Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tidbits Of Info For The Discerning Mind

Lot's of pain out there in the world.
Lot's of unanswered questions being asked by those who are hurting.
You know, sometimes the only thing you can say to those who are hurting is, "I understand and so does God."
Pain and suffering are a part of this fallen world.
It's part of the package deal we got when Adam and Eve traded eternity for the temporary.
But even in the midst of all the confusion and chaos and pain, if you listen closely, you'll hear the voice of God.
A voice that never wavers.
A message that never changes.
A voice that cannot be silenced by anyone or anything.
The voice speaks with authority and with confidence.
We read the message in Matthew 11:28-30 as Jesus speaks.
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

The voice extends an invitation.
The voice penetrates every barrier, every obstacle and every idea this world seeks to create in the minds of people. It is not stoped or rendered powerless by doubt and fear, but like a laser guided bomb, homes in to destroy these barriers.
The voice is a voice of reason and a voice of hope.
Who hears this voice?
Those who have expended themselves in sin.
Those who are being crushed beneath the weight of guilt, shame and self-inflicted wounds through our rebellion against God.
An invitation with a promise.  A very simple promise that speaks volumes to someone who can't find a  way out of the insanity of sin/addiction/life. The inviation is for those who are literally walking around dead. It is a life giving, death resurrecting voice that is greater and more powerful than anything our enemy could place in its way.
It is the eternal voice of Jesus Christ.

Christ defines who the call is for.
Christ defines the simplicity of the promise.
"I will give you rest."
Rest? Does he mean sleep? No.
Does he mean a big Lazy boy recliner in which to kick back in? No.
The rest that Jesus offers if only found when we give up and accept him as Lord and Savior.
A rest from having to do everything in our own wisdom and strength and ability.
We've already proven that we are powerless over life's situations.
We've already created a pretty good track record of messing up.
Now, here from the God of all that's holy and good, is extended an invitation to come and rest.
In the resting, Jesus teaches us a new way of living and a new direction for our life.

It boils down to this.
You can live life on the terms and conditions of this fallen world,
You can life life on the terms and economy of heaven.
How like God to give us a choice.
If you read Matthew 11:28-30, you'll go on to see that Jesus made another promise.
"Take my yoke upon you." Jesus was explaining in language the people could understand that if they chose to follow him, then he would direct them and guide them. They no longer had to "wing it," so to speak.
Their days would be days of purpose and meaning.
That promise is still in effect today, thousands of years later.
God's desire is to see you come to him and receive his rest.
Receive his direction and guidance.
Receive his love and mercy.
I don't know about you, but that seems like a pretty good deal.
Oh yeah, if you act quickly, then God will throw in eternal life with him as an added bonus.

God on you......

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It Is War Part II

Continuing on with the thought from yesterday's posting concerning spiritual warfare.
In Ephesians 6:17 we are commanded to take up (lay hold of and possess) the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.

In our society today, we discount the power of the Word.
We don't know how to wield it therefore we consider it to be a book of nice platitudes but of little value when it comes to actual day to day life. We find value in the wisdom of man and the technology that comes with it more than we do God's word. We value psychology and science more than we do the wisdom of heaven. If we only really knew and understood exactly what we have been given in God's word.
Truth be known, the Word of God is the weapon of choice by the Holy Spirit.
The Word of God is power.
It is the Salvation unto all men (See Romans 1:16)
If the Word of God is powerless and has no real value, then why does the devil take it and twist the meaning of it?

Ephesians 6:17 commands us to master this word.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:24 that hearing His words alone profits us nothing,but when we take the words of Christ and put them into practice in our every day life, then things change.
We are using the tools of heaven to build "a house" that is situated on an unshakable foundation that is not affected by the outside forces of this world.
  Concerning God's Word, we read in Hebrews 4:12;
For the word of God is living and active -- If that word is living, then it is the giver of life to a heart that is merely existing. Whats more, the word of God is active. That means it does not sit idly by waiting. The word is always in movement when we hear it, even though we might not perceive it to be doing anything in our lives. Just as we read in Genesis 1, the Spirit of God brooded or hovered over the face of the deep, the word of God is moving in us, on us and around us as God's Spirit is working to bring change to us.

And sharper than any two-edged sword ---  The word of God cuts both ways. For those who seek to take the word to cut others with, be careful----you'll wind up cutting yourself. When wielded wrongly, the word of God will always cut the one trying to use it for personal gain or purpose. This sword never dulls and never needs sharpening. Keep your $14.95 set of Ginsu Knives....give me the sword of the Spirit.

And piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit -- In other words, the sword of the Spirit is a weapon. But it is also a scalpel to be used on ourselves. It is the chief weapon to be used in our lives against secrets. In recovery, we have a saying that a person is "Only as sick as their secrets." By that, we mean that it is the hidden things in our lives that fuel and fire the addiction. I need the Word of God to uncover and divide those secrets that my soulish nature wants to hang on to.

Of both joints and marrow - Joints are the connecting points where bone meets bone. There is a natural lubricant our body produces that keeps these joints from causing pain....The word of God is that "Oil"  or lubricant that brings peace and the ability to move through life day to day. The anointing of God enables me to move in ways that I never could in my natural strength and wsdom.Marrow is the substance found inside our bones which produces red blood cells. The word of God goes deep inside me as the blood of Christ is brought to bear against all sin and "disease" that seeks to destroy me.

And able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart --  Here we see the incredible power of the word of God when wielded by God's Holy Spirit. It has be ability to look beyond behavior and see the intent and motive behind our actions. The word of God brings conviction when needed if our intent and thoughts are not godly. It is a corrective force or compass that points us back to the right direction and course. Is He a good God or what? You got to love Him because of His never ending, never tiring love that is always at work to guide us in the right path.

Colossians 3:16-17
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word of deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

God on you...

Monday, February 27, 2012

It Is War!

Spent the better part of the afternoon yesterday on the phone talking with people who were struggling.
Not with addiction, as most would think, but with attacks by the enemy.
The enemy we know as the devil. Yes, there is a devil and his desire is to devour you. Not in the sense of physical teeth tearing and consuming your flesh, but by bringing your life down through situations and circumstances. He comes at you whispering and accusing you. He brings doubt and fear and seeks to have you turn away from God, looking to your own ability to get you out of situations.He is called the accuser of the brethren in Scripture. These that I talked to and prayed with, were under severe oppression by forces of darkness.

One in particular who called was being visited by two demonic spirits who gave their names. They were bombarding this poor man's mind with all manner of anguish and accusation. He was trying to hold firm to the word of God,but had allowed these demonic spirits into his life through sin. In other words, when we sin, we open ourselves up to being oppressed by demonic spirits. To put it another way, through sin, we give these spirits legal right into our lives. It takes a greater authority to break their power and bring freedom and healing to the one who is suffering. That greater authority? The Lord Jesus Christ.

In Ephesians 6:10 we read: Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Be strong! Not in our own ability. Not in our own wisdom or strength, but in the Lord. Be strong in the truth about our relationship we have through the shed blood of Jesus. That it is a relationship that can never be broken by the powers of hell. So we rest in the knowledge of our position in Christ, and in His ability to battle any forces of darkness that comes to us.

