How the 8 Principles Have Changed My Life

By Amy

My name is Amy, and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. I am in recovery for betrayal trauma, post-abortion guilt, shame and grief, and codependency.

I grew up in the ’60s and ’70s in a secular humanist home and culture. I was a hippie, joined a cult, and married an addict who was manipulative and abusive. On the outside I became a high-performing businesswoman, super mom, and community volunteer. On the inside I was a mess. My marriage fell apart, and I finally reached out and found Jesus. That was spring 1995, and that was the beginning of my recovery.

I spent seven years growing spiritually but still living life “my way.” Pain, betrayal, humiliation, and heartbreak were my inside reality. The “outside” Amy continued to run a manufacturing company where I excruciatingly perfected a mask that I had it all together. I thankfully accepted what I felt was God’s discipline and “got right” before him.

God in his mercy gave me another chance at a second marriage to a wonderful Christian man. After two years of my second marriage, with my outside life…

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A New Way of Life

By Sheila Knudson, NE Regional Director

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

My former way of life was pretty messed up and miserable. I lived in the vicious cycle of shame, guilt, fear, and anxiety. Different day, different misery! I often asked God, “Why are these things happening to me?” It wasn’t until I started working the 8 Principles of Celebrate Recovery, based on the Beatitudes, that I was able to turn the “Why?” into “What?” “What, Lord, do you want me to do with the circumstances before me?”

The 8 Principles have served as my roadmap for the last 14 years, allowing me to change my attitude. By doing this, by the grace of God, I have been able to live a fruitful and successful life in recovery. I believe and have seen with my own eyes that anyone who follows these principles, no matter their struggle, can live a successful life in recovery,…

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Why Celebrate Recovery Works

I’ve never kept this much of a secret: Celebrate Recovery® is my favorite ministry at Saddleback. We have lots of great ministries at our church, and I love all of them.

But hands down, Celebrate Recovery is my favorite. Why?

This ministry is one of the best expressions of what God wants the church to be. Celebrate Recovery is all about life change. People come into this ministry broken and battered, turn their lives over to Christ, leave behind the hurts, hang-ups, and habits, and discover a new purpose for living.

Then they become leaders in our church. Celebrate Recovery has produced more leaders at Saddleback Church than any other ministry.

I can give you a whole list of reasons why Celebrate Recovery works. It emphasizes personal responsibility. It calls for a commitment to Jesus Christ. It expresses healing and emphasizes growth within a community. All of those are critical reasons why God changes lives through Celebrate Recovery.

But I think the biggest reason so many people who enter the program find lasting change is because it’s based upon God’s Word. It’s based upon the actual words of Jesus.

That’s what makes Celebrate Recovery…

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How to Be Spiritually Ready for Easter

It’s just a few days before Easter. We’re always in a spiritual battle, but if you’re like me, this is when you’re particularly vulnerable to spiritual attack. Everything intensifies during Easter because Satan knows God is getting ready to do something incredible through your church.

So what do you do?

I’m guessing you’ve preached from Ephesians 6 on multiple occasions. I want to remind you that preparing for spiritual warfare isn’t just for the people we teach. As leaders in God’s family, we’re in the battle, too.

The Bible says in Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm” (NLT).

Let’s look at what we need to do in order to stand firm:

  • Belt of truth (6:14): This represents integrity, which means not compartmentalizing your life so you’re behaving one way in the pulpit and another way the rest of the week. If you…

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God Loves to Use Average People

“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me ” Philippians 4:13 (AMPC).

Growing up, my family moved a lot. My dad was a pastor, and it seemed like every few years we changed churches, homes, neighborhoods and schools. I was always the new kid.

By temperament, I’m an introvert, and regular upheaval to routine and familiarity only increased my sense of being on the outside, of not fitting in.

To make things worse, I saw myself as just an average person; there was nothing special about me. Actually, I felt average in every way — so ordinary. I wasn’t ugly, but I wasn’t beautiful. I could play the piano, but I wasn’t great. I did OK in school, but I don’t think I ever made the honor roll even though I tried hard. I had a few good friends, but I was certainly never one of the “cool” kids.

By the time I reached college, I was fairly certain that although I loved God with…

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Why You Need to Think Like a Fish

You can’t be a good fisherman unless you learn to think like a fish. You need to learn their habits, preferences, and feeding patterns if you want to catch them. Certain fish like smooth, still waters. Others like the rushing rivers. Certain fish are bottom-feeders. Others like to hide among the rocks. If you don’t understand the patterns of the fish you’re trying to catch, you’re wasting your time.

The same is true when you’re trying to reach people with the Gospel. Jesus gives us a great example of someone thinking like a fish.

The Bible says in Luke 6:8, “Jesus knew what they were thinking” (GW). In fact, multiple times in Scripture we read that Jesus knew what people were thinking.

But here’s the problem: The longer you are a Christian, the less you think like an unbeliever. I don’t think like a non-Christian; I think like a Christian. In fact, I think like a pastor. That’s even worse! It’s two steps removed from the people I want to reach.

You can tell just how differently pastors think than spiritually lost people when you look at church…

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Preaching For a Decision this Easter!

Your Easter sermon this year will come down to two words: Will you?

You’ll likely have more unchurched guests at Easter than at any worship service all year long. They’ll come because their mother invited them to dinner, and church is a prerequisite. They’ll come because it’s a cultural tradition. Or they’ll come because you sent them an invitation.

Regardless of why guests show up for Easter, it’s a great opportunity to share the Gospel with them.

That’s why those two words matter.

Will you? Will you make the decision to follow Jesus?

Frankly, every sermon comes down to the words “Will you?” Preaching that leads to life change enlightens the mind, engages the emotions, and challenges the will.

Many pastors embrace the need to enlighten the mind and engage the emotions, but they avoid challenging the will. You can’t preach for a decision unless you’re willing to stand on the Word of God and humbly yet forcibly challenge people.

You need to ask people to make a decision. How do you do that? Let me give you six ways I ask for a specific decision, particularly the decision to follow Jesus:

  1. Use…

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By Scott

After many sobriety attempts from drug and alcohol addiction, my official recovery journey started December 26, 1993. I entered an addiction treatment center in my community that day to see if I could make this new lifestyle finally stick. And it did. I recently celebrated 25 years of clean and sober living! Praise God!

Early on in my recovery, I realized I had a lot of other stuff I needed to address—not material stuff, but emotional, spiritual, and psychological stuff. I was filled with anger and resentment, along with an unhealthy addiction to pornography, which was also getting in the way of living my life functionally.

I had been introduced to the secular 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) prior to this time. I only appeared at meetings to try and understand what 12-step work was all about. I wasn’t interested, and it didn’t stick. During my treatment stay, though, I was challenged with finding a sponsor before being released. I started attending meetings again, and after finding a sponsor, I really started working the 12 steps for the first time.

Steps 2 and 3 were a struggle for me spiritually. However, while…

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By Scott Kemp – Celebrate Recovery North Central Regional Director

“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills” (Deuteronomy 8:7 NLT).

I get excited about springtime. The sun gets warmer and flowers begin to poke through the soil that’s been loosened by the cold, snowy winter. An inventory of tasks begins to take shape in the form of window and screen cleaning, sweeping out the grit from the garage floor, touchup painting, and moving lawn furniture out to the patio. All taking place in preparation for a fresh, new season. Exciting, right?

The fourth step—a personal inventory—is a little bit like spring-cleaning because it can prepare us for a fresh, new season!

However, for many people, it’s their least favorite step. It involves the things we don’t want to do: Face our past, our mistakes, our scary thoughts, our emotions, and our current problems. Though it can be scary, it’s still one of the most important steps in recovery.

Addiction and compulsive behavior are merely symptoms of underlying inner conflict. While working a recovery program,…

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If you only measured people’s spiritual health by their social media accounts, you’d think growth was always easy and seamless. Think of all the times you see photos of open Bibles, pious quotes, and snappy theological one-liners in your Instagram feed.

But we all know that’s not the whole story. Spiritual growth isn’t smooth. Sometimes we grow by leaps and bounds. Other times we struggle. We fall back into old patterns.

In the language of recovery, we call it a relapse. The alcoholic goes back to the bottle. The overeater gains the weight back. The gambler goes back to the casino. The workaholic fills up his schedule again. We tend to repeat the patterns of our past and slip back into old hurts, hang-ups, and habits.

In fact, the longer you’re a part of Celebrate Recovery®, the more you begin to see relapse patterns in your own life and in the lives of others.

First, you get complacent and comfortable with short-term gains and think you don’t really need to stay involved in recovery. Then you get confused and wonder whether your original hurts, hang-ups, and habits, were really all that bad. So you compromise…

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How to Focus Your Ministry Like Jesus Did

Your ministry will be shaped by either your priorities or your pressures.

If you don’t decide what’s really important in your ministry, you’ll have people lining up to do it for you. You know as well as I do that many people in our churches have lots of ideas for our ministries. Without a sense of focus, you’ll be pressured to do all kinds of things in your ministry, regardless of whether it’s what God wants you to do.

You must line up your priorities by God’s standards.

It’s like light. When you concentrate light, it has the power to burn. Light defused has no power at all, but if you focus it under a magnifying glass you can burn grass. If you concentrate it even more, it becomes a laser that cuts steel.

When you learn to concentrate your ministry, you’ll be more effective.

But you don’t just need a to-do list. You also need a not-to-do list. Why? Because effective ministry means knowing what you personally are and are not called to do. The more you concentrate your life, the more your life will have impact.

How Jesus…

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Easter services are among the most important events at your church each year. You not only celebrate the resurrection of Christ, but you also have one of the best opportunities all year to reach new people.

In chapter 14 of The Purpose Driven Church, I shared some ideas on how you can improve the guest experience at your church. With Easter coming up, I’ve put together this checklist to help you prepare for the big day.

Now is the time to get started!

  • Include a map of your church on all advertising. A small map can provide clarity, especially if mapping apps can’t locate your church accurately.
  • Create a system to give guests the best parking spots. At Saddleback, we have a sign at our property entrance encouraging guests to turn on their headlights if they want a reserved parking spot. Then our parking team directs them to spots near the worship center.
  • Make sure you have clear signage. Show people how to find the most important places on your campus, including restrooms, information tables, coffee/snacks, kids ministry, and student ministry.
  • Prepare greeters to welcome your guests. The first…

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