Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tell Me About Your Day Son

As a dad, one of the greatest gifts I have is to visit with my kids after their day. Sometimes, there are upsetting things that took place in their day and of course as a dad, I want and need to hear those things as well. Hearing the good things in a day are fun and replenishing to hear as well. The reason for this is because they are family and I desire that conversation, that relationship with them. Last night at around 11:45pm was one of those experiences. My son got home from his college basketball game that he played in Joplin. I was not able to attend but my wife Carol went on our behalf. Unfortunately they ended up losing by 3 points in this game.
While it was heartbreaking for him to lose this game that they felt they should have won easily, it was good for me as his dad to hear what he was experiencing play by play throughout the game. As his dad it was so neat to just hear what he was a feeling when this happened or how funny it was when that happened etc. The neat thing to witness was my wife getting in on the conversation as well.
They were talking about how the ref missed a call that was obvious, or how Jason missed a lay-up because he lost the ball out of his hands. Or how the last second shot didn’t fall for them to take it into overtime. All the highs and the lows were all being shared and experienced together with me as they recalled all that had happened.
Interestingly enough, we have two people that both experienced the game but they were talking to each other, laughing about funny moments, or grieving the tough ones and as a dad I got to sit back and soak it up.
It hit me as I hugged my son and he went off to bed how special it was to have that moment with him. To hug him and tell him how proud of him I am and that tomorrow is a new day. I turned the light off and lie there in my bed thinking about the conversation. A light bulb went off in my head as I lie there that this is what my Father, Jesus Christ desires from me. He wants to know about my day. Why? He loves and cares about me enough to listen. Even though He already knows what I experienced and in fact already knows when I was sad today, when I felt exhilaration after a great victory, or when I was struggling to hold my tongue in a dispute from my flesh taking over. Yes, He already knows and yet still wants to hear from us. I realized that He wants more than just a list of things I need for my day. He wants more than a general, “be with us this day…”
He wants to know and hear about what I think and feel this day. He wants a relationship with me. Yes, the Father even wants to hug me and tell me how proud He is of me and encourage me to keep on fighting and persevering especially in the difficult times. Jesus is the greatest listener we will ever meet.In Celebrate Recovery we learn that in order to maintain the momentum in our recovery we must reserve a daily time with God for self examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will. As stated in principle 7 of CR. He is wiser than we could ever imagine so why wouldn’t we go to Him for those daily interactions?
By taking the time to share our day with Him and then write it out in a journal, I am allowing Him the opportunity to share with me where I can and need to grow. I am allowing Him the opportunity to comfort me, care for me and allow me the chance to feel His love in a relationship rather than a vending machine as I can easily fall into in my time with Him.
By doing this daily I can take time to reflect as the Holy Spirit speaks to me thru His Word on how He can change me today. To look at my physical, emotional, relational and spiritual health as a believer. By writing out my thoughts I can look for patterns and grow from them so I can become a better man, husband and dad to my kids, and one that more clearly hears the Good Shepherds voice as one of His sheep. “Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God.” Lamentations 3:40 MSG. Then in James 4:10, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
When I look up at my Father, He lifts me up from whatever I am facing and celebrates with me with whatever I am celebrating.
When I have my eyes on Him, then true joy full of hope fills my heart.
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12 NIV
May the Lord inspire us today to be joyful with faith, love and hope. To allow Him into every part of our day because He desires that with you and I so very much.

