Why We Should Accept Those in Recovery

It’s a Sunday, and you’re piling into the church with your wife, your kids, and your coffee. You feel great as you start to hear the latest Hillsong United song being sung by the worship team. Everything is sunny and great. And then the guy with the neck tattoos walks in, fresh out of a stay at rehab. He’s smiling, he’s laughing. He’s enthusiastic about his newfound love for Christ. We should all be welcoming him with open arms. But what is the reaction? I’m sure you’ve all seen it. Grandma whispers from the back of the room. Your aunt says something to her neighbor and giggles. Meanwhile, we are all singing worship songs about how everyone is welcome to Jesus.

The next time you meet a recovered alcoholic or drug addict who has somehow found his or her way into church, you need to accept this person with open arms. They have done the impossible. They have been to drug and/or alcohol rehab. They have been through inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, painful detox, recovery meetings. You don’t know everything they had to go through just to meet Jesus. They are turning their lives around, and in Christ, they will be able to help so many people.

We talk so much about how we shouldn’t judge others in the Christian church, but then what do we always end up doing? Judging. What makes this man’s heroin addiction any better or worse than your gambling addiction? What makes this woman’s greed any better or worse than your greed? None of us have the right to judge.

We are all welcome in the House of the Lord. We say it all of the time. So let’s start acting like it. And next time you see someone that is different from you coming to worship Jesus, give him/her a big smile and handshake.

How to Find Faith When You Are Depressed

This year alone, over 15 million adults in the United States will experience depression. Are you one of those adults? If not, it is likely that you care about someone who has struggled with depression or mental health issues. It is, unfortunately, a very common issue, and Christians are just as susceptible to it as non-Christians.

When you are struggling with depression, you may have thoughts that God has deserted you in your time of need. You may be wondering where God is, and you may feel you have lost your closeness to Him. Would He let you be depressed? Perhaps you feel alone. Perhaps you feel like there is no hope. No matter how much faith you have, you may believe the lie that God doesn’t care about you.

So how can you find your faith again when you are in the middle of a depression? Here are a few tips.

1. Don’t Believe the Lie of Depression

Depression often distorts reality. It causes you to reevaluate things in your life and see them through a distorted lens. You need to stop worrying about these things. You need to recognize that depression will tell you a lot of lies. And you need to find a way to stop believing the things that your depression is causing you to think.

2. Ask a loved one to remind you of the truth

Getting a friend or family remember to remind you that God still cares about you and that life is still worth living can be a great thing to do when you are in the middle of depression. If you are the loved one of a person who is depressed, and they ask you to remind them of this, you don’t need to criticize them for their lack of faith. You just need to be kind and loving and help them to remember how great God’s love is, too.

3. Take a walk outside

I know I feel much more connected to God when I am outside in the middle of nature. Fresh air is also a mood lightener. Nature can be incredibly healing, and it can remind you that if God can create something as beautiful and as vast as the oceans or the mountains or the fields, He can also help you with your depression.

5 Places to Make Christian Friends

If you’re a young adult looking for more Christian friends, you may think the only place to meet them is at church. Luckily, those of us in Wichita have the Kansas Christian Underground. If you are not lucky enough to live in Wichita, though, you may be able to meet Christians in other ways.

1. Parties and social gatherings

If you have even one friend who knows of any gatherings that don’t center around alcohol, that would be a good place to start. Parties and social gatherings can be tricky because for young people, they do often involve drugs and alcohol. However, ask around the Christian friends you already have and see if they know of any good parties or social events coming up.

2. Weddings

People have a misconception that a wedding is often a crazy party, but there are plenty of couples who don’t have alcohol at their weddings. Weddings are a great place to mingle and meet new people, especially as the spirit of love and romance is in the air.

3. Coffee shops

There are plenty of Christian groups who like to meet at Starbucks or other coffee shops. Who doesn’t love a latte? These can be excellent places to meet other Christians as the coffee shop can often be a social and chatty place.

4. Church events

This one seems kind of obvious, but so many people just go to church every Sunday without ever really getting involved. Join a Bible Study group. Go to your church’s music or social outings. Try getting involved and getting to know your brothers and sisters in Christ. There is no better way to get to know other Christians.

5. Mission trips

Dedicating your time to Jesus in a mission trip is a great thing to do. You will also find that when you other Christians on these trips are longing for other people who are also dedicated Christians to be in their lives. You might even end up meeting that special someone you can spend the rest of your life with.

5 Christian Books I Love

I read a lot of Christian books. Reading a great novel or a nonfiction book can be a great way to stay inspired and to deepen your faith and devotion to Christ. Here are five books you should definitely check out.

You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit – James K.A. Smith
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You are what you love. But you might not love what you think.

In this book, award-winning author James K. A. Smith shows that who and what we worship fundamentally shape our hearts. And while we desire to shape culture, we are not often aware of how culture shapes us. We might not realize the ways our hearts are being taught to love rival gods instead of the One for whom we were made. Smith helps readers recognize the formative power of culture and the transformative possibilities of Christian practices. He explains that worship is the “imagination station” that incubates our loves and longings so that our cultural endeavors are indexed toward God and his kingdom. This is why the church and worshiping in a local community of believers should be the hub and heart of Christian formation and discipleship.

The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected – Nik Ripken
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The Insanity of God tells a story—a remarkable and unique story to be sure, yet at heart a very human story—of the Ripkens’ own spiritual and emotional odyssey. The gripping, narrative account of a personal pilgrimage into some of the toughest places on earth, combined with sobering and insightful stories of the remarkable people of faith Nik and Ruth encountered on their journeys, will serve as a powerful course of revelation, growth, and challenge for anyone who wants to know whether God truly is enough.

The Pilgrim’s Progress – John Bunyan
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Often rated as important as the Bible as a Christian document, this famous story of man’s progress through life in search of salvation remains one of the most entertaining allegories of faith ever written. Set against realistic backdrops of town and country, the powerful drama of the pilgrim’s trials and temptations follows him in his harrowing journey to the Celestial City.

The Prayer of Jabez – Bruce Wilkinson
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The Shack – William Paul Young
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In  a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!