Thursday, December 4, 2014

Beyond hope?




Hey Partners and Friends,


Over the past several days I have been thinking about gratitude and what I’m thankful for, I am thankful for HOPE:

hope for the addict, hope for the homeless, hope for the hungry, hope for the alcoholic, hope for the glutton, hope for the adulterer, hope for the thief, hope for the liar, hope for the grieving, hope for the lonely, hope for the depressed, hope for the betrayed, hope for the abused, hope for the abuser, hope for the betrayer, hope for the homophobe, hope for the homosexual, hope for the rapist, hope for the angry, hope for the hurting, hope for the self-righteous, hope for the prideful, hope for the poor, hope for the orphan, hope for the widow, hope for the broken hearted, hope for the prisoner, hope for the jealous, hope for the greedy, hope for the anorexic, hope for the sick, hope for the jobless, hope for the abandon, hope for the bulimic, hope for the angry, hope for the bitter, hope for the diseased, hope for the resentful, hope for the lustful, hope for the vengeful, hope for the abortionist, hope for the promiscuous, hope for the religious, hope for the drunkard, hope for the pedophile, hope for the insane, hope for the rich, hope for the whore, hope for the whoremonger, hope for the rebellious, hope for the critical, hope for the hater, hope for the sluggard, hope for the workaholic, hope for the accused, hope for the racist, hope for the gossip, hope for the destitute, hope for the sad, hope for the complainer, hope for the desperate, hope for murderer, hope for the captive, hope for the injured, hope for the envious, hope for the arrogant, hope for mean, hope for the selfish, hope for the hopeless, hope for the fearful, hope for Ferguson, hope for our nation, hope for the world.

Psm 31:24 NIRV “Be strong, all of you who put your hope in the Lord.
    Never give up.”

 1Pet. 1:3 NLV “Let us thank the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was through His loving-kindness that we were born again to a new life and have a hope that never dies. This hope is ours because Jesus was raised from the dead.”

2Ths 2:16-17 NIV “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”
I am thankful there is real hope, hope for you, hope for me.

This hope is found and assured in the one and only Blessed Hope, JESUS CHRIST!
 Let hope rise,
Jim & Pam

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Crossroads

Crossroads,

There is a lesson in our CR Step study guides called Crossroads. It’s associated with Step 10: “We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” The corresponding CR Principle is; “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.” Most recovery material refers to Steps 10 thru 12 as the maintenance steps. But the reality is, this is where we live out the rest of our lives, one day at a time, and it is a whole lot more than “maintenance.” The caution from scripture says; “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” 1Cor 10:12NIV.

I like the title of the lesson because we come to many crossroads throughout our journey. A crossroad is typically not a place to stay, not a final destination. It’s a decision point. Do we stop here? Do we go some other direction or on toward our desired destination? Or maybe we just want to turn around and go back where we came from?  

When we reach a crossroad how do we decide which way we are going to go? At the risk of sounding simplistic it depends on where we want to go. Where do we REALLY want to go?

 This summer we planned a vacation to Colorado. It was a long drive. After about six hours on the road, tired and travel weary we decided to stop for the night in WaKeeny, KS. After coming a long way, many miles behind us we deserved a rest. Do you know what’s in WaKeeny, KS?  Nothing! Oh, there was a motel and a Dollar Store. That’s it! Pam and I spent the evening walking down a lonely highway and through the aisles of the Dollar Store. The saving grace? It was quiet, peaceful and we saw a beautiful sunset, kind of romantic really.

The next morning we had a decision to make, I mean we were literally at a crossroads. Do we just turn around and go back to Oklahoma? Nope, no way, we know what’s back there. It’s hot, dry, and windy in Oklahoma and besides we had gone too far to turn back now. Do we stay in WaKeeny? I don’t think so. Quaint and peaceful as it was, there was a whole lot more than that awaiting us on down the road. Or do we go some other direction, maybe toward Dodge City? Not on your life it stinks there. No we WANT to go to Colorado to see the majesty of the mountains, the brisk fresh air, the beauty of the crystal clear mountain streams carving their way through the magnificent wilderness. We wanted the joy of reuniting with some old friends and our youngest daughter and her family. That’s what we wanted, Colorado the “promise land.” So we didn’t stay in WaKeeny, we didn’t go another direction and we did not go back, we headed for the mountains. It was a wonderful journey.                                                                                                                                         

That’s the way it is with Recovery, we don’t stop just because we have come a long way, we don’t stay there in WaKeeny, and we sure don’t go back or some other direction. We keep moving forward toward what we really want, freedom, healing, and the joy of more of God. I don’t call that maintenance.    

