A common question I’m asked in regards to our treatment program at Renaissance Ranch is, “What does it mean to be gospel centered.” A loaded question indeed…Depending on who you speak with at Renaissance the answer will vary, at times drastically. But, the common themes within the answers define us as a program. On the surface those without direct involvement with Renaissance form opinions about what they think we do, and who they think we are as a treatment provider. Most of the time those we work with in the treatment field are surprised to find our program is actually quite different than the common misconceptions. To me, being gospel centered means we strive to live by teachings within the gospels i.e.(sermon on the mount), the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous or other alike fellowships, and any and all other spiritual practices that align as such. This means we support all avenues of religion and spirituality as they have similar core principles. Humility, faith, self-awareness, more humility, change, amends, self-evaluation, love, forgiveness, honesty, prayer and meditation, and service. These are values that can be tied to the Gospels, the “good news”, the 12 Steps, Christians, Latter Day Saints, Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholism, etc. The spiritual path a man begins in recovery is sacred. We trust God. We don’t apologize for our reliance on God to remain sober. The foundation built in spirit while relying on God is necessary and vital in our opinion. The path one takes to get there can vary, and is an open box. We support that. We believe in that. Our program is inclusive.
I’ve included below other opinions from members of our staff on the subject:
“Obvious for me is my namesake Alma the younger along with the sons of Mosiah. They were self described as the vilest of sinners and Gods Love and mercy applied to them and likewise all of us. If I think my sins aren’t covered by the atonement and there is no hope for me, their examples encourage me to think again. Recovery is Real and available to all – even the vilest of sinners. Proof once again that God is nuts about me😊.” Alema H-
“Of course Alma the Younger comes to mind, as well as Paul. These are two powerful examples of how someone who is responsible for actively and intentionally leading others away from God (including themselves) and being, as Alema quoted, the “vilest of sinners”, can have a second chance, and a complete change of heart. Recovery is about changing hearts. This is as real a miracle as raising someone from the dead, and in some ways more miraculous because that person’s agency is involved, and totally redirected. To be gospel-centered, to me, means leading those suffering from addiction and mental illness to a safe place in which their Father in Heaven can reveal himself to them and heal them. It is to deconstruct shame-based and perfectionistic belief systems, where the individual feels unworthy to approach God, or even feel of His love; and assist that person in reconstructing a faith that works, and that actually heals their mind, body and heart. Being gospel-centered is teaching the “atonement through the backdoor”, which is the 12-step program. I believe that the AA program, both the fellowship of the spirit as revealed to Bill W. and Dr. Bob, and the fellowship of the individuals participating is exactly what the gospel is all about; that is to be “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times”. Dave C.
“Coming into Renaissance nearly 9 years ago, I had no idea what to expect, especially when it was advertised as a “Gospel Centered program.” For me, that word had only been associated with guilt and shame in my vocabulary. I came to find out the clinical program addressed my “mormon shame” head on by cutting through the lies and shame i had found myself in. Even though I had been raised in the LDS faith, and had many spiritual experiences and thought I knew a thing or two, I came to understand that my conception of God, spirituality, and the “Gospel” was beyond way off. I was given a new perspective through many in depth process groups, evaluating mine and others broken belief systems and we were able to piece truth together as a brotherhood. I became acutely aware of how my addiction was caused and given tools I never had, that in a very real way, changed the game with how to deal with it. Together, with my brothers in the program, we were able to stick together as we practiced living this new way of life until it was not practice any longer, it had BECOME a new way of life, a wonderfully better way of living. A life where my character wasn’t riddled with ego, price, fear and resentment; but with peace, love, acceptance and humility. I had found what I was always looking for in drugs and alcohol. I had become okay with who I was and eager to let others know that there was a way out of the darkness. I learned that my darkest hours could be used as someones guiding light. I found purpose and meaning in my suffering, I found out what the Gospel was always about in the first place.
Working with the ranch today and being brought up through the local recovery community and after receiving a degree in psychology and obtaining a counseling license, I have found and believe that true and lasting recovery is obtained through spiritual healing-in conjunction with evidence based, clinical practices. We have found key elements and a specific brand of spirituality unique to the addict who suffers as well as their families. Gospel centered, to me, means love centered. We don’t shake hands at the Ranch, we hug. We don’t exclude anyone for any reason, we include. We love others until they can love themselves. we fight for others when they have given up on themselves, because we see them for not as they are, but for who they can become.” Tyson D.
“I was raised by goodly parents who did the best they could to teach me correct principles. My mother was the relief society president and my dad was in the bishopric, stake presidency or a mission president in our church much of my life. I am a returned missionary and married my wife (Kelle) in the Salt Lake City LDS temple…..And I am a recovering drug addict and alcoholic.
One of the greatest gifts the “Ranch” has given me was to help me understand the difference between religion and spirituality. For much of my life I believed these were the same thing. Many times my family and friends would tell me to just “read my scriptures, pray more and go to church”. I would often do those things and still couldn’t stop drugging and drinking. It was just one more thing i failed at.
The Ranch helped me understand there is a difference between religion and spirituality. In fact, one therapist once told me: “Christian, the kind of spirituality you will need to find long term recovery, WON’T be found in a church building”. This was something I had never considered. It intrigued me. I responded: “you mean I don’t have to go to church to be spiritual”????? This opened the door for me to revisit this “GOD” thing. Today, I attend church, but I don’t go there to find my spirituality. I go there to support it. I find my spirituality when I spend time with my grandchildren, children, wife, friends and extended family. I find it in the quiet hours of the morning. I find it in the mountains, fishing, hiking or hunting. Sometimes I’ll leave church and report to my wife….”I’ve got to go to a 12 step meeting….These church people are crazy”.
It has been said; “Church is for those people who are afraid of going to hell. But, spirituality is for those of us who have already been to hell. Renaissance Ranch has helped me see how important spirituality is in my recovery. Today, I continue to maintain a life free of all mood and mind altering substances…and I love it. I have learned that the God of my understanding just loves me. Not because of anything I do or don’t do. He like many fathers, just love their children. Today, I don’t need to be perfect, in fact, perfection will never be attained in this life. I just need and want to be making progress.
I thank God for the principles I have learned at Renaissance Ranch. Surely, the “GOSPEL” is good!!!” Christian S.
“The definition of gospel is “teachings or revelations of Christ”
To me what Jesus represents is love, truth and connection. If I can have that, the result is happiness, joy, freedom. He also represents to me as being one with god.
When someone walks through the doors I would hope they feel love, hear the truth and build connections that last for a lifetime. Providing an attractive environment and culture, hopefully they are able to find a higher power that works for them and they can also be one with god.
And that’s my thoughts.” Jimmy J.