Archives For Recovery

Parent and Child

One of the most important things we can do for our children is to teach them that God loves them unconditionally.

It’s extremely important that we teach our kids that they are loved, not because they earned our love or are good enough to be loved, but that they’re loved because God put them into our families to be loved.

This is hard for many of us because we have had a hard time receiving God’s unconditional love ourselves. God wants us to spend some time with him, letting him love us, and in turn giving that unconditional love to our kids.

How can we show God’s unconditional love to our families? Here are two practical ways:

1. Forgive your kids as God forgives you.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ” (NCV).

I love that God forgives me, but I’m not always ready to give that same kind of forgiveness to other people. Parenting requires massive doses of forgiveness. You’re in a position all the time to forgive your kids for things that they do.

2. Never give up on your kids.

We’re told in 1 Corinthians 13:7a,…

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RebelAs a pastor, more than other people, I see the hurt and the heartbreak that happens in a family when a child makes rebellious and destructive decisions. And thankfully, there’s a story in the Bible that offers us a lot of insight.

What has often been called “the story of the prodigal son” is really a picture of how God shows his holiness, his goodness, and his kindness to his children — each son in this story was rebellious in his own way. Some of the insights we learn about parenting from this story might surprise you.

The story, found in Luke 15:11-32, unfolds in three stages.

Stage 1: Rebellion.

Beginning in verse 11, “Jesus said, `There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.'”

Stage one is rebellion. In every parent-child relationship, there’s going to be a struggle. It’s a struggle for control, a power struggle.

At birth, as a parent, you are…

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It’s not the conventional road to the pastorate.

“I wouldn’t wish story on anyone, but I wouldn’t change anything about it, either,” said Adam Wiggins, campus pastor of The Creek, a new campus of First Baptist Church of Orange Park, Fla., which is just outside of Jacksonville.

Wiggins’ path to the pulpit has been complicated, but it has ultimately landed him on staff with FBC Orange Park leading the church’s newest effort to minister to an unreached community in Middleburg.

But his most notable stops, and the ones that set him apart from so many other pastors, are the ones in prison.

As a young child, Wiggins learned a lot about alcohol and drugs from his father, who was addicted to both, yet still managed to hold down a job and provide for his family. Wiggins didn’t see enough negatives to dissuade him from drinking and using drugs at a young age, and the consequences of that lifestyle led to a few arrests and…

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Christmastime is, for the most part, an enjoyable season for most people. But for many of us, it’s a season of painful memories, depression, and loneliness. Sometimes we choose to isolate ourselves from others, and sometimes we face loneliness through no fault of our own.

Loneliness is so painful that people will try anything to relieve it. We medicate with drugs, alcohol, sexual promiscuity, pornography, and other addictive behaviors. Loneliness can be especially dangerous to people in recovery.

So how do you deal with loneliness? How do you let go of it?

1. Utilize your time well

Make the best of a bad situation. Resist the temptation to do nothing. If life gives you a lemon, make lemonade. Make the most of what you’ve got. Loneliness tends to paralyze. Think of a creative way to take advantage of the situation.

While we should be careful not to medicate with busyness, it is important to be good stewards of the time we spend alone. We’re dangerous when we’re bored and we get discouraged when we aren’t using our time in a purposeful way.

2. Minimize the hurt

Don’t ignore it, but don’t rehearse it either. Deal with your hurt in…

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“Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”  Jeremiah 33:3

There was a man walking along on a cold winter day.  Suddenly hitting a patch of black ice, he fell and then bam! He wasn’t expecting this but found himself on the ground, cold, wet, humiliated and seemingly alone. He cut his elbow and was bleeding quite a bit. He wanted to go crawl into a hole and hide. His first thought was complete embarrassment for what had happened and wondered if anyone had seen him fall so abruptly. Before he realized it, a stranger was kneeling by him to grab his arm, helping him back to his feet. He felt embarrassed by the situation.  However, the stranger wasn’t focused on that at all. Instead he focused on showing love and compassion while making sure he was okay. He knew he was hurting and came alongside him, helping him mend his wounds.

This story has me thinking about my brothers and sisters struggling with mental health issues. Some may struggle with depression, anger, anxiety or other issues that make it difficult…

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Hello, my name is Nate. I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with addiction and mental health issues.

My parents did a great job of raising four boys in a loving home.  But when I was 10, my father, a pastor, felt called to serve the Lord in a small town. It was a three-hour drive from Minneapolis, MN, where I had grown up. In that three-hour drive I might as well have stepped into another world. My 5th grade class in Minneapolis had a higher population than the entire Wisconsin town.

I felt isolated. I tried to adapt but the emotional stress was too much for my body. I was missing school quite a bit. And depression set in. Looking back at all of this it was obvious to recognize what was going on, but at the time, people didn’t talk about mental health. I was just a kid, having kid issues.

