Maybe you still have one in active service in your house for the kids. One of those "Bop Bags" you inflate so that your kids (and maybe you) can practice releasing some energy by hitting the bag. You can punch it, kick it, tackle it and yet it still bounces right back up again to a standing position.
One day, I heard a preacher on a radio station express the words of his son. The child said, "Dad, I know what a Christian is supposed to be like, just like a bop bag, the devil hits them with his best shot and they bounce right back up". Maybe not right back up, but eventually righted.
In real life, take the case of our brother Russell, who the day before yesterday suffered at least two strokes, one temporarily putting one of his eyes out of commission. He now has to wear a patch for awhile so that he can balance his vision through his good eye. Today on the phone one might expect some sadness, maybe some depression, but not Russell. He said he had to keep working so today he added some new clients (less than 48 hours from the strokes), and was honored to possibly be the only one eyed attorney in ATL (which actually may help him get more clients).
Point is, adversity can knock us down, for a loop, or knock us out completely. But people like Russell will have none of that because their faith is the balanced weight that contributes to a quick rebound. When you think about it, we will be in heaven one day despite any ups or downs we face on earth. It's not if but a matter of when it happens, the devil will try to deflate our spirit at any moment so that we have no ability to bounce back.
We can complain, have a woe is me attitude or just realize that things that happen to us are just part of life, whether we are good, bad or on the fence. As the song so aptly said, "I beg your pardon, I didn't promise you a rose garden". And, even if we had one, there are still thorns to contend with.
The point, we should be like that bop bag as the son suggested. And to be so, we must have the spiritual weight within us to ensure we don't tip over in adversity, no matter what the situation. God has given us a guarantee against deflation, it's called The Holy Spirit, and it has a lifetime warranty.
Russell's good to go, he got punched, kicked and tackled, and he bounced right back up!
If you have never experienced a live auction of any product, you are missing an exciting event. Especially an auto auction which to me exemplifies real true life. Do I sound like I am not making a whole lot of sense? Please allow me to explain.
The very first time I went to an auction I bought a VW which I felt very proud of because I literally stole it under the market price. Driving it to the dealership, I heard several noises which I discounted as ordinary wear and tear, but to my surprise the transmission began to buck and eventually gave out. $3000 later I learned several valuable lessons: 1. If you are going to buy a used car, check it out before you do, 2. Be careful who you buy from because you can trick up a transmission to run well for a mile or two, and 3. If you think you stole something at an auction with several hundred other expert bidders watching on, you have false pride.
How does that apply to sobriety and walking by a moral compass: 1. Consult God before any major purchases or life changes, he could and would help you. 2. When the Bible says "be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves" we tend to think of being innocent first, but what I see God telling us is to elevate our thinking beyond the company we are keeping. If in a pit of snakes, think of how to slither out of there without getting fatally bit (see #1 as how to get out), and 3. Stay humble always, you can be replaced in any situation by someone doing #1 & 2 correctly.
To further make my point, consider the auctioneer. His job is to 1. Speak as loud and fast as he can to confuse you and make you think people are bidding against you when they are sometimes not, (when they see someone show up in a suit and tie, they will run that person up incessantly because they know how much "false pride" they have) 2. To make you pay every penny of what the vehicle is worth, thus making the seller happier than the buyer, and 3. To tell as many funny stories as he can to keep your guard down.
Like yesterday, a Subaru came in the lane, which caused the auctioneer to say, &*^% I can't even spell Subaru or whatever you call it, that's why I drive a F O R D, cause I can remember it a lot easier." While everyone was still laughing at his redneck twang, the bidders went ballistic and ran the car up well beyond its intended value. Point taken.
What can we learn from this? 1. Listen to the right voice about how your life should go, if you think you paid too much with God, remember how much he paid for you. 2. Don't keep people constantly trying to earn your love and respect, it wears them out and costs too much in human dignity. Extend grace, your reward will be much more fulfilling. And 3. Don't manipulate people with your charisma and charm, make them laugh, make them feel good about themselves, but don't steal their wallet in the process (major addict defect#1).
See, Life As An Auction is a lot like every day life, maybe that's why I enjoy the process. Consult an authority greater than yourself, count the cost of making a major move or change, use your brains and talent to their full potential (instead of fool potential), be graceful and humble, and don't talk so fast that no one can understand you.
