Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Musings

Lot of pain out there.
Many calls over this past weekend from people who were struggling.
Thoughts of using again.....
Thoughts of giving up.....
Thoughts of "it's just too hard to go on."
Yet even though these thoughts were present and even powerful in the minds of those who called, behind it was the voice of God telling them, "Don't give in...Don't give up.....persevere."

Jesus spoke in John 8:31-32 saying, "If you continue in my word (following and doing what I have commanded) then you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
If I focus myself in the Word of God (not a very popular thing to do) and do what He said do, then I truly am a follower of Jesus. By living this way, a byproduct is that I will know the truth. Not a head knowledge knowing, but rather a heart knowing and it is this truth that will make me free.

There are a lot of books out there competing for the place that the Bible should hold in our lives. Books that seem to be current and culturally acceptable. Slick covers with nice illustrations promise to propel us to the next level as we seek a better life. Truth is the Bible is the only "living" book in existence. It is living because when it is coupled with the Holy Spirit of God, it does speak in such a way that we are changed.

No matter what happens to me....
No matter what thought seeks to invade my brain and my mind....
I turn to the Word of God to find answers and solace whenever I am attacked.
In verse 12 of this same chapter in John, we read I am the light of the world. He that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. Jesus, no matter what you think or believe, is the source of illumination and truth in this world. That hasn't changed nor will it ever. You are either walking (following directions and guidance) by the truth of God, or you are walking by the lies of the devil.
Yes, Virginia...there is a devil. Oh he doesn't wear red long-johns and have a pointy tail, carrying a pitch fork. But he is real.

Know that hard things happen to us all in this life.
Know that there will be times you will want to give up because life is just too hard.
But know that Jesus will strengthen you and carry you through these moments when we seem over whelmed.
He is a good God!

God on you...
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

I'm Late...I'm late...I'm late

I didn't oversleep this morning. Just had some appointments I needed to keep before I could actually get started on my day.
Breakfast with a good friend. Much coffee and much catching up. Our lives have taken different turns and yet God still has his hand on both of us as we told of our struggles and victories in the midst of life.
Isn't that what life is really about?
Sharing and praying with each other. Good friends. Good brothers and sisters in Christ.
I was given a most incredible worship CD by my friend. Never Looking Back by John Barnett. Each song is a gem of not only good music but incredible lyrics that are simple yet have not lost the heart of worship. It is playing even now as I type this.

I find that in my life at this point, nothing is more important to me than family and friends. Of course I write of such things as they are found in the Kingdom of God. I have been blessed to be surrounded by godly friends and family. We share with each other our need for prayers to offered up on our behalf. We are very much in touch with our humanity in the light of God's Holy Spirit. By that, I mean we are who we are. Some days we are messes, but we are God's messes. Some days we seem to be able to storm the gates of hell with water guns, only because of God's Spirit that lives in us. Through it all, we move daily toward a reuniting with Jesus. What a glorious day that will be.

Tonight I'll be teaching from James 1:5-8 at our Saturday service at Rapha.
If you need wisdom---if you want to know what God wants you to do---ask Him, and He will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. But when you ask Him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. They can't make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do.

No matter whether you are in recovery or not, in our daily lives of being a follower of Jesus, we should strive for consistency. The ability to deal with life using the directions of God and not turning away and running from it. Every day and in every way, I am a reflection of God for others to see. I am that reflection in the way I conduct myself in the situations and circumstances I find myself in.  Truth be known, how I respond to adversity reveals great insight into what I truly believe. That is why I have to follow Jesus. Not in a spiritual, ethereal, mystical way. But in the nuts and bolts decisions I have to make each day. The simplicity of the Gospel played out in the arena of human existence.

Matthew 5:3 reads --- You are blessed when you are at the end of your rope. With less of you, there is more of God and his rule.
Here in is the lesson.
When Jesus said, "Follow me."..........He meant it.

God on you.....
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Friday, October 28, 2011

The Very First Posting Here On This Blog: 1/9/08

People in transistion.

People who have crossed over into "new" life.
A work in progress.
Straining forward to the Upward call of Christ.


We have lived in the darkness far longer than we care to remember.
Now the dawn of hope breaks over us everyday through the Word of God and the presence of His Holy Spirit in us, over us, around us.


It's all about Surrender.
Giving up.
We has spent our lives giving up.
This time it is a surrender to one greater than us that has the power to restore us to sanity.

Sanity?
The ability to make sound decisions that lead to good consequences.
Sanity!
We have surrendered ourselves to the rock.
We have surrendered ourselves to the needle.
We have surrendered oursleves to the joint.
We have surrendered ourselves to the bottle.
We chose to bow our knee and worship the high.
Repeatedly we performed this ritual so many times that it became second nature
We did it out of habit until it becamse a habit.
A habit that consumed the very focus of our lives.


We  now know that true life...
Real life....
comes only through surrender of will and life to God.
From this place, real healing comes to us.
Physical healing...
Spiritual healing...
Emotional and mental healing...

Our Theology?
I Corinthians 2:2
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Christ at the center of our life, gives my life purpose and strenght to be lived and walked out everyday.


We are a community of hope.
Our worship is simple and direct.
We sing "to" God and not about God.


Our services are every Saturday Night at 7 p.m.
Come back and visit our Blog.


