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Overcoming your…

The Road to Recovery

By Remy Diederich
Cedarbrook Church

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Overcoming Your Hurts, Habits & Hang-Ups
The Road to Recovery
By Remy Diederich
(based on the Celebrate Recovery Principles)

This document contains:


o Part One: Realize I’m not God…
o Part Two: Earnestly believe that God exists…
o Part Three: Letting Go
o Part Four: Coming Clean

A few years ago I needed to paint my house. I was really busy, pastoring, working on my
Masters and attending soccer games. So, I didn’t have the time to paint but I didn’t have a
choice. Our house was starting to look embarrassing.

Of course, before you paint, you have to scrape off the old paint. So I was up on a ladder
scraping paint with chips flying all over the place. I had a 12 foot board that bordered my siding
that I was working on when all of a sudden my scraper goes right - into - the siding. This was
not good. I had hit a rotten spot. At first I thought "No problem, I can fill this with wood putty".
But as I continued to scrape I realized that the whole board was rotten on the top 1-3 inches. My
heart sank and I was immediately depressed because I couldn't afford for anything to go wrong. I
didn’t have the time. I didn’t have the know-how. And I didn’t have the money to hire it done.

My first thought was, - Maybe this won't get any worse. I'll just let it go. I'll fill the hole I've
made and just paint over the rest. But I didn't feel good about that. What if the wood kept
rotting and I got water leaking into my house? That could be a disaster and cost me a lot more
time and money in the long run.

Well, after thinking about it for awhile, I decided that I really only had one option. I had to
replace the board. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I eventually got it replaced. I finished
painting and it wasn't as big of a deal as I had feared. Now, I tell you this because some of you
are painting over rotten wood. But I’m not talking about your house. I’m talking about your
personal life. What I mean is, you’ve got issues – you’ve got problems – and you don’t want to
face them. How do I know that? Because you’re human. Every human has issues. And every
human hates dealing with them. We just want to paint over them and hope they go away on their
own.

When I talk about issues, I’m talking about hurts, hang-ups & habits. By Hurts I mean things like
being abused or ridiculed or abandoned. You’ve encountered some kind of painful loss. It might
be the death of a loved one. Hurts often lead to Hang-Ups. By Hang-ups I mean things like
unresolved anger or depression. Or maybe things like being hyper-sensitive or controlling or
perfectionistic. Our hurts can also cause us to develop habits or addictions - anything from
overeating to over working to overspending. Or of course things like drug addiction or gambling
addiction or sex addiction.

Whether we want to admit it or not, every one of us has experienced these things at one time or
another. And so over the next eight weeks we’re going to talk about how to overcome these
things by walking- what I call – The Road to Recovery. Now, you might think that Recovery is

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just something for alcoholics. But let me tell you - we are all in need of recovery. The Bible tells
us that we have all fallen, so we are all in need of recovery.

I’m going to use the word R.E.C.O.V.E.R.Y. as an acronym for eight principles that are used in
our Celebrate Recovery Small Group that meets on Tuesday nights. Each week we’ll look at one
of the principles. Today we are looking at the R in recovery. R stands for Realize… Realize
I’m not God. The first principle tells us that when you realize that you are not God you admit
that you are powerless to control your tendency to do the wrong thing …

What it’s telling us is that our problem is that we like to Play God. Now, your first reaction
is probably, “What do you mean? I don’t play God”. But we DO play God when we try to
solve our problems with our own power. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean by
playing God:

We play God when we try to control our image.


Some people hide their hurt behind a happy face. They may be dying inside but they do their
best to put on a good front. Others work long and hard at buying the right clothes and applying
the right make up to at least look good, even if they don’t feel good. One man told me that he
dressed in black and wore a fumanchu mustache to look tough even though he said he was scared
to death inside.

We play God when we try to control our environment.


Have you ever met a person whose life is a mess but their closets were immaculate? Every shirt
is facing the same way. All the shoes are lined up perpendicular to the wall. Why is that?
Because, their life may be a mess but if they can at least control their closet then they don’t feel
like total failures.

We play God when we try to control other people.


Sometimes we don’t stop at controlling our closets. We have to control everyone around us.
You see, we think they are the problem – their behavior is what’s wrong. If they just acted right,
we wouldn’t get upset. But the truth is, WE are the problem. We’ve got the issue. We just don’t
see it or want to admit it.

We play God when we try to control our problems.


We do this by minimizing our problems – acting like they aren’t serious. When my father was
alive, I considered him an alcoholic. He’d never admit that. He might admit that he drank too
much at times. But in his mind, alcoholics drank all day and all night. Alcoholics lost their jobs
and weren’t responsible. My dad limited his drinking to the hour before supper. That made him
think he was in control. But he drank so much in that hour that he would often lose control for
the entire night.

We play God when we try to control our pain.


Some people control their pain with illegal drugs or alcohol. And some of us do it by starving
ourselves, or by overeating or binging and purging. Still others do it by cutting themselves or
even beating themselves. Isn’t it ironic that we inflict pain in a desperate attempt to control pain?

Everything that I’ve just described is an issue that I talk to people about on a regular basis.
These things aren’t the exception - They are the norm. And this is how we play God.

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The Consequences:

Sadly, playing God only adds to the problem. On top of the hurt, the habit or the hang-up, now
we’ve got Fear. We worry about how we are going to fix everything that is broken.

We are Frustrated, which is a nice way of saying we are angry. We’re angry at God, angry at
ourselves, and angry at everyone who refuses to let us control them.

We are Fatigued – Playing God is exhausting!

And ultimately we experience Failure. Even after all of our effort we’ve got nothing to show for
it. That only adds to the pain.

So What’s The Cure?

