Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What Has My Attention?

"Whatever get my attention, gets me" One night everyone was sound asleep and I had to get up to go to the bathroom. (Seems to happen more and more the older I get) What I didn't know, was at the very same time my wife was getting up to use the restroom and we met at the very same time at the bathroom door, in a completely dark room.  We bumped into each other and both started yelling. Me: "Ahhhhhhhh!!!  My wife, "it's me, it's me!" Talk about getting my attention.  I nearly karate chopped her. :) In my recovery, there are times that I will be walking thru my day, expecting certain things to happen a certain way, when all of the sudden, BAM! I get blindsided with something completely unexpected.  The question is, will I be prepared to face those temptations and struggles? Thru CR I am learning that the only way I can resist temptations & deal with daily struggles is to refocus my mind onto positive truths.  There is an old saying, “Rats don't dance in the cat's doorway." In recovery I have learned that if I don't want to act in incorrect ways, I must not think and meditate on incorrect things. Thru CR I have learned that what I think, determines the way I feel. The way I feel will determine how I respond to life's surprises in dark places. Today, if I find myself in a dark spot because something didn't go my way, someone criticizes me, or if something unhealthy just crosses my path begging for my attention, I can make a choice.  I can choose to refocus my mind on His truth and not allow my mind to sink into ugly, unhealthy thoughts that lead to destruction. “Put into practice what you learned and received from me; both words and actions. The God of peace will be with you." Phil 4:9 Whatever gets my attention, gets me? Today, I hope that my full attention is on the Father. What has your attention these days? Have a great day!  Rodney Holmstrom

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Help Is On The Way

Help is on the way! Sitting in my quiet time this morning thinking about the question, "does time heal all wounds?" I am learning that my wounds may not heal in my timing but they will in His timing. I am learning that part of the healing & growth is the process of getting me to the healing.  I am glad that the Father's timing will bring healing and for what He teaches me thru that. I am reminded that though many things change around me, one thing remains constant, and that is the loving Father.  Today, I choose to reach out to take the hand of the most constant thing in my life; the hand of the Father. He is not only able, willing, caring & loving, He is constant!  “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called." 1Timothy 6:12 Whatever battle you are facing today, Hold on friend, help is on the way!! Rodney Holmstrom

Monday, October 29, 2012

You Are To Be Thanked

"Please allow me to buy you lunch." This past week a dear brother in our ministry made that statement to me. He said it was pastor appreciation month and he wanted to just say thanks for serving. Wow! That was so kind of him to do this. I was truly humbled cause he was the one to be thanked as one of our volunteers. That afternoon, I began thinking about all our volunteers. As a leader, there is absolutely no way possible for me to do what I do if we don't have volunteers. Our volunteers selflessly come week in and week out to give of their hearts and souls, let alone their time, to help the hurting. There is an old saying, “If you love other people's children, you will love your own even more."  When I think about all our volunteers, I think of people who pour love into other hurting people like they are their own. They truly view the people they serve as their own family. We call them forever family. You all are pastors in ministry and I am honored to serve alongside you. So, in all honesty, it is I that should be buying all the lunches. Now, if I could just find my darn wallet...:) In all seriousness, if you volunteer or have ever volunteered in any way, please let me say thank YOU.  Happy pastors appreciation month brothers and sisters. You do an amazing job loving on others and it is an honor to be just one of millions in the trenches.  You make this messed up guy look so much better than I am actually am. Thank YOU for making me a better man with your incredible love for the Lord and each other! “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, & the love of God, & the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." 2Cor 13:14 P.S. I am thankful for our pastors & elders here in our church that YES to CR. If you get a chance, drop them a note to say thank you. #21Days Rodney Holmstrom

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I Am Powerless

"That's just an excuse for you!" I remember one time having a conversation with a parole officer about these three words in step one, "we were 'powerless'." They had the wrong understanding of what it meant to say them. What it is NOT saying is that I can't help myself, I'm just going to keep on doing what I do and I have no control over stopping. No that would be me saying I am in charge and will keep playing God in my life. This is saying there is no power in the blood to overcome anything.  What those three words are really saying is that apart from Christ, living in the flesh, I can do nothing. But, by admitting my weakness and surrendering with full dependence, everything to the Father, there is great strength & hope.  Why? Because He is now in control of my life and has the power I don't have to help me overcome. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Romans 7:18) In my sinful nature I can do nothing. In Christ, I can do all things. This is why step one is so critical and is at the beginning of the process. Until I admit that I need God in my life on a daily moment by moment basis, and then seek Him in the same way, change will never happen. This morning I am so grateful that I don't have to live each moment of my life by myself. Today I admit again, that  I am powerLESS but praise the Father that change and growth is possible because He is powerFUL! #21Days Rodney Holmstrom

