Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It Doesn’t “Look” Like a Break through

I was recently talking to a local church that is looking to start CR in their church. As we discussed all the many things needed to keep the ministry safe and healthy, the discussion came up about the guidelines. Small Group guidelines are designed to keep our groups safe and productive. The question came up specifically about allowing someone to share beyond the 3-5 minutes.
One of the frustrating things I have seen in any small group format is when one person dominates the conversation and others don’t get a chance to share what they have on their own heart. Each person should have equal time to express themselves. Then the flip side is we need to listen to others sharing. Listening is a huge part of the recovery process and grows us more than we realize.
Most people don’t have an issue of keeping sharing to 3-5 minutes and even seem to embrace it. Most people tend to begin rambling after the five minutes anyway. This teaches us to keep our thoughts organized and stay away from rambling.
So what’s the issue?
I think where the confusion comes in is when someone who may be sharing, perhaps for the first time in what is referred to as a “real deep” “break-through” sharing. Do we let them keep sharing past the 3-5 minutes? Ah, tough question. Or is it?
I have had leaders, with their big hearts say, “the participant in their group hadn’t shared deeply to that point and I just didn’t want to interrupt that “great” sharing.”
Sometimes, something that will cause us to believe it is deep sharing as opposed to other times is the fact that we “visually” see lots of tears and emotion. Tear are so good cause there is great healing in those tears. However, Our response to our leaders in these cases is that even when it appears that the “break-through” is happening, we still have an obligation to uphold the guidelines.
It is also important that we remember that visuals aren’t always what they seem. For example, there are some men and even women in groups that will “great” sharing and have a major “break-through” and yet not shed even one tear. So, knowing that, the question has to be asked “Is it really better sharing because we see tears and is it really fair to let the one who cries have longer time to share than the one who does not cry?” Truth be told, I am a crier and my heart strings get pulled when I see a brother or sister crying. And again, this is not a knock on tears while sharing but the answer is no. We must keep the group safe and healthy by upholding the guidelines all the time, not just when it seems important.
Safe? How can having someone share over five minutes create an unsafe group?
The thing I tell folks all the time is that if we let that guideline get bypassed, what is to say we won’t allow other guidelines get bypassed. In the attendees mind set the question will come up about their safety on anonymity and confidentiality being broken. As the leader, our response, in love, will be the same, “please wrap up your sharing. Or “Let’s allow someone else to share now.”
Remember, even though it may not “look” like a break-through, doesn’t mean it’s not. And even if it is a break-through, we still want to teach each person to get their thoughts organized and keep their sharing within the 3-5 minutes.
Our primary responsibility as leaders is to keep the group safe by upholding the guidelines.
I pray that your break-through that is coming will bring deep healing in your life. Our hope is that in our CR groups you find a safe environment that points you to Christ.

Have a blessed day and I look forward to seeing you in a Friday Night open discussion group or weekly Step Study group soon.

For more information about Celebrate Recovery contact Rodney at roholmstrom@fellowhsipnwa.org or 479-659-3679

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

CR from a Newcomer's Perspective

I love reading notes from the Newcomers perspective. This is a follow up email response to a note we send out to check up on our newcomers. Good stuff. With her permission to share removing her name I wanted you see this.
This is going to bless you!


It was so nice to read your email. Thank you. (The below note is straight from her blog....:))

"I walked in the door and here this song resounding from the sanctuary.
Our God is greater. Our God is stronger. God you are higher than any other. Our God is healer. Awesome in power. Our God. And if our God is for us, than who could ever stop us. And if our God is with us, than what can stand against
I stood near the back pew, halfway through worship. Hands were raised across the room. People from all kinds of life. Stepping into this worship meant agreeing that I have hurts and addictions in my life that need God's healing. In a freeing moment, I joined in.
Sweet surrender
The band played louder than before, and a man stepped up to the microphone. Is anyone here for their 1 year or more chip? Three or four people start walking towards the front and the band erupts, people in the sanctuary start cheering and clapping. I don't know how to describe it. It was a legitimate celebration. It was church. One man four rows in front of me came forward for his 7 year chip of sobriety. He was crying, and his buddy next to him was hugging him.
7 years.
The man on the microphone said, "This may be your first time here, and that could be you in 7 years from now today" The addict within me longs for that. My heart was so stirred because I realized that, these people, to me, are fascinating. They must have interesting stories, and walks of life. I entered these doors and became, one of them. I felt this deep rooted connection to the people in that room, that is the only way that I can think of to describe it. We are all struggling. Stepping in means acknowledging that my life has become unmanageable and that I need God's healing.
Back to last night, the man calls out the newcomers, and says that
"you can come down to receive your newcomer day 1 chip and we will yell and scream like never before for you and your recovery"
I stepped forward, down the aisle. I received my blue chip, and a hug. As I turned around the symbols were clashing, and the band was playing, and people were clapping and shouting. I walked back to my seat and had people shaking my hand.
In my head I was thinking, WHAT IS GOING ON?
On no, does the blue chip really mean that I've had 10 years recovery or started a Celebrate Recovery of my own or something. Seriously, what is going on.
I have never seen a better picture of the church than last night
It was a really meaningful night in my recovery, and my faith. As the night went on and I heard a testimony from a lady who has completed the 12 steps, and an introduction to CR for the newcomers (all 20+ of us) I realized 1. that I would not run into a lot of these people in my day to day life 2. that I relate more to the people that I heard from and met in that room than I can describe, and
3. that God cheers for me as much when I get the 1st day of recovery as when I come forward for my 7th year celebration."

