Monday, April 30, 2012

Audio Message: Why We Do Church The Way We Do....Short History of Church @ Rapha

Ain't No Such Thing As A Pre-fab Church!

Matthew 16:18
.........upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers (gates) of hell will not conquer it.

What a wonderful Sunday monring.
I was invited to speak at Grace Covenant Church in Hokes Bluff. What wonderful people call this church home. Very intimate and loving group who were there this morning. They have been meeting for two years and have, as a church, adopted the guys from Rapha as well as the Fellowship House group.

As I stood and spoke this morning, gazing out at the congreation, I was filled with a sense of God's diversity in churches. Each one different. Each one with a unique call and purpose. Here we had in Grace Covenant, a family that was open to receive anyone who came to visit. Receive them and love them and show (not just tell about) the love of God.

We should celebrate the body of Christ.
We should look out and see it for what it truly is. Each one, called by God, placed and given a mandate to follow.
Unlike the mega-church mentality, small fellowships really do become family. You get to know the people who come each Sunday, as well as be known by them. It isn't a place to come and hide out among thousands of others. It is a gathering that takes on "ways" of doing church that are very creative and yet, still usher in the Father heart of God.

This morning what I experienced was a group of believers who enjoyed being together. They enjoyed worshipping God in their music and through their offerings. I saw a group of people whose intent was to make you feel at home and welcomed if you were a visitor. I think maybe this is what the body of Christ shoud be about.

If you were to drive by their building, you might not even take notice of it. It would be easy to slip by and miss it completely. Isn't that the way it is with our society? We judge the outside at the expense of the inside. We look upon the structure and miss seeing all the life inside. God forigve me if I ever operate in this manner. Letting myself become shallow and judgemental by looking only on the surface.

I was in the presence of God this morning. Sharing a service with a group of people who were not trying to build a church. They recognize that Jesus is the builder of the church. He doesn't use mortar or brick. He isn't concerned with dry wall or roofing shingles. He is intent on building the character of those who are a part of the church family. His church is alive and breathing and moving and praying and loving in the places He has put them. They seek to take care of their corner of the Kingdom of God that has been entrusted to them. That is how Jesus builds His church.

In the verse from Matthew 16, Jesus makes the statement that He would build His church upon THIS rock. What rock?
The rock of delcaration that He is the Christ.......The Son of the living God.
Anything other than that incredible fact, does a church build.
A social setting? Maybe.
A collective of individuals who have religious behaviors?
Could be.
But the church of Jesus.....the one He is building, is done so upon the infallible truth that He is the Christ. He is the Messiah. He is the Son of the living God.
That makes for a good church....
One I would like to belong to.

God on you.....

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The WORD Stands Alone

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.

A most unusual service last night at Rapha.
During the week, I kept hearing  "Teach The Word."  I thought to myself that is what I do. I study, I prepare and then I share what the word says.
"No! Teach the word."  Did God mean that I was to simply teach the word? Read it? Read it but don't expound on it? Don't share what I think God was saying in his word? That's right.

I was to simply read Scripture.
Why would God have me do that? To show the power of His word. That it stands alone as the power and direction given to men to lead them into the presence of a saving God.
That is exactly what we did.
I spent the better part of the day asking God to show me what Scripture's he wanted me to read.
One by one they came and I put them down on paper.
At last I had a complete message comprised of the Word of God alone....nothing from any commentary or other source.

As with anything like this, the enemy brings doubt to bear in my mind.
"You didn't really hear God did you?" "You need to explain the nature of the verse because you know you've got a lot of men at Rapha who don't understand the Bible. If you just read it, they'll be confused and loose interest."
I knew that I had heard what God wanted and I needed to simply do and leave the rest to God.

I asked my wife, Vicki, to prepare an introduction as to what we were going to do.
God gave her the right things to say as she explained to the men what was about to happen.
Then......................we read the word.
Nothing more.........just the word.
At the end of the service.....6 men stood to be saved.
The word of God is power to save.

Afterwards, man after man came up and told me what a powerful service it had been.
They were very much aware of God's presence as the word was being read.
I'm not advocating that we cease from teaching, I don't think God would reward that.
But I also think that we rely on man's mind and ability to speak sometimes.
God wanted me to remember that he has called me to preach his word, but at the same time, His word opens the hearts of men and women as His Holy Spirit brings conviction.

The Word of God....
It can stand alone above all other words....
Read it today....
Study it today....
Most of all, let it speak to your heart today....

God on you....

I hope to post the service as an Audio File later this week so you can hear it if you want to.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A New Creation Of Infinite Worth

Do you ever really stop to think about yourself? I don't mean that you think about your needs or wants, or ever dreams or desires, but the real "you". Do you ever stop to consider that you are carrying around the breath of God...that you are an image bearer of Almighty God?

Do you ever stop to think about the complexities of how you were created?
I do.
I have often wondered why I think certain things are funny and others aren't.
I have pondered why I feel great compassion about certain things, while others kind of slip under my emotional radar.
I know that people with initials and degrees after their names might say, "Well, he is a by product of his environment and parental upbringing. I would have to disagree. I have a brother (who just happened to be raised by the same parents I was) and we are nothing alike. His sense of humor and his abilities are far different from mine. In fact, my wife sometimes has made the comment that "You really must have been adopted because you aren't anything like the rest of your family."

I spend time with my sons, and once again I see the difference not only in their personalities, but in their physical appearance. Chad resembles his mother, while Josh has more of my physical traits. Yet, they both have sharp minds and a sense of humor that amazes me.

I think King David put it best in Psalm 139:13-16
For you formed my inward parts. You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

And in this incredible creation, formed and given life by God............sin has birthed a nature, or bent to do the wrong each of us. A mindset or what ever you want to call it, to be independent from be rebellious in our ways. We are selfish and self-centered.
All the problems we have today....
All the mistakes and destruction we have brought about in our own lives....
Is due to sin, and the power it holds over us.
That is why God is so adamant about taking back His creation. His heart burns with love for each of us and that is why Jesus' death and resurrection is the key to having life that God truly wanted us to have.
We still have to walk out our days here on planet earth. A planet that is under the dominion and control of Satan and his kingdom.
But God is long-suffering and patient as with each generation, His voice of invitation to leave the old life and embrace a new one goes out to every person on the face of this planet.

Yes, I am a living, breathing, thinking soul who is very aware of life.
But it is the eternal gift of God that raises my awareness of what life truly consists of.
Without salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit in me, I would wander my days in a spiritual darkness thinking that what I was experiencing was the best life could offer me.
How sad that some should live out their existence oblivious to what God has to offer.
I am grateful for the life God has provided for my wife and me.
As I have gotten older, I am very much aware of the frailty of this human body.
But my heart still beats strong with a love for my creator.

