Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Recovery

Hey Partners and Friends,

Have you ever thought about Christmas in terms of recovery?
Recovery may not be the first word you think of when you are celebrating Christmas. But it is definitely an important one. It really does relate. Think about this;
Noah recovered from the flood. Joseph recovered from being betrayed and abandoned by his own brothers, then sold into slavery, cast into prison, and he was falsely accused of rape. David recovered from adultery and murder. Moses recovered from anger. Mary recovered from the disgrace of being pregnant out of wedlock. Paul recovered from being a murderer and persecutor of the church. Peter recovered from betraying Christ. The disciples had to recover from abandoning Jesus. The list is never ending.
Those recoveries as radical and dramatic as they were, pale in comparison to the incredible recovery of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ! He demonstrated recovery from all the sickness, disease, pain, sorrow, loss, abuse, abandonment, ridicule, mockery, iniquity, hatred, evil, ugliness, lust, arrogance, pride, immorality, SIN of the entire world and everyone in it. Jesus purchased recovery for all of humanity! How utterly incredible is that? He took on all of it. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isa 53:5 KJ

He came as a baby, He brought recovery, redemption and eternal life with Him!  Maybe that’s why the angels proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest peace on earth good will toward men.”  Maybe that’s why all the heavenly host celebrated so exuberantly at His birth! That is definitely why you and I can celebrate today. He took on Himself every wrong thing that has ever happened to us and every wrong thing we have ever done, or left undone. He did that and it killed Him. He gave Himself for us so we could be free. The point is this, if Jesus could recover from the weight of all the sin of the world, if He could recover from death and hell to live again, forever. Do you think there is anything too hard for Him, anything that He cannot or will not help us recover from? Jesus took on all the sin of the world, all of yours and mine and rose from the grave. The birth of Christ was the promise of salvation, in the flesh, for everyone that believes.
Surely if Jesus could recover from all that, come out of the grave after taking on all the sin of the world, surely He can and will enable you and I to get up from our sin, our mess whatever that looks like and live a new life. Without the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ what is there to celebrate? Happy holidays? Season’s Greetings?  
Christmas, the birth of Christ is the celebration of hope for new life in Him. The resurrection is the radical demonstration and reality of that new life! 

CELEBRATE RECOVERY, & MERRY CHRISTMAS!


Jim & Pam

Don't Wait!

Love this thought from Gretchen Rubin, grechenrubin.com\happiness_project.  Take a positive step in your recovery today.  Whether it be a little quiet time with God, or cleaning out that drawer in the kitchen.  May you be blessed with happiness, health, and close safe friends.  Merry Christmas!  Bro.  Rob 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Grace Prayer

Lord, please give me grace to love You more than I love myself.

Please give me grace to deny myself today, take up my cross, and be a real disciple.

Please give me grace to really believe that what You have said is true, that you love me, and to trust You.

Please give me grace to act on the opportunities You bring me today.

Please give me grace to be what You called me to be, to become what You called me to become, and to do what You called me to do.

Please give me grace to really, honestly, truly, down-to-the-bone, look like Jesus.

Amen.


Bro. John

Thursday, November 21, 2013

THANKSGIVING ?


 

Thanksgiving?

Let me see,,,I am thankful to God for my beautiful wife. She is the tangible expression and reality of God’s tremendous favor in my life. Pro. 18:22 CEV says, “A man’s greatest treasure is his wife, she is a gift from the Lord.” We will have been married for forty-seven years in January 2014.

I am thankful for the health I enjoy, I am not in pain, I am mobile and can enjoy physical activities, (even though sometimes lately I do not enjoy them quite so much the next day :). I can see, hear, feel, speak, touch, taste, smell, and dream. I can enjoy food, work, play, rest, silence, music, rain, thunder, crowds, laughter, and emotion. I am thankful for the diversity that God displays through the four seasons. I can marvel at all of God’s magnificent, beautiful creation. It boggles my mind and causes my spirit to sing. The whole earth is filled with God’s glory. The heavens declare his majesty.” The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Psm 19:1 NIV

I am thankful for my family; God has blessed me with three wonderful children and their spouses. Through them God has given Pam and I nine fantastic grandchildren, each one a unique creation. We are so very blessed by and proud of them all.

I am thankful for God’s kindness and goodness to me. He has given me favor, health, friends, work, ministry, a comfortable home, transportation, clothes, food, everything I need. He has given me a Savior a companion a friend, Jesus Christ. Everything.

