Saturday, July 30, 2011

Larry Norman: THE OUTLAW




We saw Jesus in a different light back in the late 60's and early 70's.
New voices were rising up, writing songs and singing about this Jesus.
It changed me.
I would never be the same.
Jesus became more real in my life as I searched out Scripture and saw the futility of trying to do it myself. Trying to "earn" my way into heaven.

I hooked up with others who were also on this journey to know Jesus. Older folks didn't understand us. Spoke bad against us. Claimed that since we played guitar's, we were playing the devil's music. Funny how folk's got saved when we played the so-called "devil's music". 

I learned more about love during this time than in any other period of my life.
Sad to say, but I forgot most of it and have, under God's conviction, begun to love again.
I don't wish to reclaim those years past.
I don't even with to replicate them here and now.
I simply want to acknowledge what God was doing in my life and in the lives of so many other during that time.
Those were good days.
Hey! These are good days....

God on you...
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Friday, July 29, 2011

Oh My!

Matthew 28:18
Jesus came and told his disciples, "I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth."

Matthew 10:1
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness.


Every believer is given authority and power to walk out this relationship with Jesus through the filling or indwelling of God's Holy Spirit. I can't explain the "how" of it, I just know it to be the truth through what has happened to me.

Authority means that we have been given the right to act on behalf of the Kingdom of God.
What is the Kingdom of God?
Where ever God's rule is being carried out in the hearts of women and men.
Power means that our authority has teeth to it.
Authority  means we have the right....
Power means we have the ability......

In other words, when a person becomes saved and begins this relationship with Jesus...
they have the right to walk in this new life.
They have the right to be changed from their old lifestyle...
They have the right to defend themselves from the attacks of our enemy, the devil (Yes, Virginia..there is a devil).
But more than just possessing the right...God has given us the power!
I find that a lot of people have a hard time believing this.

Jesus told his disciples in Acts 1:8 : "But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power....."
Some will say, "I don't feel as though I have power."
It isn't about your feelings.
It is a stated fact from Jesus..."You will receive power."
If we have this power, then why don't we see it manifested more in our lives?
Maybe because of our doubt and fear brought about by our lack of trust in Jesus.
The devil wants to keep us bound in fear and doubt. In this place, we don't rely on Jesus.
We tend to be trapped by our past and, at the same time, fearful of what the future may hold.
We forget those two words spoken by Jesus to us...."Follow me."
Follow means that we get behind and walk in step with.
IF I am behind Jesus, walking and following, then I am hidden from the enemy.
When he looks for me, he sees Jesus. And he really doesn't want to tussle with Jesus.

We have been given power.
Power to walk out this new life.
Power to tell others about what Jesus has done to us and through us.
Father God.....
I confess that I haven't been walking in power.
I have been walking in fear.
Today, I choose to accept and hold fast to the truth that you indeed have given me the authority and power to be your witness here on earth.
I ask that you manifest yourself in me today as I walk and love and share with others what you have done for me.
I will not cower in fear to the threats of my enemy, the devil, but rather choose to take hold of your hand and move through this day, facing each situation knowing that you have given me authority and power.
Thank you Lord, that you have not given up on me.
I chose this day to not give up on you....
In Jesus name....
Amen....

Now...
Go live!
God on you....
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Resetting The Compass

Sometimes in the middle of tragic events, such as the death of a good friend, we reset our compass as to what is important.
We make adjustments in the way we see things or approach things.
We take stock of our own life and see things about ourselves that we would love to change.
Sometimes, it is God who is resetting us.
Such is the case of my own life.

Yes, I have worked in Recovery for the last 13 years.
Yes, I have been a part of Rapha as a volunteer and staff member.
Yes, I have seen God do some pretty incredible things over the last 17 years.
But I lost sight of what was important in my life.
Who am I?
I have been so busy helping and giving to others, that I forgot who "Michael" was.
On the scale of human endeavors, this isn't a massive mistake or one that would cause the Dow Jones Industrial to drop a gazillion points.
Rather it was a subtle shift in how I view myself and what my purpose is here on this dirt clod that is hurtling through space.

One of the things I teach (Yes, my own words are coming back to haunt me) is that, "God is more concerned with who you are becoming than He is in what you are doing." Why do I say that? Because I have discovered that I am who God wants me "TO BE"...the "DOING" will come natural. It seems as though people have this idea backwards. "I will do so that this will prove who I am becoming."  All outward behavior is because of an inward belief. Change the heart......change the mind......change the mind...........the behavior will follow. So, in a nutshell, I got so caught up in doing, I lost track of being.

I am, first and foremost, a Vineyard Pastor. As such, I hold dear to values and priorities that are found in the Theological & Philosophical Statement that is center to every Vineyard Church. These values helped me to understand who I am in Christ and what God expects of me. I lost sight of this. Through listening to Keith Green teach I was stirred to revisit some older teachings. With each one I listened to, I could feel God at work in me. As if He were pulling back to a place of balance in my life where I could receive some healing and restoration. God truly was whispering to me, "Michael, don't forget who you are in Me."  For this I am grateful. Why am I writing this? I'm not really sure except to say that I believe we all need to revisit some teachings or writings or music that help to define us early on in our relationship with Christ. Time has a way of putting blinders on you if you are not careful and you loose sight of what God has laid out before you.

I believe that my highest calling (as is with all who are followers of Jesus) is to worship the LORD.
Worship through my life. Everything I do......Everything I say........Everything I think....should reflect His goodness and holiness. My life has been given to me by Him, so why should I not simply live it out for His glory and goodness? Weird thinking ain't it?

Ephesians 5:1 reads: Follow God's example in everything you do. KJV reads...."Be imitator's of God.
How can I imitate unless I see and understand. It didn't read, "Make up how you think God would live and act." It says we are to imitate Him. I have to "see" Him in order to become like Him. How do I see Him?
I thought you'd never ask. Matthew 5:8 - Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Get my heart in order by letting God's Holy Spirit change the way I think and do business in this ol' world. In other words, let God change my character and remove all the defects and replace them with the "good stuff" that can come only from God.

I know that today I am grateful that God's love for me has not waned nor faltered. Any failure in this relationship fall squarely on my shoulders. I am thankful for God's authority and power to break through any human effort or thought that is contrary to His will. I am thankful today for my salvation. It is going to be a good day.

God on you....
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More Memories / More Pic's

o.k. the pic's are crooked and I am bloger-ly challenged. Lean with it folk's.
These are some pic's from the recording session we did for Vineyard Gadsden.
The one thing I remember most about that day was when we attempted to record our first song, we only got one channel. Hour's of setting up for this and all we got was one lousy channel.

Take two.
One channel.
Take three
One channel.
Disconnect everything.
Reconnect everything.
Take four.
One channel.
Brook and Richard were at a loss to solve this problem.

One last thing to do.
"Let's pray over the equipment!"
We prayed.
Take five.
Stereo!
God is God even over mixing boards and tape machines.


The man: Brook Finlayson.
Play's with feeling and touch.
Speed is over rated if there isn't passion involved.
Brook can take a note and bend it and make you and the string cry.
Permanent Wave backing David Finlayson at Chrisitan Brothers 20th Anniversary Concert.
An all day affair featuring Joanna Stockard, Barry Goss, David Finlayson and Permanent Wave

The Other man: Kenny Young.
Miss you!
"Now how does this song go?"
Love you Kenny!

Kenny Young Part Deaux


Well, here we are in all our radiant splendor. These are photo's of our band, PERMANENT WAVE, on a road trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky.
We stayed with David and Gina Finlayson, who were part of a group that put on a kind of roving Coffee house on Saturday nights.
David had invited us up to play with him and how could we say,"No."

I look at these photos and believe it or not....
I am taken with how young we looked.
No thoughts of death.
No thoughts of grandchildren or retirement.
The one constant through these years has been the desire to play for God.
That is a fire that burned in all of us.
Countless hours at the church during the week playing and learning to hear God in the music.
riffs and chord runs.
Drum beats and keyboards.
It was school and there weren't any more passionate students than the members of this band.
Musically we were far from professional....
but from a heart of worship...
It was an incredible time, that still carries on to this day.