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

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Recovery Journey to Ephesus

As I wrote before, recently, I was challenged to spend time in the Book of Ephesians. So, this time as I read through it, I thought I would keep a journal of sorts on My Recovery Journey to Ephesus
Eph 1:3-6
“How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”
I am sitting here reading these three verses stunned, awed, & humbled. Not even sure what I should write. I have no words that speak to what I feel inside. I want to break into singing but no song does it justice. This is one of those times that the Bible talks about when my spirit, my soul, my heart is groaning for me. I feel the yearning, the urging to bring God praise, yet my mind cannot find the words to express what is in my heart. More than thankfulness, more than gratitude, there is something else there that gives me pause, that brings me to tears. Lines from various worship songs flash through my head, none fit. How frustrating to not have the words, and yet, how marvelous to know something so much bigger than I can describe.
“Long before he laid the earth’s foundations, he had [me] in mind…” I read this and the thing that comes to my mind is that I am not important to God, but I am valuable to Him; we are not important to God, but we are valuable to Him. Meaning that He does not need us, but He wants us. He does not need me, but He wants me, “warts and all” as they say.
He was aware of my screw ups as He began the creation process. As He spoke and there was light, as created the heavens and the earth and all the living creatures and as breathed life into Adam, He knew then of what my screw ups would be. What kind of God is this, that will put together creation; that will provide for His creation a way of redemption while even knowing that the ones He does this for will fail Him, will screw up? What kind of God has me in mind when He does this? It is obvious that I am not important to Him; He does not need me to accomplish what He desires to accomplish. If He can work His will through Balaam’s donkey, then He surely can accomplish what He needs done without me. My skills and talents are not important to Him; I bring nothing of use to the table. YET!! He counts me as valuable?!
Who is this God that has no use for me, yet has decided that I was valuable to Him?
Who is this God that loved me before I even knew about Him?
Who is this God that wants to see me made whole, no matter what it cost Him?
Who is this God that by His love, now sees me as holy?
Who is this God that pursues after me?
Who is this God that takes my very failures and turns them for His good?
Who is this God, this Creator of all that there is, that would look through time and space and then set His affection on me?
It makes no sense!! And yet, I know that it is true, as surely as I breathe, I know it is true. Stunned, awed, humbled.
Tim, Fellowship CR Assimilation Coach

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

Friday, November 25, 2011

Full of Life or Lifeless?

What is your life like these days? Does it reflect one full of life and hope or is it reflecting more of hopelessness and a lifeless picture.
Last year I had the chance to go to the country of Jordan with a small group of brothers and sisters to do a Life’s Healing Choices conference. While we were there we took some time to go visit the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea is this body of water that is made up with so much salt that nothing can survive in it. It is exactly what it says, “dead”. A couple times we got the water in our eyes and the salt was so strong from the minerals that it burned our eyes. Amazingly it is true what they say; you cannot sink in the Dead Sea. We jumped in the water and immediately floated to the top. It was the most bizarre feeling to know you could not sink.
Recently I was reading in Ezekiel 47, where a river is mentioned, also mentioned in Revelation 22, God refers to this river that is associated with the Garden of Eden in Chapter 2 river.
When I think about the Garden of Eden, I think of good, pure, and life. This river God refers to in Ezekiel and Revelation symbolizes life from God. This river is gentle safe and deep river, expanding more and more as it flows. We learn that this river will flow into the Dead Sea and freshen the Dead Sea’s water so that it can support life. Wow! Think about that for a second. If God can take a sea like the Dead Sea, that is lifeless and give it life, He most definitely can do that for us can’t He?
If our life is feeling lifeless or hopeless right now, we can find hope in knowing that God’s power can transform us the same way he will the Dead Sea and give us life. He can give us a life full of HOPE. Jesus said in Mark 1:15, “Turn from your sins and act on this glorious news!”
No matter how empty, lifeless or corrupt our life may be, He will flow His living water through us and give us LIFE and life more abundantly.
Even when I feel too messed up and beyond help and hope; His power can heal and restore me. The bottom line, I cannot sink in my junk and won’t when I turn to Him and His power to control my life. This will reflect His blessings that flow from His throne. “He frees the prisoners….; He lifts the burdens from those bent down beneath their loads.” Ps 146:7-8
If He can bring life to this messed up man, that was full of dysfunction and messiness, He can most definitely do this for you. He promises us in John 10:10, “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”
Isn’t that good news!? His purpose is to give you and I life in all its fullness.
Come visit us at CR tonight! We would love to have you join us.

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

You Have HOPE!


