is new, but in those days it takes some extra secrecy. You have to go and seek and find that. If you go and buy it at the store, at the video store or whatever, you have to go to a specific part. There’s a little bit of extra shame and things like that involved here. Now, I could be looking at it right the second we’re talking to each other. You wouldn’t know. It’s just so quick and pervasive and it’s everywhere. So somebody that’s kind of knee deep in that they’re listening to this, they don’t know where to go. What would be your advice? Not to fix their problem, but to get them pointed in the right direction. What do you think that they should do?

00:33:42 – David Zailer
Well, both for the christian individual or for the non Christian. There are a number of wonderful twelve step programs. They’re in most medium to large cities. They’re all online now. There’s sex addicts Anonymous, sex and love addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous. I mean, there’s more than I can even remember. When I first started my journey, there was only just a couple of different programs for that. Now there’s tons of them for the christian person on this. I have a number of links on my organization’s website, operationintegrity.org. One of my favorites is an organization out of San Antonio called Bebroken ministries. I think they’re bebroken.com. They have some online resources. They have intensive weekends around the country where people can travel to. So again, depending on the person’s level of motivation, depending on their personal resource, most people can’t take a three day weekend and go spend $3,000 on an intensive weekend. And if you do that, that’s no guarantee. Okay. People love the idea and the organizations market the idea. Come to our service, come to our program, come to our church and write us the check, and we’ll give you everything you need. Great. They cash the check and they give you everything that they say you need. And you get home and a week, two weeks later, you’re looking at porn and feeling worse than ever. I want people to begin to develop this network of both resource and relationship where they’re doing something every day. You know what? I’m 24 years into my recovery. I still have conversations every day at a deep personal level about my journey and my recovery and about someone else’s journey and their recovery. What I’m doing with you, this is not my recovery. This is my contribution. This is my service. It’s also the way I make a living. The struggles that people face are everyday struggles. Let’s begin to have a positive expectation, what it means to bring those solutions into a daily experience.

00:36:42 – Johnny Sanders
I think what you’re saying there of not getting the quick fix mentality, which is, again, another pervasive part of our culture. I’ll go to the seminar. It’s all going to go away. It just doesn’t work that way. But can I set up my lifestyle, set up some positive interactions going to these groups that aren’t getting some good accountability? Let’s start the ball rolling. Sure, you got to take some action, but we tend to have a flip on, flip off type of switch mentality that doesn’t work in addiction, that doesn’t work really in anything in life. We don’t just flip things on and off. I think of that in a christian perspective with faith, goodness. I’ve had times in my life where my faith is so strong, it’s like nothing will ever shake me. I’ve got this down and then something bad happens a week later and my faith is shaken. It’s that long haul journey, not the quick little snaps. And that’s another thing I talk about often with my clients and like, hey, we see some success. That’s great. I love that you have success. Let’s be aware when you have a bad day that we don’t just give up, that we keep going even when we have a struggle. And that’s where that day to day is so important. And we don’t just focus on this real quick fix. That may help, but it’s not going to make everything go away.

