Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Dogwood, Christian Brothers And Family

The real Steven and Annie Chapman with Ron Elder.
My first Christian Brothers Falls Festival is where I was introduced to their music.
I was a new creation after years in the darkness.
Lost my way and wandered a bit. Not fun and extremely dangerous.
Vicki and I came home.
We found a group of friends and new family during this time.
George Creel and Central United Methodist Church became a place where Vicki and I were taught and nurtured. Good folks there.
It was a very formative time for me spiritually.
God was redefining me and changing me.
I was swept up on a tide of a new work that had finally reached our state and our city.

Crossing the country from California, we were all affected by the Jesus Movement of the 60's.
I make no apologies for my passion or my love for the music and the people. They were, and still are a gift from my heavenly father. 

What had been a generational voice of dissent and rebellion had been laid hold of by God's Holy Spirit and was now sounding the clarion call of "One Way!"

The summer of love, which had descended into self-gratification on every level, was now resurrected in the agape light of God Himself. 
And the part I still marvel at is that all of this took place outside the walls and rules of the traditional church. 
So enjoy this song by Dogwood.
Let it sink down pass your mind and get all up in your spirit.
At some point we are going to be presented to Christ as His bride.
What a day that will be.
Maranatha, Lord Jesus.

God on you...

Addiction Train Wrecks

Romans 1:21-22
Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.

The hard part of being in this recovery stuff is watching the self destruction of people.
To see them refuse to come to the knowledge and understanding of the truth about their situation. To watch them continue on that path to destruction, all the while trying to help them. A friend of mine told me one time, after dealing with an individual who was addicted, "You know, it shouldn't be this hard to help people!"  Wow, truth times shouldn't be this hard.

To me, it is the story of the rich, young ruler who came to Jesus all hyped up on religion. When confronted with the hard truth that God requires more than just going through some spiritual discipline, the young ruler walked away. The young man had checked off the list all the "to do's" that he thought was important. He neglected the "to be's". It was the change of heart and character that Jesus required. A giving of self to a new way of living, breathing, eating, sleeping and walking around. Jesus went right to the heart of this young man. "Go and sell all you have and give it to the poor, then come and follow me." The man could not. He was not willing to part with the comfort he'd found in this life. The very one he'd been looking for, the Messiah....the deliverer of Israel was standing right in front of him, telling what he needed to do and this man could not do it. He loved his comfort and position more than he desired to be saved. 

To someone in addiction, they want to call the shots when it comes to their life. They want to be the one who makes all the decisions that will affect them. Trouble is, their thinking has become muddled and their hearts darkened with the stain of sin. The twisted process of their thinking is what I refer to as "Addict-a-logic". It makes sense in the mind of the individual, but not to anyone else. Unless there is an intervention by the Spirit of God to this individual, there really isn't anything that can be done or said to them. Any attempt to reason will be met with resistance and twisted to fit the purpose of the one who needs help. All part of the train-wreck mentality that comes with the territory when your train is addiction. Example of addict-a-logic.
1.) I'm a user

2.) My using takes money
3.) I fall behind on my debt and my bills.
4.) I don't want to quit using
5.) I can't pay my bills.
6.) I decide that the easiest way for me to catch up on my bills is to gamble and win the big jackpot.
7.) I spend money I don't have to chase a pipe dream that will never come to fruition.
8.) I fall farther and farther behind.
9.) The depression and guilt and shame only fuels my addiction to use more.
10.) I jump the tracks and crash and burn.
11.) End of story - which usually includes either death, prison or some form of institutionalism. 

Sounds hopeless doesn't it?
Well, its not. And it is this daily battle that calls people to confront and pray and speak to the darkness that has become known as addiction. It is an opportunity to display the Power of God, the Higher Power the big book of A.A. speaks of, into the lives of those who are trapped.  Does everyone get it? No, they don't. But if we don't face this battle each day, then no one will. I'm telling you, there is nothing greater than when the Spirit of God awakens someone from their addiction and hope begins to grow in that individuals heart. You can watch the process move forward as time goes by. Every life does not have to be a train wreck waiting to happen. Some have found the Power and presence of Jesus, and have continued on down the tracks to their destination.

