Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Just Had To Post One More Thing

This is my last video posting of the day....
Here is the band when Nori and Barbie were living in Japan.

I'm so jazzed that they are traveling back down our way...
Be in prayer for this time because it is more than a concert...
It will be an evening when we can gather to cut loose and worship in freedom. If you haven't ever just got lost in worship and the presence of God...then you need to come and join us on May 11 / 7 p.m / Vineyard Recovery!

God on you...

WIND is coming May 10th and 11th

Nori / Barbie Kelley and WIND will be in concert at Gadsden Vineyard Church and Vineyard Recovery on May 10 and 11. Not sure about the time of the Friday night event, but Saturday (Vineyard Recovery) will start at 7 p.m.

This song, by Nori, is THE STORY OF STORIES from his 1981 album, BREAKING POINT. Enjoy!

Somethings Up

Ephesians 6:12 (Amplified)
For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood (contending only with physical opponents), but against the despotisms, against the powers, against (the master spirits who are) the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.

Seems to be some things stirring in the air.
You know if you get hit with one drop of rain, you might think, "It just might rain."
But if the bottom falls out and your drenched you probably will say, "It's raining."
Well, it was kind of like that yesterday.
I got a phone call from a friend who was seemingly under a kind of spiritual attack.
Struggling with emotions and feeling and thoughts that were coming out of no where.
The thought of giving up kept going through their mind.

Thoughts of not fitting in at their church.
The list went on and on. I asked them if there was any basis for such things to be happening and they assured me that there wasn't. Everything had been fine until they got up yesterday and suddenly found themselves in this whirlwind of upheaval. 

Shortly thereafter, I received a call from my wife. She had suddenly been hit with a searing pain that started at the base of her skull, went across her shoulders and down into her right arm. She commented that she hadn't done anything to cause this to happen. Before I go any further, let me explain that I do not believe that every ache or sudden intense pain is an attack from the devil. But I do believe that we should seek God's counsel as to whether it could be a spiritual attack and not just a physical symptom.  I knew that my wife was operating in areas that were part of her call. She is a true servant of God and expends herself for the physical, as well as spiritual, well being others. As I prayed for her, God showed me that this was indeed an attack. I began to pray for her, reminding God (Not that He had forgotten) that He had called me to be the spiritual head of our house. I prayed that my authority and covering would extend over my wife and my family, asking that God would break off this attack against my wife. That was around 10:30 yesterday morning. When I talked with her at lunch (12:05) she was fine. The pain was gone and she had no side effects from it. In this case, evidence points to it truly being an attack against my wife by the enemy (a.k.a. the devil and his forces of darkness).

The day progressed, and call after call I received continued to be about attacks on the mind and emotions. Some even to the point of having thoughts of suicide, and these individuals had never contemplated such things before. So, with each call, we prayed for the protection of God to break off the attack and for God's Holy Spirit to manifest Himself with covering and protection. I reminded the person I was talking with to take time and make sure that there wasn't a door open (because of some sin) that was allowing the enemy to come in. 

I guess the purpose of this posting this morning is kind of an alert for us to beware of what is going on around us and in us. To draw close to God and not allow our minds or thoughts to wander. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.....That's not a bad thing, is it? No.
If you need prayer, then let me know...
You can reach me at 256-490-1868. Should I not answer, I'll get back to you as fast as I can.
God on you...


Monday, April 29, 2013

First Message From Vineyard Recovery 4 - 13- 13

Just posted the audio message from Vineyard Recovery's First meeting: April 13, 2013.
Feel free to download, listen, copy or whatever tickles your fancy....

Look for it over in the podcast section located on the right side of the blog.

So Far....So Good

Hebrews 10:24-25
And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds., not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another. And all the more as you see the day drawing near.

We had our third service this past Saturday night of Vineyard Recovery.
The one comment I keep hearing from those who were there is "It's very different."
Remember that different doesn't mean better....
It just means different.

The passage from Hebrews is something that I think God wants to work among us as we continue to meet. I love how Paul puts this in the Hebrews passage.......Let us consider. Always be seeking God and focusing our thoughts on how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. In other words, our focus should not be on ourselves, but on those around us.

Stimulate: : to excite to activity or growth or to greater activity :
In other words, we are not to be a complacent people.
We are not to be apathetic or uncaring, toward God or each other.

It is so easy, in our society today, to be in a group of people and still not be connected. I like how it says that we are to stimulate each other to "growth". To me that is the heart of what Vineyard Recovery is all about. Growth in Christ.
Character development: as we allow God to remove the defects of character we possess. I see some who embrace God at the expense of having their character changed into the person of integrity that God desires us all to be.
In other words, they allow emotion and feeling to become the gauge they measure their spirituality by. All the while, they still possess the very heart of their problems, a character that hasn't been changed, which will open the door for a return to old ways and old lifestyles. All it takes is the right situation or circumstance to drive them back to their old way of doing business in the world. By "doing business" I mean that they seek out old ways and old friends at the first sign of trouble or problems. In other words, they didn't learn anything or allow God to enact true change in their lives.

Week 1 Of Vineyard Recovery: 
We gave a simple overview of where we thought the meeting was headed. The focus was very simple. Just Jesus. Although we may mention the Twelve Steps from time to time, that really isn't the focus of our meeting together. It is to know and understand who Jesus truly is. Not the "church" Jesus or the "religious" Jesus, but the Jesus who stands above our definitions and rules our hearts and lives. As I have said over and over...."Hey--It's Just Jesus!"

Week 2 of Vineyard Recovery:
Taking a page from the book of Daniel, we talked about the response of the three Hebrew men who were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace for not worshiping the statue of the King.  "Oh king...you can kill us if you want to. But know this....Our God can deliver us from your hand......but even if He doesn't and we die....He is still God!" (loose translation by me). We need to understand that God's greatness and His ability and power do not always translate into things working out the way we think they should. We are always to leave Him room and allow Him to be God in our lives.

Week 3 of Vineyard Recovery:
I shared what I refer to as "The Fine Print" of following Jesus. The call to surrender everything to possess the Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13:45).
We have a tendency to spiritualize this passage and the instruction of Jesus, yet all through out the gospels we see example after example of surrender. Peter, immediately leaving his nets, followed Jesus. In other words, Peter surrendered all he knew and was comfortable with to go after this man named Jesus. 

This Saturday Night, Seth Barber will be speaking. Seth has been a regular contributor to our meeting from the very beginning. He also heads up the Celebrate Recovery at North Glencoe Baptist Church which meets every Sunday evening. If you are free this coming Saturday, come and join us. 
7 p.m. /  419 Broad Street Downtown Gadsden located between 4th and 5th streets. Who knows....you might just like Saturday night church.

