Why I celebrate recovery

I go to a couple of different recovery programs every week. On Monday evenings I go to Celebrate Recovery. On Thursday evening I go to a local AA meeting. You could say that it is the most important part of my life. My recovery IS the most important thing in my life. If I’m not any good for me then I’m sure not going to be any good for you, or for that matter, God.

“A.A.’s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.” That is from “12 Steps and 12 Traditions”, page 15.

If I had been diagnosed with a terminal disease such as cancer, which my Dad died from, and was told by others who were in remission there was a way to keep the disease at bay and live a productive and healthy life as long as I followed a 12 Step program for the rest of my life, I’m pretty sure that I would have done it. In fact, I did do just that. And, today by the grace of God and the 12 Steps, ” I have a daily reprieve contingent upon the maintenance of my spiritual condition.”

These are the 12 Steps as far as Celebrate Recovery is concerned. They are based on the 12 Steps of AA, with some minor modification.

1.  We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors.  That our lives had become unmanageable. 

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  (Romans 7:18)

2.  Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

     For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.  (Philippians 2:13)

3.  Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God.   

    Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.  (Romans 12:1)

4.  Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

     Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD.  (Lamentations 3:40)

5.  Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.

     Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  (James 5:16a)

6.  Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

     Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.   (James 4:10)

7.  Humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.

     If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9)

8.  Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

    Do to others as you would have them do to you.  (Luke 6:31)

9.  Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

    Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.  (Matthew 5:23-24)

10.  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)

11.  Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and power to carry that out.

      Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.   (Colossians 3:16a)

12.  Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and practice these principles in all our affairs.

       Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.   (Galatians 6:1)  

Probable the biggest difference between Celebrate Recovery and AA is that Celebrate Recovery is open to ANYONE, not just those struggling with alcohol and/or drugs. The second difference is that they openly acknowledge and celebrate the fact that  freedom from these obsessive and destructive behaviors comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

 I understand the differences between the two programs. Before anyone is going to be ready to turn their lives over to the care of a Higher Power they need to be sober. I only wish every church was as accepting of sinners without accepting the sin as most recovery programs are. We understand that the foot of the cross is level ground.

You may not struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. But ALL of us struggle with something. Here is an excerpt from Rick Warren about the program of Celebrate Recovery.

“The Bible clearly states “all have sinned.”  It is my nature to sin, and it is yours too.  None of us is untainted.  Because of sin, we’ve all hurt ourselves, we’ve all hurt other people, and others have hurt us.  This means each of us need repentance and recovery in order to live our lives the way God intended.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the expression that “time heals all wounds.”   Unfortunately, it isn’t true.  As a pastor I frequently talk with people who are still carrying hurts from 30 or 40 years ago.  The truth is – time often makes things worse.  Wounds that are left untended fester and spread infection throughout your entire body.  Time only extends the pain if the problem isn’t dealt with.

What we need is a biblical and balanced program to help people overcome their hurts, habits and hang-ups. Celebrate Recovery is that program. Based on the actual words of Jesus rather than psychological theory, our recovery program is unique, and more effective in helping people change than anything else I’ve seen or heard of.  Over the years I’ve witnessed how the Holy Spirit has used this program to transform literally thousands of lives at Saddleback Church and help people grow toward full Christlike maturity.”

Ask the men down at Helping Up Mission, or the recovering alcoholic who is starting to see the miracles happen, or the church deacon who is struggling with porno, or the housewife addicted to soaps and Twizzlers, or……… You name it. It’s there. In your workplace, your church, maybe in your own family. Maybe it’s the pink elephant in the middle of the living room no one will talk about.

In AA they say that fish swim, birds fly, drunks drink. It’s their nature. We are all sinners whether we’ve been saved or not. Ask Paul. That’s why we need a savior. We are lost, broken, beat-up, dirty sinners. We don’t need a bath or a band-aid, we need open heart surgery! Take out the old heart. Put in a new one. One that is honest with ourselves, with God, and with each other.

This is a “we” program. God could have chosen any term he wanted to describe His church. He chose to compare it to a BODY with all its different parts. It takes all of us, those who know we’re sinners, those who are willing to turn their lives and wills over to the care and management of God, and yes, even those of us who think we have it all together. “We” are the church.

Tonight I went to a church service.  I’ve been going there for over two years on Thursday nights. A lady who had over 3 1/2 years of sobriety admitted to the church that she had 3 or 4 beers last week. It took a lot of courage and humility to admit to a group of your peers (that’s what we are in church, you know) that you screwed up. It hurts deep down inside to know that you didn’t have to take that drink, but you did. It was one of the best church services I’ve been to in a while because she admitted her slip, we forgave her, helped her to forgive herself, and reminded her that she didn’t have to live like that. She had already asked her Higher Power to forgive her (she calls Him God), now she needed to know that we forgave her so she could forgive herself and get up and keep on truckin’. It is a “we” program.  She came where she felt safe and loved and unjudged. Would she feel safe coming to a service at your church? Do you? I hope so.

Why do I celebrate recovery? Because it was God’s plan from jump street.

“He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

   God’s Spirit is on me;
      he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to
       the poor,
   Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
      recovery of sight to the blind,
   To set the burdened and battered free,
      to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”

 Luke 4:16-21 The Message


7 thoughts on “Why I celebrate recovery

  • August 1, 2008 at 6:25 am

    What a bleesing you have been both in my life and at CR on Monday. You are a living example that the 12 steps work if you live them. There is true healing through Christ for all who admit they have a problem and seek his help. Thanks for keeping it real. As always…One day at a time!

  • August 19, 2008 at 12:26 am

    Harvey you are just simply amazing with your writing and the messages you share with others…..I love you sweetie and look forward to every Monday night with you…..xoxox

    Your Sister in Christ,

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  • February 17, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    That is the stupidest thing ever “her higher power that she calls God”, what else are you gonna call him? That’s his name, unless you are a devil-worshiper.

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