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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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You are Chosen!

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

Imagine this: it is your first day at a new high school. You do not know a living soul. There you are, with your sack lunch in hand, standing at the entrance to the jam packed lunch room, with no where to sit. A living nightmare, right?

That was my experience in 1972 at East Kentwood High School. Can you relate? Almost everyone has been through a similar scenario at one time or another. We each have an innate desire to be known,  wanted or chosen by someone. So there I stood, dread flooding over me, panic rising from the pit of my stomach, and then a voice, “Mike! Over here!” One of the nicest girls I have ever met, saw my dilemma and came to my rescue.

Scripture continually teaches us that this is exactly what God has done for each of us, in an infinitely greater way. Ephesians 1:4-6 reminds us that we were chosen in Christ “before the foundations of the world.” Titus 2:14 says that in the moment of our greatest need, God intentionally and purposefully chose us, “…to purify for Himself a people that are His very own.” Imagine that! We are His very own! When God was choosing up sides, He chose me and He chose you. On purpose. Would you take a moment and just let this simple truth wash over you? God chose you.

Just when we think we are alone, when we think no one wants anything to do with us, when we cringe at the thought that we will be the last one picked for a team, suddenly a voice, “Mike! Over here!” A flood of relief, a friend, someone knows me, someone wants me. Chosen! Thank you Jesus!

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Christian Recovery is a Family Matter

Just as addiction affects the whole family, recovery is also a family matter. At the Road to Freedom, we offer help and hope not only to the addict, but to their loved ones as well.

Psalm 34:18
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

When an addicted family member enters recovery, the rest of the family often breathes a collective sigh of relief. For years, they have likely experienced many emotions in the chaos of substance abuse: anger, fear, embarrassment, frustration, disappointment, and helplessness. They have prayed countless prayers that this day would come. With the addict’s pursuit of sobriety, the family members sense that the nightmare is over; the painful feelings are in the past and their loved one will rejoin them as a fully participating member. It is not uncommon for family members to think, “At long last, we can finally return to normal!”

Such hopeful anticipation is understandable, but it fails to consider that family dysfunction has become the norm and other members have contributed to the chaos. The void created by removing the substance abuse is not automatically filled with healthy experiences and feelings. Dysfunctional relationships and behaviors do not immediately change. Non-addicted spouses and loved ones may continue to experience lingering resentments, find it difficult to engage in conversation, and feel uneasy about reestablishing a close relationship with their newly recovered family member. Children may remain distant, having found alternatives to home and family as a place of safety. Many will struggle with continued feelings of resentment toward a parent who has been absent or abusive due to substance abuse.

Romans 12:12
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

In order to best support the addict’s recovery, families need to recognize that overcoming addiction is a process, not an event. The family’s working dynamics, previously skewed by substance abuse, will essentially need to be dismantled and reconstructed. Achieving sobriety is the first step – a courageous act to be regarded with gratitude, respect, and acceptance. However, family members who are willing to become involved must then commit to maintaining an ongoing recovery lifestyle. The change requires leaving behind old, unhealthy patterns of relating to each other and seeking help toward change. Recovery requires respect for the interests and rights of other family members, willingness to explore new ways of interacting as a family unit, and communicating legitimate needs without fear of rejection or ridicule. Each family will face unique challenges experience their own pace of recovery.

To help support families in this process, Road to Freedom offers a family weekend workshop in conjunction with The Treatment Center. Here, loved ones of patients can learn more about the stages of family recovery, the importance of setting clear boundaries, family support groups and more. By recognizing that recovery is a family matter, your loved one will have a better chance at a successful recovery.

If you would like to learn more about the programs we offer, please contact our family program coordinator, Judi Jenett. She may be reached via email or phone:
[email protected] :: (561) 214-9376

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The Lord Disciplines the Ones He Loves

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

Discipline. It’s not really a fun word, is it? Does anyone actually enjoy discipline? I looked up the definition just to see if I could find anything redeeming about this very unhappy word:

dis·ci·pline  [dis-uh-plin]  verb

  1. To train by instruction and exercise; drill.
  2. To bring to a state of order and obedience by training and control.
  3. To punish or penalize in order to train and control; correct; chastise.