If you don't know my Jesus........
Talk to him. Some people would call this praying and I guess they would be right, but just talk to him.
Tell him that you've made a lot of bad choices during your lifetime and you're just kind of sick living this way.
Ask him to forgive you for all the wrong and bad you've done. People you've hurt and choice you have made, and then receive his forgiveness.
Ask him to give you his Holy fill you up with him.
Then thank him for this new life that you are going to experience.
The last part is.....
Believe that what you have just said is true and that God will do for you what you have asked.
I don't think you'll be disappointed.

God on you.....

Friday, April 27, 2012

America.....Bless God

From the first day I started writing this blog, I promised myself that I would never ever write a political posting. I see many who, day after day, fill their blogs with rants and raves against the powers that be, attacking the character and person of anyone who holds office. I believe that Scripture warns us against doing such things. I think it falls under the heading of "authorities" placed over us by God, and submission to that authority.Of course our allegiance is always to God first.

While this posting today may have a political tint to it, I wish that you receive it in the spirit it was intended to carry. You see, it doesn't matter what country you may live in.
Great Britain......Canada.....Germany......Australia....our hope does not lie in government and its ability to solve all our problems and meet all our needs.. Our hope does not lie in who may or may not hold office in that land. Our hope lies in God himself.

Contrary to popular belief....In this country, many believe that the Republican party is the Christian party, while the Democratic party is Satan's tool to destroy this country. I think there are probably strong, true believers in each party. Imagine trying to be a part of the government in Washington D.C. and you are a strong Christan in your beliefs and in the walk you have with Jesus. It would have to be the most frustrating of times for such a man or woman who holds an office in our government. Excuse me...I digress.

I guess what I truly want to convey this morning is that God is the only hope for this country and this world. Not any one leader or form of government. When things are wrong in our nation, we want to vote whoever is in leadership out and replace them. Usually what happens is the next person is just that.............the next person. So they come into office and bring reform and change and we are still not satisfied. There will be no satisfaction until we turn to God. There will never be true reform until we repent and turn from our sins (I'm talking to believers here....see II Chronicles 7:14 if you don't believe this is the focus we should be taking).  It is not the spirit of man who will lift us out of this spiritual is the Spirit of God responding to a people who are broken and contrite of heart.

I have seen things over the past 10 years that I never thought would happen in my lifetime. Events and situations in this world that are driving us toward exactly what the Bible proclaims. Economic collapse.....disputes and wars......yet, the people continue to look to government for the answers. "IF we only elect this man...or this man....or this woman or that woman......they will lead us into a new era of hope and change." How foolish. We have turned our backs on God, as a nation, and by doing so, why should we not expect God to take His hand off of us? I think He has.

Is it too late?
I confess that I don't know. I still cling to the words of II Chronicles 7:13-14 which reads: "If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
You see, what we need around the world is an awakening.
A revival of such immense proportions that every revival every recorded would pale in comparison.
Foolish to think such?
I don't think so....
My wife and I have begun to pray that God would once again pour out His Spirit to awaken us before we slide over the precipice into the abyss of history.

In my own country of the United States of America, we have shrugged off the hand of God from our nation and the term "Christian" has become a word of hatred. Believers are mocked and made fun of, and might I add that the behavior of some is part of this reason for the hatred that is being directed toward the church. It seems to me that everyone knows what the church is against....but no one knows what the church stands for.....all that's ever seen are rallies and proclamations of what we fighting against. Maybe it's time we get on our knees and pray and then love as Jesus loves. I'm not talking about a syrupy....we forgive everything you ever did--kind of love. I'm talking about radical love that draws people away from the darkness into the Kingdom of Light. Maybe it's time for the "real-deal" church to come out into the open and be the body of Christ we are called to be.

I think that if my country continues on the path it is following, it will mean more of the judgments of God. We have no one to blame for what is happening in our nation but ourselves. I want to close with a portion of a speech given by Abraham Lincoln on March 30, 1863.

“And, insomuch as we know that by His Divine Law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!”

God's blessing be upon you today......

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Audio Message: "Go And Sin No More" - John 8:1-11

Cracks And Flaws Not To Mention The Weak Places

Nehemiah 2:11
And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire.

God had placed on Nehemiah this burning desire to see the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt. They had been broken down and the gates destroyed during the captivity as the people were lead away. Sin and rejection of God had brought all of this upon them, but now God was beginning the process of restoration and rebuilding. Before anything could take place, Nehemiah needed to walk the perimeter of the wall and take inventory of the damage.

Step # 4 in the Twelve Steps is much like what we read in Nehemiah.
Our walls of protection have been broke down by the years of abuse.
The gates have been burned by the bad choices we have made which seem to have accumulated over time.
Because of this state of our lives, the enemy has free reign and can come and go in our hearts and minds as much as he likes. There is nothing to stop him.

All a part of the army that keeps coming and going as we are helpless against the onslaught.
But, Step # 4 is the point at which we began to take back what has been destroyed and stolen.

Step # 1 is the step of admission. We are powerless and our lives are the evidence of it. Our lives have become unmanageable.

Step # 2 is the step of definition. We recognize and come to believe that there is a POWER greater than ourselves who can restore us to sanity, or the ability to make sound decisions. That POWER being Jesus Christ.

Step #3 is the step of surrender. Instead of living by our own desires and thoughts and ability, we make a decision to turn our will and our life over to the care of God. The God we know and understand today, realizing that our perception of God will change as we grow in this new found relationship.

Those first three steps are us TRUSTING GOD.
The next eight steps is where we CLEAN HOUSE.
The first of the eight is step #4, is where we make a fearless (don't back down or turn away) and searching (we look deep within) moral  inventory.
How can we rebuild the walls of our life if we don't know where the breaches are?
It may be a broken wall because of jealousy or anger.
There may be an open place in our wall caused by unforgiveness.

No matter how wonderful we try to make our recovery out to be, it will never stand against our enemy until the walls of our character have been rebuilt.
Only God can aid us in this endeavor.
Only God's Holy Spirit can shine the light of illumination into our hearts and truly show us these broken down walls. More than anything, it is God himself who will work and will in us to bring about the changes of character needed. This, if the truth be known, is all part of the Salvation process.
I was saved yesterday.....
I am being saved today.....
I will be saved tomorrow....
If you haven't done a fourth and fifth step, I would encourage you to.
The weather is suppose to be beautiful today....
It would be a good day to begin to rebuild your walls....