I am thankful for the tremendous privilege to serve God through the ministry of Celebrate Recovery. I get to play a part as people find healing, deliverance, freedom, restoration and salvation in Jesus Christ.

I am thankful for the times in which we live. How exciting to be living on the cusp of eternity. ‘For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a mighty shout and with the soul-stirring cry of the archangel and the great trumpet-call of God. And the believers who are dead will be the first to rise to meet the Lord. Then we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever.  So comfort and encourage each other with this news.’ 1Ths 4:16-18 TLB

I am thankful for peace, joy, hope and love. I am thankful for life.

These are just a few of the things I am thankful for as this Thanksgiving Day approaches, the list is limitless, unending and will go on for eternity.

What are you thankful for? Make a gratitude list, write it down, praise the Lord and watch it grow.

I am thankful for YOU!

Jim & Pam

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Don't hurt yourself !

Both legs, are you kidding me?
I let Pam out at the door of Cracker Barrel as I went to park the car. She could get our name on the list so we wouldn’t have to wait to be seated (I was hungry). When I came in she was hanging onto a clothes rack with the look of extreme anguish on her face. She had fallen down upon entering the restaurant and was experiencing severe pain as a result. Well, forget about having lunch, now we were on our way to the emergency room. X-rays revealed that she had fractures in both ankles. Pam was now equipped with a boot on one leg, a cast on the other and crutches. If you have never seen Pam on crutches, let me just say it would be good material for a Halloween horror flick. It’s a frightening thing to behold. So our only option was a wheelchair (non-motorized of course, that would be another safety issue altogether).
Here is the crazy thing about all this. Pam was either bed or chair bound, she could not walk. So while she got to sit in a chair all day I was going through hell. I mean there’s laundry, dishes, meals, beds to be made, cleaning to be done, errands to run, shopping and waiting on my incapacitated wife. All she could do was sit in that chair and notice every speck of dust anywhere in the house, dirt on the floor, or anything misplaced. I was afraid to walk through the living room because invariably when doing so there would be at least one slat of our Venetian blinds that was crooked. Life lesson,,, Venetian blinds are part of the curse! Ok, so Pam had two broken legs but this is not just about her, what about me? It’s all about me.     

The real life lesson is this: The things that happen to us, what we do or don’t do has an effect on everyone around us and it continually expands, like ripples on a pond that never stop. Absolutely EVERYTHING that happens to you and everything that you do, good or bad, has an infinite effect on everyone in your life and beyond. This principle is especially true of sin. One of the most damnable lies of the devil is the one that says “I am only hurting myself. It’s my life so it’s ok as long as I don’t hurt anyone else.” It’s a lie, a huge destructive lie, one which we all tell ourselves to some degree. “If no one knows about this then I am only hurting myself.”  What a lie from the pit of hell. It robs us of our destiny in God. It steals kills and destroys, not only from the individual but from every relationship in their life, particularly from the people they love or that love them.
The process of Celebrate Recovery is hugely successful in uncovering these lies in our lives that plague us and those we love. When the truth comes it brings healing, restoration and recovery.
Now in this case it was an accident, Pam broke both of her legs, not my legs, but it had a profound affect on me! Albeit not necessarily all bad, I learned how to turn on the dishwasher, the washing machine, the dryer, and make the bed. It was a painful experience for the both of us! I also learned to keep those dang blinds straight.

God never wastes a hurt. A friend of mine made the statement, “Jim, just look how Pam had to suffer for God to teach you new things.” 

Truth is she was great, a real trooper! On more than one occasion she had swept and mopped the entire floor as well as many other household chores, all from the confines of a wheel chair!

What happens to you affects other people!!! Hurt, injury, dysfunction, roll into the lives of everyone around you. It’s more than a ripple effect; it’s more like a tsunami! This is true for good things or bad.

We thank you again for the all good you do in support of this ministry, it is having a dramatic impact on many lives.


Overcome evil with good,
Jim & Pam

Friday, September 13, 2013

PEACE ?

