Restore: Break Out of Your Past and Into God's Future

Restore: Break Out of Your Past and Into God's Future

by Vince Antonucci


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Restore: Break Out of Your Past and Into God's Future by Vince Antonucci

What should we do when we feel stuck in life?
You know how it feels. There’s a hurt in your past that is hard to get beyond. There’s a bad habit that’s difficult to break. There’s a setback that is just too tough to overcome.

We all have our own unique situations in which we feel “stuck.” Americans’ favorite suggestions for how to fix our lives—self-help programs, self-esteem techniques, or simple willpower—leave many of us ceaselessly spinning our wheels and feeling just as “stuck” as ever. Vince Antonucci knows what this feels like, and he knows many who have struggled to fix their lives with these dead-end methods. He struggled to get past the pain of a neglectful and angry father. It wasn’t until Vince decided to go through a recovery and rehab course, focused on God, that he learned ways to break free of that hurt and to live in God’s future.

Today, when someone walks through the doors of Vince’s innovative church, located just off the Las Vegas Strip, he offers a Restore class as one of three core classes that every member takes. He knows how important it is to learn to break free of these old hurts and bad habits. The essence of that popular class is contained in this book.

Move past your past, heal your hurts, and break your bad habits.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496415776
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 01/09/2018
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 792,455
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Vince Antonucci pastors Verve, an innovative church that seeks to reach people who work on and live around the Las Vegas Strip. The television series God for the Rest of Us chronicles Vince's work there. In addition to being an author, Vince leads mission trips around the world, speaks nationwide, and performs stand-up comedy in Las Vegas. Most of all, he loves spending time with his wife, Jennifer, and their two kids.

Read an Excerpt




I was a first-time father. That's my justification for the pee-soaked carpet, my pee-soaked clothes, my pee-soaked hair. Even for the poop on the ceiling. My wife was out and had left me to care for our baby. Dawson was a couple of months old, and I figured, How hard can this be? I told myself, Men have been taking care of babies when their wives are out for centuries. In fact, men much more irresponsible than somewhat-responsible me have been taking care of babies for centuries. I was confident. I was ready.

Then Dawson had a blowout.

Let's make sure we have a common definition. A blowout is when a baby goes "number two" with such volume and force that his or her diaper cannot contain it.

Dawson had a blowout, and I thought, I can handle this. After all, babies have been having blowouts for centuries.

So I began the biohazard cleanup. Taking off Dawson's diaper was relatively easy. The trick was getting his clothes (which had number two on them) over his head without getting any number two on his head. I was accomplishing this with a surgeon's steady hand when it started to rain. I found that surprising since we were indoors in my living room. That's when I realized Dawson was going number one, and I hadn't yet put a new diaper on him. Unprepared for that kind of precipitation, I did what any resourceful young father would do: I cupped my hands and caught the number one. Unfortunately, my hands quickly filled, and number one started going wherever number one wanted to go.

About two minutes later I called my wife. "Here is the situation," I told her. "I am in my underwear. Your son is naked. There is number one and number two everywhere. What should I do?"

She asked, "Do you want me to come home?"

I thought, Of course I want you to come home!

But I said, "Of course I don't want you to come home. I can do this. But what should I do first?"

If we're going to walk the path of recovery, the first thing we have to do is admit we have a problem.

The truth is, we've all had a blowout. We're all a mess.

The issue is that we don't see it. Or we won't admit it. And that's what keeps us sick.

A problem denied can destroy you. A problem hidden cannot be healed.

Twelve-steppers have a saying: "You're only as sick as your secrets." Let me tell you a secret — they're right.

The Same As It Ever Was

In the story of the first humans in the Bible, the sequence of events is kind of stunning:

God creates Adam.

God puts Adam in a perfect garden paradise.

God tells Adam he can enjoy everything in the world except for the fruit of one tree.

Adam is alone.

God creates a naked wife for Adam.

Adam and Eve get to run around naked and tend to the garden naked and play naked volleyball.

Then they hear a deceptive whisper: "This isn't the good stuff. God is holding out on you."

Somehow Adam and Eve buy the lie that having a perfect relationship with God and playing naked volleyball with each other is not that great — that things could be better if they ate from the tree God told them not to eat from. And so they eat the fruit of the forbidden tree.

Adam and Eve have a blowout. They mess up.

And what is their response? They go into cleanup mode. They hide from God and hope they can keep their mess concealed.

It turns out living in denial doesn't exactly work for Adam and Eve. Soon they're no longer naked, no longer living in the garden paradise, and their firstborn son commits the world's first murder.

Even God's Favorite?

I don't know if God plays favorites. It kind of seems like he wouldn't. But if you read the Bible, it seems like he does. It seems like this guy named David is right at the top of God's list of favorite people.

Who is David?

He is a man who loves God a lot. And yet one of the stories from his life has another stunning sequence of events:

David is standing on his roof.

