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Posted: September 25, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Everybody needs spiritual renewal

By Brittany Thomas/

A message of hope and healing: The Rev. Brad Rutledge (left) is the pastor of Celebrate Recovery - a night where members can come together and overcome the pains and hurdles in their lives. The Rev. Scott Moore (right) is senior pastor of Eastridg...

We live in an imperfect world where life is tough on everyone. Admittedly, we’ve all blown it at one time or the other and made mistakes. For too long, people have been passing down unhealthy behavior from one generation to the next. Eastridge Community Church believes this can be stopped by teaching life-giving choices.

Depleted savings, lay-offs, furloughs, repossessions, pay cuts, foreclosures, communication breakdown, gossip, wayward kids, infidelity, strained relationships, family stress, depression, overwhelmed, hopelessness, anxiety, unhealthy habits — all sound too familiar. In our community, almost every family is facing one or more of these issues.

"For the past six weeks, I have heard one broken life story after another," said the Rev. Scott Moore, senior pastor of Eastridge Community Church. "I’m just sick — everywhere I look, I see Satan’s fingerprints. It’s not who is hurting — it is, to what degree are they hurting. I believe the Lord has called us to bring this message of hope and healing."

The Rev. Rick Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life" and the Rev. John Baker, founder of Celebrate Recovery, wrote "Life’s Healing Choices." Baker explains how we try to fix problems and often our attempts only make them worse. Using the Beatitudes of Jesus as a foundation, they developed eight healing choices that promote true happiness, life transformation and freedom from hurts, hang-ups, and habits: admitting need, getting help, letting go, coming clean, making changes, repairing relationships and maintaining momentum; and recycling pain.

Principles of this study can be summarized in one word, "Recovery." Each chapter of the book includes two real-life stories of men and women whose lives have been transformed by living out the eight choices.

With plans already underway to promote healing in the community by offering testimonies on the square, the Eastridge pastoral staff watched a DVD as Warren explained the need for national recovery.

His words were, "National recovery is not going to happen until we break it all the way down to the individuals in the family. If the father and mother learn to make healthy choices, it will translate into the community and across the nation."

According to Warren, by making one healing choice at a time, you can find answers, real hope and a real future. He teaches an eight-week biblical journey of spiritual renewal and recovery that identifies the causes, consequences and cure. Dividends include wholeness, growth, spiritual maturity, happiness and healing.

Regardless of what you are struggling with — whether it is emotional, financial, relational, spiritual, or sexual, the principles that lead to happiness and healing are always the same, and the choice is always yours.

Eastridge Community Church launched their eight-week campaign on Sept. 20. Everyone is asked to pray for those that are hurting, join a small group, read "Life’s Healing Choices" and invite someone to church.

Each Sunday morning at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m., Moore will introduce the choice for that week. An ECC member who has found freedom in Christ will give a personal testimony. During the week, 70 small groups will meet in members’ homes to watch the seminar video. The curriculum contains a study guide, DVD and companion magazine full of inspirational stories, tools, tips and training about finding freedom. In a very safe and accepting environment, they will split up into gender specific groups for discussion time. This week, the small groups were asked, "Where are you in learning to trust God?"

"Most people think there is nobody like them," said Moore. "But when you walk in this door and you realize, man, we are all in this journey together — I’m not alone. There’s so much comfort in that."

The staff receives an average of 85 prayer requests each week ranging from jobless, cancer, unspoken request or wayward child.

"I’ve asked friends to pray for me because my heart has been wrenched," said Moore. "In almost every chair there is pain — either they have been hurt and are dealing with the deficit or they have hurt someone and are dealing with shame and guilt. People have come to me in the last few weeks telling me things that they have held back for 30 years. That is a great step."

The doors of Celebrate Recovery are always open on Thursday nights. The Rev. Brad Rutledge, pastor of CR, describes the setting as an honest, transparent place where you can come without any judgment, or pretense — a grace filled place.

"We are all committed as elders and pastors to make this a safe place," said Rutledge. "You can share real issues and find real solutions. There are literally dozens of people you can intermingle with that have experienced the same hurts you have in life. God can use you and he has a purpose for everybody."

As the Southeastern Regional Director of Celebrate Recovery, Rutledge often shares his personal story. Once addicted to drugs and alcohol, he refused his wife’s pleas to get help. Virtually homeless, broken and at the bottom, he moved out and described the next five days as the worst of his life. In the weeks that followed, he got into church and was reunited with his family.

"I came here and found a real place with real people that didn’t judge me and a God we had never met — a God of grace that loved us right where we were," he said in retrospect. "God, along with these wonderful people, loved on us and that’s how I entered into the ministry at Eastridge and that’s where I found my calling — with Celebrate Recovery."

In addition to CR, Eastridge has two professional counselors, Divorce Care and Grief Share.

Eastridge Community Church invites you to seek hope and healing as a result of this series. "I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway. I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bringing words of praise to their lips. May they have abundant peace, both near and far," says the Lord, who heals them (Isaiah 57:18-19, NLT).

Moore and Rutledge offer this challenge, "Just try it for eight weeks. If you missed the first sermon, go to www.eastridgefamily.org, click on resources, click on podcast and hit ‘Life’s Healing Choices.’ You can join a small group anytime."

Eastridge Community Church is located at 863 Highway 142 East in Covington. For more information, call (770) 786-2048.

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