Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Incredible Undying Love Of God

Psalm 100:5
For the LORD is good, and his love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Such simple words to read.
Yet they contain a truth that human understanding cannot fathom.
They explain and reveal the nature of God.
They proclaim the truth of who He truly is, and what motivates and drives him.
Goodness......the inherent ability to do good. To extend to others a helping hand to aid them during times of trouble and stress. Goodness! How many of you, as a child, prayed "God is great...God is good."? Yes He is. Every day, all day long. 

God's love endures forever. The world hates Him. People curse Him and use His name in profane ways, yet the His love for His creation never wavers. We doubt His existence and turn out backs on Him, yet He continues to love.
And the kicker is.....we only turn to Him when we have gotten ourselves in trouble and we want to escape any pain or consequences for our bad choices.
Yet He continues to love.

Every time you used a needle to get high. God's love was there waiting on you.
Every time you cursed the day you were born, and went to the dope house to escape, God's presence and love followed you there. His voice was telling you, "Don't! You don't have to do this. I will save you and restore you because you have infinite worth to Me!" You see, that was my problem. Every time I would think of God, I had convinced myself that I was not worthy. I wasn't worth anything to anyone. Yet to God, I was precious. I was part of His creation and it broke His heart to see me living in such darkness and pain. He loved me so much that He allowed me to have my way. To chase those things that He knew were bad for me and would take me to places where it would not end well. Yet He loved me enough to be there when it all came crashing down. Not with an accusing voice of "I Told You So!" But with a gentle, kind voice that said, "I love you...Turn to Me and let He heal and restore you."

So this morning, sitting here at this computer, the greatest truth I know is also the simplest.
Jesus loves me, this I know...
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong...
They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so.

God On You....

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Order Out Of Chaos

Matthew 3:8
Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God.

John the baptizer laying it out for the religious throng of men who had come to see what all the hub-bub was about. People from all over the region were going to John to be baptized. It must have been the topic of conversation through out the city. It was enough of a buzz that it had caught the attention of the religious rulers, and they were out to decide for themselves whether or not this man named John was true prophet or a charlatan.

"Prove by the way you live that you have really turned."
Prove it by going home and living it when you shut the door and there isn't anyone outside your own family around to see the real you.
Prove it in your business deals by being fair and equitable with those your are buying and selling with.
Prove it in the way you treat others.

It is hard to live a religious life when only God's name is used to define who you really are.
By that, I mean you are laying claim to something that you aren't.
You tell others that you are a Christian, but your real life doesn't reveal that truth.

The one thing that I have found true in my own life, when it comes to living out this relationship with Christ, is that there is less chaos.

When God speaks into a heart and the Holy Spirit takes up residence in a life, there is a sense of order that begins to form. The chaos of the old life, the insane thoughts, and the pattern of behavior that is destructive, is changed. Sometimes we mistake the chaos of a sinful life to be,"Well..that just the way it is. That is just life!" No, it isn't. God is a God of order and peace.

That is what He brings to the table when you turn your will and life over to His care. He begins the process of putting things in order.

Part of the orderly process is found in the Twelve Steps.

Twelve simple disciplines that aid us in hearing, following and acting under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Part of this order that comes to us is the simple thought that I want to do to this...not I have to do this. The change of heart creates a new way of viewing life. A desire to truly move from our old destructive behaviors toward a right-ness that only God can produce in us. Jesus referred to the Pharisees as "white washed tombs". They were all pretty on the outside....freshly painted....shining in the noon day sun...but the truth was, they were dead on the inside.  This is a picture of someone who is "acting" like they have a relationship with God. All outward show, with no inward change. Sorry Charlie! You get no points for such a charade.

You want some good  news?
Matthew 4:17- From then on, Jesus began to preach, "Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near."
That means that God....
Yep! The real-deal-promise-a-real-promise God has invaded our time and space.
He has done so with a plan to undo all the wrong that you and I have seen so much of, that we consider it to be normal life.

Part of that plan is a promise of real life to anyone who would turn to Him.
Just like Step #3 says...."We made a decision to turn our will and life over to the care of God as we understood Him." That decision is the exclamation point to an invitation that God gave to your heart.
That, my friend, IS the good news of the gospel of Jesus.
You do not have to live anymore under the penalty of addiction.
You do not have to live anymore under the presence of addiction.
And you do not have to live anymore under the power of addiction.

I'll buy that for a dollar.

God on you...

Friday, June 28, 2013

New Voice----Old Message

Never ceases to amaze me at the various ways the message goes out.
The delivery will change.

Culture will define the vehicle it rides on.
But the message never changes.
I am grateful for every voice that rises up to speak truth in such a way that those born into that culture hear it...receive it...and are changed by it.

I never want to become so rigid in my life that I can't see or hear God when He speaks through others.
I've been a pharisee way to many times and it produces nothing but discord and hate. I guess I see why Jesus was so up on those guys.
Truth be known, I think maybe when we look at those who were Pharisee's, we were seeing our sin nature all dressed up on religious clothing.

Not going back there....

Teach me to love.
Teach me to correct in love when it is needed, not when I want to.

Help me see that when others come to correct me, they are doing so because they love me enough to tell me the truth.
God on you....

Thursday, June 27, 2013

New Audio Message From June 22th. Romans Chapter 1

Here is the 1st Message from Romans Chapter 1.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Had It Right--Give It Away, Give it Away, Give It Away!

Galatians 5:13
For you have been called to live in freedom---not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love.