00:38:15 – David Zailer
Well, you’re touching on an ever so important point is that, and people ask me, well, what’s the genesis of addiction? Well, good luck answering that honestly. That’s like saying, well, tell me what it means to be a human being. That’s a pretty complex question to ask. I do know this, is that generally speaking, addictive behavior, the genesis of addictive behavior is pain. People don’t know what to do with their pain and they’re afraid of it. And it feels like something that they must escape. I can’t handle this. I think one of the areas where and really our savior is Christians. Jesus. He’s a great example of someone who, he was not deterred by pain. He did not label pain as something to be discarded or avoided. He didn’t chase it. He didn’t seek to create it, but he wasn’t intimidated by it. And same way with human struggle, we so want, you know what? Even when I was in the throes of my addiction, if someone came to me and said, hey, we could zap you with a christian experience or with a pill or a therapy and this and that, and all these problems would go away, I would say, yeah, sign me up. I’ll write a check for that. I’ll sign up for the class. I’ll do whatever. But really, the calling, and I think this is very much in line with our calling, to be followers of Jesus is to follow the path and the journey and the journey of growth and the journey of becoming more intimate and more connected with the redemptive love of God and whose face is Jesus. And that is really an up and down, back and forth, meandering journey that isn’t always pleasant. So I think it’s best for us to encourage one another by being present to one another in the journey. This last year, I lost one of my dearest friends to cancer. 20 year friendship. And we were both recovering men working on our stuff together. And we’d talk on the phone about once a week, and we’d meet for breakfast about once a month because we didn’t live real close. He lives in Los Angeles. I live an hour south of there. I realized now that one of the things that we needed was not the accountability that we could offer one another. It was the encouragement and the presence. Without the value of love and relational support, accountability becomes like this religious traffic cop that’s hiding behind some billboard somewhere, ready to ticket us for our shortfall in our performative religious lives. Oh, see what you did know? Straighten up and fly right. What my friend Mark and I found in this long friendship with one another is what was most important was to have the encouragement and the presence of one another and someone who would not give up on me when I was at rock bottom. So, yeah, accountability, that word accountability is one that’s been thrown around an awful lot over the last 1520 years. Believe me, this world will hold you accountable. No doubt about it. What Jesus is offering is presence himself. That’s the redemption.

00:43:00 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah, and that’s something. That redemption piece, that forgiveness piece, that is something the world absolutely cannot offer. You will never be enough. We see this all the time, that if I just do this, I’ll earn his love, I’ll earn her love or whatever it may be. You can’t. You can maybe get a glimpse of it, maybe have a piece of it. You’ll never get that full redemption that Christ offers. And he.

00:43:34 – David Zailer
And I think one of the things that as Jesus continues to reveal himself to me, I have this growing sense that I don’t have to be any more than just exactly what I am today. I’m not out getting drunk, I’m not smoking crack, and I’m not out chasing women. Those are all three really great things that I’m not doing. I am still every much of a sinner today as I’ve ever been. But I’m a sinner who knows my savior. And my savior never expects me or demands that I’d be any more than what I am. He asks me to follow him and then he will make me what he wants me to be.

00:44:26 – Johnny Sanders
And that’s such a key distinction, because again, if it’s all on you, it becomes very works based. You’re going to lose it. And at some level, we bring addiction in. You get enough failure, well, what’s the point? I can’t make it anyways. Might as well numb myself. And again, that’s the absolute opposite of the christian worldview of what the gospel is like. No, you’re not enough, and that’s a good thing. But God is. God is enough. And it’s not about you doing anything special. It’s about allowing him to use you and to save you. And that takes so much pressure off of you because now I don’t have to perform. I just get to love a God that loves me. That’s a pretty sweet deal, right?

00:45:15 – David Zailer
Well, and you’re picking up the two points of having, I could even call it kind of a binocular view. We’ve all kind of looked at binoculars. I don’t think most people don’t understand what a binocular is, is that binocular has two lenses. Our eyes look through each lens, but in the construction of the unit, it takes those two lenses and creates one image. And that is the image that we can see. Distance and perspective and accuracy. It helps us to see something that we could not otherwise see. But we have to have both those views in order to make that happen. Both those views is the fact that the destitute nature of the sinner. I can’t. I cannot solve my problems. My hope in the grace of God. And what is he asking me to do. And when I have those two things together now, I have a pathway to go from my state of hopelessness and to move. And these are where we use the words like obedience and faithfulness. But it’s a movement in the direction of our calling, in the therapeutic consideration, in the addiction recovery consideration. This is all a movement towards healing. Everything about following Jesus is a pragmatic about being healthy and whole. When I was growing up as a kid, it was like, all right, well, let’s get you saved and let’s get you baptized, and you got to fill out the card, and then we’re going to get you a good bible and this and that so you can go to heaven when you die. I remember at five years old, people asking me, Dow, don’t you want to know for sure and be assured that you’re going to go to heaven when you die? And I’m like five years old going, well, yeah, of course. But what about between now and then? No one ever filled in the gaps between now and then. The gospel brings everything about the redemption of God in the sweet by and by in heaven and brings it into our world today. That’s recovery, that’s healing and hope. If a person is struggling with. There are a lot of alcoholics out there who believe Jesus is the son of God, that he was crucified on the cross and rose on the third day for our sins. They have checked all the boxes theologically and know that they’re going to heaven when they die. But they have no reason to stop drinking because they think, they assume, they believe that they have no ability to be happy and whole in this world. So why wouldn’t they drink? The promise is not just for the sweet. Buy and buy, thank goodness for eternity, but it’s also in the here and now. That’s why I don’t drink today, because I want some of that heaven today.