Michael Bynum
Pastor
Church @ Rapha


Posted by Greene Street Letters at Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Romans 8:18
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Comforting words from the Apostle Paul that should stir hope in the heart of every believer.
If you were in addiction and have come out through the work of Jesus and the 12 Steps, then these words should especially be comforting to you.
This great transition from one life style to another....this trading of ways of dealing with the world brings great distress and challenges with it.
The unknown of what is next....
The subtle reminders that your past seeks to chase you down and bring you back....In other words, your sin nature (some call it the flesh) seeks to restablish itself as the dominating thoughts and attitudes. Praise God! It doesn't have to be. Jesus, through his death and resurrection, has broken the power of sin, the penalty of sin and puts down the presence of sin in our lives.
We move through some difficult times and difficult decisions that have to be made.
The trading of old friends for new friendships and relationships...your past....they all converge in your mind creating this struggle to make good, sound decisions.

These sufferings that Paul writes about are the result of the clash between your new found relationship with Jesus and the pull of your old lifestyle of addiction and the ways of the world.
It is important that we understand who we are in Christ and whose we are in the Kingdom of God.
As our declaration here at Rapha states:

Because of Christ's redemption I am a new creation of infinite worth.
I am deeply loved...
I am completely forgiven....
I am fully pleasing.....
I am absolutely complete in Christ....
I am totally accepted by God.....


No matter what may come my way today, I rest in the knowledge that it pales in comparison to the glory that is coming to me in the future. Today, I will not let the weight of this world rob me of the promise and glory of Jesus in my life. I will not let the world define me or conform into the image of its ways.
My life today is not going to reflect the values of this world.
This is a choice...
I make it today....

God on you.....
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Right Time....Wrong Place!~

Luke 24:5
"Why do you look for the living among the dead?"

Parked in Luke 24 this morning, and during my reading this verse just kind of jumped up at me.
Jesus is dead and has been buried in the tomb. The women who had followed him over the past 3 years, including his own mother, have gone to the tomb to prepare his body with spices.
Arriving at the tomb, the women are confronted by two angels who pose this question to them. "Why do you search for the living among the dead?" Funny part...it really isn't a question as much as it is a declaration. "Ladies.......He ain't here! You've come to a place designated for dead folks, but Jesus isn't here."

I think in a lot of ways, at times I am like those women. They came to fulfill a duty. It was a noble thing they were doing. They had spent time and effort, not to mention their own money to come and prepare Jesus' body for burial. Trouble is.............Jesus wasn't cooperating. You see there are times I think I need to do things a certain way or to accomplish a certain purpose (even might think I doing God's will), only to find out Jesus isn't in it. By that, I mean that he has not truly directed me to carry out this task.
Isn't it a great symbol of working in a place of the dead when the living is where its at? I spend way to much time moving to tombs and cemeteries of my own will and strength rather than looking for the "living" way by simply following Jesus. Life is too short to spend it working in dead places. I need to be aware of the difference between doing the "good thing" and following Jesus by doing the "God thing."

Food for thought....
God on you.....
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Big 60


Dude....
Today is my birthday......60!
That is so surreal that I can't wrap my head around it.
Both my sons called early this morning and we got to chat for a while.
My grand kids are coming over tonight to have birthday waffles with me.
I could pontificate for a long time about the blessings and goodness God has given to me and my family, but I won't.
Suffice it say that I am grateful for every day God has given to me.
I pray that I spent it wisely and brought no embarrassment to His name.
I am grateful to Steve and Marilyn for giving me an opportunity and a place here at Rapha.
I am grateful to Bill Hays for sharing from his wisdom and life with me.
I am grateful to Gene and Mike for taking Rapha to the next level and continuing the work of God here at this rehab.

I am grateful to Brendon and Jeff for the diligence and their friendship.
I am grateful to Barry and Deb for answering the call to Rapha and for our friendship.
I am grateful to Debbie and Wayne for coming out each week to share their talents and heart with the men in this program.
I am grateful to Rainney for bringing a fresh view and a different way that really is an old way to the program.
I am grateful for Richard who has dedicated his life to recovery.
And I am grateful to my wife, Vicki, who answered the call with me to work in this part of God's Kingdom.

I am grateful to God that he did not give up on me, but continued to work in me and through me.
I am grateful for 60.

God on you....
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Up And Down...Up And Down



I love me some Yo Yo's.
Use to be pretty good with one. I could do all the standard "YO" tricks such as walk the dog, rock the cradle, Around the World and Loop the loop. I use to practice for hours trying to perfect my somewhat limited talent with the yo yo. I saved up my money and bought the best yo yo on the market.....the Duncan Imperial. That thing could hesitate (spin at the end of the string for those not familiar with the yo yo terminology) for ever, which only benefited you if you were trying to do these difficult tricks.
Life is like a yo yo ( sounds like a subtle shift into Forrest Gump theology doesn't it?).
It has ups and downs as well as its fair share of hesitations.
God has called us to master life by following him.
He gives us the ability to weather the ups and downs. Just like the yo yo, the more we practice (Matthew 7:24) the better we get at hearing and carrying out the directives of God.

Ephesians 4:14 speaks of this: As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.
We no longer live life like the yo yo. We are no longer to be tossed about by what we hear and what we see. We find stability and a solid place to stand on in Christ Jesus. He is the very place where all of life I experience begins. He is, not only the giver of life, but the one who sustains life. Real life that is found in relationship with Him. Christ has given us a place for this attitude and behavior to grow....the church.

Verse 11 - 13 read:
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ until we attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to armature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
Did you catch that? He has given us teachers and leaders that are to equip us for works of service. In these works, we are a part of something larger than ourselves. We are a part of the body of Christ. The goal of the works and our fellowship is that we move into a unity of faith whereby we carry out the work of the Kingdom of God. What is that work? First and foremost it is worship unto God with every part of our being. Our very lives become worship unto Him. Our daily dealings and business become worship unto Him. The way I interact with people should bring glory to God and cause others to see Him in me.