If you want to overcome your hurts, habits and hang-ups, like I said before, first, you have to
Realize that you’re not God; You need to admit that you are powerless to control your problems.
The big word here is ADMIT. Admitting is the hardest part of the recovery process. It’s hard
because we are afraid. We are afraid to change. And we are afraid of trying to change and then
nothing working. You see, if you try to change –even ask God for help – and nothing happens,
that’s the ultimate loss. Then there truly is no hope. So when you choose to not admit your
issues, at least there is the possibility of hope. But once you admit that you’ve got a problem, you
are half way down the road to recovery.

To get a better understanding of what it means to admit, let’s look at a small letter in the back of
the Bible.
5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in
Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the
darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in
the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from
all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If
we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not
in us. I John 1:5-10

There are four things I want you to see here about admitting.

1. To admit means to understand sin:


I read a survey once in People magazine that was about sin. They asked both Christians and non-
Christians if they sinned, and if so, how much. Most people said they sinned. Non-Christians
said that they sinned, on average, 4.6 times a month! I'm impressed. Now, what do you think
the Christians said? Christians said that they sinned on average, 6.8 times a month. That’s about
50% more. I wonder what you think of that. I think people don’t know what sin is.

You see, most people think of sin as doing really bad things, immoral things, like breaking the
Ten Commandments. But the word “sin” literally means to “fall short of a target”. Now, that
really broadens the meaning.

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Any time we fall short of perfection, we sin. That means, in one sense, that everything we do is
sin! We don’t do anything to perfection. So rather than saying we sin five times a month, in
reality we are sinning about five times a minute! There is no thought or action that we do to
perfection.

2. To admit means to expose sin.


John tells us that “God is Light and in him is no darkness at all”. That means that if you are
committed to walking with God, your sin will be exposed. I don't think many people understand
this. Most people think they can be in relationship with God and he won’t mess with them.
They think God is just happy that they pray now and then and drop in at church on occasion.

But let me tell you, when you invite God into your life, he comes as light. And his light exposes
your darkness. You might say, “I never asked for that, I just wanted God to fix my problems and
give met a ticket to heaven.” But when you walk in the light of God, your sin will be exposed. If
your sin isn’t exposed, that tells me that you aren’t walking in the light.

Now, if that scares you, let me encourage you here about the nature of God's light. Many times
we think of an exposing light as being harsh, cruel and humiliating. We think of the old movies
where the police shine a stark light on criminals to get them to confess their crime. That's not the
light of God. His intention is never to shame us or condemn us. God's light communicates
acceptance and hope, not shame and rejection. God’s light only exposes us in order to heal us
and restore us.

3. To admit means to stop denying sin.


If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not
practice the truth;

If we want to overcome our hurts, habits and hang-ups, we need to learn how to quit lying about
our sin. Last year I read a business book called “Good to Great”. The author, Jim Collins, did a
study of what made companies move beyond just being good to being great. He said that great
companies all had one thing in common: they infused their entire company with the will and
desire to face the brutal facts of reality.

He quoted on executive from Pitney Bowes who said…


“When you turn over rocks and look at all the squiggly things underneath, you can either put the
rock down, or you can say, “My job is to turn over rocks and look at the squiggly things.” p.72

Jim Collins said…


“In confronting the brutal facts, the good-to-great companies left themselves stronger and more
resilient, not weaker and more dispirited. There is a sense of exhilaration that comes in facing
head-on the truths and saying, “We will never give up. We will never capitulate. It might take a
long time, but we will find a way to prevail.’” P. 81

The same holds true for us in our personal lives. We have to face the brutal facts. We have to
have the courage to turn over every rock in our life and look at every squiggly thing. To look in
the mirror and take responsibility for 100% of what you see we can’t look away and hope
everything will get better on its own.

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4. To admit means to confess your sin.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from
all unrighteousness.

The word “confess” means to “speak the same as”. We need to see our short-comings like God
sees them and call them what God calls them…sin. Confession means we go beyond admitting
we have a problem. Confession means we actually tell God and others that we have a problem.

Some of you know that I teach three days a week at Arbor Treatment Center here in town. There
are some things that I really appreciate about the AA, Twelve Step program. The biggest thing is
the honesty. In AA, when people introduce themselves, they follow their name by declaring what
they are – an alcoholic. Now, I think it can be overdone. But I appreciate the honesty. By doing
this, they embrace the brutal facts about who they are. They are alcoholics and they own that.

Maybe we should introduce ourselves around here by saying that we are sinners! Hi, my name is
Remy and I’m a sinner. There’s something so refreshing to me about that. It just puts it right out
there. There’s no pretense. It cuts through the makeup and the fumanchu and the happy faces.
No one’s trying to look good or impress others.

But most of us are scared to death to admit our sin. So let’s briefly look at the benefits.

Admitting brings relationship with God


If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and
the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

The great thing about God is that when you expose your sin in His light He doesn’t reject you.
When you get honest with God, you open the door to relate to Him in a whole new way. No
more games. No more Hide & Go Seek.

Admitting brings Forgiveness.


If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins …

I like what it says here. If WE confess, GOD is faithful and righteous… The picture I get here is
of a person about to take a “leap of faith” and God is saying, “If you jump, you can count on me
to catch you. I won’t ignore you or let you slip through my fingers.” That means that God isn't
going to leave us hanging after we confess. Have you ever confessed something only to be met
with silence or rebuke or indifference? John is saying that God won't do that – he’ll do the right
thing. He will meet us with grace. He will accept us and forgive us. So, there is no reason for us
to hesitate in our confessions to God.

Admitting brings a new life.


If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from
all unrighteousness.

