Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coming To An Understanding

Step # 1
We came to believe that we were powerless over alcohol/drugs and that our lives had become unmanageable.

Romans 7:24
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

It's all about the "S" word.
We even have stuck the moniker on a town in Nevada. "S" City.
Sin.
Missing the mark is one definition. That means that there is a target or destination or behavior that we are aiming at, but because of sin, we do not hit it. We can never hit it. It is impossible.

Alcohol / drugs are the outward signs or symptoms of an inner wrong.
A nature that constantly puts us in danger to do the wrong thing.
Now the wrong thing doesn't always manifest in killing or dope dealing or rape.
It appears through lies.
It shows itself through envy and jealousy.
It comes on the scene through greed and lust.
Bottom line is that what takes place in our hearts is played out through our bodies.

For the addict, the sin nature introduces them to their drug of choice.
Once this happens, a love affair begins between user and drug.
The longer this relationship continues, the more the body and mind changes.
the addict, through alteration of body chemistry and brain function, looses his ability to choose to stop.
This is hard for some folks to grasp. I hear people say all the time, "Why don't they just quit. They know that it's killing them." Well for the addict it isn't that easy. They want to quit. They have tried to quit. But that craving (an actual physical response), driven by that old (sin) nature draws them back time after time.

Fix the sin problem.
Fix the addiction.
The root of all mankinds problems is a broken relationship with Jesus.
That is why the Apostle Paul went on to write in Romans 7:
Who will set me free from the body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ out Lord!

See...You don't have to live in the darkness of addiction any longer.
There is an answer and it's been right here all along.
I can write these things as being true because I have witnessed, over the past 14 years, the power of Christ to deliver a person out of the bondage of sin and addiction.

Father God!
This morning, right now, I ask that you would open the minds and spirits of those who may read this, who are still trapped in addiction.
I would that Your Holy Spirit would break off all hardness of heart, mind, eyes and ears so that the truth can be seen and understood.
I pray that the power of the message that Jesus has defeated sin and the devil once and for all time be brought to bear in the hearts of those who struggle.
I pray that you would pour immeasurable amounts of hope, grace, mercy and love upon everyone who reads this today.
And that we might come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

In the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ....
Amen

God on you....
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Monday, May 30, 2011

The Balance

How does one balance love of country and love of God?
How do you place one above the other?
Love of God always comes first.
It comes before wife, children, job, possession, and yes...even country.
Somewhere down the line, we have blurred the two.
We ring out with "God bless America!"
Don't get me wrong...I do want God to bless our nation. And humbly recognize the immeasurable truth that God has indeed blessed America.

But America, as a nation, hasn't done anything in a number of years for God to bless. Here in lies the rub. We still export missionaries to countries around the world, while our own nation disowns God and is trying to move him to the back of the bus. We have 24 hour a day Religious TV (I hesitate to call it Christian....there are good shows and teaching and then we have the hucksters in Jesus name.

Why would God bless a nation that aborts upward of 1,000,000 babies each year?
In that regards, we are no better than any of the Canaanite tribes who worshipped the god, Molech.
In that culture, the children were passed through fire. That nation came under the judgement of God and let me add...it wasn't pretty what happen to them. But God would never do that to America...after all...land of the free, home of the brave...C'mon...we're America.

Why would God want to bless a nation that is in the process of destroying the meaning of family and marriage?
Family now constitutes any two people who want to live together. I read the other day that for the first time in our history, marriage is below 50%, that is, people living together who are married are now in the minority.
But we cry out for God to bless our country.

Church?
Church has become like a Chaplin on a cruise ship. He looks good walking around the deck but no one has need for him. That is until the boat starts to sink. The only comfort I take from this is that people cannot see the real church. It isn't bound by denominational flags or commitments. It move and breathes and functions under the guidance of God's Holy Spirit. In this regard, the Church is alive and well and functioning in our country. But it takes eyes of grace and heart for God to see and understand what I am talking about. I do not want you to think it is an exclusive club that works to keep outsiders away. It isn't. It is the body of Christ made up of true believers all living daily trying to extend their little portion of God's kingdom that has been given to them.

Somewhere along the way the lines became blurred between God's kingdom and love for our country.
Some today even would believe that God stands on certain platforms of political reform.
Well, I am reminded of an encounter that took place between Joshua, leader of Israel and an Old Testament appearance of Jesus at a wall that surrounded a city named Jericho. Joshua, not exactly sure who he was talking to, asked the stranger, "Or you with us or with our enemies?" To which Jesus replied, "Neither! I am the Captain of the host (army) of heaven." I don't think Jesus has leanings one way or the other. Sorry, he is neither Democrat nor Republican and I think it foolish for us to try and make him out to be in favor of one or the other.

What's the answer?
"IF my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

But we won't do that will we? After all, we are America.
God thank you for blessing us...but now....
God forgive America.

God on you....
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Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Sunday Thought Popped Into My Head

A strange behavior has taken root in some circles of "churchdom".
I hesitate to call it Christianity because I'm just not sure that's what it is.
What behavior?
Cursing. Street Language. Cussing. Foul Mouth.
IT seems to be an accepted norm among 20 -30 year old. "I love Jesus but I also love to cuss!"
I don't get it.
Sorry for being the prude or stick in the mud or the old guy or someone who is not hip (See even by using the term "hip" I showed how un-hip I truly am).
I have read articles by those who approve of the use of course language, stating that it helps to win souls to Jesus.
Really...
Then let's all just go out and cuss up a blue streak and win the world for the Lord.

Some pastors use course language from the pulpit.
Says that it makes those who aren't saved more comfortable and helps them to accept the message. It makes us approachable by those who are offended by church, Jesus, you know all that stuff that keeps you from going to hell.
Excuse me?
Where in scripture does it say "Thou shalt make the lost comfortable and not offended"?
If you happen to be one of those who doesn't see or understand what all the fuss is about, then you'll just have to ignore me.
I know....I know...You say, "They're only words. What's the harm?"
Well, hell is a word (not to mention a noun since it's a place)
Damnation is a word (not to mention a state of being when we live outside the salvation of God)
To which you might reply, "Hey! I'm saved!"
Not here to debate your salvation.
I'm simply stating an opinion that comes from a conviction.
Cursing is wrong.

I don't know...maybe Paul was kidding when he wrote Ephesians 4:29--"Let no unwholesome word come from your mouth.....
I remember some years ago, I attended a meeting where some things had been going on within a church. People had gathered to voice their opinions. That night, I witnessed something I never thought I would ever hear or see in a church gathering........profanity. Used to make a point. Used by people I respected. Why would they have to stoop to cursing to get their point across? These were highly educated folk too. Not bumpkins or rednecks (of which I am a card carrying member). Some even held positions and offices in that church. Maybe I'm the one that's out of touch. Maybe I'm the old coot who is out of touch with culture. Here again the Bible (Oh no..not that again...) says, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks..." Kind of makes a ringing endorsement against all those who claim to be believers. I wonder if they will curse at Jesus when it's all over and we are in his presence?

Well, I tell you what....
IF that is the best culture has to offer....
I'll stay where I am....

Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA, made the statement that the absence of profanity offends no one.
How true.
Come quickly Jesus!

God on you....
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(thanks for letting me get that off my chest)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Growing Up

I think the one thing that I am learning, that no one told me, is that God's work in me is ongoing and continual.
Some how there is this unspoken understanding in church that when you are saved/ born again, that is the high light of your journey. You can now find your place in a Sunday School or some other church function or office, and spend your days working from there.

No one ever told me that God was after character development!
No one ever mentioned that God was out to change the way I think and view this world.
I have found myself on both sides of "THE" fence, so to speak.
I have been a part of churches where the focus and emphasis is on the WORD of God and evangelism. Study the WORD to show yourself approved as a workman for God. They stirred clear of any mention of the Holy Spirit. Oh, in passing there would be references, but He was pretty much relegated to second class status when it came to the Father and the Son. But not once did I ever hear anyone teach on God's desire to truly grow me up and bring a change of character to me.