God on you...


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Room Full Of Truth

John 20:20
And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

They had seen Him die....
Now they saw Him alive....
They had the image of Him being driven by Roman whip to the hill outside of Jerusalem burned into their collective conscience.
Burned so deep that collectively, they had all ran away save one.

Now here before them was the risen Son of Mary.
No longer the bruised, battered and beaten carpenter of Nazareth, but the Son of God....glorified and alive.

It didn't matter what the rumors were...that Jesus didn't actually die but somehow had staged an elaborate escape. The proof was standing right there before them.
It didn't matter that they were in hiding, or that they had fulfilled the words spoken the night before His crucifixion, when He told them they would leave him by himself because of their fear. The sheer presence of Jesus in that room made everything they had heard Him say become even more important.

If you're a disciple, what would you have said when Jesus appeared in that room? What words could you have possibly spoken that would have made any sense. You know they were embarrassed by their behavior. Do you think maybe they were afraid that He was there to rectify or exact some punishment on them for their behavior during His time on the cross? That He might have come back to exact some revenge on them? I think it might have been in the back of their minds.

Do you think maybe that Peter hung back behind everyone? Wanting to see Jesus, but at the same time, not wanting to see Him. Then there in that awkward silence and tension, Jesus spoke. "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."
Jesus was there to put into motion what would become the birth of the first century church. The door was open for anyone to have a restored relationship with God the Father........not to mention His Son and His Holy Spirit.

Just as Jesus had prayed on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do," the impact of that phrase resonate within that tiny room where  11 men were gathered. Do you understand that these were the same 11 who would go forth and change the world. The world! Not their community...not their village...not their county or even country...but their faithfulness would produce others who would "leave everything" to go forth and tell of this Jesus.

We should be a "telling" people.

A simple sharing of what Jesus has done for us.
People need to hear the story.
The cashier at Walmart...she needs to hear...

The doctor at the clinic....he needs to hear...
The person fishing down at the city boat docks...they need to hear...
That Jesus is who He claimed to be....
And that Jesus will do what He claimed He was capable of doing.

No longer do you have to live life looking at the world through a whiskey bottle.
No longer do you have to buy the lie that the only way you can have "FUN" is to shoot up and get high.
No longer do you have to try and convince yourself that you're really not a bad person in spite of the fact that you stole your grandmothers pain medication.

Jesus wants to meet you right where you are today.
Just as He met those disciples in that room we read about in John.

In spite of all the emotions and fear you are wallowing in, the first words you will hear Him say is ..."Peace be with you."
Who could say such a thing except one who was capable of providing such peace.
It's right there for you today...
All you have to do is call out to Him...
"Oh, Jesus! I'm so tired of my life....come and teach me about Your peace."

You might be surprised as to what happens.
God on you....

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Shame and Guilt: The Terrible Two

Zephaniah 3:11
In that day you will feel no shame because of all your deeds by which you have rebelled against me.....

An emotion or feeling directed toward who you are as a person.

An emotion or feeling directed toward what you have done.
I call these the big two.
Seem to go hand and hand with addiction.
A double punch that lays you low and steps on your neck to keep you down.

The thoughts surrounding these two emotions are like a bad movie playing over and over in your head.
You keep seeing the terrible things you have done in the past.
You see faces of those you have cheated, swindled,and stolen from the very ones who love you.
You hear the voices telling you..."Why don't you quit..why don't you just quit? You're killing your Mother!"
Shame and Guilt pile on to crush you down.

The answer to this dilemma?
"Michael...you seem to think Jesus is the answer to everything."
Well, isn't He?
To me He is.
Because I know how my life was before I answered His call to follow Him.

I know who I was before I surrendered life and will over to His care.
I know what a goober I was before I said, "Yes!" to Jesus.

I have watched over the past 15 years as men and women have answered the call to follow Jesus.
I have watched hard, calloused, not caring individuals, over a period of time, turn into loving, vibrant people of God.
I have seen people who had no hope in their life or future....
Surrender to Christ and be filled with hope and promise and strength to face the problems they had ran away from so long.
That is why Vineyard Recovery is so important to me.

It is a place where we can gather, as a community of people who are searching for the truth about this Jesus.
Now we don't just talk about Jesus.
We don't just teach about Jesus.
We don't just sing about Jesus.
We invite the Kingdom of God down into that room and allow Him the freedom to do what He wants to do in our lives.

Sometimes what He does brings tears to our eyes....
Sometimes we are filled with such joy that we feel as though we are going to float right through the skylight.
No matter what transpires, we all leave that meeting changed.
Why not come and join us tonight.
Bring any shame and guilt you may have with you....

Leave it there and go away renewed and filled with the Spirit of God.

God on you...


Friday, April 26, 2013

The Real Skinny About God's Forgiveness

Ephesians 1:7
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace.

I played a worship song during the first meeting of Vineyard Recovery. Not your typical feel-goose-bumps-love-you-Jesus song, but rather a gut wrenching, let's get real, down to the raw, kind of worship song.

Suzy Wells was the composer and worship leader singing this particular song and from the very beginning the words tell you that this isn't going to be like any song you may have heard before.

"I killed my children.........You forgot that."
"My fornication.......You forgot that."
"My prostitution.....You forgot that."
"I left my husband....You forgot that."

She goes on to talk about her addiction. Her worship of idols. How she stole God's glory and trampled on it through her lifestyle.
Like I said, it wasn't your typical worship song.
But here in those brutal words of truth lies the incredible power of God.

How could someone sing those words about their own life unless they truly had experienced the forgiveness of God?
How could a person lay themselves bear and reveal things that, in church, you're not suppose to talk about. If you do talk about it, it is in the context of speaking about someone other than yourself.

Yet here in this declaration of her past, Suzie goes down her life revealing each sin and wrong she has committed against God. As you listen to her voice, you don't hear pain or regret. You hear the voice of someone who has been forgiven and healed from all the damage that sin has brought to them.

This is the thing I want you to hang on to this morning.
Memories are forever.
They don't go away.
They don't fade over time.
They will pop up for no reason at the most inopportune times.

When they do, they usually bring what I refer to as the toxic emotions of shame and guilt.
Here is where the power of God comes into play.
How can Suzie sing this song and not come undone by the shame and guilt? Because her receiving the forgiveness of God has eliminated those emotions from the memory. All it is now is just a memory.
I'm sure that if she let herself, she could dredge up those emotions, but she won't.
She has been set free...
She has been given the most incredible gift of all....forgiveness.

Forgiveness all wrapped up in God's love...His mercy....His grace...and His presence in the form of the Holy Spirit.

