Starting the Path to Recovery from Addiction

Meeting Of Support Group

If you’ve been struggling with addiction, you’re not alone. Statistics say that over 20 million Americans from the age of 12 and older are addicted to alcohol or drugs—sometimes both. But there is hope. Around one-third of alcoholics are able to completely recover. It’s never too late to start the path to recovery.

Look for a Christian Recovery Program

Christian rehab programs (often called faith-based programs) are more effective than their secular counterparts, and studies show this to be true. The dimension of faith in these programs leads to lower numbers of relapses and more sustained positive results. Faith in God and a supportive community of believers brings an added strength to the recovery process.

The Celebrate Recovery program at The City Church is one such community. Not only is it a safe place to share and grow, but it also offers the kind of accountability needed for long-term recovery.

Consider Taking Time Off Work

When addiction is limiting your ability to be effective at your job, it’s advisable to take some time off work to focus on recovery. Many times, people feel they can’t afford to do that. However, there are some options you can consider.

  • Family Medical Leave Act: If you’ve worked at your current job for at least 1,250 hours over the course of the past year and your employer employs at least 50 people within 75 miles of your worksite, you may be eligible for the Family Medical Leave Act. While the FMLA won’t provide an income while you’re off work, it does afford you the option to take up to 12 weeks off work and gives you the guarantee of a job of similar responsibilities and equivalent pay and benefits when you return.
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP): Some employers offer employee assistance programs that can be used for personal or work-related problems, such as addiction. An EAP usually offers free and confidential consultations and some short-term counseling services.
  • Health Insurance: Check with your health insurance plan to find out if they offer any coverage for substance abuse, mental health, and behavioral health situations. This will help to cover the costs you may incur.

Take Steps Toward a Different Lifestyle

For recovery to be fully effective, it’s important to follow the treatment plans prescribed to you by doctors, behavioral health counselors, support group leaders, and others. In addition to seeking the help of professionals, surround yourself with family members and friends who will encourage you in your goals for a different lifestyle. You may need to break off or limit contact with those who will drag you back into addiction.

Take steps toward establishing healthy sleeping, eating, and exercise habits in your daily life. When you attend to the legitimate needs of your body, it will strengthen your ability to say no to substance abuse.

At Celebrate Recovery, we celebrate every step that a person takes towards a happier, healthier lifestyle. Consider joining us each week on Monday nights to learn and grow with God and with others.

How To Move Forward in Life

Two people walking on ocean beach with rocks

Sometimes, it can seem like life is getting you stuck in the mud. Maybe there’s an art project you’ve been meaning to start on for several months or a career change you’ve been wanting to make or an invention you’ve been wanting to develop. The daily demands of life can feel like anchors that hold you down, but here are a few tips that can help you get started moving forward.

Let Go of Baggage

Philippians 3:12-14 talks about “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” Often, we interpret this to mean that we need to stuff negative emotions into a dark corner and move forward. The problem is: they’re still there and they’re still affecting your ability to be successful.

In order to move forward, you’ll need to identify emotions that are keeping you stuck and process them with God, and often, with caring people like your church, your friends, or even Christian counselors. Things like depression, anger, stress, anxiety, and the like, are indicators of hurts and pain that are underneath the surface. Because we are human, we feel, and emotions are valid things that help us to identify what is going on under the surface. You may need to consider allowing someone else into the process to help you walk out Philippians 3:12-14 in your own life.

Cut Out a Few Things

Often, there are a few things that are either completely unimportant or are entirely made up of other people’s goals for you. These things could be that 1,000-page book a friend gave you that you “absolutely have to read by the end of the week” or a career path that your family approves of or that TV series you’re addicted to.

What are the things that you could, or even should, cut out of your life? At the same time, make sure you’re not cutting out your family or your closest relationships. Share your goals with your family and friends—they may be the best accountability partners in your life.

