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"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another..."

 


James 5:16 (The Message)
16 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

Psalms 32:5 (NIV)
 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD" and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

1 John 1:9 (NIV)
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
 

Testimonies

 

"Small Group to Help with Recovery"

by Pam M

Hello, my name is Pam. I'm a believer in Jesus Christ and I struggle with over eating and codependency.

I want to share briefly with you how I'm being transformed. This is happening through attending small group meetings at Celebrate Recovery. CR is a 12-step program with Jesus Christ being our higher power. It is based on the beatitudes of Jesus.

So, why am I at CR? In 1990, my world turned upside down. My dad died that year and I had no feelings of grief. I asked myself why I wasn't feeling anything. At this time also, when I stayed overnight with Mom, she would wake up with panic attacks of fear. I was scared and had no idea what was happening.

In 1993, while my immediate family was in Mauicelebrating Carla's high school graduation, I receive a call that my mother was in the hospital. She had attempted suicide. I had neither communication skills nor boundaries to help me walk alongside mom. She wanted to live in our home and I felt much guilt in telling her that wasn't an option. I gradually took on the parent role. In retrospect, I realize that I had set my first boundary with mom by not offering to let her live with our family, somehow realizing it would have been an unhealthy choice for my family and me.

For 10 years, I took mom to many different physiologists. There just wasn't a magic pill to cure her and I was unwilling to allow mom to have shock treatments. Mom suffered from psychotic depression, panic attacks, and in the final years, signs of dementia. She had a broken heart, and was leaning on me.

In summary, my old self had frozen feelings, no communication skills, no boundaries, and great confusion with regards to how to love and respect my mother.

By 1996, the straw that broke the camel's back was my severe physical pain. After six years of progressively intense pain, I had two hip replacements. I can see now that I was in emotional and spiritual pain as well. I was not seeking out the right source to assist me. I could no longer care with unconditional love for mom. I WAS BURNED OUT. I could not control my mother's behavior that hurt me, commenting on my too-large figure, refusing to acknowledge my presence, and in other ways showing her anger towards me. I felt unloved by my mom. I felt my lifetime of "only child" loneliness; my mother's emotional abandonment. Why had I not had hugs as I was growing up?

After taking the Stephen Ministry training in 1995, I understood that I could only control ME, not my mother. I learned that I had valid feelings to express and it was okay to express anger. In order to sort out my hurt feelings and pain, I went to a Christian counselor. I accepted the truth and the "truth set me free." I acknowledged my mother's faults and accepted that my parents neglected me emotionally as a child. I forgave my mother, but we never verbally reconciled.

Before 1996, I had no spiritual tools in my toolbox. As I healed from hip replacement surgery in 1996, I committed my Fridays to Mother's Council Bible study. I had my first opportunity to ask others to pray, when I was unable to pray regarding my mom. I also joined the Billy Graham training sessions. Finally in 1996, I recommitted my life to follow Jesus Christ. I'm building my relationship with God through His son Jesus Christ.

Finally, I am starting to be equipped with Scripture. While listening to KFAX radio, I was introduced to my first passage in the Bible that gave me hope. Romans 5:3-5 says *We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.* No longer would I let others, like my mom, take my hope away, because I knew already about having perseverance during my childhood and marriage.

After four years of prayer and study, God is still faithful in providing me with strength, comfort and peace as my community of sisters in Christ pray with me and for me. Last August 2000, mother chose not to eat and chose to die. For nine days, I walked alongside her with God and with community members praying for us. I had the opportunity to ask her to bring Jesus Christ into her heart and watched her let go of her anger with God. I knew at that moment that all the community prayers for past four years had made a difference. I felt God's faithfulness.

I started going to Celebrate Recovery only because my husband was asked to do the music. The first night I observed and judged others. I listened to their struggles and said to myself, "I don't have a problem with drugs or alcohol to do this 12-step program. Why am I here?"

Previously, my Stephen Ministry mentor suggested with love that she saw me as a codependent. I read the book Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie. I was in denial that I had a problem, but I decided to support my husband by going with him and started working on the 12 Steps.

