BY CIPRIANO MARTINEZ
At the beginning of this year, out of nowhere (so I thought) came the thought of stepping down as Ministry leader of the Celebrate Recovery at my home church. So the wrestling with God began. Many emotions came out of this decision that was placed at my feet. I have always felt that in ministry work that there will come a season that a person needs to step aside in order for others to lead in the same capacity so that they can grow. For me, the year 2016 is that time to step down. The life we live is determined by many choices that we make; we may feel confused or maybe unsure about decisions we have to make. In past years, there have been times I have worried that I was not in line with God’s will and fearful of making the wrong decisions.
But we shouldn’t be fearful and afraid to make decisions. As long as we reach out to the lost and share the Gospel, this will honor God. I am excited for the year of 2017 and this excitement is building up in a way that is filled with the Holy Spirit. So, my encouragement to you, dear reader, is to fly when you feel you need to fly, run when you feel you need to run, and dream when feel like dreaming. But in all this, share Jesus with everyone along your path and our God will light your way.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. (2 Corinthians 4:6-10)
Cipriano Martinez is the ministry leader of Celebrate Recovery at Highland Baptist Church in Clovis, NM, as well as the CR State Representative of Eastern New Mexico and West Texas. He is blessed to be clean and sober for 9 years and counting. He is happily married and has 5 kids ranging from high school to diapers. He enjoys sharing his life with others, golf, and spending time with his family, and also feels a strong calling to vocational ministry. You can contact him via twitter @ciprianom79.
Cipriano Martinez | @ciprianom79
Many times I just sit and think about how God has changed my life and how grateful I should be. The day I surrendered my life to Christ, I was not a young child or kid listening to a sermon in church but instead, I was at the lowest point I’d ever been in as an adult. That day I remember all too well. I had been incarcerated, going on two weeks, and I was facing many charges. I had burned the majority of my bridges and, as I look back, I remember clearly that there was no hope in sight. One morning, my cell mate asked me if I wanted to go to church. I was hesitant at first but I accepted the offer. The very next morning, I surrendered my life to Christ in an 8’ x 10’ concrete jail cell. If only I could remember my cell mate's name, I would like to thank him for the life changing invitation.
James Daman | @jdaman04
Living in Phoenix causes me to completely forget that other areas don't experience 60-70 degree weather in Winter and early Spring. Winter often feels like Spring in other parts of the country, however in Phoenix, we know Spring is here when we start seeing lots of weeds pop up in our yard. As I work on getting rid of the weeds, I can't help but compare it to the work we do in Celebrate Recovery.
First, our goal is to get rid of the weeds, I don't know many people who are proud of their weeds. When I did a Google search to see if there were any weed contests around the world, I was able to find them, however they were all competitions for a different kind of weed.
In order to achieve our goal of getting rid of the weeds, we must work at it. We can't just pull the top of the weed off, we must get to the root and often we need help. Our lives can be a lot like that. Our inventory is a lot like getting at the root, it takes work, but it's worth it. If we just take care of the surface, it may look nice, but the issue will resurface, much like the weed.
Megan Oaks | @MeganCOaks
For anyone who has read my testimony, or been following closely my life in the blogging world; you’ll know a very special day is approaching in my life. A day that may bring back some pain, but today I am anxiously awaiting its arrival so I can celebrate. In just a few sort weeks, my husband and I will reach the one-year mark from the day he walked out of our home and declared our marriage was over.
Matt Coker | @BackRowOnline
Before joining the leadership at my church’s Celebrate Recovery program, I was a small group leader at a Celebrate Recovery held in a different church in town. I lead a group called “Integrity of the Mind,” a group of men who want to build up their sexual integrity and develop a healthy view of women and get a handle on any sexual habits or addictions.
When I took the group over, the group had four people in it, and it had been that way for the better part of the two years or so that the group has existed. But after I was asked to share my testimony, we quickly rose to having 15 people in the group.
The leaders of that Celebrate Recovery had really been pushing this group, because they felt lead that this was an area that many men in the program found themselves in. And it had taken hold of many people, who were deciding to be real men.
About a month after I gave my testimony that year, a man walked into the group and sat down. As we do with each new person, we asked him to tell us why he feels he needs to join our group. He told us of his womanizing, his objectifying of women, and so on, and that he finally came to a realization that this is hindering his walk with God and his happiness in life.
Then he turned and looked at me and said something I didn't expect.
Matt Coker | @BackRowOnline
I have always had a problem with my weight.
Since I was a little kid, I’ve been overweight. And technically, right now, I’m obese.
I’m making some headway, losing some pounds, I’m going in the right direction, but this is going to be a long road. Even if I do this “better eating/more exercising” thing flawlessly, it’ll still be a a couple years before I get myself down from “obese” to just “overweight”, and who knows how much longer until I’m “fit” (ya know, if ever).
Can I really make it that long?
But, besides the enormity of the challenge, I also have another big problem in that my motivation is low. Why? Because nothing bad has happened yet.
I’ve been overweight all of my life, but I’ve also been in good health. My mother, who has also been overweight my whole life, has always been worried about me. She developed both cancer and diabetes, and while her cancer might not have been a direct result of being overweight, it certainly didn’t help matters (and a lot of medical studies do tend to find that those who are overweight have a higher risk). She doesn’t want me to have to go through any of that and she’s worried I’m only a couple years away.
When I was younger, she would have me tested every year or two, to make sure I was still healthy. My cholesterol, blood sugar, thyroid, kidneys, liver, etc. have always come back not only “fine”, but well below threat levels.
By 2013, I realized that the last time I had been checked out was in 2006. Since then, I had eaten my worst. I weighed my most. I thought for sure that I was in danger of something bad happening soon. I needed a wake-up call, so I went in and had some blood work done. Waiting on the results, I was sure I was going to hear some bad news.
Matt Coker | @BackRowOnline
I wasn’t even there when it happened, but it’s still one of the worst things that I can remember.
The night I was arrested, my wife of 16 months was in the car with her parents when they had to pull over. In a parking lot, in the darkness, my wife was so worried, so heartbroken, and in so much pain that she violently threw up.
Over the next couple years, while waiting on a court date and then spending 6 months in prison, my wife would be the strongest person in my life. She had to be, because I was a wreck.
I’ll never know how arms as small as hers were strong enough to keep a man my size from falling to pieces.
For the first several years of our marriage, I was a mess. Everything was focused around me and my problems, and my wife bottled her issues up, to be strong for me.
But the damage being done inside of her and to our marriage because of me was growing. Time and time again I failed, slipped, relapsed, lied or got caught. Time and time again, I told her that this was “the last time.” I told her that I would be honest with her. And when things went wrong again, I told her everything was fine.
I told her she was the most important person in my life, but I was lying. If that were true, I would have put her needs above my own, but instead, I selfishly focused on myself without a second thought.
My actions forced my wife to sleep alone for 6 months. No one to hold her, to cuddle with her, to talk to her as she drifted to sleep. No, my interactions with my wife were cut down to ten minutes a day on a smelly telephone and a handful of letters.
My wife bottled up her emotions for so long that, for a while, she had a hard time feeling anything. She had to learn how to feel again, learn how to soften again, learn how to stop bottling things up.
Even to this day, our marriage feels the ripples of the stone I dropped in the water when I was 11-years-old. And while there hasn’t been a time when either of us wanted to separate, there have been times when neither of us were happy in our marriage.
We’ve been married nearly 11 years, and every one of them has been hard. There have been times when I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. And while my wife would chastise me for trying to take all the blame, I’m sure that if I had gotten my life straight before marriage, or, at the very least, had the courage to be honest with her, we would be a lot better off now.