The other side of the fence was where it was all about the Holy Spirit. "Come and experience God! Experience God for yourself." I must say, it was a lot more fun on this side, but even here, I did not hear anyone speak on God's desire to grow us up. God's desire to change our character so that we would reflect spiritual maturity and wisdom that comes from heaven. IF anything, at times it seemed like a spiritual free-for-all. I don't know if I can qualify what I am going to say here, but from my perspective, it was very self-centered at times. Now I know that sometimes people are so damaged and hurt from life, from their sin nature and even from churches, that they need a period of time where God can come and love them and bring healing to them. But there were times when the people did not grow and seemed very content to remain in a kind of spiritual "nursery." They would be the first ones up for ministry and to be prayed over. Here again, hear me in what I am trying to say. If a person needs healing and ministry, then get up and receive it. But if a person is going time and time again simply the get the "Holy Fuzzies" or "Glory bumps" so they can go tell their friends about their experience, I would have to question that. Why? Because the time we spend being ministered to should produce growth in us. We should be falling more and more in love with Christ and not the experience.

I remember being in Toronto back in 1998 for a Catch The Fire conference. At that time Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship had been hold protracted meetings for 6 nights a week since January of 1994. That alone is a pretty amazing thing. I was talking to a man, probably in his late 30's, and he was sharing with me about all he had experienced since coming to Toronto. He had been to over 100 meetings there and received prayer each time. When I asked him how this was manifesting in his life, he looked puzzled as if I didn't get it.
"What are you doing for the Kingdom? Has God laid on your heart to engage in any specific work or ministry?" His reply...."No! I just love being touched by God." Was his answer wrong? No. But it shows a lack of maturity on his part. There was no evidence of change through all his encounters with ministry and being prayed over, only an increased hunger to experience it more. To me, this man was stuck in the spiritual "nursery" part. Enjoying the benefits of God's outpouring, but not growing and taking his place in the Kingdom.

Ephesians 5:15-17
Be very careful, then, how you live---not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the Lord's will is.

John Wimber, head of the Association of Vineyard Churches, remarked about a time when God was pouring out His Holy Spirit on their meetings, "There was a greater anointing than there was character of our people and we did not handle it very well." This statement, to me, reveals the need for all of us to allow God to change and remove our character defects and renew us according to His Holy Spirit. In other words, God is looking for some grown ups. That is what I want to be.........grown up.

God on you....
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Friday, May 27, 2011

Pastor's Uncovered.

What is Going on with those who are supposedly called to ministry?
One would have to ask, "Were you really called to be a minister or did you decide that this was what you wanted to do?"

John Wimber had the best understanding of anyone I know on how to discern if someone was called to pastor or not. He would tell them..."Go and do it. If it works, then you'll know you were called..if it doesn't work, go do something else." I know that sounds naive but I tell you that it is the truth of God. By John Wimber saying that "IF IT WORKS," he is in no way saying that if you are successful in building a large church, have huge congregations and raise lots of money then that must be God. No, what John was saying is, "Is there evidence that the Kingdom of God is at work in what you are doing then it must be from God." The measure of whether something is from God is not found in nickles and noses. IT is found in the hearts of the people who become a shared worker in that which is born in the heart of the one called.

SO here is some truth from another blog I was reading concerning the state of Pastors in this country.
•Surveys consistently place the number of ministers leaving ministry every month in America between 1500 and 1800. That's over 20,000 per year or one about every 2-3 hours. And while a good many of this number are senior pastors, I would estimate that at least half or more are actually associate pastors of every persuasion, from worship to students, from pastoral care to missions, and everything in between. These are the folks I want to talk about. Why so much frustration, so much discontent? Why are they so unhappy and who or what is to blame?

•100% of pastors surveyed said they had a close associate or seminary buddy who had left the ministry because of burnout, conflict in their church, or from a moral failure.

•1500-1800 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.

•50% of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.

•80% of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastor.

•50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

•80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.

•70% of pastors constantly fight depression.

•Almost 40% polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.

•90% said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be before they entered the ministry.

•80% of adult children of pastors surveyed have had to seek professional help for depression.

•70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.

•95% of pastors do not regularly pray with their spouses.

•80% of pastors surveyed spend less than fifteen minutes a day in prayer.

•70% said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.

Now is the time for the people to pray for their pastors. They are in need of spiritual prayer covering as much as anyone else. A wise man told me when I first began to pastor, "Take time to fill your own plate and eat from it. If you aren't healthy, then how can you help anyone?"
How true...

God on you....
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No One Wants To Talk About The Problem



The illustration above point out a truth that many do not want to hear. A truth that some refuse to speak on from the pulpit and in the church.
Our government thinks the solution is more education. Teach the people...give them instruction..and they will do what they deem to be right. Herein is the problem. Any choice that is made comes from heart conviction. If the heart be sinful, then the choice will not be truthful or even holy.

The heart reveals the nature and character of people.
I remember during now former President Bill Clinton's first campaign for the presidency, the Republicans kept hammering at his character. Clinton's response? Character doesn't matter, it is the issues. I never will forget the sinking feeling that came to my spirit when I heard this statement. Character doesn't matter? It is the character of the man that determines the decisions he makes.

A heart that is not or has not surrendered to Jesus can only produce one kind of behavior.
Listed in Galatians 5 we read that list.
Immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and the things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

God presents mankind in another verse, Jeremiah 17:10 -  The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick. Who can understand it? The heart? Not that organ that pumps blood, but the very core of our being. The connection between our will, our ego and our intellect where our decision on how to act and what to do come forth. IF the heart is wicked and evil, then our actions and behaviors will reveal this.

One of the hardest things to get across with people who come into the program here at Rapha, is that their addiction is a secondary thing. It is a symptom of a greater thing. The very truth that we suffer from a broken relationship with Jesus. Our hearts are wicked and full of sin. Sin? Sin is my self chosen independence to live my life with no interference from God on any level. When the woman was deceived in the garden of Eden by the serpent, the serpent put fort the idea that God has holding back from Adam and Eve. The serpent told her, "God surely knows that when you eat of the fruit, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God." Imagine that! The subtle promise that we can be like God. If I am like God, then I won't  need him. That is the very point that mankind traded away the promises of God.  Ever since that time, we have lived outside the will of God because of our sinful hearts and the nature that drives us to do that which is contrary to God's will.

It takes a heart-transplant from the divine heart of God to take us out of this old lifestyle.
King David knew this when he wrote in Psalm 51, "Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
According to the Twelve Steps:
Step #1 -  the total awareness that we are powerless to do the right thing. As Romans 7 reads.."That which I want to do, I do not do. That which I do not want to do, that is the very thing that I do." My friend that is powerlessness.

Step #2 - We come to believe in a Power that is greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity.
Sanity comes with the heart change which produces a life change.

Step #3 - We made a decision to turn our WILL and our LIFE over to the care of God as we understood Him .

We look to every excuse and reason to validate our bad behavior except to the truth of God.
Therapy will not relive the pain and destruction of sin.
Medication will not free you from the bondage of a life separated from God.
Group-thought and Validation will not confirm the reality of Jesus' saving grace.
We find the answer for our life and for our future at the foot of the cross.
There forgiveness is applied to a life a sin.
There we find the unspeakable joy of the Lord. A joy that the world can neither comprehend or duplicate.
It is the shed blood of Christ that ushers us into the "new" life we have been searching for.

That is why I write daily.
To share with you the joy that has been brought to my own life.
To share Jesus with you....
May you find Him today for yourself.

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

Matthew 5:2
And opening His mouth, He began to teach them, saying,......

Not a particular earth shattering verse, yet it caught my attention this morning as I was reading my Bible.
It's not so much the "what" of the verse as it is the "who".
Jesus.
It is the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. I picture a beautiful, sunny day (why is it when we think of Jesus in the gospels, especially when he is teaching, it is always sunny?) Hills covered in golf-course type grass. Bright green and doesn't need mowing. There stands Jesus ready to address the crowd. He begins to speak and they listen.

What most fail to take in, is that the voice they are hearing is the same voice that spoke at creation. Speaking even before there were human ears to hear. "Let......There........Be.........Light!" And there was light.
The same voice that called to a dead man in a tomb......."Lazarus! Come forth!" and the surly bonds of death fell away and life returned to a man who'd been dead four days. Life brought back to a dead body by the sheer power of His words. That is some kind of voice.

It is the voice that comforts me when trouble comes. It is the assuring voice that reminds me of the promises of God, that they are still, even today, yes and amen. It is the voice of warning that pulls me back from places, people and things that would damage me and my relationship with God. It is the voice that instructs me as I read His word or listen to others who are teaching the truth of God. It is a familar voice that comes to during the night and brings dreams and words to instruct and encourage me for the days ahead. It is a voice that stirs my faith when what I see is beyond my ability or strength.