God goes beyond forgiveness. John tells us that he cleanses us. I think forgiveness and
cleansing are two separate things. Some people lump the two together. But I think they are

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separate. That means that God not only forgives our sin, he removes the sin. He empowers us to
be a different person so we don’t have to keep asking for forgiveness over and over again.
Admitting your problems can be a scary thing but if you are serious about overcoming your
hurts, habits and hang-ups. It’s the first step on your road to recovery. I want to encourage you
that, if you want to move toward recovery, we are here to help you. That’s what a church is for.
If you are willing to take the risk of exposing your sin, it’s our job to hold a curtain around you
(figuratively speaking). That means that our job is to love you, accept you, encourage you and
protect you. We aren’t here to judge you.

Now, let me get really practical. I want to give you some options for taking the next step:
• Point of Grace- we have a group of people here after every service to pray for you.
• Come see me- There’s a myth going around that “Remy’s so busy”. Of course I’m busy,
but so is everyone I know! I block out a number of hours on my schedule just to meet
with people. Many weeks those hours go unused. So please don’t use that as an excuse!
I’d love to meet with you, to help you process your hurt and help you move in the right
direction.
• Celebrate Recovery – This group meets every Tuesday night from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at
our Northlake building to talk about these very issues.
• Healing Life’s Deepest Hurts is a seminar that I’ll be teaching on two successive
Sunday evenings in early November. You can e-mail the church at
gail@cedarbrookchurch.net or call at 231-5433 to register.

Prayer; Father, thanks that you are faithful to catch us when we make the decision to “jump”
and admit our hurt, habit or hang-up. Please give us the courage we need to make that leap.
Amen.

Overcome Your Hurts, Habits & Hang-ups – Part Two


By Remy Diederich – based on Celebrate Recovery

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Rachel Nelson sat at lunch with a group of people she wished she could call friends. They talked
to her, they let her hang with them, but she knew that she wasn’t on the inner circle. She felt like
they merely tolerated her presence, too nice to tell her to leave them alone. Rachel said…

“Sometimes I felt so worthless that I wanted to run away. I felt fat and ugly. Nothing I said or did
was ever right. I would rush home, take a knife from my desk and escape to a private place
where I’d carve wounds into my skin. Self-abuse and physical pain drowned out the emotional
pain I was feeling, if only for a short time. Nursing my wounds, I felt oddly comforted, guilty and
aware that, next time, it would take even more pain to find that brief release. I was a freak with
a secret.” Rachel Nelson (Plugged In, July 2003, page 3)

Last Sunday we started to take an eight week look at how to overcome our hurts, habits and
hang-ups. We saw that habits and hang-ups come when we try to Play God and control the hurt
that we have inside. Hurt that comes from what people have done to us or what we’ve done to
ourselves. That’s what Rachel was doing –controlling her hurt, her pain, by cutting herself.

Listen to Jamie, another cutter who sought to control her pain.


“It happened spontaneously. I picked up a piece of broken glass and cut my arm twice. It made
me feel better because I could focus on one thing, injuring myself, instead of things that I
couldn’t control around me. That was something I could control.” Jamie (Plugged In, July
2003, page 3)

Now, before you are quick to judge Rachel or Jamie, I want you to realize that they were simply
doing what worked for them. They aren’t bad people. They simply did what stopped their
emotional pain.

Some of you have heard me use the analogy of cutting wood. When I lived on my farm I cut a
lot of wood. Sometimes I’d be a mile a way from home, deep in the woods. All I had with me
was a chainsaw, some gas and oil, a wrench, a spare chain and a rag to wipe up the oil.

Now, thankfully I never cut myself, but imagine that I had. Imagine that I was sitting there, a
mile from home with a gash in my leg. What might I do to stop the bleeding? Use the rag,
right? Now, if I was more composed, I’d tear up my shirt. It’s cleaner. But desperate people do
desperate things. What happens when I use the rag? I get infected and it may kill me. I take a
bad situation and make it worse because the rag was readily available and it worked for the
moment – it stopped the bleeding.

You see, that’s what happens to a lot of us. We do harmful, stupid things like cut ourselves-
drink too much –use pornography - work too much – things we hate, because they are readily
available and they work, at least for the moment. It’s not because we are bad people or because
we don’t love God. We are just desperate and looking for a quick fix.

Now, if you remember, over the eight weeks of this series I’m going to fill out an acronym for
the word RECOVERY. Last week we looked at the letter R: Realize that you aren’t God and
admit that you are powerless to control your tendency to do the wrong thing.
I said that admitting is the hardest part of the whole process.

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But somehow you have to break through your denial if you want God to heal you.

Before I move on to the letter E, I want to help us understand how God helps you break through
denial. Three ways come to mind…

First, Crisis. Whenever you suffer loss, you realize that you aren’t God – you aren’t in control.
If you lose your job or lose your health or a friend- sometimes that’s enough to break through
your denial to get you to face your problem.

Second, Confrontation may help you break through your denial. Unfortunately, experiencing
loss doesn’t always do the trick. So God sends someone to talk to you about your problem. Jesus
told us that if someone has sinned against you, you need to go to him. And if he won’t listen, go
back with some others to back you up. The AA community calls that an intervention.

An old Texas saying goes: “if one person calls you a horse’s rear, ignore it. If two people call
you a horse’s rear, look in the mirror. If three people call you a horse’s rear, buy a saddle!” So,
if three people tell you that you are hyper-sensitive, you probably have some self-esteem issues.
If three people say you have a drinking problem, you are probably an alcoholic. If three people
tell you that you have an anger problem, you probably have some unresolved anger issues. You
need to stop denying it and face reality.

The third thing that God uses to break through your denial is Catastrophe. Now, note that I said
God USES catastrophe. I didn’t say that God SENDS catastrophe. There’s a big difference.

