Tag Archives: Transformed

From Recovery into the Real – A Letter on the Eve of Your Going Home

Blog - From Recovery to Real - Writing a Letter“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Hey Buddy,

We are so excited for you to be heading home. What an amazing transformation you have made through the work of Christ in your life and your faithfulness to Him! You have been such an encouragement to your whole family. In these two years you have been away, either in recovery or mentoring others recovering, we have seen such maturity in you. You’re still the old you – with all the fun, and your crazy sweet smile, and that infectious laugh of yours. Yet, you are altogether different as well.

You seem more at peace with yourself and others now and, definitely, more at peace with God. You seem content to be in the present with us, less restless, not needing to slip away to be with friends. You practice wise restraint and you show surprising grace to those around you. You understand more, now, the grace you have received. Maybe it’s out of that grace that you lavish love on others.

Seeing you with your mom and sister brings so much joy to our hearts. There’s a bond between you three that reminds me of that verse in the Bible: “If someone overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) Like many families you have been through a lot, but your love for each other is stronger than any hardship you’ve endured.

I’ve been trying to write you a letter for weeks, but, ironically, I don’t know what to say. The page stares blankly back at me because of too many words rather than too few. There’s just too much to say. However, I am not sure I have earned the right to speak into your life…so I haven’t actually said much, except to occasionally cheer you on from the sidelines. Writing this blog will be my rough draft toward the real thing – that letter just to you…in an envelope, with a stamp, and so much love.

Here I practice what I want to say to you:

We will never forget how we could have lost you in those dark days when we didn’t know where you were going or how you were. How thankful to God we will always be for sparing your life then. Now you walk with Him. Whatever happens in the future, we know we will never forever lose you. This may sound morbid but the reality of this once took our breath away and kept us awake praying at night. Now, we can rest somewhat easier because you belong to God now. We trust Him with you.

In these two years of recovering and mentoring, you have learned what is at stake in your choices. You have seen so much more, than I,  of what substance use and abuse can take away from people…and from those who love them. You have seen up close what one hit, one bottle, one time use of a substance can do to a person…. Too often, it doesn’t stay at one. Sometimes, “one” becomes “done” in the worst way imaginable. We will be praying you stay wise in this…and safe.

When you return home, you change addresses, but recovering your life will continue. You’re probably looking forward to getting back into the “real world”. For those who love you, that’s a little scary. Not just because of your past struggle. It’s a scary world period. Excesses and addictions abound. We are all surrounded by more temptation than most of us can handle well. Having God in our lives helps so much. Just bear with us if we get anxious about your new beginnings and old acquaintances. Forgive us if we hover or meddle or ask “too many questions”. We’re learning, too, how to live well in the “real”. We can all gain from encouraging each other along the way.

You are so much more equipped now to fully live life, to serve others, and to keep your focus on what matters. So much will crowd in on your priorities as you experience new freedom. This is where we who love you are tempted to hold you close and try to guide you more than is necessary. Be gentle with us; it’s out of hearts full of love for you. We will be praying as you look for a new job, a church, and possibly new friendships (maybe you won’t be looking for new ones, but we’ll be praying for new ones, as well as the old). We know you will continue to use what you’ve learned, not just on your own decisions and life choices, but also for the sake of others. You have so much to give to help others step back from choices that can hurt them or those they love.

Last, and best of all, can I just rejoice with you, all over again, in your relationship with God? We all see Jesus in you. What a joy it is to be redeemed by Him, and we see that joy in you in profound ways. Ways different than I’ve experienced…because only you know what all He saved you from…as with all of us. Don’t ever let this so-called “real” world appear successful in extinguishing that light in your eyes.  It cannot. You belong to Him. Always remember that.

Love you forever…..

 

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”Titus 2:11-14

Understanding and Overcoming Substance Abuse

Biblical Counseling, Addictions, and the Body of Christ

Addiction Recovery and the Burden of Self

Godly Intoxication: The Church Can Minister to Addicts – The Journal of Biblical Counseling

15 Bible Verses to Help with Addiction

A Biblical Approach to Addictions

10 Things to Stop Doing if You Have an Addictive Personality

No Longer Bound – “The Regeneration Program at No Longer Bound is a 12-month long, in-patient, regeneration process. This process differs greatly from a conventional rehabilitation program. By definition, the word rehabilitation means “to restore to a former state.” We believe that the former state of an addict before addiction is filled with wounds of rejection and pain. These wounds have lead to a life of addiction. We believe the process of regeneration, “to restore to a better state”, is the prescription for life long freedom from addiction.”