But, to me, some of the most important words Jesus ever spoke was from the cross. There at the end, knowing that everything had been fulfilled, Jesus cries out, "It is finished!" That cry was payment for my sin. Even though I was yet to be born, my sin-debt had provision made to cancel it. That cry, "It is finished!" rang down through the years and is still vibrating today with no lack of power to save or heal. What a voice!

Now that I have been saved, that same voice whispers inside of me. Directing me and guiding me through life daily. I don't always catch what he is saying for sometimes my emotions are so stirred that I miss it, but He never quits talking. I praise God for His voice and just as is written in Scripture, I pray for "ears to hear."
I can't wait until I stand before Jesus and I get to hear His audible voice for the first time. Not only the sound, but the tone and fullness. To actually hear him call my name....what an incredible time it will be.

God on you.....
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

I just posted the message from 5/21 in the pod section of this blog. The second teaching from the book of James.
Enjoy....

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The Puzzle Pieces Begin To Fit

May 20, 1994 -----
That is a day that I will never forget.
Vicki and I had left Central Methodist back in October of '93.
We were attending a new church which had just opened.
God's hand was totally on this journey now and we were somewhat unsettled. Why? Because I am a creature of habit. Take me out of my routine and I am like a fish out of water.
This church was so new, that they didn't have a pastor. The denomination HQ was sending someone from Montgomery each Sunday and Wednesday to fill in until one could be called.

During this time, I was reading a book, THE OPEN DOOR CHURCH.
The premise of the book was a return to ministry and doing church according to the model that Jesus left us and the way the church in the book of Acts was described. The people of the church, in today's model, had been relegated to being nothing more than spectators. It wasn't that the book wanted to overthrow what church was doing today, just change the focus. I guess the term would be "Make the church more user friendly." As I read the book, I was stirred. "That is what I want. I want to be a part of a church where everyone was important and everyone was working for the Kingdom." It wasn't the pastor who created a program or agenda and then asked for the church to join his vision, God gave vision to everyone who asked and then equipped them to carry it out.

On May 20, 1994, I was sitting in my car at Mid-South Electronics on Sutton Bridge road, eating my lunch. I had just finished the book, and as I was closing it, I silently prayed, "God, I want to be a part of something like this Open Door Church. No sooner had I prayed that, then God spoke. O.K. How do I know it was God? Because I don't get many forceful thoughts and "inner" voices that are loud. But the second I had prayed, "I want to be a part of something like that." God spoke and said, "Then do it." It caught me surprise, knowing it was God, I prayed again,"Lord---I don't want to start something, I just want to be a part of it." Again..."Just do it." I wrestled with this for a while, but knew that God had called me......again.

I called my wife and explained to her what was going on. Bless her, this whole journey of leaving Central had been pretty traumatic for her and she was ready for something to happen where she knew God's hand was at work. She had left Central because God had all but pushed her "out of the nest." But the unknown of where we would land was the big issue.

I knew that God was calling us to start a home group. Within the group, we would invite people and teach them how to worship, how to pray, how to minister to others. I had a framework but didn't know how to fill in the blanks. I knew that we needed a spiritual authority as our covering, that we didn't need to "lone ranger" this thing. So I approached Bruce Hose, the interim pastor at out church. I explained what God was calling us to do and ask for his blessings. Bruce was very kind and explained that he could not bless such a meeting. The church was so new and he wasn't up to speed with who was mature in Christ and who wasn't. He felt like such a meeting would be out from under his pastorship and could pose a problem. After all, he didn't really know me, what I truly believed. Funny part was, I wasn't mad. I even somewhat understood what he was talking about. I told him that I felt that this was God and because it was, I needed to move on and find someone who would be my spiritual covering. For me to stay would be rebellion on my part. I asked him if he would bless me and release me. He agreed. It was a very powerful and yet gentle, loving prayer that he prayed over me. I was now free.

I knew that I knew that I knew I was to call Jim Bentley, pastor of Gadsden Vineyard Church.
Jim agreed to take us on so we could host this home group (the Vineyard called them kinships).
We began to meet with Jim and get the basics of hosting a home a group and on June 24, 1994, we held our very first meeting. I was clueless, yet God wasn't. I would love to say it was a rousing first meeting, but it wasn't. If anything, we were simply trying to be obedient to what God had called us to....

Until tomorrow....
God on you....
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Word Alive

Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp unto my feet and light for my path.

After the seven year hiatus from God. Nah...that sounds to positive. After seven years of living in the darkness of our own choices (That's better), we had made the decision to return to church. But which one?
My mother-in-law kept talking about her church, Central United Methodist and what a great teacher was their pastor. We gave in. Central it would be.

I remember our first day there like it was just yesterday.
We sat in the balcony.
The place wasn't full, but we had the Zacheaus complex. We wanted to see God at work, we just didn't want to get to near to what was happening. If my memory serves me well, it was just Vicki and I and the sound guy up in that balcony. The music was good. It was comforting singing the hymns. Stirred something within me. Then the teacher/ pastor ...George Creel stood to deliver the message. From the first words out of his mouth, the Holy Spirit just blew us away. I had never heard such teaching as this. I knew that I knew that I knew, we were home. For the next 14 years, George Creel opened the Bible to us in a way that no one else ever had. We began to take note pads, pens and our Bible to every service.  He began to teach us about the Holy Spirit. Now from my back ground, we just didn't talk about the Holy Spirit. He was relegated to being listed with the big 3 (Trinity) but never received any billing for himself. George taught us that the Holy Spirit was God's promise to us that would aid us in living out this life here on earth. Which included moving in the gifts that would be provided by the Holy Spirit.

He taught prophecy (never heard any of that before)
He taught spiritual warfare (never heard the mention of demons before either)
He taught our place in the kingdom of God. (Everyone gets to play)
He taught us how to worship ( I thought the music was simply a stall for time until the pastor was ready)
In other words, we had attended church in the past, but now we were living church.

Vicki and I started a "home group" during out time at Central. Little did we know that this would be part of our training for what we are currently doing. Out of this group came a closer, tighter group of young adults (wow..I was a young adult) that really wanted to see God move in our church and in our lives. Also at this time I began to meet a good friend of mine, Johnny Burttram, at the church on Saturday nights to pray. This layed the foundation for a behavior I have carried with me ever since those days. Going to church at night to pray when no one else was there. It was some of the most intense and wonderful times with God I have ever experienced.

As with all things, change comes, and our times at Central were about to end. God was moving us to the next part of this journey.

Until next time....
God on you....
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Heavenly Invasion

John 14:27
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

I need to back up in this time line I have been sharing with you over the past three days.
1964 --- I was 12 at the time and was a part of Gallant First Baptist Church. We were having our summer revival and Brother Hugh Chambliss was the visiting pastor. It was Vogue in those days for revivals to last an entire week. On the last night, Brother Hugh preached on God's call upon our lives. As I sat there listening, I knew that God was calling me to be a pastor. It frightened me to death. "I'm only 12! I don't know how to pastor." Didn't matter, God has imprinted on me a call that would not be fulfilled for 33 years.

I remember talking to others about "How do you know if God has called you to ministry?" I received so many different answers that it only confused me more. They ranged from "You will just know" to "God will give you signs." All I wanted was a simple yes or no. I tried to push this call to the back of mind, but it remained ever present all the way up unto 1997.

During the dark period (1972-1979) I had finished at Gadsden State Junior College. Vicki and I moved to Hanceville, Alabama where I was to take a job with a local radio station. It fell through. I would up working at a poultry processing plant just to keep food on the table and the lights on. It seemed that what ever plans I tried to make never came through. Why? Because I was in "Jonah" mode. I was running from God. I tried to convince myself that God had not called me to pastor, but that thought never went away. So over the next few years, I had a series of jobs. Never a career, because God was letting me run knowing all the while that eventually I would return back to the call.

I worked at the processing plant /  Radio Shack / Independent Life Insurance Company /  Took on a job as Assistant Manager of Pizza Boy, a local restaurant. Pizitz /  Radio Shack part II /  Pizza Boy part II / Assistant Manager of Western Sizzlin' /  Malone and Hyde ( local merchandiser for grocery stores)  /  Handy TV as a sales associate /  Western Sizzlin' part II /  Mid-South Electronics....and in 1998...full time ministry.

