Born and raised in Hendersonville, Michael Todd grew up on a farm with his mother and step-father. After his biological father was removed from the home at a young age, Michael’s step-father taught him a strong work ethic and how to always be on his best behavior.

Michael said that his step-father was strict with him, and he was never allowed to show any weakness. A few years into their life on the farm, Michael’s parents started using methamphetamine and things took a dark turn, by age 12 Michael had smoked his first joint. With pressure at home to be perfect, Michael’s grades started dropping, he began skipping school and he started using other recreational drugs. By senior year of high school Michael had dropped out and was now selling cocaine.

After making contact with his biological father again, Michael was forced to leave town, on the run. He became homeless in Jacksonville, FL at the age of just 18. After a short stint in Florida, Michael made his way back to North Carolina to his uncle’s homeless shelter. He was able to get back on his feet and got his high school diploma! Following graduation, Michael became a manager at Lowe’s Home Improvements. He stayed there for 3 years until he got a phone call that changed everything…

His biological father was at Mission Hospital due to an overdose on Ativan and cocaine, coupled with alcohol. His father passed away shortly after and so many responsibilities fell on Michael at just 21 years old. Using his father’s death as a crutch, Michael started using again- even learning how to make the drugs.

While in a toxic relationship, Michael also began using needles to inject his drugs- including Percocet, heroine and meth. He remembers he never had withdrawals, because he was always high.

After getting caught buying large amounts of Sudafed to produce these drugs, Michael was arrested and charged with five felonies and two misdemeanors. He was given the chance to go to rehab rather than jail, and all of his charges would be dismissed. He completed a 28-day rehab program and came out victorious.

But shortly after began using again, to get him through his swing shifts. He was excelling at work, becoming a lead in his department and even got his own place. He was truly a functioning addict.

Michael met a girl and they began using together. She was hospitalized and they found out she was pregnant with their daughter. Michael vowed to quit using but never did, he tried to hide it. Michael lost his house and they were forced to move in with family.

One day, Michael’s family went to get vouchers for day care and they could see he was acting strange. The Department of Social Services was called and they performed a drug test on Michael and found methamphetamine in his system. They told him if he couldn’t get clean and pass his next drug test, that he couldn’t see his children anymore. Michael cleaned up his act, passed the next drug test and the case was closed.

When Michael’s second child was born, the pressure of fatherhood was too much and he started using again. His family moved to Tennessee and he found people that shared his addiction there. When his family found out, they kicked him out of the house and he returned to Hendersonville. Then Michael found First Contact and moved into Crossroads Rehab. After only being there for 6 days, Michael decided he was cured and moved back in with his family.

After a cancer diagnosis for Michael’s grandmother, he began using again. Michael remembers the Godly woman that his grandmother was and how passionate she was for Christ. Soon after the diagnosis, she was on her death bed and Michael made a promise to her that he would stop using. She died that day and the grief was too much, Michael couldn’t quit. He was so disappointed in himself, he had broken a promise to someone who had never broken a promise to him.

Michael was then living in a tent with his three children and continuing to use. He was spiraling out of control. But with the mother of his children often absent, Michael was raising his children all on his own. He recalls one morning when he had all three children at the park. A bystander called the police when he saw Michael acting strange around the children. They found needles on him that he had used that morning to shoot a gram of meth, in addition to his prescribed Methadone dose. He was incredibly high. He was charged on the spot with three counts of child abuse and one could of paraphernalia. He was given the option to go to a rehab facility and they wouldn’t release his warrants until after his treatments were complete.

Once again, Michael turns to First Contact. He was admitted to Renewed Hope Rehab and was there for 13 days before he left. He was immediately picked up and taken to jail.

After hitting rock bottom and being incarcerated for a week, Michael found himself alone in his cell reaching out to God. He asked the Lord; “Whatever you want me to do, I will do it. Whatever I need to do, I will follow you.”

Shortly after, Michael reached out to Kevin, a placement coordinator with First Contact, who posted Michael’s bail and sent him off to Renewed Hope Rehab once again. After 3 months at the rehab facility, he still hadn’t seen his children and gets a call from DSS to let him know that his children would be placed in the foster care system. After just accepting Jesus into his heart, and now getting this horrible news- Michael just couldn’t understand why his children were being handed over to strangers.

