There is one thing sure about faith, that we cannot physically see all the results of faith until we actually step out in faith. Peter saw Jesus walk on water, he was sure when he started to walk to him that the Lord would honor his faith to walk out onto that water. But when he let the wind and the waves overcome his faith, he nearly drowned.
We cannot physically see Jesus today but we believe the promise in Matthew 28 that "he will be with us always to the very end of the age", and our faith steps are now based on the scriptures that teach us about him, and his Spirit that guides our movements. And even when we know all of this, we can also step out in faith and still come near drowning, through our doubt, insecurity and evolving circumstances.
In these COVID-19 times we take uncertain steps into uncharted waters when we feel like the Lord has led us to, and when the waves seem to calm down, when the wind stops blowing so strongly. But we never know for sure because this virus is much like our A.A. saying, it is "cunning and baffling".
Monday night we opened up ATB again for the first time since March 9th for in person meetings. It went better than I expected and everyone was compliant to our guidelines, and though there were risks involved, we were prepared. In every way possible we are doing "back to the basics" things, yet we do walk out in faith in some uncharted waters needing divine guidance.
As we embark on this new journey, armed with faith and confidence as well as a whole bunch of sprays and masks, we ask for your prayers for success. May we never take our eyes of the one who orchestrated this walk, and initiated it with one simple word: Come!
That's how we started!
We've heard it so many times, it's like a cliche that will never go away. You never know when it will happen, whether or not it will make a difference, how many times we have to learn the same lesson or if things are going to change. But it's true, we never really know for sure.
One thing we do know, God is with us in the dash between our beginning and our expiration date. During this time, he gives us the opportunity to choose what happens during that dash. We can use it as a- (minus) and waste it away, or a add a line that makes a + (cross) which includes Jesus in that dash. Doing so gives us an enormous purpose to live in a powerful way that constantly has surprises from God.
Most of you have read about my near disastrous encounter with two deer in a rainstorm last week, and the prompting of God's Spirit that saved me from a potentially fatal wreck. What I did not say in that story was how shortly thereafter I saw those familiar numbers 1003. These numbers have appeared shortly before or after almost every significant event like this in my life.
You never know what might happen but it is an assurance to me that God is with me whatever may happen. It happened again when I went for a COVID-19 test to ensure I was okay before we open ATB for meetings again. Heading toward my doctor's office there it was again 1003 on my truck clock. It gave me confidence that either way he was with me. Results, negative for the Corona.
Surely there have been times when the events have not turned out so well, but through it all when I see those numbers appear I am reminded that God has a purpose for me to accomplish on his behalf. You never know about many things, but we do know his work is never done, and we are His ones to do that work here on earth.
And how do I know for sure? Those numbers are my birth date and until he adds those last two numbers of my expiration date I am going to continue to live on the + side of life.
That would be on the cross side of A+cross The Bridge!
It all seems so clear, and then life happens, and it all changes. The plays we called that seemed to work so well now become secondary to a new game plan that is called survival. All of a sudden just staying healthy and providing food on the table supersede everything else.
Then like a tidal wave, one day it all hits you as if the weight of the entire world is on you. You could be a single mom, a recovering addict that is on the edge, a corporate executive or a pastor of a church, or maybe a person living alone who is the sole supporter of your future. And when it hits, we look for clarity, how will I survive?
It hit me this morning when I woke up, boom, my usually rosy and optimistic attitude took a nosedive in altitude. But instinctively, instead of reaching for the Valium that calmed me many years ago, I reached for the book that helped me find a new life, free from addiction, and showed me a new way to cope with things of this nature. Then, I turned on the computer (one of our favorite friends in this pandemic) and tuned into a worship service.
As the clarity began to gradually return, the songs and the sermon were pointed directly at me. The preacher spoke of how he felt anxiety and depression recently as well as the weight of his church's future. That being a great person of faith does not preclude moments of a "tidal wave" experience.
He went on to say in so many words, we need a new play called that has always worked when needed, and as that clarity grew stronger, the words of the song resonated in my soul, "your presence is an open door - I know a breakthrough is coming".
And I remembered how many times God has brought me through moments such as these. Clarity, how the sweet the sound of His voice!
Yes, right about now we are all about to jump up and shout "get me outta here"! But, we are confined by the rule of law and common sense to wait. Now, that is a problem, waiting while in confinement, especially for those in addiction, because confinement means we have to be alone with ourselves and face who we are.
