Friday, June 23, 2017

What If.....

Habakkuk 3:17
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty......

God kind of took me in a direction that I didn't see coming....
It has to do with climate change....
Now, before you get all excited, let me fill you in on some things.
I'm not smart enough to know the in's and out's of this whole ecological debate that has been raging.
I have my opinions about what I believe is going on with the weather, but here is not the place to share them. "Well, then why are you writing about it?" You may be asking. Simple...God has had me in the Scripture for the past few days and I keep seeing something I had never considered.

There are two changes going on here, especially here in the good ol' US of A.
Could it not be that the reason we see such drastic weather patterns here in our country is because of a "Moral" Climate change? I know...I know...it seems as though I've stretched a bit here with this posting. I just think that maybe there is a connection between the state of morality and the times and situations we find ourselves in. My wife, Vicki, brought up a good point. She asked me if I believe what I've posted, then why are the weather patterns all Kaflooy in every country. Point taken, but have no answer for, other than I live in these here United States of  America, so my interest lies within our borders.

All through out Scripture we see where the people turned away from God....
You may be thinking well, it's always been that way, and you would be right...
But when the people de-volved, sunk into, or ever how you want to define it, levels of sin that were dark beyond dark, God would allow things to happen. There were times when God allowed the elements to totally get out of control.  What does this have to do with our nation.

Our coins and currency may say "In God We Trust", but the moral climate of our nation has long since moved past that belief. We no longer trust in God. We trust in Government to solve our problems. We trust in technology to save us. We trust in "Self" first and foremost above anyone or anything. We have pushed God from the collective conscious of this nation. God is an offense to a lot folks. I think this may be some very dangerous territory our country has moved into.

I know that the various forms of media has transformed our country into an "information now" people. These various news stories come at us rapid-fire, in an almost overwhelming rate. What we can see and hear now took days and weeks to filter to the people in times past. We have 24 hour news..smart phones that crank out info 24/7. So we have more access than every before. We see and hear of scandal among our leaders.....the very ones we elected to our government seem to have no problem "embellishing" the truth, calling evil good and good evil. In our effort to shine up and polish America's image, we declare our nation to be a "tolerant" nation for all peoples. We are a tolerant group of folks, aren't we? Except when what you believe runs contrary to what I believe...then we are intolerant.

I do believe that there is a remnant of folks who still fear, worship and honor God.
They do so with more than just lip service. Their very lives reflect the nature and goodness of God.
They move in love among their fellow man. They are the ones who have embraced the mission of God to tell THE story to those who have yet to truly meet Jesus.  I confess to you that in this nation, being a believer / follower of Christ of not exactly the most politically correct stance a body could take. That's o.k. as if you read the Scriptures, we were warned way ahead of time that the world would hate us. But no where.....no place...no way, are we told that we are to return that hate with hate of our own.

Seems to me that the devil has stirred the pot of this here country. He has wound up the hearts of people and has brought division to our nation. Blacks hate whites...whites hate Hispanics....Women hat men...Men are a bunch of pedophiles....and on and on and on. I do remember somewhere in Scripture where Jesus told a bunch of folks that "A house divided will not stand". We, as a nation, may not have fallen, but I do (from time to time) hear the timbers in the rafters creaking under the weight of sin.

Just to make one thing clear....
Sin is not the deed or behavior....
Sin is the state and condition of the heart....
So I will close with a verse that has been used over and over and over.

II Chronicles 7:14
Then if my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land."

Food for thought?
Maybe....

God on you...
mbb

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Righteous Dude



Genesis 6:9

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

From time to time, I find myself whining and complaining about how "dark" spiritually our nation has become. The Government is corrupt. People are self-centered. Some churches only tickle the ears with smooth words and false promises. Where is God?
Yet every time I act this way, I am reminded of Noah.
Think about this.
He was the only righteous and blameless man on the face of the planet. Everyone else was corrupt. Imagine the pressure that came from neighbors and so-called friends. I don't think Mr. Noah got invited to too many parties and get together, do you?