It seems like there are two kinds of discipline. There is the discipline of being committed to something, like training or dieting. Then there is the discipline that is punishment for breaking the rules. Neither of these really sound like a good time, right? Does anyone get excited about training, instruction, exercise, obedience, punishment or chastisement?

The Bible has a lot to say about both kinds of discipline, but the author of Hebrews address the issue discipline as punishment in a very practical way that helps us see the eternal value.

Hebrews 12:5-12

“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you because the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and He chastens everyone He accepts as his son.’

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

There are a few things here that stand out to me about the value of God’s discipline, and it actually encourages me to embrace it.

  1. God’s discipline is motivated by love. He doesn’t discipline us out of anger, like some of our earthly parents. Because of His perfect love, He wants to make us better rather than leave us stuck in our dysfunction. Sometimes this requires discipline.
  2. His discipline proves that we are His children. If we weren’t His children, He wouldn’t bother trying to help us. But since He has adopted us as His own, He takes the role of a parent, guiding and leading us into maturity.
  3. His discipline is not to pay us back, but to bring us back. God is not trying to “get even”. If He did that, it would destroy us. But God’s discipline is to bring us back to Himself, the source of abundant life.
  4. His discipline is for our good. The discipline of God produces amazing results in our lives: holiness and a harvest of righteousness and peace. Doesn’t that sound like something we should desire?
  5. Our response to His discipline will affect the lives of others. He says to strengthen ourselves and make level paths, “so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Our positive response to God’s discipline can transform us in such a way that other people will experience His healing too!

There is so much more in scripture about the transforming power of discipline, but the most important thing to remember is that it is for our best and because of His love. I will leave you with one more passage, this time from Job, which I believe sums it all up.

Job 5:17
“Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.”

If you would like to read more of what the Bible has to say about the benefits of discipline (and the destructive result of ignoring it) simply click HERE.

 

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It All Began in a Garden

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

As addicts, small compromises can have devastating results. When we do something we know we shouldn’t, when we compromise, it can eventually lead to relapse. Whenever we do the wrong thing, we each have a choice to make: “Will I hide in fear and shame, or confess my sin and live in the freedom that transparency brings?” How can one bad choice, one compromise, lead to relapse and the destruction that follows? For the answer, let’s travel back in time to the very first humans.

God had created the world – the land, the seas, the animals and finally, mankind. Adam and Eve enjoyed perfect, unbroken fellowship with God in a perfect world. Sin had not yet entered the picture, and their lives were free from guilt, shame, and fear. They had done nothing wrong; therefore, they had no reason to experience these emotions. That all changed the instant Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and do their own thing.

Genesis 3:6-7 tells the story of how guilt, fear, and shame became a reality for Adam, Eve and every single person from that moment on. It says, “So she took some of the fruit (the fruit God had told them not to eat) and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.” Did you notice that? They felt shame immediately upon turning their backs on God and doing things their own way.

Next, we see the consequences of that disobedience as shame, guilt, and fear caused division between God and his creation. In Genesis 3:8-10 we read, “When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He replied, ‘I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.’”

Jesus describes this very thing centuries later in John 3:20 where He states, “All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.” This truth certainly still applies to us today. This is how the decision to do what we want, what we know is wrong, can lead to relapse. The guilt, fear and shame that grows can become a power that has the ability to drive us back to our drug of choice.

The issue isn’t whether or not we’ve done wrong things. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.” The issue then becomes what we will do when we do sin. We can either hide like Adam and Eve hoping that if we don’t look at God He will go away, or we can trust in His grace and confess those things we’ve done. We first confess to God, then to someone we trust such as a sponsor or accountability person, and be cleansed and made whole.

It is at this point, after having sinned, that we come to the proverbial fork in the road. Will we hide in guilt, fear and shame allowing those emotions to overtake us, or will we confess and be freed from their power? Will we trust in God’s grace and forgiveness, or will we run and hide? Will we choose to turn towards relapse, or will we choose to continue to walk in recovery?