After 5-months in the rehab program, DSS lets Michael know that if he begins to start the process of drug screening and continually passes the tests, he can see his children for two hours, once a month, under supervision- an answered prayer! Two months later, Renewed Hope hired Michael on as an intern- he was getting paid to go to rehab!

At the 11-month mark of his 12-month rehab program, Michael got a call from his Mother and she shared that she has stage 3 lung cancer. Michael was crushed, but after prayerful consideration he decided to stay and finish out the program that he had tried to complete so many times before.

After graduation, Michael moved in with his Mother and immediately got a job. From there, he started getting more time with his children, ultimately building up to overnight visits where he could take his children to church on Sunday mornings- something that was so important to him.

Michael continued to work hard, gain more and more time with his children, all while taking care of his Mom. On Christmas Eve 2021, Michael and his children moved into their very own house! During this time Michael was keeping himself busy with First Contact meetings, Celebrated Recovery meetings, and bible studies. He learned that being surrounded by a network of people was the key to accountability in his walk with the Lord.

 On May 24, 2022 Michael received full custody of all three of his children, praise the Lord! Michael has a great job at Blue Ridge Mountain Water and even works extra when he can! He is over 2 years clean!

Bible Study Lesson on Addiction - Week 16 of the Overcome Curriculum by Joshua Staton

Anger & Clarity

Miosis – Lesson 16 of the Overcome Bible Study Lesson on Addiction

One of the more problematic results of anger is that it clouds your vision and blinds you to facts, impeding decision making. But usually, we find this out after the fact. After we cool down we normally realize we shouldn’t have said that. Then you get the honor of having to be on clean-up detail. This is not a fun place to be, and if you frequent it too many times, you’ll find yourself casually purchasing an apartment there in the realm of lost compassion from those you have hurt. This becomes your new living arrangement. And no matter how much you think you can keep the different areas of your life compartmentalized and un-affected from anger, it will eventually spill over, just like every other sin. We think we can hide it when we have to, until it outgrows the closet and bursts into the living room, when you are entertaining in-laws. Learn more about the concepts of anger and clarity in this “Overcome” Bible Study Lesson on Addiction.

You see, there is a strange cathartic stage, if you will, much like the first real moments of sobriety, where the scales have fallen off of your eyes and you begin to see. You begin to see things that you didn’t know were there, you see things that you never paid attention to in the past, mostly yourself and your actions. This nauseating stage can be likened to when you wake up to a bright beam of sunlight that has found its way through the tiniest of cracks in your bedroom window curtains and landed upon your pupil. That instant that your pupil constricts, that slight twinge of pain, squinting and scrunching your face to somehow shut your eyes even tighter to block out the sadistic ray… time to face the day.

The conflict that goes on during this time, when you really begin to see who you are, can be contrasted between darkness; operated by anger, and light; clarity, being who we once were versus who we were made to be. This light may be foreign and initially discomforting, but once you get used to it, it makes going back into the darkness all the more repulsive.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

John 8:12

Opening a Can of Worms

I opened up a can of worms the first time I taught this specific class when I asked the question “What makes you angry?” Which has led me to including the following disclaimer: It is not up to me or another person to validate or invalidate your anger. All I can do is point you to scripture. I do not have the spiritual discernment to judge the motives or heart of another person, I can’t even judge my own properly.

Chances are that, based on my possibly faulty perspective, I have a 50/50 chance of looking at the situation wrongly to begin with. Then it becomes a heads or tails if I make the right or wrong decision. Why, because I may not have all the correct information and my own personal experience and taste regarding the subject. Which leads us to our next stop in this discussion, righteous anger and our own point of view.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.

Ephesians 4:26

If anger is something you find yourself dealing with, then just as with any other sin, we must make ourselves as aware as possible with our inner self. Often, we find ourselves justifying our anger. There is such a thing as righteous anger, or indignation. While anger is ok and a part of life, we must be especially careful to not chalk up outbursts to righteous anger. The easiest way to do this is asking yourself do you get angry at everything else God gets angry about, or is it only a few select items. What makes you angry, may not make me angry. Likewise, there are a few issues I have a personal history with that have become burdens to me when I see them occur or I am the recipient of such treatment. In other words, I am not necessarily angry with them offending God, but more the fact that I have been offended. God’s word is pretty clear on this point:

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

Romans 12:17

It’s not a question of do you get angry or if you get angry. It’s more a question of why do you get angry and how do you handle it. Many times, when anger strikes it is in my weakest areas and people are watching me to see how I am going to react. It’s during these opportunities that come at the worst times, a chance for others to see Jesus in me, not the me within me.