No matter where I find myself on the string (remember we were talking about yo yo's), Christ is there to guide and empower me to always bounce back.
Go forth and "yo".

God on you....
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Monday, October 24, 2011

NEW MESSAGE

New Message in the podcast section:
Barry Hooks shares his journey to this new life he now possesses.

Good listening!
Enjoy...
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The Heart Of God

Luke 15:3-7
And He told them this parable, saying,"What man among you, if he had a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance."

This passage in Luke 15 gives us a wonderful picture and insight into the heart of God. It shows the love and determination of Jesus to see that none should perish. Somehow others have the view that God is indifferent and that Jesus is merely marking time until he gets to come back to exact some retribution on planet earth. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

This passage shows the love that Jesus has for people.
He is not content to merely be satisfied with the "99"..those who already are a part of his flock. No! He is moved by the one who has wandered away. He understands the danger that is always around as the devil works to destroy those who have wandered away from God.

As long as there is one who is out there, alone and at the mercy of the "wolves" and the "world", Jesus will leave the 99 to go, find and bring back the one. Praise God for this heart of love Jesus possesses. When I was the "one" Jesus sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood, as the song says.
For that I am eternally grateful.
Seek the heart of Father God and allow Him to love on you today.
His love is a changing love.
By that, I mean that it changes me!
Jesus Christ always desires the self-righteous to know His heart and see true righteousness. He is not willing that any perish.

God on you.......
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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Possessing Riches We Aren't Even Aware Of

Luke 12: 4-7 And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more than they do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? And yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Truth:
The only thing of value that is moving with us into eternity are the virtues acquired in our soul and spirit.

Application:
So much of life today is the acquiring of "stuff".
The idea is that a person's worth is equal to the things that they have accumulated along the way.
Expensive toys and baubles.
Even the advertising that is all around us gives credence to this mindset.
We reject the idea of building character and being a people of integrity, instead grasping at leisure and pleasure to satisfy the fleshly desire that burns uncontrolled.
Most people cannot fathom the idea of being content and at peace outside of possessions.
There has to be trips and vacations.
Fun and excitement.
Go and go and go ...
Do and do and do...
Are vacations bad? No!
But when we fall into the trap of being lead by our flesh rather than the spirit, we are in trouble.
Everything done here on this side of eternity is going to perish.
Men and women seek to build a legacy so they will not be forgotten.
Buildings bearing their names.
Statues bearing their likeness...
All will crumble and fall....
But our character, developed here on this side of eternity, will follow us to the other side.
Character is the commodity of the Kingdom of God.
For from character flows the revelation of the person. Who they really are, how they life and what their beliefs are built on.

Character is a word that has fallen away in our society today.
Image is everything.
A facade of fabricated character so the world will look with adoring eyes.
Jesus was right when he called the Pharisees "empty white washed tombs."
Pretty on the outside.
All the effort was spent on "appearing" a certain way....while on the inside they were dead and full of hypocrisy.

A heart of hypocrisy is a dangerous thing. When we divide ourselves with the lies we live and tell ourselves and others, that we are people of character, we divide ourselves with these lies. We create a barrier between ourselves and God. Honesty about oneself is the first tool of repentance. Confession with our mouth that Jesus is LORD is a confirmation that we are not lord of our own lives. Anything else is hypocrisy. If we act like we are gods of our destiny and passions, we are liars. The apostle John warns in I John 1:8: " If we say we have no sin then we make Him (God) a liar."

Now is the time to begin to let God develop your character.
Now is the time to turn your heart, your will and your life to God and quit doing business with the ways of this world.

Have a great weekend.
God on you....
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Friday, October 21, 2011

The Dynamics Of The Kingdom Of God

I don't claim to know much. But what I do know......I know it. Sounds redundant doesn't it. Well, it's not.
I know that when a person has been saved (entered into a relationship with Jesus) that person's life is changed. There is a thought or behavior that seems to be very prevalent into today's religious circles, and it is the idea that when a person is saved, God is expected to fit into their life. Truth be known, when I gave myself to Jesus, my life became his property. After all, he paid the ultimate sacrifice for it. I don't fit Jesus into my life, he fits me into his. I no longer do business as the world does. This means that I am not driven or directed by the morale's of what is right and wrong based on the whim of society. The morale's of this nation have continually gone down hill. The morale's and expectations of the Kingdom of God have not changed. They are clearly stated in Scripture and we are called to make them a part of our lives. Now don't confuse what I have written as being legalistic. I'm not talking about a bunch of  "do's" and "don'ts". I am talking about being directed by the Holy Spirit in how we live. There is a difference between me, in my own strength, trying to keep a "holy" list of rules.......and me, walking by the directives of God's Holy Spirit, as they are played out in my daily life.

The Kingdom of God is about service.
It is about affecting and effecting those around us. We are called to be servants. Servants with hearts of love for others. The ministry of God's word, or the carrying out of the mandate given to us in Scripture, is not for the weak-willed or the weak of spirit. Being a servant of God is not for those who would seek to work in the their own intellect and strength. It is for those who are learning to simply do what they hear God tell them to do.

Here is the difference between a religious work and a work that is directed by God in the hearts of those who truly have surrendered themselves. Mentioned in Matthew 5:22, Matthew 26:59, and Mark 15:1 is the Sanhedrin. It is thought to have originated during the time between the Testaments under the rule of the Maccabees. It was a religious administrative council made up mostly of Sadducees and Pharisees and was the sitting council of the seventy as mentioned by the historian, Josephus. What is strange, is that Jesus also had His council of seventy (Mark 10:1). But they were not sitting anywhere! They were on the move! Healing, helping, and moving into communities. This was Jesus Christ's idea of a religious council----men who were healing, helping, and changing communities with the compassion of Christ.

