If there was money given for each time I have answered the question "How do you know?", there is no doubt how rich I would be. And there is truly no perfect answer, so the question will always remains somewhat of a mystery.
How do you know when it is right? How do you know when to move on something, turn a certain way, behave a certain way to an individual in distress? How do we know when we have gone too far? Well, common sense would answer some of these, and prayer and listening for God's response would be another, but the simple fact is that if He is an infallible being with knowledge beyond most of our human comprehension, can we really ever know for certain?
Last night we welcomed a new recovery group to the ATB Building. Our CA meeting jumped from 5 in the first week to 40 the second. Numbers don't lie, but they do not tell the full story. Long ago when we planned to find this eventual recovery building until the time we did, some of it never made any human sense, even to me. It may not have made any sense to you either, and I totally understand. But it made sense to God.
How did I know? -by constantly having a dialogue with him and filtering my own ambitions out of the equation, listening and watching for defining moments. They came, not always in my timing (one sure sign it is from God and not me), they came after I poured myself out to him about my life and the situation, but they always came.
I watched in awe during the Cocaine Anonymous meeting last night as the topic was about prayer and about God. Lots of God talk and even Jesus got a few shouts out in a secular meeting. Then I saw a community who had lost their home base dance around on our stage as they laughed and enjoyed some precious moments of happiness in sobriety in a place where they were loved and accepted.
They had found a place where they could just be; they had found a place that was just a gift from Him; they had found a place that, when they may have been asked that question, they knew the answer. And as long as we let them know that the answer came from Him, there will be many more nights like last night!
It has been an awesome few weeks in our move into the new facility, the amazing generosity of so many has contributed to a fantastic start, and we are building upon our meetings and activities there daily. Here are some highlights:
+ We have raised over $23,000 in donations.
+ We have been donated furniture, desks, tables and chairs, enough to fill much of our space.
+ We have been donated a new refrigerator and stove.
+ We have been donated a Pool Table, Ping Pong Table and Air Hockey Game for our community room.
+ We have financial controls, fiscal responsibility and pest control all in place.
At our facility:
+ We have begun a Friday Night Worship Hour led by the folks at Good Landing Recovery, ABOUT 60-75 people each week.
+ Started a CA (Cocaine Anonymous) Meeting on Thursday Nights at 7:30.
+ Will be beginning a Community Meeting for a new partner, Another Option on Thursday nights after the CA meeting.
We have other plans for the building and are continuing our outreach meetings, always looking for opportunities to grow and add new partners that match our desire to serve the recovery community.
We now have a way to donate directly on our website at acrossthebridgeinc.com (Hit the DONATE category on the menu) and are looking to raise another $20,000 to sustain us until our grants begin to come in.
We are also inviting anyone who can join us for an Open House on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3rd from 4 until whenever to come tour the facility, hear some awesome music, get some inspiring messages, have some food and hang out to watch the game if you'd like. All are welcome, and you are welcome to bring a dish or contribute toward the food.
We have much to be thankful for, a gracious and loving God first and foremost, and the love and support of people like you who have provided the fuel to drive this ministry.
Please join us on Super Bowl Sunday to see how far we have come!
Most of us who deal with personal addiction understand that the adrenaline rush, the thrill of it, and the powerful way it used to make us feel, is probably the hardest obstacle to overcome in getting sober. A.A. calls it a mental obsession, and it certainly is a mind controller, especially when all the music stops.
When it stops, we find it so difficult to deal with reality and the boredom that comes without the bump. So, we get in trouble again and again and again and it seems as if we will never get out of the spin cycle. Not that we don't want to, we don't know how to exist in a world without extreme highs.
Music plays such a big influence in this, what we put on our playlist is usually what we play like. We all have different choices, but mine is smooth jazz, that place where mellow makes me jello, calms me down, helps me think, and when I do I often start singing songs like I did yesterday, I am a child of God, I am a child of God. And it helps me remember that when all the noise got too loud, Jesus went off and prayed, it brought him back to his purpose.
When all the crowds go, when the party is over, when the highs become ordinary every day life, we are at our most vulnerable to get back in trouble. That is when the music stops and the silence defines who we have become. Do we pray, do we escape, do we create chaos, what is our next move?
Now, after many years of struggle, mine is to keep the right music playing in my head so that it doesn't get too big, doesn't get too lonely, doesn't get too lazy and always listens to the maestro. Big challenge, but a whole lot less trouble when the music stops!
Do you have a phrase or scripture that is your "go to" in time of need or when you are looking for motivation? The 23rd Psalm is one for me along with what the former Coach of the Washington Redskins, George Allen once said, "The future is now." We know and remember these, but what do they really do for us?
They soothe, they inspire and they get us through, but in the end, if they have real solid meaning in the difficult every day life we live, they come alive when reality is eclipsed by the power of God. Something happens that does not make sense to us, but makes perfect sense to God. As an example:
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13
Thus the phrase Common People Doing Uncommon Things was born. Ordinary people are supposed to be doing ordinary things and every now and then they will do extraordinary things, but not every day. What happened to Peter and John is that connecting with Jesus transformed them to full time extraordinary, but they had to be known to be ordinary for the power of God to be demonstrated in the flesh.
So we trudge along in life with our problems, our addictions, our faults and our self centered way of thinking, and then along comes an encounter with the Lord and everything changes. Then people say, "Wow, what a great guy or girl," but in reality we are just a product of meeting up with infinity, the most high, the absolute perfection who makes us seem so much greater because of Him.
Then we truly become, very simply Common People Doing Uncommon Things never to be ordinary again!
Having grown up as an only child with a very giving mother, there became a contradiction in my life. To take, as a somewhat selfish only child often does, or to give, as my mom was always an enormous giver to others. The outcome took many years to swing in the giving direction, and even then there is giving, as in giving to others, and there is giving as in giving of yourself to another.
I have been fortunate enough to see both and it has finally rubbed off on me. At least the first one has. This week there have been so many situations where people have been selfless in helping or just plain incredible in their giving, and when that happens it just propels me to another level of wanting to give to others.
There is of course always the giving nature of Christ, who gave the ultimate gift, and the fact that he humbled himself as a servant to many who did not deserve to be served. Then there are those exceptional human beings (you know who you are) who act like Christ, give like Christ and just seem Christ like in everything they do. Because we can touch and feel them, because they impact us at just the right time, they become a walking Bible to us.
Then, there are those men and women who give of themselves so unbelievably well in marriage despite the trials and tribulations that it brings, they are so unique because they are becoming less and less. But they usually have learned to master both ways of giving and understand something I heard a preacher say the other day, "Marriage is God's way of showing us how to be unselfish."
My wish would be that I had mastered that one, but it is still a work in progress for me. But I can sit back and hear the stories, the adoration of spouse to spouse, see the tough, grinding love that has weathered every crisis and just look on with tremendous admiration at those couples with 30, 40 and 50 years or more together and say, now that is a giver of the highest degree, that is Christ in the flesh present in their lives.
But my lack in one area will not stop the other from growing, in fact it may be the thorn in my side that allows me to accept the grace and mercy of the Lord, and my hopes are that you too, if this is something you struggle with, will feel the same for you, that His grace is sufficient in what we lack.
Happy New Year!
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.