Dependence

Recently I read a devotional (Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling") that really caused me to stop and think. In that first paragraph it read "People usually associate victory with success: not falling or stumbling, not making mistakes. But those who are successful in their own strength tend to go their own way, forgetting about Me. It is through problems and failure, weakness and neediness that you learn to rely on Me." Then this statement was next: "True dependence is not simply asking me to bless what you have decided to do." OUCH. How many times do I do that?

I would venture to say that I do that daily. You know God I am going to do such and such would you please bless that. Then I am surprised when he does not. Then I feel like He is not with me. But it is me that is not with Him. I am trying to do things my way asking for His blessing. If I continue down that path it usually winds up not being very pretty. Would I not do better asking for Him to show me what to do? Of course, just like Moses, when He shows me something to do I want to start making excuses, I am not really suited to do, fill in the blank. For me that looks like: But God you know that I am codependent and a people pleaser and you want me to serve where? Don't you know that I am weak there? What you say You are strong when I am weak (2 Cor. 12:9-10)? Just how does that apply here? Huh? You want to help me grow? What! That will just make me worse! So, I end up trying to tell God how to do things. And we all know how well that works! NOT!

I want to do better this year. I want to rely on Him more and seek His will. Even if I am out of  my comfort zone or in a place where I need help I think He can make it work just look at Moses. Moses thought he was inadequate so God sent him help (Exodus 4:10-16). Is that not what Celebrate Recovery is about? Getting the help, accountability, to do the job God has called us to do? I have my sponsor and accountability team and they will make sure that I keep on track if I reach out when I need that help. In what area are you weak? Maybe you need to come and get help. Come Friday and start your journey to freedom from that hurt, habit or hang-up. 

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Don't Cross This Line!

Recently I have read "You'll Get Through This" by Max Lucado one chapter really stood out to me. It talked about one persons journey and how much they lost but they were still hanging on to their faith in God. And then it happened God (well really Satan) crossed the line in the sand. You know that line the one that says God you do all this but don't you dare do this. If you do I may stop believing. Do you have a line?

It made me think about my line. Do I have a line? I know I had one. You know the funny thing about God is when you draw that line he usually steps right over it. For me it was a job. Since I was 19 I wanted to be in a full time ministry position. Finally at 38 I went to work at my church. It was not the most glamorous job at first but eventually I began to work in the office. I was the self proclaimed office manager. After many years of work I knew I wanted to retire from that job. So, in my mind I had drawn a line. God I know you want me at this job so just let me retire from there. Well, as you can imagine that did not go the way I wanted. After much trouble in my life that job was lost. I thank God that before that happened he had me in Christian Counseling and I was in my first step study with Celebrate Recovery. Had it not been for those things I am not so sure I would even be attending a church. Just as Jeremiah 29:11 says God knew the plans he had for me and he provided the means to accomplish them.

So, at 54 I was looking for a job. What is amazing is how God works. I applied for a job but it was almost a month later that I heard from them. After the interview, which by the way was the last day of my severance pay, I was hired within three hours. I do not know of any place that hires with just one interview. Top that off by what happened shortly after that. A co-worker came to me and explained how God had provided that job for me. She told me how they had been praying for someone to come and fill that position for six months. Wow, God has plans all I have to do it just wait. 

I say all that to say this - What is your line? What are you going to do when it gets crossed because it will at some point. Satan will attack and the line will be crossed. What are you going to turn towards? Drugs? Alcohol? Food? Sex? What god will you run towards? If you run to any but the true God, our Lord and Savior Jesus, you will be left empty. Has your line already been crossed? Are you looking for something to fill the emptiness? Why not give Jesus a chance. I wish I could tell you all the stories I have heard about Jesus changing lives. It would fill many books. Why not come to Celebrate Recovery? What have you got to loose? Hate? Fear? Resentment? Anger? Who really wants those anyway? Throw them at the foot of the cross and leave them there. It is amazing what Jesus can do with them. I hope to see you Friday night at 6 pm.

David

Your personal boundaries protect the inner core of your identity and your right to choices.
— Gerard Manley Hopkins

What or Why.

I was reminded of something today. What or why. Which question do we ask God? What or why?

I find myself asking why way to much. Why is not a bad question but if God was to answer the why question would I understand the answer? Probably not. I cannot see the whole picture but He can. So, why from his perspective makes sense. From mine it is frustrating.  Oh, I think I can understand that it all will make perfect sense but that is not true. Usually it takes months or years for the why to make sense and sometimes it never does until we get to heaven. So, why do we ask why. I think mostly because I am afraid to ask the what question. What am I supposed to do? What I am supposed to say? What I am supposed to learn? I think if He would answer the why then the what would be easy. Isaiah says our ways are not his ways, our thoughts are not his thoughts that his ways and thoughts are far beyond what we can understand.

