Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vineyard Roots

Bill Jackson, in his book Quest For The Radical Middle,  states that you don't go and join a Vineyard just discover that is who you have been all along. For me, this has never been more true than it is today. God is leading me back to remember my roots and spiritual fathers who taught me and directed me in learning how to hear God.

This is my friend, Jim Bentley, Senior pastor of Gadsden Vineyard Church, relating his story of the journey he has been on. 


To Follow Means To "Do"

"Follow me".....
Jesus spoke those words through out the New Testament.
To Matthew, the tax collector, who was hard at work at his tax booth.
He spoke them to Peter and Andrew....fishermen who left everything to simply follow.

We also read in Scripture about those who came to Jesus, who had taken it upon themselves to follow.
Matthew 8:19-20

And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. Then a certain scribe came to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holds and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

This scribe approaches Jesus in the manner or custom of the day. If you were interested in being taught or becoming a disciple, then you went to the person you wanted to follow and declared your intentions. Come to think of it, this manner is still the custom of our day.

The scribe came to Jesus without an invitation extended from Jesus to him. So really this behavior that we see in the scribe is not because the Holy Spirit has convicted him of sin or is drawing him to Jesus. It is more a decision made on the scribe's part. Even today, Jesus must first chase us....woo us through the Holy our hearts and minds to the fact that we need to "Follow Him". The scribe goes on to make a boastful statement..."I will follow You wherever You Go." Where have we heard such manner of boasting before? That would be Peter. Matthew 26:35 - Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You."

In Jesus' reply to the scribe, He never told him "No, you can't follow me." What Jesus did do was to tell him the truth. Jesus wanted the man to see the reality that takes place after the miracles have finished, and the day is over.....the crowds have left and you are simply trying to carry on with life. Jesus was painting a real picture of what it meant to be His disciple.

One other thing I think some people miss in this command to follow Jesus. (which by the way is still in force today to everyone who is saved) is that the command is to follow....not watch.
There has to be more to this relationship with Jesus....this journey we are taking walking behind Him, than navigating life so we can all go to heaven. I think the command to follow is also a command to "Do what I say do....and say what I tell you to say."

The apostle Paul tells us in I Corinthians 11:1 ---"Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ."
Again we read in Ephesians 5:1 - "Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children and walk in love as Christ has loved us."
If I were called to imitate God would it not reason that I should read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and see how Jesus interacted with those around Him? I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I do believe that He did the following.
Told others about the Kingdom of God: Not in a preachy, pushy, screaming at them kind of way...but with common language they could understand. While Jesus did teach at the synagogue...he went out (get it? He left "church") to where the people were.

He backed His teaching with demonstrations of God's power: He prayed for people. People were healed. People were freed from demonic spirits. There was a validation of the Word of God by the power displayed to the people. We are called to, through God's Holy Spirit in each believer, to do the same thing. We read in Matthew 28:19-20 (The Great Commission) that we move under the authority of Jesus. He declared that "ALL" authority (What falls under "all"? That would be "ALL") in heaven and on earth had been given to him. He then in turn tells the disciples..."GO!"  He told them they should make disciples and teach them ( what He meant was to model before them the things they had learned and been taught).

Jesus was more concerned with the quality of the people who were being called to follow HIm. Plenty made a declaration of intent to follow Him, only to depart and go back to their old lives and old ways. I read a quote yesterday that I truly felt God's Spirit on....."Nothing has done more harm to the Kingdom of God than the practice of filling the ranks of the church with those individuals who are willing to make little profession and talk fluently without experience." I think that is kind way of saying...."Everyone wants to be connected to something that looks successful...but not many are willing to pay the price that comes with the call to "Follow Jesus". 

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


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pre-fab Doesn't Exist In The Kingdom Of God

Some of you may have been wondering about some of my postings over the past week or so. The subject matter has changed, as well as the tone of my writing. Couple this with the fact that we shut down our Saturday night meeting at Rapha and it appears that we might have a mystery. Well, we don't. Truth be known, we are just allowing God to set our course, both personal and corporate.

The verses from Psalm 127 really have followed me around for a long time.

"Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain."
While the house referred to in the verse is undefined, I see "church" as the house. To me, it means that man's plan's do no figure into the equation when it comes to building a church (not the building but the people). Seems to me that a lot of effort is put into the brick and mortar to make it appealing to those who might come. A lot of effort goes into the way the building looks....the sound system.....the chairs........the carpet. When the effort should be going into teaching the Word of God...the effort should be directed toward the hearts.......the spirits........the soul.........the minds of the people who become a part of this church. The effort should be found in equipping a people to "do the stuff" or the works of the Kingdom of God.

The success of any church is not found in the bank statements. It isn't found in the number of people who attend. It is found in the quality of people it produces. Do the ones who attend your church show a genuine love for Jesus? Have they fallen in love with the Savior of their souls? Do they take the Kingdom with them when they go back into their homes, into their workplace, into the market. Are they praying for those around them? Do they engage with people and love them?

To me the biggest mistake made by churches today is the mindset that is created where we all gather to hear someone stand up front and deliver a message. We look to the pastor or preacher to give us a vision of what God wants to do. When we don't have one or can't see one, we give ourselves to the vision of the pastor. IS that a bad thing? On the scale of human endeavor, no. But what it does perpetuate is the idea that the congregation are just worker bee's to carry out the vision of the Queen bee.

What's the advantage of being connected to a church family? The power found in being many! A group can do so much more than an individual can. But we must never forget that an individual with purpose and direction from God can do more than the group can also.

During my early days in the Vineyard, I read a statement made by John Wimber as to the call of God on every believer life. "If you can take care of one person....then you can take care of ten. If you can take care of ten, then a hundred will be easy." I was taken with the idea of taking care of, ministering to one person. Lo and behold, God took me up. Through a series of invitations I wound up at the home of a lady who was not able to physically leave her house. I went with a friend of mine to meet her and pray with her. She was a wonderful, gentle woman who was lonely. She didn't have much contact with anyone except over the phone. As we finished our meeting, we asked if we could pray for her and she agreed. I don't remember much about the prayer, but I do remember that when we finished, she grabbed me by the arm and said to me, "Don't let this be a lie." I was puzzled. "A lie?" She went on to say that many had come to pray for her but they left and she never saw them again. She wanted to know that she mattered to someone. She was a believer, but her illness had taken her away from her church family and she had become one who was forgotten. I told her that I'd be back.