On the day of my ordination, my brother, Wayne, told me a story that I had never heard before. My grandfather was a preacher and my mother had prayed that she would have a son who would be a minister. When my brother was born, she knew that Wayne was not the one who would become the answer to her prayer. Let me back up just a moment. My  mother had been told by doctors that she would never be able to have children, so the birth of my brother was an amazing thing to everyone who knew my mom. 9 years later, I was born. Wayne told me that on the day the nurses brought me to her, my mother looked at me and proclaimed, "This is the answer to my prayer. Michael will be a preacher." This story was never told to me all the time I grew up and like I shared, I did not learn of it until the day I was ordained into the ministry.

What does all of it mean? That God's plans are yes and amen. They are true and he will carry them out.
I write these things not to boast. What do I have to boast of? I ran from God. I ran for 33 years and here, at age 59, for the first time in my life, I know what it is I am to do. If you take anything away from my story, please take the simple fact that God is a faithful God. What He says He will do, He will bring it to pass.

More later.....
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Monday, May 23, 2011

The Long Dark Night

Jeremiah 11:10
........They have followed other gods to serve them.......

After we got married, Vicki and I slowly stopped going to church. Quit praying and reading our Bibles. Basically just methodically turned into backsliders of the royal kind. It really wasn't a conscious decision where we looked at each other and said, "Hey...let's leave God!" It happened.

We both were working and going to school. Time was a premium, or at least that was the excuse we used to justify our lapse in good judgement. Sunday was the only day that we truly had off and the thought of going and spending two hours in church was more than we were willing to give up. I guess we figured we could live on the "Church" attendance we had put in over the past years. How wrong we were.

This isn't to say that we didn't make the old college try.
There for a while we joined 4 different churches and each time we walked to the front, we would shake the preacher's hand telling him how we were going to be faithful in our attendance. That lasted about 2 weeks per church. Like I said, we had begun the journey away from God. How ignorant I was.

During this decade, we had two sons born to us. They were the joy of our lives and as I tell most folks, Vicki and I married so young that we not only raised two sons, we raised each other. During this time we moved a lot. Let me put it like this...in the first 11 years of our marriage, we moved 11 times. I had a series of jobs that took us all over North Alabama. But during this period, we kept getting farther and farther away from God and from each other. God was allowing us to live in the freedom we had chosen, and like Adam and Eve, we were making bad choices.  I wasn't the husband and father that my wife and sons needed. I brought great frustration upon our house and if affected my wife tremendously. The only redeeming part of that entire decade was that the hand of God still rested upon our household and he did not let us divorce. We tried, we thought about it, but God used an unusual circumstance to keep it from happening. We simply did not have the money to carry through with it.

It took Vicki's grand father, who God spoke through, to awaken us to the folly of our ways.
One day, as Vicki was visiting her grandparents, her grandfather spoke to her.
"Honey...you and Michael were both raised in church. You have been given the privilege of having the knowledge to choose your own life. Don't deprive your sons of that same privilege. If they are not taken to church then they won't be able to make that choice. It will just happen. Get them in church and let them hear the word of God for themselves so they can make an educated decision on whether or not they want to follow God."
Well, it didn't take a rocket scientist to see that the real crux of the matter was her grandfather's concern for us. He knew that we needed to be back in church. He was right. So Vicki and I, in the middle of all the destruction that 7 years away from God created, made the decision to return to Church.

More later.....

God on you....
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Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Beginning Where It Started First Before Anything Else Had Happened





Where did it start, this journey with Jesus? I was raised in church, as my Mother took me....er...drug me....forced me.....threatened me. As I grew up, I developed a love for church (denomination) and the people who surrounded me. They taught me, they nurtured me in the Word of God.  Gallant First Baptist was a country church. It was the center of life in our community as it provided a place to meet socially. It was from this church I learned my basics of Christianity. The importance of reading the Word of God, as well as sharing with others this incredible story. I wasn't always very good at sharing, but I tried. Growing up in church was a safe time for me. As I grew older, I found myself being drawn to different people and different situations. I wasn't aware at the time, but God was stretching me and preparing me for what lay ahead.

The year --1968. The place--- Mrs. Hazel Hicks homeroom at Etowah High School, we sat in alphabetical order. The guy in front of me? One Mr. James David Bentley. Little did I know that God would connect the two of us together that would come full circle years later even to this day. We hit it off immediately and the why of this connection was a puzzle. We weren't anything alike. He was artistic, took French, whiz at math, Beta Club. Me, I spoke almost fluent English although I was linked to murdering said language time and time again. No wonder the two of us were often referred to as "The Odd Couple" in reference to a sit-com that came on ABC at the time. Jim was Felix Unger and I....I was Oscar Madison, the loveable slob.

As Jim and I (get it? Gemini? No I am not into astrology) got to know each other better we had a connection in two ways. 1.) Music and 2) God. These two things would become the foundation on which our relationship has grown over the years.

I do not remember the how's and the whys, but we became involved with Campus Crusade for Christ which had just moved into the area. The staff of CC for C were starting up home meetings for each of the High School in the area. They needed people who could play guitar and help lead worship. Ta Da! Bentley and Bynum was born. We volunteered and became a part of the recruitment for CC for C. The Four Spiritual Laws........The Spirit Filled Life.....all became an important part of our lives. I was asked to begin and teach a Bible Study for some guys from Emma Sansom High School. I would love to say it went great, but it didn't. In fact, I was a miserable failure. I was so insecure and doubted myself to the point that I asked to be relieved of that position.

Jim began to take on starting up a Coffee House for students. It would be open on Saturday nights and have live music. We named it THE OTHER DOOR. Reason being, you couldn't come in the front door, you had to go around to the side where the "other door" was. There wasn't anything else like it around. Excuse my "1960-ish" vocabulary but it was "Way Cool Beans...Groovy." Of course, once again, I could not see that God was doing a larger work that would be a part of my later years.

In the fall of 1968, Jim and I met Winston Kennedy, a staff member of CC for C at a local restaurant. I don't remember the particulars of the meeting, but I do remember that I walked away changed. That night, Winston spoke to us about Scripture. He told us things that we'd never heard taught before in our churches. As I sat and listened I remember the only thought I had was, "I being brain washed. There has to be something wrong with this since I'd never heard it taught in my church. What if I'm deceived? I could go to hell."
I wasn't deceived. It was truth. It left Jim and I both with a statement that has followed us all these years. "There has to be more to God than we know!" In other words, we both came away with a hunger to know God. The sheer fact of our understanding today could not be the complete deal. We found out that each day, as we followed God, brought us into situations and circumstances that only confirmed what we believed. There was more.

Campus Crusade For Christ played out and that brought us to Keith Greene and Chuck Smith. Eventually John Wimber came on the scene. I read books by Charles Finney and Rees Howell. I read the sermons of John Wesley and Johnathan Edwards. I studied George Whitfield and countless others who lived for the Gospel of Christ. Then I walked away and drifted into spiritual darkness for 7 years.

More later....
God on you....
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Friday, May 20, 2011

Quit Tickling My Ears...I need to hear TRUTH!




David Wilkerson has passed over to receive his reward.
In one of his last messages, David shared how he had begged God to let him give a happy message. A message that wasn't a warning to the church. God said, "No."
Unless you have been in the place of a pastor who is trying to hear God for a message, you can't fully appreciate the position that person is in. The word that a man would give will fall dead as dry, rotted wood if that message is not born from the Holy Spirit. But when God is the voice behind the message, that pastor will be filled with fire and unction.

IT is time we fall out of love with life here in this world and fall in love with the giver of life. How can I have affections for society and all its trappings, when I have been bought with a great price....God's own Son?  Like I said, these type messages aren't very popular. Those who speak with such direction are called "religious" and "out of touch". Oh God that your people would be so out of touch that we are held at arms length because of our love and the word that burns in our hearts. The world is uncomfortable when the Holy Ghost has come into the midst of the church. 

I am not a person who feels as though everyone has to feel what I feel or think like I think. For me, my relationship with God is very "Black and white" and not many "gray" areas. I see life like this and it has caused me problems more than once. Sometimes when I speak what is on my heart, people are offended by it. That is not my intention. What I write..........what I speak on................I would that you simply take it to God in prayer and ask Him to reveal the truth to you. In my heart of hearts, I do believe that we all need to hear what is on the Father's heart. What is it He truly does desire to speak over us?

Maranatha, Lord Jesus!
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Old Dog...No Tricks.