I remember my last time of asking why it was at the loss of a job I loved. I had worked in that job for 16+ years and wanted to retire from there. That was not HIS plan. No, one day I was offered to take a severance package or a job I knew would not work for so many reasons. At 54 you wonder do I have what it takes to find another job? What if I don't find anything? What if I go through all my savings and still do not have something? I was asking God why are you doing this to me? I spent a lot of my prayer time asking why and going over and over what I did wrong. I did not want to go through this. Now at 59 I can see better the why but it still does not make complete sense. Wasn't there an easier way to get me to this place? 

If I was to go back and ask instead what do you want me to do next? What lesson are trying to teach me? What place do you want me to be? Maybe I would have learned my lessons quicker. Because of all that I went through a huge time of growing took place as I was working my recovery at Celebrate Recovery. God knew exactly what he was doing. He needed me to change, to grow and to move on. The job I have now is much less stressful, has much better insurance and much better retirement. But without the trial I would not be the man I am now. I love working in Celebrate Recovery. I see it as the hospital our brothers and sisters need and I get to be part of helping others walk their recovery out of all kinds of things. 

So, what are you still asking why about? Why did my husband/wife die? Why did my husband/wife leave me? Why can I not quit smoking? Why can I not stop looking at the porn? Or perhaps you have the same why I had - Why did you take away my job, my safety net? I know one thing if you will come to Celebrate Recovery you will meet someone who has been where you are and they will help you get through it. So why do you keep fighting the urge to go? Give it up and just go. If you do and you work your program you will get better. Hope to see you soon.

David

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Be Yourself

Be yourself. Sounds easy doesn't it. Well, it is not. Think about your life ... How many times have you wanted to be like someone else? If I could just fit into that group, if I could just be like (fill in the blank) my life would be easy. How many times have I wished to be some one else because they fit in with the "in" people. 

It took me 50 years and a step study to realize God does not need another (fill in the blank) he needs me. If I am not me than who will be? I have a purpose that I am supposed to fulfill and if I don't who will? I have always wanted to please everyone and keep everyone happy thinking that was my job. That is not right but it felt right. As a Christian is that not what we are supposed to do? Keep everyone happy and serve them? God never intended that I get lost in others to point that I did not exist. I will also say that is not what he wants for you either. 

I think that when we realize that we cannot keep everyone happy and get their approval we begin looking other places to find the thing that will fill us up. I went several directions. I started smoking to try to fit in, then it was drinking, then it was chasing girls and the list just goes on. As it turns out nothing fulfills us like Jesus. How long will you keep trying to find that one thing? Ittook me almost 50 years of looking. My last thing was trying to fulfill it through full-time ministry work. That only kept me prisoner to my desire to please others and gain approval. I thank God that I found my way through working the 12 steps and 8 principles at Celebrate Recovery.

I have by no means arrived but I know how to keep working on my recovery. The more I work the closer I get to Jesus and the better my life gets. If I don't fit in the "in" group that is okay because God, my Father, wants me in His group. That is the ultimate "in" group. Why not get in that group? Come any Friday night at 6 pm and you will find a group that is doing our best to recover and help others. We are like blind beggars that found food and we want others to find it too!

 

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Pigpens

I was reminded today about pigpens. A question I have to ask myself is "What does my pigpen look like?" We all have them don't we. We wallow around looking for peace and happiness in things. Some pigpens are quite palatial. They can have three bedrooms two baths. They can have all the toys, the nicest accessories, the best beds but if God is not there it is just another pigpen. It is just another way to numb our pain. Isn't that what it is all about. It is for me. How can I avoid feeling the pain? New house, new car, new TV, new drug, the list just goes on and on. So, what do we have to do to get out? Only one way - cry out to God.

That is exactly what the prodigal son did -  “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’  So he got up and went to his father." But Satan is so tricky he makes us believe that the Father does not want us or he gets us to believe it is just too good where we are living. Of course that is all just a bunch of lies. That path will lead us to destruction. So, what next. 

When we come to our senses we don't always see things right.  "I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants." I could not see myself as a son when I was wallowing. I did not have any self worth. I was lost in my pigpen of people pleasing - doing my best to get approval from every source but God. I came to my senses but I still had to get my worth right. There are two buts in the story - “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." - “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate." There in those statements are the truth of the matter. No matter how I feel my Father loves me so much he does not care about where I have been only that I have come home. I still have a lot of trouble believing that to be true but I am getting better at it.