The dreaded "M" word.
We use it when referencing a pastor or someone who holds a leadership position within the church.
We use when someone has initials and college degrees after their name.

The "M" word.
The scourge of the common, everyday, garden-variety believer. The Lay person who goes to church.
What is the "M" word?

Use of such words are reserved for those who have truly been called by God, right?
Such words should fall into and become the backbone of every believer's daily speech.
We are called, by God, to minister.

Minster means to serve. Simple isn't it?
Serve someone.

It doesn't have to be a group thing, in fact, is shouldn't be a group thing that requires huge amounts of planning and money and time and effort and whew! I'm tired.
It should be as simple as seeing a need and then addressing it.
Your at Walmart (or the place of your choice) and you see someone struggling with their go over and ask, "May I help you?" You have just ministered to someone.

Sometimes, ministry or serving takes on an unusual appearance.
We use to do what is referred to as Servant Evangelism. In other words, you looked for a way to fulfill a simple need that you could do for others for the simple reason to show then God's love. It was never about promoting your church or your ministry. It wasn't about getting publicity and your name out there so people would know. It was about performing a simple act of kindness and letting that person know that God loves them and so do you.

We would ice down soft drinks and then on the hottest days, go through the parking lot of the establishment we had chosen, and pass out free drinks to the people who came there to shop. We weren't soliciting anything or trying to get anyone to join anything. It was amazing the stories we heard as we spent a couple of hours passing out the drinks. People would ask for prayer, and we got an opportunity to pray over them and for them. People would want to donate money, which we lovingly turned down. Such a simple think as a free soft drink caused everyone who received to stop and think about what had just happened. 

To minister is simply to serve in the name of the Lord.
To go and give away from you time, your talent and yes....even your money, to meet a need.
It is simply God loving us and, in turn, us loving those we come in contact with.
To demonstrate in a tangible form the love of God to those who may not have ever received it. How cool is that?
I think maybe God is stirring us to remember and return to that place of serving.

God on you....

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gratitude---Don't Leave Home Without It

Psalm 110:7
But he himself will be refreshed from brooks along the way. He will be victorious.

I like the thought behind the Psalm 110 verse. Of being refreshed by hidden brooks and streams of water. Of having a thirst, searching for something to quench it, and then suddenly come upon a hidden source of water from which I can drink.

To me, gratitude is one of those streams. 
Gratitude cannot be measured by material gains and losses, although some try to do that.
Gratitude cannot be measured by how well your relationships with others may be, although some try to do that also.

Gratitude, in in purest form, is the appreciation for life itself.
For the ability to rise up in the mornings and draw breath, realizing that each breath...each a gift from God to you. That is gratitude.

Gratitude will not let me be defined by my circumstances, but will give me vision to see beyond them.
I will not be weighed down by the affairs of this world, but will find gratitude in God's word.
Gratitude that tells me God truly is who He claims to be, and will do what He has promised He would do. Gratitude.

Gratitude will help me to live each day as though it were my last here on earth.
I will learn to love others with the love of God, when I walk in gratitude.
I will begin to see others around me as God sees them.
I will no longer be judgmental or critical of others. Holding them to a standard that even I cannot attain. Weighing out harsh words toward them. God forgive me.
Gratitude will produce real compassion in me for others. Not a false imitation of the compassion that Jesus felt when he walked among us.

Gratitude lets me cry out " You Kingdom come...right here, today, right now...Your Kingdom will be done through me. Let it be here on earth as it is being carried out in heaven!" Gratitude (the kind God desires of His children) can produce some pretty incredible results. How can you read the words of the Psalm and not see a man, King David, who rose from being a shepherd to become a military hero. From there to be the King of a nation, chose by God to rule. Yet through it all, David never lost sight that there was a King who ruled over him. Through out his life....through the dark seasons of the place where he stood in the mercy and grace of God, David never lost his gratitude. That is what I want. That is how I want to live.
Thank you, Lord, for this day...
I choose to be grateful.

God on you....

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It All Started With A Kinship

Genesis 1:1 -- "In the beginning, God created........"

Everything has a beginning.
The moment of conception, a new life is created.
Each day begins with a sunrise.
Each marriage begins with "I do".
All works of creation covered and cared for by the hand of God.
Today is an anniversary of sorts for me.
Nineteen years ago, this day, is when God moved me into being a servant. Some would say "Pastor" but I'm not real crazy about the terms "Pastor" or "Preacher". 

Today, nineteen years ago, Vicki and I held our first Kinship meeting in our home.
Kinship is a term used by the Vineyard Church to identify the small groups that were designed to meet in homes. Such groups as these were the back bone of teaching and modeling how to "do the stuff" or what we refer to as the works of Jesus. Teach others how to pray and hear God. How to do deliverance and see people free from demonic oppression. Even how to lead worship. Kinship's were a place where people were birthed into the kingdom. It was a place of beginnings.

God told me, on May 20, 1994, that I was to start a home group. It is one of the few times that when it happened, I knew it was God, and I knew he was serious about it. I reconnected with Jim Bentley and he mentored me for the next month on what to look for and what to expect. Trouble was, I had my own ideas of what was going to happen. I use to be terrible about projecting into a situation my own thoughts.

We met for the first time on June 25, 1994 and we had fifteen people show up. Wowzers! A roaring success. Truth be known, it wasn't very good. I had a terrible time leading worship. The teaching was not very good. I was trying to orchestrate things and in the end, everyone was very gracious to sit through it all. So with one under our belt, we began to look forward to the next one. 