00:48:54 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah, I think that’s really important that we recognize heaven. Absolutely. We want to live for heaven. That’s important of our eternal salvation and everything. It’s not to dismiss that, but God gave us life for a reason, and we need to be able to live this gift of life the best way that we can. And we know that being a slave to addiction is not a healthy, good way to spend that time. So I think that’s really important that as the church, we understand that, yes, saving souls, trying to get people into heaven, great, keep doing that. But let’s not make that the sole purpose. Let’s try to shepherd how we can live well here while we’re still on earth as.

00:49:43 – David Zailer
Know now that COVID’s. Well, I didn’t want to talk about COVID but prior to COVID I was traveling kind of around and I’m beginning to do more of that. Looking forward to it. I enjoy that work. One of the dynamics that I see in churches and in christian conversations is that people tend to pick and choose those things that are the evils that people have to stop. I’ve got to get my nephew off of that marijuana. I’ve got to get my husband to quit looking at that pornography or I don’t like the girl that my son is dating. She shows too much, whatever it might be. Okay, those are all things that can be addressed. But I want people to look at themselves and go, well, wait a minute here. What about that extra 50 pounds you carry? What about these 70 hours work weeks that you do 52 weeks out of the year? Workaholism, food addictions even. I mean, people want to talk about sex addiction, but there’s also people who have an aversion to sex because they have an aversion to intimacy. I’m asking people to look more creatively and more openly about the reality of addiction and then to be willing to ponder the questions, okay, what are the addictions that are destroying me? I had a lady get really upset with me one time because I was helping her son and he was like six months sober and he was doing really good in his twelve step program. He was a periodic drug user, marijuana user and a drinker. And he had put all those things down, but he was still smoking cigarettes. Now, guarantee a nicotine is a horrible chemical. It is powerfully addictive. And I said to her one time, I said, you know, let me ask you something. What is it that’s going to kill him the quickest? And I think people need to ask themselves, wait a minute here, if I’m so worried about my son’s drinking problem and his smoking. And by the way, this lady was morbidly obese. Morbidly obese, which is kind of none of my business except for the fact it’s the health issue. So I’m asking people to take these areas of human struggle and start to get honest about them and start working on them and use these resources like the counseling and the twelve step process to help them find a way forward to a healthier, happier, more spiritually effective life.

00:53:08 – Johnny Sanders
And I think in the end that’s that key, to be healthy across the spectrum. I had a recent guest on talking about the mind, the body and the soul. We want health in all of those aspects, not just one, but all of them. And we’re never going to be perfect on this side of heaven. We’re going to have mistakes. Like you said, you’re a sinner, as we all are.

00:53:35 – David Zailer
But perfectionism is of the devil, no doubt about it.

00:53:41 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah. So we’re not going to attain that. It’s not within us. But what are we striving towards? Are we a slave to these addictions? And the fact of the matter is, what are we serving? Are we serving these addictions? Are we serving Christ? We’re going to serve something. So we’ve got to point to the direction that we ultimately want to serve and find people alongside with you that can help point you in that right direction instead of being that lone ranger. That lone ranger, kind of like you’re talking about earlier. It just doesn’t work. Bring the christian perspective. We are not created to do it all alone. So I love some of those resources you gave earlier, and I’m going to link your website and some of these other resources that you were talking about earlier, just so people have access to that. For people that have been listening to you, maybe they’re interested in some of the books you’ve written, interested in knowing more about your organization and just being able to be in contact with you. How can they get in contact with you?

