Archives For Ministry

These articles are written to encourage and equip you and your people to serve others by meeting needs in love.

Topics include: leadership, preaching, vision, SHAPE, building ministry teams, developing leaders, becoming Purpose Driven, mental health, kids, students, etc.

“The tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A great forest can be set on fire by one tiny spark. The tongue . . . can turn our whole lives into a blazing flame of destruction and disaster.”

James 3:5-6 (TLB)

When we don’t have self-control in our life, we’re vulnerable to all kinds of problems.

Anything out of control in your life can harm other people and damage your close relationships. Uncontrolled anger, addiction, spending, or ambition can create enormous problems. But the greatest destroyer of relationships is an uncontrolled tongue.

The average person has 30 conversations a day. That means you will spend one-fifth of your life talking. At some point, your mouth will probably get you into trouble.

James compares the tongue to a tiny spark because that’s all that is needed to create a great forest fire. A careless word can ignite your relationships and make them all go up in smoke.

Have you ever met a verbal arsonist?

Their words are dangerous. They use words of discouragement and criticism. Gossip is especially destructive because it spreads like an airborne virus. Careless words have destroyed…

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By Sarah Stanton, Celebrate Recovery National Director of Mental Health

Did you know that May is Mental Health Awareness Month? In 2016, Celebrate Recovery started a Mental Health Initiative. Seven years later, CR continues to intentionally create safety in our local ministries for those working through mental health challenges.

The church hasn’t always known what to do or even wanted to help “those” people. But WE are those people. Mental health, like physical health, is something that we all have. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.

Here’s your opportunity to take a quick mental health check-up. How is your emotional, psychological, and social well-being? Do you need a tune-up? Do you need a safe person to share this with? Do you have a safe place to share this in?

Fear and anxiety are both something I’ve wrestled with. I have wrestled with it since I was a little girl. I was worrying about the time, the thoughts, and opinions of others, loved ones and their salvation, and my girls in this current climate. You name it; I’ve probably felt anxious about it.

Something I’m learning is that perfect peace is not found in…

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If you drive onto the Saddleback Church campus from the back, you’ll have to pass over a bridge. It’s $6 million of concrete that is a nice symbol for our community.

It’s a statement to our community that nothing will keep us from reaching out to people. Saddleback wants to be a bridge to our neighbors.

All churches should be about building bridges. We build bridges between God and people. If you’re a preacher, it’s what God has called you to do. As preachers, we build bridges that connect the ancient text of the Bible with our contemporary audience. 

Unfortunately, many pastors fall off one of the two edges of that bridge. Some like to focus their messages on the here and now. They are more cultural commentators than preachers. Their sermons don’t have enough Scripture in them to impact the lives of their congregation. They tend to slip into motivational speeches and pop psychology. 

Other preachers fall off the other side. They’ll go on and on about biblical background and ancient world customs and leave little time for real-world applications. They are more like…

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By Pastor Johnny Baker, Pastor and Global Executive Director

“If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.”

Mark 5:28 (NIV)

When I first got into recovery, I thought of it as a spectator sport. I figured if I hung around enough, recovery would kind of just happen to me. Recovery by osmosis, I guess. But the first three lines of the Serenity Prayer showed me pretty quickly that this was not the case.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” So there are things I can’t do, and there are things I can. How am I supposed to know which is which?

I love to pray and ask God for his direction and guidance. I will often ask God what I should do in a particular situation, or sometimes, just in life in general. I know that many of us could give a testimony of a time he answered that prayer and showed us what to do. As good as it feels to seek God in these situations, there is…

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“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life . . . The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

1 Kings 19:3, 11 (NIV)

When Elijah was emotionally exhausted, God led him to do three things to help him recover—things that will also help you recover when you’re near burnout.

Rest your body. Sometimes God makes you lie down because you’re unwilling to do it on your own. You can’t be spiritually and emotionally strong while you’re physically depleted.

That’s what happened to Elijah. God did not scold Elijah. God didn’t say, “Come on, man. You’re just having a pity party.” He simply let Elijah sleep.

Release your frustrations. Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing. Elijah didn’t hold anything back. He didn’t filter his feelings. He told God his frustrations.

God isn’t shocked when you complain to him. He’ll listen to you until you run out of words. Let them all out. God can handle anything you throw at him.

Refocus on God. Elijah was focused on the wrong things; he needed to trust God. When…

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By Pastor Johnny Baker, Pastor and Global Executive Director

Hi, my name is Johnny, and I’m a believer who struggles with alcoholism and codependency.

