Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday 2017

It's Good Friday again. It's the day we remember the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Suffering for our sins. Suffering in our place. Isaiah prophesied 700 years before Christ was born:
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  Isaiah 53:4-6
and 1000 years (yes, one thousand!) before Jesus was crucified, King David of Israel wrote:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? Ps 22:1

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the Lord,” they say,  “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” Ps 22:6-8
Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me;  they pierce[e] my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. Ps 22:16-18
Jesus' first words He spoke hanging from the cross:
"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" Matthew 15:34
The crowd at the foot of the cross, and one of the criminals crucified next to Him, ridiculed Him:
"He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him!" Matthew 27:42

His hands and feet were pierced with nails, his head with a crown of thorns. His bones out of joint, and the soldiers divided up his clothes and gambled for his robe. 

Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, God Himself in the flesh, tempted in all ways as us, yet without sin, suffered in ways we know - we've been there, and suffered even more so in ways we can barely imagine, 'cuz He suffered to the point of death, dying for us, for me and you, for all peoples.
"Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." John 15:13
It's Good Friday again. Let's think on Him, our Higher Power, our Savior, our Redeemer, our God. And let's open our hearts to allow Him to wash us, to forgive us, to transform us, to lead us out of the muck in which we've gotten ourselves stuck and move forward, as children of God.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Dig This Analogy!

What does it mean that Jesus has taken our sins upon Himself? The prophet Isaiah wrote 700 years before Jesus was even born:
Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
Behold the love of God for us. For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that whoever believes in Him will not perish; but will have eternal life. John 3:16

Friday, July 1, 2016

We've Come this Far...!

July 8th, 2016 Celebrate Recovery Cherokee Village is celebrating our 3 year anniversary! Our first meeting in the Village was on June 28, 2013 at First Baptist Church Cherokee Village. 3 years ago. Wow! 

And here we are, 3 years later, still working, still progressing, together as a group in each of our individual recoveries. We have seen firsthand our friends, our spiritual family members, living in freedom from meth, alcohol, heroin, food addiction, debilitating depression, unhealthy co-dependent behavior, anger, rage, the devastating and lasting effects of illnesses like cancer and the ongoing pain of surviving abuse, tragedy, trauma.

IN...JESUS...CHRIST we find hope, strength, peace, joy, courage, serenity and wisdom to face each day, each morning, each moment, day-by-day, morning-by-morning, moment-by-moment. In recovery, we face each day problems which have not all magically been resolved, hurts which have not all of a sudden suddenly disappeared, or the grief so deep within us. But in Christ, we wake every morning to God's steadfast, stubborn, always-pursuing-us love, His ever and for always never-ending fresh and renewed mercy, in which we find that serenity and courage to persevere through the worst, and when all is said and done, to still stand at the end of the day.

Sometimes we fall. It happens. But God's Word tells us when a righteous person (made righteous by God's love received in us by faith)...when a righteous person falls, they get up again. 7 times. Only 7 times? No. Always. If Jesus told Peter to forgive his neighbor's sins 70 x much more does our Father in heaven, who is perfect, forgive us our sins? Yeah...if you can imagine it...THAT much! 

We walk by faith. Some of us at CR Cherokee Village have been in this program from the beginning - all 3 years! We walk by faith. We walk in fellowship with others who walk by faith. We find comfort and support from others just like us, regardless of our different addictions, compulsive behaviors, hurts, habits, hang-ups...we are comforted by those who have been comforted as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7
May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be blessed! He is the compassionate Father and God of all comfort. He’s the one who comforts us in all our trouble so that we can comfort other people who are in every kind of trouble. We offer the same comfort that we ourselves received from God. That is because we receive so much comfort through Christ in the same way that we share so many of Christ’s sufferings. So if we have trouble, it is to bring you comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, it is to bring you comfort from the experience of endurance while you go through the same sufferings that we also suffer. Our hope for you is certain, because we know that as you are partners in suffering, so also you are partners in comfort.
In Christ alone, we work, we move forward, we grow, we get better! as we continue in the program. I've said before, will say again even when everyone is tired of hearing me say it: Celebrate Recovery works. I give personal witness to that. But it is not magic. It is not some secret, hidden, until only recently magical formula for recovery. It's not. It is a tool. It is a Biblical tool. It is a theologically sound, Christ-centered tool. It works because Jesus is the heart of our rescue, our redemption, our hope and sure foundation. The program works when we embrace by faith JESUS for who He is, even if we're just starting to get to know Him, He accepts us where we're at but loves us to much to just leave us where we're at. 

I am excited about Celebrate Recovery, I again testify that IT WORKS, I have personally seen lives changed through this program but in the end it's all in and through Jesus, who has revealed to us the love of the Father and opens our hearts to receive all the power we need in the Holy Spirit to live one victory at a time (it doesn't all happen overnight), each day, no matter what happened yesterday, waking each morning another chance by God's grace, by God's love for us, by God's unwillingness to give up on us, even when we've given up on Him.