For more information about Celebrate Recovery contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Why Do We Journal?

The word “journal” comes from the French word “journee, meaning from sunrise to sunset.

Transpsychological is a term used to describe the therapeutic effects of self-discovery through active awareness in journaling.

Journaling is a coping technique; expression of thoughts, feelings, memories, and ideas in written form, either prose or poetry, to increase self awareness leading to wholeness in ones journey throughout life.

Getting Started:

1. Buy a nice notebook.

2. Find a private or quiet place.

3. Sometimes making a list of things going through your head is a great way to start.

4. Consider playing some relaxing background music.

5. Set aside a committed time each day, afternoon or night.

It is suggested to start off with writing in your personal journal (for your eyes only) for 15 minutes each day in the form of freelance writing. Write down whatever comes into your mind.

Expressive writing helps us cope with stress, increases self awareness, decreases elevated blood pressure, benefits health aspects for people suffering with fibromyalsia and helps heal the grieving process.

Affectionate writing decreases cholesterol levels.

Poetry journaling helps make order out of chaos.

Journaling helps with self awareness on issues that need attention.

Writing down personal thoughts gives one the permission to let them go, no longer thinking about them with the intensity that may have cluttered the mind and drained energy.

Short term benefits from journaling include releasing pent-up feelings of anger and -anxiety.

Long term benefits from journaling comes from a review of journal entries which serves to increase awareness of trends and patterns in your thoughts and behaviors.

All the material above has been taken out of the book “Managing Stress - Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being” Sixth Edition by Brian Luke Seaward (Chapter 10 – Journal Writing)
Thanks for sahring Jana

For information about Celebrate Recovery contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Is it really good?

Read Genesis 3:1-7
My wife Carol and I were in Genesis 3 a few days ago right before bedtime and this passage, though I have read it many times before, really spoke to me this day even more.
Every day we as humans, as saints who still sin, are faced with temptation. What is temptation? One commentator stated that temptation is “Satan's invitation to give into his kind of life and give up on God's kind of life.” So true isn’t it?
That is exactly what he did to Eve that day in the beautiful garden didn’t he?!
So often we view temptation itself as a sin but temptation is not a sin. In fact the bible shows us thru the New Testament several places where the enemy tempted even Christ and yet He was without sin.
The enemy had Eve believing the big lie that there was something better than what she already had in this amazing garden, life. We have to remember that temptation is not a sin itself,
So if we know temptation is going to happen and we have established that it in itself is not a sin then how do we resist temptation to keep us from the sin?
Great question and I wish it were easy to deal with but it does take work. The good news is we don’t have to do it on our own.
We have to remember to first pray for strength to resist the garbage the enemy is throwing at us. This should be done before we even get into the mess. If I am in a good spot today, I need to pray that "when" I am tempted, not "if" then I want to be able to resist it with the Holy Spirits help.
Sometimes we have to even run from it. Sometimes literally run to keep us from falling into the thorn bush. How can we ask God to keep us from getting stuck if we wait until we have jumped into the thorn bush? This is why God has placed men and women in our life to help walk thru tough situations like this. The problem is that we become consumed with shame for even thinking what we are thinking and “if anyone ever knew what I was being tempted with…” Friends, that will always lead to acting out from the temptation. If we hide it, we will fall.
We must have the courage and strength of Joshua to say no when we are confronted with what we know is wrong. Sadly, ever since that very moment with Eve, Satan has been busy getting people to fall.
A good passage to look at is in James 1:12. It reminds us of the blessings and rewards when will receive when we don't give in when tempted. The enemy is crafty is getting us to justify our actions isn’t he? “You deserve this”….or “you don’t have anything better”
When we do this we fall into a phase of anger and isolation that leads to shame and guilt and ultimately back to where we started early in our recovery…..hopelessness and emptiness.
See, the sad truth is that Satan got Eve to doubt everything and all of God's goodness. He, in his crafty way, implied to Eve that God was just this mean, strict, greedy, stingy and even selfish for not wanting Eve or Adam for that matter to share in all His great knowledge of good and evil. He made her forget all that God have given her and sadly instead look only at what God had forbidden. Wow! Sound familiar?
We too can fall into temptation can’t we? Remember, it is not “if” but “when”. We can fall into temptation and ultimately acting out, when we focus on what God forbids for us rather than the countless blessings He has given you and I.
I know I am convicted that the next time I start feeling sorry for myself and what I don’t have, I need to consider what I do have and count all my many blessings.
Don’t give up on God’s kind of life friend. The enemy wants you to give up and give into his kind of life and that life only leads to emptiness.
Use your tools you have before you. Pray Eph 6:10-17 before you get there, use the tools and people around your run from it when it happens and finally be willing to say no when faced with what we know if not of Him. If we settle for immediate gratification here on earth we are only robbing our self of many blessings that don’t get promoted as such, but in fact are so much better. The great news too is that we have an eternity of gratification in the next.