I am grateful for the time God allowed us all to spend together.
And I am a better musician and a better person for having each one these people
in my life....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My Friend---Kenny Young

Kenny Young....
Friend.....
Brother in Christ......
Drummer extraordinaire...
I knew Kenny in High School, although we were not in the same grade.
Got hooked up with him early before I became a part of the Vineyard. Nori Kelly had put together a worship team and had asked me to play bass. Kenny was the drummer. And what a drummer he was.
He was the only drummer I had ever met that wanted the chord charts to what we were playing.
Kenny had a unique sense of humor as witnessed to the fact that 20 years after we had played together, if ever I saw him, he would ask, "Hey! When are we getting back together?"

Many times we'd be on stage playing and right before the song would start, Kenny would lean over his drums and say, "How does this song go? I forgot." I'd turn around and kind of beat out the rhythm on my chest. Kenny would go, "Oh yeah, I remember that one."

One of the engagements our band played was in Kentucky. I had the wonderful opportunity to ride with Kenny to the gig. He talked nonstop the entire trip about how we needed to pool our resources and buy a bus, then we could really travel. Kenny was all about giving up the day job to play. His passion was music and especially music that played unto God. I loved his heart for Jesus.

I got news this morning (Monday) that Kenny had died.
I didn't know the details. All I knew was that there was a big old empty spot in my heart.
I pray for God's peace to rest upon Wanda, Kenny's wife, and all their children and grandchildren.
I will miss my friend more than you may know.
Seems like we are entering the part of life where this kind of event will happen with greater frequency. With that in mind, I want to say to all my friends, "I love you and I truly do cherish the time we had together."

I had not seen Kenny in a number of years. I could make all kinds of excuses but they would ring hollow. Time has a way of helping us loose track of one another. I want to be a better friend in light of Kenny's death.

God's blessing on Kenny's family that in his death, God's Spirit would minister peace and love to them.
Thank You Lord for the time you let Kenny and I share.
Amen....

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Message IN I-pod section: The Promises Of God
Enjoy !
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How Foreign 1979 Sounds In The Light of 2011 Version Of Christianity

This has been a really good weekend. Much rest today (Sunday) and good food. Great time of worship, sharing, and Bible study this morning. Naps this afternoon. Watched a good ol' black and white western. Good guys won of course.

I have spent a lot of time with Keith Green over the past 3 days. I have been listening to him teach on my mp3 player. Messages from 1979 through 1981. I am captivated by the brutal honesty on these teachings.
I hear a man whose heart is to follow Jesus and a burning desire to love God above all else. Here was a man who wavered between being hailed as a "prophet" to our generation only to be completely undone by God. This undoing showed Keith just exactly how much he didn't love others or God. He used the name, or label of prophet, to justify some behaviors that were not very godly. 

Keith spoke openly about his problem and did not waver in his repentance or commitment to continue following Jesus. In his teachings, you could hear Keith's unwavering faith that the only way to live this life of following Jesus was complete abandonment to Him. This is so foreign to our culture today. A culture birthed and born out of the "ME" generation. A generation that seeks its own self comfort above everything else.
To some the idea of following Jesus is "What's in it for me?" How far off the patch could you be with that kind of thinking.

Keith truly believed (as I am coming to believe) that you cannot serve God with one hand on Him and the other on a lifestyle that seeks comfort. Our flesh rails against surrender to follow this Jesus. It only wants to build a safe place where it can be fed and nurtured. I think the words of Matthew 6:24 are still for me, here today.  No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon.
Where is my loyalty? Not what I say or declare, but where is my heart, my thoughts...where are they focused? More than that is "what am I doing for the Kingdom?" Do people see Jesus when they look at me? I pray they do.

Am I feeding the poor, yet all the while loving God?
Am I visiting the sick and praying for them, all the while realizing how I have nothing to offer but my prayers in the name of Jesus?
Am I visiting or staying in contact with those who are in jail or prison.....Do I pray for them?
Am I becoming a student of God's word? Do I read....do I have devotions or am I truly being fed and shown the way to live through the Word of God.?

If I claim to have the Holy Spirit inside of me, should I not be motivated to look outside my own needs to help and minister (serve) others? I think so.
It is great that we have churches to go attend and have fellowship with other believers.....but I have a lot more time outside of church than I do inside.
Would it not stand to reason that I am on call 24/7 for the Kingdom to minister and pray and be the voice, arms, legs and heart of Jesus here in my town?
Guess what? You get to play also! What does that mean? It means that we don't sit around looking to that man up front every Sunday who gives the message, as being the only one who gets to do the things of Jesus.
Jesus turned over His kingdom to a group of men who probably couldn't get into most churches today....
He told them, "Hey guys! I want you to go out and make disciples. Get it? Make disciples..teach them the things that I taught you. Baptize them in the name of my Father, and of me and the Holy Spirit."

Make disciples.
What an incredible thing to share your story with someone and see God turn on the lights in their heart and mind. The light that only God can turn on that shows them real life that is available.
We get to "do the stuff" that Jesus did.
We get to pray for others as God heals.
We get to do spiritual warfare and see demons flee.
We get to bring healing and restoration to broken lives.
We get to see sinners saved.
That is power of the message of Jesus!
It is for today.
It is for those who believe.
It is here and now.

Crazy for Jesus? You bet I am.
Crazy enough to believe that this stuff is real.

God on you....
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

No Compromise

As I read the passage from Melanie Green's book No Compormise I was shaken by the shallowness of my committment to God. I think the thing that stood out was how I thought I was truly in touch with God's call and direction. Then God spoke in a loving, soft voice and said, "It's time for you to grow up. You have been reveling in the "nursery" of God. This pricked my heart with such pain. The thought that I was somehow mature in Christ and walking out His call on my life was suddenly uncovered for what it truly was. Me...being a babe trying to act like an adult. God forgive me. Part of me wants to quit so as not to embarrass the name of Jesus. Another part of me wants to cry out, "Show me Lord! Show me how to grow. Show me how to love! Show me what I need to discard and what I need to embrace."

I am grateful for the opportunity to be in God's Kingdom.
Give me grace to follow you.
Help me to see that in the following is where I learn how to "BE" who You have created me to be.

An Excerpt From No Compromise by Melanie Green


“When my time comes–that’s the way I wanna go,” Keith said as he snapped his fingers. “Earth to heaven in an instant!”

Keith’s words went right by me at the time. There would be a day, though, when they would come back. For the moment, I busily tucked the blanket around Josiah as we headed out the front door for Richard’s memorial service.

One day, a short time later, Keith walked into our bedroom looking more serious than usual–and that was saying a lot. He was holding the book, Rees Howells: Intercessor, in his hand as he flopped on the bed.

“Did you know Rees Howells and his wife gave their infant son away so they could go to Africa as missionaries?”
“They gave him away…” I repeated, flatly. Already I didn’t like the sound of this.
“They gave him to relatives,” Keith continued, “and God told them they ‘could never claim him again’. Years later, after he graduated from college, he joined his father in the ministry in Africa. But he was already all grown up.”

“That’s really heavy.” Wasn’t there something else we could be talking about?
“Yeah. God told him to do it.”
“I sure hope it was God,” I said, and now I bit my lip, wondering what Keith was leading up to.
“Mel, what if God told us to give Josiah away?”
“I can’t see how that could ever be the Lord’s will,” I shot back at once. “I mean, do you really think he would ask us to do that?”
“I don’t know. He might. God can do anything he wants.”
“Well, I always want to obey the Lord, no matter what it costs. But that would be a hard one. Are you saying you would be willing?” I pressed him.
“It would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” he said, seriously. “But if I was one hundred percent positive it was God, I’d do it.”