Over the next couple of years I developed unhealthy coping skills. I didn’t let people in. I tried to hide pain and anger behind humor. Until, that is, I discovered that if I misbehaved I got noticed. It didn’t come out…

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dont-give-up

Growing up, I had a relatively normal childhood. I grew up in the church and I remember committing my life to Jesus when I was just five years old. My school years were fun, and in high school I enjoyed being on the wrestling team.

In the fall of 1991, I started attending a local Christian university. But by the spring of 1992, things rapidly deteriorated in my life. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, struggled with hallucinations (both visual and auditory), and I was troubled with delusions. These are classic symptoms of the disease.

I still remember my first psychotic break. Over a full week, my mind became increasingly filled with irrational beliefs — both paranoid and grandiose. I began to see and hear things that weren’t real, but they sure felt real to me. My illness came to a pinnacle where I felt that if I killed myself, God would somehow be glorified. My plan was simple: I’d use my dad’s gun underneath his mattress to end my life.

By God’s grace, my wrestling buddies intercepted me as I was headed to carry out my plan. A struggle ensued, but…

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Secrets stink. Secrets ruin families and bring nations to the fields of war. Consider the convoluted mess created around Edward Snowden, or the carnage being witnessed by Josh Duggar’s loved ones, or the wreckage in the lives of little children victimized by Jared Fogle. Secrets are dangerous, sometimes deadly things.

And the worst part of it is… we all have them. We hide them. We protect them because of one of our deepest, darkest fears – exposure. Nothing is more painful, more shame-inducing, more frightening to us than being fully, completely known.

Obviously, not everyone, and probably very few people (proportionally speaking) carry the kind of scandalous secrets held by these whose lives have been flayed open by the media. But all of us carry around in the most obscure nooks and crannies of our hearts the things we hope no one discovers. Ever.

Secrets can be completely innocent while still causing extreme shame, such as having been abused or raped. Or they can be heinous and sinister, such as having been the abuser. Addictions to sex or pornography, gambling, drugs and alcohol thrive off the parasitic energy of secrecy. And for all of us who carry them, the…

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talkopenly

As I see the widespread presence and pain of mental illness, another reality confronts me: oftentimes Christians struggle with talking about and understanding mental illness.

There are three points that I want to lay out to encourage all of us to confront effectively the stigma and issues of mental illness. More importantly, let’s seek training to care for our brothers, sisters, and even ourselves who suffer with these challenges.

We struggle with how to struggle

The first glaring issue is that Christians struggle with how to struggle with mental illness. In many ways, the church, the supposed haven for sufferers, is not a safe place for those who struggle with mental illness.

Throughout church history, people have written about the “dark times” and how they trusted the Lord in the midst of a trial. But in our churches today, we often feel like we can’t talk about our problems, and so we can’t effectively deal with our suffering.

This truth stretches from the top down. The sad reality of our present church culture is that if a pastor were to talk about the mental illness with which they’re struggling,…

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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 needs repentance and recovery in order to live our lives the way God intended.

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

Based on the actual words of Jesus rather than psychological theory, this recovery program is 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 to help people grow toward full Christ-like maturity.

Most people are familiar with the classic 12-step program of AA and other groups. While undoubtedly…

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Mental Health Gathering

Half of all adults will develop mental illness in their lifetime…
But there’s HOPE.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 50% of adults will develop depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, PTSD, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, or some other mental illness in their lifetime. This means that someone you know and love is affected by mental illness. This staggering reality can feel daunting, but there is HOPE for mental health.

You are invited to share the HOPE by participating in The Gathering on Mental Health and The Church on October 7-9, 2015 at Saddleback Church. The Gathering will be packed with practical help and hope for individuals affected by mental illness, their loved ones, church leaders, and mental health professionals.

The Gathering will feature over 40 speakers, including best-selling author Sheila Walsh, who will share her story of finding hope in mental illness, United States Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy, and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, who founded the Kennedy Forum out of his experience with substance abuse and mental illness. Other speakers will offer presentations on the intersection of mental illness and veterans, substance abuse, law enforcement,…

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Through a Mans EyesTwenty years ago, people in the church didn’t talk about porn, or visual temptations in general.  Today, churches across America have Celebrate Recovery groups, men’s small groups that study Every Man’s Battle, and experienced counselors with specialized training.  You as pastors talk to men during Sunday morning worship services about the importance of discipline and purity in their thought lives, and every man intimately understands the challenge being laid before him.

The problem is: most of the women don’t.  And that is one reason why all our effort in the church – as great as it is — hasn’t yet made a systemic difference to eradicating the problem of porn in the church.  A difference to individuals, yes; A sea change for the Body of Christ as a whole, no.

We need to enlist the understanding of women, if we are going to support men.

In extensive research over the last thirteen years, I’ve seen that there is literally no other single topic that so deeply affects many millions of men, that so many millions of women are completely blind to.  Yes, we women know that “men are visual”… but we…

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