What good do you have around you that the enemy has been leading you to believe is not in fact good?


Rodney Holmstrom

For information about Celebrate Recovery, contact Rodney @ 479-659-3679 or roholmtrom@fellowshipnwa.org

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fruits That Grow in Vulnerability

There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities.
Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another's wounds.
Let's remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.

Oswald Chambers---“God can never make us wine if we object to the fingers He uses to crush us with. If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way! But when He uses someone whom we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, and makes those the crushers, we object. We must never choose the scene of our own martyrdom. If ever we are going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed; you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.”

These reflections are taken from Henri J.M. Nouwen's Bread for the Journey.

For information about Celebrate Recovery contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Okay, So Now What?

Okay so we are once again at a New Year, okay, so now what? You know, that really is a great question! As we begin the New Year, it is a really good re-focusing question for us to ask God, “Okay God now what? Now what would You have me do?” However, I have to admit, often when I look in the mirror I find myself asking, is there anything I can do at all? My past failures have left some deep scars that do not let me easily forget them, so doubt is always a battle. Yet I know, that there is a part that I am to play, a role that I have in His Kingdom. Okay God, so here we are at the start of a new year, this is a good time to re-focus, to re-direct energies, re-deploy, so now what, what adventure do you have for me?

New Year’s Eve night as I listened to Rodney Holmstrom share the lesson, I was drawn to some verses in 1 Peter 4:7-11 that seemed help me with this question, would you mind if I walked you through my thinking on them as I have taken time to look at them?

The end of all things is near.

Okay I got stop right there first. I can’t let that sentence slip by unnoticed. This little sentence is a big deal. This is like a headline. Peter is saying, “Hey, pay attention, the end almost here! It is almost over, what I am about to say next is very import!!! You need to get what I am about to say!” So he is talking about Jesus returning here!! Cool stuff!! Okay so now I am geared up for what it is he is about to write, I mean if the end is almost here, if he is talking about Jesus coming back, then these next instructions should be really, really important. Oh I hope I am up to whatever task he has in mind, I mean if the end of all things is near, then what comes next must be big, this must important!!

Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.

Okay so the end of all things is near so I need to be aware and sober (I wonder if Peter was in CR in his day) by-the-way another word for sober would be clear-minded. I have always been amazed how much sobriety has removed the “fuzzy-thinking” I had. I don’t care what issue a person has, if you have an issue, you have “fuzzy-thinking.” The Holy Spirit uses sobriety to clear up that “fuzzy-thinking.” Peter tells us here that the end of all things is near so then we need to be ALERT and SOBER so that we can PRAY. Okay Pete, tracking with you so far, if the end of all things is near, if Jesus is returning, then prayer is an important thing and to pray well I need to be alert and aware of the things around me and I need to be sober and clear thinking. Okay Pete, what is next?

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Okay, so the end of all things is near so I need to love others deeply. Got to admit Pete, not the thing I was looking for. I was thinking flashing swords and lightening bolts or least a word about healing the sick. But instead you are saying I need to love others deeply and why? Because it covers a multitude of sins, okay now I am pretty sure Ole’ Peter was in CR, because he sure is talking like it to me!! So let me think about this for a second, I am to love others deeply because love covers a multitude of sins and I am to do this because the end of all things is near, hmmm, okay, I think I see it. Could it be by doing this very thing that I become a visible representation of Jesus before His return? That others may learn of His love, grace and forgiveness from my testimony and gain hope for themselves? Okay Pete, I am back with you now, what’s next?