00:54:51 – David Zailer
Well, the name of my organization that I work for is Operation Integrity. It’s operationintegrity.org. Simple as that. They can go there. There are a lot of resources there. They can send an email. I would really like if we have a couple more minutes to talk about this book. I don’t know if it’s coming out backwards. Does it look all right, or is it backwards on your screen? I can’t tell.

00:55:22 – Johnny Sanders
It looks fine.

00:55:25 – David Zailer
Great. Okay. This is another one of those projects that I didn’t want to do a number of years ago. I was going to my hometown to write content for some educational videos. I was just part of the writing team. I was born and raised in Houston. To say it was complicated, to say the least. And as I was preparing for these trips, I remember saying, I said, God, I’d really like some help. And if you would help me rethink and learn how to think differently about my experience with Houston, that was it. And I started making these trips. And there was four trips over the course of a year. And every time I’d go to Houston, I’d be in Houston for three, four, five days working. And I began to have these encounters with some extraordinary people, like a gravedigger where my parents are buried, a gravedigger at the cemetery where my parents are buried. The guy comes up and befriends me, this little indian lady at a flower shop. I reconnected with some old friends, most of whom I have not seen since I was ten, eleven, twelve years old. And as these experiences unfolded, I just was mindful of them. I was just paying attention. Fast forward to the next year. The trips are done. I’m home. A dear friend of mine, Johnny O’Connor, who’s a prolific writer, and he’s one of my dearest friends, he goes, why don’t you write a memoir? And I said, you know, that’s about the dumbest idea I have ever heard. Why in the world would I want to write a memoir? And I got mad at him. It’s like, oh, what a terrible idea. But then I thought, you know what? I want to write an essay about my friend the gravedigger. His name’s Andrew. Anybody know a gravedigger by the name of Andrew? Well, I do. And so I wrote an essay about Andrew. And then I thought, I’m going to write another essay about the lady at the flower store. This lady, she just knocked my socks off with some of the things she said to me in a good way. So I’m writing these essays and suddenly I realize, oh, my gosh. And I call up my friend Johnny. I said, Johnny, I think I’m writing a memoir now while I’m talking about books, by the way, this is my book when lost men come home. This is the book relevant to. This is the new version that both men and women have contributed to. It’s an inspired journey to sexual integrity. This is our journey home. This is actually my most popular recovery book. This has been used in churches and treatment programs and in christian recovery communities. And there’s a couple of others that they can find on Amazon or Barnes and noble. This book, by the way, the reason why I plugged this one is because it’s so deeply personal. I had no idea when I started this journey how much there was in one man’s pathetic life that could be turned for good. And I’ve written about it here. So that’s it. I hope your readers will possibly consider those books and I think they will find them helpful, and I pray that they will feel loved and understood as they read those books. Awesome.

00:59:37 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah. And I’ll include links to the website and to all those books that David just listed down there. Please consider checking them very, very personal in nature there and helpful and something I think that all of you would definitely, deeply enjoy. Thank you.

00:59:57 – David Zailer
Well, Johnny, I want to thank you, and I want to thank your listeners. I hope I haven’t rambled too nonsensically. I hope maybe you’ll consider having me on again, maybe down the road.

01:00:14 – Johnny Sanders
When.

01:00:15 – David Zailer
You think it’s okay. That would be wonderful.

01:00:18 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah, no, thank you again for being on with us. And, yeah, that definitely. We’ll stay in touch. We were talking off camera a little bit of kind of how we got connected. And my friend, so at is the one that ended up connecting us online and actually bragging with Soad. She’s actually been thus far, my podcast is just a little under a year old now, but she’s the only one that I’ve had on twice so far, so she’s been the only reoccurring guest. So trying to make some more of that on there. And you could actually be one of those.

01:00:55 – David Zailer
She’s a powerhouse. I think the world of her. She hits it out of the park. I like her.

01:01:04 – Johnny Sanders
Agreed.

01:01:05 – David Zailer
Completely.01:01:06 – Johnny Sanders
For sure. Absolutely. And thank you for being on. And also thank you for the audience as well. Thanks for listening. Definitely check out David’s books down in the description, and we’ll catch you on the next episode.