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Why Do Bad Things Happen To Me

August 26th, 2015

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Why Do Bad Things Happen To Me?
By Pastor James Exline

You can’t turn on the news, you can’t read a newspaper, without learning about more bad news. Another shooting, another death, another missing child, the list goes on and on. And the worst part, many of you don’t have to watch the news or read a newspaper to know about bad news. All you have to do is look back on your own life or perhaps look to right now. Many of you have gone through or are going through hell—divorce, the lost of a loved one, sicknesses, abuse again, and unfortunately, the list goes on and on.

Why do such terrible things happen? For the answer, we need to go back to the beginning of mankind, to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world with no problems, death or sickness, and no bad news. They enjoyed flawless relationships with each other and with God. However, the instant they went against God’s will for them and ate the fruit from the tree God told them not to eat from, everything changed.

In Genesis 2:16-17, God warns Adam, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” There are two clues within that verse as to why bad things happen to us today. God tells Adam that if they eat from that tree, they are sure to die; if you eat from that tree, death will become a part of life.

The other clue in that verse is the type of fruit itself, the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Not only would eating the fruit from that tree result in death, it would also bring about the knowledge of or firsthand experience with evil. God warned them that disobeying him would result in both death and an intimate acquaintance with evil. Prior to that time, life for Adam and Eve was exactly what God planned for mankind for us; a perfect life that was only good, a life where evil did not exist or affect anything.

Another major affect of Adam’s original disobedience to God was the transfer of this world and authority over it from Adam to Satan. That is the real motivation behind Satan tempting Adam and Eve. He knew if Adam sinned, he would gain control of and authority over this world. In 2 Corinthians 4:4, the Bible refers to Satan as the god of this evil world. Adam’s sin relinquished to Satan the authority originally given to him by God as seen in Genesis 1:28. God tells Adam, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

This world was originally a perfect, sinless world in which Adam and Eve lived in perfect unity with each other and with God. God’s design for this world was one in which you and I would live in the same way—perfect unity and a perfect life and world. It was God’s design for us to live in a perfect world. It was man’s willful choice to sin that began the chaos that we now experience in life.

Do you know from personal experience death, sorrow, crying, or pain (physical and emotional)? Have you been through something horrible? If you are reading this, the answer to that question is “Yes!” All of us have been through terrible things, and some of us have blamed God. However, we are living, as explained earlier, in a world affected by sin and governed by Satan, whose purpose is to rob, kill, and destroy, as described by Jesus in John 10:10.

There is good news, however, and that good news is Jesus and the cross. Jesus left his glory with the Father and stepped into our broken, sin cursed world, and took on human flesh and with it all the agony and terrible things with which we suffer. And he did this all for mankind, for you, so that you in the next life and for all eternity, can live the perfect life God intended for us to live—the one sin destroyed. By God’s grace and love we can have a relationship with Him, forgiveness of all the sins that have been separating us from him, and eternal, perfect life with him.

Revelation 21:3-4 sums it up. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

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Kevin D: Awakened with Spiritual Care

August 19th, 2015

Kevin went from believing that faith-based recovery wouldn’t work for him to seeing how spiritual recovery transformed his life. Once a nonbeliever, Kevin began praying while he was in treatment and witnessing how his prayers were being answered.

He thought he would be the one that God couldn’t save, but soon realized that it was God’s will that brought him to treatment. His perspective soon changed and Kevin began feeding into his spiritual power.

The staff at the Road to Freedom program loved him back to health when he felt he had nothing left. To see how Kevin awakened with spiritual care through the Road to Freedom program, watch the video below

 

I Only Return to God When I’m in Need, What Does He Think of Me

August 11th, 2015

Have you ever thought there was more you could be doing to gain God’s love? Do you think you’ve done so much damage that He may love you less? In this video, you’ll see Dr. Bianchini, Pastor John, and Pastor Mike explain what it means to grow in relationship with God and how God’s love for us extends far beyond our faults.
If you think of your close relationships with your family or significant other, you know that it’s easier to break those close bonds the more you hang out with the wrong crowd or go out with the intent to get drunk and high on drugs. The more time you spend away from your close loved ones, the more likely you’ll have a broken relationship. Your relationship with God functions the same way.
Life ebbs and flow. Some days you will feel more spiritual than others; yet, it’s ultimately up to you to choose to grow in strength, faith and courage towards God or drift further and further away from Him.
Have you heard these song lyrics before? “It’s not about what I’ve done, but what’s been done for me. It’s not about where I’ve been, but where my brokenness has brought me to…”
What actions has God taken to get you to where you are now? Can you seek him during both the good and the bad times? Of course! Watch the video below from Dr. Bianchini, Pastor John, and Pastor Mike to discover what God really thinks of us during the good and the bad times.

