Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Verbal Conviction

When was the last time you spoke something from your heart that was a conviction?
That what you spoke ran contrary to the ways and ideas of the people around you and it costs you something because of your conviction.
Most of us would be hard pressed to come up with such a comment or speech or whatever you want to call it.
For the most part, we don't want to rock the boat or create confrontation with others. We are so insecure in what we believe that we keep it hidden, afraid that if we speak up we might be wrong and someone might correct us. Is this truly the way God desires us to live? I think not.

I have spent the better part of this evening pouring over somethings that the Apostle Paul wrote. In Romans 8:18, we read "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Heady stuff.
Now when Paul speaks of "present suffering" he is speaking of suffering that comes because of our faith and belief in Christ. Not economic hardship due to our own ignorance, or choice we make that run contrary to God's teachings. That hardship profits us nothing other than to teach us how not to make bad decisions. Paul is speaking of paying a price for following this Christ. He (Paul) says that every thing that happens to him because of his relationship with Jesus pales in comparison to the coming glory of God to be revealed in each believer.
These were not flowery words to inspire and uplift that Paul wrote. NO! This was the conviction of his heart. The foundation of what he truly believed. Paul saw the world and everything it had to offer and said, "No thanks! I'll take Jesus."

That is where I want to be.
I want to speak the conviction of my heart.
I want to see the truth of God in my own life as I become less so He can become more.
I hunger for you, Lord.
Come tonight!
Come in 2009!

God on you.........
mb

Monday, December 29, 2008

What To Do



We are a celebrating people.
We love a good party.
Don't really have to have a reason to host one.

We tend to look forward to a new year with hope and energy and a possibility for good things to happen.

But if we don't consider change for ourselves, we only fool ourselves.

We "hope" things get better. But don't let the "hope" interfere with my lifestyle. Let me continue in my ways. Let me feed my flesh and live according to its dictates and wants. Funny how we perceive this to be the normal way of living.


We like the idea of a new year.

A new opportunity. A fresh start. A clean slate. I don't want to change, but I do want my circumstances and situations to change. I spent the better part of the holiday's with my family and I came away with some very interesting observations:


1.) We are all getting older. Beginning with Vicki and me, working its way down to the grand children, we are all moving on in life.


2.) The focus this season was on family, not gifts or presents. My sons and daughter-in-laws seem to truly enjoy being together this year. We are all a lot more comfortable with ourselves and with each other.


3.) There is a deeper love for Christ, His church and what He is calling us to as individuals.


4.) There was a realization among my family that times are hard and may get harder. I did not hear a lot of dark, negative, fearful talk among my children. I did hear that God was sovereign and, as such, they will look to Him as their provider.


So as we approach 2009, I do so with a renewed hope that sees beyond the pseudo-salve being handed out by society to make us feel better. I want to go into 2009 with my eyes wide open and my heart full of God. I want to see Him in every event, every situation and every circumstance. I want to praise Him no matter what comes our way.


2009 --- Another year that we get to see God in a way we have never seen Him before.


God on you.........


mb

Friday, December 26, 2008

Countdown



Christmas 2008 has come and gone and now we focus on the end of the year. Kind of a Step#4 for 2008.

There have been good times, hard times, sad times and through it all God has been our central focus. I guess if I had to put anything in this blog about what would be central to 2008 for us at Rapha, it would be the move from Sunday morning church to Saturday night meetings.

Everything changed with that move. The feel of the meeting, the tone of the worship, the text of our messages. It was as if God reset the church and said, "Here is what I want you to do." We have been in much prayer asking God to continue in 2009 to show us what to do.

We will be hosting our last meeting of 2008 this Saturday night, 7 p.m. Seth Barber will be our speaker. If you are free, come and join us. One community of believer's, One heart, One focus toward One God.
God's blessing to each of you........

mb

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Innkeeper by John Piper

What a powerful message. This will so set the tone for our Christmas. Please take the time to sit back and listen and read as John Piper tells of the Innkeeper.