Would you like to get out of your pigpen? Well, come home to God your Father. He will welcome you just like he did the prodigal. I know it is hard to believe it but it is true. For me I found the help I needed at Celebrate Recovery. It was there that I felt at home. There was no one judging me for where I had been or where I was at when I came. All I found was love and acceptance. Why don't you try it? What have you got to lose - a pigpen lifestyle? Yep, we all live in them. We bath and try to get the mud, the slop and stink off of us but it does not work until you let Jesus wash you in his blood. Come and meet the one person who can help, Jesus. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Come lay down your burden Friday nights at 6 PM. 

David

Strongholds

I was reading a devo from Max Lucado today and in there was this list:

God could never forgive me— That’s the stronghold of guilt.
Bad things always happen to me— That’s the stronghold of self-pity.
I have to be in charge– The stronghold of pride.
I don’t deserve to be loved– The stronghold of rejection

Strongholds. Do you have any? Maybe a better question would be what is your stronghold? I think we all have one or more. 2 Corinthians 10:4 says "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." Do I believe that statement, yes but do I claim it? Not like I should. Jesus disarmed the powers and authorities on the cross (Col. 2:15). So we have the power to take care of our strongholds. 

You know what is easier for me, taking care of your strongholds. I can pray and believe that God can deliver you from your strongholds but not mine. You see mine are different. Mine are stronger than yours, right. Stronger than God, no but I think that way. It just seems to be that I cannot help thinking I cannot be delivered. 

The good news is Celebrate Recovery has and is teaching me to change my way of thinking. Celebrate Recovery gives me the tools to change. I am not saying it is always easy but it works. If you have a stronghold (sin) in your life that you cannot seem to break why not come to Celebrate Recovery and see how it works. If you work it it works. The key is working it. Don't put it off come this Friday and start your recovery journey.

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Slave to Saved

Eph. 2:1-9 (The Voice), "As for you, don’t you remember how you used to just exist? Corpses, dead in life, buried by transgressions, 2 wandering the course of this perverse world. You were the offspring of the prince of the power of air—oh, how he owned you, just as he still controls those living in disobedience. I’m not talking about the outsiders alone; 3 we were all guilty of falling headlong for the persuasive passions of this world; we all have had our fill of indulging the flesh and mind, obeying impulses to follow perverse thoughts motivated by dark powers. As a result, our natural inclinations led us to be children of wrath, just like the rest of humankind.

4 But God, with the unfathomable richness of His love and mercy focused on us, 5 united us with the Anointed One and infused our lifeless souls with life—even though we were buried under mountains of sin—and saved us by His grace. 6 He raised us up with Him and seated us in the heavenly realms with our beloved Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. 7 He did this for a reason: so that for all eternity we will stand as a living testimony to the incredible riches of His grace and kindness that He freely gives to us by uniting us with Jesus the Anointed. 8-9 For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing."

I found this version of the Bible to be especially interesting. The wording in verse 2 "You were the offspring of the prince of the power of air—oh, how he owned you" made me think of my life. Satan has "owned" me many times and unfortunately he still gets in my mind and messes with me. I remember how I was so deep in porn that I would lie to keep it hidden. Then there is the people pleasing. Sometimes he still "owns" me when it comes to pleasing others or wanting their approval. Just as it says "we all have had our fill of indulging the flesh and mind, obeying impulses to follow perverse thoughts motivated by dark powers". I know I have had my fill. I don't want to do anything that keeps me from God but I still find myself doing the things I don't want to do. M-M-M, that sounds like Paul in Romans 7. 

Now the good news. "But God, with the unfathomable richness of His love and mercy focused on us, 5 united us with the Anointed One and infused our lifeless souls with life—even though we were buried under mountains of sin—and saved us by His grace." All I can say is thank you Jesus for liberating me. I did nothing to "earn" it no it is a gift but because of that gift I want to do more for Him. Celebrate Recovery has helped me to overcome many things and will continue to help me if I continue to work the principles and steps. God brought me to my knees then he provided Celebrate Recovery to help me really break free of the chains that held me for almost 50 years. Because it took 50 years to get where I was it will take time for all those ingrained habits to be wiped out but He is patient and works with me every day.

How has Satan been "owning" you? You know, just like me, you may not know just how much he owns you. Why not come to Celebrate Recovery and break those chains as I and many others have done. I think deep down you know there is something you need to give to Jesus. So, tonight at 6 PM, at Park Plaza Church of Christ, why not come hear a testimony and give whatever is hanging you up to Jesus. It works if you work it!

David

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Excuses

Something just hit me between the eyes. I get the "Daily Dr. Cloud" and today it really hit me. "An excuse is a way of promising ourselves we will have that same issue again." WOW! that really made me think. The real scary part is he may be on to something.