I have been in recovery since 2004 and have seen my life change in so many ways. One thing I have learned is what brought me here isn’t what keeps me here. I began attending Celebrate Recovery when my first daughter, Maggie, was about to be born. I knew I wanted to break the cycle of dysfunction in my family and needed to get help overcoming my addiction to alcohol. I tried to do it on my own for a few months, but I didn’t have the power to sustain it. So, I began attending Celebrate Recovery in Lake Forest, CA. I say began, but I should say I started attending again. See, I was part of the very first group of people to do Celebrate Recovery when it started at Saddleback Church in 1991. At the time, I attended groups and completed a step study in the area of codependency. My father was an alcoholic, and I was a teenager who had decided I would never drink.

Cut to…

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Cling to God

By Celebrate Recovery

By Jeni Baker, Co-Global Executive Director

When I remember You on my bed, I meditate and thoughtfully focus on You in the night watches, For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 63:6-8 (AMP)

When my kids were young, my middle daughter had a fear of loud noises. One day, when she was about 3 years old, I was bringing groceries in from the car, and she was trailing behind me. I set the bags on the ground and as soon as I opened the front door, the home phone was ringing. It caught my daughter off guard and terrified her. She proceeded to somehow climb up my body and cling to my neck with every ounce of strength she had. If she could have somehow burrowed into my skin, she would have. She clung to me because she…

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By Jeni Baker, Co-Global Executive Director

Hi, my name is Jeni, and I’m a child of God who struggles with co-dependency and I’m an adult child of family dysfunction. I first got into recovery 9.5 years ago when I was finally willing to admit that I was in emotional pain and that my desire to control everything and do it all on my own power was making my life unmanageable. Even though I have been in recovery for a while now, going through the pandemic has shown me just how important it is to keep working on my own recovery. New issues may pop up, or in my case, old hang-ups and habits can creep back in during times of stress and pain. My struggles with control and codependency came roaring back during the pandemic. Everything felt chaotic, a big trigger for me, and my life suddenly had no routine to it. We were all home all the time, and even though it was kind of fun for a couple of weeks, we all quickly…

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By Andy

I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with anxiety, depression, and sexual addiction, and my name is Andy.

I was raised in a wonderful home, the middle child of three brothers, and a son to a mom and a dad who loved their children dearly. Unfortunately, my parents both grew up in homes with alcoholic fathers who would occasionally turn abusive. Due to this, my parents promised each other that their children would grow up in a stable home. Mom and Dad achieved this to the best of their ability and gave my brothers and me a home where we were loved and raised to work hard. Growing up, I became quite competitive with my siblings, particularly with my older brother. When I compared myself to him, I always felt like I fell short somehow, and I became jealous and resentful of him. I wanted to show him that I had worth and value, that I wasn’t the fat, slow, stupid kid I saw myself as when I compared myself to him. This desire to prove myself would bleed over into other areas and relationships in my life.

Throughout school,…

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Run the Race Together

By Rick Warren

“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—as you see the Day approaching.”

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) 

Spiritual growth isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon. 

If you want to go the distance in your relationship with Jesus, don’t run the marathon alone. No one can run the race for you, but other people can—and should—run the race with you. 

An old African proverb says, “To run fast, run by yourself. But to run far, run with other people.” 

You don’t need 100 people with you. You don’t even need 10. You just need three or four people running with you, supporting you in all God wants to do through your life. 

That’s why you need to be in a small group. You need a handful of people who can spur you on in your spiritual life. You need to be able to spur others on as well. 

Do you know why so many…

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Run the Race

By Celebrate Recovery

By Andy Petry, National Director of The Landing

Over the past couple of years, I’ve started to get back into a rhythm of working out—and that has prompted me to start running again. Now, I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with running—I love the benefits of the activity, the silence and solitude that comes with it, and how I feel afterward. But running has never been fun. It’s hard and painful when I find myself in the middle of it. And every time I’m on a run, I wonder why I thought it was a good idea in the first place. I inevitably come back to this thought: at least I’m running. Yes, I’m tired. Yes, my body hurts a bit. Yes, I’m out of breath. But that pain is not being wasted. Every run is another step down the road in taking care of my health. My body gets stronger as I push it out of its comfort zone. And that’s important—you know why? Because staying in my comfort zone has only ever worked to the detriment of my health.

The same is true in my recovery. Pushing myself out of my…

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By Hess

The late Dr. Lewis Smedes wrote: 

“Hope is to our spirits what oxygen is to our lungs. Lose hope and you die.”

But what exactly IS hope? Even secular psychologists will tell you that you need hope. However, they will also tell you to look for that hope within yourself. 

But if the object of hope has to be found within ourselves, no wonder there is so much hopelessness in our world. No wonder mental health is the biggest health problem in the world right now, second only to the coronavirus. So, hope that must be found in ourselves… is no hope at all. 

The object of our hope as Christians is Jesus Christ! The writer of Hebrews describes our hope this way: Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Jesus has already gone in there for us (Hebrews 6:18-20 NLT).

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