Saturday, June 30, 2012

Authentic People

Matthew 7:21
"Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as "Lord" but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

I like this verse. I hate this verse.
I like it for the reason that there is a part of me (a very sick part) that whispers in my ear and points fingers at others saying,"They are not really serious about following Jesus! They're just playing at it." Then there is another voice (it's kind of crowded in my head) that asks questions to me....."Are you sure that your not playing? Are you really sure? Are you even saved?" Amidst all the bantering going on in my mind, a third voice quietly assures me of my salvation and that I need only to listen to what He is saying. I tend to lean toward that third voice as I recognize it to be God speaking to me.


I guess the one thing that I've come to realize over the past 14 years at Rapha, is the extent of the deceitfulness of the human heart. It possesses a power to delude, distract and deceive a person into believing things that are totally off the scale of what really is true.
I think the most deceptive belief that some people have is that which deals with the state of their salvation.

There have been men who lay claim to a realtionship with Jesus that have no evidence in their life at all of having been saved. They are full of religious "jargon" and catch phrases. They raise their hands during a worship service, singing of the wonders of Christ, yet all the while their lives are a testimony to the extent of how far a life can be dragged down into sin. If you try to talk with them about their behavior.....they become angry and accuse you of being legalistic and Phariseeical. Yet it is very evident that they truly do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior. As Jesus put it in Scripture, "They are white-washed tombs." Pretty on the outside....dead on the inside.

The one thing that scares me in all of this, is that the human heart possesses a power that is beyond the reasoning of any sane person. We, as a race or species...have the ability to stand in the face of God and say, "NO! Leave me alone." I tell the men at Rapha from time to time that if it were up to me, I'd love to have the power to change them and free them from their addiction. But such power does not lie within me. God alone possesses that power, and He will bring it to bear when a heart submits and opens to Him. That is why we teach that "you don't have a drug and alcohol problem. Drugs and alcohol are a symptom of something else that is wrong. You've got a living problem. It's called a broken relationship with Christ." Sin has separated me from the real source of life. Sin has created within me a malestrom of toxic emotion that only fuels my desire to use."
Guilt...
Shame....
And a depressing lie that tells me "I am what I am, I cannot change...I am hopeless" becomes the mantra I say over and over in my mind.
Only the Holy Spirit of God can break through such a stronghold and bring the healing light of restoration and forgiveness that can set us on a right course.


John 15:5 and 7
"Yes, I am the vine, you are the branches."

Friday, June 29, 2012

Keep Off The Grass! Stay On The Path!


Big Book of A.A -- Chapter 5 -- "How it works"
Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not give themselves to this simple program.

Remember that we deal with alcohol (And drugs....M.B.) cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power---That One is God. May you find Him now! Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Psalm 32:8 -- The Lord says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you."

Psalm 34:18 - The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 39:8 - Rescue me from my rebellion...........

Psalm 91:9-11 -  If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most Hight your shelter, no eveil will conquer you. No plague will come near your dwelling. For he orders His angels to protect you wherever you go.

Psalm 103:14 -  For He understands how weak we are. He knows we are only dust.

Psalm 107:5-9 - Hungry and thirsty, they nearly died. "LORD, help! They cried in their trouble, and he rescued them from their distress. He led them straight to safety, to a city where they could live. Let them praise the LORD for his great love and for all His wonderful deeds to them. For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Psalm 119:19 - Help me abandon my shameful ways. Your laws are all I want in life.

Psalm 119:65 - You have done many good things for me, Lord. Just as you promised.

Psalm 119:71 -  The suffering you sent was good to me, for it taught me to pay attention to your principals.

Psalm 119:105 - Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.

Psalm 139:23-24 - Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

Psalm 139:3 - You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am.

I felt that I should only post Scriptures that somehow relate to the working and walking out the Twelve steps. I pray that you find comfort and a renewing of your spirit as you read them. If you have time, go back and read them again slowly. Let them soak inside you. Let them drive away any fear or doubt you may have this morning. Let these words be life to you. Realize that no matter what you are facing today, God knows about it and is watching over you. It may not seem like it. You may even not be aware of His presence, but He is there. He is still in control and I have to trust Him that He knows what is best for me. I will choose this day to follow the "Simple Path".

God on you.....
mb

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Contentment And Love



Philippians 2:14 ---
In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing.

Philippians 4:11 --
Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to get along happily (or to be content) whether I have much or little.

I think one of the greatest gifts God ever gave to Vicki and me was the gift of contentment. Over the past 15 years that is the one thing that has covered our home and our lives....contentment. It doesn't mean that we were filled with satisfaction to the nth degree, but what it does mean is that no matter what our situation was or what circumstance we faced we had peace and contentment to go through it. This was not my normal way of handling things so this is how I know that God had given contentment to us.

To me being content opens a new door to see things differently. I have developed a greater love and appreciation for things, that in the past, I would have overlooked and gave no thought to. So here below I am going to list some of the things I love and appreciate.

1.) God's Word -  Oh in the past I read the Bible. I would take mine to church and scribble notes and such in the margins, but over the past 15 years this book has become dear to my heart. I hear others speak of going to conferences or special services and experiencing the presence of God in a powerful way. I have no problem with that. It has even happened to me and I was wonderfully transported into the presence of God. But now each time I sit down and open my Bible, I find myself in that same place as I did when I was at a conference or special service. I am transported into the presence of God and He speaks to me. There is a wonderful peace that comes to my soul when I sit and read the Psalm. My faith is strengthened and comes alive when I read Hebrews and I and II Timothy. Gratitude floods over me as I go down the verses in Romans. As my sons use to sing, when they were little tykes...."Oh the B-I-B-L-E...yes that's the book for me."

2.) Hymns - Back in the early 90's when I first latched onto "praise and worship" music, I quickly discarded the hymns of the church. I looked at them as old and out dated. Songs that were "hip" in their day (even if their day was the 1700's) but now had no relevence to my time. Talk about a snob! I was so wrong on twenty different levels. Over the past 15 years I have revisited those songs and have found them to be even more powerful than I rememberd. Here's my Top 10 list of favorite hymns.
A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
Amazing Grace
Victory In Jesus
It Is Well With My Soul
Standing On The Promises
I'd Rather Have Jesus
There Is Power In The Blood
There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood
How Great Thou Art

At The Cross 

 3.) Pastor's And Teacher's I have had the honor of listening to --
George Creel and his incredible insight into prophecy and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Jim Bentley for making it all real. His messages always reveal a truth and honesty about his own life that helps me to see my own as God sees it.

Rod Hembree and the Quick Study Program. Taking me through the Bible in one year, Rod has a way of application of the Scriptures that is relevent to life today.

Danny Daniels for words and music that showed me what true worship is. I first heard him on tape as he was teaching about worship. His love for God and music is very evident and has been honed and shaped by the reality of Danny's personal life.

Dr. J. Vernon McGee for his devotion to the Word of God. Every time I listen to his program and hear that long, gruff, drawn out Texas drawl, I can't help but laugh. Who but God would pick such a voice to go round the world with the truth of God's word.