Don't let the enemy keep you from growing in Christ by dredging up memories laced with those toxic emotions. Take everything to Christ and get rid of it....
Every foul deed you ever did...
Every curse that ever fell from your lips...
Every sexual act that you ever committed outside the boundaries of marriage.
Every bit of unbelief, doubt, and fear...
Take it all and lay it at the feet of Jesus....

Ask Him to take it, and in its place, ask Him to grant you forgiveness.
Ask Him to pour His peace over you.

Then receive it!
When the devil comes at you and tries to get you to remember all the vile things you have done....
Rest in that forgiveness.
That's some kind of good stuff...

God on you....

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Audio Message From Saturday Night

Here is the Audio Message from Vineyard Recovery: 4/20
"God is still God"


Coming Down

Matthew 8:1
"When Jesus came down.........."

What does your world look like?
Is there pain?
Is there sickness?
Is there hopelessness?

How about depression and addiction?
Does your world have a bright future or do you sometimes just lay awake at night thinking to yourself, "Is this all there is to life?"
Do you get up each morning and plod through the workday hoping you can simply survive till you can get home and shut the world out?

That is why I love the words to Matthew 8....."Jesus came down."
Jesus interjected himself into our time and space.
He came, under direction from God the Father, to bring the Kingdom rule of God to earth. To show humanity that we need not live under the bondage and rule of Satan and his rule of deception and darkness.

Jesus came proclaiming a new way to live. It was nothing like the example the world gave the right way to live and interact daily. The world's view is to do whatever it takes to make sure you get your slice of the so called "pie". To get ahead at whatever means is possible. Use those around you if it helps you to succeed. Jesus came not only with a message, but also with the Power to validate and back up His claims. See, to me that is the biggest thing that people who don't know this Jesus want to harp on. I hear people say all the time..."Oh, I believe in Jesus...I believe He was a really good teacher." Is that a crock or what? Or I hear them say, "I believe that Jesus was a really, really, good man." You've got to be kidding me.

First off, Jesus claimed to be God. He didn't say He was like God, or that He knew God...He claimed to be God in flesh. Now who would say that if He wasn't. Either Jesus was a looney, and didn't know any better, or He was a liar and He was out to deceive everyone. Or......here's the kicker. He truly was God in a way that you and I could understand and relate to. See that is the whole message in a ball.  God has come to offer us a relationship with Himself. A relationship that grows and becomes intimate, as I get to know Him. It is a living, breathing, growing, stretching, relationship that changes as I grow and change. I have said this for a number of years, and it still rings true today...."The more I  know about God.......the less I know about God." By that, I mean that my understanding of who God is and how He operates in my life is constantly changing. For that I am grateful.

God came down to meet me right where I was....

God has come down to meet me right where I am.....
God will come down to meet me right where I shall be....

He is some kind of God....

God on you....

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Overcome......Or Overwhelmed?

Revelation 2:7 - He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes.....

Revelation 2:11 - He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes.....

Revelation 2:15 - He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes.....

Revelation 12:11 - And they overcame him (the devil) because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.

Don't quit....
Don't stop...
Don't give up...

Keep on....

How many of you went by the Quick Shop today and got yourself a "6-up" soft drink?
How many of you were working on your car and went into the house to find your can of "WD-39"?

How many of you bought yourself a "2 Musketeer's" Candy bar to eat?
Maybe instead you bought a pack of peanut "L&L's"....
Did you stop at the "6-10" to pick up some milk on the way home?

I know that is kind of silly..but the idea is that someone didn't stop at WD-39 when they were working on a home lubricant. The kept at it until they had the answer to the squeaks and squonks that needed oiling.

What I have found is that the devil and his bunch will buffet you at every turn, trying to get you to quit.When this happens...when I find myself under attack in my thoughts...in my daily walk with Jesus...that is when (I can't believe I'm going to write this) I hunker down a little harder. I remind myself of the goodness of God. I remind myself of the faithfulness that God has shown to me over the past years. I read the Psalms (usually out loud) especially Psalm 91.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!"
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge. His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night or by the arrow that flies by day.
Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness or at the destruction that lays waste at noon.

A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand,
but it shall not approach you.

If your new to this recovery stuff, and you have worked steps # 1,2 and 3..you should be entering into this relationship with the ultimate Higher Power, Jesus. So when the cravings hit...when you run into old so-called friends and they are all up in your business because you've bought into this whole "JESUS" thing, turn your thoughts to the truth of Psalm 91. Turn your thoughts toward Jesus and say an incredibly simple prayer....."Lord, I am claiming the truth of Your word that I read in Psalm 91. That you are my refuge, my fortress, my God in whom I will trust. No matter what comes my way today, I will be an overcomer.
Works for me...
How about you?

God on you....

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How It Works? No. How It Works!

Alcoholics Anonymous - How it works

RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided that you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it - then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. We thought that we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.
Remember that we deal with alcohol - cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power - that One is God. May you find him now.
Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power (Jesus) greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Many of us exclaimed, "What an order! I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we were willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

Such a simple plan....
Surrender will and life.
Whether you are an alcoholic or drug user...
Whether you've never taken a drink or used a drug...
We are all in recovery...
We are suffering from a disease that our world does not want to acknowledge or believe in...One that entered through a bad choice that awakened within us a nature that leads us to live outside the will and love of God.
We have a nature or bent to act outside of the will of God.
We have a bent to seek out independence from God.
This bent has sent us down the path of destruction that has been manifested in a million different ways in our lives.

Broken relationships...
Bad choices...
Legal issues...
And on and on and on..
Funny part in all of this, there are some who seemingly lead the perfect life. Yet they too suffer from a sin nature.
Walking around thinking all is right, they carry a judgement upon themselves that can only be removed by God.

Yet this same God, who we think as being mean, cold, vindictive, is the very presence who loves us beyond our comprehension and has no desire to see anyone be eternally separated from Him and His promises.

What manner of love is this that burns in the heart of our creator, that He would continue to seek the very ones who blaspheme His name. Those who curse Him and deny His existence. What kind of love? Perfect, pure love.

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

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Anti-stumbling God

Jude 24-25
Now to Him, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy....To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever...Amen.

This should be the motto for every believer that draws breath...
This should be the proclamation for those who are following Jesus....

He is able.
Because the lie the enemy wants you to buy into is "He isn't able to rescue you this time!"

Or..."Well aren't you just the black sheep of God's family. If He truly loved you, you wouldn't be going through what you're going through."
Divide and overpower ...
Divide and conquer....

If he can divide your thoughts so that the truth is mixed with his planted doubts and half-truths, then he can knock you off track.