Verse 11 reads: Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles (or plans) of the devil. God provides us protection in the form a armor. But there is a command that comes for this protection to be applied to our lives. We have to put it on. That means that I prepare myself mentally, spiritually and physically each day to walk in the instruction of the Lord. The armor consist of the following:
1.) Truth
2.) righteousness
3.) gospel of peace
4.) faith
5.) salvation
6.) Word of God (the Bible)

Truth holds everything in place. Without truth, we have nothing. Without truth, we are battling on the enemies terms and turf. When Jesus went into the wilderness after his baptism and encountered the devil, it wasn't a demonstration of power between these two. It was a battle of truth. The devil quoting half truths from Scripture trying to get Jesus to choose wrongly, and Jesus who was quoting the whole truth of the Word of God. Truth reveals my old sin nature when it seeks to thwart the things of God in my life. Truth keeps me pointed and walking in the right direction.I think it is pretty net that the list of the armor of God begins and ends with truth. It bookends all the other peaces of the armor. If you remember, in John 8:32, Jesus says, "And you shall know the TRUTH, and the TRUTH shall make you free. The truth that Jesus is indeed the power, the authority and the only person who can deliver us from this world of darkness and spiritual death.
In John 14: 6, Jesus goes on to say, "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. This is a pretty bold statement. No one...anywhere, anytime, any place can come to God the Father, except through Jesus. You know what? There aren't too many ways you can slice that statement. Boil it down to the basic message and what Jesus said is either the truth or its a lie. Call me crazy, but I tend to fall on the side that Jesus is speaking the truth.

So if you are struggling today, turn to the Word of God.
Pray out loud and call on the name of Jesus to come and rescue you.
You might be surprised as to what happens.

God on you.....

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Boring....Tedious.....Step by Step

Numbers 3:36-37
Now the appointed duties of the sons of Merari involved the frames of the Tabernacle, its bars, its pillars, its sockets, all its equipment and the service concerning them, and the pillars around the court with their sockets and their pegs and their cords.

Sometimes this new life of recovery is simply us doing the every day things.
But doing them correctly and with the proper attitude.
What attitude?
Why an attitude of gratitude of course.
Just like the men and families that God appointed to carry the tabernacle (the tent and Ark of the Covenant) during their wilderness wanderings, it wasn't all glamour and 10 Commandment moments. A lot of the time it was simply doing the right thing, over and over and over. Set the tabernacle up.........make sure everything is in place according to God's the daily, monthly and yearly sacrifices according to instructions....take the whole she-bang down, pack it up and move to the next location. It would be really easy to slide over into a place of apathy or even resentment. Thinking to yourself, "Hey...look at the family Jones! They don't have to carry any of this tabernacle stuff! Why don't they have to? Why am I stuck with carrying the tent pegs while others get to carry the Ark? Why don't I get to carry the Ark? I'm as good as they are.

We need to guard ourselves and be grateful and content with what God has given us and the place he has given us to occupy. It is there in the place of his calling that we will receive his blessing and favor if we are faithful. It's more than simply doing what God has called us to do, it also involves the motive and attitude we carry as we do the job.

The apostle Paul writes: Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
What was Paul's secret?
That God can be trusted.
Knowing that there is purpose behind where ever we have been lead to be.
If God called us to carry the tent pegs of the tabernacle, why then we should be the happiest, most content tent-peg-carrying people that ever existed.
No matter what is going on in your life today, fall on the fact and comfort that God can be trusted and that your circumstance has not caught him off guard.

This relationship we now live with Jesus Christ is built on faith, his grace to us and trust.
Did you see how Paul's situations were always changing? Prosperity...or want....full stomach or going hungry...abundance or matter what, Paul's faith in God did not waver. This is the kind of life I desire to have. How about you?

God on you......

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Every Body Is Working For The Weekend

Shades of the 80's/90's.
Sorry about the title of the posting today. As I was trying to decide what to post, that song just kind of came out of nowhere into my head. Maybe I'm having a "Big-hair-band" Flashback.

Still parked in the book of Numbers this week. The one thing that I have come to appreciate is how God equips us for a change in lifestyle. The Hebrews had lived in Egypt for 430 years. During that time, they had become slaves and existed under the heavy hand of oppression by the Egyptian government. God came and used a man named Moses to deliver the Hebrews out of this bondage. Fast forward to today. Millions of people are living in bondage and slavery to addiction. It takes the infusion and intervention of a higher power (In our case, we believe Jesus Christ to be that higher power) into the hearts and lives of those wishing to break free from the heavy hand of the kingdom of Satan.

Once they were free, God led the Hebrews out of Egypt on a journey to a new land....a promised land, where they would begin a new life. Isn't that truly what recovery from addiction is? The beginning of a new life. Just like the Hebrews, coming out of addiction poses some problems. We've never lived clean and sober before and, as such, we keep trying to apply the old principals of our former lives into this new way of living. It didn't work.

In the book of Numbers, we have a record of a nation being born. A nation of people being set right under the instruction of God. God had taken a people our of slavery and bondage who did not know how to live as free people. He set up laws and regulations, not to punish but insure the safety and well being of each person. He did this because the people simply had never lived under freedom. Freedom is not license to do what you want to. It is like recovery, freedom is to do what you ought to do. These laws and regulations would benefit everyone, not a select few. At the very heart of this new nation was one simple fact. The blessing of God would flow to them through their obedience to God's instructions.

Some view the Twelve Steps as an intrusion on their freedom.
Usually people with such a view as this are those who "have to get clean and sober," not those who have a desire to be clean. To those who seem to struggle with rebellion against this new life, there is still a tug and draw (some say even a love) for the old life. Of course we know that those who still have a longing for the old life style do so with a romanticized view. Like I wrote in a previous posting, God had to take Israel out of Egypt. Once accomplishing this, then God had to take Egypt out of Israel.

What I have found to be true in my own life is that God is wanting to weave HIS WORD deep into our lives, our families and our communities. This is the instruction and guidance needed to follow our higher power, Jesus, daily. These instructions are there to give us life and safety.

Hebrews 4:7-13
So as the Holy Spirit says:
"Today, if you hear his voice, do  not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert where your fathers tested and tried me. And for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation. And I said, "Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not  known my ways. So I declared an oath in my anger, they shall never enter my rest."
See to it, brothers, that  none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

Think of all the tools given to us by our higher power, Jesus Christ, when we surrender, repent, confess and accept Him as Lord and Savior over our lives.
1.) He puts His Holy Spirit inside us to guide us and instruct us.
2.) He gave us a simple, practical daily discipline to help keep chaos out of our lives. The 12 Steps become the daily schedule I follow.
3.) He provided His own thoughts, desires and plans in His word, the Bible.
4.) Through this new birth (II Cor. 5:17) He has provided a ready made family in which we can live and function as we grow and mature.
5.) This entire new life of sobriety is filled with promises from God.
6.) He has given us abundant life now, and eternal life when we cross over from death to the really, really new life with Him in eternity. I can't explain it, but I am sure ready to live it.

Have a great weekend.
God on you.....

Friday, February 24, 2012

Eureka! Gadzooks! Wowzers!

Just posted the message from last Saturday night's service (2/18/12).
Taken from Luke Chapter 5 about the paralytic whose friends brought him to Jesus for healing.
Jesus pulls the old switch-er-roo and forgives the man of his sins.
Feel free to download for later listening!
We give away simply because it was given to us.
God on you....


I've been at this recovery stuff for over 14 years. If you could translate that amount of time into the number of men who have come through the program, it would turn out to be a good number of men. Some have done well. Some have struggled (and continue to do so). Some simply gave up and made no effort to change. Among those who gave up, many have died. Death is the part of recovery that I hate the most. As a wise man once told me, "We are called to be obedient and plant the seeds God has given us." He went on to tell me..."We have good seed." In other words, the things that God has given to us to share, works and brings change to those whose hearts receive this Word/Seed.
We don't always get to see the end result of God's work in the lives of the men who come through Rapha. Guy's move on. Some we just never see again. But we rest in the knowledge that God's seed will produce fruit. That is why we pray over (and continue to pray) for each person who comes through Rapha.