It was hot! We’d just spent four hours out in the sweltering heat at a double header ball game. As we sat in the car, the ac cranked all the way up, blowing hard and cool, my five year old grandson leaned back in the seat closed his eyes and asked Pam, “Nana do you know what peace is?”
“What is peace Ian?”
“It’s happy and quiet. This is peace.”
Albert Einstein said, “Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding.”
The Bible says it like this, “Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle,,, Psm 32:9
Mr. Einstein was a brilliant mind to say the least; he was definitely on to something here. I think he was speaking primarily in regard to peace between men, between nations, cultures etc. And surely understanding goes a long way in bringing peace. However I believe his statement is true at even a deeper level as it relates to inner peace, spiritual peace.
I have observed this principle in action over the years, in my own life and in the lives of many others as we walk through the Celebrate Recovery process. Somehow as we engage in the principles Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, understanding comes. Understanding is huge because with it comes peace! Like a cool breeze when you have been out in the blistering heat, happy and quiet, this is peace.
Jesus cried out, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” When we understand the gravity of our actions, the effect they have on ourselves and others we choose our actions more wisely more compassionately.
To inform the mind is to correct and in-large the heart. This is what happens during the Celebrate Recovery process. I do not know of a better ministry for you and I to be involved in that brings a clearer understanding of God, ourselves and others than this one. Then along the way as we pursue God, He does something profound. “And God's peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:7
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ. Col 2:2 niv
 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. Jn 14:27 NIV
Jim & Pam

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Skit Guys @ Park Plaza Church of Christ's CR, Friday 9/6/2013 5:30pm

I have enjoyed Tommy & Eddie over the years, and I wanted to remind you that they will be bringing their message at the Park Plaza Church of Christ's CR, Friday 9/6/2013 5:30pm.  The info below is from the August 2013 Community Spirit Magazine.....  This is worth your time.  Bro. Rob

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Unforgiveness

The teaching @CR this week is Lesson-16 on Forgiveness and in preparing for it, I was blessed to expand my understanding of what it means to receive God's forgiveness, forgive others and to forgive myself.  This is a critical piece of pursuing our healing, walking out of our valleys of struggles, to better, brighter, healthier places.  

May the Lord Jesus keep you safe, grow you up, strengthen you in mind, body & soul, and help you struggle well this coming week.  Enjoy the excerpt...  Bro.  Rob


Excerpt from Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend, pages 262-264

“To err is human, to forgive is divine.”  And to not forgive is the most stupid thing we can do.

Forgiveness is very hard.  It means letting go of something that someone “owes” you.  Forgiveness is freedom from the past; it is freedom from the abusive person who hurt you.

The Bible compares forgiving people to releasing them from a legal debt.  When a debt is incurred, when people trespass on your personal property, real “owing” occurs.  You have on the “books” of your soul an accounting of who owes you what.  Your mother controlled you and owes you to make it right.  Your father dominated you and owes you to make it right.  If you are “under the law,” you are motivated to collect these debts from them.

Attempts at collection may take many forms.  You may try to please them to help them pay you back.  You think that if you do a little something more, they will pay their bill and give you the love they owe.  Or you may think that if you confront them enough, they will see their wrong and make it right.  Or you may feel that if you convince enough people of how bad you’ve had it and how bad your parents were, that will somehow clear the account.  Or you could “take it out” on someone else, repeating the sin they did to you on someone else--- or on them--- to even the score.  Or you could continue to try and convince them of how bad they are.  You think that if they just understood, they would make it better.  They would pay what they owe.

Nothing is wrong with wanting things to be resolved.  The problem is that things will get resolved in only one way: with grace & forgiveness.  An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth does not work.  The wrong can never be undone.  But it can be forgiven and thereby rendered powerless.  

To forgive means to write it off.  Let it go.  Tear up the account.  It is to render the account “canceled.”  “Having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the Cross”  (Colossians 2:14).

To forgive means we will never get from that person what was owed us.  And that is what we do not like, because that involves grieving for what will never be: The past will not be different.

For some, this means grieving the childhood that never was.  For others it means other things, but to hang on to the demand is to stay in unforgiveness, and that is the most destructive thing we can do to ourselves.

Warning: Forgiveness and opening up to more abuse are not the same thing.  Forgiveness has to do with the past.  Reconciliation & boundaries have to do with the future.  Limits guard my property until someone has repented and can be trusted to visit again.  And if they sin, I will forgive again, seventy times seven.  But I want to be around people who honestly fail me, not dishonestly deny that they have hurt me and have no intent to do better.  That is destructive for me and for them.  If people are owning their sin, they are learning through failure.  We can ride that out.  They want to be better, and forgiveness will help.  But if someone is in denial, or only giving lip service to getting better, without trying to make changes, or seeking help, I need to keep my boundaries, even though I have forgiven them.