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The "Rest" Of The Song

What a beautiful song! Have you ever listened to a music band and choir play and sing a song and then all of the sudden, in unison, it all stops suddenly? It is so cool! Jesus is building a beautiful musical score that we are all a part of called life of recovery. In this score there are harmonies, and notes that paint the skies with beauty. Isn't it interesting, though, that we forget about one important element written in this musical score, the "rests". These are just as much a part of the overall score and composition He has written.  The beautiful thing about the "rests" Is that they build incredible power for when the music starts again. This is why principle 7 in CR is so important isn't it? Reserve a daily time with God, for self Examination & prayer, why? So that we can "rest" and examine our hearts and actions from the previous day. Actions that might be creating some bad notes that don't match the Fathers plan or composition. It is in these "rests" with Him that give you and I incredible power when the music begins again. For where the spirit is present and not startled away, there is great power. The same power that raised Jesus from the grave, lives inside of me and you.  This is why I must keep my side of the street clean and right with amends on a regular and daily basis. I am learning that the "rest" in the composition is just as critical as all the musical notes He allows me to play in this life. I am so thankful for CR that teaches this principle. I could not make it without it. Let's write a new song today friends. Don't forget about the "rests". #21days Rodney Holmstrom

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thankful For A Praying Wife

Do you hear the whispers? Many years ago when my son was very young, he had a really high fever. I was not aware but my wife Carol's motherly instincts told her to go check on him in the middle of the night. So glad she did cause his fever had spiked & was so high. His little body was letting off incredible heat. My wife gave him medicine and took care of him. Here was what was so special for me to witness as a dad and husband though.  My wife was leaning over our son Jason, with her face close to his as he slept. She was whispering desperate prayers to our Father in a scary situation. This was not just a simple prayer but a lengthy conversational prayer with our Father.  I will never forget the joy and excitement my wife had when she came back into the bedroom and awoke me. With tears in her eyes, she shared what had happened with his fever spiking and how she had prayed. Then she told me that his fever broke and he was sweating! Wow! What a gift from the Father.  What a gift to have a wife that believes in prayer and then has the discipline to act on it. Someone once said, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Wishing is not enough; we must do."  So glad she applied that knowledge to pray to our Father.  I imagine a picture of our Father whispering His love over my son and wife that night. I am sure He had great appreciation to be hearing from His beloved daughter. “Take delight in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart."Psalms 37:4 Keep on praying friends. The Father loves to hear from His kids in good and bad times. Please pray now for a dear friends son, Chatan that has had a high fever for days now. I am thankful for the opportunity to pray for others in need. #21DAYS Rodney Holmstrom

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shhh, The Little Boy Sleeps

I was a little boy in a man's body. Looking back on my past I can see the little boy, Rodney, that I would refer back to when things got tough as an adult. The little boy inside me would run and hide when opposed. Due to some pretty traumatic stuff in my life from men, the little boy would isolate from others, especially men. I would even lash out as a defense, even throw a tantrum to those threatening or challenging me. I had no real relationships with anyone. I kept everyone at a distance to try and protect myself. What I love about CR is it teaches me how to respond to life's problems as a man and no longer the little boy I was for so long.  There is an old proverb that says, “Don't tell any more fairy tales when the child has gone to sleep." For many years I lived life as that little boy listening to the enemies fairy tale lies and even took it into my marriage. I had unresolved stuff that I had not dealt with, keeping me handcuffed emotionally to a 9 year old boy. I am so glad God gave me the courage to face that junk & that the little boy is no longer. I still have temptations to go back to that emotional level when things get tough, but I am learning that it is much better to run to God. The little boy says, "hide, run and it will go away." Christ says, "Come to me and I will lead you thru it" Thru CR I learn that I don't have to live in my past as that little boy wronged in so many ways. The enemy tries to convince me that it's better to stay there but God says, it is for that little boy's wounds that He sent His Son to die for me. His blood, grace, mercy, & love, gives me the strength to face my past so that I can become the man He desires. His power gives me the strength to face not only yesterday's junk but today's & tomorrow's as well. It is for your wounds of yesterday, today and tomorrow too, that He sent His Son to die. It is so much better to face that past and grow. He has big plans for you but we have to get out of the play pen of dysfunction first. Dealing with our past leads us that direction. “He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, & by his wounds we are healed." Isa 53:5 Today, the little boy sleeps, and the renewed man is awake and alive more than ever thanks to my Father. Rodney Holmstrom

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Here Comes The Best Part

You are gonna love this movie! Ever been to a movie that someone else has already seen and they are right there with you experiencing the movie with you? It can be frustrating sometimes with the "are you watching?Watch this part...or oh I love this part." Sometimes I just need to be able to experience the great movie the same way you did and not be spoon fed line by line. When we have experienced something great, we want so badly for others to as well but sometimes this can be a negative. I want to experience the process of watching the entire film the way others did. In recovery this can happen too. I want so badly for people to experience what I have and ultimately can just get in the way of what God is trying to do. It is frustrating when people close to me need help so desperately but they just refuse to take the steps toward freedom. This can be discouraging but I am reminded thru the years in working with lots of hurting people that I can't make people recover. Kind of a duh moment but when we are in the moment sometimes it is easy to lose sight of this truth.  Someone once said,  “You cannot push anyone up the ladder unless he is willing to climb." I have learned the phrase, "I cannot want this more than you do my friend." If I am doing all the work in someone's recovery and they are relying on me to do so, I am doing them an injustice. My recovery is my battle to be fought in unison with the Lord. Then the people God places around me are a compliment and encouragement to what work I am already doing with the Lords help. I have learned that prayer is an important part of the process. Keep praying for them and when they are ready, they will reach out. Let's let them experience the process like we have.  “I have faith that God is living out a divine plan through me. Have faith in God."Mark 11:22 Rodney Holmstrom

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Got Stung!