The next night, Vicki and I returned.
There in her home, we became the church.
I told the lady that if it was o.k. with her, we felt like God wanted us to have a meeting in her home. She was totally overcome with joy. The very thought that the church was coming to her changed her entire outlook. Over the course of the next year, we met twice a week at her home. We'd worship....we'd pray together...we'd pray for each other....we read scripture and then share what God was doing through the passages. Over time, the woman began to invite her neighbors. After a while we had a small group who joined us and became a part of our home church. We taught them how to hear God and how to pray. We showed them that they had value in the Kingdom of God and that they could reach others with the same message they'd heard. We encouraged them to pray for the sick. To identify when demonic spirits were at work in people and how to break them off so that God's Spirit could fill the individual.  Like I said, we did this for over a year. The funny part in all of this, as the year progressed, the lady who we originally came to meet with and pray for got better. Her health improved and she got her strength back. She began to take short trips to town and to the grocery store. She was being healed.

The point in all of this, is that it really isn't about me. It's about God and what He wants to do in all of us. We can't be the Kingdom if we never take it outside the walls of our church. Jesus called us to be "Salt"..........well, salt is no good if it remains in the salt shaker. At some point, everything has to be turned upside down and shaken...then the salt comes out. Ask God to give you a divine appointment today with someone. Someone that you could begin to pray for and with. Someone who needs to run into the real-deal Jesus.
It could be a really good day....who knows?

God on you....

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I am all up into remembering.....
I read all through Scripture where God commanded the Israelites to remember.
Remember His works that were manifested among the people.
Remember His name....
Even in the ten commandments, God called for the people to "REMEMBER" the Sabbath and keep it holy.

In their wilderness journey from Egypt, Israel set up stones of remembrance to commemorate times and events where God intervened on their behalf.
So in my mind, the act of remembering (especially of God and what He has done in my life) is a vital part of this relationship I have with Him.

Today is one of those remembering days.
On July 6,1997, I was ordained as a pastor into the Association of Vineyard Churches. It was, what I thought at the time, the culmination of a long journey which included a lot of running away from God. On that day, I stopped running an embraced what I knew was a call to pastor. But little did I know or even understand what lay ahead in this journey.

On this day (February 26) I was part of a team that had gone to the Anniston Vineyard to take part in a celebration. I was leading worship that particular day and I remember that the presence of God was extremely thick in the room. People were just going crazy in their worship. I remember standing on stage as we sang and played thinking to myself, "I want more of this! I want to expend myself in worship to you, Lord!" No sooner had I thought these words, a counter thought or impression came to me. "You will enter my work.......full time.....on August the first." As always, this thought was followed by my own mind saying, "Was that God or was that me?" Seems to be the M.O. that I use whenever I think God may have spoken to me. I was excited because it was what I truly wanted to do. Be a full time pastor. I tried to push the thought out of my head, but it would not go away. All the way home, I tried to think of how I would tell my wife, Vicki. "Hello honey, a funny thing happened over in Anniston. God told me to quit my job and go full time in the ministry." Yeah, that would go over good. You have to remember God was telling me to do this...I had not been called by the Vineyard to be a pastor on their staff. In effect, God was telling me...."Go do the work I've called you for.....don't worry about a salary or money or anything else. Just go do it."

I remember walking into our house. Vicki was in the kitchen cooking. I began to slowly try and relate what I had heard, trying to choose my words carefully. I finally reached the point of no return. "Honey, I think God wants me to quit my job and go full time in this pastoring thing." Without turning around, my wife said, "I know...He spoke to me this morning, and told me the same thing." She went on..."I also know that you're suppose to start on August 1st." She knew it at the same time I knew it. That God! Go figure.

Well, here we were in February and August was six months away. I was working at a local Electronics assembly plant at that time, and we suddenly began to get overtime. Me, in my keen wisdom, thought that God was telling me to work all I could and put back as much money during this time. It would be like a nest egg to get us through the period of "no salary" until something happened. I took to the task with great relish. I was working as much overtime as they would allow me to, and the "egg" was growing. All was well. But it wasn't part of God's plan. The weeks rolled by and our nest egg grew as I continued to put in overtime. Then in July, during our prayer time, God spoke to Vicki and me and told us that we should give away all that we had saved up. His words were, "You are going to trust me. You will enter the month of August with "0" dollars in your bank account." Needless to say we were excited and scared to death at the same time. We spent the better part of the week trying to make sure this was God that we had heard. Turns out it was. To prove His faithfulness, God also told us that He was going to be our portion. We were to look to Him. So over the remaining weeks of July, we wrote checks to help people we knew were struggling. I found a real joy in giving away....this joy was soon followed by sheer terror as my flesh cried out, "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!!!!" But it was God who had spoken, and it would be God that sustained us from that point forward.

Now, here fifteen years on the other side of that day, Vicki and I are still plugging along. God has proven true to His word and we have seen His faithfulness all these years. It has been a hard lesson at times, but one that I would not have missed.
Can't wait to see what the next 15 years holds in store.

"Saddle up, boys! We got us an adventure!"

God on you....

Monday, February 25, 2013

"Are You The One I've Been Waiting For?"

Matthew 11:2-3
And when John heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, "Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?"

I love the verses from Matthew 11.
Poor John the baptizer has been arrested and placed in prison. Prison has a way of making you doubt what you have held onto as the truth. I think maybe John knew that that Jesus was the Messiah everyone was looking for. John may have even conceded that his role in this drama that was being played out in public was about to decrease as the importance of Jesus increased. But I don't know that John thought about his life ending in prison. The thing I love about these verses is the simple fact that John is having a crisis of faith. Was Jesus the one that he'd been proclaiming to be the Messiah? Was Jesus the Christ, the coming deliverer for the Jewish nation? The thing I love most about these verses is that when John was at his lowest point.....locked up in prison.....not knowing what his future held....doubt and questions all around him....he turned to Jesus for the truth. "Are You the One?"

What's even more is that John didn't wallow in his doubt. John didn't allow his emotions to run wild. He turned to the very source that held an answer. Maybe there is a lesson here in this Scripture for me. No matter what life hands matter what my situation....Jesus is who He claims to be and will do what He has said He would do. You can stop with Jesus. No need to pursue any other avenue or answer. May sound corny, but it's true. Not the "church" Jesus. Not the "denominational" Jesus. Not the "religious" Jesus. But the real-deal-Jesus-of-the-Bible. Jesus has a way of saying to each of us...."I've seen your life....not look at mine....let's trade. He gives me life and I give him all my mess. Works for me.
Now here's where it gets strange. He doesn't give my His life so I can skate through my days care free and loose as a goose. He gives me His life so that I can proclaim...."Your (Jesus) Kingdom come.....Your (Jesus) will be done, here on earth as it is currently being carried out in heaven. In other words....I get to "do the Kingdom work." Praying for people. Feeding the poor. Visiting those in jail and prison. Casting out demons. Healing the sick........and yes....(are you ready for this? Raising the dead. I  knew it. I could hear the collective gasp with that last one. But yet this is all part of the Kingdom here, the kingdom not yet of Jesus.

