Helping People Change Their Autopilot

We’re all tempted by something. It’s proof of being alive. If you’re not tempted, you’re not breathing.

So the question isn’t, “Are you tempted?” The question is, “What are you doing about it?”

The key to overcoming temptation isn’t to resist it. You need to replace temptation, not resist it. Whatever you resist, persists.

You might be thinking, “Doesn’t the Bible say, ‘resist temptation’?”

It doesn’t.

The Bible tells us to “resist the devil” (James 4:7 NIV). We’re to resist the tempter, not the temptation.

When I was a little kid, my mom would make chocolate chip cookies, usually before dinner. When I would go up to the table to look at them, my mom would say, “Don’t you eat those cookies, Ricky.”

“I’m not, Mom. I’m just smelling them.” Of course, right?

But those warm, freshly baked cookies had my attention.

That’s where a lot of people are when they come to Celebrate Recovery®. Something has their attention. Maybe it’s alcohol. Maybe it’s sex. Maybe it’s codependent behaviors. Maybe it’s shopping.

Or maybe it’s chocolate chip cookies.

And here’s the worst part: Whatever gets our attention, gets us. The Bible tells us in James 1 that whatever gets…

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Experiencing Joy through Freedom

By Laura

Hi, my name is Laura. I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, and for many years my struggle was with insecurity and low self-worth.

I was raised in a family where I felt as though I could never please anyone. My father was orphaned at 4 and raised in a Catholic orphanage during the Depression. My mother was an adult child of an alcoholic who had never dealt with any of her issues. This caused me to have a desperate need for approval and acceptance, setting up a pattern of bad behavior over the years. When I was 8 years old, I blindly went with a stranger in search of the acceptance and approval I so desperately wanted. Sadly, he stole my innocence from me.

For years I believed that what happened to me was my fault. I began a pattern of self-hatred, low self-worth, and insecurity.

I could not see the treasure God had created me to be. All I could see were shame and guilt. I was no longer pure and innocent. I felt tainted, ruined, and worthless.

I was angry with God and believed he could not…

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Pass It On

By Celebrate Recovery

Pass It On

By Sabrena Stolze, SE Regional Director

More than anything, I want others to know what Jesus Christ has given me through Celebrate Recovery® and what Celebrate Recovery has done in my marriage, my family, my relationships—my life.

When I meet someone new, I seek opportunities to bring up my recovery to introduce the ministry, hoping to plant a seed of curiosity they might explore. So how do I explain this amazing ministry to strangers? What do I want them to know? What might you share if you had the opportunity?

We could just go with the facts: It’s a Christ-centered recovery program that helps people heal from their hurts, hang-ups, and habits. That’s fantastic, after all! And this is certainly information I want people to receive. However, it goes so much deeper.

I want to share what it feels like when Christ loves people right where they are. He begins to heal them, transform them, restore them through steps, groups, relationships, love, grace, tools, accountability, transparency, and safety.

In one of Beth Moore’s studies, she described her childhood as having a foundation of pain, hurt, and struggle with moments of joy scattered throughout her…

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What's More Important for Your Church: Growth or Control?

The church has been on the front lines of some of the greatest humanitarian crises of the past few decades. The church has 2.3 billion people worldwide and is the biggest institution on the planet.

You might look at those numbers and ask yourself, “Why isn’t the church making a bigger impact in the world?”

I believe one reason is because the most creative people in our congregations must go outside of the church to start new ministries.

Why are they doing this?
Because the church wants to control them.

Instead of working within a church, many of these leaders form a 501(c)(3) to tackle the pressing issues of their communities. Today, there are tens of thousands of nonprofits in America doing what the church did for generations. We’ve structured these ministries right out of the church.

To broaden the ministry impact of your church, you will need to make the difficult choice to give up control.

You can choose control, or you can choose growth. But you can’t choose both.

Choosing growth over control means looking for ways to say yes when someone wants to start a new…

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Sharing the Dream

By Kay Warren

Sharing the Dream

I’ve noticed one common trait in couples who thrive in ministry over the long haul: the ability to see themselves as a team who shares a God-given dream. I believe this one factor can actually make or break the ministry God has called you to. Being a team sharing a dream can revitalize a marriage, a family, a local church, and ultimately the Kingdom of God.

The word team comes from the Old English and referred to a set of draft animals yoked together.  A more modern definition expands on the concept by adding “a number of people who act together as a group, either in a sport or in order to achieve something.”  Rick defines a team as two or more people who have common goals and also deep communications about those goals.

During seminary Rick began to dream of planting a church. It made me anxious to think about planting a church–the part about no money, no building, no members, no security or stability bothered me. Rick asked me to go with him to a church growth conference. It was at that conference that Rick’s heart for church planting…

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Four Habits that Help People Become Like Jesus (discipleship)

There’s no such thing as instant spiritual growth; it’s a gradual process of development. The Bible says, “So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding” (Hebrews 6:1 NLT).

Spiritual growth is a journey, and that means it takes time. Sure, we want to speed up the process, but we can’t. It’s a lifetime journey where God teaches us one lesson at a time to develop our character so we become more like Jesus.

