There is such a thing as waking up every day with automatic faith in the things we know will work. The alarm clock, the coffee maker, the fridge, the toaster, and even that car starting in 20 degree weather- we have faith in their value. And when they fail us, we have a relatively easy fix to get them up and running again.
And then there's another kind of faith, the one that requires belief in what we cannot see like our future, our health, our hopes and dreams. All of these require a faith that things will work out, and if they fail or not turn out the way we want, we who believe trust in God that His process will "fix" the situation in a way that is best for us.
Then there is that Mountain Moving Faith, the one that requires a belief that despite all odds, despite what we see or others do, that we believe God wants us to step up, step out or step forward into something that is highly impossible without His help. It means waking up every day thinking about it, praying about it, sometimes being terrified about it, but knowing that God has you exactly where he wants you - walking with Him, talking and thinking about Him.
Some days this kind of faith is extremely difficult to have, but each day we have it, we become stronger, we become more faithful, we become forged in the process of iron sharpening iron, painfully discouraged when things don't go exactly as we believe they should, but strengthened by a new sign from the master that everything will be okay. His spark ignites our hope which propels our faith to greater and newer heights.
Then we have more appreciation for what he said: Because you have so little faith (that's why his apostles could not drive out the demons). I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there and it will move". Nothing will be impossible for you.
You know what I know; we can't move a mountain in our life without a Mountain Moving Faith!
I am thankful for so many things this year that they cannot all be possibly listed in this weeks blog. But there are several things that form atop my list, and surprisingly one of the first is that in this past year our ministry has helped bridge the gap between the church and the world of addiction recovery. Let me explain please.
In his book "Breathing Under water" Richard Rohr says this: "The similar messages between the two teachings assure me that we are dealing with a common inspiration from the Holy Spirit and from the same collective unconscious. In fact I am still convinced on the practical ("transformational") level, the Gospel message of Jesus and the Twelve Step message of Bill Wilson are largely the same message."
If anything in the past years of ministry has been a stumbling block, it has been in convincing the church in general that AA and the church can coexist even if the "God of their understanding" starts with a doorknob that opens a door to a meeting. This statement is only the first step in finding God which doesn't always start with understanding Jesus, who he really is and what incredible affect he had on the human race. It is the beginning of a spiritual awakening.
Fortunately both the North Atlanta and Campus Churches of Christ are exceptions to this and have come through big time in supporting recovery ministries that have been a very bright light in the very dark world of addiction. I am thankful they have understood this verse of scripture from the book of Romans:
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Certainly those of us who have overdosed, wasted our lives away and been a general disaster may be considered people of low position at one time or another. It took someone who believed in us who could be the hands, feet and very soul of God to help us overcome ourselves. I am thankful, most of all for two great men who helped save my life.
In everything I do, just below honoring the name of God come the names of Bill Long and Wayne Collins, two men who understood what Richard Rohr wrote about, I was underwater and needed a life preserver to float until the doorknob to their church opened the door through their teaching, mentoring and belief in me.
Across The Bridge will always be that ministry that reflects the loving, accepting and understanding nature of those two men and the two churches I have had the privilege of being a part of. They were my Bill W. and Doctor Bob.
Be thankful and remember those who helped us get where we are today!
Across The Bridge is beginning a fund raising campaign to fund the early stages of our non-profit adventure and the move into our new building. I am happy to say that we are already at 25% of our goal of $30K by January 1st in pledges and contributions. Please consider donating if you can, praying for us or sending us someone we can help. Following is the message of our campaign:
I can look into the eyes of the people in the spiritual 12 Step meetings we do and see a glimmer of hope. Thirty-five people in an apartment sitting up against the wall and packed in all around and on the floor- folks just coming off of Heroin and Meth looking for answers.
It is the front line of addiction recovery, that is where God has planted Across The Bridge, and our interaction and relationship with these folks has gone way beyond a single meeting. They come to us, we go to them. We talk, we text, we Facebook, we message, we sponsor, we mentor, we talk about Jesus, and they are listening, they are communicating, and they catch the vision.
