'Tis The Season
This time of year is special. It seems people are a little nicer, givers come out of the woodwork, families get a little closer together and the name of Jesus is uttered many more times than the rest of the year.
Yet, for others it is a stark reminder of loved ones lost, gifts that cannot be afforded, and a depression of sorts because of increased isolation and loneliness. I certainly don't have all the answers that would soothe the situation except for my own ways of dealing with the joy of the season, yet the loss of significant loved ones. They are simple, yet they bring a consolation of peace.
First, do good at every opportunity! Take the time to step out of yourself, your own pain to invest in others. You will be amazed how much it helps ease the pain. In Psalm 37 it says this: Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy the pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Simply, the more good we do the more pasture we have to dwell in. Then, we carry Jesus with us wherever we go and even through the dark times he delights our hearts with the knowledge that the best is yet to come. We trust in Him and not the seasons of the year or the fragility of life itself. If the stock market, the amount of toys we can buy for our kids or how much of a macho man or superwoman we are defines us, then our lives will be governed by a proverbial Santa Claus outlook on God.
Secondly, understand the plan. It's not about our 401K, how much we have or don't have it's about where the shelter of our life is. Here's Solomon's take on this: Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of the possessor.
Believe me, I used to be caught in the achievement and possessions trap, going for all the money and fame, but it all comes and goes. However, God's plan is that our focus should be on Him, then all the circumstances of this life we make between the dashes can be processed through his perspective rather than our own human concept.
Sorry for the length of this blog, but I felt compelled to get real today about how a significant perspective change in my life altered the way I think. Loss of life in Viet Nam, loss of four loved ones in four consecutive years, and my youngest son seven years ago. Loss of marriages, ups and downs of success - now at an older age I understand, and the wisdom learned has preserved my life and my joy for every moment of life experienced, good or bad.
I've been naughty and I have certainly been nice, but now I can truly say 'Tis The Season to experience his presence rather than his presents!
A Wing And A Prayer
This saying is actually saying your plans have little or no chance of success. I heard that a lot back in 2018 when ATB was incorporated as a non-profit. However, that was not what God had in mind. He uses impossible situations to show that anything with him leading the way is possible. Let's correct the mindset of this saying.
This formula, A Wing And A Prayer was used dramatically when the Apostle Peter was put in jail. Here are excerpts from the story in Acts 12:4-11:
V5. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was praying to God for him.
V7. Suddenly an an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrist.
It goes on to the point where Peter admitted without a doubt that the Lord sent an angel to rescue him. Thus, he was saved by A Wing (the angel) And A Prayer (the church praying for him). So somebody has created a negative saying out of what God intended to be a solution - not the first time that's happened.
So how about us? Do we have others praying for our success, our sobriety, our deliverance from evil situations? Are we praying earnestly for someone else for the same? Sometimes there is no more we can do but that but it is actually the most powerful persuasion there is for God to change an impossible circumstance.
Then, think about what angel may trying to poke you to wake you to stop being so negative, stop doubting the power of God, stop dwelling on where you are presently at and think of where He can take you to be. The chains can come off the plans can succeed, a life can be transformed by a simple plan originated by the one who can control the plans.
Have someone or a bunch of somebody's pray for you and lookout for that angel's presence. A Wing And A Prayer - it happened to me too, and it can happen to you!
Don't Feed The Alligators
I posted a picture on FB today from 9 years ago that I took while on a walk in Daphne, AL where I worked for a short but enjoyable time. Crossing a bridge were these two signs:
No Loitering On Bridge and Do Not Feed The Alligators
Daphne is located on the other side of Mobile and just is an absolute beautiful place but there are alligators present. Saw two myself, one on a golf course and one crossing another bridge in front of me at night (the Across The Bridge analogies here are so fitting). You cannot ignore them, in fact at one of the seafood restaurants on the causeway to Mobile they have a pet gator (Alice) that prowls the parking lot so you best beware at night walking to your car.
In addiction recovery we must adhere to these warnings, first, don't dwell on the past and loiter on your bridge to recovery - keep going to the other side before you are trapped by those gators looking to have you for breakfast or dinner. They will catch you if you are standing still.
Second, when we feed our addiction or more precisely our beast, it can also devour us for being kind to it. That's right, being kind. The beast won't go away, the demons won't come out, unless there is a desire to expel them not feed them. This means turning our back on some long standing friends, places and things that have sustained us through survival. It's not about that anymore, it's about a revival of our entire lifestyle.
Biblical examples abound including the wild cave man in Mark 5 who cut himself and cut himself off from others. Only the power of Jesus could tame his beast and drive out those demons. But he asked Jesus a most important question, was he going to torture him? Let me ask you a question, would it be better to experience some pain through a recovery process, or being eaten by your alligators?
Once that question is answered the bridge can be crossed safely in the guiding hands of the one who knows how to handle those alligators and any other wild beast that is in us.
Go visit Daphne, enjoy the Gulf beaches, but don't feed the alligators!
Across The Bridge is proud to announce the formation of Warrior Groups in partnership with the PTSD Foundation of America which offers Christ-centered solutions for Combat Trauma. This group will be open to all veterans, especially combat and deployed veterans and first responders. Our first meeting will be December 2 at 6 PM in Suite B at ATB.
From my own experience in Viet Nam as a U.S. Marine I am well aware of the challenges veterans face when coming home from war, or veterans experience when dealing with extensive subversive training, or first responders faced with the dangerous situations they are placed in. The format of this meeting will be much the same as a 12 Step group with guidelines from their Combat Trauma Healing Manual.
Trauma is an event outside normal human experience and fuels mental illness and addiction, so this is right in our corporate wheelhouse and that of my own experience. I can tell you that in coming back from war it was a long time before I felt like I fit back into a peaceful society. The effects on my marriage, children and looming addiction created added trauma on top of that trauma and fortunately my faith in God and working through the Steps helped pull me out. Now, we can offer a meeting and fellowship that can certainly help sooner.
I will help lead this group with their assistance and seek out future leaders to be a part of this. If you or someone you know may benefit from this group please call or email me at 404-915-7376 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meanwhile, please pray for us and for the thousands of veterans and first responders who lay their life on the line every day in the cause of freedom.
May God Bless America!
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.