Don Gentry who came into my life when I was growing up. Before Don I never knew of a young preacher. I thought the prerequisite for being a Pastor/Teacher was that you had to be over 70 years old. Don came to Gallant Baptist fresh out of Seminary and was full of fire and life. His words had a tremendous effect on me and shaped me to receive the call from God I now walk in.

And last, but certainly not least.....
John Wimber -  I spent 8+ years with John's Voice. I never had the honor or privilege of meeting him but through cassette tapes and CD's, I have been influenced by this man's love for Jesus. People often ask me what Seminary I attended and I quickly reply, "I attended the Open Closet" Seminary. When I started as Associate Pastor of the Vineyard, I was blessed to have been given access to their library of tapes. So for 8 years, I took full advantage of it by listening, taking notes, cross referencing the Scriptures and laying the ground work for my theology (Which by the way isn't very complicated...take a look at I Corinthians 2:2 and you'll understand.) . 

Every one of these and countless others have helped to shape me and provide me with a sure foundation in Christ. Like I said, I am blessed!

I could go on and on with my list, but I better stop for now.
I'll never be a man of great wealth that is measured by the world's standard.
But by the economy of heaven and the hand of God, I am blessed and rich beyond measure.

Have a great day!
God on you.....
mb

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tick...Tock...Tick....Tock....



Joel 2:12-13
That is why the LORD says, "Turn to me now, while there is time! Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping , and mourning. Don't tear your clothing in grief, instead tear your hearts."

Time!
What a wonderful invention from the mind of God. I just wish that I understood it as I should. I wish that I did not waste it or rush it or try to make it do something it never was intended to do. Seems as though I am hardly ever focused on the time of "TODAY"....I find that my mind wants to either live in yesterday or tomorrow.

God has given me this period of time that I now exist in. Even as I am sitting here at my computer at home, typing this post, it is hard for me not to project into the future with a wonder of what it might hold. One thing that came out of my having a heart attack last December is a thought that kind of lingers in the back of my mind...."What if today is my last day here on earth?" I want to be a good steward of the time God has given me. I don't want to fill it up with a bunch of useless running around. To me, there is a pace that God desires us to walk each day. Not running ahead of him, nor lagging behind...but simply following at his pace. That is the lesson I want to learn.

The verses from Joel is one that strikes at the hearts of those who are in addiction. An invitation to leave the bondage and darkness of a lifestyle that is sure death, in order to begin a new way of living. Notice what God says....
"Turn to me now, while there is time."  These kind of decisions are truly life and death, and to be honest with you....about a persons destiny as to where they will spend eternity. Death is a part of living and it is something that we will all experience (Unless of course Jesus returns). But the matter of eternity and where I will spend it is found in the decisions that I made while I was here. It isn't a matter of being good or doing good deeds, it is a matter of what did I do with Jesus. Did I surrender will and life (Step# 3) over to his care and live according to his will? Or did I continue to worship at the altar of ME, feeding my old nature, giving sin power over my very soul and spirit.

Sometimes we spend our lives with a promise of tomorrow.
"I'll stop using tomorrow."
"I'll go to rehab tomorrow."
"I'll look into this Jesus stuff tomorrow."
You see, tomorrow is the most wonderful day ever created. We can do anything tomorrow. There is not task so great...no mountain so high...no problem of such complexity that we cannot address it tomorrow. Trouble is, I keep living in tomorrow and never accomplish anything today. Today is the day to get honest with yourself and allow God into your heart and life.
Today is the day to begin this new journey.

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.


Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;

Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;


That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.


Amen.

God on you....
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

God Is In The House


Psalm 24:10
Who is the King of glory? The Lord Almighty---
He is the king of glory.

I have been going back over in my mind the events of the past week. Why? I'm not sure, except to say that sometimes the day to day grinds on a person so much that we don't see God's hand at work around us. So for the past few days, I've kind of done a review and, as Gomer Pyle use to say...."Golly! Shazam!" God has been revealing himself all around me.

Incident # 1 -
A former client calls and asks for prayer. He is going through a problem that is connected to a business deal. God put him in this job when he left Rapha. The position he held taught him what humility was truly all about. This job forged and changed the character of this man and strengthened him in his recovery. Now in the process of buying the business, a snag occurred which threatened to derail the entire process. He asked me, "What should I do?" my advice....now is the time to trust God. "Did God lead you to this job? Did God put you in this position with the promise that if you did all the little things....did them and be faithful in them, then you would be offered the business?" He answered, "Yes." My reply to him was to wait, pray and follow whatever God instructs you to do. This was so outside the scope of how this man used to operate. In the past, he would have been all up in the problem, running around trying to make something happen. Now, here he was willing to do what God wanted, so he waited. He prayed. He waited. God answered. The problem miraculously corrected itself with no help from anyone. Yeah! Right. I know that the hand of God had been at work and that this was all part of the next thing God had called this man to. The man was rewarded for obeying God and not reverting back to his old way of doing things. Who is the King of glory? The Lord Almighty...He is the king of glory.

Incident # 2 -
A client has started a new job. He gets an abscess on his knee that brings swelling and pain to the point he can hardly walk. Client starts to get discouraged because he doesn't want to miss work. He feels like his boss has given him this job as a trial to see if he can handle the work load, and he doesn't want to have to miss work because of this physical problem. The young man comes to our Tuesday night Bible Study. I gather us some folks and ask him if we can pray for his knee. He agrees. We begin praying very simple prayers for his healing.
We speak to the knee saying...."Be healed." Sounds weird, but you know when I read Scripture I see Jesus praying these very short prayers for people's healing. Jesus would pray..."Be healed........Get up.........Come forth........Open your eyes"......His prayers were to the point. Now I am fully aware that I possess no power to heal anyone. But what I am is a conduit for God to work through. Besides, what's the worst that could happen? The guy doesn't get healed and he struggles physically with this knee. What's the best that could happen? He gets healed. His faith is strengthened because he has had an encounter with the living God. The God of the Bible is no longer just words on a page but now has become a reality in this mans life. Guess what? God healed him. The next morning when he got up, the swelling was gone. The pain was gone and he was able to go to work. Who is the King of glory? The Lord Almighty....He is the king of glory.


Incident #3
A friend of mine has an opportunity to advance in his work. Everyone around him is telling him how he would be perfect to fill a position that will be available  in the near future. Problem is this new position would require him to go back to school to get his masters degree. My friend has a history of things in his life not coming easy to him. He has had to struggle and fight for everything he has accomplished, and he has accomplished a lot. My friend has demonstrated his love for God and for his family by always seeing things through to the end. I remember once, during a phone conversation, that my friend asked me, "When is it going to be my time to receive with everything being a battle?" I told him that maybe this was God's way of keeping him focused on trusting God. But you know, sometimes the toll of battling like that....always struggling....takes a toll on a person. My friend wanted this new position, but the voices that whisper in his mind (you know the ones I'm talking about..the ones that accuse and demean you) kept telling him that he was too old for this. It would be to hard. He could not pass the entrance exam to get his Masters. But, as he has always done, my friend pushed on even though the voices told him he was foolish to even try. We prayed for him yesterday as he was taking a pre-exam test to give him an understanding of where he stood in the whole process. We prayed for God to silence those voices that accuse and tear down confidence and trust in God. He needed to score a 70 .....His actual score was in the 90's. My friend has now signed up to take the classes needed to get his masters degree. Who is the King of glory? The Lord Almighty...He is the king of glory.