I love the last part of this verse. He Walked With God!
Noah wasn't guided or lead by the call and dictates of this world. His mind, heart, spirit and soul were set on following God. He did not have access to a Bible. He didn't have Christian radio and television. He simply had a relationship. In our day and time, we feel like we have to have all the trappings..........the worship Cd's, the latest DVD from the latest conference. The hottest, greatest new word from the Christian author of the month. Funny...........Noah just had God.
Maybe simpler is better.

Noah simply did everything God told him to do.
He trusted that God knew best.
God gave him a plan to survive. Build an ark,leave everything else to God.
Noah carried out the plan.
Day after day. Year after year...building that ark.
Do you think there were day's that Noah wanted to quit? I do.
It would be hot. Sun beating down. Neighbor's walking by where the ark was being built. "Hey Noah! You want to go fishing? Oh yeah, that's right....you've got to build a boat and we don't even live near any body of water large enough to float it........bwahhhhhh!"
Noah kept on.
Why?
Because God told him to....
Walking with God, such as Mr. Noah did, often involves doing some things that don't really balance the ledgers, so to speak.
We don't always understand the "whys" of God. We are called to "do".
I will go as far as even saying that it isn't we don't understand, as much as it is we don't see.
We don't see what God is accomplishing.
We don't see the greater purpose for the events and situations we are currently in...
God does.
And if He does, then it might be to my benefit to simply carry out the instructions and disciplines I am being shown today.
Noah, during the most corrupt time the world has ever known, walked with God...was blameless among his generation. God used this man to save humanity.
Not a bad way to be remembered.

God on you....
mb

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The LIne


Jeremiah 6:16-17
This is what the Lord says, "Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path and you will find rst for your souls. But you reply,"No, that's not the rod we want!" I posted watchmen over you who said, "Listen for the sound of the alarm." But you replied, "No! We won't pay attention."

The line....
Most everyone has one...

But it seems to be more defined by someone in recovery.
That line is always there, especially at the beginning of the journey into a new life and way of thinking.


The line cannot force itself on you, but the voice that cries out from the dark side of the line can be, and sometimes is, a powerful force. 
At one time those in recovery  lived on the other side of the line, and gave no thought to changing. Sin, like most other things that feed our old nature, was pleasurable at first. You didn't really notice how dark spiritually it was. You just knew that your desire had found a home where it was fed. You enjoyed the company of those who were on the same side of the line as you were.  But time has a way of changing our perspective on events and situations. What once was fun  suddenly become a prison. A place where emotional and physical pain grew at an ever increasing rate. Here is where the trap really begins to lay hold of you. You hurt so much that the only thing you can think of is finding relief from the pain. On the dark side of this line, the only thing your mind can focus on is one thought. "I must get whatever it takes to ease this pain. The dark voice has convinced you that the answer is more drugs and/or alcohol. So you use.  Occasionally you would consider crossing back over the line into a safe place and way of living. But the dark voice screamed even louder, accusing you and weighing you down with guilt and shame. You give in and face the fact that, according to the voice, you are what you are....you will never change...you are hopeless.

Those who have managed to cross back from the darkness find gratitude for being free. But this freedom is something that has to be guarded and protected. Yes, it is the saving power and blood of Christ that empowered us to move back into a right way of living.....but such a cost requires a discipline that we must engage in. To me, the Twelve Steps are such a discipline that help everyone move forward. The steps take you through a process of dealing with your past, and realizing that only God can change the character issues that drove you in the past. Those character flaws that aided in our bad decision making are removed and replaced with a character that is in line with how God desires us to approach life (see Galatians 5:22-23).

Without the presence of a Higher Power, Jesus, in your life....you have no protection against the line, or the dark voice.
You may even put together a period of sobriety, but the line and voice are always close at hand waiting......biding its time....patiently watching...softly whispering a soothing invitation to return to your old ways. 


Life gets hard....
Problems occur...
Situations that are beyond your control....
Rather than seek God at this point, your thoughts move toward the line. Oh, you may not be planning on crossing over, but you just want to see how close you can get without falling prey to the darkness. In your mind, you've convinced yourself that this is the nature of real recovery...."The ability to be near drugs and alcohol, but with no intention of using." That, my friend, is what we refer to as "Addict-a-logic".  Recovery is not measured by how close you can be to drugs and alcohol, and those who use....Recovery is measured by the simple fact that you move as far away as possible, having nothing to do with any of it.