Old Dog...Chewed a few bones. Ran a few rabbits. Got myself caught in some spiritual barbed wire in the process. Tore up and bleeding, I found my way back home. Oh I still have a hankering to run at night, but my bones tell me I'm better off curled up next to the fire. I guess wisdom does come with age. I am a mutt! Don't make no apologies for it, in fact, I'm pretty proud to be one.
All my mistakes have given me great wisdom...not of my own but given by God. My beautiful wife proudly proclaims for all to hear...."He is teachable." That means that I learn from my "barbed wire" encounters.

Don't claim to know all there is.
God loves me.
God has forgiven me.
 My name is in the book of life, not by my own doings but by my surrender of will and life. I know it's just Jesus! Nothing else is of importance if we can't wrap our heads (and hearts) around Jesus. It ain't an intellectual exercise or a mental ascent. It is a broken heart and a wide eyed understanding that He is God and I am not.

 He created me, not visa versa. It is a conviction brought to my life by the Holy Ghost that brought about my salvation. Have noticed how many folks don't use that term any more.....Holy Ghost? Almost like they are embarrassed by it. Holy Ghost! I like it. Of course Samuel Brengle (Salvation Army) use to refer to the Holy Ghost as the Hound of Heaven. I like that term..... Hound of heaven....kind makes you want to just give up and not run because you know there is no where you could be shed of Him. Once He picks up your scent (Yes Virginia...sin has a scent to it) He will track you down and tree you. Praise God that His Holy Ghost operates in this manner or else I'd still be up that tree hiding.

Too many folks trying to be spiritually important today. "Look at me! I have a message!" Too much self promotion going on. Advertise the latest and  newest and fanciest way to find God. Seems to me if you just invite Jesus into your meetings, that would draw folks. It's a wonder Jesus every got the "Christianity" thing off the ground without a good PR Man. NO advertising, no self-promotion....wow! I remember a man calling me when I was pastor at the Vineyard. He wanted to show me how I could grow the church and increase our giving. I wasn't to pleasant with the young Pharisee. Told him it wasn't my church. It was Jesus'. He built it and he would grow it if I stayed out of the way and cooperated with Him. Pretty much worked too. We did a Saturday night meeting for 4 years and was packed out each week. Didn't advertise nothing! (Yes, I know my English is atrocious.)

Now God has me in a part of His Kingdom dealing with dead people. That is how I take it when a person comes in trapped in addiction. They are just like Lazarus in the tomb. Dead so long they stink and wrapped up with no way out. It takes the voice of Jesus calling to them for freedom to come. Doesn't matter how bad they want out, until Jesus calls, they do not possess the power to free themselves.

Most people who are trying to move into a new life of recovery from addiction don't have a real good and true view of God and His Word. I simply try to teach what Scripture says. There is power in the "taught" word of God. Don't let anyone ever tell you different. I have seen God move in a group of men when I simply taught Scripture that contradicted what they believed. I didn't have to point it out or rail against them. I taught the word and the Holy Ghost came and convicted! Praise God! He is still at work in the hearts of men and women who are broken.

I have no idea where this particular posting come from. Well, maybe I do.
I know it may not make a lot of sense, after all, I do have a tendency to ramble.
Hopefully you saw something that encouraged you.

Thanks again for stopping by GREENE STREET LETTERS and reading it.
Share it with your friends. I don't have a copyright on anything. God gives...so do I.

My life verse:  Galatians 1:10 - For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

God on you...
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

NaCl + General Electric...When It Rains It Pours

Good day yesterday. Mowed grass.....had lunch from Jack's. Sat in the backyard with my wife once she got home from work. She made her "Super-fluffy-light-as-a-feather" pancakes for supper. Topped the day off with a good night's sleep. Thank you God for the blessings.

Some how over the years, church (and the people who go there) have developed a really strange mindset. The idea among most people is that we all go and sit in the chair or pews and we watch the guy up front. That would be the preacher. He is suppose to have all the answers. He is the one who knows God better than anyone else. Why else would he have taken the job if he didn't know God on a greater level? The preacher is the one who is legally licensed to go to the hospital and pray for folks. Go to the jails and pray for folks. Stop people on the street, like a cop, and pray for them after telling them about the gospel. In other words, we tend to look at the preacher as if he is the "A" team. Everyone else that attends church makes up the "B" team.  How so not true is the view, yet it permeates churches from Seattle, Oregon to Bangor Maine.

In Matthew 5, as Jesus is giving his sermon on the mount, he makes an interesting statement. In verse 14, he says, "You are the light of the world." Light of the world? But I live in Attalla, Alabama. I could see maybe that I might have some light for my area.......but the world? Then back up in verse 13, he says, "You are the salt of the earth."  What Jesus is saying is...."There isn't any "A" team or "B" team. We are all called to do the work of the Kingdom. We become the arms, legs, hearts, voices that the Holy Spirit moves through in order to "light" the darkness that is around us. We are the minds, eyes, and ears that the Holy Spirit moves through so we can "Flavor and preserve" the people who are living in this spiritual darkness.

What does light do?
Illuminates darkness. See you don't rail against the devil and his works. I hear people pray against the devil. "Oh God..drive him out. Come and battle him and defeat him for our sakes." Hey! You defeat the devil by bringing light and salt into the situations and circumstances that are coming against you and those around you.
You have the God given right to be who God created you to be and act accordingly. Sure it's scary and you feel as though you have nothing to offer when it comes to doing ministry with someone. "What? Me pray? I don't know how?" Sure you do. You simply listen for what the Holy Spirit is wanting to do. It isn't a matter of learning and memorizing prayers, it is you being open to having the Holy Spirit speak through you.
Light and Salt.
Notice that Jesus didn't say that you would become light and salt if you work hard at it.
Jesus didn't say that only those who go to seminary are light and salt.
He didn't even qualify as to the extent you would be light and salt.
He didn't lay out geographical boundaries and say, "You'll only be light and salt in this area."
He made a plain and simple statement. YOU ARE!!!!

Ask Him today to break off old ideas and concepts that you have carried around as to your place in His Kingdom.
Ask Him to show you how to be light and salt, since that is what you are already. May as well act like it, right?
You might be surprised as to what happens.
You might get to shine on someone who needs your light.
You might get to flavor and preserve someone who needs your salt.

God on you....
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Drink Your Milk So You'll Grow Big and Strong

Ephesians 4:15
But speaking the truth in love, we are to GROW UP in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ.

Growing up in Christ is not the same thing as physically growing up.
The physical part just kind of happens whether you want it to or not.
Growing in Christ requires effort on our part.
Effort in the form of following the leading of the Holy Spirit.
John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard Association of Churches, use to say, "I want to grow up before I grow older." What he meant was that he wanted to be a mature Christian and not be kept in a spiritual nursery because he had not allowed God to work in his life.

Growing up means that you have character change. You don't see the world as you use to. You see it through the eyes of Christ. You feel more deeply as God creates in you a "new heart." You come to the realization that this world is not your home, and has nothing to offer you. You find yourself falling in love with His Word. You don't just read any more, you study. The words you read become a part of you and it brings change. That is all part of the growing up process.

I Peter 2:1-2 shows this maturing process: Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the  word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.
Notice the change of character? We no longer harbor room in our hearts for deceit and personal hatred. We find contentment with our own lot and state of well being. You want hear many preachers talk about character development, but it is at the heart of our salvation. For many, they take that first step of being saved and then simply quit, remaining to be a spiritual infant and babe their entire life. I think God is tired of running a perpetual nursery. He is looking for men and women who are ready to be about the business of the Kingdom.  Loving as He loves. Praying for others. Visiting those in need and helping them. And telling the good news of Jesus Christ.

I do want to grow up before I grow older.
God on you....
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Who Are You....Who..Who..Who...Who? I Really Want To Know!

Taught last night at North Glencoe Singles group. God was good and God was in the house. I have never gone there to teach, that God did not come and work among us in a very special and unique way. Each time is different and I have to keep myself out of the way, trying not to inject my agenda into what God is trying to do. Thanks to David and everyone there. Keep on keeping on!

Last Saturday night, we began a study in the book of James. James, if you didn't know, is one of the three portions of Scripture that made up the foundation of A.A. I hope to have the message from Saturday night up in the pod cast section of this blog by Friday, so check back and give it a listen.

In Verse 1 we read:
James, a bond servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.......

I use to read these intros to the different New Testament books and think that the guy who wrote it was just trying to warm up before he got to the good stuff. You know...kind of filler material until the real meat of the word shows up. How wrong was I?

