This is one of the words most of us never want to hear. It strikes fear in the hearts of the families and friends of the one who does, but for some reason the addict tends to experience more than one, and in fact in our meeting last night one man said he had 18. Cunning and baffling, you better believe it!
Jen did an awesome job in that same meeting on her topic "Burn The Ships" as Overdose had hit her hard last Friday. A friend with a year clean got lonely, called an old boyfriend and the next thing that happened was an Overdose. Gone and revived after 12 minutes but in the hospital on oxygen. She is fortunate to be alive.
Unfortunately most of us who lived through the addiction process needed more than one close encounter with death. Primarily it is due to what Jen spoke about, we neglected to put the past behind us, burn the phone numbers of our predatory friends and ex's, drug dealers etc. etc. etc. And we didn't work through the pain of letting go of anger, hurt, resentments, forgiveness, low self worth, etc. etc. etc.
When we do this recovery is simple, move forward with a clean slate, no turning back, but also move forward with THE God who can work with you to change. If not, if left to our own devices, that loneliness, that unforgiveness, those old numbers we kept around just in case, all come back to haunt us and destroy our chances to succeed. We cannot just go through the motions. we need to follow the one who can put a new sober life into motion.
Recovery is simple, you want it, you can have it. You want him, no not him, HIM, HE will take you beyond where you have ever been to be what you were always meant to be. Then you can find the him's and her's you need to keep you on the right path.
And burn that word Overdose along with the rest of the %$#@ that blocks your recovery!
What? Something we have an image of in our own mind or something we may somewhat understand but have only a small comprehension of? Or maybe all that matters is that we have faith that there is a God and he is alive working through us to make an impact in this world. Otherwise, what's the point?
Speaking to the Thessalonians Paul said this: God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well.
If all we believe is that God is just, then that answers part of the question. Tough situations in our life, people hurt us, we have suffering, God is just to take of it. We hurt others, we make bad mistakes, we fall down when we should be walking right, God is just to justify us. That's why the role of Jesus is the rest of the answer.
By justifying us through his death and resurrection we have the right to walk by faith that God is always just, just not always the way we think he should be. That seems to be the root of our problem, defining who God should be instead of who he really is. That's where faith steps in to fill the gap of misunderstanding.
On this Thursday, September 15 seven years ago a careless driver took my youngest sons life. Though the hurt then was unbearable, and still is painful, his death propelled me back to ATB to develop what it is today. I did not understand it, but I know that my son, also Paul, walks with God while I walk out the rest of my life every day in honor of both of them.
God is just, he has given me relief through my troubled heart, and we pass on that same relief to others on His behalf!
I was shopping at a home store when ATB was moving into our building looking for a cross that would be the centerpiece of our main meeting room. There were some interesting ones but there was one that stood out - it had the word HOPE etched on its intersection symbolizing it's personal message to me. It's still there.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is the tree of life. Proverbs 13:12
The Bible uses the word hope over 100 times illustrating how important the meaning of that word is. Here's a quote from the book "Important Words of The Bible": HOPE. The mere word can make our hearts beat faster. And when we manage to grab ahold of the gift itself, the effect is miraculous. With hope we are able to keep going, even when all seems lost.
The scripture and the quote match, once we have seen hope fulfilled we can handle any situation knowing that a hopeless situation can change dramatically to a hopeful conclusion. Just because we lose now and then doesn't mean all is lost. Life has it's ebb and flow, but if we see and read that word HOPE, especially when matched with the cross, we understand that the longing fulfilled happened on that tree of life.
Because of that we are always Hopeful no matter what situation we are facing!
I feel like quoting the words of the once popular song "Love Train"....people all over the world join hands....yes that is what I'm feeling right about now after reading a passage of scripture that blew my mind this morning!
"When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men" Ephesians 4:8 and Psalm 68:18
Train? There were no trains back then. Did the translators from the Greek make a mis-translation? There are only two trains I know of, one rides on tracks and the other is what describes what flows along the ground behind a wedding dress. However, both are connected from the locomotive to the caboose. (Use your imagination for a moment please!)
In all the commentaries I read no one wants to tackle that word train. But the KJV never mentions a train, only "he led the captivity captive". I'm gonna go with train for this blog because it has a really good point. Let's start with God is the engineer that drives the locomotive of our lives which means we are the caboose behind Him. And in that passage what propels the train is grace which fills out all the cars (seasons of life) in between.
As the bride (us) gives herself in marriage to the groom (Christ), grace is that beautiful dress followed by that flowing train that follows the Brides presence at the altar of salvation. Boom!
Maybe the translators were thinking the same thing I am. Let's get on board the Grace Train and write a whole new song!
