recovery in Christ when life is broken

God Changed My Church Through Regen (Confessions of Rev. Dumpty)

As a kid, do you remember the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme? Let me refresh your mind: Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, all the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.” (Do you need a Kleenex?)

In many ways, the church I helped start and pastor for twenty-one years was full of Humpty Dumptys, me being the lead, Reverend Dumpty. We are all hanging out on the same wall, and we’ve all taken a sinful fall or two or three or…, and we’re left with broken, shattered lives and dreams. Let’s be honest. Church is messy because people are messy (even pastors are messy and broken).

Ultimately, God wants to do more than repair our broken pieces or patch us up. He wants to make us new. We know this. Jesus’ payment for our sins through His death and resurrection makes new life possible. The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

We have a new life in Christ, but how do we work out this new life in our daily lives, repairing the brokenness in our lives? Discipleship. It’s following in Jesus’ footsteps, learning from Him and obeying His commands and principles. It’s taking steps to become a fully devoted follower of Jesus.

So, when Watermark Community Church offered our church the opportunity to be a host site for a Christ-centered, twelve-step recovery program called re:generation three years ago, the Humpty Dumptys of Heartland Community Church jumped in and began the journey of experiencing what this new life in Christ could be.

Now, three years later, how has God used re:generation in the lives of our church?

  1. God changed me, Rev. Dumpty. When I went through Step 4 (Inventory) God revealed some personal life-long sin patterns and misplaced worship. The people I hurt, attitudes and actions I had spiritualized away, and untamed pride were exposed and addressed (Ouch!).
  1. Masks came off. As I stopped hiding my sin, so did many others. We stopped masquerading as spiritual phonies and Heartland became more authentic. We confessed our brokenness and now openly shared our hurts. Sure, it’s messier (embrace it!), but as a church family we became healthier spiritually and relationally.
  1. Miracles happened. I’ve seen God do miracles in hundreds of lives. I had hoped after 33 years of ministry to say I had walked on water, moved a mountain, or changed water into Dr. Pepper. But now I can only say, that I am just one of God’s walking miracles. The stories of radical life change at Heartland are off the charts. I’ve found that a “church success” isn’t measured best by attendance, square footage or budget, but rather by the miraculous stories of life change through God’s power at work in people.
  1. Leaders were developed. As participants found freedom and discovered their new life in Christ through these biblical twelve steps, their response was to then lead others as mentors or group leaders of other Humpty Dumptys who had also fallen off the moral wall. Our leaders began to grasp Jesus’ Great Commission of Matthew 28 to go and make disciples—to tell and lead others to a new life in Christ. In many ways, re:generation became a leadership factory, cranking out fully devoted leaders for Jesus.

But remember this, re:generation is only a tool—a catalyst for change in churches that are willing to change. Every step of the curriculum directs people to follow fully the One who does the changing—Jesus Christ. Christ is the one who makes us new. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this in Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

-Roger P.

Why can’t I stop drinking? Is alcohol really my problem?

Drinking. That was my problem. Every time I took a drink (and really, this time I was going to have just one), disaster occurred.

 

For starters, one drink turned into multiples. I “drunk dialed” people I knew. I “drunk dialed” people I didn’t know (think prominent Christian speaker Beth Moore, for one). I wrecked seven cars, ended up in treatment five times and jail twice. Everyone agreed. Drinking was my problem.

 

In spite of my countless efforts to “just stop it,” as plenty of friends and family recommended, I couldn’t “stay stopped.”  And over time, I came to see the truth: drinking wasn’t really the problem. Oh, it looked like the problem. Outer manifestations of inner issues usually look like the problem. In fact, others around us are often so concerned with our actions that they say things like, “Shape up. Stop lying. Start smiling.” In other words, try harder.

 

Occasionally that worked for periods of time, but after repeated relapses, it became painfully clear that behavior modification merely deals with the visible symptom. At times a healthy chemical detox is necessary for those with chemical dependencies, but that is not where recovery stops. We’ve all got a spiritual hole, a soul sickness that compels us to seek temporary relief until we come face to face with the root cause. Until we know what that really is, we cannot fully repent and turn to go the other way. As long as I thought drinking was the problem, I could white knuckle it and turn from that. But the next layer – whether fear, insecurity or approval of man – would draw me right back to the familiar coping mechanism. I learned through pain (and equal amounts of humiliation) that treating the symptom only brings temporary relief.  

 

What do you perceive as your greatest struggle right now? Are you willing to consider that what you think is your nemesis is but a symptom—that your real struggle may be a worship problem? Christ has the power to transform – not just remove the symptoms but to change you from the inside out.

 

While I haven’t had a drink in many years, those core issues are ones that I bring to the Savior daily. If I don’t come before Him with my fear, pride, and dishonesty, those old “band-aids” of coping could entice me once again.   

 

Recovery is so very daily. And yet, as I surrender my regrets of the past and fears of the future, my heart changes. Exhaustion and failure are replaced by peace. And actions change too.

 

We get it backwards, attempting to change actions and hoping our heart will catch up. God changes us from the inside out.

 

When hearts change, actions follow.

-Joy K.

 

Key Scripture: Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

recovery in Christ when life is broken.