Now, catastrophe is beyond crisis. This is when the bottom totally falls out from underneath
you. Someone dies suddenly. You get served divorce papers. You lose all your money. God
says, “You want to play God? Okay.” And he steps back just long enough to get your attention.
The full weight of life comes crashing down on your back. I believe God hates to let that
happen, but he’ll allow whatever is necessary to get you to face your issues and deal with them.

This week we are looking at the letter E in the word RECOVERY. E is for earnestly: Earnestly
believe that God exists, that I matter to him and that he has the power to help me recover. There
are three things here. Let’s look at each one but I’m going to restate them.

Acknowledge that God Exists.


Most of you wouldn’t be here this morning if you doubted God’s existence, maybe a few.
George Gallup took a poll and less than 2% of the population denied God’s existence. So, I
won’t take time to convince you that God exists. But I want you to see the key word here and
that is ACKNOWLEDGE.

Just because you believe in God doesn’t mean you always acknowledge him. You can believe in
God and still ignore him – cutting him out of your life. So if you want to overcome your hurts,
habits and hang-ups, start by acknowledging God. You can simply say;

God, I want to confess that I’m not God. You are.


You have things under control, I don’t.
You know what to do. I don’t.

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That’s what it means to acknowledge him.

Second, you need to Understand God’s Character


We may believe in God and acknowledge him. But what’s he like? Is he just an impersonal
Force? Did he simply set the world in motion and then take a very long coffee break? Or is God
personal? And if he’s personal, what is his personality? Is he kind and loving and generous? Or
is God angry and vengeful and self-serving? We can learn about God’s character by reading
about the life of Jesus.

One story in the book of John helps us to understand three aspects of God’s character. It’s the
story of when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The first aspect of God’s character is that...

God knows all about my situation.


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Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister
Martha. 2This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume
on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one
you love is sick." 4When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is
for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." 14So then he told them plainly,
"Lazarus is dead, 15and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let
us go to him." John 11:1-4, 14.

You see, Jesus knew what was going on. Everyone thought Lazarus was dying and it was a bleak
situation. But Jesus knew the truth. He knew Lazarus was sick. He knew he would die. And he
knew he would rise again. He also knew the pain that Mary and Martha were experiencing. Jesus
was the only one who really knew what was going on - even though to others It appeared that he
wasn’t in touch with the seriousness of Lazarus’ condition.

But God knows all about our situation. In the book of Psalms it says…
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have
recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8

People say things like, “Nobody knows what I’ve been through”. That’s not true. God knows the
intimate details of what you are going through. The psalmist said…
“for you have seen my troubles, and you care about the anguish of my soul..” Psalm 31:7

And the psalmist also said…


God, you know how foolish I am; my sins cannot be hidden from you. Psalm 69:5

You see, God not only knows your pain. God knows your mistakes too. He knows your sin.
There is nothing off the record with God. God isn’t surprised by anything you do. And God isn’t
shocked by anything you do.

The second thing we can learn about God’s character from Jesus is that God cares about my
situation. Jesus went to Lazarus’ village. First he met Martha then he saw Mary. John tells us
this about his encounter with Mary…
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When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was
deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34"Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see,
Lord," they replied. 35Jesus wept. 36Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" John 11:33-36.

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I love this passage. Jesus wept. He didn’t weep because of Lazarus. He knew that Lazarus would
be resurrected. He wept because he felt the pain of Mary. Mary thought that Jesus had let her
down when he could have helped.

Isn’t that how you’ve felt at times? That God was passive when he should have been taking
action on your behalf? But just because you don’t see God move in your life doesn’t mean he’s
indifferent. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care about your situation. He cares more than you know.
Jesus weeps. He may be weeping over you right now.

The psalmist said this…


The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. 14
For he understands how weak we are; he knows we are only dust.15 Psalm 103:13-15

Do you see that? We are just dirt - dirt and water to be exact. God understands that. He knows
how weak we are - how fallible we are - much better than we do. We think we are hot shots but
God knows that we are just dirt and water! Or we may think little of ourselves. Then it’s
encouraging to know that no one is better than the other. We are all just dirt and water.

Let me tell you, God cares about your situation. God cares for you with tenderness and
compassion. God wants to be the one that heals your deepest hurt. God says,
"I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to
myself. I will rebuild you... You will again be happy and dance merrily with tambourines.
Jeremiah 31:3,4

I will not forget you.“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are
continually before Me. Isaiah 49:16

And the third aspect of God’s character that we learn from Jesus is that God can change me and
my situation. John tells us…
38
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the
entrance. 39"Take away the stone," he said. "But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man,
"by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."

Martha is telling Jesus that there’s no hope. If he had recently died, maybe Jesus could resurrect
him. But the body had started to rot, so she thinks Jesus is powerless.

Isn’t that how we feel about our problems? If they are new, maybe God can heal them. But if
we’ve struggled with them for years or even decades, then God can’t do anything. But listen to
what Jesus says in the face of that doubt.
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Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" 41So
they took away the stone…Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44The dead man
came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said
to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go." John 11:38-41, 44

For Mary and Martha, Jesus changed the situation. For Lazarus, Jesus changed him. Jesus can do
the same for you. Neither your situation nor your problem is too big for him to change. God is
the God who makes all things new! Jesus said…

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"What is impossible from a human perspective is possible with God." Luke 18:27

I want to show you how God can change your life when you think it’s impossible.

[Video Testimony- story of a mother of a Down syndrome baby and how God changed the woman’s heart. ]

Now, if we want to overcome our hurts, habits and hang-ups, we need to


1. Acknowledge God’s Existence.
2. Understand God’s Character.

And finally, we need to Accept God’s offer to help me.


This is so simple but it’s so simple that it’s often overlooked. I’m not talking about having good
intentions I’m not talking about applying large quantities of will power. I’m not even talking
about asking for God’s help.