The Roaring Lion

Truth be told, there are so many applications and directions we could go with this scripture. So, please hear me, what I teach out of this scripture is not the only thing there. There are other nuggets that can be drawn out such as: adversary, prowling, watchful or even generational. But for the intent of this study, I want to define a few words to tease out a logically implied cost.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

To devour means by any and all methods necessary, to consume entirely. To eat you up. Anger is typically built up and compounded over many situations and circumstances. It develops as we think about, talk about and get worked up about. We become ticking time bombs when we collect and find it hard to contain during the bottling process, firing passive aggressive warning shots across the bow of those who have offended. Like Chunk so clearly put in the Goonies, “That’s all I can stand, and I can’t stand no more!”

To be sober-minded and watchful is a choice. It is a quality and a description of that choice. It is not a feeling, but rather an intentional call to action, to be alert. Sometimes it is best to walk away from an argument. Sometimes it is actively choosing to starve the anger instead of feeding it. So much of gaining this clarity is from dwelling on scripture itself. Making a choice to apply scriptural guidance rather than scratching the itch of vengeance.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19

Overcome Bible Study Lesson on Addiction – Week 16
Application – Dredging

In a bit of transparency regarding this topic, I allowed many of the wrongs done to me in my younger years to generate feelings of anger and anti-social behavior. This anger resulted in a self-imposed isolation and de-valuing almost every other human I came into contact with. Because of allowing the trauma and anger to devour me, I became a drastically different person than what I imagined God designed me to be originally. Much of how I handled anger resulted in me misunderstanding God and directed misplaced hate towards Him for allowing the rejection, neglect and abuse. Handling anger wrongly cost me years and relationships I will never get back.

The main point is this, if you constantly find yourself erring on the side of anger as the go-to reaction to “unpleasant” things, there is a chance that you are allowing yourself to be devoured, and this isn’t one of those pictures of buzzards sitting on top of a carcass out in the desert, it is a lion with its head buried in the gazelles’ ribcage eating it from the inside out. With anger, everything can change in a moment and it usually does.  Below is a graphic of two words imposed on each other. See if you can figure out this visual puzzle:

Bible Study Lesson on Addiction - Anger Clouds our Vision

Anger clouds your vision and your reasoning. Powerful emotions like anger clouds your vision, it blinds you and obscures your vision, like clarity in who Jesus is. We do not want to devour ourselves or others. Know, that whatever the offense, Jesus’ death on the cross paid it. This is especially difficult when it appears that God is not bringing justice to the situation. We are all screwed up, and we are all in debt. We do not want to allow the devil to drive us to want to devour others, any more so than wanting to be devoured ourselves.

The “Overcome” Bible Study Lesson on Addiction is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.

Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Bible Study on Addiction series.

We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC.  Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship.  Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.

For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book

Bitterness & Joy

A Phenomenal Mirror – Lesson 14 of the “Overcome” Christian Recovery Curriculum

Let’s jump right in and rip the band-aid off, shall we?  Can you trust your heart to lead you correctly in every decision life may throw at you?  How do you know your answer to this question is truthful and accurate? The simple answer to both questions:  you can’t. The heart is responsible for many things that are wonderful; poetry, love songs, weddings. As well as many things that are horrible; jealousy, divorce and murder.  The spiritual heart, as it turns out, is a phenomenal mirror that reflects the inside of the person of whom it dwells within. Follow along in this lesson of the “Overcome” Christian recovery curriculum to learn more.

We will use a fundamental engineering maxim and an analogy to illustrate this concept of form following function.  Imagine a plain water bottle. It’s intended function, its purpose is to act as a container for liquids, specifically for water.  That is its main function. While in a pinch, it may make a useful funnel when you are stuck on the side of the road and need to add oil to your car, or it can even hold pre-mixed pancake batter on a camping trip.  But by and large it best serves its purpose as a container for water, regardless of its form.  

So, with that basic premise, how is a water bottle and a 55-gallon drum any different in function?  One major piece we took for granted, the ease of use. At times it is easy to focus on the forest and miss the trees.  Some pieces of knowledge we take for granted and never really question why we have those beliefs and where did they come from?  And even more poignant, what function does it serve? Our spiritual hearts are much the same. We know it is there and we know what it is supposed to do, but don’t really know what questions we need to ask for it to reach its full potential, as God designed it.

