A few years before CPR began; I noticed something that turned out to be my biggest surprise about the ministry of Celebrate Recovery in our church. As people were recovering from their hurts, habits and hang-ups they were also growing by leaps and bounds as disciples.

Over the years I had both engaged and led in a number of discipleship programs; MasterLife, the Navigator’s 2:7 Series, Experiencing God, etc. Sometimes life-change happened, sometimes it didn’t. I’m not knocking those; they are all good and very helpful material. But, then I began to see what was happening in the lives of those working through the Twelve Steps/ Eight Principles of Celebrate Recovery. Life-change was happening at a much higher rate of participation and I didn’t understand why.

About that time my wife and I attended a marriage training event led by David Ferguson of Intimate Life Ministries in Austin, TX. David asked our group a very important question: “Jesus said in John 10:10, ‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.’ If that is true, then why is it that so many Christians are not experiencing abundant life?”

We started mulling that question over in our minds. He continued, “Would you agree with this statement: the experience of abundant life is always a present tense experience. You may have experienced it in the past, you may in the future, but one’s experience of abundant life is always a present tense experience- do you agree?” We all nodded. Then he said, “We forget the first half of that verse, Jesus said, ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.’” Then David asked us, “So how does the ‘thief’ steal and kill and destroy a person’s present tense experience of abundant life?” Again, we mulled it over in our minds.

David, who in his profession had counseled thousands of Christians over the years, then shared what he had personally discovered to be the answer to that question. “The ‘thief’ will steal and kill and destroy a person’s present tense experience of abundant life primarily in one of two ways: by either keeping a person hung up with pain, bitterness, anger, or guilt over the PAST; or, hung up with fear and anxiety about the FUTURE.”

That’s the moment the light came on for me! As we journey through the process of dealing with all the pain, anger, bitterness and guilt from the past as well as fear and anxiety about the future we are ultimately freed to experience Christ’s abundant life in the present. That’s why the CR Twelve Steps are effective as a discipleship tool. It suddenly made perfect sense.

And, pastors, therein is the blessing of CPR. As pastors, especially those who have some years behind you now of serving in the trenches of church life, we often allow the baggage of the past to pile up. And, if we are honest, that often leaves us anxious, or even fearful about the future. The ultimate result is that we are robbed of the very thing we encourage our flocks to enjoy- abundant life in Christ.

Pastor, if you are tired of being robbed by the “thief,” consider CPR. Just to the right of this column, under “CONNECT,” click on “Tell me more about CPR PASTORS,” complete the short survey form, and we’ll be in touch.

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