I got stung! When I was a little boy I was playing in our backyard that had a bunch of trees. I ran across a tree that was down and decided to see if I could walk across it keeping my balance. Well, I didn't make it and my foot slipped causing me to fall down right next to the downed tree. The bad part about it was that hidden away in the brush next to the tree was a large nest of sleeping bees. Let's just say they weren't sleeping for long after I stuck my foot in their face. Mom counted my stings and found that I was stung 15 times. Ouch! To this day, I am very "aware" of bees when they come around. :) This doesn't mean I will never go into wooded areas again though. Someone once said, “When you go in search of honey you must expect to be stung by bees." There have been times in my life that I have been crippled with fear and as a result stayed frozen in my muck. "what if I get stung?" When I choose to live for Christ, the enemy will not and does not like it and will put up a fight. But our God is stronger. I am learning that yes, there is an enemy that doesn't want me to taste the honey that the Lord has provided, but I must keeping taking steps toward the Father. When I stick my foot in the face of the enemy, yes, he gets upset and the stings will come, but it is so worth it in the end. Today, with the Lord's help, let's kick the enemy between the eyes with great  courage. I have a craving for some sweet honey.  “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."Rom 8:28 Rodney Holmstrom

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Blessed....

"Here is what I would like for you to do" Isn't it sweet to get to a point in our life when we hear those words from our Father. I used to believe that there was no way God could use such messed up broken people. But to the contrary, it is because of my brokenness and surrender to Him that I can be used. Yesterday I got to see over 500 people in this scenario. One of the sweetest things I get to have is a front row seat to watch broken people give back in service. Pastor Rick Warren said it well when he wrote, "Nothing matters more than knowing God's purposes for your life, and nothing can compensate for not knowing." The volunteers across the world serving in CR are some of the most grateful and giving people you will ever see. What a treat to see this example yet again here in Chicago with 100 volunteers serving with the greatest joy? Who were they serving? New leaders of new CR's that will hopefully start this next year. Also existing leaders looking to keep learning and growing as leaders. Why were they serving? Because of their love and desire to glorify the Name of the King Almighty Jesus Christ. Never question the heart of a volunteer. So grateful to be blessed and then get to be a blessing to others.  What a sweet way to say thanks to our Father for what He has and is doing in and thru our life. Thank you Bill and Carolynn at Hartford church & your volunteers for shining like a bright light in Illinois! “Serve the Lord with fear, & rejoice with trembling."Psalm 2:11 Rodney Holmstrom

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I Love You Dad

I love you dad! As a dad, on of the things that warms my heart is to hear my precious daughter utter those words. What a joy to hear a young man, my son say these words to his dad too. What is even better though is when they show me their love by coming to their dad to give me a hug. Wow! Now you are really seeing a blessed man! In all the testimonies I hear across the country and even world thru CR, it is such a treat to hear stories of reconciliation. What a joy to see a mom or dad speak of their kids and their renewed relationship. No matter what age, race, gender, or background we all seem to have the same common ingredient, we love to hear and feel love from our kids. Anytime someone is speaking of a special moment from their kids, including myself, there seems to be the inevitable "silent" moment. You know, that moment right before the tears start to flow. Then we begin talking of our love for our kids, and bam, the tears start to flow with love, compassion and joy. I am reminded this morning that my Father has the same feelings for me and you. With the incredible love we have for our kids, He has even more love for us that is unimaginable isn't it?  How can anyone love us that way? But it's true, He loves us more than we can wrap our minds around to comprehend. Thru CR I have learned more than ever that "I Matter To Him!" Imagine how much joy the Father experiences when He hears from His kids, "I love you dad." My prayer is that today I not only say with my lips how much I love Him but then back it up with my actions that shout and show my love for Him. Today, I want to keep my head buried in the chest of my Father, as I face this new day He has given me. “My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me." Ps 63:8 Rodney Holmstrom

Friday, October 19, 2012

What Pictures Are You Taking?

Look mom! I can remember a trip I took to see my mom one time. She was pretty sick and in the hospital once again where she spent most of her last few years of her life. While I was there, a good friend of mine called me to tell me he wanted to give me a hotel room so I could rest if needed. I can remember telling my mom how nice it was of this brother in Christ to do this for me. She was so intrigued about this room. She said "son, take pictures of every part of the room." kind of funny cause it was just a regular hotel room but she was intrigued. As she looked at these pictures, she was white eyed and smiling. "oh that is so nice. Wow, look at that tub..." etc, etc. She was like a little kid. Kind of funny how the smallest memories can pop up about stuff but as  sat in my hotel room last night, I recalled this fun memory. Three months after I showed my phone pics to my mom sitting there in the hospital, she went home to be with the Lord. I can still remember her peaceful face as she took her last breath. I can't help but think, what was her reaction when she entered heaven as a beloved daughter of the King. If she thought the bathroom of my hotel was nice, what was she saying when she entered the gates of beauty. Or when she saw the Father up close, how many "wow's" did she let out? I am reminded today to take a lesson from my mom. I need to be white eyed and smiling as I approach this day. I can hear the Father saying, "Rodney, takes lots of pictures" and then being excited with me for what part of His plan He allows me to take part in today. I must be appreciative of what God shows me & allows me to be apart of today. "Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens." Lam 3:41 This morning, thinking of mom, I hope she is taking lots of pictures too. What a day that will be to share in those great pics one day in a sweet reunion. Rodney Holmstrom

Thursday, October 18, 2012

This Tastes Good!