By now, my heart was so heavy it could have burst. I was afraid Keith was going to do something crazy. What if he tells me he thinks God wants us to give Josiah to somebody else? I was thinking, What would I do? You don’t just give kids away, do you? My emotions were rocking.
Things had been so much easier when it was “just us and our stereo”. We’d always said we would give the Lord everything. But it seemed a lot easier to give God things like money, comfort, and time. How do you give your child? Rees Howells found out. So did Abraham, with his son Isaac. The enormity of their commitment was staggering to me.

Fortunately, it wasn’t a question we needed an immediate answer to. We weren’t going to put Josiah up for adoption or anything. Still, our parent-hearts were being painfully tested. And for the next few months Keith, in particular, was going through a deeper testing than I knew about until much later.


God on you...
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Not My Will, But Yours O' Lord

I Corinthians 6:20
For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's.

I listened to a teaching the other night. The teacher was Keith Green, and I was amazed at the tone of the Bible study. It was something that you don't hear much anymore. I think that the subject has become kind of a given understanding if you are a Christian. But the radical nature of this concept is not held in high regard.
What am I talking about? The idea of complete submission and gratitude for our salvation. The thought that we were bought at a great price. This price that was paid for our salvation should spur us to have a heart of love and submission to Jesus.

Within the church there seems to be a hierarchy that exist.
We coin such words as "laity" and "clergy" in order to distinguish between those who seemingly have a legitimate call from Christ to work in the Kingdom, from those who are relegated to supporting the clergy. If you fall on the side of laity, then there seems to be a mindset that your job is to support the clergy so they can go and do the things that Jesus requires. Oh there are short term mission trips that some laity take. Other such endeavors are available to provide a sense of fulfilling the call of Christ. But should we not all take upon ourselves the call and mandate of the Great Commission?

Should not my attitude be an acknowledgement that Jesus has purchased me at a great price, the shedding of His blood? I am now indebted to Him, and, as such, I submit to Him and call Him "My Lord!'. That my life is no longer my own but has been placed under His directives through the work of the Holy Spirit.
In other words, I live for Christ. Those should not be simply wonderful words that give us glory bumps, but rather firmly entrench us into the reality of living for Christ. I fear that many today view salvation as being something they fit into their lifestyle, rather than being a lifestyle.

As I listened to Keith teach, there was a passion in his voice that revealed a heart that had been given wholly to God. Willing to go where ever God told Him to. To do whatever God told Him to do. If you are familiar with Keith Green, you know he wrote and recorded some incredible songs that touched the hearts of millions of people. Keith made the statement, "My songs mean nothing if my life isn't wholly Jesus'. He has a lot better songs going on up in heaven than the ones I have written."

Here at Rapha, the one thing we try to do for those who are working a program of recovery is introduce them to a new way to live. I liken it to a doorway. We show them where it is and how they can enter. The choice is up to them as whether they answer God's call to walk through the narrow gate. Once the decision is made, then we began to teach them the importance of recognizing the cost and the call Jesus' has extended to them. This spiritual awakening produces some pretty incredible results. Because of the destruction and damage that has been done because of addiction, many are so grateful for this new life that Jesus has provided. They truly do give themselves to the task of simply doing whatever God asks of them.  The thought of selfishness and of being self centered disappears, and a heart for others emerges.

At one time, we had twelve men who had gone through the program who had left after finishing and had started recovery meetings in their home towns. They were given vision to see the harvest field full of others who desperately needed to hear of Jesus. These men were fully aware of the price that had been paid for their freedom and had dedicated themselves to follow the call of Christ.

The two most powerful words ever spoken by Jesus are very simple words. Yet they are full of mystery and excitement. They tear at the heart and demand a submission that takes you away from the things of this world and places you squarely in the will of God. What are those words?
Follow me.......

God on you....
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Friday, July 22, 2011

Jesus People...We're A Little Older And Hopefully A Little Wiser!




This posting is the companion part to the one below ( Blessed Am I).
IT is a video to show you and hopefully give you an understanding of exactly how incredibly wild the late 60's and 70's were during this move of God we were experiencing.
I may have gotten older.
No, let me rephrase that.
I am older....
But the fire still burns bright for Jesus.
One Way! Man.

God on you...
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Blessed am I!

This photo wouldn't mean a lot to most of you. To me it defines a wonderful time in mine and Vicki's life. It was taken at a FALLS FESTIVAL that Christian Brothers held each year at Noccalula falls. It also is very tender to me in that we, those who were a part of Christian Brothers, grew up together. Some married during this time and begin to raise a family. We truly were Christian Brothers (And Sisters) who had a heart for Jesus.

The JESUS PEOPLE movement or revival or whatever you wish to call it, was in it's heyday during this time. Christianity was being changed by the influence that was taking place on the West coast. Not everyone liked what was happening or even believed it to be from God. For those of us who were affected, we were changed forever. Bible studies became the norm for our life. The music, which had been so important to my generation, now took on an even greater significance as new voices emerged with new songs and love for Jesus.

Randy Stonehill, Daniel Amos, Terry and John Michael Talbot, Phil Keaggy, 2nd Chapter of Acts,Randy Matthews, Honeytree, Paul Clark, Pat Terry, Mark Heard and countless others all sang of Jesus, His love and desire to have a relationship with His creation. Funny part in all of this? These sang because of their love for Jesus and to use their talent. It wasn't about money. Mostly because there wasn't any money for these incredible Scribes and Prophets who defined a generation that had found "ONE WAY!" The music gave a voice to hearts that were burning for Jesus. Sounds too good to be true in the light of todays skepticism and what passes as a shallow, self-centered Christianity. We made a lot of mistakes, but at least we were making mistakes trying to follow Jesus. A wise man once said, "There is a lot of grace to mess up in Jesus' name if you are following Him."

So here in Gadsden, Alabama, a group of young people began to meet. To share their faith and music with one another. Word got out and soon others began to show up. The meetings became home.. The meetings became central to our lives. I guess because Christian Brothers was outside the boundaries of any one church, we were considered a threat. We had been accused of being a cult and had been labeled as "off limits" because we were out to pull kids away from church and into the evil clutches of this Jesus People stuff that we espoused. That's o.k. we knew that our desire was simply to have a place to connect, share with each other, study the Bible and hear what new songs had been written by the ones who came.

Now that I look back on my life.
Everything God has had me lay my hand to has been outside of what I consider to be "Mainline denominational church." Does that mean I'm a rebel rouser, a malcontent, a loner? Heavens no. It means that God simply had a place for me to grow and stretch and be who I am today. Being a part of Christian Brothers gave me confidence in my ability to sing and play guitar (not that I am threat to anyone or will be the next American Idol winner). It helped me to grow as a songwriter and be comfortable with my own compositions. Christian Brothers helped me to gain a larger view of the Kingdom of God and understand that the harvest was truly ripe and ready. It opened my eyes to the fact that I had been commissioned by God to be a worker in the harvest.

I am so blessed to have been a small part of this wonderful family.
Thank you Lord!

Beloved, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head. running down on the beard of Aaron. Running down on the edge of His garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion. For there the Lord commanded the blessing....................life forevermore...........Psalm 133.

God on you....
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Circle The Wagons, Boys!

Usually I'm off on Wednesdays, but John, who teaches the morning classes, had a funeral to attend so I filled in for him.
Wednesday is also work detail day at Rapha. After lunch, the guys pitch in and cut grass or rake the volley ball court or whatever needs doing. It being as hot as it has been, I thought a treat was in store for them, so I brought ice cream. You'd thought they'd won the lottery. Ice cream bars, cups of ice cream, Popsicles..it was a good time. The one thing I wanted the men to understand, was to learn to appreciate and enjoy the simple things in life.
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Verse Of The Day:
Deuteronomy 2:2
And the LORD Spoke to me (Moses), saying, "you have skirted (or gone around) this mountain long enough. Turn northward.

Apply this verse to our past.
We have done the same thing over and over and over.
Each time hoping that the result would be different. That is what some people call "insanity".
We keep making bad decision after bad decision, all the while growing angry because of the results or consequences. God is saying, "You have lived like this long enough...turn." Another word for turn would be "REPENT!" To turn from say.......addiction /  the destruction we have created / The relationships we have destroyed....and seek him (God) for a new way to do business and live.

