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Celebrate Recovery and the New Mental Health Initiative Coming in 2017

by Bill Peters, CR Ministry Leader at North Boulevard Church of Christ

The holiday season, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, often are symbols of family, hope and joy in the Christian community. But this is not true for all brothers and sisters of North Boulevard Church of Christ and our Murfreesboro community. According to a recent study completed by Lifeway Research, one in four American adults suffer from mental health issues, and those who are a part of the body of believers are no different.

Mental health problems are a hidden sickness that people are unwilling to admit to in the church. Why? Often times it is truly misunderstood by others in the church whose struggles are not with this issue. There is a misconception by many church-goers that people with mental illness can overcome their issues by simply more Bible study and prayer. Some folks struggling with mental health issues have felt much shame to even speak about their struggles with anxiety, depression, doubts, and fears. We in the Celebrate Recovery ministry at North Boulevard are not going to sit idly by as this issue exists and seems to be growing in our community and among the body of believers.

In 2017, we will begin a discussion about mental health issues in our church and community in Celebrate Recovery at North Boulevard Church of Christ. We will begin forming a CR Mental Health Initiative for those who are willing to attend our Monday night meetings in the Filling Station. This initiative will not include counselors but Mental Health Champions who will be resource guides to help those dealing with a host of mental health issues. Our MH Champions will be leaders of our CR ministry who have completed a Celebrate Recovery step study and have found new hope in healing in Christ Jesus as His disciples. They will be willing to deal confidentially and safely with anyone who attends and needs help. Since addictions are sometimes a part of those who deal with mental health issues they will address needs for individuals to attend regular Monday night meetings to begin a walk of relief and healing.

The process for developing this ministry at North Boulevard will be slow and deliberate so people are adequately informed and that prayer can be part of our focus. We seek to break the stigma of fear about having a Mental Health issue. Here is our basic Celebrate Recovery Mental Health Agreement that we will make for everyone that comes to our North Boulevard CR on Monday evenings.

The Celebrate Recovery Mental Health Agreement

• I will reaffirm daily that my identity comes from Jesus Christ and He who says I am. I will deny the lie that my identity is in my diagnosis.
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. Galatians 3:36 NIV

• I will submit to the will of God in my life, knowing that while I may not understand the reasons why I have a mental illness. God is in control if I let Him work in my life. He will do what is best for me in my circumstances.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 ESV

• I will share my victories and my struggles with someone I trust on a consistent basis. In doing so, I refuse to live in isolation from others.
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT

• I will faithfully follow any treatment plans designed for me by my doctor and/or therapist. I will continue to take medications as prescribed by my doctor. I will meet with my doctor and/or therapist regularly to make sure the correct plan is in place.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel. Proverbs 12:15 NASB

• I will continue to work the Celebrate Recovery 12 Steps and 8 Principles as an ultimate goal to be more like Jesus in everything I do.
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

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Healing for Every Age Through Celebrate Recovery

by Bill Peters

But I will protect the orphans who remain among you. Your widows, too, can depend on me for help.”  Jeremiah 49:11 (NLT)

No, I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you.   John 14:18 (NLT)

God is concerned about the helpless and the hurting like orphans and widows. Our God is always sensitive to the innocent and unprotected who are unable to provide for themselves. God knows they will need help and He makes a point of sharing His concern about them many times in both the Old and New Testaments.

It is reported by one source that I read that some 15 million American children — one in three — live without a father. It is being demonstrated that children growing up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime. Fifty-four percent of U.S. teens 15-to-17-years-old do not live in a home with their married mother and father, according to the Fifth Annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection released by the Family Research Council. Over half of American teens are about to enter adulthood without the tangible benefits of an intact family life.

The role of parents in a child’s life is an irreplaceable one. “Even when young children spend most of their waking hours in child care, parents remain the most influential adults in their lives,” writes Dr. Jack Shonkoff, a board-certified pediatrician who sits on the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. It has been shown that children of just one parent experience poorer academic achievement, more emotional problems, develop more conduct problems, establish low self-esteem, and have problems forming and maintaining social relationships. Many of these children are feeling the hurts of abandonment, are developing bad addictive habits to cope with loneliness and self-esteem problems, and have hangups in their lives that cause a disruption in their development.