What a feast! This tastes great but, why am I still hungry? I used to be a professional "message listener." I could listen with the best of them. I was the one sitting in church listening to some of the greatest sermons from some of the greatest men you will ever meet. I would walk out of the doors feeling great, "what a great message pastor." So why wasn't I changing? I wasn't digesting what I had just chewed on. You see, I really enjoyed chewing on wisdom but the actual digesting part was another story. Imagine if I only chewed the food that I put in my mouth but never swallowed it? My muscles would begin to weaken, my bones would become brittle, and my body would slowly fade away from the lack of nutrients.  "Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like".James1:23-24 CR has taught me to not just chew my spiritual food but also digest it. Asking the question everyday, Lord, what does your Word mean for me today? How is this going to change me for the better?  Health only comes from my willingness to not just walk thru His river of wisdom but to be willing to bend down and drink of it.  "But the man who looks intently...not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does".Ja1:25 Someone once said, "Age is no guarantee of maturity." So true, and the only way I can grow in maturity in my faith is to chew on His wisdom(listen) and then digest it into my heart (apply to my life). What a glorious feast we have before us huh?  Have a great day! Rodney Holmstrom

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

How Do You Like Your Eggs?

How do you like your eggs?  I can remember as a young boy going to the grocery store to buy eggs for my mom. In her instructions she was very clear when it came to buying eggs. "make sure you open the carton and check for cracked eggs". If I opened the carton and one is cracked or broken, I was instructed to just "put it back on the shelf" and keep looking for one that has a full un-cracked dozen.  As I was thinking about this, I couldn't help but relate it back to my life. For so long in my life, I viewed God as the one opening the carton and looking down on me amongst other people on this earth. I knew I was the cracked and broken egg and surrounded with people that had it all together. Some thoughts would run thru my head like, "Why was I so messed up and everyone else had such a perfect life? Why am I the only cracked egg around here? I know God can't use me and will just stick me back on the shelf to be disposed of later." Fortunately, looking back I realized that my thinking was distorted. God is not examining each egg, searching for cracks so that He can throw them back. He isn't looking for un-cracked eggs that have it all together. In fact, this is why He sent His Son to die for us. He knows we are all cracked eggs. I now realize that there is no such thing as a perfect person. We are all broken and He loves us anyway. I have learned now more than ever thru CR that some people can look beautiful and happy on the outside only to have misery and pain on the inside. Just cause there are no visible cracks doesn't always mean the egg is not beginning to spoil on the inside. If your egg is rotting on the inside or if you have cracks in your shell, don't keep hiding them from the Father, He already knows about them. He has the power to restore, redeem and renew us into a healthy and vibrant being. But until we surrender & acknowledge those to Him, He cannot begin the restoration process. “Live as if you were living a second time, and as though you had acted wrongly the first time."Viktor E. Frankl The Father gives us a second chance at living life. Today, I take all my brokenness and cracks to the cross. I can't wait to see how he will take a cracked egg like myself and make delicious scrambled eggs out of my mess. :) Have a great day. Rodney Holmstrom

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Are You Sure You Want To Delete?

"Are you sure you want to permanently delete?" Yesterday I looked at my email "deleted" and "sent" files and boy was it full. I mean in the 1000's of emails from many, many weeks ago sitting there that needed to be permanently deleted. One of my concerns about deleting these old emails is it seems like as soon as I do this I end up needing one or two to refer back to. And if I delete it for good then I am in trouble. The problem though is that if I don't clean these files out periodically, it can cause not just my system to run slow but can affect the entire organization.   Even yesterday when I selected the messages and hit delete, I had this "what if" thought go thru my mind again when the message read, "Are you sure you want to permanently delete?" How often do take have this same approach with my life? Do I have some things in my life that I am afraid to delete cause "I may need to go back to it later when things get tough?" Isn't that just the way the enemy works? He is constantly feeding us with the lie that says, "don't let go of that yet! What if something happens and you need it to feel better later?" Those "things" didn't do the trick before and they won't now. In fact, they only made things worse bringing shame, guilt, discouragement, destruction to myself, family, friends and an overall hopelessness.  When I don't purge those old habits, things, actions, memories from my past as I work thru them, then it not only affects how I run in this life but also affects those around me. “Being created in His image is an awesome gift, as well as a sacred responsibility." Bryant Wright. Thru CR, I have learned that it is my responsibility to do a daily delete in my life. If I mess up in the way I interact with someone, think a certain way about myself or just say or do something stupid, delete it, repent, and move on.  I must examine my past, learn from it to get stronger for my future and then be willing to hit that delete button.  Forget about the enemies lies about "what if". God will help you thru with new healthy ways to deal with daily struggles. “O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me."Psalm 30:2 Are you sure you want to permanently to delete this? Yes! Yes! Yes! Have a great day friend! Rodney Holmstrom

Monday, October 15, 2012

But Watch Yourself...

