In Ephesians 2:10 it says we are "God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works". So we could stretch a little and think that God has made us a poem for others to read, a sonnet of good works that show the love of Christ to everyone we meet. Every day a new verse is written that rhymes with God's will for us to do.
Yesterday I met an incredible woman in church, a recovering alcoholic who has a street ministry which has led five people to Christ in the last week or so. To say she is on fire is an understatement, but to get here she had to walk through the valley of the shadow of death so to speak.
Her poem was like one of David's Psalms with the ups and downs of despair and joy, but all the while walking through that dark valley hand in hand with God. It might read something like this..............
Oh Lord I feel you near
But I have so much fear
The pull of my past is so strong
Yet I know you have forgiven my wrong
You are close you are far
Sometimes I wonder where you are
Then I feel an unspeakable joy
And I know that life is but a ploy
To draw me nearer to your heart
To make me strong, make me smart
Each day I want to share so loud
I want to tell them all, every crowd
Who you are and how you forgive
How you have loved me and let me live
Despite my wrongs you have made me right
And if you were to take me home to your house tonight
I would look back and my life and say
You were with me every step every day
We are truly God's poem, what is yours to write? Folks like this woman, like me, like we who have seen the darkness first hand, know how to write a sonnet on our hearts that will be read by others. And when they do, they will see the greatest poetry mankind has ever known, one of forgiveness, redemption and grace.
Write us yours, we'd love to hear it.
Have you ever wondered why you were suffering despite the fact that you had done good things? And if you did, maybe you were a little upset with God, or angry or rebellious, or just plain tired of everyone persecuting you about this or that. Maybe it was a deterrent to building a relationship with the Lord and caused you to live on the wrong side of life?
Or possibly you believe being a Christian means retreating to your prayer closet, praying for everyone but never involving yourself in the often difficult daily human grind. Just maybe this has happened to you or possibly you always wanted to know what the Philippians' letters Paul wrote were really all about?
Whatever the reason we will search for some answers in the 1st quarter of 2015 in our ATB Sunday class. We will study from Max Lucado's book study of Philippians, beginning next Sunday, January 4th and have books to study on your own time available. Let's follow along with Paul as he teaches us how to have joy no matter what circumstance in life we are in.
I will be there, and I hope you will be too! Glenn
f we look back at the birth of Christ there are several messages that it provides including the most popular mantra of today's world, "Peace on Earth, Good will towards all". There are also the humble beginnings, the perseverance of Joseph and Mary, the significance of God becoming one of us through natural birth, and the concept of giving gifts.as well as many others I am sure you can think of.
To me, that original thought, peace on earth would be God's number 1 wish, but in reality much of the world is in opposition to His message of salvation and forgiveness. Therefore, very little peace and not much goodwill toward all. But that doesn't mean we, where we are wherever our lives may be at, cannot do something about it. We are Christ's ambassadors of peace in a world of chaos (think of being one in the middle east and it creates a clearer picture). If we are to be His shining stars, then we need to be accepting, loving, humble and kind to as many people as we can be.
This is my Christmas wish: That anyone now or in the future associated with our ministry will remember these humble beginnings of our savior, that he understands our trials because he spent time in our shoes, and that no matter how much chaos is in our lives or of those around us, we are to strive to find a level of peace and goodwill. That means we should remember where we came from, don't forget who brought us out of that slimy pit (Psalm 40), and make sure we give back the gifts we have so freely been given (especially grace) to all others we meet.
That's is a big wish, but one person at a time we can truly make a difference even when it looks like the world is falling apart. The key is to look at how that little baby in a manger lived for 33 years and made every one of His days on earth count. And if we look deeply we see someone who cared about everybody, good, bad or indifferent, and when he spoke to them offered a way to be at peace.
To you and your families, "Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward All". Have a beautiful Christmas!
Anyone who has driven in ATL traffic is aware of the danger in changing lanes. You can put your turn signal on before you do but often it is ignored and even mocked as someone drives past you with a rage in their eyes that you would even think of cutting in front of them.
As I drove this 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport (yes we sell them) yesterday on Interstate 10 between Daphne, AL and Pensacola, FL I placed that turn signal on to change lanes and heard beeping and a warning. Another car had turned before me, sped up and if I had turned there would have been a major collision. But because of that warning the danger was avoided.
When we are thinking about changing lanes in our lives, whether it be relationships, moves, jobs, or any decision that involves major change, God is always there for us to provide encouragement to do so or a warning that it may not be right to do so. When an addict is using the turn signals are usually ignored, God is rarely consulted, and often the result is a major wreck.
On the other hand, when we are in step with the Holy Spirit decisions like those can be like buttering bread, easy and comforting to know that the Lord has our back to step out in faith. The reason is that we are humble, teachable, reachable and willing and open to listen for the right voice. Often he provides a warning beep or a positive sign that gives us a clear vision of our direction, and we feel that peace that passes all understanding about it. If not, beware.
God is providing that clear path for me right now and on January 1, I will be changing lanes, but not leaving the highway. I won't be battling that ATL traffic as much but will instead be taking on these fanatical Alabama fans who ride around with 27 Roll Tide stickers on their cars and wave Crimson Tide flags while driving past you at 90 MPH. Daphne will be my base of operation working as the corporate used car guy but I will still be in ATL at least once or twice a month to visit.