Excuses are just a way of dodging the bullet. If I have an excuse for why I am people pleaser than am I not just making it easier to continue to be one. Think about that. If I say well I am just trying to be a good Christian. That comes from a view that a Christian is someone who gives up their life, feelings and even energy to serve others. That is a flawed way of reasoning. If you try to live that way you will burn out. I would know because I lived to try please everyone. The problem was it was not to be a good Christian, no, it was to get the love and approval of others. That leaves you empty eventually. What God intends you to do is be filled with Him first so that you then can serve out of a vessel that is overrunning. God never stops loving me or approving me. Just like a father. As an earthly father of two I will never stop loving my children. It does not matter what they do, I will still love them. If I can do that than God does that even better. So, why do I need to get anything from anyone except Him. Well, I digress from the original thought. Excuses just allow us to keep doing our insanity. It can be anything that takes the place of God. So, what is taking God's place in your life? You may not yet see it (denial) but there is something. If you want to get closer to God why not come and join a bunch of us on a journey to find all the things that we put before God. This is a continuous journey and we are here to help each other. Come tonight, Friday night, at 6 pm and you will find love and acceptance. See you there! 

David

Excuses are lies we tell ourselves so that it doesn’t have to be our fault.

Love Is The Answer

I have been listening to some of the older music I have and heard "Hold On" by Nichole Nordeman. The words surprised me at first then she got to the chorus and it all came together. 

It will find you at the bottom of a bottle
It will find you at the needle's end
It will find you when you beg and steal and borrow
It will follow you into a stranger's bed

It will find you when they serve you with the papers
It will find you when the locks have changed again
It will find you when you've called in all your favors
It will meet you at the bridge's highest ledge

So baby don't look down, it's a long way
The sun will come around to a new day

So hold on
Love will find you
Hold on
He's right behind you now
Just turn around
And love will find you

Love will find you. God has such amazing love! He loves me, amazing. What you may find even more amazing is that He loves you. Yep, even if you are looking for love in the bottle, the needle, or sex, He still loves you where your are right now. The catch is He does not want to leave you there He wants you to enjoy HIS love and stop trying to find it somewhere else. 

I have been in church since I was born. I have been a baptized believer since I was 15. I have worked in full time ministry and I knew all the right words and had all the right answers but I did not get it, not really. Just like I said in my last blog I was living on me power. It took almost 40 years for me to find out who I am in Jesus. I am so glad He is patient. If you do not feel loved come to Celebrate Recovery tonight. I can promise you will find love there. God shows up every Friday night to just hold His children in His arms. No, we are not perfect but God uses us to help others find the comfort that we have been comforted with (2 Corinthians 1:3-7 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.) What have you got to lose? Your guilt, shame, resentment, bitterness? Is it worth it? I know it can be hard to come and walk through those doors. You wonder what someone might say if they see you. Well, let me say it is worth the risk. Show up tonight at 6 PM it may just change your life and you may find the love you have been looking for in whatever hurt, hang-up or habit in which you are lost right now. See you soon!

David

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Living On Me Power

I just finished reading a chapter in Max Lucado's "Come Thirsty". I realized he was talking to me, especially the old me. I used to run on ME power. I would try to do all the work of Christ on my power. I can honestly say that it leaves you tried and thirsty. 

I remember when I was working at the church and how good I thought I was doing. Keywords "I thought". You see I was trying to do it on my own power. I liked the way Max described it. He told about a place where everyone pushed their cars. They would start the engine put it into neutral and then get out and push. I had been doing some form of that all my Christian life. Oh, once in a while I would get in and use the power of the Holy Spirit but only once in a while. Do you know where that leaves you? Yep, tried, thirsty, angry, resentful and thinking I just cannot do enough. I was there. When things began going a way I did not like I tried to change the direction on my own. You want to know what God did to get my attention. He got me out of full time work in fact He got me out of work completely. I was looking for a new job at 54 and had four months to do it. God made sure I got the message. On the last day of my severance pay He came through. If I had got a job in the first week I would not have got the message that it was His doing. I hope that none of you have to learn that lesson the way I did. My Lord came through but I had to go through a lot to get there.  

So, you say how did you get back to Him? Through two things, one Christian Counseling, two Celebrate Recovery. I learned that I am codependent, prideful, arrogant and judgmental. My counselor encouraged us to go to Celebrate Recovery and it was a turning point for me. I found my Lord Jesus again and when I did I found the power to live. He gives the Holy Spirit and through Him I have the power to live this Christian life. It is not about the rules it is about the relationship. As long as I remember that I will be okay. Do I do it perfectly? NO!! I still try to push the car sometimes and then I look up and realize what I am doing and I go and get in the passenger side and wait for Him to come and take me where He wants. You see I don't get to drive He does. Funny but when I remember to do these things life becomes much easier.  Reminds me of Matthew 11:28 "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Are you tried, thirsty, angry, resentful? Then why not come to Celebrate Recovery and see if you can find the same thing I did? You see Celebrate Recovery is the means by which you can find Jesus again or for the first time. What have you got to lose? Come Friday night at 6 PM and see what it is all about. 