I decided I wanted to work on my compulsion to over-eating. Even though I had lost 30 lbs. that past year, I confessed I had a problem. I still use food as comfort during times of stress, disappointment and loneliness. I am prone to stuff my feelings with food. But there wasn't a group that was working on eating disorders, so I reluctantly joined the codependent group of women.

In my CR small group, I took an inventory of my previous and current hurts and habits. As others shared their stories of codependency, I admitted to myself and to my CR small group members that I too have codependency habits and hang-ups. During the fourth step, I took a moral inventory of myself. I acknowledged my childhood hurts, my resentments, and my unhealthy dependence on food to comfort me. By working the steps, I am in the process of changing my habits and I'm exploring and trying new strategies to change my behavior. I am finding a deeper level of honest communication with my husband. I am becoming more open, to listen to how others perceive me. When appropriate, I am able to say I'm sorry or confess my shortcomings. I am in the process of learning to express my hurt feelings. I am learning to say no appropriately. I am learning to ask for what I want.

By working the steps with others, God can intervene with His Grace. God never intended us to be out of relationship with Him or our friends and family members. We all sin. We all have hurts, and hang-ups. Jesus said, "If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8: 31-32 Come to Celebrate Recovery and identify those hurts, hang-ups and behaviors that prevent your feeling God's joy and peace.



"My Hidden Life and The Walls Between Myself and God"

My name is Charles. I am a believer in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and I struggle with Pornography, Sexual Addiction and other compulsive behaviors... Yes. People do become addicted to this type of destructive and compulsive behavior and it is a very difficult struggle to break free from.

I am giving my testimony in hopes of helping others with similar struggles.

To help you understand the genesis of my struggles, I need to take you back to where it all began, but before I do that, I want you to know that I take full responsibility for my actions as an adult...

As I child I experienced a great deal of pain and loneliness growing up. Both of my parents struggled with alcoholism, abuse, and emotional distress most of their adult lives.

When I was very young boy, my family lived in southern California until I was in 7th grade. These were my formative years where I would form my perception of the world and what was right and wrong. All through these years, both my mother and father would abuse me both emotionally and physically. I remember being locked outside of the house for hours and then given a beating when the doors were unlocked. Fear was definitely part of my life. I dont remember anytime in my youth were everything was going great. I didn't complain though, I thought that all families were like mine!

Also, during these early years, I was exposed to many inappropriate sexual situations and materials as early as 9 yo. This had a big affect on my perception of life and was responsible for the early development of my sexual struggles! As an adult, I now understand that my parents were too deep in their own problems to have the capacity to help or get counseling for me and that they were doing the best that they could.

When I was in 7th grade, my father experienced a severe emotional break down that put him in a psychiatric hospital for a brief period. After my father was well enough to return to his job, my mother and father both decided to change there life by moving to Northern California where they planned to open (of all things) a liquor store with my uncle Bill. Imagine that - Alcoholics opening a liquor store! They were definitely well prepared for the job!

After the move to N Cal, It didn't take long for the dysfunctional behaviors on my parents to resurface and in fact they returned with a vengeance! My father alcoholism reached an all time LOW and he was coming home drunk several times of the week. My dad was the type of drunk that got mean and I can remember many nights of yelling, pushing, cussing, and screaming between my parents  This usually happened around 2 or 3 AM. To make things worse, my mother was not emotionally stable and she could not handle my father and us kids. The most traumatic memories I have are of the three times that my mother attempted to kill herself with an overdose of drugs. I can remember trying help save my mom's life and calling 911.

All of this insanity led me to seek peace through isolation and self destructive behaviors. I desperately needed to escape and to medicate my soul. My drug of choice became pornography and compulsive sex. I was fully addicted by 13 yo!

The insanity of my addiction and the crazy stuff that happened in my family continued all through my teen years. At 17 yo, I could not live in this @#!*% anymore and I decided to join the Navy to get out of there! While I was in the Navy, I abused alcohol and drugs, but these substances never replaced my sexual addiction.

