Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Where Did It Go?

Time...
Where does it go?
Can you believe that we are fixing (good ol' Southern term) to turn the page and move into September?
It seems like we were in January just last week.
Huge snowfall here on January 10th. Shut down most businesses and factories. Of course down here in the South the least amount of snow will accomplish that feat.
Vicki and I are now moving into areas that are truly from the Twilight Zone.
High school reunions that fall in the realm of "40 years".
Tomorrow is our anniversary. We have been married 39 years.
My best friend, Jim Bentley, I've known for 43 years.
All these numbers sound like something old people do.
Something my parents would have done.
In fact, next month I turn 60.
Now that really is someone else, not me.
I look in the mirror and I see a 60 year old man standing there staring back at me.
"Who are you and what have you done with Michael?"
Inside my head, I am a rompin', stompin' 18 year old trapped in a 60 year old body....excuse me....59 and 3/4's. When I think of my body...well, it is 60 and there are mornings that I feel 60.
Time move on.

One of my most favorite verses in Scripture is Job 42:16-17: After this, Job lived one hundred and forty years, and saw his children and grandchildren for four generations. So Job died, old and full of days.
Isn't that a great verse! Job died, old and full of days. For all the terrible things that Job went through, at the end everything was set right. God restored and gave him a good life as Job grew older. Job got to see not only his children but on down through 4 generations. It doesn't mention it, but I'm sure Job told them his story and how the God he loved and served was faithful through out the ordeal he suffered. I would love for my life to have that kind of ending. To have someone speak over me and say, "Michael lived to be old and full of days."

If my time should come today and God sees fit to bring me home, let it be known that I have had a wonderful life. I have loved and been loved by the most incredible woman God every gave breath to. I have two godly sons who have married godly women. My grandchildren are being rasied and taught the truth of God's word.

I have seen the hand of God in so many ways, I can't begin to number them.
I have seen Him heal...everything from cancer to brain tumors...from tear ducts to back pain.
I have seen Him free people from demonic oppression.
I have seen salvation fall on a room full of men and fill them with such gratitude that weeping becomes a part of their lives. These were men who were hardened beyond belief to the things of God.
I have seen the touch of God in the lives of babies as I held them to pray over them.
I have seen the hand of God be so heavy on a room of people gathered to worship that we simply sat in silence, not speaking a word for fear we would undo what God was working among us.
I have seen the Holy Spirit of God come upon my wife and usher her into the presence of the Lord where she sings of His majesty and greatness. My wife, who does not sing in public, sings with the voice and heart of one who has been freed from all earthly constraints to worship at the feet of her Lord and Savior.
I have baptized men and seen God's Holy Spirit come upon them as they were coming up out of the water. Men who truly were made New Creations as according to II Corinthians 5:17.
In some ways, I think I have seen more than most. For that I am grateful, and at the same time I have a "why me?" feeling that I carry around. The main thing is that I am thankful for life and for every person I come in contact with. I want them to know the Jesus that I know.

God on you....
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It's The Time...Of The Season...When Love Runs High

Luke 10:33
But A certain Samaritan.......

If you read the passage above, you'll see that Jesus is telling religious lawyer (part of the ruling elect of the Jewish faith) who his neighbor is.
The man had asked Jesus what must he do to inherit eternal life. Jesus countered his question with a question (that Jesus is smart...he knew this guy was simply out to trick him). Jesus asked him what did the law have to say about the matter. The man quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5 and from Leviticus 19:18 that he should love God, love himself and love his neighbor. It might have gone well if the lawyer had let sleeping dogs lie, but he just couldn't quit or help himself. Wanting to justify his outstanding reputation, the lawyer asked one more question...."Who is my neighbor?" Jesus had him.

Jesus used a story of a man taking a journey "down" to Jericho. Did you even notice that there is always trouble when we move "down" and away from God. The call to follow Jesus is always an upward call (as Paul put it in Philippians 3:14). Anyway, the man on the journey was robbed and beaten by a bunch of thugs. (Why thugs run in bunches, I do not know. Why not groups? Or gaggles?)  Left for dead, the man lay there unable to help himself. Who should parade by but a Priest (Religious door #1) quickly followed by a Levite (Religious door #2), both of whom kept going. I'm sure they uttered a prayer for the man...."God bless you and be of good cheer my good fellow." On the inside they wanted nothing to do with him. It was too much trouble.

Then Jesus brings forth the hero of the story. The most unlikely person you could pick......a Samaritan!  The Samaritan is the reversal of the priests and Levite. Those two should of and usually would have been the heros if someone else had told the story, but not here. In Jesus' version, the Samaritan knew how to treat his neighbor. The man who was beaten was not someone the Samaritan knew or even someone of the same race...he was just a man in need. Binding up the wounds and loading the beaten man up on his donkey, the Samaritan took him to the nearest Holiday Express and booked him a room Told the desk clerk to see that the man gets what he needs to recover. Paid for it and then told the clerk..."If it turns out to costs more than I have paid, I will come back by here and settle the bill." The Samaritan was the one who stood to inherit eternal life more than the religious lawyer. The moral of the story is not that works save you and make firm your place in heaven with Christ, but rather works come from a heart of love that has been touched and changed by Jesus Christ. That our neighbor is whomever we come in contact with today.

If you have spent any time reading the 12 Steps, you will find that Step #12 is an action step.
Having had a spiritual awakening, practicing these principals in my daily life, I seek to take the message to others who are still in their addiction. This message we take to the "others" is more than words. It is a smile to someone who hasn't had anything to smile about. It is a cup of coffee and a cookie given in love. It is an invitation to "Come sit with me" at the meetings. It is one who was beaten up going down the road of life, helping another who still bears the wounds and open bloody places of life and doesn't know what to do.

I am your neighbor.....
You are my neighbor.....

God on you....
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Monday, August 29, 2011

The Theology Of Hot Dogs

Finding that "gratitude" today. It would be so easy to slide over into Lake "Whinny mouth", but I ain't going to do that. Life is hard, but it's hard for everyone. I notice that I want to be the single, central person that life has pegged to pour out all that is bad upon. But that wouldn't be the truth.  Truth is, God has been beyond gracious and loving to me and my family. So as I made my way over to the cafeteria for lunch, I spied hot dogs.

Hot dogs are a lot like life. They are what you make of them.
You can have them plain and simple, but there isn't much taste to them. Nothing that causes your taste buds to go "Whoooo Hooooooo!". Taste buds just kind of lay there while your stomach gives you a courteous nod for supplying it something other than things that are good for you.

Take that same dog and doctor it up.
Mustard...
Ketchup....
Slaw....
Some hot sauce.....
Kraut......
Relish.....
Onion.....
Now we are talking about a "Par-tay" in your mouth.
Something that wakes everything up.
I am grateful for that hot dog.
That is just one of the many things God places around me daily and I do not want to become such a gloomy-gus that I miss the blessings and directions of God.
No navel-gazing for me.
Keep my eyes up....
My focus on Jesus....
and a heart of gratitude for everything.....
even hot dogs.....
If I can get that whipped up by a hot dog, imagine how it should be if I find myself dwelling on my salvation? My relationship with Jesus? Life in the body of Christ? Man! Now we got us some A-1 gratitude fixing to erupt from my heart and mouth....
Big ol' "THANK YOU JESUS!!"
Gratitude..
Don't leave home without it.


God on you.....
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Twilight Zone/ Black Hole

Something strange happened today.
I posted to this blog this morning around 5:45 a.m. and it has disappeared. Gone! Vanished!
What could this mean? Nothing. Everything. It doesn't matter.
What matters is that God is in control.

Matthew 9:12-
But when He (Jesus) heard this, He said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick."
V.13-----.....for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Funny how Jesus equates sin and its effects on a person as being like an illness.
The doctor comes to treat the illness and heal the individual who has contracted it.
It might take medicine.
It might take surgery.
It might take time and rest.
But whatever, the doctor's sole focus is to see his patient recover.
In the case of Jesus, the cure is already available. He has offered freely to all who are sick the cure needed to remove the sickness of sin.
This cure has been tested (on the cross and in a tomb) and has been found to be 100% effective.
It not only removes the presence of sin, but also the penalty of sin, the power of sin and replaces it with the Holy Spirit of God.
Total recovery.

Now that is a healing.
Are you sick today?
Do you need a healing in your life?
Dr. J has the cure.
Let Jesus diagnose and prescribe to you the medicine of heaven.
Forgiveness....
Cleansing.....
Re-birthing.....

