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Free The Hostages

Tom Head ShotIt has been said that addicts don’t build relationships, they take hostages.  I dare say that that can be said for many more than just addicts.  Because hostage taking in relationships happens every time I enter a relationship to get and not give.  Every time a relationship is driven by a need to fill what is lacking in my life, we allow our personal insecurities, fears, and doubts to suck others dry and call that a relationship.  We are, in reality, taking hostages.

My experience and observation is that we think of relationships as either a random or calculated collision of two individuals at a life intersection.  We join internet sites to create a life collision as we wait impatiently at the dating intersection.  We hover around locations with the hopes of intersecting with my future life partner.  Those locations may be bars, churches, singles groups, social clubs or any other potential collision point.

The problem I have seen is that the focus is on meeting and capturing an individual instead of on a life purpose.  My goal becomes about meeting someone instead of becoming someone.  On finding a match rather than being matched.

I want to recommend another traveling metaphor for relationships, instead of a collision at an intersection, how “about merging on to the interstate”?

Relationships can be built as we all pursue a common goal and life focus.  More specifically a relationship with Christ and service to Him.  As we pursue this life purpose, we find ourselves merging with fellow travelers who share a common focus.  We begin to interact with many of them and over time find ourselves connecting with one specifically that shares our passion, pace, and interests.  Then, eventually we choose to merge our lives with them as we continue our common focus and journey.

I first saw this picture with a couple who were involved in campus ministry with me.  They were together reaching out on the college campus, ministering to students, and they eventually began noticing each other and developed an interest.  They gradually began merging their lives together and ultimately got married as they continued to minister on the college campus together.

This is my picture of a merging relationship and not one on a collision course.  I believe this is a much healthier and holistic approach.

May God bless us all in merging our lives together and free the hostages.

Tom Reynolds

Tom Reynolds hails from the Pacific Northwest, and spent 25 years in full time ministry in California, Colorado, New Jersey, and Alabama. Today, Tom is the Executive Director of His Way. 

Celebrating Success (The Jeff Johnson Story)

As we celebrate 10 years of Christ-centered recovery ministry, I would like to reflect on success.

Jeff Johnson & Tom

When this ministry began, and known national recovery rates were less than 10%, we became very careful about how we defined success. As Christians, whose mission is primarily to sow the gospel, we defined success as “sowing the seeds of recovery (the gospel) in every man’s life.” This way, we did not tie our success with anyone else’s behavior or performance, but instead simply to our actions and attitudes.

Over this 10-year period, we have seen 207 men graduate into a life of recovery. Over this period, we have averaged 45% of residents who enter this program graduating (this number was actually 71% over 2016). Of our graduates, we evaluate known sobriety quarterly, and consistently find about 60% of our graduates report being clean and sober.

But numbers don’t tell the story like lives do.

 Jeff entered our program on April 14, 2016. He had resisted coming for some time, but his drinking became so out of hand, he eventually became desperate enough to come. At 36 years old and having grown up in the church, he had over time turned off his faith. His contradictory lifestyle had caused him to lose faith and hope. He came to His Way broken, yet open to something different.

During his time at His Way, his faith began to grow. Particularly during our morning devotionals, as he began to see both consistent and miraculous answers to prayer in the lives of our residents. He even began to experience some of these answers himself. He would eventually testify to the house that his faith had grown due to the “remarkable answers to prayer”.

As I counseled with Jeff, I began to see his faith grow through obedience. I Peter 1:22 states,

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” He would come to me with life challenges, and we would prayerfully discuss his options, come to discover a Christ-focused response, and he would immediately and decisively act upon it. Then, Jeff would come gleaming back into the house to testify about how God had resolved this situation beyond what he could have hoped or imagined.

As his faith grew, so did his love for his brothers in the house. He would counsel them, encourage them, serve them, and bless them in any way he possibly could. He loved the brothers and the brothers, to a man, loved him.

Jeff graduated His Way on October 13, 2016 to a packed pavilion of supporters. He exclaimed that, “He was the closest to God he had ever been!” During his six-month recovery program, Jeff experienced tremendous victories in finding a job that he loved, reconciling with his family, enjoying weekly lunches with his Dad, getting plugged in to his home church, and even seeing his beloved Cubs win the World Series after a 108 year drought!

Yet tragically, Jeff passed away two and a half months later from physical complications due to a lifestyle of alcoholism. But he died having reconciled his life with those he loved and most significantly with the Lord.

The Apostle Paul declares in I Corinthians 15:54-56,“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

At 37 years old, Jeff has overcome the world through Christ with all its turmoil and struggle. “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

Today, Jeff stands in the face to face presence of the Lord in the heavenly realms celebrating with His holy angels. His faith has become sight and he has fully realized the victory that comes by faith. As John writes, “And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith!” (I John 5:4)

And this is the victory of Christ-centered recovery!

