How to Love Your Kids Unconditionally

Parent and Child

One of the most important things we can do for our children is to teach them that God loves them unconditionally.

It’s extremely important that we teach our kids that they are loved, not because they earned our love or are good enough to be loved, but that they’re loved because God put them into our families to be loved.

This is hard for many of us because we have had a hard time receiving God’s unconditional love ourselves. God wants us to spend some time with him, letting him love us, and in turn giving that unconditional love to our kids.

How can we show God’s unconditional love to our families? Here are two practical ways:

1. Forgive your kids as God forgives you.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ” (NCV).

I love that God forgives me, but I’m not always ready to give that same kind of forgiveness to other people. Parenting requires massive doses of forgiveness. You’re in a position all the time to forgive your kids for things that they do.

2. Never give up on your kids.

We’re told in 1 Corinthians 13:7a, “If you love someone . . . you will always believe in him, and always expect the best of him” (TLB).

From the Phillips translation, that same verse says, “Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything.”

We can face just about anything if we know somebody believes in us. Families are supposed to do that. We’re to give that kind of love to our kids.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. It’s unconditional. It’s a forever bond. No stupid mistake on our part, no dumb decision, no period of rebellion, no overwhelming doubt — nothing can separate us from that forever bond with God, our Father.

As parents we are to develop that same kind of love for our kids. No matter what stupid thing our kids do, no matter how many times they walk away, we believe in them.

God wants you to treat your kids the way he treats you.

Parenting is an emotional roller coaster. One minute you’re so proud of them, you can hardly wait to squeeze them. The next minute you’re frustrated with them and fed up with their behavior.

You may be worried about your kids. You may be frustrated with your kids. You may be fearful about the direction one of them is going. You may be discouraged. If the truth were known, you may be disappointed in one or more of your kids.

Maybe the deepest hurt in your life is when you think of your child or your children. You feel like giving up sometimes, but you can’t resign as a parent. You signed on for life.

If you try to parent in your own power, you’re going to fail. It takes God’s love. Human love runs out. There is a limit to how much you can handle. There’s a limit to how much you can take.

There are days and there are nights when you don’t have any more to give, and you know it. You want to say, “Take care of yourself!” Because human love does run out.

What you need to do is get plugged into God. God is love. He’s the source of all love. When you’re plugged into him, he’ll give you power and energy and love that you didn’t know you had.

God will also give you the wisdom you need. So no matter how you feel emotionally about your kids today, Jesus is ready to help.

The key to becoming a great parent is to become a godly person. How?

First, you invite Jesus Christ into your life. “Lord, become the manager of my heart.”

Second, you pray and say, “God, I need your help daily. I need the wisdom and the love and the patience to be a wise parent.”

Third, you ask your kids to pray for you. I pray for my kids so I ask them to pray for me. Say, “I want you to pray that I’ll be a good parent.”

It may have to start with an apology. There may have to be a little reconciliation first. You may have to contact them, call them on the phone and say, “I wasn’t always the parent I should have been. I feel bad about that. But I want things to change. I want to be the kind of parent God wants me to be and that you need, so I’m going to ask you to forgive me. I apologize.”

It’s never too late to start showing God’s unconditional love and forgiveness to your kids. God never gives up on us. So never given up on your kids!

Celebrate Recovery for Danny

Danny Duchene was an addict serving 2 life sentences for his role in a robbery that killed two people. He was depressed, crushed by the weight of his guilt, and without hope.

But then Danny gave his life to Christ …
“The message of God’s mercy eventually got through to me. I learned that Jesus could give me a fresh start – changing me from the inside out!”

With the help of some ministers from Saddleback Church, Danny and a few other inmates started a church behind bars and began leading Celebrate Recovery small groups …
“I cannot overstate the power of godly small groups in changing people’s lives. For many guys, being part of a small group was the first time they’d ever received support to do the right thing.”
As hundreds of inmates experienced complete forgiveness and restoration in Christ, the entire prison was infused with a sense of peace and hope – and the same can happen in your church!