God has a wonderful sense of timing and I was the recipient of such timing yesterday.
A former client came by to visit and catch up on the going's on at Rapha as well as share from his own life.
What a story. His story is one of the good seed that took root and has now produced fruit.
Bobby was a client at Rapha back in 2005 and over the years, God has taken Bobby on a most incredible journey. Bobby is now a full-time minister and evangelist who oversees an all male facility that helps men move back into main stream society. Bobby also is involved with prison ministry and makes several trips each year to prisons to share the message of hope and Christ to the inmates. Bobby's message is from the heart because he has experienced the first hand love of Christ in his own life. It is from this perspective that Bobby can relate to others who are struggling. It is also Bobby's perspective on life and Jesus that makes his message so powerful. Bobby has walked out his own recovery under the direction of God's Holy Spirit, so Bobby knows that it is real and not just another story.

As I sat and listened to Bobby share stories about all that has been going on in his life, I had this incredible sense of being grateful to God. You see, it really isn't about me and my time at Rapha. It isn't about the time I spent with Bobby during his program. It is about the faithfulness of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit as Bobby gave himself to God. Any time a former client comes back and they are doing well, that is payday for me. That is God's gift to me that says, "See...I'm still working in the lives of men who have come through Rapha. Keep teaching. Keep loving. Keep sharing the good news that Christ is the answer to every addiction problem that a person could face." That is why we are called to make disciples. Don't let the term "disciple" throw you off. I know it sounds all religious-see but it only means a follower. I want to introduce people to Jesus and see them fall in love with Him and follow Him. How's that for good stuff?

Over the years, God has given me a passion to teach those who have been entrusted to the program at Rapha. But in the course of teaching, I am to look for those who want to become disciples to God's word. The words of II Timothy 2:2 is a verse that I hold dear as the staff pastor at Rapha.  And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.  Not every one will have a call to teach others. Not every one who comes through Rapha burn with the desire to share what Jesus has done for them. But those who do, I want to help teach and train and equip them so they can take the message to others. This is the heart of the Kingdom of God, sharing the message of Christ's redemption.

Because of Christ's redemption, I am a new creation of infinite worth.
I am deeply loved.

I am completely forgiven.
I am fully pleasing.
I am totally accepted by God

I am absolutely complete in Christ.

When 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...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pawdy Moore and The Word Of God

Growing up in the country our sole source of life's necessities came from a small general store located at the center of our community.
Small, Cinder block building, the store was run by one Mr. Howard Moore otherwise known as "Pawdy".
Pawdy carried everything from shoe strings to Rabbit food Pellets in big checker board colored bags from the Ralston-Purina Company. There was Hog feed and dog feed and chicken feed and I'm sure if someone asked, Pawdy could probably come up with elephant feed. He was the purveyor of the needs of our small community.

As you entered the store through a Merita Bread Screen door, there, situated in the center of the room was a huge potbellied stove. This became the gathering point during the cold days of winter. Old men (at least they were old to me since I was 9) would sit and whittle, sharing stories and  matching pennies in an effort to pass the time. We kids were always getting in the way if you asked any of the old timers. Our favorite past time was to have spittin' contests on the stove top. Two kids (usually of the male persuasion) would gather on either side of the stove and when you both had accumulated enough spit, you'd launch it on to the stove top. The two globules of saliva would hit the stove with an incredible sizzling sound and commence to run around the top like two scalded rabbits. Did I mention that most of us in the community were poor so this particular activity was known as "high" entertainment. Usually after a few minutes of spit flinging on the stove, Pawdy would commence to run us kids off saying, "Either buy something or leave," knowing full well we didn't have any money.

Pawdy gave most everyone in the community a running tab or credit with which to purchase groceries with. You could get whatever you needed as long as by Friday at closing you'd paid up your bill. I sure there were times when Pawdy would extend credit, but this was not something we kids were privy to. Pawdy was a good man....a gentle man who tried to be gruff but never quiet managed to pull it off. Pawdy was the lifeline for the community and every one was very appreciative.

You may be asking yourself, "Why is he writing about general store and spit contest?" Well, just like Pawdy and his general store that provided what we needed, So does the Bible.
You want to hear the voice of God?
Then open your Bible and your heart and listen as the words become more than organized thoughts in a line. Let them come to life as you take them into your spirit.
Listen for God's voice asking you, "What is you need today, my child?"
God's general store has every thing needed to walk through this dark, old world.
Psalm 119: Selected verses-
Verse 1 & 2 - Blessed are people of integrity, who follow the law of the LORD.
Blessed are those who obey his decrees and search for him with all their hearts.

Verse 57 - 59 -  LORD, you are mine! I promise to obey your words! With all my heart I want your blessings. Be merciful to me just as your promised. I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow your statutes.

Whatever it is I need, I find in the Word of God. The daily situations and circumstances that come to me where I feel as though God was behind them, I turn to the word to hear the confirming voice that declares to my spirit, "It was me!" There is great peace and comfort knowing that the more I study God's word, the clearer his voice becomes.

It really isn't in vogue to study and digest the word of God these days.
Those who do are accused of being dead and not open to the move of the Holy Spirit. I disagree. I do understand how it could be seen in this light. The main focus today is on experiencing God. Boy...I do not have a problem with that. I love it more than anyone when the presence of God manifests in meeting and things begin to happen. People are saved and people are healed. I love it when a corporate worship service just goes off the scale as people get free. But for me, nothing compares with that wonderful moment when the Holy Spirit inside me, suddenly makes a verse connect. I might have been looking for an answer from God and there suddenly on the page I see it. The words come to life and then become life inside of me as I realize that God himself has directed me and given  me an answer to a problem. How cool is that?

I am a huge advocate of Bible study.
Use your Bible.
Wear your Bible out.
Mark in it....highlight thoughts and verses.
Read it...
Get the word all down inside your spirit.
You will never regret it....
Like Pawdy Moore's Store, The Word of God has everything you need for living in this old world.

God on you....

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My morning walks have become somewhat enjoyable as I continue to gain my strength back since my heart attack. This morning I was up at 4:15, dressed and out the door for the walk. Armed with my mp3 player and a couple of downloads of QUICK STUDY BIBLE STUDY, I hit the road.

I have started back with the Bible study at Rapha on Tuesday nights. We had a good group last night, probably around 20-25 men as we opened the book of Revelation. Now before you get all excited, know that we covered chapter 1 and did so to get them acquainted with what the book is about. The first question I asked was, "When you think of Revelation, what is the first thing that comes to your mind?"
The Rapture. The Anti-Christ. The great tribulation. End times. And the list went on and on. I finally told them that on one hand, they were right, but that they had missed the entire focus of the book. The book of Revelation was about the revealing of Jesus Christ. We get a close up and intimate look at Jesus who is ministering in heaven today. It isn't about the carpenter son of Joseph and Mary, working, living and ministering here on earth. It is about the risen, glorified Son of God who operates from the position of High Priest of heaven.

In chapter one, John refers to Jesus as:
The Loyal (or faithful) witness. The thought behind the name is to come to an understanding that every word spoken by Jesus is true and Amen. The final word. To put it in "Southern" terms...Jesus doesn't flap his gums to just to hear the noise.
Jesus is the firstborn from the dead. He wasn't the first to be resurrected to life, but he was the first who willingly gave his life for the sin of the world to be cancelled. He died and was resurrected, but here comes the kicker. Jesus ascended to heaven and took his rightful place at the right hand of God the father. The Father gave Jesus the title of LORD. He truly is King of king and Lord of Lords. How do I know this? Because John goes on to refer to Jesus as the "ruler of all earthly kings."

John (the revelator) continues in Chapter one with this incredible passage:
"Glory and strength to Christ, who loves us...
who blood-washed our sins from our lives...
Who made us a Kingdom, Priests for his Father, forever---and yes, he's on the way!
Riding the clouds, he'll be seen by every eye.
Those who mocked and killed him will see him....
People from all nations and all times will tear their clothes in lament.
Oh yes."

