Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Little Foxes Will Do You In

Song Of Songs Chapter 2:15
"Quick! Catch all the little foxes before they ruin the vineyard of your love, for the grapevines are all in blossom."

Interesting verse this morning, isn't it?
What does it have to do with anything? Well, if you look closely you'll see some good instruction on what to beware of.
Scripture presents us with the image of our Lord as the true Vine and Christians as the fruit bearing branches. Every believer is a branch, a little vine in the true Vine, Jesus Christ, bearing fruit for God. Unfortunately, the fruit of many branches are being destroyed and the vines devastated by little foxes. Every lesser sin is a little fox which spoils the branches by tearing them apart and devouring the grapes. Thus Solomon said: Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. (Song of Solomon 2:15) and James warns, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (1:15).

Understand that what is symbolized here (the little foxes) are not wolves in sheep’s clothing that we read about in Scripture. The symbol of the little foxes are not the obvious evil sins that stand out for others to see.The little foxes are the sins that are all too often overlooked or ignored, but are nevertheless ruining the vineyards that are in bloom. The little foxes are sin that we excuse. "It really isn't hurting anyone." That may seem true, but it is destroying your ability to produce the fruit God wants to come from your life.

However small or young these little foxes, or sins, may be, they still carry within themselves a destructive nature. Foxes are sly creatures, mischievous and deceitful, hungry and voracious. They are cunning and will come upon us under cover to feed upon the fruit of our vines and it does not take them long to fatten into big foxes. The once little sin well fed and long nourished, outgrows any other sins in our sin nature, or flesh. These little foxes, now small and nourishing themselves on our vine, destroy any growth that has taken place in our lives.

The problem with little sins is that if they are not caught and destroyed, they grow. The so-called little “white lie” soon becomes the golly-whopper big “black lie.” As these little foxes fatten themselves and growevil the once pure in heart, becomes dark, hard and full of secret sin. We must catch the little foxes before they ruin the vineyards.

For someone who is on the road to recovery, it is the "little foxes"...the little sins, left unchecked that will derail us and move us back toward our old lifestyle. That is why a support group and a sponsor are so important to aid us in staying clean and sober. We confess when the little foxes come to destroy the tender young things God is growing in our hearts. We do not move back into the shadows and live our lives with this secret. We drag it out into the glorious light of God's forgiveness where it can be deal with.

Guard yourselves today....
Don't excuse the little foxes in your life that seek to destroy the vineyard God is growing in you.
Think on these things...

God on you....

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Heavenly Hide And Seek

Psalm 91;1
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

There is a whole lot in Scripture about "resting".
I'm all for resting. It is good not only for the body, but the mind and the spirit.
Resting is a time of ceasing from what the Bible calls "our striving".
Seems as though in today's society, there is a whole lot of striving going on.
In fact, some view people who rest as some kind of weird.
Yet we are called to rest in the Shadow of the Almighty.
I like that picture.................being in the shadows.
To me I see that as God standing me, and me kind of hiding in Him.
Have you ever seen a little child who gets embarrassed? Or one who is shy. They'll get behind their Mother or Father and kind of hide.....peeking out at times from behind to see if you're looking at the them. That is how I picture hiding in God. I get behind Him. Getting behind God is the rule of thumb for proper behavior and attitude in His Kingdom.

In a time when self-promotion is the name of the game, God has no use for such foolishness. Imagine going to the local book store in Jerusalem back in the day. You walk through the doors and there displayed at the very front entrance is a rack of see the words..."NEW~ The latest insight from Jeremiah, prophet to the Almighty God."  There are endorsements from Jeremiah's contemporaries of the day...."He truly does speak the Word of God." Or how about..."He will unlock the door to your destiny!" Never mind that the destiny of Jeremiah's day was exile and captivity. I know that I've exaggerated this example, but the truth that I kind of hold on to is that when we rest in God, it really isn't about us, it's about Him.

Jesus, in Matthew 11: 28 extends the ultimate invitation to a sin sick world.
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
What does this mean? What does this really mean? It is an invitation to rest. To quit "doing" in your own strength. One of the things that someone coming out of addiction wrestles with is the idea of having to do this recovery thing on their own. Trying to accomplish it through sheer will power, when, in fact, the Twelve Steps calls for a total surrender of life and will over to the care of God. By doing this, I can rest in Christ. He takes the weariness of my struggle not only with addiction, but life itself and gives me rest. He relieves me of the burden of my addiction, taking the weight of it off my mind and my shoulders and gives me rest.
This isn't some sort of religious concept..........
It is hard-core-to-the-bone truth that you can take to the bank.

Think of it this way....
God is calling us to trade in our sin-sick, broken lives....with all our problems......with all our heartache......with all the misery and toil and trouble.........and receive from Him the gift of divine, heavenly rest. Laying down upon sheets that bring peace, I can let my mind cease from the endless chasing of the wind. I can turn my thoughts and my heart to this God who loves me more than I can comprehend or understand. That sounds like a good deal.

How tired are you this morning?
Why not work Steps # 1, 2 and 3.
Enter into your rest with Jesus.
Hide yourself and dwell in the shadow of the Almighty.

God on you today!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Maybe Johnny Cash Was Right....

Maybe Johnny Cash was right. Maybe the way out of the darkness is to simply "walk the line."
"I keep a close watch on this heart of mine. I keep my eyes wide open all the time. I keep the ends out for the tie that binds...because you're mine.......I walk the line."

Psalm 1:6
For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

Cheery thoughts. Yes?
Sometimes you stop trying to analyze and over think things, and the simplicity of what you are facing is right there in front of you. In addiction and the process of coming out of that lifestyle, the simplicity of recovery truly is amazing. Now don't get me wrong. It is a battle to break free. It is a struggle and for some people it will be the hardest thing they have ever faced. But the bold truth is, just as the big book of A.A. says..."Rarely have we seen anyone fail who has followed our simple path."

I like the verse from Psalm 1.
Two paths....
One walked out by those who have given themselves to our Higher Power, Jesus....
And one path walked out by those who refuse to change their ways of thinking, still trying to do this in their own will and strength.
Psalm 1 says that only one path is watched over by the Lord. That would be the path of the godly.
The other path leads to destruction. If you were talking about addiction...that path would be walked out by someone who has gone to multiple rehabs. Someone who probably knows about the godly path more than most folks. They know where it leads, they have heard of the benefits of those who choose it........they simply will not get honest enough with themselves to turn and take that path.Lets take a look at Psalm 1.

