The Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Journey: Step #Nine: Making Amends

The Twelve Steps – a Spiritual Journey: Step Nine: Making Amends

Written by Chris Jordan, the President of Overcomers Outreach of Canada.

Make Amends

As someone who has over 25 years experience in pastoral ministry, I can tell you first-hand how important and beneficial a Christian 12 step recovery group like Overcomers Outreach is to a church. Through the groups that we ran at a church that I pastored in Beausejour, Manitoba, I saw people find freedom from drugs, alcohol, pornography and more. But not only that, I have seen people grow deeper in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And why? Because Overcomers is a program that helps people progress on this spiritual journey we call discipleship.

In our last step, we were to make a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make things right with them. Step #9 now calls us to:

“Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

Restoration – or making amends – is a deeply spiritual principle that Jesus promoted when He said: “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matt. 5:23-24).

Although this is a helpful step in our process towards healing, it is not easy! As Bob and Pauline Bartosch note, “Saying sorry is difficult enough with people we love; making amends with everyone we have harmed takes courage and God’s direction.” *

It’s important to note that some people may not accept your amends. They may choose to refuse to forgive you, but that’s their problem, not yours. When you do the right thing, and make amends in a relationship, you have done your part in the process of healing. In Romans 12:18, the Apostle Paul wrote: “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” I think this clearly means that there will be some people who we won’t be able to live in peace with. However, once you have done your part to reach out and make amends, you will then experience a new freedom from guilt, shame and pain.

Who do you need to make amends with in your life? Do it today!

Ninth Step Prayer:

“Heavenly Father, I pray for the right attitude to make my amends, being ever mindful not to harm others in the process. I ask for your guidance in making indirect amends. Most important, I will continue to make amends by staying abstinent, helping others, and growing in spiritual progress.” Amen! (Prayers for the Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Journey).

*Note: Bob and Pauline Bartosch are the founders of Overcomers Outreach. If you haven’t read their book Overcomers Outreach: A Bridge to Recovery, I encourage you to get a copy today. These can be ordered through Overcomers Canada or Overcomers US.

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The Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Journey: Step Eight: Became Willing

The Twelve Steps – a Spiritual Journey: Step Eight: Became Willing

Written by Chris Jordan, the President of Overcomers Outreach of Canada.

make a list

In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus said: “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” This Scripture – the Biblical basis for Step Eight – reveals to us something about the heart of God.

Here, Jesus tells us that making amends in our relationships with one another is more important even than worship! We can’t love God if we don’t love people. And that’s why a vital part of our spiritual journey is expressed in Step #8:

“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”

This step involves a time of prayer and thoughtful reflection. In A Hunger for Healing, J. Keith Miller tells us that there are three parts to this step. First, he tells us that we need to embrace the hurts in our lives, instead of running from or denying them. I know that when I first came to Overcomers, one of my biggest character defects that I discovered was denial and blaming others. It was hard to admit where I had made mistakes! Secondly, Miller says we need to write down (beside the names of those with whom we have a broken relationship) our own part in what happened. Finally, we are ready to do what we need to do to let go of our pain.

Before we are ready to go out and make amends to these people, Miller adds, “we will need to gain humility and to release our pain and anger about what others have done to us. That comes through forgiving them.” I heard someone say once that unforgiveness is like drinking a bottle of poison and waiting for the other person to die. When you refuse to forgive someone, you aren’t hurting them, you are only hurting yourself. Forgiveness is not a feeling, it’s a choice to release someone from a debt and say, “You don’t owe me anything.” Once you have done that, it’s easier to go and make amends to that person for your part in the broken relationship.

Let’s be real here. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things we ever have to do in our lives! But it’s also one of the most important and helpful ones. If we won’t forgive others, the Bible says that God won’t forgive us. But when we choose to forgive those who have hurt us, God in turn forgives us of our many sins.