A Place for Comfort

Comforting Them with Love
By Rodney Holmstrom

“Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”  Jeremiah 33:3

There was a man walking along on a cold winter day.  Suddenly hitting a patch of black ice, he fell and then bam! He wasn’t expecting this but found himself on the ground, cold, wet, humiliated and seemingly alone. He cut his elbow and was bleeding quite a bit. He wanted to go crawl into a hole and hide. His first thought was complete embarrassment for what had happened and wondered if anyone had seen him fall so abruptly. Before he realized it, a stranger was kneeling by him to grab his arm, helping him back to his feet. He felt embarrassed by the situation.  However, the stranger wasn’t focused on that at all. Instead he focused on showing love and compassion while making sure he was okay. He knew he was hurting and came alongside him, helping him mend his wounds.

This story has me thinking about my brothers and sisters struggling with mental health issues. Some may struggle with depression, anger, anxiety or other issues that make it difficult to function, let alone live among society. I have heard from some that they feel so alone, and feel they are a burden to those living around them. Sometimes they may become completely overwhelmed with a sense of loneliness in their pain – wanting to crawl in a hole and hide from the world.

In Celebrate Recovery we are growing to understand that our friends dealing with mental health struggles are hurting in ways that may not be visible.  These struggles are very real and present. They are desperate for someone to love them in their struggle. Celebrate Recovery provides the platform to experience that love. We get the wonderful privilege as brothers and sisters in Christ to come alongside our struggling family and show them the love of God. I love that!  We get to take part in showing them the great and mighty things our Lord and Comforter can provide.  We get the honor of showing hurting and struggling souls that they are more than the diagnosis they carry. They are the beloved son or daughter of the perfecter of faith, Jesus Christ.

We cannot fix the struggle, but we can kneel down in love, grab an arm, with support and love, and be with our friend in the struggle. I thank God for a place where we can come as we are, no shame, no embarrassment, no judgment, just a place to be loved: Celebrate Recovery.

 

Why I’m Celebrating Celebrate Recovery

The Bible clearly states “all have sinned.” It is my nature to sin, and it is yours too. None of us is untainted. Because of sin, we’ve all hurt ourselves, we’ve all hurt other people, and others have hurt us. This means each of us needs repentance and recovery in order to live our lives the way God intended.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the expression “time heals all wounds.” Unfortunately, it isn’t true. As a pastor I frequently talk with people who still carry hurts from 30 or 40 years ago. The truth is, time often makes things worse. Wounds left untended fester and spread infection throughout your entire body. Time only extends the pain if the problem isn’t dealt with.

Based on the actual words of Jesus rather than psychological theory, this recovery program is more effective in helping people change than anything else I’ve seen or heard of. Over the years I’ve witnessed how the Holy Spirit has used this program to transform literally thousands of lives at Saddleback Church and to help people grow toward full Christ-like maturity.

Most people are familiar with the classic 12-step program of AA and other groups. While undoubtedly many lives have been helped through the 12 steps, I’ve always been uncomfortable with that program’s vagueness about the nature of God, the saving power of Jesus Christ, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. So I began an intense study of the Scriptures to discover what God had to say about “recovery.” To my amazement, I found the principles of recovery — in their logical order — are given by Christ in his most famous message, the Sermon on the Mount.

