Thursday, August 17, 2017

Never Forget

This is a reprint from August 2013. Why this one? Because we need not ever forget the character and love that this man possessed. What happened to him went beyond his circle of friends, to touch a city, county and state. This was never his intention. He never sought the limelight of fame. He simply loved his God, and the people he came in contact with.

I never had the opportunity to meet Emory Boggs, but my life was touched by those who knew him. I saw in them a hunger to know more of God. To not be satisfied with what they were hearing in church but to ask "How can I know God better?"
You have to remember, at that particular time, the Jesus people movement sweeping across our nation and, yes even here in Etowah county we felt the impact. We were a generation looking to express God in a way that was uniquely us. We had been labeled a generation of rebellion...a generation that wanted to bring down the status quo..but now, we wanted to be known as a generation whose voice and purpose belonged to God.

What you are going to read was written by my good friend, David Finlayson.
If the truth be known........
we all need an "Emory Boggs" in our life. That one individual who seems to walk a different path...walks at a different rhythm.
Even though I never met you, Emory....thanks for all the lives you touched and how they touched me.
See you soon, my friend.

Late Eulogy
Emory Boggs death was a blow to us all. I still to this day have a difficult time sorting through the debris of memories. I remember walking down the school halls in a daze after mother phoned with the news that Emory was dead. I remember passing the classroom doors, hearing the dull drone of teacher's voices, rustling paper and the sounds only a school desk could make on a dirty tile floor. Each room was like a capsule filled with life,unaware of my sur-reality caused by a terrible grief. I paced down those long halls, and leaned into drab green walls that kept me from crumbling to the floor. Emory was dead. Emory was dead.

It's a shame that he suffered such a violent end. A life so good, so sweet does not need be remembered with such bitterness. Emory got the Zippy Mart job so he could work his way toward seminary, become a preacher and marry my sister Irene. The sixteen year old black kid didn't know that.Who knows why he threw gas on Emory and lit a match. This was long before Rodney King, the L.A. Riot, and so called Black Rage. It was during a time when an incident of this nature still shocked people. The boy said he was just trying to scare the clerk. He said that he didn't think the fumes would ignite. He said he didn't mean to.

It still grieves me to think what Emory must have gone through during those hours left alone and in pain on the cement floor of that back room. Two young children heading for school early the next morning heard Emory's cries. They found his charred body and called for help. Mom woke me up with the news that Emory was badly burned and had been sent to the Birmingham Burn Center. It sounded bad but I was an optimistic kid. I wasn't expecting to be called out of class. I wasn't expecting the telephone call waiting for me in the school office later that school day.

My brother Brooky rode down with Emory in the ambulance. He could tell the story better and with greater accuracy. Emory lay talking and praying. Brook said that Emory was very calm and talked to Jesus as if he were sitting beside him . . . I believe He was. He said. "Lord, please don't hold that boy accountable for doing this. Please don't hold this against him." It was a sad yet beautiful thing. That black, charred, unrecognizable twenty two year old man who could love as Christ in his final day. It was Jesus saying "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." You had to know Emory. For Emory, that was not a hard story to believe. His prayer kept me from hating the kid with the match. It kept me from years of hard feelings. If Emory could love and forgive his murderer, I could too. Here, the very essence and compassion of Christ bled through as Emory's final witness.

I remember my dad not liking Emory around the house at first. He didn't like the idea of that long hair rock and roll hippie hanging around his precious virgin daughter. Personally I thought Emory looked more like a bubble gum Bobby Sherman type but to my dad's generation they were all pretty wild looking. Things changed dramatically one week when Emory tagged along on a family trip to camp meeting. He went along to spend time with my sister Irene. He thought he would spend days romantically romping along the shores of Florida with her. I think everyone misperceives their first experience with camp meeting. Emory had never been to a holiness camp before,the sinners spiritual death-camp. Two hours into the first day and you're dreading the next nine. Call it love or call it stranded,but Emory stayed and was eventually and dramatically saved. Emory testified later that God literally pushed him out from among the pews and into the aisle during the alter call. I can attest to his testimony because I was sitting in the pew behind him.