Eighth Step Prayer:

“Higher Power, I ask your help in making my list of all those I have harmed. I will take responsibility for my mistakes, and be forgiving to others as you are forgiving to me. Grant me the willingness to begin my restitution.” Amen! (Prayers for the Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Journey).

www.overcomersoutreach.ca

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Reflections on Live, Love, Lead by Brian Houston – #BookReview

Live Love LeadLive, Love, Lead – by Brian Houston:

Ever since the time I started attending church in the fall of 1990, I have always been a part of a church that sang worship songs that came out of Hillsong Church in Australia. From the classic Jesus, Lover of My Soul and Shout to the Lord, to the more recent Cornerstone and What a Beautiful Name, these songs have been the anthems of my journey with Jesus.

I have just finished reading the book Live, Love, Lead – written by Brian Houston, the senior pastor of Hillsong Church. And although I don’t agree with everything he teaches, I definitely found great encouragement from this book during my current season of life and ministry.

Rather than give you a book review, I am going to share with you some of my favourite quotes from this book, with the occasional commentary and thoughts on how his writing impacted me. Enjoy…

“The Christian life is a life of unexpected adventure. It’s as exotic as the Australian outback and as everyday as a cup of coffee.”

“It is my firm belief that following Jesus is the only journey in life worth taking. After seeing the way God changes hearts, meets impossible needs, heals incurable diseases, and restores people, I am convinced beyond a doubt that God didn’t create us to live mediocre, settle-for-less lives.”

“Church is not called to be an enforcer of rules but an outpost of grace. You and I are called to be dispensers of God’s grace.”

“Jesus consistently sought out people on the fringe of society, the individuals others dismissed.”

“The greater problem may be when we get stuck in our pain, when we can’t seem to find the strength to get back on our feet and continue our journey. Life is a difficult path, but it keeps going. If we stop just because we’re in pain and can’t imagine how to continue, then we will miss out on what God wants to do in our lives…” 

“I found myself in a download slide toward depression, traumatized by the experience years earlier and internally declining as I tried to look after everyone but myself.”

“A number of years later, I found I could no longer get any restful sleep without taking a sleeping pill. My family noticed and began to ask me if I was okay. I told them I was and tried to keep going as long as I could, preaching and speaking, traveling and leading… However, the physical toll of this period of unrest began to manifest as my mind became scattered, and I wasn’t speaking with the same confidence I had experienced in ministry years earlier… those closest to me knew all was not well with my soul.”

“Then one day something collapsed within me. It was as if all the emotional strength in my tank had suddenly been drained. My ship was sinking, weighed down by excess baggage and other issues of life, and I found myself shattered on a great reef of jagged pain, fear and sorrow… Although my God is all-powerful, I am not. My body, mind and spirit have limits.”

Note – this chapter “A Difficult Path” was very encouraging for me, reading it right on the heels of the long dark-night-of-the-soul wilderness season that I have just come through. It was encouraging to see and know that I wasn’t the only pastor who went through seasons of depression and discouragement! All Christians, pastors, preachers and teachers go through difficult seasons, and it’s okay to not be okay all the time!

“Isn’t this how you want to live your life? Filled with passion and excitement, with the confident knowledge that you’re making a difference in the lives of others, contributing your efforts to God’s kingdom for his eternal purposes.”

One of the final chapters was also very encouraging for me – “Don’t Stop.” I could relate to this chapter because of the current season of life and ministry that I’m in. After 24 years of full time pastoral ministry, I am one year into a transitional season where I’m working at a Christian school as a guidance counsellor and (starting this fall) high school Bible teacher. Consider this:

“There are times in our life when our momentum comes to an abrupt end. A season ends and catches us by surprise, and we’re left wondering how to take the next step… If you’re currently in transition, facing the end of something, perhaps the beginning of something else, you must look at this crossroads as a battlefront.”

“When we face the end of one chapter of our lives and before we begin the next, it’s often the catalyst for a battle. You see, our enemy the devil often tries to wedge a foot in the door and catch us off guard during these times of transition. He’s hoping we’ll feel disoriented and uncertain, afraid and a bit wary… But this process can be so hard. When things come to an unexpected end, for so many people it can just build regret, disillusionment, and confusion.” 

