When The Bayou Church Celebrate Recovery Leaders got together to take this group photo at the Celebrate Recovery (CR) Summit 2021 in Dallas, Texas, I saw the placard that had the words, I FOUND FREEDOM, and I knew that one was for me. This CR Summit was a 3-day Summit of healing and, yes, freedom, and here are my “free” reflections on these 3 days of I FOUND FREEDOM:
We loaded up the van at The Bayou Church parking lot on July 20, and there were 12 of us with Pastor Linton Broussard driving us to Dallas, Texas. I had my tablet and my books and, of course, my Bible. We made a stop at Bucc-ee’s somewhere in Texas, which I had never been to, and it was like a “convenience store Wal-Mart.” It was so huge that Pastor Linton gave us 30 minutes to walk around and buy whatever “Bucc-ee’d” our interest. We eventually made it to La Quinta Inn & Suites in Duncanville, Texas, in the late afternoon and got some much-needed rest (Pastor Linton probably more than any of us😉).
The next day, July 21, I woke up at around 5:30 am. I usually get up around 7 am at home when my cat, Conrad, hits me across the head and face to get up. We were supposed to be to the CR Summit at Potter’s House by 7:30 am, so I guess I knew I didn’t have much time to write my usual God Sonnet every morning like I usually do and have it done by 7 am. I decided on that day that I would write God “Celebrate Recovery Summit” Sonnets for the 3 days of the CR Summit. I invite you to read these on this blog website. You can easily find them because they all have “Celebrate” in the title. We got to the Summit and, boy, was there ever a lot of people needing healing and, yes, freedom. We did praise and worship all day long and heard great talks from great speakers about the great need to celebrate healing and, yes, freedom. That first day, when it was around 7pm and the CR Summit was coming to a close, the speaker gave us the most excellent advice: Go to your hotel or wherever you are residing, go eat something, and then GO TO BED! I took this advice to heart and was crashed out before 9:30pm. I think the entire group of us was “crashed tired” from so much healing and, yes, so much freedom.
The next day, July 22, another God “Celebrate Recovery Summit” Sonnet at the usual time, and then on our way to the CR Summit. And it was another day of great talks from great speakers. On this particular day, there was a talk that really lit a fire under me. It was such a hot fire that I had to jump up from my seat, head to the front of the auditorium of Potter’s House, drop to my knees, and weep and pray and pray and weep. To be honest, I don’t even remember what I was weeping and praying and praying and weeping about, but I knew the Holy Spirit had convicted me on something that needed healing and, yes freedom. I was absolutely unashamed to go up front like that and drop to my knees and weep and pray and pray and weep. This is often how Jesus Christ through Holy Spirit Conviction reaches all of us. It’s when we are falling apart that we make our way to the front of the auditorium (the foot of The Cross) and get the healing and, yes, freedom we need that ONLY Jesus can give. I was not alone in this venture up to the front. This is another thing that happens with Holy Spirit Conviction, i.e., we make your way to the front of the auditorium (the foot of The Cross) to find that there are many others who have made their way there to weep and pray and pray and weep with us. One thing they spoke about a lot at the CR Summit is you just CANNOT do recovery alone!
The final day of the Summit, July 23, the God “Celebrate Recovery Summit” Sonnet at the usual time, and then it became a real doozy of a day. It all culminated when there were 4 Crosses at the front of the auditorium that we were to nail a hand-written card of what needed to be nailed (and released and not taken back) to The Cross of Jesus. This felt like a very monumental occasion for me, although I have done it before at The Bayou Church some time back. I think it felt monumental this time because I was not at the same place I was when I nailed what I nailed before. Freedom is an ongoing process when we choose to follow Jesus, as just when we think we have nailed something to The Cross of Jesus to release and not take back, we gotta go back with a nail and hammer to The Cross of Jesus with newly-revealed and newly-needed freedom. This is why I spent much time in prayer and introspection and divine revelation before I wrote what I needed to write on that card. And, once again, I am absolutely unashamed to write out for you exactly what I wrote on that card. It is all capitalized with numerous exclamation points (probably more or less than listed below) because it appeared exactly like this on that card:
NO FEAR! ONLY JESUS AND ONLY GOD’S LOVE!
