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The Sacrifice of the Manger

A message from Pastor Mike Eleveld

Christmas is near and dear to all of us. We have images engraved on our hearts of Christmases past, loved ones gathered together, and presents under the tree. However, I am wondering if we think deeply enough as to what the nativity meant to Jesus. There was great sacrifice in being born in that manger.

The Bible indicates that Jesus coming into this world was no small thing. God’s entrance into humanity was brutal, cold, and dangerous. Instead of being born in a palatial palace, He chose to establish His beachhead in a manger, exposed to the elements and ravenous dogs that ventured into town nightly from the desert.

Paul writes to the Philippian believers and reveals the sacrifice of the manger, what Jesus was willing to do to be born into this world.

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being…”

Philippians 2:5-7

The Sacrifice of the Manger involved Jesus voluntarily leaving the splendors of heaven to come into this world of sin. Why would He do this? The answer is clearly because God loves us so. He came into the world as the perfect demonstration of how much God loves us and wants us to be with Him. He came into the world to die for our sins.

“This is real love — not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” 1 John 4:10

He loves us all: addicts, alcoholics, and those who are sober… all of us. Please, think of this as you think about Christmas this week.

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I Know What God Expects, But I Keep Messing Up, What’s Wrong with Me? (Video)

Have you been worried about relapsing? Are you wondering what’s wrong? In this video, Dr. Adam Bianchini, Pastor Mike, Pastor James, and Pastor John of the Road to Freedom program discuss what it means to put on the full armor of God and guard your mind from the world’s ills.

Sometimes life can be a battle and the mind can take over and get in the way of progress, so it’s important to have Christ in your life. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 it says, “… and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”

By letting go of your thoughts, taking accountability, and accepting your powerlessness, you are surrendering to God. God becomes your best advocate to defend against your troubles or any troubling thoughts you may have.

So what’s the best way to stay faithful to God, protect your heart, mind and spirit, and persevere in recovery? Find out more by watching the video below:

Each week, pastors from the Road to Freedom program provide a Q&A panel for patients to ask any questions they may have. The Road to Freedom is a Christian rehab program that offers spiritual guidance to those suffering from addiction.

Admissions counselors are available to answer your questions 24/7. For more information about our faith-based treatment program, call us today at (877) 448-5513. To hear more from our pastors, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

 

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Bringing Your Troubles to God

A message by pastor James Exline

So, you’ve started the journey of recovery and have surrendered your will and the care of your life to God. As stated in Step Three, you’ve chosen to make a decision to turn your will and your life over to the care of God as you understand Him.

You’re doing the right thing. You’ve got a sponsor, you’re working the steps, going to church, and maintaining a conscious contact with God. As a result and at this point, you might expect things to be “smooth sailing.” After all, you’ve surrendered your life to God who is all powerful, loving, and is a good God.

I mean, we expect problems while in active addiction, right? You have probably felt like you deserved those problems—that they were consequences of your actions, or possibly even that God is punishing you or at the very least, withholding blessings based upon your actions.

Great Expectations

Fast forward to the present, you are working on making amends, on doing the right things, and have changed your life for the better. It should be blue skies, the wind at your back, and blessings falling into your lap. That may be how you believe things should be, but in reality, you still are overwhelmed with problems.

But why? After all, you expected them when you were doing the wrong things; conversely, when you are doing the right things, you may expect life to be all roses and blue skies. When that is not the case (which will often be true), we tend to think that we have done something wrong or that there is something wrong with us. “If only I would… then God would bless me and life would be wonderful.”

The problem here is not that you are doing something wrong or even that you aren’t doing enough right things; the problem is life happens. (Another statement says it better, but I’ll leave that to your imagination). The problem is that we live in a world that is far from perfect, in which we will have struggles and problems, regardless of how many “right” things we do.

When Life Happens, What Should You Do?

In John 16.33a, Jesus says this about life on this earth, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” Notice Jesus didn’t say that those trials and sorrows would end once you turned your life over to Him, once you were doing the right things. He said the duration for those problems was “in this life.”

This may seem like bad news, and indeed, it does warn us that difficult times are ahead. In the end of that same scripture, Jesus says, “But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” This is the same Jesus who in Matthew 11.28 says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

The same one who lived life in this world on life’s terms lived a life not free from struggles and problems. He overcame them and wants you to know that you will have struggles, problems and heartaches too. Jesus has been there, done that. He understands, and He’s here to help you in the midst of your struggles. Jesus is saying come to me—bring your troubles to me, and I will strengthen, comfort, and help you.