The stubbornness of Israel is almost beyond comprehension. I say "almost" because I still can see myself in the way they acted toward God. Bottom line was that God had promised them a new life and a fresh start once they left Egypt. The entire nation marched out of Egypt singing and shouting and praising God. It didn't take long for the "mumble/grumbles" to set in.  They kept it up at every turn and eventually God said, "enough is enough. You know what? I'm going to march you around this wilderness until all of you are dead. Then I'm going to take your children into the land I have promised you." Even in this, God was trying to show us what is expected in this new life He has provided for us.

Deuteronomy 1:39 reads:
Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims (or will die here in the wilderness) who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there (to the promised land). To them I will give it, and they shall possess it.

Didn't Jesus tell us in the New Testament that we had to be childlike to enter the kingdom of God? I think so.
What does that mean "to be childlike?" It means that we believe our heavenly Father. We take every word that He has spoke as truth. Why? Because He is trustworthy. In the 39 years of marriage, the one thing that Vicki and I have truly learned is that the Word of God is trustworthy. More than that is the unerring fact that God, who spoke the word, will never fail us.......never leave us........will always guide us.......and loves us beyond measure. I think I can take that to the bank.

You know what?
I'm tired of circling this mountain.
I think I'll try a new direction.

God on you....
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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"I Turned Twenty One In Prison"......

Don't be alarmed by the title of the blog today. It comes from an old Merle Haggard song, "Momma Tried".
But it does carry a thought that I taught on at last nights Bible study.
In Genesis, we read the story of Joseph.
Young guy.
Bright Future.
Didn't have the best people skills though and it cost him.
Older brothers do not take a liking to bratty younger brothers.
In Joseph's case, his brothers wanted to kill him.
Literally....
They were fed up with his dreams and telling them that they would one day fall down and worship him.
Throw in the fact that he was their father's favorite and always wore this psychedelic colored coat given to him by his father, and you got the makings of a disaster.
Instead of killing Joseph, they sold him into slavery (ever the capitalist they were).

Joseph is taken to Egypt where he quickly works his way up the slave ranks and lands a primo job with a government official named Potiphar. Well, ol' Potiphar and his wife were in dire need of marriage counseling because things had cooled between the two of them. Mrs. Potiphar had roaming eyes and here in her own house, day after day, was this handsome young Hebrew slave a.k.a. as Joseph.

She put the moves on Joseph, but to her dismay, he did not move back.
Perfume....
New hair do....
Even blatantly to the point, Mrs. Potiphar told Joseph that she wanted to have sex with him.
"Nooooo! I wouldn't do that to my master, he's been good to me."
Don't you just hate a moral man who refused the advances of a woman?
To make a long story short, Mrs. Potiphar cries, "Rape!"
Joseph flees for his life.
She grabs his coat and then concocts this hooey-balooey story about this brutish Hebrew who tried to have his way with her. (Sniff, sniff, sob, sob...it was terrible).
Bottom line, even the law firm of Dewy, Cheatem and Howe could not save ol' Joseph.
Jail time, buddy.

In Genesis 39:21 we read an interesting verse.
But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.

The Lord was with Joseph.
"Yeah, but Joseph was in jail."
The Lord was with Joseph.
"But it was jail!"
The Lord was with Joseph.
Do you think Joseph was upset? I mean after all, he has been wrongly accused. He is an innocent man.
It is the most terrible of all terrible situations, yet in the midst of everything, "The LORD was with Joseph."
I need to remember this the next time I find myself in situations that are not the way I would want them to be.
When I am wrongly accused or people are attacking me. The LORD is with me. My walk with Him is not predicated on how great my life is. It is built on the fact that no matter what comes my way, I will not shrink back or give up. Why? Because the LORD is with me.

Perhaps you are in a similar situation today.
You feel as though everyone has deserted you and you stand alone in whatever you are facing.
Do not look to your feelings, but remember this......
If you are a child of God....
If you have been saved.....
Then the LORD is with you.

What did God do for Joseph in the middle of this nightmare?
He (God) showed him mercy and gave him favor with the people around him.
This gift from God made life in prison bearable.
It was also preparing Joseph to occupy a larger role in a position God was going to place him in later.

Today! The LORD is with you....

God on you...
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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sum-Er-Time!

Hot!
Humid!
Sweltering!
Welcome to Alabama in July. This month will be followed by August which brings more of the same (heat, hot, heat).
The only redeeming thing is that with each passing day Fall draws nearer and nearer.
I do exaggerate though, don't I? Living here all my life, you tend to be use to the heat and humidity.
Lot's of ice tea is consumed. I believe the average Southerner drinks somewhere in the neighborhood of a Trazillion gallons of ice tea each year. Let's hear it for Red Diamond, Milo's, and Lipton.
I bless the man who invented A/C. He truly must have been a Southerner.
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Verse Of The Day:
Lamentations 3:40
Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.

What an incredible verse! The idea of taking a moral inventory in order to make sure we are in right standing and walking in a way worthy of the call God has given us.
How do we examine our ways?
The 12 steps say we are to take a "fearless and searching" moral inventory of our behavior.
To list our fears and resentments and people we have harmed.


It is so easy to appear to be religious. It requires nothing and yet when we refuse to deal with our past and the motives behind our behavior, we do not grow spiritually. We remain in a state of bondage to our sin and our past. We remain a prisoner to our secrets. As long as we carry secrets around about our past, we will continue to struggle. Freedom comes when we truly do examine our ways. It is the last part of the verse where the healing comes. After taking an inventory and coming face to face with our character defects, Jeremiah says, "Let us return to the Lord." For in returning to Him, we come to the only real source of healing. God is the only one who can wash away our sins, remover the stain in our heart that is a constant reminder of who we truly are.

I love what King David wrote in Psalm 51, the Psalm concerning the uncovering for his adultery with Bathsheba.
Cleanse me........Wash me.....Create in me...Renew me....Restore unto me....and Grant me.
David understood that it would take a Power greater than himself to change his heart. Even as King, David knew that he stood before God, soiled and in bondage because of his heart.
A heart that had succumbed to sin and sought to feed it's own appetite. David knew that only God could forgive,redeem and restore. David did not let his pride get in the way of doing what he knew to be right.

Too many people today think such a thing as confession and repentance is below them. They care more about what others think than they do having a right standing before God. Don't be caught in that trap.
Today, take the steps that Jeremiah wrote about in Lamentations 3.....
"Let us return unto the Lord."
God on you...
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Monday, July 18, 2011

The Last Monday Of The Week~~~~~~

Weekends just seem to fly by.
We are seeing an increase of God at work in our Saturday night meetings.
Barry Hooks and I are "tag-team" teaching and it has been a joy for us to get together and share what God is doing in our lives and in the life at Rapha.
We feel like God has called us to be an entry point for the men who come through the program. A door way, if you will, to help them in this new relationship that some find while they are there.

This coming Saturday night, we will have Shane Elmore (Some call him "Elmo") coming to share his story.
For those of you who don't  know Elmo, go to our pod cast section of messages and scroll down till you find "Elmo's Story". It is a short testimony He gave one Saturday night. Talk about God doing a work, Elmo is living proof that everything we teach here at Rapha works.
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Verse Of The Day:
Psalm 107:9
For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.

Oh if we could only wrap our hearts and minds around this incredible truth. The incredible truth that our God is a satisfying God. I have said for sometime that Psalm 107 reads like someone who is trapped in addiction. Of course we understand and believe that all addiction is merely a symptom of something greater. That something would be "SIN". The old nature or way of live that is rooted deep down inside of us. The bent to do the wrong thing. The Apostle Paul wrote of this "nature" in Romans 7. "For that which I am doing, I do not understand. For I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.  How many times have you ever used and after it was over promised that you would not do it again, only to go out to use once more. That is power of sin at work in you.