We have a generation of young people growing up in our country with some kind significant hurt, habit or hangup because of lack of parental support. Divorce, abandonment, alcohol or drug addiction and co-dependency are in the equation of being broken for them. Jesus is the only answer for these issues. Jesus came to give people wholeness and He was the sacrifice for every kind of sin which is behind every hurt, habit and hangup. One remedy that a church can offer which helps adults, teens and children which are dealing with family brokenness is Celebrate Recovery. For the adults it is called Celebrate Recovery where people can experience the power of Jesus Christ to help them in a confidential and safe way in weekly meetings. With the children’s program called “Celebration Place” and the teen program called “The Landing” countless children and teens are being helped as they learn the principles and lessons of a Christ-centered recovery from the effects of such things as no father or mother figure in their lives.

You see, God does care and He provides help for those innocent orphans! Celebrate Recovery is a way to give struggling people of any age a way to find healing and hope through developing a relationship with Jesus Christ and walking along side others on the path of wholeness. Christ offers the only way and is the only one who can fill every heart with healing so each might know recovery and wholeness.

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Quenching My Thirst for Hope and Healing

by Bill Peters, CR Ministry Leader at North Boulevard Church of Christ

Principle 8 of Celebrate Recovery
Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words.
“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.”
Matthew 5:10

And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.
1 Samuel 23:29 (NIV)

— but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4:14 (NIV)

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
John 7:38 (NIV)

When I was five years old, I can recall watching the old cowboy westerns in black and white on the television. One of my favorites was Roy Rogers and his horse Trigger and dog Bullet. Now Roy liked to sing and he often sang with a group of cowboy singers called the Sons of the Pioneers. One of their songs was a favorite of many, “Cool, Clear Water” which accentuated the fact that out on the trail that cool clear water was a blessing from God.

In the Old Testament, David hid in the desert fleeing from Saul, eventually finding the “strongholds of En Gedi,” a place fed by a spring in the midst of the desert. Water was scarce in many parts of Israel and David needed refreshment for he and his 600 men. But David saw the water not only came from the ground but also came from heaven. In Psalm 63:1, David sees life as a desert and God like an oasis. “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

The waterfall at En Gedi is an example of “living water” — as opposed to water in a cistern, known as cistern water or dead water. Would you not rather have  fresh water spring to drink from compared to stagnant water? Or a broken cistern?  Life is like the desert. It can be dry and tiring. But God does provide living water where God himself can be tasted. When we taste God through Jesus Christ, His Son, in our lives, we can be revived and recover from life’s deserts. The broken cisterns of sinful addictions, poor habits, and clinging hurts will never satisfy but always leave us longing..

So how do you and I get living water? You must first decide that you are thirsty. For many of us because of past hurts, plaguing, addictive habits, and our personality and spiritual hangups, we find ourselves desperately thirsty for change. For me and others we have found what we have needed to begin to quench that thirst in Jesus in a ministry called Celebrate Recovery.  We have found coming out of denial and surrendering to Him as the only way. We have experienced a spiritual transformation and now find daily prayer time as one way to satisfy our thirst. We have found Bible study as another way. We have found CR meetings, accountability partners and sponsors as a necessary part of life. Some of us have found a renewed fellowship at church which is satisfying. But for most of us we have found continual recovery through Christ in Celebrate Recovery as the only way to know Jesus and to know En Gedi.  We who have found the cool clear water of Jesus and CR now share it with others who are thirsty for relief of their hurts, habits and hangups in life. It is a fact that out on the trail of life that cool, clear water is a blessing from God to be shared with others and with that water we and others can Celebrate Recovery.  Jesus Christ is the only way anyone can quench his or thirst for hope and healing.

The Waterfall and Pool at En Gedi in the Judean desert

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Managing the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays

by Bill Peters, Ministry Leader

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

Managing the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays

Christmas, end of year reflections, decorations, good food, family time, holiday music, gifts…’tis the season to celebrate! For many of us it can also be a time of year when memories of loved ones we’ve lost come pouring into our minds, feelings of sadness can overwhelm us, and stressful situations with our friends and families are magnified. These feelings can trigger us into compromising our healing, hope and recovery.

Depression   It’s not unusual for depression to accompany the anxiety of the holiday season. Because depression can make recovery difficult, extra care should be taken to deal with it as soon as the symptoms are detected. Call your accountability partner or ministry leader, attend a Celebrate Recovery, get some exercise! Depression is real and it hurts,with God’s help you can feel better.