Forgiveness gives me boundaries because it unhooks me from the hurtful person, and then I can act responsibly, wisely.  If I am not forgiving them, I am still in a destructive relationship with them.

Gain grace from God, and let others’ debts go.  Do not keep seeking a bad account.   Let it go, and go and get what you need from God and people who can give.  That is a better life.  Unforgiveness destroys boundaries.  Forgiveness creates them, for it get bad debt off of your property.

Remember one last thing.  Forgiveness is not denial.  You must name the sin against you to forgive it.  God did not deny what we did to Him.  He worked through it.  He named it.  He expressed his feelings about it.  He cried and was angry.  And then He let it go.  And He did this in the context of relationship.  Within the Trinity, He was never alone.  Go and do the same.  And watch out for the resistance that will want you to stay in the past, trying to collect what will never be.
 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Empathy...

the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner....
 
Here is an excellent video.....  If we could see into others hearts     Bro. Rob

Friday, July 19, 2013

Double dog dare.

Celebrate Recovery at Believers Church just celebrated our 7th anniversary. It was a beautiful evening of great food, worship, testimony and celebration.
 Jim and I have actually been in the “recovery ministry” for 10 years, along with many called and gifted friends that we honor, love and appreciate beyond words.
 We and our CR family have experienced personal healing ourselves as well as being part of the healing of countless others.  .

“The first step to any spiritual awakening is demolition. We cannot make headway with God without first tearing down the accumulated junk in our lives.”

There’s a lot of demolition going on in the lives of the participants of C.R. And therefore there is also spiritual awakening for those who are willing to be honest with their issues, confess, repent, and then, do the gutsy stuff; make amends to those we have hurt and forgive those who have hurt us. It’s hard and sometimes excruciatingly painful, but the freedom and joy that is the result is exactly why Jesus Christ died for us. Why would we settle for anything less?

When our “demolition” began, I had no idea what God was doing and it was certainly excruciating at times. I questioned God; why, and why now? This is the scripture from the Message Bible that He showed me.
Jeremiah 29:11 says; “I know what I’m doing, I have it all planned out, plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”

We would not be in this ministry today and be honored to walk with others as their “demolition” begins if we had not ourselves gone through the same process.
God did know what he was doing, he didn’t abandon us and he has given us the future we had hoped for. He is faithful!

All it takes is one step, the 1st Step; “We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Jim and I were given the opportunity to share our joint testimony 3 times in the last 10 days. Is it hard, absolutely? But I know no better way to make the enemy sorry he ever messed with us than our story being the doorway to someone else’s recovery. I know without a doubt that God had a least one person there who needed to hear what God had done in us and through us. It’s  our God stories that he uses to bring hope and encouragement to others who may be walking through similar experiences.

Rev. 12:11 says: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of  their testimony."  
More than just thanking you for your prayer and financial support, I want to dare you to do something. No,,,, I double dog dare you to examine your life through the Celebrate Recovery lens, starting with CR Step 1. I promise you, if you do, and really work it, your life will be transformed into more of who God intended you to be from before the foundation of the earth.
 If you’re breathing, you do have issues. God wants you to be completely free. “We’ve all sinned, we’ve all fallen short…”

We love you.
Jim and Pam

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Our stories...

While this is a Chick-fil-A training video to encourage employees to be sensitive and gracious to its customers, it underscores a similar message I have taken from CR. We all have stories, hurts, hang-ups and addictions. 
 
Rather than me taking offense when others' behaviors irritate me, or step on my triggers, I need to be gracious, loving and see if I can be a part of their solution. Not always an easy task for me on any given day sometimes. 
 
How about you?    Bro. Rob

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Our Identity Crisis

I believe a critical aspect of our recovery is remembering that our identity is in Jesus Christ and what He says about us. Celebrate Recovery (CR) is not just another 'recovery program' where our issue is tagged to our personal introduction and becomes melded to our identity for the rest of our lives. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Higher Power, Lord & Savior, He redeems and grows us through and past the issues that have bound us. It is a type of freedom and healing, prior to Jesus, we cannot possibly know.

