Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Step Group Beauty






Do you see the beauty? The picture on the left, showing a Doe with her two Fawn's was not the actual picture I saw and took with my iphone this morning. Actually, the one on the right is the photo I took. What's wrong? Are you not seeing the beauty? Well, I do. Why? Because I was there and experienced it.


This mornning I was driving in for my 1 of 2 last meeting times with my CR Step Group brothers as we wrap up a year process of walking thru the 8 principles based on the Beatitudes.


I came down my hill in Springdale AR, across the bridge where a large open field on my left had this picture standing before me. I was taken back by the beauty in these animals and stopped my truck in the middle of the road to gaze at their beauty. Sitting in the middle of the road, (yes in the middle of the road. There isnt much traffic out at 4:30am) about 30 yards from my truck were standing these deer, a doe and her two fawns. I was mesmerized as I sat their with my windows rolled down on this cool morning.


The street light shining on the street corner allowed me the gift of seeing these creatures taking a break from their morning feast.


I realized that this was such a good sight, that I should take a picture so I could share it with my brothers and sisters. So I took out my phone to get a picture and they never moved a muscle. I was so excited! This was going to be the perfect picture right? I snapped the picture of beauty with a click and a flash, it was captured for life what I was seeing with my own two eyes.


Then....I looked at the photo. Yes, the photo above on the right. As you can see, it just didnt do it justice. To you it may be a messy black, and fuzzy picture that does anything but show beauty. But to me, it is beauty.


How is this possible? Because I experienced this beauty for myslef.


As I drove away to go to my step group I was taken back as I thought of the journey this past 12 months has been with my Step Group brothers.


God took a messy group of men, myself included, and turned ashes into beauty.


Now, if you were to ask these guys about their journey thru the 8 principles with 15 men this past year plus, they would have many things to tell you about it. "Life changing, renewed, hopeful, new healthy relationships, taking responsibility for their life for the first time, more time with God, a richer quiet time (let alone quiet time at all), becoming better dads, husbands, brothers, friends, servants for Christ."


All that would sound great, but to some it would still seem distant.


You see, the thing is, we have seen, tasted and experienced these things together and just like my morning deer experience, I can only help you understand how good and how blessed we are as a result of being there and living it. But, the only way to really understand it would be to have an encounter for yourself. The neat thing about it is that we all encounter this process in different ways. We grow at a different pace. We all walk away with a different take away because God is talking to us and meeting us where we are. Growing us in His timing as we seek Him.


To some, when we say this expereince was life changing it is good to hear and makes us feel good as we imagine what a picture of beauty from ashes can look like. But, until you live it and experience it, you won't ever really know what I am talking about.


Don't get me wrong, we are commanded to and should be a blessing to others thru sharing our story, investing in others, letting others know where we have been so that we can expericnce continued growth and provide hope for others. But, until people take that step, they won't ever fully undertand what we are talking about.


The only way to fully experience that blessing is to become a part of what God is doing. To emerse ourself in the process of renewing our mind so that we will be able to test and approve what His good and perfect will is for us in our life. (Rom 12:1-2)




Psalm 30:1-3 "I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O Lord, you brought me up from the grave, you spared me from going down into the pit"




Have you been putting off getting into CR and a CR step group? Is fear keeping you from experiencing His full blessings? Are you allowing the fear of the unknown, failure, past hurt, denial in the present or fear of the future to hold you back from seeing His beauty? Don't let the enemy fill your head with lies. I have personally seen the picture of beauty and if He can restore a wretched man like me, I know He can you too.


Find a CR near you and get plugged in. If you don't have a CR, ask your Pastor about starting one. We need to spend as much time on our recovery as we have our dysfunction, struggles, hang-ups, resentment or addiction and stop and gaze at the beauty He will create one right in front of our eyes. He wants to make a new photo of beauty in you, but you just have to surrender.




God bless you.