And now, we are moving forward as our own 501-c-3 non-profit corporation with a 6000 square feet. headquarters facility that will offer us even more opportunity to make a difference in our community. To do this, we need your help to partner with us and to donate to our cause.
* This building will house Across The Bridge Inc and several other related partners
* We will offer a variety of services and recovery meetings
* We will have classes and resources for life transitions
* We will continue and expand our on-site meetings at the facilities we serve
* We will be governed by a Board Of Directors with a wide variety of experience
To Donate: Across The Bridge Inc. 6600 Sugarloaf Pkwy #400/281 Duluth Ga 30097 **
** This is our mailing address until we move into our facilities January 1st, 2019.
This week in the meetings we have been talking about Pride and Humility and how they affect our life and our recovery. We have used a song "Whatever It Takes" by Imagine Dragons, information from the A.A. 12 & 12 and a scripture from Obadiah referencing the ongoing struggle between the descendants of Jacob and Esau, and how God answered the Edomites pride by making them hit rock bottom, literally!
In a nutshell we have emphasized that Your Ego Is Not Your Amigo because any time we feel like we are all that and a bag of chips, we become a self centered, entitlement individual who believes our will is much more important than God's will. It is okay to take pride in an accomplishment because we all need to look at our work and be satisfied, but it is not okay when take it to these extremes:
Fake who we are by not being authentic - be somebody we aren't
Strive for constant attention - especially the wrong kind
Do not admit we need help - we got this mentality
Ignore the needs of others because we put ourselves way ahead of everyone else
Buck up when we are challenged or held accountable
These are just a few examples of not being humble, having taken pride to a place beyond normal. But the highlight of the week has been the story of Naaman written in 2 Kings 5. It matches the reaction of an addict when given the chance to recover by going to the wrong place to get healed, and being told that certain steps (washing in the Jordan 7 times) will heal you then ignoring that solution.
Naaman, despite his leprosy (much like our addiction), felt like he deserved something better than what the man of God's solution was. Oh, how we who struggle with addiction know this so well - we are hard headed, prideful and arrogant in the face of a God given way rather than that of our own choosing. When he got humble, he got healed!
Yes, for sure, Our Ego Is Not Our Amigo but how great is our God that His solution became our evolution (and Naaman's) to healing and humility!
This Sunday in our ATB class I will share the updates on our ministry and hopefully clarify our plans to anyone I may have confused. In the excitement of things becoming new I sometimes forget to slow down, breathe, and just be clear without all of the hype. This is truly a fantastic time of taking the great commission into the Atlanta area!
If the part about the ATL makes you wonder, consider this: there are people lost next door to us, at our workplace, in our gyms and often right there next to us at a worship service. They are looking for an answer to a confusing and unsatisfied life. They have heard all the TV preachers hype, been driven reluctantly to church by a loving family, but were so rebellious they did not listen to a word. In other words, they did not receive "The Word".
I love the KJV translation of Go Ye because it reminds me that in Jesus' ministry he never stayed in one place for too long. He was always on the move spreading the word. But I also take the next part of that scripture to heart- "(Go ye)....therefore, and make disciples of all nations." It doesn't say just spread the word, it says "make disciples". Now that my friends, takes much more time.
If we build a ministry that just goes from person to person to teach them that word, it may not do any good unless we live the word with them, showing them not only in words, but in action what it means to be a disciple. To love, to serve, to walk away from evil and do good and to let the word be planted and grow inside our hearts.
In this modern day world of millennials and very short attention spans, how do we attract people on the go to go where they really need to go? You move with them, becoming a dance partner with them in the often volatile tango of life. You teach them the moves, the rhythm of the gospel, and the music of a celebration of life.
We become mobile, as Jesus was; we become stationary as the temples (and planted churches) were; and we become all things to all men so that we might win some disciples. This takes time and much effort, but in the end, it is exactly what the Lord asks us to do when he says Go Ye!
We are striving to make ATB just like that. We don't want to just spread the word, we want to plant it firmly in hearts that have been broken, shattered, and abused, often by their own self destructive actions.
In truth, we just want to be some really good farmers that yield a spectacular crop!
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.