And, if you tell funny stories, laugh with others not at them.
It was 1984, the year of major transition for my life. I bought a ring from a guy who asked me if I had found a preacher to marry Paula (Paul and Briana's Mom) and me. We were both still drug addict and alcoholic respectively and had been married a couple of times, but we were seeking to find another way. He mentioned that we should try his preacher, Bill Long at the Sandy Springs Church of Christ.
We interviewed with him for several hours before he said, "Well I know the Lord will forgive your past, and so will I". At the same time he took us to witness a baptism and, being raised a Catholic, I wanted to know where all the statues and crucifixes were in the sanctuary. He said we would talk later and explain it all.
It was his grace filled acceptance of us that day that led to both our conversions to Christ, and my own personal desire to extend that same grace to others. A few years later, I heard the story of he and his brother Jesse and began to realize what pioneers of faith these brothers were. If not for Bill, my life would be in the tank, but it was not until I came to Campus Church that I realized both these men had the same accepting and encouraging mentality.
Jesse would often stop me in church to say how pleased he was with ATB. Then he would speak to those in our group as if they were members of his own family. One time I got to speak with him alone in his office as he waited for Marilyn to deliver his dinner and he spoke of his love for the lost and how Campus should be a place of comfort for all types of people who want to follow the Lord.
These are just words, but when you look around at how many churches reject the "sinners and tax collectors" of this modern day, you see how the heart of both these men has contributed to bringing many, many folks to the Lord. They embody forgiveness, love, and acceptance.
As we mourn Jesse's passing, we pick up his torch to carry it forward with the same spirit he carried it with. It is our charge, as Dusty likes to say, to take the work Jesse has founded and build upon it with his same charisma and vision. It is an understatement to say that his vision was empowered by the Lord himself.
We will miss you brother, but as someone said, you are now dancing up there with the Lord. For your legacy, your spirit and your example of how a man should live his life, we thank God for you and hope you will be proud of how we run with that torch you lit.
You have run the race, and you have won!
You have probably read the popular best seller by Spencer Johnson entitled "Who Moved My Cheese". In it, he uses mice as a parallel to humans as to how to deal with change. And change is a big, big word for us, as it involves stepping often way out of our comfort zone.
Today, I went to the auction cafeteria to eat lunch after the sale. They actually have some pretty good food. I decided that I would order the grilled ham & cheese, being so close to Mother's Day, it reminded me of what Mom used to make. The server asked me what kind of cheese and I answered, Provolone. After a few second delay asking somebody else what they wanted (Tuna) she proceeded to put American Cheese on my sandwich.
You've been there I know. Now I am faced with several options here since someone swapped my cheese. On a real good day for me, I chose the Christian option (passive) and said nothing, later enjoying the natural combination it offered. Later, I reflected on this and thus this week's blog topic.
Sometimes change is chosen, sometimes it just hits us out of the blue, and often it comes upon us with no choice but to accept it and move on. Change is the most difficult thing for those in recovery or those whose lives are shaped by structure and routine. But as I have experienced it, change is the essence of growth and of stretching one's own faith.
Change was the constant in the 2000 year old New Testament (you can count them all and never reach the end of counting), and it is the constant of 2014. Whenever we get too comfortable or feel too entitled, we need change to shake us up, to keep us moving toward heaven and our fellow man.
The answer to "Who Swapped My Cheese" is the Lord himself. He never stops challenging us to grow, never stops letting us experience all that he created for life. Easily, I could have complained about my cheese being swapped today, but behind that counter was one of God's cheese swappers in disguise.
My Mom would have been proud of that server, she was just as stubborn as she was. She would have been proud of me too, I didn't panic when my cheese was moved! Lesson learned.
Am getting ready to head home from Daphne, Al and moments ago one of the employees here at the Hyundai store just shared her story with me. You just never know when doing so will have a major impact on someone else.
Several years ago her husband had gone to Wal-Mart, bought a gun and fatally shot himself in the parking lot (that is the cleaned up version). There was no warning. No apparent signs of despair. This tragic event threw her into a 3 year downward spiral of Crystal Meth use and every other kind of drug available. She was lucky because somewhere along the way she started realizing she needed a personal relationship with God to pull her out of this tailspin.
