Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Am In A Dark Place

Have you ever walked into a room where there were no lights or electricity to speak of? I mean that dark room where you can't even see the front of your hand?
It can be a little uneasy, can’t it? Especially if I am the first one home at night after a long day and no one else is home yet. My dogs will start barking at me cause they don't know who has just walked into our home. It isn’t until I start talking and they hear the familiar voice of their master that they begin to come to me to greet me with warm love and lots of wet kisses. :)
If you were in a room of darkness and your kids or pets were in there and they could only rely on your voice to steer them toward you, would they recognize you over say a stranger’s voice?
Of course they would. Why? Because they know their mother or father's voice. All you would have to do it keep talking to them and letting them know you are "over here, keeping following my voice until you find me". Eventually, if they trust that voice, they will meet you for a welcomed reunion.
This got me to thinking about a passage in John Chapter 10. Verses 1-5 "Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he's up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won't follow a stranger's voice but will scatter because they aren't used to the sound of it." MSG

Did you catch that? "He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out...they follow because they are familiar with his voice.... They won't follow a stranger's voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it"

The problem I have had in my life is I am way too familiar with stranger’s voice. The voice of the one who comes to kill steal and destroy. The one who calls out to me in those dark places in my life and attempts to lure me toward him instead of the One who comes to give me life in its fullest. Ever been in that dark place? That place where everything seems so dark and hopelessness begins to consume you? Yeah, me too.
There have been times in my life where I look back and wonder how I could be so deceived and even though my instincts told me otherwise, or even though the Holy Spirit was prompting me to choose a better voice, I chose the one that was a stranger to me. I chose the one who lead me astray. John 10:6-10 "...All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn't listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of."

Here is the beautiful message of hope and restoration... 11-13"I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary.
A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf come and runs for it, leaving the sheep to be ravaged and scattered by the wolf. He's only in it for the money. The sheep don't matter to him. I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me. In the same way, the Father knows me and I know the Father. I put the sheep before myself, sacrificing myself if necessary. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They'll also recognize my voice."

The Father loves you and I so much that He will run to us as our Protector to rescue us in our darkness. The key part I play in this is staying close enough to the Father thru the reading of His Word and prayer to hear His voice and run to His voice and not the voice of the stranger, the deceiver, thief and destroyer. No, by knowing His voice, I can distinguish His voice and know when the enemy is speaking to me and when Truth is speaking to me. He will lead me to green pastures, where I can feed and drink off his nurtients found in His Word and in a relationship with Him.
I don't want a hired hand looking after me. I want the True Shepherd, Protector, Comforter, the Almighty as my Good Shepherd leading me to the Light.
I am so grateful that though I have listened to the strangers voice in the past, the Good Shepherd has always welcomed me back with grace and mercy with a free ticket to return to Him.

The next time you find yourself in a dark room like I have, cry out to the Father who wants to replace the lies with truth and ultimate freedom in your mind, heart and soul. Your Master is saying to you in those dark times, “I am over here son or daughter. Follow my voice and I will lead you back to Me. It’s gonna be ok beloved child”
Then, once we get to Him it is a much welcomed and needed reunion with our Father with lots of hugs and holy kisses. Yes, He loves you and me that much!
The key is, spend time with your Father so that “when” those dark times come cause we know if is not a matter of "if" but when, then you will clearly no the difference between the thief and sheep stealer and the One who brings life, the life giver!

Have a blessed week friend.
Rodney Holmstrom

If you would like to learn about Celebrate Recovery that can and will lead you back to Your Good Shepherd, contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