"Did you look both ways Rodney?" I was dropping my daughter off at the mall yesterday and came upon a crosswalk. It was interesting for me that so many people just walked across the street without even looking. They didn't even hesitate.  How do they really know that the vehicles would stop? Because it is a crosswalk, yes, they were in the right path and yes they had the right to cross. And Yes, as a driver of a vehicle I am supposed to stop for pedestrians. But, to cross without any regard to those around you is foolish in my opinion. This struck me with some thoughts about my life, recovery and how relapse plays into our life. I can be walking along doing what I am supposed to be doing and following the Lord, even walking across the street in the exact path the Lord wants me to walk. But, there is still the risk and chance that I could get struck by an enemy seeking to take me out. If you have ever known someone that has relapsed, as most of us have in some way, then it should always be a wake up call for us that it could have been us. Any time I see a fallen brother or sister, my heart aches for them first but then secondly it reminds me that it could have been me. Someone once said, “Once bitten by a snake, he is scared all his life at the mere sight of a rope." While I should not live in fear, I should not live believing that, "that could never happen to me." "So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall." 1Cor 10:12 I have learned especially thru CR that I must take a "proactive" approach instead of "reaction" to my life.  Wisdom is not only me listening to the Father's voice and taking the right path He desires for me, but also staying alert and on guard for a prowling enemy that desires to take me out. I must not live in fear as I cross the streets of life, but I must be alert and on guard at all times. The Good news is the Father is there as the ULTIMATE cross guard to help me across. What is your proactive plan today? Rodney Holmstrom

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Am Grateful For Saliva?

Are you grateful for saliva? I know, what a question huh? I heard from a dear friend and brother this past week talking about how we have to be grateful for the small things? Why is he grateful for saliva? Cause he has had stage 4 cancer on his tongue and lost 80% of his tongue. They had to take part of his thigh to reconstruct his tongue. They said he would never speak again but today, thru lots of hard work and blessings from God, he is speaking and using his past hurts for God's glory. Wow! Puts a whole new outlook on gratitude for me. Here is a man that has been in a battle and understands what it means to be grateful.  I know sometimes in my own walk I can get overwhelmed and thru the enemies persistence forget what to be thankful for. Yesterday I had one of those days. I was just in a funk and feeling down. Don't you just hate the enemy?! Me too! I immediately reached out to my sponsor, accountability team, forever family and my wife. (thanks for praying family) I also meditated on His Word as I sat on the back porch listening to the rain fall. The rain reminds me that in biblical times there were incredible droughts and to get rain meant great blessing. As I began to think of those things I can be thankful for, functional body organs, to be able to talk, a family, so many friends, to be able to walk, laugh, eat, and much more, I began seeing my outlook much differently. Someone once said, “Keep your mind going in the right direction, and your life will catch up with it.” Yesterday I had to do that and I am so grateful I did. Christ has given us tools to deal with those storms of life, and when we look at those storms thru the lens of blessing and gratitude, our whole perspective can change. What are you taking for granted? Thank Him for the smallest of things like saliva and what He has and is doing for you right now. “A thankful attitude releases so much joy in your life. Wherever you go, give thanks to God!” Praise Him in the storm friend.  Rodney Holmstrom

Friday, October 12, 2012

Are You Better Off Today?

Are you better off today? With all the stuff we hear in this political season one of the things we hear from both sides is asking the question, "Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago." This got me to thinking about my personal recovery. I can put so much weight on my happiness coming from what other people do for me, say to me, provide for me, or what is happening around me.  As we get ready to celebrate 9 years of celebrate recovery here at our church the question that pops up is, "Rodney, are you in a better place today in your walk with Christ than you were 9yrs, 4yrs,  or even one year ago?  Last year I challenged those in attendance at our 8yr celebration to take that step toward a better, healthier and more joy filled life in Christ. This morning, many, many faces & families come to mind of people that took me up on that offer. What joy in my heart as I think about the growth from just one year ago.  Some of our forever family have experienced incredible challenges, heartbreak, loss of loved ones, relapses, cancer, divorce, struggles in our relationships, and more.  Here's the good news, no matter what has happened in our life, one thing remains constant, Jesus still loves you, He is still in the throne, and He is still leading you thru this life called recovery.  If you sat on the sidelines this past year, wanting change for your heart and life but never took action, that's ok friend. Now is your chance.  God doesn't want perfect, He wants real.  Is your heart in a better place than it was 4 years ago? Do you want to be in a better place with your heart, family, & life this time next year? It is never too late to start.  “Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it."Lou Holtz   Let's take a stand today, that no matter who gets elected into office, no matter what circumstances happen around us, we will be blessed because of our seeking the Master Counselor who provides life like no other.  May we be talking a year from now of the many great works the Father has done in our life thru complete and true surrender. Happy 9 year Anniversary Fellowship CR. Thanks you to our wonderful volunteers thru the years serving in this amazing ministry. Rodney Holmstrom