Phil 3:12-14 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Thanks for traveling with us on this journey called Celebrate Recovery!

Jim & Pam

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

TIME OUT

Hey Partners and Friends,
My six year old grandson was having a problem with his Nana. So Nana laid the law down. Alex was in time-out and he wasn’t very happy about it. In fact he decided he was not going to do a time-out, but soon discovered that was not an option. So he’s sitting in the chair wondering how long this is going to take;
“Nana, how long do I have to sit here?”
“Well, until you are sorry and apologize for what you did.”(we don’t remember what he did, only that it was worthy of a time-out.)
“You mean you are going to make me sit here all day long?”
“No, I’m not making you, that’s your choice.”
Alex thought about this for quite a while. Finally he decided he was sorry and sincerely apologized. As he got up from the chair Nana heard him sigh, “Whuush, that was hard.” Meaning the apology not the time-out. 
Generally kids do not like to apologize, make amends, restitution or make things right. Many times they need to be coerced or forced into doing so, very childish behavior. However if they don’t at least apologize they get time-out.
The sad thing is, many of us adults are like that. Principle 6 of CR says, “Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for the harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.”
We hear volumes about forgiveness and how important that is to us, but amends, not so much. The truth is amends are of great value. We begin to grow up, taking responsibility for our actions. Otherwise we continue the same destructive behavior and nothing changes. When we refuse to do what we can to make things right, make amends, I’m pretty sure we are putting ourselves in time-out. Life is too short to continually be stuck in time-out.
Amends are not easy but necessary. We benefit more from making genuine amends than anyone else. Real amends will cost us something and they will always cost us our pride. It is a huge act of faith. We can trust God to use our amends to help bring healing, wholeness and freedom, and it’s the right thing to do. We can’t do everything to make wrong things right but we can do something. God will take over from there. Ultimately He will make ALL wrongs things right. He’s in the business of doing just that. I think we should join Him by making the things in our lives and relationships as right as we can, don’t you? Or I suppose we can spend our lives in a perpetual time-out.
2Cor7:11 NLT ,,,,You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.  
Isa 35:3-4 MSG   Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! God is here, right here, on His way to put things right and redress all wrongs. He’s on His way! He’ll save you!”
You can get up from the chair now!
Celebrating Recovery,

Jim & Pam

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Bag Lady


Hey Partners & Friends,

 

She wore several layers of soiled tattered clothing, a raggedy old stocking cap, and pulled some type of shopping cart. The cart packed with probably everything she possessed, a bag lady.

 

I saw her several times as I made my way to work through the streets of NYC. She was always so intense, very busy, seemingly on an important mission of some kind, walking rapidly from one corner to the next to direct traffic, like a traffic cop. Apparently she had taken on this job as her responsibility and she was serious about it.

Her own life obliviously suffering from serious dysfunction, she desperately needed to be able to control something in her world.

She had chosen a monumental task to be sure, directing traffic on the streets of downtown NYC is not a simple thing. Scowling, waving her arms, pointing at cars, motioning for them to turn, flailing really, and throwing up her hands as a signal to STOP! She would get more and more demonstrative as she became increasingly frustrated with the futility of her efforts. None of the drivers were paying a bit of attention to her, most didn’t even see her. But here’s the sinister irony, occasionally a vehicle actually did stop or turn as she directed. It had nothing to do with her frantic efforts.  It was simply because the signal light happened to match up with her dramatic gestures. The cruelty of this illustration lies in the fact that when this happened it gave her the impression she was in control! The reality being, she was totally powerless to affect the traffic on the streets of NY, it was unmanageable.

 

Virtually all of us have areas in our lives that are somewhat like the streets of NY, unmanageable, out of our control where we are powerless to change. At times we think we have control because occasionally circumstances line up with our efforts but the truth is we can not manage at all. It’s like a cruel joke, ultimately the hurt, habit or hang-up prevails once again. So we garner up our strength and go to the next street corner and do it all over again.

 

Celebrate Recovery gives people a place to go other than the same old failed behavior, a way to actually change things. The very first step of CR is;

 “We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.” Unless we able to take this step we find ourselves on the street corner of our lives desperately trying to direct traffic.