Tom Reynolds

Tom Head ShotTom Reynolds hails from the Pacific Northwest, and spent 25 years in full time ministry in California, Colorado, New Jersey, and Alabama. Today, Tom is the Executive Director of His Way. 

Click the link below for more information on the Jeff Johnson memorial fund. Donations to this fund will support His Way’s expansion plans to allow more men to enter our program.

Being Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

David WilbournMy whole life I’ve used anything I could to cope with the feeling of being uncomfortable. I hated the feeling of being uncomfortable. I’ve had multiple ways to escape the feeling in the past. Being around a lot of people I don’t know, dive head first into my iPhone and get lost in social media. The thought of letting someone in too close, hit them with that Heisman stiff arm. Catching myself in a situation where I’m supposed to act professional, become a jester. And sometimes I would do it without even thinking. Shutting down emotionally, jumping into my favorite Apple Music playlist, coming across as super arrogant (Kanye West didn’t have anything on me), isolating from the rest of the world, making excuses why I can’t come through on a commitment I’ve made to someone, and my number one go to for many years, Oxycontin and heroin. Not only do opiates kill physical pain, but they also eliminate emotional and mental pain.

One thing I heard early on in my road to recovery was you have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Yea, no thanks, I’m good on that. I mean, what does that even mean? I didn’t have a clue at the time, but I think those words stuck with me because it sounded like such a paradox. Then things started to happen around me. A buddy from church, Carlos, invited me to a cookout at his house. There were about fifteen other peers from the church there, all of us engaging with stuffing our faces with burgers and side dishes. Eventually everyone there made it to the living room, and Carlos realizing I was the newb to the group said, “David, why don’t you share your story, your testimony, with everyone”.

Wow, nothing goes better in regards to a first impression than sharing with a group of sold out Jesus followers that you had just ended a long, serious relationship with heroin.

My mind was paralyzed by the feeling of being uncomfortable. It was deeper than that though. What was at the the root of that was fear? Fear of judgement, fear of rejection, low self-esteem, low self-worth. All of those things were what created that feeling of being uncomfortable. And it left me in the same place that I had been for so long, paralyzed while life passed me by. I got to a place in my recovery where I was tired of letting fear of judgement, and rejection keep me in a place of idleness. I wanted to, and was ready to break free from that mental slavery. And the thing about the prison that I put myself in inside of my head was the prison door inside my mind was not locked. I had the choice to walk out and leave that place. Freedom was on the other side. I just had to kick the door in. Kick the door, ya dig?

So I made a choice, a choice to embrace the uncomfortable feeling, to take it head on. To not go to anything to cope with the feeling, but to wear it. To let it pulse through my veins, and dance throughout my mind. And in doing so a new boldness came over me. I realized that I could take on the feeling without fear. That it’s okay to feel uncomfortable. Because you come out the other side a little braver. A little more confident. And each time the feeling of being uncomfortable came over me I was able to walk through it a little easier. Slowly the fear disappeared. That root that was so deeply running throughout my heart and mind was being uprooted, until it was no longer there. What I learned was that taking on those feelings head on is what made me grow the most. That in that doubt, in that fear, in those moments, I grew even more. That’s life.

David Wilbourn

David is a graduate of His Way, and a current staff member. To read more from David, visit his personal blog:

Facing Addiction in America

The United States Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, unveiled his office’s long-awaited report, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, last week. The report finds alcohol and drug misuse and severe substance use disorders, commonly called addiction, to be one of America’s most pressing public health concerns. Nearly 21 million Americans – more than the number of people who have all cancers combined – suffer from substance use disorders. “Alcohol and drug addiction take an enormous toll on individuals, families, and communities,” said Dr. Murthy. “Most Americans know someone who has been touched by an alcohol or a drug use disorder. Yet 90 percent of people with a substance use disorder are not getting treatment. That has to change.

This report provides an in-depth look at the science of substance use disorders and addiction, calls for a cultural shift in the way Americans talk about the issue, and recommends actions we can take to prevent and treat these conditions, and promote recovery.

Cynthia Moreno Tuohy, Executive Director of NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, adds “This is a watershed moment. The U.S. Surgeon General’s report validates everything experts have been saying for years and adds an influential voice to the public discourse about the overwhelming substance use disorder crisis in America. This is the number one public health issue and we need to pay attention. We have the opportunity to transform lives and strengthen communities by addressing our country’s addiction crisis,” said Dr. Murthy. “There could not be a more important time for us to act.

For the full report and executive summary, visit


“Lessons From Drug Court”

drug-court-pictureI escorted one of our residents to “Drug Court” this morning and witnessed something awe-inspiring. It’s a program to screen, educate, rehabilitate, & monitor convicted defendants in lieu of criminal prosecution.