The neat thing about his salvation experience is that he gave everything to the Lord. He really did. Most of us (myself included) hold onto crap that we think we can't live without. Emory did what few people do. He took God's Word literally. He was truly born again. He got rid of the old wine skins. He took up his cross and followed. It made perfect sense to him, that if he was to be saved, he had to empty his cup completely in order for it to be filled by the Holy Spirit completely. God didn't straighten Emory out,He bent him forward. When Emory's life changed,so did the world around him.

Emory had a desire to know everything he could about his Savior. He wanted everyone around him to experience the forgiveness and compassion from God that he had experienced. It wasn't long before Emory was called to preach. His sermons were as sincere and simple as his daily walk. I am sure that he would be the same fellow if he were alive today. Emory would've kept his faith real and warm. I never knew anybody that could love folks into the kingdom like Emory could. He loved people everywhere he went. People seemed to gravitate toward him.

My father quickly grew close to Emory. He was eventually loved as a son, and in death he was mourned as a son. The whole family loved him for that matter. He was my other brother and it took years to deal with his loss. So many lives touched in that short time. His coffin was surrounded by so many strange faces. It amazed me that this young man could touch so many lives within such a short span of time. If it were not for immediate family, I would have thought I was at the wrong service. The numbers bore witness to the fact that it was not just I who thought this life precious.

The last fragment I'll write is this. Emory was part of a fellowship. We had a coffeehouse that he named F.R.E.E House. I remembered some of his friends sitting around consoling each other. There were less than a dozen that day. We were talking about him and I remember a friend saying something to the effect that "God knew Emory would die young and that's why God gave the life such an unusual faith." I disagreed. I told her that I thought Emory had such a simple theology of letting go completely . . . so God could do His work completely. Do we not all have that very potential when we are surrendered as instruments?" To say that it was impossible for me to live and die the same way was something that I would not accept. I won't let anyone take that hope from me.

His death was over twenty five years ago and he still steps into conversations from time to time. A few weeks ago I was treating my nieces to pizza when they asked me about him. I was around their age when he was killed and thought it neat that he was being remembered by those who had never met him. I was surprised that they knew just as much as I did. There wasn't much that I could tell them that they didn't already know. They, I think, remember Emory mostly because of the tragic story of his death. I think those who knew him could agree to the following thought. Here is a great example of what God can do to a surrendered heart. If we could let go, our lives would be as fragrant too.

-David B. Finlayson

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Pleasing Self? Pleasing God? Which One Is Your Focus?

II Corinthians 5:9
Therefore, also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him (God)

No thought to my own selfish desires that have gotten me in trouble. No thought to my own selfish desires that have brought about destruction in my life. My focus now is on pleasing God. Turning away from the darkness of addiction to the light of surrender and receiving this new life in Christ, I have a single purpose please Him. That my life might reflect the goodness that has been given to me. Addiction commands us to bow our knee to the demands of "SELF". We do what "Self" tells us to. If we need money to satisfy self....we'll do what ever it takes to get the money. Self rules the day. But in this new life, our focus turns outward to a life spent in pleasing God. Funny part about pleasing God is that there aren't any hoops to jump through. Pleasing God is a matter of "BEING" not doing.

Ephesians 5:8 & 10
For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord: Walk as children of light.
Trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Here again the focus of my life should be going about my daily activities, but allowing God's Holy Spirit to direct me each moment. With every decision made, our aim should be to please God. How can I know what pleases God? Get in the book....a.k.a the Bible. Read it. Study it. Digest it. You might be surprised at what happens.

John 8:29
"And He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him."
Why should I live my life to please God? Because when Jesus walked this earth, that was His goal. To be pleasing to His Father. To do only those things that He knew would please Him. What things actually please God. Well, for about Obedience. Simply doing what we are told to do. Wow! I could have had a V-8!!!!

Luke 9:23
And He said to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."
Pleasing God begins with dying to self. Realizing that this new relationship we have with Christ, began with the act of us dying. Now we are resurrected to a new way of living. One that has no place for selfish, self-centered thoughts and desires. This is so opposite of the way the world system operates, but it is the economy of heaven. I can only cease to be selfish when I truly trust God that He will meet my needs and has my best interest at heart. Then and only then can I truly walk out a life that is pleasing to Him. All of this that I  have wrote of this morning is a process. It is growth and learning and messing up and being forgiven. But it truly is the heart of God. 

