Freedom Starts Today – John Elmore

Freedom Starts Today John Elmore
Freedom Starts Today: Overcoming Struggles and Addictions One Day at a Time by John Elmore
Published by Baker Books on January 19, 2021
Genres: Non-Fiction, Devotional
Buy on Amazon

Every church is filled with people who are struggling--often secretly--with addictions of all kinds. Porn, pills, food, money, alcohol, social media, body image, status, sex, anxiety--the list goes on and on. John Elmore is no stranger to addiction. Fifteen years ago, he put a loaded shotgun to his head and later had three doctors tell him he was going to die of alcoholism. More than 15 sober years later, he leads the world's largest weekly recovery gathering, re: generation, where people journey toward healing in Christ.
In Freedom Starts Today, he makes a huge promise to the addicted: you can be free from your struggle, and much sooner than you may think. Through easily digestible readings grounded in Scripture and the practice of daily surrender, Elmore shows you how to break the cycle of addiction, make war against sin, and find your identity in who you are and not the shame of what you have done--one day at a time.
Leave behind struggles, addiction, and shame as you walk in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the love, mercy, and forgiveness of the God who is not only by your side but on your side.

Ask any addict: recovery is difficult. It requires vigilance. It requires retraining your mind, your body, your habits. It’s not just an acute problem, resolved by one decision to quit or go to rehab or turn over a new leaf or whatever decision it is. It’s a chronic problem, one that has to be addressed day by day. Freedom Starts Today is a ninety-day devotional that understands that mentality. General enough to work with addictions and recoveries of all kinds, yet specific enough to be relevant and transformative, Freedom Starts Today is the perfect beginning of the day devotional for those in recovery at whatever level to learn to live in freedom.

The architect of Freedom Starts Today is John Elmore, the director of re:generation, the world’s largest weekly recovery program. John speaks openly about his own past, making the devotional conversational and informal. Devotionals have this aura as stiff and formal, but Elmore’s vulnerability and willingness to use his current academic and vocational expertise to talk about his past life in addiction creates a relaxed atmosphere and makes the book seem like a conversation rather than a ritual.

Each entry is about 750-1000 words and is in typical devotional style: a relevant quote starts you off, followed by the body of the devotion, then an opportunity to write a prayer based on the devotion’s theme. The last section of every devotion is the same, encouraging readers to text or call a friend to let them know if you’ve managed to make the last 24 hours free from bondage and that you are committing the next 24 hours to the same.

Freedom Starts Today acknowledges that God doesn’t necessarily set people supernaturally free from addiction. While the book is saturated in Scripture, it also follows tried-and-true therapy techniques. Elmore writes as a pastor, but also as a counselor and that academic expertise in mental health adds depth and power to this book. Churches have often treated mental health, like addictions, as sins that one should easily get over. Elmore treats it like the disease it is, never shaming, never being angry, never suggesting that struggling with addiction makes someone less a Christian or less than holy. It’s the proper, appropriate tone and position to take and Elmore makes it loud and clear.

While the devotionals themselves are rather generic—they have to be to appeal to a wide audience and also not include scenarios or stories that might trigger addictive behaviors—to anyone actively working to overcome an addiction, they are helpful and affirming, offering solidarity and encouraging companionship. It tells the reader that they are not alone. This would be my go-to book for recovering addicts wanting to get their lives back on track. It’s not a substitute for therapy, but it’s a daily way of reaffirming the path that one has chosen toward freedom.