With this in mind I wanted to pass along a powerful Podcast series on finding your identity in Christ. I believe it is important to read and be taught by many wise Godly teachers & counselors. This pastor is one of my favorites. who-do-you-think-you-are

Bro. Rob

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The End is Really the Beginning

Today we are wrapping up the series of letters concerning the CR Principles. There are eight principles we engage in that help bring positive change in our lives. This principle not only continues the process but is a lifeline of hope to others. It’s called the “The Sharing Choice” Principle 8. Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good New to others, both by my example and by my words. "Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires." Matthew 5:10 It’s associated with Step 12. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs. “Brothers, if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1) “Having had a spiritual experience as a result of these steps,,,” If a person works through all eight of these principles; 1. Stop playing God; realize my tendency to do the wrong thing. 2. Earnestly believe God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover. 3. Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control. 4. Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. 5. Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. 6. Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those that have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others. 7. Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will. 8. Yield myself to God to bring this Good News to others both by my example and by my words. If you work these principles to the best of your ability, TRUST ME, YOU CAN REST ASSURED YOU WILL HAVE HAD A SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE AS A RESULT OF THESE STEPS! And in addition to that you most certainly will bring a message of true hope to others. Re-read this list and take a moment to really contemplate each one. Any one of these ideas can be life changing but when you put them all together radically so. Typically we start the journey of recovery in order to bring freedom and healing into our own lives then along the way our focus shifts toward others. This is because we truly have a message of “Good News” which we can share with others. We’ve experienced it ourselves! It takes approximately a year to work through the formal part of the CR process but I look at these principles as a life-style. I can intentionally position myself to continually grow in my knowledge of, and intimacy with God while bringing hope and encouragement to others. I hope these letters are as much of an encouragement to you as you are to us. Thanks for your prayers and support. Celebrating Recovery! Jim & Pam

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What a great weekend! Incredible, would be the term I would use to describe my experience this weekend, specifically Sunday. It was Celebrate Recovery Sunday at Believers. We are so blessed to have the opportunity to share our CR story with the main church body once a year. Our pastoral staff gives the entire Sunday morning service to Celebrate Recovery.

This year I thought it would be good for someone who has never gone to CR to give a testimony concerning how the ministry has made a dramatic difference in their life due to a close family member’s involvement. It was a riveting, powerful story of extreme crisis in their family, to the point of hopelessness, and how God has brought them through this time to new life, new dreams and a glorious hope.
I shared a personal story related to hope also, as the theme of the message. The CR band did a fabulous job and their song selection focused on hope. One song said “let hope arise and the darkness tremble.” I believe hope did arise in many hearts this Sunday morning in our church. And to top it off, it was opening weekend for the movie “Home Run.” Talk about a movie with purpose: it was the No. 12 movie this past weekend and finished as the No. 3 movie in per-screen average among those films! If you haven’t seen the movie or didn’t know already it has a powerful message of hope.

So what is it about hope anyway, that is so empowering? The bedrock of hope is love, the bible says love never fails. We can hope because God loves us with an undeniable, everlasting love. He proved it beyond any question through the sacrifice of his own son Jesus Christ. Hebrews 6:19 CEV says, “This hope is like a firm and steady anchor for our souls. In fact, hope reaches behind the curtain and into the most holy place.” Hope touches the very heart of God. We can hope in a good God, a loving God who will go to any lengths to redeem us. “And this hope will never disappoint us. We know this because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts through the Holy Spirit he gave us.” Rom 5:5 ERV

“There is no medicine like hope. No incentive so great and no tonic so powerful as the expectation of something better tomorrow.”
“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.”

The bible says, “Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping,,,”
That’s the message, there is hope for you, hope for your loved ones and hope for your circumstances. And you can hope even when it looks totally, completely hopeless, even when it looks like it’s over, done, no hope.

Yogi Berra, that great theologian said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
God says it’s not over even when it’s over! (Think about that for a minute.) There is always hope in God. Christ came out of the tomb, there is and will be a resurrection.
“O death where is your sting? O grave where is your victory?”
  Hope when it is hopeless, what an amazing gift!

A LIFE WITHOUT CHRIST IS A HOPELESS END, WITH HIM IT IS AN ENDLESS HOPE.



Let hope arise and darkness tremble,
Jim & Pam

Monday, April 29, 2013

Why Shame is Destructive But Guilt is Creative

By Dr. Kelly Flanagan on Apr 24, 2013 04:30 am


The difference between shame and guilt may be the difference between never really living

On a Friday morning, my three-year-old daughter was drawing me a picture with a colored pencil. Her face was screwed up with concentration, nose crinkled, dimples lopsided. She let out a big-dramatic sigh and said, “I made a mistake; I need to erase it.”

I tried not to laugh as I looked at the random loops and swirls of abstract toddlerhood and wondered to myself, “Honey, how can chaos contain mistakes?”