V.1 - Oh the joys of those who do follow the advice of the wicked.....
King James Version says that anyone who does not walk in the council or advice of the wicked will be blessed. There are only two sources of council in this world. God or the devil. That is why I encourage people to surround themselves with godly people. People who are seeking after God's rule and reign in their lives. People who have given up the need to be in control and have turned it all over to God's care. The council of the wicked will only keep you on the dark and twisted path of sin and destruction.

V.1 - Continued - Oh the joys of those who do not stand around with sinners.
Did you catch that? Stand around? Not making progress on any level, but rather simply marking time thinking within yourself that you truly know what's going on. After all, you've been to multiple rehabs, what can they teach you? There are blessings upon blessing if you are not walking under the advice of those who do not know this Jesus. There are blessings when you do not hang around with other people who have chosen to remain in the darkness concerning their own addiction.

V.1 - Continued - Nor join in with scoffers.
KJV once again phrases this particular behavior as "Sitting in the seat of mockers." First off, lets take a look at the three different postures that are mentioned here in this first verse. 
1.)Walking (in the council of the wicked)
2.) Standing (in the way of sinners)
3.) Sitting (In the seat of mockers)
Did you catch that? You're stop walking but your still standing...and finally you've given up  completely and you have sat down. It's hard to make progress when you have sat down and surrounded yourself with a bunch of "nay-sayers". 

If ever we needed to be delivered out of the darkness, pain and hopelessness of addiction, it is today.
We can count on the fact that God is all-powerful, and he always chooses to act at the best possible time. God is sovereign over every situation. Those who wrote the psalms have left us with a testimony that God is able to overcome the pain and darkness found in this life here on earth, and that he is always in control.
When we surrender our will and our life over to God's care, we find out the truth of that is written in Psalm 1.
V.3 - They (those who give themselves over to God's care) are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.
I need to focus my thoughts and my heart on this truth. I need to let it be burned in my spirit, even though the voice in my head keeps telling me that all this God stuff is a bunch of hooey. I need to ask God to come and take my life, to change it for the better and lead me out of this path that leads to destruction.
Today is a good day to begin.....
All you have to have is a desire to stop.
May you find this God that is ready, willing and able to pour real life into you.
I am praying for you....

God on you....

Monday, May 28, 2012

Dude! Are You Going To Fish Or Cut Bait?

Mark 2:14
And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alpheus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, "Follow Me ." And he arose and followed him.

These two words are the bain of existence for someone who is struggling in addiction. By the time they arrive at Rapha, they simply are wanting to escape the pain and the pressure of life. To them, that is all they truly want out of recovery. Make the pain stop and let me catch my breath. Ahhh! Recovery. But once the pain stops and the mind returns to some state of being lucid, there is still a lot of life left to live. Here in is the rub, so to speak. We can rely upon our current way of thinking and making decisions, or we can look for a different way of doing business. One of the things I say to the guys who are coming into the program is, "Your best thinking........the very best A-game you've got.....has gotten you sitting in yellow chairs at white folding tables." In other words, if this is the best thinking you've got, you might consider changing. In the first three steps, you come face to face with the problem....I'm powerless /  There is a POWER greater than myself who can restore me to sanity (or the ability to make sane decisions) /  I make a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand Him.  In other words, when we take our first look at Step # 1, the call to "Follow me!" has been extended by Jesus to us. Steps 2 and 3 either cause us to reject the offer to follow, or we embrace this offer of a new life and move on.

Jesus, in the Mark passage, sees Levi sitting at the tax booth collecting revenue for the Roman Government. Jesus understands what is going on behind the scenes in Levi's life. He knows that the circle of people that Levi runs with is one that is not accepted in the society of the day. Levi's circle of friends included other tax collectors, assorted outcasts and, to take a phrase that seems outdated, other neer-do-wells.
If it weren't for these people, Levi would have no "friends" (and I use that term loosely). Levi has become hard and calloused against the whispered words spoken behind his back from former neighbors and extended family. Levi has made his living by extortion. Levi has lost any love he may have felt for mankind and has turned to the thought of gain and riches. Levi loves only money and the power it brings him. Money soothes the pain of being cast out from a culture he grew up in. It may have been that Levi was always picked on and called names by the boy's he grew up with. This was his way of getting back at them. Knocking on their doors to collect the taxes, knowing full well that behind those closed doors the very ones who taunted and teased him now hide in fear, wishing he would go away. As much as Levi claimed to enjoy the lifestyle, he went home empty inside every night. Went home to an empty house, and only the echoes of his shoes shuffling across the floor. Jesus saw this as He looked at Levi, and with two words, would change his life forever. With a stearness in His voice and the love of the Father in His heart, Jesus spoke to Levi....."Follow Me!" There in the brief moment in time, Levi weighed everything...his past, his present and his future. The scales came down on the side of leaving every thing.

I'm not Levi.
But the call remains the same.
In fact, if you want to know what I believe.........
I think every morning I get up, that call is there waiting for me.
A new day...
A new call...
Same voice...
Same love and mercy and grace....
Jesus saying, "Follow Me!"
I've grown accustom to the voice and my response that I no longer hesitate.
In the past, I would have asked 20 questions.
"Where are we going?"
"How long are we going to be gone?"
"What will we do when we arrive?"
Jesus would have simply rolled his eyes at me and moved on.
I'm very grateful that he didn't, but was firm in his offer to me.

Moving from a life of addiction into a new life of following Jesus is a monumental thing.
It brings each day to the person committed to change new areas to work things to see....old things to discard and new ways of living. Funny part, this new life is truly lived out one day at a time. I pretty much have grown accustom to living this way. I do make my plans for the week ahead, but I lay them down and approach each day as complete unto itself. By that, I try to take care of the day I've been given,  knowing if I do, then my tomorrow will be set up for me to face. Each day involves me making the commitment to follow.

If I humble myself to obey the Word of God, living moment by moment to follow Jesus, He will make up for my weakness in both my character and my actions. Who could argue with this?
Go and live it today.
Go and tell Jesus, "I want to follow you today!"

God on you......

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Mom And God's Purpose

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
A time to be born.....

And a time to die.....

