What's your favorite Rocky movie? Most people I asked say IV where he fights the Russian Drago. I just like them all because it's all about being Down But Not Out! They are all about getting knocked around but getting up the strength to fight again.
Like Abe Lincoln. He was born in poverty, lost 8 elections before becoming President, twice failed in business, had a nervous breakdown, yet he led our nation through the greatest moral, constitutional and political crisis during the Civil War. What if he had lost that election and quit, where would we be now?
But, the greatest example of being DBNO is how Jesus went to the cross before his death and resurrection. All accounts speak of his torture but nothing depicts it better than the scourging scenes from Passion of The Christ. If you haven't seen it check it out on YouTube. God could have chosen something different, with much less pain to show us the way to redemption, but he did not. What this tells me, is that without pain, there is no gain in life.
Listening to Joyce Meyer the other day who suffered from childhood abuse, she mentioned that someone gave her a book on healing to read when she was younger which she promptly threw away because it brought up too much pain. That's how we tend to react when something is too painful to face, we escape the process. But if we do, the pain never goes away, in fact it causes us to inflict pain on others.
Maybe God was showing us that to get to redemption from our sins, addictions and pain, we only need to look at what Jesus went through to take heart, dig in to fight, and get to that bell in the last round? Think of how those punches in Rocky would have hurt if they were real. Do you think Abe was in pain after all that loss and having to face a divided warring nation?
It's simple, no pain, no gain. If we want to bounce back from adversity, we only have to look at the one who would not let pain hold him back from his purpose. In fact, if we have a purpose, we will fight through any pain to get where we need to go.
Fact, pain is weakness leaving the body. Don't hide, don't run, just keep punching, and though you may be down temporarily, you won't get knocked out if you find that purpose. Rocky's purpose, Adrianne of course. Abe's purpose, human rights, Jesus purpose, change the world.
Initiative: the action of taking the first step or move; responsibility for beginning or originating. Or you can take the second definition which I absolutely love: the characteristic of originating new ideas or methods; ability to think or act without being urged.
My one, simple but powerful goal in life remains this: go to heaven and take as many people as I can with me. It is stated boldly, it's message never changes, but how it is delivered always does. Through words that must be backed up by action to take root, or by Initiatives that may go where no one has gone before, this goal is being lived out daily by myself and ATB. We are truly an Initiative in progress.
When we were given an opportunity by a city in Gwinnett County to help with a homeless situation we were right there to help though we had no prior knowledge of how to do it. We pieced together partners and gave it our best shot but the men preferred to live in the woods. We learned something that we will unveil in a new program that will be introduced in April called "Homeless & Helpless", with a more targeted response to these situations.
When we presented an idea of having a Baptistry at ATB due to the generosity on one individual, and then another, some folks thought we had lost our mind. They forgot that no one baptized in the Bible was done so in a church, it was all in open water or other situations. Our Initiative has produced 28 new souls in roughly 45 days, most of which would not feel comfortable being baptized in a traditional church, but at ATB they found a home.
My point, don't be afraid to live your dreams, go where others have not attempted to be. Look at Jesus for inspiration, he went everywhere where no one else bothered to be, with folks no one wanted to be with.
He never tooted his own horn, and we aren't tooting ours, we are just doing what he did! But it takes Initiative without him always asking us to do so, it's in the blood he shed for us that is in our DNA!
In John Chapter 5 Jesus comes upon a man who has been paralyzed for 38 years. He asked him a simple question, "Do you want to get well?"
In the world of addiction that simple question is the key to recovery. If the answer is yes, we have the resources and skills to get you there if you are willing to endure the journey. But many of us are like this man who made an excuse why he hadn't gotten well before. His answer to Jesus question was not a resounding yes but this:
"Sir, I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in someone else goes down ahead of me." (note: when the water of the pool was stirred it supposedly had healing powers)
Excuses, we have a ton of them, it's called denial. Why don't you go to detox - I can do it on my own. Why don't you get someone to move you closer to the pool so you can get in quickly? Why? I believe the main reason why is we get so comfortable in a bad situation that we wallow in it, lamenting why everyone is against us and why no one understands me. It's classic from this story 2000 years ago until this very day. We are way too comfortable in misery.
Jesus then tells him to Get Up, which he did. Pick up that mat or in today's jargon Get Right and walk or simply Get Going! Then later he gave him a warning, that same warning we give to those who are thinking about a relapse, "stop sinning or something worse might happen to you". Or, stop using or you may die.
For the rest of this message you will have to come to Real Talk Recovery next Wednesday March 17th at 7:30 PM or be a male resident of Good Landing Recovery on the following morning, but here is the wrap-up:
God can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, but he won't do for us what we can do ourselves. Think about that and then regardless of what trials you are facing, Get Up, Get Right, Get Going!
I love the phrases used in A.A. that say we are a "work in progress" and that we strive for "progress not perfection". The reason why is simple, humility. Only by being humble can we overcome the powerful forces that powered our addictions and our sins. Check out the quote in the book of James: God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
No doubt that a life moved from darkness to light is continually under construction. I have seen and heard so many stories of life transformation and how it occurred that my own personal faith has continually been bolstered to know God is still in the miracle working business. Grace has abounded where punishment was deserved, and the more we understand that concept the more forgiven and understanding we feel.
But yet, we are still capable of bad decisions, horrible relationship skills, irresponsible financial choices and what we refer to as "stinking thinking". On both sides of this, the doers and the observers, need to understand these key words, under construction, humility and grace that need to be put into practice and remembered the way the Lord has taught us to do.
If God opposes the proud, then he is not happy with those who constantly point out what others are doing wrong (Luke 18:9-14) and also is not pleased with those who remain in denial that they are lost in sin or addiction. It takes humility to live it and grace to understand it, both not automatic for us as human beings.
That is why we who are more wrong and those who are more right need to both realize we are all under construction. Not just me, but also you. The day we arrive in heaven we will be roaming around with a whole bunch of recovering sinners, and we will all be perfected then..
Until then, let's strive for progress not perfection, and give each other a little space to grow.
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.