He sees a naked woman named Bathsheba, who is taking a bath on another roof.

He sends his men to bring her to him.

He has sex with her.

She gets pregnant.

David, not wanting anyone to know he's the father, tries to get her husband to sleep with her.

When her husband doesn't take the bait, David has him killed.

David has a blowout. He messes up, to say the least.

And his response is to go into cleanup mode. Not only does he try to hide his sin from God and others; he keeps living as if nothing had happened.

Does living in denial work for David? He later wrote, "When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat."

David was as sick as his secret.

Not Me!

The thing about you and me is that while we may not eat forbidden fruit or look at naked people from rooftops, just like Adam and Eve and David, we've blown it. We've had our blowouts. We've messed up.

Actually, let's be honest. It's worse than that.

I recently had to go to a hardware store. I hate going to the hardware store and only do it about once every decade or two. I hate it because I am not handy. That's an understatement. I can't fix anything around the house. I have friends for that. I have a wife for that. That may sound bad, but I'm pretty good at writing sermons. And if my friends or wife ever needed me to write one for them, I would do it. What I need from them is to fix the broken drawer, or figure out how to put together the new lamp, or change the battery in the smoke detector. Seems to me it's a fair exchange.

So I hate going to the hardware store.

The reason I went to the hardware store is because I needed some way to chain up my dog, Kuma, in my backyard. We have a fence around our backyard because we want Kuma to be able to enjoy the freedom of running around outside without the danger of him getting lost or of a car running over him. But Kuma finally realized he can squeeze between the bars of our backyard fence.

One day I heard him out back barking frantically, so I went out and saw that he was stuck halfway through the fence. He looked up and noticed me, which somehow gave him the motivation he needed to push himself the rest of the way out. Suddenly, he was free, and he gleefully ran around the neighborhood until I finally caught him and brought him back inside.

Later, I let him out again, and he squeezed through the bars again. When I finally found him, I decided not to let him into the backyard anymore. That's when the real trouble started. Now that Kuma has tasted running around outside of the backyard, it's all he can think about. He's constantly at the back door barking. When I won't let him out, he'll come over and sit next to me like we're best friends, then return to the back door and bark. He's trying to create a codependent relationship! He thinks he can manipulate me into enabling his dysfunction! He will do anything to escape the boundaries I've set for him.

Here's the deal for you and me: God set boundaries around our behavior because he loves us and wants to protect us from doing things that can get us lost or hurt. But when we go outside God's boundaries, we discover that sinning can be pretty fun.

Most preachers don't mention that because, well, we don't want to feel like we're promoting sin. But we all know it's true. If there were no upside to sinning, no one would do it. Think about it. No one feels tempted to rent a hotel room so they can read the Gideons' Bible, or to eat an entire stalk of celery, or to search the Internet for pictures of nuns, or to score a dime bag of Flintstone vitamins. No, people are tempted to rent a hotel room so they can have sex with a prostitute, or to eat an entire cheesecake, or to look at pictures of naked supermodels, or to score bags of weed.

Why? Because sinning temporarily feels good and can be fun. So it's not just that we blow it. We don't just sin. We get hooked on sinning. We specialize in it.

That's not something we proclaim very proudly. Your résumé probably does not list "Specialist in Sinning." Even so, I bet you have things you know you shouldn't do, and you don't want to do anymore, but you can't seem to stop doing. You may not see it as an addiction, or even a habit, but maybe it is.

The question is, What do we do about it?

Me Too?

First, we need to admit we have a problem. What we want to do first is anything but.

Just like Adam and Eve and David, we try to keep our sickness a secret. Sin isn't a popular word today. Pretty much the only place you'll see it outside of church is on a dessert menu. The problem is that a problem denied can destroy you, and a problem hidden cannot be healed.

And we need healing.

I can picture you right now. You're squirming a little. You're thinking, Not me. I'm not sure I need to read this book. I realize I'm not perfect, but my sins don't rank up there with Adam and Eve's or David's. And this book is about recovery and rehab, but I don't have any addictions.

Guess what? That's what every addict thinks.

Addictions like drugs and alcohol are more visible and more socially unacceptable, but we all have our addictions — things we couldn't bear the thought of giving up or doing without, habitual ways of thinking or living that aren't healthy. Unfortunately, except for fleeting moments of clarity, we typically don't see them. Ours may not even be a conscious denial. We're just blind to our addictions. As Jesus said, we see the splinter in our friend's eye but miss the tree trunk in our own.

So we live in denial. It's actually easier for us to live in denial than it is for a drug addict or an alcoholic because even if we are aware of our problems, we can deny that they're serious. The Bible says that we should not be enslaved to or mastered by anything, but we can't imagine that applies to the things we're obsessed with or controlled by. Our obsessions just seem innocuous and not worthy of being compared to real addictions we don't have.

Except ... they're really not that different.