At the core of this journey are disciplines that help us grow spiritually. These disciplines—or habits—aren’t new; they’ve been around for thousands of years.

We are the sum of our habits. Here’s the truth: You can preach the greatest sermons in the world, but your congregation won’t grow deeper spiritually until you help people learn how to practice spiritual habits on their own.

At Saddleback, we focus on spiritual habits in CLASS 201. We teach four specific habits that are essential to every growing Christian. These aren’t the only habits that help you grow spiritually, but they…

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Growing Stronger Through Worship

There’s a word in the Bible for focusing on God: worship. Some people think worship is a ritual—that it’s all about a regimens, rules, and regulations. But, it’s not, worship simply means focusing on God.

God wants our focus because he is focused on us.

Our ongoing focus on God is the only real antidote to the worries, frustrations, and stress which causes so much exhaustion in our churches. Our churches need the kind of strength only God can bring.

In The Purpose Driven Church, I wrote about how church growth was more than numerical growth. Actually, God wants every church to grow:

  • Stronger through worship
  • Warmer through fellowship
  • Deeper through discipleship
  • Broader through ministry, and
  • Larger through evangelism

The Bible gives us three ways we can help our congregations grow stronger through worship.

1. Provide an opportunity for vibrant corporate worship.

Let’s face it. Your people can listen to sermons, read Christian books, and sing along with the latest worship music. People can worship on their own, but worship is better when we do it together. All of those acts of devotion are good, but they aren’t enough to truly…

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How Voluntary Submission Changed My Life

By Robert

I was born to a 15-year-old girl who had been kicked out of her own home just before my birth. We lived in Austin, Texas, in a small duplex where my mother began doing drugs. I would bounce back and forth between my mom’s place and my dad’s house. The early years of my life were difficult times, filled with confusion and trauma. Over the course of those years, my aunt would take me into her room and molest me. I never told a soul.

Eventually, my mom met an older man who took us in and cared for us in a way that gave the illusion things were going to be okay. But it was just an illusion. My two younger brothers were born, and I felt as though my mom forgot I existed. So much of her attention was given to my brothers and my stepfather. I turned to my friends in the streets to seek refuge and meaning. I would be their entertainment by way of bullying, fighting, stealing, vandalizing, and setting things on fire. But at least they recognized my existence.

My stepfather…

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The Last One Standing

By Cheryl Luke, CR National Director for Cultural Communities

Do you remember playing team games as a child? Two leaders are chosen, and one by one, each leader picks team members. As the crowd decreases, those waiting to hear their name silently scream, “Pick me; I don’t want to be the last one standing!”

Picture the last individual waiting to be selected, their hands hanging at their sides. Looking down. Avoiding eye contact with the “chosen.” Realizing they’re the one that no one would select unless they had no other choice.

As a child, this can be devastating. As an adult, the sense of devastation is no less appalling.

In Judges 6:15, Gideon sees himself as insignificant and irrelevant among his people and family. He carries the weight of being the least of the least. Not only does Gideon feel inconsequential, but he also senses that his people have been completely abandoned by God. However, his perception couldn’t be further from the truth.

There’s more to Gideon than meets the eye! If you look at his situation from a place of sheer survival, one might think this guy is not doing much. He…

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7 Ways to Welcome Guests to Your Celebrate Recovery Ministry

I’ve said this over and over again at Saddleback.

Out of the 200 ministries we have at our church, Celebrate Recovery® is my favorite.

CR is all about changed lives—and that’s the biggest thrill of my life. If you want to know what makes Rick Warren tick, it’s pretty simple: changed lives.

All I need to do is hear one story of a life changed—a marriage saved, a teen who gets off drugs, or someone liberated from codependency—and I’m good for another month.

Changed lives keep me going.

I’ve never been around a ministry that sees so many lives changed by Christ as Celebrate Recovery. It’s a life-change machine—and I love it!

I know that God didn’t design the church to be a hotel for saints. He designed it to be a hospital for sinners. Your church’s Celebrate Recovery ministry demonstrates this on a weekly basis.

But if your Celebrate Recovery ministry is going to be a hospital for sinners and an incubator for changed lives, it needs to be a place where guests feel comfortable to attend.

Think about the first time you showed up at Celebrate Recovery. It…

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3 Ways to Keep Your Listener’s Attention as You Preach

Preaching is tougher than ever these days. For one thing, we can’t assume that people come to our churches with a basic understanding of the Bible like they may have in the past.

But it’s also tougher because of all the media we interact with on a daily basis—from television to email to social media. It seems like someone is always trying to sell us something or convince us about a new idea.

Just open your email, and you’ll likely see a full selection of pitches asking you to buy anything from lunch to a new fishing pole to a vacation. Turn on the television, and the pitching from commercials continues.

Because of this, when unchurched people hear you preach, they assume you’re trying to sell them something. They believe you’re trying to sell them on religion.

That’s not your purpose, but your listeners often don’t know that.

Every week you’re preaching to people who are more skeptical than ever before.

You used to be able to turn up the volume when you had a weak point and keep people’s interest that way. But you can’t do that…

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