3 years! I pray we go on for another 3 years, another 10 years, another ??? until Jesus Christ Himself returns or we as individuals meet Him above when our time here comes to an end.

In Recovery in Christ,

Gary Zanow
Celebrate Recovery Cherokee Village Ministry Leader
Cherokee Village UMC Recovery Minister

Monday, May 16, 2016

Digging up the #Roots of our #DysfunctionalBehaviors

Step 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 

Principle 4 - Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. “Happy are the pure in heart.” (Matthew 5:8)

In our past 2 lessons we have begun work on the very difficult, but necessary, Step of writing out our personal inventories. This will be no easy task for anybody. It could take weeks, even months to fully work through this Step; but it's necessary because the failed coping mechanisms which have crippled our personal lives, which have damaged our relationships with others, which have trapped us in compulsive and cyclical behaviors, are rooted in past experiences, circumstances and choices. i.e. what's been done to us, what has happened just because it happened and what we ourselves have done to ourselves and others.

This past Friday (May 13, 2016) we became acquainted with part 1 of doing a personal spiritual evaluation. We looked at 4 areas of our character. They were:
  1. our RELATIONSHIPS with others.
  2. PRIORITIES in our life.
  3. our ATTITUDE.
  4. and our INTEGRITY.
We were given a list of questions to help us work through these areas of our lives. Questions like:
  • Who has hurt you?
  • Who have you hurt?
  • Who have you been blaming for your negative behaviors?
  • Where does God, family, friends, others fit into your priorities?
  • What do you complain about?
  • Who or what are you taking for granted? Ungrateful for?
  • What are you lying to others about?
Next lesson (Friday May 27) we will be focusing on another 4 areas of character: your Mind, your Body, your Family and your Church.

We strongly recommend everyone begin this work; with the caveat that you go at a reasonable and healthy pace. Digging up your past means digging up stuff you'd rather keep buried, it means facing hurts you would rather forget, it means admitting things you've done wrong and that you're ashamed of. It hurts and it's scary; but once we come to grips with the "why" of our present hurts, habits and hang-ups, we can begin work dismantling the "what". 

Click this link to download the Chapter 10 spiritual evaluation part 1 worksheet, and as you are able, begin asking yourself and writing down answers to the questions.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

From Glory to Glory, One Day at a Time #FoolsForChrist

This Friday, April Fool's Day 2016, we're watching a video of Rachel Moore, a Celebrator from Springfield, MO. Rachel's testimony this time around isn't about her list of victories; but about her continuing, ongoing struggles and laying each one before the Lord, and her local CR peeps, and allowing Him to do His work which rarely results in an overnight victory but is an ongoing process. There are roots to our hurts, habits and hang-ups, and often, until we dig up those roots, we will continue to wrestle with defective, destructive and sometimes deadly behaviors. 

As always: meet at 6 pm, eat at 6:15, worship and testimony begins at 7 pm followed by our small women's and men's group around 8:15. If you cannot make it to this meeting, check out Rachel's testimony below. I have watched it and it moved, even shook, me. All in a good way. Thank God how He uses other's stories, witness and testimony to move and shake us!

Thank you Miss Rachel for sharing your story with us.

Gary Z
Ministry Leader
Celebrate Recovery Cherokee Village
Cherokee Village, AR - USA

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Questions and Answers

Celebrate Recovery Cherokee Village
Questions and Answers

A: Cherokee Village United Methodist Church
     21 Otter Drive
     Cherokee Village, AR 72529 USA

A: We currently have 3 meetings. 2 are considered "closed" meetings, which means after a certain period of time, the meetings are not open to new members until a new class begins. These are our Men's and Women's Step Study meetings on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Our 3rd meeting, or actually FIRST meeting since everything else has its beginning and end there, meets on Friday nights. Friday night meetings are "open" meetings, which means they are open to anybody to attend, whether to participate, observe or just check us out. Friday meetings are also "open" to mean that anybody can come and go as they strings attached.

Jesus is the Cornerstone of our recovery; but Friday night meetings serve as the cornerstone (small "c") of our program here in Cherokee Village. Fridays we gather at 6 pm and enjoy a free hot and nutritious community meal (usually serving at 6:15). At 7 pm we lead into worship and either a lesson or testimony. Around 8:15 or so we break into small open share groups divided for women and for men. The entire program, then, lasts about 3 hours; but as already stated above, you can come for any single 1 of those 3 modules (dinner, worship/lesson/testimony, small groups), for all 3 or mix n' match 2. No hassle, no questions asked. We're just glad to have you join us!