Our next home meeting, no one came. It was just Vicki and me. Seven 0'clock one...15 after one....25 after 7 no one. I was crushed. I was putting up my guitar and Vicki asked me, "What are you doing?" "Well, no one is hear so why go through the motions?" Then came those words from my wife that I can still hear today. "Because God told you to do a home group..he didn't say do it if someone shows up." She was going to have a meeting with me or without me. Those words have served me well over these past 19 years. It is about being obedient no matter what it looks like.  So we had our second meeting...just Vicki and me, and Jesus.

Over the course of the next few months, we did pick up one couple who started coming. The kinship moved from our living room to our kitchen table as we shared a meal together. Nothing fancy, soup and cornbread. Sandwiches on other occasions, but as time passed, a bond began to form between the four of us. We did worship and at times, God's presence seem to be very real in our midst. We did pray for each other, and we saw God's hand provide and answer those prayers. We didn't realize it at the time, but God was growing us, stretching us and teaching us for what would lie ahead.

As time passed, I began to mail out a note as a reminder of the home group. At that time, we were meeting every other Saturday so sometimes people would forget when we were meeting. On one particular occasion, I added some comments to the note about a verse God had given to Vicki and me, and the impact it had had on our life. I began to receive calls from people about how much they appreciated what I had written and how it had been used by God in their own lives. This simple one page mail out was the beginning of the Greene Street Letters. The letter grew to 2 pages....and the mail out list began to grow also. We were mailing out 300 every other week as people would call or write saying that they had passed on their copy to friends. Now those friends were wanting to receive the Greene Street Letters. 

Then came the Internet for the Bynum household. The list of E-Greene Street Letters grew to over 600. We were sending it around the world. To England, Australia, Great Britain, Canada, as well as Russia and Japan. I try not think about how all of this works, but suffice it to say, it boggles my mind. 

The Greene Street Letters Blog was birthed the latter part of 2007. It wasn't called that at the time, but a good friend of mine, Bobby Sparks, said that I should consider renaming the blog The Greene Street Letters. He felt that this was the name that God wanted it know by. SO Greene Street Letters it was.........and Greene Street Letters it shall be known as.

It was because of those early days of the kinship that I am doing what I do today. All of it was a part of the school that God had me in. It was all preparation for June 25, 2013. What does that mean? I'm not sure, other than I will show up today and look for opportunities to speak Jesus into someone life. To be that kind word or gentle encouragement needed for the moment. This God-stuff doesn't always happen within the four walls of a church. It works really well at Walmart and at the Waffle House. It comes alive at the gas station and the fruit stand. As John Wimber use say, "The meat is in the street". 

God on you....

Monday, June 24, 2013

Truth From A.W. Tozer

A good friend of mine has given me a collection of articles written by Pastor A.W. Tozer. If the name doesn't ring a bell, you really need to check him out, either on the Internet or at your local book store. 

I have never read anything that Tozer wrote that didn't go right to the heart and soul, uncovering and revealing truth that we need so badly to hear. More than just hear, he has a way of pointing out simple truth that we may not have given language to in our own beliefs.

One of the chapters I read is entitled There Are No Insignificant Christians, which prompted this posting here today. 

Tozer writes: One of the heaviest thoughts that can visit the human heart is the insignificance of the average man. Seen against the long procession of the ages and the countless multitudes of people who have inhabited the earth, we are each no more than a grain of sand on the wide seashore.

It takes some reflection to make this appear to our minds as it really is. The human ego may be counted upon to accent our individual worth and to give a false permanence to what is anything but permanent. A man in his pride may feel himself to be so important that it is hard for him to visualize the world as continuing to endure after his is removed from the scene, but all we need to do is to wait. Time will grind him down and toss him to the winds. His friends will disappear one by one, and there will be no one left to remember him.

If anything, our society today has cheapened human life. We have removed the creator from our collective conscience and have reduced life to nothing more than cosmic chance. We are but a mish-mash of molecules and atomic particles that somehow found themselves bonded to produce humanity. No longer do we marvel at who we are as the handiwork of God, created in His image. We spend our time in meaningless pursuit of fleshly pleasure, feeding and worshiping ourselves at the temple of ME. 

Tozer goes on to write: No matter how insignificant a person may have been before, that same person becomes significant the moment they have an encounter with the Son of God. When the Lord lays His hand upon a person, that person ceases at once to be ordinary, and their life takes on cosmic significance. The very angels in heaven take notice of them and go forth to become their ministers. Though that person had before been only one of the faceless multitude, a mere cipher in the universe, an invisible dust grain blown across endless wastes--now they get a face and a name and a place in the scheme of meaningful things. Christ knows His own sheep "by name."

No doubt we grieve our Lord by thinking of ourselves as less than we are in the plan of God. In ourselves we are nothing. But the blood of the everlasting covenant has changed all that. Our claim now is that of a child upon their Father. We have a right in the Father's household, and we can sit down at His table without fear or embarrassment. In the Kingdom of God we have worth.

Thinking ourselves as being insignificant is one of the weapons of our enemy, the devil. Scripture says he comes but to "Kill, steal and destroy." Well, if he can plant the seed of self-worthlessness in our minds and hearts, he then can kill any hope we might ever possess. He can steal away any dreams or thoughts of ever rising above our daily situations. And he can destroy us and those around us by the choices we make while under this cloud of worthlessness. He is a deceiver and master manipulator. But Jesus is the real deal! He is the POWER we have been searching for to shake off the chains of our sin/addiction and rise above this muck and mire of life here on planet earth. Jesus gives back everything the devil has killed, stolen and destroyed. No brag........
Just fact.

