Editor Oct 09 : 00:23
After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?
After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.” Mark 9:28-29
It is not that the disciples in the above scripture couldn’t drive out the demon from the cruelly possessed boy; they needed help getting it done. They had cast out demons before but these ones were more entrenched and harder to defeat. Jesus explained that in order to cast out certain demons, the disciples would need some additional tools in their spiritual toolbox. Their faith had not been sufficient to get the job done without some added prayer and fasting. This is still true for us today; we face many challenges as Christians that are difficult to get through without a little extra help.
In today’s church God has given us a whole host of spiritual tools with which we can meet the needs of many. All of us have experienced throughout our Christian lives, the power and blessings of confession, repentance, conviction, encouragement and service. All of these are tools, tools from God that we can use to build up the body of Christ until we all reach that glorious unity that God longs for us to have. In addition to these basic tools, God has also generously given us special tools through the fellowship; tools of generosity, leadership, teaching and showing mercy. All of these working together make up the body of saints, the church of Christ.
As an evangelist am very grateful for our Chemical Recovery or CR ministry. I view it as one of the most important tools in the church today. As a result of our CR ministry here in New York City, hundreds of people have left their lives of addiction to drugs, alcohol and nicotine and allowed God to turn their weaknesses into strengths for His mighty work. Scores of our graduates lead fruitful Family Groups and many have become deacons and even evangelists, to the glory of God. Very few graduates have ever fallen away from God ---- even during the turmoil of the past few years. The Chemical Recovery ministry is a compelling example of how effective discipling relationships can be and how badly we need examples like this in the church These are relationships that truly bear fruit ---fruit that lasts.
I am especially grateful for our deacon of CR in Westchester, NY. He is not only a great friend but also a trusted spiritual leader. He was one of the men who helped spearhead the Chemical Recovery ministry in the early days and continues to promote it around the world. I don’t believe that we could effectively meet the needs of the addicts in Westchester without our Chemical Recovery ministry.
Many Christians are unable to relate to the deep struggles of those with chemical addictions. We have never walked in their shoes nor have we been subject to the abuses that they have gone through. There are many things we can share with addicts from the scriptures to encourage them and show them that we care; however, we are limited in how effective we can be in discipling their temptations and needs. We find our spirit crying out: “I need help!” “Give me some tools!”. That is what the Chemical Recovery ministry is for. It helps those with chemical addictions to get the help and the tools they need to be victorious - the ammunition to change their weaknesses into strengths. CR leaders can relate to the weaknesses of addiction because they themselves are recovering addicts. If you have never been addicted to a substance it is much harder to relate in the same way. Thank God for CR!
Last week my wife had me watch an episode of the Oprah Winfrey show. The show focused on a under-diagnosed illness called BDD or Body Dysmorphic Disorder. It is an illness that causes average people to believe they are hideously ugly to the point of thinking they are monsters. Oprah had two young women and one young man on the show that suffers from this disorder. All three were trim, good looking and otherwise seemingly normal people but they all shared the same cruel disease. They all believed they should not live because they were too ugly. As I listened to them share, I kept thinking to myself, “How would I encourage them regarding this weakness? How would I help them?” I had no answers.
During the program, Dr. Katharine A. Phillips, the director of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Body Image Program at Butler Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, explained exactly how these young people afflicted by this disorder process degrading images of themselves. They are enslaved and addicted, not to a substance but to false images of themselves. They need professional help, and Oprah is making sure that the three people on her show get that help.
Dr. Phillips is an expert in her field: a special tool in the fellowship of medical professionals. She helps where others are helpless. In our church we have different expert tools in our fellowship as well. We have members who through life experience and personal victories are able to serve as different tools to meet the specific needs of those whom many of us would be limited in our ability to help.
My kitchen is a good example of different tools doing different jobs. Both my wife Teresa and I enjoy cooking, and we especially like the exotic and eccentric dishes. As a result we have a variety of weird kitchen utensils we use periodically to do some fancy preparations. Visitors to our home often ask questions like “A zester? What’s a zester?” The reason we have these utensils is that each one does a different job, each one has it’s own unique task.
It would be foolish to use a rolling pin to open a can or use a garlic press to chop an onion. But, that is what we often try to do in discipling addicts. Good goal, wrong tool. Too often we as mature disciples are naive to the insidious and entrenched nature of chemical addiction. We mistakenly treat addicts as weak disciples that need to buckle up and repent. We treat addiction as if it were a simple temptation like lust. “Brother, just stop! Walk the other way!” We are using a rolling pin to open a can. Good heart, poor solution.
We need to take advantage of the help God has given us through the diverse fellowship we have in the church. We have men and women, spiritually strong disciples, which have struggled with and overcome chemical addiction. They have won many battles and are still in the fight! These over-comers now want to help us by helping other addicts to conquer the same temptations that they have been victorious in. We need to help these disciples build chemical recovery ministries in our churches. They have known places we will never know and have been victorious in ways we can only admire. I have a great respect for these disciples who have cast off some of Satan’s strongest chains. I am grateful to have their help in my ministry.
I want to encourage you if you are a leader in a church, to add this tool to your ministry’s arsenal of weapons against Satan’s schemes. CR combines all of God’s tools in an atmosphere of vulnerability, understanding and hope and we need every tool in the shed to fight this serious war. Let us continue to press forward to win as many as possible using everything God has given us.
To God be the Glory.