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Run to God Like a Child

A message from Pastor Phil of the Road to Freedom Program

A message from Pastor Phil of the Road to Freedom program.

Jesus told the crowd around him, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3

What could Jesus possibly mean by this?

I am a father of three with a fourth due any moment. Over the years, my wife and I have learned a few things about little children. First, little children have nothing of worldly value to offer you. They can’t get a job, dress themselves, bathe themselves, feed themselves and in fact they are horrible decision makers. My son would decide to eat ice cream three meals a day if we let him (he’s lactose intolerant). My daughter would eat chocolate incessantly (she’s allergic to chocolate). Children left to care for themselves would not live healthy lives. In fact, most would become unhealthy and die. So what is Jesus saying when he says, “become like little children”?

First, I believe Jesus is saying come to Him with nothing to offer. Come to the feet of Jesus knowing you have nothing to offer Him. He is God and has everything; you come to Him recognizing that you are like a little child who is completely dependent upon him. For those on this journey of addiction recovery, this is a game changing thought. When we realized:

“…we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.” AA p.62

We come to Him in total surrender, total dependence, like a little child.

Second, I believe Jesus is saying come to Him with a childlike faith. Every day when I return from work, as I approach the door, I can hear a stampede ensue on the other side of the door along with, “Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home! Daddy’s home!” Before I’m able to get the door completely open, my children jump on top of me and nearly knock me to the ground with their embrace. My children simply want more of their Daddy. When we finally approach God like a child, we begin to realize the void inside of us we’ve been trying to fill with drinking or drugging can only truly be satisfied by more of our Heavenly Father. Run to God today like a little child.

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One Man’s Road to Freedom

A message from Pastor Mike of the Road to Freedom Program.

I will not say his name, nor will I tell you when he was here. I will tell you that he was the toughest, hardest man I have ever met. A big man; the kind you know can take care of himself. The kind of man you don’t want to cross. And there he was, sitting in my office with a dead look in his eye, but he chose to come.

He had been in other treatment programs before, but had always done the same thing. He tried to listen and learn how to say no to the drugs and alcohol that were killing and robbing him of everything. In the past, he always ignored the spiritual aspect of healing. He tried to do it himself. After all, that is how he lived his life from the time he was a child. He could take care of himself when no one else did. As a small boy, he learned to fight and claw to survive.

“This time,” he said, “it was different.” Everything was gone. Everyone he ever cared about had abandoned him or were scared away. This time, he decided to try a different road. He did not merely want to stop drugging and drinking, he wanted to change… he wanted Jesus.

I patiently told this frightening man the promises of God’s Word. I told him how every sin he had ever committed or would commit would be forgiven. I shared the promises of God’s Word that gave him the assurance of eternal life in heaven with God. That big, tough, hardened man, bowed his head and asked Jesus to be his Savior.

The other pastors here played a major role in encouraging and teaching him as well. Other patients who knew Christ reached out to him with the love of Christ. He attended everything we offered in the Road to Freedom program here at The Treatment Center.

In complete awe, we all watched the transformation. As he walked down the hall, he would stop to care for someone and let them know he was praying for them. He also began to befriend the patients who came in that were frightened and needed someone to care.

He wanted a change. He wanted to take a different road. He chose the Road to Freedom, and change is what he got.

When we said goodbye to him, as I watched him walk down the hall for the last time, I remember thinking he was the toughest, hardest man I had ever met. But now, because of Jesus, he was the kindest man I would ever know.

Glory to God.

Romans 12:1-2
“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. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

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Forgiving the Sin of my Sin

A message from Pastor Mike of the Road to Freedom Program.

The backstory to Psalm 32 gives incredible insight to the breathtaking conclusion of verse 5. It is written by David as he reflects upon the Grace of God after he committed adultery with Bathsheba and other heinous crimes in an attempt to cover it up.

He begins with, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” The word “blessed” means to be happy, content and to have contentment in your soul.  Is that possible after such horrific acts? Apparently, YES.

David then goes onto explain in verses 3-4 how terrible it was when he tried to cover up his sin. He felt the convicting Hand of God upon his heart and it left him weak and miserable. We have all been there, haven’t we? Knowing the wrong we had done, trying to manipulate people and circumstances so we would not have to face the consequences of our actions. These verses speak right to our hearts and we can all relate to them.

