Archives For Recovery

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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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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Do you have a wound that won’t heal?

“A wound that has been present for more than six weeks is considered a chronic wound and may need special treatment,” according to Dr. Prasad Kilaru, a plastic surgeon and director of the Washington Center for Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine.

beauty girl cryHave you ever had a cut that required stitches? Have you ever had a surgery of any kind? Deep cuts and surgical procedures leave wounds that often require stitches. Eventually the stitches are removed and the pain goes away. What do you do about wounds you can’t see? How do you begin to stitch emotional wounds embedded deep within the recesses of one’s heart?

Hidden wounds are memories that hurt

Hidden Wounds are Memories That Hurt

Hidden wounds are the recollections from your past that when you think about them, they still cause pain in your life. Some define them as memories of abandonment. Some have memories of abuse. Some even have memories of ridicule, criticism or hatred.

Hidden wounds come from prejudices in society. They come from family members (they are the ones that hurt the most). Sometimes they come from parents, our children, our siblings, and…

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These two volumes advocate the views of the Christian Counseling Coalition, which sets out to “help us regain our confidence in God’s Word as sufficient to address the real life issues that we face today.” Mr. Kellemen, who authored Gospel-Centered Counseling and is the editor of Scripture and Counseling, is the Executive Director of that organization.

Mr. Kellemen, as well as the other authors represented here, is concerned that the church has unwisely turned over the care of souls to professionals outside the church. They contend that this capitulation to the philosophies and methodologies of modern psychology has at its root a lack of confidence in the sufficiency of scripture to provide what is necessary for life and godliness. While it is not denied that secular psychology produces research and ideas that can be valuable to the church, it is argued that it is important to recognize that many of the approaches developed by modern psychology rest on assumptions that contradict Christian teaching. As a result, while Christian counselors almost always claim to be integrating psychological insights with biblical Christianity, one often finds inundation rather than integration. With many well-meaning…

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Helping Hands

It’s a moment many Christians have had to face: a family member’s announcement that he or she is gay.

Amid feelings of sorrow, guilt, fear and anger that families may experience surrounding such an announcement, biblical counseling experts say believers must have hope and realize that Jesus always changes those who come to Him in repentance and faith.

The “lie” that “change is impossible” for people who experience same-sex attraction “is an offense against the Gospel because change is Jesus’ gig,” Heath Lambert, assistant professor of biblical counseling at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told Baptist Press. “We need to be infusing people with hope. We need to be infusing them with the deep conviction that Jesus has been changing people for 2,000 years and He will change you if you have faith in Him.”

Lambert; John Babler, associate professor of counseling at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Sam Williams, professor of counseling at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, suggested several ways Christians can help family members struggling with same-sex attraction.

Develop a culture of honesty where family members can confess their sins and ask for help.

“In view of the mercy of God, if there is…

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Emergency Room

Some churches don’t want a recovery ministry – a ministry that specializes in helping people deal with their addictions and pain – because of the messes they’d have to get involved in. That’s tragic. Most churches in this category are less than a generation from their graves because they’ve forsaken the ministry of Jesus.

Other churches get that reaching broken, messy people matters and they’ve launched recovery ministries to reach out to people with hurts, habits, and hang-ups. But often, the recovery ministry is the part of the church we’re happy to have on the side while hoping the broken, messy people don’t find their way on stage or into the mainstream of our leadership. Recovery ministry is seen as a good cause and an evangelistic tool, but perhaps little more.

There is a third category of churches rising up. These churches understand that we are ALL broken by sin, we ALL make messes, and recovery is something we ALL desperately need. These churches may or may not have an organized program for recovery, but they’ve determined to BE a recovery ministry from Sunday morning to small groups to staff and leadership…

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“Oh God, by your name, save me … The Lord sustains my life.”

Harrison Odjeba Okene, is an early riser.  At 4:30 AM, one May morning, Harrison was getting a jump on his day as a tugboat cook on the Jascon 4, when his life turned into one of the great stories of deliverance.

The Jascon 4, one of three tugs hauling an oil laden tanker out to sea through Nigeria’s River Delta, with 11 crew, lurched, keeled over and sank into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, coming to rest in 100 feet of water.

God, for your sake, help me! Use your influence to clear me. Listen, God—I’m desperate. Don’t be too busy to hear me. Psalm 54:1, 2 MSG

Quickly coming to grips with an emergency he couldn’t describe but knew he had to survive, Harrison freed himself from the confined space, outlasting the thrashing he took from the debris of a sinking ship as he found a place where he could better breath.  He grabbed two flashlights, his Bible, and a bottle of soda to sustain himself.  And he started to pray.

Not indiscriminate…

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Consider this predicament.  Your boss, the company CEO, has given you a high-level project.  After a few months on the job you discover that your new responsibilities involve falsifying records.  Not only that, but it appears your boss has been trying to cover up questionable accounting practices.  When you confront the CEO, he makes it clear that your career will be over if you share his secret.  He makes a strong argument that you have much more to lose than gain by going public. Then he demands your silence, asserting his authority as your supervisor to ensure you will comply.

Out of respect for his position of authority do you keep his secret? Even if means you are putting yourself at risk, now that you are knowledgeable of a crime but choosing not to report.

Now read this scenario.  Mary’s husband Jim hasn’t been himself for months – moody, short-tempered, abrupt.  One night, Mary wakes up and Jim is not there.  When she walks downstairs, the reflection of the computer screen in the dining room mirror tells the story.  Jim says he is sorry and…

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