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Selfishness and Addiction: It’s an “I” Problem

May 25th, 2016

Selfishness and Addiction

Selfishness and Addiction

By Pastor James

That’s a nice way of saying, “You’re the problem.” That may come across as harsh, but sometimes, we need to hear things we don’t want to hear—things that may even make us angry.

It’s nothing I haven’t said about myself. In the midst of my addiction and insanity, somehow, some way, a small bit of sanity worked its way into the midst of my insanity. I had been “advancing” my “career” in addiction for almost 30 years; I was a faithful employee. Never called off sick, was never late, never missed a day, and was as loyal an “employee” as you can get.

Along the way, I blamed God, family, my ex-wife, and anyone or anything else that would further my cause and career. While this is typical behavior for someone caught up in addiction, at the heart of it, is that I problem mentioned earlier. It was all about me: my way, my will, what I wanted, how I felt—me, me, me.

Believe it or not, this behavior began way, way back—clear back to when Lucifer (Satan) was still in heaven, leading worship there.

In Isaiah 14.13-14, Lucifer said, “I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.”

Lucifer, now Satan, had an I problem; he made it all about him, and exalted himself over God and God’s ways of doing things. Instead of putting God in his rightful place of being in control, Lucifer tried to be in control himself.

We see this same thing again in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve decide to exalt themselves over God and God’s ways of doing things. (Sound familiar?)

Satan (formerly Lucifer) shows up in the garden, still hating God and wanting to upset and change God’s plan (same agenda as in heaven), and tempts Eve to eat the fruit from the tree God had told them to leave alone. We see the results of that temptation in Genesis 3. It says, “She (Eve) saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.”

Despite having been told by God not to eat it, Adam and Eve disobeyed, thereby exalting themselves over God’s ways. They did what they wanted, what they felt was good—their will, their way (remember my example of myself—me, me, me?). They decided their way was better, what they wanted was more important, and that their agenda would trump God’s.

In both cases, we see an I problem; Lucifer in heaven, and Adam and Eve in the garden. And both came with consequences: Lucifer was kicked out of heaven, and Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden, and through that act of disobedience, sin entered and affected the entire world, as well as all of mankind.

While I was the center of my universe—while I was doing things my way, according to what I wanted, I had consequences, as well. My life, my world, was falling apart. I began to lose things that, at one time, had meant so much to me—my job, my family house, my wife of 20 years, my health, and my sanity. Doing things my way (the I problem) took its toll, and my life became unmanageable.
Once the unmanageability became unbearable, the solution to my I problem began. Instead of saying, “I want, I need,” I came to realize that I was the problem. I went from saying “I want…” to “I’m the problem,” which led to the following prayer:

“God, I’ve been doing it my way, and my way isn’t working. I don’t care what it takes. I’ll do whatever you want me to do. Please help me; I’ll do whatever it takes.”

My “I want” kept my addiction alive; my “I’m the problem” led me to the solution for my addiction.

Where are you? Are you still stuck in “I want,” or have you gotten to “I am the problem,” where your solution to your addiction is birthed?

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Building a Relationship with Christ: It’s Got to be Real

May 18th, 2016

A Real Relationship with Christ

Building a Relationship with Christ

By Pastor Bernard

Did you know that consumers are purchasing fake handbags, watches, shoes and perfumes? The business of counterfeit goods is the largest underground industry in the world. Hundreds of billions of dollars are generated while draining the economy, putting lives in jeopardy, and subsidizing organized crime in the process. If you are not careful you will find out that the Air Jordan’s you just purchased will never fly in authenticity and the Coach hand bag that you now have in your possession is not a Coach but a Couch! Ouch!!!

Sales of counterfeit consumer goods (knock-offs in colloquial language) are said to be estimated at $12.8 billion annually.

How do you know if you are in a REAL relationship with Christ? A real relationship with Christ is paramount in order to produce the kind of change for productive
Living that leads to consistent sobriety. From a Christian world-view, Jesus Christ should enjoy his rightful leadership in our lives. When he leads you live but when we or any other person or thing has been elevated in our lives, we come to ruin.

I would like to submit to you that too many people are involved in a knock-off relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. They have what I call a P and P issue: their profession of faith does not parallel their practice.

Do you enjoy a REAL relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? Here are 4 points to consider.

  • Revelation– Has He revealed Himself to you by His truth and His Spirit?
  • Experience– Have you experienced new birth and are you exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Meekness, Gentleness Self-control?
  • Authority– Is He the Absolute authority in your life for direction and moral positions?
  • Love– Do you demonstrate your love to the Lord by obeying His word?

    Remember with respect to one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ: it’s got to be real!