But then verse 5 brings us right back to the immensity of God’s Grace and Mercy. David writes, “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

David finally comes to his senses and realizes he cannot outrun God. God knows what he did. David is now ready to confess his transgressions to the Lord and face the consequences of his actions. When he does, he finds something amazing. He finds God instantly forgives David and walks with him through the consequences that would follow.

In fact, the word picture of that last phrase is truly breathtaking. David writes, “…and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Now at first glance that does not make sense. “Iniquity” is a synonym of “sin.” Does David mean that God forgave “the sin of my sin?” No. David is trying to communicate that God not only takes away our sin when we ask Him to forgive us, but He also takes away our guilt and shame. Wow!

No wonder David says, “Blessed is the man…”

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Do You Seek God’s Forgiveness?

A message from Pastor James of the Road to Freedom program.

Addicts can often relate to the feelings of regret that develop once they enter a life in recovery. Oftentimes, this regret can turn into guilt, shame and remorse. While it is necessary to face the actions that occurred during active addiction, it’s also necessary to accept God’s forgiveness. Not only does God make His forgiveness readily available for us, He wants us to forgive ourselves as well.

You may question how God can so easily forgive you. You may even feel there is “one thing” you have done that is unforgivable, even by God. These are common feelings and false beliefs among those who are in early recovery. Luckily, we are able to turn to scripture to better understand God’s unfailing love and forgiveness towards us.

In Jeremiah 32, we read about the Israelites who have done horrific things. In these passages, God is taking their inventory. He lists the things they’ve done; surely to hold them against them and to write them off, right? Actually, He is doing the exact opposite. His reason for making that list is to showcase His forgiveness and His love for them. Here is the list:

  • They have done nothing but wrong since their earliest days.
  • They have infuriated me with all their evil deeds.
  • My people have turned their backs on me and have refused to return.
  • They have set up their abominable idols right in my own Temple.
  • They have built pagan shrines to Baal in the valley of Ben-Hinnom.

In spite of all God had done for them, the Israelites turned their back on Him repeatedly and worshipped false gods. They did this after God had rescued them from slavery to Egypt, and performed miracle after miracle. There was also something the Israelites had done that seemed too horrible to forgive. God describes it this way, “They sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molech.” That’s right; the Israelites were literally sacrificing their live children to false gods. Here is what God said about everything the Israelites had done, including that “one horrific thing.”

Jeremiah 32.38
“They will be my people, and I will be their God.”

Jeremiah 33.8
“I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion.”

No matter what you have done, no matter how “horrific” it might be, God loves you and longs to forgive you.

Isaiah 1.18
“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

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Be Wise in Your Recovery

A message from Pastor Mike of the Road to Freedom Program.

Proverbs has a lot to say about the perils of alcohol; the perils that we are all too familiar with.  One of the most profound of these is found in Proverbs 20:1:

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

On the surface of this verse, there is practical instruction. Have you ever been under the influence of wine and said or did something stupid? In that sense, wine mocks us. Have you ever been or seen an angry drunk? In that sense, strong drink is a brawler. Practical and to the point.

What is said next takes the struggle against addiction and alcoholism to the core issue. This is something the founders of AA understood deeply. The core issue is a conflict of kingdoms. The passage says, “and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

We tend to interpret this to mean, “whoever is led astray by it is not smart,” but that is not the true meaning. In the Bible, to be wise is much more than knowing something. It is also to apply that knowledge, and in this case, it is God’s Word. However, wisdom is even more than that. The wise person knows God’s Word and applies God’s Word, therefore living as though God is relevant in their life.

To be unwise, then, is to live as though God is not relevant in our lives; to live as though God is not there. What is the opposite of being wise? It is to be a fool.

“The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’”
Psalm 14:1

So we see at the heart and core of our struggle is a kingdom conflict: God’s Kingdom or my kingdom. That is why Dr. Bob and Bill W. saw the need to submit our lives and wills over to God. That is why applying the 12 steps to our lives is really about living as though God is very relevant in our lives. Therein lies the strength and the power. His power.

This is why the Road To Freedom exists in The Treatment Center. It is our mission to help people live as though God is relevant in their lives, for the rest of their lives, for their recovery.

Now tell me, are you wise?

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Let Go and Let God

A message from Pastor James of the Road to Freedom program.

When I was still caught in active addiction, I was holding on for dear life to:

  • Alcohol
  • Painkillers
  • Anger/resentments
  • The role of the victim
  • Control: of everyone and everything

And the list goes on and on.

