Reading "My Utmost for His Highest" the other morning, it spoke of how The Lord is not overly concerned about our goal, but instead deeply wanting us to meet him in the process of getting there. This is where the heart of a true believer is forged. We may not ever achieve the goal but we develop the mindset that he us with us no matter the toll to get there.
We tend to be disappointed when we don't lose that weight, climb that mountain, or get that job we have worked for, but did we meet The Lord in the journey to get there or just expect to meet him if we made it to the goal?
Which, of course, brings me to my recent trip from Ft. Lauderdale to 75 on the Florida Turnpike- more than 300 miles of road for about $25. I thought that was rather much, but the van driver who picked me up at the airport yesterday said it was well worth it rather than have to travel on 95 with all the congestion. The toll was well worth the result as it turns out.
Also yesterday, our flight from Pensacola was a turbo prop with propellers, and held only about 30 people. My row in the back was 4 across and I had the aisle seat. As we ascended to 20k feet, the turbulence was significant. The woman next to me traveling with her daughter looked at me and I noticed the fear in her eyes. I said without hesitation that "being such a little plane there were going to be big bumps" and, possibly reassured, she said "keep talking to me.”
Certainly the toll of our journey may be expensive, and there will definitely be bumps on the way, but as long as we maintain a dialogue with God and he keeps talking to us, we will reach our destination.
And in that process we discover the essence of His nature, the full extent of his love and that our toll will never be more than the price he originally paid for our souls.
Certainly you have had people in your lives who have been a major catalyst for encouragement. You can look back and see the positive influence they gave you and how it helped get you to where you needed to be. More about one of my recent catalysts in a moment.
Then there are the THEY who always seem to remind us of what our shortcomings are, THEY always seem to put a crimp in our spirit and find ways to keep us in a negative frame of mind. You can count on THEM for a dire forecast or reminding us of the consequences when we dare to move out of our box and try something new.
For the last 4 years, my business has been a struggle for many reasons, but not for lack of effort. One of my problems, which I look at as an asset, is getting older and trying to fit into a role that many car dealers want much younger folks to tackle. You too may be facing this in your own endeavors. I have heard countless of my counterparts complain about this and that, which THEY feel will bury us, I have heard some say I should do something different or in a different way, or just ride off into the sunset of retirement.
There are a few problems in my own mind about that. First, I can't afford to (many mayalso identify), next: God hasn't asked me to, and at this time in my life I am actually at the peak of my profession. But, if I listen to THEM, my mind can get pretty screwed up.
This leads me to the person who has been a major encourager in my life in the past 6 months, who has recognized the talent and has opened the door for my present success. His name is Tim McGraw (no, not the one you are thinking of ladies), we call him Casey. Like me, he is in recovery, and he and I have become like brothers.
Casey wakes up positive, I am convinced he jogs out of bed (usually after an early call from me when I forget they are an hour behind us), and he will not let THEM hold him back. He praises my skills to all who will listen, and we have teamed up with a few other team members to turn around several dealerships. This man believes in me and I also believe in him and that regardless of whether THEY think our plan will work, we do!
This past week while traveling to 4 auctions, covering more than a thousand miles, the old guy Casey believed in bought 40 cars, which most 20-50 year old men will never ever dream of doing. And, they were mostly good buys in an aggressively high used car market (that's where the experience really helps). And, there is still sanity, still energy (I may have to do this again next week), and we managed to make some of THEM much happier.
You know how to rid your minds of the opinions of THEY and THEM? Drop the first and last letters of both those words and what are you left with? HE, and to me that HE represents first God, who says "what is impossible for men, is a piece of cake for God".
Don't ever give up the faith that HE believes in you and wants you to succeed, even when THEY think you can't.
Answer this question in a comment on this blog, "Why wouldn't God want people who THEY have given up on to succeed?"
And then try to find another human being to encourage you like Casey who doesn't give a hoot about THEM. (And, if you have someone in your life like him, let us know in a reply.)
From the land of Disney, Glenn
Speaking with a friend the other day, the word Christianese came up in the conversation as a language we who are in Christ speak that others who are not do not understand. It is that language that condemns rather than accepts, it is that verbage that speaks of perfection rather than the imperfection that we all have regardless of our state of salvation, and it is that language that drives people away from church.
To them, it sounds more like bad news rather than good news. Look around at those in ATB, and what you see is people who have failed and have found a place to heal, people who just want to serve, but understand the language of God that Jesus spoke, and readily accept and love those who are looking to get back on track in life.
Christianese is a language that makes someone feel like they are going to hell, rather than helping them to find a way to heaven. Let us all remember that we are the ambassadors of Christ, we are the only Bible some may read, and the only doorway to a redeeming church that a person may consider entering.
Instead of shutting the door by speaking a foreign language not understood, let's speak words of love, forgiveness and redemption. Amen!