I am reminded of two important things, one is the story of the caterpillar who goes into a cocoon for about two weeks and completely changes its body and character to become a butterfly. Lots of change involved here but also a period of time that it takes to be reborn into something new. Maybe we have put on a few pounds from inactivity, but we have also gained some valuable insight into ourselves, and into our faith during this confinement. We will all come out of this pandemic changed and hopefully stronger if we get the point.
The other, of course is relating to today, and the fact that you can confine the author of our faith, but they could not confine the spread of that faith once he arose from the confinement of a tomb. Nothing can hold back the faith that relies on real truth, and the truth is that what the son set free, is free to prosper, grow and multiply.
He arose, and like a butterfly majestically cast his presence to other people so that we would know beyond a shadow of a doubt, you cannot confine the Alpha and the Omega, the One who is I Am, and to take a look at the majesty of him who is the redeemer of our souls. Once that happened the spread of faith could not be contained.
We will come out of confinement, and we will arise again as changed people with a new found appreciation of what faith and freedom means, and hopefully understanding we don't have to escape through addiction or any other means to be free, because what he did for us has made us free indeed!
A few days ago, I was coming home carrying a bag of groceries, and walked past the postal clerk processing the mail in several mailboxes. Heading back for the second bag I heard her coughing without a filter, then heard a friend of hers say hello and asked why she wasn't wearing a mask and gloves. So I used a different route for sure.
Yesterday while waiting for a prescription at Walgreen's I put my hands not only on the counter but also putting in my codes for my bank card on the pad., and it struck me that there is only one way to prevent this virus from growing - stay home and lock the doors.
Despite any other precautions we might take there is no way we can think of every answer to the constant threat of an unseen enemy. Does this sound familiar?
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
We can't see it except in the results of it, but we can prevent it from taking over our mind by going to the one who has every answer to an unseen situation, and though that may not prevent difficult things from happening, it provides faith and security through the trial.
We may have to hunker down, but doing so is the only way we will survive the bombardment of situations we in our finite minds have no answer for. And when we survive we will understand how to face the next ongoing battle.
God is the answer when we have none of our own, he is the answer when we are lost and alone, and he is the ultimate answer when we lock the doors and stay home!
There are times when opportunities present themselves that tell us what we are made of. Our faith and perseverance are tested beyond anything we faced before, and we wonder how strong we are.
What we are facing right now in the COVID-19 crisis is a big challenge, but it is no greater than any one we have overcome before. For some of us, it is just another mountain to climb, for others it is an immense struggle. What makes this one different is the media hype and social media frenzy that has stirred up fears rather than calm them.
In Viet Nam, most thought we had a walk over, an easy battle to win over a nation far inferior in weapons and technology. It was the first war the media could report back to the US with uncensored coverage. We spent a few years fighting with one hand tied behind our back (a politicians war), then we got hit hard all across the country by the enemy in what was known as the Tet Offensive.
This surge, which was later pushed back, inflicted major casualties on the enemy, but it gave them confidence they could win. Simultaneously the media sent back photos of broken and torn up bodies, dead American soldiers and made commentaries about the severe brutality of it all. It was certainly bad, as all war is, but the hype made it worse.
Much of it was true, as are the mounting number of cases and deaths of COVID-19, but any attempt to think positively and have optimism about the outcome, the supplies coming, the many who are sacrificing to help others, is met with way more amounts of gloom and doom. The Tet Offensive turned the Viet Nam war in the enemy's direction, and today, an attitude of negativity and dire consequences can turn our faith into many fears. With that attitude, the enemy wins.
David, who faced battles and controversies seemingly daily, said it like this in Psalm 144: Praise be to the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold, and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues people under me.
We may not be ready for all the consequences of COVID-19 and all the medical emergencies that come with it, but we have already been given, through our faith in the Lord, all that we need to overcome what's coming in this battle.
Don't let anyone tell you anything different!
In conjunction with our recovery partners and in the best interest of the people we serve, we are shutting down all meetings at the ATB Building and the two churches we partner with, Campus Church & Life Church International until April 1, at which time we will re-visit potential meetings. This includes the Saturday Night Community Worship, ATB 12 Step, CA, CMA, & SAA. We will continue to be available for on-site meetings and any individual groups who wish to conduct self contained type small meetings at ATB.