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I Am A Perfectionist

I am a perfectionist, but getting better. One way this character defect has bogged me down thru the years is making sure everything is always perfect. I allowed very little room for mistakes to happen without beating myself up. That can be exhausting.  But one of the other ways the enemy can use this defect is to keep me frozen. If I don't take that step, well then I can't possibly fail, right? That's the lie the enemy can feed me and truth be told, not doing something because of fear of failure can be the real failure. I am not as smart as some or have the best skill sets but I am learning that this is ok. That is the beauty of the body of Christ. God gives each of us a special purposes. Someone once said, “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.” I am so grateful this morning that He is not looking for skillful and perfect people to do His work. He is looking for available people that have teachable hearts.  I am learning that failure is a part of my development. It is ok to make mistakes. My identity is not in what I do but in who I am. Sometimes the things I try will be the titanic sinking and others the ark. :) Either way, it will be ok. The biggest mistake I can make is not trying at all. Yes, I still struggle with this from time to time but I am growing and learning to allow the Father to remove this defect and replace it with his great truth. “I came that you may have and enjoy life and have it in abundance, until it overflows."John 10:10 I am learning that enjoying life in abundance does not happen cause "I" make everything perfect around me. Only thru my dependence on Him can I experience true happiness, mistakes and all. Have a great day! Rodney Holmstrom

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I Am Afraid of This Roller Coaster!

"I am so afraid!" Ever been in that situation where it just seems like you can take another surprise?  Years ago my family and I went to Sea World and when we walked into the park, the largest roller coaster you can imagine was standing before us, almost taunting us. I don't remember what it was called but I am sure it was called "Death Monster" or something. :) Anyway, my daughter was pretty young at the time and when she saw this (I mean even from the parking lot walking in) she was convinced that she needed to ride this ride.  Finally at the end of the day; when she persistently stayed the course with her request to get on this ride, we got on it.  She was excited, and ready to go. Then the ride began it's climb on the most steep incline I have ever seen. I looked at my daughter and saw the color in her face begin to change. She had this look of terror and retreat & and regret written all over her face.  Finally when we got to the top, there was a pause as we crept over the hump and then a swift jerk as the cart fell at a rapid pace into a rapid decent down the hill that we had just gruelingly climbed. My daughter didn't even scream, she gritted her teeth and held on for dear life. (I think I did scream) She never took her eyes off of me. She didn't have to say a word, I knew what she was thinking. I reached over to my daughter and said, "don't be scared, daddy's here sweetie, I got you". What an experience to go thru together.  As I think about how crazy our lives are, sometimes situations happen that leave me feeling very scared and threatened about what might be over the horizon. I am so grateful that Jesus is in the cart with me though. He is my loving Father saying to me, "don't be scared, it's ok son, daddy's got you" Maybe you are in a roller coaster right now. Whatever you are going thru right now please know that the Father is with you in this tough and scary time. Just look over into His eyes and don't look away. “Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear."Isaiah 65.24 He will ride this coaster with us; up & down thru this crazy life we live in, all the while holding on tight to you. The ride together will be so bonding and it is so much better when we put our trust in Him. Enjoy your ride with the Father today friend. Rodney Holmstrom

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why Is This Mtn So Big?

"Yeah but...this mountain is bigger than the last one." Isn't it interesting that when we face obstacles, trials, and tough mountains in our life it seems as though this one is the toughest? Wonder why that is.  As I look back on my life the Lord has helped me to climb some enormous mountains. When I was facing those, they were the biggest Mtns imaginable.   Have you ever looked at a Mtn in your rear view mirror while driving away from it? It gets smaller and smaller doesn't it? In the same way, now as I have moved forward, those Mtns in the distance behind me look so small. The Mtns of today seem much bigger. Why? Cause they are right in front of me.  I am challenged this morning to remember that even though those challenges of yesterday seem so small and distant, to never forget how big those Mtns were that the Lord pulled me up in my past. The same God of power that guided me up the enormous Mtns of yesterday, is the same God of power that will help me up today's Mtns.  Today I must hold onto His promise that He will never abandon me nor forsake me in my life's battles. What Mtn are you facing today? Does it feel enormous? To God it does too only because it does to you & He loves you. He is experiencing this with you and He has the power to help you thru it.  Take some time to remember what He has done for you already, take heart and then you will know He will be with you in today's battle. "Everything God says is true & it's a shield for all who come to him for safety."Prov 30:5 He is your shield in today's struggle just as He was in yesterday's. Join me in receiving that truth as we face the new battles on the horizon. Rodney Holmstrom

Monday, October 8, 2012

You Make Me Better

Look around you; Who is standing around you? There is a temptation to want to put people around us that are weaker than we are so that we "look better". Right? If they are incapable of handling situations and "need" me to take care of stuff; that makes me more valuable doesn't it? Actually, no, it makes me less valuable.   I am learning thru lots of mistakes and growing that it is so much better to surround myself with people who are much much better than I am. When I do this it sharpens me and makes all of us better.  People want to be a part of something healthy and growing. The only way my personal ministry can grow healthy is thru searching for better people than I am to stand in the gaps. Someone once said, "A real Superman is not afraid to stand next to a Superwoman" I am no superman but, there is truth to this statement. Do I get intimidated in having super people around me that will challenge my thinking, leadership and skill sets? May this never be so.  “In nature we see where God has been.  In our fellow man, we see where He is still at work."-Robert Brault God is still at at work in me and I am am grateful to stand alongside men and women that run with me in this marathon.  I was so proud to see such amazing strong leaders surrounding me at our Friday CR meeting, Saturday CR leaders meeting and then in my visit to another CR in Fayetteville last night. God has blessed me with incredibly strong leaders on a regional level with 31 amazing state reps serving our churches state wide as well. Everyone of them make me better!  I want to say thank You God for blessing me with great people to rub shoulders with in our daily battle to lead hurting people to Christ these past 9 years at CR Fellowship. I am blessed with leaders that challenge, inspire and make me a better man.  “In your relationships with one another, have the same attitude of mind Christ Jesus had"Phil 2:5”  If you are reading this, thanks for being one of those people in my life. Have a great day friend. Rodney Holmstrom