I can tell it's getting to be that time of year by the FB posts and words getting slung back and forth between fans of these two great institutions, Georgia and Alabama. It is especially heightened by the fact that the Dawgs knocked Bama off the proverbial perch of their throne into runner up land.
Coach Nick Saban who is undoubtedly the GOAT of college coaches said these words after the game to Georgia Coach Kirby Smart, You kicked our #$@ in the 4th quarter. Somehow since then, the revenge and excuses level has ramped up beyond anything normal. Truth is Bama has won many Dawgs have one a couple, much is left to be proven on the field.
I say this to remind us that addiction is full of revenge and excuses that lead us to point the finger at everyone else but ourselves. We must make a change and remind ourselves that this addiction has kicked our #$@ and no matter how good we were before it did, we are not that way now. Not until we sober up not until we prove we can beat this can we really talk with any confidence.
On first glance, on paper as they say, we look real good, we can be loaded with talent, but come up short because we are not honest in our assessment of what the problem is. It is us, it's always us, and until we are ready to admit that we are not ready to quit. Someone told me last night that there are four refrigerated trailers of bodies of overdose victims in a town in south Georgia of people who never admitted their problem to themselves. That is frightening.
Not sure if this analogy hits home with anyone, but just because we have done well before does not guarantee any success once this thing we call addiction has kicked our #$@. We have no control unless we put it in the hands of the God who understands us and has the power to heal us, after all he is the original GOAT.
As for the Dawgs & Bama I look forward to this season with great anticipation, but this is all about games. Addiction on the other hand, that is about life and death, let's make sure we are ready to play in the 4th Quarter!
What gets you excited about living? What takes you out of the mundane and sends you into an absolute frenzy about the next moment? The Braves, the Dawgs, the birth of a child, answered prayer, an encounter with the Holy Spirit? What takes your foot off the brakes and makes you push down on the accelerator?
Recently we began a new program within the framework of ATB that we call Xcelerate! It is based on our desire to do more planting of the seeds of faith throughout what we do to help accelerate the faith and recovery of those we serve. It is designed to lift up above the normal and send folks into a better way of life. It is also based on this scripture:
But just as you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us - see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 Corinthians 8:7
There is no doubt that God designed us to thrive, even in adverse conditions. As Paul so eloquently said "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation". Content is good but what Paul and the other Apostles did was spectacular. They helped change the world and gave back to society the absolute best of what God made them to be. They excelled in all they did and expected the converts to Christ to do the same.
Why should we be any different? Is it enough just to be enough or should we be more than enough because we have been given such grace that is way more than enough? Right now Xcelerate is just a once a month event that celebrates our faith and recovery where we feed folks, have live music, a testimony and a message of hope but soon it will evolve into every aspect of ATB.
We don't ever just stand still, we don't ever just want be be comfortable for too long, we always want to be a critical moving part of the accelerator of our faith, Jesus Christ, who puts us in motion in the lives of those who need the boost that only He can give. He is the "X" factor, the multiplier of a complete life.
Are you ready? Let's Xcelerate together!
There's no way to sugarcoat this - THEY whoever they are, the drug dealers and traffickers, the middle men and women or the "manufacturers" are not out to help you live a better life, they are out to kill you and make you feel like you deserve it. Strong words, how about these:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full. John 10:10
You can define the thief as those mentioned above or the devil himself but you can define nothing if you are dead. This week we lost a couple of folks to overdose deaths both involved fentanyl which is now laced in virtually every illegal drug and pill. These were parents, sons and daughters, like the ones in your family - here's a warning, and this is not a joke - any illegal drug bought off the street can kill you.
It's Pure Poison now, worse than it has ever been. But there is an alternative as mentioned in John 10:10. If you are struggling with your identity, your self-esteem, being in this crazy world, being lost and alone, there is a solution and it is not in getting drugs from a dealer you trust, it's in getting life from a source that provides real power to satisfy and live your life to it's full potential.
Here's what I am talking about: If the son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36. Bondage, slavery, addiction, all the chains will be broken not with one more hit, one more needle or another line, just by finding a relationship with the Son, and his name is Jesus.
In Him there is no higher feeling, no greater purpose or identity, and the lost and found department is always open. Don't believe it, ask the millions of us still alive that found out just in time!
It has been an incredible week, so much so that the song displayed in this blog title kept running through my mind. It's one thing to sing about it, another to experience it, and to experience it in abundance. Listen if you like to the song by Jenn Johnson it will certainly lift your spirit.