I’m talking about ACCEPTING God’s help. People tell me all the time “I asked God to help me
and nothing happened.” They want one church service, one counseling session or one prayer to
work it’s magic. They want to get a quick fix and be totally passive in the process. Then, when
nothing happens, they tell people “I tried God and it didn’t work.” But it’s more than asking for
help. You need to accept God ‘s help by engaging in a process.

You see, God wants to take your hand and face the skeletons in your closets -one by one. And
some of us have lots of closets with lots of skeletons! God wants to help you bring resolution to
your hurts, habits and hang-ups. He wants to help you resolve your anger and Resolve your
sadness. He wants you to resolve your various problems and, not just mask them by adding
religious activity to your life.

When you decide to accept God’s help God throws you a rope. But that’s not the end. That’s
only the beginning. Now you’ve got to hold on while God pulls you up the cliff. It’s not easy.
It means being honest, facing the brutal reality of your life, going back to things you’ve run away
from and making things right, It means banging against the cliff, getting stuck on shrubs, but
eventually – if you hold on- you’ll make it to the top. God says…
"Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. 2When you
go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of
difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be
burned up; the flames will not consume you. 3For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of
Israel, your Savior…” Isaiah 43:1-3

Do you believe that? God is your Savior and he wants to help you if you’ll let him. He doesn’t
want to just save you from hell. He wants to save you from your hurts, habits and hang-ups.

Prayer:
Jesus, I realize that I’m not God. I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the
wrong thing. I also ask for your help. God, I invite you into my house to deal with my skeletons.
More than that, I invite you into my closets and into my attic. I invite you into my basement and
I invite you into the sheds in my back yard. I even invite you to the secret hiding places where I

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have buried the deepest hurts – places that are so secret that only my subconscious mind knows
about them.

Come and shine your light. Expose my wounds and let your Spirit do the emotional surgery that
only He can do. I promise to hold still. I know this is a process. It’s going to take time. So help
me to release and experience the peace and the patience and the hope of your Spirit who lives
within me. Help me to persevere and not go back to my old control tactics. Amen.
------

If there is one thing you need to understand about this whole Road to Recovery, it is that you
need to take action. You can’t be passive. So let me give you the same three action steps I gave
you last week:
o Receive prayer at the Point of Grace after each service.
o Make an appointment to see me.
o Attend Celebrate Recovery on Tuesday nights at 6:00 p.m. at our Northlake Office
Building.
o Attend the “Healing Life’s Deepest Hurts” Seminar Nov. 14, 21.

LETTING GO
The Road to Recovery -- Part 3

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Based on Celebrate Recovery

I heard a story this week that reminded me of what I’ve been speaking about the last two weeks.
It’s about a man who drove a pet store delivery truck. Every stop light he came to he'd run to the
back of the truck with a 2x4 and start beating on the side of it. Nobody could figure out what he
was doing, so finally somebody asked him, "What are you doing?" He said,
"This is only a 2 ton truck and I'm carrying 4 tons of canaries so
I've got to keep 2 tons of them in the air all the time."

That’s the way some of us are. We’ve got so many problems weighing us down that we do all
kinds of crazy things just to get them off of our back – if only for a few seconds.

I’ve already talked about a lot of different crazy things that we do over the last two weeks. We
might eat too much or drink too much or work too much. But that only adds more weight to our
already undersized frame. Plus, it adds the heavy weight of guilt on top of it all.

But let me tell you, there are better solutions than beating the side of your truck with a 2 x 4!
God wants to show you a path to freedom and that’s why I’m talking about how to overcome
your hurts, habits and hang-ups. Today is week three. Each week we are spelling out the word
R.E.C.O.V.E.R.Y., using it as an acronym.

The first week we looked at R. – Realize that you aren’t God and admit that you are powerless
to control your tendency to do the wrong thing. That’s the Reality step.

Last week we looked at E. – Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to him and that he
has the power to help me recover. That’s the Hope step – When you can believe that God wants
to stand with you and give you the strength to recover, that gives you hope.

But it's not enough to know that God will help you. You’ve got to take action. You've got to
make a decision. C. stand for —Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s
care and control.

This is the Action step. Some of you have heard about this step for years but you’ve never taken
action. You’ve believed in Jesus, but you’ve never committed your life to him. There’s a huge
difference. It’s like the truck driver believing that a bigger truck exists but never buying it. He
continues to use an undersized truck. What he needs to do is go beyond believing and
consciously choose to go buy that truck. He needs to physically go to the truck dealer, pick out
the right size truck and write out the check. It’s expensive. It’s a huge investment. But that’s
what he’s got to do if he wants to be successful.

Well, that’s what I want to talk about today – taking action so you can overcome your hurts,
habits and hang-ups. I’m not going to speak a lot. I’m going to let you hear from two people
that have taken this step.

DVD of Anchorman:

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[Summary: Frank Turner was the lead anchor for a large TV station. But his cocaine habit
ruined two marriages and his career. The network fired him and Frank was humiliated with
nationwide headlines announcing his fall into not only cocaine but pornography and phone sex.

Thankfully, a friend of Franks shared the good news of Jesus Christ with him. Somehow the
message sank deep into his heart and Frank surrendered his life to Christ. Miraculously, his
addiction was taken from him and his life dramatically changed. When his former news station
heard of his transformation they cautiously hired him back in smaller roles until he regained their
trust. In time, he had more status after his fall than before.]

What keeps me from committing my life to Christ?

First, Pride. We don’t want to commit our life to Jesus because we think we can make it
through life on our own. To some of us, turning to God is a “cop-out”. It makes us feel weak. If
we were strong enough, we should be able to handle life ourselves.

"Arrogant people are on the way to ruin because they won't admit it when they need help."
Proverbs 18:12
"The self-sufficient fool falls flat on his face." Proverbs 10:8

The second thing that keeps you from choosing to follow Jesus is Guilt. You are so guilty of
your past life that you’ve convinced yourself that God can’t forgive you.