Develop Some Achievable Goals

When we think of accomplishing something big, we often think of the project as a whole. For instance, if you’re wanting to remodel the living area of your house, you can get caught up in visualizing the finished project, but struggle with a plan for getting started. Here’s where you’ll need to grab a piece of paper and break it down into a list of bite-sized projects that are more achievable (i.e. obtain permits, buy supplies, fix the bad vent system, and so on).

The same goes for almost any goal you want to accomplish. A long-term goal rarely happens all at once. Sometimes, it needs to be developed over the course of several months or even several years.

Moving forward is not an entirely elusive thing. Paul experienced a lot of setbacks, but he continued to move forward, spread the gospel throughout Asia, and wrote a large portion of the New Testament. As Hebrews 12:1-2 advises, we too can set aside the weights that so easily hold us back and run the race with endurance.

How Personal Change Happens

Man looking down with hand to face

Every person has some habit, behavior, or hang-up that they want to change. One person might be hoping to lose those extra 50 pounds while another might be wanting to change his/her tendency to flair up into a quick temper, and yet another would love to finally get a bit more organized (after all, it gets really inconvenient to keep losing your car keys). Whatever the issue is, it’s easy to feel stuck in a cycle of victory and defeat. Is there a way to achieve lasting change? We’d all love to know.

Take One Step

Often, the person wanting to lose weight focuses on losing 50 pounds. But it’s so much easier to focus on losing one pound. It’s also more effective. What is one step that you can take each day that will take you toward your goal? Perhaps it’s as simple as drinking a glass of tea before dinner or switching out the ice cream in your fridge to a lower-calorie frozen yogurt. The person who wants to get organized might start with the junk drawer in the kitchen instead of trying to clean out all ten closets in the house in one day.

Identify Your Triggers

Do you reach for a cookie when you’re stressed? Do you binge-watch movies on weekends? HALT is a concept used in many circles to help people identify what is fueling their bad habits and behaviors. It’s important to literally halt (i.e. stop) and ask yourself what you’re feeling when you’re tempted to relapse. Are you:

  • Hungry? This includes physical and emotional needs. Are there needs in your life that are not being met? Your body might be craving nutrition. Your emotional self might be craving affection, understanding, or accomplishment.
  • Angry? Anger is a legitimate emotion, but it’s only the symptom of something deeper. Is it possible for you to calmly and constructively address the person or situation that you’re feeling angry about? If not, it’s important to find a way to express your anger without hurting others. Some activities that can provide a therapeutic outlet are exercising, cleaning, punching a pillow, or expressing yourself through a creative outlet.
  • Lonely? Loneliness can happen when you’re alone or when you’re in a group of people. It’s more of a feeling of being isolated or misunderstood. It’s important for you to develop a human support system so you have people to reach out to when you’re feeling down. If a supportive friend isn’t available, it can also help to go to a meeting, go on a walk, visit the library, or run an errand—something to get you out of the house and into interaction with other humans.
  • Tired? Sometimes, you simply need sleep. When you’re running on low cylinders of energy, every negative thing can be magnified. Do your best to get a solid night of sleep every night. Your spirit, soul and body will be refreshed and your outlook on life improved. A nap or a jaunt to a favorite relaxing spot, such as the lake, coffee shop, or bookstore, can also rejuvenate you.

Remember That It’s a Process

If you fail, refuse to beat yourself up. You are not a failure just because you ate that triple-fudge chocolate cake. You can get up and try again. The American culture tends to expect fast results, but change often happens in slow, and sometimes tedious, increments. Don’t ever allow yourself to give up.

Reward yourself each time you make progress. This starts a connection with positive triggers in your brain that reinforce positive actions. Keep a log of your progress and celebrate how far you’ve come. Share your progress with others. That will also reinforce your progress.

The City Church is a church in Redding that has created a place for people to experience personal change in an encouraging environment. We’ve found that a Christ-centered, Bible-based, 12-step style of program is incredibly effective. Perhaps you should give it a try.