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. Our admissions counselors are available to answer your questions 24/7. For more information about our faith-based addiction treatment program, call us today at (877) 448-5513.

How Do You Stay Focused While Praying?

August 4th, 2015

Do you feel like you’re doing everything in your power to pray to God, but can’t seem to focus? In this video, you’ll hear Pastor James, Pastor Mike, and Dr. Bianchini discuss what it takes to stay focused during prayer.

There is always something to distract us from our goals, but sometimes those distractions can serve as a reminder of how important it is to make time for prayer, even if it’s for a few seconds. Often, all it takes to stay focused is to use the resources and people around you.

Have you ever thought about writing your prayers or journaling them? Have you ever thought about writing a list of things to pray about? Do you know how powerful prayer can be when you pray with others?

Watch the video below to see how Pastor James, Pastor Mike, and Dr. Bianchini pray through distractions and how they maintain focus, whether alone or with others.

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. Our admissions counselors are available to answer your questions 24/7. For more information about our faith-based addiction treatment program, call us today at (877) 448-5513.

Free Will Can Kill You

July 22nd, 2015

By Pastor James Exline

“I’m an adult, and I’ll do what I want.”
“No one is going to tell me what to do.”
How many times have you said either one of these statements? Maybe now you’re even saying or thinking them.

You’ve gone to treatment, you’ve been told what works and you know what you should do. However, there’s just one problem—free will. Free will is defined as a voluntary choice or decision, the ability to act at one’s own discretion.

Exercising Our Free Will

Free will is what sets us apart from animals; we are the only creation that God gave free will to. It is a blessing, and it can be a curse. How we use it determines so much in life and in recovery.

Those statements at the beginning, they are examples of us exercising our free will. Deciding what we want, what we are willing to do and what we are not willing to do is all a part of free will. Let’s look at free will in the Bible, in the life of my sibling and in your lives, especially in recovery.

There Was One Rule

The very first time we see free will as a bad thing, or as a curse, is with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Many of you know the story. God creates man. Adam and Eve live in the garden in a perfect world—no sickness, no physical or emotional pain, no addiction, no problems whatsoever. Adam and Eve have perfect relationships—with each other, and with God. Life is perfect, and they have free will. Eventually, that free will becomes their downfall.

God had one rule, one restriction—don’t eat from one tree. That’s it, it was that simple. Use free will to obey God and live, use it to do what they wanted, their way, and die. They decided what God said was not true, and that their way was better than God’s way. How crazy is that?

Witnessing Free Will

My younger brother was diagnosed with diabetes several years ago. That was a life-changing, life-threatening diagnosis. His life would never be the same, and free will would determine which way his life would go. He had two choices. He could use his free will to do the right things: change his diet, faithfully check his sugar levels, take the appropriate medicines, and live. Or he could decide not to do any of those things, and get sicker and sicker, and possibly die.

He chose poorly. He decided he didn’t want to be told what to do, what he could do and what he shouldn’t do. He used his free will, just like Adam and Eve, to do what he wanted, what he felt like. How crazy is that?

You probably know the outcome. Fortunately, he hasn’t passed away, but I fear that he will in the very near future. His health has deteriorated to the point that he looks more like a corpse than a living person.

Free Will in Recovery

If you are in treatment or recovery, you, like my brother, have been diagnosed with a disease—addiction. It too is a life-changing and potentially life-threatening disease.

Just like Adam and Eve, just like my brother, you have free will, and how you use it will determine the outcome of your story as well.

You have been told what works, what you should do in order to stay sober. You know what you need to do, and you have free will. How are you going to use that free will? Will you do the rights things—get a sponsor, work the steps, go to meetings, surrender to God and ask him for his help in your fight against addiction? Or, are you going to use your free will to decide that no one is going to tell you what to? Will do what you want and decide what’s best for you? Many people, just like Adam and Eve, just like my brother, have decided to use their free will to do exactly that. They do what they want, instead of doing what they know will help them stay sober. Crazy, isn’t it?