Merry Christmas!
The Bynum's

Monday, December 22, 2008

No Threat


The Shepherds found him just as the angel had told them.
The Magi came later and entered into the house and there he was, in his mother's arms.
The Baby Jesus.
We love Christmas.
We love everything about it.
The sweetness of the season.
The traditions, good and bad.
The carols and readings that fill our churches with wonder and life.
Why do we love Christmas?
Because it is centered around a baby and for the most part.............babies aren't threatening.
Yes, it is Jesus.............but he's a baby.
He isn't the man yet who would take cross and sin upon his shoulders and crush them both through an act of death. This baby we worship during the Christmas season isn't the one who will return to enact judgement on the world for their sins. He's just a baby.
Like everything God does, time is involved. No different with Jesus' growing from baby, to child, to adolescent to man. As Jesus grew so did the people around him, not always in a positive manner. Some grew hard and critical of Joseph and Mary's son. "Is this Joseph the carpenter's son? What good can come from Galilee?"
We need to remember that the celebration of Jesus' birth ushered in a new dawn in God's plan for restoration. It was only the beginning of the change that had been prophesied in the Old Testament. The Magi who came and worshipped the child, did so with the insight that this was not just a child, he was a king. They were not swayed by the surroundings of poverty. They saw a King. Maybe I need that vision today. To see Jesus as he is and not who I think he is, and to hear what he desires me to be, not what I want to be.
Merry Christmas!
The Bynum's

Saturday, December 20, 2008

First Candle Light Service


We had our first ever candle light service at Rapha last night.
It was very much a reflection (no pun intended) of who we are and what God is doing among us.
Darkness.
God bringing light to that darkness and beginning the journey in a new life.
I wasn't sure how the service would go over but knew that this was truly something on God's heart. Worship was played on acoustic guitars and the songs spoke about Jesus being the light of the world, stepping down into darkness. At one point, it became very evident that God was with us. We were singing HERE I AM TO WORSHIP when the men took the song away from the worship team. By that I mean, they sang and we stopped playing. They didn't quit singing and it only intensified. Some stood and raise their hands, faces turned up. Others turned and knelt with the their faces in their chairs. I stood there watching and drinking it all in. "God you are so good," I thought to myself.
At one point, we turned the lights off in the room. Two candles on the communion table provided the only illumination. Slowly we begin to light the candles, each person turning to the one next to them to share their flame and light their candle. The room was bathed in a golden glow from all the candles. We began to sing YOU HAVE REDEEMED MY SOUL.
You have redeemed my soul / from the pit of emptiness / you have redeemed my soul from death. This wasn't just a song anymore. It was a declaration from a room full men that spoke the truth. It was a powerful moment.
After the service, men stood around hugging each other and praying in small groups. For a brief moment in time God came and we had wonderful communion with Him. Now if we can only learn the lesson of this is how life with Him is supposed to be. Oh we don't need candles or worship music, we just need to retain the attitude of gratitude and walk daily with Him.
Merry Christmas from the CHURCH@RAPHA

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tis The Season To Be Broken....


Broken.
Not a word used much in Christendom anymore.
Broken refers to pottery, our good china and those "other" people who truly need God. You know the ones. They dress funny and they smell bad. Oh, we'd never tell them that to their face, but we think it.
Tis the season to be bright and shiny. To make up for our lack of giving through the year by giving away fruit and nuts and inexpensive toys.
To sing loudly and proclaim Kingdom things with much gusto.
Seems to me it should be the season to be broken before God.
He has let us live another year (almost).
What have I done with this year?
Did I spend for Him or did I live selfishly without thought of anyone else? At this time every year, I am drawn to the passage in Luke where Mary is told of what God's plans are for her and Joseph. These plans did not take into account what Mary and Joseph wanted. In fact God's plans always takes precedent over our own. But it is Mary's response to the Angel's message that always pricks my heart.
Luke 1:38 - Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
With those powerful, wonderful words, Mary stood broken before the angel. Her plans for the future lay shattered on the ground. Her wants and needs were now second to what God had spoken. The only thing Mary could lay claim to was her position, a maidservant of the Lord. She was broken and was now ready for God's hand to rest upon her to be put back together.
How many of us celebrate our relationship with God? Most of us I would think.
We celebrate the blessing of God.
We celebrate the presence of God.
But very few of us celebrate the awesome power of God to break us. For only in the breaking can the restoration be made complete.
Merry Christmas from the Bynum's

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Evening Thoughts

It has been a good day.
A long day.
Another day to follow after Him.
I didn't stray today, seem to stay on the path.
Grateful for that.

Matthew 6: 21
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I think it shows me how much I need to grow in that each time I read this verse and I come to the word "treasure", I envision one of those pirate chests you see on movies. Huge, with metal bands around it and a lid that is curved so that you can store more treasure inside. Kind of sick ain't I? I don't want my mind or my heart to be trapped by the things of this world. I don't want to hang on to the value system of this world. I want to be free to not be drawn by anything of value the world has decided on. I want desperately to be like the Apostle Paul who counted everything (and I think he truly meant everything) as dung, manure, worthless. Everything the world had to offer paled in comparison to the surpassing knowledge of knowing Jesus. That is what I want! That is the heart that I am striving for. One that walks by all the treasure piled up by the side of the road to follow after Jesus.

