,While preparing for our Tuesday visit to Step By Step Recovery at a meeting for those who did not have jobs or were in community service, I said a simple prayer. "Lord just open up one person's heart today to talk about you. Just One, Lord!"
This meeting may only bring 6-10 folks in, but I have been here before in many places where it begins this small, and this was only our third meeting.
And, probably the most important lesson learned from over 25 years in ministry is that God wants us to do this one person at a time. So having only five show up lessened the odds of just one.
I remember some of the times when Jesus would teach the truth and provide hope, but folks would turn away. When he went into places where the non-religious people were, he didn't always have success unless there was a miracle involved. I had no miracles this day, just a topic on grace and a pocket full of faith.
As God usually does when our intentions are on him, he came through in a big way. No, let me change that, he came through in a unanimous way. There wasn't just one who spoke about him, but five. Often in these small intimate groups, the truth of people's hearts is forthcoming. The more the meeting went on, the more excited I got. and it was all I could do to not give an altar call!
Serving is not about the quantity of people you reach, it is about bringing quality to the people you do reach and impacting their hearts in a quantitative way.
The Good News is far greater than the bad news morality our society preaches: get more, do more, be more, take more, and you never have more enough.
That message is the fuel that powers addiction and simply showing the alternative, that message that God can take you much higher than any illegal substance, has a profound effect on ears that will listen. All we have to be is the messenger.
And pray first, Just One, Lord!
,But I just couldn't keep it to myself! Love that song and the energy it brings about when we worship the Lord. From what little I know about God compared to his infinite aura, I believe he wants us to be excited and passionate about loving Him and loving each other. That love fuels passion for spreading more love, more compassion, more understanding and ultimately more joy!
But.......I always have to keep myself in check to make sure that anything done with this passion is not misinterpreted as my doing. I love the phrase, "He would ever increase, and I would ever decrease." We can't stop being enthusiastic and on fire for the Lord, but we can always give the credit where it is due, and that is to the reason for our fire, the redemption of our souls from darkness.
That means coming out of the dark generates light, and we must let our lights shine before men to let them know there is a way out. And sometimes we need to shine light to renew the spirits of those who have lost that passion and excitement within the church. It is very easy to get comfortable, to enjoy the fellowship of those like minded to us and not want to tread into the unknown. Nothing wrong with that, but...
Jesus kept shaking things up and sent 12 Apostles to do the same. Shaking things up from the standpoint of leaving religion behind and advancing the true spirituality of a personal relationship with an overwhelmingly awesome God. They rocked the world with a message of hope and forgiveness that was much contrary to the mundane set of multiple rules religion had made.
Said I Wasn't Gonna Shout About It, but...Jesus nailed the rules to that cross making a public spectacle of them, and asked us to do two wonderfully amazing things, Love God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. Right now I am having a hard time containing my enthusiasm for all the doors opening to shout about His message, and finding more neighbors to love.
Maybe it is because I realistically may be around another 10-15 years or so, and I don't want to spend those years mumbling but instead shouting and helping to shake things up a little before I go.
Definitely can't keep it to myself!
In the days of Christ ,Jews and Samaritans were at violent odds with each other. Jews went so far as to call Samaritans half-breeds and would not associate with them. Jesus of course showed us something by speaking to the Samaritan woman and further made a point by telling a parable about the Good Samaritan who helped the man robbed and left for dead when his own people would not help.
But it is what is said before he told that parable that struck me. When he asked the Jewish teacher of the law how do you read the law, the teacher responded with "love your God and love your neighbor" as the most important. Jesus then said "do this and you will live". The response of the teacher was of course "who is my neighbor?".
Well that is my question based on the results of a parable where a man considered a half-breed by others, someone who religious people feel justified hating, he was the one who helped that man back on his feet. In today's world that parable might be titled The Good Muslim.