You know, if you really stop to think about it, we are living and headed toward the fulfillment of the book of Revelation right now. I know that some believe that the events of Revelation have already happened (Preterist) and the book itself is open to great debate. I tend to view it with the notion that sometimes our intellectual prowess gets in the way of understanding. When it comes to Scripture, we tend to complicate the obvious and trivialize the momentous. In other words, sometimes Scripture is simply how it reads.

I'm not into time tables or predictions concerning the Kingdom of God or the return of Jesus. I comfort myself with the words of Scripture, knowing them to be true and will be fulfilled either in my lifetime or in the life to come. My focus is to simply love God and trust Him that He is in control of today. If He is in control of the events that will happen today, then I can trust my life and my sobriety to Him. That puts me at peace as I simply walk out this 24  hours that have been given to me.

I don't know if you know this, but I have read the end of the book, and guess what? WE WIN!
Revelation 12
Salvation and power are established!
The Kingdom of our God, authority of his Messiah!
The accuser of our brothers and sisters thrown out, who accused them day and night before God.
They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb and the bold words of their testimony.
They weren't in love with themselves and were willing to die for Christ,

so rejoice, O Heavens and all who live there.

Be encouraged in that whatever you are struggling with today, Jesus is there to help you, empower you, guide you and protect you.
He is a good God!

God on!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Living here in the deep South of the United States, we find ourselves in the middle of what I refer to as the "transition" season. It's  not quiet spring and it's  not quiet winter. We still have cold spells followed by warm days. You start out wearing a coat or a jacket, but by the afternoon you've shed it for just your shirt sleeves. Day's are getting longer and pretty soon we'll be moving to Daylight Savings Time. I do believe that DST was created by some heinous group of people who did it to torment us common folk. DST isn't natural! It's still daylight at 8:30 p.m. and my internal clock gets all messed up during this period.
What does this have to do with God or recovery? Nothing. I just felt like writing about this. Consider it a bonus at no extra charge.

Matthew 7:24-29 (Message Bible)
"these words that I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit----but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapse like a house of cards."
When Jesus concluded his address, the crowd burst into applause. They had never heard teaching like this. It was apparent that he was living every thing he was saying---quiet a contrast to their religious leaders!

Real life is found in the Word of God.
There are no throw away words found in Scripture.
There is no casual conversation written anywhere in the Bible.
Each word is important and conveys the heart of love that God has for us, his creation.
I remember growing up my parents talking to me about certain things. Being the rebellious teenager, I sat there, but I didn't really listen to them. What I heard was like Charlie Brown's teacher in the cartoon PEANUTS.  "Wah..wah..wah...wah...wah...wah." My parents were trying to share their wisdom with me so that I could make good choices in the situations that I faced daily. Did I listen? Nope! And there were several times that I paid a price for my 'deafness'.
Jesus said for us to "hear" his words, and more than just taking in the information.....put them into practice.
There is such a conflict in the world today between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan that we must have Godly council in order to survive. It's not enough to simply live by your wits and own wisdom.
I need the instruction of God.
I choose to follow what Scripture reveals to me.

In verse 13-14 of Matthew 7 we read: "Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easy going formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to God! It is vigorous and requires total attention. In other words, when Jesus said we were to "Follow Him" he meant that the path and instruction is found in his Word. How can I follow if I don't study?

If you new to this, then start with one of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.
Don't be in a hurry as you read.
Always pray before you start your reading and ask God to give you wisdom and insight into what you read.
You'll be surprised as God unlocks His word for your understanding.

God on you today....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Go....Share,,,,Give away....Live

The very heart of recovery is found in the simple act of taking the message to others who are still living in their addiction.
Step # 12 -  Having had a spiritual awakening, we take the message to others.
We continue our own recovery by practicing the principals of Step #12 daily in our own life.
By helping and sharing with others, we strengthen our own self.
Now in no way am I saying that Step # 12 is the GREAT COMMISSION that Jesus gave the disciples, and every one else who followed through salvation. What I am saying is that the idea behind the Great Commission is at the heart of recovery.

Jesus was preparing to return to heaven.
He had been resurrected for 40 days, and during that time he had taught his disciples many things.
Now it was time for him to leave.
On  hill outside the city of Jerusalem, they gathered.
Jesus gave them this final instruction.
Matthew 28:18-20 - Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: "God authorized and commanded me to commission you. God out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the three fold name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age."

Jesus tells them, "You've got a job to do."
You have to got to share with everyone you meet, what I have done for you.
Not because it's a good idea, or there was a need to get this movement called Christianity off the ground, but because it was real and it was life.
The teaching and the giving of one's self to Christ through the act of surrender, belief, confession and repentance, brought a new level of life to the individual.
My focus or call is to share the good news about Jesus to every one I meet who is in addiction.
I have written this many times in this blog and I know it to be true.
IF you follow the 12 Steps, you will bump your head on the cross and run into Jesus.
Jesus is my "Higher Power."
Jesus is the Power greater than myself who can restore me to sanity.
Jesus is the answer to the unanswerable question of "Why can't I stop using?"
Church isn't the answer.
Religion isn't the answer.
Being spiritual isn't the answer.
Jesus is the answer.
You may be thinking to yourself, "Michael, how do you know this? How can you be so sure?"
I know because of
1.) How my life use to be before Jesus
2.) I know how my life is today.
I still have problems and I struggle with things at times.
There are times, I even want to quit and give up.
But there is a presence in me, and a voice that lovingly whispers to me, "Don't give up. I'll never leave you nor forsake you.I will  be with you even unto the end of the age."

That is why I am passionate about this Jesus.
He is passionate about me...
My life....
My future....
I will follow Him all the days of my life and I will shout the good news that Christ died to free us not only from addiction, but from every sin that would entangle us and cause us to stumble and fall.
That, my good news.

God on you....
Please come back to the Greene Street Letters again.
I hope that you find encouragement from the things I share.
God on you....

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I have posted the message from 2/11 in the podcast section.
Seth Barber teaches on "Getting in the boat!" from Genesis 6.
Don't miss it.
Listen to the message or you can download it to listen to it later.
Share it.
Give it away...

Enjoy it.
That's what the Greene Street Letters is all about.
Until tomorrow...


Extra Special Secret Tri-Quantum Posting

Wow! A Sunday posting. I usually don't do a Sunday posting because we haven't had Internet at our home.
Now that we do,I felt the urge (or was that just effects of my 2nd cup of coffee) to post this morning.
Last nights service at Rapha was off the chain. (What would it look like if it was "on the chain"?)
Wayne Wimpee, our percussionist, lead us in the song "HOW GREAT THOU ART" and it was incredible. God's presence was so thick in the room as we sang and worshipped. I am extremely grateful for times such as these.

I find myself thinking on the verses in Scripture where it is made evident that God is a God of love. (Yes, Virginia, God does have a side that involves judgment). To think on the Father-heart of God as He has been long-suffering with each of us, wooing us through conviction and the Holy Spirit, to bring us to a place of repentance and surrender. A place of brokenness where we see ourselves as God truly sees us. It is in that place that we experience the full love of Christ. We find ourselves being the recipient of divine love and the will of the Father to bring us into salvation.

I want to share something with you from the Message Bible.
Romans 3:21-24
But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. God setting things right, that we read about, has become Jesus setting things right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in Him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we've compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God will for us, God did it for us. out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift, He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be.And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

Now if that bit of good news doesn't set your wood on fire.........then your woods wet.
I don't know what you are struggling with today......but God does.
I know that each of us has problems and situations that seem to overwhelm us to the point that we can't breath. God knows our situations. It is for this reason that we I choose to look to Him and not the world to provide answers, comfort and direction on what to do.
I will be praying for you today.
Praying that you would experience the presence of God in way that you might never have before.
Praying that you would find comfort and peace in knowing that God is in control of today.
If you don't get anything else from this posting, know this------
I love you
and God loves you.