James is stating a great truth. He is a man who has come to understand his position in Christ. Jesus was James half brother. How'd you like to have Jesus for a brother? "Why can't you be like your brother, Jesus?" Or "Jesus makes his bed up, why can't you?" Just based on the fact that they were siblings probably caused some friction between them. But here............here in Chapter 1, James opens with the most unique statement. He calls himself a bond servant of God and of his half brother, who he no longer looks to as kin but as the 2nd part of the God head...........Lord Jesus Christ.

A bond servant was someone who was a slave, but was given their freedom by their master. Rather than choosing to leave, the slave made a declaration of wanting to remain in the service of his master, thus he would be called a bond servant. A bond was created between the salve and master. Here James is saying that he has laid down the "half-brother" title because he realized that Jesus has truly set him free through salvation and redemption. Rather than use his new freedom to feed his sinful nature (or flesh), James has chose to remain a servant of Christ. To live his life for the Kingdom of God.  James knew well his position in Christ.

There are a lot of people today who do not know how they fit into the Kingdom of God. All they know, and sometimes want to know, is that they are saved. But knowing who we are brings great comfort to me and also becomes a weapon I can use against the enemy. In Matthew Chapter 4, Jesus being tempted in the wilderness, when the devil came to him the very first thing he did was to question who Jesus was.
"If you are  (see that?) the Son of God, turn these stones to bread." If you are? Of course Jesus is the Son of God. But the enemy was trying to divert Jesus' attention from listening to his Father, to take care of one of man's most basic needs......food. Jesus knew all to well who he was and it was this knowledge that kept him from falling into the enemies trap. We would do well to remember who we are when the devil comes to challenge us. Who are we?
Because of Christ's redemption
I am a new creation of infinite worth
I am deeply loved
I am completely forgiven
I am fully pleasing
I am totally accepted by God
I am absolutely complete in Christ

When performance (how I live my life) reflects this new identity
That reflection is dynamically unique
There has never been another person like me in the history of mankind
Nor will there ever be
God has made me an original
One of a kind
Special person
And so are you.....

God on you....
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Sunday, May 15, 2011




Thank you.....
For what you did.....
When I look at this picture, yes I see the blood
and evidence of the beating you took....
for me.
As horrible as that was, it was not where the pain came from.

Taking upon yourself....
Wearing like a coat....
The sin of the world....
Everyone one of them.....
And because you chose to do this....
Your own Heavenly Father poured out His bowl of wrath upon you.
You took my payment.
You took that which had my name on it.
I'm the guilty one.
Those were my sins that you paid the price for....

You died for me.....
Then you opened a door.....so I could live in you....
I live in you, by dying to self.
You gave me new life...
a chance....
another opportunity.....
Not so I could be comfortable and affluent....
But that I could be your witness...

Thank you for this new life, Lord!
Thank you....
Thank you....
Thank you....

Blessed be the name of the LORD!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The James Gang

Tonight at our meeting, we are beginning a study in the book of James.
Why? Because the book of James was instrumental in the birth of A.A.
A.A. was founded on the book of James......I Corinthians 13 and Matthew 5-7.
In fact the early founders considered calling their group the "JAMES" group.
The following is taken from a web site I recently visited.

"Why study this book? One of A.A.'s favorite books, in part on the ease with which it can be read and understood. Yet the meat of this wonderful book lies in its explicit formula for cure...especially the cure of the alcoholic ( All cure begins with Salvation)."

James speaks of patience.
He speaks of enduring temptation.
He speaks of seeking God's wisdom without doubting.
He speaks of temptation as the enticement which turns into sin and finally death.
He strongly suggests that the readers be "doers" of the word (The Bible) not hearers only, deceiving themselves.

He spells out what "doing" the Word is. It's about action. It's about following the "royal law" of loving thy neighbor. It's about benevolent giving without respect of persons and with specific aim at the downtrodden.
It's about backing up one's faith with deeds---"works" as James called them.

It's about guarding the tongue and guarding the thoughts and guarding the actions so that devilish thoughts and impulses do not take over.  And finally it is about the importance of prayer, confession of faults and the Lord's forgiveness, and about prayer for healing.

James is a book for every believer...addict or not...
Because we all share a common trait......we are sinners in need of a Savior.
Praise God we can stand at the cross and receive the healing needed.
For that, I am grateful...

God on you....
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Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Hodge Podge

Blogger has been down for a couple of days, hence my not posting. I couldn't.
I was able to get the message from 5 / 7 /11 posted in Ipod section of blog.
I taught on Genesis 1:1 as the entry point into the word of God.
We really can't grasp and understand the Bible until we come to the truth of Genesis 1:1. God does not speak to us to convince us to believe in Him and His ability. In that first verse you can see the awesome power and majesty of God.....all wrapped up in ten words.
In that single verse you have the entire story of creation.
"In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth."

The acknowledgement of God's sovereignty over all of creation. (Which includes my life)
This puts us in a place that, through our salvation, we can have access to the Holy Spirit who will guide us into all truth. I no longer think the way I did in my former lifestyle. I have Kingdom thinking."

It is from this new life and new way of thinking that I walk out my daily life. Reading and studying the Word of God for direction to make good sound decisions. That is why I get up every morning excited because I have no clue as to what God is going to do that day. I get to follow Him and watch as he works around me and in me. How cool is that?

We are beginning a new study this Saturday night.
We are going to go through the book of James, which is very instrumental in AA. In fact the first groups to meet considered using the name..."The James" Group. Keep a look out in the Ipod section for postings of the messages each week.

Know that God is God...
Know that He loves you.....
Know that you have been filled and empowered with the Spirit of God.
That same Spirit raised Jesus from the dead and now is alive and well and at work in each believer.

God on you....
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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Could It Be?

Sorry for the delay in today's posting.
I have been fighting a running battle with computers for the last 5 days.
Two computers have crashed and I have resorted back to our ol' reliable.
What is up with this?
I think it is attacks by the enemy...a.k.a. the kingdom of darkness.
Back on April 19th, I had a dream.
May not seem like much, but I don't ever remember my dreams.
So when I have one that is vivid and colorful and details remain with me, I have found out that the dream is usually God talking to me.
This particular dream of April 19th was about spiritual warfare.
It would take place in the heavens and also in my ministry.
There would be an effort by the enemy to stop me from writing this blog and sending it out.

I want you to truly understand something.
I place no worth to this blog that would elevate it above anyone or other blogs.
I merely do what I do because God has called me to the task.
Each day I post, I do not know who reads it or what happens to them spiritually.
The only thing I know is...
1.) I write daily, hopefully what God wants me to write
2.) I trust God to do with the posting what He wants to accomplish.

Because the enemy has targeted this particular blog, must mean that it is causing an effect in the lives of the people who read it. As Paul states in Romans 1.."For I am  not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..."
Vicki and I have begun to pray over the blog and ask God to let it penetrate into home and places where the gospel is not welcomed. I ask that Greene Street Letters become a sword that cuts through darkness with the penetrating light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Please pray for Vicki and me, that we can stand in the armor of God and defeat the schemes of the enemy.
Pray for this blog that it would reach the ones who need to hear the good news of Jesus.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.........John 3:16-17

But you shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you. And you shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth
Acts 1:8

But if our gospel is hid, it is hid to them that are lost. In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which do not believe, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God should shine unto them..........II Corinthians 4:3-4

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony and they loved not their lives unto the death..........Rev. 12:11

God on you....
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Be Careful Where You Look

Genesis 13:12-13
.......and Lot dwelt  in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.

Choices...
Life is made up of choices.
It is so easy to not look to God for direction and help when we have choices to make. Especially when the choice has the power to impact our life. Lot was given a choice by Abram. Each man, Lot and Abram, had become so wealthy and in number that their current living condition would not support the both of them. Abram gave Lot first choice. "Which ever portion of land you choose, I'll go in the opposite direction and make my home there."  Sounds like a good deal.

Lot begins to look around, taking in the panorama of the country, when suddenly is eyes are fixed on an incredible sight. An oasis in the middle of the wilderness. Green, lush, standing off in the distance as if it were calling his name......"Lot....Lot...choose me!" Isn't that the sin is when we are tempted? It is so beautiful and filled with promise that it will make our lives easier. Without hesitation, Lot chose. This choice would cost Lot latter on. But for the moment, all Lot could think of was how wonderful it will be to live in the cities that make up the plains.