If you read a little further in the Matthew 11 passage, you'll find Jesus' answer to John's disciples. Notice what He tells them.
Matthew 11:4-5
Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see. The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them."

That is the truth we need.
That our God is not a bystander sitting off somewhere in a galaxy far, far, away watching our world headed to hell on the fast track. Our God is at work pushing back the kingdom of darkness and the devil through the actions we read about in Matthew 11:4-5. Salvation of a nuclear kind to transfer the hurting and lost under the covering of God's grace and mercy and love and compassion and a few other bazillion things that come from His heart.
That is truth we need!
That is truth I need !

God on you....

Friday, February 22, 2013

More Thoughts On A Recovery Church

Acts 2:40-42
And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

More thoughts today about what a true Recovery Church would look like. Not so much the aesthetics of the meeting, but more of the dynamics and purpose behind it.

Those who would become family and community in a Recovery Church would be spiritual "babes" or "children." The common bond in the group should be a hunger for God as we increase in understanding and wisdom in His word. A hunger for Him to come as we worship. A hunger or desire for His presence in our meetings. It is my estimation that when such a dynamic is at work in a group of people, God will honor it with His presence. From this place, our theology will be birthed and formed as we all grow in Him.

We desire to have meetings that are raw, real and profoundly holy. We do not seek after a spiritual "feeling" or experience, but we should not shy away from such either when God does manifest Himself in a meeting. The basic feature that we would want to pass on to those who come would be the idea of "You should come expecting!" Every time we gather, we should come with the expectation that God is going to reveal Himself and we are going to leave that meeting changed.

I want to see a "people" who grow in Christ. Who are moving and living under the unction (guidance)of God's Holy Spirit. The one thing that God has been dealing with me is the idea of salvation. Every church has as its mandate the call to see people come to Christ and be saved. But if the truth were really shown, not much happens after that event. Those who are saved are kind of left to flounder on their own. Join a Sunday School class....take on a leadership role in the church.....give your tithe. I think God expects more of us than this. To me, when someone is brought to the Cross of Christ, the battle has just begun.  Now the real work begins. Now that new babe in Christ has to learn how to live in a new way. They need to be taught how to pray. They need to be taught how to hear the "voice" of God. How to read and study the word. If we don't help with the cultivation of being hungry for God in the life of a new believer, they will wither and die spiritually. To them, relationship with Christ will simply be attending a meeting, singing some songs and putting $5.00 in the plate when it is passed.

If you read the verse from Acts 2, you'll see that after these were saved, a new dynamic took place in their collective lives. A hunger to learn was birthed among this group as the studied the Apostles "doctrine". Sounds dull doesn't it. When we think of doctrine or theology we almost cringe with the thought of "Oh no...there is not way I could do that." Well, the study of God's word is to find the life...the direction God desires for you. It isn't a dissection of the Greek and Hebrew (not that there is anything wrong with that). It is learning how to live a new way surrounded by others who are on the same journey.

To me, the downside of most recovery meetings is that Jesus has become a means to an end. He is the medicine I take to move on in my sobriety. Come to Jesus and be changed. While this is true, Jesus is the Power we have been searching for, the means opens the door to a greater reality and way to live. I never want to push or peddle Christ as medicine. I want to always point to Jesus as the only one who can save us. That Jesus is not just an answer to their problem, but a new way to live, breath, eat, sleep and work in this old world that has sought to devour and kill us. That through the salvation that Jesus offers to all who would accept, not only do we have a new life, but we get to participate in the Kingdom of God. Or as John Wimber put it..."We get to Do The Stuff!"

I will be taking off the next few days, so I'll see you on Monday.
God on you....

Don't forget...
We aren't having Church @ Rapha for the next few weeks.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What Would A RECOVERY Church Look Like

What would a "recovery" church look like?
I'm not talking about Celebrate Recovery....

Or an Overcomers meeting....
Or any other meeting that was being held at a church. Such meetings as those are secondary to the church itself.
What would a church that was founded on the idea of ministering to those who were breaking free of their addiction?
A church where you could belong and be a part. Where the language and mannerisms of the leadership and the people would be free of religious jargon.

Please don't take me wrong in what I'm writing this morning.
Most churches, especially here in the South, have a unique way or model of presenting the gospel of Christ. Sometimes the vehicle in which the message is delivered is so foreign to the one listening, that they close down mentally, spiritually because they cannot relate.
I want to have a church where the gospel can be heard, life can be found, and the power of sin/addiction can be broken through Jesus Christ.

Thoughts on a Recovery Church:
(Taken From John Wimber's "Doing Church")

An emphasis would have to be on teaching God's word/ applying God's word to life. The Bible has the best information on living life, as God wants us to live it. But we will only experience what it teaches when we apply or practise it in our daily lives.
How do we encounter God through the Bible? By meditation and study, but also through encountering God in the experiences of Scripture when we practise it and apply it to our daily lives.

People use to approach John Wimber after he had taught, and say, "That was a great meal John, you fed us on the meat of the Word today." John would reply, "No, I just described the menu, you have to go out now and do it---the meat is in the street."

My view of what it means to be a "Biblical Christian" is not to quote the right verses or to necessarily believe the right doctrine (we all have warped views of truth) but rather to handle the Word of God responsibly and correctly, and become and do what the Bible really says.

The Twelve Steps are taught in most recovery meetings, and for that I am grateful. But unless we introduce people to the POWER that is greater than ourselves.......a POWER that can restore us to sanity, those steps will just a be a set of rules to follow. Being powerless, I don't follow or keep rules too well.

The emphasis has to be on seeing Jesus in this Recovery Church.
Not just seeing him, but seeing him as the central figure in our lives. He is the reason we can live clean and sober. He alone is the door through which we must walk in order to find the life that has eluded our every step.

What Trinity are we worshipping?

In a Recovery Church, we need to fall in love with the Father and seek His face by honoring Jesus, as our Lord and Savior, and by being fully dependent on the Holy Spirit. That isn't always the case with some.
Some worship in the following way:

1.) God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Church: 
An over emphasis on "Church" ...the only real frame of reference in which to understand God. This results in traditionalism.

2.) God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Bible:
Using the Bible as the third Person of the Trinity. This results in legalism.