God on you....
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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Extra---Extra

Usually don't post on Sunday's, but felt the need to this morning.
Not that I have anything earth shattering or attention catching......
I felt the need to share about our service last night.

I love it when God shows up (a.k.a. Your suddenly aware of God's presence in the room).
Things happen.
Things change.
I had prepared the music for worship and felt pretty confident that they were the songs that God had given me, but I still like to hold things loosely in case God has a different agenda.

We were in the last part of the first song, things were winding down when my wife began to sing in the Spirit.
That may be a term that isn't familiar to a lot of you so let me explain. My wife is what I refer to as "a real worshiper." When worship begins, she just goes off and gets lost in the music. She doesn't concern herself with who is around or what are people thinking, it's just her and God as she pours out her heart to Him in gratitude. It isn't a loud, boisterous, look-at-me kind of attitude. It is a quiet almost whisper like voice as she sings. She sings what is on her heart and God seems to enjoy it. So last night, here we were finishing up the song, and my wife is lowly and quietly singing about the majesty and awesomeness of God. We, the worship team, pick up on what chord we need to play and we begin to back up Vicki as she sings. When this happens, the awareness of God really increases in the room. It probably goes on for 10 minutes and during this time, my thoughts are suddenly aware that we cannot do the next song I had picked out. It was not conducive to what God was doing in the room. So we shelved the song and moved on to another that I had asked Debbie to do before we started. The flow of the Spirit continued as we played and worshipped. Like I said earlier in this posting....I am perfectly fine with throwing away what I wanted to do in order that we might play and sing what was on God's heart.

Seth Barber spoke on having an "ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE." I hope to have his message posted next week so look for here at Greene Street Letters in the pod cast section of the blog.
Seth brought home the fact that gratitude opens the door for God to truly bless us and enable us to live this life He has brought to us.

It was a good evening capped off by sharing in Communion.
There was prayer for healing.......
Prayer for strength to not fall back into old ways and old habits.
Prayer for financial help in this time of a struggling economy.
Prayer for family and friends.

There were many hugs and handshakes...
You could hear, "Hey man, I love you." all over the room.
It was a night when our family gathered to honor and worship God.
It was a good night.

God on you.....
See you tomorrow....
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Catch Up



One of my hero's from childhood.......The Phantom. Cool outfit. Has a wolf for a pet. Rides a white horse (Of course) and live in the jungle.  If you followed the comic strip, at certain points during the story, the artist would insert the following........."For those who may have come in late..."
Then there would be recap to catch everyone up to speed on what was happening now.

God does this in the book of Deuteronomy. Moses is giving one final sermon/message to the people who are getting ready to enter the land that God had promised them. One final time of remembrance  for the people to not forget who had made this trip possible..God.

God came down into the middle of their messy, dark, lives of slavery and delivered them from the power and authority of the Egyptians. I mean God did a number on these guys. What's even better, God lured the Egyptians out into a trap. After Israel had departed on runway # 5 from Egypt, the Pharaoh suddenly came to his senses and said, "What have I done?" He called for his army to assemble and he went after the Israelites with a mad-on.

Meanwhile God had used Israel as bait for Pharaoh by the location He had them set up camp. The sea at their backs..and the oncoming Egyptian Army coming at them...no where to run, God had everything in place to work one more miracle. How did Israel respond? Not to good. Whining and crying and blaming Moses for everything. You know, if I'd been Moses, I would have been sorely tempted to just throw in the towel and head for home. I'm glad he didn't. God tells Moses,"Yo! Why are you still crying out to me? Get up and move forward." To which Moses probably thought to himself, "Forward? Excuse me there is one little problem and it's called 'AN OCEAN!!!!" You know what? Those little things don't stop God and with a blast from his nostrils, he sent an East wind that divided the ocean. Put that in your pipe Jacque Cousteau and smoke it! God rules! God is beyond comprehension! God is God!

Long story short.
Israel cut and ran into the divided waters.
Pharaoh saw this and took his army into high gear and made hot pursuit after the former slaves of Egypt.
Israel made it. Came out on the other side, high and dry without a scratch.
Egyptians?
Not so much.
As Larry Norman put it so aptly, "God closed up the waters and the Egyptians all took a bath.

Moses was instructed by God to tell the story once more for the people to hear.
I'm not Moses and I don't lead a group of former slaves, but God has had me remembering this week.
I have started transferring my messages and sermons from the early 90's to digital. Listening to my messages, I find myself remembering a lot of what God has done that I had forgotten. It is so cool to hear stories about things that have left my memory (That is a scary thought that the ol' noggin might have run out of storage room or, even worse, sprang a memory leak). I am grateful that I hung on to these messages and can go back remember from my past. It is an encouragement to hear stories about healing and salvation and times when God showed up in a meeting. It makes me have a greater appreciation of today and a realization that God isn't finished.

I guess I'm going through my own "Deuteronomy" moment.
God on you......
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Friday, August 26, 2011

Time Passages

Romans 5:8

Amplified Bible (AMP)
But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.

I never want to tire of seeing and understanding the nature of God. Each day is new. Each day I wake up I am jazzed about what God may show me today. Each day is an opportunity to know God better as He reveals Himself to me.
Sometimes it comes as I read my Bible. A verse just king of "boings" up off the page and catches my attention. Wow! I never read that before.....or.....That is what I needed for what I am struggling with. Sometimes it happens in conversation with someone else. They will say something that connects with your spirit...a knowing...an assurance that God has spoken to reveal Himself to you.

KJV  says that God "demonstrates" his love for us. That means that there is action to what God holds dear. He can't simply come up with good and holy ideas that then keep them to  Himself. He puts legs (or angels) to his plan and demonstrates before us His truth. Every day in the fallen world filled with blind and deaf people (Of which I use to be on) God is speaking and demonstrating and revealing and showing. It isn't a desperate measure on His part, NO! IT is a heart of love for his creation to see it redeemed from the mess that sin brought in.

S0, what did God show me today?
He showed me that He loves us so much, even when we are completely in rebellion that He will turn us loose to pursue the very thing that is not good for us. You may be saying, "Well,that doesn't sound like love to me." It not the kind of love that we see much in this world. Oh, it's out there but you have to ask God to give you vision so you can see it. God knows that sometimes the best thing for us is to let rebellion run its course so we can get skint up pretty good. God is always faithful and ready to heal us, love us and take us back when we cry out to Him. Not just for help but for HELP!!!! You know the prayer. I'm sure some of you have prayed it.....it goes like this. "Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God." God hears that prayer and He comes to take back and destroy the works of the devil in our lives. He replaces all the cruddy stuff with all the God stuff. You know, clean us up and fill us up with His Holy Spirit. Bam! Live is back on track.

I had to let someone go today. I knew that this was a decision they were going to make. Funny part is, they knew it was a bad choice and I knew it was a bad choice, but they chose anyway.  So I love them and let them go. I have prayed over this individual and know that he now resides in the hand of God. I pray that he will wake up and turn back from the direction he is headed in. I trust God to watch over and take care of this person and that there are things that God has planted in the heart of this person that will produce good fruit at some point in the future.

I don't have to have all the answers to life's mysteries.
I just have to know God.
Case closed. Oh yeah...one last thing. This "knowing of God' isn't an intellectual pursuit. It is a massive collision of God's Spirit with my messy, sinful life that produces a gigantic explosion. I have been changed. I know it because God told me so. That I'll take.

God on you....
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Place of Peace / Place of Rest


Psalm 91:1-2
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress. My God, in Him will I trust."

What an incredible picture these words from Psalm 91 paint.
In a day of turmoil and economic uncertainty, when the very fabric of our society seems strained and ready to be ripped apart, we have this statement. This declaration of the stability and unwavering truth of who God is and what He brings to our lives if we seek Him out.

One thing that can be said for a life of addiction, there isn't any peace found in the darkness. Even with the highest of highs, peace does not exist. I'm not talking about our surroundings or situations when I speak of peace. I'm talking about the peace that God gives within us. A peace that transcends all other emotions and brings a "centering" to our very being. A peace that is not shaken by what others say or do.

The very opening words of Psalm 91 reveal a great truth. It's not enough that I give a head nod to the things of God.....I must dwell with Him and He with  me. Dwell....to establish my residence there. My heart, my mind, my soul, my spirit, all focused and listening for God. Dwell....I am no longer a roamer or wanderer. I have a home within myself where the Spirit of God lives and instructs me. Sounds like something out of the Twilight Zone doesn't it? Well, it isn't fantasy.......it is reality.