God on you.....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stinky Heart

Romans 3;10-12
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.
There is none that understands, thee is none that seeks after God.
They are all gone out of the way. They are together unprofitable.
There is none that doeth good, no, not one.

I think as long as I live, I will never understand the human heart. Day after day, I hear stories from men who tell me of a relationship they had with God. A time when He was very real and very much a part of their lives, yet..........they walked away from this relationship to embrace the darkness of drugs/alcohol.
They had no intention of becoming addicted.
They had no intention of turning their back on God.
It was just suppose to be a short journey to "live a little" as some have put it.
I truly am beginning to catch a glimpse of how sin affects and destroys people.

In fact, I don't have to look far.
I look to my own heart.
I grew up in church. Church was not something I did, it was who I was. Maybe that was the problem! Maybe I looked to church to fulfill a place and role in my life that only God could. At that time, the idea that I would turn my back on God and walk away for a period of time was absurd. I never would do that. But then again, Peter thought he'd never turn his back on Jesus and deny him. Such is the potential for every human heart that ever lived.

Anyway, after Vicki and I were married in 1972, we came to an unspoken agreement that we would take a sabbatical from church. We were working and going to school, not to mention learning how to be married. Time was at a premium and the thought of giving up time on Sunday was a bit much. So we began to stay home. It wasn't like we jumped into a cess-pool of sin, but even in this small, insignificant act we began a downward slide to places we never dreamed we would go.

Our little sabbatical lasted 7 years and almost costs us our marriage. During that time, sin dominated our thinking and our choices. We became hostile to each other. I guess one of the enemies greatest weapons is to divide and conquer, and he almost accomplished this in our family. But God in His eternal love and mercy, saw fit to keep us together and not allow the division to do permanent damage to my family. I saw the extent of the dark potential my own heart possessed. I knew that I needed God more than ever if I wanted to have any life at all. In 1979, my wife and I returned to God.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 reads: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give to every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
It is the presence and power of God in me that draws in the sin nature I possess. When I give myself and my life to Jesus for Salvation, He breaks the power (the influence and control) of sin.....He breaks the penalty (for the wages of sin is death) of sin, and He stops the power (to influence my decisions) of sin. Praise God, He doesn't leave me alone to continue my days in my own strength. No! He places His Holy Spirit in me to be a guide and teacher.....a comforter and a show me the way to all truth.

We really don't like to admit the true nature of the human heart. We'd rather bask in the glow of human achievement and self-exultation. Let's not talk about the down and dirty of the heart. In a day when society, and sometimes even the church, seek to exalt the human excuse behavior that has been motivated by sin, God has not changed His view or stance against such foolishness. Sin will never be accepted or tolerated in His Kingdom. Yet, balanced against this view is a heart that longs to restore His creation.............."Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved."

God on you.....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Audio Message: "Make Me Free!" from 3/25/2000

Born Into Freedom

Romans 6:15-19 (Mess. Bible)
So, since we're out from under the old tyranny (sin ), does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we're free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mine? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it's your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you've let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you've started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!

Sometimes in this world of addiction and recovery, those who are trying to break free from the bondage and sin of addiction see freedom in a way that is not based in reality. In other words, we have a tendency to fall for the world's definition of freedom rather than God's.
They believe, or at least want to believe, that freedom means no more pain or trouble or heartache. If you're talking about self-inflicted pain, trouble and heartache...then that is a right view. We have turned from our old ways of living to embrace a new way.

But pain/trouble/heartache or still out there. They exist because we live in a fallen world filled with fallen men and women. People will hurt you, but God will never desert you. People will cause you pain, but God will bring healing and comfort when the pain is too much. People will break your heart, but God is the mender of broken hearts. How can I say this? Because he has seen me through some dark and difficult days, that's how!

God in me, guiding me daily, is what makes the TWELVE STEPS work. Those steps are merely a discipline that keeps me focused and on the right track. God is the motivation and Power that enables me to move forward and not look back to that old life style.

I grew up in church, so I heard over and over about the "Power" of the Holy Spirit. I knew that I was filled with Him and that He was the connector (so to speak) to Jesus and the Father, but it wasn't until I began to hang around Rapha that I saw a new work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said in Acts 1:8 that if the disciples would wait in Jerusalem, they would be clothed in Power when the Holy Spirit would be poured out on them. Now, imagine you are an addict. You've tried and tried to quit but you can't. You've almost convinced yourself that you are hopeless. False Belief #4 becomes your motto:  "I am what I am. I cannot change. I am hopeless." But then you hear about the Steps and how people have stopped drinking and drugging by working them. Let's say you do surrender through working Steps 1,2 and 3. Now what? Because you have surrendered yourself to Jesus through confession and repentance (Turning away from your old life..not just in body, but heart and mind) then God gives to you the on-going key to your freedom. He is called the Holy Spirit.
John 16:12-15 reads: I still have many things to tell you, but you can't handle them now. But when the Comforter comes....The Friend, the Spirit of Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all truth there is. He won't draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; He will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I've said, "He takes from me and delivers to you."

I know this sounds like Twilight Zone/ science fiction...but it is real.
God places within you His Holy Spirit to be a "voice" of reason as you walk through your day.
As you study your Bible, that voice will teach you, encourage you and show you truth that will aid you when you face problems or situations that, in the past, use to throw you for a loop.

If you have stumbled by this blog on accident and what you've read has stirred your heart, then pray.
Pray right now and just ask God to save you.
To take you from your current way of living and give you a new life........a new way!
He will take you up on your cry for help.
I pray that you find this God today, and that you begin to experience and live in real freedom.

God on you......

Monday, April 23, 2012

Don't Leave Home Without It!

II Corinthians 5:7
We walk by faith.........not by sight.

Have you ever noticed that some of the most incredible truth's of God are given to us in the most simplest of terms? I use to think that maybe God thought we couldn't handle the complicated things of His that are eternal. Now, years later, I found out that God gave us truth's in simple terms so that we would have no excuse for not following them. You know, when something is given to you with mono-syllable words...easy words.....there's not much wiggle room. You can't explain disobedience by saying, "Well, that wasn't what I took it to mean." Sometimes the main thing is the main thing. What you read is exactly what it means. In this case....we have been given the behavior that separates believers from non-believers. Are at least it is supposed to.