You could see and hear the enthusiasm in Ken's presentation on Step 7 this morning, as well as those who preceded him these past few weeks in our series "12 Steps For Christians". Wow, what fabulous teachers have given us their best, Don, Ernest, John, Russell, Rick, Ted, what amazingly spiritual folks with a heart for honesty and truth. It is amazing to sit back and watch the transformation of ATB from infant to thriving growth.
For our weekly meetings, Willie Mae, Trellis, Eddie, Jim, Mark and others have taken on leadership roles and you can see the maturity and joy of seeing that they too can do this. The key here, when we step out of the way, God's Spirit can then work effectively. If you look at Jesus, his intent was to do what he had to do, then turn it over to those he had trained to do the spreading of the message throughout the world. But, what he did was empower them by His Spirit, not on human wisdom. But he, like any other leader, had to show the way before he departed.
My blessing is to watch this happen before I ever depart, or whether I don't, and see that as I become less, God becomes more. This is the natural way of things because for a time each of us who decides to lead a ministry, a church, or whatever endeavor we choose has to fire it up with passion, enthusiasm and countless hours of work to get it rolling. And then, like we would with a child we have taught, we watch them grow into their own spiritual aura and as they begin to thrive we become the encourager (as we see Paul being a spiritual cheerleader for churches he has started).
I am not tossing around the names of Jesus and Paul to say I am anything like them, on the contrary, I have just become like minded and humbled by their examples. We follow the blueprint of members of the Hall of Faith, not the human Hall of Fame. Without their examples and the patience the Lord has had with all of us, we would still be lost and useless.
But now, people are stepping up to the plate, empowered by the Holy Spirit and unafraid to fail because God has restored their lives, given them confidence and assurance of purpose. My job was to be the point man for awhile, and now it is to help point the way toward their success.
Let us all pray that when we step up to the plate and go to bat for Jesus, we not only know that he is empowering us, but that all of us are cheering each other on, not worrying who gets the credit, but hoping those who hear us get the point: ATB is a bridge from nowhere to somewhere, from loss to the cross, and from a living hell to a place where the Lord makes us well.
We hit a Home Run when he increases and we decrease, he has all the power!
This week's guest blogger is author, life coach and developer of Cup of Faith Ministries, Allison Miller. Her life story will be documented in her upcoming book but the short story is that her road of travel to the Lord took many turns before finding him. We have been friends for many years, and it is my pleasure to have her share a few words with us this week. Enjoy and share your thoughts as well.
There is a Proverb that says a man repeats his folly as a dog returns to its vomit. Think about that. I know it's gross, but when a dog vomits he actually goes back to eat it! He puts it back into his system after it has been regurgitated. It must be doubly bad going down the second time!
Before knowing the deep love of Jesus, I spent my time seeking love from those who did not know how to give love. Thankfully, he rescued me. Still, nearly seven years later, I had a new realization. I was blindly walking in folly, again.
I was like that dog described in Proverbs. I was returning over and over to the same vomit, seeking love from a person who can not give it. What happened is really amazing and could only happen through our loving Savior. I have been questioning myself and asking Jesus to show me if there was any part of me that might be causing this person to repel me, to demean me and look down the nose at me. I prayed, “Jesus, please reveal to me if there is something in me that needs to change.”
Nearly every time something wonderful happened, I ran to this person to share the exciting news, receiving the same attitudes. With the passing of some time, more prayer and searching, and after another encounter with this person, it was revealed to me that the repelling, the demeaning and the better than you attitude was not about me, after all. I became confident in this truth because I took great care filtering my own words, ensuring they came from a heart of genuine love.
When receiving the same attitudes, I knew it was time to close my mouth and let this person be. I knew without a doubt there was nothing I could say to change anything. After an evening out together with other friends, and dropping this person at their car, I began talking to Jesus on the way home. “Thank you for showing me. I understand I have to leave this person to you. I see there is nothing I can do, it is up to you.” It was here in these moments of conversation with Jesus I realized I was doing a similar thing as in my previous life. It looked a little different, but it was the same. Even after knowing God’s love, I was still running one person asking for something they are not yet equipped to give.
I sat in the floor of my room this morning and read from God’s Word with a deep sadness. I knew I had to separate myself for a time from this person I love. I did not deserve to be looked upon this way. I’m confident that if you have ever felt unloved or unaccepted you have felt the same way. I have learned we have no control over someone else’s behavior, but we do have power to create boundaries that keep our lives of freedom in Christ protected. I later sat with my house-mate, shared the heaviness of my heart, and sobbed as she prayed with me. I felt a great peace come over me as I released this person I love fully to Jesus in agreement that “there would be no opportunity for bitterness to grow in my heart.” Now it was time for me to live it, to walk the talk. As my house-mate was leaving for work, she reminded me, “You are a daughter of the King.” Before sitting down in her car, she shared a few words she read this morning. Words the Lord spoke to Zerubbabel, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit.” Yes, we are all on a healing journey to understand the width and depth of His love, and it is only the Spirit of Father we need to fight our battles. Our part is to be who we are in Him, accept others as they are, and leave them to God, allowing Him to do what only He can! And nothing is too hard for Him! It’s God’s love in us that causes me to keep loving these people, even when behavior doesn’t show love. It isn’t about us. It’s about Him and thankfully, when needed we can love at a distance.