God on you....

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Seth Barber's Message from June 15th....Facing The Storms.

Seth Barber speaks of "Facing The Storms" that come our way. We can do "in" Christ...or we can face them alone in our own strength. Check out this audio offering from Vineyard Recovery.


Psalm 22:11
Be not far from Me, for trouble is near. For there is none to help.

Not a pleasant thought, is it?
That trouble is always near.
Trouble is just a second away.
Every day...every moment of every day....trouble lurks in the shadows of our consciousness, and in every situation we move through.

How we respond when trouble comes knocking is always a sure sign of what we are trusting in.

Some trust in the bottle when trouble rears its ugly head.
The burning taste that covers the pain and guilt of bad choices and bad times, becomes our only friend.

Some trust in drugs when they can no longer cope with the trouble and stress.
Funny part in all of this...the drugs and alcohol do nothing to eliminate the trouble. They only mask the emotions we are feeling, not knowing how to deal with our situation. Rather than face our trouble, we run from it. We hide from it. We seek to alter our mood and mind with these substances.

I wish I had the power to open the eyes and hearts of those who are still under the curse of addiction, so they could see and understand the truth of what God wants to do in them and for them.

Psalm 91:14 - He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him. God is one prayer away from you, right now at this moment. His heart is to deliver you, not just out of your current situation, but from a curse that has been hanging over you since the day you were born. The curse of sin and the power it has over your life. Sounds hokey, doesn't it? Believe you me, it isn't. It is as real as the ground you walk on.

I will be with him in trouble. Now, there are two kinds of trouble in this world.
Self-inflicted trouble, or that which we create by our bad choices. And the kind of trouble that just happens, beyond our control. God wants to aid us in learning how to move out of all the self-inflicted trouble. But the other kind...the kind that comes to us to strengthen our faith and trust in God, those are the times when the presence of God will become more real than you can imagine. Those trouble times are when we find out a lot about ourselves and what we truly believe. When God lead the Hebrews out of Egypt, in the book of Exodus, He took them out into the wilderness. During that forty year stretch of moving through this harsh land, those people saw God in ways that they had never seen before. When they had no food or water, they saw the hand of God split rocks and geysers of water come rushing forth. They felt the wind begin to blow and with it came quail. Food to eat delivered to them for the taking. God is always there with you no matter what the situation. That is a promise.

I will deliver him and honor him. The whole deliver part, I get. The honor part is what I have trouble with. I don't know about you, but I always feel as though I am such a foul-up when it comes to following God that it's hard for me to see myself being honored for anything. But there it is in red....I will honor him. We need to wrap our brains around the idea that this God truly does love us and wants to have a relationship with us. That is big time stuff!

So what did we learn today?
Hopefully that God is always more than we can think or imagine.
That no matter what happens today, good or bad, God is right there, in control, waiting for us to turn to Him.

Now that, my friend, is good news.

God on you....

Saturday, June 22, 2013

More Memories Made

It is 2:59 a.m. and  I am sitting at the kitchen table in the condo we rented here in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida.
We will be leaving later this morning to make our way back home.
But we will not be leaving empty handed.
God has been with us this week, loading us down with some wonderful memories.
This past week was our Christmas present to the family. It started about 9 years ago when we decided that the best present we could give the kids would be to take them on vacation. They loved the idea of a week together, so Florida it was, and Florida it has been. Although the grand kids and I got some pretty strange looks as we were unloading the cars while singing, "We Wish You A Merry Christmas." Inside joke I guess, what with the trip being their Christmas present.

The grand kids are at the age now that they can enjoy all the family time together. Except for the evening meal, it is a "do what you want to" kind of vacation. My goal for the week was to hang out with the grand kids. This meant a lot of pool time. They love the ocean, but the pool is where their hearts lie. We were blessed this year in that no one came to the pool the entire week we have been here.

Evening is the time we congregate, share a meal and bring out the board games. The guys play RISK, while the girls share dessert, coffee and conversation.  Other nights included TRIVIAL PURSUIT and SCRABBLE, where everyone joins in. Lot's of laughter and memories of vacations past. The last night is always reserved for MONOPOLY. This is the grand kids favorite and Tyler, my grand son, has no problem, or sympathy, for his Poppa when the money runs low. Can you say "Donald Trump"?

Lot's of prayer this week. Reminders of who we are  and who we belong to. Sharing stories about what is going on with each other. Sometimes during all the conversation and prayer, I sit back amazed at what God has brought forth in my family. Hey, let's get real here. There isn't anything special about me or my wife, but God has blessed us beyond measure. I keep telling the guys at Rapha that my God is not a respector of persons. What he does for one, he will do for others. I remind them that obedience to Him and His word is what brings blessing from God. All blessing do not come in the form of material things either. The greatest blessing we have had have been in our relationship with our sons, our daughters-in-law and our grand kids.