God on you.....

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday...Smatterday...Gotta Wear A Hat-er-Day

It has been a good week at Rapha. The guys have been checked in during class and we have completed the entire 12 Step Teachings. Now, come Monday, we'll roll back over into Step #1 and commence the whole shebang all over again.

Spent most of the day yesterday with men who were working on their fifth step ( Admit to God, another human being and oursleves the exact nature of our wrongs). This particular step is always the hardest to get through simply because you are telling another person all the deep, dark, sticky stuff you have done in your past. Main purpose of the step is to be free from those secrets that we have kept that have power over us and seem to be at the root of the addiction. Another part of the step is to begin to realize the character defects we possess that also aid in keeping the addiction active.

I am so looking forward to the service tonight at Rapha. The whole worship team will be together after 3 weeks of different stuff going on in our lives. I feel as though God has given me a good word for tonight. The message will come from Luke Chapter 5 and deal with the vision of Jesus as opposed to our own way of seeing things. Please be in prayer for us tonight that we can get out of the way and allow God to do what he does so give life.

Numbers 14:1-2
And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and aginst Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, "Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt or would God we had died in this wilderness! And why has the LORD brought us into this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? Would it  not be better for us to return to Egypt?

The people who came out of Egypt.....
Came out of a lifestyle of slavery, abject misery and poverty....
Came from a place with no hope and no future...
Are now railing aginst Moses and Aaron accusing them (and God) of manipulation.
"You brought us out here to die and our wives and children will become easy pickings for whoever!"
Sounds to me like the flesh is up and running wild.
Instead of remembering what God had done for them, they were playing that age old game of "Should-a, would-a and could-a".   In other words they were projecting their fears toward Moses and Aaaron.
When fear rises up, it replaces faith.
When fear rises up, it replaces common sense.
When fear rises up, it becomes the preminent voice that we tend to listen to.
It's hard to hear God's voice when fear is screaming in my mind.
Now, lets get real honest here.
Fear is a part of begin human.
God  knows this.
Why else would every time an Angel shows up or Jesus shows up in Scripture, the first thing that is said is, "FEAR NOT!?" It isn't the fact that we are fearful, it is because we are not to allow that fear to take control of our emotions and our minds. We turn our fear toward our faith that God is bigger than anything that we might face in our daily lives.

For someone in addiction, fear of the unknown is a huge battle that must be fought.
Not knowing what is out there today, or what problems might come our way is something that every person in recovery faces.
But we learn, through the steps and through Scripture, that God is worthy to be trusted.
His promises are "yes and amen" and he is always with us no matter where life takes us.

Psalm 23:4 reads, "I will fear no evil, for you are with me."
It is the presence of God, the work of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit that enables me to face life today.
Because of Christ's redemption....
He will grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.....
Courage to change the things I can.....
And wisdom to know the difference.....
Just for today....

God on you......

Friday, February 17, 2012

Isaiah 55:6 - 10
Seek God while he's here to be found.....
Pray to him while he's close at hand.....
Let the wicked abandon their way of life....
And the the evil their way of thinking.
Let them come back to God, who is merciful.....
Come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.

God says, "I don't think the way you think.
The you work isn't the way I work." God's Decree.

For as the sky soars high above the earth,]so the way I work surpasses the way you work.
And the way I think is beyond the way you think.

God on you....

Ezra - He Would Not Compromise

One thing that truly will signal the death that is coming down the track is compromise when it comes to recovery.
As you work the steps, you come face to the face with the reality of "I Can't"......"God Can"....."I Will Let Him."
There is no room for compromise with our old lifestyle.
Trying to embrace the old with the new produces conflict within.
We try to balance the two lifestyles in our mind. Excusing the danger of one with the over protection of the other.

The Old Testament writer, Ezra, knew of the danger of compromise. He wrote about it in the book that bears his name.
Ezra 9:10-11 we find Ezra praying to God over the condition of the people who joined him to rebuild the Temple. "And now, our God, after all this what can we say for ourselves? For we have thrown you commands to the wind, the commands you gave us through your servants the prophets. They told us, ' The land you're taking over is a polluted land, polluted with the obscene vulgarities of the people who live there. They've filled it with the moral rot from one end to the other. Whatever you do, don't give your daughters in marriage to their sons nor marry your sons to their daughters."

The very thing Ezra was concerned with had happened.
The sons and daughters of Israel had inter-married with the people of the land. They had rejected the commands of God to embrace the gods of the people that occupied the country surrounding the Temple at Jerusalem.
As we move into the new "LIFE" of recovery, we will be tempted to sacrifice parts of our recovery to embrace the old lifestyle and behavior or addiction. It may begin with the playing of some songs that we use to listen to when we were using. How innocent! It's only music, it really doesn't affect me. Really? Do you not know that we associate memories with music. Powerful memories that stir our flesh and create longing's inside. Why play with such things. Why compromise the incredible gift of sobriety that God has given you this morning.

Find the joy no compromise this morning.
Let the grace of God wash over you through the finished work of Jesus on the cross.
You know, when Jesus cried out from the cross, 'IT IS FINISHED!" He meant that in so many different ways, we can't count them all.
The power of sin was broken from man kind.
The penalty of sin was eliminated from man kind.
The presence of sin was dealt with for all man kind.
This new life free from sin was given as a gift to all who would receive.

Romans 5:1-2
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us---set us right with him, make us fit for him---we have it all together with God because of our Lord Jesus. And that's not all; We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand----out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

Drive your tent pegs down deep and open the door to your tent and enjoy the spacious bounty of life that has been poured out on you this day. Do not let compromise with the devil/ world system, rob you of the promises that God has for you today.
No matter what anyone says.....
That's good stuff.

God on you.....

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ta Da!

Just a little experiment this morning. I am sitting at home typing this on a lap top at my kitchen table. We moved into the 21st Century today with the introduction of wireless Internet to the Bynum Household.
All forms of communication are now filling the ether (there...that word will date you, won't it?). This means that we are surrounded by waves and protons, neutrons and fig new-tons.
Smart phones.....
I pads....
Kindles and Nooks....
More gadgets and gidgets than the mind can  comprehend.
Are we better off to be so gadgetized? I don't know.
We don't truly seem any smarter even though our phones say we are.
It really hasn't done anything for our moral compass has it?
Are we a kinder, more gentle nation? No.
Seems to be that we are more self-centered and lack compassion for the plight of those around us.

If there ever was anyone who walked this earth that had a heart for humanity, it was Jesus.
Matthew 9:36 speaks of the heart of Jesus for people: And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.
Jesus knew that the religious leaders of the day did  not have the best interest of the people at heart. The leaders primary concern was their image in the eyes of the people. They only cared that they were able to hang onto their position and lifestyle that accompanied such a place.

The people were without direction and guidance. Jesus knew that the Kingdom of God was their only hope. The rule and reign of God through Him (Jesus) could bring purpose and direction for the people. When people have no sense of purpose or direction, they are easy prey for those who do not have their best interest at heart.

In Verse 37 and 38 of the Matthew 9 passage, we read: Then he said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into His harvest." I like this. Notice who is laying claim to the lives of those who are despondent. Jesus!! It is the harvest of the LORD. There is a call to go out, not stay inside some building, but infiltrate the marketplace, the school, the hospital, the workplace with the good news that Jesus is Lord. There is hope and a future when your life is in the hands of Jesus. Sounds like fairy tale stuff, but it isn't. It's the hard, cold, smack-you-in-the-face truth.