I could write of several more incidents that happened this past week where God intervened in the lives of people. Thank you Lord that you are not someone who is sitting back watching every thing unravel around us. You are the God who is working in the hearts and lives of people. It is because of this I can truthfully say...."Who is the King of glory? The Lord Almighty...He is the king of glory.

God on you....
mb

Monday, June 25, 2012

Promise A Real Promise


A covenant is a contract or agreement between two or more parties. Covenant is how God has chosen to communicate to us, to redeem us, and to guarantee us eternal life in Jesus. These truths, revealed in the Bible, are the basis of Christianity. The Bible is a covenant document. The Old and New Testaments are really Old and New Covenants. The word "testament" is Latin for Covenant.

Covenant. What a wonderful word. It's wonderful when it comes to God because he is the keeper of his word. He is faithful to his covenants with man kind even when man kind isn't faithful to him (As evidenced by the wandering in the wilderness once the Hebrews left Egypt.)

The act of salvation is a covenant made between God and man. God lays out specifically what he will do if we respond to his free gift of eternal life. Tie into this covenant someone whose life has been wrecked by addiction and the covenant offers to bring to this life a new power. A new power (In the form of the Holy Spirit) that will lift this person out of the muck and mire of sin/addiction and set it upon a new course of living.  As the Big Book of A.A. says..."God does for me what I could not do for myself."

In Exodus 6, we read where God describes to Moses the terms of a covenant he is going to make with the Hebrews who are trapped under the control of an evil Pharaoh.
"Therefore, say to the Israelites: 'I am the Lord......
I will free you from your slavery in Egypt  (The same promise exists today for anyone trapped and enslaved by sin/addiction)

I will redeem you with mighty power and great acts of judgment ( God alone possesses the POWER to break the hold of sin/addiction in our lives. We have tried and tried to quit, and maybe even had some success for a brief period of time. But we were unable to sustain our new found freedom. God grants to us the Power necessary to live free and clean)

I will make you my own special people (What a promise! It's like being put in God's witness relocation program. We are changed...we are new creations (I Cor. 5:17). Not only that, we become God's people....a special people. No longer will we carry around all the labels that the world has put on us......Junkie...thief...liar....cheat....manipulator.....no good. Now we stand in God's presence as son's and daughter's of the Most High God....Now that dog will hunt!)

And you will know that I am the LORD your God who rescued you from your slavery in Egypt (This speaks of the ongoing relationship we will have with God in our new life. We will know (experiential knowing) God in ways that we never could have imagined).

I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It will be your very own property (Now today...God doesn't promise us land, that was for the Hebrews. But God does promise to give us a new life. In order to possess it we have to enter through Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection. We don't get a promised land but we do get a promised life.

I am the LORD (God closes out this particular portion of scripture the same way he opened it. By declaring his name.....I AM THE LORD. In other words...I am the keeper of covenants. You can take his word to the bank because it is true and amen.

Are you struggling today?
Are you still living in your sin/addiction?
Why not say yes to Jesus and accept his offer of a promised life?

God on you.....

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

FYI...THE Good News !


I John 5:12
He who has the Son, has life. He who does not have the Son, does not have life.

Sometimes I come to the conclusion of what Jesus loved the little children so much. Such a time came the other day as my wife shared a story about our grand daughter, Ashley. Six years old and full of life, Ashley was visiting her other grand mother and during the course of the visit Ashley told her, "Nana...I heard the most wonderful news. Did you know that Jesus died for us? Did you know that he hung on a cross so that you and I could go to heaven when we die and be with him?" Out of the mouth of babes.

The thing I took away from this encounter was my dullness or that part of being an adult that forgets the true worth of the gospel. To Ashley, even though she may not have understood the theology or impact of salvation....that didn't lessen the fact that  it truly was "Good News." As an adult, sometimes we loose perspective on the eternal truth's of God. We allow ourselves to become hardened and weary from the day to day struggle of life itself. It doesn't lessen our salvation or take away from it....we just loose that perspective of what Jesus truly has done for us.

I never want to loose the wonder and amazement of what Jesus has done for me. I want it to always resonate within my spirit. I want to always carry around an attitude of gratitude for the sacrifice of Jesus. Like I said....out of the mouth of the little children shall come the pure-tell-it-like-it-is words of life.

I John 4:9-10
God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

II Peter 1:3
As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness. And by that same mighty power, he has given us all of his rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in his divine nature.

Let the wonder of Jesus wash over you this morning.
Let the truth invade your heart and mind and bring you to a place of peace.
Let the cross cast its shadow over you as you realize the extent of Love God the Father has for you.
Let the power of the cross open you up to new levels of love and awareness of Christ in you...

Embrace Jesus.

God on you this morning.
Know that Vicki and I pray over these posting each day that God would speak to who ever stops by to read them.

Until tomorrow....
God loves you and so do I.


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Saturday, June 23, 2012

POW To The Er....Live It!


II Corinthians 12:9
Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My POWER works best in your weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the POWER of Christ may work through me.

Kind of a conundrum wrapped in a riddle and all rolled up in an enigma. This idea of gaining power to live through  the act of surrender. To have power through admitting being powerless and my life is unmanageble. Yet, this is the very heart of not just recovering from a lifestyle of addiction, but of recovering from the fall of man in the garden of Eden. Sometimes when I think back on what the man and woman did in the garden.....well, lets just say I have bad thoughts. No big deal. They simply traded away everything God had given them for a piece of fruit he told them not to eat. Truth be known, it wasn't the fruit that did them in. It was the simple act of going against God's word. The fall took place when the decision to pick the fruit and eat it was finalized in their hearts and mind. Yet, there it is in Red at the top of this posting. The answer and solution to my struggle not just with addiction, but with life.God's grace is the basis for the POWER needed to bring change to our lives.

What is grace? The best definition I have ever heard was one that James Ryles gave in a teaching on grace. Are you ready? here goes.....
"Grace is the empowering presence of God in my life that enables me to be who God created me to be...and to do what He has called me to do."
Did you catch that? Grace is "POWER"...It is the presence of God who brings power to a powerless life. IT is the presence of God who infuses himself into my life which has been defined by being powerless. How do I know I'm powerless? Look at my track record and see al lthe destruction and brokenness I' have left behind. Notice that the verse from II Corinthians said that "His POWER works best "IN" my weakness."  That means that for this change to take place in me, I have to always remind myself that I cannot do this (recovery) in my own strength or will. Weird, but the truth is..to have I power, I have to admit that I have no power.

