[00:00:00] Well, let me begin with a word of greeting to each and every one of you, wherever you are. However, you're hearing this. We are so glad that you with us. My name is Cal I'm the lead pastor here at central. And, uh, I am just delighted to get to kind of move us along a journey today. Uh, w we're in a series we started about a month ago called through the valley is subtitled through the valley.
[00:00:20] You're not alone what we're going through this series, because these are very, very difficult. Uh, we've been in this pandemic and it's taken its toll on us. And, and the truth of the matter is, is that there's some stuff going on inside of us, that a lot of us are going, I'm just not, well, I'm not, well, I'm not okay.
[00:00:37] And so we thought, you know what? We should just be able to talk about that. And so we just launched into this talking about some difficult subjects about trauma and abuse and, you know, fear and anxiety and stress and all kinds of subjects like that. And that's what we've been taught. Today, we're going to tackle another difficult issue and we're going to conclude this series next week with another yet difficult subject.
[00:01:01] Okay. Today, we're going to talk about addiction next week. We're going to talk about depression and ultimately the ideation of suicide. It's going to be a hard one, but this one is also very, very high. Uh, as I was preparing these messages, I looked at this one and I thought, you know what? I know somebody who could do a better job with this than I can do it.
[00:01:22] And then I could do it. And so I went to this, uh, gentleman, I said, Hey, would you be willing? And he said, yeah. Uh, th the guy that I'm talking about is a person on our staff who is, uh, literally he loves this counseling and helping people. It's his passion. He's got a master's degree in counseling. He literally enjoys helping people through the struggles and he knows more about this than I could ever begin to know.
[00:01:49] So I'm excited for you to get to know him now. He is one of our campus pastors, so Mesa, you're going to recognize him because he is your campus pastor, but for the rest of you, I I'm so excited to introduce you to the Mesa campus campus, pastor Perry Emerick and as he comes out and brings the message, would you just make him feel.
[00:02:08] As he steps up to the plate and delivers a very, very difficult message. Listen closely to what he has to say. Thanks. Thank you. Thank you so much. You guys are way too kind. Thank you. Grateful to be here. Thanks Cal, for those words, thank you for wherever you're watching. Shout out to my Mesa friends back home, and all of you watching all the world's so great to be with you today.
[00:02:30] As we continue in this series of Cal said we're in this through the valley series and trying to talk about. Trying to help reduce some of the stigma to be open and honest about talking about some of that. So often we can minimize, we can diminish in some way. Sometimes I think we're guilty in the church at times of vilifying those who struggle as if they don't have enough faith in that could be nothing further from the.
[00:02:53] I'm also just excited because we're reminded again, even in the opening video, this truth from Psalm 23, that we are not alone, that God is with us, that God journeys with us through this. And I just want to remind you of some of the words that Cal read at the beginning of this series in Psalm 1 39. I think it captures well, the promise that we have from God and all of this, it says, where can I go from your spirit?
[00:03:17] Where can I flee from your presence? If I go to the heavens. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the Dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there, your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. It's a promise that wherever we go, whatever happens that we can't get to a place so far that God cannot meet us there.
[00:03:40] And I don't know about you. Maybe that's the one thing you needed to hear this morning is that you cannot get away from him. He will hold you fast. He wants to be in. And so, so far though, in this series, we've talked about shame and guilt. We talked about trauma and abuse last week, Jeremy was here talking about a Dick or anxiety, and I'm grateful for the conversations that are coming out of this.
[00:04:04] Now, today today's topic like the others, as Cal mentioned, has that potential to be really, really difficult, not so much in the nature of the content though. But I think what makes this, this topic so difficult is the vast number of opinions and beliefs and experiences that so many people have related to it.
[00:04:24] Of course, as you said, we're talking about addiction and I don't know what comes to mind when you hear the word. Perhaps you think of images of characters, I think of TV and movie characters that embody that, right? You think of Barney from the Simpsons, or maybe if you're a little older, you think about Otis from the Andy Griffith show, or maybe you think of Dennis Hopper's character from who's yours or some other figure that represents this struggle, or perhaps you picture someone more in the day to day thing.
[00:04:56] Maybe somebody passed out. Uh, waking up from an all night bender and not even knowing where they're at, or maybe somebody who's injecting something or smoking something or, or caught up in, in, uh, in addiction in a very extreme way. Maybe that's what comes to mind. Or maybe for some of you it's closer to home.
