Hope –

Let’s look at what the word HOPE means in Principle 2:

Higher Power
Openness to change
Power to change
Expect to change

H stands for HIGHER power.  Our Higher Power is the one and only true Higher Power and He has a name: Jesus Christ!

In the past you may have believed in Jesus’ existence and you may have even attended church.  But what you will find in Principle 2 is a personal relationship with Christ. You will see that Jesus desires a hands-on, day-to-day, moment-to-moment relationship with us.  For He can do for us what we have never been able to do for ourselves. Romans 11:36 (TLB) says, “Everything comes from God alone.  Everything lives by his power.”

Many people today believe their doubts and doubt their beliefs!  Have you ever seen an idea? Have you ever seen love? Have you ever seen faith? Of course not.  You may have seen acts of faith and love, but the real things—the lasting things—in the world are the invisible spiritual realities.

This leads us to the first four words of the second step: “We came to believe …” Saying that we “came to believe” in anything describes a process. Belief is a result of consideration, doubt, reasoning, and concluding.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 (PH), Jesus tells us, “My grace is enough for you: for where there is weakness, my power is shown the more completely.”

The next letter in hope is O, which stands for OPENNESS to change.

What is the process that leads to solid belief, which leads you to change your life? Let’s look at the first four words in Step 2 again:  “We came to believe …”

“We came …”  We took the first step when we attended our first recovery meeting!

“We came to …”  We stopped denying our hurts, hang-ups, and habits!

“We came to believe …”  We started to believe and receive God’s power to help us recover.

Hope is openness to change.  Sometimes we are afraid to change, even if our past was painful.  We resist change because of our fear of the unknown, or, in our despair, we think we don’t deserve anything better.

Here’s the good news:  Hope opens doors where despair closes them!  Hope discovers what can be done instead of grumbling about what can’t be done.

Throughout your life you will continue to encounter hurts and trials that you are powerless to change, but with God’s help you can be open to allow those circumstances and situations to change you—to make you better—not bitter.

Ephesians 4:23 (TLB) gives us a challenge to that end:  “Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better.… You must be a new and different person.”

How will you do that?  The letter P tells us about POWER to change.

In the past, we may have wanted to change and were unable to do so; we could not free ourselves from our hurts, hang-ups, or habits. In Principle 2, we understand that God’s power can change us and our situation.  Philippians 4:13 (TLB) confirms it: “For I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.”

Power to change comes from God’s grace.  You see, hope draws its power from a deep trust in God, like that of the psalmist, who wrote, “Lead me; teach me; for you are the God who gives me salvation.  I have no hope except in you” (Psalm 25:5, TLB).

In Principle 2, we begin to understand that God’s power can change us and our situation.  And once we tap into that power, right actions—Christlike actions—will follow naturally as byproducts of working the principles and following the one and only Higher Power, Jesus Christ.

The last letter in hope is E:  EXPECT to change.

Remember you are only at the second principle.  Don’t quit before the miracle happens!  With God’s help, the changes that you have longed for are just steps away.  Philippians 1:6 (TLB) expresses my heart: “I am sure that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns.”

You know, you can’t do anything unless you get started, so how much faith do you need to get started?

Matthew 17:20 tells us, “For if you had faith even as small as a tiny mustard seed you could say to this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would go far away. Nothing would be impossible.”  It’s reassuring to know that you do not need large amounts of faith to begin the recovery process.  You need only a small amount, “as small as a tiny mustard seed,” to effect change, to begin to move your mountains of hurts, hang-ups, and habits.

Eternal life does not begin with death; it begins with faith!  Hebrews 11:1 tells us what faith is: “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”  Faith—even faith the size of a mustard seed so small you can hardly see it—is the avenue to salvation.  You can’t find salvation through intellectual understanding, gifts of money, good works, or attending church.  No!  The way to find salvation, is described in Romans 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be

Yes, all you need is just a little faith.  If you will put the faith you have in Jesus, your life will be changed!  You will find hope in the only Higher Power, Jesus Christ.  His Spirit will come with supernatural power into your heart.  It can happen to you!  It happened to me!