I've kind of chased this posting today because of a friend of mine who has chosen to move back over the line. I won't go into details, but suffice it to say that he is not doing well. My greatest fear is that he has made this journey so many times, he may not come back. Not because of choice, but simply because his body is worn out and may not survive this dark journey.

Can God bring my friend out?
Yes! I believe this with every ounce of my being.

Such is why I ask you today to join my prayer for his safety and sobriety.
Pray that God would send angelic host to stand guard around my friend so that the power of the line and the dark voice will not have its way in destroying this person.
Pray for God to bring conviction to his heart, and that my friend not confuse conviction with condemnation.
Pray that God would lead my friend back into a place where they can see clearly and choose to not go back over that line.
Pray for my friend.....


God on you...

mbb

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Encounter @ VRC


Psalm 100: 4 
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name for the Lord is good.

Sometimes we forget that it is the little things that are important.
Things that we take for granted may have a greater impact on someone else.
In an age and time where image is everything, and there is much energy, money and time spent trying to be the perfect church.....have the best lighting and worship teams, the most dynamic pastor, it's the simple things that impact people the most. 

I was at Rapha yesterday, when one of the men approached me wanting to talk.
Last Saturday was his first visit to VRC and I knew that God had impacted him in a huge way during our ministry time. As our conversation began, he cut right to the chase.


"Last Saturday night was the first time I have ever felt accepted in a church meeting," he said. He went on to go down this list of things that had happened to him. He confessed that he came simply to get away from Rapha , even if only for a little while. But he never anticipated what was going to happen.

He went on to tell me how he'd been in other churches and felt shame because he was covered in tatoo's. He felt that people were staring at them and judging him because of the tat's. He said that he felt out of place and that people looked down on him. Now before I write on in today's posting, I know ( and you do too) that probably the majority of things he said he felt in other churches was his own "Junk" or personal baggage manifesting. Some might have been the Holy Spirit at work, but no matter which, it put him in a place where mentally and spiritually, he could not hear or receive from God . On the other hand, I know that some people are judgmental when it comes to those who don't fit in a church mold. 

Vicki and I belonged to an up and coming church at one time. They were a kind of experimental church for a denomination that was looking to redefine what Sunday Church was all about. We heard over and over that "This church was going to welcome everyone and that we were going to be a church for the unchurched."  Well, it didn't take to long for that vision and speech to fall by the way side. We had some folks show up one Sunday asking if they could come in and worship with us. These were hard core people with the whole biker thing going on. Longer than long hair, lots of leather, beard, denim jackets. They came in and sat down together....by themselves. No one in that church even went over to speak to them or welcome them. Vicki and I help to get them some coffee and welcomed them to the service.  needless to say we moved on from this "experimental church" shortly after this encounter. 

So the main focal point at Vineyard ReCovery Church has been and will always be that we make everyone feel welcomed. This is another reason that the model we do church by is very laid back...relaxed....and interactive. Our worship is what some might say is "Culture Current". By this, I mean that we use the styles and songs that will speak to those who attend."  Bottom line is .......If you come to the meeting, and because of the style of church we have, you might.....just might let down your guard and be open to receive what God is doing on that particular night. Such is why we don't look like a normal church....why we don't sound like a normal church....why we don't act like a normal church. This is the model that God has been growing, tweaking and changing over the last 20 years.  It fits those He has called us to reach out to.

As I write this, I do want you to know that I am not naive enough to believe that "how" we do church is liked by everyone who comes through our front door. It isn't. Some don't care for the style of church we are, and I'm o.k. with that. We have never tried to be a church that thinks it can be everything to every one. We have been called to serve and minister to a specific people. I get all kind of suggestions from well meaning people who think they are helping. One person suggested that if we wanted to draw larger crowds we should consider dropping the word "RECOVERY" from our church name.  I don't mean to be so blunt (maybe I do) but is that word is keeping you from coming to our meetings, then you probably don't need to be there anyway.

Our main goal at VRC is to love everyone. I know...I know...we hear that all the time in churches everywhere. I want the love we show to be genuine and direct to the individual. To convey the truth that "You are important to God and to us." In fact, I have told our core leadership that is someone comes to our meeting and we never see them again, if they didn't get anything during their time with us, I pray that they went away knowing that God loves them and so do we.