[00:05:16] Maybe it's a loved one. Somebody that you personally walked with and witnessed and experienced them struggle with the ravages of addiction. And there's a lot of pain in their shame and there's. And grief, maybe even anger that comes with that, or maybe, maybe it's you and maybe your first thought is of your own addiction journey.
[00:05:39] And perhaps you've come out of that. And you're now able to reflect back on where you came from, or, or perhaps even you're here today and you're recognizing in your heart that there might be some things that you're struggling. You see, addiction is something that all of us have a perception of many have been impacted by it.
[00:05:59] And despite our perceptions, the truth is people with addiction cross, all socioeconomic categories are professional categories, all age categories, all ethnic categories. It plays no favorites. It does not discriminate. It can affect anyone. One of the things that I love though about this series though, is that it hasn't always been just data, just statistics.
[00:06:23] But what we really tried to do is to help capture stories, to help people put a face and to help connect them, maybe emotionally to what this really must be like. And so they, I'm excited for us to hear from Krista and to get an opportunity to hear her story. If you would check this.
[00:06:42] Uh, it was about high school-ish middle of high school that I started really being influenced more by the world. Um, which in turn, then separated me further from God. Um, and what happened with that? Disconnect came just a lot of spiritual consequences for me. Um, caring a lot about what other people thought of me wanting to fit in at school.
[00:07:02] And I definitely did cause a lot of emotional and mental distress and harm to me. Um, and other people, and then eventually, um, it grew to methamphetamine and I, uh, was a meth addict for quite a while. I didn't know who I was. I didn't know why I was here. I didn't know how I had ended up here. I didn't think I was salvageable.
[00:07:23] Um, I had felt so far away from God, from my parents, from anyone who loved me. Um, and. Internal discussed and just repulsed myself and feeling almost like I had crossed the line too far. Like the things I had done were so bad that, you know, it couldn't be, it couldn't be undone. They couldn't be forgiven.
[00:07:49] And I remember one night specifically where I had really. A rock bottom and just fell to my knees and said, there's kind of be a better way. And I didn't realize it then. But later on, I realized in that moment that I was praying, you know, for the first time in years. And it wasn't immediately that I saw results.
[00:08:07] It wasn't like that night, I ended up getting sober. Um, but shortly after that, uh, I really just surrendered and I ended up going to treatment out of state. And I always spent a couple months there and learned a lot about myself and a lot. How to deal with feelings in life that I didn't know how to do before and then became a member of the 12 step community.
[00:08:28] And that really helped me to be reconnected with God in a way that I never thought possible. And, um, I got sober on October 28th, 2013 from all substances, um, complete abstinence and I have a life I don't deserve and that I never thought was possible. The greatest thing that I have in my life was given to me by God at my worst I'm once I was healed spiritually, it seems like everything outside of my life started to fall into place.
[00:09:00] And one of those is now that I work at a treatment center, you know, and I get to see people who have experienced the same thing as me and I get to show them that there's hope. And there's a way out of a really dark place. And I get to be God's hands. And he took a really horrible time in my life, a very dark story, um, and has used it for his kingdom and his good I've worked with a lot of people struggling with the same things as me.
[00:09:24] And I know that relapse is a part of recovery a lot of times, and that makes it harder and harder to keep coming back and keep asking for help over and over again. Um, you almost feel like you can't and it's pointless. Um, but I also know. It's part of me forever, you know, it's, it's not going away. It's not like I'm healed.
[00:09:44] And it was completely removed from me. I was restored to sanity and the cravings were removed. Um, but in no way, shape or form, do I have perfection, but I know that if every day I wake up and do what I've been taught to do to protect it. Um, my sobriety that. If I'm growing spiritually, that God will take care of me.
[00:10:10] My name is Krista and this is my story. Yeah, for sure.
[00:10:20] I'm so grateful for Christa for sharing her story to share in her victory. But even though the challenges has come through that, and then now she could use to help others to get out of the cycle of addiction and pursue freedom. Grateful. So here's the thing today. I'm going to do my best to shed some light on the subject that talk about the complexities of it, to try to invite God to lead us in this conversation.
[00:10:44] But I've just got to be honest with you and talk about kind of the elephant in the room. If I could is there's no way that a 30 minute sermon is going to answer all the questions surrounding this complex. Now I've studied a lot on it and I'm hopeful in it. But, um, I'm what I know is this is, I believe that God's spirit is going to be here.
