There is no doubt that we can shake our heads in disbelief at many things in life, but nowhere is it more evident than in our world of addiction. But then again, in the three years of Jesus ministry there were some very Cunning & Baffling events that rocked the status quo!
This week there were two instances that fell into that first category, one bad, one good. In a meeting we do at a Sober Living facility, a man was visiting his girlfriend in that rehab, who had been in a nearly fatal car accident. He mentioned during the meeting (yes, visitors do come), of his love and support for her, but his words of his non-addictive lifestyle made little sense to most of us there. We knew something wasn't right.
A few hours later, an ambulance whisked the woman away, non-responsive after an overdose by a drug this same guy did with her. Strange way to show love, contradictory to his words just spoken earlier, definitely Cunning & Baffling. What's worse, no one could find our what happened to her ultimately and where she was. We just don't know.
Last night in another meeting at a sober living facility, I handed a 1 year sober chip to a former gang member who had a long conversation with me several months ago about his frustrations and anger. We offer them to speak after achieving this milestone, and he delivered one of the best 5 minute recovery stories I have ever heard. Most didn't think he would make it; but he not only did he make it, he is now giving back. Cunning & Baffling? You bet.
But there is a precedent. Jesus turned away a rich religious man who had followed all the rules because he wasn't ready to surrender, healed a violent crazy man running around a cemetery who had had enough and fell at Jesus feet, never spent much time with those who thought they knew it all, (who turned out to be the ones who crucified him), yet healed demon possessed people, some of whom never asked for it, disfigured lepers and outcasts who no religious folk would even speak to, then congregated often with despicable sinners. Nobody then could figure it out.
Jesus was never cunning which achieves an end by deceit, but his baffling ways caused those against him to attempt cunning methods to trick him. Never did he fail, but because others got frustrated with him they took him down, or so they thought.He bounced back from their condemning overdose.
God takes the ones who never thought they could make it and turns them into the ones who spread his message of hope and salvation. And, the ones who choose to live by Cunning & Baffling methods who think they have it all made?
Let's just say they have a special room reserved in a very hot climate!
I asked my daughter who runs Family Promise of Brevard in Florida one day, Tara do you wake up thinking about money? This came shortly after we filed as a 501(c)3 for Across The Bridge, and her answer (she has a great husband and 3 beautiful kids as well), was YES!
The reason is we believe in what we are doing so passionately but can not always translate that passion to others to compel them to give. Churches are churches, people give because they know their money is in good hands, and they are blessed for their giving. Organizations like United Way, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Habitat For Humanity are all proven commodities, but they have all struggled for support at times.
In Tara's case, she took over a floundering program that helped homeless people, and not many folks were interested in that project, nor in their location. When I first visited a few years ago, they were low key and beginning to make a comeback under her leadership and beautiful heart to serve. Now, they are thriving, have doubled in size, and are creating homeowners out of previously homeless people.
But it took Tara an enormous amount of time and effort to raise money and partners. She would post things so often that you almost had to give because she was relentless. Why? Because, in reality, most folks look at homeless people as losers, people who have turned their back on responsibility, rather than people who just need help getting their lives back together. Their circumstances may be self induced or not, but they are still people in need of other people to help them get back on track. But every day, there was Tara pounding the proverbial pavement for contributions.
At Across The Bridge, our folks are similar, people in addiction and life changing circumstances, who are or have been homeless, most created by their own decisions. My job is to help them get back on track through our organization and to treat them the way the Lord instructs us to do. Not to judge their circumstances, but to provide spiritual and emotional guidance through our program of meetings, teaching, connection and coaching, and it is working!
It is hard for me to ask you to donate, and to keep pounding that pavement, but you are the ones who provide us that fuel to succeed with people most have turned their back on. We are not dressed up and pretty. we are those front line people who roll up their sleeves and get on the level of our folks to understand how we can help and not enable.
We always need your financial support every day, and we are led by a great Board of Directors, kept on a great financial path by an experienced treasurer, a fantastic CPA (2nd quarter report coming soon), and remain open to the public about what we do and that is to help restore broken lives.