I encourage you to take this step of hope.  It will give you the courage to reach out and hold Christ’s hand and face the present with confidence and the future with realistic expectancy.

Simply put, my life without Christ is a hopeless end; with Him it is an endless hope.


Powerless –

In Principle 1, we realize we’re not God. We admit we are powerless to control our tendency to do the wrong thing and that our lives have become unmanageable.  As soon as we take this step and admit that we are powerless, we start to change.  We see that our old ways of trying to control our hurts, hang-ups, and habits didn’t work. They were buried by our denial and held on to with our false power.

Tonight we are going to focus on four actions: two things we have to stop doing and two things we need to start doing in our recoveries.  We need to take these four actions to complete Principle 1.

Four Actions

In Lesson 1 we talked about the first action we need to take.

1. Stop denying the pain.
We said that our denial had at least six negative effects: It disables our feelings, wastes our energy, negates our growth, isolates us from God, alienates us from our relationships, and lengthens our pain.

You are ready to accept Principle 1 when your pain is greater than your fear.  In Psalm 6:2–3 (TLB) David talks about a time when he came to the end of his emotional and physical resources: “Pity me, O Lord, for I am weak.  Heal me, for my body is sick, and I am upset and disturbed.  My mind is filled with apprehension and with gloom.”  When David’s pain finally surpassed his fear, he was able to face his denial and feel the reality of his pain.  In the same way, if you want to be rid of your pain, you must face it and go through it.

The second action we need to take is to:

2. Stop playing God.
You are either going to serve God or self.  You can’t do both! Matthew 6:24 (GNB) says, “No one can be a slave to two masters; he will hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one and despise the other.”

Another term for serving “ourselves” is serving the “flesh.”  Flesh is the Bible’s word for our unperfected human nature, our sin nature.

I love this illustration: If you leave the h off the end of flesh and reverse the remaining letters, you spell the word self.  Flesh is the self-life.  It is what we are when we are left to our own devices.

When our “self” is out of control, all attempts at control―of self or others―fail.  In fact, our attempt to control ourselves and others is what got us into trouble in the first place.  God needs to be the one in control.

There are two jobs: God’s and mine!  We have been trying to do God’s job, and we can’t!

On the flip side, He won’t do our job.  We need to do the footwork!  We need to admit that we are not God and that our lives are unmanageable without Him.  Then, when we have finally emptied ourselves, God will have room to come in and begin His healing work.

Let’s go on now to the third action we need to take:

3. Start admitting our powerlessness.

The lust of power is not rooted in our strengths but our weaknesses.  We need to realize our human weaknesses and quit trying to do it by ourselves.  We need to admit that we are powerless and turn our lives over to God.  Jesus knew how difficult this is.  He said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

When we keep doing things that we don’t want to do and when we fail to do the things we’ve decided we need to do, we begin to see that we do not, in fact, have the power to change that we thought we had.  Life is coming into focus more clearly than ever before.

The last action we need to take is to:

4. Start admitting that our lives have become unmanageable.
The only reason we consider that there’s something wrong, or that we need to talk to somebody, or that we need to take this step is because we finally are able to admit that some area―or all areas―of our lives have become unmanageable!

It is with this admission that you finally realize you are out of control and are powerless to do anything on your own.  When I got to this part of my recovery I shared David’s feelings that he expressed in Psalm 40:12 (TLB): “Problems far too big for me to solve are piled higher than my head.  Meanwhile my sins, too many to count, have all caught up with me and I am ashamed to look up.”

Does that sound familiar?  Only when your pain is greater than your fear will you be ready to honestly take the first step, admitting that you are powerless and your life is unmanageable.

The power to change only comes from God’s grace.  Are you ready to truly begin your journey of recovery? Are you ready to stop denying the pain?  Are you ready to stop playing God?  Are you ready to start admitting your powerlessness?  To start admitting that your life has become unmanageable?  If you are, share it with your group tonight.

I encourage you to start working and living this program in earnest.  If we admit we are powerless, we need a power greater than ourselves to restore us.  That power is your Higher Power―Jesus Christ!


