Friday, August 31, 2012

Why?


Suffering............not a popular word.
To my mind, there doesn't seem to be anything fair about this word.
It comes when we deserve it.

It comes when we don't deserve it.
Suffering.
World seems to be full of it. At every turn, at every place you look, you see the evidence of suffering.
Disease....
Poverty.....

Sickness......
abuse.......
Sexual immorality of kinds..
the list goes on and on.....
This was not God's creation.
God never intended for suffering to be a part of the human condition.

Satan introduced this little bit of hell into our world through sin that came into the garden of Eden.
Over the years, suffering was multiplied and refined until today in our society we see it on an unprecedented level.
I mean, let's get real honest. When I graduated high school back in 1969, drug and alcohol treatment centers were non-existent. But because of the increase of people who moved toward this form of self-inflicted suffering, treatment centers are a necessary thing. I've seen my fair share of suffering because of drugs and alcohol.


When suffering rears its ugly head, people have a tendency to blame God.
He gets kudo's when we win the lottery....
And He gets fingered with all the blame when our house burns down.

You know and I know that suffering is simply a part of life. Not to downplay the impact of how it affects us, but we truly do learn what we believe when we go through times of suffering.
Either our faith comes out when suffering comes and we lean on Jesus,
or our sinful nature comes out and we rail and complain and blame God.

In II Corinthians 12:9, we read where God spoke to the apostle Paul during a time of suffering and pain.....Each time He (God) said, "My grace is all you need. My Power works best in your weakness." The Grace of God is all I need. Sounds to easy and sounds to magical or mystical but this came from God's lips. What is grace? Here you go...
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 God has called me to do. Grace enables me to move through all suffering and trials that come my way. Grace helps me to stand when the winds of this world blow hard against me. When fairness is far removed from my situation and I feel as though the very creation has turned on me..............Grace helps me to stand.

I Peter 1:9
Your reward for trusting Him (God) will be the salvation of your soul.

I Peter 1:14
.........Don't slip back into your old ways of doing evil.

Suffering either drives you closer to God....
Or it drives you farther away into spiritual darkness.
I choose to move closer to God.

There is coming a time when suffering will end, and fairness will rule the land.
Those who have lived their lives in the pursuit of evil, will pay.

Those who have lived their lives in the pursuit of God, will receive.
Suffering will be done away with. No more death, no more pain, no more tears.
I know it sounds like a fairy tale....
But this is the truth of God.

So whatever you may be suffering from or suffering with today....
Draw near to God and let Him strengthen you.

God on you.....
mb.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'll be speaking this Sunday night at Celebrate Recovery North Glencoe.
Pray for me that God will provide the needed word for that evening.

Thanks.
mb

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Happy Meals? Or Banquets?


The human mind has limits.
The human will can be broken.
The human spirit is unable to rise above situations.
The human condition is in need of being healed.
All true statements, yet Jesus seemed to never understand this as he ministered to those around him.
Of course the statement I just made was not true. Jesus clearly understood everything about what it meant to be human.
He knew that faced with situations and circumstances that seemed to be beyond our ability or intellect, we would cry out, "That's impossible!".
He knew that given a task to big, with resources that were too small we would cry out, "That's impossible!"
In fact that is exactly what took place in Luke 9:13.
Let's set the picture.

Jesus has sent out the disciples on their own to minister and teach. He had given them power and authority to cast out demons and to heal all diseases. That's pretty heady stuff for a bunch of ol' fisherman and a tax collector. I mean that kind of stuff would give a fellow the big head in a heart beat. That's exactly what happened. The disciples show back up and, as Scripture put it, "They told Jesus everything they had done." Do you think maybe as they told their stories, they put a little jam on the bread, so to speak. The stories got a little bigger and a little more stretched than they actually were? I don't know if it happened or not, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Well as they told their story, they noticed that a huge crowd was hanging around. In fact they had been following Jesus for three days. The disciples tell Jesus...(Can you picture this....THEY ARE TELLING JESUS WHAT TO DO!!") Yo! Dude...you need to send these people away so they can get something to eat. Jesus takes them down a notch...."You feed them."

What's the first words out of the disciples mouths? "Impossible!"
The disciples looked at the situation.....weighed it against their own ability and resources and proclaimed such a task to be impossible. How many times have I done this. Found myself in a situation where I needed help and looked at myself as a source to solve the problem? Many more than I care to count. How many times,after reaching a conclusion that I was powerless, did I throw up my hands and proclaim, "It's impossible!" Once again, more than I would care to count.

Here is where I have met the God of the impossible. IN fact, I think maybe God created things that were impossible to show us that, with Him, all things are possible. I read this over and over through out the Bible...God's ability far exceed anything that I would deem or define as impossible.

In the story, the disciples brought to Jesus five loaves of bread and two fishes to feed a multitude of thousands. When we look at our situations with human eyes, we see five loaves of bread and two fishes. Not even enough to make a dent in our problems. But when Jesus looks at our situation, he sees a never ending meal and feast. He sees so much that everyone who takes and eats from his provision is filled. No one goes away lacking or still hungry. What is impossible with man is very much possible with Jesus.

So whatever you lot in life today....
Whatever problems or situations you may be facing.....

Don't be scared because you only see "five loaves and two fishes."
Just know that your heavenly Father sees the banquet.
When we turn everything over to Him, the impossible becomes the possible.

Trust Him today....

God on you.....
mb

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Grateful List

Psalm 45:1
My heart is overflowing with a good theme.......

I have a real problem with all this "God" stuff. You know what I'm talking about....Scripture...the Bible....Church.....Ten Commandments. I have a real problem with all of this.
The problem is.....either it's all real and true....or it's not. I don't think you can categorize any of it. I don't think you can play "pick and choose" with the things of God. It's either real....or it a lie.
Actually the problem I have is no problem what so ever.
I am just crazy enough to believe that it is real.
It is true...
It is the source of real life.
That is why, this morning as I sit here at my computer, like the Psalm says, "my heart is overflowing."
I am very grateful today.

Is my life perfect?
Far from it.
I have problems that I must face.
I have fears that seek to destroy me.
I am plauged with doubts that assail me at every turn.
It seems that the only thing I am certain of is my inability to do anything right.
Pretty good list, huh?
Hovering in me and over all of these things I have listed, is the ever present Spirit of God. Therein is my comfort. Knowing that God has laid hold of me for His kingdom.
Today, I will have the opportunity to pray for someone.
Today, I will have the opportunity to tell someone my story.
Today, I will have the opportunity to be changed a little more into the image of my elder brother, Jesus. How cool is that? Of course these things are not unique to me and my life. They are part of the deal when you become saved, or born again, or whatever term you may call it.