God on you......

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Real Desire Of My Heart

"Yet for all of God's good will toward us He is unable to grant us our heart's desires till all our desires have been reduced to one...Him". A.W. Tozer. (A.W. Tozer was pastor of the Southside Alliance Church in Chicago for 31 years).

In every program of recovery, the ultimate focus is finding what the old-timers refer to as "their Higher Power." Of course if you come and visit with us on Saturday night, you understand quickly that our Higher Power has a name, and that name would be Jesus. 

I think the actual words of Step # 2 are "We come to believe in a Power greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity." I think a stumbling block to some is the three words COME - TO - BELIEVE.

It almost sounds like it is a simple matter of having the right thought, or turning your mental faculties by your own will and strength. It isn't. Belief starts in the heart. Note: this is a truth to applies to everyone, not just people in addiction.

Now I'm not smart enough to lay out all the why's and the how's of this particular thing, this belief rising up in a person. I do know that it involves the simple fact of a person being sick and tired of being sick and tired. It is more than simply wanting to escape the pain and destruction so we could continue in our old ways. It involves the will to be free. The search for something or someone who can relive the torment that goes on in the mind and the heart. A Power could break the strangle hold our sin/addiction has over us.

There is a connection made when our heart and thoughts line up and look to Jesus as being the answer. The reality of what He is capable of doing (or at least in our minds even the possibility) in our lives draws us to Him. In A.A. jargon, we read in Step # 3 about the act of turning over will and live to His care. This is known as salvation...being saved...being born again. While it is a simple act, it is more of me responding to Jesus' invitation to a new life.  It is  me confessing to Jesus my sins...the destruction I created through my choices. My willful disobedience to live my life outside of His will for me. It is me receiving His forgiveness for said sins. The kicker comes when He places His Holy Spirit in me. Here is the guide I have needed to help me walk through and navigate the life I have been given.I don't go through this act in order to find Jesus for myself. I do this because Jesus has found me,and is calling me into a life and journey I could never provide on my own.

Because all of this real....
Because Jesus is who He revealed Himself to be to me....

Because I find myself actually being a new creation according to II Corinthians 5:17....
He becomes the desire of my heart.
My main focus is no longer sobriety...My main focus becomes Him. Sobriety is a by product of my changed life.

I want to know Jesus even more than I currently do.
I want to hang out with others who have fallen in love with Him.

I want to not just read His word, but study it and understand what He expects of me.
I want to please Him.
Now that sounds like a worthy pursuit. Something that has grit and substance to it as I grow daily, moving farther and farther away from the "OLD" me.
Think on these things today.

God on you...


Friday, August 11, 2017

Another Evening @ St. Elmo's Cathedral

Psalm 103:1-2
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is with in me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.

Drove over to Elmo's transitional house last night to hang out with the guys. Just going to be a part of the group...wasn't planning on teaching, but God had a different agenda than I did. Drove up and found Elmo working on a hot tub someone had donated to the group. Not your every-day-run-of-the-mill hot tub either. This bad boy had more jets than the Somali Air Force. It was a high end deal. Please be in prayer (for healing) for Elmo's wife, Gretchen. She has a physical condition that the doctor's have yet to identify, so prayers are very much appreciated.

Night times are special for me when I go to meeting, especially when it takes place on a complex where men in recovery are trying to get their lives together. In the old days (Or back in my day as the "coots" use to say) I would drive out to Rapha just to hang out with the men, especially after supper. Things are kind of laid back. Most have finished their work day and are just relaxing, trying to get their legs back under them. In such settings, you can learn a lot about an individual as they talk. You can get a handle on where they are they are doing emotionally....and where they are headed in their recovery. You can gain an insight into a man without every having to ask him twenty questions like you would if you were in a counseling situation.