Stress  Holidays are stressful for many of us. Stress is your body’s reaction to internal and external change. For most people, the holidays involve a great deal of change. Changes may be little: perhaps you have a lot of guests coming and you’ll have to rearrange various rooms in your house. And changes may be huge: maybe this is your first holiday without one of your parents, your spouse, or children. Don’t underestimate the impact of those “little” changes. Stress can build up quickly, making you vulnerable to your specific triggers. Stress might cause a relapse or, at least, halt your recovery for a while. As with depression, it’s important to be aware of what’s going on inside. You know right now that the next couple of weeks will be stressful. You can’t control everything that will happen, but you can learn how to cope with your reactions.We can’t prevent most changes in life, and we probably wouldn’t want to! The holidays can be a wonderful time of celebrating and being in the company of good people. Since you cannot prevent change and, therefore, cannot prevent stress, you’ll want to learn the many ways you can cope with stress.

Grief  You may find yourself grieving during the holidays for any number of reasons. We grieve if a loved one dies, but other major losses may cause grief as well. Family relationships may produce intense emotions. Maybe one of your children will be away during the holidays this year. Maybe there was a family conflict during the year, and you won’t be seeing certain relatives. Many situations like these can produce feelings of emptiness and loss. For whatever reason you may be grieving, it’s important to learn about grief and how you can cope with the situation. Don’t underestimate the impact grief may have on you during a particular day. Reach out to family members and friends who may have experienced the same loss.

Loneliness  Holidays may produce intense feelings of loneliness, particularly because so many of us have ideals of what the “perfect” holiday should be. It’s possible to feel lonely even with a group of people, particularly if that one special person is missing from the group. Loneliness can hit hard and quickly. Don’t think of yourself as immune from such feelings. Additionally, loneliness is an emotion that feeds depression. Think about where you will be this holiday season and how it will make you feel. Even if you will be alone during part of the holidays, you can plan ways to make yourself comfortable. One idea is to have several phone numbers of “buddies” available to call. Tell your support friends and your accountability partner that you might be calling during a specific time.

If you’re looking for a safe place to share your struggles, strengths, hurts, and hopes with others, Celebrate Recovery may be for you. In a Christ-centered recovery process, we work to overcome our negative and addictive behavior through community, scripture, and worship. For more information please contact  Bill at 615-584-2454. Celebrate Recovery meets Monday nights at 6:00pm to 9:00pm  at the North Boulevard Church of Christ in Murfreesboro, TN at 1112 North Rutherford Boulevard.  Everyone is welcome! Please join us.

 

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Celebrating the Birth of Christ and Celebrating Your Recovery

by Bill Peters, Ministry Leader

The Savior–yes, the Messiah, the Lord–has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!             Luke 2:11 (NLT)

We all can celebrate when someone is healed of a serious life-threatening disease. What a gift from God! Recently, I have seen my elderly father recover from a serious bout of pneumonia to discover that he has a serious condition of heart failure and needs a heart valve replacement. He has had to overcome denial that his health has deteriorated. He surrendered to God and the doctors for treatment. He also considered the steps that they were asking him to take to prepare for a serious procedure to make him well. He recognized that the healing on earth for his body will not be complete. He knows in heaven that perfection will come with a new body given by the Lord. He looks forward to that gift and so I look forward to mine also.

Christmas gifts come in all shapes and sizes. In Celebrate Recovery, the gift of healing from hurts, habits and hangups comes in the same shape but different sizes for everyone. The shape of healing and recovery for each in CR is to work through the same 8 principles and 12 steps. On the other hand, the gift size of healing and recovery through the steps and principles varies for each of us. In part, this is because each of us has to surrender our need to God and our faith dictates how much we are willing to give to God for healing. We must prayerfully decide to share all of our issues – spiritually, emotionally, relationally, physically and mentally, to find healing. These are represented by our hurts, habits and hangups and God can give us a gift of healing through His Son Jesus. This is our focus with the Celebrate Recovery ministry at North Boulevard Church of Christ. We appreciate fully the gift of grace of Jesus. No matter how big that gift has been, we give God thanks and now are ready to pass on that gift to others.