NO CODEPENDENCY! ONLY JESUS AND ONLY GOD’S LOVE!
NO PERFECTIONISM! ONLY JESUS AND ONLY GOD’S LOVE!
NO MORE HURTING TIMOTHY!!!!
NO MORE HATING TIMOTHY!!!!
ONLY LOVING TIMOTHY!!!!
ONLY FORGIVING TIMOTHY!!!!
SO TIMOTHY CAN LOVE AND FORGIVE OTHERS!!!!
I stood in a very long line to make my way, yet again, to the front of the auditorium, and then I nailed this card with what was written above to The Cross of Jesus. I was actually quite alright when I returned to my seat. It didn’t necessarily feel hot as it did before. In fact, I didn’t necessarily feel sad or even that I had freedom from what I nailed to The Cross of Jesus. But then it hit me like a thunderbolt. I looked up and saw all those cards on Those Crosses of Jesus, and there were hundreds, and then I saw those who like me before were on their knees, weeping and praying and praying and weeping by Those Crosses of Jesus. And then the tears came and would not stop. It was BOTH-fold: One, because of the pain and torture and suffering that Jesus endured on His Cross for all of us and Two (BOTH), I could feel the entirety of the pain and torture and suffering that others were enduring at that moment. Those out in front, I do not know if they were kneeling, weeping and praying and praying and weeping, because they found freedom after they nailed what they nailed to The Cross of Jesus OR they did NOT find freedom because they were not sure if they were going to take back what they nailed to The Cross of Jesus. I wondered the very same things about what I nailed. I am praying right now that all those who nailed what they nailed to The Cross of Jesus, including myself, will NOT take back what we released at the CR Summit.
And if not all of that was enough healing and, yes, freedom, the REAL doozy came on the very first day of the CR Summit when I went to a breakout session. Before attending and when I was registering for the CR Summit, I noticed there was a breakout session for something called “CR Inside,” which is a CR Prison Ministry (Fellowship). Having spent time in my jail myself, mind you not nearly as long as some do, I’ve always had an interest in doing something like prison ministry. When I sat in that breakout session and heard the absolutely despairing statistics of those currently in prisons and all the family and children seriously affected by those currently in prisons, something stirred up heavy in my heart and soul. And then Father God dropped a huge bombshell ON and IN (BOTH) my heart and soul. What I heard was this: “Timothy, I want you to work on this prison ministry for Me, and I want you to work on this prison ministry to bridge the gap that there is no difference between a human prisoner and a nonhuman animal prisoner in My Eyes.” Being a nonhuman animal welfare advocate for Father God as I am, I was not at all surprised at hearing this. But then fear got a hold of me, and I said something like, “But Father God, they’re not gonna let me bridge this gap for You. They won’t see what You see with there being no difference between a human prisoner and a nonhuman animal prisoner.” I think what Father God had to say about that was, “Of course they won’t! Why do you think I created YOU!!!!” What also came alive for me with this is the Bible verse that I actually included in the God Sonnet from today: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1). This IS the cornerstone verse for God’s Prison Ministry He has called me forward in that I’ve entitled, CELEBRATE COMPASSION, as part of my personal (really, God) ministry with Creation Care Church (CCC). We’re talking about a major breakthrough here, friends, in a major breakout way!
Thank you, The Bayou Church Leaders, who were with me on this trip to the CR Summit. I know things are really rough right now with what has occurred post-Summit, but God WILL get us through this for our healing and, yes, freedom, and for His Glory! And if you are reading this, thank YOU for all your encouragement and support of me over so much time in so many ways. I count myself very lucky to have met loving and caring people who do encourage and support me, and I only pray that I can encourage and support these same loving and caring people right back. That is something nailed to The Cross of Jesus that I have no intention of taking back. Why? Because I FOUND FREEDOM.
P.S. (POST-SUMMIT): As a lovely side note, one of the speakers at the CR Summit talked about the 7 C’s (types of people he named starting with “C”) that we have in our lives, and one of those C’s was what the speaker called “Comrades.” These are the types of people who are in our corner. When he said that word, I immediately thought of one “person,” my cat Conrad, who is in my corner, and how Conrad rhymed with “Comrade.” Now at home, whenever I see Conrad, I say, “Hello, Comrade Conrad!” 😹