In her own words, she somehow avoided jail but found Jesus, and when she did she began a parallel journey with Narcotics Anonymous and now has 7 years clean. Her point to me was, you have to know, walk with and talk with the Lord every day to take that journey back to healing, but you also need the work of the 12 Steps to change your behavioral issues. The one without the other is like having a toothbrush with no toothpaste to put on it, your teeth get scrubbed but not cleaned.
Great words to share, but how about you? Do you want us to share your story, either anonymously or with signature on our website? You can either do so in a short version comment on the blog or contact Kim Thames or I to arrange a video or post somewhere on this site for a longer version. It would be a great blessing for us to post your story and certainly an inspiration to others. In a way, we are writing a modern day section of scripture by being honest and open about the healing power of the Lord.
Let us know, but in the meantime, let us thank God for the salvation and deliverance of this woman, and pray that if any traumatic situation like hers may occur in our lives, we would be ready to call on Him, not the drugs, for an answer.
Having plenty of time to listen to advertising on the radio while driving, the constant investment advice is now to buy gold.
It's probably always been a good investment but now seems to be the best time to stock up your trunks, lock boxes and safes with gold bars. But don't cash in your 401K's just yet.
In reading the Bible I see where God has placed a tremendous value on human beings. Somehow we lose sight of just exactly how God perceives his creations. We treat ourselves badly, abusing our bodies and souls with many forms of things that are designed to be only temporary measures of what we think of as joy. But if we read closely we see that the Lord had made us to "shine like stars in the universe", and that only happens if we turn on his light switch.
We can truly be as good as gold, because the investment He made in us lasts an eternity. The value is beyond measure. Next time you look in the mirror say to yourself, "I am wonderfully made, in the image of God', so now I need to act like it, and be more aware of how much we are worth. Think of it in a practical sense....who could spread the gospel other than us? Who could bring good news but us?
Maybe God needs us as much as we need him. We are his golden men and women who can forever help others who don't feel so golden to change their lives. What a difference we can make by perceiving ourselves as an investment in eternity, not in a short term fix. Gold attracts awe and admiration from those who see it shine, so lets be as good as gold wherever we go and whenever we meet someone who needs to make an eternal investment.
As we remember our departed brother T.J. Fernandez this week, he is about as close as I can think to someone who was always shining that golden light around on others. So, in his honor, let's remember the golden rule this week and act upon it:
Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you...........
You've probably seen the latest Marine Corps commercial which indicates that Marines run toward the battle, not away from it. That's what I was taught over and over while serving, we do not retreat under any circumstance, we stand and fight. However somewhere along my path toward addiction, escape became a reality and usually I would avoid the battle, preferring the bottle.
Sobered up 28 years later, that which I learned as a Marine has come back into play. I absolutely enjoy running toward tha battle now because there is now something inside me that is non-alcoholic that gives me courage. My battles, others battles, doesn't matter, let's fight them together, because far greater is Him that is in me than he that is in the world. Some we win, some we lose, either way He is still with us, and hopefully we will still be facing it together. We don't shoot our wounded or leave anyone behind, we are always looking to win the war, even if we have to lose a battle to ultimately win. Remember that.
This afternoon I am driving toward Pensacola where flooding and rain has been in epic proportions this week. So far the roads are clear, but the battle scars still remain. Once again I find myself running toward the battle, who knows who might need help. However, as in life, some are spared while others suffer. Somehow, our Fiat store, sitting within 50 feet of three flooded other dealerships that lost more than 500 cars to flooding escaped unharmed and open for business as usual. Which brings to mind my point.
Just because folks are fighting battles that they lose, and others remain winners (so called), consider it a blessing because our next battle we may lose is right around the corner. Ask Paul or Peter, check out any of the other apostles. Check out the early Christians who died so that we may worship freely.
The key is when you run toward the battle, you are inviting the presence of God to see you through, win or lose. When you run away, you are seeking counsel from the enemy, and he is clearly ready to help you avoid it as often as possible.
In the Marines, you earn your stripes, when you see men and women with numerous decorations, you see hardened combat veterans who you want to stand with you in battle. If we can do the same as Christians, run toward the battles with our brothers and sisters, see the decorations on the faces and in the hearts of our leaders, then maybe we can borrow that slogan and use it for the Lord.....
The few, the proud, the Christians!
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.