[00:11:03] That scripture is going to speak. And hopefully out of this comes an opportunity for us to learn and to step into how can we heal maybe ourselves or help others in that journey. So I'm going to ask, as we begin, if you would join me as we just opened in a word of prayer father, we invite you into this place.
[00:11:20] And Lord thankful that your promise is that where we gather your thoughts. Lord, would you lead us in this in order? Would you, uh, allow us permission to open our hearts, to be curious, to be open, to invite you, to maybe reveal or maybe even draw us to, and so Lord, we give this time to you, Lord asks for you to speak in Jesus' name.
[00:11:45] Amen. So let's begin with the challenges when it comes to talking about addiction. And the big challenges is that there's so many different components to addiction. Addiction can be biological neurochemical, psychological, physiological, emotional, relational, spiritual, and genetic. All these components are at play when we talk about addiction.
[00:12:11] But against that, I want us to be in with just kind of in the question, I think is probably at the forefront, which is what is. Addiction. So here's the definition that I feel like captures it the best, I think. And it goes like. It's the compulsive use of behaviors or substances that brings short-term reward, but long-term negative consequences.
[00:12:35] Let me just say that one more time. It's the compulsive use of behaviors or substances that bring short-term reward, but long-term negative consequences and you'll notice there's kind of like four components to this definition. So I just want to kind of unpack each of those a little bit as we go here.
[00:12:52] The first is this is that it's. It is something that we are drawn to do in spite of our desire not to do that. That's what compulsive is. We're compelled to do it, or will might say no, we don't want to do it. Our desire might tell us, no, we want, we don't want to do it. We may recognize that it is not helpful or beneficial, but we are compelled to do it anyway.
[00:13:14] That's the first component. The second is that it can be a substance or a behavior. Now, when it comes to addiction or things that we're addicted to, obviously the most obvious, probably the, the one that's lasted the most throughout history is alcohol. And the Bible speaks all kinds of words of warnings.
[00:13:33] If you will, about doing too much of that, about giving yourself to drinking too much. And the effects of that. In fact, actually Proverbs 23, interestingly enough describes somebody who I think is caught in the grip of alcohol. Beginning in verse 29, it says this who has wo who has sorrow, who has Stripe, who has complaints, who has needless bruises, who has bloodshot eyes, those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine, do not gaze at wine when it's red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly in the end, it bites like a snake and poisons, like.
[00:14:15] Your eyes will see strange sights in your mind will imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. They hit me. You will say, man, I'm not hurt. They beat me, but I don't feel it. When will I wake up so that I can find another drink. It's a pretty clear picture.
[00:14:34] A pretty accurate picture. Some of you are going, yeah, I've experienced. But that's this picture of it in the Bible, which kind of indicates that this has been around for a while. This isn't new, the Bible speaks about drunkenness and being given over to that and the warnings against that. And of course, we have to presume that the culture wasn't the same back then, but the effects of alcohol are very similar to the effects of many drugs.
[00:15:02] And so I would add to that the substance use problem. Likens to it, illicit and illegal drugs and other substances. And they use this epidemic. We talk about the opioid crisis and, uh, methamphetamines and all kinds of drugs, drugs that alter our mood and change our perception of things and are very addictive, but also it can be addictive behaviors, something that is often called process addictions.
[00:15:32] I'm thinking about gambling and pornography. Probably two of the most prominent and equally, incredibly destructive that people find themselves compulsively drawn back to in spite of desiring not to do that, but if we're being fair, there's a lot of other behaviors and other substances that can have a compulsive draw for us who can maybe begin to fit into that addictive category.
[00:16:01] If we're being honest, I think of food. The most obvious one, I think for most of us is it can be very easily to, to be given to comfort, eat with food. Right. In fact, even more so I would say sugar, sugar is really the addictive thing. In fact, there was a 2015 study that showed that Oreos were as addictive as heroin to which I say, hi, my name is Perry.
[00:16:31] I'm addicted to cookies. Chocolate chip is my drug of choice, if you want to, you know, but we can all recognize that sugar has such an incredible pole and so many, I mean, companies try to find ways to help us be more and more addicted to sugar, to want more and more of that to feed our habit. Gaming is becoming a vast growing addiction for so many people.