This chapter encouraged me to keep my eyes on Jesus during this transition, to bloom where I’m planted, and continue allowing the Holy Spirit to do a deep work in my heart as I am being prepared for the next season the Lord has for me. I don’t know what it’s going to be yet, but I do believe that the best is yet to come!

What a Beautiful Name – Hillsong Worship:

Death could not hold You, The veil tore before You, You silence the boast of sin and grave
The heavens are roaring, The praise of Your glory, For You are raised to life again

You have no rival, You have no equal, Now and forever God You reign
Yours is the kingdom, Yours is the glory, Yours is the Name above all names

What a powerful Name it is, What a powerful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King

Pastor Chris Jordan

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The Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Journey: Step Seven: Humble Prayer

The Twelve Steps – a Spiritual Journey: Step Seven: Humble Prayer

Step 7

In our last step (#6), after having completed a fearless moral inventory of ourselves, and admitted to God, ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs, we were finally ready for God to remove our defects of character.

“The first six steps have prepared us for this time. Our hearts have been plowed and exposed. Now is the time for humble prayer.” (Meditations for the Twelve Steps).

 “Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.”

Humility. That’s not a very popular word in today’s world. In a culture that celebrates power, achievement and success, pride is exalted, and humility is brushed aside. But on the journey towards freedom in Christ, we must learn to humble ourselves.

What is humility? J. Keith Miller says, “according to the Twelve and Twelve, humility is a clear recognition of who we are followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be. (It) is seeing ourselves as we actually are, good and bad, strong and weak, and acting authentically on those truths.” (A Hunger for Healing).

My dad was an alcoholic who abandoned my mom, my two younger sisters and I, before I was even five years old. And so, as I grew up with a strong sense of rejection and abandonment, I became a people pleaser, doing whatever I could to get people to like me. Even if it meant putting on a mask and pretending to be better than I was. I wasn’t being real.

One of the greatest things I learned through Overcomers Outreach and the 12-step program is that spiritual growth isn’t about perfection, it’s about direction. It’s about accepting the fact that I don’t have it all together – and that’s okay – and one day at a time, doing my best to become a better person.

Today I admit that I still struggle with sin. I am weak. But the good news I have discovered is that in my weakness, God’s strength is made perfect. When I admit that I can’t do it on my own, He can come in and do what only He can do – to remove my shortcomings.

The Biblical basis for this step is found in Isaiah 66:2: “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.” The Bible clearly teaches in many different places that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. When we humble ourselves, and are not to proud to accept the handout of amazing grace, God comes and does wonderful things in our lives and removes our shortcomings one by one. He chips away at everything in us that doesn’t reflect His glory, until more and more of Jesus shines through.

Seventh Step Prayer:

“My Creator, I am willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength as I go out from here to do your bidding.” Amen! (Prayers for the Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Journey).

Written by Chris Jordan, the President of Overcomers Outreach of Canada.

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Ordinary Heroes: Josiah – #SermonNotes

ORDINARY HEROES: JOSIAH 

(Pastor Chris Jordan – Horizon Church)

This is a message I shared with our church family last Sunday morning… 

  • To listen to or download the audio MP3, click HERE.

Ordinary Heroes

INTRO TO TOPIC: If you were choosing a team, who would you pick? All stars. Not God! Look at the disciples and the heroes of faith. They were a bunch of nobodies, misfits and losers!

TEXT: “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are.” (1 Cor. 1:27-28, NKJV).

JOSIAH: JUST AN ORDINARY YOUNG BOY:

“Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath.” (2 Kings 22:1).