Both groups were religious.
But only one group brought the message and power of the Kingdom of God into the homes and lives of the people.
The other group simply talked about it.
Which group do you want to be a apart of?
The one who simply talks about the things of God....
Or the group who actually goes out and displays the power, presence and purity of God drawing men and women into this new found relationship with Jesus?

God on you....
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Snipet Of Wisdom




Wisdom from Father Martin.
If you haven't heard his "Chalk Talk" series, then go to YOUTUBE and check it out.
This is a short teaching from Father Martin on the importance of helping others.

Enjoy!
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Step # 1---Again

Revisit some things we need to remember:
Step # 1 of the Twelve Steps:
We admitted that we were powerless over our dependencies (Alcohol/ drugs) ---that our life had become unmanageable.

Hard place to be in......powerless.
Even harder to admit.
Something within us keeps us looking for a different way to overcome our problems. In addiction terms, we keep looking for the "easier softer way."

The Apostle Paul touched on being powerless in Romans 7:19-20.
"When I want to do good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. But if I am don't what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing it, the sin within me is doing it."
Paul's problem isn't a lack of desire, he wants to do the right thing.
His problem wasn't knowledge, he knows what the right thing to do is.
His problem is a lack of power.

If I am the problem, then I cannot be the solution.
Yet, even in religious circles, some people, when brought face to face with sin in their life, will neglect the admission of guilt and try to "earn" their way. "If I only read more of my Bible! If I only give more in the offering! If I only go to church more than I have".  All good things to do, but it doesn't take care of the issue inside which is sin.
Acknowledging our powerlessness.
Turning to God for that power we lack.
Then daily following God by reading the Bible, praying and listening for God's direction.
(So as not to confuse, the term "listening" is more than using your sense of hearing. It is listening with your heart and mind.)

Paul goes on to write in Romans 7 about the solution to the sin problem.
Oh what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ out Lord.

You do not have to keep living the cycle of addiction.
You do not have to keep living the cycle of sin.
You do not have to keep living with all the destruction and chaos brought on by those two cycles.
The answer is found in Jesus.
Take hope for this day and begin to talk (some people call it praying) to Jesus.
Pour out your heart to him and let him come and heal you.

God on you.....
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Message In Podcast Section: "What Are your Giant's?"
Check it out!
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Taste Bud's Are Hoppin' !



In my humble opinion, there isn't anything better than banana pudding.
It is a par-tay in my mouth. I mean it just sends all sorts of bell and whistles off when I have me some pudding.
You can keep your red velvet cake.
You can have your key lime pie.
You can pack up your fancy parfaits.
Give me pudding.....
Banana pudding.
Just the taste of the puddings and wafers all coverings sliced banana's makes for a wonderful dessert.
Throw in a cup of coffee to boot and you got yourself the making's for a good time.
Don't you think it weird that in Scripture we are told to "Taste" the Lord?

Psalm 34:8-- Taste and see the Lord is good. On, the joys of those who trust in him!
The writer of Psalm 34 does not mean a literal tasting of God.
He is using this as a means of conveying the idea that we should take everything we know and have experienced and have read in Scripture into our heart. Using the idea of taste buds being a means to determining what we like and don't like, we are told to taste God for ourselves and see that He is worthy of being trusted.

Matthew Henry, in his commentaries, wrote of "Tasting God."
We must taste that he is a bountiful benefactor, relish the goodness of God in all his gifts to us, and reckon the savour and sweetness of them. Let God’s goodness be rolled under the tongue as a sweet morsel. We must see that he is a beautiful being, and delight in the contemplation of his infinite perfections. By taste and sight we both make discoveries and take complacency. Taste and see God’s goodness, that is, take notice of it and take the comfort of it, 1 Peter 2:3. he is good, for he makes all those that trust in him truly blessed; let us therefore be so convinced of his goodness as thereby to be encouraged in the worst of times to trust in him.

We walk through our days focused on jobs, family, situations and problems and never once take the time to focus on what God might be doing in the midst of everything. We need to always be prepared to keep our attention on God in the middle of what we may be experiencing. Here, in this place, we can truly taste the goodness of God and see His hand at work in our lives.
Now, it's time for some pudding....
Where's my spoon?

God on you....
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Monday, October 17, 2011

A New Week...Another Opportunity To Get It Right

In the book of Luke, Chapter 1, we read where John the baptizer's father, Zacharias, is filled with the Holy Spirit after at the birth of his son.
Zacharias begins to prophesy concerning the birth of the coming Messiah, Jesus.
In verse 68, Zacharias says:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people.

God is in the proclaiming business.
What do I mean by this?
He always informs His people of things to come.

Then brings to fulfillment what He has spoken.
That is why I always say,"God is who He claims to be.....and will do what He claims He will do."
He is a God of His word.
Zacharias' speech is in the past tense. God has visited us. God has accomplished. There was no physical, tangible evidence that Messiah had come and the prophesies of the Old Testament had been fulfilled. In God's view, He had spoken what was only a matter of time to be completed.
Why write about this?
What does this have to do with anything?
Well, there are many, many prophesies still unfulfilled in the New Testament and Old Testament. Just because time has passed and we haven't seen them completed doesn't mean that God has lost His way or has become to incapacitated to accomplish His word.

My very life and call God has given to me is evidence of the truth of His word.
For God so loved the world (of which I am a part) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever (that would be me) believes on Him (Jesus) should have (in the future) eternal life.
Jesus came to give us two kinds of life.
Abundant life, here and now.
Eternal life after we shake off the mortal coil of this body at death.
God 's word is true.
God's word is yes and amen.