I want Jesus to be my treasure.
Not what He has done for me.
Not the blessing that have come my way over the years.
But the simple, sheer presence of knowing Him and walking with Him.
I read in Genesis where God would come down in the cool of the day and walk with Adam. That is what my heart desires. That my relationship with Him would be one of intimate conversation. Him speaking deep into me the things He wants me to not just know, but understand.

I see a lot of people in the news today who are on the verge of not only financial collapse but emotional and spiritual collapse because these have become their treasure. Their hearts followed hard after money and power and wealth. But their treasure has been shaken and revealed for the truth. Let your money save you. Let the very thing you worshipped keep you from destruction. It's not going to happen.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
look full in his wonderful face
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace.

It All Began With.....


Driving into town this morning set me to thinking about the past. I have found a CD I had put together of the CHRISTIAN BROTHERS 1993 20th Anniversary concert. It was an all day affair at what is now Gadsden Vineyard (C.B. originally owned the building). Several local artists and friends made up the line up. David Finlayson, Joanna Stockard, Barry Goss, Nori Kelley, Permanent Wave all brought original music.
This set me to thinking back on "how did I get here today?"
In 1979, Vicki and I had been married 7 years. We had two sons, Chad and Josh and had just moved into a new home on 4th Street in downtown Gadsden. We had taken a sabbatical from Jesus. That's just a cute way of saying we had back sliden or drifted away or, if you want to be blunt, we were in sin. We had been invited to visit a local church, Central United Methodist, and battled back and forth whether we wanted to go or not. I had a million reasons as to why I didn't want to go but none outweighed the feeling in my heart that we had to.
We made our way on a Sunday Morning in November. Went through all the hoop-la of church activity and settled in for the message. George Creel stood to teach the word and I was drawn into what he was saying like never before. I had never heard such teaching. My heart literally was racing as this man unfolded Scripture unlike anyone I had ever heard. Afterwards, at home, Vicki and I were beside ourselves. This was what we had been looking for, we just didn't know it.

Over the next 14 years, George Creel taught us more, showed us more, trusted us with more than any other pastor we had ever met. We were growing and we didn't even realize it at the time. All we knew was that God was alive and fresh and we wanted nothing more than to follow Him.
During this time at Central Methodist I came into contact with a group of young people who worked in a ministry that was not affiliated with any church. They called themselves Christian Brothers. Formed in the early 70's by Emory Boggs, C.B. was a place where young people could gather and hang out, have community, share and teach, bring original music and just be family. IT was messy, it was not very structured, but you know what? It worked. So during this time, I was being taught the Word of God by George Creel and being shown what Christian Community was truly about by Christian Brothers.
Check back in tomorrow for Part II "Long Strange Trip"
God on you.......
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Monday, December 15, 2008

MARK KIELAR REFUTES DENNIS MILLER`S STRAW MAN

I have developed a healthy respect for Mark Kielar. HIs program, WORD PICTURES, comes on Angel One Netword each Saturday morning and I dvr it to show here at Rapha.
IT is a top quality, no bones look at what it means to have relationship with God.

I know that this video is a bit long, but if you have the time, it is well worth it.

God on you........

mb

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Be A Berean

Acts 17:11
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

Love of God's Word is tied to our love for Him.
The desire to not just read but to hear Him speak through the pages of the Bible.
To communicate to us the understanding we need in order to walk out this relationship we have been called to.
Today, so many teach that you only have to have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you to live for God.
True.
But the Holy Spirit is there to guide us into all truth and the only place we find pure, unadulterated truth is in the word of God.

It has become vogue to discount the Word for the experience.
The Word is so dry and dull.
It is these things to a heart follows the ideas of man rather than the precepts of Scripture.
You can accuse me of being a Pharisee or of being very legalistic, but you cannot separate the need for the study of God's word to aid in the life of a believer.

We excuse our way out of reading the Bible.
"I don't take in information by reading, I am more visual."
First off, you not taking in information.
You are feasting on the visible communication of God to His children.
It is there to change you.
It is there to warn you.
It is there to encourage you.
Psalm 119:130 reads: The unfolding of Your word brings light and understanding to the simple.

No wonder the maturity of the church is woefully lacking.
We want to remain a spiritual kindergarten rather than grow up to pick up the mantle to go out into the world and live for Jesus.