Funny to me that in the big book of A.A. there is a chapter entitled "There Is A Solution".
Do you think maybe I need to read that one?
Now that's some good stuff.

God on you....

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

You Were Created To THRIVE

Could the church be the catalyst that changes western culture?
In early centuries, the church was known as the place of compassion and restoration. 
It was the hub of communities because it offered hope. Today there are more people suffering from the fallout of abuse, violence, addiction and trauma than ever before. The basic skills for joyful relationships have weakened and disappeared from one generation to the next.

Thriving: recover Your Life moves people to live a life of emotional freedom from past wounds, pain, and trauma. Because this program gives normal, everyday people the skills to overcome their own hurts, pain and emotional stumbling blocks, it is self-propagating. 

Once skills are learned, they are shared with others in their circle of influence, including family members, church members, co-workers and neighbors. This program also offers a life-giving approach to spiritual growth and renewal by an enhanced personal relationship with God.

These words you have just read, are taken from a brochure produced by the Thriving Program.
I love the opening statement. "Could the church be the catalyst that changes western culture?"
It isn't referencing church in the context of a building or a denomination. It is hitting home the point that people...people who are living this daily life with God, can and will make a difference in the lives of others.

I do not believe it is chance that God has called me back to Gadsden Vineyard to start a Recovery Church (if that is what you want to call it). I do not believe it is by chance that Gadsden Vineyard just happens to have a Thriving meeting every Monday night. I truly believe that His purpose is connect the two together. That those who come on Monday may be healed and given purpose in their lives, and that they have the opportunity to become a part of a community of others who are learning how to live in this new relationship with Christ. 

To me, the entire process of healing that comes with recovery, being free from old lifestyles and learning how to walk and live and eat and breath in this new relationship with Christ is found in Psalm 1

Oh the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers.
Here we see a very clear directive of the benefits of having this change of life.
The opening words...."Oh the joys"....the King James says that "Blessed is". Or there is great favor in the change. Favor to move ahead away from the old ways of living. Favor to face the unknown and not be deterred from anything that may come up to stop you.

But they delight in doing everything the LORD wants. Day and night they think about his law.
Even the very emotional and mental well being of the individual who has been given this new way of living has changed. They find joy in things they never dreamed possible. They find peace and contentment in the life that has been given to them. Day and night their minds will be drawn to God. A whole bunch of "Thank you's" will ascend to heaven with each blessing they realize they have been given.

They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.
Here we see the stability that comes with this new life. Instead of being driven and tossed about by the things we face everyday, we are like a tree planted by a source of nourishment that sustains and continues to feed us. What is the byproduct of living such a life? We begin to produce fruit. Aren't fruit trees suppose to do that? Produce fruit? Of course they are. Humans were not created to live lives of destruction, emotional devastation and broken relationships. We were created to flourish and prosper in the hands of God. That comes in this new way of living we are pursuing. 

If you're looking for some places to connect with others, you might consider our two meetings we offer at Gadsden Vineyard.
Thriving: headed up by Amy Brown, meets every Monday evening at 6:30.
Vineyard Recovery Church: Meets every Saturday Night at 7:00

We'd love to see you!
God on you...


Monday, July 29, 2013

When Everything Is Crumbling, Hold Tight His Hand

People come...
People Go.....
People fall in and out of love....
Governments change....
Culture and society is as stable as the waves that crash the shore...
But there is one constant through out history.
The unchanging hand of God.
He beckons us to come and walk with Him.
To place our hand in His and follow His leading.
Not to be concerned with the direction we are headed in...for He knows the way far better than we do, we simply hold tight His hand.

When fear overtakes us, He squeezes our hand to let us know that He is there.