We are also working on video meetings as we type this and will provide info on that soon. Additionally, I will be available to speak with anyone who needs to talk at 404-915-7376.
We are family always and will do what is right to preserve and save lives, as well as to continue to trust in the God we serve to bring us through this crisis. Always Faith over Fear!
This country has been through so many crisis, and yet still stands strong. You, me, many of us have been through hell and back and are still standing. Now is a time to remember what brought us through - faith, not sight.
Everybody has their predictions, protocols and precautions for the Coronavirus, but it is a great time to remember the one who knows the outcome asks us to stand on his rock of faith and hold on. ATB remains open for those at risk subject to evolving circumstances.
We are Standing On The Rock! But we are taking a few added steps for the safety of our folks:
1. Asking people to stay home from our gatherings if they are sick and asking that they cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing. If anyone has a persistent cough or sneeze we will kindly ask them to leave.
2. Continuing all events as normal unless mandated by government or state requirements, but changing the circle of hands & hugs at the end of our meetings to praying in place.
3. Ensuring our ATB Building is cleaned and disinfected per CDC guidelines after every meeting.
It is important that people like us who deal with at risk people by the nature of what we do, continue to be there for them to show strength, courage and determination to win this current battle. It is all important to remember that whether we get sick (stats show only 1 in about 20-25 who contract the virus are dying) and if we should die from it, we will be in the right place anyway. We are just trying not to take anyone else with us too soon.
So let's have faith, strength and an attitude that this too will end, and let's continue the battle as soldiers in an ongoing battle to lead our folks to the right place in life!
We live in the greatest country in the world, free to express our rights, religion and reasonable opinions, which include love, sometimes hatred, and often contempt. We even fought against ourselves over freedom to have slavery. But yet, many of us are still slaves. Slaves to money, prejudice and addiction to so many other things.
Additionally, God gave us free will, so in America, we should be totally and unconditionally free. And yet, just one look around our community will show us that our freedom and free will has led us into the edge of darkness, a place where we have blocked the sunlight of God's Spirit and replaced it with the images of gods similar to what our Hebrew brethren did wandering in the desert.
God has given us the promised land, yet we remain unfulfilled in our promises. We only have to look at two of the most quoted scriptures to see that God knew, despite all he did for us, we would still be discontent.
Pick one: Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
The first one offers a qualifier most people do not quote: If you hold to my teachings. Simply, we will be free if we are in covenant with Him. In the next one it adds a disclaimer afterward: I know you are Abraham's descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me.
Bottom line, we have been truly blessed, but we continue to throw those blessings away by exercising what we have defined as freedom, we kill the messenger of faith, and we turn our back on the real God for all the fake gods of what we call pleasure. Then, the pleasure requires more pleasure, because the pleasure becomes less.
But to be truly freed, to walk away from the internal incarceration of slavery, to bask in the glow of perpetual freedom, we must walk and stay in the Son-light!
We had spoken about it before, and now seems like exactly the right time. A week ago we lost 3 people, two to overdose, and God spoke to my heart that it's time to ramp it up!
There's a song I love called Light The Fire written by Bill Maxwell. In the refrain it says this: Light the fire in my soul, fan the flame make me whole. So ATB will make every attempt to fan the flame in our meetings, activities and services in March that leads to a greater relationship with the Lord. In God's timing and Spirit we will be "lit" in such a way that folks we serve get the message:
We are here for you, we will connect with you, we will teach you, and we will help you find God!
Are we and all our wonderful partners doing this already - absolutely, but not to the extent we will in March. The song goes on to say I feel your arms around me, as the power of your healing begins. You breathe new life right through me, like a mighty rushing wind.
The healing begins when one makes the decision to start, but in so many cases the fire flames out almost immediately because folks start to feel, they no longer have an escape route of their drug of choice and they quit. Or, they get to 90 days, 6 months clean and have nothing to do, the rush of adrenaline has not been replaced by that mighty rushing wind.
He has answers, we have a message, we have the arms, hands and feet to be those who speak revival to those He will revive. We are coming against everything that is coming against the 600 plus people we see a week with the power that can heal and breathe new life into a previously lifeless spirit.
Yes we will be "lit on fire" by Him, pray for us and all those we speak with that the fire spreads into many new hearts and souls and causes more revivals than a Narcan could ever do.
Look for details every week by every avenue of social media!
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 email@example.com.