Yesterday was the 31st anniversary of my Mother's death.
Every year, on May 26, I'm taken back, in my memory, to that hospital room at Gadsden Regional Medical Center.
I don't want you to think I'm being morbid. I'm not, because my Mother's death was a glorious occasion.
If ever a person was ready to "go home", as she put it, it was my Mom.
Christmas of 1980, my Mom and Dad came over to our house to eat and be with the kids. Mom was not feeling well and had been that way for a number of weeks. Hoping it was only something insignificant, she pushed on, as she always had. Christmas gave way to January of 1981 and the "feeling" did not go away. Eventually giving in and going to the doctor, Mom was given a series of tests and was given the news that she had pancreatic cancer. The prognosis was not good. Her chance of survival was "0". The doctors gave her 3 to 6 months to live. What came next was so typical of my Mother. Once she wrapped her mind around what was going to happen, she set about putting every thing in order.

She made lunch dates with old friends and acquaintances she hadn't seen in years. Over lunch, my Mother would share her story and ask if she had harmed or offended them in any way. Mom wanted to make sure that she took care of business before it was her time. She put her house in order and took care of all of her financial obligations. That was my Mom.

On May 14th, we took Mom to the hospital for the last time. I'll never forget as we walked out of the house, my brother on one side and me on the other, Mom turned around and looked at the house. Turning back to us, she took our arms and said, "Boys....I'm ready to go home."  On May 26th, at 8:05 a.m., my Mother took her last breath and left this world. As I sat by her bed, I could only think of the homecoming she received in heaven. Both her parents, her brother, and other loved ones to greet her. And of course...her Savior...Jesus. My Mother loved Jesus like it was nobodys business. It was her faith and her love for God and church that is probably the greatest legacy she left me. As I grew up, my Mother read me Bible stories from this gigantic family Bible. I remember so well her voice as she told me of David and Goliath. You know giants and such things fascinated little boys. Daniel and the lions den....."You mean those lions didn't eat him?" I would exclaim. Noah and the ark...."How did Mr. Noah keep all those animals from fighting/" Mom raised me, I believe, as God directed her. With that in mind, I didn't always heed her teaching. I guess the end result is what matters, as I sit here today.

I want to be like my Mom when it's my turn.
I want my faith to be unwavering and my resolve to be as one who is ready.
I don't want my heart to be divided and find that I still have a love for the things of this world.
I want my heart to have only love for the Savior who died for me to give me an eternal life with Him.
Like the verses in Ecclesiastes read....To every thing there is a season. My life is a season. During my time here, God has orchestrated and placed around me his plans and purposes. I'd like to thing I recognized what He was doing, but I didn't. I am quiet sure that I missed what God was doing or was wanting to accomplish in my life. That has always been my greatest fear. Not that I would turn and do something contrary to God's will, but that I would simply miss what He wanted me to do. As the days roll past, I am painfully aware that I do not need to squander any of them on my flesh. I want to love harder than I ever have. I want to burn with a passion to worship my God. I want to give away anything God deems as not necessary for this life. I want to dive into His Word and come up screaming...."YES! It is all true!" I want my heart to be in tune with God's heart. Does this sound fanatical? If it be so...then I will be fanatical.

What is it God is tyring to bring forth from your life today?
Don't miss it.
Don't be so caught up in the activity of life that you miss the voice of God.......the hand of God.
Turn your heart and your mind to heaven and make your days here on earth count.
Love the Lord God with all your heart, all you mind and all your strength, then as you move through your prepared to tell someone your story. It might be that you are the season and purpose God has set aside for others.

I miss you Mom,and I love you.
Can't wait till I see you and Dad again.
Thanks for all you did for me and the things you instilled  in me.

God on you.....

Saturday, May 26, 2012

And Jesus Asked, "Who Do You Say I Am?"

Dr. S.M. Lockridge expounds on who Jesus is to him.


My King was born King. The Bible says He’s a Seven Way King. He’s the King of the Jews – that’s a racial King.

He’s the King of Israel – that’s a National King.
He’s the King of righteousness.
He’s the King of the ages.
He’s the King of Heaven. He’s the King of glory.
He’s the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords.
Now that’s my King. Well I wonder if you know Him. Do you know Him?
Don’t try to mislead me. Do you know my King?

David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament show His handiwork. My King is the only one whom there are no means of measure can define His limitless love.
No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shore of supplies. No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.
Well, well, He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful.
He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. That’s my King.

He’s God’s Son. He’s the sinner’s savior. He’s the centerpiece of civilization.
He stands alone in Himself. He’s unique. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s pre-eminent.

Well, He’s the loftiest idea in literature. He’s the highest personality in philosophy. He’s the supreme problem in high criticism. He’s the fundamental doctrine of proved theology. He’s the carnal necessity of spiritual religion. That’s my King. He’s the miracle of the age. He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him.

Well, He’s the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously.
He supplies strength for the weak.
He’s available for the tempted and the tried.
He sympathizes and He saves.
He’s strong God and He guides.
He heals the sick.
He cleanses the lepers.
He forgives sinners.
He discharged debtors.
He delivers the captives.
He defends the feeble.
He blesses the young.
He serves the unfortunate.
He regards the aged.
He rewards the diligent and He beautifies the meek.
Do you know Him?

Well, my King is the key of knowledge.
He’s the wellspring of wisdom.
He’s the doorway of deliverance.
He’s the pathway of peace.
He’s the roadway of righteousness.
He’s the highway of holiness.
He’s the gateway of glory.
He’s the master of the mighty.
He’s the captain of the conquerors.
He’s the head of the heroes.
He’s the leader of the legislatures.
He’s the overseer of the overcomers.
He’s the governor of governors.
He’s the prince of princes.
He’s the King of kings and He’s the Lord of lords. That’s my King.

His office is manifold.
His promise is sure.
His light is matchless.
His goodness is limitless.
His mercy is everlasting.

His love never changes.
His Word is enough.
His grace is sufficient.
His reign is righteous.
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
Well. I wish I could describe Him to you, but He’s indescribable. He’s indescribable.
Yes. He’s incomprehensible.

He’s invincible.
He’s irresistible.
I’m coming to tell you, the heavens of heavens cannot contain Him, let alone a man explain Him.
You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands.
You can’t outlive Him and you can’t live without Him
Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him.
Pilot couldn’t find any fault in Him.
The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree.
Herod couldn’t kill Him.
Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. That’s my King. Yeah.