The very last verse of Zacharias' prophecy closes with these words:
To give His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, To shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."

In other words, for this day and time, no longer will people have to sit in the darkness and oppression of sin (Includes addiction). No longer will they be separated from hope and deliverance, but by the loving hand of God the Father, through the work of Jesus Christ, there is freedom for all who cry out unto salvation.
Now if that doesn't set you on fire, then your wood is wet.
There is freedom.....
There is freedom today....

God on you.....
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

I'm Late...I'm Late...For A Very Improtant Date!

Things have been a bit hairy around here, and for someone who isn't a multi-tasker I'm sure juggling a lot of stuff today.
Oh well, it happens.
Please be on the look out in our podcast section next week, as Barry Hooks is sharing his story tonight at the Church@Rapha. Barry has finally found the peace and serenity that evaded him all the years of his using, and will be sharing what God has done in his life over these past 7 years. I think you'll truly enjoy hearing Barry's story and might even find encouragement from it.

I received several phone calls this past week from former clients who are doing well and living this new life we talk about every day here at Rapha.

Randy T.   -----who are you man? You are insanely sober. I mean you have taken the insanity of the addictive life you once lead and gave it to Jesus and now you are just off-the-hook on fire. Randy is taken on the role of checking on and encouraging others who are in addiction.

Terry C. --- He is all about doing the little things. Terry came by this week and shared with me, "If I can watch the little things and keep them in check...being where I'm suppose to be..doing what I am suppose to be doing, then I can do this....just for today." 

Wayne M. --- Going strong and working with a rehab outside of Cullman. Still uses the declaration daily in his sobriety. Oh yeah...and God healed him of cancer. Do you think Wayne has something to be thankful for? I think so.

Mark C. --- Thankful to simply be alive, Mark approaches each day with a joy and zest for living. He may not move as fast as he use to, but his heart beats strong for Jesus. I have never seen such gratitude in an individual as I do in Mark. He knows that he should have been dead years ago, but God has given him another chance and Mark does not plan on wasting this one.

Vance R. --- He is light years ahead of where he use to be. Vance has found the value in working the 12 Steps, now he is giving back. Proud of you man!

These are just a few of the good stories that are out there.
God on you.....]
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Friday, October 14, 2011


Funny how no one sets out to be old. You hope that you live a long life but it really doesn't become a goal. It just kind of slips up on you. You're so focused on raising a family....holding down a job (sorry, I never had a career) and just making it through the day. But then one day it happens. It might be on your birthday or maybe you're getting ready to attend a high school reunion, but you are suddenly aware that you have accumulated a number of your years.

Being older isn't a bad thing. I know that there are those who want to hold on to youth so they try all manner of surgeries and creams, tonics and potions that will help them find the elusive fountain of youth.
Not me.
I am who I am and I am quiet comfortable in that place.
Learning to be content with today is important for me.
It helps me to stay balanced spiritually as well as mentally and physically.
The apostle Paul writes about this in Philippians 4
"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily whether I have much or little. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need."

Did you catch all the scenarios that Paul mentioned concerning his living conditions?
He had much...he had little.

He had a full stomach.....he had an empty stomach.
The secret was looking to Christ.
Jesus is our sufficiency in all things. When we have lack, Christ becomes the portion that fills me up.
I know...
Your thinking..."Michael, you spiritualizing everything." Duh? Yes I am.
Because the spiritual side of the Kingdom is what brings in the rule and reign of Jesus right here in the natural. Did Jesus not interact with those around him when he walked here among us? Yes. Did he not heal in an effort to draw people attention to the Kingdom of God? Yes he did. Did he not feed the hungry so that they could see the love of God in action as 5 fish sticks and two biscuits became the currency of the Kingdom of God and fed 5000+? Yes he did.

Looking to Jesus as my  sufficiency put me at odds with this world.
Yet looking to Jesus as my sufficiency in everything, enables me to live here in this world.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Did you notice Paul never said, "I can do all things through Christ, while I am young."
In fact, the older I get, the more sure I am of who Jesus is.....
and...
What he will do.
There are some incredible benefits from seeing a few years...and it's more than a senior coffee at Jack's.
Relish life no matter what age you are.
If you are older, then enjoy the gift of memories that God has given to you.
Think on the good things...
The good relationships you have experienced....
Laugh today. That is important. Not enough people laugh anymore.
Love today...
Speak first to someone today before they speak to you...."Good morning! Great day ain't it?"
Talk to your heavenly Father....
Take time to listen to what he wants to say in return.

God on you.....
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

God Or Mammon? Who Are You Going To Serve?




......And He was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me."
Sounds to me like Jesus is saying that I am no longer the center of attention in the new relationship I have with Him.
That my wants and desires have been laid down in order to fill myself with His wants and desires for my life.
The cross signifies a daily dying which is a choice I make.
I know those who proclaim the prosperity message.
I know that they truly believe that it is sent from God.
But what I see when I watch the prosperity gospel in action, is that "self" has become the focus and center of attention again. God loves me (which He does) and God wants to bless me (which He does) but the blessings of God are for those who obey. Those who have left everything to follow Him. Old lifestyles, old friends and old hangouts surrendered to God in order to find life and purpose.
II Chronicles 16:9 says that "The eyes of the LORD roam to and fro over the earth searching for those whose hearts are totally committed to Him, that He may strengthen them."