For that entire horrific, at times nightmare of a life, I was holding on desperately to many things, at the center of which was doing things my way. I falsely believed that I was in control of my life. Even worse, I believed I had the right to determine the outcome of people, places, and things in my life. I was playing God. This is a role that I was, and am still, ill-equipped to take on.

Similar to someone clinging tightly to whatever is near them in the midst of rising flood waters, I was clinging to what was nearby, convenient and comfortable. I too was in the midst of a raging storm with rising flood waters, and I was drowning. When a rescuer comes along to help that person, they must let go of what they are clinging to in order to be saved. If I was to be rescued, I had to let go of my will, my control and doing things my way.

“…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3:13-14

God sent a hero to rescue me, his Son Jesus. He talks about His mission and purpose in John 10:10b, saying, “My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” This is also described in detail in Isaiah 61.1-3:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies. To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.”

In a moment preceded by desperation, alone in my living room, I let go. My letting go looked like this, “God, I have been doing things my way, and my way is not working. I cannot take this anymore. I cannot do this anymore. I cannot go on like this. I will do whatever it takes. I will do whatever you want me to do. Please help me!”

I meant every word with everything I had. Once I prayed that prayer, once I let go, Jesus stepped in and rescued me. He began to unfold and fulfill His purpose and mission in my life as described in Isaiah 61.

What have you been clinging desperately to? What is your excuse to keep using, to continue with the status quo, to stay stuck in a life that is drowning, overtaking, and overwhelming you?

If life and your drug of choice have overpowered you, if you have thought or said that you cannot handle this, you cannot do this, you cannot take this anymore, you are right! You cannot continue in your addiction and in the same direction you have been going. You need to be rescued! You need to LET GO and let Jesus take hold of your life!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

 

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Winning the Battle Over Addiction: Spirit, Soul, Body

Just as God is a trinity, three in one, we too were created with a three dimensional design.  At the end of his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul mentions these three aspects of the human condition, and promises that God’s work in our lives is thorough and complete, touching every part:

“May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.
May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Our spirit is the eternal part of us that communes with God. When God breathed life into Adam, it awakened his spirit. Our soul is our mind, will and emotions. This is where our personality comes from. Our body is obviously the physical part of us, our “earth suit” if you will.  Although these three parts are unique, they are also interwoven, each affecting the other. Our spiritual life will have a great impact on our emotional health. Similarly, our emotional condition can greatly affect how our body operates physically. I’m sure we can all affirm that our physical health can affect us emotionally as well. In order for our pursuit of recovery from addiction to be successful, the needs of the spirit, soul and body must be addressed.

On May 16th, The Treatment Center’s Road to Freedom program will host the 7th Winning the Battle Over Addiction conference. This event will focus on the theme of “Spirit, Soul and Body,” and how to address these three aspects of addiction. Professional experts from each area will teach on the causes, effects and solutions to addiction from a Christ-centered perspective. We are honored to have Dr. Paul Meier of Meier Clinics joining us, along with Dr. Jared Pingleton from Focus on the Family. Some of the topics will include:

  • What is detoxification and how does it affect the body?
  • Addressing the relationship dynamics that surround addiction
  • Addiction – is it a sin or a disease?
  • How does addiction affect the brain?
  • Inner healing, emotional health and sobriety
  • Finding freedom from addiction through the gospel of Jesus Christ

We hope you will join us for this informative and empowering day. Register now at www.winningthebattleoveraddiction.com or by calling 561-253-6794.

If you would like to learn more about a comprehensive approach to recovery, visit our website at www.TheChristianTreatmentCenter.com

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Don’t Walk a Path of Recovery Alone

A message from Pastor John of the Road to Freedom program.

In recovery, it’s important to rely on the fellowship. If there is one sure way to fail at living a Godly life, it’s trying to do it on your own. Whenever we try to do something without the input and accountability of others, it’s usually because we don’t want to give up doing things our own way. We are not seeking God’s best, we’re seeking control.

Proverbs 18:1
Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.

However, just as the Lord’s prayer begins with, “Our Father,” and the first step begins with, “We admitted,” the pursuit of God and the pursuit of sobriety were never meant to be solo endeavors. We were created for community! We need the wisdom of others, and we need them to help us see things we can’t see on our own. When we realize that we are avoiding that kind of insight and accountability, it should be a huge warning that we are headed down a path of destruction.