Sometimes I think the enemy wants us to focus our attention on what we do not have. Such a ploy keeps us from being grateful for what we do have.
I'm not talking so much about material possessions as I am those intangible things that make life so complete.
Don't allow yourself to be drawn to such places in your heart and mind.
Keep your focus and attention on Jesus.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I believe that we all (those who are saved) get to play in His kingdom.
I know that God has saved me for a reason.
I know that this salvation that has been extended to me comes with a purpose. That purpose being me becoming equipped (through the study of God's word, and the recognition of the authority and power that has been given to me) to tell my story. More than simply telling my story, God wants to demonstrate the validity and truth of the story by what I have come to know as "Power encounters".  IN Scripture, we read time after time where Jesus would teach and after finishing, he would pray for people. People would be healed....people would have demonic spirits broken off of them....there would be a demonstration of power as God backed up the wor

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Are You Sick To Death?


Psalm 107:20
He sent His Word and healed them. Snatched them from the door of death.

I do not profess to be an expert in anything.
Surely not in the field of recovery or treatment.
I have no degrees from a university that would give credence to any view I might hold.
Nor do I wish to give anyone who stops by here to read the postings, the impression that I am a learned man.
The understanding that I hold to comes from 14+ years of being around people in recovery.
It comes through a call that God placed on my life on May 20, 1994, that has lead me to where I am today.

Being a follower of Jesus Christ, I view the world (society and culture) as having a root cause for every problem that exists. That root cause would be a sin-nature that is found in every human born to this planet. A propensity to do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing and, if allowed to grow and develop, leads down a path to destruction and independence from the real God.
The flesh, sin nature, old man, call it what you will, drives us and influences our decisions to seek out and satisfy whatever desire we might have. It causes us to rationalize our actions so as to explain away any wrong feelings we might have.

If you read II Timothy 3:1-5, you will find that the Apostle Paul tells of a time when God will allow this sin nature to be revealed for what it truly is.
V.1 = You should also know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be difficult times (stressful times).

V.2 = For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God. Disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.

V.3= They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good.

V.4= They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.

V.5= They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like this.

Sounds to me like Paul ripped this from the headlines of this morning's newspaper.
In fact, what Paul has just described is the very nature and character of someone who is in addiction. It begins with that person having the most selfish nature around. "It's all about me! I will do whatever I want to do and I don't care who I hurt!"
Medicine isn't going to save someone with this sin nature.
Psychology isn't going to heal the mind, when the heart is buried in darkness.

Religion isn't going to salve the wound and make it better.
True healing comes when we "hear" the truth.

The verse from Psalm 107 says that "HE SENT HIS WORD AND HEALED THEM."
We could reason that the WORD is Jesus himself since we read in the first chapter of the book of John where  "In the beginning was the WORD and the WORD was with God, and the WORD was God." God sent His WORD....into the world to die for the sin, the wrong that had was found in every living human being. So that those who believed in Christ, believed and received this healing would be restored and brought into relationship with God.

One other thing....
Don't you find it strange that in the Psalm 107 verse it doesn't mention what they were being healed of? It just states that the WORD was sent and they were healed. This means that whatever has manifested in my life that is a direct result of my living to please this sin nature, God will heal me and free me from the destructive power it has over me. Now that is cool!

Think on these things today and let God speak to your heart.
You see, I have a problem..............
It's either true or it isn't.
I don't believe you can slice it any other way.
For me......
I believe it to be true.

God on you.....
mb

Monday, August 27, 2012

Clarity


There is a moment that must come to each of us.
It will come at different times and in different places.
It could happen in the middle of New York City...
Or out in the woods by yourself.
it might reveal itself in the blazing light of a noon day sun, or
come to you upon the soft glow of a full moon.

it might fall upon you like lightning bolt or light upon you like a gentle breeze, but the impact is life changing. it is more than a mental thought and is more than a feeling. I hear some people lay claim to this, but their lives show no evidence of it.
"What?" you may be asking.
That incredible moment when everything clears away. Your thoughts cease to ramble and fill your mine and you are left with the unmistakable truth that God is real and you are in need of being saved. I don't believe such moments come by any other way than God's Holy Spirit communicating. It isn't that such communication has labeled you "a sinner".....You just know you are. Because of this sin that drives us, you realize that you are standing outside every thing God stands for.  You are fully aware that you are outside of His grace, His mercy, His compassion, His love. The only thing that connects you to God is His judgment, and you stand condemned through your own actions and rebellious thoughts.  I know that even as I type this, there will be some who will say, "But I'm not a bad person. I've never killed anyone. I haven't even taken drugs or gotten drunk." While this is true, we need to see that we are born into this world with a nature that seeks to rebel against God.Having such a nature doesn't mean we run around screaming Anarchist slogans, thrusting our hands into the air screaming, "Power to the people." We are born with a terrible drive to be independent. This independence seeks to be in control of our lives to the point that we have no need for God. (Until the wheels come off and then we run screaming to Him.)

Living in this state of so-called independence, we are influenced by the ways and customs of our society (which is being directed by the god of this world, Satan). Some people are able to retain a semblance of "right-ness," while others sink lower into the darkness of life outside of God. We find ourselves using drugs and alcohol to alter our perception and to help us to deal with problems and circumstances. The only thing is, we are living a lie. Drugs and alcohol help us to cope with nothing. They only give the illusion that we can escape. The more we use, the more under the control of Satan we place ourselves. We begin to lie. We start to cheat those we love. We use others to get what we want and need. Thus begins the spiral downward that will end in death and destruction. That is why the 12 Steps say that we need a POWER greater than ourselves who can restore us to sanity. In my life, such a Power has a name, and that name is Jesus.

Sin builds a house of cards that eventually will fall.
Salvation is founded upon a rock of stability, Jesus.}
Sin requires you to turn your back and allegiance to God and give your life for the kingdom of darkness.

Salvation is a free gift from God. You don't have to surrender or give up....but you will find that you want to. You will find that turning your will in the direction of God to receive from Him will be the lifeline that will draw you out of this pit of despair.
Sin seeks to remain hidden and desires that you live in secrecy.
Salvation empowers you to be open and transparent, living life in a new way.


Psalm 32:1-2 and 6-7
Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those whose record the LORD has cleared of sin.
Whose lives are lived in complete honesty!


Therefore, let all the godly confess their rebellion to you while there is time, that they may not drown in the flood waters of judgment. For you are my hiding place. You protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory.