As we walk the road to recovery we learn how to turn these areas over to the only Higher Power able to help us, Jesus Christ! Where we consciously choose to commit all our life and will to Christ’s care and control.

There is an awfully lot of traffic out there for us to manage on our own. In fact it is a monumental task, impossible without Jesus.

 

Thanks for helping us share this message!

 

In Christ all things become new,

Jim & Pam

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

SPOILERS


I love tomatoes, vine ripe home grown tomatoes that is. So I decided to grow my own. We lived near Haikey Creek and the soil in our backyard was rich. I’m really not much of a gardener but how hard could it be to grow tomatoes. I bought one Big Boy plant and one Roma. I could already taste those BLT’s, salads and salsa. I make my own salsa and everybody knows the number one ingredient in salsa is the tomatoes. The better the tomatoes the better the salsa. Mmm.

I picked the best spot in the yard for optimal sunlight, worked the soil, fertilized, watered and tended those plants every day. They flourished, they were beautiful, huge, covered with blooms. I was so excited. They put on so many tomatoes I could hardly keep the vines tied up. Tons of huge tomatoes began to ripen. I babied them daily, I could just taste’em. They were getting close. One evening I went back to check, it looked like in about one more day I would be able to harvest some of the most wonderful tomatoes the world has ever seen. This is going to be great. As I was walking away I noticed one tomato lying on the ground with one bite taken out of it? Must have been a turtle from the creek.

I couldn’t wait to get home from work the next day because my tomatoes would be ready, ripe, juicy, and succulent. When I got to the Big Boy plant I was stunned. I stood there in stark disbelief. Every single tomato was gone, just gone, totally, no trace of ever having been on the vine, no scraps, no broken vines, nothing. I couldn’t believe it. I looked at the Roma plant and it had not been disturbed at all, lots of tomatoes on it, but they wouldn’t be ready till tomorrow. What in the world happened to my Big Boys? Somebody must have waited till they were ripe to steal every single tomato. I mean good grief any self-respecting thief would have the decency to leave me at least one Big Boy. I was beside myself, who would do such a thing. If I catch who did this, God help them because I can’t be responsible. Surely my actions would be considered a justifiable crime of passion or temporary insanity. All that were left were the romas. Obviously the thief only wanted the very best tomatoes, and the romas wouldn’t be fully ripe for another day or so. They would make a fabulous salsa. I planned to get them the next night.

I jumped out of the car, running straight to the backyard. (I can hardly bare to write this) the romas, my fabulous romas were gone, without a trace! The very day they ripened somebody took the best tomatoes, the Big Boys and then came back the next day when the romas were ready and took every single tomato. This is incredible, what happened, who had done such a wicked, evil, vicious deed? I had lost all my spectacular tomatoes.

There is a nugget of great wisdom contained in the Song of Solomon 2:15 that says; Hunt the foxes for us, the little foxes that spoil the vines for our vines are in blossom. (Jubilee Bible). Another translation says …. “we must catch the little foxes that destroy the vineyards.”

Celebrate Recovery does a great job helping people to hunt and catch the little foxes, the spoilers that would steal the beautiful delicious fruit from their lives. We learn to identify and rid ourselves of those things that rob us and would eventually destroy us. Otherwise we often don’t recognize what or who the thieves really are. My tomato thieves weren’t foxes at all, if so they looked strangely like raccoons.   

Good hunting,

Jim & Pam

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thursday, March 27, 2014

ACTION


 

Hey Partners & Friends,

He stood on the hillside sabre in hand, the opposing army of four hundred advancing toward them for the sixth time. His company of a thousand had been reduced over the last six months to three hundred. Today after the first five attacks it was down to eighty remaining fighting men with virtually no ammunition. If the enemy broke through here, the war would most likely be lost. The thirty-four-year-old school teacher from Maine, Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was faced with a critical decision. What would he do? His old seasoned soldier, Sergeant Tozier, a bullet hole in his shoulder plugged with a piece of torn shirt, said “Sir we won’t hold them again, you know we won’t.”