It is amazing to me to see the lives of men and women take such a turn for the better when they finally surrender themselves to the "care of God as they understood Him." It is so easy to see the destruction and misery caused by addiction. We shake our heads and whisper about what a terrible waste has come to the life of someone who is trapped by addiction. But when we start talking about the healing "POWER" of God, well we tend to stand back and point a finger and say, "Be're going too far! You'll turn into some kind of religious fanatic. Excuse me? Weren't we fanatics for drugs and alcohol? I think so. As least with being a fanatic for Jesus we have hope and a future. Drugs/alcohol or Jesus? Hmmmm. I think I'll take Jesus every way too Sunday.

Thank you for letting me ramble here at my kitchen table this morning, but I must start getting ready for to go to Rapha.
I pray that you have a wonderful day, and hey..........
let's get together again in the morning. What do you say?
God on you....


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Don't Sweat The Petty Things---Don't Pet The Sweaty Things--

Paul writing to Timothy ----"Tim! The greatest thing you are going to wrestle with as you get this new church off the ground is time. Time will tug at you for attention. It will try and dictate what you do and when you do it. Don't let time be your master. You become the master of your time. Don't be caught up in the "little things" that need to be addressed in your daily affairs. If your adversary, the devil, can't stop you, then he will "busy" you to death. He will throw multiple situations at you that demand your time and keep you from doing what God has called you to do. Stay on guard and simply follow what the Holy Spirit leads you to do."

I wrote a modern update to what we find in II Timothy 2:4.
What Paul really wrote to Timothy is as follows:
"And as Christ's soldier, do not let yourself become tied up in the affairs of this life, for then you cannot satisfy the one who has enlisted you in his army. Follow the Lord's rules for doing his work, just as an athlete either follows the rules or is disqualified and wins no prize."

It seems as though sometimes following Jesus is something that takes 2nd place to life itself. We say we love Him and want to do His will, but we have jobs to go to and families to raise and bills to pay. Somewhere along the way, we try and squeeze some "Jesus" into our hours. Society seems to be the ruler of our time. We are subtly pressured to have "the good life". We spend money for material possessions to fill our homes with. We seek pleasure and rest in order to give our lives meaning. Yet in all of this, Jesus seems to occupy only a small portion of our passion and drive. I'm not sure, but I believe that God desires us to put Him first. Not because God has some huge ego that needs to be stroked, or that He feels threatened by anything that would take His place in the hearts of His creation. How so not true are those statements.

God's love is responsible for the sheer fact that I draw my next breath. His love is shown to me to draw me into the knowledge of how deep a relationship He wants to have with me. Is God so weak that He has to manipulate things around us in order to draw us to Him? No! God doesn't have to manipulate anything. It is the love of God that fills and directs His plans and purposes for us.
Romans 5:8 reads: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." God is not a passive God who sits idly by wishing and hoping that we somehow turn our hearts to Him. God's desire for us to focus our minds, our hearts, our strength and our complete being upon Him, so that through our obedience to His word so He Can Bless Us!!!

Don't let the devil draw your attention away from God.
Don't let your heart be lead astray from devotion to God and His word.
Don't let the things and the time of this world replace your time for God.

"Every time I think of you----And I think of you often! -----I thank God for your lives of free and open access to God, given by Jesus. There's no end to what has happened in you----it's beyond speech, beyond knowledge. The evidence of Christ has been clearly verified in your lives. Just think----You don't need a thing, you've got it all! All God's gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene for the Finale. And not only that, but God himself is right alongside to keep you steady and on track until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. God, who got you started in this spiritual adventure, shares with us the life of His Son and our Master Jesus. He will never give up on you. Never forget that."   I Corinthians 1:4-9

God on you.....

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Goodbye Old Friend......For Now

Portions of Matthew 11:28-29
"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. And you will find rest for your souls."

Painter by trade.
Gentle man by nature.

Soft spoken but when he did speak, you listened.
Such was Ewing Saxon.
In my eyes, he left this world before he should have. In other words, he was way too young to have died.
In times like this, my thoughts turn to "why?"
Why Ewing?
Why now?
Each time I find myself deep in these thoughts, I can feel God's voice deep inside telling me....."Trust me! I know you don't understand, but you will."

I Corinthians 13:12 does bring comfort to me during times like this.
"Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God know me now."
In other words, as long as I dwell on this side of heaven and eternity, I will be left with questions that have no answers. Not because answers don't exist but because it isn't time for me to know or understand them. I'm not sure but I do believe somethings are best understood by experiencing them. Such as the transition from life to death and life again. Eternal life. Jesus life. Heavenly life. How can a finite mind grasp what it is like? How can a finite mind put into words what the eternal is like?
I will leave this to God.

Tonight we go to the funeral home to pay our respects to Ewing's family.
Ewing won't be there.
He no longer hurts or is in pain.
He has broken the chains of this existence and now stands unfettered and free in the presence of Jesus.
I am jealous.

God on you....

Monday, February 13, 2012

Choose The Light!

II Samuel 22:29
For You are my lamp, O LORD. The LORD shall enlighten my darkness.

Funny how when I try to run my own life or make decisions without consulting God, I don't realize how little spiritual light I actually possess. It is only when my decisions have gone South and I am surrounded by destruction that I cry out, "Oh God! I am in darkness." My flesh keeps me from actually believing that I am walking in dark places. After all, I'm in charge! I would never lead myself purposely into dark, dangerous places with my decisions. Guess what? That is what happens.

Psalm 18:28
For you will light my lamp. The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.

Only God possesses the ability to be both "lamp" and "light".
Only God can illuminate my mind, my heart and my spirit and allow me to "see" Him and follow Him.
It's all part of the Step #3  in the 12 Steps.
"We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him."
God shows me the right direction and decisions that I should take. It is up to me to recognize the value in following God. That by doing so, I am placing myself in the best possible place to receive God's blessings. Although there are times we might feel out of control (with respect to our addictions) we can choose to set our heart toward God.

Deuteronomy 30:20
Choose to love the LORD your God and to obey Him and commit yourself to Him, for He is your life. Then you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

I have spent my past in chasing the sin appetite within me. I gave it everything it desired, holding back nothing. I lied. I stole money. I cheated people. Whatever it took to feed the appetite, I did. I was in total spiritual darkness cut off from God.

Then God said, "Let there be light."
I began to see myself in ways I never had before. Through His Holy Spirit, I came to understand that I was not only under the influence of drugs and alcohol, I was under the influence of sin. In bondage by the power of sin. Headed toward death due to the penalty of sin. Living a life directed by the presence of sin. Now the real-deal-God-of-the-Universe was talking to me, through my heart, telling me that He alone possessed the power to free me from every vestige of sin in my life. All I had to do was be saved. How cool was that?

John 1:12-13
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God--children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

Why not let God light your candle today?
God on you.....

Finding Real Life

I John 1:5-7
If we claim that we experience, or have a shared life with Christ and  yet continue to stumble around in the darkness, we obviously are deceived and are lying through our teeth. We're not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God's Son, purges all our sin.

I John 3: 5-6
Surely you know that Christ showed up in order to get rid of sin. There is no sin in Him, and sin is not a part of His program. No one who lives deeply in Christ makes a practice of sin. None of those who do practice sin have taken a good look at Christ. They've got Him all backward.

I John 3:8
The Son of God entered, or came on the scene, stepping into our time and space to abolish and destroy the ways and works of the devil.

Galatians 6:14
For my part, I am going to boast about nothing but the cross of Jesus. Because of the cross, I have been crucified in relation to the world, set free from the stifling atmosphere of pleasing others and fitting into the little patterns that they dictate.