Not leaving the ATB ministry, just operating in a different lane in a reduced capacity., and will still be a part of it and Campus. I thank God that so many other folks have stepped up to lead it that we are now in absolutely the right lane with great directional control. This is a great new opportunity for me that has been in the works for over a year but until now that warning beeper was going off. The owner of the dealerships has made me an offer I could not refuse, and the signs are everywhere that God is leading me here (did I mention it is near the beach).
Now there is a clear path to change lanes, new adventures to take, new blog subjects to write about, but the same God who goes before me, around me and behind me doing the steering. But sorry, no Crimson Tide change of allegiance for me, I will always be a Dawg at heart!
I have been called many names during my lifetime as I am sure you have as well. Most cannot be mentioned in this blog, and it hurts to remember that we may have been any of those names in the way we acted.
Tuesday I bought a Dodge truck from a dealer who is a Christian and knows that I am as well. One of the ladies at the auction overheard them talking about the guy who bought that truck, and they referred to me as "The Christian Guy."
When I heard this it made me realize again the effect we can have on our fellow man. Of all the things they could call me, that description would be my number one choice. I am honored that they would use that phrase to describe me.
Which brings up the question, what would they call you? It is such a blessing when others take note of our faith by how they see us rather than our words. We are a walking talking book of human nature that can speak much louder than our words.
We can easily see the effect we have on our fellow man by how they respond to us. My prayer is that those great words like that, The Christian Guy, will be uttered much more often than those others. And, that they see the light that lights my path and want to walk in the same direction.
Never be afraid to ask yourself that question that would describe who you are, and you will never again doubt your faith because there's not a doubt in your mind or anyone else's as to who you really are.
That word is truly scary to say the least. We all like to feel secure, safe and comfortable in our own environment of life, and then that day comes when a decision has to be made that may change your life. And then bring with it a whole new adventure.
I remember traveling to Georgia over 30 years ago, crossing the state line to a sign that read "Welcome to Georgia, The State of Adventure". Wow, what an adventure it has been, and the greatest part of it was giving up my old life for a new life in Christ. He too could have put out a similar sign that read "Welcome to God's Kingdom, Hold On For The Ride of your life". Every day His promises are new!
Next week I face a truly life altering decision, the one I have known was coming (this is not health or life threatening). So I have followed my customary new way to make decisions............pray first, ask the Lord for his direction, talk to wise folks who I call on at a time like this:
"Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed" Proverbs 15:22
Then talk to folks who have spiritual perspective ahead of worldly thinking:
"The lips of the wise spread knowledge, not so the hearts of fools" Proverbs 15:7
Then make sure I filter out my own ambition and empty it out to God's plan for me:
"The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly" Proverbs 15:14
Then you ask those who you know have constant contact to pray for you, and eventually God will reveal what decision you need to make.
Whether it is a tough one, a relatively easy one or one that needs instant attention, you will usually make the right choice if he and your board of directors all agree on your next move.
In fact, if we get in the habit of constant contact with the Holy Spirit, decisions need not be scary at all, they just fall into place. Please pray for me, as I know you will, this is a big one to decide on (and no, not getting married again either).
"Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her" Proverbs 8:10-11
It is so hard to grasp without any additional strings attached. You come to Jesus, give him your heart and soul, and you are completely forgiven no matter what you have done. The only toll so to speak that you pay is your soul, one time only, you turn it over to the good guy, not the bad guy you were following. And then what is even harder to grasp is that there are no more tolls to pay when you go the wrong way, from a spiritual perspective that is, you only have to ask for forgiveness.
Today, despite my usual habit of driving and going the right way (I know the women are proud of me), I turned one exit too soon while talking on the cell phone traveling on Florida Interstate 4 going from Orlando to Lakeland. Now if you know Florida you know a toll would be involved. Not just one, but two tolls for heading the wrong way then taking another exit off the other toll road and completely heading back the way I came from.
As I approached the first toll booth, I asked the attendant if I could just make a u-turn and head back to the freeway without a further toll. She informed me that is was against the law to make that u-turn and I would have to go 3 more miles to the next exit, take two lefts turn back around then pay the second toll. I asked for forgiveness but it didn't matter, and though it didn't seem right since I didn't intend to go the wrong way, I went the 3 miles, took two lefts and paid the two tolls.
And then it hit me......Two Tolls Don't Make It Right! Here is the simple truth, in God's world which we have become an active part of, we have been forgiven once and for all, past, present and future, even when we have to make a u-turn from going the wrong way. This is the mercy and grace of the sacrifice of our Messiah, who once and for all laid his life down for our future stupidity. The first toll, giving him our soul is all he requires, he has already made it right.
We may have to pay a second toll for the mistakes we make in this world, the consequences of our actions, but God does not require any further payment to Him. And how many times do we beat ourselves up for being so stupid and think we have to earn our way back to His interstate highway? You see, in his eyes two tolls don't make it right, the price has already been paid.
Of course this doesn't mean we can just do anything we want because if we really turn heart and soul over to him, His GPS (God's Plan of Service) will take over our direction and if we do go off course, it won't be very long before we make that u-turn. The Devil tries to act like a toll booth attendant so that we will get discouraged, but I can assure you he cannot block the way of the Lord.
So for me, this is not only a great analogy to remind me of the gift of salvation I have received, but also a word of wisdom to keep my mind on what I am doing so I don't head the wrong way. I don't think there are any cell phones in heaven, or any toll booths for that matter!
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.