His brother Tom cried out “Joshua, here they come, here they come. Give an order.” In the face of what appeared to be certain defeat Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain made a radical decision, he could not retreat, he could not stay here. He decided to charge! Over the makeshift rock wall he and his eighty remaining soldiers rumbled. The rest is history, the opposition surrendered to eighty ragtag soldiers with no ammunition. Historians believe had Chamberlain not charged that day the South would have won the war. Had that happened it is believed that this nation could have been fragmented in up to thirteen countries. The United States of America would not have existed to fight and win, two wars on two fronts at the same time. That one decision, that one action to charge down a hill against overwhelming odds in 1863 has changed the world.

People who look whipped, feel weak, no strength left, on the verge of total defeat have a decision to make and an action to take that is even more critical than the one Chamberlain made. It is a decision and an action that will forever change their lives and will carry them and others into eternity.

Celebrate Recovery Step 3. We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Rom 12:1

That is a life changing decision and a radical action to take, pretty extreme, a living sacrifice. It’s not simply a notion, it’s a commitment that involves decisive action. Isn’t that what Chamberlain did and it changed the history of the world? Isn’t that what Jesus did? The decision and the action of Jesus Christ has not only changed the world but it has changed mankind throughout all of eternity. I cannot imagine what kind of world we would be living in were it not for Jesus. I cannot imagine where I would be, or where my family would be were it not for His decision and His ultimate sacrifice on behalf of all humanity.

Celebrate Recovery helps people realize they can’t run or hide from their hurts, habits, and hang-ups. Nor do they need to surrender to their destructive behaviors. There is a way to win, to overcome and experience victory even against overwhelming odds, when it seems impossible. That victory comes when we follow the Captain of our salvation Jesus Christ over the wall of fear and weakness into the battle with Him. Somewhat like those eighty battle weary soldiers followed Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain into history. We can follow Jesus Christ throughout all of our lives into eternity, free from the slavery of sin and addiction. The fight is then over, the enemy surrenders, a defeated foe.

Celebrating Recovery,

Jim & Pam

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mankinds Biggest Ability


Hey Partners and Friends,

 

I am so glad God created us with the ability to choose, aren’t you? Ever thought about how many choices you have everyday. Someone said, “We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us.”

 

This month I want to share another snippet of a CR principle. All the principles are critical for recovery but this one is HUGE. It is the crux of all the rest of them. The first two principles are the basis from which we get to the third, being the central theme of all the steps. 

  1. Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.
  2. Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover.

And now;
3. C
onsciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.

 

Read that principle again and let it soak for a minute. I mean think about it, if we miss this we are missing it all.

At times all of us get into a bit of a funk and just go about our daily lives doing what we have always done, the same old routine not really thinking about it. I believe God wants us to be conscious of the fact that we do not have to get stuck in routine, habitual cycles of behavior or thinking we can make choices. A very long time ago God said, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! DT. 30:19NLT

I believe God meant it when he said it then, and I believe he means it today. It’s like every day I can choose good or bad, life or death, blessings or curses.  I used to think it was a command, but as I look closer I realize it is the plea of God’s heart. The bedrock of the Celebrate Recovery ministry is this principle, this choice. God has given us an indescribable ability, and that is the ability to choose. What we do, how we act, what we think and how we feel. People in recovery many times have lost site of this truth. They believe the lie that they have no choices they’re just stuck, addicted, trapped with no options. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Jn 8:32

So we do have choices and the choice above all choices is- what are we going to do with Jesus, all other choices in life pail in comparison to this one choice. We must, “Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.” Today we can make that choice and everyday for the rest of our lives and just see what happens. Everyday when you wake up choose life, choose blessings, choose good. Choose to commit the day and your will to Christ’s care and control. Thank you that one of your choices has been to partner with us in this ministry.

God has made His choice, it’s you!

 Jim & Pam

                        .

Friday, February 21, 2014

Those People


Well it happened again. Tuesday night at Believers Church Celebrate Recovery. Worship was awesome the place was packed and the celebration of God’s grace was on. All our meetings are special but last night was one of those gatherings that had a little extra kick to it.

We were honored to have as our special guests a group of wonderful ladies that had recently completed the twelve step process together. They had fought through the questions, the doubt, the apprehensions associated with the typical perception of being in a twelve step group. You know the prevalent idea that twelve step groups are for drug addicts, alcoholics, sex addicts and such, for “those people.” Well, there was not one addict among them. These ladies were dealing with issues of self-worth, pride, co-dependency people pleasing, depression, insecurity etc. Human issues that affect us all to whatever degree and these women gallantly marched through their step study to discover more of God and to gain more freedom to live out the life that Jesus bought for them. I think we should all be “those people.”