God breaks the power of Sin.
God removes the penalty of Sin.
God takes your Sin away.
Then God satisfies you. He replaces the craving for drugs and/or alcohol, and fills you up with His Holy Spirit. I know.....I know....if you're reading this and you have never experienced it before, it reads like a fairy tale or science fiction story. Believe me, it is neither. It is a reality that can be a part of your life today.
This "Filling to satisfaction" I have written about------it will never end. How cool is that?

On down in Romans 8:15 we read: For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba (or daddy/ poppa) Father!  God not only does a work in us through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit inside of us, but He claims us for His own. He becomes our heavenly Father and we become His sons and daughters. We no longer are laid claim to by the devil and the Kingdom of darkness, but rather have been brought into the light and love of Jesus Christ. I'm telling you right now if that doesn't set you on fire, then you're woods wet!

Think on these things today.....
God on you......
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On

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The King of Glory

Hebrews 7:25
Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Continuing on with thoughts on prayer.
There is a cycle that takes place in the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit).

Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father. He is interceding, or praying, for us continually. The Holy Spirit, who is placed in us at the moment of our salvation, is the mediator that takes our prayers to Jesus.
Romans 8:26- And in the same way, the Spirit also helps our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
The Holy Spirit takes our petitions, our prayers back to Jesus who, in turn, gives them to the Father. The Father acts upon them, according to His plan.

So if I am not praying, then I am removing myself from this prayer cycle that goes on 24 / 7. Maybe I have no right to complain about things in my life because I have become a non-participant in the Kingdom of God.
How many of you have ever prayed the LORD'S PRAYER? I can't tell you the number of times I have prayed that prayer. In grammar school, we use to pray it every morning. That was before the Government kicked God out of school. Point is, I prayed it but it didn't mean anything. It was just religious sounding words that I spoke. Found within the Lord's prayer is something that is the most powerful statement a believer could make. It contains power beyond our comprehension. "What is it?" You may be asking.


"Your Kingdom come.........Your will be done........here on earth......as it is in heaven!"
We are asking God to interject His will right here, right now, in our time and space.
We are asking God to bring down from heaven His plans and replace the plans of the enemy that are being carried out around us every day.
We are praying and asking God to bring healing down and destroy the sickness and disease that was ushered in through the first sin.
We are praying and asking God to interject Himself into our affairs because we have made such a mess that we need a Power greater than ourselves that could restore us to sanity.
That is why I pray!

That is why you should pray!
That is why we should be about the business of the Kingdom.
How is God's will carried out?
We have asked that His will be done, haven't we?
The Kingdom will of God is carried out through those whose hearts are totally committed to Him.
We become the vessels that God uses to push back the spiritual darkness and bring healing and life to those who are under the will of the enemy...a.k.a. the devil.

You know and I know that our society is cloaked in darkness.
Evil and immorality are the norm or acceptable behavior.
But that doesn't cause us to shrink back and quit.
Now is the time for us to pray for our neighbor's.
Now is the time for us to reach out and love those who are unlovable.
Now is the time for us to live as though the Words of God are true. (which they are).
The words of Isaiah 60:1 is our dictate given to us by our heavenly Father.

"Arise! Shine! For your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you."

God on you....
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Should you have any prayer requests, E-mail me at rapah7@bellsouth.net or leave a comment here on the blog.
Thanks...
Michael Bynum

Friday, July 15, 2011

Call To War



I truly appreciate the number of emails and calls concerning the last post of this blog to join in with prayer for people who are truly hurting.
I know that sometimes people use exaggeration to try and drive home a point and rally people around a cause. I really don't want to come from that place or try and stir you emotionally to join in with us as we pray for those who are struggling
. I want you to be stirred by God's Holy Spirit that you would see the need for such a prayer group to exist. Part of our attitude in this time of prayer is that we rest in the knowledge of God's care for ourselves, and we begin to reach out and pray on behalf of those people who may not believe. People who may just be beat down by life and the devil and have no strength to pray. People who may have bought into the lie that their prayers are not powerful and that God does not hear them when they pray.

James 5:16 reads: Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Did you catch that? A righteous man or woman. You may be saying, "Well, I don't consider myself righteous. I am mess." To which I would reply, "Your probably right...you aren't righteous. But it isn't your righteousness it's talking about. It the righteousness of God, given to every believer."
We bask in the glory of His righteousness.
We move in the power of His kingdom and Holy Spirit.
It is the Holy Spirit in me that takes my prayers into the throne room of God and presents them to Jesus. Jesus, in turn, intercedes on my behalf to the Father. The Father then acts on what is prayed, according to His will for my life.

Psalm 5:1-3 reads: Give ear to my words, O Lord. Consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice. In the morning I lay my requests (prayers) before you and wait in expectation.
I love this.
Pray when? In the morning and, as Paul wrote, we are too pray without ceasing. How do you pray without ever stopping? You carry around an attitude of prayer and at every turn offer up what I refer to as sentence prayers. Short...to the point...prayers. I do this all day long. We see in Psalm 5 something else we need to be aware of. David writes, "I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."
Expectation! We expect God to answer our prayers. We depend on God to answer our prayers. We expect to "see" God move on what we have prayed. I offer my prayers and then I go through my day in expectation. How may times have I thrown up a hurried prayer and then moved on, forgetting what I have prayed? I sometimes feel like the biggest goo-bear (that if French for goober) to ever have come down the pike.

Life here on this side of heaven is a war. Spiritual war.
We have an enemy and his desire to steal from us, kill us, and destroy anything that would come into our life and benefit us.
We don't get to decide whether or not we want to be involved in this spiritual warfare. It comes with the territory when you are saved. The great part is that God wants to teach you how live your life in the midst of this warfare.

Should you need prayer yourself or for someone else, please Email me at rapha7@bellsouth.net.
Now is the time for God's people to come together and pray.

More later....
Until next time...
God on you....
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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Now Is The Time

There seems to be an increase going on in the world around me.
An increase in the attacks of the enemy to discourage and bring fear to those who belong to Jesus.
The Saints (believers) are under attack emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially.
Isaiah 60:2 reads: For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples.
The days grow spiritually darker with each passing moment. But you know the funny thing in all of this? The darker it gets, the more the light of God becomes powerful. When is light the most effective? When it is totally dark. So we need not fear or cower as the days become more evident as to the heart of men and the plans of our enemy, the devil. Now is the time for the true, living-breathing, church of Jesus Christ to arise and function as he deemed us to.

Vicki and I are receiving more and more phone calls from precious Sisters and Brothers who are struggling under a barrage of events and situations that seems to be draining them spiritually. God's desire is that we stand for them during this time of hardship. We stand and unite in prayer that our heavenly Father would bring to bear the weight of His Kingdom against the plans of the enemy.

What is it we are seeing happen?
Families are being torn apart.
Marriages in trouble.
Homes that are no longer places of peace by rather have become a battle ground.
Children in direct rebellion against God.
In the midst of all that is going on, I have received calls from men who were simply trying to fake their recovery, because they were too ashamed to admit that they had failed and return to using.
The longer they worked at hiding their using, the worse their lives became until God, in His infinite love, uncovered them. Now they are crying out to God for help.

Now is the time for us to quit playing at Christianity and began to earnestly pray.
I'm not talking about a few hastily said phrases or words thrown to heaven, hoping that God will hear and act.
I'm talking about prolonged prayer.
I'm talking about intercession for those who are hurting and discouraged.

Isaiah 60:1 reads: "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you."
Get up! Stand!
Then what? After I stand, then what?
SHINE!....We are to Jesus as the moon is to the sun. The moon, in and of itself, possesses no ability to produce light. It only reflects the light of the sun. We are called (in Matthew 5) to be light. The light we give off is the light of Jesus. Our very lives should be that we illuminate every dark deed of the enemy and bring hope as we point to Jesus, every where we go. Notice that is says "Your light has come".
IT is here now.
Maybe the reason I have been called in this verse to arise, is that I have been hiding. It is now time to come out and be the person God has called us to be.