Sometimes the Holidays can be so tough. It can be a time when we feel like we are very alone and that while everyone else is enjoying family, we are by our self with no one to talk to.
The enemy is so bad about preying on that weakness and the wound that may be exposed in us.
The truth is though; none of us has to be alone. Even if we don’t have family at home, we do have family in recovery. Celebrate Recovery is a safe place to stand alongside others and walk thru tough seasons.
Even if the Holidays are tough on us, we always have hope because we have a new family that God has placed in our life.
We have hope! Max Lucado defined Hope as “a zany unpredictable dependence on God” Are you feeling like there is no hope? That is a lie my friend. You and I do have hope thru our faith, love and hope in Christ. Hope gives us that feeling that what is wanted in our life actually can be had and that it will turn out for the best in our life. Christ will knock our socks off as He surprises us with His hope when we seek Him.
My prayer for each of us is that we will reach out to the group that is a gift of people He has put in our life. We can reach out to them thru the tough times such as holidays and valleys we may be walking thru.
But if you don’t have people around you in your life, know that you do now. Find a CR family near you and attend a meeting or multiple meetings if that is possible. They are your family and are waiting to embrace you, hug your neck, and let you know you are loved. They are waiting to cheer you on as you take steps toward freedom and true happiness no matter what your circumstances in life.
“Be strong and take heart, all who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24 NIV. You are loved my friend!
We have a group of people, fellow strugglers in life waiting for you. We are not perfect, but we do know the Perfect One and are ready to share His hope with you.
Blessed are those who seek Him.
We hope to see you this Holiday Season at CR. God is good all the time and all the time, God is good. Quit listening to those lies and come hear His Good News!

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

My Recovery Journey to Ephesus – Part 1:1

Recently, I was challenged to spend time in the Book of Ephesians. So, this time as I read through it, I thought I would keep a journal of sorts on My Recovery Journey to Ephesus. I will be using The Message version of the Bible unless otherwise noted, I do not intend this to be a commentary on the book, just some notes as to what God is teaching me.
Eph. 1:1
I, Paul, am under God's plan as an apostle, a special agent of Christ Jesus, writing to you faithful believers in Ephesus.
Since coming into recovery, I have started to notice, how, Paul and the other writers of the Bible that God used introduced themselves.
In Celebrate Recovery, we introduce ourselves by saying something like: “I am a grateful believer, who struggles with ______, my name is _____.” Our introductions are important in recovery, they are not just things we say, but they have a purpose for us. They keep us out of denial about our hurts, habits and hang-ups. By speaking them out and exposing them to the light, the power they once had over us begins to break. We are only as “sick as our secrets” they say, so by my introducing myself with a statement of my struggle, is just another nail in the coffin of the thing(s) that have kept me in bondage for so many years. More importantly, our introductions also remind us of who and whose we are in Christ. Statements like, I am a “grateful believer” or “grateful follower” or “grateful disciple” all remind me of the fact that though I struggle, I have experienced God’s grace, though I struggle, I was chosen by Him before the creation of the world, though I struggle, I am love and accepted by the Father. My introduction in recovery keeps me humble, keeps me honest and keeps me reminded of the hope I now have in Jesus Christ my Higher Power.
So, in Paul’s introduction he states first that “I…am under God’s plan…” Years ago, prior to recovery, when I read Paul’s introductions I would always think, “Gee Paul, a little arrogant aren’t we?” I always thought he was a little full of himself. However, as I read this now, I don’t think that he is trying to brag, at least not in himself.
Prior to his “recovery,” Paul went after followers of Christ, he hunted them down, he had them killed. Like me, he had a dark past, a past he would like to forget, but cannot. However, Paul also understands that, through Christ, God has forgiven him for his acts. I now think that this introduction is not Paul bragging about himself or his station, but Paul submitting to God. I think if I were to hear him say this, I would hear humility in his voice. I now can actually see him with tears in his eyes as he writes these words.
I think my struggle with Paul’s introductions prior to my recovery is because of a religious spirit or, what might be called, having a “religious mind set” or attitude. The best expression of this mind set is what some have called a “holier than thou” attitude. Ironically, this attitude held sway over me for so long because of the secret sin that I had allowed into my life, my own guilt and shame kept feeding it. I see this in Paul’s life as well, prior to his recovery.
It is interesting to me, how the one writer I found so distasteful in the Bible prior to recovery, is the one I seem to find myself increasingly identifying with the most now. I would have never admitted that before recovery. Funny, how when I surrender my struggles to God, and allow Him to continually touch my life with His grace, my view of things changes. No not changes, but more of paradigm shifts really.
So, here is Paul, submitted to God’s plan to be “an apostle, a special agent of Jesus Christ.” I looked up the word apostle; it is an ancient Greek word, and it literally means “one who is sent away.” However, the word was used to describe someone who was sent away with a purpose, like an ambassador or emissary. Again this kind of language in the past used to cause me to think of Paul as bragging, but now, I hear him giving God glory. I hear saying, “Look, I was so messed up, but God has decided to love and use me anyway.” His introduction is not about how great of person Paul is, but it about how much grace God has. The truth is that what I once thought was arrogance, I know see as humility, because of recovery.
What does this mean to me? My struggle, my sin has often left me wondering, how or why would God ever consider loving me, let alone using me? The answer is simple for me, it is not about me; it is about Him, Jesus. My struggle and my sin is not the determining factor in God’s decision to love me. The determining factor, really the only factor, is that God just decided that is what He wanted to do. I really have nothing to do with it one-way or the other when it all comes down to it. In the end, my only part is whether or not I will accept the gift He is offering.