So how does this change take place? Where can I purchase such power for life? Well, you won't see it advertised on late night TV. You can call up a number given to you on an infomercial. There are no operators standing by to take your call. But God is ready to listen and act on your cry for help. Romans 10:9 gives us the road map to a new life.

For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord -
This is more than just saying the words. This is about being at the point where you are desperate for change. You might even have more questions about what is going to take place if you do give your life to Christ than you care to think about. But you know that something has got to give. As I heard one man put it as he was telling about his surrender...."I was at the point to where I prayed.....either heal me or kill me...do one or the other. I just know I can't go on like this." 

And believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead....
The word "Believe" means to cling to....rest upon....trust in....in other words, it is more than a mental ascent to a truth. It is a revelation from God himself to your heart about a reality that will change you forever. It isn't about religion...it isn't about church...it isn't about being or doing good...it is the truth about an event that took place over 2000 years ago that had such power, that it is still relevant to us today. Relevant in such a way that it still changes lives and hearts, giving them a new beginning.

You will be saved....
Sounds kind of final and sure of itself doesn't it. It doesn't say that "You might be saved" or there is a probability of being saved....No the verse gets right to the point. You (the one who prayed the prayer)...will ( an assurance of what is going to happen) be saved (to be saved means to be rescued from danger and transported into a new place or position).

Every day I get up, I am fully aware that I exist because of one thing. I am kept by God.
You know what? That is one incredibly good feeling.

God on you.....

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Friday, June 22, 2012

The Kingdom


Mark 1:10
And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting (being ripped open or torn apart) and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.

This is one of those moments that defines our history as a people. Not just American, but everyone who lives upon this planet. Jesus, God-in-flesh, has been baptized by John, and when he is coming up from the place of his baptism, something happens. The heavens...the atmosphere....the air.....the sky.....is torn apart by a force that is greater than anything the world has even seen. And through that torn place, the Holy Spirit of God descends. The Spirit of God, unhindered by the dark forces of Satan, makes his way down and lands upon Jesus. God has entered our time and space to bring about his plans to destroy the works of the devil (I john 3:8).

Then, if you continue reading in Mark, you'll come to verses 14 and 15: Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and saying "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel.'
This idea or thought that the Kingdom of God is here but not yet is the very heart of my belief's. It is as relevant today as it was the day Jesus spoke. Sometimes we read scripture and act as though it has all ceased and no longer is relevant to our time. Even though the scriptures were written thousands of years ago, the power and purpose, not to mention the Presence of God, is still at work in the hearts of those who are committed to Him. In fact, the Scriptures are at work in the hearts of those who don't know this Jesus, wooing people to come to Salvation. This gospel is the good news and, as Paul stated in Romans 1...The power to save!

We read in Matthew 4:23: And Jesus was going about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom,and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. In other words, whenever Jesus would teach, he would back up his teaching with a demonstration of power. This gave credence to the claims that he made.
For me, the teaching of the Kingdom of God is central to my belief. The Kingdom of God, or his divine rule and reign in the hearts of those who are his followers, provides a frame work that helps me to understand the reality of healing and the moves of the Holy Spirit as we pray for those that God has given up appointments with.

Jesus central message was:
1.) The Kingdom is here: Mark 1:15 - and saying, "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.

2.) The Kingdom is near: Luke 21:31 - Even so you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that the Kingdom of God is near.

3.) The Kingdom is in you: Luke 17:21 - "Behold the kingdom of God is within you.

So the Kingdom (or rule and reign of God) is at hand....It has entered our time and space.
It is near....which means it is not complete or functioning the way we read in other portions of Scripture. If you read in Revelation, you'll see that at some point when we are with God, there will be no more death, no more pain and He will wipe away our tears. We don't yet see such things in our world today. So we don't really have the consummation or completeness of God's Kingdom here on earth. We see glimpses of it when we pray for someone and they are healed. I had a young man come to Bible study last Tuesday night with an abscessed knee. Looked horrible and he was in much pain. I asked him if we could pray for his knee and ask God to heal him. He agreed, so I gathered some men and we prayed a very simple prayer."God, come and heal this knee. Remove the infection and relieve the pain." Wednesday when I got to the camp, there was a note delivered to me from this young man. "I got up this morning. Pain gone. Swelling gone. Knee is normal. Praise God!" In less than 10 hours, God had healed this young man. What we saw was a glimpse of the Kingdom of God at work. That is why we pray...."Your Kingdom will be done...here on earth as it is in heaven."

The Kingdom of God involves God's intervention into our history.
      A.) His power and rule breaks into the affairs of men.
      B.) He confronts the forces that seek to destroy us and fight against us.
      C.) He breaks the hold and power that sin has over the lives of people.
      D.) In other words, Jesus intervenes on our behalf to break the plans of the enemy.

When Jesus stood on a hill outside of Jerusalem before he ascended to heaven, he conferred upon his disciples the mandate to carry on the dynamics of His kingdom. In other words, they were given the authority and power to do the things He did. Now this is where some folks differ with me. I believe that as a believer and follower of Jesus, I have been given that same authority and power. Not because I am a pastor or that I am anything special.I'm not. I believe that such power and authority is given to every believer to be exercised so that the Kingdom of God will be extended. We have been given the right to pray for the sick and see them healed ( not my power, but his) We have been given the right to break off and cast out demonic spirits from those who have been demonized for years. In other words..........as John Wimber used to put it..."We have been called to "do the stuff" that Jesus did. Today, I am being splashed upon by the fullness of the Kingdom of God that I will see complete in the future.

Ask God to give you someone to pray for today.
Believe that prayer and see the kingdom at work.

God on you.....

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Real Me That Has Been Nailed To The Cross



Luke 18:9 - 14
Then Jesus told this story to some who had great self-confidence and scorned everyone else. "Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a publican (Dishonest tax collector). The proud Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: 'I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I don't sin, I don't commit adultery. I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.' But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, 'O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.' I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For the proud will be humbled, but the humbled will be honored."

Great Story! Jesus had a way, or rather should I say...has a way, of bringing to light the uncovered heart of mankind. He reveals the true nature of man and how deceptive and destructive the human heart truly is. The heart is the storehouse of our beliefs and the accumulation of who we truly are. Proverbs tells us that "As a man thinks...so is he." In other words, the real "ME" comes from the belief's I carry around in my heart. Kind of weird when you think of what Jeremiah wrote in Chapter 17:9 - The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Kind of smacks in what how the world and our society (sometimes even our churches) views humanity. No one truly likes to think of themselves as being wicked or having an evil heart, but I have to keep returning to what Scripture tells me. I may not like it, but truth is truth especially when it comes to God's truth.