Thank God for moments where clarity rules our hearts and our minds.
That moment where You stand, O God, ready to save those who cry out to you.
Save them with an eternal salvation that cannot be destroyed or stolen by anyone or anything.
I can rest in the truth of such knowledge no matter what this day may bring to me.
Can you?


God on you....
mb

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Real Path





Many AA meetings begin with a reading from Chapter 5, “How It Works”, of the AA Big Book. In the introduction to this chapter, before the steps are outlined, one of the warnings provided is, “At some of these [steps] we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.”


Some have a hard time grasping this concept of the easier softer way. We have spent our lives taking short cuts and dodging responsibility . Anything that would give a semblance of quiting our using was embraced and welcomed, but only if it was the easier than doing what everyone around us was telling us to do.
 Some view that AA is the easier, softer way because the using life had become so exhausting. The amount of time, energy, physical and psychological effort that went into setting up, using and surviving the binges was taking a toll physically, mentally and spiritually.

In the addictive mine, that little voice screams for instant gratification......even in recovery. At the least little sign of it not working, we begin the search for another way. We reason to ourselves that there has to be another way to eliminate the pain and misery we are going through. We take the "J.G.Wentworth" approach to recovery......"IT'S MY SOBRIETY AND I WANT IT NOW!" While the idea is good, the reality leaves a lot to be desired.  We didn't get this way over night and to think that we will change over night is unreasonable and not realistic.

Psalm 32:8  reads: The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." Now I know that some have a hard time of putting Scripture from the Bible together with the concept of A.A. and working a program of sobriety, but the reality is....our Higher Power, Jesus, will do for us what we could not do for ourselves. Either this stuff is real, or it's a bunch of hooey-balooey and we all need to give up and meet at Shoney's for Strawberry pie and coffee.  What does the big book of A.A. say? "Rarely have we seen anyone fail who has thoroughly followed our path." Success comes with you not doing things your way, but following the simple path laid out before you in the Twelve Steps. Oh, let's get real honest here. The Twelve Steps never saved anyone. There isn't any magic voo-doo in the steps. It's the Higher Power that you run into that makes those steps turn into life.
Remember that when the Hebrews were at the Red Sea and the Egyptians were hard on their trail, God opened up the sea and gave them a way out. It was only a way out if you were with the group God had delivered. The Egyptians followed the same path, but wound up being drowned and destroyed. Both groups took the same path. Both groups, Hebrews and Egyptians, took the same way out. But only one was following directions given to them by their Higher Power. The others were moving in their own strength and power.

I know that if your just starting this journey to a new life, it is a fearful time.
You are overwhelmed with the fear of failure. You may have tried to quit a gazillion and times, and a gazillion times you failed. Fear tells you to not try. Fear tells you to don't attempt to change. That is a lie. Like the picture says up top..."FEAR IS A LIAR."
This is why it is so important for you to be connected to a community of people who are on this path also. They can be a real encouragement and support.
They can help you in the hard times as well as the good.
Stay on this path long enough and you'll find yourself helping others.
Take the first step today!

Step # 1
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol/drugs---- that our lives had become unmanageable.

God on you.....
mb






Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday...What A LOVEly day


Saturday....Being off.....wow.
It's still hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that Saturday is one of my off days. You see, my entire life, I have worked Saturdays. Not complaining, mind you, but it's just strange for me to be off.
I worked in the restaurant business for 17 years, so not only was I not off on Saturday's, I worked nights. It's funny if I am with some folks and they start talking about television shows from the 70's and 80's. They'll invariably ask me, "Did you see such and such? Wasn't that a great show?" To which I have to reply....
"No...I was working." Thank goodness for TV LAND and NICK AT NIGHT...I feel like my life is complete now that I can get caught up on MORK AND MINDY or The A-TEAM.


Got the grass mowed yesterday, so that is out of the way. All I have to do today is prepare for our meeting tonight at Rapha. I am being directed to teach from I Corinthians 13. Some call it the LOVE Chapter.

I like the way Paul gets us into Chapter 13, by setting up the last of Chapter 12.
"And yet I show you a more excellent way."Paul was writing about what it meant to be a member or a part of the body of Christ. That each person was given gifts by the Holy Spirit, and was expected to exercise those gifts in the church. Yet Paul knew that it wasn't the gift that focus of an individual...it was the heart behind the gift. So what was the "More excellent way?" A person's ability to love. Not love as the world defines love, but the kind of love given by God. Agape, or unconditional love.


For me this has been, and continues to be, a sticking point in my own life. I struggle with this. I'm not sure it should be a struggle. I want to love and some days I'm pretty good at it. I can tell that God is leading me and showing me how it's done. Then there are days that I feel like a complete embarrassment to Him. I'll say the wrong thing, or I'll let my flesh (old sin nature) rise up and I'll hide behind religion to justify my actions. I'm telling you right now, I'm a stinker. At lest I'm God's stinker.

In my Bible, the heading over Chapter 13 reads...THE GREATEST GIFT. This tells me that the ability to love is a gift given by God to us. Think about that. God, the perfect and divine Father, has given to His creation, the ability to love others. His creation! The creation that messed up on the Garden of Eden. The creation that nailed His son to a cross. God entrusts each of us who are followers of Jesus, with this incredible gift. That is why I want to learn how to love.

Paul closes out Chapter 13 with these words: And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Aren't you glad that John 3:16 doesn't say...'For God so tolerated the world." Or "God felt nothing for the world." But there in that verse, we see the motivating factor that sent Jesus to the cross and opened the door for me and you to be brought into right standing and relationship with God. For God so LOVED the world.

Know that I love you...I mean it.
Hope you have a good Saturday.
God on you...
mb

Friday, August 24, 2012

My HOPE Is Built



So, you woke up this morning and your head feels like the entire Chinese Army marched over it in their sock feet. You're shaking and, in general, you feel pretty crappy. You swore to yourself that this wouldn't happen again, that this would be the last time. You really meant it, didn't you? This was the last time you would ever use. As your mind begins to clear, you suddenly start to remember last night. "Did I really say those things to my family?" as you try to sort out truth from fiction. The longer your mind spins, the more the memories come flooding back over you, bringing with them tons of guilt and shame. The demons inside you cry out for you to go "Get some more"...."One more time just to steady you."  In all of this, there is one commodity that you have run short on. Hope. In fact, your life has become one of hopelessness. "I am what I am, I cannot change, I am hopeless."