Paul, in Galatians, says that through the cross, the world was crucified to him and he to the world. Through the introduction of Jesus into his life, Paul saw the beauty of the cross. The world and it's lure of entrapment lost all its luster and shine for Paul.

The same can be true for us today.
It is possible to be so taken with Jesus that sin, the world, the flesh and the devil all lose their power of temptation for us.  The gospel of the grace of God which is found in the cross, is the liberating power for all who come to believe. This power is more than sufficient to save any sinner, justify all the ungodly, sanctify all justified sinners and glorify every sanctified saint.
As the writer of the hymn "How Great Thou Art" so aptly put it:
And when I think of God, His Son not sparing.....
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in....
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing...
He bled and died to take away my sin.

I Corinthians 15:3
The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me. That the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it.

In the above scripture, Paul declares that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is of first importance. Come draw near the cross and let God change you.

Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where thou hast died.
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,

To thy precious, bleeding side.

God on you......

Saturday, February 11, 2012

It's All About The Cross Of Christ

I Corinthians 2:2 - For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

God leads each person who is called to teach into specific areas of Scripture. Some, like Chuck Smith, have been lead to teach only the Scripture itself. He teaches through the Bible completely, expounding only the Word of God. Others, such as Perry Stone, Hal Lindsey, teach prophetically and bring illumination to portions of the Scripture that are hard to understand. Some, like Billy Graham, are used by God to lead countless millions to Christ for salvation. In my case, I have been lead to the cross of Christ and it is there I must stay.

The people that God places around me are men who have very little, if any, religious training of any sort. I'm not complaining because they are far easier to teach than someone who grew up in church and has enough so-called "knowledge" about God. My question to the church goer who just happens to like crystal meth and crack is, "What happened to your Jesus? If your Jesus is so hot, how did you end up here in rehab?" You see the problem isn't with Jesus. It is with their understanding of who Christ is and exactly what salvation means. What better place to begin with than at the cross. Why the cross?

Paul refers to the cross of Jesus Christ as the power of God and holds it up as a standard against what he refers to as the wisdom of men. What do we see when we look at the cross? First, God's hatred for sin. Man kind has a way of wanting to minimize sin, excuse it or simply blame someone else, but everyone of these excuses comes to a grinding halt when we are brought to the cross of Christ. The cross stands for uncovering of my heart so that I can see the truth of myself in the light of God's grace and mercy. Then I can come and receive forgiveness of my sins and find freedom from my sin.

Truth be known, you could say that the cross of Christ is like a magnet. It has a drawing influence for those who believe and are saved. At the same time, it has a repelling influence for those whose hearts remain hard and dead, rejecting the gift of eternal life. The cross either draws you in or drives you away.

I Corinthians 1:18 - The Message that points to Christ on the cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense (Mess Bible)

At the cross, the sinner is forgiven and accepted.
At the cross, they are cleansed and relieved of the burden of sin.
At the cross, they are pardoned and transformed.
And at the cross, we not only find justification and acceptance with God, but is is also where we find the power to overcome sin.

John 12:32-33 - "And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."
We who were sunk and lost in sin have been found and raised by the power of the cross.

Why not let the love of Christ lead you into the life you secretly have been hoping, searching and praying for.
He is real....
His love is amazing.....
God on you

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Word Never Wears Out

Now this is my kind of Bible. Used....Nothing more beautiful than a Bible that is worn out. We have my wife's grand fathers Bible. Pages all marked up. Pages that have come loose from the binding. Pages that have been turned down. He used his Bible. More than that, my wife's grand father lived his Bible every day of his life. What a testimony to the power of Scripture and to the faithfulness of God who honors His promises.I have an NAS Study Bible I bought when I started as associate pastor of Gadsden Vineyard Church. It has so many marks and notes in it that sometimes it is actually hard to read the text. It is my favorite Bible. Highlighted and noted with insights and surprises that God has revealed to me over these past 15 years. Bible's are meant to be used.

Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Study the word. Don't just read it.
Study the word. Don't just have a morning devotion.
I know...
I know...
I am beginning to sound like a pharisee!
Do this to prove you love Jesus!
No! Let the love of Christ in your heart move you to study the word.
It isn't about being a pastor or leader of any sort, size, shape or fashion.
It is about being a follower of Jesus.
I study because God speaks through His word.
I study not for information but for illumination.
I study because it comforts me and brings peace to my spirit.
The older I get, the more in love with His word I become.

Psalm 119:11
Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee.
Having the understanding of God's word in my heart and not just my head, aids me to overcome sin.I like the term "treasured" shows that God's word has value to it. Something that is more valuable than anything the world has to offer.
The Word of God.....
Delight yourself in it......
God on you.....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sorry about not posting over the past two days.
I came down with a ragin' case of the crud.
Thanks to my wife for taking care of me and getting me back on my feet.
Good to be back among the living.

Some verses that encouraged me today.
Psalm 27:13 - I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
I try not to focus on how far down the tubes our nation has gone.
Lack of morals.........
Every form of wickedness seems to be sprouting and showing its ugly face.
If I read Scripture right, then this type behavior has been foretold. What we are seeing is merely the birth pains of the end of the age.
I like what John Wimber use to say when asked if he thought we were living in the last days. John would reply, "I don't know. What I do know is that we are "laster" than we've ever been."
Reliance of God is needed now more than ever. For each individual as well as our nation.

That is why it is important for me to always start with myself by letting God show me my heart.
Today, Lord! Show me any thing that would seek to usurp your power in my life. Show me attitudes and thoughts that are contrary to your plan and will for my life. I don't want any emotional weeds or thorns growing up in my spirit today.

Isaiah 31:1 speaks of the foolishness of a nation that doesn't trust God. I guess we could bring that thought down and apply to each of our personal lives.
"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!
Who are you trusting today?
or man kinds ability to solve their own problems? I can't even rely on my own personal strength to solve my problems or have answers that seem right but end in death.
Maybe we need to really believe what our currency says.............."In God We Trust."

"On Christ the solid rock I stand..........All other ground is sinking sand...........all other ground is sinking sand."

God on you.....

Monday, February 6, 2012

New Message In Podcast Section

I have added Sam Colegrove's message from January 14 to the podcast section of this blog. Sam shares about the work of the Holy Spirit in his life and how his life has been changed.

Strange Fire....Don't Play Around With It!

Leviticus 10
Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over it. In this way, they disobeyed the Lord by burning before him a different or strange fire than he had commanded. So fire blazed forth from the Lord's presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord.

Not a particular happy story.
Not a feel good story, but one we need to see and read about none the less.
One of the most dangerous and subtle attitudes that a human heart can possess is the thought of, "I want to do this my way." A thought that disregards the ways of God and simply leans upon the idea that God will accept me no matter what I do.
He didn't accept Cain in the book of Genesis because Cain wanted to approach God in his own way.
God didn't accept Uzzah in the book of Kings. Uzzah was just trying to keep the ark of God from falling off the cart. Uzzah touched the ark and was killed immediately. Never mind that King David had decided how he wanted the ark brought to Jerusalem. Never mind that David's way was contrary to how God had commanded the ark to be brought in.

From Quick Study Bible
Tragedy always strikes careless arrogant attitudes when they confront the divine mind. Modern man has been pushed far from respect and honor for leadership, a result of God's WORD being removed from our modern societies. Without fear of God comes a severs source of deep destruction.
Leviticus 10 tells us that God set the example by killing both of them for their profane fire which took them beyond the WORD of God. This was not wise!
Psalm 119:11 - I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
What is your heart full of? Is it full of your own thoughts of what you want to do and how you want to do it. Is is filled with thoughts of what you want to do for God, even though God hasn't called you to do these things? Let your heart be filled with His WORD, and then simply do not stray outside of what God is telling you to do.