Faith! That divine concept....the truth of God....the glue that holds it all together. Faith isn't born in the human heart or conceived in the human mind. It is a gift from God given to fallen humanity. Scripture says that a measure of faith is given to every person. If not for this gift, we would not be able to be brought into Salvation or a right relationship with God.
As it says in Hebrews 11:1, "What is faith? Faith is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen (Our hope being born in God speaking to your hearts). It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see."
Faith is the greater connection that locks man to God......
Not faith in what God will do or not do. But faith that He is who He claims to be and that His will and nature will be displayed in every situation we face. I wholly lean on and rest in this belief.

Faith sees around the corner.
Faith looks over the hill.
Faith knows the depth of the pit when all we see is inky darkness.
Faith is God-vision that enables us to see through a sin-soaked world.
Faith lets us see the cross not as an event that took place but as the moment in time and space when an eternal God gave himself for humanity that cursed Him and demanded His crucifixion.
Faith points me above and beyond my problems that seem to be destined to overwhelm me.
Faith is the voice that I hear which confirms the reality that God is in control.

Faith is of such importance to us and to the Kingdom of God, the devil seeks to destroy it in us. He seeks to eradicate every vestige of faith that exists in this world. He does so by keeping us in frustration. He heaps depression and guilt and shame upon people to such an extent, they can't see beyond the pain. Is his plans and ability so powerful that God cannot penetrate? Never. That is why we have need to share our story on this our faith-journey. When we share what God has done to us, His voice speaks through our voice and breaks through all emotional barricades to bring understanding to that person who is suffering.

Exercise your faith...
Rejoice in your faith....
Breath in your faith....
And by all means.....
Walk by faith and not by your natural sight and understanding.

God on you....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Reality Of Life

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
There is a time for everything. A season of every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die....
A time to plant and a time to harvest....
A time to kill and a time to heal....
A time to tear down and a time to rebuild....
A time to cry and a time to laugh....
A time to grieve and a time to dance.....

Given to us by God, we don't consider it to much until death comes into our midst....
We were born to die...
That is a by-product of the introduction of sin into our world.
I once heard it said that if you go to a graveyard and look at the tombstones, you'll notice something.
Each tombstone has a "birth" date and a "death" date on it.
Between the two is a hyphen separating them.
Our entire existence is marked by that little hyphen.
Every day we lived....
Every choice we make.....good and defined by that little hyphen that separates birth from death.
I do not want this posting to be depressive reading for you today.
I am just in a place where the reality of life is hitting me every which way I turn.
I am grateful for every moment of every day...
Last night at our service, during the ministry time, guys were streaming to the front to receive prayer. As we stood there praying for man after man, I began to weep....thanking God for that very moment. Thanking Him that His Kingdom had invaded our time and space and that hearts had responded to His call.

Don't let Satan rob you of the importance and preciousness of this gift called life.
Life is not defined by your situations and circumstances.
Life is defined by how you let God take you through your situations and circumstances.
Life is to be lived.....
To be savored ...
To be inhaled and accept each challenge and obstacle with the view that it is one more opportunity for you to cooperate with God and let Him once again reaffirm his promises to you.
Life is not defined by your hardships....
Life is defined by what God teaches you as you go through the hardships.
When life is good......
Drink it up....
Revel in it....
Let it burned into your memory, so that you can draw from it when times get hard.

There is reason to this posting this morning....
I received word that a man who came through the program here at Rapha years ago had died.
I'm never ever really prepared for this kind of news, and the moment I hear it, my mind flashes back to our time together.
He was a gentle man, with a very unique child-like quality about him.
Every time I sat and talked with him, I found myself having  a hard time believing that this man was coming out of a lifestyle of addiction.
He loved life and loved to laugh.
He was as country as the day is long and I loved him for it.
I know that he loved Jesus and had given himself to Christ.
Now, today.....
He stands before Christ and knows the truth that I only claim to believe.
He knows in clarity and truth who Jesus is.....
I will miss you Johnathan......

God on you....

Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Every Morning

Lamentations 3:21-24  (Message Bible)
But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
God's loyal love couldn't have run out.
His merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
How great is your faithfulness!

I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over) He's all I've got left.

In the KJV version, it refers to God's merciful love as "New Compassion's".
I love the way this reads.....
No matter what has gone on in my day...
No matter how stinky and rotten people have treated me....
No matter how much I personally have messed up.....
God's mercy, and grace and love are made new every morning.
Just like Krispy Kreme Doughnuts....
Well, maybe that isn't the best example in the world. But I think you catch my drift.

You need to remember the context of the Book of Lamentations.
The prophet Jeremiah is getting a up close and personal view of the captivity of an entire nation.
People are being hauled off from their homes and taken to another country.
The buildings of the city are on fire and rubble is everywhere.
It is not a time of joy or celebration but of great mourning and distress.
All of this is happening because of the people rejecting God, after being warned time and time again to turn back to Him.
Yet even in the midst of all this misery....
In the middle of chaos and upheaval...
Jeremiah remembers the promises of the Lord.
HE never fails....
He never forsakes those He has called.
His love, mercy, grace and compassion is made new every morning.
That means that at the darkest point of our existence, morning is coming.....

To me this is the greatest message of hope anyone could receive.
To those who are in addiction or just coming out of it....These are promises from God that He will see you through.

Let's Look at Verses 31-33: "Why? Because the Master won't ever walk out and fail to return. If he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way on luckless prisoners."
God is all up in redemption, and sometimes we need to be "whacked" to get our attention. I wish the whacking could take on another form, but God uses our situations to draw us to Him.

You just thought the police stopped you at a random road block.
Nope! God loved you enough and was chasing you down to the point He put the roadblock together.
You just thought that you so-called "best" friends turned you and rolled on you to get you arrested.
Nope! God loved you enough and was chasing down to the point that He used your "best" friends to get you into a place that would keep you from destroying yourself.
What a God!

I Peter 2:1-3
So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You've had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God's pure kindness. Then you'll grow up, mature and whole in God."
We can either sit in the middle of all our self-inflicted destruction...
We can lay hold of God's New Compassion's made fresh this very morning....
I choose the latter.....
Have a great weekend....

God on you...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Let It Roll Like A Wheel--Worship Unto God

Continuing on with the post that I wrote yesterday, I want to take a look at some more of the dynamics of our Saturday night meeting at Rapha.
Being a Vineyard Pastor (Association of Vineyard Churches), one of the things that we put at the top of our list is WORSHIP. We realize that worship is a multifaceted thing that covers every area of our lives. In fact, if you want to truly define worship, then it would be as a lifestyle. I live my life as worship unto the Lord. My job is an act of worship unto God. My going to Wal-Mart to pick up some groceries is an act of worship unto the God. In other words, I want to live a life that is pleasing to Him. A life that extends to more than 2 hours on Sunday morning and 1 hour on Wednesday night.