Through the years, my addiction got worse and I became tangled in a web shame, denial and lies. Deep down, I knew that my behaviors were not normal and I desperately wanted to be free from my personal @#!*% , but I believed that I was defective (a freak) and that I could never tell anyone. Being a survivor, I tried to help myself, but sadly, I could never break free. My addiction turned in to a circle of shame, repentance, and short freedom, but when life got tough, I would always return to the numbing environment of my addiction. I got trapped in my addiction as a child, but later in life I had choices and I made the wrong ones - I take full responsibility for my actions.

Fast forward to late 2003 and early 2004... Changing from the Old me to the New me...
Late 2003, I was still entrenched in my addiction and I felt deep pain and shame. I remember crying out to God to help me break free. I prayed for god to intercede. God answered my prayers, but not exactly as I had hoped. In March 2004, I hit bottom. I fell in to deep depression and I felt severe anxiety. I became physically and emotionally sick for several months and I was forced to take a leave of absence from my job. My depression took me to the depths of despair - Sadly, I considered suicide several times and I still remember placing the pills in my hand and looking at them! Thank God that I realized that I loved my wife and family far too much and that I would cause damage to everyone. At that moment, I knew that I needed to ask for help. I prayed to god all night long and the next morning I told my wife about the horrible thoughts that I had. My wife was shocked, but she remained strong and she reassured me that we would make it through this trial and that God will use all of our pain for his glory. God saved my life!

Here is one of my favorite bible verses that gave me hope...
Ephesians 2:4-5
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved.."

"Dear God, thank you for loving me in my darkest times and offering to take me back!"

The next thing that God asked me to do was very hard - I told my wife about my addiction and that I was deeply sorry. As you can imagine, this revelation devastated my wife, but the Holy Spirit was with her and never left my side. She helped me through some of the toughest times of my life. She believed that God was working through her to help bring me back to sanity and health. I love my wife! She is awesome!

Weeks later God delivered again by directing my wife and I to a very wise Christian counselor that was experienced with these types of issues and he was exactly what both of us needed. We needed healing and to work through many issues from the past and in the present. Most of all, we needed to understand why we are here on this earth and how we could both change our lives to align with God's will. I chose to believe that God places some people in the deep, dark forest to give them life experiences that help to further His plans and glorify his name.

As the months went by, both, my wife and I began to feel God's presence in new and wonderful ways. Counseling was helping me with all of the ugly stuff inside me and my wife and I were rebuilding our marriage. The walls between myself and God and between my wife and I were coming down. I started to experience true intimacy with God and with my wife. I think that my wife experienced the same changes as well. Our love for God started to grow!

Here is one of my favorite bible verses that spoke to me and gave new meaning to my life...

"2 Cor 5:14
Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them."

"Dear Jesus... Thank you dyeing for me! You are telling me that I no longer need to live only for myself and that my old-self can be put to death. You are what life is all about - Thank you Jesus!"

Fast forward to October 2004...
God revealed to me exactly what his plan was - I was equipped by Him to help fight against the evils of pornography and disrespect to his daughters. God never intended man to selfishly look at his daughters as objects for our own needs and desires. During this time, my brother introduced me to a wonderful program called Celebrate Recovery (a Christian based 12 step program) and invited me to his church and to CR. I decided to accept his invitation and I traveled to his church with a pastor friend of mine (David Meekins). During the weekend of our visit God pressed upon our hearts the importance of the CR ministry and He introduced us to several key people that helped us start our own Celebrate Recovery program in our Church.

In April of this year, we started our CR program with a large group of people attending (50 ) and from that night it was very obvious to us that this ministry is desperately needed! Everyone is broken to some extent and that even the most harden people are human and want goodness in their lives.

Celebrate Recovery is growing and many people are healing themselves with the help of the Holy Spirit working through other people's hands and through God himself. The most exciting aspect of this ministry is that I have the privilege of witnessing God's miracles almost every day. I encourage anyone in need to join a Celebrate Recovery group.

