Greater love has no one than this,
The procession lasted for more than 30 minutes. They were honoring the fallen hero, Antwan Toney, the Gwinnett County police officer who was killed in the line of duty last week. From where I could see, just before that procession there were thousands who lined the street. Most of them never knew Officer Toney, but they knew what he did- Protect and Serve.
He laid down his life in protection of us, his friends, and his friends showed their heartfelt appreciation. It all hit me so hard that I was unprepared for the out flowing of tears. My service in the Marines in Viet Nam and my experience in returning home through the LA Airport to get spit on, to my son's death, to just realizing what a commitment to serve means and to see this outpouring was staggering.
And then I thought about the Lord, as if all of that wasn't enough. Many people gathered along the route to the cross, but so few were in his funeral procession. But yet, he considered us his friends to protect and serve. He was Called To Duty and he bore the cost of that commitment with honor and courage way beyond what any of us may ever face.
He was spit on, so was I. He was mocked and criticized, so was Officer Toney and most of his fellow officers. But when you are called to protect and serve, you are not promised respect, you are only given that experience that you saved someone's life, maybe more than one.
Some may spit on and mock the Good News of the Gospel, but they cannot deny Jesus died in the line of duty, fully aware that most of us would never fully appreciate that sacrifice.
It took another's sacrifice to help me remember, but yesterday I remembered and I appreciated!
The word can be terrifying, unsettling, disturbing, and yet it can be that thing that makes everything fall into place. It is a word that in its very nature can cause us to do some crazy things. But it is also a word that breathes fresh air into a situation that seemed impossible to accomplish. A simple word with six different letters - Change!
Think about those religious Jewish folks who thought everything they were doing was right, and their poster boy, Paul, the highly educated, thought-he-was-right zealot - they experienced one difficult, impossible change. They were challenged, humbled and set right after much pain. And that's another word that sends chills down our back, pain. It is a prerequisite of change.
Many of those in addiction face those words, and for some, it is against what they have learned and been doing since childhood in a new generation of families that use together more than they pray together. For others, it is a complete lifestyle change from gangster to solid citizen. Still others have been on crutches of addictive support for so long that they cannot walk without it.
Change is coming and if we don't change, we find ourselves caught in a trap of complacency, dependency, and uselessness. From caterpillar to butterfly, it can be a thing of complete beauty if it is done in a natural transition from something to something better.
Next week we will have a major announcement about the future of ATB, a ministry that is about to take flight and spread its wings. And the wonderful thing about it, is that so many people, especially Campus Church, have helped us get to where we are so most of the growing pains have already been felt and now we just have to soar.
If you want the news early, come to our celebration this Monday night at Campus Church, 7:30-9 PM, Rooms 201-202. If not, stay tuned for the flight plan of ATB Change!
Challenge ourselves to be all that God intended us to be.
Hear what he is telling us, not what the world says
Accept that fact that standing put doesn't always win
Never go with our gut instinct, go with the God instinct
Give the situation over to the architect of grand design
Excel at what we do, don't just exist
It's been over 5 years of blog writing, and as I look back and read some previous ones, one thing sticks out - they are getting shorter - and that is probably a good thing to keep your attention!
Patience, that is one thing most of us do not have in this world of instant everything, and the one thing that can always keep us struggling. But those who wait on the Lord will find strength. God promises this to us in the book of Isaiah, but how often do we really wait? More than likely we run ahead of God and create our own mess that he has to bail us out of.
And, of course, this process wears us out to the point of despair. However, if we can ever get the waiting right (at least most of the time), that promise is followed by another, They will fly high on the wings of eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
In other words, as the Eagle does, we will fly above the struggle with a chance to see where we went wrong and make a course correction. And that, my friends, requires a whole lot less energy when we soar with the wind at our back instead of flying against it.
Waiting- something I have had hard lessons to learn, but probably a top five way to get wisdom. I couldn't wait to write this after impatiently going through all of those old blogs to see if I have written one like this before. In fact, I quit before I got half way through.
Oh well, looking for progress not perfection!
I saw this quote posted by a friend of mine this week, and have been pondering on it for a few days. You know how it is when something strikes you, but you need to digest it because the meaning is more than what meets the eye at first?
Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore. Andre Gide
On face value it is easily understood that true faith is not in what is seen, but what is unseen and often un-achieved. We must leave our mothers womb, venture out to new horizons, trust that the plan God has is much better than our own limited scope of the universe, and believe that through it all, God is with us even when we don't see his answers yet.
But deeper than that is how attached we are to things that we cannot let go of. Addiction in many forms comes from not wanting to lose sight of shore, complacency comes from being comfortable and unwillingness to step out of the box, and we often mistake safety for not wanting to face the dangers of change. Ancccd that word, change, to many of us that is something we don't want to do again and again. We want stability.
Yet I never see Jesus being stable in life, he was always on the move, always encouraging change, and he led his disciples into a life always on the move. They never got attached to something that was not about their God. They left their Jerusalem for parts unknown doing things that had never been done before.
They were pioneers of faith, just as the builders of our country were pioneers of a new land. May we never lose sight of the fact that our main goal in life is not to be complacent, secure and conservative, but instead is a constant adventure of leaving the shore of our earthly gatherings to seek a Clear Vision of what our faith is all about.
It's in the book, Go Ye Therefore.....and don't be afraid to lose sight of the shore!
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.