David

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles but misguided men.
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Making Things Right

Yesterday as I was reading I came across Lamentations 3:26 "It is good to wait quietly for the Eternal to make things right." Jeremiah was talking to the exiles. How hard was that for them to hear? How hard is that for me to hear? 

We live in a world of instant gratification. What we want we get and get it right now. We have microwaves so we don't have to wait on our food. We credit cards so we don't have to wait on the money to do something or get something. Is there anything wrong with microwaves or credit cards? No. But the lesson that they teach us is you don't have to wait. Well, that flows over into my life as well.

When I have a bad habit I want it gone now. I don't have to time to work on it so we want God to take it now. The same is true of hurts and hangups. We want healing and want it now!! That may not be the best thing for us. It took Israel 70 years in exile to learn to worship God and Him alone. How long will it take me to be healed? One day, one week, one month, one year. Only God knows the time frame it will take to heal you. If you do it to fast or to slow it may not last. But if we let God work it in His time frame it will. That is not easy for me. I was healed from my smoking in one day, why not my codependency? After five years of working on it It only seems to get better not completely gone like I want. I have to trust that God will do it right in His perfect time. 

So, what is it that you want gone and gone right now? Grief, anger, smoking, drinking, drugs, what? Just know this God's timing is always right even though it may not be what we want. Come be a part of our family Friday. Have a blessed day!

I want to try to make things right because picking up the pieces is way better than leaving them where they are.

Friday Nights

I cannot say enough about Friday nights. I would not want to be any where else than with my brothers and sisters at Celebrate Recovery. You just don't know what those relationships mean until you become a part of the Celebration we call recovery. In reality it is just exactly what we need. We all need to celebrate all the things that Jesus does for us. He has healed us from hurts, habits and hangups.

This past Friday was just so awesome. The lesson this week was Confess. One of our leaders brought the lesson and he did such a great job of talking about the healing that comes from our confession. James 5:16 promises healing if we just confess to one another and pray for one another. I got the privilege of doing chips after the lesson. Just a little explanation about chips. Every week we take time to celebrate milestones in people's recovery. We start with a blue chip for starting your recovery of some hurt, habit or hangup and end with multiple years free from said hurt, habit or hangup. As we started the ceremony many people came and got that blue chip to start that journey. It is such a honor to be a part of that. God had used that brother to touch many hearts.

After our time of open share is our time of fellowship with coffee and dessert. It was here that I found out just how much the lesson and the confession in small group was to at least one brother. When he shared with me I was so glad that we were there to help him. It was also a time of sharing with another brother part of my story and God was in that as well because I shared things that only He could have brought to my mind and words that could only be explained as His.

If your Fridays are just dull come be a part of the Celebration. Everyone is welcome no matter what you are struggling with and I mean anything. Are you struggling with health? Are you struggling with loss? Are you grieving? Are you going through divorce? Well, you will find someone here that has or is recovering from any one of those things and much more. Come be a part of our family next Friday. We start at 6 PM.

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Actions

How many times have we heard the words "I am only hurting myself"? In reality who do our actions effect? Just ourselves? Hardly. But I want to think that I am the only one affected by my choices but it is just not true. Actions we do today effect many. 

I just recently read the story of the priest Eli in 1 Samuel. His actions or inaction effected many. Here is what God told Samuel about him: "The time has come for me to bring down on Eli’s family everything I warned him of, every last word of it. I’m letting him know that the time’s up. I’m bringing judgment on his family for good. He knew what was going on, that his sons were desecrating God’s name and God’s place, and he did nothing to stop them. This is my sentence on the family of Eli: The evil of Eli’s family can never be wiped out by sacrifice or offering.” In the chapter before a prophet told him:  “Be well warned: It won’t be long before I wipe out both your family and your future family. No one in your family will make it to old age! You’ll see good things that I’m doing in Israel, but you’ll see it and weep, for no one in your family will live to enjoy it. I will leave one person to serve at my Altar, but it will be a hard life, with many tears. Everyone else in your family will die before their time. What happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be the proof: Both will die the same day. Then I’ll establish for myself a true priest. He’ll do what I want him to do, be what I want him to be. I’ll make his position secure and he’ll do his work freely in the service of my anointed one. Survivors from your family will come to him begging for handouts, saying, ‘Please, give me some priest work, just enough to put some food on the table." So, how can we say our actions have no effect on anyone else.