  • Josiah was a boy whose grandpa Manasseh was the most wicked King in Judah; who led the nation into idolatry, filled Jerusalem with the shed blood of innocents, sacrificed children, practiced fortune telling and witchcraft, did much evil, and angered the Lord.
  • Josiah’s dad Amon became king when Josiah was 6. He served the idols his father serviced, abandoned the Lord, and was so wicked he was assassinated two years later by his own servants.
  • Josiah was raised in hell, grew up without a father, didn’t have good examples in his life.
  • He should have been messed up but he refused to have a victim mentality.

“And (Josiah) did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.” (2 Kings 22:2).

  • King David wasn’t his biological dad – David was his great, great, great, great (11 generations) grandfather, and Josiah chose him for a role-model.

I FOUND A BOOK!

“Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it… Then Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.” (2 Kings 22:8,10).

  • When Josiah got a hold of the Word of God, it changed Josiah’s life.
  • You don’t have to be just like your dad, or be bound by anything in your past!
  • If you read on in the story, you discover that not only was Josiah’s life changed – it resulted in a REVIVAL that changed the entire nation!  Do we want revival?

THE BIG IDEA: God delights to use ordinary people to do extraordinary things. The starting point for that is to get in the Bible!

  • Husband and wife not getting along? Children out of control? FIND THE BOOK!
  • Struggling in relationships? Unemployed or struggling in your job? FIND THE BOOK!
  • No joy? No peace? Depressed? Sick in your body? FIND THE BOOK!
  • Once you find your book – read the book, obey the book!

MY TESTIMONY: A LOOK AT MY HEART AND LIFE:

  • I can relate to Josiah. I come from a dysfunctional background as well.
  • My dad was an alcoholic who left our family. That’s the road I was heading down.
  • If I hadn’t become a Christian when I did, I know I would have destroyed my life.
  • I’ve gone through a very challenging season in the past few years. Hurt and wounded.
  • I have recently gone through an intense depression where I felt like giving up my life.
  • BUT GOD… as I have reconnected with Him in His Word and prayer, He has given me a joy and a peace and a hope to carry on. I have met with Pastor Steve who has prayed for and helped me through this wilderness. I will not be a victim any longer! I am free!

SO WHAT? PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

  • How was Josiah able to overcome and be an ordinary hero who did extraordinary things?
  1. JOSIAH WAS TRANSFORMED BY THE BIBLE:

“When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.” (2 Kings 22:11).

  • The tearing of his clothes symbolized the tearing of his heart – broken!
  • If we want to be an ordinary hero who does extraordinary things, it starts with the Bible:
  • “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2).
  • The word brings faith, joy, peace, hope and revival in our lives!
  • What happens when you start to see yourself the way God sees you? 1 John 4:4 (greater is He who is in us); Romans 8:31 (if God is for us), 8:37 (more than conquerors), 8:39 (nothing separates us from love of God); Eph. 3:20 (exceeding abundantly more…).
  • The Bible was so important to Josiah that he gathered all the people together, read them the Bible, and encouraged them to obey God’s Word, too (see 2 Kings 23).

2. JOSIAH PRAYED AND SOUGHT GOD’S FACE:

“Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found.” (2 Kings 22:13).

  • Josiah wasn’t content to just be a hearer of the Word. We need to seek God’s face!
  • Jeremiah 29:13 – if we seek Him we will find Him; James 4:8 – draw near to God…
  • v.19 says he also sought the Lord with weeping. Passionate prayers!
  • This is more than just saying your prayers, it’s meeting Jesus in the secret place!
  • JESUS is the one who makes our ordinary, natural lives extraordinary and supernatural!

3. JOSIAH HUMBLED HIMSELF BEFORE THE LORD:

“because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord… and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord.” (2 Kings 22:19).

  • To humble yourself means you admit you can’t do it on your own: you need God!
  • Overcomers Outreach Christian Ministry: First of the 12 Steps: “We admitted we were powerless over (our sin or addiction) – that our lives had become unmanageable.”
  • It starts by getting rid of pride and caring what other people think about you.
  • Morton Kelsey said, “The church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.”
  • Jesus Himself said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, sick people do.” (Matt. 9:12).
  • It’s time to humble ourselves and start being open, honest and transparent in the church!