I think one of the greatest gifts God ever gave to me was an understanding of my own heart. By that I mean an understanding of what I am capable of without Him in my life. Such understanding makes me appreciate this gift of salvation He has given to me. I have made this statement on several occasions and it seems each time I do, it upsets some folks. Maybe they don't like to hear it because it reminds them of their own hearts. I will make the comment that within me dwells the possibility of behaving like the Apostle Peter. I have the capability of denying my Jesus! Some have told me that such things aren't possible if I have truly been saved. When I search myself and see that it is the Power of God's Holy Spirit that keeps sin at bay...that it is the blood of Jesus that has separated me unto His Kingdom and has removed me from loving this world, I understand the exact nature of depravity. As a friend told me once, "Without Jesus I'd just be an old stinking pervert!" You know what? He meant it. Without Jesus in my life, my old heart would run with every thought of evil it could produce.

I have nothing to boast of this morning except Jesus had mercy on me a sinner.
I have nothing to brag of except that today I have an understanding of what God expects of me. The Kingdom of God has been brought to me and through my salvation I have been changed from the inside out. My heart has been transformed. Maybe it's the fact that I do have an awareness of what I am capable of without Jesus that I stand like the publican....
"Have mercy on me today, Lord." It's not that I wallow in self pity or beat myself up in order to make myself feel some kind of worth. No! I fully accept God's salvation with a joyful heart. But as I am aware of God's Holy Spirit at work in me today, maybe it is He (the Holy Spirit) who reminds me of the danger of sin and how it seeks to destroy me at every turn. Sin would love nothing more than to destroy my testimony so that no one would ever listen to anything I have to say or write. Sin would love nothing more than to destroy my family, bring division and destruction. Sin would love nothing more than for me to crumble under the weight of tribulation and trials, lying there doubting and cursing God. Praise God for the love and power of Jesus, my Christ. He lifts me, spirit-body-soul, out of the muck and mire of sin. He sets me upon a solid rock where I can be who God created me to be.


Such things are why I get up every morning with a heart of gratitude that He has given me another day to be His son, to serve His kingdom and to love those around me.
God on you.....

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Good Stuff!


Genesis 2:7
And the Lord God formed a man's body from the dust of the ground and breathed into it the breath of life. And the man became a living person (Soul).

John 20:22
Then He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."

God is all up into breathing into people. To me, it's kind of like a house that has been shut up for a number of weeks or days.....or maybe it's like having all the windows and doors closed due to winter. Then comes that first really good day of spring where the weather is just right. You open the windows and doors and let the fresh air in.  It just makes you come alive.

When I surrender my life to Christ and turn to Him for salvation, I'm not so sure that God doesn't breath on us then. Repentance, confession, accepting forgiveness and acknowledging Jesus as my Lord and Savior opens me up to receive God's Holy Spirit who is breathed into me.  All the stale and dark places in my heart are removed and I become a new creation...I am "born again." This is the change I have been waiting for, searching for but never could find. Maybe it truly is like the verse in Genesis Chapter 2. Without God's Holy Spirit Breath into my very being, I'm just some dust held together around a bone structure. Oh my heart beats and my lungs expand and fill with air, but the connection between God and me isn't there. That lack of connection is evidenced by the trail of destruction and bad choices I have made over the years.
But with the introduction of the Holy Spirit into me, things begin to change.

Does our environment change? Not really. If you get down to it, we still live in a fallen world that rejects Jesus. Oh I can seek out other believers of Christ and surround myself with like minded people who are walking out the reality of this new found faith daily. But the drugs, alcohol and the lifestyle are still out there. I have to keep going back to a Scripture that has served me well all these many years......"Greater is He who is in me..........than he who is in the world."
Recovery is possible if I break with my former way of life and depend on God's power (the Holy Spirit) to help me. The Steps and other such programs, along with my new friends, are helpful....but if the truth be known....a recovery that lasts only happens when I live daily with the awareness of my need for a Higher Power (Jesus). I look to God who created me and sustains my life.

Yes, this new way of living is scary. And there is an enemy (the devil) who seeks to throw you off track at every turn. But remember whose breath is living inside you....God. The real deal God who fills up the pages of our Bible. The real deal God who is everything you ever thought He was.........and then a Gazillion times more. The real deal God who loved you with such a burning love that He gave willingly His own Son to pay the price for your addiction (otherwise known as sin), so that He could then have a living, breathing, on-going relationship with you.
That is some kind of love this God has.


Ephesians 1:3-8 reads: How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ. Long ago, even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the wonderful kindness he has poured out on us because we belong to his dearly loved Son. He is so rich in kindness that he purchased our freedom through the blood of his Son, and our sins are forgiven. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

Go back and read those verses again. Let them soak in and think on them. Those aren't just feel good, flowery words to encourage us. Those are words of life!!
God on you....
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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

One Step...Two Step...Three Step....Four Step....Five Step....SIX STEP!!


"If Faith without works is dead, then willingness without action is fantasy"......Anonymous

Step #6 - We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

I hear so many different takes and beliefs when it comes to recovery.
Some, who really don't know much about addiction, say that all a person needs is to summon up more willpower. "If they really wanted to quit, they'd just stop."
Others claim that therapy is the needed thing. If a person could understand why they use then they could stop.
Somehow, I don't think any of us know the extent of the power of addiction. I don't know much in this old world, but I do know this. The only hope for anyone trapped in addiction is the introduction and infusion into their very lives of a Power greater than themselves. By receiving this power unto themselves, they are restored to sanity, or the ability to make sound decisions.
Simple truth......addiction is the byproduct of fallen humanity. Sin is manifested in the life of those who have not surrendered themselves to Christ. Addiction is merely one of the behaviors that come out of a sin-sick heart.

Bill W., in the big book of A.A., called this "having a vital spiritual experience." In other words, we have to come in contact with the living, real-deal God that we read about in the Bible. Not the God of the church (no pun or shot intended against church goers).....not the God of the TV Preachers (once again no pun or shot) but the real God we read about that comes to those who cry out to Him for help. This encounter usually comes from a place of complete brokenness and a desire to stop the madness.

This encounter with God is all part of the what we refer to as The Twelve Steps. We have placed ourselves in a position to cooperate with God in changing us. Not just our outward behaviors, but our inward beliefs. One of the steps most vital in this process is Step #6.
Here, in this step, we are ready to attack the very heart of our addiction........Our Character.
Character, the belief system that we have created over the years, tells us how to interact with the world we come in contact with every day. Character defines who we are and the principals by which we live. If that character is wrongly built, then our decisions are based more on our own selfishness and what will benefit us the most rather than on what is truly right or wrong.

The Recovery Bible states it like this: We fight our addiction on two fronts dealing with the hunger deep inside us and changing our thoughts of doing wrong. Neither battle is easily won. Each requires our daily readiness and willingness to allow God to satisfy our hunger and help us overcome our defects of character. (Step #6 pg. 863)
In an age where everything is "instant" and "4-G Fast" we are dealing with life and death issues. There are no short cuts or quick fixes to recovery. It is a process and a day to day life of change.

God extends such an invitation to all who desire to change, in Isaiah 55:1-2:  "Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink.......even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk....for it is all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give your strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen, and I will tell you where to get food that is good for the soul!"

So where have you been eating lately?
At the Addiction diner.....
Or at the table of the King?