There are two kinds of hope.
The kind the world throws at you.....
And the kind God graciously give you.
The world's hope is an empty, facade that promises much but delivers nothing.
The kind of hope God offers is found in Him. He created hope. He defined what real hope is and He is the God who is the beginning and ending to hope.
Hope is found in Him.

Romans 15:13
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Let's take a look at that verse.
What's the first word of Romans 15:13?
NOW.
"Now" means today...at this moment. Even as you are reading this posting this morning...God is there ready to supply to you every thing you need to make it through this day. Isn't it funny how A.A. got it right? One day at a time.....One moment at a time. Now!

Next part of the verse reads May the God of hope. God is the creator of hope. God's hope is filled with promise that He himself will see to completion to everyone who believes on Jesus and becomes a follower. The devil can only take the word "HOPE" and use it in a deceptive way. But one thing is for sure. When we allow the devil to give us his hope, rest assured that it is empty of any promises. It is a dead end that only leaves us broken and dead.

Notice the next part of Romans 15:14
"Fill you with all joy and peace"
Here again we see the nature and love of God.
Fill......over flowing, running over....not able to contain what is given.
God is an over flowing God.
God is a running over God.
God is not one who gives out in dribbles and drabs, but is extravagant in his love and his giving.
This is evidenced in His giving to us ....His filling us with ALL JOY AND PEACE.
What falls under the word "ALL?"
Every smidgen....every little bit...He empties everything into us.
Remember, this is heavenly joy and heavenly peace, so it will be unlike anything you have ever experienced before. It is life changing.
Imagine walking around in a state of joy and peace, that was not determined by any circumstance or situation that you were facing. Imagine that God was directing you in this joy and peace as how to walk out your day. You were not being driven by the cravings and lust for more drugs or alcohol, but by the joy and peace of God flowing through your veins.

"That you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
I like that........"Abound in hope".
Overcome in hope.
Life at a new level and dimension possible because of the hope that has now been given to you by God.
How is all this possible?
through the POWER of the Holy Spirit that now lives in me since I worked the first three steps.
Step #1---the realization that I am powerless over my addiction. The evidence being that my life has become unmanageable. The harder I try to manage it, the behinder I get.

Step #2 -  After all my attempts to strong arm myself into sobriety, I realize that I am the problem. Any hope of breaking free from this lifestyle has got to come from some power outside of myself. This thinking and deduction has lead me to the cross of Christ, where I meet the real power. The real HIGHER Power.

Step #3 - I accept my current state of life and surrender my will and my life over to the care of God. I don't have to be a theological wizard and have multiple degrees.....I just surrender to God as I understand Him today, realizing that my understanding of God will change as I take this journey in recovery.

Hope! What a comforting word,especially when it is pointing me toward God.

God on you....
mb


Thursday, August 23, 2012

To Cory




May seem like a strange posting this morning, but I think the song pretty much sums up what I'm feeling right now.
I received a phone call last night.
There has been another death.

Too young for it to be his time.
Two year old daughter who has lost her father.
Grieving parents and family rolling over and over in their minds, "was there something else we could have done?"

Mercy, Father God, on everyone still out there.
Still using.
Still chasing the dragon.
Break through the hardness and the blindness and open them up to the truth.
In Jesus name,
Amen.

God on you...
mb

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"I'm In CONTROL! Yeah, Right



STEP # 7 -  We humbly asked Him (God) to remove our shortcomings.

Step # 7 really flies in the face of addiction. Addiction is all about control.
Controlling others...
Controlling events...
Controlling the past as well as the future, with no thought about today.
Now here in Step # 7 we see the word "Humble."

Humble?
What does that mean......."humble"?

"I don't know if I like that word or not."
When some people think of being humble or the act of humbling themselves, they see it as a state of defeat. I have lost and now I must humble myself. I have to grovel and beg someone for something. I must be humble.
Well, that may be the way you see humble, but not me.

Humble means to agree with God who God says I am. Nothing more. Nothing less.
Humble means I have the ability to follow directions.
Humble means I can be in a crowd and..........be in a crowd. I don't have to stick out or be the center of attention. I am humble.

Being humble is at the heart of being powerless.
I no longer have to be in control, because the evidence of my life shows that I am incapable of controlling anything. I live under the self-delusion that I am in control.

Here's the tricky part.
We have become so use to calling the shots, that we will ask for God's help as long as he does it the way we want it done, on our terms.  Well......guess what? God doesn't work that way. That is why being humble is so important.


I love the story from Jeremiah18:1-6. This kind of highlights what i refer to as "The Divine Pecking Order." In other words, God is God...he's in charge....I'm not.
Let's take a look at the passage from Jeremiah.
The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, God down to the shop where clay pots and jars are made. I will speak to you while you are there. So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so the potter squashed the jar into a lump of clay and started again.
God is the potter and, you guessed it, I'm the lump of clay.
God has plans and intentions for me, to shape me and mold me.
I don't like his plans, so I become stiff and unyielding to him.

God wants me to be a flower vase. Me? I want to be a cereal bowl.
Who wins?
No brainer. God! I must humble myself as I work the steps and allow God to remove all my shortcomings. One thing that the step doesn't tell you is that whenever God removes something.............he always puts something back better than the original. God doesn't simply leave me empty handed. The more I can see that this entire process is for my good...then I can choose to humble myself and allow God to work in me.


Again we look to Jeremiah 17.
This is what the LORD says, "Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans and turn their hearts away from the LORD." Looking to our own strength and ability to bring change to our hearts. Like I always say....."If Step # 1 states that I am the problem....the how can I also be the solution? EUREKA! I can't. Enter....HUMBLE! I turn to God and Step# 7 is on. Removal kicks in and I continue on through the Steps.

Turning our life over to God means that we are placing our hope and confidence in him instead of people. People who can disappoint us. When I look to my own ability or strength to make my recovery work, it like expecting a tree to grow and flourish in a barren desert.

Turn loose....
Humble yourself....
Let God!


God on you....
Thanks for stopping by today. I mean it!

mb



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Seth Barber's Message: God Wants Good Men

Sam's Story




As far back as I can remember I was not a content child. My parents were divorced by the time I was 4 . I barely had a relationship with my dad at all which created a whole paradigm of confusion towards father figures, especially my Heavenly Father. Through my childhood and adolescence I medicated myself with food needing desperately to fill my soul hunger not realizing what I really needed. Mom tried her best to get me in the local Baptist church and get me involved in a youth program. It’s hard to take Christianity seriously when you see your world falling apart and your mother fighting severe depression. A lot of it is a blur, masked in my mind by a haze of confusion. All up until I smoked my first joint. Sounds very elementary and I agree it was. However, I began to delve much deeper into drugs especially pain killers. I used atheism as a stance to stand for something bigger than myself a reason to indulge in drugs/alcohol, sexual deviancy, and lawlessness.

