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Redemption from a Checkered Past

Monday, January 12th, 2015

Redemption from a Checkered Past

A message from Pastor James Exline

Are you an “unlikely”? If you have a “checkered past”, if you’ve done things you’re ashamed of, if you think that there is no way God would ever use you, then congratulations, you are an “unlikely “and God wants to use you!

Many of you have heard that God has plans for you, that God wants to use you, but then you look at yourself, your past, and begin to develop a laundry list of reasons why God wouldn’t use you. You begin to disqualify yourself.

Even the Spiritual Greats Were Flawed

It’s easy to look at the “spiritual greats” and think that God would use them because we are looking at them through the lens of what God is doing through them, what he is using them to do. This, however, is not an accurate portrait of those “spiritual greats.” This lens leaves out the fact that they are imperfect people being used by a perfect God to accomplish his perfect will and perfect plan. The perfect part of the equation comes from God—not the person God is using—and not from you!

Let’s look at some imperfect people God has used; even a partial list is very interesting. God used a mass murderer, of Christians, nonetheless, (the Apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul) to write over half of the New Testament, start the church, and lead thousands of people to a relationship with Christ. He used a murderer and a stutterer (Moses) to lead his people out of slavery to freedom. He used a man (David) to be king of his people who went on to commit adultery and murder during his reign. Peter, who went on to be a huge part of establishing the church, prior to doing so, denied knowing Jesus. That’s right, the guy God used to establish the church claimed on three separate occasions that he did not even know Jesus!

There is one more example we are going to look at, and this one is from current times. There was a man who had ran from God most of his adult life, who had cussed God out for even having created him. That same man had told his wife that if she ever went to church, he would leave her. He was enslaved to active addiction for years, and along the way did things which many would think had disqualified him from being used by God. He would be first on that list. He would have thought there was no way God would ever use him, after all, just look at the long list of disqualifications!

You Can be Used by God

Some, if not many of you, also have a list of disqualifications, things that you believe are preventing you from being used by God. You look at your past, and come to the conclusion that God will never use you. “You don’t understand,” you might say. “I’ve done…” the list goes on and on, and looking at that list from a human perspective, you may be justified in thinking that God will never use you. The good news, however, is that God does not look at you or your past from a human perspective. He looks at it through the redeeming, saving, and salvaging eyes of perfect love, through the eyes of a savior who died for you to become the very righteousness of God! 2 Corinthians 5.21 says, “For our sake he (God) made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

God isn’t looking for perfect people to use. He is looking for imperfect people whom he makes perfect through Jesus and then desires to use. So you’re not perfect, congratulations, you qualify! By the way, that guy who had run from God most of his adult life, who told his wife he would leave her if she went to church, that guy is me. That guy is now a pastor at a treatment center! See—God wasn’t looking for a perfect person to do what he is using me to do. He was looking for an imperfect man who has been made perfect in Christ, who was and is willing to be used by God for whatever God wants to use him for!

That’s where the good news comes in for you. If you are imperfect, if you have a “checkered past”, and if you are willing to allow God to use you to accomplish his plans through you, then you qualify! God wants to use you!

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Do You Seek God’s Forgiveness?

Monday, May 26th, 2014

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.”

Be Wise in Your Recovery

Monday, May 5th, 2014

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?

Let Go and Let God

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

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

 

Winning the Battle Over Addiction: Spirit, Soul, Body

Monday, April 21st, 2014

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

Don’t Walk a Path of Recovery Alone

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

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.

You are Chosen!

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

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!

What is Road to Freedom (RTF)?

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

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

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

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.

New Year, New You

Monday, January 6th, 2014

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

It’s that time of year again, when many of us feel a sense of hope for new beginnings. It’s also very easy to become cynical about it all. We know that in the past we’ve set goals and failed. Two weeks into the new year we’ve broken every resolution: we’re behind on our Bible reading, breaking our diet and still have not made it to the gym. A funny tweet posted the last week of December read, “According to my 2013 New Year’s resolution, I have 72 hours to lose 30 pounds, learn to speak Spanish and play the banjo.”

I want to encourage you to not give up hope in starting over, pursuing new possibilities, or reattempting resolutions you’ve set in the past. If there is one thing that the gospel teaches us, it’s that God LOVES new beginnings! We can even see it in creation: He gives us a sunrise to start each new day and His natural calendar gives us changing seasons that display growth, life, death and rebirth. But most of all, we have to  remember the new beginning He has given us in Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

What many of us struggle believing is that God wants to continue giving us second chances and new beginnings once we have put our faith in Christ. We know that we are forgiven of our sinful past, but what about our present sins and failures? You may remember this verse that is also used in the classic hymn, “Great is They Faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:22-23
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

He is faithful, even when we are faithless! (2 Timothy 2:13). His grace is for today! And He wants us to know His unconditional love that compels us to begin again and again.

Patiently, gently and kindly He leads us on. Even though this process of transformation is something that we have a part in, it’s not our own efforts that make us grow. However, it is often through our choices that we position ourselves to encounter God in a way that He changes us. We do the possible and He does the impossible. Through His Word, His presence and His people, He transforms.

In light of this truth, I encourage you to make a resolution. I simply want you to resolve to do something everyday that will lead you to encountering God. Here are seven common practices that can have profound results:

  1. Pray (Ephesians 6:18)
  2. Be thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  3. Worship with song (Psalm 95)
  4. Read God’s Word (Romans 10:17)
  5. Listen for God’s voice & journal (John 18:37)
  6. Surrender (Romans 12:1-2)
  7. Seek out other believers (Acts 2:42)

You have most likely done all of these at one time or another. If you think about it, this is what you do in a church service. Ever wonder why you leave feeling refreshed and encouraged?  It’s because for one hour, you practiced the disciplines that lead to a transforming encounter with God. Why not seek to do this every day?

Here is a very practical suggestion for living this out. Make a check-list of these seven things. Look at it when you wake-up in the morning, revisit it at noontime and review it before you go to bed. Each time, respond to one or more of them. Pray, give thanks, sing a song, listen, journal, surrender or reach out to a believing friend. As you do this, remember that the goal is not to simply check something off of your list, but to encounter the Father. When you forget, miss a day, or a week, don’t be ashamed of starting again. This is what grace is for! The grace that saved you is the same grace that sustains you and transforms you. His grace is for today and everyday. There is literally NO condemnation for those who are in Christ! (Romans 8:1) Return to the Lord, and pick up where you left off. He’s patiently waiting and He is happy to meet you right where you are.

New year, new you? Why not? Receive His grace, encounter Him daily and be changed!

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