Regarding the pursuit of God’s will, William Wilburforce said,

“Because it is so easy to get caught in self-deception, check this with a few close friends. If you are unwilling to do this, it should be a signal that something is wrong. When you become aware of this, begin to distrust yourself. You will begin to look for all kinds of justifications to defend what you are doing. As you do, you will also find that your passion and valuation of the things of God will diminish.”

Throughout scripture, we read about the benefits of seeking advice from wise counsel, but the book of Proverbs is where we most often find this truth. Proverbs 11:14 warns us that, “Where there is no guidance, people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” In Proverbs 15:22 we are again reminded that, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”

How are you pursuing your sobriety today? Are you going it alone, or are you inviting others into your journey? If you are on your own, heed the warning of Wiberforce and “begin to distrust yourself.” It only takes speaking up at one meeting or making one phone call to someone you trust to turn it all around. Reach out today and take a step toward greater success and safety.

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Walk Again in Recovery

A message from Pastor Mike of the Road to Freedom program.

Although many people may seem concerned about our struggles, we must be careful who we listen to. Some may have good intentions, but wrong perceptions or solutions. However, it is usually the people who care about us the most that will do whatever it takes to get us the help we need. This is the story in Matthew 9:1-8, where Jesus is returning to His ministry center of Capernaum. While He is there, a man is brought to Him that is paralyzed and lying on a bed. The picture we see in the story is a few men carried the man to where Jesus was. These are true friends.

Other people were surrounding the paralytic man as well. It was the common belief of the day that if someone suffered a catastrophic illness, it was because of their sin or the sin of a close relative. Day by day, these people would pass the paralytic and condemn him as deserving of his suffering, not lifting a finger to help. They despised him for his illness, casting guilt as they walked by. If he listened to them, he would have stayed on his bed until the day he died.

There were others who felt pity, but they did nothing to help him. They consoled him occasionally, but felt powerless to help. Although their feelings were different from the condemners, they created the same result. If the man listened to them, he would have stayed on his bed until the day he died.

Fortunately, he chose to listen to his friends who wanted to help him. He allowed them to pick him up on his bed and carry him through the streets on that bed (an embarrassing proposition in any culture). He listened to the right people. He listened to the people who cared enough to do something to help him, and he walked again.

Can you relate to this story? Addiction is like paralysis; you can’t help yourself. Have you ever found yourself surrounded by the same people as this man? I urge you not to listen to those who only condemn you and offer no help. Don’t listen to those who only console you, but are content to let you stay where you are. Listen to people who care enough to help you.  Listen to those who see your need and want to take action. More importantly, listen to those who want to get you to Jesus.

If you have friends or family urging you to get help for an alcohol or drug problem, listen to them. They want the best for you. They want to see you healed. Consider a treatment program like Road To Freedom. Let your loved ones help you get there, and let Jesus help you walk again.

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Does God Love Me?

A message from Pastor James Exline of the Road to Freedom program.

“Does God love me?” seems like a simple question; one with the apparently obvious answer, “Yes, of course God loves me. He loves everyone.” While we know God loves us, how often do we feel or believe that God truly does love us?

I heard all my life the truth that God does indeed love me; however, it was several decades later when I truly believed and accepted the fact that God really loves me. Until then, God seemed like a distant, often angry God – the Almighty Smiter, if you will. This led to my vacillating between running from Him and attempting to be good enough for Him; neither of which ended well!

Paul’s prayer for believers in 2 Thessalonians 3:5 is that the Lord would lead their hearts into a full understanding of the love of God. Again in Ephesians 3, his prayer is that they may “know this love that surpasses knowledge.” This, I believe, is at the very heart of our relationship with God. We must come to know him more and more, truly believing in and gaining a better understanding of his love. Not merely intellectually, but also experientially.

Paul, who had a deep understanding of God’s love, describes that love in Romans 8.38-39:

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

One of the terms the Bible uses to describe God’s love is everlasting. A word that studies show us is, “undying, abiding, enduring, continual, persistent, uninterrupted.” This means that it is without beginning or end; that which always has been and always will be. He didn’t wait until you were born, or until He created you to love you. God knew you and loved you before you were born. Did you catch that? God loved you before you could even try to be lovable! In fact, there never was a time when God did not know you and did not love you, and there never will be a time when He does not love you!

My prayer for you is the same as The Apostle Paul’s—may the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.

Ephesians 3:14-19
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

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