Going back to the conversation I had with the young man at Rapha.
His was the highest compliment a church could receive.
I will take it, that we are a place where anyone can come in and meet with the Living God in such a way that they are impacted by the encounter.
Nothing I did...
Nothing that my core leadership did....
Everything that God did!


God on you...

mbb

Monday, June 19, 2017

It Was A Good Father's Day




Yesterday was Father's day....
It was a quiet day...a good day. Reflecting on my own journey as a father, as well as remembering my own dad. I chose the picture above of my two sons, Chad and Josh, because that is how I still see them in my mind, and in my heart. Oh those two little guys have been replaced by grown men with families of their own. But still...if you get very quiet in this house here on Greene Street, I believe you can still hear the slamming of doors followed by a loud inquiry of "Hey! Do we have anything to drink or eat?" Of course such inquires were never intended just for the two Bynum boys....it had to include the whole entire neighborhood gang. 

These two boys only had one speed....that would be wide open. The only time that speed would not be applied was when there was work to be done. It took a U.N. summit meeting to come up with a plan that was fair to both parties when it came to work. Every chore was divided equally. Equality being defined in the eyes of who ever got to choose first. 

Emptying the dishwasher....racks had to be divided so that no one son had more to unload than the other. I have refereed arguments over how to divide the silver ware rack. Even today when clan Bynum gets together, and mom tells the boys to unload the dishwasher, they revert to the same behavior. "Wait a minute," Josh would say loudly..."You've got less to do than I have." To which Chad would declare, "Being the older brother has benefits". Such exchanges usually meant it was time for Vicki or I to step in.

Let's not get on what took place when it was time to mow the grass...the yard was divided and subdivided into plots, squares, territory based on topographical maps. If your part of the yard included higher incline then it was only logical you didn't have to mow as much as say someone who was on level ground. There were times when I use to wonder..."How will these two make it when they are grown." But make it they did. 

When Chad was five and Josh was two, Vicki and I were attending Central Methodist. One Sunday night during ministry time, we were both very much aware of how inadequate we were to raise children. Not that we were stupid..or ignorant...we just knew that there was a greater call to being parents other than having good children. In our hearts we wanted them to be godly children. So we decided to take our sons to the altar and present them to God. Here we went...Chad and Josh in tow, we placed them on the altar rail and prayed..."They are your sons, Lord. We don't want to mess this whole parent thing up, so give us wisdom and understanding on how to raise them the way you want us to." I'd love to say that the heaven's parted and angels walked up and down a celestial ladder, but it didn't happen. What did transpire over the years was the faithfulness of God that rested upon our sons and us. We've been through some hard times. We still made some bone headed mistakes, but God has demonstrated His faithfulness because of our giving our sons to Him. May sound a bit corny or delusional, but it has been a real and tangible work from God's hand that we've watched over the years, and now it is taking place in the lives of our grand children.

So while I am grateful to receive all the accolades that come with Father's day, I know who the real Father is in this celebration. I have no problem bowing my knee in gratitude for the family he has allowed me to lead. So to my wife and my sons, may God continue to bless you all. As a Father, there is a great sense of humility in that at some point, when I stand before the Father, I will be able to present my entire family to Him. Wowzers!!

God on you....
mbb


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Mr. Average ----You Get A C+

Take a hard look at myself....
Yep...
That's me...
Mr. "C"..

Mr. Average.
Now don't be offended by this.....and don't say.."You should not talk about yourself in such a manner." Well, the truth is...I am average.
I have the life...
And the grades to back it up...


I remember my first day in the 7th grade. We use to call it Junior High School back in the good old days....
Going up to that window to take a gander at whose homeroom I was in with the rest of my fellow herd-mates.
Hmmm....7th grade....Bonner....Bowman...Bentley...Boo-yah...BYNUM. Mrs. Lawerence / Home Room.....And then, after her name was something that would define me for the rest of my school years...."C-section". And it wasn't talking about the type of birth I had. It was the group I had been assigned to.
I was in C-Section...
You know...3rd from the top...
A-section

B-section
C-section....middle of the pack... The place of average-ness.
Wasn't sure how I felt about it....But it was what it was.
For the next 6 years...I labored in C-section.
Truth be known, I was an average student. 
I didn't make failing grades....but I wasn't beta club material either.
The powers that be and the testing we had taken had deemed me as average.
Some days it seemed to fit me really well...

