ROI Not a misprint, just the abbreviation for something most of us are concerned with:
Return On Investment
We would all like to say that we do things and expect nothing in return, but the truth is we do expect something. For those with investments, it is a good return on what they invest in the market. For those who work, we hope for a raise/promotion based on our efforts.
In a relationship, we can say we are giving unconditional love, but what we are really saying is that we want to be loved the same way, thus we receive a ROI.
We could go on to cite other examples but let's just focus on two things, our faith and if appropriate, our recovery. If we have faith, we expect things to happen for good: Peter walking on water, the Centurion hoping for a miracle, most of us for healing or better quality of life, and add whatever situation you want. The ROI of faith is the fulfillment of that faith in what we trust in to happen. If it doesn't happen, we sometimes lose faith, and even lose it too soon before the intended result of success.
Use the Israelites as the best example of this, wandering 40 years when they had basically a 40 minute walk to the promised land. Truth is that if we are born again believers, we are realizing the destiny of our faith every day regardless of the daily circumstances. Our ROI is our salvation, bought and paid for in full. The investment was our surrender.
Now let's take one step more and enter recovery. Probably the biggest reason for relapse of addiction is impatience with the process of healing. We get into a relationship too soon because we are lonely, we switch jobs because we don't feel like we are making enough even though we are getting by, we put too much pressure on ourselves too soon, again trying to do this by ourselves, with our solutions. What we surrendered too, we un-surrender to, and we get the same results we always have by doing it our own way.
And then we crash even though our sponsors, advisors, friends tell us to keep doing the basics and that our ROI will eventually be sobriety. Instead, the same failure, the same low self esteem, the same brokenness returns, and, because we have run out of excuses, we blame everyone else. Our ROI has now become a Raging Out of control Individual!
So, let's look at the flip side, that part where we actually let someone else work our investment for us, that is where God comes in and we stay out. Look around at those who have made it to sobriety, look at their faces, see the lives that have been transformed and ask yourself a question- What was their ROI?
I can answer that without hesitation, it is a life that actually has roots of growth, joy and fulfillment all around it. Countless scriptures I won't quote all talk about what can happen to a transformed life, but there is one I would like to close with and let you decide for yourself what your ROI is............
"They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:8
The Lazarus Effect
Most of us know the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave. We see the emotion, the excitement, the amazement in the story and that is a great thing to marvel at. But do we see ourselves in that scenario?
As I was driving the other day, I began to think of how the Lord had lifted me up out of the grave of life I had buried myself in, and it came to me that there is a Lazarus Effect in all of us who were once way lost and virtually dead in our tracks. In so many cases of healing when Jesus touched a life there was great excitement, wanting to shout it out to someone that they had been healed by this amazing man, let someone know that they too could be healed.
The Lazarus Effect brings out in us the need to give back what we have received, especially the gift of life we received that we did not deserve. It compels us to go far beyond normal to reach out to others to let them know about how life can be transformed. It is truly summarized in Step 12 as we carry this message to others.
As I watched our brother Russell teach Sunday, I thought of his past, his strokes, his conversation with me of how blessed he was to still be alive, and I saw the Lazarus Effect in him. How incredible it has been to see him grow into a leader and teacher as the transformation of dead in the water to alive in Christ has given him a do-over!
I see it in so many others, that joy that comes from realizing how blessed we are just to be here, free from the compulsions and chains of addiction, and so willing to be thankful and humble. And as we worship the one who made this possible it is almost impossible to contain the unbridled joy that makes you just want to shout out to someone else who is buried in that lifeless grave of hopelessness......
Come out Lazarus, come out Mary, John, George, Sandra, etc, etc. for the Lord your God can raise you up from your living hell!
If it were only that simple. And since it is not, and we are not empowered by Him to raise anyone, we can instead be like Russell and live like we are not afraid of dying because we have already been there. And those around us will see the Lazarus Effect and just maybe they will want the same.
If Jesus wept for his friend, he must certainly be weeping for us until we are alive in Him!
The Mind Game
Reading several different Psalms this past week, I became caught up in how David kept asking God to destroy his enemies. Beyond that, he went into detail of how he wished the Lord would humiliate and slaughter them. It blew my mind a little how violent these words were, but as usual something profound came out of this reading.
The biggest enemy we have is right between our ears!
Maybe we have had times where we uttered those violent words to ask God to remove our "stinking thinking", you know- those enemies of thought that take us away from the path of God's will. How we struggle mightily with some things and have to get angry with ourselves to get to a point of wanting to destroy those thoughts.
It is the difference between using and not using, the difference from making a huge mistake and winning a spiritual battle, in three simple words it is The Mind Game. Not some PS4 mega game, this is reality, there is a spiritual war going on in our heads and the good news is that if we recognize this, if we struggle with this, we are taking the first step toward a victory. That's why reading a struggle in a Psalm can help us understand how David constantly called on God to help, even though he was a mighty warrior, he was a flawed human being just like us.
The mind game is not won through our skill and acumen, it is won by one who can take our controller and whip through the buttons of forward, reverse, play and stop with the greatest of ease because he knows what we need to win. In other words, take our mind off how we can do it and put it on asking Him for help.
There is no weakness in seeing our weakness and calling it out. If we fail to acknowledge it, it will continue to dominate our mind. If we let it go, as David did in his words, we set it free to be destroyed by the hand of God.
Unfortunately The Mind Game is really no game at all, it is our life, and our choice to live or let it destroy us!
That word just strikes fear into the hearts of us who have spent a whole lot of time on the wrong side of right. Many of us are still paying for the past in a multitude of ways and we see all around us how even simple words can take a great man or woman down if uttered falsely or in what they believed as truth. Remember the couple in the Bible who sold their field but lied about how much it sold for? Think of how even doing right (Jesus) caused a controversy that led to a crucifixion.
Consequences aren't always bad, but it just seems that way. Like aging, we all do but as we do things start breaking down because of that process. For the past month or so some kind of a pinched nerve or spinal malfunction has caused my left foot to experience numbness. So we took X-Rays on my last trip to ATL and the doctor who looked them over said I had severe degeneration and needed an Orthpedic appointment. Me, being an eternal optimist spent time speaking with my chiropractor today who suggested that all of us past a certain age are degenerating. Which of course gave me today's topic.
I have done things on the wrong side of life that have cost me dearly, and presently, in a more enlightened state, I watch as really good people are bent on self destruction. That conversation made me think of how God, in his infinite wisdom knows that our lives sometimes degenerate, and as optimistic as we all are, we believe we can find our way out. But sometimes there really is no way out and the consequence is death or incarceration (internally or externally). Our consequence is that we are trapped by our own decisions and no one on earth can help us out. That is, of course, no one on earth.
But when we surrender the situation, whatever it might be, to an almighty God who knows the way out, we find freedom, we find that consequences we deserve often don't happen the way they should. Like a divine chiropractor he makes an adjustment on us (hoping mine turns out the same way). How many times have we been saved by His grace and His love from what we should have suffered? Surrender doesn't always guarantee there will be no penalty, but it does guarantee we don't pay the ultimate penalty.
So the words "think before you act" should always be a part of our daily repetoire. Won't stop the aging process, or stop consequences for what good you believe in, but it will prevent us from suffering for bad decisions.
Now, for that adjustment...................
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.