Lights, Camera, Action: Following God’s Command

May 11th, 2016

Following God’s Command

Lights, Camera, Action: Following God's Command

By Pastor James

Do you remember the old 8 and 16mm home movies? Long before the days of camcorders and cell phones, families would record their memories and lives on 8 and 16mm tapes.

My grandparents did just that; they had an 8mm camera, a projector, and a screen. Our Friday evening entertainment often would be to watch home movies. When that got boring, we would play them backwards. The best ones to play backwards were the ones where we were eating, and when played backwards, it would appear as if we were spitting out our food.

Fast forward (pun intended) to current times. I had been holding on to about 32 spools of old 8mm tapes of my family and childhood, and finally had them transferred to DVD. As I began to watch them, I also began to cry—especially when I first saw my mother, who had passed away in 1989.

 

It was as if I had stepped back in time; as if the past had become the present. I laughed at my grandfather dancing a jig, smiled as I watched my father play with me as an infant, was dumbfounded when I watched my grandmother open a Christmas gift from my grandfather—a clothes iron!! I laughed as I watched myself plunging my face into my one year birthday cake, watched in awe as construction began on my grandparent’s house that would eventually become my wife’s and my house, and was proud as I watched my mother in her classroom, where she taught fifth and sixth grade students. Watching those home videos stirred up many emotions and brought back many memories, but it also made me think—a lot!

Fast forward (again, pun intended) well into the future. Imagine someone is watching a movie of someone’s life. Imagine the movie they are watching is of your life. What is happening in those movies? What are they thinking about you as they watch your life unfold? What will the tape say about you?

Jesus said in Mark 12.30-31, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.”

If you want that movie of your life to be a beautiful thing, the secret to doing that is to follow that command. When we follow Jesus’ command, we put God first, learn to forgive and love ourselves, and to love and help other people. This means that life is no longer all about us; we now live to serve God and do his will in our lives, and to serve others.

Jesus showed us three relationships we need to work on; they are: 1) with God 2) with ourselves, and 3) with others. The best way I can think of to follow Jesus’ command is to work the steps with a qualified sponsor.

The 12 Steps
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Steps 1-3 help establish a relationship with and reliance upon God.
Steps 4-5 begin the process of forgiving and loving ourselves.
Steps 6-7 help remove those things that will hinder our progress in keeping Jesus’ command.
Steps 8-9 help mend and restore relationships broken or compromised in our addiction.
Steps 10-11 help us strengthen and grow in our relationships with God, self, and others.
Step 12 is where we truly put into practice loving others like Jesus talked about in Mark 12, and where we see a truly beautiful movie of one’s life.

The cameras are rolling; what will the final cut of the movie of your life look like?

Dead Ends and Closed Doors: Trusting in God

May 4th, 2016

Dead Ends and Closed Doors

Dead Ends and Closed Doors

By Pastor Mike Eleveld

It seems that our lives are an endless series of dead ends and closed doors. The twist and turns and troubles of life can overwhelm us. Our reactions to these troubles often result in a sense of hopelessness and futility. In fact, that is our default setting as human beings….the worse that can happen is often anticipated. While trying to remain positive can be a struggle for the best of us, the addict or alcoholic will often try to self-medicate in order to ease their pain.

That is why Steps One through Three are so important in Recovery. We begin to cultivate a Hope and Faith that God will be with us to help and guide us through the maze of trials, trauma, and trouble. When life presents a Dead End or a Closed Door we begin to understand that God has options that we cannot see that He will guide us toward and reveal to us.

The story of Stephen in the Bible illustrates this point. In Acts 6 & 7 we have the story of Stephen. He was selected as one of the seven men to assist the Apostles in caring for the needs of widows and orphans in the Church. He was young, energetic, and full of zeal for the Lord. He was possibly seen as the future for the early church….the man God could use to lead the church once the Apostles passed away.

Yet, the Story of Stephen takes a nasty turn. One day, while preaching about Jesus on the streets of Jerusalem, he was confronted and arrested for blasphemy. Stephen gave an impassioned defense of his beliefs and turned the tables on his accusers. The religious leaders wanted none of his teaching so they dragged him outside to stone him to death. Note with me that the Sanhedrin is so deep in the pockets of Rome that they no longer need permission to kill the opposition like they did with Jesus. Summary execution is now the rule of the day.

The Bible says, “…and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.” Acts 7:58

A pile of clothes guarded by Saul of Tarsus…while they did their work of stoning Stephen to death. Can you imagine the reaction of the early church? Steven was their future! He was going to provide leadership after the Apostles were gone. The Romans and Jewish Leadership can execute our best and our brightest! What are we going to do?

A dead end for the church…a closed door. And yet, the early church had no idea that the man who would turn the world upside down for Jesus Christ and end up writing half of the New Testament….was standing twenty-fine feet away guarding a pile of clothes. Saul of Tarsus would later be converted to Christianity and become St Paul the Apostle.