4. JOSIAH REPENTED:

“Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might.” (2 Kings 23:25).

  • In Second Kings 23, Josiah went and undid all of the evil his dad and grandpa had done: removed the false idols they had set up, removed idolatrous priests, tore down idols, got rid of the mediums, spiritists and fortune tellers, etc.

JOSIAH MODELED THE FORMULA FOR REVIVAL:

“if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

CONCLUSION:

  • Encouragement: to those in pain – God can turn your mess into a message.
    • If you seek Jesus through His Word, prayer, and humility, you will find Him.
    • Jesus is the answer – the hope, joy and peace you need in your life.
  • Challenge: be a hero in your world! You don’t have to be perfect, just available.
    • God cares more about your availability, than your ability. Just show up!
  • The Gospel: an opportunity to respond to Jesus and be saved and forgiven.
    • ALTAR CALL.

Listen to or download other sermons by Chris Jordan HERE.

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Reflections with Calvin and Hobbes – on being exhausted

It’s been a while since I’ve posted regularly to this blog, but I hope to remedy that in the weeks to come this summer! So here are some deep thoughts with Calvin and Hobbes:

Calvin & Hobbes - Miller Time

What do you do when you have a bad day, a hard day, a long day, or an exhausting day? It’s easy in today’s fast-paced world to get overwhelmed, stressed out, frustrated, even to the point of depression and discouragement! The answer is not to go grab a ‘cold one’ from the fridge. No, there is a better place you can go to find joy, peace and hope.

His name is JESUS.

The Bible says, “But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31).

Isaiah 40-31

So if you’re getting weary and feel like giving up, chances are you’ve neglected waiting on the Lord. Spending time with Jesus in the secret place of prayer. Meditating on His Word. Being in His presence.

So hear the gentle voice of Jesus calling you to come back to Him, to get alone in your prayer closet until you’re not alone any more, and abide in His love. In His presence there is fullness of joy and a peace that passes all understanding. Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).

Take a moment and listen to the words to this song by Chris Tomlin and may they encourage you to rise…

 

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The Twelve Steps – a Spiritual Journey: Step Six: Readiness

The Twelve Steps – a Spiritual Journey: Step Six: Readiness

Written by Chris Jordan, the President of Overcomers Outreach of Canada.

Step 6

We have finally reached the halfway point of our spiritual journey through the Twelve Steps. Before we look at Step #6, let’s review the first five:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over our sin or addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

So far we have said, “I can’t, but God can, so I will – surrender my life to Him!” We then made an inventory (a list of all of our wrongs), then confessed them to God, ourselves, and someone else. Now we come to step #6:

“Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

It’s one thing to become aware of all of our sins, mistakes and failures. And it’s another thing still to share that with another human being. But now we must also be ready and willing to allow God to get rid of all that junk that’s inside of us. The Biblical basis for this step is found in James 4:10: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

Notice however that we’re not talking about trying to lift ourselves up. We are humbling ourselves before the Lord, and as we take that small step, He will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. “To expect action in Step Six is a mistake. Step Six purposely calls for no action on our part. It is a time for an internal change of heart and mind.” (Meditations for the Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Journey).

This truth is so clearly laid out in this Scripture: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Romans 12:2, NLT). Step Six is such a great example of this Bible verse in action! It is about recognizing that I can’t change myself, but God can transform me as I allow Him to change my thinking.

One of the best ways of doing this is by reading the Bible. God’s Word will help us to renew our minds. It will help us to discover how much God loves us, and teach us more about the good plans and purposes that He has for our lives! If you haven’t started reading the Bible for yourself, I want to encourage you to begin to do so today.

Sixth Step Prayer:

“Dear God, I am ready for your help in removing from me the defects of character that I now realize are an obstacle to my recovery. Help me to continue being honest with myself and guide me toward spiritual and mental health.” Amen! (Prayers for the Twelve Steps – A Spiritual Journey).

Visit www.overcomersoutreach.ca for more information.

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