To me at this time morality was subjective and anyone that tried to tell me there was a moral code I was to follow had another thing coming. I did my best to smear the idea of God, especially the name of Jesus. He was especially offensive to me because so many people loved Him and I thought it was insane. Here, they’ve never met this man yet they pledge allegiance, insanity. I held this world view up until My drug use got so bad my family threatened to disown me; I was sleeping on a stranger’s floor trying to scrounge crumbs of pills to not be in pain and be miserable anymore. I had a drug dealer after me I owed money. I wanted out! My family offered me a way out, you have to go to rehab. This would be my second shot after attempting to go to a secular rehab program. This time they insisted a Christian rehab. Immediately I was on the offensive refusing to go but I wanted a place to sleep and food to eat. I needed rest. So I went.

The first thing I saw when we pulled up to my new home for 6 months, was a huge glowing white cross. I vowed that day that no one would ever shove this Jesus down my throat! Isn't life ironic? I was met by a long haired older man that told me Jesus loved me and had called me here for a reason. Very interesting I thought just another religious crazy, brainwashed probably. As I went through this place I started to see events happen that where inexcusable as happenstance. They were the happenings of some force driving life. I was approached by the pastor I was met with by a question "do you want to meet God?" How crazy I thought but I said, "Sure." He placed his hand on my hand and said one phrase "Holy Spirit come" I felt a surge of sorrow go to my bones and I wept bitterly. That was my first run in with Him.

As time passed I went into withdrawals and I was invited to go to a chapel service feeling more than down I decided to go. When I walked into the room I felt a tangible presence like walking into really humid weather almost creating a due on the skin. I was overwhelmed with grief and conviction for my sin. I knew that if I had died the time I overdosed I would be in bad shape. I felt a weight on my back, my sin. I stood up screaming asking, begging God to forgive me. I repented. I was immediately into the Bible and prayer it was like my food and drink. Nightly I prayed myself to sleep. It was beautiful. I still had a little emptiness though that I couldn’t explain.

A few weeks later I went into the pastor’s office to have one of our daily chats we had started and there was a young man named Doug in the office. Doug was an alcoholic. I stepped in and excused myself seeing I had interrupted a deep talk. However, the pastor invited me and said to me "Sam, I want you to put your hand on Doug’s head and pray for him." Feeling a little perplexed I decided to go for it. As I placed my hand on Doug’s head and started praying I wasn’t sure what to say so I began to glorify God. While praying, eyes closed, I suddenly felt weightless, raptured, like I was leaving my body I felt as if I was crossing into a higher dimension. I saw flashes of green and blue flame. I felt It enter me. I sat down mind blown hysterically laughing. Laughing so hard I thought my ribs were going to break I was trying to speak in English but all I could get out was a foreign tongue I didn’t recognize. I was baptized in the Holy Spirit and I knew it.

Since that time it has been a fire in my bones to proclaim the God that is alive, despite what this world would have you believe. My wife and I are now youth pastors and both share similar experiences. We see the attack from the enemy on the church and the youth of this world. God has placed it on me to let you know that He is a God that is in pursuit. Not of your dogma but of your heart. Not of your repetitive religion but a relationship. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Sam posted his story on facebook. To me, this is "payday". It isn't about me, it isn't really about Sam...it is about a God whose desire to save and heal is beyond our comprehension.
Please pray for Sam and Natalie as they begin this next chapter in their lives.
I'm telling you if this doesn't set you on fire........then your wood's wet!

God on you....

mb





Father Martin Tells It Like It Is




I needed to revisit an old friend.....Father Joseph Martin.
There are certain men and women that you come in contact with on this road to sobriety that seem to have the wisdom of the ages. Father Martin was such a man.
He knew the snares and traps of addiction and spent his life sharing his story and telling others about the beauty of A.A., that the only qualification needed to take this journey to sobriety was a desire to stop using. How simple.
Enjoy this short clip today on Step # 1.

God on you....
mb

Monday, August 20, 2012

To My Friend, David



I know that I had written that I was going to take a few days off, but God had different plans.
I confess to you that this weekend was extremely hard, emotionally and physically. A good friend of mine died Saturday night.

I hate death.
I hate everything it stands for.
A whole industry was created because of death. Oh, I know it is a needed thing to have graveyards and funeral homes, but I hate death. The selling of caskets and cemetery plots  I know are all part of the process, but I hate death.
Death, on the surface, seems to mock the living.
It invades our homes and family and declares itself to be ruler as loved ones are taken away.  Taken away sometimes before we think they should be. I hate death.
But such a view of death is done so with eyes of "flesh".
Such a view of death can not be the reality if your heart is the heart of a follower of Jesus Christ.

To an unbeliever, death is seen as the final defeat in a life that was spent in pain, frustration, sorrow and without hope. Not so to those who believe.
Death's mastery over the human race was broken at the cross and at the tomb of Jesus. How can one defeat something unless they enter into battle with it. Jesus gave his life....He reached out from that cross and demanded that death come and get him. He gave his life. Once embraced by death, the power of God was manifested as Jesus shook off  death like filthy clothes, and walked out resurrected. He took the keys to death, hell and the grave.

To a follower of Jesus, death is merely the transitioning point, the crossing over, moving from one life to another. Jesus found this to be such an incredible experience that he ushers every believer into his presence at their own death.


Such belief is why this coming week as friends and family gather for my friends funeral, it will be a celebration.
Will we miss him? Sure we will.
Will there be tears? Yes. But they will be tears that are tinged and graced with the hope of God.
For you see, my good friend who now stands in the presence of Jesus knows the whole complete truth of what you and I only claim to believe.
My friend has had the veil removed and he no longer sees as in a glass darkly, but stands unfettered at the throne of God.

I Corinthians 15:54-55
When this happens---when our perishable, earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die, then at last the Scripture will come true.....
"Death is swallowed up in victory."
"O death ---where is your victory?"
"O death --- where is your sting?"

Well done, David. Enter into your rest, and I will see you shortly.
God on you......

mb




Sunday, August 19, 2012

Taking A Break


I'm going to take a few days off from posting.
See you later next week.
Feel free to peruse the achieves of postings while I'm away.

God on you...
mb

Saturday, August 18, 2012

You Can Go Home!





I went home last night.
Back to Gadsden Vineyard.
I don't get to go back as much as I would like to, but last night was just what the doctor ordered.
I don't know if I can put into words what is running around in my heart and in my brain this morning but I'm going to try.