 He always has been and He always will be.
I’m talking about He had no predecessor and He’ll have no successor.
There was nobody before Him and there’ll be nobody after Him.
You cant impeach Him and He’s not going to resign.
That’s my King! That’s my King!

Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Well, all the power belongs to my King.
People around here talking about black power and white power and green power, but it’s God’s power.
Thine is the power. Yeah. And the glory. We try to get prestige and honour and glory for ourselves, but the glory is all His.
Yes. Thine is the Kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever and ever and ever. How long is that? And ever and ever and ever and ever. And when you get through with all of the evers, then, Amen.

This is who my Jesus is.
He is bigger than any sin-addiction,
He is greater than anyone who would try to usurp his power and place.
He saved me, and I will live forever with Him.
That's my Jesus.

God on you....

Friday, May 25, 2012

Audio Message From 5 /19/12: ASA DID IT RIGHT

The Transparent Man

I want to live as transparent as possible.
I realize that sometimes, depending on the day and the situation, it is hard to be transparent.
I know I'm called to follow Jesus.
This means that I don't call the shots. I don't dictate the destination or the route. I simply fall in behind and follow.
You don't have to put it in big writing for me to see. I know that if  I leave this journey of following Jesus by taking a detour,  I will get stupid. Anytime I take a detour from the Jesus journey, it takes a toll on me. Usually those detours involve me trying to be something I'm not or chasing after something I have no business chasing after.

I think I've reached the time in my life where it is just easier to be me than it is who I think people want me to be. It's easier to simply say, "Here I am...all my warts....all my scabs....all my imperfections....they are all yours God. I guess if God doesn't go running, screaming into the night, then He's willing to work in me. I think that's why I love God so much. He likes me to hang out with Him.

God and I cut grass this afternoon after I got home. On the scale of Biblical history and human endeavor, cutting grass isn't a big thing, but I have some of my best prayers and conversations with God while I'm pushing that lawn mower (Yes, Virginia...I use a push mower). During the mowing event, I found myself praying about the future.Over the past few months, I have been lead (By God ) to start thinking about the future. Being 60 years old (Turing 61 this year) you kind of run into a healthy does of reality. What reality? Well, things like.....I'll probably never pitch in a major league baseball game. I'll never be an astronaut. May sound silly, but at one time these were things I truly desired to do. I digress. I don't know how many years God will give me....I pray that there are a lot of them. No matter. I want to spend ever how many there are, teaching the Word of God. I guess it's as good a time to confess something right here and now. I've never been real comfortable with calling myself a "preacher". I've never felt that I preached anything. I look at myself more as a teacher of the Word. I'm also a pastor, in that I have a calling and a gift to take care of people and be there for them to help them and guide them. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Been there for along time.

Truth be known..when I first came to Rapha, all the men started calling me Brother Mike. I was really uncomfortable with that moniker. I struggled against it. I tried telling them, "You don't have to call me Brother...just Mike will do." Then I suddenly realized it was a tittle of love and honor. I didn't require them to address me that way. It was their way of acknowledging the call God has placed on me to be their Pastor while they were at Rapha. SO Brother Mike it has been and Brother Mike it will be. I get really tickled at the guys, because they refer to my wife, Vicki, as Miss Mike. It tickles her to death to be going through WalMart and someone cry out..."Hey! Miss Mike!"

Found myself in Jeremiah 9:23-24: This is what the LORD says; "Let not he wise man gloat in his wisdom, or the mighty man in his might or the rich man in his riches. Let them boast in this alone; That they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who is just and righteous. Whose love is unfailing, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken.
I think these verses from Jeremiah speak of the things I first mentioned in this posting. The need to be transparent. Here in Jeremiah, God tells Jeremiah that it isn't about intellect or education. It is not about how strong you are in your physical capabilities, not to mention in your personality. It truly isn't about how rich you are or how rich people think you are. God said that there is only one reason for me to boast....
1.) First that I truly know God. Unusual word KNOW. It has nothing to do with the accumulation of information, but rather the interaction, on an intimate level, between God and me. How weird is that? God desires to be an "up close and personal" God.
2.) Second is that we understand and acknowledge that He is the LORD. I think that kind of fits under the heading of Diving Pecking Order. What does that mean? It means (1.) He is God, and (2) I'm not. How hard is that? Keep that order, fall in and simply follow God's directions and you won't go wrong. The wrong comes in when I take myself out of that order and strike out on my own. I am a hard headed son of a gun.....but my wife tells me that I'm very teachable. I think that may be a good thing.

What is all this about?
All this I have written today?
It's about getting yourself free. Unloading all the hidden things in your life and allowing God to bring healing. It's about being transparent and honest and simply doing the next thing you hear God tell you to do.
It's about being free to be the "YOU" God created you to be.
How could anyone argue with that?

God on you....

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"I Want To Do It------I Don't Want To Do It!"

Step # 4
We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

I can remember going to the Etowah Theater to see Monster Movies. I knew that the Monster never won. Scientist always topped the Monster and usually sent them to a fiery death. Even though I knew this, there were times I would sit with my hands over my eyes, peeping through my fingers. Wanting to see what happened..........and not wanting to see what happened. Scared to death, but not wanting to miss a moment. Our journey out of an addictive life style involves moments like this.

Step #4 of the Twelve Steps is kind of like my behavior during the Monster movies. We have spent a good deal of our life hiding from our past. Hiding from our behavior.......from things we said.....hiding from people we hurt.....we did a great deal of hiding. The funny part (well, not "ha-ha" funny..kind of "weird-funny) is that all this hinding amplified our guilt and shame, which only fed the addiction and gave it more power. We tried to create a double life in that we had one way we acted around family and a completely different way we acted around friends. As the drugs and alcohol increased, the lines between the two lives became blurred until we were no longer in control and we simply began to hide. We hid behind the drugs and alcohol. We hid behind excuses, as it was everyone elses fault but ours, all the while continuing this downward slide to destruction.

Step # 4 is the step that takes us to a place where we began uncovering the things we have been hiding from. Truth be known, Step # 4 is the point at which we stop hiding from ourselves. Through our admission of being powerless and living an unmanageable life, we have found a Power greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity. That Power would be Jesus Christ. Discovering the truth about Jesus, we then make a decision to turn will and life over to His care. Now we are ready to begin what some refer to as "Cleaning House."  In other words, we begin the process of dealing with all the internal defects that have aided us in our addiction. We are sweeping out the rubbish and ruin so that God can bring forth a new character within us.