"Problems, far too big for me to solve are piled higher than my head. Meanwhile, my sins, too
many to count, have caught up with me and I'm ashamed to look up." Ps. 40:13

I just read this morning in Psalm 32 that “Those who trust in the Lord are surrounded by his
lovingkindness.” The only condition I see there is trust. It doesn’t say anything about our past
life. The good news is that God’s forgiveness will always beat your sin. No matter how much
you’ve sinned or how bad your sin is, God’s forgiveness is always greater.

The third reason is Fear. You’re afraid of turning control over to God because of what he
might make you do. He might make you become a nun or spend the rest of your life in Africa.

But I’ll tell you what you need to fear. You need to fear staying in control of your life. There’s
nothing scarier than that. You’ve already seen what happens when you are in control. Why not
at least see what it’s like letting God be in control for once.

The fourth thing that keeps you from choosing to follow Jesus is Worry. What I mean by
this is that you don’t want to decide to follow Jesus until you have all your questions answered.
But you confuse the decision-making phase with the problem-solving phase.

Back in 1963 President Kennedy announced publicly that we were going to put a man on the
moon by the end of the decade. He made that decision. Had all the problems been solved when
he made that decision? No. But he made the decision first, and trusted that the problems would
be solved in time. But if he hadn’t made the decision first, we’d have no space program today.

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My oldest daughter just got engaged. There’s all kind of problems that face her and her fiance in
the future. They don’t have all the answers to those problems. But they decided to commit
themselves in marriage and trust that they’ll find the answers in time. You see, they decide to
make a commitment because it was the right thing to do. They trust that the problems will work
themselves out in time.

You need to do the same thing with Jesus. You need to trust that everything will work out. Paul
tells us that "He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."

Whatever God asks you to do, He'll enable you to do.


"God who began a good work in you, will keep right on helping you to grow in His grace until
His task is finally completed." Philippians 1:6

And finally, there’s Doubt. You are afraid that you don’t have enough faith. You say, "I want
to believe but my faith just seems so small. But Jesus said "If you have faith as small as a
mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you." You see, It's not the size of your faith that
matters, it's the size of what you put your faith in. In other words, it’s not how great your faith is
that counts. What counts is how great the God is in whom you put your trust. And God’s is
GREAT!

You see, you can have giant faith, but if you put it in the wrong thing nothing happens. But if
you put a little faith in a giant God, lots happens!

So don't let any of these things keep you from taking this step.

Now let’s hear how someone else chose to commit their life to Jesus. I want to invite Randy
Cook to join me this morning.

Interview with Randy Cook.

[Summary: Randy Cook has been a part of Cedarbrook from the beginning. I first met him at
the Saturday Night Alternative, a special “off-campus” ministry I led when I was at the Alliance
church. Randy grew up in a highly dysfunctional home where there was a lot of addiction,
violence and even incest. At age 22, after being heavily involved in methamphetamine use and
dealing, Randy went to treatment (1980). A month later he was watching TV when a Billy
Graham crusade came on. Too lazy to get up and change channels, Randy watched it. Within
five minutes he was crying like a baby with a gut-wrenching cry that last the whole show. He
knelt down and asked Jesus into his life and immediately experienced the presence of God. In the
months and years that followed, he saw that he softened. He had come to a place in life where he
trusted no one. But over time, that changed. He also came to find true joy.

But Randy never went to church. The church people he knew were the sickest people of all. He
figured that church had nothing to offer him. So for 21 years he related to God on his own. But
after attending the Saturday Night Alternative, Randy sensed God saying that he now wanted
Randy to know Him through Jesus. After coming to Cedarbrook, and getting to know Randy
better, I asked him to start our Celebrate Recovery ministry. (Randy is an alcohol and drug
counsel for St. Croix County).]

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How do I commit my life to Christ?

1. I accept Jesus as my Savior. Actively choose to invite Jesus to come and live inside of your
life. I’ll share a prayer with you at the end.
"Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved." Acts 16:31

2. I accept the Bible as my Standard. This doesn’t mean that you have to understand it all or
even believe it all at first. You simply recognize that God has spoken to us through the Bible and
it’s to your benefit that you read it to learn more about God.
"All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for
resetting the direction of a man's life, and training him in good living." II Tim 3:16

3. I accept God’s will as my Strategy. This means that you understand that God has a plan for
your life and you are committing yourself to not only find it but to do it.
"I desire to do your will, O my God..." Ps. 40:8

4. I accept God’s Power as my Strength. You acknowledge that you can’t live life the way it
was meant to be lived without another power source – God’s power. So you invite God to fill
you with is Spirit to empower you to live a God honoring life.
"I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and
power." Ph. 4:13

This step – Consciously choosing to commit your life and will to Christ’s care and control –
is crucial. You can’t move down the Road to Recovery by-passing this step. It just doesn’t work.
So I want to encourage you that if you hear God calling you to respond by choosing to commit
your life to him right now. Won’t you pray with me?

Dear Jesus – I have believed in you but now I realize that you are asking more than belief, you
are asking me to commit my life to you. So that’s what I’m doing. I don’t fully understand what
that all means. I feel like I’m in over my head – yet I know that it’s the right thing to do. I
haven’t done a good job of playing God. It’s time for you to take your rightful place in my life.
Come into my life. I give you the right to tell me what to do, to guide my decisions in life, and to
fill me with your Spirit. Help me to become a fully devoted follower of Jesus. It’s in his name
that I pray. Amen.