Free will can be your greatest blessing or your worst nightmare, which one is up to you. The outcome of your story is still being written, and your free will is going to dictate the final copy. Use it wisely and live; use it poorly, and possibly die.

Should I Pray with My Spouse

July 15th, 2015

Are you or your spouse in recovery? Are you wondering if prayer will help you through the tough times? In this video, you’ll hear Pastor John and Dr. Bianchini explain what it takes to strengthen your relationship with your significant other and God.

Often, we will get into relationships or a marriage and things will eventually fall by the wayside, but only if we let it. With every relationship, there will be trials and struggles along the way, but keeping that bond requires more effort. The strength of a relationship goes further than just the physical bond, but also extends to an emotional and spiritual bond.

Are you and your spouse on a mission together? Are you wondering if praying with your spouse will strengthen your bond? Discover why many people miss the meaning of marriage and how God plays a crucial role in every relationship.

Watch the video below to see how Pastor John and Dr. Bianchini get through the difficult times in their relationships with their spouse:

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. Our admissions counselors are available to answer your questions 24/7. For more information about our faith-based addiction treatment program, call us today at (877) 448-5513.

Be Still and Know that I Am God

July 8th, 2015

 

Be Still and Know that I Am God
By Pastor Phil Dvorak

Be still and know that I am God. This verse has been popularized in our culture today. Popularized might be too kind; I think hijacked might be more appropriate. The verse in today’s culture means to slow down, stop striving, so far, so good. But the “know that I am God” part has been interpreted to mean such things as “All is God and God is in all”, “Find the God within”, and “Become one with the universal energy”. These statements are far from what this scripture was intended to mean.

Psalm 46 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging… He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”

Our culture, for the most part, has the first part of this verse correct. Surrender to the fact that God is in control and stop striving. Be still. However, God is not some force we can manipulate to our desires and needs. He is the great I Am. He is not simply a higher power, he is the highest power. The “know” part of this verse is ultimate intimacy. To “know” God is a translation of the Hebrew word Yada, which means to fully know and to be fully known. It’s to fully recognize who God is and who we are in relationship to God. When we know God in this way, it changes everything.

Here is what I am calling “the four C’s” of knowing God, He:

1)    Calms Us – Satan wants to confuse us. The great deceiver wants to distract us from truly knowing God, but God wants to give the weary rest. When we know God and know that he will never leave us or forsake us, no matter what storms we are facing, the knowledge that God is with us will give us a peace that surpasses all understanding. Though the earth gave way and the mountains quake, Mark 4:39 says, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

2)    Convicts Us – Knowing God gives us the great gift of conviction. When we know who God is, we are convicted by our sin. When we truly reflect on the perfect character of God, we can’t help but see our sins and have godly sorrow. Satan, however, tries to conceal our sin, and tries to convince us that our sins aren’t really sins. The sickness concealed just gets infected and makes us sicker. As the saying goes in Alcoholics Anonymous, “you are only as sick as your secrets.”

3)    Compels Us to Change – Knowing God convicts us, which then compels us to change. In 2 Corinthians 5:14 it says, “For Christ’s love compels us…” Knowing who God is and that He loved us to the point of dying on the cross should compel us to live a life set apart for Him. However, Satan will try to speak condemnation into your life and cage you in an attempt to enslave us to our past. Knowing God will remind us “there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus,” says Romans 8:1. Truly knowing God will change us.

4)    Courage to Continue – Knowing God gives us courage to continue. “Though the earth give way and the mountains quake…” Knowing that the great I Am will never leave you nor forsake you should give you courage, courage to face the inevitable storms of this life. God has your back. Psalm 46:6-8 says, “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” The creator of the universe wants you to know him and He wants to know you.  Satan wants us to cower in fear. When you truly know God you will learn to fear no evil because God is with you.

Will you join me in spending a few moments today, be still and know that I am God, knowing God will change everything?

Faith Diaries: Faith & Recovery

July 1st, 2015

A few years ago, Lindsay’s addiction took a pivotal turn when she transitioned from opiates to heroin. It wasn’t long before her life began to unravel. She quickly flunked out of school and lost her scholarship.

Lindsay knew she needed to make a change in her life. So, she tried to quit heroin “cold turkey” and that didn’t work. She tried an all-natural detox and that also didn’t work. She tried taking Suboxone and that didn’t work either.