Lot did not move there at first. It says that "he pitched his tent close by." I imagine that the door of his tent faced the city. He and his wife would sit there at night, after supper, and talk about what life would be like once them moved into the city. The city? Sodom. A city with an impending judgment against it from God because of the sin that took place there. That didn't concern Lot, it such a prestigious and beautiful town. Maybe even in Lot's mind, he somehow rationalized that he and Mrs. Lot would go there as missionaries.
Bottom line is this choice would lead to more problems than they both could imagine.

That is why we must truly guard ourselves when we are faced with choices.
We must seek God's help and guidance in choosing rightly.
Scripture says that God gives us His Holy Spirit and that He will guide us into all truth. That would include our decisions!
Seek God in every thing.

Until tomorrow...
God on you....

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TA DA!

Message from April 30 is now downloaded in the I pod section.
Seth Barber speaks on "Can't go back".
Sorry about the length of time it has take to get these message up, but we were experiencing tech/difficulty with the web site we use to transfer files to our blog.
Couple this with the shear fact that I am the least "techy" person around. I'm still puzzled by how mechanical pencils work....wow!
Enjoy the message..its a good one.
God on you....
mbb



Enjoy Rod, Janice and Corey Hembree and The Quick Study Program. I enjoy the way Rod takes the word and attaches it to our society and the call of Christ for His believers to not be tied to it.
Like I said...."Enjoy!"

God on you....
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Who You Gonna Call?

Who do you look to for strength when life gets hard?
Who do you call upon when the whispers and taunts of your old lifestyle come to your mind?

Step # 1 of the twelve steps starts us off with the realization that we are powerless to manage our lives because of our using.

Step #2 states that we reach a point where we believe in a "P"ower greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity, or the ability to make sound decisions.

Step #3 encourages us to turn our will and our life over to the care of God.

Even after these steps, we must keep moving forward in life. At some point you will be tempted to return to your old ways. I love the way God addresses this in Isaiah 31:1 - 
Destruction is certain for those who look to Egypt for help, trusting their cavalry and chariots instead of looking to the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.

Egypt was a land of bondage and slavery. Israel had suffered there for over 400 years. Why would you want to look to Egypt for help? Our addiction was a "life" on bondage and slavery that lorded over us for many years. Why would I want to return to that place for help? Probably because we don't understand or trust God. I see so many who begin this life of recovery and then simply put everything on cruise control. They no longer "work" at their recovery. By that, I mean that they have discarded all the disciplines needed to keep in touch with this new life that has been given to them. They have stopped going to meetings..........they don't attend church............forget Bible study or prayer time............they have isolated themselves from positive people who could encourage them. Then when "Using" hits them, they are very vulnerable to being drug back into the old life style by the devil.

I Peter 5:8 reads: Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.
What is he looking for? Someone who has thrown away the very God-given weapons we are to use to defeat the schemes and plans of the devil.

IF you back up in Verse 7 you'll find some pretty good instruction on how to live daily and how to defend yourself from the attacks of the enemy.
So humble yourselves under the mighty power (or hand) of God, and in his good time he will honor you. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he carers about what happens to you.
Humble myself ----agree with God who God says you are. Be able to follow instructions.
Give all my worries and cares. What falls under "all"?  Every one of them. Turn them loose and hurl them to God. Seems to me that there would be freedom and peace if I live in this manner.

Chew on this today and see what God would say to you about it!

God on you...
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Monday, May 9, 2011

Another Monday.....

What a wonderful weekend.
Visitation at Rapha. Beautiful weather and families every where. Kids chasing ducks...geese chasing kids....parents simply trying to keep up. Lot's of laughter and, at the end, lots of tears.
Saturday nights meeting was special for me. It was the 5th anniversary of the meeting at Rapha. Five years! Can you believe it. I remember on that particular Sunday, I gave my first message at the first meeting of what we then referred to as the church@Rapha, and my last message as associate pastor of Gadsden Vineyard Church.

In some ways, it seems like a life time and in others, only a few weeks. But here we stand 5 years down the road. Been a lot of men come through the meeting on their way to a new way of living. Some didn't make it....they died. But through it all, God has been faithful. Part of the message we teach is that there is a lot more to life than simply being free of drugs and alcohol. We fully understand that someone who comes into a rehab is primarily focused on their addiction. But as they began this journey they see that freedom to live encompasses more than the absence of a drug or alcohol.

I went back and listened to the very first message I every gave after being ordained. It wasn't very good and those who sat through it, I commend them for the stamina. The one thing that caught my attention was the prayer I prayed at the end of the teaching. I asked God to give me those who no one wanted. To send me those that the world has rejected. The outcasts....those who were down and out. Little did I know when I prayed that prayer, God would take me up on it. You know...I wouldn't have it any other way. I can't see myself doing anything else but being at Rapha. I know that there might come a day when God does have other plans for me, and I will try to be faithful in whatever they are. Right now though, I'm grateful to be at Rapha.

We have been experiencing some difficulty with our recordings and haven't posted anything in a few weeks. Hopefully, this will change and we can once again put the teaching up for you to listen to here on this blog page.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading the Greene Street Letters.
I just want you to know how much God love you and how much His heart is for you.
Let Him be your portion and provision today.
I know it's hard when the world is screaming in your ear, but begin by trusting in Jesus.

Romans 8:31
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us.
I'm always kind of taken in the way people interpret this verse. Sometimes they use it to defend their actions against others. They have an idea that God has rubber stamped their lives and they are beyond reproach of others and the devil. The heart of this verse is the relationship that comes when we are surrendered to God. God does not ordain or support sinful live styles. God does not give his approval to hearts that are not focused on him. God is for us when we are for God.

I have heard politicians make reference to this verse to support what our country has done. Don't think it works that way. The only government God is concerned with is the government of heaven. The kingdom of God! contrary to popular belief......God is neither Republican nor Democrat.

Today, I want to place my whole being into the care of God. I want to allow him full access to my heart, my thoughts and desires and to use me as he sees fit. Then and only then, will I know true peace.

Until tomorrow....
God on you.....
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Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Light Of Truth

Working daily at a rehab for people with addiction problems, you find yourself in a lot of spiritual darkness.
Each man's story is pretty much the same. Loss of finances......loss of relationships.......loss of health and self worth. What started out as "fun" time has now been taken downward into a life of endless legal issues and problems that seem insurmountable.

Some want help. Other's don't. Some want help, but they want others to do for them. They don't want to be responsible for their lives. They want someone to take care of them. Some have lived this life of addiction for such a long time that the only thing they have to brag about is how "bad" they have been. As Scripture puts it, "They revel in their iniquities."

If it were not for the grace of God and His Holy Spirit within me, I would have left this place long ago. 14 years is a long time to be dealing with addiction and the destruction it brings to men. Why do it? Because God has called me to minister to everyone that comes to Rapha. To speak truth in love, even when it becomes a hard word to say. Love those that want to change. Love those that don't. He has also given me some wisdom in knowing that those who aren't ready to change, the best thing to do is to simply let them go. Trust in the word that has been spoken to them and prayed over them. At some point down the road, God will bring forth fruit and change in the life of the ones who are not ready to change.

My understanding of God's interaction into the lives of those who are suffering from addiction is very simple.
It is Jesus and the cross. There are no "keys to destiny" or "Paths to heavenly future". There are no "Step to unlocking your divine potential." There is only Jesus Christ and the work of the cross. His death and resurrection to free us from ourselves. Isn't that the real problem? Ourselves. Our own fleshly, sinful appetite to devour the things that are not holy and from God? I think so.

It seems now days that Jesus isn't enough.
There has to be Jesus plus something else.
It isn't enough to be saved and living in the grace of God.
I need to unlock the hidden potential within to be on an even higher plane. The thought in so called Christian circles is that there is a need to create an elite order of believer. To separate those who truly want Jesus from those who are simply playing. Such knowledge of an elite believer only feeds and inflates the ego and self centered view of one who is out of touch with not only God, but what His word has to say on such matters.

Such notions are not from God, they are from the pits of hell.
It's simply the Cross of Christ that unlocks our hidden potential. You know what the potential is? The fact that I am the sinner of sinners. I have the potential to deny Christ just as Peter did. I have the potential to sell Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, just a Judas did. That is the hidden potential that no one wants to talk about.
Every man who comes to Rapha possesses that same potential. To continue on in a life of rebellion not only against Jesus, but against the work of the cross. Only the saving power of Jesus Christ can shatter such a notion. Only the Grace of God can break the hold over a man who has lived in darkness for so long, that this unholy lifestyle seems normal.