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The Power of Thanksgiving

The Power of Thanksgiving - Autumn Trees

A message from pastor Michael Eleveld

This is the week of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving embraces a mindset of gratitude, and it’s a powerful thing. One of the essential tools of recovery from addiction is changing the way we think about life and circumstances. Embracing an attitude of gratitude helps addicts break from the victim mentality where everyone and everything is to blame for their addiction.

The Bible places a great deal of emphasis on right thinking. This essential tool of gratitude is extremely biblical in its application.

In 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, Paul exhorts believers to “…destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” In a nutshell, Paul is encouraging us to tear down wrong thinking and replace it with right thinking.

One of the best ways to do this is to work daily on a gratitude list. Survey your life and circumstances and intentionally look for the good things in the way God is blessing you. They are there if you just look. We have a tendency to see only the bad; sure, bad things happen, but if we are not careful we can get myopic and see only the bad. Purposefully looking for the good and dwelling on it will encourage our hearts and fuel our recovery.

Notice how Paul addresses that very subject in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is pure, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Think about these things with purposeful intent and grateful hearts this Thanksgiving and every day that follows.

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Is It Okay to Just Make Amends with God? (Video)

In this video, hear Pastor James and the director of medicine for The Road to Freedom program, Dr. Adam Bianchini, explain how to make amends with God.

In the Bible, Matthew 5:24 says, “leave your gift at the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer him your gift.” Often, prayer and forgiveness is what it takes to heal your relationships with loved ones while in your sobriety.

Just the same, confession of your sins and prayer is the strength you need to amend your relationship with God. To find out more, watch the video below:

Each week the Road to Freedom program hosts a Q&A panel to help patients gain more understanding and spiritual guidance. To watch more helpful discussions, subscribe to the Road to Freedom’s YouTube channel and check out our other videos.

To learn more about Road to Freedom, our Christian rehab program at The Treatment Center, please feel free to call 877-448-5513. Admissions counselors are available to answer your questions 24/7.

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I Can Do All Things Through Christ

A message from pastor Michael Eleveld

I will never forget the platform diving competition at the Sydney Olympics. Entering the final four dives, Laura Wilkinson, America’s diver, was standing in eighth place. It would be a miracle if she managed to medal somehow. But on that evening Laura put together four of the best dives of her life, barely leaving a ripple in the water as she dove into the pool. At the same time, her world-renowned counterparts were doing the Olympic version of belly flops. When it was all said and done Laura Wilkinson had won the gold medal for platform diving!

It was an incredible victory! A sportscaster pulled her aside and asked, “Laura, from eighth place to Olympic gold in four dives, how did you do it?” Laura looked into the lens of the world and said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Wow! She had quoted Philippians 4:13. I will never forget that moment.

Yet, here at The Treatment Center we see that same miracle occur over and over again. Not Olympic gold, but more importantly, lives that were transformed by the love of Christ. People who were horribly enslaved to drugs or alcohol, now stand before their peers and say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Every week we see this happen. And every week brings reminders from former patients who are successfully continuing their recovery because of their dependence upon Christ and His power in their lives. Moments like that drive my passion for this rehab center and for the Road to Freedom program.

 

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How Do I Grow Closer To God? (Video)

Are you wondering how you can get closer to God? Have you been thinking about what it takes to form a spiritual connection to God? In this video, Pastor Mike, Pastor John, and Dr. Adam Bianchini of the Road to Freedom program explain what it means to grow closer to God.

Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it…” Learning how to grow in your spirituality takes patience and time. Listening and having an open mind to learn can help you grow closer to God.

Watch the video below to find out how you can take accountability, find a spiritual mentor, and put the words of the Bible to practice in your life today.

Each week, pastors from the Road to Freedom program provide a Q&A panel for patients to ask any questions they may have. The Road to Freedom is a faith-based recovery program that offers spiritual guidance to those suffering from addiction.

To hear more from our pastors, subscribe to our YouTube channel. Admissions counselors are available to answer your questions 24/7. For more information about our substance abuse treatment program, call us today at (877) 448-5513.

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Serving God by Letting Go of the Past

Blog Serving God by Letting Go of the Past

A message from Pastor James Exline

Oftentimes, those in active addiction do not understand what it means to serve the Lord.

The definition of serve: “to be a slave to, to be in bondage to, to obey, submit to, yield to, give one’s self up to.”