That leads to a couple of questions we should probably consider.

First, what is an addiction? Basically, it's when a person develops a compulsion to seek something out, loses control in limiting intake of that something, and has a negative emotional reaction when prevented from having that something.

Read that again. Might that describe your relationship with your phone, or video games, or social media, or watching TV, or certain sexual activities?

How does a person become addicted? From a physical perspective, there are reward pathways in the brain that get activated when a person has a pleasurable experience. Sometimes the exhilaration is so pleasurable, the person chooses to do it again.

Unfortunately, habituation — or what some call a "tolerance effect," where the same action produces less pleasure — often comes into play. But instead of giving up on the activity that's giving less pleasure, the person may go back to it, trying to re-create the sensation of the first time. Because of the tolerance effect and habituation, the person needs to do more of the activity, or do it more often, to get to that same experience. It keeps taking more and more sex or cheesecake or porn or weed to feel as good as we did before. You don't need me to tell you the root of habituation: it's habit. And soon a habit is a full-blown addiction.

Here's the thing: those same reward pathways that get activated by sex or cheesecake or porn or weed get activated in your brain when you buy a new outfit, or have a revenge fantasy about that person you still hate, or accomplish something that makes you feel successful, or share gossip that makes you feel better than someone else, or look lustfully at an attractive body, or notice someone looking lustfully at your body, or receive praise.

What you experience, and perhaps feel compelled to experience again, is really not that different from someone smoking crack or finishing off another bottle of wine.

So now, when you think of addiction, instead of thinking, Not me!

perhaps you'll realize, Oh. Me too.

The truth is, we've all had a blowout. We're all a mess. And your mess is messing up your life. Denial may help you ignore that, but trust me: denial isn't working for you.

All of this makes me think of this one time Jesus met a man who was filled with demons. Jesus asked him, "What is your name?"

Bet you know where I'm going with this.

If you're going to be healed, you have to name your demons. No more hiding. No more concealing.

When David finally stopped living in denial, when he looked in the mirror and acknowledged everything to himself and to God, it set him free. He went from "My body wasted away, and I groaned all day long" to "You forgave me! All my guilt is gone" and "You surround me with songs of victory" and "Rejoice in the LorD and be glad."

Real freedom awaits us, and it starts with naming our demons.

But not yet. Our problem actually goes deeper than this basic understanding of addiction. It's much deeper, and we'll talk about it in the next chapters. Then maybe we'll be ready to reveal our secrets. Because we're only as sick as our secrets. And we don't want to be sick anymore.

In all honesty, this is going to be difficult to do alone. We weren't made for it. We'll get into that later, but I want to encourage you right now to read this book with others. We've created a digital community as a place to get started. Join to engage with other people on this journey. You'll find videos to go with each chapter and even a detailed PDF journal that will offer reflection questions, Scripture passages, and helpful activities to help restore you to God and one another.


Excerpted from "Restore"
by .
Copyright © 2018 City On A Hill Studio, LLC.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction Rehab … for the Rest of Us 1

Our Problem

Day 1 The Blowout 13

Day 2 Thirsty 23

Day 3 A Safe Place to Hide 31

Day 4 Playing God 37

Day 5 Didn't Try to Make Me Go to Rehab 45

Step 1 I Can't; God Can

Day 6 My Problem with Me 51

Day 7 Drowning 61

Day 8 The Power I Need 69

Day 9 Clinging to God's Love 81

Day 10 God? Or the Stick? 89

Step 2 Because I'm God's Child, I Give My Life to His Will

Day 11 Why You Do What You Do 99

Day 12 I Know I Am, but Who Am I? 105

Day 13 Truth from the Attic 111

Day 14 Clothes Off. Clothes On. 121

Day 15 God Isn't Who You Think He Is 129

Day 16 Jump! 135

Step 3 I Ask God to Help Me Own and Release My Past

Day 17 Owning My Past 141

Day 18 Releasing My Past 147

Step 4 With God's Help, I Always Forgive and Ask to Be Forgiven

Day 19 You Have to Go through Edom 159

Day 20 But Why? 165

Day 21 But How? 175

Day 22 But What about Me? 187

Day 23 Time to Get Even 195

Step 5 I Stay Connected to God and Others

Day 24 Living out of Your Limbic 207

Day 25 Creating New Ruts 217

Day 26 Rats in a Cage 229

Day 27 The FDF 235

Step 6 I Seek to Get Others Connected to God

Day 28 Another Drunk 243

Moving Forward

Day 29 Not Trying 251

Day 30 Not Yet 261

The Letter I Wrote about Me, to Me, from God 269

Six Steps to Freedom 273

Acknowledgments 275

Notes 277

Top Ten Lists 285

Discussion Guide 287

About the Author 291

What People are Saying About This

Kyle Idleman

If you are ready to face your issues and knock them down, then read Restore and your life will be changed.

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