The first step to freedom

Chris Cook

Chris Cook

Director of Care Initiatives

You may have been thinking about that perfect “life token” for a couple of weeks, or it might have been something that you grabbed last minute before going to church this weekend. It’s gone now and has been replaced by a blue chip that may be under the passenger seat or lost in your purse.

(If you missed this weekend or don’t attend Kensington, we just concluded the last week of our Crave series, all about controlling our cravings or appetites. People brought something to the stage that signified an addiction they were giving to God, which was replaced with a token to symbolized the journey to healing and freedom. Watch the message at

The real purpose for this weekend’s exercise may already be a blur, so allow me to share some encouragement and a personal story.

First, congratulations! You’ve done what the vast majority of churchgoing people do not. You had the courage to admit that there’s something you need to give God, and have taken the first step of a very important journey.

Years ago, I took some quiet time at a retreat and sat down to be with God. In my silent prayer, I brought him all of the things of value in my life that I thought could be a blessing to the Kingdom. I had a solid career in the auto industry, a large ministry I was running on a volunteer basis, and was about to lead my first mission trip. With some pride, I felt like my “contributions” were going to grow the Kingdom. God had other ideas and led me to Psalm 51:16-17

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
O God, you will not despise.

I was thunderstruck by those words, penned by King David after his sin with Bathsheba was revealed. David had immeasurably more earthly assets than I would ever have; but God wanted David’s heart, even though it was warped and broken. More than anything of value that I think I have to give, God wants my beaten, ruined heart first.

I never looked at my life with God in the same way again. That day, I prayed with my best friends for God to truly have His way in my life…and He delivered. I count that moment – even more than my baptism years before – as the most pivotal in my life. Were the days that followed always comfortable? Nope. Was it worth it? Oh my, yes.

It’s time we started getting honest. Each of us (me included) carries something that keeps us from the adventure that God calls us to. I’m not talking just about alcohol and drugs. It could be anything from a dysfunctional family to that one person’s opinion that we just can’t seem to live without.

For some, that struggle merely slows us down. For most, it frustrates and imprisons us. But for more than a few, it will take our livelihood, our families, and our very lives. And we cover up and act as though everything is fine.

No matter the degree, I have one question for all of us: If it’s holding us back, what are we doing about it? The solution is more than just promising ourselves to do better. We need a process of transformation that we enter into and stick with. It may take time, but wouldn’t it be worth it?

If in the course of the last four weeks, you have been convicted, triggered, tweaked, irritated or frustrated by anything you have heard in this message series, I have one thing to say to you:

It’s safe to be honest.

Find a friend you trust and have the courage to say, “This is owning me, and I need God’s help.”

That’s where it starts, but then we as a church need to come together and help ourselves – and each other. One of the ways we do that at Kensington is through a program called Celebrate Recovery.

What to expect at Celebrate Recovery :
Every week, hundreds of people come together to worship, honestly share their struggles and encourage each other to take another step in their journey out of any number of hurts, habits, and hang-ups. The victory that you have seen in countless Red Chair Stories is due in large part to the work being done there.

celebrate recovery

In fact, we offer recovery for the whole family. The Landing is designed for middle and high school students, and the Celebration Place is a special “pre-covery” program for elementary school students, which meets at the Troy campus.

We meet at 7 p.m. every Monday at the Troy campus and every Tuesday at the Orion campus. No matter your age, all you have to do is walk in and say “I’m new” and the team will take it from there. We start with worship, celebrate milestones and then hear a lesson or a testimony. We pray together, and then you’ll be part of a newcomer orientation that will help us to help you.

Confidentiality is our number one value. You may see some familiar faces when you go, but rest assured that all have committed to that value and what is said there, stays there.

And for those who keep coming – even when it gets hard – the life change can be truly miraculous. Not only am I a fan of CR, but I have integrated its teachings into my life (just picked up my three-year chip!) and have the good fortune of having a front row seat to the transformations that can come from it.

In the last 13 years since CR’s launch at Kensington, I have seen broken marriages reconciled, moms get back custody of their kids, and adults walk free from the imprisoning lies of their past. The possibilities are truly endless for those who trust the process.

But it starts with picking up that blue chip and stepping into it.

Well done. Now take another step.

-Chris Cook, Care Director

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