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Producing vs Bearing fruit

Can I "produce" fruit, or do I "bear" the fruit? Interesting thought for me this morning. I used to believe that once God dealt with my past, cleansed my heart, got me back on track, and living on His path, that it was time for me to take off as a healthy runner for the Kingdom. What I am learning now though, is that I must take off and run for His glory but, that I must run "with" the Father and not solo. Solo running got me into trouble in my past.  Once I get to the point of growth and renewed and sound mind, then it is the time that I get to "bear" the fruit of all the work me and the Father have done together. Notice I didn't say, time for me to "produce" the fruit. CR has taught me that the Father is the one who produces the fruit in my family, ministry... my life. He produces it and then I can bear the fruit He has produced thru our journey together. The only way He can produce fruit in my life is thru a continued self examination, prayer and bible reading with my Savior daily. Each day He will communicate what I need to clean on my side of the street. "You didn't choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won't spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you. (John 15:16 MSG) Isn't it great that God chooses to produce fruit from a broken vessel & past like ours? Isn't it great that He says, not only will He produce it as our Father, but that He is choosing to bear that fruit thru us & our new vessel He has built?! He has restored our vessel because of our obedience & surrender to Him.  He has given us fruit that will not spoil when we abide in Him.  Thank You God for not wasting the hurts from our past and for using them for Your glory. Have a great Sunday. Rodney Holmstrom

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Plowing The Fields

One of the things I enjoy about being in this ministry is the timeout sessions we have with our great volunteers. We have some amazing people serving in the ministry of CR and they all do so much for the Kingdom. Our monthly ministry meetings are our timeout sessions as a team. These are an opportunity to sharpen our saws.   This morning in our leaders meeting we "get to" stop and sharpen ourselves as we focus on Life Skills as men and women. “You'll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind." Irish proverb Our training meetings are a great way to plan, equip, encourage, fellowship, prepare, and sharpen our blades in the plow. “A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might."Prov24:5 So grateful for one of our CR training coaches taking the lead on this meeting and pouring into our great leaders. It will be exciting to see the many fields that are plowed followed by great seeds planted into the lives of many hurting and struggling families. I love this ministry and the people who volunteer in it. I love Pastor John Baker's heart and courage to take action on the vision God gave him to start CR some 21 years ago. I love our Elders for supporting this ministry here in our church.  Most of all, I love Jesus for breathing His Spirit of blessing into CR and keeping a watch and protection over it.  Praying for the CR National team in Maine this morning as well. They are sharpening saws as they are doing a One Day Training. Have a great day! Rodney Holmstrom

Friday, October 5, 2012

Is Everyone Staring At Me?

"What kind of dressing would you like sir?" Many years ago I was working as a retail store manager and received a gift card from my employees to a real nice restaurant. What a nice gift.  When my wife and I got to the restaurant we figured out real quick that we were a bit underdressed. Most had suits on and I was in khakis and a nice shirt. Carol had a nice sun dress on and looked great but we both immediately felt uncomfortable and embarrassed. We made our way to the table and a short time later the waiter came to take our order. Amongst other things I ordered, I also got a salad. The waiter asked me, "what kind of dressing would you like sir?" my response, "what kind do you have?"  He then went on to name all these fancy dressing names that made no sense. So, when he got done, in my state of confusion, I asked him, "....you got any ranch?" The waiter gave me a look of shock and slight disgust and replied, "you mean green herb?" I then replied, "Whatever, if it tastes like Ranch, Yes." lol, how embarrassing. In CR I wonder how often the newcomer feels this way when they walk into our ministry. Do they feel like they are not dressed right to walk into a church, don't speak the lingo, or worse yet, they have too many issues to fit in. I am challenged this AM to remember what it feels like to walk into a new place feeling naked, with a low self esteem.  It has been said, “One day, you'll be just a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one.” My prayer is that when the newcomer walks into our ministry this week, that they will feel welcomed and immediately a part of our forever family.  I pray that their memory of their visit and interaction with our great volunteers will be good ones. I am reminded yet again that they want to feel loved and accepted and not looked down upon if they don't speak like us, look like we do, or have big or small issues. I pray they find an atmosphere of acceptance, love, and hope and ultimately know they are in a safe place to begin their journey toward freedom.  “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing."Mother Teresa Start with a big smile when they walk in the door. Have a great CR meeting this week. Rodney Holmstrom

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What Do I Worship?