Our application tonight will be a reiteration of a previous application and for some it will be the single hardest thing they will ever have to give up in their entire life.  So, trust me when I say this isn’t going to be easy. It is one thing to cover bitterness when life is good. It is a completely different subject when you have just been reminded of why you are bitter to begin with.  It is a strange animal when you can’t see God because of the storm that has surrounded you and you have to rely on your faith that He is who He says He is.

A Relational Heart Disease

The Hebrew word for heart translates to the inner man, the mind, the will.  It is the same idea for the Greek word that Jesus uses in Luke 12:34, which translates to the thoughts or feelings.  So, if we take this metaphysical concept for the heart, it is the central part of us that is responsible for generating much of who we are, how we perceive life and what we do with life.  The heart was created to generate compassion, mercy, care and love, not hate and strife. It was created to house the spirit. And what’s more, we are completely incapable of judging another person’s heart.  Only God is able to discern what is within the heart. This truth makes the next set of observations all the more complicated.

Since bitterness is a relational heart disease, it just doesn’t manifest on its own.  When our spiritual heart is diseased it is no longer capable of guiding us and we become more reactionary in our decisions.  What may be a feeling of love today can just as easily become hate tomorrow. The heart is equipped to evolve and mutate based on what we feed it; projected expectations and fulfillment from other sinners, impatience to have our demands met and inconsistent emotional reactions.  A diet based solely on these inputs results in feelings and thoughts such as:

  • Don’t these people see how much I have sacrificed and worked on this, how can they not care?  I give up.
  • I’ll show them.  They will miss me when I am gone.
  • How could you God?  Why did you allow life to turn out this way?
  • Why did I trust you?  You have hurt me for the last time.  I will never forgive you.
  • Over my dead body.
  • Hurry up, why are you so slow?

You have to understand the why, what, how of the disease to properly treat it.  In other words, what is the root cause regardless of the form it takes.  We all want to be accepted, feel important, respected by someone else.  And when those feelings aren’t met, we are hurt. We feel angry and rejected. Sometimes we get over those feelings quickly, but sometimes, dependent on the offense and the offender we may choose to wallow in our bitterness.  Wallowing results in festering and further infection. That infection is commonly called a grudge. But in actuality it is a lack of forgiveness and showing of grace, especially when the offender is a loved one.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

Jeremiah 17:9

In attempting to understand that which by all accounts is non-understandable, I ask you to open your bibles and interact for a moment.  Go to Jeremiah 17. Pick up at verse 5 and go through verse 8. In these verses, God is describing the folly of trusting in man. The futility of trying to find value and appreciation from other people.  Since bitterness is relational and does not operate in a vacuum, we must not act surprised when other people fail at validating us. God’s design was not built that way. We are trying to make it function in a means that was never intended.

Likewise, in our anchor verse, God also describes the folly of trusting and following one’s own heart.  As Proverbs 14:10 says, “The heart knows its own bitterness…” Why? Because it keeps a record of all the wrongs that have been done.  It keeps a tally and corresponding payment it expects. And until that payment has been made, it accrues interest, making it a debt that can never be paid.

However, in verses 7 and 8, God describes what it is like to trust in Him, to joy.  Joy is not happiness. Happiness is based on circumstances and situations. Joy is not based on your bank account or how much your spouse approves of you.  Joy is a peace, a contentment, an ease of the soul. It is always in development and isn’t dependent on the world to sustain it. It is a confidence in God being who He says He is, in control and not subject to changing His mind like we are.  Joy is found in Jesus and it is a peace that guards your heart:

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

John 15:11

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7

“Overcome” Christian Recovery Curriculum
Application – The example has been given

There are many moments in recovery and your walk with God that make absolutely no sense in the temporal realm of the day to day steps.  As we progress down that road, the truth never changes, but our understanding should expand and evolve as we are stretched through faith, obedience, experience and introspection; vital components needed to take our next step in this lesson.  Begin with the following question:

What has robbed you of your joy?

During this time of introspection, pay close attention to your heart as offenses are brought up.  This is a good first step at learning how to discern your heart. Do you find yourself justifying feelings or emotional reactions to past hurts?  Do you find yourself speeding past certain memories of events? Do you find yourself eager to do what you can to repair the relationship? The answers to the questions are a good reflection of the temperature of your heart.  