These opening verses display a confidence in the Lord. That indeed His very presence in our lives is a safe place to live in. That he is a strength and protector to us as we walk daily in a world bent on self destruction. No longer do I have to fear what lies ahead in my day. The unknown has no power over me when I am walking with the Known. John 17:3 reads: And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. Did you catch that? Eternal life is given to us that we may know God, the Father and Jesus, the Son. Seems to me if I expend myself on knowing Him, then I won't have that much time to sit around and fret and worry and carry on like the world does.

Who is God to you today? This isn't a question that should bring guilt and shame for our lack of understanding who God is. It is an encouragement to let you know that there is more to God than we can comprehend, so why not begin today by asking Him, "Lord! Will you reveal yourself to me that I may know you better?" You might be surprised by what happens.

God on you.....
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Joy

Synonyms for JOY


1. rapture. 4. bliss. See pleasure.

Most definitions contain the idea of an emotion that places an individual in a stable, upbeat frame of mind.

I think when referring to "JOY" in Christ, it refers to a weighing out and taking stock of situations.
One looks at their current state, no matter how good or how bad and weighs what they see against the promises of God.

James 1:2-4 (The Message Bible) reads:
Consider it a sheer gift (this Joy of the Lord) when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is force into the open and shows its true colors.

I think maybe this should be the norm for believers. Truth be known, I 've got a lot of growing to do. Whenever things come my was that are trials or testings or persecutions, my first inclination is the circle the wagons and go under ground to survive. What if that isn't really survival in the Kingdom of God? What if survival with God is finding this joy and letting it permeate my every thought so that I can stand and face the storm? What if JOY is the root of strength? What if strength is a byproduct of God's Joy. How can I stand physically unless I am strengthened by faith internally?

I'm not talking about a goofy-giddy, lets party today for tomorrow we die, kind of joy. I am speaking of a joy that is almost beyond comprehension with our minds, but fully understood in our spirits. I read where God will guard our hearts and give us a peace that by passes understanding. Translated: God's peace will not be able to be comprehended by your brain or thought process, but rather by the assurance you feel deep inside. I believe it is the same with the Joy of the Lord.

John 15:11 - I've told you these things for a purpose; that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.
In other words, there is a growth process to joy. We need not settle for the kindergarten, child-like joy but rather strive for the mature joy in Christ. All along the way, enjoy every type of joy God brings to you.

Acts 13:52- And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Seems that these two seem to be traveling companions.....joy and the Holy Spirit. I think they are. I think where you find one, you find the other.
But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard ---things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart......
In other words:
The fruit of God's Spirit as it works inside of us is evident as a manifestation of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These will appear in our daily lives.
Joy is a fruit or evidence of the Holy Spirit in us at work.

Joy from God gives me a new perspective about myself and my surroundings.
This world is no longer my home. I have a home in heaven.
I live here.
I work here.
I am a part of this community, but only as far as it relates to me sharing the Kingdom of God with those around me.
I do not want to put down my roots so deep here, that I cannot pull free and move when God tells me to.
That I find the Joy of the Lord in everything I do.
In everything I say...
In every one I reach out to love.
May the joy be infectious.

God on you.....
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Action - Verb - Movement

12 STEPS.
Movement and a striving to move forward from one point to another.

Steps # 1 - 3 - Trust God
Steps# 4 - 11 - Clean house
Step # 12 - Give away.

Sounds like Christianity to me if you recognize Jesus Christ as your Higher Power.
Granted that the symptoms of addiction, the using and destruction following after, are the main focus of someone struggling to be free.
But the root of addiction.
The heart of addiction.
The source of all that is wrong, is our sinful nature that caused us to choose badly the first time we used.
We continued to pursue the desires of that sinful nature until the chemicals altered our brain chemistry. This alteration now has us in a place where mind and body work against each other. Mind says, "I can quit." The body says, "No you can't." Mind listens to the body and gives it what it craves. IT becomes a cycle of destruction that leads us into places we never dreamed.

As the old adage goes: Sin will take you farther than you want to go...........keep you longer than you want to stay............cost you more than you want to spend. In other words, sin becomes our master.
Romans 7 -  I'm full of myself--after all, I've spent a long time in sin's prison. What I don't understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can't be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God's command is necessary.

This is the mindset and behavior that plagues mankind, but praise God! All of that was broken at the cross.
Jesus defeated the power of sin...
Jesus crushed the penalty of sin...
Jesus stomped the presence of sin
and took it captive. Paraded it around for all to see.
Yet, the ultimate defeat is still out there in our future. The day the devil is uncovered, beaten and forced to admit that Jesus Christ is Lord! Praise God, I want to be there on that day and see this for myself.
So while I am here in this fallen world, I don't have to live the demands that come from society.

Step#1 - Give up
Step#2 - Recognize
Step#3 - accept the finished work of Christ. Repent (turn away from) your sins, confess your sins, receive the forgiveness of Christ and His Holy Spirit into your life/ heart.

It can't be that easy?
Yes, it is.

God on you....
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Start...The First...In The Beginning

Genesis 1:1
"In the beginning, God created......"

That word ..'created'.
In this case, the act or action of God used to bring about everything we see.....
and everything we don't see.
What an incredible power to be able to birth, bring forth, create into existence from nothing.
The order than came by God's thought and word.
The chaos that was tamed and brought under the authority of God.
Incredible.
Yet nothing has changed today.
The God that appeared in Genesis 1:1 is still the God that is in control today.

Here on planet Earth, me with all my seemingly over whelming problems and character defects, seems far removed from Genesis 1:1.
Genesis 1:1 is brought to us on such a grand scale and yet I'm so small and insignificant. God doesn't have time for me. What a lie we believe.
We are a part of "God created".
It is the love of God that brought all of this about in order for us to have a place to live.
It was the choice placed in man's heart, by God, that brought everything crashing down in the garden of Eden.
Yet with the sin and downfall that came, God chose not to destroy everything and start over. No! God chose to love his creation so much that he put in place a way for our broken relationship to be restored. That way came through his Son, Jesus.

We messed up.
God cleaned up.
We sin.
God forgives.
We turn our backs on God.
He remains faithful and true to His word. He does not hold grudges or resentment.
We seek spiritual darkness to hide in....
God continues to call out "Adam! Where are you?"
Not because He doesn't know our location. But to give us a chance to respond to his loving call.

God created.
The devil corrupts.
Addiction.
That came from the devil.
Crack, Meth, Weed, Whisky, all came from the devil.
Even that which God created for good, the devil has influenced and brought about bad.
Prescription meds? They serve a purpose for healing. The devil brings about destruction by enticement.
The funny part in all of this, is that God's ability to create far out weighs the devil ability to corrupt.
No matter what the devil may bring into your life, God still stands ready to utter those words once more..."Let there be....."
II Corinthians 5:17 -  Now we look inside and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah, Jesus Christ, gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone, an new life burgeons!

The devil wants you to believe the oldest lie in the world.
That God is powerless....
His word has failed and no longer is relevant.
We are a hopeless race with no one to rescue us from ourselves.
All lies.
Get into God's word today and see for yourself.
Don't just read it, but rather let it speak to you.
Listen to what it says.
Receive from God himself today!

God on you...
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Monday, August 22, 2011

Let it Go!

Matthew 19:22
That was the last thing the young man expected to hear, and so, crest fallen, he walked away. He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn't bear to let go.

There is always a pivotal moment in the recovery of an individual where decisions have to be made.
They are hard decisions.
Painful decisions.
But to embrace this new life of sobriety, they have to be made.

In addiction, an individual collects people, places and things that, to them, have brought comfort and escape.
They are so locked into the life of the addict that they cannot see that these are the very things that are aiding their addiction. When a person enters into recovery, for the most part, they simply want the pain to stop. They want relief from the stress and depression. So as they detox from their drugs and alcohol, they become clear headed and truly believe that they "can handle it from here." They don't realize that they actually haven't done anything to aid them in their recovery. They haven't addressed the issues that caused them to use. They haven't turned their life over to their Higher Power (in our case...the Higher Power is Jesus Christ). They simply have gotten some rest. Gained some weight, and are clear headed for the first time in a long time. What they are experiencing is a false sense of security.

The verse above comes from the rich, young ruler who comes to Jesus asking what must he do to have eternal life. Jesus responds and the young man replies, "Oh I've done all of those things." Jesus comes back to him with one last thing...."You lack one thing." In other words, Jesus saw the young man in a way that the young man was not aware of. He saw the flaw that would be his downfall. The young man harbored a love for his riches. He valued them more than he did possessing eternal life. Every person who is addicted reaches that place where they have to make a decision. The phrase we use is Recovery at all costs.That means that nothing, no one, or no place can come between an individual and their sobriety.