Tim, Fellowship CR Assimilation Coach

For informationa bout Celebrate Recovery contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowhsipnwa.org

Monday, November 21, 2011

How Do You Really Feel?

Are you having a bad day? Does it feel like the world is coming down on you and you can hardly breathe? In these moments, the last thing I want to do is rejoice to the Lord. My mood may be down, or perhaps a tough situation is completely out of hand and out of my control. Or maybe my guilt or sorrow is overwhelming me and I just don’t have anything to rejoice about.
I know when my mom was really sick several years ago, I had some rough days in watching her struggle so much with her illness. I still have days of struggles even after she has died and gone to be with the Lord.
She has been gone 2 1/2 years and still last night one of those moments hit. I was going thru some old pictures and saw my sweet mom's picture. All the emotions came rushing back. Oh, how I miss my mom and felt sorrow in my soul for that. However, as I talk that out, I am reminded of so many blessed days with her and my heart is filled with so much joy knowing she is with the Lord in heaven now.

In reading the Psalms this morning I am reminded that I have a lot in common with the Psalmist. The encouragement for me in what I see is that they always told God how they really felt. They didn’t look for “fake” joy or “act” happy. If they were hurting or scared or whatever, they told Him how it was. No matter how bad things got, they were always honest with God. What is cool though is that as they talked it out with God, they always ended up ending the prayer with praise.

When I don’t feel like rejoicing, I know that I can and should tell God how I truly feel.
The beauty is that He ends up giving me a reason to rejoice.
God has given me this day to live and serve Him. CR has taught me this is in a big way.
Even though I can't talk to my mom on the phone or hug her or even sing to her as she used to love for me to do over the phone, I can still have joy. I have learned thru CR to embrace my feelings I am experiencing and feel what I need to feel instead of stuffing it and acting like it isn’t there. That is only a recipe for disaster when I do that.
I can know that because the Lord gave me a heart that hurts so well, I know He gave me a heart that loves so well. Even bigger, He loves me that much more.
Ps 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Be glad in it today my friend. Tell God how you feel today. He is big enough to handle it. Rejoice and be glad in what He has given us today.
Rodney, Nat’l Assimilation Coach


If you would like more information about Celebrate Recovery, contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tunnel Vision