During this season of giving, those of us who are followers of Jesus, have a responsibility to let Christ’s light shine in us so we can bring His light in to a dark world. The world is a very dark place. If we don’t bring Christ’s light into it, who is going to provide that gift? Today I feel compelled as a ministry leader of Celebrate Recovery to be as ready as possible to give that gift from Jesus to as many as possible. I invite you to come and receive your gift on Monday nights at the Filling Station at North Boulevard Church of Christ in Murfreesboro. Jesus has a gift of healing for everyone and wants us all to have a reason to Celebrate Christmas and to Celebrate Recovery.

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A Perspective on Taking a Daily Spiritual Inventory – Reviving the Winter Cold Lifeless Life on a Daily Basis

A Meditation on Step 10 and Principle 7 of Celebrate Recovery by Bill Peters

Step 10: We continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
1 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV)

Principle 7: Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will.

Here’s another Message from God ….. “Plow your unplowed fields, but then don’t plant weeds in the soil! Yes, circumcise your lives for God’s sake. Plow your unplowed hearts…..
Jeremiah 4:3-4 (The Message)

“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.
2 Corinthians 13:5

I can recall the barren winter, lifeless cornfields of Indiana as a boy.  As cornfields lie dormant in the fall and winter this year, they suggest to me that this is a good time for deeper reflection and for seeking and listening to the wind of God’s Word.  I am reminded that dormant cornfields of Indiana can be like the soil of the mind and heart which can lay fallow and empty with loneliness for many people during the upcoming holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas can be challenging times for many people divorced and those who lost a spouse in death. It can be difficult for families with members who have long illnesses like Alzheimers and cancer.  It is definitely a time of sadness, loneliness and depression in many lives.  It can be a season of spiritual barrenness and a time when emotions can bring tears  and lives can experience trials and temptation to engage in harmful addictions.

For me, I know I must make changes in physical diet and exercise and I must turn to God to avoid feelings of despair as a Christian. I know I can choose to plant my life with poor spiritual and physical health habits or I can choose to fill my life with profitable and Godly ways. I know I am called  by the Lord to choose to examine the old, rotten material within and thoroughly turn it over, so that God can decompose it, and cause it to be transformed into something that will enrich my heart with the ways of Jesus Christ.

The Lord loves the soil of a heart that is fertile, and ready to receive His implanted Word.  Fertile soil is that kind of heart which is both humble, and responsive (obedient).  I must become as a plowmen, who is willing to seek Godly wisdom and break up the fallow despondent ground of my heart and plant the good of God’s Words and ways

Now the Lord gives me opportunity each day if I will grab it for taking a spiritual inventory. I must choose again to be renewed to seek to live the good and Godly life and forsake any personal hurts, bad habits and unhealthy hangups. He must become my source of life and not these things.

God permits each day of my life some time not to work or engage in leisure but to devote toward a special time just for He and I. During that time each day is a time I must choose to pray and read and studyHis Word. This time can give me vital and essential wisdom and hope to live the rest of the day. Wisdom covered with the love, hope and faith founded In Christ is the nutrient of a healthy soil and a life in Jesus. Letting the Holy Spirit direct me offers an essential time to take a daily spiritual inventory of my life. This reflection time permits me to examine the things that I need to be for which to be thankful, the forgiveness I need to offer others and the amends that I need to make to those I have hurt. It is a time to seek a new start with God and man.

  • Pray and read scripture to prepare the fallow heart.
  • Recall the events of the past 24 hours of the day and evaluate what you find.
  • List those times in which you felt blessed and those which you recognized you had hurt, temptation and anger.
  • Make a list of blessings for which you need to be thankful to God about
  • Make a list of times when hurt came and as a result you need to forgive someone
  • Make a list of times when tempted and that you succumbed to the old addictive habits or new ones rather than turning to God or a trusted Christian partner for help.
  • Make a list of those times whom you have hurt someone and need to make amends towards them.
  • Now pray again and ask God to help you take actions and start afresh led by His Spirit to wisely make the needed amends and offer forgiveness towards others and live the new life.

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A Godly Perspective on Making Amends and Cleaning the Slate

by Bill Peters

Principle 6: Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for I’ve done others, except when to do so would harm them or others. “Happy are the merciful.” and “Happy are the peacemakers.”