Every person who encounters conviction under the Holy Spirit reaches this place of decision.
To embrace this new life offered by Jesus, we must turn loose of the old one. We cannot meld the two lives together. We cannot have a kind of hodge-podge made up of the best of both life styles. Me personally, I have seen what the world has to offer and I want no part of it. By saying the world, I speak of the societal demands and values that are placed on individuals. They offer nothing but death and I desire no part of them.

Choose this day Jesus!
God on you....
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

4 - Give - Ness

Saturday...
I'm here in my so called "office" at home. It's more of a testimony to me being a pack rat. My wife refuses to come in here because it causes her such distress. Above me to my left on my computer table, a statuette of SUPERMAN guards everything that is right. Batman looks on to my right, ever vigilant and aware of the wrong that prowls the streets of Gotham City...er...at least the wrong that might come into this office.
Near the edge of the credenza sits a figure of the "praying hands". They were my Mom's (not literally her hands). She loved this figurine and it sat on our coffee table for years. Pictures and plagues and gifts from friends adorn the wall so of the office. There is a plaster cast Indian head made by my oldest son, Chad, when he attended YMCA summer camp. Regal looking fellow (The Indian, well...I guess you could put my son in that category. He is regal looking also) painted up and frozen in time as a scout. I love my office, but I do pity the one who has to clean it out after I'm gone. I'm sure there will be a whole lot of, "Now why did he keep this?"
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Ephesians 4:17-19 (Msg. Bible)
And so I insist----and God backs me up on this----that there be no going along with the crowd. The empty-headed, mindless crowd. They've refused for so long to deal with God, that they've lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can't think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession. Addicted to every sort of perversion.

Touchy subject. Slippery slope. Not really.
We are a sexually obsessed people.
That which was created by God (Yes, Virginia...God created sex) for pleasure and procreation, has been turned into a perverted, selfish act.
It is hard to teach what the Word of God says about sex and the boundaries God placed so humanity could receive God's blessings. Our world today has cast aside all restraints and run's head long toward hell with a "It feels good...just do it" mentality.
Every time I reach the part of our curriculum that deals with sex and relationships that are not healthy or holy, I am seen as a prudish, puritanical old coot.
The men really don't want to hear what God truly says about sex. Why? Because they have lived their lives using women to satisfy their base desires.

I'm not very passive when it comes to this subject or the attitude that some men bring to it. One man laughed when I was teaching this part of the curriculum. He said, "I am not going to buy a cow unless I get to sample the milk." Translated: "I'm not going to marry some woman unless she has sex with me first."  The next visitation he introduced me to his current live in girlfriend. I shook her hand and said, "You must be the cow your boy friend was referring to in class the other day." Needless to say, there was a lot of explaining to do on his part.

Pornography....
Adultery....
Fornication....
Bestiality....
Pedophilia.....
Transgendered.....
Gay and Lesbian.....
You know, we don't need to break it down into categories so that we can say one is worse than the other. I think the church has done a terrible job in this case. Sexual sin is sexual sin.
One person asked me that since they were caught up in a particular sexual sin, would they go to hell for living this way. I replied, "You go to hell because you reject God."
Some who call themselves believers like their sin rated and categorized so they can feel better about themselves.
"Well at least my sin isn't as bad as theirs."
Which is better?
To be killed by an explosion...?
Or to die because of cancer.....?
Either way you are dead. The vehicle that got you there really doesn't matter...you are dead.
It doesn't matter what sin or which sin...it's the fact you rejected God, harbored and lived by the sin nature.
In the end your final destiny was eternal separation from God and His blessings.

If you truly have a salvation experience.  Repentance...confession...receiving God's forgiveness....the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit in you..........then you will know what is right and what is wrong and the truth of God and the love of God will lead you to life.

Am I making a statement that I don't want people who struggle with sexual issues in my church?
Heavens' no! How else can they hear the Word of God?
Scripture says that "it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance."
Did you catch that?
KINDNESS!
I want the person who is struggling with sexual sin to come under the conviction of God's Holy Spirit.
I want that person to feel what real love is.
Not a love that is selfish and self seeking.
A love that destroys all the damage done by sexual sin and then rebuilds according to God's blueprints.
That's what I am talking about!

God on you....
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Friday, August 19, 2011

The Altar? Really? You're Serious God




Taken from the Message Bible:
Romans 12 1-2
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life -- Your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life---and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit in without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention of God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

The Message Bible isn't my favorite translation, but I just can't get away from the way this passage is worded. It truly is that STEP # 3 point where you are brought face to face with a choice that has to be made.

Many simply don't want to choose and think that by not doing so, they are off the hook for the time being. They don't understand that by not choosing to surrender life and turn the focus of my will over to Christ, is only going to keep me under the bondage of my addiction. We have a million reasons why we can't make the turn to Jesus, but they all crumble and are left in a heap at our feet in the glorious light of His truth.

This choice I make isn't a simply nod of my head as accepting God.
It isn't a mental ascent that I have to wrap my brain around.
It is a heart-invasion by God's Holy Spirit, illuminating all the darkness in me with the glorious light of God's mercy and grace.

Who would not want that? Who would not want to be free from the legacy and history of addiction in their life? Praise God that it is more than a thought or concept. More than an idea or formula. It is life itself poured out on those who accept Jesus and what He has done into their life. This acceptance means that I turn the reins over and allow Him to drive. I simply follow. I bask in His love and acceptance of me as this Jesus grows me and stretches me so that I can be the man He knew I could all along.

It's scary climbing up on that altar of surrender. You feel so vulnerable and open to the world. Truth be known, it is the safest place a person could be. It is a place of trust as we let go of the old ways to embrace this new life Jesus is offering to us.
Go for it !
God on you....
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Just One Touch

One Touch.
A point of contact.
One person touching another.
The slightest of touch.
Imagine being healed of whatever disease or affliction you carried around by just touching someone.
Imagine being set free from a life of illness and depression.
No longer would people have to take you places.
You could go on your own.
No longer would people have to be responsible for you.
You could live a full and productive life.
No longer would you be a burden on your family.
You could give back to them for all the years they had loved you and took care of you.

We see such an event in Mark 6:5: Wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged Him that they might just touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched Him were made well.

They didn't demand His attention. Just to be near enough to touch the hem of His garment.
They didn't seek to buy His power. Just to be near enough to touch the hem of His garment.
They didn't cry or make excuses for their lot in life. Just to be near enough to touch the hem of His garment.
They didn't rail and rant against life not being fair. Just to be near enough to touch the hem of His garment.

No these folks had long since passed all the anger and depression that came as a result of their condition.
There was no more anger.
Just acceptance of the way they were.
For someone in addiction, we call this False Belief #4. I am what I am and I cannot change. I am hopeless. Funny thing happens when someone reaches that place mentally, spiritually and physically. They are setting themselves up for God to come and gloriously place a healing on them. It begins with a very simple thought in the mind of the person who is addicted. It is called "hope". They have tried everything else and it hasn't worked. Sometimes they tell me, "Don't talk about God. I've tried church."  Church? I'm not talking about church. I'm talking about a full on, blessed encounter with God Himself.

As this person mulls this over in their mind, they begin to churn with a sense of desperation. At some point it manifest in a very simple thought. Either heal me or kill me....one or the other...I can't live like this any longer.   This is what happened last Saturday night at our meeting. An entire group got up from their seats, came forward and touched the hem of God's garment. Funny part was God came and touched them. I watched as grown men wept and shook and praised God for His presence and for what He was doing in their lives. It is an awesome thing to be in a room where Almighty God has come down to work among hearts who are hungry for Him. I've seen it happen so many times that I've lost count. But I never, never, never tire of seeing it again. That is why we do what we at Rapha. Lives changed.

God on you....
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Whoa! Nelly!

Isaiah 31:1
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses. Who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong. But who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, Nor seek the LORD!

Addiction is all about reliance. We found out that we could not rely on ourselves to solve problems or deal with situations. Rather than look to God for answers and help, we turned to alcohol and drugs. Funny part is that they didn't solve our problems, they helped us escape. We left reality and created a new false reality where the pain went away and the sense of pleasure was heightened. Over a period of time, the pleasure was replaced by guilt, shame and isolation. What once we had controled, not had control over us.