In this lifestyle of worship, we come together with other believers and have a corporate time of worship.
This is where the dynamics really take a change. To be in a group who truly desire to be in the presence of sing to Him and not about Him is pretty incredible. Music is an important part of our worship. Music has the power and ability to influence us greatly..........either for good or bad. I remember the first time I went to a Vineyard service back in July of 1991. Brook Finlayson had invited me to not just come to the service but to play bass guitar on their worship team. The worship lasted for well over an hour. I was use to the old 3 hymns....sing the 1st, 2nd and last stanza. (Didn't you ever wonder why we never sang the 3rd verse? We always skipped it. I thought maybe there was a hidden message in the 3rd verse we weren't suppose to see.) But I noticed during the worship time at the Vineyard, that the people were engaged in different postures. Some stood and sang with their faces raised to heaven as if they were being soaked in God's presence. Others raised their hands toward heaven as they sang, as if it were an act of surrender unto God. This was not what I was used to in a church service. I was offended and yet at the same time, I knew something was going on here in the worship that was different than what I was use to. Now before I go any farther, I want to stop and say that these behaviors did not make these folks super spiritual. It was just different. Different doesn't mean just means different. From that night, I began kind of a spiritual journey to learn more about worship.

In the Vineyard values statement, it reads that Worship is our highest calling. It was the reason we were created and is part of our fellowship with God. Out of worship comes the desire to do the things God has called us to do.....feed the hungry, heal the sick, visit those in prison and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

One of the things I quickly learned that worship wasn't, was that it wasn't a performance. It wasn't about whoever was up front doing the playing and singing. Whoever occupied that place was to lead every one who had gathered into the presence of God. The music was the means by which we focused our hearts and minds on God as sang of our love for Him. To tell you the truth, it wasn't much different from what we read in Psalms and the way they worshipped.

Psalm 150 reads:
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary.
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Praise Him for His mighty deeds.
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.

Praise Him with the trumpet sound.
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
Praise Him with Timbrel and dancing

Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe
Praise Him with loud cymbals.
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord,

Praise the Lord!

According to this scripture, everything and matter whether you are saved or not....believer or called to cry out and praise the Lord.

Due to the transitory nature of the group we have on Saturday night, music and worship is a big part of why we do what we do. Most of the men who come through the program only stay for 7 weeks. That means I have 7 opportunities to influence, teach and demonstrate what worship is. One of the things that we have done is to take secular songs and re-write them to be used as worship songs.....

Songs such as Can't You See, by the Marshall Tucker Band has been written to proclaim God's saving grace by declaring...."Can't you see, what this Jesus has done for me!"
Johnny Nash's song I Can See Clearly Now, has been re-written to be an anthem of praise to God's healing power to open our eyes to see the truth.
These are but a few of the songs we have "taken back" so to speak and integrated into our worship sets.
We also do a lot of original songs that we have written over the years. One of my desires is to write songs for what I would call a RECOVERY HYMNAL. Songs that reflect the thankfulness and journey of those who have come out of addiction. One such song I've written is called Twelve Steps To Heaven and it even incorporates a little bit of What A Friend We Have In Jesus into it. The songs are simple and singable and it is something to behold when that room comes alive on Saturday night and you've got a group of men singing at the top of their lungs.

Next Saturday we will be celebrating our 6th year of having church there on the Rapha compound. It doesn't seem possible that 6 years have gone by, but they have. We continue to see God move in our meetings...not because of me or anything I do, but because the room is filled with hungry hearts needing to meet with Him. That is worship!

God on you....

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Saturday Night's Mighty Fine For Worship

Psalms 102:18-22
This will be written for the generation to come. That a people yet to be created, may praise the LORD. For He looked down from His holy height; From heaven the LORD gazed upon the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner....
To set free those who were doomed to death.....
That men may tell of the name of the LORD in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem, When the peoples are gathered together, and the kingdoms to serve the LORD.

Every Saturday night, we gather out at Rapha for a meeting. I guess you could call it a service or a probably isn't important as to how you label it. The important thing is the "WHY" of our gathering.

Ever since I started in full time ministry, I have had a desire to introduce people to this Jesus that has changed my life. I wanted to provide a time and place where we could hear what He had to say through the teaching of his word. A place where we could see the power and awesomeness as His Holy Spirit would come and touch folks. I wanted people to understand Jesus in a way that was free from religious trappings and concepts. Have I been successful at this? Sometimes. Sometimes I find myself creating my own version of  those religious trappings. What do I mean by "religious trappings"? Well, you know that people in church usually talk different. They use words and phrases that someone who had never been to church might not understand. I wanted our meetings to have a language and explanation of who this Jesus is, that anyone coming in off the street could grasp what we were saying.

In other words, I wanted to make a safe place where people could let down their guard and hear the word of God.
I wanted our music and worship to reflect who we truly are. If you were to come to any of our meetings, you'd find our style of worship is kind of different. I call it a mix between Road-house blues and early rock...with some good ol' fashion hymns thrown in for good measure. Most of the people God brings to our meetings have not spent much time in church, so the music draws them and prepares them to hear the word that is taught.

In the verses written above is the phrase...."That a people yet to be created may praise the Lord!"
If you go to I Peter 2:10, you'll read: For you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God.......You see, to me the verse says that we are to be about our Father's business of bringing those who do not know Jesus, into the the realm and place of being birthed in him. In other words, it's all about salvation. Moving from "You once were not" into the place of "But now you are." That is why we do what we do on Saturday night.

The funny part in all of this, is that I have truly found out that I cannot save anyone, no matter how bad I want them to be saved. All I can do is be obedient and open the door on Saturday...set up the chairs....prepare myself to share what God has shown me and then get out of the way and let Him work.
The greatest thing I have seen over the past 15 years, is when an individual comes to me to lay down some rules...."I don't want to hear about God....Don't you dare try to force this "JESUS" stuff on me...I will not have a part in it and you can't make me!" To which I reply.....o.k.
I have seen it time after time. Yet, I have seen God's Spirit fall upon that same individual and break them down like a cheap shotgun. To witness this is a pretty incredible thing. To see God destroy every argument this person has put out there in an effort to stay away from God......then to see the love of God and the presence of God come upon this same individual during a is the best in the world. That is why we do what we do on Saturday night.

The most amazing part is that God allows me to see all of see Him work in the hearts of men who the world has long given up on. I am grateful beyond belief. I have made the comment on several occasions, and I do so here today in this posting...But I want you to know that it isn't about me but the mercy and grace of God. God has allowed me to see over the past 15 years, more than some folks see in a lifetime, how his heart is for the lost. For that privilege, I am grateful. I pray that He gives me 15 more!