You have caused hurt and you have finally recognized that  you need to deal honestly with your Christian life, perhaps as you have attended Celebrate Recovery. Time has passed — weeks, months, perhaps even years have passed. How do you approach the family member, your spouse or friend that you have hurt to make amends? You may have lied to them, stolen from them, or abused them. You may have left severe hurt and caused deep wounds. Your initial resistance of not going through the effort of going to the person you have hurt is reinforced by Satan as he tells you it is not that important and offers the lie that time will heal all wounds so why worry about it. But now time has passed, and God’s Word and Spirit makes you realize that you need to take action and reconcile the injury that you have caused. The incident of hurt of the past you have caused has been impossible to forget. You know it aches your mind and troubles your heart as more delay occurs and you do nothing.

In Celebrate Recovery we learn not to be reluctant in making rapid amends to people that we have hurt or harmed. As we decide to take a serious look and take a moral inventory of our lives, we find people whom we have harmed who need to hear amends from us. But making amends is about our personal healing, too. Yes, we need to clean the slate the best we can by making amends to those we have hurt so we can move forward. We are working Principle #6 towards reconciliation by making amends as the Lord has asked us to do.

In the first and now successive workings of doing our moral inventory, we find that we have a list of people with places and things whom we seek to avoid because they remind us of shameful things that we have said or done. These people and these portions of our lives can become closed off to us if we don’t make amends. When we are willing to make amends then we will find that those areas open up again. We find that Principle 6 is much more than forgiveness.  We are soon to discover that “it takes a lot of courage to forgive someone but it takes even more courage to ask for forgiveness!”

The three approaches below are helpful to us when we need to make amends to someone that we have hurt. I have learned these ideas in Celebrate Recovery and by reading the book “Life’s Healing Choices” by John Baker but mostly by God’s Word. I pray that you will take the time to read and absorb these three and that they are a help to you.

Make Amends at the Right Time with Prayer: Ecclesiastes 8:6 – “There’s a right time and right way to do everything.” We don’t just drop a bomb on somebody suddenly and go to them unannounced. We don’t just do it when they are rushing out the door or laying their head down on the pillow and say “By the way, I’ve got some stuff to deal with.” We need do it according to their time and not when it’s best for us. We need to pray and set a time when it’s God’s time, when it’s best for them and we need to make it a purposeful time.

Make Amends with a Right Attitude with Humility and Sincerity: Philippians 2:3 – “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.” . Too often our attitude will be dominated with shame and fear as we consider facing someone we have hurt. We need to go with the confidence that God is with us.

Make Amends the Right Way by Looking Out for Others: Proverbs 18:6 “And fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating.” As I have already stated, one should go to someone that you have hurt with humility and with sincerity. We should look at the other person’s life situation and use wisdom in making amends. We need to pray and consider what is the best way to make amends. Sometimes we could open a whole can of stinking sardines if we make amends to an old boy friend or girl friend. Having had a previous romantic relationship can be a challenge for us to make amends. The other person could have moved forward in their lives and have new relationships and contact with them could cause damage. Sometimes an empty chair or writing an unsent letter is the course of action, especially if the issue caused a significant hurt. In other cases where appropriate, we should make an appointment and go privately to simply say that what we did was wrong and to not make any justification for it and
give no excuses. If we meet with someone,we should not talk about their part but just assume responsibility for our part. Yes, they may have had a part in the problem but our goal is to just try to clear up our side of the ledger. Do not seek to try to justify your actions, either. Our focus is only on our part and we don’t expect anything back from the person t0 whom we are trying to make amends.
I am praying that you find these three steps of making amends both helpful and beneficial to your healing and wholeness as a Christian. To learn more come to Celebrate Recovery on Monday nights in the Filling Station.

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The Three “Rs” to Find Peace in Forgiveness

by Bill Peters

Principle 6 of Celebrate Recovery: Evaluate all of my relationships; offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I have done to others except when to do so would harm them or others.