Egypt always represents the place of bondage and slavery in Scripture. Israel was there for 430 years serving the Pharaohs and living under the whip. It took the intervention of God Almighty to defeat the god's of Egypt and reveal Himself to be the only one who could deliver not just one person, but an entire nation. Deliver them out from under the government and control of demonic kingdom.

Notice the beginning of the verse above.
"Woe to those who go down".  Down. Looking for help outside of God will always lead you down. Down into darkness. Down into the pit. Down away from God. In the book of Jonah, we read where Jonah ran away from God and the call that had been placed on his life. Jonah went "down" to Tarshish. Paid fare for a boat trip and the Bible says that Jonah "went down into the boat".  Our sin nature, left unchecked will take us to depths we never realized we could sink to. We do things and act in such ways we never imagined we could. But you know what? The arm of the Lord is not so short that He cannot reach down and pull us up from the pit. The ear of the Lord is not so dull or hard of hearing that He cannot hear the faintest cry of our hearts. Sin takes you farther than you want to go. Keeps you longer than you want to stay, and costs you more than you want to spend. Sin takes you down.

We read in Isaiah 40:31: But those who wait (hope) on the LORD shall renew their strength. They shall mount "UP" (not down) with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.
I choose this day...this 24 hours that lay before to not look to "Egypt" for help.
I choose this day....this 24 hours that lay before me to look to God Almighty as my source of help.

God on you....
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thank You Jesus!

II Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

If you didn't know Jesus as Lord and Savior, and you looked around at the condition of good ol' planet Earth, you'd think that God didn't even exist.
Murder, rape, robbery, drugs and alcohol. Sexual immorality, child pornography, greed and all manner of sin on an unprecedented scale. Throw in church buildings scattered here and there through out the country and you might think that God has left the building. He hasn't.

God has not abdicated His place or His plan. He is ever mindful of those who are perishing and is constantly wooing and calling them to repentance. In fact, God is more evident today than at any point in history. How can I say that? Well, more people have been saved during this last century than at any other point in time.
No matter what you are struggling with, God's promises to you to deliver you and heal you are not slack or long time coming. God is an immediate God. That means He is here, now and ready to act when you cry out to Him.

In fact, through Christ we have been given everything we need to live godly lives. We become part of God's family and, as such, we are partakers of the divine nature of God. In other words, when we are saved, we are given His Holy Spirit to guide and instruct us. The most important part of this relationship we now are living is that we have been freed from the power of our old, corrupt, sinful nature. We are free! Not free to do what we want to, but rather free to do what we ought to.

No longer a slave to the crack pipe.
No longer in bondage to the needle.
No longer called slave by the pill or bottle.
We are changed into sons and daughters of the most high God.
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You know, one of the greatest pleasures I get is when someone comes into our program full of hate, and bitterness. Right up front, they let me know that they don't believe in God and they sure don't want to hear anything about God. I tell them that I am not here to shove anything down their throats or to brain wash them into little robots for Jesus. I am merely here to love them. They hear the words, but the don't really understand what it means.

Over the 7 weeks, we talk. I talk they listen, then talk and I listen. Very seldom do I mention Jesus, or the Bible or God. We simply talk. What does transpire behind the scenes is much prayer. Prayer that God would begin to break through the hardness and darkness so that this man can be awakened to the truth of God. Somewhere along the way, the lights do come on. They usually come to my office at night, knocking on the door, they enter. "Can we talk?" they ask.  The conversation that follows involves their history and how they had walked away from God and found themselves trapped in addiction. Slowly I began to share what is on God's heart. That God longs to have a renewed relationship with them. How much He loves them and how He has missed them.
This leads to prayer. Prayer leads to repentance. Repentance leads to salvation. All because of love. God's love.

I could write stories about lives changed from now till Christmas. The one common factor in all of this is the salvation that God brings to each individual. The loving, caring way God simply unwraps all the sin and destruction and replaces it with mercy and grace and love. Where once sat a man whose life was characterized by selfishness, broken relationships and destruction, now sits a new creation. One whose future is certain and in the hands of God.
I'm telling you, it doesn't get any better than this.

God on you.....
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Monday, August 15, 2011

What A Weekend

Mark 16:20
And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.

Saturday night's meeting was simply one for the books.
I guess the greatest validation by God of you doing the right thing is when He shows up in the midst of it.
That is truly what happened.
We had moved through the song list of worship music and was on the last one.
Debbie was singing "Amazing Grace: My Chains Are Gone" and you could tell that God was in that room.
I asked for anyone who simply wanted to be touched by God and receive from God to come forward and be prayed for.
A group of 15-20 men stepped out from their chairs and moved to the front.
I released my wife and others to begin ministering to the men. As they moved from man to man, praying over them, weeping broke out. I'm not talking about crying, I am using the "weeping" word. Shaking uncontrollably, tears streaming down their cheeks. What an incredible sight to watch as God moved through and on each man. Only God can break a man down and release him from the bondage that the devil has placed on him. Only God can cover a man with His love and shatter a heart that is dead and cold.

Two of the men were saved. Now if that don't set you on fire, then your wood's wet.
I had no control over any of it. I just stood back and watched God work. That is payday for me. To be able to talk with a man after the service and he can't stop going on and on about the presence of God and how he'd never felt anything like that before. We do tell them enjoy the feeling, but realize that it is something much deeper that took place. The feeling will dissipate but the faith will remain. Begin to walk and breath and eat by faith rather than the feelings. Enjoy the feelings when they come but don' live by them.

Saturday night was an affirmation of why we do what we do.
The worship music may seem a little strange to some.
The flow of the meeting may seem loose and unorganized.
The message concerning the 12 Steps may seem to be off kilter.
But never doubt that God doesn't care about those who walk into that room.
13 years ago God began to stir me to have a meeting that was focused on Him and His ability to break the bondage of addiction.
We have done this, first at Gadsden Vineyard Church, and now out at Rapha.
During that time we have seen incredible moves of God as He backs up His word with power.
Lives changed.
More Lord!

God on you....
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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ease Into The Day

Saturday.......wow! I'm off.
I haven't been off on Saturday in 14 years.
I will still go out to Rapha tonight for our service, but I'm off.
I was able to, what Vicki and I refer to "ease into the day."
That means we wake up at the usual time (some where between 5:15 and 5:30) but don't feel obligated to get up. We just kine of lay there and talk and doze...you know....ease into the day. To be able to do this today was a real present.
Thank you Lord!
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Jeremiah 7:8
Behold, you are trusting in deceptive words to no avail.

I have really started being careful about what I say and what I believe from others around me.
Doesn't mean I don't trust those around me, I do.
It means when someone comes to me and makes statements concerning God or church or religion, I go straight to the book.
I know that I have an advantage over some since I am a pastor and part of what I do is study Scripture.
Never the less, I have to weigh out these things against the Bible. What does God say? Not what do I think. Or what is my opinion.
I work with some really great guys and part of the enjoyment of what I do is our interaction. We are constantly visiting and talking with each other about things that are going on in the camp (Rapha) or in our own lives. We seek each other's council and wisdom but, in the end, we take it to God to get the final verdict, so to speak.

Deceptive words that cry out to be trusted will lead us down a path that we really don't want to go down.
In the passage in Jeremiah, He (Jeremiah) is warning the people that what they say and the evidence of their behavior does not match. They are living a life that is contrary to what they proclaim to believe. I guess the biggest deception comes when we hear the enemy whisper to us, "It's o.k....go ahead and do (insert what ever it is you are going to do)....God really doesn't care about that. After all, you're a good person. You go to church. You sing in the choir, you give regularly....see you are a Christian." Problem is we don't get to balance out wrong with right. Justify our misdeeds and sin with our religious mindset. To me that is the most deceptive act a person could possibly do. Justify their misdeeds by saying, "God must not really be mad at me, look at all the positive stuff that is happening in my life. I share my faith and people are saved. How could they be saved if I was really, really sinning." Don't laugh, I have lived that lie before. Do you not know that the "Word of God doesn't return void?" Do you know what that means? It means that if the worst sinner in the world stands to preach or share something, God will use that message to convict and save people. God isn't excusing the one who delivered the message, but He will not empty the message of Power to save. So if you are the one who is delivering the message, and you are in sin, you cannot justify your sin by the simple fact of saying, "Wow, God is using me. He must not be too upset with me and what I have done."
Be careful.
Be quick to confess.
Quicker to repent.
Don't trust in deceptive words, even when they are coming from your own mind.
Search out the Scripture for truth in all your endeavors.

