This Monday night we begin Thanksgiving week with a Celebration at our ATB Building, the first in our new facility, which gives us the opportunity to feed probably about 200-225 people. It is a distinct honor and pleasure to feed those folks, involve three different cooks and many volunteers to serve. It is a true blessing.
Yet, at this time of year when the holidays are celebrated, many are heart broken and relapse due to the inability to deal with overwhelming feelings of grief, shame, and disappointment in themselves. Feelings are triggers to that relapse and are heightened by memories of past times of love and acceptance that are just not there anymore. Though we cannot replace those memories, our goal is to provide an atmosphere where those qualities exist to lift them up out of any sort of pit of despair or loss, and bring them hope of a better future.
What we ask of you who read this is to continue to offer your donations, prayers, and support of ATB, and especially pray for those mentioned above, so that we can operate as an agent of change in a broken and lost world. As we celebrate people, we also celebrate what you have helped us to do in 2019 to become a relevant force in our community for good. Take a look at what we have done together:
Created 15 meetings a week of all different types - ATB 12 Step at Campus Church, Real Talk Recovery at Life Church International, Friday Night Community Worship at ATB led by Good Landing Recovery, Certified Addiction Counselor Training, CA, CMA and SAA Meetings, 6 meetings at Sober Living facilities, Community Meetings and a Women's Group at ATB.
Have served 19,443 people in 505 meetings through November 23rd. Last week we set a new record of having 646 people in our meetings.
Clothed hundreds of people through our Men's and Women's clothing Closets. We continue to receive and distribute for free, clothing donated by our partners and friends.
Placed several hundred people in sober living facilities or rehab. With our six partnering facilities we have a wide range of recovery options to help find the right place to begin recovery.
The list could go on and on but for today, I just want to thank everyone for your support and offer my own personal wishes for you to have a most blessed Thanksgiving holiday season!
To God be the glory, Glenn
To be honest, I thought I did a terrible job of relating, in two meetings yesterday, to what God wanted me to say. The topic was Dysfunction Junction, the intersection where all our addictions and abnormalities meet reconciliation. It was all about how the cross was where our debt of dysfunction was cancelled and where healing begins.
Here's Dysfunction: abnormality or impairment in a system, and here's Junction: a point where two or more things are joined. So we could define Dysfunction Junction as the coming together of abnormalities and impairments. In other words, the Cross.
It was about a decision, a hard thing to ponder for those listening as it requires surrender from a life we we're so used to into one we know often little about. As they spoke of being addicted from 8, 9, 12 years old, coming from families that used together, had a drug dealing business, and the code of the street vs. a code of morality, I could see they were confused but pondering, and I did not know if I had their attention like I usually do.
Earlier in the day as I was preparing, I finished printing out the copies, went to get ready to go to the first meeting and turned on one of my favorite preachers, Jentzen Franklin. His topic - the Cross. Confirmation of our message but delivered far more eloquently. More on this in a minute.
As I struggled through the second meeting late, knowing I was fatigued from a very long day and a hard week, I realized while I was talking that I wasn't really saying what I wanted to say, and it did not even make sense to me. When done, several people came to me to talk, one who was really struggling with resentment, and he genuinely laid out his heart and soul to me, wanting to change. And another angry man, who had been through a horrendous battle listened close by. We then prayed together for that decision to follow him to be made.
Somehow, some way these men were affected then this morning two folks friended me on Facebook from that meeting and it totally hit me, remembering the words of the Apostle Paul - he did not come with words of eloquence, but he came to talk about the cross, and it literally speaks for itself in what it can do to change a man's heart.
My seemingly clever approach was not what made the difference, as the lord confirmed to me in that sermon by JF. When you talk about the cross, let God do the talking, just be there to repeat his words.
But it truly is where Dysfunction comes to its Junction of healing. (Sorry, had to throw that one in). Amen
All week long they happened. I have seen His amazing presence at work before but never this often up close and personal. When the creator of the universe takes the time to encounter us - we just stand in awe of His work!
The events are too numerous to mention, but my focus will be on yesterday, when in honor of the departure of our dear sister Sheila Robinson, may she rest in peace, the celebration of her life was held at what I might call an old school Church of Christ where they sang out of those old hymnals still, with the songs that I first heard when coming to sobriety and coming to Christ.
Not the new school lights, drama, hype and music, but just old fashioned form of worship through singing and prayers. It took me back to where I came from and it was definitely God speaking to my heart to remember my first love, those moments when I fell in love with Him rather than a bottle. Page 807, 522, those days when I hardly knew what He was all about, but I kept singing those words that I did not understand but sang anyway because I was so happy to be sober and saved.
Then, one by one they spoke of how you could hardly talk to Sheila about anything before she began speaking about Jesus, the one who led her out of prostitution and substance abuse. And God spoke to my heart about how sometimes I shrugged her off, more concerned with the events of the moment than I was with hearing that same story over and over again. I respected her, I just wasn't as attentive as I used to be.
Surely you see the point of my terrible example. We can get so caught up in our ideas, plans and concept of how we think God is working today and forget to listen to him, especially when he is saying remember how it was when I saved you before you take another step, that we had such a simple, beautiful relationship before my life got complicated.
This week I was more attentive, I listened for his voice more often rather than interpreting what I thought he would have me do, and you know what happened? Virtually everything worked out just like he said it would.
More listening, less doing, a lot more like Sheila, and less like Glenn. As we sang "When We All Get To Heaven" the joy was roaring in my soul with the power of His Spirit - listen Glenn, listen, and you will encounter the God who knows you, saved you and loves you more than any other. Just listen and feel His presence as you first encountered Him!
And we sang on, "what a day of rejoicing that will be". It's actually happening right now
What turns on the joy in your life? Children, grandchildren, doing a job well, walking on the beach, feeling loved, or one of many other wonderful things that can turn a bad day into a blessing? These feelings are priceless but ever fleeting.
Truth is, if we rely on feelings, we are a constant roller coaster ride and are destined to rise and fall on the whims of today. Better yet, why not live a life of gratitude which puts us in position to withstand whatever storms may come our way and becomes contagious to those we come in contact with?
The Apostle Paul showed us how: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13
That was written from prison, why would any grown man in a bad place like that have such a great attitude? Because they can take away all of what we have, but they cannot take away our attitude. It is our choice to flip that happy switch which does not rely on circumstances, but does require building a faith that can withstand any situation.
In the Big Book of AA, in the story entitled "Gratitude In Action", the writer who began A.A. in Canada in 1944 says that alcohol became his best friend, his way to turn on that happy switch, his way of becoming someone greater than he thought he actually was. It caused destruction of his family, losing his job and any self-esteem he ever had, but he still used it until it stopped working. It turned on him and sent him into internal incarceration.
Then, he found something in A.A. - he found God, and he found a God who restored his family, the respect of his wife and children, set him free, and gave him a purpose to show his gratitude daily. And in the conclusion to his story, he tells of how he doesn't have to drink again, he doesn't have to self destruct because he found the key to gratitude and that happy place.
Eloquently he states that key to be: to put his hand in the hand of God and walk with him daily. That's what Paul did and that is why he wrote what he wrote in a dark, cold and thankless prison. He was not where he wanted to be, but he was right where God wanted him to be - and that made him content.
Gratitude creates solutions, it removes the complaining and gets to the gaining of life and meets life on life's terms. We can either embrace it or let it take us back out to use something else that will just leave us more empty.
Want to flip that happy switch? Put your hand in the hand of God and let him flip it for you!
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.