Other times, I wanted to defy their definition of my educational state.
But in the end...it was what it was.

Even today, if I get really honest with myself, I am average.
That means....the middle place...
I don't excel at somethings....
But I also don't fail in others.

Above all this self-defining stands the presence and plans of God.
I hold fast to the words of Psalm 139..."C - me....Feel me....Touch me...heal me.." (sorry for the WHO reference..couldn't help it.)
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in Your book, they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

God knew what He was doing when it came to my life.
He created me for His purposes and His plans...
So if living out my life in the radical place of being average is part of His doing, then I am content to do so.
In fact, what things I have accomplished in my life is solely because God has empowered me to do them.
I can truthfully say that in my weakness (and not knowing) His strength is perfected and brought forth.

I guess what this all boils down to is that no matter who you are....
No matter what place you may have found yourself in high school...
all that matters is that you come to the realization that God has been, and continues to be, at work in you.

The world will label you...
The powers that be will try to pigeon hole you...

But only God Almighty has the right and honor to define you and your life.
Let Him.

Think on this...

God on you....

mb

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Cross



(Posting from August 26, 2008

Jesus, keep me near the cross
There a precious fountain
Free to all, a healing stream
Flows from Calvary's mountain
In the cross, in the cross
Be my glory ever
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me
There the bright and morning star
sheds it's beams around me
Near the cross! O Lamb of God
Bring its scenes before me
Help me walk from day to day,
with its shadows o'er me.
Near the cross I'll watch and wait
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand,
Just beyond the river.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
Not the wood or nail. Not the crown or hammer but the life that was given on that cross. The shadow of it covers humanity and either brings life or judgement. Free to all who would surrender and answer His invitation.
It is not pretty to look at. I wonder why it was taken into the hands of man and made of gold to be worn around the necks of those who do not understand what it means? Even in my own heart, I do not know if I fully understand the totality of the cross.
The cross has a message that stills rings as clear today as it did 2000+ years ago.
"IT IS FINISHED!"
The debt is paid in full.
I have been set free from the power of sin to walk in newness of life with Christ Jesus.
If you come to the cross and accept the salvation offered to you by Jesus....
You'll truly be able to say, "Because of Christ's redemption, I am a new creation of infinite worth."
Amen and amen....
God on you....
mb

Friday, June 16, 2017

Equipping The Saints a.k.a.Broken People Operating Under The Power Of The Spirit

video


Good morning...
I'm going to try and utilize more video in these postings. Not that I have a desire for you to watch my mug...but simply it kind of changes up things and allows me to visually connect.

I am excited to tell you that I have set up a station here in my home that is going to allow me to transfer all our library of tapes at Gadsden Vineyard, into a medium that will make it easier for folks to take advantage of. I will pass along a master copy to Jim Bentley, and since he is the true Tech-Yoda at GVC, I will allow him to dispense said teaching any way he deems best. "Ummmm...give away he will!". As for your's truly, I am going to create a place on the communication wall that will house what I refer to as THE LEGACY SERIES. These are teachings and sessions that will be on CD  for you to take and listen to. There isn't any cost, the Cd's are free.

I know that some of you have moved on past Cd's and I totally understand this. But we are still giving away a ton of them every Saturday night, as well as through the week. I try to keep a stash of them with me at all times, and pass them out to people I meet to give them an insight into what we do at Vineyard ReCovery, as well as what the Vineyard as a whole is all about. So look for the Cd's on the wall next to the sound booth.

I can't tell you what this library of teachings means to me. It was where I cut my teeth (so to speak) and my theology was formed. A theology that carried the message that "We all get to play". What does this mean? That God called us, empowered us, and now is equipping us to do the works of Jesus. Healing....deliverance....salvation....all these things make up the Kingdom of God (His dynamic rule and reign in our time and space). We pray in the Lord's prayer..."Your Kingdom come...Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." How does the Kingdom will of God get accomplished here on earth? Through His children. As we move out and encounter people daily, we have ample opportunity to not only tell our story, but validate our belief by demonstrations of His power through our prayers over these people.