The Church Exodus: How the Church Can Re-Engage Those Leaving

Figurines of different colors surrounding wooden cross

According to one study, less than 18 percent of the American population attends church regularly. Another study reveals that about 1.2 million people are leaving the church every year. That translates to 3,500 people per day. How can the American church engage with those who are leaving the church or who are already outside the church?

Create a Place for the Holy Spirit

Throughout history, when churches opened the doors to the move of the Holy Spirit, thousands were saved, baptized, healed, and activated (Acts 2). These thousands did not need to be convinced or coerced into joining the church—they joined of their own accord. On the other hand, when churches shut out the Holy Spirit, they tended to turn to forms and rituals and their congregations tended to dwindle. The Holy Spirit is often the most uncomfortable Person of the Trinity and the temptation to contain His move is a real thing.

People aren’t leaving the church because they aren’t spiritually minded; they’re leaving because one person of the Trinity is missing. The interest in spirituality and the supernatural is growing in America, not dying. Americans are seeking substance and that substance is found in a living, dynamic God.

Create Community

Every human being has an innate desire to belong. If that place of belonging isn’t found in a church, people will find it elsewhere. Community doesn’t automatically happen, especially in the increasingly culturally diverse churches of today. The local church must actively facilitate small groups or home groups where people can build relationships with a core group of people on a regular basis. These small groups and social groups can also become places outside of the four walls of the church where people from the local community can connect and engage. It’s a less threatening environment.

In larger churches, it might be necessary to evaluate whether there are any social groups that are being left out of the small group structure. For instance, churches usually have places for families and youth groups, but is there also a place for singles, single moms and dads, and divorcees? The number of unmarried adults in the American culture is now more than 50 percent of the adult population. Smaller churches may not have the resources to create a group for every social group, but a real effort should be made to find out who is in the congregation and the community and to determine what kinds of social groups might be beneficial.

Create Practical Answers to Solutions

What are the social problems in your community, and how can your church become a part of the answer? For instance, in Redding, there is a large problem with drugs and alcohol. In response, we have developed a Celebrate Recovery program where people can be healed of the things that are keeping them stuck in cycles of addiction or emotional pain. Is there a network within your church for taking care of the practical needs for those in crisis? Do you have teams of people who serve at the local shelter or community service center? When people have their practical needs met, they are more capable of becoming thriving, contributing members of the church and community.

There may be people leaving the church, but churches and networks that incorporate all three of these very important values are growing. The Foursquare church is one such place. Like Aimee Semple McPherson, we must be committed to engaging the spiritual, emotional, and practical needs of our culture.

A Global Call to Prayer + Fasting

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Hello City Church family,
I wanted to write to you concerning our plans for Seek Week in 2016. In the past we have had a week of fasting sometime in January that was directed to & developed by the City Church. Pastor Jack created a daily guide that was prayerfully designed to help us break through to new things that the Spirit of the Lord had for us. As you know, this is a season of transition for our church. Not only in the Lead Pastor role, but for many of our ministries. And of course we are entering into another transition with regards to our church campus.  That being said, it simply has not been feasible for us to develop our own Seek Week program for 2016. However, I believe God still has a plan for us to start this New Year by seeking Him through prayer & fasting. The president of our Foursquare movement, Glenn Burris, is calling our global Foursquare family to fast & pray for 21 days in January.  You can subscribe to this event & receive daily reminders & topics for prayer. This is a great opportunity for us to partner in a global prayer effort. I will share more about this during our Sunday Worship Service, but please read Pastor Glenn’s letter by clicking on the link below & then pray about how God would have you participate.

Pastor Chris

Click here for a PDF the 21-Day Prayer Guide…
21-Day Prayer Guide (PDF)

Click here for a letter from Foursquare President, Glenn Burris, where you can sign up to receive daily email of the prayer guide…
Letter from Pastor Glenn Burris

 

the City Church Pop-Quiz

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The Thank You party for Pastor Jack and Pamela was a HUGE success! Thank you so much for attending everyone! We had a great time, and so did our beloved pastors.
Some have asked to see the City Church Pop-Quiz questions and answers, so here they are, with a few extras thrown in! How many answers do YOU know???