From my wife: What are my idols? Who am I worshipping? On my way to work today, I heard a song on the radio that I had not heard in a long time and it smacked me right between the eyes!  I don't think I really had even listened to the lyrics of the song very closely before. The song talked about how God is the only One worthy of our worship.   Being someone who sings and plays a little, most of the time, I think of worship as being music. But as I thought about the lyrics to this song, I really thought about the ways that I could worship God in every aspect of my life. When I hear a bird sing or see the leaves change colors...when I hear my husband and children laugh because of the Joy that He has placed in their hearts...when things are going all wrong, but I know God is in control...all those things...He must be worshipped!   Then comes the bridge of the song and the tears started flowing. They lyrics say this,  "Anything I put before my God, is an idol Anything I want with all my heart, is an idol Anything I can't stop thinking of, is an idol Anything that I give all my love, is an idol" Smack! Many times in the day my thoughts are consumed with other things except for God. I am so guilty of having those idols. I get so caught up in thinking about every other thing, dwelling on my issues, getting caught up in worldly expectations, that I forget about the only One who is worthy to be worshipped.  My prayer is that I learn to put aside the idols, clear the stage of my mind and make space for the only One who deserves it.  Let the Heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the seas resound and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant and everything in them; let all the tress of the forest sing for joy; let all creation rejoice before the Lord. Psalm 96:11-13 "I can sing all I want to And still get it wrong; worship is more than a song I must not worship something that's not even worth it Clear the stage, make some space for the One who deserves it" Clear the Stage/Needham Carol Holmstrom

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What Would You Say To Him?

What would you say to him? Would you say well done, or don't give up? One of the things I have my guys do at the conclusion of their CR step group, is write themselves a letter to be opened one year letter. Their instructions, "what would you want this man one year from now to know?" This past week we got the group of us back together so I could hand them their sealed envelope letter they had written.  Wow! Pretty powerful having a front row seat as these men read these heart felt letters. It truly blessed my heart. This got me to thinking about life. We are going to face life challenges, death of love ones, sickness, relapses, relationship struggles, job loss, and more. Someone once said, “Every path has its puddle." The fact is, we will all face puddles, sometimes oceans of struggles in our life. Knowing that life will have its struggles, what would you write to yourself for the man or woman to read later? It really is more than, "you can do this!" isn't it? It like saying, there is a war out there, go get them!" but not giving them the proper tools to go into battle. I am reminded that if I give the pep talk to myself but don't equip myself to have armor in the battle ahead, I am doing myself a disservice. I am hoping that the man of tomorrow understands how important it is to stay the course not by "my will" power but by a daily reliance on the Father.  "Rodney, are you trying to do this on your own again? You know how that ends up. Rodney, use the tools God has given you. Utilize the incredible people He has placed in your life. Stay in His word and keep your relationship with the Father your highest priority.  When you make mistakes, don't stuff them in shame, clean your side of the street immediately."  My prayer is I will listen to those words in obedience. “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it. It Pays to Take Life Seriously"Prov16:9 What has God lead you thru this past year? Take time to thank Him. This time next year can be so different for the better, if you start the journey today with complete surrender in Him. Have a great day friend. Rodney Holmstrom

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Life of Trials

"Get me out of this...now!" In those seasons of pain and struggles, it is only natural for us to want to get out of it fast.  Some of the most difficult times in my life have proven to be the most life growing & strengthening times as well. It has been said, “A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials."  This is true in my life as a brother, son, dad, husband and child of God.  When I look back on those tough times, I can honestly say, though not pleasant, they made me a better man today. They have prepared me for today and tomorrows trials by leaning into the Father.  "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way."James 1:2-4 MSG Today, in your struggle, instead of asking "why" Lord? Ask "what" can I learn today thru this trial Lord? Easier said than done? Sure, but He will not only pull us thru it but grow us thru it. "God is more interested in our character than our comfort, and more concerned about our holiness than our happiness." Norman Geisler Rodney Holmstrom

Monday, October 1, 2012

Not Walking Alone

"I can do this all by myself thank you! If I was strong I wouldn't need anyone to help me. I just need to pull myself up by the boot straps and make it happen." Ever thought any those thoughts? I sure have and they only lead me to isolation and disappointment. The fact is I need people in my life and that is what community is all about. We need Christ AND each other.  Christ did not intend for me to face daily battles alone. I have Him and those He places in my life. He is working thru those men and women to help me face daily battles. “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion."  In the same way, when we as a forever family unite in Christ we can tie up the enemy and accomplish big things for the Kingdom. By myself, I am weak. I can't even tell you the number of times I have seen and experienced for myself being in those tough times and having people to reach out to.  I am learning that loneliness is a choice in my life. Thru CR I have learned that my pride can get in the way and keep me from experiencing His blessings thru others He puts in my path.  When I look up and no one is around, it's usually cause I have pulled back and isolated from those in my life.  Sometimes its due to a thick mask of pride and unwillingness to ask for help. I have to take the first step and sometimes it's putting myself in community even when it feels awkward. "(When pride comes) the stuck up fall flat on their faces, but down-to-earth people stand firm."Prove11:2 MSG I thank God for His strength to endure and how He works thru the many down to earth people He puts in my life to walk along side me in this crazy life. Rodney Holmstrom