I love the opening words to the verses from Jude.
"NOW"-----that would mean present, right here, at this moment. You see, God is a present/presence. In other words, He is working, moving, touching, speaking to me every moment of every day. He isn't seated somewhere on the back side of the moon watching everything. 

"Who is able to keep you from stumbling".....That means that no matter what the obstacle is........no matter what the roadblock is that is thrown in my path....no matter whether I see it in time or not....God is able to not let me destroy myself because of it. That is the king of God we serve...One who is able to keep His own no matter what the world or devil throws in our path. 

I guess the biggest thing I see people struggling in addiction do is to buy into the lie that they can never change. That they are beyond the reach and scope of God's power to be rescued. In other words, God is not able. With this incredible road block of a thought planted firmly in the mind and the heart of the addict, I have seen God's Holy Spirit break down this stronghold thought and bring the truth of what He is able to do. That is the kind of God I serve.

This is another reason why we are meeting on Saturday nights. To introduce our God to those who are living under the lie that their very lives are beyond the reach of Him.
More than that, I want those who attend to know that Jesus is offering life, abundant, here and now. Abundant in the love and promises that are found in scripture.
Abundant peace....
Abundant grace....Grace? Yep! Grace: The empowering presence of God in my life that enables me to be who God created me to be, and to do what He has created me to do.......Grace!

Abundant love....
Abundant mercy...
Abundant, over flowing presence of His Holy Spirit taking up residence in me to guide and teach me what I need to know to navigate life here on this side of heaven.

So if you're struggling today...
Remember these words from the book of Jude.
In fact memorize them...get them all down inside of you, and the next time life is hard or the enemy is whacking you left and right...then say them out loud....

Because they are truth, and the devil hates the truth.

God on you....


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hebrews and Bar-b-ques

Taught from Daniel last night at Vineyard Recovery.
I have always loved the story of Daniel and the three Hebrew men: Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego.
Snatched up from their home and their country by a foreign government. Taken to a land with strange customs and rituals that seemed to go against everything they stood for or believed.
About the only thing they had going was the fact that God gave them favor with the king. I guess you could teach a whole week on that simple fact alone. When God gives you favor, even in your most darkest times, He will protect you and see you through.

I'm sure that living in Babylon was not part of the future these four had mapped out, but the sin of Israel brought down the judgment of God. God had repeatedly warned Judah and Israel to repent and turn from their sins. The warning fell on deaf ears. Sin continued. This went on for a period of time until God's patience had been exhausted, so judgment came. Ta!DA!....The monster of monster's, king Nebuchadnezzar shows up with the Babylonian Army to take names. Point....Set....Match....everyone get on the bus, we're headed to Babylon....next stop..your new home.

Well, Daniel and his posse seemed to fit in and had made a niche for themselves, even finding favor with the king and all the people who hung around the palace. But as you would have it, the king went a little crazy. Some of the people that ran with him convinced him to build a statue of himself so that everyone in the country could worship him. It's bad enough when you have an ego..but couple that ego with all the power and authority that a king possesses and you've got a nuclear problem. Old "Neb" loved the idea of seeing himself 60' high, all gleaming and shining in the midday sun. So let it be written, so let it be done...we got us a statue.

Now the ruling gang of Babylon came up with the idea that everyone should fall down and worship the statue of ol' king Neb at different points during the day. So the conscripted a band to come up with a catchy tune that, when played, would let the folk of the kingdom know it was worship time. Simple huh? Hear the tune....get down on your face....worship. How hard is that? Well, it's seems like it was a pretty hard thing for the three Hebrews..remember them? Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego. Since they were servants of the Most High, Real Deal, Creator of the Universe, God...they weren't not about to do any face-laying, worship type stuff to ol' king Neb's statue. Was not going to happen.

You know that it was bound to happen. Those who served God were going to come into conflict with the kingdom of darkness.......and it did.
Beautiful Babylonian day...sun shining bright....cool breezed blowing in.....wonderful day to worship a false idol, image of ol' king Neb. The band was in rare form, so that at the appropriate time, they cut loose with the "Worship The King" Suite. People every where fell down to their faces and began the whole, "You are worthy, king Neb...you are worthy." Something was wrong with the picture...there were three men who were not down on their faces worshipping. The band leader thought maybe they hadn't heard the tune..so they took it around for one more chorus. Still standing. What's wrong with these guys? Didn't they get the memo? Hear music....fall down...worship. How hard is that?

To make a long story short, the three radical, right wing, Hebrews were arrested and taken before the king.
It was not a good day to be taken to the king, he was dealing with problems left and right and now here were three Hebrews who didn't get the whole worship-me thing. Threatening them with being thrown into a furnace which, by the way, will put a damper on any future you might have or be considering if your are the throw-ee and not the thrower. Fire, hot, burn, flames.......dead.
I've written all of this to get to this point. I love the answer the three Hebrews gave the king.
"Oh king, if that be the case (that you want to kill us) our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, And He will deliver us from the from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods. Nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."
In other words....(you've got to love this)....
Our God is able to deliver us....
But if He doesn't, He is still God.
Now that is some hardcore, backbone belief.
No matter what you are going through today...
No matter how it appears or what it may be like, rest in the knowledge and love that no matter the outcome, God is still God and He is still in control.
I believe that Dog will hunt.

Cut to the end of the story....
The three Hebrews are thrown into the furnace...
Babylonians can't count because when they look into the flames, they see four men instead of three. Get this...Jesus shows up with the Hebrew three.....
This is the kings answer to the question...three or four.
"I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God!" Jesus done busted up all in that Babylonian Bar-b-que.
God is still God...
Don't let the enemy, a.k.a. the devil, rob you of this incredible truth.
Get it all down inside of you so you can draw strength from it when the clouds roll in and the storms come.
God is in control.

God on you....

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Present Evil Age

Boston Marathon Bombing.....3 dead....
Man kills infant son by shaking him.....
Woman poison's her live-in boy friend....
Wall Street investor swindles people for billions of dollars....
Pastor uncovered in an adulterous affair....
And the list goes on and on and on.....

You don't have to look very far to understand the truth that Paul wrote about in Galatians 1:4: Speaking of Jesus, Paul wrote,"Who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father." The Present Evil Age? What he is saying is that we live in a time (or period of time) between two other periods of time. The day that we live in lies between Jesus' first trip to earth, where he took on the flesh, shape and form of a man.....and his next time to come back or what some folks refer to a his 2nd coming. So between his Jesus' first time here and his return, lies this present evil age. I know what you're thinking...hasn't there always been evil on this planet? Well, yes ever since the fruit was picked and eaten in the garden. But if you look at our society today, you have to see that we are on down the road in our evilness. We have kicked God completely out of the conscience of society. We have relegated churches to the back burner of importance. In my estimation, two generations have been raised who do not understand or know God. Oh they may have a head knowledge of Him. But they do not know Him. Knowledge about something isn't the same as knowledge of something.