There are no such things as dead ends and closed doors for God. He has ways when we see no way. That is what our Faith and our Hope teaches us. And that is what we will experience if God is the object of our Hope and Faith.

Converting Liabilities into Assets (Part 4) | Video Series

April 27th, 2016

Converting Liabilities into Assets

Converting Liabilities into Assets

In this 4th part of the lecture “Converting Liabilities into Assets” at the Leadership and Recovery: A Winning the Battle over Addiction Conference, Dr. Bianchini, Director of Medicine at Road to Freedom, addresses employers and examines the impact of addiction in the workplace and on our society at large.

In this video series, Dr. Bianchini emphasizes how the disease of addiction greatly impacts all aspects of our nation, including the workplace and the economy. He argues that denial and ignorance of the devastating impact of addiction affects our entire country, including the Church and medical communities. Utilizing research statistics and the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as resources, Dr. Bianchini addresses business owners, leaders, and employers, and emphasizes that, as a society, we must recognize that addiction does exist, even if we do not necessarily see it.

To find out more about the impact of addiction on our economy, our communities, and our country, watch Dr. Bianchini’s full talk here. To hear more from Dr. Bianchini and our pastors, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available at Road to Freedom, a Christ-centered addiction treatment center. For more information on our faith-based treatment program, call us today at 877-443-7342.

Converting Liabilities into Assets (Part 3) | Video Series

April 21st, 2016

Converting Liabilities into Assets

Converting Liabilities into Assets

In his lecture “Converting Liabilities into Assets” at the Leadership and Recovery: A Winning the Battle over Addiction Conference, Dr. Bianchini, Director of Medicine at Road to Freedom, addresses employers and examines the impact of addiction in the workplace and on our society at large.

In this video series, Dr. Bianchini emphasizes how the disease of addiction greatly impacts all aspects of our nation, including the workplace and the economy. He argues that denial and ignorance of the devastating impact of addiction affects our entire country, including the Church and medical communities. Utilizing research statistics and the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as resources, Dr. Bianchini addresses business owners, leaders, and employers, and emphasizes that, as a society, we must recognize that addiction does exist, even if we do not necessarily see it.

 

To find out more about the impact of addiction on our economy, our communities, and our country, watch Dr. Bianchini’s full talk here. To hear more from Dr. Bianchini and our pastors, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available at Road to Freedom, a Christ-centered addiction treatment center. For more information on our faith-based treatment program, call us today at 877-443-7342.

Converting Liabilities into Assets (Part 2): Video Series

April 13th, 2016

Converting Liabilities into Assets (Part 2) | Video Series

Converting Liabilities into Assets

In his lecture “Converting Liabilities into Assets” at the Leadership and Recovery: A Winning the Battle over Addiction Conference, Dr. Bianchini, Director of Medicine at Road to Freedom, addresses employers and examines the impact of addiction in the workplace and on our society at large.

In this video series, Dr. Bianchini emphasizes how the disease of addiction greatly impacts all aspects of our nation, including the workplace and the economy. He argues that denial and ignorance of the devastating impact of addiction affects our entire country, including the Church and medical communities. Utilizing research statistics and the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as resources, Dr. Bianchini addresses business owners, leaders, and employers, and emphasizes that, as a society, we must recognize that addiction does exist, even if we do not necessarily see it.

To find out more about the impact of addiction on our economy, our communities, and our country, watch Dr. Bianchini’s full talk here. To hear more from Dr. Bianchini and our pastors, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available at Road to Freedom, a Christ-centered addiction treatment center. For more information on our faith-based treatment program, call us today at 877-448-5513.

Converting Liabilities into Assets (Part 1): The Impact of Addiction in the Workplace

April 6th, 2016

The Impact of Addiction in the Workplace | Video Series Part 1

Converting Liabilities into Assets

In his lecture “Converting Liabilities into Assets” at the Leadership and Recovery: A Winning the Battle over Addiction Conference, Dr. Bianchini, Director of Medicine at Road to Freedom, addresses employers and examines the impact of addiction in the workplace and on our society at large. In this video series, Dr. Bianchini emphasizes how the disease of addiction greatly impacts all aspects of our nation, including the workplace and the economy. He argues that denial and ignorance of the devastating impact of addiction affects our entire country, including the Church and medical communities. Utilizing research statistics and the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as resources, Dr. Bianchini addresses business owners, leaders and employers, and emphasizes that, as a society, we must recognize that addiction does exist, even if we do not necessarily see it.

Watch the video here:


To find out more about the impact of addiction on our economy, our communities, and our country, watch Dr. Bianchini’s full talk here. To hear more from Dr. Bianchini and our pastors, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available at Road to Freedom, a Christ-centered addiction treatment center. For more information on our faith-based treatment program, call us today at 877-448-5513.