Then one fateful night Lindsay went online and began chatting with an admissions counselor from The Treatment Center. That admissions counselor was eager to help Lindsay and calm her down. After chatting with this person, Lindsay decided to join the Road to Freedom program at The Treatment Center. She felt that the Christian-based treatment program would allow her to reconnect with Jesus.

To find out how the Road to Freedom program restored Lindsay’s hope and changed her life, watch the video below.

How Do I Pray Without Ceasing?

June 24th, 2015

Have you felt like you’ve been called to do more? What does it really mean to pray without ceasing? In this next Q&A video, Pastor Mike and Dr. Bianchini explain the value of praying continually and what it’s like to live your true purpose in life.
We were all created to be in a relationship with God and do all we can to achieve our true purpose. In the NIV version of the bible, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 says , “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus…”
You may have heard that thoughts become feelings, which then become actions. The more you pray, the more likely you are to develop an attitude of being in communion with God and creating a stronger, intimate relationship so that you achieve your goals with God’s purpose. Watch the video below to see how Pastor Mike and Dr. Bianchini approach this topic:

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. Our admissions counselors are available to answer your questions 24/7. For more information about our faith-based addiction treatment program, call us today at (877) 448-5513.

Don’t Do That


June 16th, 2015

 

I live in a beautiful home in an immaculate neighborhood. We’ve truly been blessed to have the home we do; however, our neighborhood has a fairly restrictive homeowners association (HOA). Everywhere you turn you see signs posted touting rule after rule, telling us what we can’t do as well as what we must do. Yet, it seems with each passing year another problem arises and the HOA simply adds a new sign with a few more don’ts. Everywhere I turn it seems like another restriction has been placed on what we are able to do. No fishing, no swimming, no running, no skateboarding, no parking and the list goes on and on. Most of these rules have good intentions (some I think are ludicrous), but most of them are there to keep our community safe, secure, and attractive.
However, these rules have become almost overwhelming. In fact, there are so many don’ts now that at times I’m confused about what exactly we can do, to the point that it now seems nearly impossible to keep all the rules. My neighbor is a sheriff and his cruiser was towed out of his driveway in the middle of the night (because “commercial” vehicles are not allowed). My wife rode with a friend to a dinner party and when she returned, she realized she didn’t have her driver’s license. She was not allowed to enter the neighborhood until I was able to find a neighbor to watch our kids, so that I could take her picture ID to the guard gate. We have friends who cringe when we invite them to come over because they dread waiting in line to get through the security gate. Another amenity we enjoy in our neighborhood is a gorgeous resort-style community pool. The don’ts say that we can only have up to four guests per family. One of our closest family friends is fostering two children and has two children of their own. Because they are fostering these children, they are no longer allowed to enjoy the blessing of our pool as a family. The rules that are intended to help us live safely and freely have begun to imprison us.
Similar to the HOA in my neighborhood, religion can easily become a culture of don’ts. Don’t smoke, don’t dance, don’t dress like that, don’t have sex, don’t pierce that, don’t drink that, don’t eat that, don’t listen to that, don’t watch that and the list goes on and on. Don’t misunderstand me here, many of these don’ts are vitally important and our families, communities, and our society would be safer if we kept them. However, I can get lost in the don’ts at times and miss the most important do’s.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus lived in a religious culture of don’ts. The Ten Commandments had become hundreds upon hundreds of commandments. It became literally impossible to keep track of all the don’ts. He was approached by the religious experts of the time and asked an impossible question in Matthew 22:36, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Of all these rules which one do we really need to make sure we keep? Jesus response is brilliantly succinct. Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Jesus turns the list of hundreds and hundreds of don’ts into three simple do’s. Love God, love your neighbors, and love yourself; do this and all the other laws will fall into place. We all miss the mark; we all will mess up and break some of the don’ts. My challenge today is for each of us to stop being overwhelmed by the don’ts and keep it simple and focus on these three do’s. How well are you doing at loving God? Loving your neighbor? Loving yourself? I’m going to spend a little more time focusing on these three do’s and trust Jesus. He says if I keep these three, the rest of the don’ts will fall into place.

-Pastor Phil Dvorak, MS, LMHC
Philip Dvorak is the Director of the Road to Freedom Christian treatment program and the Director of Spiritual Care at The Treatment Center of the Palm Beaches. He is an ordained minister with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, husband, and father of four.

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