What we are attempting to do, on a much smaller scale is to model the same forgiveness Jesus showed to us on the cross.  He was willing to die to cover our wrongs. He was willing to die to reconcile us to an eternity with Him in heaven. He was willing to lay aside whatever debt and pay it on our behalf, all because the relationship was that important to Him.  He chose to forgive. We must also choose to forgive.

The “Overcome” Christian recovery curriculum is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.

Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Christian recovery curriculum series.

We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC.  Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship.  Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.

For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book

Overcome Addiction Recovery Guide

Fear & Courage

Unraveling – Lesson 13 of the “Overcome” Addiction Recovery Guide

Fear is healthy and natural at times.  A little bit of fear will keep you alive and humble.  In the same way that a little bit of electricity can keep you alive while too much of it can end your life.  While not usually aware of it, fear influences us and affects our interpretations and perceptions of the possible occurrence of events.  To surmount this obstacle, knowledge is primary but does not operate in isolation. We must act on this knowledge and engage in actions that rewire the brain, which in turn feeds our knowledge and the cycle of gaining and applying continues to deepen, like the root of a tree. Learn more about overcoming fear in recovery, and moving forward with courage in this lesson of the “Overcome” addiction recovery guide.

When discussing fear, we are not simply talking about phobias like coulrophobia (the fear of clowns), dendrophobia (fear of trees) or even pogonophobia (fear of beards).  We are generally addressing fears such as separation, rejection, humiliation, disappointment and failure. I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t briefly touch on the fear that surpassed death as the number one American fear: public speaking.  I have had to speak to audiences quite frequently over the past few years and I’ll let you in on a little secret. I absolutely dread it. This fear of public speaking, though, reveals something hidden inside of us, questions about the unknown and how will we be received.

Before we dig too deep, let’s explore the physiology of fear for a moment.  Fear starts in the brain, in the amygdala.  This region is responsible for experiencing emotions, emotional processing and is part of the limbic system.  An easy example of this would be to imagine yourself walking out in the woods and you hear a rattle. What is your first response?  The most curious thing though about the amygdala is its role in memory formation. If the component of the brain that is responsible for experiencing fear also has a main role in memory formation, what does that say about the concept of fear?  By all accounts, it would have to be based on an event that has occurred in the past, with a possibility of happening again in the future.

Since our main focus is recovery, we will now shift course to look at some of the fears that keep individuals in the bondage of addiction.  Starting at number one and working consecutively down the list they are: the fear of not having the willpower to do it, boredom, possibility of relapse, fear of change and lastly, the fear of feeling.  If fear affects your decisions, it controls you.

… through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Hebrews 2:15B

The reason it appears that we are doing so much work on the front end of this topic is that we have a simple, two-letter promise that comes from scripture that requires our full attention.  And I do not want to be providing supporting information once we get to where we are going. When speaking about this promise an initial feeling will arise, that of courage. Courage is choosing to act even though you feel fear.  Courage is a resolve.

Culture of Fear

As of the time of writing this post, we have been living in a culture of popular fear for quite some time now, in America.  Y2K, the Mayan Calendar, school shootings and 9/11 come to mind. However, as we age, our definition of fear changes as do the responsibilities.  When we were little, depending on how your home life was, there may not have been a huge source of fear, which would usually result in trips to the emergency room due to jumping bicycles off the roof.  But, if your childhood was traumatic, fear could be produced from doors slamming, heavy footsteps or hearing arguments in the other room. As we age though, the fear of the boogeyman gives way to fear of losing a job or a loved one.  It may come in the form of a trip to the doctor for a routine check-up. However, one fear usually travels with us as we get older: the fear of consequences.

The word we use tonight for fear comes from a Hebrew word that is pronounced “aw-rats” and means dread.  And how we either react or respond to that word is what takes its power away or reinforces it all the more.  Fear can and will render you useless, if you do not approach it with courage to overcome the mental inertia required.

Courage on the other hand comes from a Hebrew word pronounced “aw-mats”, meaning to be alert, steadfastly minded and established.  This word isn’t about tiptoeing on the line of being self-assured or arrogant. Its power resides in a measure of trust in God and having faith in Him and what He is capable of.  Courage is a product of obedience to God and an understanding of his faithfulness and his character.  We understand courage based on our understanding of His love.