Gadsden Vineyard is the church that ordained me.
It became my home back in 1994 and offered me a place where I could learn to "do the stuff" as John Wimber called it. John believed that everyone got to play in the Kingdom of God. Everyone was empowered through God's Holy Spirit to pray for the sick...cast out and break off demonic spirits and yes.....(egad!) even see the dead be brought back to life. (I'm still working on this one).
Bill Jackson, in his book Quest For The Radical Middle, made the statement, "You don't join a Vineyard, you just discover that's who you have been all along." I whole heartily concur with this statement.

So my roots run deep in the Vineyard family, and who I am, spiritually, is found within the DNA of the heritage and legacy God has given this church family.

Being at Rapha, it is hard for me to find time to go back to the Vineyard. This Week I had an encounter that I know God set up to get my attention.
I was in my office on Wednesday afternoon when someone knocked on my door. It was one of the RA's telling me that I had a visitor. Visitor? I wasn't expecting anyone. The man stepped into my office and introduced himself to me and wanted to know if I had a few moments where he could share with me. He sat down and began to tell me about this devotional book he had written. I was taken with the fact that the man was very humble and wasn't self-seeking for attention or platitudes about this book. He was a retired Baptist Pastor and was now writing and traveling around speaking. His history included addiction and even though the devotional wasn't geared toward people in addiction, his view was that we are all in recovery from the fall.

One thing lead to another and he asked me about my story. When I got to the part about Gadsden Vineyard, a smile broke across his face and he said,"John Wimber!" I asked him how he know John. Turns out that back in the 80's, as a younger Baptist pastor, he had wound up a conference that John was speaking to. He went on to share how he'd never seen anyone who had the heart John did. the man was totally taken by the laid back approach to ministry and prayer and the way the Holy Spirit came upon people who were being prayed for. The man shared story after story about John and he kept in contact over the years. We talked a little while longer and then he left. I sat there fully aware that God had set this meeting up and it was for my benefit.

Last night, I returned to Gadsden Vineyard to worship. Diane Thiel and her husband led a worship service that was incredible. I didn't get to stay for the entire time, but what time I was there, God refreshed me. Sitting there, in that room, I remembered. Memories of things God had spoken to me. Memories of promises that He has kept. Memories of who I am as child of the King. Memories of the mandate of the Kingdom of God that rests on every believer. I remembered! Sometimes you have to go home to remember.

As I walked from the building, across broad street to my truck, I was filled with a renewed sense of gratitude. "Thank you Father, you knew I needed that!"
God is like that, isn't he?
He knows what we need, long before we do.

God on you....
mb

Friday, August 17, 2012

Do I Stand At A Distance?

Luke 17:12
As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance......

Isn't it weird that we all tend to think that we have things that are a part of our make up....our personality.....who we are.....that keep us from Jesus?
Things and attitudes that whisper to us and say..."He won't accept you!"
Sins and memories that flood over us every time our thoughts turn to Jesus.
Sins and memories that seem to rise up and cry out, "What you've done is beyond His reach." Such things that keep us from coming to Jesus is a kind of spiritual leprosy.

"I'm not good enough."
"I want to believe that He would heal/save me, but I've done some terrible things."
Such thoughts that overpower us and keep us in bondage to sin, are the very weapons that the Devil uses to keep us at a distance.
Funny part about the verse from Luke 17......
The lepers could see Jesus.
They could hear Him.

They could watch His every move....
But because of their disease, they stood at a distance.
Why?
Because of the nature of leprosy. That, coupled with the fact that it was against the law for anyone with leprosy to come in contact with anyone else.
But isn't that the way it is with the law. Isn't that the way it is with the law that God gave Moses. God gave 10 commandments to follow. Ten! And we couldn't even keep them. The law demanded a payment from those who had broken a commandment. Old Testament says that such payment was death.

The law keeps us at a distance. My inability to keep the commandments put me at a distance from Jesus.
But mercy and grace....ahhh, that is another story.
Mercy and grace flow over the law and whispers to us that the payment has been made to satisfy the law. Jesus was that payment.
Calvary was the place it was satisfied at.
From that hill....
Fro that cross.....
Echoed the words..."IT IS FINISHED!" No longer would we have to stand at a distance from Jesus. Now we can come to him....with our spiritual leprosy and find healing. We no longer have to stand at a distance and be a spectator to the presence and power of Christ.


Matthew 8:1-3
Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly a man with leprosy approached Jesus. he knelt before him worshipping. "Lord," the man said, 'If you want to , you can make me well again." Jesus touched him, "I want to," he said. "Be healed!" And instantly the leprosy disappeared.

Two different passages from the Bible.
Same disease.......leprosy.

Same Jesus...
But this time, instead of standing at a distance, the man with leprosy risked everything he had and came to Jesus. He not only came to Him, the man with leprosy fell to his knees and worshipped. There was a brokenness and a humbleness to this man. His words revealed his faith in Jesus. The only doubt he had was that Jesus simply might not want to heal him. That was never the case as Jesus told the man, "I want to." Hidden in those three words, "I want to," is the revelation that speaks to us saying, "I've been waiting for you. I have longed to see you well and walking in new life. I am so glad that you have come to be healed."
What is it that is keeping you from Jesus?
What is it that is blocking you from receiving the ultimate healing...salvation?

Today is your day to be healed.
Don't be branded and thrown to one side because of your sin. Don't be told that you must stand at a distance and simply observe. Push through the crowd and fall at the feet of Jesus this morning and cry out..."Heal me, Lord!"
"For God so love you.......that He gave His only begotten Son, that if you would believe on Him, you would not perish but have everlasting life."
Now if that doesn't set you on fire...then your woods wet!

God on you....
mb

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The End? Naw, I Don't Believe It!


Matthew 24;14
And the Good News about the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then, finally the end will come.

The end.
Sounds final doesn't it.
If you're at the  movies and those words, THE END, come upon the screen, you know that the movie is over.

If you're reading a book and you turn to the final page, there in black and white you'll read THE END.
Even the old Looney Tunes Cartoons had Porky Pig bursting through to loudly proclaim.....Be-de, Be-de, Be-de...Tha...That's All Folks. Just another way of saying...THE END.

Jesus proclaims that at a certain time, dependent on a certain event, this world, as we know it, will reach a final stage. He states that "Finally, the end will come."
How do you feel when you read such things as "The End Of Time? THE END OF THE AGE? THE END?"
For me, it's hard to wrap my noggin around such concepts. After all time has been a part of my life ever since I was born. Time dictated what I did....go to bed...get up.....
Time coined such phrases as "Don't be late" and "Time to rest".