The blessing of God do not always measure out to things which can be valued in dollars and cents.
Don't get me wrong about what I am writing. I believe that there are people who God does bless with wealth and position. The greater responsibility comes with such wealth as to be a good steward of what God has given. God does not mind people having things....it turns nasty when "things" have people. When the pursuit of material wealth and goods is the measuring rod by which our salvation and relationship is measured, then our grasp on the truth of God has been replaced by our own sinful lust and desire. Lust and desire which has been clothed and couched in the garments of religion. We possess a form of godliness and deny the power of the cross in our own lives.

I have posted this video here before, but felt the need to do so again.
Think on these things....

God on you....
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Ain't No Giant Gonna Hoo-do Me!

Joshua 14:8
Nevertheless my brethren who went up with  me made the heart of the people melt with fear, but I followed the LORD my God fully.

This verse comes as a result of Joshua retelling his story of the trek from Egypt to the promised land.
It came at a time when Moses picked twelve men to cross over the Jordan river to spy out the land to see if it was everything God had told them.

The twelve spy's surveyed the surrounding territory and then made their way back to the camp of Israel to report to Moses and the people what they had found. The report started out simple enough. "We went into the land where you sent us and it certainly does flow with milk and honey (Numbers 13:27)."
But then some of the spies, ten be exact, began to talk about the people who inhabited that land.
1.) They are strong.
2.) Cities are fortified and very large
3.) We saw the descendants of Anak there (Giants0
4.) It is a land that devours its inhabitants.
5.) We became like grasshoppers in our own sight and so we were in their (giants) sight.

12 men went into this land.
12 men saw the same thing.
Only two had reports that God indeed would give them this land.
What happened?
The ten who gave the negative report did not trust God and his ability to carry through with his promise.

We see this type of mentality and belief everyday in people of addiction.
They doubt the Power of the twelve steps (which by the way is JESUS CHRIST)
They acknowledge that the steps might work for others, but not them.
In their own eyes, their addiction is that giant that is unbeatable.
They acknowledge their desire to occupy this new promised life of sobriety, but the evidence of addiction in their live overpowers their need to be free of it. They are not to the point of trusting in a Power greater than themselves who could restore them to sanity.
They are not to the point of making a decision to turn their will and their life over to the care of God as they understood Him to be.

It takes this Power to break through the defenses set up by addiction.
It takes one who like Joshua or Caleb (Numbers 13:30) who will step up and say, "We should by all means go up and take possession of it (this promised life), for we shall surely overcome it."
Don't let the giants of your addiction hold you at bay from this new life of sobriety by their taunts and bad reports of others.
Lay down your fear and doubt and realize the truth of God.
That God is who He claims to be.....
And....
God will do what He has promised to do......


May you find what has been given to me...
Not of my own doing, but by the loving, gentle hand of Jesus.
God on you......

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Who Am I?


Not a pretty sight is it?
When I look at myself in the mirror, I sometimes wonder, "Who is that man?"
The face is familiar, but the it looks a lot older than the mind remembers.
In my mind, I'm still 18 - 20 years old. Full of vim and vinegar, ready to take on the world.
The body says, "Nope...your 60 years old and you have the aches and pains to prove it."

Knowing who you are in Christ is one of the ways  that we are able to make through each day.
To wade through the problems and situations that each of us find ourselves in daily.
Maybe it's health issues....
Maybe it's financial troubles....
It could be relationship troubles....
No matter what we face, we have to remember who we are in Christ, as a believer.

I like what James wrote to open the book of he wrote.
James 1:1 -  "James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ..."
Even though James was half-brother to Jesus, he understood, as he wrote this book, exactly who he was in relation to God and Jesus. He was a bond-servant. Doesn't sound too glamorous does it?
In James' day, a bond-servant was someone who had been set free by their master but chose to remain being a servant. I think that salvation puts us in that same place as James. Jesus gives us our freedom from sin and the penalty associated with it, but we have to make a choice. Do we accept the freedom and recognize it as a new way of living by remaining in contact and following His leading....
Or do we reject the offer of this new life so we can do what we want to do?

I choose to be a bond-servant.
I choose to remain close and follow Jesus.
Why?
Because over the years I have found the value and sense of purpose that comes from being a believer and, more than that, a follower of Jesus.
Here again, the Declaration at Rapha is a daily reminder of who I am and whose I am.

Because of Christ's redemption
I am a new creation of infinite worth
I am deeply loved
I am completely forgiven
I am fully pleasing

When my performance reflects my new identity in Christ
That reflection is dynamically unique
There has never been another person like me in the history of mankind
Nor will there ever be

God has made me an original
One of a kind
Special person
and so are you....

God on you.....
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Encouragement

We all need encouragement.
We all need to be lifted up when it seems that life is getting the best of us.
We need a word that goes beyond what we feel....what we see....or even what we think.
We need something that strikes at the heart of faith and causes it to burst into flames, igniting hope in our soul.
Such a word for today is found in II Corinthians 4:16-16
Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

To sum it up....
The situations and circumstances we find ourselves in today, want to rob you of your peace and hope. They want to dull your hope and bring despair and spiritual darkness upon you.
Don't let it happen.
Lay hold of Jesus today with a tighter grip than you ever have before.
Pray in faith.
Ask in faith.
Walk in faith.
Believe in faith, and let Him do the rest.

God on you.....
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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Blessed.....

Vicki and I went to Lincoln, Alabama last night to a football game.
Our son, Chad, is a coach for the team and our 5 year old grand daughter, Ashley, an aspiring cheerleader, got to cheer with the varsity team cheer leaders.
It was huge stuff for Ashley.
She sat with us until it was time for her to go down and take her place with "her cheerleaders" as she refers to the varsity girls.

Ashley is akin to a super-ball in a concrete room.
All energy and movement.
An imagination beyond belief and a penchant for a little mischievousness.
She is all girl and makes no apologies for it.
Here we were.
The two grand parents........Ammie & Poppa, watching her scream and yell and jump.
I couldn't help but thing of how awesome God's blessings and presence has been to our family.