People who don't know God, look at church and the people who attend as being somehow deceived and deluded. They find no value in going to church. They look at the Bible and even though they may own one, they do so as some sort of talisman or luck charm. Even if they read it, it is hard for them to understand. They see no connection between what they read and their everyday life. Just being truthful here....
In fact, the majority of society knows more about what the church is against than what it truly stands for. How sad is that? Maybe we haven't been very good stewards of getting out the right message. What I read in my Bible...yes, that antiquated book that won't go away, is that Jesus was all about pointing the way out of the "present evil age" that was happening in his day. He was all about healing people (which by the way is still part of the mandate He left us to do..the whole "Praying for people to be healed thing). He could take a happy meal and do some serious damage to the human appetite. Feeding over 5,000 on one occasion and 4,000 on another by using a few fish and biscuits. Sounds to me like Jesus was anti-hunger. 

You see, that's all I want to do when we gather on Saturday nights at Vineyard Recovery. I want to introduce my Jesus (or at least the Jesus I know at this point. He keeps revealing himself to me on many different levels) and have a place where we can catch our breath from living in the "Present evil age" all week. A place where the hurt can be soothed. The emptiness can be filled. The hopelessness can be replaced with purpose. The loneliness can be shattered and broken by a new relationship that will never go away. A place where the words that are spoken have meaning and usher in the presence of God. A place where the "Present evil age" is left on the sidewalk while we shut the doors to just be with God and with others like ourselves.  A place of healing. We're not just on the road to recovery...we are recovered....recovery is not something that is over the hill and if I keep walking I hope to find it. Recovery begins the moment you say yes to Jesus. Recovery is a right now moment and because it is instituted and driven by the Spirit of God, it is life changing. That is why God has called me to open up Vineyard Recovery, to be a place where He can come and meet with all of us who are broken and hurting. A place where we can be healed so we can go back out into the "Present evil age" and tell someone else who is hurting, "Hey, why don't you come with me next Saturday night. I know a place that you will love."
See you tonight...
7 p.m.
Downtown Gadsden on Broad Street, between 4th and 5th streets...
Vineyard Recovery Fellowship.

God on you...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Who Is Jesus To Me.

Matthew 16:15 (Jesus Talking)
"But who you (yourselves) say that I am?"

Is that the million dollar question or what? If Jesus showed up at your house today.....or maybe in your school....or at your workplace and asked that same question, what would your answer be?
Would you try to formulate an answer that sounded religious and gave you the appearance of living a life that you know you haven't been doing?
Would you stutter for an answer, "Hemming and Umming" your way through a very uncomfortable time?

TO me this very question posed by Jesus, "Who do you say I am?" is the heart of my relationship with Him. Every day I have to verbally answer that question as well as say it with my life. Some days, if Jesus were grading me, I might get an "A"....other days I'm not so sure that He wouldn't give me an "Incomplete" and start me over. Now you need to understand something. I am not putting forth that we are a people of works or that somehow our deeds earn us favor with Jesus. At the moment of your salvation, you have all the favor of God. Can't get any more. It's like trying to be more save-der than you currently are.

If I am living my life for His glory, then my actions and more importantly, my attitude, will reflect the answer of who Jesus is to me. This is what Vineyard Recovery Fellowship is all about. We come together to celebrate who Jesus is to us, and to realize that there is so much more that we need to learn and experience. As we worship and get into His word, we will see that "The unfolding and entrance of Your words give light. Their unfolding gives understanding (discernment and comprehension) to the simple. What simple? Me simple. That's who!

We want to couple our spiritual wisdom that we receive from the teaching of His word, with the spiritual experience we have each week as we run into Jesus in our daily lives. To share what He has done to us and through us. It may be that someone who comes on Saturday night has a story of how God healed a member of their family, or how He answered a prayer. We want to celebrate, and sharpen each other with our stories, the goodness of God, the love of Jesus and the presence of His Holy Spirit who lives in us. 

I guess the best answer to the Jesus question, "Who do you say I am?" would be to simply reply...."Look at my life. Do you see yourself, Lord? Do you see yourself in me as I work, sleep, eat, share, pray and give away?" IF so, then Jesus truly is Lord of my life.
Think on these things...I know that I am.
God on you....


P.S.--- I just threw in the video of Larry Norman because this is how some people would answer the whole "Who do you say I am?" question.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

One Way In 1969....and One Way In 2013

The fall of 1969....
"One way, Man!"
One Way! 
I saw him across the common at Gadsden State. I was headed to my next class and he came be-boppin' along...hair blowing in the wind....jeans and a t-shirt with a hand printed on it....the hand held aloft, with one the index finger pointed upward.
One Way, Man!
He smiled at me and said, "Heaven, dude!"
Oh...one way to heaven.
In a time where the universal was either two fingers held up like a "V" (Peace Baby) or the middle finger held up in rebellion to the status quo...here was this free spirit proclaiming ONE WAY. Just Jesus.
 That day still burns bright in my memory.
I never got the name of the T-shirted young man...but then again he never got my name either. But his message resonates inside me to this day.
You can dress up the message ever how you want to.
Mega light shows in huge concert halls,or small venues.
Big cathedrals or living rooms...
Thousands.....or just two.
Or, you can put it on a T-shirt.
The message never changes.

I'm not so sure the flower children didn't have the right idea....love.
But they never connected with the creator and dispenser of the real deal.
Larry Norman sang, "I Love You."
A band from California took the name "Love Song"
We had a coffee house in Montgomery, Alabama named "Love Notes".
But it all pointed to Jesus. He was (and continues to be) the way. He is the true and only source of life. The "One way" to heaven.

For God SO loved the world....humanity and all of His creation....
That He gave His only begotten Son...Sent Him to pay my debt that sin demanded of me. How can I ever repay this debt to God? I can't. He simply calls me to love Him and follow Him (follow as in let Him give me instruction and direction in my daily journey).  I don't respond to God because I have to. I don't respond out of some false sense of loyalty. I respond because I have fallen in love with Jesus. Strange as that may sound....if we dont' start from this place, loving Him, our journey devolves into a keeping of rules and regulations. Not so sure I can make that happen.
If you haven't guessed it by now....
I am all up in this "love" thang God has flung on me.

I've known it all along that this was the Father's heart...
But I  never really knew that it was the Father's heart....In other words...I have taken it to seriously.
I've made a ton of excuses as to why I haven't loved like I should have....
But my excuses are usually tinged with a religious taint. This keeps me from looking like some pagan goober. Trouble is, God sees right through my charade and I wind up looking like.......you guessed it........a pagan goober.