He Will Never Give Me More Than I Can Handle

If you look up “Hurting” in the dictionary, one definition you will find is: a blow that inflicts a wound; bodily injury or the cause of such injury. Injury, damage, or harm; the cause of mental pain or offense, as an insult.How are you today? Are you experiencing any part of that definition in your life right now? Have you received a recent blow that has caused you mental, physical or even spiritual injury? Have you received a painful offense or insult from someone close to you? Are you in the middle of a crazy storm in your life?No matter how much you are facing or have faced, we as believers can find hope in knowing He will never abandon us. Ps 9:9-10
Hope is coming my friend!
A good friend and pastor challenged me with a thought that I have had for some time. He said, Rodney, we hear people say all the time that “God will never give me more than I can handle”. Often I will use this when things seem to be falling apart in my life or one thing after another seems to be going wrong and crumbling in front of my eyes.
I will say, “Well at least I know God will never give me more than I can handle.” The truth of the matter though, as my friend was sharing with me, is that everything we face on a daily basis is more than we can handle on our own isn’t it? Without a reliance on God, I can do NOTHING.
That is so true isn’t it? I mean, isn’t that what principle one is all about? To come to that realization that we are powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives has become unmanageable. I am not able to handle life without God.
What a revelation this was for me. I had a great reminder that today, I am powerless and I cannot handle anything without complete reliance on Him, my strength, my Rock and shield in my life.
This is so much easier to face than the idea that whatever I am facing has to be dealt with by me and my own strength.God has lavished His love on me and you in bigger ways that we can ever wrap our mind around.
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!..." I John 3:1
When is the last time you rejoiced in the love that He has lavished, expended or given in great amounts or without limit on you? It seems like an oxymoron to praise Him in our pain doesn’t it? To be honest though, that is when I must ramp up my praise to the Father because He is the one walking and leading me through it isn’t He?It is because of His love for you and me that we have a blanket of hope covering us. No matter what you are facing today, He is our portion and our hope can rest in Him.
“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!” Lam 3:22-24“But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thes. 5:8-9

Remember, no matter what you are facing in your life, as Your Father, He is your hiding place and your shield. We can hope in His word as Ps 119:114 reminds us. Keep your eyes, your hope, your confidence, on Him my friend.

Rodney Holmstrom

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

Thursday, January 12, 2012

This is Gonna Hurt, Isn't It?

Ok, so if you have a weak stomach, this might gross you out a bit but the parallels are just too good for me not to share. This is the part where the announcer voice comes on the screen and says, “Warning, the following information may not be suitable for all stomachs. Parental discretion is advised. 
Ok, maybe not that bad but it depends on how you deal with these kinds of things.

I recently developed an ingrown finger nail on my right hand. Man, did it ever hurt!!! I couldn’t even type an email without feeling incredible pain. It began to swell up and turn all kinds of interesting colors. This went on for days and it was not a pretty picture at all.
Finally I ran into one of my buddies and he told me after looking at it “bro that looks bad! You are going to have to cut that open and let it drain to get the junk out of there that is causing the infection.”

Ok, now I need to tell you, this is where I turn my man card in. I am one of the biggest wimps when it comes to this kind of thing. Did he just say “cut that open”?!?!?!?Uh, yes he did. Are you crazy!? So he hands me a brand new razor blade and told me to cut right on the infection for best results. Sounds like a commercial doesn’t it? :)
He then gave me alcohol wipes to clean the blade first, medicine to put on the cut afterward, a band aid and a kick in the pants to getter done!

So I went back to my office, packed my finger in ice to get it good and numb and…waited then.....I waited some more. Yeah I know, pathetic...
And then…yes I did it. I cut a small hole in the infection and all the junk started coming out of it. (I told you this might get graphic but you didn’t listen did you? :)
Here is the amazing thing, after I got all the infection out, put the medicine on the wound and a band aid, my finger felt a million times better. It was so awesome! I could touch my finger again and not feel like it had been hit by a hammer. The question I immediately thought was, “why in the world did you wait so long to do this Rodney!!!?!???!