Thanks for letting me share today....
God on you....

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Audio Message: "Two Choices"

The Perfect Oil

Psalm 119:105
Thy word is a lamp to my feet,
And a light to my path.

The verse above paints a wonderful picture of how God's word is suppose to be our guide.
It is to illuminate our surroundings so that we can see the proper way to travel.
The word of God allows me to spiritually and physically see where I am going as I make my way through my day.
As I read the words of Psalm 119, something came to me that I had never considered before, that is, the lamp is no good without oil.
You could own the most expensive, beautiful lamp in the world, but if you didn't have oil, the lamp would be useless.
A constant supply of oil was needed if you wanted to navigate your way around in the dark.
The light supplied by the source of oil was enough.
It showed you just enough so that you could walk the path before you.

In scripture, oil is a symbol of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 5:18. Filled! Overflowing, dripping with oil. Having a supply of oil that will never run out.
For it is God's Holy Spirit that brings understanding to us as we read His Word. Without the Holy Spirit, we are like a lamp without oil. Without God's Holy Spirit, the scripture doesn't make any sense and we have no understanding of what we are reading.

I'm not saying that we intellectually cannot make sense of God's word. We can read the words, we can even comprehend what they are saying. But they will never be transformed into "LIFE" without the Holy Spirit in us. The words will never bring truth and understanding without the oil of the Holy Spirit in us to illuminate what we are reading.
John 14:26 reads:
But the Helper the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

It is the Holy Spirit that is the POWER we have been missing in our life.
It is the Holy Spirit that is the POWER in Step#2 of the twelve steps that can restore us to sanity.
A POWER that is greater than ourselves.
The Holy Spirit is the connector that puts us in communication with God the Father and Jesus.
I wonder how many people are walking around with a lamp, but no oil?

Ephesians 5:15-16 reads:
Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil, so then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Be careful how you walk.....
Be careful how you make your decisions and then carry them out.
Be careful how you spend your time.
Because the days are evil.
The oil of the Holy Spirit gives me illumination to navigate these "evil days" but revealing to me what the will of the Lord is.
The one thing that my wife Vicki and I have found is the importance of starting our day off with prayer and getting into God's word.
It sets our minds and spirits straight and gives us understanding of what we are to do for the day.
The oil of the Holy Spirit makes our lamps come alive with light.
We have illumination to see the path that God has called us to, and we no longer have to stumble around feeling out way.

Is your lamp full?
If not, ask God for some oil.
He will provide a comforter that will never leave you.
God on you......

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Am Making Good Time.....I Think

Human footsteps...
Headed somewhere....
Coming from somewhere.....
Leaving one place....
Moving to another.
This other place isn't always a good place to be...
Or a good place to live.

We are all headed to a destination, that being eternity. Even as I sit here in my home, and the word "eternity" comes on my screen, I still can't comprehend what it means. I have an understanding of eternity. I can measure it by scenarios......If a sparrow dipped it's beak in the Atlantic ocean and took a drink, holding the water in its mouth, and then flew across America to empty his beak full of water into the Pacific ocean.......and if that same sparrow did this until the Atlantic Ocean was empty....that would be but a moment in eternity. See what I mean?

So if I'm headed to a transition, so to speak, from this side of eternity, to the other side....wouldn't what I do here affect what happens afterwards? I think so.
This is where the religion's of the world divide into many paths.
I believe there is only one path that leads to a better life after I die. That path being Jesus Christ.
John 14:6 reads: Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Life is about choices.
Choices that I make as I take the footsteps to this journey.
If you are familiar with the blog then you know I'm all about the 12 steps.
They offer a new direction for a life that has been overwhelmed by the destruction of addiction.
They offer life....
They offer a chance to change the direction of our footsteps, thereby changing the destination of our eternity.
I don't want to make the steps out to be some kind of mystical-hoo-doo...they aren't.
But given the nature of what they say, the steps can and will take you to Jesus.
As a friend of mine use to tell me...." can do the 12 steps and not hit your head on the cross."
You know what?
I believe it.
That is the reason I get up every day. Jesus is real and I want my footsteps to be toward Him.
That is the reason I teach the word of God every day.
I want others to be awakened to the fact that their footsteps and subsequent destiny, does not have to be toward an eternity of separation from Jesus.

I had a good friend ask me years ago, after I had shared with him about this new found relationship I had with Jesus....."Michael...what are you going to do, if when you die you discover that all that you believed was a hoax? What are you going to do if when you die, that's it. Nothing happens afterwards. No heaven, no hell, nothing?" My reply was this....
"Well, if there is nothing...then I'm o.k. with that. I've a had a good life. I've been married to a wonderful a great family. God has allowed me to have the desire of my heart which was to make music. He has allowed me to play with some incredible musicians and to have some good, close friends. If it is all a hoax....then I've had a great life."
Then I asked my friend, "What are you going to do, if when you die you discover that it WAS real? That this Jesus is who He claims he is, and that there is a heaven and a hell.....a God and a devil...and that all the people who had spoken into your life were sent by God to get your attention?"
My friend had no reply.

So where are your footsteps taking you today?
To an eternity of life....
Or an eternity of separation?
God provided us with a wonderful road map....
It's call the Bible.
He also has given us a GPS to guide us....
He is called the Holy Spirit.
I trust that you find Him today....

God on you.....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Audio Message: "Learning To Wait

The Voice

That voice....
That accusing voice that comes to all of us at one time or another.
It seems to appear whenever we are pressed down by trouble or situations that seem to have no answer.
The voice draws our attention away from God and keeps it focused on ourselves.
It is the voice of the enemy.
"Has God really said..........?" Questions that float through our mind, trying to draw us back to an old lifestyle for the answers.
A lifestyle of doubt....
A lifestyle of fear....
A lifestyle that kept us in addiction.
That voice .....
That accusing voice that crushes us under a barrage of names....each one tearing open the old wounds.
With each accusation, it is so easy to slip away into darkness looking for relief and peace.
That voice.
I hate the sound of that voice.

Whenever that voice comes to us...
In our minds.....
We need to not give in, but listen for the one, true voice.
The voice that rises above our emotions.
The voice that is not found in accusations...but in the power of promise.
Promise to deliver...
Promise to restore...
Promise to set us upon a rock of stability and empower us to move beyond the din and death of that "old" voice.
The voice of God!