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COMING CLEAN
The Road to Recovery -- Part 4

In his book “Beyond Gay”, David Morrison talked about the day that he came “out of the closet”
and admitted that he was attracted to other men. He said,

“My counselor was the first person I told about the same-sex attraction in my life. ‘I think I'm a
homosexual’ I blurted at the beginning of the second session. There, I'd said it. Silence. I looked
up at him and he didn't say anything. His face registered neither approval nor disgust. "Well," he
finally said, "go on." My life's revolution started in that nondescript office. I had carried this
huge, unbearable secret and denied it even to myself for many years…. Now, years later, …life is
far better outside the closet than in it. The power the attraction holds over life drops sharply
when we first admit its existence to ourselves and then to at least one other person whom we
trust and know loves and supports us.” Citation: David Morrison, Beyond Gay (2000);

Morrison could have been talking about any one of a number of problems that we have. Their
power is cut in half the minute we are able to admit them, not only to ourselves, but to someone
else. That’s what I want to talk about this morning…How to Come Clean with our Hurts, Habits
and Hang-Ups.

This is the fourth in an eight part series I’m calling “Overcoming Your Hurts, Habits and Hang-
ups.” This series is based on a program that we offer on Tuesday nights called “Celebrate
Recovery”. Celebrate Recovery takes the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and merges them
with Jesus’ teaching to come up with Eight Principles that, if followed, will help lead you down
the Road to Recovery.

Remember; recovery isn’t just for alcoholics. Every person on the face of the earth falls short of
perfection. That means we are all works in progress. We are all in recovery. The eight
principles of Celebrate Recovery are represented by the word R.E.C.O.V.E.R.Y. So far we’ve
looked at the first three letters.

The first week we talked about R -- Realize I'm not God, that I'm powerless to control my
tendency to do the wrong thing and my life is unmanageable. We looked at how we play God by
trying to control every aspect of our lives. This is the reality step.

The next week we talked about E -- E stands for Earnestly believe that God exists, that I
matter to Him and He has to power to help me recover. When we become convinced that God is
there to help us, we’ve taken the hope step.

Last week we talked about C – It's not enough to admit that I've got problems and not enough to
know that God can solve them, but I must consciously turn them over to Him. C stands for
Consciously choosing to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control. We call
that the action step.

Now, a lot of people think that Steps 1-3 are enough. If you just commit your life to Jesus
everything will be okay. But I think we’ve learned that that’s not true. In fact, that kind of
mentality has hurt and disillusioned a lot of people. They commit themselves to Jesus thinking

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that they are going to wake up to a world with no problems and it doesn’t happen. So, either
they learned to fake it – or they just gave up on faith all together.

But the truth is, after step three there are five more steps down the Road to Recovery. The first
three steps just get you started. Today we are looking at Step 4. O stands for Openly examine
and confess my faults to God, to myself and to someone I trust. This is the housecleaning step

Now, confessing your faults might sound scary but if you don’t confess them, it’s like being
chained to your past. Your guilt and regret keep you chained to your past and keep you from
moving into the future. That’s why the Bible tells us to…
… strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our
progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. Hebrews. 12:1

You see, we all have regrets. We’ve all done stupid things that we wish we could have a second
chance at. But that’s not reality. We can’t turn back the clock. So we have to decide if we are
going to keep pulling our regrets out of the closet every so often and lamenting our bad decisions
or if we are going to accept God’s forgiveness and move on.

If you choose to keep pulling your past out of the closet then you have to develop coping
mechanisms to help you deal with your guilt. You see, our brain wasn’t made to handle guilt.
So your brain desperately seeks to resolve the tension that guilt brings. You might minimize the
guilt and act like it’s not a big deal. You might suppress the guilt and just try to forget that it
ever happened. You might blame other people for your guilt and try to convince yourself that it
wasn’t your fault. Or you might rationalize your guilt by telling yourself that everyone does it.

Guilt WILL cause you to do something and make your life miserable in the process. I heard of a
woman who went to her pastor because of her depression. After listening to her concerns he
finally asked, “Do you have any regrets?” His question came out of the blue but she blushed
and soon admitted that she had an affair once when her husband was out of town on business.
As she traced her depression she saw that it all led back to the guilt of this affair. You see, she
didn’t need Prozac. She needed confession - coming clean about her guilt put her on the Road to
Recovery.

There’s a story in the Bible where King David came clean with his guilt. David had a man killed
so he could sleep with his wife. So he committed murder first, then adultery. Not good! Then
God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David. Do you remember how I said that God uses
confrontation to break through our denial? David admitted his sin to Nathan and in Psalm 32 he
talks about his guilt…

When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day
and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the
summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to
myself, "I will confess my rebellion to the LORD." And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
Therefore, let all the godly confess their rebellion to you while there is time that they may not
drown in the floodwaters of judgment. Psalm 32:3-6

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David was the King. He could have covered up his sin. But he was a man of courage. He
owned his sin and confessed it, not just to Nathan, but to his whole kingdom. So now let’s look
at how you can come clean with your faults too.

First, you come clean by taking a personal moral inventory.


"Let us examine our ways and test them." Lamentations 3:40

"Search me O God, and know my heart. Test my thoughts, point out anything you find in me that
makes you sad." Psalm 139:23-24

What this means is that you get alone by yourself. You get a pencil, and a notepad and you set
down and say, "God, what do you want to show me? What’s not right? What have I been
denying? What have I regretted?
What are the faults in my life that I know need changing?" Then write it down. Writing it down
makes it real. When it’s just a thought in your head you can ignore it. But when you write it
down it forces you to get specific and be honest.

This isn’t something you do on a coffee break. This will take some time. It might take a few
days. And it takes a lot of paper! If you want an outline to fill out you can go to this web site
http://www.royy.com/step4.pdf or just put “fourth step” into some search engine and you’ll get
lot of options.

Second, you come clean by accepting responsibility for your faults.