But I fetched an eraser anyway, and she started to rub. However, colored pencil doesn’t erase—it smudges. So she rubbed harder. And the “mistake” got worse and worse.

And worse.

She flung down her pencil and began to tear the paper to shreds.

I don’t think my daughter was feeling ashamed about her drawing—I think she was being a three-year-old. Yet, on a Friday morning, I think she gave me an image of the way shame destroys us:

Shame is like the crummy pencil eraser of life—it mires us in an endless, hopeless effort to erase our mistakes. And it tears up our lives in the process.

Destructive Shame…


Shame is the “you’re not good enough” lie seductively whispering at the edge of our fragile souls. It convinces us our mistakes and shortcomings and failures and faults are who we are. It convinces us we need to erase our mistakes and our mess if we are to be worthy of love and belonging.

So we spend our life mired in depressive regrets about words and actions and days and years we wish we could take back. Or we spend our nights in anxious rumination about how everyone reacted when we said this or did that. We quietly beat ourselves up and wish for a do-over.

But the truth is, our mistakes are written in the colored pencil of time—time can’t be reversed and our mistakes can’t be erased.

There are no do-overs.

Yet shame keeps us stuck in this endless cycle of hopeless attempts to erase or hide our history and ourselves. It immobilizes us. It shuts us down. And in doing so, it can destroy a life—one paralyzed day at a time.

But there is another way.

…Creative Guilt


The way out of our shame is not to erase our mistakes. The way out of our shame is to feel guilty about them.

Guilt is shame redeemed by grace.

Shame tells us we are lousy. Guilt tells us we did something lousy.

Shame whispers, “Your mistakes define you.” But guilt proclaims, “We are defined by redemption, not by transgressions.”

Whereas shame seeks to hide the past, guilt claims the past.

Shame says you are corrupt and rotten and weak and powerless and you should hide because anything you do will be another failure. But guilt says, “Yes, I messed up. I’m guilty as charged. But my mess doesn’t define me. And because it doesn’t define me, I can do something different now.”

Shame looks backward interminably. Guilt glances backward and then moves forward.

Shame coerces us into passivity. Guilt propels us into action.

Shame buries our mistakes. Guilt apologizes for them.

Shame disconnects us from people. Guilt propels us into the arms of people.

Shame is a lie we swallow. Guilt is the truth we tell.

Shame is the death of us. Guilt is the beginning of a resurrection.

The Blank Page


As my daughter began to sink to the floor on the verge of a meltdown, I suggested, “Instead of erasing that picture, how about you draw me another one?”

She stopped mid-tantrum, crumpled paper in hand, and a smile evened out her dimples a bit.

I pointed at her big stack of blank papers and said, “You can draw me a bunch of new ones.”

I wonder if redemptive guilt is really just the voice of grace, whispering quietly to us, “Hush, little one. Quit trying so hard to erase and hide the past. You’re learning and growing and every time you mess up and try again, let’s rejoice. So put that eraser away, own your mistakes, and let’s try again, even if it’s a glorious mess.”

My daughter looked at me, bounced to her feet, and attacked a new blank page with abandon.

Drawing Redemptive Pictures With Our Lives


In life, we can listen to our shame—we can focus on all of our mistakes and we can get hopelessly bogged down in trying to analyze them, erase them, justify them, or hide them.

Or we can approach every day like a new sheet of paper. The size of the stack is different for each of us, of course—our remaining days are all differently numbered.

But if we have only a single page on our stack—only one day remaining to live—we have one blank page on which to draw a new, redemptive picture of our lives.

We can draw pictures of courage and vulnerability.

We can draw pictures of apology and forgiveness.

We can draw picture of love and sacrifice.

Today is a new day. Today is our blank page. Today is pregnant with the possibility of a new picture, a redemptive event, a beautiful love.

What will we do with today’s blank page?

 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Over planning...

Since I am a planner, and struggle with self-condemnation & shame, the following devotional from Jesus Calling (Sarah Young, 2004) really spoke to me today..... Bro. Rob

April 24

Rest in the stillness of My Presence while I prepare you for this day.  Let the radiance of My Glory shine upon you, as you wait on Me in confident trust.  Be still and know that I am God.  There is both a passive and an active side to trusting Me.  I quietly build bonds of trust between us.  When you respond to the circumstances of your life with affirmations of trust, you actively participate in this process.