Denial –

This journey begins with Principle 1, where we admit that we are powerless to control our tendency to do the wrong thing and that our lives have become unmanageable, out of control.  But before we begin this exciting journey together, we need to ask ourselves two questions:

Am I going to let my past failures prevent me from taking this journey?
Am I afraid to change?  Or, what are my fears of the future?

Let’s look at Hebrews 12:1 (TLB):

Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up; and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.

The second thing is that we need to be willing to get rid of all the unnecessary baggage, the past failures, in our lives that keep us stuck.  Again, it says, “Let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back, and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up.”

For many of us, our past hurts, hang-ups, and habits hold us back, trip us up!  Many of us are stuck in bitterness over what someone has done to us.  We continue to hold on to the hurt and we refuse to forgive the ones who had hurt us.

You may have been hurt deeply.  Perhaps you were abused as a child, or maybe you were or are in a marriage where your spouse committed adultery.

I’m truly sorry for you, sorry that you had to go through that hurt.  But holding onto that hurt and not being willing to forgive the person who hurt you in the past is allowing them to continue to hurt you today, in the present.

Working this Christ-centered recovery program will, with God’s power, allow you to find the courage and strength to forgive them.  Now don’t get all stressed out.  You don’t have to forgive them tonight!  But as you travel your road to recovery, God will help you find the willingness to forgive them and be free of their hold on your life.

Some of you are bound by guilt.  You keep beating yourself up over some past failure.  You’re trapped, stuck in your guilt.  You think that no one anywhere is as bad as you are, that no one could love the real you, and that no one could ever forgive you for the terrible things that you have done.

You’re wrong. God can.  That’s why Jesus went to the cross, for our sins.  He knows everything you’ve ever done and everything you’ve ever experienced.  And there are many at CR that have faced similar failures and hurts in their life and have accepted Christ’s forgiveness.  They are here to encourage and support you.

Denial has been defined as “a false system of beliefs that are not based on reality” and “a self-protecting behavior that keeps us from honestly facing the truth.”

Tonight I encourage you to step out of your denial!  Walking out of your denial is not easy.  Taking off that mask is hard.  Everything about you shouts, “Don’t do it!  It’s not safe!”  But it is safe.  It’s safe at Celebrate Recovery. Here you have people who care about you and who love you for who you are—people who will stand beside you as truth becomes a way of life.

Jesus tells us, “Know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).  Step out of your denial so you can step into Jesus’ unconditional love and grace and begin your healing journey of recovery.

I Came to Celebrate Recovery to Help

I came to Celebrate Recovery to help…

I came to Celebrate Recovery to help on the leadership team.  I had been sober 20 years and agreed to help with our small group addictions table.  It didn’t take me long to realize I hadn’t arrived and that I was as close to a drink as the ones who had one day clean, because it became more evident that I was in denial myself.  I had a hard time admitting that I was steeped in resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness.  I was 20 years clean and still on STEP 1!  I had to admit I had a problem and was powerless over it.

Daily I would try in my own strength to lay it down and daily I would fail.  I was stuck!  I would beg God to encounter me with his love, I would read the Word daily, I went to church somewhere almost every night of the week and got enough prayer to save an entire country yet I was getting worse.  I could not control my tendency to do the wrong thing.  All my striving got me nowhere.

One day my sponsor gently nudged me to forgive.  She said forgiveness isn’t saying that person is right or that their actions were fair but it would free me.  “It has been said that forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentments and removes the handcuffs of hate.  It is the power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”

So that is what I did.  I forgave.  I simply made a decision to forgive and let God handle all of the unfairness and hurt. I stopped trying to bring judgement myself and let God have his way in me and in the situation.  Much to my surprise, God freed me and began to change my heart.  It is God’s work to do!  My job is to submit to the changes he wants to make in my life.  We become so fearful thinking God is going to ruin our life somehow, when all along he if full of goodness, love and knows what is best to bring about a life full of abundance and peace.