Time has ticked off, moved forward (in the case of Daylight Savings Time), and has been measured by time pieces and sun dials. It has fueled the imagination of men such as H.G. Wells and his classic story of THE TIME MACHINE. Time...always around us. Yet, Jesus proclaims that at some point in TIME, the end will come. In other words, God's plan will have reached a culmination and the need for time will no longer exist.

In the Matthew 24 passage, Jesus says that when the gospel has been preached in ALL the world, then finally the end will come. I'm not the brightest bulb in the pack but I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to know that with the advent of technology, our world has shrunk. The ability to speak and be heard through this technology has carried the Word of God into all the world. I am an avid listener to Dr. J. Vernon McGee's THROUGH THE BIBLE PROGRAM. Dr. McGee teaches through the Bible, verse by verse, over a period of 5 years. When I first started listening to his program, the only way to hear it was via radio. There were many times I was unable to catch the teaching of the day due to my work. But now, with the advent of the Internet and the capability to download, I can take Dr. McGee's teaching with me to listen at any time. Day after day, as I listen to the program, the host reads letters from all over the world telling of how people have become new believers because they were able to hear the Word of God taught.
THROUGH THE BIBLE is broadcast in over 130 different languages and dialects and reaches the "Uttermost" part of this world.

This is just one man and one program. Consider the number of other's who are broadcasting the Scripture to people's all over this planet. Consider the number of missionaries that have left their homes to go and live and teach in different countries.

Taking all of this in context to the Matthew 24 passage, I think I could say with confidence that we are truly entering a time of THE END.
We are seeing the rise of evil and the darkness that blinds the heart and mind to truth. We are seeing the devil flex his muscle to deceive and draw away people from the truth of God. But I do not fear such times. Why? Because I know that no matter what it looks like, God's plan is still moving forward. God is still in control.

IF this is the case, then we need to look to our own hearts to make sure that we are not standing on the outside of God's offer of salvation. We need to make sure that what we believe to be salvation is nothing more than a religious mindset that has convinced us we are truly saved.  You see, the end is going to come for all of us. Either I will be alive to see Jesus in the air, calling and drawing his bride (the real church) to himself, or I will die and be ushered into His presence. But the end is going to come to each of us. This is not something that we need to take lightly or reject simply because we don't want to believe it. It is worthy of placing thought and prayer upon. We need to consider that God created time, but He stands outside of it. God is not bound or hindered by time. Time is for our benefit and a measurement of the length of God's plan to redeem and restore His creation. The Devil knows that time is not on his side and that is why he has ramped up his attacks to corrupt and destroy humanity. You could almost say that time is like a cup and God is allowing the cup to become full before He pours it out. I want myself and my family to fall under the Psalm 91 covering and protection of God during these "last days".  To be counted among the faithful and truly be His witnesses to others who do not know Jesus.

I know that for some who stop by here and read this posting, if you have made this far, you may think it all to be religious mumbo-jumbo. It isn't. It is truth. For once in your life, lay down all your anger against God, church and religion and let Him speak to your heart. Don't shut the door to His voice, but let Him show you how much He does love you. Let the Word of God richly dwell in your heart and let the kindness and goodness of God bring you to repentance and a new way of living. For us who believe, the thought of THE END only excites us because we know that THE END is only the transition point to THE BEGINNING of this life we have in Jesus.

God on you.....
Thanks for stopping by the GREENE STREET LETTERS.

mb

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's The Caffeine


I love me some coffee.
I'm not one of those who drink if all day long...
Two cups in the morning.
Three on weekends.
Maybe a cup at night if we have breakfast for supper.
Usually have me a cup sitting here on the computer desk as I type out the Greene Street Letters each morning.
Started drinking coffee because it was cheap.

I never really cared for coffee until I started dating my wife.
We'd go out to the Toddle House (use to be on Broad street) for a patty melt and coffee.
Ten Cents a cup....and refills were free. (Yes, I was a poor struggling artist....well, maybe not). But the refill policy hit my wallet just right.
So coffee it was. Coffee it is. Coffee it will be.
Don't give me flavored coffee. I know it is popular, but I just can't wrap my 60-year-old-taste-buds around it.
When I was at Gadsden Vineyard, Wayne Wimpee, Todd Bagley and I use to make what the others of the church referred to as "Cowboy" coffee. Strong and full of kick.
I love me some coffee.

You know what else I love?
Abraham or Abram...depending on which end of the story you read from.

I am taken that a man at age 75 would up and leave everything he's known. Family...friends...homes....(I know..home was a tent)..but still.
God called.
Abram heard.
Abram left.

Do you think Abram knew of all the things that would happen along the way as he was following God? I don't think so.
Do you think Abram knew that thousands of years later, he would be written about in a country on the other side of the world from where he lived? I don't think so.

We have no clue as to the power of God working in us and how it will impact others.
The smallest of things.......hearing God to leave your home and follow him....turned into a nation of people from which the entire world has been blessed.
All of this because one man was obedient. Did he mess up? Sure did. Did he repent? Yes he did. But he stuck to the journey filled with a promise that Messiah would come through his bloodline.
Obedience in hearing God and then following.

That is the main thing that comes to me from Abram, that I am to simply obey.

Sometimes being obedient brings me in contact with others. This is the heart of the kingdom...telling others....teaching others...making disciples. I think maybe A.A. has a better grasp of this concept than most. To put it bluntly, it is one alcoholic helping another with his sobriety. I'm not trying to elevate A.A. to the position of being a church. It's not. But I can't tell you how many times I have heard from those in A.A. that their earliest recollections of going to a meeting was being met by someone as they entered the room. Being offered a cup of coffee and some cookies and an invitation to "Come sit with me." Shown love and compassion first draws a heart closer to the fire. It opens a  heart up to receive. The alcoholic thinks to himself..."Here is someone like me who must know more than I do. They are clean and sober." Thus begins the journey. One man helping another.  Why? Because you never know who that man or woman might become once free of the bondage of addiction. You never know what God has in store for them.