On Monday, the A/C started going out in our condo.By Tuesday, you could tell that it had gone kaput.
Calls to the front desk and subsequent visits by the maintenance crew yielded a sobering fact....
Parts had to be ordered and we were going to be without air. It was adventure time and an event that required prayer. I love it! How are you going to work this one out, God?
No A/C....
Middle of June...
Need I say the word..."HOT!"?
We prayed, asking for God's mercy in the weather.
He came through.
The air wasn't repaired until late Thursday.
But a funny thing happened during the time we prayed until the A/C was fixed.
The weather cooled off. Winds picked up and the temperature dropped into the low 80's and even upper 70's.
It was not the typical humid, gulf coast weather.
The manger of the condo told us that they were filled up or he would have relocated us to another unit.
The best he could do was bring as many fans as he had to our roomm and give us a partial refund of our money.
It all worked.
It was not unbearable. .The fans kept us comfortable. We are going home with money in our pockets.
One more "God" memory we can add to a long list of others.
God can be trusted, even if he A/C goes out.
You see, I'm crazy enough to believe that if we pray and ask....God will answer.
In this case, keeping the weather from growing intensely hot, allowing us to have a really good vacation.

I'm looking forward to getting back home and going to Vineyard Recovery tonight.
Seems like a year since we were last there.
I've been parked in Romans 1 all week. I mean literally parked there. Reading, re-reading, praying and seeing it in a new light. So I'm anxious to share it tonight.
If you're free, come on out and join us. 7 p.m. / Downtown Gadsden on Broad Street / located between 4th and 5th Streets. Hope to see you there.

God on you...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Shiw Me The Way To Go Home

John 14: 5-6
Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I AM the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

I see it over and over with people in recovery.
"I am not going to read any Bible or Big Book."
"I am not going to church or any meetings."
"I am not going to do any of the disciplines required of me."
"Boy, I hope I can do this recovery thing."

How dumb it is that?
Basic premise is, "I have made a mess of my life and I have the track record to prove it. Now let me show you how good I can make it now that I'm a little sober."

To me, you can't be the problem and then turn around and be the solution also.
It just doesn't work.

What if all this God-stuff I post about every day actually worked?
What if it were true?
Wouldn't that be a hoot?
Well, it is a hoot.
In fact it is is a hoot to the millionth power.  Even beyond.
The point of entry is just like what Thomas told Jesus in the verses above.
"Hey....We don't know."
"Hey...I don't know."
"I don't know how to live any other way, other than the way I have lived."
"If there is going to be change for the better in my life, then you've got to show me how, Jesus."

In other words, there has to be this acknowledgement of being powerless.
Powerless to live life on life's terms.
Did you catch how Jesus responded to Thomas' question?
I love His answer.
He tells Thomas..."You need to stay focused on Me!"
Don't get caught up in the drama of your old life.
Don't listen to the council of your old friends or family.
Don't try and figure everything out yourself.
Focus on Jesus.
You want to know how to live and interact with the world around you?
Read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament.
Jesus not only came to die and make the payment for my sins...
He came to show me how to live in a world dominated by sin.

Jesus didn't say, "I am A truth" or "I am some truth" or even "I am one of many truth's."
No! He said, "I am THE truth."
Of all the truth that claims to be truth, there is no greater truth than the person of Jesus.
He is the beacon that leads us all home.
He is the path to follow that will see you through to the end.
He is the way....
He is the truth...
And He is the life.

Look forward to seeing you tomorrow night at Vineyard Recovery.
God on you....

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Dare We Be Real Before Each Other?

Romans 7:15
For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice, but what I hate, that I do.

I know me.
I fully know what I a capable of doing if I step outside of God's grace and mercy and begin to operate according to my old nature (or sin nature).
That is a scary thing sometimes when you stop to really take a look at yourself. To stop and consider what you are capable of doing----what you are capable of saying in order to hurt someone with your words. This will give you pause to ponder who God truly is and what the death and resurrection of Christ really is all about.

I'm not talking about living in the land of would-a, should-a and could-a. But I am suggesting that take a moment and find gratitude for what Christ has done for each of us. If you are a pre-believer (the church would refer to you as "lost) then consider the simple fact of all the mess you have created with your actions and belief's. Lie's you have told and then covered up with more lies, until you reach the point that you can't separate the truth from the lies you have piled up.

I love Paul's brutal honesty about himself. He was very much aware of what he was capable of doing outside God's call and presence in his life. This is what kept Paul on the path he had taken. He was not going to allow himself to be side tracked back into old behaviors and ways of facing life. He was not going to fall back upon his intellect to justify and give credence to the choices he had made. Paul knew that this salvation that had been extended to him by Jesus, was a precious gift that he would guard with his very life. There was no going back for Paul.
That is the way I have to live. Not that I am Paul, I am not. Not that I place myself on the same level as Paul, I do not. But this I know. I am capable of incredible dark things should I allow my old nature to take rule of this life. For that very reason, I fight all the more harder to move ahead and chase this Jesus.

I'm not trying to be dramatic with my words. I just want to convey my feeling and thoughts in what I face daily. There is much joy in my life because of my salvation. There is peace in my life because I have chosen to follow Jesus. There is less worry (I'm still working on this one) in my life because of the promises that God has extended to everyone who "comes to him". I remember all to well what the old life was like. I didn't like me very well. There were times of great shame when I would think to myself, "My mother did not raise me to be like this." Such times would just cover me with guilt and shame. These are the two deadly, toxic emotions that have the power to keep someone in their addiction and not allow true freedom to be experienced. God has the power and love to break the cycle of these two emotions and bring in his healing presence to restore.

I am grateful that Paul gave us an inside glimpse of his own personal life and struggles. Very unusual way of teaching, especially in light of today's Christianity. Leaders and Pastors today have to maintain an image of incredible righteousness. Building up themselves to the point that if a scandal breaks or the truth about their own sin comes out, it is a downfall of epic proportions. I think living transparent and open would keep us all honest before each other and God. I think maybe that is the way I will choose to live.
Open and transparent.
Come, Lord Jesus!