S.A.F.E. Ministries – Setting Addicts Free Eternally

Blog - Recovery to the Real - Setting Addicts Free EternallyPhoto Credit: BPNews.net

Worship Wednesday – Ash Wednesday – A Lenten Devotional by Jim Denison

Blog - Lent - Ash Wednesday - from article by Jim Denison“An evil spirit of this kind is only driven out by prayer and fasting.” – Matthew 17:21

It wasn’t until I was six years old that church became any sort of meaningful in my life. My mom worked all the time in those days, and finally, after a last-resort divorce, she settled us into a better life of meager means and lavish love. It was then that we responded to an invitation of neighbors, and a weary single mom and four eager children met the welcome care of a loving church. Our experience was small town Bible-Belt Baptist, and that set the foundation for my understanding of God. In fact, when I signed up for a World Religions course as a college freshman, I thought it would only be about Christianity.

My first experience with Lent was seeing my best friend on a Wednesday long ago, after she had disappeared from our usual routine. We met for lunch and she had this mysterious, ashen cross smudged on her forehead. I resisted the urge of just lovingly wiping it off for her, thinking she was unaware of it. Pointing it out instead, she taught me my first lessons on Lent – on repentance, fasting (sacrifice), the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ. All of that was gloriously real for me already, except for setting aside 40 days of resolve prior to the celebration of Easter.

For years, I still didn’t take Lent very seriously and still don’t know quite how to incorporate it into my life…except that my thinking is changing. In this world gone mad, I am more convinced than ever that we as the Church need to stand together for the sake of the nations and for the glory of God. If in Lent, I can find elements that help me see God and my own need for Him more clearly, then I want to integrate Lenten practice into my life.

That said, Jim Denison has written a beautiful 40-day devotional for this year’s Lenten season. It’s entitled Transformed – How Stories of the Cross Are Changing the World*. A dear friend gave me the paper copy, but I encourage you to take advantage to the free download and start reading, praying, and fasting (as God leads) today.2015 Blog on Easter Lenten Devotional & American Idol 004

Corporate month-long fasting has never been a draw for me, as I was always completely sure it would be a fail for me. While we lived in North Africa, and especially in Egypt, fasting was very much a part of my Muslim and Christian neighbors’ lives. Even those Christians who were evangelical (from Coptic backgrounds) saw the importance of fasting. Their awareness of the evil of sin in the world and the need for drastic measures lined up solidly with Jesus’ own life and teaching on this.

For the past several years, during Lent, I read Adrian Plass’ book The Unlocking – God’s Escape Plan for Frightened People. It was also a gift from a good friend. There’s a lot in this world that’s frightening these days. Yet God is still God and is at work in the midst of so much crazy. I believe Him at His word. Full stop. We have a role in dealing with what we see in the world. As Jesus told His disciples (Matthew 17:21), there is evil that we can only battle, from our side, with prayer and fasting. This is a strength in a true observance of Lent.Blog - Lent - Easter (3)

As we grieve so much death around us in these days, and as we look to Easter, I would like to close with a prayer from Adrian Plass’ book:

“Loving heavenly Father, I want to try to tackle this business of loving enemies. First of all I’m going to sit quietly here and go through a mental list of the folk who I would call my enemies. Help me to be really honest…I don’t want to leave anyone out….I’ve done it, Lord. There are rather a lot, and some of them I really hate. But You made it quite clear that You can’t forgive me if I don’t forgive them, so I’ll start the process, even if it takes a long time to mean it. Love them for me, Lord, and please accept my prayers for their welfare and safety. Soften my hard heart as the days go by, until I begin to see them through Your eyes. Thank You for forgiving me. Amen.”

For these forty-plus days before Easter, I will be reading Transformed; referring back to the book-marked portions of The Unlocking; reflecting on God and the goodness and wisdom He displays through Jesus’ life and teachingresisting (fasting from) those money- and time-stealers that distract me from larger issues; repenting of the sins of neglect and indifference; and remembering to pray and reach out to God and those around me as His vessel for His purposes among the nations.

Denison Forum

*pdf 2015 Lenten Devotional Transformed – How Stories of the Cross are Changing the World by Jim Denison

Why is Lent Relevant for Evangelicals? by Jim Denison

Evangelicals Embracing (and Rejecting) Lent by Trevin Wax

Lenten Observances – Eastern & Western Traditions

The Coptic Church and Worship

A Catholic Homily for this Ash Wednesday in memory of the Coptic Christians killed last week [Beautiful blog – I do not believe in praying to anyone except God; still I appreciate the call to all of us to remember others caught in the cross-fire of evil in this world. Praying for their families and for those who are unfortunately enemies of the church.]

Photo Credit – Ash Wednesday – Jennifer Balaska via en.wikipedia.org