We no longer have the luxury to play at Christianity.
This is serious and the pain these people are feeling is real.
I want you to join with me in praying for my friends as well as people you know who truly need a move of God in their life.
There are 3 women in particular in the life of Vicki and I who need prayer.
One for healing.....
One for restoration......
One for strength to carry on.
There is also a need for God to provide financially.
Please join with Vicki and I as we lift these women and their families up to God in prayer.
Let our prayers be bound together, that they might go before God and He take to heart the plight of the ones we are praying for.

There are also men out there who have slipped back into their old ways and habits.
Join with me in prayer for them that God would uncover them and get them to a place where they can receive help. Pray that the enemy not be allowed to kill or destroy them or their families.
C.P./   J.B. /  C.M./  M.S./  M.N./  and many others.

We serve a mighty God....and as His creation, we call upon you, O Lord to act on the prayers that are being lifted to you. Come and intervene in the lives of these we have prayed for. Come and swiftly bring your presence to bear and bring healing.
We ask because we believe you are the One True God....
In Jesus Name....
Amen...

Please tell your friends about the urgency of the hour and the need for God's people to pray in earnest.
God on you..
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Don't Beat Me Down....

Seems as though there are a lot of folks out there who are anti-12 Step. Internet is full of responses from people who claim that the 12 steps is anti-Christian, and that it is nothing more than a brain washing technique. Some write on blogs that the 12 steps keeps more people in addiction than it brings freedom to their lives. All manner of "Stuff" is being spouted by many a folk. I am not here to argue one way or another.

I know it works.
I know that it has made a difference in the lives of addicts and alcoholics.
Why?
Jesus. That's why.
We have saying at Rapha.
"Jesus will save your soul, but He isn't going to keep you sober."
This may seem like a misnomer at first, but let me explain.
When the 12 Steps speaks of a Higher Power, we recognize that Jesus Christ is our higher power. Since A.A. isn't a church or a religion, but rather a way of life, the original founders came to the conclusion that everyone will have to decide on who the Higher Power is. Here again, the intent of A.A. is sobriety. As a person told me once, "You really can't work the 12 Steps and not hit your head on the cross." But the truth is, not everyone is interested in Jesus. That is their sad lot in life.

Jesus, upon our salvation, empowers us to begin walking out this new life. A person coming out of addiction needs some structure and discipline to aid them in this new beginning. That is what the 12 Steps do. They provide a structure and balance to that undisciplined life. Kind of a check list on how to keep our sobriety.
In 13 years of working and ministering to people who are trying to break free and live a life of sobriety, I can truthfully say that the words of A.A.'s big book are true...."Rarely have we seen anyone fail who follows these steps."

At Rapha, we offer two kinds of recovery.
Recovery....
And Recovery +.
Recovery is a person simply working the steps as best they can, under their own will power. Is it possible to be clean and sober by this manner? It is, but there is something dearly lacking in the person who choose to simply recover. What might it be? Life! Real life! Life given from God. I kid you not. A peace that truly invades the very being of one who has surrendered to Jesus that brings stability to them.

Recovery + is exactly what I wrote in the last paragraph.
A life that has surrendered to Jesus, and now has real "power" to live clean and sober.
For those who rail against the 12 steps, I can only say one thing.
I have seen those who were totally trapped by addiction work the steps.....
Now they are clean and sober and living productive lives.
How can you argue with that?

God on you....
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Tuesday, July 12, 2011



II Corinthians 4:4
Satan, the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe, s0 that they are unable to see the Good news that is shining upon them.  (NLT)

We need to be able to see ourselves. The real "us" . Not the version that we have constructed that we drag out to impress people or gain their favor. Not the image we think we need to be in order to get ahead in this world. Not even the fake "us" that we use to hide our sin.
Part of addiction has been our ability to make ourselves over, time after time. We become whatever we need to become to get what we want.

My mother thinks of me in a certain way. That I am her sweet little boy who simply got messed up in the wrong crowd. So I'll be that "sweet little boy"  in order to get what I want.
My Parole officer thinks of me a certain way and I will become that straight law-abiding citizen so I don't have to be drug tested. In other words, we play games with people. Trouble is, all the game playing only reveals the deceit we have inside for others and ourselves. What we need is a healthy dose of "God uncovering--falling from heaven--Holy Spirit giving" discernment. In other words, I need my eyes open to the truth about myself. Seeing the truth when it comes to the real us, isn't always pleasant, but it can be very profitable in aiding me in my recovery.

Psalm 51:6 reads: Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
The inward parts? I don't think you'll find that on any map or GPS. The inward parts are the place of the soul.....the intellect, the heart, the emotions, the central core of me that is uniquely me. It is in this place that real truth must first turn on the light. God is all about light and illumination. His heart is to uncover and reveal to us the truth about ourselves so we can turn it over to Him so He can work in us.
Psalm 51 has some pretty harsh words when it comes to letting God work....
V7. - Purge me /  Wash me
V8. - Make me
V9. - Blot out
V10.-Create in me /  and renew within me
V.11-  Do not cast me away from Your presence
V.12- Restore unto me
V.14- Deliver me
Sounds like a good laundry list for a complete makeover if I'll get out of the way and let God do His business in me.

Change the inside.....
The outside behavior will change...
Change the heart....
The mind follows....
Change the will.....
Embrace His will and my past becomes simply that.................my past.
I will deal with the mess and destruction as I build a new life in Christ.
Today is a good day to start....

God on you.....
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Surround Yourself

I have a good friend who came through the Rapha program and one of the things that he shared struck me as being so simple that aided him in his recovery..
He was talking about when he first began to work the steps and put them into practice. He was struggling, as most in addiction do, but was not about give up.

He looked at several people who were living clean and sober and made the statement, "I want to be like them." So he set about hanging out with people who were serious about their recovery. My friend saw something in the lives of these people he was drawn to that stirred him. He listened to their stories and shared his own. He determined that he was going to be completely honest in his daily dealings and would not lie or hide behind secrets. Little by little, this man began to turn the corner on his past way of life and embraced this new way. He not only went to meetings, but made friends and acquaintances who were living clean and sober.

This is a very important part of our new way of life in Christ. We find, surround ourselves with, and befriend people who are like minded.
In Acts 2:46 we read: And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.
The people we read about in Acts are freshly saved and really don't know what to do. It is this unknown that bonds them together. The Holy Spirit brings together like minded people who have had what I refer to as the "Step #12 Experience." They have had an encounter with the living God and their lives have been changed. It is this "Step #12 Experience" that is waiting for you. If you are either still in your addicition or have determined to stop, then the passage from Acts is what you have been looking for. You have to belong, but it's more than simply belonging.
In other words, if you want to live like this, you have to join in. You cannot sit back and wait for it to happen. I know it's scary out there and meeting new people doesn't always come easy for some, but the desire to possess this new way of living should be the fuel that causes you to interact and introduce yourself.
Celebrate Recovery's are a great way of meeting new people. Not only that, but Celebrate Recovery's are always looking for people to help. You can volunteer to set up chairs, or take up the offering. Maybe you could help serve the food or even clean up afterwards. The important thing is that you get out of your shell and began to be a part. Find you a good A.A. group. "Yes, Virginia, such an animal does exist."

Ask God to show you where you need to go.
He will direct your path....

God on you...
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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Give It Away





.....Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?" The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these my brethren, you did unto me."
                                                                                                                             Matthew 25:37-40

God on you...
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Friday, July 8, 2011

To Will Or Not To Will...That Is The Question

Joshua 24:15
.......But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.

Step # 3
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
I don't know how many times I have taught on Step # 3......many.
But it wasn't until this morning, during my quiet time, that I saw something that had been right in front of my face for a long time.
Turning our will over to God isn't giving up our will. I use to think that it was simply me becoming a kind of blank slate on which God would write instructions. Not true.
We are turning the focus of our will toward God to follow Him.
To do what He tells us to do.
To go where He tells us to go.
To say what He tells us to say.
The will is very much still in play, it is just that I have now (in the knowledge that I am powerless) focused myself on listening only to Jesus, not my old nature or lusts.