And what are we to think of that, a man of a religion that is different than ours, who might help someone that no man or woman of Christian faith would? Way back in the 80's I had two of them who helped me to straighten out my life, Abu Shaka and Jibri, two black Muslims who challenged my faith and challenged me to get my life back together. Then, as a gesture of faith, they came to my wedding at Sandy Springs Church of Christ.
You see, our neighbor is everyone, regardless of race or religion. Jesus played no favorites as God plays no favorites. The last two weeks at Campus, Dusty has told us of Muslim's who converted to Christ despite all odds, and we never know the one "neighbor" we may influence who God wants us to befriend.
Hatred only begets more hatred. Love however covers over a multitude of sins. The real question is does God love my neighbor?
I think you know the answer.
Ask, Seek and Knock. Three important action words for any worthwhile endeavor. For God, it involves doing something for others, requesting help when needed or just simply looking for a new path to open in life that would include Him.
Unfortunately we make it about our own selfish needs more often than not. Asking for things we really don't need, Seeking to go places we should not go, and knocking on doors that will never open. Why? Because we are stubborn and get tired of doing God stuff. The mind of an addict is both a complicated and exciting thing. But more often than we should, that mind plays tricks on our thinking. It takes an addict to fully understand another one.
That is why I have chosen a path that walks with people who are thinking in a destructive way as I once thought. It seems that God has a use for me still and just had me in training for these moments the last few years. In a meeting with Bridget Hall who heads Step By Step Recovery today, there were two minds that thought almost exactly alike talking about people exactly like us whom we could help.
The door is wide open for a spiritual solution, we are now going to do a spiritual meeting once a week on site at SBS as we have done in the past ministering to some of the most creatively destructive 18-30 year olds who may or may not know anything about Jesus. There are no restrictions on how that meeting is handled,:we can do what God wants us to do. But that's not all...
Knock And The Door Will Be Opened
The opportunity and facilities have been given to do a worship service on site, on a different day, that would be geared to all types of folks who may never enter a mainstream church. It would be supported, promoted and led by those who the mind of an addict who have been transformed from stinking thinking to the mind of God.
God does not waste time; things that I thought would take months to accomplish have already taken place in just a few weeks. Just a little while ago I had no idea that God would have me be involved in this, nor that doors would open this quickly. I was concerned with selling 200 Used Cars while the Lord was planning to send me home, a prayer requested by myself and others.
Ask and you will receive, Seek And You Will Find, Knock And The Door Will Be Opened!
After being away for some time I get the pleasure of teaching at ATB this Sunday following in the footsteps of some great teachers who kicked off our series on "The Life You've Always Wanted" by John Ortberg. Having the choice of a couple of topics, one I picked was "A Dee Dah Day" which is all about JOY!
We will be talking about lots of things this week, but one will be about the little girl who does the Dee Dah Dance to express her unbridled childlike joy. When was the last time you felt so joyful that you broke out in a happiness dance? Is JOY a part of your day or are you in too much of a hurry to take the time to be thankful, to appreciate the goodness in your life, or to watch your your kids just act with wild abandon like they have no care in the world?
Remember in the book of Genesis when God said, he created the world and it was good? He was doing his version of the Dee Dah Dance thinking what a wonderful place he made. Then he created more good things, and they too were good. But how often do we as part of that good creation not have JOY but instead focus on the negative like we don't have enough, or the factor of time which we never seem to have enough of?
Lots of questions I know but I discovered by reading and preparing with this chapter that my life is just absolutely overwhelmed with JOY. Yes, there were many valleys before the mountain top but God has shown up for me and he is dancing with delight I am sure because my intent is to spread as much JOY as I can. Not just normal JOY but the kind that makes you want to get up and dance.
There are so many unhappy folks out there that have just missed this joy thing that the objective is to gather together as many of us who are full of JOY, and spread the good news that they can change, life can indeed change when you get hooked up with God.
Louis Smedes said "to miss out on joy is to miss out on the reason for your existence".
I want to do more than just exist, I want to dance with JOY and celebrate every day as if it were a Dee Dah Day! God is truly good!
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.