Sam Puckett, from Rainbow First Methodist,  drove up with the evening meal. A gift from the church that they provide each month. Just for the record, Sam is the brother of the notorious worship leader Tommy Puckett. Just kidding...these are two of the finest men you'd ever want to know. As I was  helping Sam bring the food in, he asked me if I would mind doing the devotional. "Don't mind at all," I replied. In fact, years ago a good friend of mine gave me some sage advice when it came to occupying the role of pastor. He told me, "Always keep one in the chamber." Meaning always have a teaching ready, because you never know when you're going to need it. Well, my friend would have been proud because there was one in the chamber.

The men consumed the food, drank the tea, and scarfed down the wonderful cake that Sam brought. The teaching I had was on the five stones that David stopped to pick up on his way to fight Goliath. The simple fact that those stones had been there for who knows how long. They had been stepped on by armies marching out to battle.....they had seen the best and worse of mankind move through this valley. But the main thought was that these rocks had laid there for years and years. It wasn't until David had a need, that the rocks were picked to do battle with. What I wanted to get across to the men was that everything they needed to move beyond their sobriety has been here all along, like those rocks. It has been right in front of them, waiting for them to realize the worth of what God is providing. Everyday these men get up, there are "giants" out there waiting to do battle, but not to fear, just like those 5 stones David picked to use to defeat his giant. God has 5 spiritual stones that will defeat any "giant" that seeks to destroy us. These stones are found in Christ, and in the relationship He is calling all of us to enter into with Him.

There were names added to the kingdom role as we prayed at the end. There were five stones that David picked up......last night there were five souls that Jesus picked up. Last night was payday for me. Anytime I can see someone brought into this new way of living...well, it just crunks my tractor.
I hung around afterwards, talking with the guys. Lot's of hugs and handshakes, with a few back-slaps thrown in for good measure. It had been a good night at St. Elmo's Cathedral.  Like I said, I didn't go over there with the intention of teaching, but God had a different notion. His notion always trumps my intention. Wouldn't have it any other way.

God on you...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Growing Up Is Hard

Matthew 6:33
Seek the Kingdom (the rule and reign of God in our hearts) above all else, and His righteousness (learning to live rightly according to His leading), and He will give you everything you need.

Quote From Hannah Whitall Smith: "What would you think if children had to wrestle an agonize with their parents every morning for their necessary food and clothing? If a child of loving parents should get the idea that its parents would not give it food and clothing unless it earned them in some way, all the sweetness of the relationship between parent and child would be destroyed."

Part of the process in recovery is growth....
Growth that takes place in our world view as we allow God to change our character.
Removing the old defects of character and replacing them with what Scripture refers to as "The fruit of the Spirit".

Such affects the way we view the world, and the way we interact in our daily lives.

We learn to trust God....
I think this may be the hardest part in the entire process of recovery.
Notice that I said it was hard.....
Not impossible.

We are use to running the show....taking the reins....driving the bus when it came to life.
No matter that the show closed early.....the horses ran away....or the bus went into the ditch. We were in control.
Or at least we thought we were.

So part of growth is learning to not listen to or follow those old thoughts that creep in and try to direct us into taking over again.

Lets say we are facing a problem and we don't really have an answer to it....
Such is when I turn to God.
I pray asking Him for a plan that would help me in facing my situation, so that I might not cut and run back to old ways, or give place to old thoughts.
Then I wait....

"Yeah, I know, BUT!"...not but's. Wait.
Trust God that He has your best interest at heart.

"But I'm not good at waiting!" Well, who is? I'm not good at it either, but the only way we are going to learn how to trust God for whatever we need is to (are you ready for it?) Trust Him.
I don't need to rush in and tell God...."Thanks for looking out for me, but I'll take it from here." Oh, He'll let you have your problem right back...but if we act in such a manner, we will continue to not allow God to stretch us in our belief's so that trusting comes easier.

Proverbs 4:10-13
My child, listen to Me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. I will teach you wisdom's ways and lead you in straight paths. When you walk, you won't be held back. When you run, you won't stumble. Take hold of my instructions. Don't let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life.

Proverbs 3:5-8
Trust in the Lord, with all your heart, and do not depend (or lean on) your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don't be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead fear the Lord and turn away from evil. They you will have healing for your body, and strength for your bones.