Psalm 119:133 - Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by evil.
Scripture says we are to "live by faith and not by sight." Faith that is given by and returned to God as we daily move under the leading of His Holy Spirit living inside each follower of Jesus. I like what the verse says......Guide me so that I will not be overcome by evil. You want to be free from the stings and wounds of the devil and his minions............then follow Jesus.

God on you.....

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Feeling Little Sick Today

I spoke at Celebrate Recovery in Centre, Alabama last night.
I have been going there and speaking for the last 8 years. Doesn't seem like it has been that long.
The very first time I went, they were meeting upstairs in a small room. It was so small (Everyone, "How small was it?") the front row was almost touching the stage. It was a time of small beginnings and of much hope for those who were caught by their hurts, habits and hangups. I was just beginning to go out and speak to different Celebrate Recovery's and I quickly saw that God had granted me great grace to be a part of the Centre Group.

Over these past 8 years, there have been some deep friendships develop and flourish. They are special folks up there who meet every Friday night. They love Jesus and they love the ones who consider themselves to be unlovable. To me the words of Psalm 107:20  are very present and powerful in the Celebrate Recovery in Centre.  He sent forth His word and healed them and delivered them from their destruction. Please, if you would, pray for Donnie and Shelly George as they lead this Celebrate Recovery. Pray that God would continue to provide the means and support for them to continue.

I'm feeling a bit under the weather today. We call it the "Rapha Crud" and it is making the rounds through the camp. Pray for me, if you will.... Guess I need some of the Psalm 107:20 medicine. Let Your word come, Lord! Heal me.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Big Ol' Honkin' Dude....

Today's Reading:  I Samuel 17:20-47
There he stood.....
Taller than anyone could imagine.
Armor shining in the sun.
A picture of death and destruction.
His name? Goliath.
Even today, centuries after he was killed, his name carries a certain weight and imagery that stirs our imaginations.
The army of Israel saw themselves as being weak and terrified when Goliath stepped forward to issue the challenge to fight. One one against man...winner take all. Goliath would take on all challengers.

If addiction had a name, it would be Goliath.
IT stands, in the minds of those addicted, like a giant that cannot be defeated.
"What? You think you're going to break free from me through your own will power and determination?" That voice rings in the ears of an addict. It beats them down and challenges them with every decision they face. It beats so loud and so long that a person truly begins to believe that there is no way to defeat Goliath/addiction.  It taunts us and challenges us to do something, anything. We cower in fear and return to the drugs and alcohol in order to silence the voice and stop the pain.

So how was Goliath defeated?
He was killed by a young shepherd boy named David.
But that isn't the entire story.
Goliath was killed by a young shepherd boy named David who was filled with the Spirit of God (See I Samuel 16:13). In other words, it took Power greater than David himself to defeat the giant. Here we see the very heart of recovery. Step #2 - came to believe in a power greater than ourselves that could restore us to sanity. What is insanity? Going out to meet Goliath everyday hoping something would change, only to run away in fear and doubt. It takes the Power of God to break the addiction of Goliath in my life.

Because the Spirit of God filled David, David was confident that God would deliver him from the destruction that Goliath posed. No matter how improbable it seemed, David was going to rely on God's ability to defeat the power and strength of Goliath. Transfer that same thought over into recovery. God's power is given to those who are saved by the work of Jesus on the cross. Salvation provides the Power necessary to live life here on this planet free from the destruction of addiction.
I know it sounds like some kind of fairy tale...
It isn't.
It is life.
It is truth.
It is the way you've been looking for.
Trust this God today.
Talk to Him and tell Him your struggles and how you want to be free to have a real life.
He will show you the way.
I promise that.
God on you......

Thursday, February 2, 2012

You'll Look Good

I have posted a new message given on January 7 by Debbie Handy. Debbie is one of our worship leaders and has an incredible heart for God. Debbie has overcome many trials and tribulations and through it all her love for God has not wavered or failed her. She shares about gratitude and how it is tantamount to facing this upcoming year of 2012.

I will be posting the messages from:

Jan. 14 -  Sam Colegrove
Jan 28 - Michael Bynum

Exodus 40 speaks of Moses preparing Aaron and his sons to take their place as priests over the tabernacle.
Verse 12-15 reads: "Finally, bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and wash them with water. Dress Aaron in the sacred vestments. Anoint them. Anoint them, just as you anointed their father, to serve me as priests. Their anointing will bring them into a perpetual priesthood, down through the generations."

After being cleansed, Aaron and his sons, now priests, put on the garments that would identify them to all the people. When the people looked and saw the vestments and robes and turbans, they knew, without a doubt, that they were in the presence of God's called ministers.

I don't have priestly garments, nor do you.
But we have been cleansed and anointed and covered with the Holy Spirit of God. As such, our lives should reflect this calling that we have been brought into.

I Peter 2:9-10 reads: But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you----from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

Sometimes it is hard for me to wrap my head around the thought of being called into a chosen people.
More than being called, to be given a rightful place from which to occupy for the Kingdom of God.
Me? The mess up of mess ups. God picked me! How can I not love Him? How can I not want to do what is on his heart?
Think on these things...
God has called you.....

God on you......

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Keepin' On In The WIlderness

Still in Leviticus.
What is see in the book (beyond the "do's" and "don'ts) is the realization that I, as a believer or follower of Jesus, need to walk in manner worthy of the call He has extended to me. that sounds like some kind of mumbo-jumbo doesn't it. Let me try to boil that point down to a place where it makes sense (at least to my spirit ). My life should reflect, or people should be able to see, that there is a consistency in my behavior and thought. That my words and my actions reflect God at work in me.  The one thing I have come to understand is that since God is holy, those called to follow Him must also manifest holiness. It goes beyond something or some belief that reflects a state of morality. In other words, it isn't simply about being good. The holiness I am speaking of isn't a keeping of rules and is merely acknowledging the work of Christ in my life and that I am covered by his holiness.

The only way I can truly move in this state or fashion is to allow God's Holy Spirit to work in me. He becomes the moral guide. He defines my civil duty, not the government. He establishes my life within a community of like minded people. Some would call this the church. In other words, I am connected to a group of people who are also lead by the Spirit of God. I know it all sounds kind of elitism like we are the chosen, better than the rest of you. Well, God is so opposite in the ways He carries out the Kingdom plans. In order to be chosen, you have to take the seat and place of a servant. I am called to serve the men here at Rapha. I am not over them or better than them. I am a servant and as such, I can only do what the Father instructs me to do. I can attest that when I get a spiritual "big-head", I only mess up and break or destroy things and people around me.

If nothing else, Leviticus teaches me that God expects more than lip service from me. He expects that my new life in Christ should reflect a new quality of living. Quality in the fact that I am now doing business with heaven and not the dictates of this world. Doing business or living by God's direction does not mean I go and buy me a brown robe and some sandals, find my a mountain top and go grow organic vegetables, all the while chanting and singing. Nothing wrong with robes and sandals. I love mountain tops. Organic vegetables......good stuff...a mite expensive but still good. Chanting and singing....not my cup of tea but I don't think anyone was kicked out of the family for doing this. What is wrong is the pull away from society and reject the very ones God is wanting to reach.

The book of Leviticus is an outline...........a reminder of how man is to approach God. The entire book is filled with redemption illustrations:  The five offerings----the high priest----the seven feasts---
We read later in the book of Hebrews and see the illustrations of Leviticus brought to fulfillment through the new high priest, Jesus Christ. God has laid out in His word the way to holiness and life eternal. That way if not open for debate, not from me or you. We either receive and walk in the way, or we reject and suffer the consequence for that choice.

I trust that God would reveal himself to you today.....
God on you.....

The Good (And Wonderful) Shepherd

Psalm 23:2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. The care and love that Jesus shows to his ...