Archives For Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery, founded by John Baker and Rick Warren at Saddleback Church, is now used in over 25,000 churches as a Christ-centered recovery ministry, helping people recover from their deepest hurts, hang-ups, and habits!

Change Requires New Thinking

“Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” Ephesians 4:23 (NLT)

The battle to change your life begins in your mind. If you want to change your behavior, you must start with your thoughts and attitudes.

The renewal of your mind is related to the word “repentance.” Repentance is a negative word for some people. They think of a guy on a street corner, holding a sign—“Repent! The world’s about to end.”

Repentance is a good thing. It does not begin with your actions. It begins with learning to think differently. “Repent” simply means to make a mental U-turn. It’s something that starts with your mind, not with your behavior. Changing the way you think will change the way you act.

This means turning from guilt to forgiveness, from purposelessness to purpose, from no hope to new hope, from frustration to freedom, from darkness to light, from hell to heaven, from hatred to love.

Repentance also changes the way you think about God. He’s not mad at you; he’s mad about you! It changes the way you think about yourself, your spouse, your kids, your loved ones, and how you think about your past, present,…

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There Is Hope for You

By Lacey

My name is Lacey. I’m 28 years old. I have four children, and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ.

I was molested when I was 6 years old. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I knew it wasn’t right. Growing up, I tried everything to escape how I felt on the inside, while my mom had no idea how to raise my siblings and me.

I started sneaking out at 12 years old. My friends and I would steal four-wheelers or cars to ride around the back roads, smoke weed, and get drunk. One time, an old friend of mine and I took a minivan and skipped three states. I ended up in a juvenile detention center. My mom became my best friend and started smoking weed and drinking with me. I started selling crack and doing cocaine at age 13. My best friend at the time overdosed and died. It rocked my world. I knew that should have been me.

I moved to Chicago to try and start fresh. I was only there for two years when I made my way back to drugs. I…

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New Beginnings

By Celebrate Recovery

New Beginnings

By Mary Owen, National Training Coach

This is what newcomers hear when they attend Celebrate Recovery® for the first time:

“If this is your first time to Celebrate Recovery, welcome to our forever family. It’s not so important why you’re here. What is important is that you’re here. Keep coming back!”

My husband and I have a 10-year-old grandson who is learning how to play the upright bass. His conductor teaches at three schools, so he decided to combine all of them to perform at one concert. The 115 children had never played as a group before this concert.

It was amazing to hear students from different backgrounds with different personalities, who were playing together for the first time, come together and make music.

The conductor explained that the most important lessons he teaches his students are to start together, stay together, and finish together. That’s how they were able to make such beautiful music together!

Just like in learning an instrument and playing with others, this can work in our lives, too!

Start together.

Are you struggling with a hurt, hang-up, or habit? Are you tired of trying to fight your battles alone? If you…

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3 Lessons We Can Learn from a Difficult Holiday Season

I know the Christmas season isn’t particularly merry for many people. When December rolls around, you’re not thinking of Christmas carols, holiday gatherings, and Christmas Eve worship services. Instead, your mind is on family members who are gone and on holiday disappointments.

Many also live in places where it’s cold and dark in December, which likely makes the problem worse.

Pain is a part of life, and holiday lights and eggnog can’t always push it away. I don’t know what the source of your holiday pain is, but I know it’s real and it hurts.

I also know God can turn your pain this holiday season into benefits. Re-read that last sentence. Your pain hurts—badly, but it doesn’t need to have the last word.

Paul writes about the benefits of our struggles in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11. No, he wasn’t facing a difficult Christmas season. Paul was facing persecution for his commitment to preach the Good News about Jesus regardless of the consequences. Here are three benefits of our struggles, according to Paul in that passage.

God will use your pain to teach you to trust him.

You’ll never…

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Looking Beyond the Horizon of Sorrow

By Gordon

I’m a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with independence and pride. My name is Gordon.

In the state of consciousness that comes just after waking from a fitful slumber, that’s when I reach out in hopes to physically connect with my wife in some way. Just to touch her arm as I had done for 44 years.

But as all lives eventually end, hers has come to a close, at least here in this realm. Until all things are made new by the One who restores all things broken, I will never see her, touch her, or hear her voice.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease began its filthy work by robbing her of memories and words—nouns and names. This malevolent thief did not relent until there was nothing left of who she was. And then it took her last breath away.

I’ve often wondered, “Was I angry with God about this profound loss? Am I still angry?”

What I will tell you is this—in the quiet times, in the darkness of the night when all I could see was a faint glimmer of light from the street lamp, when all I…

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God Is Ready to Rescue You

By Mac Owen, National Director, Celebrate Recovery®

In one of the toughest times of my life, I was given a Bible by my sweet wife. She had placed a marker in this Bible with the words, “Please read this chapter.” It was Psalm 18, written by David, a man who would become known as someone after God’s own heart. David suffered many hardships in his life but was always quick to thank God for delivering him through the hard times. He knew where his hope came from.

This chapter has become a prescription for me. This step-by-step plan helps me get back on the right track when I’m losing hope.

In this chapter, I see three things David does and three things God does in response.

