With Easter coming soon I have a compelling question. What do you think of when you think of the cross? Is it an ornament that looks good, a symbol of faith, or maybe an example of wrong doing? Or possibly the death of our sins, or even an excruciating example of how much God loves us?
To me it is all of the above and more. I wear a cross around my neck, have a cross tattooed on my right arm (designed by my oldest and youngest sons), and if you haven't noticed there is a cross in our name - Across The Bridge. Every day even before I open my Bible the cross is everywhere around me, and it is everything to me. To think that a price so large was paid for my soul is overwhelming and transforming.
That is why I like the phrase Cross Training. You see it in athletics and in the gym, but how about every day life? Check this out:
Take Up + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + Shape Up
Rise Up from the ashes of our broken life, Take Up our crosses daily to lay our strengths aside (and our ego) to follow Him, Shape Up in the way we act toward others and in our moral compass, and to Look Up every day for the guidance of his Holy Spirit to direct our pathway in life.
That's my Cross Training, though a little bit of that physical training is also so good for so many reasons. However, without the emphasis on our spiritual needs we are just getting another temporary fix.
I've had too many of those, I'll just keep looking at that cross for permanent solutions!
What is your passion in life? What is it that really gets your blood flowing and your mind racing? In the south many would say football and you can count me in on that one. Other answers would be as diverse as the stars in the sky, but in truth, we all need something that we love to do to bring out the best in us.
People, that's mine. Helping people, getting to know people, believing in people, serving with other people, and loving people. The song says "people, people who need people, are the luckiest people in the world". I love my alone time, but people fuel my spirit, especially people searching for God.
Think about the Apostles for a moment. They were certainly motivated by God's Spirit to serve and spread the word of Good News, but they needed people to talk to, people to respond to, people that challenged their faith and purpose to grow. What does it say about us if we say we don't need people or we don't like people? Maybe we have been hurt, maybe we are a loner or an introvert, but we still need people.
The human race is flawed but so are we. Accepting that others will not be like us is a key to understanding that God made us all different, and if he didn't this would be a very boring existence. I love the Alabama fans, the Gator chompers and the Who Dat Saints fans because they are passionate like me. But I really love folks who are lost and are looking to find some light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
Monday night a man who ATB had helped several months ago with his rent came up to me and handed me $100.
It lit me up because we had made a difference for him but in turn he wanted to make a difference for someone else. When Jesus healed the ten lepers only one came back to thank him, and he was a foreigner who may not have understood fully who Jesus was. But he came back and he lit the Lord up.
People, people who need people are the luckiest people in the world. And people, people who look for the good in other people, well they are really blessed. Gotta love it!
We admitted to God, to ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Step Five
Take a moment to really think about it with an open mind. Is there something you may be holding inside in a secret chamber you may have locked up that is holding you back? It's so natural to not want anyone else to know our deep, dark secrets, but yet so harmful if we want to live a life of honesty.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins from ALL (that's right ALL) unrighteousness. ! John 1:8-9
Sometimes folks are reluctant to work the 12 Steps because they are fearful of what they will have to do like what is required in Step Five above. In fact, all of these Steps came out of a spiritual movement called the Oxford Group back in 1935 where the formation of A.A. began. Every Step comes from scripture, every Step is there to promote honesty, faith and truth.
Our secrets keep us sick is a saying we use in the rooms of our meetings because they cause isolation and actually form the seeds that grow within us to bear bad fruit. There are some secrets and sins about me that some folks have had a hard time dealing with, but God hasn't and those who really know me haven't held those against me either. So what's the problem with confessing?
Ask David or better yet, read 2 Samuel 12:1-10. David hid his sins even though he was described as a man after God's own heart. When confronted with an analogy he criticized the one who was wrong before the prophet Nathan pointed out it was him. As a result, Nathan told him "the sword will never depart from your house" and we know David's life got very rough for keeping his secrets to himself.
Only you and God know if that is you, but what I am certain of in my own life is that I would rather be real than the plastic man I was in addiction. And if I keep confessing when needed, and my soul is free of those secrets, then I am free to be me, the me God intended me to be, and I am free to be clean and sober.
And the truth shall set you free!
And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come. I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth". Genesis 9:12-13
How many times have we asked God for a sign, and then he sent us one. We may have ignored it because we didn't like it, or we just weren't paying attention. Or maybe we weren't patient enough to wait for that sign, or possibly it was already there. Like the rainbow.
Coming after a rain shower, a severe storm or even catastrophic events like a tornado or hurricane, when the rainbow appears, it is a sign of hope, that everything is going to be okay. It's God's way of comforting us when we need it most - yes, he says, I am here, and I am watching over you!
Now these verses come after the flood that destroyed most of the earth, with the exception of Noah's family and two of every animal and birds. The symbolism to me is that even if everything else is destroyed in our lives, we are still here, we have us, we have Him, and we have a rainbow that says it's never going to be that bad again. Maybe bad, but never that bad again.
In my own recent experience of trying to eat less sugar during Lent as a covenant between God and I, I reluctantly admit a few slips. If we think for some reason God has slips like we do, we have missed many points of scripture that tell us emphatically God holds true to His word. I am thankful he extends forgiveness although I did have a flood in my apartment a few months ago.
Turns out, it was all restored. And I saw a rainbow the other day to remind me who made sure it was!
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.