Last week about this time everyone was questioning whether Atlanta was choke city again in our sports history, specifically the Braves. Would 28-3 happen again, would we blow another 3-1 lead to the Dodgers. I pondered this and thought Not This Time.
They were playing at home where they were undefeated in postseason play, the fans would not let them lose I thought, and this team believes they can win. It started as a turnaround in San Diego where they came from behind with impossible odds to win, and was further recognized in dispatching the Phillies and Brewers. They knew they could win.
How do we know we can win? Have we had experiences where we have? If you are an addict have you ever won? Or if you consider yourself a loser, what will it take for you to win? The answer may shock you in its simplicity....it takes a wonderful Hebrew word, Chutzpah. The definition: extreme self-confidence or audacity. Simple, but it takes allowing ourselves to take a risk to achieve it. Like doing something we have never done before - like getting sober for instance.
David developed chutzpah by what happened to him as a shepherd. He killed the lion and bear with his bare hands, he knew the power of God was with him. When confronted by Kind Saul about this you must admire his audacity - basically he said I will do the same thing to the Philistine (Goliath) that I did to the lion and bear, The Lord who saved me from the lion and bear will save me from this Philistine. No matter the odds, David knew he could accomplish what everyone else thought was impossible. Later he said to Goliath:
Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head.
What he knew is the difference between our false bravado and real chutzpah - God and a relationship with him that builds the confidence for our wins in life, notice he said the Lord will conquer you, and then I will get the win. Will the Braves win the World Series? Will you get clean and sober?
I don't know for sure, but He does. In both cases though, I believe it will happen, As David said to Goliath in so many words, you're not winning this time Giant, Not This Time!
Life can change in an instant.....Just Like That! Whether from a decision we made, a circumstance beyond our control, or a miraculous event we are part of, the bigger question will be what happens next? How do we handle life on life's terms when it is out of our control for any of these reasons or more.
The joy of picking up a nine month recovery chip can be followed by an overnight overdose. It is cunning and baffling as they say, enough to make us ask why, if we could understand. Why do some make it and some don't? We hear the remarkable stories of those with years of sobriety that seem like incredible feats and we say I want to be just like that but we don't want to pay the price they paid to get just like that.
If we are holding on to addictions, grief, anger and resentments, we have refused to find a solution for healing. That will for sure, take us out of commission. And yet, we have numerous 12 Step Program and Biblical examples of how it's done and it all begins with surrender. The way they got like that was to become like that through a process of accepting a relationship with the God who could heal those things through forgiveness of ourselves and others.
One day long ago Jesus spoke to a woman at a well who was not like him. She was married five times and in an adulterous relationship and of another nationality that Jews did not speak with. As they spoke he said he could give her "living water" that would prevent her from seeking her addiction and bring her peace. And, just like that after her encounter with him, she put into practice the gift she received.
Because of that, she helped change the lives of generations as she ran back into her village, told her story, and many came to believe in the right man that she had met. That's what we need to do more of and that's what we did this afternoon as we stand ready to baptize one who became a believer. All it takes is one right decision, in one shining moment and our lives shift from neutral into drive.
And just like that we are on the highway to heaven and on the pathway to success. Ask that Samaritan woman which man made her feel loved. Her reaction tells it all. Let's remember to always share this Good News, you never know what impact your story may have.
And just like that you are jumping for joy that you made a difference for Him!
Many years ago God put a vision of a building in my mind through a dream. It was a safe place for people in addiction recovery to come, be fed spiritually, emotionally and to just feel like home, when many had none. Another woman in our group confirmed that she too saw a building, once I revealed it to them. Of course that dream came true in 2019 for ATB, because it was a God dream not a Glenn dream.
This past week God put another dream out there, this one was more of a warning. In that dream I was in another city somewhere attempting to preach about Jesus but no one was listening. I was frustrated and asked God why were they not responding. His emphatic answer: because they were your words not mine, I was preaching for me, not for him.
All of us who attempt to represent God need to remember to put our ego in a holster of God's will. When we open our mouths people expect us to teach them about Him not us. Yes we can relate our lessons learned as the Bible does in a variety of stories about wayward folks, and how our lives are changed because of Him, but are they His inspired words? We can tell by the outcome - are they praising us, or praising Him?
Today, last weeks dream was confirmed. I randomly opened, that's right randomly opened my Life Recovery Bible this morning to the story of "Listening to God's Voice". It was wrapped around the story of Joseph and how he obeyed the angel that appeared to him in three separate dreams about how to protect Jesus. He was going to divorce Mary, God changed his mind. He was headed back to Israel, God redirected him to Egypt. Then when it was safe, God sent him, Mary and the child Jesus back home to Nazareth.
There are no accidents in God's will. he lays it out for us, and when we obey it's like a walk in the park, it always materializes the way he laid it out. Whether we are speaking about Him, protecting one of his great assets, or deciding what our next direction is, we must obey his instructions or things get complicated.
In Joseph's story it says "when he woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded him". What if he had divorced Mary, where would we be? Think about some of our own knucklehead decisions despite knowing it was against the will of God.
I'm listening to that dream, if you ever hear me not uttering His words just say "Is that you God?" I will understand what you mean!
Last time I rode in the back of a cop car was not a pleasant experience. I was 26 and arrested for a DUI which I was very fortunate to survive. I was so inebriated that when they took me to the station my state of delirium had me back in Viet Nam looking for VC. They had to put me in a straight jacket. Yes, you heard that right!
This past Wednesday Officer Jacob Baird of the Lawrenceville Police Department and I rode along in his cruiser (this time I was in the front seat) looking for homeless folks. It's not illegal to be homeless in Georgia, just not so camping out on private property, What we found was four folks in much different circumstances.
One man was living in his car, another in a makeshift gated encampment surrounded by trash and the stench of human waste, another in a mini-house that was actually very creative, and a woman who was wandering the streets possibly high on Meth and with some issues with mental health. I prayed with the first three men, gave them food, etc. and invited them to our event, they were all in need of showers and additional help, but the woman was another story.
She was in a state of possible psychosis, banned from her home by criminal trespassing, and though Jacob and I offered help after a long conversation, she declined. Not having any authority from further criminal intent to force her to get help we reluctantly had to let her go. Both Jacob and I were somewhat distraught, but we vowed to get her help if she crossed the line. Afterward her mom who was in another state called me in a state of panic and tears, she had gotten my number from Jacob, and her words further tweaked my emotions.
I did not sleep very well thinking about her welfare. The parable where Jesus talked about the shepherd leaving the ninety nine to go find the one came alive in my heart. That's what happens to many of us in this addiction recovery business. The next morning at 7:30 my phone rang and it was Jacob. His voice boomed, "Guess who I have with me"? He took her to the hospital for evaluation and detox where she remains at this present moment.
Two things to think about. The majority of police have a heart, they care, and they want to help not arrest unless there is someone getting hurt. They are there to uphold the law and keep the bad guys away. As this woman walked away from us we were both worried the bad guys might get her, so he was vigilant in keeping track of her whereabouts to protect her.
Secondly, we were her modern day shepherds, that's what the story was about, its there for us to know how to act with folks that are lost. Don't give up on them, track them down if necessary, sure, we can't force them to join the flock, but we can certainly use that staff to hook them back in when we have to. If we show how much we care without enabling them, there may be a chance we can bring them home.
As for those other homeless guys, we want to bring them home too, let's all celebrate when they do, just like they did in Jesus parable!
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 email@example.com.