Jesus kind of addresses our need to come clean, so to speak, by doing a 4th and 5th Step.
In Matthew 23:25-26 - "Hypocrites! You are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy---full of greed and self-indulgence! Blind Pharisees! First wash the inside of the cup, and then the outside will become clean too."  Working the steps involves more than simply doing the right thing......or acting the right way........or saying the right thing. It involves letting Jesus have complete access to the real you (inside) so that he can clean up your mess.

The 4th step is scary. You will come up with a gazillion reasons why you don't really need to do one (notice I said "need"....truth's more like you don't really "Want" too.) . I can give you ONE good reason why you should do the 4th step. Because it works and it's the next thing to do. Simple as that. If I have to sit around trying to convince myself in the need to do a 4th step, that should tell me that I'm putting it off. Sometimes the best way to approach this new found relationship with Christ is what we refer to as the NIKE WAY! Just do it! Quit analysing everything. Quit trying to over think every thing. Just do it. I know that this sounds harsh, but you know what? If we don't change, things are not going to get better....they will get worse. Jesus (Our Higher POWER) is there to guide us through the process. Maybe that is why Jesus says that we are to follow Him. Simply take hold of His hand and began to walk this thing out.

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

When my performance reflects this 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 person
A special person
And so are you....

God on you....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Grow Up! Grow Right! Grow In God!

Childlike or childish?
Innocent or full of wisdom?
Which are we called to be?
Hebrews 6:1 reads: Therefore let us go on and get past the elementary stage in the teachings and doctrine of Christ, the Messiah, advancing steadily toward the completeness and perfection that belongs to spiritual maturity.
Within those verses we see the need to "grow up " in Jesus. That our outward behavior, would reflect the maturity of our belief's in Christ. That doesn't mean I turn into a hard, crusted old Pharisee ready to lop off the heads of all who would cross me. It also doesn't mean that I excuse childish behavior when it comes to the eternal things of God. There is a balance to life that we have been called to.
It is about letting the Holy Spirit work on my character, changing it as the fruit of the Spirit comes forth in my life. It is about me cooperating with God as He works in me. It's about me getting out of the "spiritual" nursery and taking my place among the grown ups.

God has called me to be wise as I  walk through this world with all its pits and snares, but at the same time carry around the inquisitiveness of a child, always looking, always asking, always searching.
I am reminded of a particular instance where Jesus crawls the disciples case.
Matthew 19:13-14 -  Little children were brought for Jesus to lay His hands on them and pray. But the disciples scolded those who brought them. "Don't bother Him," they said. But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me and don't prevent them. For of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus and the kids had their own thing going on. I don't know if it was because they were more prone to believe Him than adults were, or if He simply grew tired of fooling with the grown ups....whatever it was, Jesus enjoyed just being with the kids. You know, I take the words to that song we all learned growing up very seriously.
Jesus loves the little children.....
All the children of the world......

It's the adults that mess everything up.

So you may be thinking that I have drifted away from my original intent of this posting which was about growing up. Well, I haven't. Growing up is a process. It takes time. Don't rush out of your spiritual infancy until it's time. Don't try to be all grown up and wise if you truly haven't matured to that point. You'll wind up looking like you did when you tried to were some of your parents clothes. I have a wonderful photo of myself at age 4 wearing a pair of my Dad's work boots. There I am trying my best to look all big and grown up, those boots coming up to my knees. I couldn't walk in them much less wear them. Sometimes we try to act all religious in an effort to make ourselves look more mature and spiritual than we truly are. We really have no need to do that. We should take each stage of our growth and relationship as it comes.

I know in my own life, I have grown and matured in Christ. At the same time, I'm like a little kid on Christmas morning when God shows out and does something really neat. Maybe it's a person getting healed as we prayed for them. Maybe it was an individual finally coming to be saved and turn the corner on their old lifestyle. Maybe it's an answer to a prayer someone prayed in a desperate moment, and now God has come through. I get all "Golly-gee!" when God does those things. I think that is the part of being a child He never wants me to loose.

As John Wimber use to say, "I want to grow up before I grow old."
My thoughts exactly....

God on you....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

AUDIO MESSAGE- 5/19/12- Abraham's Problem

To Ignore Or Not To Ignore---Which Will It Be?

Mama taught me to not ignore people. "If you do," she said, "People will think your a snob. No son of mine is going to be uppity and a snob."
The Dictionary defines the word ignore  as To refuse to pay attention to /  to disregard.
In other words, Mama said that if I ignored someone, I was being rude. This type of behavior would reflect on my upbringing. Well, what it Jesus told you to ignore someone? Would you? Would Jesus really act like this? Maybe.....

I was digging around in the Bible this afternoon and came across a story I've read a bazillion times yet never really thought about a particular part of it before. Mark Chapter 5 tells the story of a man named  Jairus and a predicament he found himself in. Jairus was  a leader of his local synagogue. In other words, Ol' Jairus had himself a reputation of being a stand up fellow. He made sure that he did everything decent and in order. He crossed the "T's" that needed crossing and dotted the "i's" that needed dotting. He was a man of his word and if you talked with his neighbors, they probably had nice things to say about ol' Jairus.  Trouble was that Jairus was all proper and prim on the outside, looking all religious, but on the inside, he was probably just like everyone else. Had some doubts.....Had some fears......had good days and bad days....There were times he probably wanted to quit the synagogue and go off to be a fisherman, but remained a leader of the synagogue out of duty to his family and friends.  After all, Jairus had a reputation to uphold.

As it is with life, sometimes we find ourselves in situations that truly bring out the "REAL" us. Not the one that we let people see, but the one that comes out when we go home and shut the door. Jairus was about to find himself laying aside his reputation in order to save his daughter. Trouble has a way of clearing away everything that isn't important. A daughter who becomes sick, to the point of death will cause a father to take extreme steps to save them.  Such was the incident that came to this man named Jairus.