I love the what scripture says in Job 42:12 --- And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginnings. Somehow, I can't help but feel that my life is turning out like Jobs. These days are the most wonderful times I could have ever imagined. To see my children become established and have homes and families of their own. Vicki and I falling in love even more, just truly enjoying each others company daily.
God has knitted us together not only as husband and wife, but also as co-workers at Rapha.  I see the hand of God and the blessings of God every where I turn. He has surrounded us with good friends....
Barry Hooks, Deb Hood, Debbie Handy, Wayne Wimpee, Brendon Davit, Jeff Adcock and many others to numerous to mention.

I like the way Job's life turned out....
In Verse 17 we read:  And Job died, an old man and full of years.
I want my last days, whenever that may be, to as Job's.....
Full of years.....


God on you...
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Friday, October 7, 2011

Good Friday To You

Another week almost in the book. It has been a good week....a productive week.
Week began with me speaking at the recovery meeting at Covenant Christian Church.
Good group of folks who have come together and created a family.
Nine were saved last Monday night. That alone was reason to give a bunch of "Hoo-Ha's" for Jesus.

We have our Saturday meeting tomorrow night here at Rapha.
Looking forward to seeing what God is going to do when we gather.
Sunday night, I'm speaking at North Glencoe's Celebrate Recovery. I already have the stirrings of a message and I really think that God is going to do something out of the ordinary. Of course it could be said that anything God wants to do is always out of the ordinary. In my book, He created ordinary so He could act outside of it.
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Let's take a look at I John 1:1-3.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life----
the life was manifested and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us----that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

John  is laying out the groundwork or understanding that the message he is sharing is not just a bunch of flowery, theological gibberish meant to make you feel good. John is saying, "You need to understand that we have been smack dab in the middle of a relationship with this Jesus we are telling you about." Their information isn't second hand or made up or strictly conjecture. It is the truth of the interaction between Jesus and His disciples.

The things I write in this blog are written with the same thought.
I am not into theological wrangling or trying to be some kind of "word-smith."
I am simply writing from what I know and have experienced with Jesus.
The times and situations where divine interjection has directed me in the ways that I should go.
Times where the provision of God came in such a way that it left no doubt as to what had happened.
I write to you because I have found the value of laying aside all of Michael Bynum and taking up the mandate and cross of Christ and chase after Him.
It doesn't always look pretty and I mess it up from time to time....
But there is always Jesus, forgiving me, saying, "Come on...let's try it again."


I try not to write from someone elses story or words. I try to simply share the ups and downs of my own personal journey (not that I'm special...far be it) and the way Jesus has always been there, whether I have made good decisions or bad ones.
I pray that the GREENE STREET LETTERS would be a source of hope and encouragement for you to find this relationship with Jesus. That you would be open for a moment and simply consider the truth of God for your own personal life.
I don't think you will regret it.

God on you....
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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wowzers!

I Thessalonians 5:28  (Message Bible)
The amazing grace of Jesus Christ be with you!

Paul's closing remarks (paraphrased) in the book of I Thessalonians. More than cute words. More than an intellectual exercise. More than religious jargon. This is life.
Grace of Jesus Be with us.
Grace?
Defined by James Ryles as The empowering presence of God in me that enables me to be who God has created me to be and do what God has called me to do.
Grace.
IT is the POWER that we've been looking for in the 12 Steps.  Who is the empowering presence of God in me?  The Holy Spirit. It is the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit, changing me, restoring me, renewing me. In other words, God has me as a work in progress.
The Holy Spirit is removing the power of my sin nature through my salvation. The Holy Spirit is removing the penalty of sin through the shed  blood of Jesus imputed to me through that Salvation. The Holy Spirit is removing the presence of sin through the forgiveness given to my by heavenly Father.
All a work of Grace.

In II Thessalonians, Paul closes out that particular letter with the words, "The incredible grace of our Master, Jesus Christ, be with all of you!" Paul recognizes that the grace of God is something not to be taken lightly. That grace exhibits qualities and attributes that are far above our human condition. In fact the intervention and injection of God's grace into a life brings change on an unprecedented level. As the big book of A.A. says....."God does for me what I could not do for myself."
II Timothy 3:22 closes with the words, "God be with you. Grace be with you." There must be something to this grace for it to be mentioned over and over.
Grace is the work of God in my life that changes me.
It changes the way I view myself.
Grace changes the way I make decisions.
Grace keeps my attention away from my own selfishness and focuses me on what God desires me to do.
Grace is the gift that allows me to stand on the foundation of Jesus Christ, so that no matter what the world may throw my way, I will not be swayed or moved away from Him.

Grace.....
Don't leave home without it.

God on you.....
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Step # 10 Of The 12 Steps

Step # 10
We continue to take a personal inventory, and when we are wrong, promptly admit it.

Proverbs 10:17
He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who forsakes reproof goes astray.

Even after we've trusted Christ and are freed from eternal condemnation, we still sin. We miss the mark; we make mistakes; we turn from God's ways. What happens at that point? Should we then feel guilty about what we've done?

Scripture indicates that God intends for us to feel something when we sin, and we don't stop feeling that something just because we accept Christ. God doesn't intend that jut because we accept Christ, we can go on sinning without our sins ever bothering us.

Here's what happens:
When we sin, the Holy Spirit urges us to confess those sins. We confess sin by admitting ourselves guilty of what we are accused of. This comes through conviction  (the act of convincing a person of error --Websters). The Holy Spirit works in our lives to get us to agree with God about the wrong we've done. Our sense that something is wrong occurs because the Holy Spirit is convicting us of sin.