After much healing for my wife and I, we have reshaped our marriage to help lift each other up to God through encouragement and selfless love. I am happy to tell you that this coming New Years Eve, my wife and I plan to recommit ourselves to one another and our marriage.

This time we are living for God!


"Leaning on the Lord"

by Terry D

    I thank God almost every day for Jesus Christ and His saving grace in my life. As beautiful as God's creation is we unfortunately are born into a fallen and sinful world. This magnificent world is filled with death, disease, hatred, anger, abandonment, betrayal, dishonesty, greed, fear and all sorts of tragic maladies from our sin. There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside.

    When I was not yet quite three years old growing up in La Crosse, Wisconsin, my mother died from a sudden illness. We buried her on her 42nd birthday. It was tragic for our family which had already endured the pain of losing a child to illness just a few years earlier. My father, who already suffered from alcoholism, never recovered from the loss of his young wife and young child. His pain and rage and alcoholism consumed him until he finally committed suicide by parking his car on the railroad tracks and waited for a train to run him over and take his life. I had just turned eleven years old and I remember telling myself that day that I would never believe in God again.

    I still don't fully comprehend how wounded I was over the early loss of my mother and to compound that deep wound by the suicide of my best friend, my beloved father, was far more than my eleven year old mind and emotions could ever hope to process. As all hurt children do, I went into a hiding place where no other person could ever find me and hurt me ever again.

When I reached my teenage years I soon discovered that alcohol and drugs would ease and numb my pain and I turned to them every chance I could get.

    I went off to college in Madison where I majored in debauchery and minored in Economics. I simply didn't know any better. I had no direction and no mentor in my life - I was essentially at Satans mercy. When I go back to Madison now I still cry over the lost opportunity of that precious time for learning and study in my life.

    Every family has a crazy Uncle Ned of some sort and our crazy Uncle Ned lived up Fargo country in Northern Minnesota where he owned a golf course. We called him crazy uncle Ned because he was one of those born again Christian types. He was always spouting Bible verses, holding Bible Studies and he was famous for fasting for 40 days - twice! I went up to work for this guy one summer as his greens keeper but my life style didn't change one bit. I still carried on with my drinking and excessive lifestyle. Uncle Ned took offense to that and he cornered me one day in the mower barn and he poked the Gospel of Jesus Christ into my chest with his finger. He said. "Terry, you're living a sinful life and you're going to @#!*% if you dont change your ways. We're all sinners, and Jesus Christ died as payment for all of our sins. You need to give your life to Jesus and you will be saved!" I didn't have the slightest idea what he was talking about but I said okay-okay uncle Ned and walked away.

    I finished up college and moved to San Diego where the grip of my addictions flowered into increasingly destructive behavior. When I was all of 26 years old I was prepared to follow in my father's footsteps and commit suicide as the pain of living was becoming too great to bear. But I remember reaching out for whatever it was that crazy uncle Ned had that no one else seemed to have. He had a peace and a confidence and a joyousness about him that was very attractive and I asked God for whatever it was that crazy uncle Ned had I wanted it too. God graciously answered that prayer and He blessed me with His Holy Spirit on November 29, 1982. My thoughts of suicide ceased and my thoughts turned to the things of the Lord.

    "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."

    There is still tremendous sin in this fallen world. There is still death, disease, anger, abandonment, betrayal, dishonesty, greed and fear. But I am better equipped to endure them now through the grace offered to me by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus, the creator of the universe, humbled Himself to endure all manner of sin and through Jesus I can then learn to follow his example and learn to endure all things though His grace.

    The damages of sin are great and the process of healing and reconciliation takes time. I have wonderful examples of God's graciousness in healing and reconciliation in my life. Shortly after the Holy Spirit entered my life I was still drinking and I begged God to take my alcoholism from me or to kill me on the spot and He graciously instantly healed me from my alcoholism on May 23, 1983. "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you." It felt like 10,000 pounds being lifted off my shoulders that night when He healed me. I never drank again and the Lord with His delightful sense of humor had me bartending shortly there after.
 



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