God on you....
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Friday, August 12, 2011

NEW MESSAGE IN PODCAST SECTION

I have posted new message from Seth Barber...somehow it was posted below Shane Elmores testimony. Look for "THE KEY TO LIFE".
Thanks for stopping by the Greene Street Letters

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Never Will Happen!!!

Lamentations 4:12
The kings of the earth did not believe, nor did any of the inhabitants of the world, that the adversary and the enemy could enter the gates of Jerusalem.

Lamentations is a book of wailings that were read annually by the Jews as a reminder of the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple. They were a reminder of an avoidable tragedy caused by sin. A reminder of a God who judges but who keeps His covenant forever.

The Jews believed that since the temple of God was in Jerusalem, then nothing would ever happen to them. Rather than a place where the people would go to honor and worship God, the temple became more of a good luck charm that would ward away the enemy. How wrong. Maybe that is why Jesus spoke the words of Isaiah to the Pharisees in Matthew chapter 15-- This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. The Jews had it all down pat. They could say the prayers, sing the songs, look the part and even cry on cue, but the heart was far away dreaming of other lovers and things that had taken the rightful place God should occupy. If you went to the temple, you'd be hard pressed to point out who was living blameless before God and who was simply doing the "religious" thing. But God knew. God always knows. He looks at the heart. He discerns the intent and motive behind what we are doing ( See I Samuel 16:7).   That is why we must humble ourselves before God. Humble: To agree with God who God says we are--The ability to follow instructions. The recognition that we are the creation and He is the creator. That everything we are, everything we have, everything we do is simply because God allows us to. I draw my next breath because God, who loves me, says I can. My heart beats one more time because God has decreed that it should. Now if God can do all of this, would it not benefit me to recognize Him for who He truly is? To acknowledge His will and submit to it?

Father God....
Thank you for today. May I never fall into a religious behavior that tries to hide any sin from you. May I live under the guidance of Your Holy Spirit who leads me into all truth. May I submit to your truth and live in freedom today.
In Jesus Name....
Amen.

God on you...
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Strong Man

Luke 11:21-22
When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own homestead, his possessions are undisturbed. But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied, and distributes his plunder.

What an incredible picture of addiction.
Truth be known, addiction is the byproduct of a life lived under the influence.
The influence of sin.
Alcohol and drugs are the symptoms that follow this lifestyle.
Of course the symptoms are different for each person.

It could be pornography.
Illilict sexual encounters.
Greed, lust, and the list goes on and on and on.
Bottom line is that when we are living this life that manifests itself through our sinful deeds, we are under the control of a strong man, the devil. He rules the house (our body) and does everything he can to keep his position. It is only when a stronger man, Jesus, comes along that the devil is unseated through our repentance and salvation. Suddenly, the strong man has not only lost his home, but everything involved with it. Not that home, once harboring the enemy, now becomes a temple that houses God's Holy Spirit.

I like what it says in verse 22: He (Jesus) takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied.
Armor is a defensive weapon. It is meant to protect and keep from harm, but now Jesus has taken that away.That tells me that Jesus makes the devil very vulnerable and open to attacks. Now, I don't think I need to run and look for battles to engage in, but I do need to be aware that when the devil comes to me to accuse me and bring warfare against me..............he doesn't have any armor. That means that when I stand my ground in the strength of the Lord and the fullness of God's Holy Spirit, when I quote the truth of God to the devil, he hasn't any armor to protect him from the real truth. What a concept! The devil has no armor. Now that is cool beans X 10.

I think I might pursue this idea of "Hell's Armor" in my next posting.
Excuse me while I study some more on this.

God on you....
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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Preference:

pref·er·ence/ˈpref(ə)rəns/Noun

1. A greater liking for one alternative over another or others.

We all have preferences.
We all have things that we favor over and above other choices.

We like different kinds of Ice Cream. My wife loves Drumsticks Ice Cream. It is vanilla ice cream in a waffle cone. The ice cream is covered in chocolate and has peanuts sprinkled on top. Me? I'm a straight chocolate kind of guy. We each have a preference.

Sometimes preference in what we like can take a nasty turn. Sometimes we take preference and turn it into doctrine or dogma. I guess what I am trying to say is that what we prefer in the way of styles or types of churches is elevated to the point that we lash out at others who do not hold our view.
I ran into this a lot when we first started our recovery meeting at Gadsden Vineyard. I was called names by people who had preferences that were different than mine. I had people get up and walk out during a meeting, only later to inform me that I was doing the devils business.

I wanted to lash out and defend myself, but God told me to simply love them. Every time I encountered someone who differed from me, I made the effort to let them know that we did not consider ourselves as being better because we did church in a different manner. I wanted them to know that different didn't mean better.......it just mean different. But I had to be true to what God has called me to do.

Since the style or model of the Church @ Rapha is born from a heart of wanting to serve God. I am fully aware that there are many who do not like what we do on Saturday nights. I'm o.k. with that. I know that we all gravitate to where God leads us. One of the greatest works God has done in me is that He has given me the ability to love the many "Flavors" of church and to recognize and see His hand at work.

There are churches where the pastor wears a suit and tie. There are churches where the pastor wears jeans and t-shirts. There are churches where the pastor wears a robe and collar. What do they have in common? God is there.  I have learned to be very carefull about comments I make and judgements I bring on others who don't do church or meetings the way I think they should.

I think the one thing that breaks my heart as I travel around the internet, is the nastiness and hatred found among believers. Lashing out and bringing not loving judement but fleshly judgement against others who are simply trying to hear and follow God. Now before you think I am soft and want to excuse all behavior of the shepherds of God's people......I do not. But know matter what, everything we say and do should be covered in great humility on our part, and do so from a heart of love.

I have found websites devoted to "uncovering false teachers."
The list they created of these so call false teachers, contain the names of men that I have studied under and listened to for a number of years. There seems to be a pride when someone becomes a purveyor of what is truth and what isn't. I do not desire such a post nor do I seek it. I have stood and taught crowds before and in the stumbling and fumbling of what we call "preaching" I have floundered a great deal. I'm sure that someone could take my messages and rip them to shreds, calling me legalistic and a pharisee or worse....."You have a religious Spirit." That is a code word for "You full of hell and there is no truth in you." People are being branded with this name on an ever increasing way.

You know....I would hope that if such a thing happened to me, the one who labeled me with such a name, would love me enough to come to me and pray with me and restore me. I fear that I don't see much of this happening in the body of Christ. It's so much easier to lash out toward anyone who disagrees with our theology.

Romans 5:8 reads: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
How much more anti-God could you be than being sinner. Yet God did not lash out with names or accusations. He demonstrated right in front of us how to deal with this problem. Jesus Christ died for us. He opened a way that removed sin and brought cleansing and healing for every sinner who would come to Him.

When I encounter those who label and divide in the body of Christ, do I return the same behavior back to them, or do I demonstrate the love of God by going to them to have dialog? I want my every action, my every thought, my every word to be Christ-like. Before you think I have gone all mushy here and we are going to lock arms and sing "We Are The World," let it be known that Jesus could be harsh when the Father told him to be. I mean he called the religious rulers names...."You brood of vipers. You white washed tombs." But Jesus only did so under the guidance and release by His heavenly Father. I don't know if I could prove this or not, but I think most of the name calling and accusations that fly back and forth do so from the flesh and not from heaven.  What do you think?

All I know is that I want to love Jesus.
I want to love people who love Jesus.
I want to love people who don't love Jesus.
A wise man once told me that...(Thanks Kris)
I want to see God at work in every flavor of church there is.
Bliss Church....I bless and pray that God would grow and strengthen you.
Traditional Church....I bless and praise God for the heritage and tradition that has come through you.
High Church.....I bless you for the rituals and readings that point to Jesus.
Store Front Church....I bless you for the fire that burns in your heart to see something birthed into new life.
Recovery Church....I bless you for the ones that are being rescued from the kingdom of darkness.
Is God good or what?

God on you....
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Step # 3

Step # 3
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

We make thousands of decisions every day. Some momentous and others have no consequences at all. We make decisions without any concern for the outcome or how they will affect our lives. We make decisions based on emotion and feeling rather than weighing out the best possible one to make. We are compulsive in our decision making and it costs us sometimes. Compulsion, impatient, anxious, all of these lead to influencing us in making bad decisions.

The prophet Habakkuk writes about reaping the fruit of bad decisions. The nation of Judah was running rampant in sin and evil deeds. He was concerned and prayed to God for an answer. God told him that He was going to use a neighboring country, Babylon, to punish Judah. In other words, Judah was going to receive or reap from the crop of sin and destruction they had sown.