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Um, Pete, Buddy, you know we are talking about the return of the King, Jesus? The second coming? Pete, excuse me but it sounded like you just said that I am supposed to have folks over to my house. Okay, so the end of all things is near and you want me to have a dinner party? Wait a minute the end of all things is near and you want me serve meals or be a greeter or be an usher at CR? Really? Peter, we are talking about THE END OF ALL THINGS!! And you want me have guys over to watch a football game together? Okay Peter, in light of the main point here, these items just don’t sound that spiritual to me I am sorry. I mean the prayer I get and the love thing took me a bit, but okay I see it too. But this one? I mean c’mon Pete, we are talking about a big thing here, shouldn’t your instructions be a little tougher than having people over? I mean that really isn’t that hard you know. Actually you are not asking me to do anything I don’t like to do anyway. Isn’t being a Christian supposed to be hard and not fun? Okay, what’s next?

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Okay so basically Pete you are saying that end of all things is near and I should do whatever I do and just do it in such a way that God may be praised? Again, Pete, not a lot of flash there, but you have kind of turn the tables on me through this whole passage anyway, so I am not so surprised this time. So it really doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I do it in such a way that God is praised. I have to admit Pete, I was a little disappointed when I first read through all of this. What I mean is you started out talking about a big deal, the end of all things, so I was geared up for some big time instructions on what I should be doing, however, the instructions you left were not very, oh what’s the word…”dazzling,” instead your instructions were kind of basic, kind of regular. I mean really, they way you started I was looking for a Carmel Macchiato and I got regular black coffee. You know Pete, I kind of do these things already, so what is the big deal?

Okay Pete let me summarize what you are saying,
The end of all things is near so – be aware, sober and pray
The end of all things is near so – love each deeply
The end of all things is near so – have people over
The end of all things is near so – see God is praised in what I do

(Yawn) The end of all things is near so I should pray, love, have people over and praise God. Hey, wait a minute!! Could…did…what…is…hmmmmm…aaahhh!!!

Is there something else you are saying here Pete? Like I said I was all “geared up” earlier, the problem with getting all geared up is I always end up all bound up in something eventually. Why Pete you are a crafty one aren’t you? I see it now! You are not only giving me instructions, but you are showing me how Christ has set me free! Right here you are showing me what it is that He desires of me. He wants me to pray, love, have people over and praise God. I can do that!! I mean how many endeavors for God have I attempted and failed in the past? But these things I can do because these are the things I want and now can do because of the changes He has caused in me. Because of Christ I am free to pray, free to love others deeply, free to show hospitality and free to see God praised in what I do.

The truth is the end of all things is near and God is not asking me to be a Billy Graham or Rodney Holmstrom or Chip Jackson. The truth is the ends of all things is near and God is asking me only to be me, set free to pray, to love, to serve and to praise all in the strength Christ has provided. Oh my!!! The intense sense of freedom in Christ I am feeling right now is incredible. You know that scene in Braveheart where William Wallace is addressing the army and he cries out to them, “They can take our lives, but they can never take our FREEDOM!!!!” There is something a kin to that kind of fierceness arising in my heart about the freedom I am starting to understand that Christ has given me.

New Year’s Eve night Rodney talked about letting go of the shame of our past, the denial of our present and the fear of our future, later that night we took communion and the song sung by Dave and the band talked about shame and brokenness being removed as we carried to the Lords table. Powerful stuff!! I look back 2010 and for me the watch word going into the year was health, getting healthy emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially and relationally. Still much work to be done on all those fronts.

For me in 2011, I see new watch word on the horizon, something until just this moment as I am writing this I had not expected and the Lord seems to be dropping into my heart. However, it is not a watch word like last year really as much as it is becoming a cry, a fierce warlike-cry of my heart with one encompassing thought – FREEDOM IN CHRIST!!

Oh dear Lord, somebody get me in a Step Study quick!!

Tim, Encourager Coach, CR NW Arkansas

For information about Celebrate Recovery contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

Tornado Damage in Cincinnati AR

A friend of mine posted this footage from the recent tornado that hit here in NW Arkansas New Years Eve

A tornado ripped through Northwest Arkansas in the early morning hours of December 31st. In this video we tour some of the destruction left behind by the tornado.

The crazy thing about this tornado was that it actually hit Cincinnati Arkansas. If you have never been there, there isn’t much there there. Cincinnati is an incredibly small town. That means that the EF3 tornado that tore through nearly leveled the town. It was incredibly unlucky.

Unfortunately there were three deaths attributed to the storm, and our hearts and prayers go out to the families. In fact, one person killed was a 78 year old man who was milking his cows at the time. His last name as Murray. My mother’s maiden name is Murray, and she is from that part of the country. He may have been a cousin many times removed. Weird.

From Murray Williams

Chains Be Broken

When we submit our life and will to Christ the chains that are keeping us in bondage can be broken. He has the power to break the chains of addictions, despair, hopelessness and even loneliness.
As you start a new year and a new decade, don't wait, make this a year of freedom and hope. Run to Him in 2011! God bless you and your family.

Rodney Holmstrom

For more information about Celebrate Recovery in your area, contact Rodney at 479-409-9747 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org