I spent two hours today with a person who is a highly motivated follower of Jesus.
Think of it as sitting in a concrete room with a super ball going off all around...Ping! Pang! Padong! Kapow!....He shared with me a whole new level of love I'd never seen before. Love as the Father would have it...not as the church has created. Funny part is that it was there in Scripture all along...I just had not opened my heart to see it.
God love...
God loving me...
Me loving God back....
Is it really that simple?
More to come....

See you tomorrow..

God on you...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Time Between The Times

Don't forget....
Vineyard Recovery Fellowship will be meeting this Saturday night / 7 p.m. at Gadsden Vineyard Church. Downtown Gadsden on Broad between 4th and 5th streets.

What's in store?
Well, we are going to open with Galatians 1:4
"Who (Jesus) gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory ever and ever, Amen."

We are living in a time between the times. Paul refers to it as the "present" evil age. We are living in a time between Jesus' first appearance here on earth, and his 2nd coming which will take place at some point. No doubt about it, it truly is the present evil age. Common sense seems to have been cast aside, along with moral restraint and it is an "anything" goes society.

Tolerance is the catch phrase and there are tons of tolerance for everyone, except when your view differs, then you are labeled as being intolerant. How can you label me intolerant when you are espousing tolerance? Rejecting me because your sense of right and wrong has been uncovered. The real thought behind tolerance is that anything goes. No one  has the right to stand up and say..."Dude, the king has no clothes on!" Do that, and you're being intolerant. I guess that is one of the reasons I love Jesus. He spent his time simply stating the truth, backing up what he'd taught with displays of power to validate his ability and authority. Jesus always left the decisions of who He was to the crowd. Isn't that how real truth is and should be. You declare it and then leave it in the hands and heads of those you have spoken to? I think so. Some how we've gotten the idea that it isn't just enough to share the truth, we've got to hammer it home until the crowd collectively yells, "UNCLE!" I'm such a pharisee. Don't mean to be. Good intentions, but my flesh gets all up in my theology sometimes, and I come across like a huge religious goober for Jesus. I'm a work in progress, so know that if I am teaching or putting something here on this blog, it probably is because I've been uncovered in my own heart and God is setting me straight.

Part of the whole "salt and light" thing God called us to be is that we would influence our towns and communities. I will be the first to admit that I make more than my fair share of mistakes in this whole salt and light concept. Sometimes God wants me to be a beacon/spotlight, but I let my flesh get in the way and I turn out to be nothing more than a birthday candle. Not quiet the bright shinning example I'm called to be. But you know what? God gives a lot of grace when you mess up, if you're trying to be who Jesus has called you to be. News Flash! The whole confession/ repentence/ forgiveness thing is not just for those poor souls who are first coming to Jesus. I think the big 3 (confession, repentence, forgiveness) should be a part of your tool belt when you leave home every day.  Here again, somewhere down the line, some religious types got it in their collective noggins that we should all look like we don't mess up. What will those outside the church think if we run around confessing and repenting of stuff? Well, they might think, "Wow! I want to be a part of those folks...they might have some answers for my screwed up life." To me, it's all part of that whole I-Want-To-Live-Transparent-And-Open lifestyle that God desires of me.
Try it....
You might like it!


Important: We have a young man, currently going through the program at Rapha, who is very much in need of prayer. He is a long way from home, and got word yesterday that his infant daughter has been hospitalize with a very serious infection. She has been quarantined and the doctor's are at a loss because the infection has not responded to treatment.
I'm asking you to pray for God's healing to this little girl.
For God's Spirit to comfort this man and his family as they find themselves in a very difficult situation.
Ask God to supernaturally empower the doctors, nurses and staff of that hospital to deal with this infection.
We recognize that God is the true healer, so we ask that he would touch her body and remove the infection.

I will keep you updated.

God on you...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Taking The But Out----

II Kings 5:1b
.............But he had leprosy.

The verse refers to a man named Naaman.
Commander of an army.....
Military tactician......

Man looked on as honorable and worthy by his superiors and those who held power in his country.
God had placed victory in his hands in the defeat of his enemies.
Naaman showed great courage and tenacity during times of war.

There is that little word....one word......."But"....
But Naaman had leprosy.
That one little word connects another thought and changes everything.
It breaks down everything that has built Naaman up in the eyes of his countrymen.
That one little word, "but", brings down every good thing that could be said about Naaman.....

Imagine the conversation that went on.
"Naaman is such a fine man."
"Yes, he is......but you know he has leprosy, don't you?"

Or maybe it went like this....
"I really would like my children to grow up to be like Naaman."

"He is a man to look up to.....but it's a shame he has leprosy."

I hear these kind of conversations every day.....
"My son is such a good boy. He's smart and did well in school.....but he has a drug problem."
"We couldn't ask for a better son. He loves his family. He goes to church, but he has these legal problems because of his using."

The but will kill you every time. It will undo every good thing anyone has ever said about you. Only God can interject himself into the but and bring good out of it.
Only God can lay hold of the but and use it for His purposes.
Naaman found himself at the house of one Elisha the prophet.
When told what he needed to do to be healed from the leprosy, Naaman went into a rage. First off, Naaman felt that Elisha had "dissed" him by not even coming out to have a face to face meeting. Even with all the stomping and shouting by Naaman, the but was still there. But he had leprosy.
What was the cure? Go to the Jordan river and dip in the water 7 times.

 Now I'm not a medical genius but this solution doesn't make much medical sense. Just like the idea that Jesus is the answer to our addiction problems. I can't tell you the number of men who come to treatment all bent out of shape because they have been sent to a Christ-centered treatment program. They have come to my office, red-faced and angry...."I'm here but you better not think that I'm going to turn into some Holy Joe. I don't want to hear about Jesus....don't talk to me about Jesus....no one is going to shove Jesus down my throat." Part of me wants to respond..."Are you through, Naaman?" Actually what these men don't know is that they have set themselves up for a real encounter with Jesus.

What usually happens is that over the course of the 7 weeks...(Hmmmm. same number as how many times Naaman was to dip himself in the Jordan.) Jesus usually impacts them in such a way that they turn their will and life over to His care. Nothing is more wonderful than when God heals a man then removes the but from his life. Better than that, it is tremendous when God changes the but.
"You know....ol' so and so use to be an addict. He was a liar, cheat and thief. But he had this encounter with God and was changed. It's amazing. I knew him when...."

God on you...

Monday, April 15, 2013

We All Need (Fill In The Blank)

Very "80's" Sound....
But the heart of the singer and the essence of the message is timeless....
WE ALL NEED  (fill in the blank).