After the first case on the docket was reviewed and the man was confirmed to be following the plan, the Judge clapped (with gusto!) and said “Well done!” Naturally, the rest of the courtroom joined in the celebration. This continued for each individual, and it was clear the Judge truly was honoring their progress.

What a great reminder that each individual is created in the image of the Almighty and is worthy of our respect. And furthermore, when we find ourselves in a seat of judgment over others, find a way to improve their situation instead of dismissing them as a lost cause.

Stuart Whiting

A Father’s Day Gift

We are thrilled and grateful that a local church decided to honor the fathers in their congregation by making a generous donation to His Way this past Sunday. But, more than the financial support was the spiritual vision and partnership expressed in this Father’s Day gift.

Twickenham Church Bulletin

Twickenham Church Bulletin – 6/19/2016

As we share the love of our Heavenly Father with the men at His Way, two very painful realities become evident.

First, many of our men have never known the love and leadership of a father in their lives. The wound left by that vacancy has contributed to the pain that led many of them into self-medicating efforts in substance abuse. Our goal is to help these men discover the healing that is available through our Heavenly Father’s love expressed through His Son, Jesus Christ. And if possible, that they may use this experience to heal the wound between them and their earthly fathers.

Secondly, these men are or will one day be fathers. The possibility that they will be good ones and not pass on the generational curse of their fathering experience is unlikely without their transformation by our Heavenly Father. Allowing the gospel to break this generational curse so that they are truly healed and therefore will not pass on the wound to their children is our hope and dream.

Support like what we received this past Sunday morning is helping that vision become a reality. We pray that the concluding Old Testament vision expressed in Malachi 4:6 will become a reality, “And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers.

Thank you for joining us in this effort.

Tom Reynolds

Spectator Sport?

Church Stay at HomeRecently, I missed our Sunday morning assembly due to being sick.  I cannot remember the last time I missed an assembly due to illness.  While I was not feeling well, I still did my personal study during the congregational bible study time and then tried to decide what I would do next.

I turned on the television and began channel surfing through various religious programs.  I settled on a few for five or so minutes until I remembered that my own church live streams their service online.  So I logged in and began to watch.  As the service concluded, I realized that I could not spiritually survive on a regular dose of online or TV church.  To me that would be like trying to satisfy my hunger by watching the Cooking Channel.

That Sunday experience reminded me that Christianity is a participant and not a spectator sport.  Biblically, the only people in the stands watching Christianity are those not of the faith.  We are to live in such a way before an unbelieving world that as they watch, they are convinced.  But Christians are never called to spectate their faith only participate in it.

That being said, maybe our conversations after an assembly should have little to do with the performance of the assembly or class (like, how the music was or how the preacher did), but instead we should discuss how my singing was and what I heard in the message, learned, and will begin to apply this week.

Let us all get out of the stands and begin living our faith and not just try to watch and critique other’s religious performance.

Tom Reynolds

Symptom Suppressants

Tom Head ShotI heard this the other day, “Do you know the difference between a doctor and God?  God doesn’t think He is a doctor.”

I know that I am not a doctor either, but I do have observations of health that have shaped my personal practice.  One is that I avoid symptom suppressants.  Because our society is so pleasure obsessed and therefore pain adverse, there are a lot of over the counter medicines simply promising the reduction of negative symptoms due to illness.  While coughing, sneezing, vomiting, and runny noses are terribly uncomfortable and can hinder one’s life, they are the vehicles God designed in our bodies to get rid of negative influences.  My observation is that to limit that process only causes one to suffer longer with the illness as well as risk secondary infections due to the germ remaining in the body longer than God designed.

Therefore I try to avoid all symptom reducing medicines believing that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God, and that His process, while painful at the time, will yield His intended result.

I believe that this principle holds in the spiritual and psychological realm also.  Suppressing negative emotions such as grief, guilt, and anger will yield longer term emotional illnesses and potentially secondary afflictions such as depression and resentment.  Again, because we are in a pain adverse culture, we are quickly prescribed medications that reduce our symptoms and therefore cause us not to address the core issues of guilt or shame or grief and so on.

The beauty of God’s design is that instead of turning to modern medicine for symptom reducing medications, God has a plan to resolve these issues.  God suggests that if we have an interpersonal conflict with someone we should go to them and work it out immediately (Matthew 5:23, 24; Matthew 18:15-20).  God also gives us an avenue to resolve internal struggles.  I John says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1:9).  So confession to God is His answer, not medications to suppress your guilt.  He also states in James 5:16, “ Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed,  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  There is great, divine healing in confession to each other.

God has also established a regular opportunity for His people to evaluate themselves in the Lord’s Supper.  In I Corinthians 11:28-30, “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat the bread and drink of the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.  That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”  The spiritual and physical maladies that are caused by unconfessed sins are enormous.

So let us not chase symptom reducing practices of denial, blame, and excuse making, but instead confession that we too may be healed!

Tom Reynolds