Me, I am that guy who has to be Tara, that passionate person who believes in what they are doing so much that they put it all on the line, they are absolutely relentless in their faith in what they believe in, and they keep asking you to support them to do so. I beg you not to get tired of our asking; we just want to end addiction and homelessness.
Please pray about giving to us, and if you are so compelled, donate at acrossthebridgeinc.com or mail us a check at 900 Cripple Creek Drive, Suite A, Lawrenceville Ga 30043. Or if you can volunteer or wish to see up close and personal our facility and ask me more about what we do, call me at 404-915-7376.
Thank You and enjoy his blessings! Glenn
Lots of things have been written and spoken on about a man celled Jabez. He appears in 1 Chronicles 4 smack dab in the middle of mentioning the lineage of Judah where very little is written about anyone except for him. With a simple, heartfelt prayer to the God of Israel come many points of light:
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain". Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request.
Anyone, like me, who has been in the delivery room when a woman does a natural child birth understands that most babies are delivered in great pain. At the birth of my second daughter, my wife took no drugs, no shots, and being the extremely courageous person she was, despite the cries of much foul language and threats to kill me if I ever tried to touch her again, this beautiful baby was born in much pain.
Why Jabez was given that name I am not sure, I will leave that to Biblical scholars. The book written about him by Rich Wilkerson focuses on the expansion of his prosperity aspect of this, but I would like to take a moment to focus on the pain. I see him as much like most of us who deal with addiction, we delve out much pain, we are cut loose after causing all that pain, and we live daily with the pain of what we have done to others and ourselves.
Many have shared their stories with me recently of how much pain has been in their lives. But as always, we focus on the real pain reliever, the one who granted that request that he would "be free from pain". God is so much better than pain pills and Aspirin or Tylenol, he answers the whole problem , not just a partial solution.
Getting more territory or more money or more of anything is good, but it won't take away our pain, unless it is resolved with more of a relationship with Jesus. He knows excruciating pain, and he knows the answer for it!
Jabez was one of us, and he was more honorable because of it!
The 4th of July is always a great family day, a day to celebrate our forefathers and their fight for our freedom, but it is also a day for those of us who have battled out of addiction, tragedy or abusive situations to reflect. How did we get to where we are, what was our Pathway To Freedom?
The absolute, but also the most stock answer, is to say through the blood of Jesus who died to redeem us from our messes and distresses - that's truth. But it does no good unless we are willing to accept his gift and work through the residual effects of those situations and how it has affected who we are. Jesus is and always will be Jesus, God who came to earth who was perfection, but also experienced mankind and all its flaws.
We, on the other hand, can want to be like Him, but the things that have shaped our lives are not the same as his. We have sinned, we have led very imperfect lives, and we may be transformed by His grace in due time, but we must walk on that path for him to uncover what took our freedom away, to really live free.
The Pathway To Freedom starts with our dependence on Him, to find the independence from our addictions, etc. We can be set free by him, but we remain arrogant, judgmental, quick to anger, slow to forgive and prone to make bad decisions all the while claiming to be "saved" or "delivered". Those are doors easy to hide our flaws behind, but we know, and he knows, and it shows, believe me.
Our forefathers fought hard to provide our freedom, our Lord paid a very steep price of pain, agony and much disrespect to save us. The least we could do in return is be willing to endure the pain of a change of heart that requires a transplant of faith, forged by the fire of refining. Most of us want the freedom, but we don't want to fight for it.
Instead we microwave it. Ask George Washington about that, mention it to Thomas Jefferson, consult John Hancock or the many African Americans, Indians, and Pirates who fought and died for our freedom in the Revolutionary War (that's right, it was more than white men with wigs). Ask Jesus, how long did it take him the bear the sins of mankind before he died on that cross?
The cost to walk on that path is simply our willingness to change, or we will continue to take detours to nowhere. It's interesting that the cross has an intersection - down, up or stuck in the middle? Pretty sure I know which way to take to that real Pathway To Freedom!
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.