WE all need......Jesus.

Sometimes you can say such phrases until they loose meaning.
You hear them over and over....
You say with you mind..."Yes, I know this..."
But the heart remains cold and indifferent with cries of "Not me...I'm beyond help."

Maybe it does take that one lone moment of sinking into the depths of utter darkness...the realization that this is it....life beyond the reach of God....
Maybe it is in that one lone moment when your heart breaks through the doubt, the fear, the insanity and cries out...."Oh God! Save me!"

Don't fall prey to the insane message that life on this side of the veil is all there is. Because, my friend, if this is all there is....I don't know if I would want to go on. There is more. There is more on the other side of the veil and life here, with this Jesus I so love to talk about, is preparation to move over to the eternal side and things beyond description. Pie in the sky? You decide. I tell you what, you live life your way.....And I'll choose Jesus. I guess we'll find out what is true in the end, won't we?

God on you, today!

The Three "R's" Of God's Kingdom

Isaiah 61:4
And they shall rebuild the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former desolation's and renew the ruined cities, the devastation's of many generations.

What we read here in this verse is a promise God made to Israel in the Old Testament.
I believe that the essence of the verse can be seen through the eyes of someone who is beginning a new relationship with Jesus.

Men with more degrees than me call the taking of a Scripture and applying to to a situation that it was not originally connected to, Charismatic Exegesis. I believe that we can do that with this verse.

If Jesus truly is the Higher Power we've been looking for that could take us from our old lifestyle of addiction to one of living under His kingdom rule, then we can see that He is all about restoration, reconciliation and redemption. Maybe these are the three "R's" of the Kingdom of God.

Restoration of self: My worth is now found in Christ. I don't need the approval of those around me to validate my own self worth. I find it in Christ. As we say the declaration at Rapha we acknowledge that we are : Deeply loved, fully pleasing, completely forgiven, totally accepted and absolutely complete in Christ. These are not some kind of Hallmark-flowery-words to make a person feel good about themselves. These very words are the truth of who I have become because of Jesus and the redemption He has brought to my table. Redemption that establishes me in a stable place, physically / mentally / emotionally/ and spiritually. Such things are only found in Christ, found in relationship with Him.

After our meeting last Saturday night, a good friend of mine handed me a note that he had scribbled. On the paper, he had written: "The biggest addiction is not drugs, but the addiction of the mind that says we are less than what God says we are. Remember we are in recovery from a broken relationship with God......not drugs. We are all looking for recovery.
The drugs and alcohol only signify that we are suffering from a problem.
That deep seated need to be loved and to love. Some say that woven within this need to be loved is a desire to worship. A desire to worship someone or something. To give our allegiance to, bow down to, and receive from something outside ourselves. So we look to others to fulfill our needs, wants and desires. We look to "things" to fill the empty place inside of us. As this place is filled with the things of this world....sex, money, power, and drugs and alcohol, we find that what we worship is "self". We bow our knees to the great god of self. We give "Self" everything it wants. I guess what you could say is that we have rejected the one true source of life, Jesus Christ, and have awakened and empowered the sin nature that exists in everyone. Rather than seek the forgiveness and restoration that only Jesus can give, we embrace a life that will only lead us farther and farther into the darkness.

In John 10:10 we read the words of Jesus: "The thief (devil) comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). in other words, the things that are found in Christ, go above and beyond anything we can think or imagine. He is not a "get-by" God...He doesn't love with half a heart....He is a complete-always-giving-100-per-cent-God.
I think we can bank on that. So don't let the enemy steal your peace today by getting you all caught up in situations and circumstances. Turn your focus and attention to Jesus. Spend some time speaking out loud the promises we find in scripture. Read Psalm 91 out loud and then say, "Yes! I receive this today." You might be surprised by how much power the real Higher Power, Jesus can bring to bear in your life.

God on you....

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Another View....Another voice

This was posted on Sam Colegrove's Facebook page this morning.
It is his take on last night's meeting of Vineyard Recovery Fellowship.

Tonight was the first meeting of the Vineyard Recovery ministry headed up by Mike Bynum. Tonight was a night that brought back hundreds of memories. All day my heart was racing with excitement fully expecting God to do something. I went to sleep thinking about it and woke up thinking about it.

It was 6:30 PM and just touching dark out when I pulled up to the Gadsden Vineyard with my worn NKJV Bible in tow. As I stepped onto the pavement of Broad Street the smell of cigarettes filled the air. As I looked around I saw them, maybe 15 of them. They were guys in Rapha standing outside the church doors laughing and having that last cig before the sermon! A feeling I used to know all too well. I didn’t know any of them but I knew them, if that makes any sense at all. I knew the feeling of totally not knowing what’s next. Where am I going to pick up from? Am I going to pick up where I left off or change everything? Am I going to be an addict forever? All of these questions a daily reality in the life of the lifeless. When I came in I made small talk and felt very drawn to all of them. I found myself wanting to hug each one and reassure them that everything will be alright. It’s tough you know. Being in that place. Total brokenness and abandonment, with shame and guilt so heavily on you it feels like a physical weight. But it’s also a sweet place.

Everything in the Kingdom is backwards. Brokenness is bad on earth but in the Kingdom brokenness equals greatness. Society looks on people that have had issues with certain things like they’re nothing. Sadly the most judgmental perspectives come from inside the church. When in Kingdom reality being as broken as a guy who just lost his kids, his wife, and his last sack of dope is probably the only hope some of us have. In the Americanized church we have made ourselves blind to our own brokenness and need for God. I believe Mike said it tonight, “constant desperation”. If you’re dying of thirst you look until you find something. So it is with your spirit. The guys are awesome. As I looked at them I didn’t see drug addicts. I saw warriors, princes, and friends of God. I saw sonship not slavery. I saw a generation that is rising up to take back what the enemy has stolen.

In the entrance to the room,  I saw an atmosphere of Heaven. I saw a safe place where mistakes aren’t forbidden and blowing it doesn’t mean blowing up. Mikes statement of what this meeting was, was very simple. It is Gods. That’s it in a nutshell. And what about the theology behind it? Well, that’s easy; the cross and Christ crucified and beyond that there’s nothing.

Worship was pure and free reminiscent of Vineyard worship from the late 90’s. There was a time for ministry, which is always my favorite, and God showed up. Several people came receiving prayer and encouragement.