When I do anything good or bad it will effect someone. My actions and words can hurt or build up. (Eph. 4:29) Thank God that because of Jesus we do not suffer the same way as Eli's family did but we still have consequences for our actions and those things usually effect the ones  that are closest to us. Go out and get drunk, drive and have an accident. Who does that effect? Our family because they have to pay for the damages whatever they are, the family that you hit suffers physically, emotionally and more. Use words like stupid, dummy, ugly, when you speak with family and friends and it will destroy their self worth and it may, because of their low self worth, cause them to do things in their life to others. It is like someone said throw a rock in the water no matter how big it has ripples. Those ripples do not stop without help.

Jesus is our help to break the cycle to dissipate the ripples, if you please. He can help us stop the affect the past had on us. Celebrate Recovery is just a means to find Jesus and the way to stop the effect we have on others. What hurt do you have in your life? What habit do you want to get rid of? What are you so hung up about that you cannot be a part of something good? Well, that is what Celebrate Recovery is all about. Taking care of the past hurt by offering forgiveness even when it seems you cannot. Breaking the habit with the help of God and an accountability team (we do not do anything without help). Getting past a hang up by seeing it with the eyes of Jesus. It is amazing what happens when you turn things over to Jesus. I would know because he has taken my hurts, my habits and my hang ups and helped me to defeat them. Am I perfect? NO but I am always moving toward Him and the closer I get the better it gets. Some day I will see Him and all will be made perfect. For now why not come to Celebrate Recovery and get all the help you can to not affect anyone else with your hurt, habit or hang up. I hope to see you soon.

David

 

Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

Full Heart

Today I just have been receiving all kinds of good stuff from God and I am going to attempt to share it.

The first thing that comes to mind is Luke chapter 7. This chapter contains so much but I want to focus on the dinner at a Pharisee's house. Imagine being there you are getting ready to enjoy dinner when in comes the town prostitute. If I was the Pharisee I would be appalled and embarrassed. What does she do? She begins to cry and wet Jesus' feet. She pours on him expensive perfume. Then she does something I did not get until someone explained it to me, she lets down her and begins to dry his feet. Why is that so shocking. A woman was only suppose to take down her hair in the presence of her husband. This was just not done. So, Jesus looks at his host and tells a story about two men that owed money one owed a lot the other just a small amount. Then he asked which was more grateful? It is obvious the one that owed the most. Then he explains in great detail how his host slighted him but this woman did so much more. Then he gets it, at least I hope he does. If he didn't I did. Sometimes I do not want to accept that I have been forgiven much. Like his host I am not as grateful because I feel like my sin is just not that bad, but it is I have been forgiven much. I just don't act like it. My pride and arrogance get in the way. I think to myself I am here at Celebrate Recovery to help others. While that is true it is not the only reason I am there. I need help in walking my journey of recovery. When I lose that God always finds a way to gently remind me and if that doesn't work then he just pushes a little harder until I get it again. Sometimes he has to hit me with something pretty big.  Like this story.

If that is not enough for you last night I was reading Max Lucado's book "Just Like Jesus". In the chapter I read he talked about worship. I love the way he writes he makes things so easy to understand but that means I get it. So, if I get it what do I do with it. Sometimes I am just like the man in James who looks in the mirror and walks away and forgets how he looks and just does not do anything to change. This time I hope I do not forget. He talked about preparing for worship. How do we prepare our hearts for worship? He mentioned praying and reading the Bible before we worship. I do that on Sunday but sometimes it is just to do it I am not really doing it to prepare my heart to worship. If I go to worship with a heart that is not prepared I walk away and miss the point. The point being to be awed by God and his presence. So, this Friday and Sunday before I go into his presence I want to take some time to prepare. I want to be awed at his glory, his holiness, his presence and leave ready to tell anyone how great he is and what he has done for me.

The last thing today (thanks for hanging in there) is the story of Hannah in I Samuel. What faith! Here is a woman tormented by the other wife because she does not have children. It so bad that she cannot eat when they go up to the worship at the temple. What does she do? She goes into the sanctuary and pours out her heart to God. She is doing so in such a manner that Eli, the priest, thinks she is drunk. She inspires me because she holds nothing back. She does not care what others think and she believes that God will answer her prayer. Of course he does and she has Samuel, who she has promised to God. Here is even more faith. When he is weaned she takes him to the temple and gives him to Eli to be dedicated to God. How many women do you know that have been barren, have a baby and then when it is weaned gives it to God and leaves it in the care of the preacher? That is incredible faith and it inspires me. After she gives this one away she has three more sons and two daughters. When we are faithful, God is faithful. Do I ever promise God something only to try to change it when the time comes for me to give what ever it was I promised? Unfortunately I know that answer, yes I do. There are times I make promises only to try my best to get out of doing whatever it was I promised or I just forget about the promise, conveniently. 