I am always with you, so you have no reason to be afraid.  Your fear often manifests itself in excessive planning.  Your mind is so accustomed to this pattern of thinking that you are only now becoming aware of how pervasive it is and how much it hinders your intimacy with Me.  Repent of this tendency and resist it, whenever you realize you are wandering down this well-worn path.  Return to My Presence, which always awaits you in the present moment.  I accept you back with no condemnations. Psalm 46:10; Romans 8:1

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Real Graduation

Hey Partners & Friends,


I remember my high school graduation. It should have been a celebration of successful effort, progress and significant accomplishment. But in my case and unfortunately many others it was just an event that marked the end of my formal education, and the surprise that somehow I had managed to get a diploma. It was more of a “give me” than an accomplishment. It wasn’t that I had a hard time learning I just didn’t care enough to work at it, to really learn. For example I missed 89 days my senior year, not because I was sick I just didn’t want to go. It’s hard to keep up when you’re not there. Especially in Algebra II, man was that a tuff subject. If it hadn’t been for my friend Diana, who sat across the aisle and conveniently placed her papers in my line of sight I would not have made it through that class for sure. My study regimen was simple, cram an hour before the exam and forget it. Needless to say I didn’t learn much. I’m not proud of myself; in fact it makes me kind of sad to realize I wasted a wonderful opportunity.

Well I went to another graduation ceremony the other night, of a different sort. It was a true celebration. A time of rejoicing and acknowledgment of an incredibly significant accomplishment. Eight men and I had ventured together through the 12 Steps of Celebrate Recovery. It took a commitment, to God, to ourselves and to each other. It also required effort to face the past honestly and openly. And it was work to plow through our hurts habits and hang-ups in order to find healing, freedom, and hope for a new and better future. We didn’t take this journey alone, we did it together. And with the help of the Holy Spirit were able to put major stumbling blocks from our crippled lives behind us.
These guys determined to spend one night every week for a year to come together in the name of Jesus Christ for the express purpose of experiencing positive change in their lives. Jesus said if as many as two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there with them. It’s true! He was there every week bringing insight, understanding and wisdom out of the most painful, hurtful, even ugly places in our lives. The awesome part is as we shared our lives with each other Jesus also brought strength, forgiveness, healing and a hunger for more.
This celebration was not something we just endured, got through and we’re done, not at all. It’s a celebration of healing and freedom that is a launching pad for new life in Christ. I’ve discovered there are no limits to the new life Christ has purchased for us. In fact I believe new life in Christ is never ending. It’s intended to be a continual progression toward our place and purpose in God’s grand scheme of things and primarily intimate relationship with Him.

I’ve participated in several of these CR 12 Step groups. I am humbled, blessed and amazed each time. We truly can Celebrate Recovery and graduate into new life!

I hope these letters cause you to celebrate what God is doing through you in this ministry.


Thank you for your prayers and support.

Jim & Pam

P.S. Remember take someone to see HOME RUN the movie opening weekend Apr.19-21st!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Movies

Hey Partners & Friends,

I watched the Oscars this year, don’t normally do that, don’t usually care. But for whatever reason I was interested this year. I did have the opportunity to see several of the nominees for best picture so I was curious as to which would win and in which categories. The range and variety of films nominated where extremely diverse. To my surprise I enjoyed all the films that I was able to see. My overall favorite I think was Les Miserables, obviously the message was the most powerful and it was magnificently done. An epic film to be sure, a classic.
The reason for mentioning this is that there is another movie coming out this spring, opening weekend is April 19th to be exact, Home Run.

Home Run is the movie I mentioned to you about a year ago, explaining many of the people associated with this film are part of our church and that the idea for incorporating the ministry of Celebrate Recovery was birthed in part due to the testimonies we have shared from our very own Celebrate Recovery at Believers Church. So in a very real way your prayers and support for this ministry are going to the “Big screen “as they say.
Now what we want to do is fill the theaters to capacity on opening weekend so the film will be expanded into additional markets across the country with the potential to reach thousands of people with a message of hope, forgiveness and redemption.
One reviewer says, “The movie tells the story of baseball all-star Cory Brand, who must face life spiraling out of control both on and off the field due to his addiction to alcohol. When his team suspension and a DUI sends him back to his hometown, Cory finds himself coaching his brother's youth baseball team - and spending eight weeks in the only recovery program in town, Celebrate Recovery. Ultimately, as Cory comes to terms with his hurts, habits and hang ups (the family he left behind, a painful past with an abusive father and an addiction to alcohol) he begins to find freedom and hope - through the redemption provided by faith in Jesus.