In what year did the City Church begin?
A: 1997

What was the original name of the City Church?
A: River Valley

How many buildings have we occupied?
A: 9

How many can you name?
A:
1. Witt house
2. North Bechelli office
3. First Nazarene Church
4. Pleasant St.
5. Cascade Theatre
6. Ballet Studio
7. First Presbyterian Church
8. 7th Day Adventist Church
9. Bonnyview Campus

What is the “R” word in City Church culture?
A: “Relationship”

What was our mission before Love Grow Serve?
A: C. A. R. E.

What did CARE stand for?
A: Communicate Hope, Advance Discipleship, Restore People & Pathways, Engage Gift Harvesters

What were small groups first called?
A: Life Streams

What is the name of Pastor Jack’s first church?
A: Christian Life Center (CLC)

Who currently attends the City Church that also attended CLC?
A: Brad & Cheryl Fulton

How many people relocated to plant the City Church?
A: 10

How many can you name?
A: Jack, Pamela, Jarred, Katelyn, Megan, Phil, Kristin, Katrina, Sara, Selima

What is the name of our “mother ship” church in Aptos?
A: The Coastlands

How many City Church members do we have that also used to attend The Coastlands?
A: 7

Who are they?
A: Jack, Pamela, Jarred, Tiffany, Dave, Ruby, Katrina

What year did  Pastor Jack & Mike Logan start Qadash?
A: 2005

What animal did Pamela used to collect as figurines, magnets, etc?
A: Pigs (No pig gifts, please)  😉

What kind of business did Pastor Jack own?
A: Drapery

What was the name of the business that Pamela owned?
A: TCBY

What is Pastor Jack’s life verse?
A: Jeremiah 6:16

In what area did Jack & Pamela grow up?
A: Santa Cruz & Watsonville

How old was PJ when he & Pamela first dated?
A: 17! (was that even legal??)

What is the name of Pastor Jack and Pamela’s pastor?
A: Daniel Brown

How many of the 5 Witt middle names can you name?
A:
Jack Curtis
Pamela Gail
Jarred Curtis
Katelyn Elise
Megan Cerise

If you include marriage, in-law relationships, & blood relatives, who in this room is related to Jack & Pam by “6 degrees of separation”?
A: Amber Talavera

How?
A: Katelyn – Josh – Cheryl – Mel – Frank – Amber

What is Pastor Jack’s favorite animal?
A: Trick question… Pastor Jack doesn’t have a favorite animal! But he has a LEAST favorite animal! Which is, of course, cats!

What cumbersome nickname does he have for cats?
A: “Demons in cat suits”

How’d you do???

Shoebox Prophecy

mario diorama

It appears to me that there is a good deal of attention on and confusion about the gift of prophecy in the church today.  The movies depict prophecy as an ancient prediction that is coming true through the appearance of the specially gifted hero who has now arrived to save the day.  Many people see prophecy as predicting major events of the future in the form of Nostradamus or some mystical “seer”.  Charismatic practice in the church over the last 50 years or so has shaped the function of prophets and prophesying almost exclusively into giving or getting a “personal word from God.”  I was at a Christmas party for a bunch of foster care children a couple years ago, and after being introduced as a pastor to a twenty-something year old guy, the first question that came out of his mouth was, “Do you have a word from God for me?”  I told him, “Yes, He wants you to read your Bible more.”  Prophecy, in my opinion, should not be restricted to the individualized “word” we find a lot of Christians running here or there to receive.  I love that God speaks in that way, but I find we are much more receptive to these individual words which are usually packed with a good amount of predicted benefits, than we are to the larger occurrence of prophecy that is regularly being spoken into whole communities of people.  In last week’s message at the City Church, I talked about rebellion… a lot.  I really had not planned to drill down on that word and preach the message the way that it ended up.  It was surprising to me in the moment of preaching how strongly the Holy Spirit sought to call out that sin and warn the church about relabeling rebellion as a quirk or personal preference.