Happy are the merciful. Matthew 5:7    Happy are the peacemakers.” Matthew 5:3 (Step 8, 9)

Afterward, David was conscience-stricken for having cut off a corner of his robe.  He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.”  With these words David sharply rebuked his men and did not allow them to attack Saul. And Saul left the cave and went his way. 1 Samuel 24: 5-7 (NIV)

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19 (NIV)

There is something different about animals and men with regard to vengeance. Animals do not have a conscience or a spirit which comprehends the idea of vengeance. But men have a conscience and soul given by God which permits us to love and hate. Recovery of a person’s heart and mind to sanity and wholeness comes much by the principles of forgiving others and asking forgiveness from others. David could have killed Saul because of the hurt, the harm and the threats that he had received from King Saul. Saul was still wanting to kill him when David secretly got so close to Saul that he was able to cut off the corner of Saul’s robe. But David recognized that it was God’s right and plan to take care of Saul and his sinful ways and not David’s. I know I have had many occasions in which I have been hurt and I felt the need for vengeance or the need to get even. God has another recovery plan and that is to forgive others and make amends as practical to others to whom I have harmed.   Here are some approaches that help me along the road to forgiveness of others along with scriptures to support. These are, in part, from the book “Life’s Healing Choices” by john Baker

1.Relinquish your right to get even and put it all in God’s hands.  “Never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God, for he has said that he will repay those who deserve it.” The first step to forgiveness is to commit to not take justice into your own hands. Let God be the impartial judge. Romans 12:19 (TLB),

2.Refocus on God’s purpose for your life and not your own narrow view. “Put your heart right, reach out to God…then face the world again, firm and courageous. Then all your troubles will fade from your memory, like floods that are past and remembered no more.” Job 11: 13-16 3.

3.Respond to the evil with good words and actions towards those who have hurt you. “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” There’s a lot of evil in this world. You don’t overcome it by criticizing it. You overcome it with good.” Romans 12:21 (NIV)

Mercy and peace can be found in applying these three approaches to forgiveness. It takes a prayerful, God-trusting, Christian to apply this principle thoroughly. Forgiveness is the only way to freedom and salvation.

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Learn to Release Yourself to God for Transformation – Reflections on Principle 5 of Celebrate Recovery

by Bill Peters

Principle 5 – Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects.
“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.” Matthew 5:6

And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’  Acts 13:22 (ESV)

Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground! Psalm 143;10 (ESV)

Do not conform any longer 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.
Romans 12:2

The transformation of a plain larvae in a cocoon to a beautiful butterfly is all about God’s transformation.  The process of changing from plainness to beauty is all about God’s doing.  I have come to recognize that control by God is essential for beauty to burst forth in butterflies and also in men.   This means I must learn to “release” myself to God.

The transformation of becoming an aerospace engineer with a 40 year career from that of  being an Indiana farm boy has caused me to reflect upon how God has been so good to me beyond anything I deserve.  For this to happen to me has been all about how God has stubbornly and unrelentingly not let me go.    However, the biggest transformation that God has made in my life has been when I have surrendered my hurts, bad habits and hangups to His way, His working and His healing.  I have found this in a ministry called Celebrate Recovery. CR has taught me about a renewed daily way of living God’s way that I seek to practice. The word “release” is the word that comes to my mind when it comes to how I have seen God’s transformation of my heart and mind.

In the book of 1 Samuel, David had risen in favor with fellow Israelites because he trusted God in the killing of Goliath and in scattering the Philistine army. Now, David fled from the jealous wrath of King Saul and had to rely upon the Lord’s protection and direction.  David trusted in the future promises of God to be the future king of Israel.   At one time before he became a king, David had ended up as a fugitive in a cave with 400 men who were his friends.  They were outcasts.  He knew to get out of this situation that not only did he have to trust God but He had to “release” control to God.  And just like me, God did not let go of David in his life and led him through a recovery of significant hurts, habits and hangups to become a man after God’s own heart.  For this to happen David had to learn to live the word “release”.

Principle Five of Celebrate Recovery states that each of us needs to become ready to voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in our lives. I like better the scripture of Matthew 5:6.  It says  that I will be blessed and/or happy if “it is my greatest desire” to submit to every change that God wants to make in my life. To me this means  to get ambitious and enthusiastic about letting God teach me and instruct me as spoke in Psalms 143. It means I develop an attitude towards God that I am the first guy in line for change and it says I am READY!. What does it mean to be READY?  The “R” in ready comes from an acrostic in Celebrate Recovery which speaks of “releasing” control to God. In Romans 12:2 Paul speaks that “release” is needed for you and me to no longer be conformed to living life with such things as unforgiveness, addictions, low self-esteem, anger, doubt and fear to being transformed into thinking and living like Jesus Christ with renewal. My prayer today is to seek to be one who “releases’  my life to God’s care and control and do what He requires with joy.