So this got me to thinking about moral inventory thru step four of Celebrate Recovery. When I first sat down to write my inventory while going thru my first step group, I had a lot of the same feeling I did when I was facing dealing with my wounded and infected finger. I did not want to do it!
I had thoughts like, “Are you crazy!? I am not doing that!” or, “That’s gonna hurt too much to do this”. I had people around me telling me that it was necessary in order to deal with the hurt in my heart from my past. To deal with the “infection” that was not only infecting me, but the rest of my life, family and friends.
I needed a swift kick (in a loving way) in the pants from my sponsor to say, “You need to do this brother and you CAN do this. You will feel so much better afterward.
I can tell you now, just like my finger, I felt like a million bucks after I shared my inventory with my sponsor. He didn’t judge me, I didn't die and my life began to change as a result of my obedience to Him. James 5:16 tells us in order to enjoy the fruit and get on the right road, the healing road, Jesus purpose in our road to recovery, we must “confess our sins to one another, and pray for one another, SO THAT, we may be healed.” Our Father, the One who created us tells us to confess all our junk to one another and pray for one another because He knows what and how we function as humans. We do this why? SO THAT we may be healed.
Yes, it hurts to go thru it but after we have made the incision into our cut, thru writing this stuff out and confessing it to someone we trust, we see the infected areas, the bitterness, rage, selfisness, self righteouness, pride, fear, anxiety, control issues, addictions, gossip, judgemental hearts, greed, depression, low self esteem come oozing out and then Jesus applies His medicine with the help of the Holy Spirit and the men and women He puts in our life.
Yes, it takes courage and I didn’t think I could do it either. But you know what? It wasn't half as bad as what the enemy made it out to be. He was making it much worse than it actually was. I was making it much worse cause I believed the lies from the enemy.
I like this new clean and hopeful road of hope He has me on. He has given me a clean start in life and I am grateful. I am no where near perfect but I have new hope now.
Let me ask you a question that was asked of me, how bad does it have to get before you do the necessary work toward freedom. What would have happened if I didn’t cut into my finger? I would still be hurting and worse yet, my finger would be much worse. The infection would still be tormenting my whole body.
Denial is me saying, it’s not that bad, really! I can just type without my middle finger.
I am so glad we have a safe place in CR to take off the mask of denial and feel safe to say, “I have a wound and it hurts badly. How can I deal with this pain and find relief in my heart from hurt, failures, fears and yes, even denial in my life?”
CR is a safe place to do that and I promise, though it is hard at times, it feels so wonderful on the other side of the process. You will be saying what I said myself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?!”
Come join me and hundreds of thousands dealing with the infected areas of our life at Celebrate Recovery.
Rodney Holmstrom
For more information about Celebrate Recovery, contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I Feel So Lost

Have you lost anyone close to you? Do you sometimes feel lost without your loved ones in your life? Do you miss them? Me too! Remember, it is ok to miss them and the fact that you have a heart that hurts so well, means you have a heart that loves so well. Those feelings are God given feelings and He will comfort you in those tough times.This past week at Celebrate Recovery we had our annual “Nail it to the Cross” CR service. This is where we nail anything that might be holding us back in our life of ministry to lead our families effectively, our workplace, neighbors and those who do not know Christ. Removing the things that are preventing us from walking in step with the Father. Maybe a hurt or failure from our past, maybe we are in denial about something in the present or perhaps a fear of the future or even a fear of failure.What an awesome sight to look out from the stage and see a wave of people walking down the aisle toward the Cross to nail whatever it may be to the Cross. It was truly a blessing to take part in this with my forever family.
As I was preparing for this big night, we gathered up the Cross and had it placed in the middle of the sanctuary. We located hammers to use as well as the black piece of paper and pencils so that people could write things down discretely without anyone being able to tell what it was they were writing.
Something was missing…..Oh yeah, the nails! You can’t nail the stuff to the Cross without nails right?!So I went to our storage closet where we have a blue container full of nails. When I looked inside the container I was taken aback by what I saw. I saw an old name tag from one of our dear brothers and friends, Rex. As his friends many of us said goodbye to our Rex when he died several years ago in a bad motorcycle accident.
It made me sad for a moment to think that we don’t have goofy Rex here on this earth anymore to make us laugh and even mad at times with his stubbornness. :)
As the CR Friday Night played out, I was taken struck with the thought of what Rex must be experiencing right now. I was taken aback by the thought of Rex not having to feel pain anymore. Not having to deal with life’s struggles any longer. Wow! 2 Cor. 5:8 reads, “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”
I can just hear Rex saying those words as He dances with the Father.
As much as I miss him and the many others close to me such as my sweet mom, it warms my heart to know they are in a better place.“….and then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master (Jesus). So reassure one another with these words.” I look forward to this great reunion (gathering of family, friends or individuals at regular intervals or after a separation). Love you brother Rex, mom, and others that have left us.
If you have lost someone close to you that went to be with the Lord, you can find great hope and confidence in knowing that we will see them again one day. We rejoice in this promise of an eternal heavenly reunion.
This also spurs me with a great challenge however; asking the question; who do I know that still does not know our Father? Am I sharing Christ with people that need to His hope? Am I telling as many people as I can about CR and the freedom we gain thru surrendering to Him and turning our life over to Him in all things? Am I telling as many people I can about the upcoming tool that is www.homerunthe movie.com?
1 John 3:18 “Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
And Gal 6:1-2 “If a Christian is overcome by some sin….humbly help him back onto the right path, remembering that the next time it might be one of you who is in the wrong. Share each other’s troubles and problems, and so obey our Lord’s command.”
As much as we hurt and deep the heartache we feel for the ones we have lost in our life, Jesus is saying the same thing about those that have not come to know Him. He feels lost without them. That is why He sent His son to die for us. Wow! Chew on that for a minute.
Who do you know that needs recovery in their life? Who do you know that could find great hope in startign this road to Recovery today? Who is that one person that comes to your mind right this second? What would happen if you called them right now and invited them to CR or church this week? You may be surprised in the response. Even if they say no, you never know what kind of seeds have been planted.