Celebrate Recovery - was portrayed in an accurate and honest way. It was not overwhelming or gratuitous. The testimonies given (by both men and women) during the worship setting were powerful. The scenes during the open share group gave the story another layer of authenticity.

This is not a "preachy" movie. It's a movie that accurately portrays faith in a honest, engaging way. It is instead, a story that is strong, well written and has a powerful message.

On the scale of one to five, it's definitely a four. The movie will leave you thinking. It will hopefully introduce people not only to Celebrate Recovery, but to the redeeming power of Jesus' love.”

"Home Run reminds us of the power of forgiveness, the richness of redemption, and the wisdom of trusting God to revive us." - Max Lucado.

Home Run probably won’t win an Oscar but it has the potential to win in the lives of thousands of movie goers, hope in Jesus Christ.

Thanks for helping us,,,Let’s go to the movies!
Jim & Pam

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

DUH?  

If I were to sum up the next principle in one word, I would be tempted to use the word DUH! Really. I’m not trying to be sarcastic and I hope I’m not being arrogant. But this Principle 7 seems so obvious to me that I don’t know what else to say about it. It’s like how is this not on David Letterman’s TOP TEN list of how to live a fulfilling purposeful life? It’s the epitome of a no-brainer. Therefore the only appropriate word I could come up with is DUH.

Here it is, Principle 7. “Reserve a daily time with God, for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will.” See what I mean? How, or maybe a better question would be Why would anybody not want to do that?
The corresponding step of the 12 steps is Step 11: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and power to carry that out.”

There is a God, I am not him so why would I not reserve some time in my life (on a daily basis) for the One who created all that is or ever will be, me included. I need him, he doesn’t need me, I’m the one who screws up on a regular basis, gets in messes and needs help. If he created all this then he knows how it all works, so why in the world would I not go to him for answers for help for strength that I do not have?
The Bible is the instruction manual and prayer is how we can communicate with the God of the universe, so it only stands to reason that I should probably carve out a portion of my day on fairly regular basis to be with God. Ya think?
This is the Principle by which the people of CR maintain momentum in their recovery and it charts the course for the rest of their lives. It is absolutely essential to grow in our knowledge of God and his will for our lives and to gain the power to follow his will. We cannot do it on our own. It is impossible to live for God without God.

 I don’t know what else to say about this, I mean if there is a God, if he created all that is or ever will be, including me. Then he knows how I work and he has left me with a love letter through which I can discover more of him every day, he will talk with me intimately, he will share his dream for my life, the thing he created me for and he will empower me to accomplish that purpose.


Celebrating Recovery with you!

Jim & Pam

Saturday, January 5, 2013

It's a gutsy Principle!

The next principle in our walk through the CR process is a doosie, as if the first five weren’t. But this one, Principle 6 puts real legs to the process of recovery. And it does so by directly and intentionally engaging other people in your recovery. It’s not a situation where those around you simply notice, hey there is something different about (insert name). It’s a situation where you go directly to people in your life who have offended you or those you have offended, to offer forgiveness or make amends whatever the case may be. Yeeowee! Is that scary or what?
Principle 6:  Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others when possible, except when to do so would harm them or others.
 “Happy are the merciful.” Mt 5:7       “Happy are the peacemakers” Mt 5:9
This is one of those places where “the rubber meets the road” so to speak.
It’s not done by simply praying in your mind, “God I’m sorry for hurting so and so,  forgive me and help me not do that again.” Jesus gave very specific instructions as to how to deal with relationship issues. “Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift at the altar and go. First make things right with your brother or sister and then come back and offer your gift.” Mt 5:23-24 CEB Please notice Jesus did not ask who is right or who is wrong in this deal, all He said was if you remember someone has something against you.(Interesting) So if we recognize that someone has something against us, justified or not we are to go to them and do our best to make things right. Jesus didn’t stop there He went on to say in Mk 11:25 “And whenever you stand up to pray, if you have something against anyone, forgive so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your wrongdoings.” 
So it seems that it really doesn’t matter who is right or who is wrong in these situations. What it does say is, if YOU realize someone has something against you or if YOU have something against someone, that it is YOUR responsibility to make it right. WOW! Just imagine what our world would be like if people actually started doing this kind of stuff! Celebrate Recovery helps us put legs to these admonitions of Jesus Christ and it’s amazing how life changing it can be. I highly recommend it.
May 2013 be a year of amazing blessings for you and yours!
Jim & Pam