Renewing-of-Your-Mind

Spiritual Mentors, Companions and a Serious Investigation – Reflections on Principle 4 of Celebrate Recovery

by

Bill Peters

Principle 4 of Celebrate Recovery
Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. (Steps 4 and 5)
“Happy are the pure in heart.”
Matthew 5:8

Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!” “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David. Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.
1 Samuel 20: 30-34 (NIV)

The first Space Shuttle Disaster was Challenger which was lost during an explosion as it took off from Cape Canaveral on January 28, 1986, killing all seven people on board. NASA suspended shuttle flights for two years. All shuttle missions were halted while a special commission appointed by President Reagan determined the cause of the accident and what could be done to prevent such disasters from happening again. I was involved in an engineering project for the space shuttle in the late 80s as part of the investigation. The test included the use of hydrogen and oxygen gases which are a recipe for a fiery explosion if not handled correctly. Wisdom dictated that an inventory of lessons learned from the past would be useful to preventing someone in getting hurt or stopping a hangup in testing and using a bad procedure as a regular habit of the space shuttle launch and flight. A concentrated program of investigation of a team of experts and workers was pulled together after the Challenger accident. After following some significant steps and principles of testing and evaluation the space shuttle flew once again.

I can see application of the Space Shuttle recovery program for my personal life. A wise Christian man who is hurting or has difficulty in this world (which is all of us) should make a spiritual appraisal of his life and reflect upon the past events and circumstances and their impact upon his life. He needs Jesus Christ and His Word to help him. One needs to examine how he has been blessed by God but also he needs to apprise his hurts, habits, and hang-ups that currently comprise his or her attitudes and way of life. Until a person takes the time to do this and reconcile this list with Jesus and a trusted Christian friend then he is subject to a life lost like a Challenger with no future for another flight. To fully be reconciled before God through Jesus, a man ought to inventory the hurts and sins of the past which are like ill-thrown spears. These can kill the soul unless forgiveness is given to others as needed when you have been hurt. Also amends must be made to others when you have hurt others.  This was not a foreign concept to David in the Bible.  David had the prophet Samuel who guided him along the path as a mentor and sponsor and he had Jonathan, King Saul’s son, as a friend and accountability partner. I need the same kind of process and people in my life as any Christian and the ministry that has helped me is called Celebrate Recovery. CR has the process and the people to help me and it has helped thousands of others around the world in all kinds of churches for many years.

Yes, just like David and Jonathan, I have spears in my life that I have hurled at others and those I have received.  I have had Challenger tragedies which needed a thorough investigation of facts. I am now a part of a Celebrate Recovery program which is addressing the spears I have thrown at others in anger, pride and in sins I have committed.  Celebrate Recovery is also a program which has dealt with the spears which I have received as hurts from others. In CR, Principle 4 of 8 which is based on the Beatitudes of Christ, I have found personally that the rubber meets the road of recovery and healing for me. This is where I get down and dirty and do some serious soul searching and do a spiritual moral inventory. In doing my inventory, the Celebrate Recovery program has given me some companions called a sponsor and an accountability partner to walk beside me.

When seeking recovery via CR, it is vital that I do not proceed without a sponsor that God gives me. He is one who has walked the path and knows the steps and principles.  An accountability partner or two won’t cut it for this principle but they are absolutely valuable as friends of recovery and healing. What’s the difference between a sponsor and an accountability partner? I am glad you asked. A sponsor is someone who has been through the steps and has completed each one with a sponsor of their own.  A sponsor will not let me take any shortcuts and will seriously support the correct process in completing a CR step study. Who better to teach than someone who’s walked in my shoes before me? They are like Samuel or a Nathan was to David in the Bible.

I also need some trusted companions, some Jonathans, on my side too. An accountability partner is someone who is in the same boat that I am and can relate to my hurts, habits and hangups. I can call on them for daily conversation and prayer. An accountability partner, however  is a companion in faith who hasn’t been through the CR steps before and is one who also needs guidance.  But an accountability partner is someone in whom I can call and can cry to or vent to or spill my guts to, but not someone who’s experienced in guiding me through recovery when I have questions.

Today I am on the road of recovery and doing principal 4  the right way, God’s way, is the best way for me to find the healing I desperately need in my life.

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