Rodney Holmstrom




For more information about Celebrate Recovery near you OR how to start a CR in your church, contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org or go to http://www.celebraterecovery.com/ to sign up for a ONE Day National Training.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

You Make Beautiful Things"





Well, try to imagine this picture.....Rodney Jogging. :) Yeah I know, kind of a pardigm shift for sure isn't it? But seriously, I wasn't only jogging, but jogging with my daughter Taylor. We took off thru the neighborhood on a beautiful spring-like day. A nice break from the hot days we have been seeing around here in Arkansas. Taylor had her ipod playing some Mandissa music and just singing with great animation as we moved thru the neighborhood. I had my own ipod and was listening to a new song I had just been introduced to a few week prior.


Have you ever been in a situation where you don't expect a worship moment to happen and then, out of the blue, comes the blindsided blessing? Well, that moment happened to me in this very situation. As I looked over at my daughter, I was watching her and listening to the words to this new song I was learning for an upcoming worship service I was to lead for CR. The name of the song was "Beautiful things" by Gungor (look on youtube)

Here are the lyrics I was listening to as I watched my 14 year old precious daughter run along side me thru our neighborhood.

"All this pain, I wonder if I'll ever find my way

I wonder if my life could really change at all

All this earth, could all that is lost ever be found

Could a garden come up from this ground at all"

I began to think about what God had pulled me thru as a messed up young man that was chasing happiness in "things" or "people" rather than God Himself. I remember what it felt like early in my life and how I truly believed that God could not and would not restore anything in my life and that I would always be in a dysfunctinal mud puddle. As I listened to those lyrics I remembered how I once believed those words, "I wonder if I'll ever find my way" was my destiny.

Could God really sprout a garden of hope and fruit from this old hardened heart, that was full of hate, resentment, defeat and brokenness?

I continued thru my jog when, I heard the chorus and second verse to this song continue....

"You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us"

"All around, hope is springing up from this old ground

Out of chaos life is being found, in You"

Wow! Wow! Wow! This is where the worship moment thru the neighborhoods of Springdale, Arkansas happened. As I looked at my daughter, I was struck with incredible gratitude for what God had done in my life. For the new life He first gave in me in my heart and my life. For restoring this broken, old hardened heart young man into a heart full of Christ. I found myself grateful that He did not ever give up on me but, instead truly desired to have a relationship with me. He rescued me becasue He delighted in me! (2 Sam 22:20)

As I watched my daughter sing her song to her own ipod, I was struck with incredible gratitude for God giving me a second chance with my marriage. For bringing my wife and I back together so that we could start a new day together. I found myself grateful for the growth He has done in me and for giving me a daughter that would not have been here had my heart not changed. I am grateful that I have the gift of running this race of life with a great family and as the Psalm 37 reads, "God is my refuge, and strength and ever present help in time of need."

I realized in that very moment that had surrender not happened in my life some 18 years ago, I would not be able to stand next to this young lady, Ms Taylor, my daughter. I would not be able to have an influence over her or my son, Jason. I would not be able to hold my wife at the end of the day and lead her and my kids as the spiritual leader called me to be in our home.

What an awesome gift. What an awesome priviledge and responsibility. Not easy, but rewarding! He truly does make beautiful things out of the dust. He never wastes a hurt and can use me from my weaknesses!

He took this broken man, from the ashes and made a beautiful thing out of my life. I am amazed that He chose to give me a second chance and to give me a brand new day in life.

Father thank You that "You make me new, You are making me new!!" Thank you that you are not looking for perfection but for growth. Thank You for renewing my mind and for giving me a new beautiful family. I know without my surrender to You, I cannot enjoy those beautiful blessings You desire to give me. Thank You!

Please know that no matter who you are or what you may have done in your past, nothing good or bad done by you can affect or change the way He feels about you. He is a God of second, third, fourth, fifth....etc.,chances and wants to meet you at the door as you return home to Him.

We would love to have you come visit us at CR this Friday Night. Or find one in your area. This is a safe place and all are welcome as we point you to Christ the Healer, Comforter, Refuge and Strength in your time of need. He has a better way for you in your life.


See you at CR friend!
For more information about Celebrate Recovery, contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowhsipnwa.org