Promises

Now that the framework is constructed, we have one verse and one word to focus on.  The context of this verse is once again the Israelites and they have previously left Egypt.  Their leader, Moses has died. After wandering about in the wilderness for forty years, they are now being commanded, by a new leader named Joshua, to go into a land that is occupied and take it for their own.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

We could have chosen any other single word or concept to focus on for the remainder of our time; strong, courageous…  However, I want to point out one word that I am almost sure has been overlooked because of our ability to allow it to go undetected.  This word is a promise, the word is.  The word the Lord chose to use was not maybe, sometimes, possibly, was or might be.  This word is so important that I wanted to point it out in one more verse:

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Deuteronomy 31:8

Is, is a promise.  An active choice and a description of God’s character.  If you are seeking after what God wants you to do, if you profess Jesus as your savior, then cling to the promise, is.  If sobriety or doing without makes you sick to think about it, if making apologies or seeking to reconcile or trying to do right when no one wants to encourage you makes you want to give up, if you are scared of failure, be courageous.  Fear is especially powerful when you feel alone, like you have no one to help you. Which leads us into our application…

“Overcome” Addiction Recovery Guide
Application – Enlist

So, maybe courage for you is understanding you will and can get through the day without giving in to the temptations of addiction.  Maybe it is choosing to raise your hand when the pastor gives an altar call. Maybe it is reaching out or simply being available to another in their time of need.  It takes courage to do these things, do not let fear stand in your way of better. Enlist the help of others. You are not alone on this journey. Satan loves to separate you from the herd.  Reach out for support. Accept the fact that the next chapter of your life with the confidence that God is with you.  

Or you may be on the other side of the fence.  God has strengthened you and called you to help others.  He wants you to encourage and help others to seek Him. Be available for them, even if no one on this planet was available for you.  Do not allow the fear of rejection to be an obstacle for the soul of another person. You would be surprised how many people that are active in church are afraid to invite someone else to church.  Be courageous and break the complacent mold.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

1 John 4:18

The “Overcome” Addiction Recovery Guide is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.

Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Addiction Recovery Guide series.

We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC.  Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship.  Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.

For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book

Captivity & Freedom

To Turn Around – Lesson 12 of the “Overcome” Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study

 

The word captivity insinuates that someone or something has control over you.  It could be from a battle lost and you are now hostage or the act of slavery. The majority of time, whatever it is that holds you captive could care less about your well-being.  You jump when it says jump. You go when it says go. Shackled and in chains. Learn more about obtaining freedom in this lesson of the “Overcome” Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study series.

Throughout this post, I will be using some old testament, churchy sounding words; sin, sacrifice, confession, repentance and glory.  I will attempt to describe them in such a way that the essence of them is illustrated and clear up some of the fog that may be surrounding them.  Understanding these words is crucial for grasping a hold of the concept of being a slave to sin or walking in the freedom of Christ. I honestly believe that if we can get this down, it will be a turning point in our lives, both presently and eternally.

I have humbly accepted the realization that there is nothing I can say or do that will affect what someone believes, unless I act like a madman and then they may believe I am all sixes and sevens.  Which thankfully for you and me, trying to change what another person believes is not my job. My job is to illustrate, as clearly as I can from my own point of view what I myself believe, and to reflect that in my outer words and actions, although I do fail often.

At some point in each of our walks, beliefs move from a point of struggle to fact.  From my own experience, whatever seems to be the loudest in my life, gets all of my attention and without thinking about it, I soon start shifting my beliefs.  Ignoring or acting like the following three facts are not true does not make them any less factual, the same way that gravity does not require your belief.

  1.  We all sin.  We almost always err to the side of our humanness.  Humans are notorious for sinful behavior. Sin essentially means you are actively choosing to go against what God has said.  Sin is rooted within the self of each of us. Sin does not consider the cost or weigh the outcome. Put simply, it means chasing your desires regardless of the damage it will create.
  2.  Sin will always lead to suffering.  That suffering may take form of spiritual, physical, mental or emotional slavery and separation from a Holy God, from family members and from friends.  Sin hurts, sin is deadly and the debt it incurs has to be covered somehow, just like in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve first sinned. When they sinned, they recognized they were naked and God sacrificed an animal to cover their nakedness, their sin.
  3.  We, ourselves, cannot heal the sin and suffering in any lasting way.  The best we can hope for is to find a distraction. In other words, we cannot reach success when attempting to work our way into freedom.  When we attempt to do this, we are trying to justify ourselves based on the law. The law is not meant to save, but rather to judge. The law is meant to condemn the accused.

These three facts are the basis for understanding the severity of our situation.  As Romans 3 says “all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” Once we begin to reach a level of awareness and maturity, these facts lead to two actions: confession and repentance.