Every one who claims to be a follower of Jesus carries His name and His call.
Every one isn't a Billy Graham or Rick Warren...
But every one has a responsibility to operate within the dynamic of His Kingdom.
Yes, it is imperative that we read, study and digest the Word of God.
Yes, it is of the utmost importance that we gather together with like minded people who are of one heart and mind when it comes to Christ...
Yes, this call to serve (minister) to those in need through the Power encounters that we will have is a real deal.
So why not lets be the body of Christ...
Let's be His Church...
Let's walk in His Power and His Purity.

God on you....
mbb

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Round Tables And Living Rooms

Psalm 133:1
Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.

It has been a good two days....
Tuesday night, I got to go out to Rapha to teach a Bible study. Since it is voluntary, I never really know how many or who will show up. Tuesday there were four of us.
We took a look at Matthew 15:8, which read..."This people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me." The very idea that we could stand in the presence of God, having all sorts of worship going on...singing and proclaiming His goodness with our lips.......but our hearts are focused on another. I think maybe you could classify this as "Spiritual Adultery".

I mean how would you like it if you went out on a date with your special other. You lined up the finest restaurant....chosen their best meal....had music that you wanted played was extra special to you. Everything was set. There you sat gazing across the table from the one you love....and they are telling you how much they love you.........telling you how important you are to them....how they want to spend the rest of their life with you....yet all the while this is going on.......they are thinking about and wishing they were with someone else. How would you feel if you found out this was going on? Bottom line is that we will chase after what our heart is focused on.   We truly become what we desire...Jeremiah 2:5- "Thus says the Lord...'What injustice did your fathers find in Me, that they went far from Me and walked after emptiness and became empty?'" Such is the heart of sin/addiction. An every growing emptiness that demands to be filled. A demand that can never be met. As we use to say at Rapha..."Addiction/sin is cunning, baffling, patient and powerful. 

Yesterday, I got to make my way over to Shane Elmore's transitional houses to hang out with the guys. Doug and Brian were there so we sat in their living room as they shared what was going on in their lives. Put these two guys on your prayer list (as well as the others who reside there). Doug went to court to take care of legal issues. He has been faithful to continue to address his legal stuff. As he told me yesterday, "In the past, I would have just ignored them all and let the powers that be come and pick me up...then I would deal with them." Of course in that mind set, "dealing w/ issues" usually meant spending time in jail. 

Brian has a new job that is pretty taxing, but pays well. He's excited that he's making his own way now and not trying to slide by or scam someone for money. Brian has to return to Missouri next month to take care of his own legal problems, but he too is excited to be dealing with his past junk so he can move forward in this new way of living. He is also going to get to see his son while in Missouri. It's been sometime since Brian has been able to spend time with him. So be in prayer for Brian that this trip would be a fruitful and productive time.


While we're on the subject of praying...Please add Gretchen Elmore in your prayers. She is going through some physical stuff right now and could use a healing from God. 

Well, coffee is finished, and it's time to get my wife up....
Guess I better put it all in gear and move out...
Thanks for stopping by the Greene Street Letters this morning...
See you tomorrow...
God on you...

mbb

( just in case your wondering about today's heading.."Round Tables and Living Rooms"...it's where my two visits took place. Round table at Rapha....Living Room at Elmo's.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Splashing-over Kind Of Life



Quote from Francis A. Schaeffer:
"The important thing after being born spiritually is to live."

John 10:10- .....I have come that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Been doing a lot of reading and have come to the conclusion that we aren't real certain about how all this "life" and "Living" stuff is suppose to play out. It's kind of like the weather. Everyone talks about it but no one does anything. Well, maybe that was a bad analogy.

I guess what I'm trying to say, is that we want to boil the essence of "living in Christ" down to a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Now don't get me wrong about what I'm writing. Let me make this perfectly clear (using my best Nixon impression)..there is only one way to the Father, and that way has a name, and that name is Jesus.