I felt like God spoke to me with this phrase, “tattoos, two kids, and reconciliation”. As usual with words, you have that instant moment of doubt and embarrassment. Finally I broke down and gave it. Of course no one responded. I thought to myself, “well at least this wasn’t as bad as the time you went out doing power evangelism and the guy told you to go away”, as I visualized a plan crashing and burning. After dismissal a short stalky guy that was tatted from neck to toe (well I didn’t look at his toes so not sure about that one) came up to me and said, “I think that word was for me.” “Oh, which part?” I asked. “Well, the whole thing I mean I have tattoos and I have two kids and…” “And” I said “I’m assuming you’re in a place of needing reconciliation.”

So we prayed for him and he got blessed. I couldn’t help it though, as I watched him walk out, I wanted to keep in touch with him and be there somehow letting him know every tough morning that it was going to get better soon and that this wasn’t forever. I met this guy five minutes ago and I love this guy.

God was glorified tonight and He showed up. Why did He show up though? Because there were all the ingredients; brokenness, expectancy, faith, and doubt. Tonight I was as excited as I was on Christmas morning when I was seven and my dad got me a Black Cobra BB gun. I was exhilarated. This is what I was born for; to be used by God and to be in His presence. I was born to pastor people into His presence.

Every one of the guys that were there tonight have the capacity in them to go further, faster, better, and harder than Mike, John Wimber, or any other super anointed dude. The question is, will they believe it? Will they grasp it? God, I hope so.

 I’ve so missed nights like tonight and I look forward to many more. If you get a chance and you’ve made it through this ridiculously long rambling I would encourage you to come to the Gadsden Vineyard, Saturday nights at 7:00 PM. It’s not about church loyalty. No one is asking you to join anything or fill out a member card and wear a name tag. What else are you going to do on a Saturday night? It’s a place where there is healing for the hurting and a place of rest from the pain of the world. Blessing and love in the Holy Spirit – Sam.

Redeeming And Restoring The Past

Isaiah 54:4
"Fear not, you will no longer live in shame.....The shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood will be remembered no more..."

It's all about turning the page....
Moving on....
Making that commitment to and for Jesus.

Following Him through the decisions that you will make each day.
Learning how to "hear" Him when He speaks.
Learning how to pray for yourself and for others.
Reading your Bible for understanding that you can use in your daily life.
Giving away what has been freely given to you.
Learning how to worship...in groups and by yourself.
And last, but certainly not least, connecting yourself to a community of like minded individuals.
These are the things that are a part that new life we talk about here in this blog.
We do them, not because we have to.....
We do them because we want to. We are given a hunger by God to seek out and be a part of Kingdom.

Each one of us comes to God with a past.
When we make that commitment to Him (some call it getting "saved". Others refer to it as "being born again.") we give Him our entire self, including our past. All the shame and guilt and depression are placed in His hands. God brings healing to those places deep inside of each of us. we turn over to His care, every moment of disgrace we've ever faced. We turn loose of every tear we've ever cried. We let go of every word we wish we could take back. We lay down every broken promise. All the times we told family and friends that we were on the road to wellness and would never use again, yet turned to the darkness and went right back into it.  We place at His feet every dream that has died because of the addiction. In our yesterday's are turned over to His care....and we allow Him to heal us of the scars and wounds that measure the score of the damage we've done.

My God is the God of restoration.
He wipes the slate clean of our past and begins the process of rebuilding and restoring.
He will rid us of the shame and guilt and fill up all the empty places in our hearts.
We had our first meeting or Vineyard Recovery Fellowship last night, and God was gracious as the evening progressed.
A time of teaching and explanation of what VRF was going to be about.
A time of worship and ministry as people came to the front for prayers.
Much healing, both emotional and physical.
Tears of joy and relief.
It was a good start.
VRF will be a place where we learn "how" to follow Jesus.
I shared last night that if we had to define who we are as a group, then my wife said it best....We are a group of people "Following in the steps of the carpenter."
We'd love to have you come and be a part of VRF.
We'll be meeting again next Saturday, 7 p.m.
If you can't come, then pray for us that we would stay the course that God has laid out for us to follow.

God on you....

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Two Paths......Two Directions.....One Choice.....

I was at the church yesterday setting up for the service tonight.
It was quiet...
It was peaceful....

I thought back to August 21, 1999 and the first Saturday meeting we held.
Lot of water under the bridge.
Lot of memories.....good and bad. (the bad usually involve me making bone-headed comments or hurting someones feelings).

I saw a lot of faces as I looked out into the room.
Faces of men who are no longer with us.....
Jeff, Barry, Jason and Tommy.
Chris and Dan, Mark and Billy....
And the list went on and on and on.
These were the faces and names of men who had died since that first meeting.

Then I saw another group of faces.....
Jonathan and Charlie....Seth and Elmo.....
Wayne and Billy......Bobby and Michael....
James and Taylor....
These were the names and faces of men who were alive.....
More than alive, they were living lives in Recovery....

In John 14:6, Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Proverbs 14:12 reads: There is a way that seems right to a man. But its end is the way of death.
Two directions available for us to choose from.
Two paths we can walk.
One leads to life...
One leads to death....
One is the right way to go...
One seems to be the right way to go.
It is a choice we all must make.
This is the heart of why I do what I do.
To point the way...the direction to real truth and real life.
To a POWER that is greater and higher than anyone or anything that claims to have power. Jesus!

More than living lives in recovery, they were living life as followers of Jesus.
Jesus claims that He is the way. Well, what is a "way"? Simple.
The way is a direction. Jesus says if you come to me....walk in my direction, things will start to happen in your life.
The direction He is calling you too is one that has been walked out.
There are footprints to show you the way....You can see where people have stepped before you...you can see the "STEPS".
Once you start in the "Jesus Direction"...you will run into truth.
What is truth? Well, to me, truth is the ultimate reality. In other words, Jesus strips away all the falseness of life, both in you and around you, so you can see what is really going on.

Last, but certainly not least, Jesus claims to be "THE LIFE"....
Notice he didn't say that He was "Life" or that He could give you "A LIFE"....No, Jesus claims to be "THE LIFE".
Real life.
What is life....It is more than existence. In fact the word life, in this context, screams to be defined. Jesus applied such words as "Abundant" when speaking about life. I don't think the word "abundant" can be used within the context of addiction. Wait a minute...I was wrong. "Abundant" can be used in connection with addiction. Abundant troubles....abundant destruction...abundant depression...and on and on. I think I might check into Jesus. I like the way He uses the word abundant.
He also slapped the word "Eternal" onto the life. Eternal goes farther than simple beyond time as we know it and measure it. Eternal is tied to a relationship with Jesus that puts us in the most incredible surroundings ever thought or imagined in the mind of man..........heaven. Eternal means we get to hang out, worshipping, talking, listening and just being with Jesus.

Enough of my rambling....
You get the idea.
Two "ways"...
One leads to life...
One leads to death...

God on you.....

The Good (And Wonderful) Shepherd

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