God on you....

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

If You Don't Want Fleas...Don't Lay With The Dogs!

Romans 1:7
To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints.

It is a struggle that has been around since there were communities, towns, cities and villages. It has been the excuse for countless millions as to the "why" of their behavior. Scientist have even suggested that we are a by product of our environment, which leads to repeated behavior.
What is that struggle?
To blame our choices on where we live and the society we live in.

While I don't want to say that such has no influence, I also do not want to give an excuse for all bad behavior or, in this case, sinful behavior.

The apostle Paul is writing to a group of believers that he has never met. He did not birth the church in Rome directly, but I do believe that some of his converts may have been instrumental in its creation. Paul wants to help establish this community of believers in the faith so that they may be able to exist in Roman culture. You have to remember that this was Rome. Home to a pantheon of gods and beliefs. The influence of society was extremely dark to the people who called Rome home. Paul was encouraging them and exhorting them to become grounded in their faith and know what they believe, more importantly, why they believe it.

The one statement I hear over and over again from people who are in recovery is..."Man! It's hard out there...drugs...women looking for a hook up....old friends...etc...etc. Of course it's hard out there. Society has cast God away like some old trash. Without moral guidance and the Holy Spirit in your life, you'll gravitate toward the darkness. I say it over and over again...."You are who you surround yourself with." If you want to live right and do good..then surround yourself with good people." You know what? That's to simple. Well, yes it is. But we have a tendency to complicate the obvious and trivialize the momentous.

In this recovery path, we have to be connected to a community of like minded people. People who are living and working with the same goal as we have. To live life according to our Higher Power (Jesus) daily walking it out. The 12 Steps are stepping stones to help us cross the waters of turmoil and old ways. Much of what I see in relapse happens for one of two reasons. The person who relapses didn't really want to change at all...or the person who relapses did nothing for their recovery.

If a group of believers can live in one of the most decadent cities and receive instruction and encouragement on how to not fall away back into old lifestyles and ways, then maybe there is something I need to find for myself.

We are going to take a look at the book of Romans this Saturday night at Vineyard Recovery Fellowship. You might be surprised how well it translate into recovery language. Service starts at 7 p.m. Love to see you there.

God on you...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

You Worship What You Do Not Know

John 4:22
...."You worship what you do not know."

Strange word worship.
Usually only thought of within the confines of some religious ceremony or group. Such as ...."We went to a worship service" or "Come worship with us".
Jesus, in John 4, was having a conversation with a woman who had come to draw water from the well where he was seated. One topic of conversation lead to another until it began to be centered on who you worship and where you worship. Jesus was slowly leading this young lady into some truth that she was not aware of (or at least had a bias against..I'm not sure which)

Jesus told her..."You worship what you do not know." Strange statement when you think about it. Jesus was saying one of two things. 1.) You are unaware of the implications of your worship since you aren't really in touch with the "who" you are worshiping...or (2.) You don't really realize that you are worshipping something or someone.

To me, worship is something that you don't choose to do. It is a lifestyle that is reflected in your every word and deed. It defines who you are as a person and what you believe in you daily walk. It is the act of turning to God and saying with you entire daily life...word, deed, intent, thought...that Jesus is your Lord and Savior. Didn't we worship in that old life style? Didn't we give ourselves to whatever drug we chased and whatever relationship (no matter how sick it was) we chased? Sure we did. But we never thought of it as worship. We never really considered ourselves to be worshipping the devil and his kingdom, did we? But we were....we were all up in the first church of the kingdom of darkness. In other words, we gave ourselves to something or someone. We proclaimed our allegiance. We sacrificed our future and the promises of God to a substance a power behind the substance. How scary is that? All the while thinking that we had made wise decisions. Just like it says in Proverbs 14:12 -- There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is death.

Funny part in the John 4 statement of "you worship what you do not know," is the intent for Jesus to reveal himself. John 17:3 states that the reason God gave us eternal life is so that we might know him. He wants to reveal himself to us..for us to know (with our hearts and not just our heads) him and his promises, plans and Kingdom rule he desires us to be a part of. I am learning the importance of my choosing to place God at the center of every area of my life. Allowing him the right and the freedom to be the one showing me how to live and navigate through this old world.

Remove the word worship from your old way of thinking and push it up to the front. Realize that you daily walk truly does reveal who you are worshiping, so why not make it count for something. Why not look into Jesus....He's got the answers. (Thank you Larry Norman).

God on you....

Hope to see you this Saturday night for Vineyard Recovery. We are going to be looking at Romans Chapter 1. Pretty good stuff!
Thanks for stopping by the Greene Street letters.
See you tomorrow.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Big Brother? Naw...Big God!

If you've been reading or watching the news lately, you've seen all the reports about the government keeping tabs on everyone. Spying on our Internet access and keeping up with cell phone conversations. Texts and E-mail all been swept up and placed in some kind of super cyber shopping bag. You'll also keep hearing references from George Orwell's novel, 1984,----"Big Brother is watching!" Some find this very unnerving and down right spooky. But what would you say if there was a HIGHER POWER that saw and knew everything you said or did? What would you say if that same HIGHER POWER went beyond the obvious, and knew the very intent of your heart, and the motive behind everything you said or did? Now that would be spooky.