[00:16:57] People will spend hours and hours and hours in online gaming. In fact, in China, I don't know. They see the problem is such a concern that they actually have gone to the lakes of banning kids under the age of 18 from participating in online gaming for more than three hours per week, which I guess if you're a communist country, you can do that kind of thing.
[00:17:19] Parents are trying to go, how do I do that? Because they're like a DIY on that, but, but they definitely speaks to the fact that they recognize that this is a growing problem. Exercise can be in. People who will actually damage their body in a compulsive pursuit to continue to exercise and do those things because it gives them, it helps them to feel better.
[00:17:41] Work is a very acceptable one. We can overwork. In fact, we have a term, right? Workaholic, everybody ever heard that term before we have that term because it exists. People were given to work overtime and continue to strive and give more and more and never slow down. Similarly as shopping. Again, never heard the term shopaholic retail therapy.
[00:18:03] Some of you are like, oh, ouch. I got a little close. And I think the most acceptable of addictions today is social media and media. In general, you don't believe me. We are consumed by that. Just check your screen time app and see how much time. Yeah.
[00:18:31] Now I gotta be clear here. Okay. Compulsively checking your Instagram or your Facebook might change your brain's neurochemistry, but it does not have the same impact or destructive nature as drugs and alcohol and pornography and gambling and those things. But that doesn't mean that is it causing problems, that it isn't something that we are given to in a way that is beyond.
[00:18:55] I think what's.
[00:18:59] The reason we do that is the third part though, is because it brings a short-term reward. What are those rewards? Well, neuroscience has done a lot to uncover this and they've, as they've studied the brain, they've realized that there's actually a pleasure center part of our brain. It's the part of our brain that responds positively to direct or indirect stimuli from these different substances or behaviors.
[00:19:22] We get this huge hit of dopamine or other pleasure causing neurochemicals in our brain. An overload of it that is so intense that our bodies begin to crave that we want more and more and more. It's the rush. It's the high it's that moment of escape. It's this euphoric pleasurable moment. It's mood altering changes how we perceive things and just feels good.
[00:19:47] And so people are drawn to that. And unfortunately, those short-term awards so often lead to longterm negative consequences, consequences that destroy our grasp of reality, our relationships, our productivity, our sense of identity, our peace, our joy sometimes are very light. It's a cycle of imprisonment that ends up costing so, so much.
[00:20:15] And often we'll hear people talking about being a functional addict, meaning that there are domains of their life categories of their life, where they feel like they're, they're doing fine in spite of that. But I would contend with you that anybody can find a data point to support what they want to believe.
[00:20:35] But there's a lot more dysfunction than function and you could probably just talk to those closest to them and it will become evident. And though we might understand what addiction is though. The deeper question I think we all wrestle with is why, why do we become addicts? What is it that compels people to become addicted?
[00:20:56] And again, this is the subject of a lot of study and a lot of conversations. There's a growing body of research that shows that the vast majority of addiction and addictive behaviors is rooted in escaping or numbing pain or attempting to manage other emotional and mental health challenges. So often what's being drawn.
[00:21:18] Is there, there there's something difficult in our lives that compel us to want to find an escape, to find some way of feeling. Talking about trauma and abuse, adverse experiences, attachment wounds, and so much more that feel too much to manage or carry big T traumas, little T traumas, bullying insecurity, and a variety of experiences that just that they leave a wound.
[00:21:46] They mark our sense of identity and our worth. I just don't feel good. And so we seek out some way to escape those negative feelings. The feel relief to feel pleasure, do the use of substances or behaviors, but here's the thing. What so often begins as an attempt to manage or, or give us this temporary relief from a problem can quickly become the problem.
[00:22:18] Something far more destructive than ever imagined. The very first time we participate. Is he a, it seems easy. I could do this. It's no big deal, but it can take on a life of its own. You see, nobody sets out to become addicted, but rather our attempts to numb our pain combined with the intense pleasure over time can be, become a dependency.
[00:22:44] We try to fill the void in our souls with something that helps us feel alive, to feel whole and better, begins to stick. Our lives, the more we do it, that was part of Krista's story she wanted to fit in. And it wasn't that she had any hugely difficult adverse experience per se. It was just that there was a void in the sense of wanting to a sense of being less than.
[00:23:11] And so she sought to fill that and ended up taking her deeper and deeper and deeper. And then it took over her life. See that's what addiction does. It holds us cap. In fact, the Latin word for addiction is this word. Uh, Sarah, I probably said it wrong. I don't speak Latin, but it means this to give my voice over, to, to give my voice over to you.