Let these verses soak way down deep inside.
Read them multiple times and let this truth become a part of your day.

God on you...

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Whose Hand Are You Holding On To?

Galatians 5:16
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves.

II Timothy 3:1-2
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult (stressful) times. For people will love only themselves and their money.

Two verses from two different books in the Bible, yet these verses reveal the very heart of the trouble in our world today.
In Galatians, Paul the apostle writes that if we won't to make it in this world then we need to get "self" out of the way and let the Holy Spirit lead. He uses the term "guide".

So if someone is guiding me, what is it they are doing?
They are showing me the best way to navigate. Being the guide, they are very much aware of the terrain we are moving through. They know where the dangerous spots are. They know where hidden traps and snares may be lying in wait to catch us. They are guiding us by knowledge that you and I may not possess. Even with all of this interaction between the guide and me, I have to heed the guides advice and act on it. I still have the free will to reject the guide. I can strike off in any direction I want to, but I put myself in danger in doing so.

Let the Holy Spirit lead us.
In recovery, we let the Spirit of God become our guide through daily life. Believe you me, He will warn you to not go to the old places you use to frequent. He will warn you about hooking up with old friends. He will warn you when your thoughts turn to the darkness and the way you use to live. He, the Holy Spirit, is the ultimate guide.

If you look at the II Timothy passage, we see that Paul predicts that in the "last" days things would become stressful. Of course some may ask.."Are we living in the last days?"  It is my belief that we are, and that such began when Jesus came to planet earth, walking among us as a man. You may or may not believe in such, but I do know this one thing. John Wimber use to say, when asked if we were in the last days.."I don't know, but I do know we are laster than we've ever been."

Going back to the II Timothy passage.
In the last days there will be difficult, stressful, perilous days.
What happens when we find ourselves in such circumstances? What happens when we are facing stressful, difficult situations? Such usual brings out the real us. Not the religious self. Not the good image we try to project in front of others. The real us comes out, along with evidence of what we claim to believe in. In other words, our behavior is driven and evidenced by the real beliefs we possess. It is easy to say one thing and live another. When this is the way we move through life, then we are living a lie. We have erected a false image in order to manipulate and create a lie that we hide behind. Paul writes that we are entering into a time where all facades will come down and we will see the reality of what everyone believes. 

You can play at recovery...
You can appear to be the poster child for recovery....
But if you are not being led by the Spirit of God through the Twelve will be uncovered for who you truly are.

Such uncovering is God's ultimate act of love toward us.
He loves us so much that His desire is that we harbor no sin or give the devil a foothold in our lives, but that we turn from our old ways, confess, repent, and receive His forgiveness. 

So I guess the question we all must answer today is "Who are we following? The Spirit of God?
Or our old nature of sin?

God on you...


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Essentials For Life Pt. 1

Clean and Sober.....
It's all a battle.
At one time, the mind and body was being pumped full of mood-altering substances which broke down any moral barrier that may have been present.
Lying became the norm for our old life style.
Cheating and stealing became the means of survival.
Spiritual darkness totally engulfed us, even though we didn't realize it or even acknowledge it. We were doing o.k. in our own estimation. But we were blinded to the truth of our condition. Outside, we somehow managed to appear at least half-way put together...
But on the inside, things were falling apart at a rapid rate.

The addiction caused us to minimize what was happening to us....
"I don't have that big of a problem."
"I just use on weekends".

"What's happening to me is just a bump in the road...I'll be alright."
"Problem? I don't have a problem."Do those sound familiar? 

So now you've worked Steps #1-3 and you have established this new relationship with Jesus. What now? 
You have to view this new life as kind of like joining the army.
There are certain things that you will need to address as you learn this new way to live.

We are going to take a look at some of the essentials needed to fight this battle as you move away from your addiction.

#1 - Get under authority ----learning to submit
Psalm 18:27 -  For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks.

I Peter 5:5 - In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Anyone who joins a branch of military service must begin the day knowing how to obey orders. From day 1 of their arrival to basic training, nothing belongs to the soldier anymore---
His hair is cut...
New clothing is issued to him.
His schedule is determined by leadership.
For a period of time, freedom is lost and submission is taught.