The Bible and the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

March 30th, 2016

The Relationship Between the Bible and the 12 Steps

The Bible and The 12 Steps

Are the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous related to the Bible? If so, what is the relationship between the Bible and the 12 Steps? Fundamentally, the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous encompass the Scripture’s core teachings regarding God’s loving relationship with humanity. The steps begin with an admission of powerlessness and a declaration of faith in God’s power. After this, the steps suggest continual reflection on our actions, turning over our will to God and service to others. Finally, the steps encourage conscious contact with God through prayer and meditation.

The 12 Steps not only guide us through an ongoing process of reflection, confession and forgiveness, but they also ask us to guide others through this process. This concept is akin to discipleship in the Scripture; discipleship, referred to in the Big Book as “sharing one’s experience, strength, and hope” is one of the primary purposes of the 12 Steps. Although the 12 Steps are not intended as a pathway to salvation, countless people have encountered God and had a spiritual experience as a result of working the steps.

In establishing the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson borrowed material from numerous sources, including the Bible, and translated them into language easier for the alcoholic to accept. Instead of the term “salvation,” A.A. speaks of sobriety and a spiritual experience. A.A. uses “carrying the message” instead of “evangelization,” and speaks of spirituality rather than religion. A.A. often uses the term “Higher Power“ instead of God, in order to reach more suffering alcoholics who may struggle with the concept of God. In fact, in four of the 12 Steps, God is referenced directly as the “Higher Power.” Despite these shifts in verbiage, the 12 Steps of A.A. are rooted in Christian theology and values.

Two of the central concepts to A.A. are reliance on God and service to others, both of which are at the core of the Bible’s teaching. In the chapter entitled, “We Agnostics,” the authors of the Big Book write, “either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is or He isn’t” (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 53). At this point in the Big Book, the authors address those who struggle with the concept of God. They suggest that alcoholics must make a decision to believe in a Power greater than themselves in order to maintain sobriety and to change their lives for the better. This is where reliance on God comes into play. Throughout the 12 Steps and A.A. literature, the founders of A.A. stress the importance of relying on a Higher Power, often referenced directly as God.

A second important pillar of A.A. is service to others. In the fifth appendix of the Big Book titled “The Religious View on A.A.,” the authors quote a Christian magazine, The Living Church: “The basis of the technique of Alcoholics Anonymous is the truly Christian principle that a man cannot help himself except by helping others.” Service to others and spreading the message are at the root of both the Bible and Alcoholics Anonymous. Despite the lack of explicit Christian references, the 12 Steps of A.A. trace their roots to many of the essential core principles of the Bible, but remain open to people of all faiths.

Road to Freedom

Road to Freedom is a Christ-centered drug and alcohol treatment program. At Road to Freedom, we restore lives through the power of the gospel. Our treatment program combines evidence-based treatments with biblically based beliefs. Our licensed Christian counselors, pastors, and physicians are dedicated to helping individuals suffering from the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, call us now at 877.443.7342.

No Respecter of Persons

March 15th, 2016

No Respecter of Persons | Road to Freedom

By Pastor Mike Elevald

This disease of addiction is not a respecter of persons. I have come into contact with this truth over and over again in our ministry at The Treatment Center. Good people, normal people, become addicts. People that love God and people that hate God become addicts. This disease has penetrated every strata of society. We have to get the image out of our minds that addiction only affects criminals and homeless people.

This was driven home to me a number of years ago. My first ministry at TTC was “Outreach Pastor.” My job was to meet with churches throughout South Florida and explain to them the mission and purpose of The Treatment Center and our Road to Freedom program. I drove into a small church parking lot. I won’t say where. The church Pastor was not in the office but the sweet, elderly, church secretary patiently listened to my spiel and agreed to pass on my literature to the Pastor. She reminded me of Aunt Bee from Mayberry R.F.D. As I was leaving, she suddenly blurted out, “I am in recovery myself.” I chuckled within myself thinking she had misunderstood the meaning of “recovery” … as though she had a hip surgery and was recovering from that surgery, but I was wrong. She responded, “I have been an alcoholic for over 40 years.” Now she had my attention. I sat down and encouraged her to share her story with me.

And I left that afternoon thinking that this disease is no respecter of persons, and that is true. Without making you overly suspicious or paranoid, I want you to be aware of this truth. Next time you are in church remember that the person sitting 7 seats down from you might be struggling with an addiction and they are scared to death to seek help. Churches across our country are just now starting to wake up to the fact that more and more of our good church people are becoming addicted to opiates and opioids following surgical procedures. And those Pastors that are charged with shepherding their flocks would be wise to equip themselves and be prepared for the inevitability of helping an addict in their care.

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the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval.