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Tonight our guest speaker is Glen Kirby. He is the author of the wonderful Biblical resource and workbook for Christian recovery “The Power of Brokenness: The Language of Recovery”.
glen-author: Welcome to you all, many thanks to the people at Christians in Recovery® for investing their faith in the writing work the Jim Mccraigh and I have just completed, “The Power of Brokenness.” You guys are awesome and it is great to be part of your community. I have participated in a few chat rooms and met people from all over the world on your site. It has been a real blessing to me and to my family. My wife and my children, Janet, James and Grace wanted me to say hi to you all as well. Jim Mccraigh my co-author is praying for our work tonight and the continued success of your ministry.
I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ and a person who is healed from addiction, both chemical and sexual. God has helped me to come through molestation as a child, coming through the divorce of my parents at age 9 and the loss of my primary care giver to cancer, my grandmother, at the age of 13.
I started down the road when I was first introduced to drugs in grade 7. The first time I used I thought I had found something worth dying for. With weeks I was stealing, dealing, lying and cheating to support a habit. I drove my mother crazy as she attempted to recover her life from the death of her mother, and a divorce to an abusive adult child of an alcoholic. My dad never drank but acted like a drunk in every way. He suffered from mood swings, uncontrollable anger and from sexual addiction. He wound up having an affair and kicking our family out of our home. Mom was tough and has a great spirit but there where five children that I was doing and I didn’t need any help to stop doing it, I just needed a better town to live in, a better job, a better and more understanding family a prettier girlfriend, or another hit to make this happen. Little by little the world closed in. The emptiness turned into fear.
I lived in fear, fear of loosing control, fear of death, fear of life, fear of being alone, fear of being with others. I remember being afraid to even answer the door or the phone, it was the police, someone’s boyfriend, someone I bounced a check on, you name it I was afraid of it. In the very last and darkest days, I stopped eating for the most part because I had no stomach left for the food. I weighed 135 pounds at 5’10”.
After a set of recurring nightmares that terrified me I stopped sleeping at night in fear that if I fell asleep in the dark that I would be crushed by the spirit that had come to me in former waking dreams. The dreams terrified me more than the police. I had no options left that seemed reasonable to me. I gave up the drugs three days earlier and was pulling down as much liquor as I could handle to try to push back on the anxiety attacks and withdrawal. I would sit on the floor at night watching Walton’s re-runs, hoping not to fall asleep in the dark and dreaming of killing myself .
I put a plan together that required the woman who lived below me to be out of the house. It involved gas and I didn’t want to take any innocent bystanders with me. I had heard stories of mis-tied ropes, car accidents that killed other people or left you paralyzed. I didn’t own a gun and the drugs where all gone and most importantly I really wanted it to look like an accident so my mother would be comforted! Great logic, but at the time I was working with everything I had left.
Because of the natural gas lines I could achieve the effect but the woman below me was a concern. That night, when I had figure out the plan and was ready. This is when it happened. In Melfort in the middle of the night while I was trying to turn the station over to pre-taped music I heard this message. “Tired, Lonely, Constipating Suicide, Drugs or Alcohol a problem, if so call Bob and a number”. I had never heard anything like it before and never heard anything like it since. It was a public service announcement for Narcotics Anonymous that was programmed to run that night at the station and before I could get out of the place I heard it 15 times.
Finally I listened, after all, I only had suicide waiting at home, maybe Bob would have an answer.
I called him in the middle of the night and he told me that he was having a meeting that day. (He Had Meetings When Ever He Wanted To. He Was The Only Member Of Na In All Of Melfort!) I told him on the phone that I wanted to help him out by telling kids about drugs, the I knew a lot about drugs. I was so worried that he would think I needed help or see me as a looser. 135 pounds, not sleeping, not able to hold my hand still without shaking, yellow eyes and skin and convinced that I was being attacked by an evil spirit! Not to hard to figure out that I was messed up, but I was still up for trying to hide it.
I came into my first meeting, after sitting the car sucking up the courage for an hour. I almost left, but there was no where left to go. I popped into a second story room in an old musty building on main street in this little prairie town, hoping and praying that no one could see me. You could see me passed out at the bar or under it. Bob lifted me up and help me clean up my life, I Hated Him. He had meetings with me as many times a week as I needed one, (everyday).
I Hated It All I really wanted to do was to get clean for a few days, get some money in the bank, gain back a few pounds, get healthy again, prove that I did not have any problem by stopping for a month and then I was going to go back at it again.
Something truly miraculous happened, I worked through the steps and when I did my fifth step, when I made a searching and fearless moral inventory and shared it with God and another person, that other person told me who Christ was. I asked him to come into my life and forgive me. I wanted so badly to be forgiven. I always tell people that in order for the steps to work they need to be submitted to a higher power the is all powerful able to do miracles, all seeing, past present and future and capable of extending us forgiveness.
I tried to go down any path I could except for Christianity. Everything seemed
God was so good to me, I found ways to grow closer to Him, but never set foot inside a church. Meetings where my church. Stayed outside of any meeting with fellow believers for years, almost 12 to be exact until finally I could not win the argument with God.I had had a spiritual experience as a result of working the steps and He was leading me into places that scared me at some level. I knew how to be a recovering addict so well.But, here I was speaking at conversions and really in a place of strength in that area of my life but buried under a mountain of shame, codependency and sexual addiction.
When the world was not going my way, I filled my self up with sexual experience. Just a different drug! When I got into a relationship I was either sucked into it unable to be myself or controlling the relationship and the person that I was with. Either with those who where weak and pushing them, or with those who would control me. I hated both places.
My first church was in that early foundation of Christian life that I began to develop the idea for the book. After 24 years of making every mistake know to man or woman, injuring and being injured God showed me something that was has changed my life.He showed me that there was real power in brokenness.That everything I had been through could be used to reach others for the kingdom, that there was hope in the pain and that if I would trust Him that He would show me the way.
The story that He has given me about this new season, a season that all believers are heading into is wonderful and exciting. Those who struggle in the darkness will see the great light. He is bringing together an army of Broken people to take territory that no body else can take.
In our church family, we believe that we have been called to bring together the power of God’s spirit with the strength of discipleship so that religious ideas can be destroyed and peoples lives can be changed.Recovery people are awesome at discipleship, they understand how important it is to stand together to learn We heal not simply though steps but through finding a disciplined approach to understanding God. When we do the steps without Christ, we can find help in not doing what was killing us, but we do not find a new life. Just the old one off meds.
That is what we are doing with the power of brokenness we are equipping believers that understand recovery, recovery people that don’t understand churches and church people that don’t understand brokenness with a book that is designed to focus on the words that all of us who place our faith in Christ need to understand. A church that can not meet the needs of the broken is not a church any more than a recovery meeting.
The broken sit in the pews weekly afraid to speak and in the silence they suffer. most believers don’t have the confidence to face the darkness of the world and to offer hope to the truly broken because they are broken themselves half broken, half healed, no place to turn to learn how to move the pain aside that stops them from really understanding Christ Those of us in Christian Recovery have a message of power to bring to a hurting world.
We are on fire to bring the power to the fight every day and to welcome every person regardless of their background to the fight. It has been 24 years in December since my last drug or drink God has stood by me through the mistakes and given me a peace that I thought was just in Bob’s imagination.I am grateful and excited to be with all of you tonight to share this message and more importantly to tell you all that what you are doing in coming together using these kinds of tools is really fantastic what a blessing to find this community and to have new home with all of you.
Obie-host: Thank you Glen !!
Barbara: Actually I just wanted to say ty to glen and to tell him how heartened I am to here of this, I am blessed to attend a church that is finally getting the concept of brokenness and the value of those who have been to “hell& back”. Thanks be to God for your work.
nadine: My question Glen is this, how does your book help me to embrace my darkness or the darkness I am going through so I can help others see Christ?
glen-author: The thing that I am seeing in this new season is the need for authentic witnesses.
Those who have, as Barbara was saying been to Hell and Back churches and the neighborhoods around us are filled with people who do not see a way out when they come in contacted with those who have come through the pain and found something new they can be separated from them by language there is recovery language, churchy language, jail house language and I think some of it is confusing especially to people in pain if we understand the language of recovery. We have something universal to work with in meeting the needs of the broken and in discovering new things about what we believe along the way.
Illuminated: Glen – you mentioned a ‘message of power’ that those of us in recovery have.
Can you explain what that message is, and also what is your opinion about why the Lord has given us that message of power?
glen-author: I think that the central message of power is based on a living relationship with Christ. Much of the church lives in a dead relationship those of us who have been through the things of great darkness or brokenness have been brought back to life through a living relationship with Christ We see the miracle we understand that hurt is temporary and drives us to places of peace in order to understand the living relationship with Christ we need to see the miracles I believe deep in my heart that this message is coming to us in the recovery community because of three primary things
1) we are not afraid to step into the darkness, we have been there before and we have seen the light and the darkness flees before it
2) We have a confidence in a living and powerful relationship with God because we have seen the answers to the desperate prayers we have seen those in our groups that had no hope discover Christ and build new lives we have seen the past.
Laurie: First of all I just want to join others in thanking you Glen I have been going Hallelujah all through your talk. One of the things that really impressed me about what you shared with us that you don’t appear to have lost your humility as I see so many people do after they get the kind of longterm freedom of drugs and I think that what really turns people off sometimes who are hurting in churches… Is the we’ve got the easy answer: all ya gotta do is pray and just stop using drugs. My question to you is how do you see keeping that humility remembering where we came from and at the same time proclaiming the Victory in Jesus that is so evident in your talk tonight?
glen-author: Paul warns all those who trust in Christ not to get puffed up with knowledge. Christ said, to stay humble by being servants and washing the feet of those who we are called to disciple this message has been mostly lost and replaced with the easy answers in the western church. When we loose focus on the mission of Love, we loose our humility.
I did an intervention a few years ago with a woman who had been struggling with drugs and drinking for 16 years she was lost after being implicated in the death of her husband and trying to drink herself to death. I was used that day to reach out to her,but had nothing, apart from tears and Chinese food for her within three weeks, after accepting Christ. She was literally hearing the voice of God for our family calling me and bringing hope to me in a profound way for Christ. We stood in awe as she brought good news to us. How do we know who we are reaching. what God will do with them.
Obie-host: Glen, your book title talks about the Power of Brokenness. This is a concept that many who are in the pit of their addiction and/or dysfunctional behavior find hard to grasp. They feel scared to death….totally hopeless and helpless. How do you convey the concept of power in the midst of this brokenness? or that there can possibly be power in brokenness?
p>glen-author: in the work that we have done over the last few years in reaching out to people with this message we have seen a remarkable thing happen.people with less than a day of clean time coming off of the hardest drugs catch something in the idea that there pain can have meaning. Anything that hurts so bad is hard to give up. Te worst of the pain,the attacks, the injury, the grief all have meaning that requires stewardship speaks to people in that center of their souls there is a cool comparison in the bible. That we are using for the next book that revolves around God freeing the slaves from bondage in Egypt. This gives them all gold to show them that the slavery is over. I see this message to those in pain as a kind of currency of the spirit that gives them hope,in my darkest hour, I wanted so badly to believe that there could be hope and restoration.
This is a first step to moving out of selfishness and trusting in God to help turn the pain into something powerful and useful to building the kingdom. He promises to make all things work for good that is not an easy answer it takes Work, but the Good is All Gods!!
Illuminated: Glen – do you see any relationship between the pain that we have suffered and the resulting power that we have and the pain that Christ suffered on the cross as He was dying for us?
glen-author: Paul talks about his suffering adding to that which Christ lifted up for us. Interesting because we know that Christ paid the price in full and that we can not bring greater forgiveness through our suffering that ticket has been paid. But I think we can bring things to this that complete the message of suffering with Christ by living like people that understand what it means to suffer for a purpose greater than ourselves. Our issues, no matter what they are, attack us and try to make us selfish suffering for purpose. Or True Brokenness allows us to start to see things in this new light. Christ says,”Blessed are those who are persecuted for my name sake,” and “count it as joy for they shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.” Suffering for purpose, or True Brokenness, allows us to start to see things in this new light. I have met a lot of people in the Christian recovery community that can suffer for purpose. I have not met many that have been raised to believe in suffering without purpose.
Illuminated: Yes, I think it does. In my recovery sometimes the only thing that keeps me going is knowing that as much pain as I am in, that Jesus was in even more pain and yet He endured it for my own salvation. Thanks!
bj:I know from talking with some here at CIR, that God seems to have placed them in churches that don’t really understand recovery. Especially new believers, they feel alone. What hope could you share with them?
glen-author: I think that we need to assure them that there is deep hurt in the center of all churches and that we need to stay focused on learning how to live in strength and listen to Christ so that He can be our strength. I know what you mean. This is a hard place to be as a new follower, or someone new in recovery. I think we need to also redefine what a church is. This forum is a church – two or more gathered in the name of Christ to know him, to understand. What He wants us to do to understand, what He wants us to do. Where we do it is of little consequence as long as we stayed focused on Christ.
I have seen 7 believers in recovery take the light to a street with more power than a church of 1000. Let us encourage one another to listen to Gods voice and be where He leads us. It may be to a place that is hard where church people need to understand something about Christ that they have not yet been lead to. When we are called into those positions we have to keep pointing at Christ.
erc: Just wanted to say thanks to Holy Spirit and Glen. Some times the church forgets. Jesus walked with, cared for and ate with the broken. It is important, as we recover, we need that humility,and remember it is He who works through us.
Laurie: Glen–i was just wondering if you have any ideas about how to better reach those folks who are sitting on the back pews in the churches who are looking for freedom from addiction, co-dependency, etc. Should your message be coming from the pulpit?
glen-author: We really believe that we need to reach pastors and church leaders. We believe that over 50% of church leaders are struggling with addiction issues themselves. When we can reach church leaders with the personal experience of recovery and the power of God to change lives. They work tirelessly to carry the message to the community in other areas of the church. I think we need to challenge (in love) the leaders of our churches with a knowledge of the mission of Christ.
We can help you and church leaders with that at Salt River. We are doing pastoral support initiatives so that we can bring peace to places where there is a war going between those in recovery. That they see this mission so clearly as Christ’s, and those in the church that are afraid to recognize the elephant in the room. We can help on this front and would be proud to step up to support anyone in CIR who is trying to make a dent in a local church.
Obie-host: Thank you Glen for a wonderful and informative talk! We truly appreciate you taking the time to come and speak with Christians in Recovery®. Our time together is coming to a close.
“The Power of Brokenness: The Language of Recovery”.