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  • Writer's picturesonnyholmes

Hurts, Habits, Hang-ups.

More than ten years ago Dr. Chip Green (PhD, LPC), his wife Rosemarie, and I attended a regional conference of the Celebrate Recovery ministry. We were in the initial stages of considering Celebrate Recovery as a ministry of Northwood Baptist Church. In retrospect it was one of the most significant local mission decisions the leadership of Northwood implemented during my 12+ years as their pastor. Celebrate Recovery has been a profound passion for Chip and Rosemarie for more than ten years. Hundreds of people struggling with various addictions have found spiritual relief and recovery through their leadership, commitment, and faithful service. What a blessing!

Celebrate Recovery " a Christ-centered, 12 step recovery program for anyone struggling with hurt, pain or addiction of any kind. Celebrate Recovery is a safe place to find community and freedom from the issues that are controlling our life". (Click here if you would like to access the Celebrate Recovery web site). During that conference we heard the Celebrate Recovery mission to help people dealing with the hurts, habits, and hang-ups that hinder their walk with God. That phrase, "hurts, habits, an hang-ups" stuck with me. In fact, it became a driving principle for our mission to the local community. Most everyone I know is troubled by a variety of hurts, habits, and hang-ups, me included. Most of them could use the directed ministry Celebrate Recovery provides. Its' true, most people don't view these life realities as personal addictions, and, as a result, won't attend any kind of addiction recovery ministry. They are, however, issues that touch every human life at some point in the journey. Moving beyond them is a valid spiritual goal and discipline.

So, what are they, these hurts, habits, and hang-ups? These definitions were copied from a Celebrate Recovery web site at


The feeling of being hurt is an emotional reaction to another person's behavior or to a disturbing situation, such as abuse, abandonment, codependency, or relational issues.


A habit is an addiction to someone or something, such as alcoholism, drugs, food, gambling, sex, shopping, smoking, and many others.


Hang-ups are negative mental attitudes that are used to cope with people or adversity such as anger, depression, fear, unforgiveness, among others.

Sound familiar? They are the emotional and mental baggage most of us haul around day in and day out. In my opinion these three hindrances keep a majority of us running in circles. By that I mean the high velocity life that doesn't get much done and keeps us side-tracked in our spiritual growth. It is a frustrating dimension of exponential times, running in circles. We snicker at the pictorial depictions---humans wandering in a complicated maze or, like the picture above, endlessly treading the hamster wheel with the many circle gears in the backdrop. Truth is, even though few of us admit to the addictive chains of our hurts, habits, and hang-ups, most of us could learn a lesson or two from Dr. Chip Green and the other professionals at Celebrate Recovery. With that truth in the margins, let us know for certain that our God is about releasing us from the bondage of these mind capturing realities.

Years ago, 1979 to be exact, I entered Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in pursuit of a Master of Divinity degree with Languages. It wasn't something I told many people about but I was still smoking three packs of cigarettes every day. Between classes I would sneak to our house across the street from Mackey Hall for a quick smoke. It was a habit that had claimed me since high school, cheap back then, cigarettes selling for $.25 per pack. One of my professors smelled my horrible cigarette breath one day and questioned me about it. We both knew it would be a stumbling block for me in church ministry. Was it a sin? Who knows? But, it was, indeed, a very bad habit that could blockade my ministry calling. The nicotine had me. I asked him for guidance to break this habit. He took me to Scripture. This one---

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us

run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Hebrews 12:1

He reminded me that the starting place for dealing with the hurts, habits, and hang-ups that keep us running in circles is addressing the sin that opens the door for such behaviors. My sin at the time was that I had withheld an area of my personal life from Christ's changing power. Yes, as a seminary student I was committed to keeping my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith. But, I had not asked God for the strength and courage to throw off everything that could hinder my personal spiritual growth, namely the sin that had so easily entangled me. And, yes, with the support and encouragement of Harriet, our sweet daughter Liz, and some fervent prayer partners, that habit was soon eliminated.

We all have hurts, habits. and hang-ups that dictate our response to the world around us. Some of them are the natural offspring of sinful thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors that complicate the journey in spite of our genius rationalizations. Owning up to our sinful ways through confession and repentance opens the door to freedom from the hurts, habits, and hang-ups that keep us running in proverbial circles.|&mediapopup=36719692

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