There is no doubt we all wish we had the characteristics of a warrior: Confident, Courageous, Disciplined, Aggressive, Steadfast, and Bold. It is a fact that many of these qualities already exist within us, we have just not been able to put them into practice. I submit they are not always good; sometimes they cause bad decisions in the heat of the moment because the one we follow into battle is not the right one.
I can do all things through him who gives me strength. Phil 4:13
We can get cocky, arrogant, rigid, way too controlling and often way too overbearing when we trust our own instincts to be the god of our choices. Take Naaman for example, a commander and mighty warrior in the Syrian Army who also happened to be a leper. Strange combination to be sure, much like the makeup of we who are today's addicts. Or as I like to call it a "contradiction in progress".
Naaman had to be talked into getting help for his disease (you may be starting to see my point), then he went to the wrong man to heal him looking to pay his way out of pain (getting warmer? When that didn't work, God's man (the one who could heal him), requested an appointment but to Naaman's dismay he wanted just a phone call chat to begin rather than up close and personal (understandable if he had leprosy). He told him to dip in the water seven times to get healed (work the Steps, get a sponsor, bring the Lord into your life).
But that mighty warrior thought he deserved a quick fix (heating up?) and was angry that he wasn't shown respect, him being so courageous and all. But God had a lesson for Naaman, as he does for us - pay attention to the instructions, get humble, trust, and persevere. When he did that (and only then) he become healed and thankful for what he received for free, and he got to keep all his wealth even though he tried to give it away because he became grateful!
We can be that Warrior, but we must follow the instructions of the one we follow into this recovery battle who has the power to heal, not just make us feel better for a few moments. That one is God, through his son Jesus Christ, who was and always will be the most courageous warrior in the history of mankind. He followed the steps his Father laid out for him to a tee, the pain, the suffering, the loss of his life, and the result was the salvation of mankind.
Confident, Courageous, Disciplined, Aggressive, Steadfast and Bold, we become these when we follow Him because "greater is he than is in this world".
The Mind Of A Warrior, that is the mind of Christ!
This has been an unusual and challenging week for me, one that has challenged my fatherhood, brought on great emotion from past marriages, and made me wonder what's ahead? Can you identify with something like that?
My son's death weighed heavily on my mind as I cruised through Duluth, so I called the only one who would understand my pain, his Mom. As we spoke together, the feelings of the pain of divorce, my own stupidity as a husband and a father, and all sorts of emotions raged in that thirty minute conversation. But afterward I felt relieved, my emotions were released.
A couple days later, my middle daughter (3 boys, 3 girls) was arrested in Mobile, Alabama and after many conversations with hwe and her Mom (another ex-wife), we decided the best course of action for her was to bring her to ATL and go to rehab. Since she and I had not seen each other in several years, due to many different scenarios, this was a homecoming and had way more emotion than I thought possible.
As I looked at her across the table at an IHOP breakfast, I saw me, at the same age, and I truly saw her pain, although differing circumstances and drugs of choice. And I thought how the consequences of my addictive actions had affected her, and then another set of emotions wailed away at my heart. For an Ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who likes to stay level headed, my head was spinning like a top.
Say nothing of all the meetings, phone calls and texts from other people in recovery, here comes a text from my first ex-wife who should have long ago turned her back on me, who will be in Atlanta for a day or so and wants to see our ATB Building and have dinner. Little did she know that just last weekend I was looking at old pictures and thinking how I married and had 3 children with such a beautiful and talented woman who ended up with a half crazy war veteran with a rebellious and selfish spirit.
Not sure what else is in store this week, but I know this for sure, God has opened my heart wide open to understanding, becoming a better father, looking at what value I squandered to learn from my own selfish desires, my only child mentality and wants me to open up even more to love.
After all, His love for us brought us the healing of our souls despite our past mistakes and his command to us says it all:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul,and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself!
I figured it out, I never loved Him or myself enough to love others. Now I do, now I will, it's not too late for me. How about you?
Seems like I have had this song by the Zombies rattling through my head ever since I watched their introduction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. This 70s group played a big part in a musical revolution back then along with other English groups like the Beatles. It was a golden era of music.
We used this song as a reference in a meeting noticing that it has the word no in it 63 times. Whenever temptation comes, when prayer doesn't seem to be enough, when will power is failing fast, talk to that temptation and tell it no 63 times. It takes about a minute, and if you are like most of us with several versions of ADHD, you end up talking yourself out of what you wanted to do. Just Tell Her No- the slower you say it, the better chance that you will forget about what you wanted to do.
Think about what this means biblically. God told David no, that he could not build the temple because he was a man of war, he had blood on his hands. But there were so many times when God did say yes to David, so if in this one case he told him no, it makes me believe certain things we want in life may have a no from God in there, so we better run it by him first.
God told Adam and Eve no about just one thing, and look what happened. So, what can happen to us if we ignore the no and substitute our own yes? This blog is not room enough for me to repeat all those mistakes I have made, and maybe you feel the same, but I promise you the longer this song lingers in my head, the more I am reminded of past failures I should learn from.
In the song, the reference of Tell Her No is about saying no to a wandering love who is looking for more victims, but he wants her back because of his incredible love for her. Sound familiar?
You can see God at work, even in a Zombies song!
Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Step Twelve
One of the joys of working full time in the recovery world is getting to constantly pass on a message of hope. Almost every day we get to talk about how the Lord has changed lives and in the process we ourselves are being transformed daily into just the kind of people he wants us to be.
Step Twelve doesn't mean that we are saved by working the Steps, it just means our spirit is awakened by that process of being transformed. Think of it this way, when we are being humble, honest, forgiving, seeking to make amends, working on our flaws under God's grace, praying, meditating and being transparent in life, then we are becoming more like Christ every day.
Last Wednesday at Life Church International I led a discussion on Insanity To Sanity and let them discuss in groups. The next night I began a new meeting at Solid Ground in Duluth a recovery group of about 20-25 people. Several of their people had come on Wednesday, and at least two of them spoke of how what we said got through to them, then they asked if we could help them get to church this Sunday.
This of course happens to anyone who shares the good news, people become convicted, but if there is no messenger to deliver the message what happens? All of us who have had the privilege of meeting Jesus and being saved by His awesome mercy and grace are the messengers, we all have at least our own story. We all have it in us to take advantage of an opportunity when it knocks.
There is no discrimination in the Gospel or in the Steps about passing on the gift we have been freely given and if we let God's confidence building Spirit lead us on, we will boldly let others know where our message came from. When we do, that Spirit awakens faith in us every day we share it.
Then we are practicing the principles of faith not just as an internal cleanser, but in all our affairs!
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.