In Mark 5, we see Jesus standing on the shore of a lake teaching a crowd who had gathered to listen to him.
Out of the crowd stepped Jairus. He fell at Jesus' feet. He didn't bow...he didn't kneel...Jairus collapsed at the feet of Jesus pleading with Jesus to heal his daughter. Jairus had laid aside his pride, his position in the community and was prostrate at the feet of Jesus pleading for the life of his daughter.  Wonder what his neighbors thought when they saw Jairus at the feet of Jesus? Sometimes life drives us to our knees where we find mercy and grace at the feet of Jesus.

Verse 24 says that Jesus went with him. Don't you know that Jairus was tickled pink that this Jesus was going to his house to heal his daughter. Jairus had heard all the stories of how Jesus had healed others....those who were blind, demonized, crippled, mentally ill, those with didn't seem to matter what he disease was, this Jesus was being used by God, his Father,  to bring healing.Things began to look up for Jairus as the trip to his house would not take long. But somewhere along the way, Jesus got sidetracked by a woman who needed healing. Jairus waited patiently for Jesus to finish. Part of him wanted to remind Jesus that he had come to him before the woman had, but he held his piece. Finally upon completion of the woman being healed, Jesus and Jairus turned to continue on their journey when Jairus saw something that made his heart fall. Messengers from his own household were approaching.

Mark 5:35 reads: While he was still speaking to her, messengers arrived from Jairus's home with the message, "Your daughter is dead. There is no use troubling the Teacher now."
Jairus heard the words, but they didn't truly register with him. Daughter...............dead............don't bother the Teacher......
Jairus's heart sank and he felt the hot tears welling up in his eyes as the grief seemed to roll over him like a tidal wave. Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to see that it was Jesus. We read in Verse 36--
But Jesus ignored their comments and said to Jairus, "Don't be afraid, just trust me."
I love this! Jesus told Jairus to not listen to the messengers. Why? Did they lie? No! They brought the truth. The daughter was dead. Herein we see the real power and love that Jesus possesses for humanity. Jesus rejected and turned away from the messengers and told Jairus to not be afraid but rely on, lean on, cling to the hope that He would continue to journey as He'd promised Jairus, the end result being the ultimate healing. The bringing back of life to an individual who had succumbed to death.

What is it you are facing today in your life that keeps whispering the same message in your ear....."There is no use in troubling Jesus now."  Maybe yon't believe that Jesus is who He truly claims to be and will do what He has assured you He is capable of doing. Jesus isn't stopped or deterred by public opinion. He tells you to trust in Him. Trust in Him today no matter what the situation looks like. Remember that the truth of the matter was that the little girl was dead. This truth concerning her death did not deter Jesus one bit. Which tells me that when we approach Jesus, like Jairus did, and when we ask of Him, He will carry through on His word. That is a comfort that I can lean on every day. I think this is called living by faith. NO matter what my eyes tell matter what my mind may tell matter what those around me may tell me......Jesus always tops the message of the enemy by saying....."Don't be afraid..........just trust me!"
I think I will....
How 'bout you?

God on you.....

Monday, May 21, 2012

Audio From Celebrate Recovery Centre, Alabama 5/18/2012

The Bible...Don't Just Read It---Study It

Psalm 119:133
Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by any evil.

Now before you bow up on me and call me old....out of touch....stuck in the past...hear me out. I know that I am all of those things, but sometimes the more things change, the more we need the foundational truth of the word of God. In other words, we need to be not only biblically literate...but the need to translate into our lives the idea of being biblically obedient. One cannot stand without the other, for how will we know how and what to obey unless we know the Word of God.
I am simply stating what is important to me. Times have changed and reading and studying the word of God isn't in vogue anymore. In an age of Techno-Video devices that do everything but curve your spine and win the war, the thought of actually picking up a book.....especially the Bible is completely foreign to some folks.
There is a pace and voice to the Scriptures that bring great peace to me when I study them. Let me say this....The Bible is a practical book for practical living. If it isn't, then there is no reason for me to read it or study it.

Do I chunk the Word in order to latch on to the latest fad or hottest new speaker making the religious rounds? Nope. Enjoy the latest offering by your favorite Christian author, but don't neglect Scripture.
I cherish the Bible. I relish the times I get to open up those pages and let the Spirit of God speak to me through the words. I have several different translations and each one is marked and highlighted and dated and has more notes than Carter has pills  ( if you get that reference....well your up in years like me....if you don't get that reference....just look over me...).
Seems to me that folks today had rather go by their feelings and their experiences when it comes to following God. No matter what, shouldn't you always go to the Word to verify the truth to what you have felt or the experience you encountered?
I am all up in "Feeling" the presence of God. But that feeling goes away and I find myself living back among the mortals with my own set of problems and circumstances. It is during this time that I find my comfort in the Word. Like I said, the Holy Spirit speaks to me through my study.

I have written here in the past about my love for this gentleman above....One Dr. J. Vernon McGee. He is host of the radio program Through The Bible. Dr. McGee goes through the entire Bible in 5 years, teaching and expounding on the word of God. Sounds boring doesn't it? Well it's not. If you have ever avoided books such as Leviticus or Deuteronomy...I and II would serve you well to take a look at them. Did you realize that Jesus quoted more from the book of Deuteronomy than any other book. Why? What was it about that particular book that Jesus saw the value in learning it?  Take the journey and find out the truth for yourself.

Now I'll give you this one. Dr. McGee is an acquired taste because of his accent. He was from Texas, living in California and somewhere along the way....his accent got all twisted. I don't always agree with Dr. McGee on every point, but he does offer me new ways of looking at verses. Dr. McGee died in the early '80's but his program continues to this day. What's more, Through the Bible broadcast to over 100 countries around the world. I particularly enjoy the letters that are read during the program from people who live for this broadcast. It is the most important thing in their daily life. Think about it! It is just one man teaching the Bible for 30 minutes, going line by line.....We sometimes forget the power of the Word of God.

Psalm 119:162 reads: I rejoice in your word, like one who finds a great treasure.
It's not a treasure if you don't find the value in it.
Continuing in Psalm 119, we come to the 130th verse --  The unfolding of Your word brings light and understanding. Even the simple can understand them. I like the term "Unfolding" of Your word. I think of the way my wife folds bath towels. She can take these humongous hunks of towel and fold them down until they are minuscule. Once you start unfolding the towel the true size of it is revealed, just as God's word is unfolded, we see that it is bigger than our understanding. Larger than our problems and yet opens our minds and spirits up to God's eternal truth.