When you serve the Lord, you gain so much more from life than when you serve your addiction.

Joshua 24.15 says, “But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve…as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” This verse urges us to make a decision, whom are we going to serve? At first, the notion of serving (obeying, submitting to, giving one’s self over to) may not be appealing. We may even argue that we would never do so. However, Joshua makes it clear that, whether we like it or not, we are serving someone or something. Notice it does not say to choose whether or not we are going to serve; it says to choose whom we will serve.

In Matthew 6.24, Jesus expounds on this same theme. He says, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other…”God asks us to serve Him, to give Him our all and to walk away from our past lives. He wants us to be fully devoted to Him. Some may think that He is asking too much. They say, ‘I love God, but I don’t like the idea of having to give Him my all.’

Costs of Serving an Addiction

That notion of not wanting to serve something or someone can be ironic, especially for the addict and alcoholic. After all, it is rare to find someone so intent on serving (according to the above definition) than the way the addict serves his drug of choice. They are wiling to sacrifice everything for that next high, and the next, and the next and the serving goes on and on. Robbing family and strangers alike, stealing, lying—whatever their drug demands, the addict willingly sacrifices in order to “gain” whatever it is that the drug will deliver.

What does the addict gain? That list is a long, depressing one: broken relationships, failed marriages, legal issues (including jail and prison time) and loss of health; this list goes on and on.

Sounds like a great deal, doesn’t it? In exchange for your all, addiction will wreak havoc on your life and will destroy you. John 10.10a: The thief (the devil) has come to rob, kill, and destroy. Joshua declares that he chooses to serve the Lord; a decision, just like the decision to serve addiction, comes with both costs and gains.

Gains from Serving the Lord

In Matthew 16.25-26, Jesus says, “If you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” There they are in that verse explaining the costs and the gains of serving the Lord. First, what is the cost of serving—everything! We must be willing to forsake our old way of life, our sin, our selfishness, and our desire to serve our drug of choice.

As a result of serving the Lord and giving him our very lives, we in turn gain our lives! In John 10.10b, Jesus makes us a promise about our lives when we choose to serve the Lord. In it, he says that unlike the thief who comes to destroy, he came to give us an abundant life, a life free from the bondage of addiction. He gives us a life marked with meaning and purpose, an abundant life that will continue throughout all of eternity.

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Fishers of Men

Dr. Bianchini explains how Simon and Peter became fishers of men. Daunted by their quest to find more fish, the two men couldn’t see how their efforts to catch fish were working. However, a blessing from God was bestowed upon them but they were met with a choice to stay where they were or leave everything behind and begin a new journey.

In this video, “Fishers of Men”, Dr. Adam Bianchini, the director medicine for the Road to Freedom program, explains how easy it is to believe you are unworthy of your blessings because of past sin and shame from addiction. However, sometimes life comes down to making an important decision such as Simon and Peter.

Addiction recovery aims to help you in the present moment and leave the past behind. To find out how a Christian rehab center can help you turn your life around, watch the video below.

The Road to Freedom is a faith-based recovery program that offers spiritual guidance. To learn more, feel free to subscribe to our YouTube channel. Call us today at (877) 448-5513, our admissions counselors are available to answer your questions 24 /7.

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The Brain: A Terrible Thing to Waste – Part 2

In part two of the video series, “The Brain: A Terrible Thing to Waste”, Dr. Adam Bianchini, the director of medicine for The Road to Freedom program, explains the advantages of taking an in-depth look at the physiology of the brain and how it improves addiction treatment.

By viewing images of the brain used with SPECT imaging, you will see how doctors can better diagnose medical conditions and thus treat the physiology of the body and the brain. With MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans, Dr. Bianchini shows you how doctors use these techniques to further identify what’s going on in the brain. He shows how certain parts of the brain light up when there is overwhelming activity and blood flow and what occurs when there is little to no activity.

So what parts of the brain shut down during drug addiction? How does one lose their inhibitions and decision-making skills? With this visual representation, you can discover how drugs like cocaine, heroin, and alcohol affect the brain. To find out more, watch the video below.

If you or a loved one is seeking a faith-based addiction recovery program, the Road to Freedom program offers spiritual guidance. To watch more videos on addiction and spirituality, feel free to subscribe to The Road to Freedom’s YouTube channel. Call us today at (877) 448-5513, our admissions counselors are available to answer your questions 24 /7, even on holidays.

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