My study resulted in a 10-week series of messages called “The Road to Recovery.” During that series my associate pastor John Baker developed the participant’s guides, which became the heart of our Celebrate Recovery program. I believe this program is unlike any recovery program you may have seen. Seven features make it unique:

  1. Celebrate Recovery is based on God’s Word, the Bible. When Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, he began by stating eight ways to be happy. Today we call them the Beatitudes. From a conventional viewpoint, most of these statements don’t make sense. They sound like contradictions. But when you fully understand what Jesus is saying, you’ll realize these eight principles are God’s road to recovery, wholeness, growth, and spiritual maturity.
  2. Celebrate Recovery is forward-looking. Rather than wallowing in the past or dredging up and rehearsing painful memories over and over, Celebrate Recovery focuses on the future. Regardless of what has already happened, the solution is to start making wise choices now and depend on Christ’s power to help make those changes.
  3. Celebrate Recovery emphasizes personal responsibility. Instead of playing the “accuse and excuse” game of victimization, this program helps people face up to their own poor choices and deal with what they can do something about. We cannot control all that happens to us, but we can control how we respond to everything. That is a secret of happiness. When we stop wasting time fixing the blame, we have more energy to fix the problem. When we stop hiding our own faults and stop hurling accusations at others, then the healing power of Christ can begin working in our mind, will, and emotions.
  4. Celebrate Recovery emphasizes spiritual commitment to Jesus Christ. The third principle calls for people to make a total surrender of their lives to Christ. Lasting recovery cannot happen without this step. Everybody needs Jesus. Celebrate Recovery is thoroughly evangelistic in nature. In fact, the first time I took our entire church through this program, more than 500 people prayed to receive Christ on a single weekend. It was an amazing spiritual harvest. And during the 10-week series that I preached to kick off this program, our attendance grew by more than 1,500! Don’t be surprised if this program becomes the most effective outreach ministry in your church. Today, nearly seventy-three percent of the people who’ve been through Celebrate Recovery have come from outside our church. Changed lives always attract others who want to be changed.
  5. Celebrate Recovery utilizes the biblical truth that we need each other in order to grow spiritually and emotionally. It is built around small group interaction and the fellowship of a caring community. There are many therapies, growth programs, and counselors today that operate around one-to-one interaction. But Celebrate Recovery is built on the New Testament principle that we don’t get well by ourselves. We need each other. Fellowship and accountability are two important components of spiritual growth. If your church is interested in starting small groups, this is a great way to get started.
  6. Celebrate Recovery addresses all types of habits, hurts, and hang-ups. Some recovery programs deal only with alcohol or drugs or another single problem. But Celebrate Recovery is a “large umbrella” program under which a limitless number of issues can be dealt with. At Saddleback Church, only one out of three who attend Celebrate Recovery is dealing with alcohol or drugs. We have several other specialized groups too.
  7. Finally, Celebrate Recovery is a leadership factory. Because it is biblical and church-based, Celebrate Recovery produces a continuous stream of people moving into ministry after they’ve found recovery in Christ. Eighty-five percent of the people who’ve gone through the program are now active members of Saddleback Church, and an amazing forty-two percent are now using their gifts and talents serving the Lord in some capacity in our church.

In closing, let me say that the size of your church is no barrier to beginning a Celebrate Recovery ministry. You can start it with just a small group of people and watch it grow by word of mouth. You won’t be able to keep it a secret for long!

The Twelve Steps

CELEBRATE RECOVERY 12 STEPS AND BIBLICAL COMPARISONS
1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.

For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Romans 7:18

2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:1

3. We made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Romans 12:1
4. We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40

5. We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. James 5:16

6 We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:10

7 We humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

8 We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31

9 We made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

10 We continue to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12

11 We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us, and power to carry that out.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Colossians 3:16

12 Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore them gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1

The Eight Principles

THE ROAD TO RECOVERY BASED ON THE BEATITUDES
Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable. (Step 1)
“Happy are those who know that they are spiritually poor.”

Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover. (Step 2)
“Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control. (Step 3)
“Happy are the meek.”

Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. (Steps 4 and 5)
“Happy are the pure in heart.”

Voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. (Steps 6 and 7)
“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires”

Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others when possible, except when to do so would harm them or others. (Steps 8 and 9)
“Happy are the merciful.” “Happy are the peacemakers”

Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will. (Steps 10 and 11)

Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and my words. (Step 12)
“Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.”