Well, there you have it a week's worth of thoughts. Thanks for hanging with me. Come see me Friday and we can talk some more about this or anything else. You know where I will be, yep, Celebrate Recovery. See you soon.

David

 

Coping

How do you cope? What do you use to escape? When our week is hard or we are hurt where do we turn? Do you go to food? Do you go away for the weekend? Do you watch TV or movie marathons? How about getting lost in FaceBook? Twitter? What do you use? Yes I mean use. Okay these things seem so harmless don't they. They are all socially acceptable means of escape. But is it an unhealthy type of escape? Do we carry it to far? Mine can be food or TV. I just get tired and want to escape. I think God has a different idea of escape. 

Matthew 11:28-30: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (The Message). Jesus has a different plan. Go to Him and he will lighten your burden. Sometimes we get so busy with church work we forget to take time to slow down and just listen for Him. I know I did. I was so thrilled to work for the church but I tried to do it on my own power. That does not work well because I began to burn out after 16 years. Not long after the burn out started God got my attention by taking away that job so I could slow down and listen for Him. It really hurt at first but now I am so thankful because I am learning how to slow down and do the work He has for me and not take on so much that I lose sight of why I am doing it. 

So, what are you using? Do you need help changing? I know the perfect place, Celebrate Recovery. They can help with your hurts, hang ups and habits. Yep it is for everyone because we all have hurts, hang ups and habits. Why not come and see what it is all about Friday night at 6 PM. See you then.

David

If We're Honest

I love this song by Francesca Battistelli:

If We're Honest

Truth is harder than a lie
The dark seems safer than the light
And everyone has a heart that loves to hide
I'm a mess and so are you
We've built walls nobody can get through
Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do

[Chorus:]
Bring your brokenness, and I'll bring mine
'Cause love can heal what hurt divides
And mercy's waiting on the other side
If we're honest
If we're honest

Don't pretend to be something that you're not
Living life afraid of getting caught
There is freedom found when we lay 
our secrets down at the cross, at the cross

[Chorus]

It would change our lives
It would set us free
It's what we need to be
 

Just think about what would happen if we were all honest. If we all shared our deepest darkest secret what would happen. I would have nothing you could use against me and you would have nothing I could use against you. So why do we hold all this stuff in? One word fear. I was afraid of what others would think if they knew all about me. Now they do and they love me in spite of all my warts. And you know why? Because they have warts too and they are relieved to know someone else has some too. 

Hiding never helps and besides you might be surprised what others already know about you. When we are honest with ourselves, God and someone we trust we get true healing. Just like James 5:16 promises. We no longer come to church put on mask and act as if everything is alright. We speak the lies into the light and they lose all their power. Why don't you come to Celebrate Recovery and speak your lies into the light? It is a safe place nothing said or done can be taken outside of the room. We believe in confidentiality and anonymity. Who is there stays there and what is said stays there. Just come and try it, you may stay. 

David

Easy

Easy, what do you gain when things are easy? ... nothing. I believe that anything worthwhile is not easy. Recovery is definitely not easy. Yet it is very rewarding. When I think about what I went through to get here it was not easy but it is worth every struggle, every bit of pain and trouble.

I remember when I was still struggling with my grief, my resentment, my denial. My reason for coming to Celebrate Recovery, at least I thought, was to help others. I had struggled with pornography when I was younger. I even smoked when was a teen. As a fifty-something that had no "real" problems I came for others. As you know if you are attending CR you find out about your denial and what to do about it. And I found and am finding problems in my life.

Back to easy. If things are easy we don't learn, change and grow. For me being in recovery has changed my relationships greatly. My relationships were shallow before CR mainly because I wore a mask that showed I was okay. As I took off that mask my relationships got deeper more meaningful, especially the one with my wife. If I had stayed on the easy road look at what I would have lost.

Right now is your life easy? Probably not. So, why not learn from the hardships? Why not come to CR and grow from the problems instead of letting them hold you down? When you come you will still have problems but you will have others to help you and you will know how to overcome them by working the steps. Instead of a lot pain you get joy because you know God is always there and you have a family of believers to help you through any trouble. Come any Friday night and you will find us celebrating our recovery. See you there soon! Don't wait too long.

David

Inventory

Inventory, it is a harmless word but in some it strikes fear. Why is that? I think it is because we don't grasp the concept well. It seems like all it is is dragging up our past. That is true it is dragging up our past but with a positive reason. We don't drag it up to feel guilty and depressed about all the bad things we have done. No, the real reason is to rid our selves of the guilt and pain. 