Folly is foolishness and we can walk blindly in foolishness, continuously going back to the things we used to do to make us feel accepted, more courageous or loved. Maybe we turn to things, people or chemicals to fill us. We can call all these things whatever we want to, but let’s don’t call them love.
How much have you challenged yourself lately, physically, mentally, or spiritually? Have you stretched beyond where you have always been or are you kind of stuck on the status quo? Lately, with these new business responsibilities that have been presented to me, I have found just how far my physical ceiling goes. I have truly gone the extra mile.
My motivation is part personal of course, but in reality it stems from what Christ has instilled in my soul. How far did he go for me, and how far, in whatever life endeavors I am involved will I go for him? Go "the extra mile" with my brother, do everything as if doing it for him, know the truth and the truth will set you free.....these words give me the freedom to be everything the Lord intended me to be.....because after all, I represent him.
So I am sitting here at a computer at the Central Florida Auto Auction with very klittle energy left after hours in the sun (thank God for no rain) and hours chasing after cars. No juice left in the tank so to speak, but entirely confident I have given my all. One of the drivers who I ran into several times during the auction had a Jesus hat on, He said, "when I woke up this morning I made up my mind it was gonna be a good day". This uttered through a mouth that was missing several teeth, but his smile was colossal.
Can we imagine what many folks have had to overcome and how many extra miles they have had to travel just to get somewhere close to normal? How many trials have we had to overcome just to stay sober, to stay solvent, to stay above ground?
Lots of questions I know, but think how the apostles laid a foundation for us of giving everything they had for what they believed in? This foundation tells me that I should never let grass grow beneath my feet, that faith is always moving forward not sitting still, never enough until we spring into action to be all we can possibly be....and when that happens we are free from the bondage of the status quo.
Go the extra mile tomorrow with someone, something, stir up your passion to excel (now I sound like Joel Osteen). Remember who your boss is, and think of how good he wants his employees to look.
From the land of Psalm trees, have a most blessed week!
If you have an iphone as I do, you have a choice of a wide variety of Apps that dominate your screen. At a simple touch they bring to life a world of multi-media access and can provide instant entertainment and enlightenment. I have AJC, ESPN, Hawks, Braves, Falcons, Carfax, many games for Logan and even instant banking information. And, I have an App for a program titled V-Auto to which I can access the latest activity info on the dealerships I serve, plus get a wide variety of auction data. This is the one I use the most frequently.
But, as if God had orchestrated it, the App for the Bible is just below the V-Auto App, and I frequently touch it mistakenly while trying to get that other info. I always let it play itself out, never rushing away because this may be the hand of God teaching me something I need to hear, and from time to time something really hits me from their “verse of the day”. Today it was Isaiah 48:17-19, and it reminded me of how many detours my life took before I understood how it is supposed to work.
What this scripture says in effect is that the majority of our problems come from trying to be self-sufficient , leaving the will of God out of our decision making . What results may be temporary success, but is usually followed by chaos or roadblocks created by our lack of Godly direction. What makes it worse is that if we had been consulting the master for our plans, he would have blessed the outcome and “our peace would have been like a river”.
So often, people ask me how they know if it is God speaking to them? My response is usually how often are you speaking with him, reading about him and walking in his direction? You can pretty much tell in your daily life what impact God is having on it. If he is giving you daily opportunities to serve him, if amazing things are happening, then that is a great sign he is using you and you will prosper and God will “teach you what is best for you” through his Holy Spirit. If you also experience some unusual turbulence that may be the other side trying to steal your blessing. If we know are doing the will of God, we know this is only a temporary setback.
On the other hand, if “Independence Day” for us is asking God to bless OUR plans, direct us in OUR success, lead us in OUR path, then we will be sadly let down by the results. I know how easy this is even for veteran Christians, and the difference is simply listening for his will, not ours. If we are in daily contact with him, he will “direct us in the way we should go” and we will instinctively know his voice.
For me, Independence Day is a celebration of our country’s freedom, but also a time to reflect that I became truly free when I surrendered my will to my “redeemer, the holy one of Israel”. Thus, I can shout those words, and I hope you will as well……free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last!
And for generations to come, our descendants will call on the name of the Lord because he has broken the chains of addiction, oppression and sin, and given us Independence from our adversary. My we think of him always, especially this day and claim that he is truly “the Lord, our God”.
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.