One time I was working from home in my office, on a summer day. The kids were out of school. I was preparing for something for the CR ministry and my daughter decided to come in and interrupt me. Now, you must know that there are rules when I work from home and one of those is that dad cannot be bugged when he is working from home. My daughter was pretty young at the time and she opened my office door and said "daddy!"
My first reaction was to snap at her and tell her that she knew the rules on coming into my office while dad was working. She went back to her room. I alter realized that she was trying to show me a cute little picture she drew for me. Ouch! I know, terrible dad huh?! 
Sometimes in my life I can develop tunnel vision and not even see what is right in front of me.
You see, in my mind I had "ministry" on my mind and didn’t stop to realize that ministry was happening right in front of my eyes with my own daughter. I had to make amends to my sweet little girl at the time for snapping at her.
This was a good reminder the Lord gave me to understand that I must stay out of my tunnel vision mode. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up with doing work that we lose sight of the great opportunities He places right before our eyes. I bet if you stopped and thought about it you might realize some people God put in your path like he has mine, that I have missed and opportunity to minister to even today.
I remember when we were talking about who we would invite to the 8 Year anniversary for our CR here locally, we asked our folks to take a little business card invitation to hand out to someone. After attempting to give one lady a few cards to hand out, she responded to me saying, "Sorry, I don't know anyone I could invite. I don't have any friends."
Interesting how we can fall into that frame of mind when we think about who can use this ministry huh?
I mean, stop and think about who you came across today in your everyday life. You interacted with people at the coffee shop when you got coffee this morning, maybe someone at the school when dropping off your kids. Maybe over breakfast at the local restaurant a waitress or hostess that seated you. Maybe someone at the quick stop you got gas from? What about the grocery store clerk when you stopped to pick up some milk? A co-worker? Or even, someone you sat next to in church or community group? The point is, if we really stop and think about it, so many people God puts in our life could use the tool of CR and we might have missed the opportunity to tell the them about it.
"but, they don't look like they need recovery" Yes, but neither did we. We are good at wearing masks and some people look like they have it all together but are in fact screaming and even drowning in their own life. It could be by us sharing about the hope in Christ and CR as a tool to deal with life's hurts, habits and hang-ups could even save their marriage, job, or even life.
“Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes! He helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Cor 1:3-4
God is painting a new picture in you and a part of staying on track is carrying out His message to others. If we are not careful, we will have our blinders on and miss the ministry happening right in front of us. We may miss the opportunity to share His good news. The next time you are around someone, keep your eyes open and remember principle 8: Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words.
But….remember, it has to start with our own family. This is our first and most important ministry to focus on. Imagine the impact you can have on people if you take advantage of the opportunities placed right in front of you.

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

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Signs of possible relapse

Relapse is a process rather than an event. A group of behaviors, attitudes, feelings, and thoughts develop first. Then these lead to an action – acting out the addiction. One may fall into relapse over a period of hours, days, weeks, and even months. Warning signals to alert you to a possible relapse include:

• Feeling uneasy, afraid, and anxious about staying clean and sober. This begins to increase and serenity decreases.

• Ignoring feelings of fear and anxiety and refusing to talk about them with others.

• Having a low tolerance for frustration.

• Becoming defiant, so that rebelliousness begins to replace what has been love and acceptance. Anger becomes one’s ruling emotion.

• The “ISM” (I-Self-Me) attitude grows. Self-centered behavior begins to rule one’s attitudes and feelings.

• Increasing dishonesty, whereby small lies begin to surface and deceptive thinking again takes over.

• Increased isolation and withdrawal characterized by missing group meetings and withdrawing from friends, family, and other support.

• Exhibiting a critical, judgmental attitude – a behavior which often is a process of projection – and the person in recovery feels shame and guilt for his or her negative behaviors.

• Lack of self-confidence shown by putting down oneself, overwhelming feeling of failure, a tendency to set up oneself for failure.

• Overconfidence demonstrated by statements such as, “I’ll never do that again,” or by simply believing that one is the “exception” to all rules about recovery.

Taken from "Conquering Chemical Dependency" by McGee & McCleskey