Oswald Chambers, in his devotional My Utmost For His Highest,  writes, "Will is the whole man active. I cannot give up my will, I must exercise it. I must will to obey, and I must will to receive God's Spirit."  In other words, the will remains present but the focus is almost an oxymoron. I will myself to not will myself to do the wrong thing. I will myself to give up and not give in to the thought that I must use. How do I do this? By turning my will to God.

It all goes back to what Jesus taught in Luke 9:23 ---"You want to follow me? Then deny yourself." There is the "Bingo"moment we have been looking for. That by denying what my sinful nature wants, I must have something to turn to in order to combat the lust that would seek to drag me away into sin. I turn, by my will, to Jesus. He is the HIGHER Power and as such, has the Power to break the lust and desire to do the wrong thing.

I Peter 4:2
And you won't spend the rest of your life chasing after evil desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.

Where your heart is....
There your thoughts will be...
Where your thoughts are....
The body follows.
Turn your heart toward Jesus and follow hard after him.

God on you....
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Thursday, July 7, 2011

14 Years...Wow! Seems Like 1...Seems like a Bazillion

July 7, 1997 is the anniversary of my ordination as a pastor.
Jim Bently, Senior pastor of Gadsden Vineyard Church ordained me and released me into ministry.
It was a heady time for me since I had been called to pastor back when I was a teenager.
I was too afraid and unsure of myself back then to have answered that call, so for over thirty years I ran from it. Now here on this day, I was finally going to surrender to God's call.

God has been beyond gracious to me and my family over these past 14 years and to have finally found a place at Rapha is beyond my wildest dreams. I cannot (nor would I want to) see myself doing anything else.
I am grateful that God continues to follow us even when we run from Him. Thank you Lord for not giving up on me.

It wasn't until August 1, 1998 that I began full time ministry. It truly was simply trying to hear God and having the feeling that you were kind of flying by the seat of your pants. I remember beginning to go out to Rapha to work and teach as a volunteer and God stirring me to begin a Saturday night service for the men and anyone else who were either in addiction or in recovery. You have to remember that this was before Celebrate Recovery so there really wasn't a pattern on how to do church for people in recovery . All I knew was that the music would be different and the message would short and to the point. I knew also that we would be having a ministry time at the end of our meetings.

August 21, 1999 - we held our first House of Blue. We chose that name because the color blue symbolizes an open heaven, that God wants to communicate with His people. We also chose it because the blues is a universal music that seems to speak across age lines, ethnic lines and touches all hearts. The only difference in the music would be that it would point to God who is the healer of all. We held our first meeting and it was totally unreal. I went away that night thinking, "God! You rocked the house so how are you going to top that next week?" He did. He did every Saturday night for 4 years.

March 8, 2004 -- I came on staff at Rapha as the staff Pastor, first as part time and later that year ( August ) full time. I continued to work at Gadsden Vineyard Church as well as teach and minister at Rapha.

April 28, 2006 - I preached my first message at the Church@Rapha that morning, followed by my final teaching at Gadsden Vineyard Church. I was now free to devote myself totally to Rapha. There was great sadness as Vicki and I left what had been home for 12 years to us. But we were excited about all the possibilites that lay ahead.

May 31, 2008 - We move our Sunday Morning meeting to Saturday night at Rapha and see an increase in God working among the men. For whatever reason, I have always functioned better at night. I think God may have simply created me to be that night time pastor. Saturday night was such a night that the devil used in the lives of addicts that God wanted to take it back.

These have been 14 incredible years and in some ways, I feel as though I have had a lifetime of experiences and opportunities given to me. I know that God isn't finished with me yet and Vicki and I will continue to go and love and minister to the men who come through the program.

I always tell people that I have the most tremendous position in the world.
I get to sit in one spot and God brings an endless stream of people to me for ministry. How great is that?
Of course Vicki and I pray a prayer each day that Rapha would go out of business because no one needs a rehab to go to. Silly Prayer? Maybe but I'll keep going out to Rapha to love and teach and minister, all the while expecting God to destroy the monster we call addicition.

On the day of my ordination, at the end of the service, Jim came to me and shook my hand. Leaning into me he whispered in my ear, "Your life will no longer be your own." Never has such true words been spoken to me. But you know what? I would not have had it any other way.

God on you....
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Go Home

Mark 5:19
.......But He said to him, "Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you."

The man was demonized. They flooded his thinking. They directed his movements. They tormented him. He lived among the tombs, if you could call it living. His life was literally hell here on earth. Into this wretched existence stepped Jesus, the Son of God.

With authority and power, Jesus spoke and commanded the demons to leave the man. Talk about healing! The man was set free from this power of darkness that had owned him. Jesus simply spoke, just as He had spoken at creation ("Let There Be Light!"). Here in is the mystery, in that Jesus' spoken words have power to change, to create, and to do battle and victory over the devil. Of course, in this case, it wasn't much of a battle.

The people of the nearby village came to see what all the hub-bub was about. This demonized man had been troubling them for some time. His screams at night kept the town doors locked. There had been several attempts to bind him, each one failing because of the supernatural strength given to this man by the devil. They had bound him in chains, only to see him break them off like they were strings. Now there sitting before the people of the village was the man formerly demonized, now in his right mind.

Jesus, preparing to leave, was stepping into a boat when the man came asked Jesus to let him go with him. Jesus turned and told him, "Go home! And tell what has happened to you." Isn't that really the heart of Jesus and His Kingdom? To tell our story.

You can take this story of the demonized man and see the evil, controlling life of addiction. You can see the devil's fingerprints all over a life of addiction. Yet through the Power of Jesus Christ, we can be set free to live a new and meaningful life. But this new life comes with a commandment, not a suggestion...not a hint. TELL YOUR STORY! Step #12 reads that Having had a Spiritual Awakening, we seek to practice these principals in all our affairs and to take this message to others who are struggling.

We "practice" these principals----this means that there is a discipline that we continue to follow in our daily lives. God, being a God of order, has given us tools to bring discipline into our former life of chaos. As we walk in this manner, we tell our story to others. That is why we are going to merge into our Saturday night meetings at Rapha, testimony from others who are walking in Step #12.

Last Saturday night, we had two former clients  come to the meeting, both having a fair amount of clean time. I asked each of them if they would share some of what had been going on in their life. Each man spoke of how God had saved them from destruction and given them purpose to live out this new life. One added that he never had much use for the 12 steps, that his belief was all he needed was to go to church. Well, going to church is huge......but there was no discipline that aided him in his recovery. There is a saying that Jesus will save your soul, but he will not keep you sober. This may offend some who read this, but please see the truth behind this saying. Jesus has the power to bring healing to your life, but you must be responsible and do the things necessary to not place yourself back into temptations or people who may influence you to relapse.

Remember....
Your life....
Your testimony to the awesomeness of Jesus....
may be the only Bible that some people will read.
Do they see a life delivered and saved when the "read" you?
Praise God for his love for us!

God on you.....
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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Message In Podcast Section

Just Downloaded Message From Seth Barber:  "And Now For The Rest Of The Story."
Enjoy....

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Day After The Fourth....The Fifth.

What an incredible 4th of July we had.
Ten men were baptized yesterday morning in the creek at Rapha.
Ten men celebrated their spiritual independence yesterday.
As we were standing in the creek preparing to baptize the first man, a snow white heron came flying down the creek and flew directly over our heads. I commented to everyone, "I guess that was the Rapha version of a white dove, a symbol of the Holy Spirit."

It is always a thrill for me to climb down the bank to that creek.
Wade out to the middle and prepare to receive each man.
As they come, they do so with many different stories from their past, not all of the them good.
But on this day, they are taking the steps to begin a new life in Christ.
One by one they made their way down into the water, and one by one we baptized each man.
Coming up out of the water, some shouted with joy, others were simply overcome by the experience.
It was a God moment.

After the baptism was over, Wayne Wimpee, Barry Hooks and I stood there in creek praying for one another. Wayne and Barry are our two elders for the church@Rapha. They had assisted me in hundreds of baptisms over the past 13 years. As I said before, we never tire of taking part in this ordinance that Jesus gave to the church.