It is important to understand that putting the devil to flight will require submission to God. James 4:7 tells us, "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

We find our new orders for living in Hebrews 12:1-2:
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

If you read Step#3 carefully, you'll see that it involves turning over, or submitting, will and life to the care of God. We become followers of Christ.
Think on this today and ask yourself, "Have I made the commitment to submit to the authority of Jesus?"

God on you.....

Monday, August 7, 2017

A Frame Of Reference

When it comes to recovery meetings, I believe that each meeting has a unique purpose and motive for existing. Such purpose for the meeting is found in Christ. Of course the main focus of any recovery meeting, founded on the belief that Jesus is the ultimate higher power, should be because He has called the leadership to this mission . In other words, no meeting should be started simply because it seemed like a good idea, or because other churches are hosting meetings.

The reason I started off the posting today in this manner is that I want to share what I believe is purpose of VRC . As I have stated many times since we began VRC, our meeting  was birthed from the outset as being totally God's meeting.  I know that might sound a bit strange, and you may even say "well, aren't all the meetings God's?" I really don't know how to answer that except to relate how VRC functions.

I wish I could say that I know what is going to happen in our meetings, but I don't. There are times that I don't even get a message to teach until I stand up to to give one. Such is very scary if you want to get down to the heart of matters. But like I said, in the beginning God let me know in no uncertain terms that VRC was going to be His meeting, and my part was to simply facilitate.

I do know that my heart is for everyone who comes through our doors on Saturday night to have an encounter with God. Encounter? What does that mean? Well, we can teach all day about God....we can read Scripture....we can sing and worship....we can fellowship with one another, but the essence of real change takes place when we have a one-on-one personal encounter with God. So what's so important about this so-called encounter? I believe that everyone needs a frame of reference to understand what God is like. This can happen in several different ways....but without that frame of reference, it's hard to wrap your head around the idea of an Eternal being who has my best interest at heart.

I have used this example many times to explain what it means to have a frame of reference in order to understand a concept or idea. Let's say that from the time I was three-years old until my eighteenth birthday, every day at noon my dad took me into the front yard and hit me square between the eyes with a hammer. I mean every clockwork....noon..."WHAM!" Hammer time. Then one night I'm out with my friends hanging out and someone says..."Hey! I wonder what it feels like to get hit between the eyes with a hammer?" Immediately I would respond, "I know what it's like!!! I can see that hammer swinging down...I know the coolness of the metal as it makes contact with my head.." In other words, I have a real frame of reference for this entire scenario. Now I know this is a pretty far fetched example, but do you catch what I mean? It is much easier for an individual to begin to understand who God is and what God does when they have been touched by Him.

Such is the reason VRC exists. We have been called to be a place where the Spirit of God is invited each Saturday night to come into our midst and reveal Himself as He sees fit. Sometimes it comes through conviction....sometimes it comes through a sense of peace that had previously been present in a person's life. It may cause a physical reactions such as weeping, even laughter, even falling down. I just know that such encounters opens an individual to begin to seek out this God for themselves. I want any religious walls that have erected in a person's life to be broken and shattered by the sheer presence of God.

Last Saturday night at the end of our meeting, I was praying for folks. The core leadership of VRC was standing around the room also praying. We were inviting God to come and manifest, reveal himself to those who were hungry for those who had questions concerning Him but were afraid to simply come and touch any and all in that room. Suddenly a young girl fell out of her chair...down to her knees and began to weep. Now this young girl's history is one of a very dark life. She is currently homeless, living in one of the local shelters. She grew up abused and used by the very ones who were suppose to take care of her and love her. She began to weep..tears running down her face..but they were tears of joy. God had become very real to this young girl. After the meeting, she came up to me to tell me about what had happened. "I felt like someone pushed me out of my chair.....a hand on my back."  She now has a reference point from which to understand who this God truly is. She has met Him in a real way. Her's is only one story of encountering God.  That one on one personal meeting that awakens a soul to the reality of God.