A: There is no cost to attend, visit or participate in the program. There are some materials which are available for purchase, all very good, excellent and beneficial; but none are required for our Friday open meetings. Some materials which are required for special classes (like Step Studies) are provided at "what you can afford". If you can pay the full price, GREAT! If not, let us know and we will work with you. If you can't pay anything? Again, let us know and we will work with you. 

But there are no hidden costs and we do not collect dues to attend. Dinner is free. No strings attached. We don't even pass a collection plate, although we do have a couple of coffee cans in back for anybody who wants to donate. We rely on the donations of our supporters, some of whom are participants, to keep this ministry always free to those in need. Donations are not required or expected; but they are gladly accepted. No one is going to beg you for money and nobody is going to put you on the spot if you do not / can not or simply for whatever reason will not give. (NOTE: we love for people to give, we really do, but please do not give to CR in place of what you have committed to give to your local church. Give to your congregation, your faith family, first. And then, if you can and you wish to donate to CR so we can keep it free for everybody...then give as you are able.)

A: Yes. We have a number of participants who need one of leaders to sign off on their attendance, and we happily do so! Our Friday night meetings can count for up to 2 meetings if you attend both the worship/lesson portion AND the small group afterwards. Just see one of the leaders and we'll take care of you.

A: About 50% of our participants are not drug addicted or alcoholics. Celebrate Recovery Cherokee Village exists to offer participants a clear path of salvation and discipleship; bringing hope, freedom, sobriety, healing, and the opportunity to give back one day at a time through our one and only true Higher Power, Jesus Christ. That applies to those who struggle with eating disorders, or are in co-dependent relationships, who come from a damaged past, or have damaged themselves in the present, those who mourn and grieve, and those who are slaves to any addictions, be that drugs, painkillers, alcohol, sex, pornography, gambling, or just plain selfishness and self-centeredness. In short: we're here for sinners who want to live today and tomorrow free of whatever hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us.

A: YES, by all means you are invited to attend and support your better half, your child, sibling, nephew, niece, neighbor, co-worker. As long as you being here is not going to hamper their recovery (it rarely does!), we invite you to attend and to participate. You might be pleasantly surprised to find the program is able to minister to your specific hurts, habits and hang-ups and learn how better to help them out without enabling them or allowing yourself to be dragged into their dysfunctional behaviors (that's called co-dependency, and that IS something we certainly can help you with!)

A: Yes. and No. Because of the adult nature of many of our issues (hurts, habits and hang-ups), we restrict certain parts of our meetings to adults 18+ (and btw, we currently run from 18 years old up to 80!) We are praying for and waiting on people who will start up the official CR programs for children (Creation Place) and teens (The Landing). 

A: As of right now, Celebrate Recovery Cherokee Village does not have childcare. Church guidelines (and common sense) require 2 adults, who have passed background checks, at all times with children. Short answer is "yes, you may bring your children; but they need to be under your (the adult's) supervision at all times." And while you can decide if your children are old enough to sit through the large group program, due to the high potential of inappropriate-to-children subject matter, they definitely may not attend the small men's and women's share groups (with the exception of very small children like infants and toddlers, again, only directly under the control of their parent or guardian). And as stated above, we are praying and waiting on some people who feel led to serve as childcare workers or better yet Creation Place teachers/leaders. Know anybody who would lead the kids? Let us know!

A: You don't have to share anything about yourself, if you don't want to. You can just come and listen to others. Listening to others who have had similar experiences, made similar choices for good or bad, who have had things happen to them or done things to other for good or bad, and who, in other words, have been where you have been, is helpful in and of itself (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-7) We always tell our small group participants that they can choose to "pass" for any reason without anyone pressing them for why. IF you want to share, we're here to listen; but not until you're ready to share. Until then, feel free to just soak it in.

A: No. You do not have to be any of the above. Celebrate Recovery Cherokee Village IS and will always be a Christ-centered recovery program, grounded in the Christian scriptures and declaring, trusting in, clinging to and relying on Jesus Christ as our only Higher Power. BUT, anybody is welcome to attend and participate. As we believe Christ accepts us as we are, so we accept you as you are. 

As far as religion, denomination, which local church you attend or don't attend: While Celebrate Recovery is very specifically and will never not be a Christian program, we are not linked to or limited to any specific church congregation, sect or denomination. Celebrate Recovery is an international recovery ministry meeting in all different shapes, sizes and flavors of Christian churches in all 50 States and all around the world. 

Celebrate Recovery Cherokee Village gratefully meets at Cherokee Village United Methodist Church; but you do not need to be a member of the church, or a Methodist, to participate. If you are looking for a local church, ask around the group. We currently have members representing at least 7 different area churches. There is no competition among us for "who's church is the best church". That's not what we're here for. We're here to work with you through your hurts, habits and hang-ups and as part of that we encourage participation in whatever church that will support you in your faith, in your daily life, and in your recovery.

A: Send an email to or and we will both get back to you AND if applicable add your question to this list!