A man of courage is full of faith - Marcus Tullius Cicero 63 AD
I remember so well my attitude when I joined the Marines. I believed in our cause in Viet Nam, I was ready to die for my country and I volunteered for anything that meant getting in the war. There were others who were like me, and we formed what was an elite band of brothers who felt like we could walk through walls.
And then I remember coming back to the USA, landing in LA International Airport, getting cursed at, called murderer and feeling totally deflated at how we fought that war - our own country would not let us win, we fought with one hand tied behind our back. And for the next decade and a half I sunk into my addiction, having lost my faith in what I believed in. My courage to fight was gone.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts. Winston Churchill
In 1984 it all changed for me. I found something to put my faith back into use, a personal relationship with my creator through His son Jesus. In him I found redemption, forgiveness and the courage to change what had become a very dysfunctional life. This time I put my faith in the right place, on the rock, in the one that had the power to heal my defects which had grown to many, and the one who could put my life back together again.
Courage - ability to do something that frightens one. Strength in the midst of pain or grief.
On September 2015 I got the phone call that my youngest son had been killed in a motorcycle accident. It was devastating, it was the worst moment of my life. Now 30 years into my recovery and Christian faith, I began the 5 hour drive back to Atlanta to face three women who were wailing and completely heart broken, his Mom, his wife and my youngest daughter.
I did not want to speak to friends or people who wanted to console me - maybe I was on the phone 15 minutes. I wanted to hear from my creator how to handle this, how to understand this and how to process my grief. So for 4 hours and 45 minutes God and I spoke and he reminded me that my faith would give me the courage to carry on. And he reminded me of Peter who failed his first few courage tests but came back under the power of the Spirit to be one of God's greatest men.
Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently. Maya Angelou
The Lion in the Wizard of Oz found his courage, Peter got his, and I am so thankful I found mine. Truly we can say that faith in what you believe in can propel us all into a courageous lifestyle, in which we make courageous decisions.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference!
This has been a good week, and it makes sense because it is "Holy Week" when we remember the suffering, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Every day is His day, but the days of this week brought a march to the cross of Surrender that reminds us of who saved us and how he did.
If you put all the events into one word, I would use this word - Surrender. He had to surrender to the authorities, to the pain, to the de-humanizing death on that cross, and temporarily to death itself before he could rise again to his destiny. Likewise, we must understand this in order to be transformed from worldly thinkers to Godly thinkers. Our surrender cannot be framed in the methods of just a simple prayer and Baptism; it has to be surrender to a complete lifestyle change, not one with one foot in and one foot out.
The cross to me represents complete humiliation and unconditional surrender, so that the work of God could be completed. Not pretty, not warm and fuzzy, it is a painful process to have one human being undertake a total makeover to realize that transformation. He did it for us, and asks us to do it for him.
This week, ten men and women vowed to surrender to Christ, at least several in tears about their failures. Both Darryl and Barry spoke this week on going through the process of suffering to be changed and how we can come to believe in a God who really, truly loves us enough to send his own son to the cross. That motivation comes at a time when many of us have hit rock bottom and are looking for a way back home.
That way, that way of Surrender, was not only given us by example, it is the only way a relationship with Christ can truly work. Lay down our sins, our toys, and our minds at the foot of the cross, then bury them, and let the power of almighty God lift us back up to be the incredible people he intended us to be. That is the destiny he destined for each one of us!
That's why he Surrendered!
There is an undeniable link that binds together the world as we know it. We link to each other, we connect with mother nature, and if we are really seeking the utmost connection, we find God. Through it all is a journey to find a connection that brings peace, love and fulfillment to our lives.
But along the way, some of us get lost and disconnected by a variety of circumstances that take us into a different and mind boggling connection with our addiction. When that happens all the other links to reality start fading away, and ultimately we cannot get back on that pathway to freedom by ourselves. We need help, we need something more than ourselves to find it.
Some may call that a weakness, a sin that just takes forgiveness, but in reality it is like we have boarded a train that will not stop at any station because it is going too fast. We are out of control, yet somehow not wanting anything else to control us, so we balk at those connections and isolate instead, and then we sink deeper into a very helpless place.
Over the years of my own recovery from alcoholism and 30 years of ministry to other addicts, the value of making connections has risen to the top of my list to find that peace, love and fulfillment. If you look at our logo and the sign that hangs over our building it says "Connections Inspiring Hope". It is a simple statement of fact, that if we can reach people who want to find sobriety, we do so by making a walk with them hand in hand, and we start right where they are at.
All the wonderful programs that help us to recover can be re-invented, duplicated and modified, but it all comes down to the simplicity of this question: are we connecting with people by loving them despite the flaws, despite the dysfunctional behavior and despite the fact they are as far away from connecting to God as Earth is to Mars. All we have to do is look at the example of what Jesus did with these folks to understand what we need to do.
So at ATB we operate very simply on the premise that in every opportunity we have, we want to connect with you in a very up front and personal way, giving you the experience of the real, true, genuine love of God, and the invitation to return the next time we meet to continue to meet Him. In this way we are standing in the gap, or bringing you Across The Bridge if you prefer, from being lost to being found, and giving you the opportunity to meet Him more each time we meet.
In that way, we connect you to Him, to others, and ultimately back to who you really are. So far in 2019, we have reached almost 5000 people, many who keep coming back, and the numbers continue to grow. In one word, it's all about Connection!
Thank you for your prayers, support and generosity. Please donate to our Across the Bridge Go Fund Me as your donation will be doubled between now and May 1st by another generous donor!
When a battle is lost, the usual method of acknowledgement is waving a white flag, or in modern day language, tap out. But then are there are those such as my former countrymen in Lithuania many years ago, who committed mass suicide rather than being dominated by their oppressor. For some people it is just too hard to deal with all the pain of what might be considered disgrace.
In a meeting this week, two men spoke of how they used heroin and meth under control, carefully buying the product, sanitizing all their needles and paraphernalia so that everything was under so-called control. Then events happened, and they didn't care anymore. Instead of surrendering to admit they had a problem, they compounded the problem, and things have gotten much worse since, until now.
Not just in the area of addiction, but also in the area of just plain sinful behavior, lying, cheating, stealing, abusing, manipulating and anything else, the answer to regroup, to start all over in transformation, is surrender. But not just a surrender, but an unconditional surrender of everything to be sponged out into a clean slate of a new beginning.
If we surrender and keep taking it back, we never get straightened out. One of the great Hymns that always touches my heart is "All To Jesus I surrender, I Surrender All!" Why to the average person who may or may not know about who he was or what he can do would this matter? Let's look at a couple of surrenders from his time on earth:
He took five loaves of bread and two fish and fed 5000 people, then had leftovers. How did this happen? The apostles turned the 5 and 2 over to Jesus; they surrendered their food and God gave them back a banquet. Lazarus died, his family kind of blamed Jesus by saying this would have not happened if you were here. But Lazarus had to surrender his life, for God to demonstrate that once you put the impossible in His hands, he does the impossible. Mary Magdalene was broken before her surrender of her way of life, and a shining start thereafter. It goes on and on with God...
But we cannot let our addictions and sins go on and on because they eventually lead to disastrous results. We can surrender without fear that we cannot heal because of the nature of this amazing God we serve. But it won't work if we don't Surrender All by turning our life and our will over to He who will deliver the results that we cannot deliver ourselves.
Unconditional. powerless, unmanageable, just surrender all!
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.