Have you become satisfied with the dark, plate of death and destruction......
Or do you hunger for the feast of being free and living life in a new way?

Think on these things....
God on you.....

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Monday, June 18, 2012

BB Guns And Hanging WIth Jesus



BB Guns?
What do BB guns have to do with anything? Well, yesterday was father's day and I knew the family would be coming over for dinner. Chad, Robin and the grand kids, Ashley and Tyler. I had been mulling the idea over for a time about doing something a little different. Something that the kids would enjoy doing. My two grand kids are outdoor fanatics. They'd rather be riding their bikes or playing ball than sitting inside on a video game (not that they don't like video games, but such are usually reserved for night time or rainy days.)
So off to Wal Mart I go to see what I could come up with. There it was among all the bangles and baubles that lined the shelves. A Daisy air rifle....Not just any Daisy air rifle, but a RED RYDER 1000 shot, lever action Carbine. O.k. I confess, this might be more for me than them, but as a grandfather, I knew that they would love it. I pulled one off the shelf and made my way to the check out.

By the time the family had arrived, I had set up a target for our afternoon shoot out. My assumption about the kids loving it was right. Tyler more than Ashley, as she only shot a couple of times and then turned her attention to her scooter and hula hoop. Tyler was hooked. I showed him how to aim...how to stand...how to sight the target. He was totally into it.  It was just him and me talking, laughing, encouraging each other to get better. During that entire time, I thought to myself, "I wonder if this is how God feels when we want to hang out with Him? " Now, I'm not trying to put human feelings or agenda's on God...He is above that. But I do think that my view of Him is off center sometimes.

I like the story in Matthew 19, where people bring their children to Jesus just to be touched and prayed over. It doesn't say anything about them the kids being sick or demonized. It doesn't mention anything about anyone being crippled or maimed. No epilepsy or incurable disease. It just says they wanted Jesus to touch them and pray over them. There wasn't any teaching or sermons being given by Jesus. I think sometimes when we read such passages, we tend to skip over the simple idea that Jesus liked being with His creation. Sure His heart broke when He saw them in distress or in hard places, and in such instances, He stayed to the very end healing all who came to Him. But I do believe there were times when there was just simple, physical interaction between Jesus and people. Time where Jesus would ask questions from those around Him. Maybe even times where laughter and joy were in great supply. The idea that God would enjoy my company isn't something I think about often, and I do believe that I may need to think about it more. I'm of the mindset that I have to be "doing" for God. Instead, I need to "BE" for God. Becoming the man He created me to be. Allowing Him to change my character into one that is more like Him. Getting His perspective on life and how to live it here in this fallen world.

So as the shadows grew longer in the backyard and we were finishing up our great BB gun experiment, as we were walking back to the house, Tyler looked up at me and said, "Poppa...this was the best day ever. Happy Father's Day!" It was one of those "Blessing" moments that money can't buy. I think maybe I felt what Father God feels when we tell Him........."Abba....This was the best day ever!"

God on you....
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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Those Hands....


They were hard and calloused....
Years of work and labor defined and created every crack and wrinkle in those hands.
They had held plows.....
They had held rifles and shotguns....
Not for sport, but to put food on a table.
They had mended broken bicycles so that sons could be mobile once again.
They repaired more cars than I care to count.

They were tender enough to care for dogs that got caught up in barbed wire and had limped back home bleeding and almost to the point of death.
Those hands made basketball goals for the backyard...
They clapped at Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline when they came on the radio.
They slapped knees when a good yarn was spun or joke told.
Those hands never really rested, not till the end.

Those hands rubbed my head or rested on my shoulder when I had done something big.
Those same hands spanked me and put me back on the straight and narrow when I got to big for my britches.

They wiped sweat from the brow when the summer heat flooded a new plowed field. Those hands staked tomatoes and shucked corn. picked blackberries and baled hay. To a young boy, there wasn't anything those hands couldn't do. Those hands have cranked many a turn making home made ice cream. Those hands always deserved the first bowl when it was ready to eat.

Those hands held me and carried me from the car when we would come home late at night after being on a trip. Strong hands......safe hands....
Those hands were quick to help neighbors when something was needed to be done. The hands toted lumber and nailed nails to repair roofs and build back porches. I loved those hands.

Those were the hands of my father..........H.B. Bynum.
Blue collar to the core...
Worked hard all his life. That's just what a man did to support his family.
If my Dad had lived, I'm not sure he'd understand much of what is happening in this world today. He wasn't one to sit around and whine and cry about his lot in life or his lack of money. He worked. His advice to me..."Son, a man does what a man has to do to keep food on the table and a roof over his family." Those wouldn't be very popular words today...but that was my Dad.

Mom died in 1981 and Dad never seemed to recover from it. After they both retired, they reconnected as husband and wife. There seem to be more joy and peace as they shared time and life together. There were trips to the Smokey Mountains and visits with friends and family. I am grateful for the peace and love they found at the end.

Dad died in 1985, and not a day goes by that I don't think of him.
And on this day, of all days, one that honors fathers, I want to honor him.
For the love he showed me and the huge impact and influence he had on me.
I pray that in some small way, I have been half the man and father he was.
Thank you Lord for giving Father's to us....

Happy Father's Day, Dad.....
I love you....
I miss you.....

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Alabama Power Can't Hold A Candle


Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Matthew 6:13
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever....Amen

Matthew 28:18
Jesus came and told his disciples, "I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth."

Acts 1;8
But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere-----in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

We begin with a God who holds the power to literally speak into existence worlds and universes. And not just speak them into existence, but to place them in an orderly fashion, start their movements and keep everything aligned. Done so by the power of His word.
More than just possessing the ability to be a world creator.....He has the power and ability to create life. Do you understand what I have just typed? The ability to create life? It was His idea and concept to create mankind. It was His thoughts and plans that would place them in a garden to oversee this new created world.. All of this was not something beyond the reach of His capability. He is God.


We see that He has created a dimension in which His rule and reign can be carried out among His creation. A rule and reign that always has the best interest of the creation. Sadly to say, His creation has rebelled against Him and His good plans. How blind. We, as humans, are here on this planet for only a brief moment. Yet He is eternal. We bow our backs and become stiff -necked against Him, declaring our puny lives to something that we control. In an essence, we see ourselves as little gods who have no need for the real God. yet who among us can truly say that our kingdom will last forever? No one. Who could stand in the face of God and declare that we possess eternal power and glory? No one. Yet Scripture blazes and shines with the eternal attributes of God.

We understand that the first part of the Godhead, God the Father, is a loving and giving being. He gave His Son, Jesus complete authority and rule over this planet. Jesus, in turn, gave His Kingdom to the His disciples. There is a sharing of power and authority to carry out the mandates and plans of God here on earth. The main mandate is to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to turn their hearts and lives over to the care of God as they understand Him to be.  We see in the Acts 8:1 passage that Jesus did not leave such a task to the ability and power of broken, sinful humans. No! He said, "I am going to clothe you in power!"  That power being the Holy Spirit of God, the third part of the trinity. It was more than just the Kingdom of God being present in this world, now God himself would take up residence in the hearts and lives of those who were committed to Him. God's Holy Spirit would become a guide, a teacher, a moral compass, and a library of remembrance to those who surrendered will and life over to His care.