What can be done?
Ask God to create in your heart the desire to study and read and digest the Bible.
That what you read would become real life.
You might be surprised as God takes you up on your prayer.

God on you.......
Merry Christmas.......

mb

Think On This

Philippians 2:5
Have this attitude among yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.

Another version says "let this mind be in you."
Having the way we think changed.
Trading my stinking thinking for the mind of Christ.
Seeing the world as He sees it. Not to say that I attain a state of divinity. No. I do not conduct my daily life based on the morals of this world but according to the mind of Christ.

I find this hard to do.
Notice I said hard, not impossible.
For one, a struggle ensues each time as I want to exercise my will and my way in whatever the situation may be. Isn't that the whole package of relationship. A surrender of my will to embrace His? I think so.

Give up....
Let God be in charge.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

You Might Not Want To Watch This....But You Might Need To Watch This!

This is very in your face teaching.
No sugar coating.
Speaking as one who was delivered from Pornography, I know the destruction and pain it can cause. Yet in all of this, the church refuses to discuss it or talk about it. It is the silent sin that is found in churches every Sunday morning, and we don't dare talk about it.
Well, we do talk about it!
We confess!
We repent!
We cry out to God for his mercy and forgiveness.
We are made whole and clean by the Holy Spirit.

God on you........

mb

John 14:1-3
"Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you. For I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you may also be."

Don't let your heart become entangled in the daily struggle here on this planet. Yes, we have to live here. Yes, we have to conduct business here but we no longer follow the dictates or demands of this world. We answer to a higher calling. We are a people, a possession of the eternal God.

No matter what happens to me. No matter what happens to my family, God is in control and my job is simply to rest in Him. Listen for Him. Chase Him. Follow Him. Do what He commands me to do. Rejecting my own selfish interest for a hope and faith that moves me toward Christ.

Don't let your heart be trapped by the news coming from every television and radio. Don't be taken prisoner by the articles on the Internet that would lead you into emotional and mental bondage. Lift your thoughts higher to the throne room of God. Let your eyes gaze on the wonders of Christ and the promises that have been spoken over you through the Word of God.

Merry Christmas!

mb

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tennessee Ernie Ford - The Star Carol

No one defines Christmas time to me like Tennessee Ernie Ford. His voice rang out through my home during my growing up years. My Mother dearly loved him and so his album, STAR CAROL, was played on our stereo.

The song may not appeal to many who read this blog and I have no problem with that. I posted this more for me than anyone else. To remember where I came from. To remember my Mother and Father and Brother, and the holiday's were important to my family.
Thank you for allowing me this personal moment.
Merry Christmas.

Michael / Vicki

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's Official

Saturday, Christmas came officially to Rapha.
My wife, Vicki, showed up at 10:30 with a huge tree strapped to the top of her van.
Armed with decorations and Christmas goodies we headed to the chapel to set up shop and decorate.
I love this time of year and I especially love Vicki's infectious holiday spirit that seems to fall over everyone who comes close to her.
I heard men walking around the camp saying, "They ain't gonna get me in there putting up no Christmas tree. They can't make me do it."

Next thing you'd know, here were the same men who defied anyone to even suggest putting up a tree, these same men were in the thick of it hanging ornaments and lights. As we sang Christmas carols, the room seem to grow a little softer. Men's faces seem to be more peaceful, and God seemed to be a little more present.

"The first noel the angels did say/ was to certain poor shepherds in fields where they lay."
Voices, not always on key or in time, rang out as we went about the business of recognizing the importance of the season.........the birth of the Christ Child.

Finally finished, we stood back and voila' ........the lights were turned on and the room blazed to life with the finished tree.
It isn't about presents.
It isn't about anything the world uses to try and change the meaning of Christmas.

It is about a baby born to a poor couple.
A baby that contained the fullness of God.
A baby who had come to die for the world.

Happy birthday Jesus!

mb

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Don't Miss The Opportunity

I was at the Gadsden Regional Medical Center yesterday morning trying to locate a certain room that held a certain new Father and Mother along with their certain new born son. As I was wandering the halls trying to track down the room, I came through some double doors and up ahead I saw a woman and a nurse talking. I didn't know what was being said except that the nurse finished her part of the conversation and turned to leave. As she did, the other woman leaned back against the wall and slumped as though a tremendous weight had been placed on her shoulders. I could tell that she was crying as she turned her face to the wall.