3.) God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Experience:
Seeking the supernatural gifts and not the Giver of all good gifts. This results in sensationalism.

4.) God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ministry:
The ministry and mission of the Church becomes the only and all-consuming reason for existence, resulting in performance and manipulation.

5.) God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Man:
Perceiving the "man of God" (and woman) as the holy anointed one. The be-all and end all of everything. This results in idolatry.

6.) God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit:
Receiving and honouring the Holy Spirit by giving Him His correct place in the Church. resulting in the presence, the power and the freedom of the Father and the Son. Jesus, in John 14:23, said,"I and my Father will come and dwell in you."

In writing this list, I am not saying that churches make willful and intentional decisions to minister in this fashion. Such belief's come through bad experiences had in other churches. Wrong teachings that give a
wrong view of God.
I believe that God is in the process of raising up a RECOVERY CHURCH. One where those who are hungry for God's presence can come and be in His presence. One where they can be taught and trained to go back out into the world and be effective in bringing others to be healed.
I would want a church where the complete God is honored and worshipped, and given His rightful place. After all, it is His church. Isn't it?
I believe............

God on you....

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Worship 101

John Wimber
"It isn't enough to be biblically literate...........we must be biblically obedient also."

Psalm 150:6
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

As a Vineyard pastor, I believe that our number one purpose in life is to honor and worship God.
We do this through our daily lives. My very walking around, eating, sleeping, working, playing life is to be lived in such a way that others see Jesus in me. My life is worship unto God. Sounds boring doesn't it? It's not. It is the most incredible high you could ever want. Now I'm not talking about that when I give my life to Jesus everything falls into perfect harmony. That everyday is sunshine and lollipops.....dogs love love you.....old folks love you....Guess what? Life still happens. You get flat tires. You'll want to quit and run away to Australia (right Vicki). But because you are living under a mandate from heaven, and you are very much aware of the price that was paid to free you from your old life of just fall in love with Jesus. Isn't that what the Bible talks about? Loving Jesus? Loving God? Loving those around us as we love ourselves? From this unnatural place of love which the world looks at with disdain and a jaded eye, I worship.

Worship- The act of freely giving love to God.
Such a behavior forms and informs (through His Holy Spirit speaking to us) every activity in the life of a believer.
I have learned that what happens when I am alone with the Lord determines how intimate and deep my worship will be when I come together with other believers.I want to be transported through my worship, into the very presence of God. If you think about it, worship here and now on this side of heaven is merely practice for what is going to transpire once we die and stand in the presence of God. How cool is that going to be?

Some people have a hard time with this next part.
Singing is not the only way to worship. As we sing, it is important to remember that our bodies should be involved in what our spirit's are saying. In Scripture this is accomplished through bowing heads, lifting of hands, kneeling and even lying on our faces before God. I remember the first time I was in a service and I saw someone lift their hands during worship. I was offended at first...."How dare they try and draw attention to themselves...don't they know that this is God's time." That was how skewed my understanding of what real worship was about. But I also remember thinking, as I watched this individual worship, how free they seemed to be. Lost in the song and oblivious to everyone around them, they worshipped. I wanted what they had. Why? A result of worshipping and blessing God is being blessed by Him. We don't worship God in order to get blessed, but we are blessed as we worship Him. He visits His people with manifestations of His Holy Spirit.
Enjoy the video....
Worship today....

God on you....

(thoughts for today's blog posting comes from Worship: Intimacy with God by John and Carol Wimber.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Open Letter To A Friend

Good morning.....
You've been on my mind and my heart. I prayed for you last night and then again this morning. I won't stop praying for you. I know that you are in a hard place right now. You've gone back to some old ways and old thoughts. The "why" of this behavior is not important. What is important is that you stop and read this letter.

Stop what you're doing right now. That's right---stop. I  know that you think you can't. I know that you think you've crossed the line and there is no returning from the darkness. That is all a lie that is being told to you by the devil and his minions. I know that you are trying to validate why you've started using again. You may even be able to justify and rationalize it all away. But the truth is, you've come to far to allow this to carry on.

I know that you are weighed down by guilt and shame and that it is these "terrible two" that are fueling your behavior. Stop! You made claims and proclamations about your love and commitment to Jesus. Well, He feels the same way about you, and He has not given up on you. Even at this hour when it seems the darkest, He is right there with you, waiting on you to turn to Him. 

My Bible says "If we confess our sins, then He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Those just aren't flowery words to make us feel good. They are words of truth that bring life. Words that bring hope. Jesus is not  walking around with a "mad-on" towards you. He loves you. Did you catch that? He loves you. Not He loves you because you do right, but loves you because you are one of His creations. He loves you with an everlasting love. Is He proud or happy when we go off into sin or return to old addictive ways? Of course not. But such behavior is why he created "forgiveness"..."Mercy"...."Grace".

So today....
Right now....
Repent (change of heart and mind as well as direction you're headed in)
And receive it....
Receive His love....

Receive His mercy....
Receive the healing presence of God's Holy Spirit inside you, and rise from the ashes of destruction and death and be who God created you to be.

I love you.....

Michael b.

Monday, February 18, 2013

There Is Only One Question

Acts 9:6
so he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?"

We humans are an inquisitive bunch.
We were created with a thirst for knowledge and understanding.
Couple this with what happened in the garden at the fall of man, and you've got a dangerous mix.
In the garden, we bite for the line that God was holding out on us. He had information that He wasn't sharing. Fueled by this thought, and the inference that if we ate the fruit we "would be like God"....mankind gave into the evil ploy of the devil. So we ingested the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Ever since that day our questions have ranged far and wide. Important and silly....thought provoking and mind numbing. But we roll on and the questions keep coming.

Every addict has probably asked themselves, "Why me?"
Or "how did it go this far?" But those questions already have answers. The answers are known, just not wanted to be acknowledged by the one who asks.
We strike out in frustration screaming, "When is this going to stop?" With an undercurrent of knowing that it isn't until we are broken. The addiction will not stop simply because it isn't a matter of willpower. Don't you find it strange that stopping comes when one simply gives up and says "I can't stop...I am powerless"?

The quote above, from the book of Acts, is the question the apostle Paul asked after his encounter with Jesus. Paul, then known as Saul, was on his way to Damascus to reek havoc and mayhem upon the church. Paul was out to shut down this so-called religion that seemed to be gathering momentum through out the region. Now, on the road to Damascus, a bright light had suddenly feel upon the caravan, knocking Paul to the ground. There, lying among the dust and dirt of the road, not knowing what to expect next....Paul listened as Jesus explained what was going on. Then Paul, full of fear and trembling, asked, "Lord, what do you want me to do?"