I remember a sermon I heard back in 1983 by a man named Lon Woodrum. Lon was an ordained minister in the Methodist church, but he as first and foremost a journalist. He had an incredible talent for the spoken word. When Lon would preach, the words painted such pictures that you could see what he was speaking of.
My favorite sermon of all times was Lon speaking of "Who's On Your Rope?"
It was the story of Paul's escape from Jerusalem because word was out that the religious folks were out to kill him. Lon made the statement that anyone can preach on Paul. If you couldn't find a message on Paul, then you needed to pack up your Bible and go get a job with the Standard Oil Company. Lon's focus was on the two men who lowered Paul down the wall in a basket with a rope attached to it. He said those two men were never named, but they as much to do with the writing of our Scripture as did Paul. They helped Paul escape so he could write the epistles and letters. You never know who is on your rope.

As you pursue Jesus / sobriety / recovery/ and life, be aware of those around you today.
You never know what a kind word, or a word spoken in truth may do to that person. It may be the very thing God uses to propel that individual into the 4th dimension, as the big book of A.A. states. I think maybe we are to be fire-starters for the Lord. Our words bringing life and igniting passion for Jesus in others. Don't be afraid to tell your story today. Share with someone what God has done for you. You never  know who might be on your rope today.


You know what?
As I read back over this posting, it seems a bit jumbled.

There is a message there....
But I think the caffeine has kicked in.
I will stop for now.
No more coffee.


God on you....
mb

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lumps For The Lord!


Galatians 5:9
A little leaven (yeast) leavens the whole lump of dough.

I love the examples that are given to us in Scripture.
New pieces of cloth sewn into old garments pointing us to the truth that you don't mix your new beliefs with you old ones. You cast out one to embrace the other.you don't mix them.
Then there was the example of "new" wine being put in "old" wineskin's. You just don't mix the two together, telling us that this new relationship we are experiencing with Christ is just that........a new way to live. We are not to bring Jesus in and fit him into our life. We are to cast off our old life and allow Jesus to bring us into himself. I do believe that there are some folks who only want enough Jesus to get them out of hell. After that, it's the thought of just leave me alone....I'll be going to church. I'll put $5.00 in the offering plate and if you keep pestering me...I'll even join the choir or play on the church softball team. But leave my life alone. Newsflash! You no longer have a life. Jesus does. He wants to give to each of us.

The verse from Galatians paints a picture of what happens when we refuse to yield ourselves to Christ. Leaven is always a symbol or picture of sin. If you are making dough and you put some yeast into the flour...that yeast works its way through all the flour. Once introduced into the recipe, you can't take the yeast out. Same with sin. A little sin.....even the smallest of small, once committed in our lives, works its way through us and causes others which, in turn, causes others. Think back to your early days of using. When you first tried drugs or alcohol or whatever your D.O.C. was, you didn't envision yourself as a chronic liar or thief. You couldn't see yourself doing the things that you have done. You were only going to get high and enjoy life. It was just a little sin. But that little sin, once introduced into our life, worked its way into every area of our life. Sexual sin, stealing, lying, manipulating people we love, turning our attention completely on ourselves, we became a very selfish people. A little sin works it way through the entire person. It causes the dough to rise and expand. Cooks call it "Proofing". I guess it is "proof" that the dough has been affected by the yeats. Things are bigger than they normally would be without the yeast. Isn't that the way it is with sin? Our lives get blown up and out of proportion. Problems are magnified and larger than they really are. Why? Because we have lost the ability to deal with them. We no longer can see our problems in the light of God's truth. We are looking at them through "leaven" glasses. We are desperately in need of having the leaven taken out, but we are powerless to do so.

Well, I want to be a "lump" for Jesus.
I want zero sin.

Jesus is the only one who can reach down into the lump of dough and remove every vestige and evidence of sin. He can make the lump pure and leaven free, and that is the way I want to live.
That is why those 12 Steps are directions that put us into a place where Jesus can work on us. Turning us into the lump we were created to be.
Maybe we need to start a club or something......Lumps for Jesus!
Naw.
Let's just go out and live it every day.
God on you......

mb


Monday, August 13, 2012

Me + Me = Me!


Psalm 115:1
Not to us, O Lord, Not to us, but to Thy name give glory, because of thy lovingkindness, because of Thy truth.

Take me out of the equation God.
Take me out of the way.

Isn't it funny how in today's world, we have a tendency to think our own little world is all about us. If we meet someone, it is because they have been sent our way to help us, or give us something, or to simply make themselves available for whatever we need.
We become 'users', when in fact, God created us to be givers.
We grow up becoming self-centered which becomes a mighty weapon in the hands of our enemy, the Devil.
He loves it when human nature turns inward to look at itself, rather than outward to look at our creator. We are much more easily manipulated when we take our eyes off of Jesus.
We are much easier prey when our focus is on our own fleshly wants and desires.
We have no time for Jesus.
Our thoughts are filled with such ideas as, "What has Jesus done for me?"

Step # 1 of the Twelve Steps does focus our attention, but not on ourselves. Rather it turns on the light so we can see evidence of this self-centeredness. A life that has become unmanageable. We see broken relationships. We see legal problems. We are made painfully aware of our own inability to manage our daily existence. Standing there in the blinding light of reality, we must utter those words that lead to our freedom..."I AM POWERLESS."

Step #2 of the Twelve Steps leads us to an outward search. If I am the problem.....if my powerlessness has lead me to a life unmanageable, then it would be insane to think that I also possess the power to get myself out of this mess. In other words, if I'm the problem then I can't be the solution. I need a Power greater than myself who could restore me sanity. I need a Power who understands the human condition and has the authority and capability to carry through on such a work as restoration of sanity. That Power would be found in a person, not a program. That person being Jesus Christ.  Not the Jesus or church, nor the Jesus of the paintings we have seen.But the real deal Jesus who possesses all power and authority, given to Him by His heavenly Father, upon His resurrection. Matthew 28:18 - And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying,"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." In other words, addiction, being a by-product and the work of the Devil in the lives of humanity, falls under the category of Jesus' ability to heal and restore. I John 3:8 reads, "For this the Son of man was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the Devil."

Step # 3 puts us to the point where the transformation to our new life begins. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him to be.
Here, at the point, ends the deadly practice of living in selfishness. We look outside ourselves for direction and guidance for the decisions we have to make every day. Believe me, it works.

That is why, for myself, I choose to live in the shadow of the Cross daily.
It reminds me of the incredible price paid for me to enjoy the benefits of the life I am now living.
It keeps me grateful and focused on Christ.
There, in the presence of God and the shadow of the cross, there is no room for selfishness. I, like the prophet Isaiah, cry out..."Send me, Lord! Send me!".  Everyday becomes a Step #12 day as I seek to do His will and carry the message to others.
Less of me, and more of Him.
I would that you forget Michael Bynum.

I pray that you never forget Jesus Christ.
Think of these things today....

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 ...