We started this week with an awesome Xcelerate meeting where we fed both physically and spiritually about 100 people. During that meeting Darryll, who we have been in partnership for the last 3 1/2 years delivered a most exceptional message of hope that reminded me of how his enormously painful experience had produced such a change of life. The goodness of God had brought him through.
Then, about 11 PM the next night a woman in the program texted me that 5 women wanted to be Baptized after another meeting where we put into place another man of God who had returned home after a long period of darkness. Only the goodness of God brought him home and now here was Robert "Smooth" Colbert preaching and pointing others to the light he had once turned off because his life had so much pain.
The next night a man who was in a meeting I led at Step By Step Recovery several years ago showed me my watch that I had given him because his was broken. Through his relapses he had held onto it because he couldn't believe someone would replace his broken watch with one taken off their own hand. He had experienced the goodness of God literally firsthand, and maybe that watch reminded him it was time to stop inflicting pain upon himself.
Then Thursday a man dropped in to ATB that I had referred to Lakeview Hospital who was in work release through the County Jail. We gave him clothes, fed him, prayed with him and spoke for awhile about his next steps. He hugged me before I even had a chance to get out of my chair. He was able to see the goodness of God through his own period of incarceration.
Finally, last night was agonizing for me. Probably from all the lifting and moving donations during the week my left leg cramped up with pain so bad I could not sit down. Wouldn't have been so bad if I was home but it happened in the middle of a meeting at ATB and I still had to get in my truck to drive home which meant I had to sit. No matter what I did for 30 minutes I couldn't sit without intense pain.
I began to pray that God would take me home. After closing up I got in my truck and though there was some initial hurting I found a position to straighten my leg that had no pain. All the way home I was praising the Lord for his goodness, realizing that experiencing pain was sometimes the only way to appreciate his true goodness.
In every example written here there was a period of pain, a season of darkness or a momentary moment of agony. Through it all he has been faithful as the song says because The Goodness of God never takes a moment, a day or a season off.
Through it all, the storms, the pain, the trials, the goodness of God will bring us through, I have no doubt!
In the video Church Pew or Barstool Clayton Jennings asks several compelling questions and poses some conclusions, the first being Where's The Love? He surmises that sometimes there is more love on a barstool than we will find in a church after telling a story about an alcoholic friend of his who had a bad experience in a church.
He concludes that we are all in need of love, "we are just people, people in need of love". This is an obvious point but how many times have we Christians missed this point? It's not how another person looks, smells or how many tattoo's they have, it's about how we react toward our fellow human beings, with judgement, love or hatred.
Jesus made a couple major points about this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself and By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another. A great question here is exactly what did he mean by "love"? Some define it much differently than others, unconditional love, passionate love, tough love, Barry White love and so forth.
How about the way a pregnant woman has to be during her nine months or so of pregnancy, the emotional and physical changes she endures, or the man who has to defend his family physically even if he suffers harm, isn't that love? Of course it is, but real true love as defined by For God so loved the world not only involves physical pain, it involves dealing with folks who may be considered a pain in the ass. (Yes that's a biblical word). Let that one sink in.
I've got more for you this Wednesday night at Real Talk Recovery, but all it takes is one read of 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 to understand that giving love is just as important as receiving it, in fact it may be the key to understanding love fully....and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And in verse 7, Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Where's the love? It's in all ways and it's always not just on the days or in the situations we feel like we want to.
There are so many folks who look down on those of us who have dealt with addiction. In many cases the reason they look down on us is that they are dealing with these same issues themselves in some form or fashion including workaholism, sex or food addiction. It's real believe me. In other cases some really good folks get tired of our drama, cheating, lying and stealing. That's real as well.
Truth is that the people who are battling to find freedom from addiction are some of the most courageous people I know who are overcoming incredible odds to change their life. Yes, we have been knuckleheads, yes we are tough to love and deal with, but on the other hand we are something to behold when we get right.
I have found through my own journey that grace is the keyword to recovery, understanding we are getting something we don't deserve in order to forgive ourselves and others, as well as sustaining us through every battle we face. God is with us, he is for us and he has fought for us and will continue to do so. Thus Jesus, the ultimate warrior who is giving us a pathway to freedom where honesty and tenacity prevail.
Love this scripture: And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always have all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 2 Cor 9:8
For us knuckleheads this means we have access to ALL of God's blessings, mercy, forgiveness, power and courage to fight that results in an ABUNDANCE to give back to and influence others with our stories of recovery. This is how we fight our battle.....he has already won it for us, we just need to latch on to His mighty Sustaining Grace to go through what we need to go through.
Sounds simple. God said it, he gave it, it's just up to us to believe it. Once we understand it addiction will never have a hold on us again.
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.