With all of this in mind, God's power and ability...the authority of Jesus and the giving of power through the Holy Spirit, why is it we continue to think that we have power to run our lives even when addiction is the real god we follow? Compare your power and ability to that of God. Doesn't measure up does it? No, I didn't think so. Every time I do so, I end up on the "Fuzzy end of the lollipop."  So if I can't defeat such things as my own inabilities, how can I ever think I can successfully defeat my addiction? That is why we read in Step #2....We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. That is the measurement we all must take if we want to have a life. Measure our ability and power against the power of God. Measure ourselves against His track record of changing lives and restoring sound thinking and judgement to minds now free and clear of the power of addiction. When I measure myself against God's ability....well, lets just say that there not much to measure.

I am grateful times 10 for every man who has come through the program at Rapha, who comes to this conclusion of being powerless. I am grateful for every man who has surrendered will and live over to God. I continue to be amazed at how liberal God is in pouring out power, peace and His presence to those who receive this good news gladly.
If your not plugged into God today.....
Why not consider changing powers sources.

God on you......
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Job: Part II


Continue to be parked in the book of Job this week. I love it when God uncovers for me new ways of seeing things, and in this case, He has really shown me a new way to look at this particular book. So I'm going to try to put down some of these "new" views or understanding that I've received.

1.) We don't really like reading the book of Job, because we see questions that are asked but never answered. We see people with terrifying doubts and fears, and we see the anguish of a man who is suffering. All of these things put together remind us of how frail our own existence is and that such things could come to us.  With that in mind, I have got to remember that when trouble comes to my life, then something is happening in the spiritual realm that I cannot see. It is at this moment I need to lean into God....to trust God and not allow my feelings to dictate my response to the situation.

2.) The book of Job is a picture of a world without Christ. In other words, what we see in Job is what our world would look like today if Jesus had not come to be our Savior and entry point into relationship with the Father. Although Job was a good man, he was absent of the resurrected Christ. This book shows us the power that satan has over our flesh and our emotions. We are hopeless against the wind of satan's attacks without the power of the resurrected Christ.  As you read the book, you may think that Job does better than you and me would in similar situations, but still he becomes filled with hopelessness as he sits with his so called friends who have come to comfort him.

3.) Reading the responses of Job's caring friends (I use that term loosely) we see that the problem of evil can never be solved with the council of men Neither can it be dealt with through reasoning. Why? Because evil transcends the material, therefore it cannot be reasoned our understood with our senses. We turn to God for instruction and comfort during times when evil has come to our door.

4.) If you read Chapter 9 of Job, you'll see the powerful realization of what Jesus has actually accomplished.
Job 9:14 -- "And who am I, that I should try to answer God or ever reason with him? Even if I were innocent, I would have no defense. I could only plead for mercy." Jesus, as our mediator, has brought conversation with God back to our planet. In Job's day there was no mediator, no savior, and as such people were far removed from God. Through Jesus' death and resurrection, He brought back to us the presence of God in a sin-cursed world.

5.) We read in Job 17:1-2: "My spirit is crushed, and I am near death. The grave is ready to receive me. I am surrounded by mockers. I watch how bitterly they taunt me" Evil/sin has within its grasp the ability to break the spirit of a man or woman. God is the only One that can heal that brokenness. Now as I read this, that God is the only One who can heal our brokenness, a thought occurred to me. It doesn't say that God might stop the pain or take us out of the situation. But rather the thought is that no matter what happens, God is able to heal, raise up, restore and defeat the influence of evil on me and my family.

I am totally enjoying going through this book. (Never thought I'd hear myself say this). God has given me a fresh new way of seeing Job and the things he went through. That God! Just when you think you've got Him figured out, he'll take you to a new place and show you things you've never noticed before.Man.....gotta love him.

God on you....
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Thursday, June 14, 2012

I Heart Jesus...Do You?

Luke 12:32 -- Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Wow!
Did you catch that?
It is God's, our heavenly Father, pleasure to give us the kingdom.

Us.....me....you...The Kingdom of Heaven....
Me, who can't keep up with his car keys, is given the kingdom of heaven.
Not only that...but he trusts me. With all my mess ups....all my foul ups....all my "not getting it right".....God trusts me with the kingdom.
I think maybe God has a different view of me than i do of myself.

Hebrews 12:28 reads: Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptable with reverence and awe.
What is the kingdom? Is it a physical piece of land. Is it symbolic? No, the Kingdom of God is wherever God's rule and reign is being carried out. The Kingdom of heaven is all around us, and yet, as Jesus says...it is within us.
If I have been saved, born again or whatever the term du'jour is....and I have this relationship with Jesus, then God imparts to me, through His Holy Spirit, His rule and reign in my life. I no longer am on the throne of my heart, so to speak. I step down and allow Jesus to sit on that throne. I defer to Him, so that I can grow and mature in this relationship.


All of what I have written so far is a spiritual way of stating the 3rd step of the twelve steps.
Step#3 tells us that We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

In taking this step, I am being "rocketed" (As Bill W. would say) Into a 4th dimension of a new way of living. I wish I could explain what happens to someone who has been devastated by a life of addiction......who is broken by all the guilt and shame of what they have done. I wish I could explain exactly how and why it works when someone finally gives up and turns to God, but I can't. I just know it works. I know that it isn't a matter of will power....I now know it is a matter of being powerless. I have seen countless lives changed because of this surrender of self and turning to God. Each time it happens, I stand there, mouth open, thinking to myself...."This is incredible!"

It is this transformation that cannot be explained, which boggles the human mind. As the big book of A.A. says..."God did for me what I could not do for myself." If you want to get totally honest, isn't that the state of all mankind? We are a powerless species when it comes to lifting ourselves out of a spiritual pit of sin and death. It takes a power greater than ourselves to reach down to us and lift us out. To simply be lifted out would be an incredible feat in and of itself, but there is more. We are given a guide and teacher to show us this new way of living. That teacher would be the Holy Spirit. Now, free and clear of our old lifestyle, we learn a new way of living. To learn this is a progressive work.

God puts at my disposal His entire Kingdom.
He equips me to live life here on planet earth, yet remained detached from sin and the spiritual darkness that seeks to pull me back into that old life.
He calls me to follow Him rather than the voice of death we formerly followed, leading us to new friends and new experiences. I no longer have to fear my past as I have dealt with it, buried it under the blood of Jesus, and have moved on. There is no looking back with feelings of guilt and shame. I am a new creation of infinite worth to my Father.

I do love God.
I do love Jesus.
I am all up in the Holy Spirit.


God on you today....
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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Epoh......Don't Get It Backwards!


Hope.
What an incredible word.
The idea that things will change for the better.
That one's current situation or circumstance will not remain in the same state forever.
Hope?
Parents name their daughters after this word.
Young girls have wooden chests that they fill with things in preparation for marriage.
Hope.