Confession of one’s sins is when we take responsibility for what we have done.  We do not hide the sin any longer. We go to God and acknowledge our wrong doings, our trespasses, and ask His forgiveness.    We do this because He is a just God, full of mercy, as scripture says, “He is faithful to forgive.”

Repentance is a Greek military term that means to turn around.  Imagine a squadron is marching due east when the captain bellows “Halt.”  The procession comes to a screeching stop. The captain then yells out “Repent” and the entire squadron spins on their heels and begins marching to the west.  In our spiritual lives, repentance means that we will stop going in the direction that is rebellious to God’s command and walk in the opposite direction.

If you are free…

Right now, if I were to ask you, are your thoughts, beliefs or actions were most influential, what would your answer be?  I am convinced one of these are the most powerful for each of us. If something gains control over you, it can affect how you handle situations, react to bad news, even what you would choose to kill for or die for.  One of these keeps you in slavery or releases you into freedom. One of these will most commonly make your decisions. One of these will be your yoke.

For freedom Christ has set us free, stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

Now, suppose I asked you what freedom meant to you, could you answer it?  As a teenager, what did it feel like when you got a little taste of freedom from your parents and their rules, even if for an hour?  We sowed our wild oats and learned about the real world, stuff you can’t learn under your parent’s roof. We get our first speeding ticket, for example, and hopefully learn not to speed again.  Notice at the end of the verse above, Paul says “…and do not submit again…” Again.  But for whatever reason, we enjoyed the thrill of it.  Went back to school and relived the entire moment over for our friends.  However though, there is a cost associated with this example, our insurance premium has now risen, which means we will now have to figure out how to cover the cost.

This is a fairly harmless example, but within it exists a core concept.  Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With freedom comes responsibility.” Jesus has established this freedom for us.  Our responsibility is to not submit again. Resist. If the desires of your heart are constantly leaving you to pick up the check, if our thoughtless habits are dictating our very existence day to day, or if the belief that God is angry and distant, we have to wipe the sleep from our eyes and realize we are bound in slavery to something other than God’s truth and plan.

“Overcome” – Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study

Application – what are you doing with your freedom?

At any given moment during the day I am submitting, the only variable is whom I am serving.  Am I serving myself; my desires, my selfish pursuits, my fame or fortune? Or am I serving a loving God that has supplied me with talents and gifts to build His kingdom, something that is everlasting and not temporal?  I feel that too many times, we prescribe to the thought that the Christian walk is something that is devoid of freedom or joy. God did not set out to make little replicas of the exact same person. No, He shows His creativity and handiwork because of our differences.  We each are unique, with our own personalities and special gifts. This leads us to our concluding thought, it’s not so much the question of what we do, but why we do it. The following two verses illustrate this concept, the first verse addressing the what, and the second facilitates the why:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Deuteronomy 6:5

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

When we are in slavery, we are unable to truly love God with all of our heart, soul and might.  Choosing to be a slave to sin impedes our decision to walk in freedom. We may want to be free, but our actions say otherwise.  Consistent choices dictate what we really believe. The second verse is where we find our freedom, in whatever we do in the name of Jesus.  If you are a single mother, a factory worker, a school bus driver, a struggling artist; do it with the intention of bringing glory to God alone.  This is the why behind why you do what you do.  So, I ask you, if you are free, what are you doing with your freedom?  Are you going back to patterns that encourage a lifestyle of slavery to sin or are you walking out your freedom through a relationship with Jesus Christ?  Can you say about every decision and thought, whatever it is, that it will be done in the name of Jesus for God’s glory? If you knew you were free, what would you be doing right now that shows that you have accepted and honored that freedom?

The “Overcome” Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study is part of the discipleship program at First Contact Ministries in Hendersonville, NC.

Did you miss the other lessons in this series? Click see the entire Overcome Faith-based Addiction Recovery Bible Study  series.

We always look forward to meeting new people at our Tuesday night support group meetings at 6:30 pm, located at Mud Creek Church in Hendersonville, NC.  Our classes are designed to teach biblical principles for addiction recovery through discipleship.  Our goal is to show the love of Jesus by supporting those who need it most.

For more information or to purchase “The Resistance” by Josh Staton to use as a Christian leadership book, or curriculum for an addiction recovery class, please visit: The Resistance: Becoming A Servant Leader Through the Beatitudes Christian Leadership Book