From that very moment until the time of his death, Paul's life would never be the same.
Maybe that is what we need...
An encounter with the real Jesus.

Not some religious Jesus....or a church Jesus....
Not a Television Jesus....or a radio Jesus....
Not the Jesus of my mind....or the Jesus in my head....
But the real-deal-went-to-Calvary-to-die-for-my-sins-Jesus.

And maybe the question asked by Paul needs to be the only question I asked for the rest of my days....."Lord, what do you want me to do?"

After asking, we should wait until God answers. Believe me, He will.
Rather than run out in my emotions....
Rather than base my decisions because of my impulsiveness....
Rather than chart the course of my life because of my cravings and own desires....
I would sit still after asking, 'Lord, what do you want me to do?" and then wait for His answer.

I know this doesn't fly by the standards of the world and society.
But look where the world and society has lead you.
Take a quick inventory of decisions that you've made in the past. How did they turn out?
Not good, I'm betting.
Consider doing business differently today.
Consider surrender of will and live over to the care of God as the starting point.

Then ask the question...
Ask it all day....
"Lord, what do you want me to do?"

God on you...

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Ecclesiastes 3:1
To everything there is a season. A Time for every purpose under heaven.

Every so often, I have found it necessary to kind of put the halt to everything and spend some time in prayer to see what God is saying and which direction He may be leading us toward.

Back in 2002, at the height of our Saturday night recovery service, God told me to lay it down for a season. This caught me totally off guard, and I even questioned whether it was God or not. Turns really was God. So ever since then when God tells me to lay something down for a season, I do it.

I am announcing that we are going to take a sabbatical from our Saturday night service at Rapha. We will start back the last Saturday of March. During this time, Vicki and I, along with the leadership of our meeting will be gathering to pray and seek God's face and will for His heart and His guidance.

Please, don't read anything into what I'm sharing. I have no clue, right now, as to what God wants to do. I just know that He is calling us to seek Him and that is what we will do. Be in prayer for us that we would hear God's will for the meeting and for our own lives.

I will continue to post daily here at the Greene Street Letters, and I thank each of you who stop by and read the daily offering. Please tell others you think might benefit from what we are doing here.

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

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

Church - Fill In The Blanks

Hebrew 10:24-25
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, nor forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as it is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

If I asked you what kind of building you see in the image above, you'd probably say, "it's a church!" And you would be right.
Multi-level roof....
Steeple on top...
Cross on the very top...
Yet what you see is just an outline. The church itself hasn't been filled in.

It has no color to it....
It doesn't have a door....
No windows.....

Kind of be hard to be a member of such a structure...
In fact our way of thinking has robbed us of the true definition of what a church is.
As you probably already know, church isn't the building. It's the people.

The people gather IN the building to BE the church.
Building's take on various shapes and sizes....
Brick...wood....I guess somewhere in the world there is a sod church.
Some churches meet under trees in the open. Yet they are just as important and viable as those who are a part of the MEGA church...

As a pastor, I have been "doing" church for the last 16 years. I started with a small morning service at Gadsden Vineyard Church, which had been birthed by Brook and Jennifer Finlayson. There were perhaps 15-20 of us that would gather on Sunday morning to be with God and see what He wanted to do that day. The worship wasn't always very good....but it was very "God" as we sang and played from our hearts and not just the music sheets. We grew close as a family and it became a place where those who didn't seem to fit in with other churches found a home. We were being grown, matured and changed by God into a community of believers.

Ephesians 2:19-22
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

That small group that began to meet at the Vineyard, back in 1997, was being shaped and formed to become a dwelling place for God. A place where He could manifest His presence, and extend His kingdom rule through the changing of our hearts and the empowering of our lives.

We learned how to "hear God" and to minister to each other. We welcomed new people each Sunday to our group. Some stayed, some didn't...but we loved everyone who came through the door. I was learning how to pastor (may not seem like the thing to do..but it was the best school or seminary I could have ever gone to). Our church took on a flavor of it's own that was unique. Not that we set out to be different...what took place was a by product of who we were as God was at work changing us and growing us up.

Our church became a place where everyone was important. Where everyone was encouraged to "do the stuff" or engage in the works of Christ. It wasn't just about the pastor or the leadership...everyone "Got to play" as John Wimber used to say. We prayed for each other...We ministered to each other, all the while growing in God's Spirit. Everyone who came could pray for folks and see them be healed. Everyone who became family was able to cast off demonic spirits from others who were demonized. We fed the poor....we visited those in jail....We interceded for friends and family during our prayer time. We were the body of Christ. We also made a lot of goof-ups as we were learning. Sometimes I did the wrong thing or said the wrong thing....hurt peoples feelings. The more I was a part of this community, the more I realized how much I needed God. I saw that when I acted out of my flesh (sin nature) or my feelings (which sometime weren't very good) I became a super-pharisee. I never really liked that old fellow.

Today's postings is the first of others to follow which will be about the importance of belonging.
We are not called to "lone ranger" this thing...
We were created for community...

God on you...


Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Ultimate Choice.....To Love

Love is not self-contained...
It has to be given away.....
It has to be demonstrated....

Love is the core of relationship.....
It is the choice made to keep not quit....It is love.
Love does not have to be returned. But when it is, it multiples in spectacular fashion.

The scripture says that "God is love".
It doesn't say that "God loved".....
Or that God loves.......
It states the very nature and character of
Not the kind of love we find here in a fallen world, but love that was born above the mess....above the din and roar of hate and indifference. Love was present when creation suddenly filled emptiness. Love was part of the determining factor that brought creation into a reality.
What an incredible word, LOVE.

I John 4:9
In this the love of God was manifested (demonstrated) toward us that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him.
The ultimate Valentine gift....
Forgiveness born on a cross....
Reconciliation birthed from a tomb, a place of death.
Justification found in the emptiness of that tomb.

Love that ascended back to heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father.
My love has a name....Jesus.

Love so strong that He is at work taking back what was given away to the devil in the garden.
Love so strong that it has the power and authority to take back lives from the kingdom of darkness and transfer them into real life.
Love so strong it brings healing with a gentle touch, a whispered voice and a fire that burns deep  in the soul of those of us who have received this healing.

The devil hates the word, "Love".
He works overtime, days, night, weekends to discredit and smear the meaning of the word love.
He has weaved his web of deception until the word love has become defined by the act of sex.
He wants to dirty the name. Take away the purity of God found in that word, because he understands that GOD IS LOVE.
Looks like he'd read the book....
It says, "Love Never Fails."
What part of fail do you think he doesn't get?
Find the real deal today and then give it away.
And by the way....
Just in case I haven't told you today....
I love you.