Matthew 11:28, Jesus offers an invitation by saying, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Come and have relationship with me. Come and learn from me. No where does it say, "Come and I will separate you into categories. To those who are truly special, I will show you things that the others are not worthy to see."

I guess this is one reason I love the people God has surrounded me with. They are through playing games and only desire to be freed from this prison of addiction. Only the cross and the power of Christ can do for those in darkness what they could not do for themselves.
Praise God! What a savior.

God on you.....
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Friday, May 6, 2011

Picking Up The Pieces

Psalm 51:16-17
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it. You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are (1.) A broken spirit  (2) a broken and contrite heart. O God, you will not despise.


I spent a great deal of time in these verses yesterday.
If you are familiar with Keith Green, you know that one of his songs is titled To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice. The truth of that song is that God truly does receive the acknowledgement of "I give up" quicker than he does the deeds of a person who is not ready to submit.To obey comes from a place where we surrender each day (Luke 9:23) and follow, or live by, the Spirit of God that lives in us. It isn't about doing for God as much as it is "being" for God. Letting God change me as I submit to His desire for me and the life He has called me to.

Reckon how many fill the pews and chairs of church each week, singing at the top of their lungs. Giving when the offering plate is passed...and signing up for every church function there is, but yet have never come to the point of being broken before the Lord.

Being broken is not a place of pleasure, but a place of release. Having the things, behaviors and attitudes that are all contrary to God and His will, poured out for you to see. All placed under the pure, piercing presence of God himself. You are suddenly aware of how sinful you are, and how Holy God is.

King David also wrote in Psalm 51, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only have i sinned and done what is evil in your sight..." These are the words of a man who has just committed adultery with another man's wife. These aren't flowery words meant to move us emotionally. They are the open wounds of someone who is painfully aware of who he truly is and what he is truly capable of doing. It is from this place that we can receive healing and restoration.

Praise God that He doesn't leave us in such places but takes our brokenness and restores us. Makes us new and fills us with His Holy Spirit. That is the promise of God! Don't allow the devil to steal your joy today by keeping you from being broken. Brokenness is but a season.....Healing from God is forever.
What a Savior we have!

God on you.....
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Do I Go Or Do I Stay?

Good Morning to you from Greene Street.
Yes, there is an actual "Greene Street".

Vicki and I have lived here for 29 years.
We raised our kids on Greene Street.
They learned to ride their bikes on Greene Street.
They shot fireworks and bottle rockets on Greene Street.

And it was here on this street that my wife and I came back to God in an earnest way.
We were what I would refer to as "casual" believers. In other words, we acknowledged God with as little effort as we could and still qualify to get into heaven. Kind of sad ain't it?
Here, years latter, God has taken us into areas that we never could have seen ourselves occupying. He has done for us, those things we could not do for ourselves. For that I am grateful. That is one reason I write this blog. Not to point to Vicki or myself, but acknowledge the greatness of God. That He is a right here, right now God and that his desire is to have relationship with his creation.

My prayer is that you may find some encouragement in something you read here at the Greene Street Letters.
Thanks and have a great day!
Michael Bynum



John 6:66
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

We would never verbally say, "Yes, that could happen to me. No longer following Jesus."
But the truth is, I believe that Jesus uses situations and circumstances that come into our lives to test our loyalty and determination to follow him.

I believe that each day, we make a decision to live for Jesus and the Kingdom of God.
It is hard to read that verse in John 6 and not place ourselves in it.
Would we have turned back?
What was going through their minds that caused them to abandon Jesus?

One thing that we need to keep in mind is that there were those who laid claim to being a disciple of Jesus. In Verse 70 of that same chapter we are given some insight. Jesus makes the statement, "Have I not chosen you, the Twelve?" It all begins with us being chosen, not us choosing. You see, in those days if you wanted to be a disciple of a rabbi, you would go to him and tell him of your intentions. He would then allow you to follow him around as he taught and instructed. Jesus turned the tables of that custom. With Jesus, you don't get to pick him..........he picks you.

All we can do is answer in the affirmative that we surrender our lives and will over to his care.
Then we follow.
No matter what comes our way, we follow.
Turning back is not an option, yet the enemy uses it against us.
He takes our focus off of Jesus and places it on our daily life. Our problems are magnified when we take our eyes off of Jesus.
That is why we set our minds on the things above.
That is why we focus ourselves daily on Jesus. So that we will not turn back and go back into spiritual darkness.
Today, press on no matter what you see in front of you.
Ask God for grace, strength, mercy and wisdom to walk out your day.
Whatever you do.....
Don't quit...
Don't turn back....

God on you...
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bumfuzzled But Still Kicking

5:21 a.m.
Seems as though the older I get, the less sleep I need. Well, maybe not need, but less sleep I actually get.
My body usually starts talking to me somewhere around 4:30. "Get up...you know you're burning daylight! Get up!"

Seems as though the question du'jour is "Why did God spare some people in last week's tornado, while others died?"
You know if I could answer that one, I'd be a rich man.
I don't have an answer to that.
I know that when something good happens to us, we usually attribute that to God. "Oh God blessed me with  fill in the blank..........I am so blessed."  But when something bad happens we also blame God. What if the enemy a.k.a. devil, was responsible? After all he is referred to as the prince of the power of the air. What if, in fact, God kept those storms from doing more damage than it did? What if God had mercy on all of us?

I know this is hard for me to wrap my brain around. Part of me thinks that "if this is mercy, I'd hate to see God really mad." That would be true. God's wrath is beyond my comprehension and his mercy is displayed in ways that I may not see or understand.

I know that there are 1000's of people whose hearts are breaking and are grieving over loved ones who were killed in last weeks storms. I think some how God also grieves with us, to a point. From His perspective, He sees the entire plan of things. Something I cannot. It is because of this that I have to trust Him. I choose to place my faith in Him.  As we read in II Corinthians, "His grace is sufficient."
It is this grace I lean on during dark days and times.
It is His grace I cry for when my questions are unanswered and I don't understand.
It is the grace of God that empowers me to move through my grief and allow healing to come to me.

Isaiah 53:8-9
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are your ways my ways." declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

So we help those who have lost family and home.
We remove the rubble and we feed and clothe them.

We stand with everyone who is trying to put back the pieces of their life.
But we do so with a word of hope.
God is who He says He is....
And He will do what He has told us in His book........the Bible.

Continue to give and pray to those in need.......
God on you.....
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pray For Them...

He is awake, even as I type this.
His mind is clouded and his ability to make good, sound decisions is just not there.
Every thought....
Every moment of the day....
Is about one thing and one thing only.
How can I use?
Where can I get what I need to sustain this "feeling".
Oh the feeling of exhilaration has long since been replaced with the feeling of just wanting to feel normal.
He doesn't use to find that place of ecstasy. He uses so he can function.
Here in is the trap. His ideal of "functioning" really isn't the truth.
You see, He no longer can function.
Job?
Forget it."I don't have time to work.My job is to do whatever it takes to make sure I have enough of my DOC (Drug of Choice). That means no time off for holidays.....or sickness.....or a death in the family.
The need to use outweighs everything thing else.

Psalms 107 describes this life of addiction. Even as I write this, I have to remind myself that our primary problem is not the drugs or alcohol, but rather a broken relationship with Christ. We are bound and driven by sin.

V.4 -  They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way. They found no city to dwell in.
In other words.....they had no sense of direction or purpose. They wandered on and on and on. How defeated someone must feel whose entire life is focused on one thing and one thing only....getting high. Oh they try and tell themselves that they are doing well. Life is good and this won't last forever, but that is the lie that they have bought into. They are existing, not living and the existence they have chose is without hope.

V.10 -  Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron.
Spiritual darkness can be more overwhelming than literal darkness. To be existing in a place where you are just numb to the things of God. In fact when your mind is turned to God, you are flooded by what we refer to as "toxic" emotions. Guilt, shame just seem to drive you deeper and deeper into the darkness. The devil covers us in condemnation and whispers in our ears...."You'll never be able to break free from this."
Praise God! That is a lie and there is freedom this morning, right here, right now!
Cry out to God!
Confess your sin!
Turn from this lie you've been living!
And receive the forgiveness of God!
Feel His love for you. Let it wash over you right now.
Fairy Tale?
I think not.
Reality.
Step into it today.

God on you...
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Kingdom Work Doesn't Always Look Like What We Think It Does

Parking lot was crowded yesterday. It was near noon and people were taking care of their business, hurrying in and out of the building. I...