I generally consider the act of preaching a prophetic practice, although I have come to recognize specific times where the confrontational tone or the urgency of hope and promise in a particular sermon elevates my awareness that this was not the communication of doctrine; it was prophecy that is imposing a new perspective into the way that we are seeing the world or God’s work in it.  We need this imposition.  Did you ever build or help your children build a diorama?  You know those shoebox projects where cutout items are glued in place creating a 3-D image of animals in a field, a family working in the yard or perhaps an underwater scene?  The truth is: you and I are creating our own personal diorama every day.   We collect the data from our life experiences and this data informs how we view our world.  By extension, these experiences also are informing the way we think about and understand God (our theology) too.

If you are a believer you have heard that God is active in our world and that there are blessings to obeying Him and consequences to disobedience.  But our diorama is not built primarily on what we hear; it is constructed from what we see and experience.  So here’s how that works.  We watch selfish, rude and arrogant people succeed; getting what they want out of the world.  We also watch humble, devoted and caring people get walked on, overlooked and sometimes even wrongly punished.  In our eyes this is unjust and if God is active, interested or wanted things to turn out differently, He really has an odd way of demonstrating it.  If life experience is the shaping factor in our diorama, we are left to conclude that either God is not as active as we have been told, or perhaps He is not overly concerned about right and wrong, justice or injustice.

It has happened a number of times in the church where a married couple breaks up and within days they are involved in romantic relationships with other people.   Besides the fact that he or she is still legally married to their spouse, they demonstrate to their children and others that human comfort and personal happiness is all that matters even if you have to ignore or break some boundaries to get it.  I know that often there are significant issues like infidelity, drug relapses or abuse that one spouse does to bring great chaos into their home and marriage.  While their husband or wife is not to blame for the actions of the other, the Scripture does hold them accountable for the way they respond to this chaos.  As I try to pastor these folks who are running out into new relationships to ease their pain or find their slice of happiness I often find that his or her diorama is clearly fixed around the image of “my life, my choice, I’m happy, Jesus loves me, butt out”.  And by all outside appearances, they do seem to be happy, people are celebrating that they have now found the “right one,” and no negative consequences are befalling them.

For many people watching these situations, this data would have them taking the cross or whatever image they would use to identify God in their diorama and move it behind the backdrop and out of sight.  Others would paint a big smile in one of the clouds indicating that God is happy as long as you are happy.  God’s mercy and the judgment-absorbing sacrifice of Jesus on the cross provide for the fact that we do not live in a one-for-one, immediate-consequence environment.  We are all grateful for that, but we can also assume from the absence of consequence that God has removed any expectation of holiness from His sons and daughters.  That’s not necessarily what we have read and heard about God, but remember it is our experience that primarily shapes our view of the world and the God behind it all.

On the other hand, when you have made difficult choices because of what you have heard and believed, you can find yourself wondering if there will ever be a happier resolution.   I’ve watched people choose to remain faithful and stick it out in a bad marriage for years while their spouse did whatever they pleased because of the understanding that this is what God had called right and good.  Will God come through?  Will this sacrifice and suffering be worth anything in the end?  We have all seen people live in that sacrifice and place of suffering for a lot longer than we thought necessary.  How do those experiences shape our diorama?  Do God’s promises really relate to the here and now, or does His reward only exist in a completely other shoebox scene filled with angels, golden streets and puffy white clouds?

Reading the Bible has some corrective effect on our diorama, but the reminders of Bible stories and doctrines about God face a difficult battle.  The images that indicate God’s slowness to act or His lack of concern are cemented into their place in our diorama with generous amounts of doubt and fortified with a lot of experiential evidence to keep them fixed right where they are.  Private Bible study is particularly susceptible to getting stuck in this same glue.  We need a strong word coming from the outside-in to break our God-weak, God-slow, God-absent dioramas apart.  This is where prophecy functions and shines.   I heard someone once say that “Fear is a form of prophecy; it predicts a future absent of God’s actions, love and power”.   God’s prophetic voice imposes a correction to our experience-created view of Him and the world around us.  Walter Brueggemann in an article on prophetic leadership says it this way, “…the prophetic task was to re-utter Yahweh as a living, decisive agent in a world that largely assumed that [He] was an irrelevant memory”.