God on you...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Another "3:16"

There are some things that seem to be a natural part of our cultural landscape.
If someone mentions "hamburgers".....thoughts of McDonalds creep into our brains.
Mention "sand and surf", you probably think of the beaches at Florida.
Bring up "Music from the '60's" and you'll get The Beatles.
These kind of things just seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly.

What about the Bible?
When you think of familiar verses in Scripture, which one do you consider first?
My bet would rest on John 3:16----
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
You might not be able to quote it word for word, but most people know the crux of the verse...the meaning of the verse.

What if there were another 3:16 that carried equal weight as John 3:16?
What if John 3:16 was the doorway to relationship with Jesus Christ?
I don't think you have to place such thoughts in the category of "What if?"
I do believe it is pegged or marked as the entrance into this new life we have been searching for.
But what would the next step be?
I think we only have to look to another 3:16 verse to find it.
Luke 3:16 - John answered, saying to all, "I indeed baptize you with water, but One mightier than I is coming whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

The awakening to God's Holy Spirit, given to us at the moment of salvation is the POWER rockets us to a new dimension of living. It is the Spirit of God that enables us to receive what we could not do for ourselves in that old lifestyle we use to embrace. We have been given fresh vision to see in ways we could never imagine. To hear on a level with fresh ears, the voice and leading of God that will help us correct our path each day as move through the events and situations we run into.

It is the infusion of the Power and Presence of God himself inside us that changes everything. The completeness of God, the Father........God, the Son.......and God, the Holy Spirit poured out on and in me changes everything.
Why not call out to God to receive today?
"Oh God! Let your fire fall. Let Your Holy Spirit come and flood over me! I surrender! I give up! I quit! I stand ready in Your presence to give myself........heart...soul...mind...body...spirit...every part of me. Come save me today!"
Now that's what I'm talking about....

God on you....

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wisdom Of The Room Quote

A.A. Quote of the Week

"When you are in fear you should remember to T.R.U.S.T. - Try Really Using Step Three." 

Life Is A Cher of Bowlies

II Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from Glory to Glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Somehow we have come up with the idea that the main point of salvation is to transfer us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God. In other words, we no longer have to fear hell or eternal separation from God. While that is a huge plus....there has to be more here than that. There has to be more that follows us all our days than that one time event of being saved.
Could it be that God expects something from us after we are saved?
Sunday School Teacher?

Sing in the choir?
Start a Recovery Meeting?
Work at a Rehab?
All of those are worthy things, but that still doesn't quite fill the bill when it comes to God's plan.

So what is His plan?
To grow us up.

Grow us up until we we have a full measure of faith and maturity. In other words, until we are transformed into the complete image of our elder brother, Jesus.

So how does this growth process happen?
Eat all my carrots and Brussel Sprouts?

Exercise daily and get plenty of sleep?
Wrong-o buddy.

The growth and maturity come when I go through my trials and troubles keeping God at the center of my life and decisions that I make during the time of upheaval.
Not acting on impulse or basing my decisions on my emotions, but rather centering myself and listen for what God wants me to do.
In other words, I follow Him. I wait for Him to instruct me rather than run off in my "feelings" and get myself stuck in some "spiritual" ditch.
My wife always says, "If He ain't talking, I ain't walking."
Translated: I will continue in the last thing God told me to do, until I receive new instruction and direction from Him.
Words of wisdom from a wise lady.

Trusting God in the middle of a storm of problems and troubles increases my faith. It proves to me that God is worthy to be trusted with all my problems and not just some of them. It shows me that He has my best interest at heart even though the outcome may not look like I thought it should. But the main thing that comes out of my daily struggle, is that I should be learning more and more about myself........the good and the bad....With such knowledge, we can turn to God and ask Him to remove our character defects and replace them with His righteousness or, as I like to say, "His Right-ness."

I love the way the Message Bible states it in James 1:2-4:
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges (trials and troubles) come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well developed, not deficient in any way.

Life happens in this old world.
Bad things happen to good people.....

and good things happen to bad people....
No matter what comes your way, it is an opportunity to grow in Christ and be a reflection of His goodness and love to someone else who needs to see the truth about God.
Think on these things....

God on you...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Where The Needle Met The Cross

He came up to me after the meeting last night....
Eyes, sunken.....

Face gaunt.....
No emotion whatsoever.....voice was almost a whisper....
His arms kept the score of the needle he'd been using....
His body was thin and gaunt and showed too many days without a meal.
Even with all of this testimony to the death he'd been walking around with....
He wanted to quit.

He was desperate to quit...
Yet the power of the drug and the devil was pulling hard against his will.

Slowly he gave the details of the past, leading up to this night.
Knowing full well that he is powerless.....
Knowing full well that he was on the road to death and destruction...
He was like a train wreck waiting to happen which could not be diverted or stopped.

Even with all of this in his life....
There was still a spark of hope.....
A voice of reason that told him to not give up....

That, my friend, is the Power that is greater than ourselves we find in Step #2.
A Power that can shatter the darkness of addiction and the lies of the enemy to bring that tiny spark of hope....
That small flame that illuminates the darkness and opens the door to new life and relationship with Jesus Christ.

I gathered up some of the man's friends who knew him from his days at Rapha, and we prayed over him.
Collectively, we brought the POWER that lived in us through our relationship with Christ, to bear against the power the addiction had over this young man.
As we prayed, he began to cry....
He wanted to believe that this time would be different....
He wanted to believe in a Power greater than himself could restore him to sanity....
He wanted to believe that this was the last time he claimed death as his closest friend.....
He wanted to believe.

After we finished, we saw a different color to the Power......the color of love.
One of the men who was a friend of the one we were praying for, agreed to pick up the young man this morning, and take him to get help. One person reaching out to another is what this journey is all about.

For this one who came forward for help and prayer, the battle isn't over....
But a new direction has been taken in his journey...

One of restoration and hope.

God on you...

Please be in prayer for this young man...
There are hard days ahead for him, but nothing compared to the days he would be facing if he'd rejected help and continued to slide further into the darkness.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Feeling Mellow This Morning

"Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness...."   Lamentations 3:22-23

Easy like a Sunday morning.
Two meeting down, one to go.

Tonight at Celebrate Recovery North Glencoe.
Word has been given....
Praying and percolating it right now as I move through the day.
I go expecting.

