"The Journey Begins" and Celebrate Recovery. A Bit of a Review.



In the 1980s I was nearing the middle of my twenty-year Air Force career. I ran a low-grade correctional facility where we kept troubled airmen who had committed some serious infractions (usually alcohol related misdemeanors, etc.) for 30-days. The goal was to give them a wake-up call so they could reorient their lives and finish out their enlistments as productive members of the U.S. Air Force. Because so many of my "residents" had alcohol related issues, I found myself working with the Drug and Alcohol Abuse folks on the base, many of whom had been alcoholics. I gained a wide breadth of skills from these friends, but also found myself getting involved with several groups of "Bill's friends" - Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) groups. I was impressed with AA's history and twelve steps, which I found helpful for my own life. And I always wished there were Christian groups that would re-ground the twelve steps back in Scripture and back in the Gospel where it all really began. Needless to say, I was excited when I began delving into Celebrate Recovery, whose DNA “revolves around the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and that the “Bible as God’s Word is at the very core of everything we do in Celebrate Recovery” (taken from www.celebraterecovery.com). And that’s exactly what I found when I picked up their first four participant guides in the “Journey Begins” series. This little series was penned by John Baker, the founder of Celebrate Recovery.

I was delighted and excited that all of the participant guides are packed with Scripture quotations, always coming back to the centrality of Jesus Christ as our Higher Power, the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the real epicenter of our recovery, the Bible as the crucial guide in our recovery, and the local church as the environment and ecosystem for our ongoing recovery. The one drawback I’ve found is that the newest editions now use the NIV-2011 edition of Scripture which has gone the way of gender-neutral language. But all eight principles and each of the twelve steps are encased in Scripture. And the way the eight principles and twelve steps are worked out in the participants guides keep coming back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was pleased to also see that the program is broader and bigger than only recovery from chemical addictions. It is for those hurts, hang-ups and habits that have held us back, or worse, have captured us.

The principle and steps that are given the longest and most in-depth focus is principle four “Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. “Happy are the pure in heart.” Matthew 5:8a TEV” and steps four and five; “4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord” Lamentations 3:40 NIV." and "5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” James 5:16a NIV.” The author spends the longest time on this principle and these steps with some very rigorous probing and questioning that most of us would find deeply healing and restorative. And again, Jesus keeps popping up as the Savior and emancipator! For my fellow Calvinists and Reformed friends, you may cringe in a place or two, but with some thoughtfulness and reflection, you will find that our TULIP has popped up some sprouts in this garden and can grow nicely here.

In the end, Celebrate Recovery’s “The Journey Begins” participant guides are refreshingly simple, with our Lord Jesus Christ front-and-center, and the Sacred Scriptures dripping from every page. Assuming that every Celebrate Recovery Group follows through with the program’s DNA, you will not only be enriched, but challenged to grow and recover from those hurts, hang-ups and habits that have held you back, or worse, have captured you. I am glad that Celebrate Recovery exists. If you are struggling with anger, addictions, abuse, co-dependency, etc. I think you will find Celebrate Recovery a good place to be.

Mike

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