Psalm 32:3-5
When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Romans 8:1
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

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Three Dollars Worth of God

 

A message from one of our pastors in the Road to Freedom program.

I have the privilege of teaching a Seminary course on the Life and Ministry of Jesus. Recently, my class and I were reflecting on His three year public ministry. We discussed His rise in public popularity, followed by the crowds turning on Him, leading to His crucifixion. How could this happen? God on earth; the great “I AM” in human flesh. How could He not continually gain in popularity?

The truth is this: if Jesus was here with us in 2013, He would face the same resistance to His ministry that He did back then. Why? Because we all have an ego driven, self-absorbed desire to rule our lives and keep God at a distance. Jesus was gaining in popularity until He made it clear that He was calling His disciples to a radical surrender to God and His Kingdom. At that point, fringe followers began finding excuses to head home to the safety of a relationship with God that came with all the benefits and few demands.

We are guilty of the same thing, aren’t we? We ought to be sold out to Christ. We ought to be all in with Him. Instead, we hold on to dark things in our lives and refuse to bring them to the only place they can be healed, the Cross. We want all the benefits of God and none of the surrender. I don’t think that is going to help us, do you? Isn’t step three all about surrender to God?

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

The poet, Wilbur Reese, said it so well in his piece, “Three Dollars Worth of God.”

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.

Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep,
but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk
or a snooze in the sunshine.

I don’t want enough of God to make me love a black man
or pick beets with a migrant.

I want ecstasy, not transformation.

I want warmth of the womb, not a new birth.

I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack.

I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please.

This all boils down to one thing. The fact that we do not desire all of God truly reveals that He does not have all of us. God works with what we give Him. How can He fully restore our life without us giving Him all of the pieces? When I give God all of me, then I will hunger and thirst for all of Him. Being “Stingy” on step 3 does not protect me. Ultimately, it hurts me.

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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What is Road to Freedom (RTF)?

Road to Freedom is a Christ-centered drug and alcohol addiction treatment program at The Treatment Center. Our purpose is to help people break free from the bondage of alcohol and drug addiction and experience the true freedom and abundant life that is found only in Jesus Christ. After re-establishing their relationship with God and experiencing sobriety, patients are given tools to help them continue to grow spiritually and walk in lasting freedom, restoration and transformation.

John 8:36
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Here at the Road to Freedom, we treat every aspect of a person, not just their addiction. Each patient is seen as an individual who has unique spiritual, emotional and physical needs. Through a multi-faceted, personal treatment plan our caring staff provide pastoral, medical and psychiatric care that brings healing to the body, soul and spirit. We believe that this Christ-centered, holistic approach makes Road to Freedom the most comprehensive & well equipped Christian rehab program in the country. With three full-time pastors, three part-time pastors, four Christian therapists and a complete medical staff, our patients have full access to compassionate, Christ-centered care.

The Road to Freedom recovery experience includes:

  • Morning prayer
  • Pastoral counseling
  • Daily Christ-centered recovery groups
  • Biblically based 12-step meetings
  • Individual clinical Christian counseling
  • Weekly church services
  • Peer recovery groups
  • Holistic and physical therapies
  • Recreational activities and exercise programs
  • Life skills training and other preparations for life after treatment
  • Family workshop

Our non-denominational approach focuses on the Gospel and the essentials of the Christian faith. Only the power of Christ can truly break the chains of drug and alcohol addiction, setting captives free and empowering them to live a full and abundant life.

John 10:10
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Luke 4:18-19
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

If you or someone you know is in need of Christ-centered addiction treatment, contact us at: 877-449-0342. Admission counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays.

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Faith Diaries 1

This testimonial is the first of the YouTube series, “Faith Diaries.” In this video, a patient of the Road to Freedom program at The Treatment Center shares his story of addiction and how he regained his faith in recovery.

Brian explains, “Through all my addiction I was a Christian, but I never allowed the power of God, I never allowed my religion to interact with my problem.” He goes on to discuss how the Road to Freedom program was able to bring these two together and begin healing his addiction.

We encourage you to share this video with family and loved ones who may be struggling with addiction, or may simply appreciate this powerful story of hope and faith.

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