I go expecting God to come and be in our midst.

Life goes on all around me.
People hurting.....
A million questions seemingly without any answers.....
Truth is, the answers are there, we just aren't ready to really receive them.
That is why I trust God. He knows best about answering my questions.
At some point in the future, every question I ever had will find its answer.
Isn't that an amazing thought? That at some point in the future we will know, as we are know by God. In other words, we will be given God's perspective to see and hear and learn and understand. No longer held back or confined and stopped by this finite mind and brain I currently use.

Seth Barber brought the word last night at our meeting.
And what a Word Seth Barber brought.
The Kingdom of God grew last night with new citizens and souls. How cool was that? Never tire of seeing men and women come to the place where they run into the real-deal God. "Jesus is Lord' no longer stands as a cliche or trite statement, but becomes the stamp and belief on a life that has been changed.
Mayonnaise! (that's Rapha/Vineyard speak for "Amen!")

Sunday is a time to reset the compass and gas up the soul for the next trip...the next week...the next appointments.
Vicki and I have shared our coffee, our prayers, our scriptures and our hearts as we worshiped this morning. Such a blessing to settle in on our couch and worship. Letting mind, body, spirit and soul rest and rejuvenate for the coming week. It is one of my most favorite times.

Well, my cup is empty but the pot isn't.
Think I'll mosey into the kitchen for another cup of joe.
Until tomorrow....
God on you....


Saturday, February 9, 2013

C.R. @ The Gathering

Got to take part in something that was out of the normal for me.
We took the worship team from Rapha and lead worship for Celebrate Recovery @ the Gathering, downtown Gadsden last night.

Wasn't sure how our flavor of worship would translate on the road, different surroundings and people....but it did.
God was gracious and came to that room in a big way. Folk's joined in and pretty soon, once the songs were recognized.....they worshipped.
If you looking for a place to connect, then you might want to drop by and check out The Gathering. They are located in the building that First Presbyterian use to meet in, right across Chestnut Street from First Methodist (that's a lot of "First")

I taught from John 10:10. Jesus' description of who the devil really is. Jesus doesn't mince any words and refers to him as "The Thief". Went on to share how the devil pillages our lives and souls to stop the promises of God from being realized by us in our life. The Thief has come to kill.......and destroy. The word seemed to strike the hearts of some in the room.
The Kingdom of God got some new citizens last night.
Bottom line that is what all of this is about. Worship God....Tell the Story...People saved....disciples made....let them tell the story to others.
Saw James Crain there....what a dynamo....a walking testimony to the Power of God and 12 steps. He makes me smile every time I see him.

Mark Alexander....what a story. I think that visor is glued to his head. I don't remember a time when that visor wasn't a part of his fashion statement. What is important is the statement made by his life, since God got a hold of him. Changed times 10 is the only way to put it. You go, God!

Laura King...Always a smile and an encouraging word. She is on Staff at New Life Treatment Center and is responsible for getting the women to the meeting every Friday night.

Phillip Ellen....Does the guy ever stop? I hope I have half as much energy and love for Jesus as he does when I get his age.

The meeting over, I drove down Forrest Avenue toward home. Thoughts rolling around in my head. Tired but very satisfied and grateful that God had showed out in that meeting. As I pulled into my driveway, I turned off the engine and sat there for a few minutes. "Thank you, Father," was all I could say. Over and over and over......"Thank you."
It was a good night.

God on you....

Friday, February 8, 2013

Keep Me Running......

Habakkuk 3:19
The LORD God is my strength: He will make my feet like deer's feet, and He will make me walk on high hill.

Keep me running, Lord....Let me run the race set before me this day, and do not let me embarrass your name through my words or actions. May those I come in contact with, see You in me, that they may come to the saving knowledge and grace that you offer.

released in 1976....
I didn't hear Randy Stonehill's "Keep Me Running"  until 1979.....
I remember thinking, "no way!" 
The only Christian Music I knew of was what was known as Southern Gospel....and being taken by my parents to more "all day singing's" than I care to count, I rebelled. I hated the music at those singing's.

As I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate the power of God's Holy Spirit to use any music for His glory. 

Yep! I even went through that well-documented period when if it had a back beat and minor was "THE DEVIL'S MUSIC!" I remember when I was playing with the band "Son's And Brother's", we took a road trip to play at a church in Pensacola, Florida. Upon setting up and running through some songs for a sound check, an elderly fellow sauntered into the auditorium where we were playing and began to question us.
"You the boy's that are going to play tonight?"
"Y'all don't play that Rock and Roll music do you?" (emphasis on "rock and roll"). He went on to say, "Because if you do, well, we don't allow that kind of stuff here in this church." I am grateful that the powers that be in that particular church rescued us and gave us permission to play our "Rock and Roll music" best I recollect, over thirty kids got saved that night. If this be the devil's music, then how embarrassing is it for God to way-lay it and use it for His kingdom. You go God!

God has kept me running lo these past 19 years...(1994 was my introduction into the Vineyard). Music has been an integral part of my time in the it has become a vehicle that I use to worship my God with. I tell people, whenever we gather to worship, we aren't singing about God..........we are singing to God. A hand-crafted, heart-felt, love letter to express our hearts desire to God, for who He is in our lives.

Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet....
Praise Him with the lute and harp...
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance....
Praise Him with the stringed instruments and flutes....

Praise Him with the loud cymbals....
Praise Him with clashing cymbals....

That has....

Praise the LORD....

God on you....

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Seems like the days pile up and roll by at an even quicker pace than they use to.
Don't blink, but it will be Christmas before you know it.
Found myself in a time of reflection about who I am and what I do.
This seems to be a particular place I revisit ever so often. I believe that it is dangerous to get comfortable and satisfied in life. Like it says in the big book of A.A......"we have been given the gift of desperation." Somehow we don't really see desperation as a gift, but it is.

The desperation I am speaking of is the driving urge or unction that keeps me from sitting back and resting. I have a need to hear God. I have a need to see God. I have a need to keep my compass set, so to speak, on where God is leading me, and in all of this....go. I do not have permission to sit and simply do nothing. I know this all sounds sort of "out there"....but that is about where I am. Now all this talk about desperation and following God....I want you to understand that I'm not talking about being religious or running around doing a bunch of stuff that looks religious. I'm am talking about making sure that whatever it is I lay my hand to, I do so because God told me to. I've always had this kind of fear that I would run around my entire life making apple pies for God, only to discover that God never really liked apple pie. Bummer.