We read in Romans 3: Since we have compiled this long and sorry record as sinners, and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of his love and generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the sin-mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

What I've written above is truth.
That voice which belongs to our enemy doesn't like the sound of truth or the reality and power of these words.
You see, the next time that voice comes to you and begins to whisper these accusatory words in your mind....It doesn't matter what you emotions speak out (verbally) the truth. You recite these words from Romans 3. It's not a magic talisman or some kind of Christian voo-doo spell casting. It is a simple statement of fact.
If you are a child of God....
If you have given yourself to Christ...
If you have been saved.....
Then the truth is your greatest weapon against the voice.

No matter what is going on in your life today....
Whether you are deep into your addiction...
or you've got months, maybe even years of clean time....
IT is the voice of God ...
IT is the presence of God...
IT is the salvation of God that we need to walk out our days here on planet Earth.
Jesus is the capital "P" in Power that we so desperately need.
The Power we read about in Step #2....A Power greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity.

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

Think about this today...
Ruminate on it and let it get all down inside of you....

God on you....

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Which Roar Do You Hear?

He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
He is the Lion, don't you hear him roar.
He is the lamb that was slain for sinners such as me...
But he is the Lion.
He is Aslan.
He is the King of Kings and everyone who lay clam to being a King.
He is Lord of Lords and everyone who lay claim to being a Lord.
He is the Lion.
The devil seeks to copy the behavior and likeness of Jesus.
Only when the devil copies, he corrupts.
His desire is to lead astray as many who were created in the image of God, as he can.
Because the devil hates the Lion.
He hates the true Lion so much that his plan is to create confusion and division. His roar tells his victims that it's o.k. to have a form of godliness......
but deny the power.
Deny the true Lion of Judah.
It's o.k. to be religious.....
Don't follow the true Lion.
Don't listen to the power of the true Lion's voice.

II Peter 5:8 reads: Be Careful! Watch out for attacks from the devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.
The false lion prowls.....crouches according to Genesis 4:7 waiting to catch an unsuspecting victim at the weakest moment.
The true Lion stands for all to see.
His roar is the roar of praise.
His voice is the proclaiming voice of victory that was raised on the cross with a cry of "IT IS FINISHED!"
The true Lion of God cannot be held by death.
He cannot be stopped by man's theology of self or the world's economy of temporary things.
This Lion stands for the eternal things of his heavenly Father.

The true Lion calls sinners to repentance.
The false Lion calls sinners to feed and worship at the altar of self.
The true Lion comes to serve.
The false Lion comes to be served.
Don't be mislead by the claims and boastful statements of the false lion.
Be drawn by the roar of the true Lion and lay down self to follow him.

God on you.....

The Hope Of Glory

I Thessalonians 4:16-18
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christan's who have died will rise from their graves. Then together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words.

Jesus is coming back.....
This description given in II Thessalonians isn't his 2nd coming...
His 2nd coming will be when he returns to judge the world and he actually touches down here on planet earth.
Talk about your UFO's..
Jesus will be the ultimate UFO. I wonder how people's theology will change when he does come back.
I wonder if there will be a lot of repenting by folks who doubted the Scriptures.....who ridiculed those who did believe.
Jesus is coming back.

For me, these are words that encourage me and yet fill me with dread.
Dread for those who are walking around oblivious to the word of God.
What's worse, those walking around who have heard the truth and rejected it.
I will never understand the power of the human will (Even though I have one and it does get out of hand from time to time) or the perception of the human mind to truth.
II Corinthians 4:4 reads: Satan, the god of this evil world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe, so that they are unable to see the glorious light of the Good news that is shining upon them. They don't understand the message we preach about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.
That is why I write the Greene Street Letters.
So that someone out matter what country.....might be lead here by God and be awakened to the His truth. I pray over each posting that God would use if for his glory. I pray that the words that are placed here in this blog would be like spiritual healing and break off the blindness and hardness that Satan puts on unbelievers. I pray that they would be able to not only see but understand with their hearts that they do not have to live in bondage to sin anymore.

I know that my specific call from God is to serve those who the world labels as "Addicts".
I know that God has given me great grace to love and minister to people who are bound up and held as slaves to the needle, the rock, the bottle, the pill, the line and every other instrument of torture devised by the devil.
I also know that the truth of God breaks down these weapons and the power of God's Holy Spirit can set free not just the mind, the heart and the body........but the spirit. Free to find their real meaning and purpose in Jesus.

So why a posting today that combines prophetic words of Jesus' return and power of the devil to delude people? Because time is running out.
I don't know whether it's my time...
Or this world's time, but the clock is ticking.
You can poo-poo this thought and you can call me out of touch, but I tell you this morning that even though Jesus is long-suffering, at some point in the future, His Father is going to turn to him and tell him to go and gather his people. This, my friend, you can bet on. It is going to happen. Are you ready to meet him..
either in the gathering?
in his 2nd coming?

Revelation 22:12
See, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me, to repay all according to their deeds.

Revelation 22;17
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come. Let each one who hears them say,"Come"...let the thirsty ones come----anyone who wants to. Let them come and drink the water of life without charge."

Revelation 22:20
He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon!"

God on you......

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Change Of Pace

I took a vacation day yesterday, and spent it with my wife working in the back yard.
For over 20 years my mother in law has had a garden plot at the back of our lot, but this year she decided that she was going to do a "container" garden.
We spent the day removing all the landscaping timbers and cutting down the weeds and such. In other words, the garden has returned to being a part of the yard.
It was a beautiful day to be outside and I found great peace and contentment in the work.
Small talk between Vicki and I....joking and laughing.
A lunch outside of ham sandwiches and potato chips only tasted better because of the exertion given to hauling off the debris from the garden.
It doesn't take much for me to find happiness anymore. I find it in simple things. Simple pleasures.
It isn't so much that I have to work at it or even expend any mental energy, it just seems to always be there.
I think it is a by product of my chasing God all these years.

I found a list of things that God has given to us that would enable us to experience His peace and contentment.

Psalms 37
Verse 3 -  Trust in the Lord and do good: To trust means to rely on, to cling to, to believe in. It isn't (here again) a mental exercise, it is a way of life. I have turned to Him so much in times of need and distress that it is just what I do. I also trust in him when times are good. Those are the times that I lean into him even more. Why? Because with human nature, we tend to tell ourselves to coast a little. To take over from God and run our lives because we don't have any problems or situations that we deem important enough to give to Him.

Verse 4 - Take delight in the Lord: The source of all my joy should flow from God and not the things of this world. I delight in who God is. I delight myself in His Word as I study it daily. I delight myself in being able to talk with Him, and what's more....I delight myself in the fact that He loves me enough to talk to me.