Almost as soon as I forgave, he encountered me with his love.  He showed me his heart towards me and it wasn’t bad!  He gave me the impression that he loved me so deeply, right where I was at, even in my struggles.  And I had a sense that He would be with me every step of the way.  It’s the same for our small group at Celebrate Recovery.  They love me right where I am at, even in my struggle, and are there for me every step of the way.

Tammy T.

I Lacked Confidence in God

I Lacked Confidence in God

I lacked the confidence in God to follow through with what I believed He wanted me to do, mainly because of the consequences that came with my decisions.  But I discovered by not confront issues, including fear, the consequences were unbearable.  Shortly after I started attending CR, a leader told me I was an easy target and I responded with, “You’re right!”

I was so angry with myself.  I had talked and talked about the issues with my husband, to no avail.  He would tell me the problem was mine and that he didn’t have a problem.  I felt so powerless and angry.

I was convinced divorce was coming.  I ended up paralyzed with fear and not able to take action like I should.  But my God was too good to let me stay there. He grew my faith in Him, beyond my circumstances and my fears.  He replaced my fear with faith.  God dealt with me, my husband, and our marriage.

I have always believed that God loved my husband, but I struggled believing that He loved me.  I now know that God loves me… all of me… always.  My marriage is now established on God’s love for us and not the other way around.  I now understand that our relationship doesn’t depend on who or what I am, but who and what He is.  By His Grace I’ve been saved.  And I am so very thankful.

Cindy M.

The DNA of CR

The DNA of CR

The DNA of Celebrate Recovery is non-negotiable because of two pertinent facts:

1. The DNA revolves around the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2. The Bible and God’s Word are at the very core of everything we do in Celebrate Recovery. The DNA of Celebrate Recovery is all about pointing us back to the Beatitudes; Jesus’ instructions on how to live a good, productive life. By following the DNA, groups will start safe and remain safe.


In a desire to protect the integrity of the broader ministry, Celebrate Recovery requires that if you use the Celebrate Recovery name, the following are an irreducible minimum of your program.

The DNA of an authentic Celebrate Recovery Ministry

1. Jesus Christ is the one and only Higher Power. The program is a Christ-centered ministry.

2. The Bible* and Celebrate Recovery curriculum consisting of the Leader’s Guide, The Journey Begins, The Journey Continues, Your First Steps to Celebrate Recovery, CR In a Box, Testimonies to Go, Life’s Healing Choices, Celebrate Recovery Daily Devotional, Celebrate Recovery Journal, The Landing, and Celebration Place are to be used exclusively. The Large Group lessons are taught from the Leader’s Guide, keeping at 
least the acrostic and the Scriptures as the key points in the lessons. This is to keep consistency within groups, allowing teachers to be creative with the introduction and conclusion of each lesson.

3. The ministry is “group based.” All groups are gender-specific and “The Five Small Group Guidelines” are implemented and followed every time.

4. No Celebrate Recovery online groups are permitted. Face-to-face meetings only.

5. We expect each group to be accountable to Christ, the local church, and the model of Celebrate Recovery established at Saddleback Church.

6. Celebrate Recovery is a ministry of the local church. Therefore, Celebrate Recovery will not attempt to dictate any doctrine or policy to a local church. A local Celebrate Recovery ministry should follow the policies of their local church and continue to be grateful for their continued support.

What is Celebrate Recovery Anyway?

What is Celebrate Recovery Anyway?

Celebrate Recovery is a biblical and balanced program that helps us overcome our hurts, hang-ups, and habits.  It is based on the actual words of Jesus rather than psychological theory.  25 years ago, Saddleback Church launched Celebrate Recovery with 43 people. It was designed as a program to help those struggling with hurts, habits and hang-ups by showing them the loving power of Jesus Christ through a recovery process. Celebrate Recovery has helped more than 17,000 people at Saddleback, attracting over 70% of its members from outside the church. Eighty-five percent of the people who go through the program stay with the church and nearly half serve as church volunteers. Celebrate Recovery is now in over 29,000 churches worldwide.

Eight Recovery Principles

Eight Recovery 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.”

The 12 Steps and Their Biblical Comparisons

The 12 Steps and Their 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