Today is the 1700th posting of the Greene Street Letters.
First online posting was back in 2008 and the rest is cyber history.
What originally began as a bi-monthly newsletter was sent out via snail-mail to people who were attending our home meeting. The letter kind of grew over the following years as I began to share what God was showing me.First copies of the Greene Street Letters went out in September of 1994. In fact, I have one of the original copies framed sitting over my computer desk at Rapha. It is a reminder that it is, and always will be about God.........not me.

The letter morphed and changed as I morphed and changed. Such is not always good, as evidenced by the names that the Greene Street Letters took on....
At one point, it was known as Notes From The Outer Banks.
It was known as Blue Notes for a very short time.
It became Letters From Rapha...
Finally I simply went back to Greene Street Letters and, after doing so, was approached by Bobby Sparks, a good friend of mine, who shared with me that he felt God wanted me to leave the title alone. That was kind of confirmation for me, so Greene Street Letters, it has been.
It is kind of fun to go back and read some of the early postings...they contain memories of what life was like on that particular day.
One of the good parts that I love about the blog has been the addition of audio messages from our Saturday Night meetings that are available to listen to. Now, let's get real, o.k. I know that I'm not Billy Graham (God already has one, he doesn't need another), and I know that my teaching is pretty simple, but hopefully someone hears something that might encourage them to not give keep on chasing after and following God. Come to think of it, that is why this entire blog exists. To encourage all of us to not quit. To not give up. To dig in when the winds of change blow hard against our progress. To find God in every situation and praise Him with everything in us. To be light in a dark world. To be salt in a world that has no flavor. To that light on hill that someone can look to and find their way back. Oh, on a grand scale of human endeavor, I know that this blog is very insignificant. But if one person is stirred to find God...then it has been worth it.
Thanks for letting me ramble....
I do feel better.

God on you......

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Born To Be Free Video: Lesson 9

From Bible Discovery TV And Quick Study, here is part 9 of the 12 part video series "Born To Be Free"

God on you....

Pain, Pain, Go Away!

Seems as though, in this old world, we expend ourselves to never feel pain. We will spend money on drugs and alcohol to numb ourselves to the point, we feel nothing.
The whole focus of recovery is, as I have heard several say..."Learning to live life on life's terms." While that may sound good, and there is good reasoning behind it, I want to learn to live life on God's terms. Sometimes that involves going through painful situations and circumstances.

King David, in Psalm 23, makes the statement...."Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Your rod and staff, they comfort me." Now I don't know about you but such a path that would take me through death's shadow does not sound like a pleasure jaunt. There was pain, both emotional and physical in David's life. David knew that God's presence was the healing factor in this journey he was on.

Jesus is not a salve that is applied to our wounds to make us feel free us of pain. Sometimes pain is the only thing you can hang on to that let's you know you truly are alive.
Does this mean that I run out and bring pain into my life? No. But pain is a part of living.
Who among us has not suffered pain? Who among us has not been wounded emotionally by those we thought loved us? The end result of pain is where did we turn for comfort. Did we seek the things of this world to bring a temporary relief....or did we turn to the healer, Jesus Christ? 

Christ is no stranger to pain and suffering.
Isaiah 53:5 reads: But He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
Jesus is the healer when it comes to the things we suffer from and suffer with.
God told the Apostle Paul, when Paul asked Him to remove "the thorn in his flesh"...MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR YOU.  It is the Grace of God....the empowering presence of God in our lives that enable us to be who God created us to is this Grace that is the medicine for whatever pain we are going through.

The world offers no solution.
Society has no answers for us...

Only in Christ can we find true freedom and a new way to face our day.
May you find Him today.

God on you....

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Think On This!

Quote of the Week
"The bottom starting falling out faster than
I could lower my standards."
From "Wisdom Of The Rooms"

New Audio Message From January 26

Just downloaded the message from January 26.
Part two teaching on Step # 1...
We are powerless....
Life is out of our control and unmanageable.

Feel free to listen, down load, take with you...

No Compromise

Exodus 20:1-3
And God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no others gods before Me.

These are the opening words to the 10 Commandments, often referred to as the Law, or the Law or Moses.
Strange, but when we hear the word "law", it causes something inside of us to cringe. Something that whispers to us that we can't keep or fulfill the demands that are being placed on us. Why is that?

I think it is the broken part of us that speaks such things.
That old nature of sin, that knows that it knows we are not a people who can keep rules and regulations. Yet, God knows this also. He knows that someone in addiction is drawn to disobey even when it brings destruction upon themselves.
He understands the dilemma faced by mankind each day. But the answer to our problems isn't found by a list of rules or commandments. Those stand like a mirror to let us see that we can't keep them. The purpose of the law was to reveal our need for a Savior. Someone who could take the penalty of the law away. Romans 3:23 tells us that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Who falls under the "ALL" Category? Everyone who is drawing breath here on this planet. So basically we are all in trouble. No matter how hard we try. No matter how bad we want to do right and be able to come before God, it just isn't going to happen. Is there consequences for living like this? Yes.
Romans 6:23 - For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wages of sin is death? But doesn't everyone die? Of course we do. When we come out of our mother's womb and the doctor slaps our behind and we cry, the clock starts ticking. This death that is spoken of as being the "Wages of sin" refers to what is known as a second death, or a spiritual death. It is the consequences reserved and earned by each individual who rejects God gift of salvation....eternal separation from Him, His kingdom and His family. In other words, the second death is hell.

So why did I pick the Keith Green song, "To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice"?
Because we need to remember,it is the will of God that we should simply obey. We don't earn God's favor or love by running around doing a bunch of religious stuff. We don't garner any more love or praise by acting religious when what we need to do is repent and allow Him to change our hearts. This song is from an album Keith recorded called "No Compromise".  To me that is the call of God on every believer's life. To not compromise the things of heaven for the things of this earth.
No compromise means having a "spiritual backbone" so to speak. That we aren't driven by our feelings or wants and needs, but we stand on the Word of God. Last time I checked, the Word of God was not open to compromise. It is what it says it is. Sometimes living in this fashion puts us at odds with those around us who do not know the truth of God. We are called names and whispered about in conversations. We are slandered and defamed by those who carry other views and opinions. I guess that is one thing I am most grateful for this morning. I don't have to live my life based on opinion and views....I have God's word.

When I compromise my God in order to live like the world (society) the consequences of such living is the removal of God's protection and blessings. It opens my life up to exposure of demonic influence and attacks.

When I compromise my God in order to live like the world, I will spend a lot of energy trying to harmonize the devil's religion with God's word. Such actions as this only bring down all of satan's curses upon me.

That is why I choose to obey....
No Compromise.

God on you....

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