Sunday night was another great time I got to take part in. I spoke at Celebrate Recovery North Glencoe Baptist Church. When it came time for ministry and prayer, people began to come to the front.....some to be saved...some to confess...some in need of pray and a touch from God...
Blessings on Seth Barber and everyone involved with this Celebrate Recovery.
Here it is Tuesday, the 5th, and we have to move on.
We can bask in the glow of the weekend and the holiday or we can turn our attention back to the call of Christ on our lives.
What call?
To be the person God created us to be.
To deal with our character defects, asking God to remove them and replace them with the fruit of the Holy Spirit.
To tell our story to those who haven't heard it yet.
To be salt and light in a world that has rejected Jesus.

Romans 6:4
Therefore, we are buried with him by baptism into death. That like as Christ was raised up from the day by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Instead of concentrating on "doing" for Jesus today, concentrate on "being".
If you are "BECOMING" the person Jesus created you to be, the you will be "DOING" what he has called you to do like it was second nature.

God on you.....
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Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July.....235 years old. Still a good place to live and raise a family.
Spoke at Celebrate Recovery North Glencoe last night. God was good and ministry was great as people came to the front to be pray and be prayed for.
Seth Barber, who heads up CR North Glencoe, continues to amaze me as God grows him and stretches him.
Karen led worship and the songs were totally directed to God, asking God to come and meet with us.
Several guys from my past were there....Good to see Steve Yarbrough, Vance Ritchey, Tim Holt, Mark Alexander, Terry Doster, Bubba Dutton, Nick Johnson and so many others.

Today will be a day of celebration for most folks.
There will be cookouts and fireworks.
Time at the pool or the river (not to mention the beach).
Family and friends will gather to eat and reminisce about old times.
The birthday of our country...........The fourth of July.

Jesus purchased our freedom at Calvary.
There blood was spilt to pay for my sin-debt, that I might live free from the bondage of the government of darkness and Satan.
God has called us "out" of the world into a life with Him.
II Corinthians 6:18 reads:
And what union can there be between God's temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As Gos said, "I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves from them" says the Lord. Don't touch filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters," says the Lord.

Just as America won their independence from Great Britain, we have been given our freedom from sin and hell. Therefore, we should never engage again with the things of the devil. That is why God calls us to come out from the world. To not do business or live like the world. There are many today who feel like it is the call of the church to act like, look like and sound like the world so we can attract people to come to our meetings. How backwards is this thinking. Now, before you go postal on me, I'm not suggesting that we all put on brown robes, wear sandals and grow organic vegetables on a mountaintop somewhere far away from the maddening crowd (although such a thought is very entertaining). What takes place in our life and in our church should be guided and given by the Holy Spirit of God.

We are a free people. We should live as such.
We should be the most assured people, because of God's Holy Spirit, that anyone has ever seen.
Folks around us are watching us to see how we handle adversity.
When they see us acting the same way as every one else, then why should they consider coming to church? We are no different in their eyes.
I am reminded of when the economy began to tank back in 2008.
People lost retirement accounts.
Stocks took a major tumble.
Fear was in the air and there was an undercurrent of panic.
God's people should have gone about their business with a calm and resolve. After all, trusting in God means that you don't have to trust the Federal Government.
My Father owns the cattle on a thousand hillsides. IF I find myself in need of something, I say, "It time we had a beef sale." My heavenly Father meets my needs. I can attest to this because that is what He has done over the past 38 years.

During all the hoop-la today, take time to remember who gave us real freedom.
Take time to worship Him today....

God on you.....
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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Watermelon Christians





What kind of Christian are you?
What kind of Watermelon Christian are you?
You can tell a lot about a person by the way they eat watermelon.
Me?
I one of those types who dive in when watermelon is served.
I don't flick out the seeds with my fork (We don't need no stinkin' forks to eat watermelon with) . That is why God created spitting. Spit them seeds out. Hey...make a game of seed spitting. Who can spit one the farther than anyone in the group?
I get juice on my face. I savor the moment and the flavor as the melon fills my mouth.
Some people hold their watermelon away from themselves so as not to let the juice get on them. If they break off a piece to eat, they usually hold it between two fingers so as not to let the juice run down their hands. They lean over and bend at the waist, filling their mouth's with small bites of melon.

I guess you could say that I'm a slob when it comes to melon eating.
I don't care if the juice gets on me. I can always wash off later.
What does this have to do with anything?
Well, some folks want to experience God the same way they eat watermelon. They want to be in his presence.....see him work....they just don't want to get the juice (Holy Spirit) on themselves or in them. They are prim and proper in their Christianity never wanting anyone to see them in any other fashion. The idea that God would come and undo them, uncover them and leave them open and undone is terrifying to them. They digest God is small portions, as if this were something to be proud of. They cry and "praise God!" when someone gets saved or rededicates their life, but don't ask them to go to the altar for prayer. People might think something was wrong with them. Don't get that melon juice on you.....

You know...I figure if God is a complete God, then I should be a complete follower. By that, I mean that I should have nothing to hide from God or others (Like I could hide something from God). I am grateful that God is not a slacker when it comes to dealing with me. I do not want to get away with anything. This is part of what I call "The world's most dangerous prayer". I use it at Rapha all the time, including myself when I pray it.
"Lord......don't let us get away with anything. Uncover us at every turn."
Whatever God does, He does completely.
He saves us 100 %....not 99.9 %
He heals us 100%......not 33 1/3%
He forgives us 100%....not 50%
So why should I hold back anything as I follow after God?
Why not just become totally fanatical about Him and His Kingdom?
We are fanatics about football and NASCAR.
We are completely bonkers over movie stars and singers.
So why not simply go "Fruit-loops" for God!

I Peter 5:5 reads:
"God sets himself against the proud..but he gives grace to the humble."
Don't let pride keep you from enjoying the fullness of God (Or some good watermelon).
Don't let pride keep you from receiving from God.
Let the grace of God flow over you and in you as you simply agree with God who God says you are.
"That right Father...I am a seed-spitting...juice dripping...watermelon loving...child of yours."
I do love God....

God on you....
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Can't Sleep

Woke up 1:49 a.m.
Can't sleep.
Turned on television.
Turned off television.
Can't sleep.
Sick.
Congested.
Sore throat.
Not enough to "whine and cry" about.
Just enough to rob me of sleep.
So now that I'm up....
What's next?

Today is visitation at Rapha. It is one of my most favorite times there.
I get to watch family and clients interact.
Some are rebuilding relationships that were once thought to be beyond repair.
Daddy's will chase their kids all over the compound.
Laughter and giggles will be a'plenty today.

Tonight is our weekly service.
Teaching tonight on "FEAR AND FAITH."
In the life of someone overcoming addiction, fear is huge.
Fear of the unknown is one of the many stumbling blocks that stand in the way of people and their recovery.
Fear causes us to look inward.
Fear keeps us from moving forward.

Psalm 27
V1.-
The LORD is my light and my salvation...so why should I be afraid?The Lord protects me from danger....so why should I tremble?

V2.-
When evil people come to destroy me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.

V.3 -
Though a mighty army surround me, my heart will know no fear. Even if they attack me, I remain confident.

V.4 -
The one thing I ask of the Lord... the thing I seek most--- is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. Delighting in the Lord's perfections and meditating in His Temple.

Learning to depend on and trust in God is what my heart longs for.
To not be swamped when "life" come in like a flood.
To be a good steward of what has been trusted to me by God.
To love as He loves.
To speak only what He desires me to say.
To go only where He directs me to.
To not fear tomorrow but cling fast to today and use it wisely for His kingdom.
To grow up more today. I want to grow up before I grow older.
To never loose my gratitude for what God has done to me.
To never be so arrogant that I cannot ask forgiveness from someone I have wronged.
To see myself simply as God sees me.
To never stop telling "the story" of Jesus.
To recognize and bless all that God is doing.

I hope you have a great weekend and a happy Fourth of July!

God on 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 ...