Of course, I 'm speaking of God. God in His fullness as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If the thought of God operating in this all "Snooping" manner kind of puts the willy's in you, have no fear. Unlike the government, God has your best interest at  heart. His desire is to save us. Sometimes that salvation comes in the form of saving us from ourselves. I love the words of II Chronicles 16:9 - For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro through out the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal (and committed ) to Him. Isn't that an incredible thought? That God is looking to reveal Himself to you this morning. Not only that, but He wants to prove reveal His strength and commitment to those who are loyal and committed to Him, His kingdom and His love. So what happened? Why do we sometimes view God as this really mad old guy, sitting up in the heavens with a hand full of lightning bolts, just waiting to fry us when we get out of line? Such thoughts come from a heart that truly doesn't know or understand His ways. The entire Bible is really a love letter written to who ever would read it and accept the invitation given by the Author. (That would be God himself). An invitation to lay down one lifestyle and way of thinking that has given us grief and keeps us in a state of emotional upheaval and a series of bad choices, to take up a new way of living. Now this  new way of seeing and living here on ol' planet earth does not mean that you get to go to the head of the line. Or that every day is sunshine, lollipops and puppies dogs...because life happens. Good things come our way, which are quickly followed by bad times. Life happens. But this new way of living provides an emotional and spiritual stability that enables you to move through your circumstances with an ease that you did not possess in the past.

You know, trying to explain this life with Jesus as your Savior, is like trying to tell someone what chocolate taste like. You know it's good when you eat it, but you don't really have words to convey that experience. I guess that is why God has lead us to start VINEYARD RECOVERY. To provide a place where you could come and learn and see what this life with Christ is all about. Sometimes we get it right and celebrate. Sometimes we mess up and there is a boo-hoo festival. No matter which, we know that God is there, His Spirit living in us to aid us and help us to learn from any mistakes we may make.  You might want to check out the Saturday night meeting at Gadsden Vineyard. Starts at 7 p.m / Downtown on Broad street, between 4th and 5th street / located across from Gadsden Variety Store. Hope to see you this Saturday night.

God on you....

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Romans 1:4

I know..I know...I'm late.
Lot's of reasons why...but none that I'll divulge at this point in time.

But a good kind of way, in the book of Romans.
Romans has always been an intimidating book to me....
Theological impresive....
Even from an intellectual, academic standpoint, it stands as one of the greatest writings about the state of man and his relationship with God.
In my case, I have to remember to keep the main thing the main thing.
Even in the book of Romans.

Verse 4 speaks of Jesus being declared to be the Son of God with Power..
God's story is one that is defined by the demonstration of power.
From the beginning of creation until this present day, it is like the air we breathe. His power is all around work in us.....drawing us and wooing us to live in him. If you want to think about it...we are declared His children through the power at work in our own personal lives. Not that we work for it, nor do we live for it, but rather it is a by product of living for Christ.

I want to thank Barry, Deb, Wayne, Debbie, Jason and Angela for taking care of Saturday's meeting while Vicki and I were out of town. You guys are the best.

I know that this is a short posting, but I'm having trouble with my internet access. Hopefully this will be straightened out shortly.
Until tomorrow...
God on you.....


Saturday, June 15, 2013

CR Thoughts Rolling In My Brain

proverbs 8:35
For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord.

Aren't we living already?
Well, we do have the capability of breath and movement...
Of thought and imagination...

but that doesn't always translate into "life".
The ability to live in such a way that you are under the favor and grace of God.
That is where real life abounds.
Abundant, overflowing life, as Jesus stated.

Isn't it amazing that the word and idea of life is always tied to God? To His nature and His character? You can't separate the two. Where there is God......there is always life.
There is always the ability and power to navigate whatever this world puts in your path.
Such a thought is the reason I love to go to Celebrate Recovery in Centre, Alabama.

In fact, I was there last night to speak. Been going up there for 9+ years and never once have I spoke there that God did not show out. I must be some kind of good speaker, right? No...He's some kind of God. You take a group of people....part of them have a heart that loves God beyond reason....the other part are hungry for his presence..with this combination, God will come and reveal himself in that meeting. That is why I love those folks. God shows up and shows out.

Got to see Peggy Chapman get her 20 year chip. Talk about a celebration! I always look for her smiling face when we get there. She, according to her own words, is a work in progress. Loves Jesus like  no other, and loves her meetings. I want to be like her. I want that passion for God that translates into a new way of living. 

Watched a young girl named Brittany go up and get beginner chip. She'd never been to church before and this whole recovery thing was new to her. But she was just beaming when she returned to her seat with that plastic chip tightly held in her hand. Bless her, Father and may she too walk this path that so many others before her have also walked.

Isn't it amazing what this God can do?
I saw people that had been rejected and cast aside by the world, now filled with God's Spirit.
They were laughing and serving others who came to the meeting. They not only had God in their lives, they had purpose and value, They were a part of a family. It is an incredible feeling when you belong.

As Vicki and I drove home last night, my thoughts drifted back to Donnie and Regina George, founders of Celebrate Recovery in Centre. How God took the death of their son and transformed it into something that has brought life to thousands of others. How God took the grief and pain that a parent feels when their child has died, and changed it into joy and gladness as others have been brought into a new way of living.
That is why I love to go to Centre, Alabama on Friday night.

God on you....


Friday, June 14, 2013

If You're Not Talkin'....I Ain't Walkin'

My son, Josh, introduced me to this song...
The Spirit of God came down into the car as the
words and music filled not just my ears,
but my heart...
What an incredible power comes when we learn to wait.
What things can be wrought from a heart that waits on God.
A heart surrendered and willing to simply wait until God speaks
before it acts.

Teach me wait!