One of the ladies who facilitated this group said it well when last night after the celebration she posted on Facebook;

“Tonight I stood by a group or the bravest women I know as they graduated from a yearlong 12-step group in Celebrate Recovery. Their lives are forever changed and the world will be changed because of them. These are all “normal” women, model women who decided they were tired of letting wrong thinking or fear or pride or a host of other things keep them from being all they know God wants them to be. They said YES and began a journey of recovery and wholeness that will affect the rest of their lives and all their relationships. SO proud to have walked by their side and call them “Step” sisters. I love you, girls. You know who you are!!!”

It was a very powerful, God present meeting. The fact is we are all one of “those people.”  Just people walking out the human condition together, with a desperate need for the grace of God and intimate relationship with Him.

Thank you for being one of “those people” who encourage this ministry by your continued prayer and support.

Celebrating Recovery,

Jim & Pam

Thursday, February 13, 2014

One Day at a Time

Joe Walsh's song 'One Day At A Time' has always spoken to me about focusing on living today, with its joys and struggles. CR has encouraged me to live in the now, not rehashing my yesterdays, nor worrying about tomorrow. I encourage you to live today to its fullest, relying on Jesus as your higher power to see you through. Blessings, Bro. Rob








Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Please not again!

You are not going to believe this! I mean as I sit here thinking about it I’m shocked myself. Possibly you remember a few months ago I wrote you a letter that talked about the time Pam fractured both of her ankles at the same time. And if you remember, it did not happen while cage fighting or skiing the slopes at Aspen, no, it happened as she walked into Cracker Barrel for Sunda...y dinner. I mean that just boggles my mind. But now guess what? Five weeks ago we were walking across the parking lot to the theater when Pam stepped on a stone and snap! She broke her foot! This is the sixth time she has broken a leg a foot or an ankle. That is more than her fair share of fractures. I could understand it if she were Mrs. Evil Knievel, motorcycle stuntwoman, but not Nana at Cracker Barrel and the theater, you have got to be kidding. Even the doctor who examined her told me that he was going to have me investigated.

Here’s another surprise. Do you remember all the things I learned the last time she was incapacitated? You know I learned how to turn on the washing machine, the dish washer, the dryer and make the bed etc….Well apparently she does not understand those are perishable skills! I had forgotten how to do some of that stuff and had to re-learn housekeeping all over again. This time however there were extenuating circumstances.

Her birthday is in November so I got the bright idea to surprise her with a birthday-month not just one day. I bought her several gifts throughout the month and would leave them as a surprise when I left the house. She loved it! Here’s where it gets sticky, I should have been more discriminating with my gift selections. I bought her a nice bracelet which was fine, and a gold plated rose also ok. I bought her a cast iron skillet which I must admit was for me as much as her (I love chicken fried steak and gravy cooked in a cast iron skillet!) ummmum! But then I remembered the old movies where those cast iron skillets were also used to knock some sense into the man of the house, oops. So then I bought her a gun. My thinking being, I’d much rather be shot than hit in the head with a cast iron skillet. Plus it’s a nice gun, stainless steel, pink semi-automatic. A birthday-month present needs to be cute. Now comes the real problem. She has a broken foot and very limited mobility so I must be johnny-on-the-spot when she needs something, and she, HAS A GUN! You get the picture? I can’t really say I have lived in terror but those two warning shots in ceiling have definitely improved my response time. I told you that you would not believe it and to be honest only part of it is true, (no warning shots yet). Also she is a real trooper although a bit more discouraged the sixth time around. I mean who would not be? The good news is, she is on the road to recovery, had her cast removed just this week and is now in a boot and much more mobile. Oh, and I took the bullets out of the gun.

 Anyway what does all this have to do with Celebrate Recovery???? Absolutely nothing. I would like to turn this into some kind of profound spiritual lesson for you but I’ll settle for sharing life with our friends. I just wanted to vent. However it could be that sharing life together, the ups and the downs has a therapeutic effect, strengthening, encouraging, and fellowshipping one with another helps to bring healing and recovery. Thanks for sharing with us on this journey.

Love ya, Have wonderful New Year!
Jim & Pam (alias Annie Oakley)

P.S. Please keep this letter just in case I succumb due to a blow from a blunt instrument or by being shot
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