Everything in me said to keep moving and don't stop. I guess you could say everything in me that was wrong/bad/selfish/and about a hundred other adjectives. But my heart said, "Talk to her." I walked up to her and asked if she was alright. "My daughter is in labor and they think the baby is having some complications. I am here alone and they want to rush my daughter to Birmingham so they can better take care of her pregnancy,"she said. With every word, she sobbed a little harder. The thing that was weighing on her was that she was alone and she had no one to lean on or to help with decisions.

I asked if I could pray for her.
She answered, "Would you?"
I asked if I could place my hand on her shoulder and she consented.
It wasn't a flowery or complicated prayer. Very simple.
Lord, we recognize you as the source of life.
We ask for healing and a healthy delivery for this baby and mother.
I ask for peace, mercy and Your Spirit to come and comfort this Grand mother right now, right here.
In Jesus name,
Amen.

The woman had stopped crying.
She looked peaceful.
She thanked me that I cared enough to pray for her.
I told her about me not wanting to, but God had other plans. I think this caught her off guard.
I don't know what has transpired since yesterday.
I do know that God set up an appointment with a man who was lost and couldn't find the right hospital room and a woman in need of hearing from her heavenly Father.

Ain't God good?

mb

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Prayer Request

He drove up in front of my office about 8:45 p.m.
Got out and came in.
His daughter was going to give birth to their first grand baby tomorrow, a boy.
But His sister had been rushed to Huntsville Hospital because of bleeding at the base of her brain.
He had no answers to everything that was going on, but he knew that prayer was the key.
He wanted me to pray. As I prepared to pray for his sister, the slightest thought ran through my head......."Take him into dorm 3 and get those guys to pray for his sister."
"Was that really you, God," I asked.

We went to dorm 3.
I explained what was going on to the guys and they all got up from their beds and came over to pray. The gathered around this man and placed their hands on him and words began to form in a chorus of voices. Each one praying to God for healing. Healing to this sister that this man so dearly loves. Tears....tears in the room and God's presence. Afterwards, they each hugged him and gave him a promise that the prayers would continue.

The man left in peace and ready to drive to Huntsville to be with his sister.
I had just witnessed the Kingdom of God at work and it was done so by men that no one else would have picked except for God. He's like that isn't he?
I love this place.
I love these men.

Thanks God!

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Keith Green - Asleep In The Light

The clothes change.
Hairstyles change.
Instruments change.
The message never changes.
The church is still asleep in the light.
God help us.....

mb

The Attitude Of Mary

Mary, the mother of Jesus, gets a bum wrap about this time each year.
We either elevate her higher than she should be or we totally discard what she gave unto God.
If you really look at her, you see that she gave everything to be a servant of the Lord.
She gave up her plans for the future.
She gave up friends and possibly family because of the social stigma connected with the birth of Jesus.
Yet before it all began, when the angel came to inform her of God's intention we read of her response.

Luke 1:38
Mary responded, "I am the Lord's servant and I am willing to accept whatever he wants. May everything you have said come true."

The recognition of her position: "I am the Lord's servant."
The surrender of her will: "I am willing to accept whatever He wants."
The faith to believe: "May everything you have said come true."

How we love to wrestle with God. To interject ourselves into his plans as if we were part of a democracy. It isn't a democracy, it is simply God's plan and our obedience. Nothing more, nothing less.

Let us be like Mary.
A willing servant who lays aside every aspect of their life in order to embrace the life God is calling them to.

God on you........

mb

Monday, December 1, 2008

Great Weekend!

Seth Barber spoke at our Saturday night service and, as always, brought the truth of God.
Life is a struggle.
Life is hard.
Accepting Christ (surrendering and giving your life to him) does not make life any easier. It just means that you have a guide now to follow wherever life takes you.

We have a hard time accepting this, especially as believers in Christ. Sometimes I think we need more followers and less believer's. I have found out that believing costs nothing, while following costs everything.

Luke 9:23
Then He said to them, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."

Take up his cross.
We simply follow where Jesus has already gone.
We die to self.
We die to our desires.
A man on a cross has lost all rights. The only thing he is called to do is die.
If you saw a man walking out from the city carrying a cross, you knew that this man was not coming back.
We are no less called than that.
We want to spiritualize the entire idea of the cross, but you can't.
We want to explain away what Jesus was truly saying, but you can't.
We want the cross to fit into our lives like some piece of art or sculpture.
The cross doesn't fit into your life.
The cross takes your life so you can receive the life that Jesus offers.

There are no arguments when you stand before the cross.
Only the confession of "Oh God, I'm in need of you."

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Little Life? Or Big LIFE?

Great story in the news today about scientist (gotta love these guys and gals) are doing a study to determine what death really is and ...