I believe that VRC exists to:
1.) Love those who come to be with us on Saturday night. Love them in such a way that they feel safe enough to let their guard down to hear truth.

2.) Teach the word of God, using the Twelve Steps as an example of the discipline needed to move forward into a new way of living.

3.) Teach what worship truly is a all about. More than songs....more than a band...more than a performance, worship is our hearts finding language to proclaim our love for God.

4.) An opportunity to "run into", or have an encounter with God. To provide a place
where God becomes "real" to those present.

So every Saturday night at 7 p.m., we gather to see what God is going to do. He has never failed to reveal Himself. He's like that. Isn't He?

God on you....

Friday, August 4, 2017

Temptation 101

Luke 4:1-2
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them was hungry.

Jesus tempted? Is it a bad thing when we fall under the cloud of temptation? What about when we have a craving to return to old ways? When thoughts of using invade our minds...Have we sinned because temptation came a knocking on our door? Well, the answer is no. We cannot stop temptation from entering our mind...but we do not have to give it a place where it can grow, eventually leading us into the act of sinning. Always keep the following in mind.
#1- Testing comes from God. Testing involves God helping us to
see weakness we may have in our hearts and character. These
are the places that the devil comes against us to gain
a foothold in our lives.
#2 - Temptation always comes from the devil. He attacks the weak places...
attitudes and beliefs that we have not turned over to God.
The attack usually is in an effort to draw us away from God, and His
plans for our life.

God will never tempt you....
But He will use any temptation by our enemy, the devil, to help us combat and overcome the dark influence to sin.

Luke 4:3
The devil said to Him (Jesus)..."If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread."
Sometimes in reading this account, we focus on the devil's invitation to Jesus to turn stones to bread. Jesus has been there in the desert for forty days and nights, and Has not eaten anything. So, as the ultimate observer of human nature, it would only stand to reason that the devil would open the temptation to do whatever it took to obtain some food. But there is something far more subtle than Jesus taking stones and making Wonder Bread. The devil goes right to the heart of who Jesus is. He challenges the position Jesus holds as the Son of God. "If you are the Son of God".....If you are who you claimed to be, then prove it....

So what does this have to do with us? The devil comes at us in the same manner. Think about it....
You've begun this journey into recovery...into a new way of living....
You looked at and agreed that there is a HIGHER POWER greater than yourself who could restore you to sanity, and you made the decision to turn will and life over to the care of God. So the question of "WHO" and "WHOSE" you are has been settled. But when the devil comes a knocking on our door with a craving to use....or a situation that we suddenly find ourselves facing that stirs up old memories and thoughts....We need to remember our position. We do so by speaking truth (out loud, if you will), in spite of what our feelings are telling us.

That sneaky old devil will cause you to question this relationship you have with God. He will do so by leading you to the thought of "Real Christians don't have thoughts of must not really be in a relationship with this God you claim to believe in."

The funny part (Not ha-ha funny..but strange-funny) is that the devil goes right after us in his attacks. He  calls into question the work that Jesus has done in our lives (us being saved). Notice that he never ever challenges God...he challenges us. He wants to plant the smallest seed of doubt in our minds so that we will hesitate just for a moment instead of turning and running to God. Remember that Eve messed up after the devil asked her a question that contained only four words...."Did God really say?"

V.3 - The devil said to Him (Jesus), "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread."
Here again is part of a subtle attack to turn us from truth that will protect us. The devil not only questioned Jesus' position as the Son of God, he told Him to take matters into His own hands, rather than seek God, the Father. Isn't that what happens to us whenever we come under that dark cloud that whispers to us...."Hey! Life is hard....why not go use just this one will know." We forget that first step in the Twelve steps..."We admitted that we were powerless." I can never drift from that truth....If I am powerless, then why is it I give in and take matters into my own hands, creating even more destruction. I give everything I've worked for to pursue a feeling. It isn't even a good feeling, or one that will last. I allow myself to crawl back to that well that I've drank from for a long time. The well of empty promises...."Go ahead and know you want will be so good..." Lies, all lies.