[00:23:36] See in addiction, we give our voice, our power away to something else. It's a term of enslaved. So, what do we do with this? What do we learn from this? What does scripture say about this? Well, I would invite you if you have your Bibles to turn them to Romans chapter seven, Romans chapter seven, doesn't speak Nestle directly to it, but I think it gives us a really good picture about it.
[00:24:04] And it might be surprising to somebody you see, Romans was written by the apostle Paul. It was Paul's letter to the church in Rome. And as we know about Paul, he was. Who wrote a significant portion of our new Testament, many different letters to many different churches and people. He traveled the whole Mediterranean region.
[00:24:23] He planted churches all over the place. He shaped so much of our understanding of how to live out our faith. And yet in Romans chapter seven, Paul makes it almost an interesting confession of sorts. And I think very much connect to this topic. And so I'm gonna invite you to just to read along. Beginning in verse 15, he says, I do not understand what I do for what I want to do.
[00:24:50] I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do not do what I want to do, I agree that the law is good as it is. It is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me for, I know that good itself does not dwell in me. That is in my sinful nature for, I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot.
[00:25:13] Four. I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil, I do not want to do this. I keep on doing, can you see it, Paul? This greatest of apostles, Paul is outlining in his own life. What Bill's feels very much like this addictive cycle, this struggle that so many of us understand. So he has the desire to do the right things, but so often finds himself doing the things that he hates.
[00:25:42] And we don't know what that is because scripture doesn't share it. But what we do know is he talked about this thorn in his side, the sword in his flesh, that he spent three seasons praying for God to remove that from his life, which God chose not to do. So again, what did he struggle with? I don't know.
[00:26:01] And I want to be really careful here because I gotta be careful. I'm not reading into the scripture as something that's not. At the same time, we have to also be really careful that we're not reading out of the scripture, the humanity that is there, which is a big part of Paul's journey. As we've talked about, Paul experienced tremendous trauma and adversity.
[00:26:23] He'd been shipwrecked. He'd been beaten. He'd been left for dead. He'd been persecuted. He'd been in prison. He'd been hungry. He'd been so much more. And we know about that cause he writes about. But I think there was some other parts to Paul's life before all that, which incredibly marked him in a very painful way.
[00:26:45] You see, it was Paul who held the coats and gave approval to the men who stoned Stephen, the very first martyr for Christ. It was Paul who would travel from town to town, trying to find followers of the way the term used for, for believers at the time. And he would find them and then we'd bring them back to the Jewish authorities to be either imprisoned or perhaps even killed.
[00:27:09] It was Paul who was on the road to Damascus when Jesus kind of showed up in this blinding light and knocking him to his knees and saying, why Paul, why are you persecuting me? It was Paul who called himself the chief of sinners. You see, I think Paul carried within himself a massive amount of pain and shame and guilt yet.
[00:27:35] It's that same Paul, after talking about this struggle of wanting to do and yet doing who falls that up in verse 25 of Romans seven with this. Thanks. Be to God. Who delivers me through Jesus Christ, our Lord. And then he goes on and chapter eight to say this at the very beginning, therefore in lieu of all this stuff, therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
[00:28:05] Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Paul has just shared his struggle and then gives praise to the fact that in Christ, there is no condemnation. There's no condemnation in Christ Jesus or set free from the bondage of sin.
[00:28:34] It doesn't necessarily say that we're set free from the urges of the flesh, but it says we're set free from the bondage of sin. In fact, when he sought, after God to remove this thorn from his flesh, God's response was my grace is sufficient for you. And so we have to ask ourselves, what does this mean for us?
[00:28:54] What does it mean for those who are caught up in addiction? Well, it means, it means that there's hope. There's hope in Jesus Christ. Jesus himself is our hope because he has set us free. Now, again, it's really important. We have to recognize, and we have to take responsibility for the fact that our addiction is sin and our sin separates, but like anything that separates us from Christ or anyone else for that matter, the pathway out begins with owning that and confessing.
[00:29:30] I'm reminded of the words of Jamie Winship a friend of central have been here many times, but he says confession is truth-telling. Confession is true telling. So when we look at addiction and the, and the pathway out of it, the first step is admitting that we have a problem. You see the pathway out of addiction begins with truth-telling emitting.
