A number of years ago, God put a vision on my heart to enhance our recovery ministry at Campus Church with an expanded agenda and a new name. After some added prayer and meditation, I asked 12 important people in my life to pray about it, and then again, after a few months I went to 2 Elders and the Preacher with the idea.
At first it met with more questions than answers but as usual after a short period of time I met with the entire church staff. There were some objections raised that were legitimate but I paused, knowing in my heart that this idea was not only seen, but prayed for, and I calmly responded in a thoughtful and confident way.
Several weeks later with the same staff, the preacher opened the meeting with these words "You guys must be praying hard for this change because I can't honestly find anything to deny it, so let us know what you need". That was the beginning of Across The Bridge.
Now You See It, Then You Say It, Then You Be It
Plans which are envisioned from above, sanctioned from above, and though looking highly impossible at times, cannot be stopped if they are the will of God. You can surely stop the will of Glenn, but never the will of God. And to carry them out requires courage and strength to experience push back and growing pains. If you are going to lead you must believe with a rock steady faith that God will provide a way.
So now I am going to say what I have just seen after thinking of this, praying, speaking with others and believing fully in my heart that this day will come sometime in the near future, and I am asking you to pray about it to verify its' existence. If it passes your prayers, then we will move forward:
Lost and Found
A place for those lost in life
A place for those who wonder who God is
A place for the homeless
A place for the addicted who want change
I realize that after 25 years of recovery ministry and taking a break to provide for my family and myself that God is not calling me back into the same place, but a new place with a bold mission right here in the USA. Whether it is in Alabama or Georgia I cannot tell you now, but the prayers and time will provide the answers.
And in the final decade or two of my life, I will go out His way, not my way (not much for retirement or golf anyway). And, make no mistake about it, this Church will not be for the feint of heart, but only for those who understand the true meaning of that song so eloquently sung by Anita this past Sunday, Amazing Grace!
I once was lost, now I am found. Now You See It, Then You Say It.......let's see where God takes this vision, please pray about it!
The In younger years when I was a Catholic we would go to Midnight Mass. Such a deep tradition of experiencing the true meaning of Christmas as a family and one in which I always had a special feeling about the day. The singing was awesome, the service was inspiring and of course it didn't hurt that my mother-in-law, in all of her Irish Catholic way, would serve spiked eggnog punch before we attended. That got us going!
As we approach the magical day, The Christmas Service takes on a new meaning to me. I think of the year round selfless service of so many at ATB and in other areas of my life. There is the seemingly always energized Willie Mae who helps so many others and her loving roommate. I remember meeting her and watching the incredible transformation over these past few years into a model server.
Then there are the Combees, the Thomases, The Dowdys, the Thames as well as Chris and Wendy who seem to forever be God's hands and feet to someone else. These people are Christmas all year round, those who understand that the very nature of God was humble and serving from the very birth of Christ. And, of course there is Steve Powell, always opening and closing, riding someone from nowhere to the church or working tirelessly to help out with something.
Finally there is Brother Mark, serving at the Atlanta Union Mission almost every week with such a beautiful spirit of joy. He doesn't ever have to, but the love of Christ compels him to do more, to never be complacent, but always be open to an opportunity to serve. These folks are just a few of my heroes, a few of those who do The Christmas Service all year long.
As we close out this year let us all vow to use the words written in that song about Christmas night, "Oh Come Let Us Adore Him", and let us do it in the way we serve on His behalf!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!
The Parking Space
Lately it seems like my life is taking a turn for the better, more about that at a later date. How is it for you? And doesn't it just seem that when things are going great, something happens that just derails your joy?
This week, many of us who are managers lost our preferred parking spaces. No particular reason (we have done quite well lately including setting a couple of sales records last month), and in fact the top sales people also lost theirs as well. That is not too bad but now we have to walk about a quarter of a mile in whatever kind of weather from a remote lot if the shuttle doesn't show.
No matter how much I thought about it, it made no sense. Even our long standing best Finance Manager who is in a wheelchair lost his. Of course he could appeal because of his handicap but I couldn't help but think of our old Marine Corps saying, "Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to do or die".
Then I realized The Parking Space was just another test of faith.
In scripture we read over and over that God is no respecter of one person over another. In fact he says he that he who is first is last and he who is last is first. We struggle to understand this but imagine for a moment how our world would be if we put that into practice. No one is better than another, no one is deserving of that place at the table next to Jesus, no one who believes is forgiven less than another.
Our system has it all wrong and we tend to think that we deserve a little more than someone else because of our color, faith or job status. All wrong according to God, and the struggle to understand his real meanings of all this will be until the end of time. It causes many conflicts and divisions among us that are contrary to His words.