Find a version of the Bible that works for you. One you can understand.
Join a Bible study...
Make sure your church teaches the word of God and not simply "feel-good" messages that have no real substance to them.
Pray and ask God to give you a hunger for His word.
Then jump in!
Jump in over your head and enjoy.

God on you....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Church----Nuff' Said

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, The LORD Is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

Let me introduce myself.
I'm a Bapt-a-costal-penta-Method-Vineyard-charis-Christian.
That is who I am.

Confusing isn't it.
You know what?
Really...I'm a follower of Jesus Christ.
That's all.

All of those names I listed are groups that I have been affiliated with over the years. But I don't find my identity in them. I am a follower of Jesus.
The best thing that ever happened to me was to realize that on the train I'm riding that is headed for heaven...........there are a whole bunch of different box cars. I figure as long as I'm on the train, that is the most important thing. isn't it?

You see, I think things have gotten kind of messed up in today's society.
I hear people all up in what church they belong to.
Nothing wrong with belonging...
Nothing wrong with taking pride in your denomination.

Just don't let it take the place that Jesus is suppose to hold in our hearts.

The way some folks carry on, the honestly think that their particular denomination was responsible for writing the Bible.
My identity is found in Jesus and him alone.
Another thing we need to get over and beyond is that the church down the street from you isn't our enemy.
Vicki and I were being led around by God at one point in our walk with Him and we found ourselves attending a "new"church. It was cool. Lot's of good folks who truly wanted to make an impact in the community. One particular Sunday, during Sunday School, the man in charge was sharing with everyone about the vision for the church. He was getting a little passionate in his sharing and as his zeal came out, he said, "We are going to wipe out the competition!" Wipe out the competition? Yep! We are going to be the best church ever was. Sad to say but that church isn't even in existence any more.
We are THE Body of Christ.
You'd think that each church had a kind of Alamo mentality. We've got to hunker down and beat back the enemy because we are the last of the "REAL" churches. Who was it in Scripture that thought he was the last of his kind? Oh yeah...Elijah. Come to find out there were 7000 more just like him.

The way I read it in the Bible is that its Jesus' church anyway. I don't think he'd be happy with the way we try to take ownership of his church. In some ways, it seems like people want to run church the way they think it should be run....they just want to stick Jesus' name on it so that it will look legal. My Bible says that Unless God builds the building, the laborers labor in vain.In other words, it may look like a church. It may have songs and programs and all such of other "churchy" things.....but it is missing the one ingredient that would verify the validity of what was being done.........that would be the Spirit of the Living God.

So here is everything in a nutshell.
Be proud of your church.....
But leave it at that.

Exalt your Savior, Jesus.
I think one of the coolest things that ever happened while I was pastor at the Vineyard happened one Saturday night during our recovery meeting. An older gentlemen came in and stood at the back, taking in everything that was happening. He began to ask questions from one of our members. "Is this a church?" "Yes, it is," replied our member. "What do you people believer?"
The young man turned and looked at the gentleman and said.....
"We love Jesus. We love people who love Jesus. We love people who don't love Jesus."
I think that kind of sums up my theology.

God on you.....

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Church @ Rapha.....It Isn't About Nickles And Noses

The little church that could.
Many a man has met God in this place.
Many a man has met God in this place and changed.
Many a man has met God in this place and walked out unchanged.
I can truthfully say that the Word of God has been taught, preached and proclaimed from this little building.
How many teachings and messages have I given from here? Thousands. It is a place where a person can find out the truth about themselves in the light of God's revealing Spirit.
I love to spend time in the chapel praying. We have two bulletin  boards inside. One on the left side of the door and one on the right. One board is for prayer requests. I encourage every one to come by the chapel at least once a day and pray over the request that are posted. Once a prayer has been answered, it is moved to the other board which is for answered prayer. 

When Rapha was originally founded, the chapel was in disarray and was going to be torn down, but cooler heads prevailed and it was kept. I think that it was God who protected it from destruction. Built in 1948 by Brother Floyd Crowe, the chapel was originally known as 77 Road Baptist Church. The timbers used in the roof construction are original and still in good shape today.  Here is a view of the ceiling and you can kind of see what I'm talking about when I spoke of the support construction of the roof.

This is our place of prayer. When we started a regular church meeting here at Rapha back in 2006, my wife wanted something different than an altar or a rail to kneel at. She had pictured in her mind, something that was stable and unmovable.....something that would symbolize the nature and person of Jesus Christ. A rock! It was a monumental effort, but we gathered up a bunch of guys and drug a rock up from the creek which runs behind Rapha. Placed it in our sanctuary and it has become the focal point for prayer. I can't tell you the number of times I stepped into the sanctuary and came upon someone draped over that rock, crying their heart out to God! As I tell the guys, "You better learn to lean on Jesus, before Jesus leans on you."

This is a kind of behind the scenes view of the worship team (minus Debbie Handy...she had not arrived yet) running over the music before the service. I have been blessed to have been surrounded by people whose hearts burn to worship God. We don't perform or do special music....we simply bring to the table our worship unto God. Sometimes the worship is intimate and quiet.....sometimes it is screaming-out-there kind of worship. We believe that worship is the highest priority given to man by God. Worship is a lifestyle not a service or meeting where music is involved. Worship is every part of my life. I like the way the Message Bible puts worship in Romans 12:2 -  So here is what I want you to do, God helping you; Take your every day, 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.
Some may say, "Well, what about sharing the gospel? Shouldn't that take precedent over this "worship" thing?" No! It is the idea of if I am concentrating and focusing my life on following God and allow Him to permeate every area of my life....then sharing with others about what Jesus has done for me will come kind of natural. I won't have to think about doing this, I'll simply do it because that is what one does when one's life is worship to God.

Hey, I want to thank every one who has stopped by the Greene Street Letters . Know that you are appreciated by me and also prayed over.
Until next time....

God on you.....

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Me? Deceived? No Way!