The Old Testament is filled with these prophetic impositions.  They contain warnings of destruction, occupation by enemy nations, and captivity so it is easy to dismiss this function of prophecy as something only connected to the Law and Old Covenant, but we cannot miss that through prophecy, God was imposing Himself into Israel’s diorama.  You may conclude by your experience that the world is arranged one way, God through a prophetic word, will reinforce His conclusion that it is arranged in a completely other way.  You may conclude by your experience that right and wrong are not being monitored and that God seems not to notice or care what you do, but God through a prophetic word will insist that every idle word will be accounted for one day (Matthew 12:36).  You may conclude by your experience that you have been forgotten in your pain or that God is only intending to reward those who are faithful to Him with blessings in eternity, but God through a prophetic word will impose hope into your diorama that mercy and justice are on the way and cannot be stopped (Luke 18:6-8).

So where are these prophetic impositions spoken?  Psalm 73 can nearly be divided in half.  The first half contains the reflections of a man whose diorama is confused and worldly.  He sees no point in suffering or piety and envies the prosperity of people who intentionally snub their nose at God and chase wickedness.  The second half contains the reflections of a man who sees as God sees and lifts His voice in confident praise to the God who is active, faithful and powerful.  Both halves are written by the same man; so what changed?  The verse that stands between these halves (v. 17) says, “… I went into the sanctuary of God, then I understood…”   There is no other suitable place, forum or environment for the delivery of prophecy than the gathered body of believers.  Inside of this gathering you may receive a personal word of edification, exhortation or comfort by the function of prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:3).  Evaluate it, thank God for it and receive its Holy Spirit-intended benefits.  However, as the Scripture is being faithfully communicated in these gatherings there exists the possibility that the Holy Spirit will speak urgently, directly and confrontationally bringing a prophetic word to the whole church calling for a reimagining of the diorama of the world in which God is present, powerfully active and faithful to every promise.

You will have to decide if and how you will receive this prophecy.  If you imagine that the preacher or any other prophetically inspired person is angry, uptight, legalistic, exaggerating or overly dramatic you will forfeit the chance to see as God sees, to receive and repent, to open and be flooded with hope.  If you are waiting for someone to communicate something individual, personal and specific to you, you will wait much longer and likely not end up hearing a word that calls for repentance.  This is either as the result of God’s grace to not uncover the secrets of your heart to another individual, or that relational cautions will keep people from sharing particularly hard or confrontational prophetic words with you.  Either way, you end up with a diorama that is managed and arranged by a God-weak, God-slow or God-absent future.  You must put yourself regularly in settings where prophetic words of correction or comfort are being spoken into the life of the Christian community.  God is seeking to rearrange your diorama.  Are you where you need to be and humble as you must be to receive what He is speaking currently by the Holy Spirit?

 

He Gives Us Grace, We Give Him Glory

Over the next few months we are going to revisit an evening of worship in prayer, song, communion, and seeking that we call Grace & Glory.  The name arises from Psalm 84:11 where the psalmist says, “For the LOCandles-Christian-Stock-PhotosRD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly”.  Actually the whole 84th Psalm is a beautiful call to worship and reminder of the need to regularly adjust our values away from the ordinary and profane; setting them firmly into beauty, majesty and perfections of God.  

The text says that the Lord gives grace and glory which is an awesome thought to consider.  God giving glory to us is done primarily through the way He has set His affections and acceptance upon us; He honors us by calling us by His own great name.   In our use of the expression Grace & Glory, and that which defines the focus of these worship gatherings, we think about God’s kindness toward us in terms of receiving and responding.  He gives us grace and we in turn give Him glory.  Join us.  Come prepared… come grateful… come seeking.