In addiction, we find ourselves in places like Judah did at times. Sitting in jail, awaiting trial, crying out to God for help. The cry we offer really isn't a cry for change in our life. It is more a cry to escape all the bad things we have done. It isn't until I have truly came to the sober knowledge that I am powerless over myself, my drugs and my ability to make sound decisions, that I can find a Power greater than myself who can restore me to sanity. That Power being the Lord Jesus Christ.

Even after working Step #3 by making the decision to turn will and life over to the care of God as you understand Him, there will be times when you simply have to throw yourself upon God and trust Him. These are the times when you will feel His presence bringing comfort and peace as you refuse to turn back to your old ways.

Habakkuk 3:2
I have heard all about you, LORD, and I am filled with awe by the amazing things you have done. In this time of our deep need, begin again to help us, as you did in years gone by. Show us your power to save us, and in your anger, remember your mercy.

All of this I write about God goes much deeper than achieving "sobriety." It goes to the very heart and core of life. Life here and now, but preparation for life eternal. It's about losing the value and moral system of life here in this society and world and adopting a new way of living that reflects the divine and eternal kingdom of God. 

To some who may read this, it will appear as foolishness. I pray that you will ask God to give you vision to see the truth. You do not have to live in addiction. You do not have to live in sin. You do not have to be a puppet of the devil, feeding every desire that emanates from within, leaving you broken and empty. You can have a fullness from God that will invade your very life and change the way you see, speak, hear and approach your daily activities. Some call this being saved or born again. Call it what you will, it truly is the best.

God on you....
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Monday, August 8, 2011

My Soul

My soul.
The central part of me that contains my will, my emotion, my intuition, my conscience, etc.....
Defined by God as the part that also contains my willful disobedience.
The sin nature.
I'm not smart enough to figure all this out. I'm sure there is someone out there who will read this and say, "Bless his little heart..he is so misguided."
Am I?
I don't believe so.
I know that there is such a thing as sin nature or, as apostle Paul called it, "The Flesh."
It is the bent in me to do the wrong thing.
The thing that leads me to be rebellious against God. To want to be independent from God doing what I want to do.
Romans 7: 14-17
For we know that the Law is spiritual. But I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 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. But if I do the very thing I do not wish to do, I agree with the law, confessing that it is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwells me.

I don't know all the theological terms for this nature, but I do  know this.
If I look at my life, I see a lot of wrong and damage that I have done by the choices I have made. This has nothing to do with my intellect or education. It has everything to do with me being a slave to sin. See the sad part in all of this, I thought I was in control I thought I was the one running the show. I thought I was the one in control. Turns out I was wrong, I was a slave to sin, sold into bondage. Without Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I will continue to make choices that are contrary to the will of God. I have to bring my soulish nature under this Lordship I desire Jesus to have in my life.

In Luke 1:46, we read where Mary, the mother of Jesus, has been told about God's plan to birth Messiah through her. Mary has gone to visit her relative, Elizabeth, who also has been visited by God and now carries a baby, John the baptizer, who will be the one who proclaims the Kingdom of God is at hand. In verse 46, Mary says, "My soul exalts the Lord." My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My soul magnifies the Lord. In other words, Mary realizes the power and ability of God to bring the sin nature under His authority and power.

With the birth of Jesus, the old way of doing things was numbered. Redemption was here Salvation was coming to a hill called Calvary and, like an atom bomb, His death and resurrection would explode and destroy the penalty of sin, the power of sin and the presence of sin. It would create a ripple that would span down through the ages, all the while never losing power or ability. The salvation that is offered today is the same as the day Jesus declared "It is finished!"

"My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regard for the humble state of His bondslave."

God on you....
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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sa.Sa.Sa..Saturday Night....

Thought I might inject a little Bay City Rollers in title of the posting today. Sorry about  that.
Here we are in the middle of an Alabama Summer.
Hot, humid...sticky....sweltering....Typical Summer.
Today is visitation at Rapha. We have so many new guys here now that it should make for an interesting visitation. I always enjoy this day as families come to see their husbands/ fathers/sons/brothers (in other words fill in the blank). Should be a good day.
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Acts 1:4 -  ........"But wait for the promise of the Father which you have heard from me."

Such a small word.
Four letters.
But the thought and meaning of this word drives us crazy sometimes.
We fight against it.
We verbally say, "I'm not good at this."
What word?
WAIT.
The simple act of not pushing ahead with our agenda.
The process of remaining still until we receive whatever it is we are waiting on.

Isaiah 40:31 reminds us that Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.
According to this, there must be benefits from waiting, the most obvious is a renewing of strength.
If I am waiting, then I am not exerting myself uselessly.
If I am waiting, then I am at rest.
If I am waiting, then I am in a place of trust. A place where I am believing that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do.
Rest!Wait!
Waiting for the promise of the Father. Doesn't that sound incredible? God has promised to send something and all they had to do was wait for it. I'm sure the group in Acts 1 were like little children on Christmas eve.
"What do you think it is?"
"How will we know when it arrives?" (Unaware that it wasn't an "IT" but rather "HIM" as in the Holy Spirit)
I know this.
Because this group waited, they were never the same.
On the day of the promise, everything changed.  Not a little but topsy-turvy, world upside down kind of change.
Waiting on God will do that sometimes.
I'm waiting on Him right now.
I'm waiting on Him to turn to His Son and say,"Go get your bride."
Jesus, come quickly!

God on you....
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Friday, August 5, 2011

Oswald Chambers "My Utmost For His Highest"

Today's reading in Oswald Chambers devotion caused me to see God in a new way. I guess more than that, I saw myself in a new way that has caused me to rethink some old suppositions I have held on to.

Chambers writes about the disciples listening to Jesus describe what must happen to him when they arrive in Jerusalem.
Luke 18:34
And they understood none of these things, and this saying was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said.

Seems to me that I have allowed myself to build upon my relationship with Jesus with my own understanding and the prideful thought that I am smart and can discern the great mysteries of God. How foolish I am to think that in my own human effort, I can dissect the intents and wisdom of God. God has no need to divulge the secrets of the Kingdom to me. His is to simply say, "Follow me." My part is simply to follow resting in the knowledge that God is in control.

Chambers writes:
There comes the baffling call of God in our lives also. The call of God can never be stated explicitly. It is implicit. The call of God is like the call of the sea, no one hears it but the one who has the nature of the sea in him. It cannot be stated definitely what the call of God is to, because His call is to be in comradeship with Himself for His own purposes, and the test is to believe that God knows what He is after. The things that happen do not happen by chance, they happen entirely in the decree of God. God is working out his purposes.

This is why Jesus' call to "FOLLOW ME" is so strange to us. My lack of trust in Jesus propels me to ask Him, "Where are we going? What will we do when we get there? How long will be gone." If truth be known, my questions reveal the selfishness that burns in my heart. In my own little dark world, it is still all about me. "I'll follow Jesus but you have to fill me in on all the particulars."
Jesus' call is very simple.
Leave everything and follow.

Jesus led his disciples to a place where their hearts were broken.

Chambers goes on to write.
Jesus Christ's life was an absolute failure from every standpoint but God's. But what seemed like failure from man's standpoint was a tremendous triumph from God's because God's purpose is never man's purpose.

If we are in communion with God and recognize that He is taking us into His purposes, we shall no longer try to find out what His purposes are.
We will simply trust and obey. There is rest and peace in ceasing from our striving as we walk with Jesus. There is a calmness that will be given to us as we simply assume the pace and receive the grace of our Lord.
Find that place today.....
And live.

God on you....
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Main Thing Is The Main Thing

Seems like everyone is looking for the next big thing. The next generation of smart phones. The next luxury car. The next new restaurant to eat at. The latest fashion. We become caught up in the chase as we discard what was to embrace what will be. Sometimes I think we discard what is perceived to be the "Old Religious" things of God, so we can embrace the new improved things of God.

I was listening to a message the other day on line from a pastor I really like and respect. As they were sharing they came to the story of Jonah, they began to share it like it was a nursery story. As though the people in the congregation had not heard it before. As the pastor continued in the story the reference was made to how people really don't read the Bible any more.  How can I know the promises of God if I don't read His word? How can I follow God if I don't know His word? God's Holy Spirit that resides in me tell me when and where to do God's desires. The Word of God tells me how.