[00:29:55] You have a problem admitting to the pain and the stress. And sharing that with others because the power of addiction is magnified by shame. It's magnified by guilt and secretly a secrecy. The pathway out of addition begins with confession. I was talking to a guy who caught up in addiction for most of his life, sexual addiction, various ways struggled with it.
[00:30:25] Confessed. It did just enough to make things kind of better slipped back into it. Confessed it just enough. Finally, he got this point where he was so broken that he decided to get real and tell the truth. His wife was about to leave, but unlike before this time he shared it. He confessed his struggle. He confessed his pain.
[00:30:52] He confessed all of it, and it was only then that he was able to genuinely step into a space, to begin recovery, to step into community, to step into counseling, to take his steps towards healing. See it begins with confession, with truth, telling the step. The second step is turning towards Jesus.
[00:31:14] Recognizing that only in Jesus, do we find true hope only Jesus has the power to break the bonds of sin and shame and guilt to give us this living God, this holy spirit in our lives is he that's been the struggle for so many, the desire to fill our pain with something other than. And yet when we can be honest about our struggle and our pain and turn to God, invite him in God does some incredible things through that.
[00:31:46] And then the third step in the pathway is to enter into healing, a healing journey, a journey that may be different for different people. And I just have to say it's hard. That's part of the difficulty of it, right. It's really, really hard. You see, we all want in every issue in our lives, not just this, but in every issue in our life.
[00:32:07] What we really want is we want God to just come and just take it away. Can we just go, I got to just pluck it out of our lives. I don't want to have to deal with it. I just want to wake up and it's gone and what's hard is we hear those stories. We hear those testimonies. You've probably heard the testimony of the guy.
[00:32:22] Who's been a drug addict, his whole life, and he's strung out. He's got a needle in his arm. He has no ability to recognize what's going on. And all of a sudden he cries out to God and God shows up and it's divine powerful. And he's completely removed of all of his, uh, addictive compulsion's and desires.
[00:32:39] He's he's sober. And just that moment, he never struggles again for the rest of his life. And it's awesome. I love that story. I believe that story, but the challenge is, or what I believe to be the case is that that is the exception, not the rule. It's the exception, not the. I believe it's happened and praise be to God for those who have the opportunity to experience that kind of deliverance.
[00:33:07] But again, I believe that's the exception, not the rule you see addiction and most, all the struggles that we've been talking with throughout this series, ultimately result in the destruction of relationships. And the reducing of the quality of our relationship. Actually some of our struggles have come out of relationships that makes it all the more difficult and that relationship broken.
[00:33:38] This happens between us and God, us and others around us, even us with ourselves. And I believe for that experience for us to experience healing from our addiction and from some of these difficulties requires us to do that. Relationships. See that's the healing journey. It begins with relationships and again, it might be different for different people.
[00:34:04] For some, it might be stepping into authentic community here at Krista. Talk about it in the video, but 12 step community of some sorts in Mesa, we have celebrate recovery, dealing with hurts habits and hangups and issues surrounding this. It's a Christ centered 12 step program, but these exist all over the state, all over the world.
[00:34:25] Celebrate recovery exists and it might be stepping into a place where you don't only show up and be honest. You have to be honest, there's there, you're invited to be honest so that you can go on this journey of healing with others. Perhaps it's some, it might require therapy, intense therapy to deal with some really incredible painful things.
[00:34:47] I'm reminded of, uh, for those from Arizona. The granite mountain hot shots, the 19 firefighters who died June 30th, 2013 in the RNL fire. The sole surviving member of that team was a guy named Brendan McDonough who was happened to be on lookout that day. And wasn't with his crew and was able to escape.
[00:35:09] And yet to find out all 19 of his brothers died in this fire and he lived with so much guilt and shame and pain from all that. And having been caught up in addiction before he became a hot shot, he returned to that. And his life's been spiraled down, even worse until at some point because people loving on him and inviting him because of hidden that rock bottom place, he decided it was time and he stepped into intensive therapy to really work through the wounds and find healing.
[00:35:42] He stepped into community to be met and heard to be loved. To be cared for. I've had a chance to get to know Brendan. I would consider him a friend. We've had him on our Mesa campus sharing his story, and I'm excited because he's going to be joining us for our men's elevate weekend in Williamson guys. If you're not signed up, I encourage you to sign up, hear his story, get to meet him.