Well I came home
Like a stone
And I fell heavy into your arms
These days of dust
Which we have known
Will blow away with this new sun

But I'll kneel down
Wait for now
And I'll kneel down
Know my ground

And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

So break my step
And relent
Well you forgave and I won't forget
Know what we've seen
And him with less
Now in some ways
Shake the excess

'cus I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

Now I'll be bold
As well as strong
And use my head alongside my heart
So tame my flesh
And fix my eyes
A tethered mind freed from the lies

And I'll kneel down
Wait for now
And I'll kneel down
Know my ground

Raise my hands
Paint my spirit gold
Bow my head
Keep my heart slow

'cus I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you
And I will wait, I will wait for you

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Repairing The Cracks And Sealing The Broken Places

Psalm 11:3
If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

Foundation: That which becomes the base for the entire structure to rest upon.
The solid place on which all other is built.
The sure and firm establishment from which our concepts and ideas and beliefs are held together.
Shake the foundation, everything crumbles.
Destroy the foundation, life becomes a house of cards in a tornado.
That is why at the center of this relationship with Jesus and our daily discovery about recovery, the foundation is the pivotal piece.
What are we adding to daily?
Is it being built upon the person and word of Jesus?
Or is it being constructed upon religious sounding themes and catchy phrases meant to stir out flesh?  But does nothing to make firm our soul and commitment to Him.

Real faith is evidence of the foundation we are being built upon.
What you say you believe is tested at times to reveal to you if there are any weak places in your belief's that you need to take a look at.
Real faith is rarely seen in times of peace and prosperity, but it is easily distinguished in seasons of adversity. It is easy to trust God with you personal desires but much harder to believe Him to supply your family's needs.

Foundational faith is us being honest about our absolute need for God's deliverance. Truly recognizing that we are powerless.

Foundational faith is coming to an understanding of the saving and Holy nature of God, and trusting in it.

Foundational faith is accepting the love of God both in times of testing and in times of peace.

Rod Hembree says that, "Faith is a strange mix of God's WORD in us, entangled with the experiences our Lord takes us through." 

That is why Jesus commanded, not suggested, that we not only hear His words, but apply them to our daily walk. Put them in place and allow the Spirit of God to work in us, changing us into the child He desires us to be. It is all a part of that "new creation" lifestyle where the old has gone and the new has come.

Check out Psalm 11 for yourself today...
See what God would show you...

God on you...


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Not Running From....Running To!

Romans 1:1
Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God.

Made a decision to tackle the book of Romans, so I started last night reading.
This morning, I made my way to the office that I clean, armed with my trusty mp3 player, downloaded with Dr. J. Vernon McGee's commentary on the book of Romans.

Right off the bat in chapter one, verse one,God caught my attention with the words....Separated to.
When we think of separation, we think of being cut off from something. Be put at a distance from someone or something. Yet here in Scripture, Paul states that he was separated to something...that something being the gospel or good news of what Jesus can do for a life.

When someone goes into treatment for their addiction, the most common problem they experience is the idea of being separated from the things they love.
They are asked to give up their drugs, which has been their best friend for years. Never mind the pain and is a very warped relationship.
They are asked to give up their again, a love affair is being ended.
They are asked to give up old friends (at least we see them as friends..they usually aren't..just co-conspirators in using).
They are asked to give up places they use to frequent..or as treatment refers to it...."You've got to find new play grounds."
So the person coming into treatment has a huge mental check list of things they are being told they must separate from. Things they must give up. My thought is to encourage them to begin to look at what God is going to give back in return.

But they are never told....for the most part...that they can be separated "TO" someone...
Separated to something that will produce within them, the ability to walk out a new life...a new way of seeing and doing business with the world.
It's not enough to be separated from something...
You have to be separated to someone or something...In this case....Jesus Christ and the good news of the gospel. Paul goes on to define this gospel as containing the Power of God to salvation. It isn't just flowery words...or pie-in-the-sky hope that the planets will line up in your favor. No! It is the unshakable truth that God is who He claims to be and can do what He has said He would do. Now that is something worth being separated to.

Think on this...
God on you...


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I Do Love Me Some Things

A cold glass of ice tea

Smell of freshly cut grass

Home made ice cream

Night breezes

My grand daughter's laughter

The wisdom of my grand son

water gun battles

A good burger or hot dog

three part harmony when it fits like a glove

the way my wife says my name

waking up to her face ever morning

First ear of corn this year for an evening meal 
(we call it supper)

my son's debates over an evening meal

My two daughters-in-law who are precious beyond reason

the hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"

4th of July on Greene Street

Thunder storms when you can smell the rain before it arrives

vacation's in Florida

Listening to John Wimber, George Creel as the teach God's Word

When the Spirit of God becomes so thick when you're worshiping

A good black and white western

Christmas with the entire family

Communion with my church family

Waking up on Saturday / Sunday morning and easing into the day

The tiredness that comes after accomplishing a task

Small coke (in the green bottle) and a pack of Tom's Peanuts

The truth that the promises of God are "yes" and "amen"

I Corinthians 2:2

When the light comes on and a person gives themselves to Christ

Baptism in the creek

Saturday night at Vineyard Recovery

Godzilla Movies

smell of honeysuckle at dusk

and last 
but certainly not least

The sheer fact that God loves this old man
with all his flaws (I'm letting Him work on them)
and wants him to be a part of His kingdom and family.
for that I am eternally grateful

God on you...


Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing. Not it shall spring forth. Shall you not know it?  I will even make a road (path) in the wil...