,Words cannot accurately express the joy I have from these last 6 months of working in our ministry at ATB. It's as if every day is Always Thanksgiving! For every moment that may be a downer there are multiple moments of encouragement, strength, and hope that propel us to press on toward another day.
There are the accepting of commemorating chips for the clean days with the hugs for the unbelievable Willie Mae who has taken it upon herself to start a group on Saturdays. There are the countless desserts provided by Becky and Shelley, the food by Carolyn and Leah, the great meetings that Jerome and Randy have led, and the moments we have all spent being involved in each others lives.
There were those memorable times of Baptisms where we all gathered around to celebrate the commitments of faith, the Celebrations with great singing by Candace, Dawn, and Jenny, and the times we shared together in laughter as I searched for yet another prop that may make a point. So far I must say, the tie rack is my favorite as it showed God can put us in a truly "spacious place" though things may look confined at the moment.
Most importantly the relevance of the Across The Bridge Ministry has grown, the amount of people we reach has grown, and the number of times we have lifted up the Lord as the solution has grown by leaps and bounds. We have done what the Lord has asked us to do, and we are poised and ready to move forward toward 2018 with an immense hope for what is ahead of us.
Please pray for us, all the people we reach and are involved, and that God will grant us many more days that seem like Always Thanksgiving!
Have a most joyful Thanksgiving!
Over and over they run those laps, repetitiously they study those lines, 15 sets of crunches tightens the tummy. Time and again they teach how to solve the same problem and so it goes, repeat after me, repetition sells, repetition works. McDonald's knows it, Delta knows it, Toyota surely does. The politicians bombard us with ads during the campaign because they also know that repetition sells and elects!
Guess what, Budweiser knows it too. So does your local drug dealer. If they can get into your mind that you can drink responsibly, or that you can manage your heroin use, then repeated use of these things becomes an insane repetition that leads to incarceration, institutional restriction, or death. Pick your addiction, it usually all has the same outcome.
We have to change the repetition of the mind when this happens by changing what we put between our ears. Start with selling yourself on you. That's right, step up to the mirror as soon as possible and say, I am worthy, I am a warrior, I am a good person, I am a child of a God who loves me deeply. Repeat often. The more you feel good about you, the less you will treat yourself badly.
We need a Repetition Redirection when our minds are too influenced toward whatever destructive behavior we have.
When those teachers taught us to memorize Bible verses, they actually work when we keep throwing them at the situation. "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you, resist the devil and he will flee from you". Over and over until we believe. Selling ourselves on us and the God in us can flush out the addiction attraction and bring in the new and improved us. Sound too simple?
If we believed Jesus healed the wild man in the cemetery, turned a prostitute into an institute, calmed an angry sea, raised a man from the dead, then why can't he turn our mind into a sanctuary of spiritual repetition? Over and over we do good, over and over we see good, and over and over we see Him in us.
The answer, yes he can, yes he will. Why did he pound the folks he spoke with parable after parable with essentially the same outcome? He was the master of repetition and redirection of minds. He was the master at planting the seed of God into a mind so that it would repeat itself to others.
The Repetition Redirection comes about with the renewal of our minds, and there is no mind God cannot reach, over and over again!
The Flipside of Heaven
In the past six months I have come to learn about the growing epidemic (we call it like it really is) of Heroin use AKA Opiates. This terrifying use has caused numerous overdose deaths especially among young people. It has a mind altering effect that challenges any possible effort someone tries to make to break free from its addiction.
In 2015 (this year will be far more) there were more than 30,000 deaths just from this drug or some derivative of it. It is truly like the Flipside of Heaven. One minute you feel like you went to heaven and the next minute and forever after you seem to be in pure hell. How is it worth it to trade a life or a few moments of a high for a death or a life long battle to recover?
Then, think of this. In a poll of 1000 respondents who were Christian, 50 percent of men and 20 percent of women said they were addicted to pornography. Not too many people die from this, but how many families die because of it? How many churches are in turmoil from its effects? Is it worth a few minutes of a picture to lose your family or your job? Then we look at all the recent shootings and realize that we are in an era where we are feeling the effects of a broken and torn society.
Why? We have simply gotten away from God and into god. The cable and TV networks promote violence, promiscuity, and glorify conflict between people of all genders and races. God is being pushed out or just to the side. Those gods that our forefathers built bronze statues of, glorified in Greek mythology, and celebrated in religious wars, have now taken a different but more powerful form.
The Flipside of Heaven is that we are now seeing hell play out first hand on this earth. And it is all so simple why it is happening. We are in pain, not always sure of where it comes from, not always sure of what we need to heal it, so we turn to something we can touch and feel because we have no patience to wait on the real God and his power to heal that pain. The more we generate faster speeds of culture, internet, and communication, the quicker fixes become available so waiting on God becomes too hard, even for Christians. So we microwave!
The solution? Not sure I have one, but I have a couple of suggestions. Be authentic about who we are. Be honest with ourselves and others. Let people know what we need from them. D & A addiction comes usually from escaping pain, withdrawing and wanting to be somebody different. Pornography addiction comes from (you guessed it), the same as the D & A reasons with a slight tweaking for being simpler than actually being intimate with someone.
And how about some real dirt level teaching about God instead of all the glorified churches with sermons on screens and paid entertainers that give us great encouragement for about an hour but fail us for the rest of the week? Forget Sunday and Wednesday, how about praying together every day, talking to each other every day, and living life to the potential God made us to be instead of trying to be somebody else?
Sorry, just being honest and authentic because when I look out here in this world of loneliness, isolation, constant texting instead of talking, and attention spans the size of a pin head, my soul begins to be distraught. I have been there, and I do not want to go back, because I feel the presence of a power far greater than me who now lights up my life where there was darkness before.
Doesn't make me or anybody else who feels this way any better than someone, just opens up our eyes a little bit more to see the Flipside of Heaven!.
Fusion: The process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity.
If you are an addict of any kind, there is usually a large amount of chaos in your life. Most is caused by us. We are the architects of confusion and drama. That means the word peace usually only exists through a pill or a joint. At that, it only lasts awhile.
So if we begin this new and frightful journey of recovery, God has to be a part of this process almost from the start in whatever way we begin to understand him. God and the working of the 12 steps can help change our chaotic behavior and give us enormous insight into what peace is.
But first, before you read the rest of this blog, listen to this:
"Peace" by Josh Baldwin from the album The War Is Over
In the book of Proverbs is this beautiful scripture, 16:7-
When a man's ways please the Lord he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him!
The way I see that is if we can Stop Using, we can Start Fusing, changing the way we act and receiving the blessings God has for us. We were never listening to him before because we were too busy using everything and everybody. We were in constant confusion and disarray.
The fusing process brings together those Steps with the will of God to bring us back to sanity. We throw away all the chaotic defects like lying, anger, selfishness and stealing, and repair and restore relationships through amends and forgiveness. Then we improve our conscious contact with our creator so that we see his will, actually listen, and then he clears out our addictions and barriers toward freedom, those enemies of peace.
As a result of all of this, we find This peace, this peace that only God can provide, that peace that passes all understanding, because we are now fused together in brilliant merger with Him and the human race. Sounds awesome, sounds amazing, and it is so simple to understand.
Stop Using, Start Fusing!
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.