Ministering to those in Addiction

Hope - Change

Dear friends,

I had the wonderful and humbling opportunity to be part of a panel for the LDS Services Addiction Recovery Program last night, which presented to about 500-600 leaders in the LDS church. My wife and I were asked to participate about 3-4 weeks ago, and so the preparation began in my morning studies as I pled with the Lord to direct me and help me understand what I can share. Before I woke up yesterday morning I had a pretty good outline of what I wanted to share, that I felt was worth sharing. But, when I woke up and cracked open my notes, I felt impressed to completely redo my entire talk. To me, the impressions felt like they were directed by the Spirit, or the Holy Ghost. I felt sure that this is what God wanted me to share. And so that is what I did. I want to share it with you as well. I hope it serves you well, or if you think of someone who could possibly benefit, please share with them. Thanks!

Hello my name is Chris and I am an actively recovered addict to lust. Pornography is simply one way I chose to act out. It is important to see the addiction from it’s root, not just from the surface. The addictive behaviors are much more than viewing pornography… As Christ taught, It goes down to the very thoughts we have.

I would like to start by sharing the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns that I feel relates quite well with our purpose here today.

Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy

Dark the night of sin has settled;
Loud the angry billows roar.
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.

Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
From his lighthouse evermore,
But to us he gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore

Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

This is why we are here today. Christ is the light and is the lighthouse for all mankind. The true source of all peace, healing, power, recovery, safety, and joy. His light rescues all of us and is sure and we can be confident in it’s power. As disciples and followers of Christ we are tasked with guiding our fellow brothers and sisters with the lower lights.

Jesus Calms the Storms
Christ Can Calm Our Storms
The lower lights are used to help sailors navigate to shore in the safest path possible. When the light from the lighthouse and the lower lights on the shore come into alignment that signals to the sailor the safest way to harbor helping them avoid rocks and reef and other obstacles. Without the lower lights it can be very difficult navigating to shore… though not impossible, it is much more dangerous. As we all navigate through life we are those lower lights to each other. Whether it be in bearing testimony, giving meaningful service, doing home teaching, fulfilling callings, or reaching out to those in need. Sometimes we are being the lower lights, helping rescue others from minor or major difficulties. And sometimes we are the sailors being tossed to and fro as we experience life’s challenges.

The LDS Addiction Recovery Program

The addiction recovery program of the church is one of the greatest sources of “lower lights” for all of us. Everyone in this room can benefit from the illumination that comes from attending ARP meetings. ARP, which is an acronym for Addiction Recovery Program, can also mean “Accessing the Redeermer’s Power” or “Atonement’s Real Power” or “Active Repenting Process.” If you don’t like the word Addiction, don’t allow it to be a deterrent for you. The program is much more than helping addicts overcome their addictions. It is all about healing and saving imperfect souls, which is a category all of us, and all of our children as well, fit in.

Now, I woke up early this morning and instantly had thoughts come into my mind about this meeting. I had something else prepared for today that I have been preparing the last couple of weeks, but that all changed this morning. I have learned a lot about being honest. And In being completely honesty, it is true that none of us are immune from sin. From the Stake President down to the secretary of the Elders Quorum. We all need to be on alert and aware of the dangers surrounding us and our families. I want to invite you to open your hearts and be honest with yourself as you reflect upon the things we talk about and discuss today. Realize that this meeting is not simply about “them” – those addicts that are out there in the world, and what you can do to help them with their problems. It is also very much about you and your family. It is about the reality that we live in a fallen world where the darkness of sin is gaining power and speed, and is threatening your very soul and those you love most, and now, more than ever, we all need to turn to God to be our defense, our protection, and our guiding light.

How an Addict Sees Himself

So, this morning I felt impressed to call out someone here today. At least one person here is really struggling, maybe more than oner person. You are wanting so badly to escape the clutches of what you may consider a “bad habit”, or you may even be aware of the dangerous nature of your addictive behaviors. You may be afraid of the consequences of stepping out of the dark and into the light. You may fear what it may do to your marriage, to your relationships with your kids, to your career… You may be justifying it, by telling yourself that “it’s not so bad…” or “it could be worse…” or “I can fix it on my own.” You may not realize it now, but you are so tired of your own feeble attempts to “fix it” on your own, and of beating yourself up when you mess up, resolving time and time again that you will never do it again with a sincere desire and resolve to repent and be rid of this poison that has been nagging at and plaguing your soul. You may experience self hate often and feel unworthy of God’s love for you. You may even at times feel that you are a lost cause. “How can God love me when I continue to break His commandments over and over again? Where is my self control?” You may see yourself as a disappointment. If I am not resonating with you, please realize that your spouse, or your son(s) or daughter(s), may be experiencing this to some degree. The statistics are staggering and you are much more likely to have someone in your household struggling with this addiction than not. That is the reality we live in today.

Picture of ChristTo that person, or persons, here today may I with all the love in my heart, and as your brother express to you that you are not a failure… you are not a disappointment. God still loves you. He always has, and always will. There is nothing you can do to disqualify yourself of His love. Satan would have you believe otherwise… that somehow we earn God’s love, or lose God’s love by our choices and actions. That just is not true. His love is constant. That is why it is referred to as unconditional love. He is anxious to help you through your own process and road to recovery and healing. He is full of mercy and love, and His grace is sufficient to heal you. I know your fears are real. I too had the same fears. I can honestly tell you from my experience that those fears were planted by Satan, that old deceiver. He doesn’t want you to experience the peace, freedom, healing, and joy that the process of recovery can bring into your life. He knows the potential you have and the potential the atonement has to change you.

A Change of Heart

Because of the Addiction Recovery Program I have experienced many mighty miracles. My marriage has never been better. Our relationship is so rich and exciting. We are connected in a way that we didn’t know existed before. My relationship with my children has never been better. I find myself better at connecting with them and fulfilling my role as a father. I have witnessed the power and miracle of forgiveness, and have seen the hand of the Lord in many ways as it continues to change my very nature. I have come to know my Savior, and experience the true power and healing of His atonement. You can too. I have also come to know that you can be completely healed of addiction. One of Satan’s lies is “Once and addict, always an addict.” I know this is false. It puts limits on the Atonement, and the Atonement has no limits. Christ can heal you completely… not just 50% or 90%. We are talking 100% healed! I invite you to come to a meeting. Do whatever it takes to come. Come as a silent observer. Go in the capacity of your calling or as a support to someone else to better understand the program for others. My advice is to pray about it and take it to the Lord. Begin relying on Him and seeking His will, not yours.

A Program of Action

Recovery from Addiction, or any character weakness or sin, takes ACTION. The Addiction Recovery Program is a program of action. Christ knocks at the door, anxious for you to answer. So, please, get up off your feet, take those few steps, and answer the door and embrace your Savior. Do something different today, so you can become someone different tomorrow. Christ has the power to heal us, the power to change us–not just short term, but forever.

Finally, I would like to close by sharing what I started off with:

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
From his lighthouse evermore,
But to us he gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore

Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

May we take our responsibility to rescue the struggling seaman around us seriously with an understanding that the worth of every soul is precious in the sight of God. For those that may be struggling with addiction I challenge you to escape from the isolation and secrecy. Be honest with yourself and your situation. Own and reveal your mistakes before they own and reveal you. Do whatever it takes to turn your will over to God, for He has a plan for you. A plan that is successful. A plan that works. Take that first step, or maybe just the next step if you are already on the path to recovery. Ask God what He would have you do, and take action.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Give yourself to The Captain of Your Soul and receive the blessings that are constantly being offered to you, and see the tender mercies He places in your life each and every day.

-From A loving brother

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