When we do our inventory we must also remember the good. All of us have good in our past. Sometimes there are good results that come from the bad that happened and sometimes it good things that we did for others or for ourselves. Our past mess then gets to be God's message. When we review our lives with God's help we see the good even in the mess. Then we get to share that with another human being. Wow, there is something scary there. Someone is going to know everything about you. Of course my first thought was they will not like me when they know all my bad. The other thing is what if they share that with someone else. So, we begin to let fear rule. Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." When we go to Jesus and unload all our pain suddenly the load becomes lighter. But then James 5:16 tells to "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." So, when we confess to someone we receive healing. Notice that it is a command with a promise confession leads to healing. Then the last of the scripture says the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. I see something in that when we confess our sins it includes that we pray for each other then the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. Because of confession we become righteous and our prayers are more effective. (In the words of David.) 

Why then be fearful? Because our enemy the devil breeds fear to keep us from healing.  We all have fears but we need to not let them rule us. Easy to say but hard to do. I still struggle almost daily with the fear of "what if someone does not like me?" "What if I don't do it their way and they decide not to be around me anymore?" This fear has been with me a long time but each day God helps me tackle it. I know the truth and it is that no matter what God has already accepted me and loves me and nothing or no one can change that (Romans 8:35-39). Therefore what does it matter if someone does not like me or want to be around me? The truth no matter what I do some people just will not like me. Having said all that you can see how I might have a problem sharing my inventory or for that matter doing my testimony but I have. And you know what I had a great burden lifted from my shoulders when I did because Jesus picked up the yoke with me and has given me rest. Besides that what can anyone say or do to me that would cause me to lose the love of my Father - absolutely nothing. 

So, don't let that word inventory scare you with God, your sponsor and accountability team you can do it. We were never meant to walk this road alone. 

If You Want to ...

I was listening to Matthew 5-8 on my way to work today and many things jumped out at me but one thing has caused me to really think. Matthew 8:2 3 where Jesus heals the leper. "A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy." I have focused on the part where Jesus touched him because to touch a leper was not something anyone would do. What I missed was "if you are willing". The Message says "if you want to". The leper believed that Jesus had the power to heal him but he did not think he was good enough. Look at those words again "if you want to". Because he thought I am a filthy sinner and that is the reason I got this disease so Jesus may not want to heal me. Perhaps he will turn away just like everyone else.

My thoughts immediately went to me. How do I approach Jesus? Do I believe that Jesus has the power but may not have the "want to"? Yep, all the time. I see myself as the filthy sinner too. Why would he heal me? I am deserve my hurt, my habit, my hangup. Of course when you examine that feeling it is all based in a lie. How many scriptures tell us a different story. There is a book I have read about three times and he lists in the book (Conformed To His Image by Kenneth Boa) 45 (if I counted right) scriptures who tell us who we are in Christ. The first three in the list alone tell us: "I am a child of God (John 1:12), I am a branch of the true vine and a conduit of Christ's life (John 15:1,5) and I am a friend of Jesus (John 15:15)". Just those tell us a lot about our worth. 

So, why do I struggle to accept those things? I would say it is because I feel like I do not deserve it. Well, that feels right but it is not true. Jesus gave up heaven for me. If I did not deserve it why did He come? He came because He wants me to know how much he loves me and no matter how I feel He cares. 

Though step studies I have begun to accept my identity in Christ but I still want to listen to those old voices at times and slip back into the "I'm not good enough" self-pity party. When I do I am thankful I have those that remind me that I am good enough and I need to get out of myself and think of others. 

Perhaps you are caught in that pit of self-pity and you are having a big pity party. Well, come to Celebrate Recovery Friday night and find out how to get out of that trap. Start your journey at 6 PM with dinner and stay to the lights go out. I will guarantee that you will leave feeling loved and accepted. See you Friday!

David

Routine

Do you have routines? I do. What happens when something interferes with our routines? For me I begin to forget things. I don't keep the good habits I have developed. I miss appointments and the list just goes on and on. 

Being in recovery is about developing good habits. Habits like Bible study, prayer, writing in a journal (still developing that one), doing a daily inventory, etc. So, when our routine time is disrupted it is very difficult to find another time that day to do whatever it was we missed. Vacation, being sick and things like that tend to take us away from the routine. Of course sometimes you can use a vacation to get back into a good habit or to spend extra time with God. Unfortunately my vacations don't always go as planned. How about yours? 

Well, I said all that now what is the point of all this? Just this, whenever your routine is disrupted don't let it cause you to lose the good habits you have developed. Maybe you may have to get up a little earlier or stay up a little later to do that Bible study or prayer but in the end it is worth it. It helps us keep our sanity and sobriety. See you Friday (another good habit)!

David