The devil came after Jesus with temptations to sin against God. Doing so would have disqualified Him from being the ultimate Sacrifice for the sins of others. We need to learn this lesson well....
Every temptation that we face by our enemy, the devil, is to cause us to disobey God. Satan's design if for us to give in and disobey rather than to resist and offer ourselves , our bodies, as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). The devil desires that we indulge our flesh (sin nature) rather than crucify it.

I Peter 5:8-9
"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers (and sisters) throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

Revelation 12:11
And they overcame him (devil) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

Ponder these things today...
God on you...

Thursday, August 3, 2017

My Friend

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

Well, old we are. Forty-nine years after our first meeting in Miss Hazel Hicks homeroom, our senior year in high school. I am going to try not to go all mushy in this writing this morning, but there is so much I truly want to say about our friendship.

First on this list....WHY?
One of the great mysteries I guess. If ever there were two polar opposites in life, that would be us. I know that during that senior year, and into our first years in college, we were often referred to as the odd couple. You were Fillet Mignon to my were a Rolls Royce to my 1941 Ford coupe. To be honest, I know that our friendship isn't a real mystery. The common bond that brought us together was the Spirit of God. He had plans, and what plans He had.

The defining part of our friendship was your belief that there was more to this God we were hearing about than we were being told. How many times, in the course of a conversation back in the day, did you say "There has too be more than we're being told." That became fuel in your spirit that moved you forward. And Me? Well, I was invited to take this journey with you. What a journey it has been. Isn't that the way our journey has played out? You going a head of me, turning to me, saying, "Come on! You can do this!" You believed in me when no one else did. You saw a call in my life that I knew was there, but my insecurity kept it in a head-lock so it couldn't get out. In May of 1997, I remember the words you said to me..."Have you ever thought about being ordained?" Those seven words broke the hold that insecurity had on me and brought me freedom for the first time in my life to do what God had called me to do. It's been on like Donkey Kong ever since that day.

So why all the focus on you, Jim Bentley?
Well today is your a happy "big-un" to you. May you eat Salsa, popcorn, and Cheese-it's without any digestive repercussions!! May you find the ultimate movie to get lost in. I wish this day for you to be the best....
Thanks for all you do....
Thanks for who you are....

Thanks for being a true friend...
Happy Birthday Jim.

I'll close out with a video that pretty much sums up our trip through life.
So I think maybe what we talked about in your younger days has now proven to be true. All we need to find is that park bench...
I don't know about you, but what say we see this thing all the way to the end....
And beyond.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Quote Of The Day

Taken from a web site dedicated to those in recovery.....
"People have the right to not recover."
Sounds foolish, but at the heart of this quote is the most dangerous power humanity possesses.
The ability to choose.
The ability to say "NO!" to God and walk away from the gift of life.
The ability to remain a slave to a lifestyle that ends in destruction.
This life of addiction has never been beaten by anyone. By that, I mean that after all the years of drugging and drinking, life is better and wonderful and great. That some man or woman would stand up and say, "I've been using for 28 years and my life is more wonderful today than when I first started. How absurd such a statement would be because we know different. 

Romans 1:18 reads:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold down (or suppress) the truth.
The ability to say "No" to God is a power that is beyond frightening.
Say "no" long enough and God may remove his hand from the one who speaks it to God.
The one thing I've learned is that God will give you what you want. If your heart is bent on destruction and drugs and alcohol, and you keep rejecting God's offer of life, He will turn loose and let you go do what it is you want to do. That alone would scare me to death.

Today, I am grateful that God is long-suffering and patient.
I am grateful that God still works with those whose hearts are totally committed to Him (II Chron. 16:9)
I am grateful to Dr. Bob and Bill W. for their gift of Steps to the addiction community.
I am grateful for the Word of God which is living and active and still able to divide even the hardest of hearts.
And I am grateful for Jesus, the Son of God, who gave his life on a hill outside of Jerusalem that I might have real life. 
I am grateful that the blood of Jesus has not lost any of its power or ability to save and cleanse.
I am grateful for the Holy Spirit that was placed in me at my conversion.
I am grateful today!

God on you.....

Never Forget

This is a reprint from August 2013. Why this one? Because we need not ever forget the character and love that this man possessed. What h...