As I gazed upon the tattoo on my right arm, designed by my sons Tom and Paul, I began to think of the significance of it. A shadowed cross with the word Forgiven underneath in a banner, it is something I will treasure for the rest of my life. It reminds me of where I came from, it reminds me of Where Would I Be without the sacrifice made for me, the forgiveness I received and the grace that covers my humanity every day.
It reminds me of the time as a 12 year old when another man tried to sexually abuse me but I fought off a man much stronger than myself. Even then when I didn't know any better, God was watching out for me.
It reminds me of the time in Viet Nam when I was out on patrols much longer than usual because I was the last radio operator left, and was relieved by a volunteer. On the way back to the Command Post I heard an explosion, my relief had stepped on a land mine. Could and probably should have been me, but somehow I was spared. Where Would I Be.......
It reminds me of my lowest moment in my drinking years when I passed out at the wheel from a massive drunk, swerved into the other lane, miraculously missing a family in a van, then plummeted down a hill and somehow escaped with only a concussion. Got a DUI, a fine and a stay in a 7th Day Adventist Hospital that did not believe in serving meat, but I ask myself again, Where Would I Be......
And then I think of hearing the news of my son Paul losing his life, and how the 5 hour ride back to ATL was possibly the low point of my life, and I remember how the Lord spoke to my heart every mile of the way, how he comforted my soul, and assured me of my son's presence with him. It was lonely, it was tearful and it was so very sad, but there He was, always comforting my spirit.
And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Where Would I Be would be nowhere I would want to be.
I remember, I will never forget where I came from! And who led me here.........
by guest blogger Bev Dowdy
At Campus Church our sermons have been focused on Hebrews 11 & 12 with the theme: We Can Do This. When it comes to recovery from addiction, and we do this?
When life asks you to do hard things, how do you walk through them? What sustains you?
Overcoming addiction, can be minute-by-minute. Our body craves a substance. Emotional pain draws us to a dangerous antidotes. People pleasing pushes our resolve. Setbacks in our relationships and work life devastate us.
How can we stay faithful to our recovery? How do we endure?
…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12 103
Misunderstood by his mother
Pushed to take on big tasks before he felt ready
Grieved by the death of a best friend; was even told he could have prevented that death
Betrayed by his closest friends
Brutalized physically by people who should have protected him
Tempted to cave by the devil himself
He endured all this, because he saw his goal, his joy.
What is your joy?
In the short run?
In the long term?
Can staying sober, eating right, spending as planned, avoiding porn, keeping the faith with our vows to our family help you gain that joy?
Can your addiction derail you?
Talk to Him.
Ask Him to help you not to tire.
Ask Him to help you keep your heart in your recovery.
He sent his Spirit to comfort, convict, counsel, and empower you,
Ask Him in.
No, that is not a word I picked up in Alabama or Mississippi. It is instead a time when other very talented folks can write a word or two and I can take a little break. Plus, I find that true ministry is to get everyone involved (as Jesus absolutely did), and help them find their talent to serve. Buy, that said.............
I can't help but offer a few thoughts. Can we just skip the Presidential election and vote in Pope Paul? He is a true servant leader, and when was the last President to be like that? Can we find out the real reason's why terrorists do what they do because it is certainly not for God or religion, that is just an excuse?
What if we really lived out the letters of that bracelet I once wore, WWJD? No problem electing a president who followed that, and certainly terror would be a thing of the past. What Would Jesus Do in 2016 if he were here to walk on this earth?
He would probably say much of what he said before: Love your neighbor as yourself....blessed are the peacemakers....now that you know these things you will be blessed if you do them.
Love not hate, serve not take, life not murder, friendship not backstabbing, humility not pride........these are some things he did last time he was here, maybe we should do the same, and do it with excellence not a bad attitude!
Why? Because that is what Jesus did!
by guest blogger Bev Dowdy
He could have hung on to the past.
Years of fighting in the South Pacific while still a teenager left him with nightmares and drove him to drink. Though he served with honor, guilt and shame settled into his heart and mind after having been present in such carnage. Years of excessive drinking had caused his young family to be fraught with anxiety and lacking in financial stability. Over time he found the strength in his LORD to leave the bottle behind and make a new life.
But he could have hung on to the past.
The shame and the guilt could have kept him from the joy and peace of his new life. My father, Herb Choate, found power by embracing God’s word.
He came to believe in the power of the word and God’s knowledge of his inner life—both evil and the good. He read. He studied. He believed:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account, Jesus the Great High Priest. Hebrews 4: 12-13
Yet even with this knowledge, he could have hung on to his past.
He found that the next few verses of Hebrews 4 shined light on a new vision for his life after the crisis of war and the mess he had made in his marriage. The light shone on Jesus himself.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4: 14 -15
This Jesus understood him. He came to believe Jesus was not going to stop with just helping him live as a civilian and a dry drunk. He embraced a confidence and a joy in his life because he came to believe the next verse wholeheartedly-
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16
He prayed, “Lord, thank you for empathizing with our weaknesses and for allowing us to approach your throne of grace with confidence.”
My dad, Herb, let go of the past, and trusted that through the priesthood of Jesus, he was no longer clothed in shame and guilt. He came to walk in faith, clothed in Christ, able to enter into the presence of God with confidence. He was able to ask for help when he needed it--unashamed and forgiven.
Jesus lets us shed the clothing colored by the shame and guilt of our battles. He empathizes with our weaknesses, forgives our wrongdoing, and then does more. He dresses us as a priest, a royal child, and ushers us to into the throne room of the Father as a confident sibling, able to ask for help to live life to the full.
Today let us all leave shame and guilt behind and enter into the throne room of God with confidence. Let us ask for God’s help for our every need!
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.