  1. David starts with praise. He calls God his strength, his rock, his fortress, his deliverer, his refuge, his shield, and his stronghold. (Verses 1-2)
  2. David remembers God’s promise. When David calls on the Father, the Creator of the cosmos, he is saved from his enemies. (Verse 3)
  3. David shares his predicament with God. David is at a point where everything seems hopeless, even to…

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God Turns Our Mess into a Message

By Hannah

Hello, my name is Hannah. I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, and I struggle with codependency. I am 29 years old. I was born in Meridian, Mississippi. I grew up in a loving but divided home. My parents divorced when I was 4 or 5. As a result, I have a blended family of half- and step-siblings who are so special to me. I have fond memories of my childhood—playing with my siblings, family vacations, spending time together on the holidays, church involvement, and more.

As I reached my pre-teen years, I received devastating news. The summer before sixth grade, I was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome. Turner Syndrome affects the reproductive system in women, and the doctor informed me that having children would be very difficult and possibly dangerous. I did not have some of the other health complications and physical characteristics that often come with Turner Syndrome, so I was diagnosed at an older age than most women who have it. Although I was heartbroken, I held on to gratitude for being in good health…

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Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

Do you need a miracle in your life?

If so, be grateful.

Gratitude is a miracle-creating attitude. It has the power to transform seemingly unsolvable situations. When you thank and praise God in the midst of a problem, he will do a miracle and turn things around.

Acts 16 demonstrates the power of gratitude. Paul and Silas had gone to Philippi to preach and to teach, but they weren’t well-received. In fact, the crowd stoned them, beat them, and threw them into prison.

At midnight, in the middle of the dark, damp, cold prison, Paul and Silas began praising God and singing songs of thanksgiving.

That’s when God did a miracle. He sent an earthquake that shook the whole prison. The prison cell doors opened up, and all the chains and shackles on every prisoner came unbound. Freedom came through thanksgiving.

I don’t know what kind of freedom you need. I have no idea what kind of miracle you’re asking God for, but I know gratitude is the key. Gratitude will do miracles in your life as it releases the power of God. Instead of complaining about your problems, start counting your blessings.


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Gratitude: The Sustaining Power of Recovery

By Donna Yearsin, National Celebration Place Director

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him” (Psalm 28:7 NIV).

Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. To truly show and live out gratitude requires me to step outside of myself and acknowledge the selfless gifts of others in my life, especially the gifts of God. Sounds easy enough, right? In my experience, living out gratitude is much harder than it sounds.

When things are going well, I tend to take people and their goodness to me for granted. On days that are hard, when I don’t understand why tough things are happening to me, I get so caught up trying to figure things out that a grateful heart is the last thing on my mind. I would rather focus all my energy on navigating my circumstances.

Last December, I found myself in the middle of something I could not figure out on my own. I was in a downward…

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The Most Powerful Ministry at Saddleback Church

Do you want to see God change lives through your church?

Since the day I started Saddleback, that’s been my prayer for the church. I’m addicted to changed lives; it’s the main reason Saddleback has continued to grow all of these years. I’ve never been excited about the numbers. In fact, more people means more headaches and more crises, but it’s worth it because it also means more changed lives.

In 1 Corinthians 16:15, Paul writes that the household of Stephanas has “addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (KJV). That’s a good cause to be addicted to. God wants to heal broken, messed-up lives—and he wants to use us in the process.

No ministry, in the history of our church, has changed lives more than Celebrate Recovery®. God works powerfully through this ministry!

Not only does it produce life-change, it’s a leadership “factory” for our church. When I choose to share a testimony during our weekend services, Celebrate Recovery is the first place I look. Why? Because I know I can depend on finding stories of life-change in that ministry.

The Story of Celebrate Recovery


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You’ll never have a strong relationship without conflict. It’s impossible. Open and frank conversations are a bridge every relationship must cross to reach relational depth.

Proverbs 24:26 says, “An honest answer is a sign of true friendship” (GNT). Being candid and connected go together; you can’t have one without the other. That’s why a true friend doesn’t use flattery. Empty encouragement is a sign of a manipulator, not of someone who sincerely cares about you.

It sounds counterintuitive, but all healthy relationships must allow for the opportunity to express frustration and anger. Out-of-control anger isn’t good, but anger is part of a loving relationship. If you don’t get angry, you don’t care. If you don’t care, you don’t love.

Many people are too afraid of showing any anger in their relationships. They run from conflict. As a result, they’re always masking the issues and refusing to deal with them. That may lead to a 20-year-old friendship with hidden conflict that could have been resolved 10 years ago.

Going through the tunnel of conflict

You won’t have a genuine friendship without going through what I call “the tunnel of conflict.” This truth relates to your marriage, friendships,…

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Breaking Free from Unhealthy Cycles

By Rodney and Carol Holmstrom

Coming into marriage, we brought in our individual hurts from the past. We both had low self-esteem and a dysfunctional view on what a family was supposed to look like. We bought into the lie that marriage would fix all our problems; in reality, it only amplified the issues we needed to face.

When things got tough due to my (Rodney) core beliefs that “I am not enough” resonating in my heart, I slipped into the protection of performance and proving to the world that I was enough. As a result, I hid myself in my work and became a workaholic. This caused an emotional separation between my wife and me. My false understanding of my identity and my low self-esteem affected how I treated her. One day, I came home to an empty house—my wife had left me, and we were on the brink of divorce. There had been so much damage done, I thought that there was no hope for reconciliation, much less a healthy marriage.

I (Carol) retreated behind my familiar emotional walls and masks. Within three…

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