"The Lord gave us a mind and a conscience. We cannot hide from ourselves." Proverbs 20:27

I talked just a minute ago about the opposite of taking responsibility. I talked about how we
minimize our problem or we blame others or rationalize it. But taking responsibility is when we
look in the mirror and totally own what’s wrong. We say to ourselves and God, “I’ve got a
problem and I’m the one that has to deal with it.”

It seems like every decade I’ve had to take responsibility for some major character flaw in my
life. Back in my twenties an acquaintance told me that I was controlling. I could have blown
him off but thankfully I had the sense to go to my friends and ask them if it was true and they
cautiously agreed! I owned my control and I’ve been dealing with it ever since.

Then in my 30’s God showed me how self-reliant I was by giving me the opposite of the Midas
touch – instead of everything that I touched turning to gold, it turned to lead. It was very
humbling but God convinced me that I needed to trust in Him for everything. Now, in my
forty’s, God has been showing me a lot about my insecurity and how that feeds my anger.

You see, over all the years I’ve learned that it doesn’t pay to pass the buck. The quicker I admit
my issues and take responsibility for them, the quicker God is able to release me to new levels of
freedom and maturity. I never win when I try to outrun God.

Next, you come clean by asking God for forgiveness.


"If we freely admit that we have sinned we find God utterly reliable. He forgives our sin and
makes us thoroughly clean from all that is evil.” 1 John 1:9

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The good news is that God’s forgiveness is free. You don't have to beg God to forgive you. He
wants to forgive you. God wants to forgive you more than you want to be forgiven. You don't
have to bargain with God either. You don’t have to say, “Oh God if you forgive me I’ll go to
India and feed the hungry.” He’s not looking for you to pay him back. Jesus paid the price for
our sin.

In the book of Isaiah God says…


"No matter how deep the stain of your sin is, I can take it out and make it clean as freshly fallen
snow." Isaiah 1:18

God’s in the cleaning business. No matter how deep the stain, he can remove it. And no one has
more joy in removing stains than God.

Fourth, you come clean by admitting your faults to another person.


The Bible says, "Admit your faults, to one another and pray for each other so that you may be
healed." James 5:16

How are we healed? By admitting our faults to one another. This last week was a great week for
me as a pastor because a number of people came out of hiding to admit that they had a problem
that they wanted to deal with. It’s a great week because when people start getting honest and
come clean, that’s when I feel like we are really doing church. When we start airing our dirty
laundry in constructive, God-honoring ways, then we can get down to some serious, life-
changing business.

But you might wonder, “Why do I need to drag another person into this? Why can't I just admit
it to God?” One reason is that it holds us accountable, more accountable than writing things
down. When I tell someone else my faults I bring everything out into the open. I can’t run from
it any more.

I just told you all that I have owned being controlling, self-reliant and insecure. Why would I
want to expose my weaknesses to so many people? I did it on purpose. I want you to know
because then I can’t hide it. I can’t tell myself that these things aren’t an issue.

Another reason is that it gives people the chance to help you. Suddenly they understand what
you are wrestling with. Now, instead of being frustrated by you, they can help you. They can
listen, they can share their own struggles, they can pray for you. You might even start a support
group with people who share the same struggles.

Now, who do you tell? First, tell somebody you trust - somebody who can keep a confidence,
who is not a gossip. You don't need to tell somebody and then next week it's in National
Enquirer.

Second, tell somebody who is mature enough that they are not going to be shocked. I hope that
some day Cedarbrook gets the reputation for being a “shock-proof” group of people. I want us to
be a place where outsiders can come and share their stories without us gasping or taking a step
back. That’s the kind of person you need to find to share your problems with.

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And third, tell somebody who knows God well enough that they can reflect His forgiveness to
you. That may be a pastor, a close trusted friend or a Christian counselor. Most genuine
Christians I know would be honored to listen to your fourth step.

Then what do you say? You just read them your list. I’ve done this with people in 30 minutes.
Some people like to give me all the details, so it takes two hours. But others just read it to me
and leave. The important thing isn’t how long you take to tell your fourth step. The important
thing is that you tell somebody.

When do you do it? As soon as possible. The longer you wait, the less likely that you’ll come
clean. I’ve had countless people tell me they were going to do a fourth step with me but few
have.

And finally, you come clean by accepting God's forgiveness and by forgiving yourself.
A lot of people have told me that they don’t have a problem believing in God’s forgiveness but
they have a terrible time forgiving themselves. They don’t think they should have to rely on
God’s forgiveness. They never should have blown it in the first place, so they spend their life
beating themselves up.

But here’s something you need to know. The Bible tells us that "All of us have sinned." We all
fall short. God isn’t surprised by our failure and we shouldn’t be either. Like I said two weeks
ago, we are all made of dirt and water. So, instead of spending all kinds of energy beating
yourself up for your past why not put that energy into changing your future and helping change
the future of others like you?

Living in the past doesn’t help anybody. Refusing to forgive yourself only adds to the mess of
your original error. You need to move on. You aren’t doing God any favors by beating yourself
up. If anything, you are just creating more problems by dwelling on the past.

Now, I want us to do something very tangible to help us come clean with our past. We’re going
to offer communion and I’m hoping that for many of us here that we’ll start the process of
coming clean with God. In fact, we put a basin of water at each communion station for you to
wash your hands in if you’d like to symbolize coming clean.

The Bible tells us this about Jesus…


And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God's people, let us go right into the
presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been
sprinkled with Christ's blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure
water. Hebrews 10:21,22

Prayer:
Father, thank you that you have done what you need to do to make me clean. Please help me to
come clean. Help me to find the courage to break through my denial, own my character defects
and tell someone about them. Show me that safe person that can help me with this. And help me
to keep moving down the Road to Recovery. Amen.

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