God wants us to feel a godly sorrow, or grief for our sins. He does not want us to experience guilt that eats away at us. Once we confess our sin, repent, and accept Christ's forgiveness, we may continue to have regret and remorse, but we can be assured that Christ has forgiven us completely. Forgiveness enables us to overcome the fear of condemnation.

John 8:31-32 reads: Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed, and You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

John 8:36 - Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Learning how to live and walk daily in this new relationship with have with Jesus frees us from the harmful, toxic emotions that the world wants to put on us. Emotions such as guilt and shame are not a part of the Kingdom of God. They are replaced with conviction which leads to repentance and forgiveness. I'll take the Kingdom! I'll take this new life with Jesus.

God on you today...............
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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

That's The Godly Way!

Learning to live a new way.
Laying down old patterns of sinful behavior to embrace a new way of getting through the day.
Being changed by the renewing of our minds by the Holy Spirit of God at work in us.
Learning that I do not have to rely on my own selfish ways or efforts to make it through this day.
Trusting God.
Not trusting myself.
Trusting God that He is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do.
Leaning on that truth rather than the old way of doing business with the world.
I no longer have to hustle.
I no longer have to scam or con.
I no longer have to walk around constantly planning and looking for people I can put a touch on.

I like what it says in Job 22

Submit to God and be at peace with him. In this way prosperity will come to you.
We read the word "prosperity" and the dollar signs go off in our heads. Life is more than material possessions. Scripture says that we should prosper as our soul prospers. Prosperity comes in our growth as a believer.

Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart.
It's more than hearing the word of God. It is putting into practice what you've heard. When I lay up the words of God in my heart, I am filling myself up with the good things of God. If I am filling myself up, then something has to be removed to make room. What would that be? Hmmmmmm....would it be all the garbage the world and Satan has offered to me that I accepted? I think so. I'm getting rid of all the stinky stuff and replacing it with the light and truth of God.

If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored. If you remove wickedness far from your tent and assign your nuggets to the dust, your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines, then the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you.
Here again we have the great trade off. The riches that we've accumulated from our sinful nature are nothing compared to the riches that God desires to give us. I mean come on....you read scripture about heaven and the streets of gold. Gates made from huge pearls. Every precious stone you could think of. Now if the building materials of heaven are these things we think are important, it just goes to show you that God views them as materials...like brick, mortar, stone, wood, etc.....In other words, God himself is the treasure not the things he has created. Dude...we are going to be walking on gold. But the true treasure will be seated on a throne and we will get the opportunity to worship him. That will be cool x 10.

Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God.
The true peace....
The true desire of our heart will be to delight ourselves in God.

This one on one time of relationship when we come into the presence of God will cause all else that we thought to be important to simply disappear. It's like the words of the song......Turn your eyes upon Jesus...look full in that wonderful face...and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

I can't wait till I see and experience the reality of what I believe here on this side of eternity.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

God on you.....
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Monday, October 3, 2011

Message From October 1, 2011 meeting

New message downloaded in pod cast section of this blog.
Seth Barber shares on the difference between "believing in God" and "believing God."

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Message For The Day

I'm suppose to speak tonight at Covenant Christian Church for their recovery meeting. Andrea and all the folks at Covenant have such a heart for people trapped by addiction. They have been wonderful friends to Rapha over the years, providing special events for those who come through our program.
God has used Covenant in a mighty way to impact lives for the Kingdom of God.
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I have been parked in Ephesians chapter 1 over the past few days and feel like God is leading me to use this tonight in my message.

V.18 reads: I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the wonderful future he has promised to those he called. I want you to realize what a rich and glorious inheritance he has given to his people.

It really is about that moment of truth that must come to every life when God opens up understanding to their current state of existence. The moment when someone sees the extent of destruction their choices have brought about. No escaping the evidence or the truth of what addiction has done. At the same time, there is also the revelation that there is a better way. A way to hope and a future. Anything has to be better than the lifestyle of being an addict. Sometimes a person lives for so long in an addictive lifestyle they cannot, or will not, break free of the thought "I am what I am...I cannot change...I am hopeless." To me this is the worst possible place a person could be found in. Truly with this mindset, it takes the power and love of God to break through such lies as this.

That is why prayer is such an important part of this battle with addiction. If you have friends or family out there still trapped, begin to pray specifically for them. Pray that God would break the hardness of their heart and their inability to hear the truth. Pray that the presence of God would defeat and remove all obstacles placed on them by the enemy to keep them from hearing the truth. Then ask God to speak to their heart so that truth can overcome the damage done by the lies of addiction. It truly is about breaking the conforming personality of the individual so they can be renewed and transformed by God.

It is a battle and we do not need to shrink back in fear. We need to understand that God has given us the spirit of a sound mind and love, not fear and timidity. Ask others to join you in prayer for friends and family. You don't win the battle by praying against the darkness, you win the battle by bringing light into darkness. That is our intention.

God on you.....
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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Did You See Jesus Today?




Sheep or goats?
Which group will be put in?
Are we "navel gazing" so intent on our own needs and wants that we don't see the needs around us.
The ones who are hungry....
The ones who are sick....
The ones in prison......
Do we throw them the crumbs while we feast on the best?
Do we satisfy our spiritual curiosity by telling them, "Jesus loves you" all the while casting them aside so we don't have to deal with them?

Worse yet, do we simply ignore them on the way to church?
Surrounded by all the trappings of religion do we use our Sunday morning services to salve our souls into believing that we had done our duty to the Kingdom?
May it never be!

God on all of us........
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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 ...