Yes, Jesus died for all mankind...but as diverse as mankind is, each of us must answer the call to follow. That call is played out in our daily lives, and the last time I checked, each of us have different things we face, confront, must do, and take care of each day. So would it not stand to reason that Jesus, through the work of the Holy Spirit is in the middle, guiding us and showing us what we must do to simply make it through the day.

You see, I don't believe that you can boil life down to a method. Like I wrote earlier, one-size-fits-all. Once again, I turn to a quote from Francis Schaeffer: "Often after a person is born again, and asks,"What shall I do next? They are given a list of things, usually of a limited nature, and primarily negative (In other words, a list of "don't. So in their mind, the idea of if I do not do this series of things...then I will be spiritual."


You may be thinking of the Twelve Steps....I would not blame you.
But the Steps are not a series of things that you don't need to do (or negative steps)...they are quite the opposite. They are a starting point from which you launch out in a direction that takes you away from the darkness of your past, and point you to a future.


God is all up into bringing order to our lives. In fact, if you read Genesis chapter 1 you'll see Him do exactly that. The earth was formless, void, and darkness was the rule of the day. So what does God do? Steps in.....grabs hold of all the chaos...and one by one speaks order and arranges it for a greater good and purpose. He does the same thing with our lives. Addiction (sin) has created chaos. It has dictated to us that we are formless (or without purpose). It has emptied us out of any hopes, dreams or aspirations. And needless to point out that a life lived in addiction, is a life lived in spiritual darkness. We weren't really living....we were existing.

God steps in with His offer and gift of salvation. We turn will and life over to His care, and for the first time we begin to experience life........real life...........abundant life. Not so much abundance that is measured in material possessions as it is a life measured by the intangible qualities. A life of peace.......a life now with the capability to love and be loved......a life of joy that goes beyond your mind and reason. Abundant!

Think on these things...

God on you...
mbb 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What Happened? And How Did We Get This Way





I found this incredible video that kind of explains where we (the Vineyard Church) came from. As you watch the video, you may tell yourself that we, Vineyard ReCovery Church, is nothing like what you are seeing. Well, in some cases, that is true. It's not the outward appearance of how we do church, as much as it is the inward beliefs that define who we are.

You need to understand that the Vineyard was founded on (1.) Like values that we came to embrace...(2) Like priorities that we believed in....(3) and a like-minded theology that defined who we are.  John Wimber, the man who brought the Vineyard to the forefront in the 70's, was not real concerned with the structure of a Vineyard as much as he was the life of the church. How the Vineyard looked was near as important as what the Vineyard believed.


There were some things, views and concepts that we all gravitated toward because we saw the value of believing in them. But the culture-current attitude toward the dress, the music, the organization of the church was left to the local group of believers.  John wanted to create a church for the baby-boomers that spoke to them in a cultural way, without diluting the message of Christ. The gospel was not to be tampered with. As Wimber use to say..."The vehicle may change that delivers the message...but the message remains the same."

As a church, Vineyard ReCovery values the pursuit of God. Pursuit being the catch word. Relationship is something that is alive and active. It's not enough that we receive this incredible gift of salvation then sit down and wait for Jesus' return. There is a drawing that takes place in our hearts....a longing, if you will, to be with Him. Be with Him through the reading and studying of His word....
Be with Him in the interaction I have with others in my daily life, sharing my story of what Christ has done for me....By spending time in conversation with Him. At the same time, remembering that conversation is a two way event. So as much as I talk, I should also listen. Kind of a daily walking out of Step # 11.


So as you watch the video, you'll see that it looks kind of dated...it is.
You'll see the first steps from a church that was in search of life more that in search of structure. You'll see a church that never imagined it would become a world-wide community of like minded people whose desire to "Do the Stuff", as Wimber use to say, propelled them out into a culture who did not know Jesus.


So while I don't push the name VINEYARD like some believe I should. I do push Jesus who is the heart and soul of our church. I believe that we have the same call today, as a church, as when Jesus first spoke it in Matthew 11:5--"GO and tell John the things which you hear and see. The blind see and the lame walk. The lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear. The dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them."

Lives changed by the empowering presence of God.
A presence that enables all who receive Him to be who He created them to be...

and to do what He has called them to do.
Now that's some good stuff right there!


God on you...

mbb

What If.....

Habakkuk 3:17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the...