[00:36:07] I share that because since then, Brandon has been called to open his own rehabilitation and recovery center and Prescott hold fast, recover. Based in his faith in Jesus and helping people with the struggles. That's what Chris did. Did you see for some that's what the pathway might require is you got to go into rehab of some kind, a place where you can get real and do the hard work to get healing.
[00:36:36] See, that's the pathway of recovery. It's a healing journey. It isn't overnight and it is really hard, but it's so incredibly important. For us to experience healing in the restore relationships and speaking of relationships, I want to just take a moment to also talk to the family and the loved ones of those who are caught up in addiction because often your life is also filled with so much pain, so much shame, so much a struggle and hurt and all of this, you see, we heard Christa's story and incredible story.
[00:37:11] Well, I'm blessed because, uh, her mom, Kim is a dear friend of mine. Who's. On our Mesa campus and incredible woman. And I asked her, Kim, what would you want the family of folks stuck in addiction to know? And she shared with me these four things. The first is pray. You gotta pray. You gotta pray for God to show up and do incredible things.
[00:37:33] If you got to pray for your own, your own life and your own heart in this struggle, you got to be praying. The second is, is to find community with. Other family members, other people who understand what it's like to be the family member of somebody stuck in addiction to feel and know that you are not alone, that you have community in the struggle and can help you with that.
[00:37:58] The third is to learn what to do, you know, so easily to, to do things that can be really disruptive to those who are close to a struggle. But to learn how to set healthy boundaries, to learn how to recognize manipulative behavior and how to rightly respond to that, to learn how to not heap shame on an addict, but to help point them to what's important.
[00:38:20] And the fourth is this to recognize is even Krista said that relapse is a part of the process. It isn't just we're fixed and it's never, it's never there again, that relapse is a part of the. But can I tell you in any struggle with any of us who struggle with any kind of SIM relapses part of the process, right?
[00:38:41] And yet we serve a God. Who's constantly saying I don't judge you for the relapse. I invite you into a deeper relationship with me. Bring that to me, continue this work of sanctification being transformed. As you continue to return to me, see that's who we follow a God, who's the God of the relapse. It was the God of healing.
[00:39:04] I want to close with a story. There's a ancient Roman myth about a guy named Dictus addictiveness was a debt slave. It was the term, but also it was the sky who was a debt slave. And what that means was he had incurred this incredibly big debt. And out of that was enslaved to the lender. And for many, many years, he was in change.
[00:39:30] As this debt got paid down, but at some point, finally the debt was paid off and he was set free, fully set free. The problem was that for addictiveness, he could not conceive of life without the chains and for the rest of his life, he walked and lived with these chains on, he could not escape what that was.
[00:39:55] He didn't understand what it meant to be free. You see, that's the power of enslavement of addiction addiction, but can I remind you of the words of Jesus when he began his ministry quoting from Isaiah in the little synagogue in Nazareth, where he says this in Luke chapter four, the spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
[00:40:23] He has sent me free, sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners. And recovery of sight for the blind to set the oppressed free. My friends, Jesus came to set us free to unlock the chains of the bondage of addiction. The shame that comes with that to set us free from that, basically God is not going to force that upon us is he, he may unlock the shackles, but it's up to us to actually remove them from our risks to take them off.
[00:40:57] The step into that space of living out the freedom. He died on a cross to give us. And can I remind you he did it because he loves you because he desires freedom for you. You see that's the invitation to take up the promise to step into freedom, to discover what it means to live new life. My prayer is is that you will do that.
[00:41:26] What'd Jesus. Thank you for this time. And Lord, I, I know addiction has affected so many lives in so many ways, or I believe that there's some hearing this who are recognizing that, that they're enslaved. Would I pray that you will give them the courage and the boldness to speak truth, their truth of their struggle of their pain.
[00:41:51] That God, you will begin to meet them there, but they would turn to you. Experienced hope Lord. I pray for the families of those who have loved ones that are stuck, struggling are caught up in it. God also, you would meet them there and you'd help them to know that they're not alone, that you would equip them in community to help learn how to respond differently.
[00:42:14] And for all of us Lord, as we encounter people struggling, may we learn have a heart of compassion to be prayerful and hope. To do what we can to help point people to you, that they might experience freedom. And so we thank you Lord, for that promise that God, you have come to set us free. We claim that now in Jesus name, and everyone said, amen.