Thank You Lord for the great reminder thru the passing of a brother, Rex, that left us years ago, reminding me that our time on earth is short. I want to make the most of it as I await my family reunion with forever family. See you there!

Rodney Holmstrom

For information about how you can begin the process to deal with life’s hurts and failures from the past, denial in the present or maybe even a fear of the future or failure, contact Rodney at roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org or 479-659-3679

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sticks and Stones...

I can remember when I was little saying the catchy saying, "sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me"
Man was that ever a lie. I am not sure who came up with that but they did not have much wisdom in how powerful the tongue is to others when used in the wrong way.
I can remember as a little boy being called stupid cause my grades were not what they needed to be. In fact I can still remember sitting at the kitchen table with my step dad doing homework. I couldn’t figure out my math homework and he only got more and more frustrated with me. The big problem with a step dad that was an alcoholic getting frustrated was the rage and physical abuse that followed the frustration. I can still remember the math problem in one instance. It was rounding up or down. When do we do this?
Funny how little things stick in our head huh? But here we were repeating our nightly routine of my step-dad "helping" me with my homework. 99% of the time it would end up resulting in me getting punched across the face and falling back into the plant that always sat behind our kitchen table.
I don't know what was more humiliating the fall or having to pick my dazed self back up and find my bearings again while stumbling everywhere.
As crazy as it may sound and as harmful as the physical abuse was from my step dad, it was the tongue and words that came from him that hurt more and had an even longer effect on me and my life. My step dad has since past on but his words have left many scars and even a huge hole in my heart and life.Proverbs 12:18-19 reads, "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."
For many years I allowed those feelings to be stuffed in my heart and ignored. It was not until I faced those words of being told how stupid I am or what a moron I am for not being able to figure out the math problem. I had dealt with the problems and effects that those old feelings had on me and believing truth versus the lies in my life. Celebrate Recovery was huge in helping me deal with this junk. I now know that I am His child, Jn 1:12, His friend, Jn 15:15 that I am complete in Christ, Col 2:10 and not stupid. Thank God that He makes all things new!!!Recently I began going back to school to further my education but had an algebra requirement to make up to be able to do this. It is through my recovery in Christ especially thru CR that I was able to face this daunting task. Now I know for some this may not have been a big deal but for me taking a math class at 40, to date was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. All the fears of not being able to do it and falling back to that little boy sitting at the kitchen table came rushing back. "Am I stupid? What if I fail and really am not able to do this? What if my step dad was right?" All very real questions came to my head. But then Christ began to speak to me. Telling me that I am His beloved son and that He did not give me a spirit of timidity or fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. (1 Tim 1:7)
I am so glad that I did not listen to the lies from the enemy and so glad to give God the glory for getting me thru that class with an A! Only God can do that. Either way things turned out though, it would have been fine. My identity is not based on how much I succeed or fail in life. Whew! That is good news huh?
The words that come from my mouth will impact people. I used to believe that I could say something sarcastic or even hurtful as long as I followed it up with a “I’m just kidding!” Wow! Was I ever wrong? James tells us in James 3:6 “The tongue is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole person course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”Wow! The tongue is a powerful tool that can bring great destruction in someone’s life. Sarcasm is defined as “the tearing of the flesh”….now that puts a whole new perspective on things doesn’t it?
On the flip side, my words can build people up and bring great encouragement. I love the definition John Baker gives to encouragement, “oxygen to the soul” I need to remember Pro 12:19 and keep it in my heart as I address my brothers and sisters in the faith “…but the tongue of the wise brings healing”
I know what it feels like to be on the other side of the hurtful words or the damaging tongue. My prayer is that if I hurt someone with my harmful words, that I make amends immediately. I do pray however, that I will stop and think before I speak so that the damage is not done to begin within another’s heart due to my harmful words.
Thanks for letting me share.
For more information about Celebrate Recovery, contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org