It's hard to see the "real you" when your head is buried in the sand. It's hard to be honest with yourself if you won't acknowledge your character defects. Sometimes we lash out when someone "Catches" us or uncovers us.  "What do you know!"  "You don't know me!"
I have heard this tired old line over and over, in fact more times than I care to count. It usually involves an individual that I'm trying to help and in the process of talking with them, I say something about their character. Now what I say is usually based on the behavior I see in them. You see, the one thing about addiction is that it comes with its own unique set of behaviors and beliefs. It doesn't matter who the individual is. It doesn't matter what the situation or drug of choice. It doesn't even matter which side of the tracks they were born on...............every addict has common views and beliefs that are evident. I said all of that to say this. After 14 years of ministering to people in addiction, you've seen the same behavior repeated over and tend to be wise (hopefully)

I have been stuck in II Timothy for a while and as I read it, I see addictive behavior there in black and white. Now let's really be clear about something before I go on. All addictive behavior stems from sin. Sin being the by product of a broken relationship with Jesus. The outward behavior of sin comes from an inward belief or bent that tells us we should exert our own self will and that we do not need God on any level in our life. In other words, it's that good ol' sin nature that has raised its ugly head and is ruling our decisions and circumventing our will (See Romans 7 and read Paul's view of the flesh / a.k.a. the old man.  

The one thing that continues to fascinate me about the human will and perception of ones self, is how deceived  a person can be by their own actions. We read in II Timothy 3:13 --While evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. The Bible also refers to this in Romans 1:21-22 in that although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.

I don't want to live under delusion as to my spiritual state in this life. To me, eternity is not something to be tinkered with or taken lightly. I guess I kind of look at this whole "God" understanding with the mind that what I read in Scripture is true. IF it is true, then why would I want to play around with my soul?

I see a lot of self deception in men who enter our program. They don't really have a problem and they don't really need to be here. Okey-dokey. "I'm here because I'm trying to appease my wife." Or "I'm here to get people off my back, but I don't really have a problem.  It's amazing how many guys we get coming to our program that really don't have drug and alcohol problems. (If you didn't notice, I just typed that last sentence with my tongue firmly implanted in my cheek).

It takes the light of God's Holy Spirit shining into the heart of sinful man before understanding can take place. We have got to be uncovered and when it happens it isn't a very pleasant or peaceful thing. Our first reaction is to run from God. If we don't run...........if we allow God to work in us, then we can begin the process of healing. The greatest healing that can take place is SALVATION. Being born matter what you call it...salvation breaks off the blindness and hardness  from our spiritual eyes and ears, not to mention the heart, so we can see ourselves as God truly sees us. Any deception or deceit we may uncover in our hearts can be dealt with through confession and repentance. Good stuff that repentance.
John 3:19-21 - This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

Step # 1 - recognition of my powerlessness.
Step # 2 - Belief in a Power greater than ourselves that can restore us to sanity.
Step # 3 - Made a decision to turn my will and life over to the care of God as I understood Him.
Step # 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory.
Step # 5 - Admit to God, myself, and another human being the exact nature of my wrongs.
Step # 6 -  Entirely ready to have God remove my defects of character.

Here in 6 steps, we have moved from denial and delusion into a place where our hearts are uncovered and entirely ready to have God work in us. That, my friend, is where real life begins.

Until tomorrow....
God on you....

I'm Just An Old Coot For Jesus

Joel 2:28
And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people,
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,

your young men will see visions.

I guess it is official. I have moved from the "Young men" part of Joel, over to the "Old men" side of the equation. Kind of funny how God makes this thing called life all work out in the end.

I spent the better part of my younger days running around all full of vim and vigor wanting to do for Jesus. DO this! Do that! Go here! Go there! As I've gotten older, I find that energy and zeal have been replaced with some wisdom. At least I hope I have developed some wisdom. Hate to know I wasted those years and have arrived here in my '60's deceived and deluded. My current belief is work smarter.....not harder.

I remember a young man who came to my office one day all excited and jumping around. He had recently been saved so he basically still had the wrapper on. "I know what I want to do, Bro. Mike!" he kept exclaiming. "I know what I want to do!" After I calmed him down a bit, I enquired...."What is it you want to do?"  The young man looked me straight in the eye and said, "I want to die for Jesus." "Excuse me?" I replied. "You want to do what?" The young man, as serious as he could be said, "I want to die for Jesus." I put my arm around him and suggested he should try "living for Jesus" before he moved into a martyr roll. I told him that dying for Jesus was no problem. Didn't take anything to die.....but that living for that was where the pay off came in. I told him to hang on to the idea of dying but let Jesus determine the place, the time and the way....
Ahhh! The zeal of youth. I can't complain. To be honest with you, I don't believe that young people have really changed over the years. They still want to stretch their wings and fly. They want an identity that is their own. They are searching for a voice that speaks to their generation. We did the same thing when we were young. I love it because I truly believe that God birth's within each generation the desire to be the one who turns the world around. I don't ever want to quench or damage the things God places in a young man or woman's heart. I want them to discover for themselves how wonderful this God truly is. I want them to experience God's hand of removing from them those things which were more flesh than spirit. I want them to grow and mature beyond anything I was ever able to accomplish.

I have several young men who, if I had to, would  be classified as "disciples." I have watched them one by one go off and do things for the kingdom that went way beyond anything I ever laid my hand to. Isn't that the way it's suppose to be? I think so.
I pray over the men who come through here at Rapha. I pray that they all would become disciples of Jesus. I pray that their hearts and minds would be open to the truth of the Gospel and that they would allow it to work down into their hearts.

One of the things that God has blessed me with is our Bible study on Tuesday nights. We are having as many as 40 attend these meetings and God is giving me some good basic teaching about the commitment to follow Jesus. The one thing that keeps moving through my message is "Put some legs to your faith and walk it out. It's not enough to simply sit and think, ruminate, ponder and contemplate. You've got to get up and begin to follow what it is you hear God telling you to do.

 I feel that out of this Bible study will come those who will abandon themselves into the hands of God, for Him to do and send as He wills.  I guess if you could sum up my life at this point in time, it would be that I desire to make disciples. I'm not really interested in collecting a bunch of people who want to sit and listen to me speak and teach. I want those who take what is being taught and allow the Holy Spirit to percolate what they have heard. That the truth of God become the fuel that sends them out, back to their homes to be a voice and heart for God to reach others.

I know that I'm not over the hill or ready to be put out to pasture. At the same time, I'm not a spring chicken (why do they always refer to spring chickens?) I do have some years and mileage. I just want the rest of my days to be lived with some wisdom and understanding of what God is doing and what he expects of me. Still got a lot of teaching to do. There is a heap of praying that needs to be done also, so I think I'll be about my Father's business.
How about you?

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 ...