I am inclined to believe that there is a benefit that many do not see or are not aware of when reading the Scriptures.
Psalm 107:20 -  He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.
He --- God
Sent-- gave direction and purpose to
His---denotes ownership and a willingness to share with others
Word -  the communication that allows us to understand and be aware of God's intentions
And healed--  To make well. To strengthen. To bring from a place of darkness into a place of light.
Them- mankind. Not based on race, sex, socio-economic background. Based on who receives the word and embraces the finished work of Jesus. In other words, salvation.
And delivered -  To move from one situation that does not present favor or good standing. A place of danger or pain or slavery. To move into a new and better place spiritually, physically and emotionally.
Them - Once again mankind who embraces and receives this invitation from Jesus.
From their destruction - The end result of living a life of sin. All sickness is a by product of sin in this world. God never created cancer or aids or herpes..they are the mutant result of sin and lifestyles lived outside of God's will. But praise God...he didn't create disease and sickness but He does have the power and authority to remove it.

Scripture says to let the word of God dwell in you richly. If you don't have a hunger or desire to read the Bible, ask God to give you one. Then start slowly. It isn't the amount your read as much as it what you understand. You may be surprised as to what happens.

God on you....
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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You Must Be Born Again



Why do I write day after day here in this blog? It's not for recognition, for I know that you will not remember me. It's not for personal satisfaction, even though I am touched when someone leaves a comment. I do it because God has called me to.

If you don't remember anything else from reading the postings....know that God loves you and desires to reach out to you and have this relationship. A relationship that has been separated by our sin and rebellion against God. Oh, let's be real here............the focus is on those who are trapped in addiction, but the power of addiction is found in the power of sin. Yes! There are some chemical changes that take place in a user's brain and there is physical damage done to the body through the use of drugs and/or alcohol.........but you know what? My God is in the healing business.

I guess one of the things I don't see in the lives of people we are trying to help is desperation. A desperation to be healed at any cost. A desperation that screams out..."No more! I cannot go on living like this!! I have to have Jesus or I die. Part of my prayer every time I speak is that God would break through the hardness and apathy that seems to surround so many who are addicted.

The thought of recovery is very simple.
I don't have a drug and alcohol problem. I have a living problem. I have a broken relationship with Jesus.
Recovery is about walking humbly, righteously and mercifully with God while accepting and doing His will. In our old lifestyle, we have opposed God's will by hurting ourselves, our bodies, and our loved ones.

Micah 6:8 - He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to lover mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

In other words, we look to God for direction in what to do in our life. We no longer demand to be in control, to have the reins in our hands so we can guide the situations and circumstances that pull our life along. I give up!

I give up and find true freedom. Why would I want to keep on living in the old, destructive lifestyle? I see so many who just want some relief from the pressure and stress that they have brought on themselves by their bad choices. I don't want to change, I just want to be left alone. My friend, if that is the mindset you possess, God will let you along and he will leave you to your desires and wants. Unchecked and without God's help, you will rush head long to your destruction with no one to blame. You can't blame God, for it is you who demanded to be left alone. You can't blame others, because in your mind, you weren't hurting anyone. No, enraged and driven by your own appetite for sin, you chose to shake off the love of God to feed that dark appetite that can never be satisfied.

Oh that you would wake up from your darkness and understand what an incredible offer that God has extended to you. Through the shed blood of Jesus, the power of sin has been broken in your life. Through the shed blood of Jesus, the penalty of sin has been removed from your life, and through the blood of Jesus the presence of sin is no longer the slave driver that demands your obedience.

The work of Jesus is a finished work.
There is nothing left to do but for me to repent.
Nothing left to do but for me to confess and turn from my sin.
Nothing left to do but cry and receive the forgiveness of Christ.
Nothing left to do but allow God's Holy Spirit to come and fill me completely.
Then...................................
Live this new life daily, falling more and more in love with Jesus.

Fall in love with others who love Jesus....
Fall in love with those who don't know Jesus....

God on you....
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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I have just down loaded Shane Elmore's Testimony from our Saturday night meeting. You will not want to miss listening to this. It truly is evidence of what God can do in the life of someone that many had given up on....
Check out the message in the pod cast section of Greene Street Letters....
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Hope

Romans 4:18
In hope against hope he believed, in order that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, "So shall your descendants be."

Abraham....
Old and growing older by the minute.
God has promised him a son to fulfill the promise He made.
The clock is ticking.
Every morning, when Abraham got up, he felt the years in his body. With every ache and groan...with every sore muscle and physical problem, Abraham was made painfully aware that time was moving on and there was no "Son of promise."
Every time Abraham looked at Sarah, he saw a woman who was beyond child bearing years. Yet, in all of this physical evidence that piled up against a promise that had been made by God, Abraham never waved in his faith in God.

That is where I want to be in my relationship with Jesus.
I want to, as the verse puts it, "Hope against hope."
There is a hope that the world confers on humanity.
An empty hope.
A pie-in-the-sky kind of hope that has no basis for reality. We hope simply because that is the thing to do.
Kind of like when I hoped I would pass my Algebra II test, knowing full well I had not done anything to make it a reality. But boy did I hope! My hope was founded on nothing and, as such, that is what I received...a boatload of nothing.

There is a hope born in the heart of God that is passed down to those who are followers of Jesus. It is a hope that is deterred or defined by this world. IT is divine hope. IT is heavenly hope. IT is real hope. Hope that looks at two people whose bodies are incapable of having a son, then proclaims, "YES! There will be a soon. Hope that defies the impossible and scoffs at those who make fun of it. Hope that builds an ark before the flood. Hope that shuts the mouths of lions. Hope that raises people from the dead and gives sight to the blind. Hope that transfers people from the clutches of hell into the glorious living of the Kingdom of God.
That is HOPE!

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frain but wholly lean on Jesus name
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

God on you...
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Monday, August 1, 2011

We Are Laster Than We've Ever Been

The title of the posting today comes from a statement made by John Wimber. When asked if he thought we were living in the last days, he replied that he did believe we were in such a time. When pressed about the return of Jesus, John replied, "I don't know about that...I just know that we are laster than we've ever been."

I Timothy 4:1
Now the Holy Spirit tells us that in the last times some will turn away from what we believe. They will follow lying spirits and teachings that come from demons.

I really never thought I'd see the day when the teachings of the church was become so distant from the Word of God. Now before you think I'm crawling up on a soapbox or a high horse, believe me when I say that I'm not trying to be the spokesperson for the Church. I simply want to point out one of the oldest lies ever perpetrated on the human race.

If you turn on your television....
If you go to any Christian Bookstore....
You will find the following in some shape, form or fashion.

Unlock The Door To Your Destiny.....
10 Steps To Your Hidden Blessing.....
Find Your Hidden Blessing To A Better Life....
The Mysteries of God Revealed......

The idea behind such books and DVD's is that you, as the average Christian, are missing out on something that God has kept hidden from you.
Now call me strange, but that sounds a lot like what the serpent told the woman back in the garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:5 - God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat it. You will become just like God, knowing everything both good and evil."
Do you see the subtle way the serpent infers that God has been holding out on the woman?
"God doesn't want you to eat the fruit because when you do, you'll be just like Him."
Of course the rest is history.
She ate.
He ate.
God came down.
"Everyone out of the pool."
Here I sit today in a fallen world.
But mankind still suffers from wanting to be like God.
I call it the Jesus "+" system.
Knowing Jesus Christ and acknowledging Him as my Lord and Savior isn't enough. There has to be something else that will get me closer to God. I don't want to be an average-everyday-run-of-the-mill believer. I want to be SUPER Christian. I don't want to do anything to get there...just show me the short cut.
I don't believe there are such things as Super Christians. People with inside knowledge on the workings of God.

You are either a believer or your are not.
If you are a believer then certain behaviors and attitudes should be evident because of it.
Paul kind of hints at what it takes to follow Jesus.
He writes in Verse 10 - 
We work hard and suffer much in order that people will believe the truth, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and particularly of those who believe.

Did I read that right?
"We work hard."
"We suffer much."
Wow! How do you think that would look on a book cover in the local Christian Bookstore?
Imagine walking through the front door and there on a display you see....
"Key's to successful living in Jesus: Work hard--Suffer much".
Think there would be a run on that best seller?

How about simply love the Lord You God with all your heart, with all your strength, with all your mind, with all that is within you."
Then, love those around you.....but do so as you love yourself.
Simple isn't it?
Don't be lead astray by promises of something beyond what the Scriptures say.
The devil simply wants to deter you into looking for the easier, softer way to Jesus.
The way to Jesus is found at the cross...no where else.

God on you.....
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Tuesday Bible Study

Psalm 119:130 The entrance (or unfolding) of Your words gives light. it gives understanding to the simple. Pulled up at the camp last ...