Verse 5 - Commit everything you do to the Lord: What falls under everything? Everything! I live my life to bring pleasure to God. I have on the desk where our computer is, a plaster of paris head of an Indian. My son, Chad, made it when he was 8 years old. To anyone else, it would be a piece of junk, but to me....It is the most priceless thing in the world. Why? Because my son did it, created it, painted it for me. When we commit everything we do to God, He takes incredible pleasure in our gifts.

Verse 6 - Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for Him to act: Be still! Not the battle cry of our society today is it? Be still....don't move.....wait.....Sometimes I'm in a hurry, even during church. I wonder how much I miss of God  and of what He desires to because I'm in a hurry. I have got to learn to wait, even when everything in me is screaming..."GO! GO! GO!"

Psalm 37 is a really good place to stop and study if you looking for something read today. As you read, ask yourself, "Is this the pattern of my life or do I need to let God make changes in me?"
I hope you have a great Saturday....and hopefully I'll see you tomorrow here at the Greene Street Letters.

God on you......

God on you....

Friday, April 13, 2012

Which Are You? Grape Vine Or Kudzu?

John 15:1
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener."

I have probably taught from this chapter more than any other.
Because Jesus talks a lot about relationship and the need to stay connected.
It really isn't difficult. I just make it that way.
Jesus is telling his disciples, "Hey guys...If you want to make it in this old world, you've got to stay connected to me. You see, I'm connected to the Father, in that He lets His will be known to me. I get the low down on His plans and His directions. Then I carry them out. If you are connected to me, then you'll be part of the Kingdom work here on earth."

The first thing that caught my eye when I first started teaching from John 15 was the opening statement made by Jesus. "I am the true vine."
Why would he say that?
What would he be so specific in using this description of vine and branch.
Why not just say, "I am the vine."
Could it be he said it this way because there is a false vine out there?
A false vine that closely resembles the true vine?
The one thing that I have learned over the years is that Satan cannot create anything original.
He simply copies what God is doing and corrupts it.
He makes a close copy of the work that God is trying to do and then seeks to dirty it and blaspheme it.
I think that most of Satan's work isn't a blatant, in-your-face-your-going-to-hell kind of stuff.
I think that there are shades of subtlety and half truths used to draw us in and tempt us.

Jesus lets us know that He is the truth.
He is the true vine. One that is under the supervision of the Father who is the gardener.
The Father oversees our spiritual growth and well being.
He is not idly sitting by waiting on us to produce fruit (character change---See Galatians 5:22-26).
The Father is constantly tending to us through the work of His Holy Spirit in us.

Verse 2 reads: He cuts off every branch that doesn't produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit.
God cuts away from out nature those places that refuse to show His nature in our lives. He cuts away the lust and greed and bitterness and unforgiveness because He knows that such as these will never conform to the nourishment of the vine. They will never produce anything of good in our lives. But as the Holy Spirit begins to work and we see changes in our nature and character, it is there God does His best work. Let's say that I start to have compassion and I find myself helping others and sharing the Gospel of Jesus. The Father/Gardener understands the value of this fruit in my life. He prunes it back so that it can produce even more fruit. It is painful to be pruned. When we are persecuted or made fun of by others for our beliefs...God uses that pain to bring even more fruit from our lives.

It is those dark times and hard places where we feel the hand of God cutting on us and getting us ready for the coming season of producing fruit. We read in Verse 3 -  You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you. I find this particular part of scripture interesting. Jesus says you have already begun the process because of the message you have heard. It seems to me, in today's church settings there is a tremendous amount of energy spent on "Seeing God/Experiencing God" at the expense of "Hearing God." Yet Jesus tells His disciples that the pruning comes from hearing the word of God. WE must never, ever forsake the teaching of the Gospel, for in it comes the ability and vision to see God.

I hope that you have a great weekend.
Find a place to worship and meet with others who are like minded in their pursuit of Jesus.
Until tomorrow...

God on you....

Thursday, April 12, 2012

12/30/2000 -- Love Like It's Nobody's Business

Here is a message from December 30, 2000. Learning to love the way Jesus does. There is also a lot about "abiding" in Jesus. Hope you enjoy!

God on you....


Genesis 1:1
In the beginning..........

Everything has a start. A beginning. A point of origin.
If you think of it like that, then each day is a new beginning.
Each 24 hour period is the starting over point. Darkness gives way to daylight and we arise from sleep to live our life.
During that 24 hour period, we have opportunity after opportunity to learn and grow as human beings.
I guess the question I have to ask myself is, "Who am I listening to for instruction if I'm wanting to grow?"
Who is it I am following?
Myself? I hope not. I suffer from a very common malady known as "Stinking Thinking."

But there in Genesis 1:1 we have the complete picture of the author of every new beginning.
"In the beginning.........GOD!".
How do you describe God?
I don't know that I can. I know that my understanding of who He is has changed over my lifetime.
At one point, I thought of him as an old man sitting on a huge stone chair, holding a hand full of lightning bolts.
He sat there with these squinty eyes, looking down at the earth, watching my every move, just waiting for me to mess up so he could hurl a bolt at me and fry me. Kind of sad ain't it? My understanding of misconception of God was such that I felt I could never come to him, let alone live for him.

"In the beginning, God created."
God is an incredible God who revels in color and texture and sound. If you can't go outside, now that it's spring, and see the trees with every shade of green you could imagine, and not think to yourself, "Boy! This God is something else.' You might need to check your pulse.
Blue skies, white clouds, green trees,and flowers of every shade and hue of color the mind could imagine.
God is a creating God.
How can you not listen to the Hallelujah Chorus by Handel and not have your spirit come alive.
The very thought that God created the tune, the words and then gave it to man in order that it might be an instrument by which man could worship him.

"In the beginning, God created......"
How can you not see God's handiwork as you hold your first child.....or hold your first grandchild.
Looking down into that wonderful face, with the realization that this new life is closer to God than anything you've known. They are fresh from God's presence, sent by him, entrusted to you to raise and teach God's principals and who he is.

"In the beginning, God created......"
What about our conversion....our salvation.
God takes life and pours new life into it.
We are born again.
One life is replaced by a new and better way.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ........they are a new creature....a new creation. The old things have passed, the new has come."
The number or ways God creates is staggering.
The new beginnings that we are given during our lifetime, are more than we even know.
Why not let today be a new beginning for yourself.
Why not really and truly turn to this God I've written about and let him create a "Genesis" day for you in your life?
Why not pray and ask God to change you.

You know what?
I believe he'll take your request and say, "Let me give you a new start."

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 ...