Yet in the addicts life, hope is something that runs in short supply.
Oh, there may be the obligatory "hope" that somehow karma or the planets lining up will make our lives better.......but truth be known, that kind of hope is just having something to hang on to. It is truly hope with no direction and no purpose.

Romans 15:13 reads: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Here in this verse, we find the author and created of hope.........that would be the one-true-living-God of the Bible. He made it.......He sustains it........He defines it.......He is the giver of it. Real hope is found in Jesus.
Notice that God is in the "Filling" business. If God does something to you or in you, it isn't a dribble and a drab here and there. No sir! It is an over flowing, above abundant, hang on it's gonna blow you away work.
It says that God of hope will fill you (notice---as you trust in him) so that you can overflow with hope.
You know what that means....
People close to you are going to get "hope splashed" whether they want to or not.
All of this wonderful work is done by the Holy Spirit.
Now that is the kind of God I  need. A hope-giving-hope-filling-hope-overflowing God.

I Peter 1:3 reads:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
This is my most favorite part.....
We have been born again (saved/ salvation) into a living hope.
A hope that is constantly changing as we change and grow in Christ.
The hope I have today is still found in Jesus, but the way I see it and the way it is applied to my life has changed over the years as I have grown and matured in him. I'm still not there and there is a whole lot of growing to do,but that hope will grow and change with me as it directs my focus to Jesus.

Bottom line...
Your sobriety and new life is not found in any program....
Your new way of thinking and doing business with this world is not found in any steps.
Your new life is found in Jesus.
Jesus makes the 12 steps come alive.
God the Father has sent His Holy Spirit to be the POWER we need to make the change.
Either this stuff is true....
Or it's the biggest lie ever perpetrated on the human race.
As for me and my household....
We believe it to the truth.

God on you.....
mb

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

No Time For "Woe Is Me!"


There has to be a moment in each generation, where a realization takes place. Call it a "Coming to our senses". A moment where every thing gets crystal clear and you see life for what it truly is. Your suddenly aware of the society you live in and the ways and attitudes that have become acceptable and considered to be the norm. It is of my opinion that only the Spirit of God can bring such moments to the generations. It is only God's Spirit who can remove the blinders from our vision and allow us to see the state of affairs in our cities and towns.

Without such moments of clarity, we will continue to sink into a pit of profanity and uncleanness that will drive us farther and farther away from God. Without such clarity, we will raise another generation who does not know God and does not know of his deeds and love for mankind. As a people we will devolve into a group who is driven not by the Spirit of God, but by their own carnal base desires. In other words, we will live by our flesh and for our flesh.

I have been wanting to write this for some time, but didn't feel like I had permission to by God. Now, I have such permission. Sunday night, I sat and watched a well respected news show glorify and approve of two men who have pushed the boundaries of profane. In fact the one who was doing the interview said the following statement concerning this new work these two men have completed....."They are blasphemous, profane......but uplifting."  I felt shame and my heart broke as clips were played that mocked and made fun of Jesus. Blasphemous...profane....but uplifting? How could such things be played over the airways as being acceptable and right. What happened to the moral compass of this nation? Have we truly cast aside God so far that all rules have been negated and anything goes?

I know that from time to time, people have stood up to turn to God to right the wrongs that are guiding our nation. I know that good people have called for prayer groups and rally's to take back out nation for God. Such things appear to be good and proper........but are they effective? Do they accomplish anything, or are they simply a way to soothe our conscience concerning this spiritual darkness that has settled over our land?
Whenever such groups do gather, they usually use II Chronicles 7:14 as the basis for their meetings.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

What I see in these verses is the basis for a revival to beat all revivals.
Very first thing......God refers to them as "HIS PEOPLE" who are called by His name.
In other words...He is talking about those who aren't about the business of playing at being a follower of Jesus. He is referring to those who truly belong to the body of Christ.
Such people are called to humble themselves. Are we truly willing to do that? Humble ourselves? To agree with God who God says we are? To place ourselves in a position where we simply follow His instructions, no questions asked? Are we willing to shake off all our own wants, desires.....to lay down our agendas and plans to once and for all time take up the real cross that Jesus commands us to in Luke 9:23?

Then and only then can we fall to our knees and pray and seek His face. From such a place, the things of this old world seem to disappear and you can see Him like at no other time. I don't think this part of the passage is referring to short, flowery prayers that we sometimes pray. This is a prayer that has to come up from being broken before God. I know that this isn't a very popular part of being a follower of Jesus. Today it seems to be about being positive and upbeat....smiles and great music. Well, there are times when we should venture into the dark place of the holy of holies, such as was with the Tabernacle Moses built. Only the high priest could venture into such a area. Since we have been called "Priests" by God in I Peter 2:9, it is in this place that we meet the real God. So much of my service and life to God is merely what I refer to as "Surface Stuff" that I am ashamed at my actions and shallowness of my faith. The place of humbling myself, praying and seeking God's face does not take place in the bright light of man's approval. It takes place in the dark hard places of my own heart. The places I have tried to hide from the view of others. You see, I think we all stand naked at the cross. I'm not talking about not having any clothes on, I speaking of the uncovering love and healing that takes place when we get honest before Jesus. When we quit playing a religious game of "Look at me! Ain't I spiritual?" and wake up to reality that such posturing serves no purpose other than to feed our sinful flesh, then all the praying in the world isn't going to move God one way or another.

Malachi 1:10 refers to this facade of appearing religious.
"Oh that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you," Says the the Lord Almighty.
Would we even hear God's message if he told us to shut the doors of our churches, silence the music of our worship and not to come back until we are ready to repent and turn again to Him? Or would we bow our backs and say, "You don't appreciate all the things we have done in your name!"

The next part of II Chronicles 7:14 speaks of "turning from our wicked ways." Now there isn't a believer a live who truly sees themselves as being wicked. After all..........We're Saved! But let me ask you this? How wicked do you have to be, to be wicked? Is there any hate, bitterness or unforgiveness in your heart? That would be considered wickedness, wouldn't it? To me, I want to be about the business of learning to love. I've not very good at it. I find myself being confronted with people that I just have a hard time loving. Maybe not something you want to hear from me............but I'm just trying to be real. I do spend a great deal of time praying asking God to help me to learn to love. To not let my love be tainted by skepticism or a critical tongue. I want the pure, undefiled kind of love that comes from the Father heart of God.

I know this has been a long posting today and I thank you for stopping by the Greene Street Letters. This posting was written for me, first of all. God is stirring me to adopt this II Chronicles 7:14 attitude. If this has spoken to you, then lets join together in seeking God's face for our nation. When I say nation...I mean which ever one you may live in. It isn't all about the USA you know. God loves......Canada, Great Britain, Egypt, Iran and Iraq, France, Spain, China, Russia, The Ukraine, Brazil, and so on and so on....
Last time I checked, my Bible said that "God so loved the world................."
God on you....
mb

Tuesday Bible Study

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