This brought me down to earth, maybe the same has happened to you and you understand. I get it now, heaven is just one big Parking Space and I need to just be happy that I will make it to the parking lot.
Then it wouldn't matter how far I had to walk!
Here Comes Santa Claus
I absolutely love this time of year and have many fond memories of Christmas past. A couple stick out, like waking up as a child and watching my Mom laboriously put my new bike together that was supposed to be from Santa. Then there were the midnight masses and all the tradition of family that went with it. Not saying how alert I was after drinking my mother in law's spiked eggnog, but I remember, barely.
And of course many Christmases waking up to the shrieks of children gasping at their new haul from Santa. I miss those times, but I get to live a part of it through grandchildren and extended family. But what I don't miss is the new perspective of a Christian as to what this day really means. I have found that the words Here Comes Santa Claus, takes on a whole new meaning when you look at it on face value.
First and foremost Christmas is about the birth of our savior. The gift giving tradition may have come from the gifts of the Magi to Jesus, but Santa is something we may have created to give the holiday some flavor. Certainly every child seemingly spends more time thinking of Santa than Jesus this time of year. He is of course the symbol of giving, especially to all the good boys and girls.
The bad concept of this is that we carry those memories of Santa from childhood to adulthood and often have a concept of God that he rewards the good and punishes the bad. That if we put all our requests on a list he will deliver what we ask. That Santa is at our beck and call when needed.
Thus the phrase takes on a new adult meaning to some of us. Here Comes Santa Claus to bring us all the goodies, tidy up our lives, give us what we have earned. Some of it could even be biblically close to being accurate, but it turns us into performers instead of receivers. Here's an important point to remember, every time Jesus encountered someone going in the wrong direction who wanted to change, he forgave them and gave them the gift of grace.
And every time Jesus ran into someone who considered themselves "good" he usually berated them for being too proud, but left them with grace. Grace to the bad, grace to the good, performance only mattered after the truth was known. Then they were expected to act differently. But still, when either failed to live up to expectations, there was grace.
Knowing what I know now after 32 years as a Christian, God doesn't give us everything we ask for, but he instead gives us everything we need. If you ask for a fish he won't give you a snake, but he may give you a fishing rod to go catch one. He may not give you the rent money, but he may find you a job opportunity.
And, he is never "on demand" as in our cable system, he is instead ever present, ever listening, ever waiting for us to trust in him and have faith that he will do what is best for us even if it is not on our list.
I remember how hurt I was to find out there was no Santa. But I also remember how happy I was when I came to completely know God through his son whom Christmas was all about. That's when Here Comes Santa Claus became just another song.
Now you see it, Now you don't!
While walking on this earth, Jesus demonstrated that having just a little faith can make all the difference in the world. Countless times he called on those he came in contact with to believe before he healed them or forgave them. When he was done with his miracles those who received them were forever changed. Faith was the answer when there seemed no other way.
Yesterday one of my co-workers who has inoperable cancer came to me with the latest news from the doctor. In his own words the doctor said to him "What happened to your cancer?" They could not find a trace after months of chemo on their part, but also after months of family prayers on his part. Truly the words ring out Now You See It, Now You Don't!
At about the same time a very dear friend of mine asked me to pray for her son-in-law's Mother who also had terminal cancer and was given 2 years to live.
Let me ask you the question now and get it over with, Does God heal everyone, or even change every bad circumstance in our lives? To bring it closer to home, why was my son killed, or why was one of your younger family members taken?
If we look at life as just a blip in eternity, as God does, then we begin to understand that we ill never fathom the mind of God or his exact plans for our lives. Some are healed, some are not. Some are saved, some are not. Some are blessed beyond belief, others are persecuted. There is only one absolute, there is a God, he is alive, and he sent His son to redeem us for eternal life beyond what we see today.
Maybe that's more than one, but to believe it we must have faith that what is seen is not really what is. What we know is only a blip of the knowledge of God, and therefore we must choose faith, even just a little, for Him to work in our lives.
Are you positive or negative in your outlook? Would you prefer to live solely on what you see, or what may be possible with God's help? Interesting questions, especially for the scholars among us. Me, I just know from how my life was turned around that the Lord is still working miracles today and when I pray for you, or for me, I pray one will happen for us all when all looks lost.
Regardless of the outcome, God is still there, and my eternal joy will still be there. "Say to this mountain move, and it will move". In other words, give it a try because the master mountain mover is still at work.
And then you can say to your problem, Now You See It, Now You Don't! Selah
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.