No need to fear.
When burdens weigh us down, He gently lifts us to his chest and carries us until the darkness passes.
When questions and doubts seek to bury us under an avalanche of confusion....He takes us by both hands to steady us and help us to stand.

The unchanging hand of God will never fail if we lay hold of it.
It is not a mental exercise or a theory.

It is a truth older than the world itself.
The unchanging hand of God is driven by a heart of love for His creation.
Gentle enough to stroke the cheek of a newborn babe, and strong enough to send the minions of hell fleeing in every direction. Such are the hands of God.
Whose hand are you holding on to today?
Or are your hands empty and your simply trying to take this journey in your own ability?

This was one of my dad's favorite songs.
God on you...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

II Peter 3:9

The verse above from II Peter Chapter 3, was the core of our teaching last night at Vineyard Recovery.
We have been tracking the book of Romans over the past 6 weeks and we're still in chapter 1. Lots of meat there on them "verse bones" to chew on.
Everything was upbeat and positive for the first 17 verses. Lot's of encouragement and "hang in there, you'll make it" kind of words. But then beginning in verse 18, things started to turn dark. Dark as in spiritually dark. Paul began to write about the lifestyle and consequences of a people who rejected God. Rejected His word...refused to give Him His rightful place in their lives. 

Because of their choice to live life on their terms rather than receive from God, their ability to think and reason became clouded, but they didn't even notice this. V21 says "And their foolish hearts were darkened." Their reasoning started to be driven and influenced by their sinful nature. Choices were made based on fleshly appetites not on the truth of God. Believe you me, it was a downward spiral at the point and the destination was DE-struction.

But the one thing that I had never seen before in these verses, was the incredible love God has for humanity. Love is not mentioned at all in the verses, but it drips and hangs over the entire passage. God didn't have to put these verses in His word. He could have left them out. We would never have known it or given any thought to it. But He did include them. Why? Because of God's love for His creation, He wanted us to see the reality of what happens to a person who rejects Him. He wanted us to understand the terrible implications of being the ruler of our life rather than turning to Him for real life.
God truly did (and continues to) so love this world. 

I don't think the words of II Peter 3:9 are merely window decoration to make us feel good.
I think they cut right to the heart of the Kingdom of God. It is God's desire than no one should perish and be locked away under the rule and reign of Satan. His desire is that all come to repentance and, as such, God goes the extra in His Word and action to reveal this to everyone. His heart is that everyone receive His gift of eternal life. 

Sometimes we have to see the results of dark choices that run contrary to God's will in order to appreciate the life we have been given. God chose to put those verses there in Romans to serve as a warning. A loving Father who wants only the best for His children, God is ready to move us on in this thing we call life. Move us on and watch over us as we grow and mature in Him. How cool is that? Way cool!

God on you...


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Tis' A Bloody Gospel

Hebrews 9:22
.......And without the shedding of blood there is neither release from sin and its guilt nor the remission of the due and merited punishment for sins.

What can wash away my sin, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Not the blood of animals taken to a temple to pay my debt. But the pure, sinless blood of Almighty God Himself, walking on this planet as one of us. People don't want to believe this. People want the easier, softer way to live this life and the next. But the truth stands above every human wish and desire to change the power and healing capabilities of the blood of Christ.

What can make me whole again, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Complete, put together, functioning in the way I was created to. That is the power of the blood of Christ. Psychology can't bring wholeness to me. Medicine can put me back together. Religion can't lift me into the presence of God. Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Oh precious is that flow, that makes me white as snow.
We have got to return to the place where we recognize the value of the blood of Jesus. Freely poured out on a hill outside the walls of the city of Jerusalem.
A hillside that had known rivers of blood. Many man had walked through the gates of that town, cross strapped to their backs. Many a man had felt the whip of Rome and had taken that journey to Calvary. But only one man carried within Himself the healing for the world. What can stand to challenge the death and resurrection of this man? Nothing and no one. 

No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.
There isn't any other source of life. All others pale in comparison. They boast of their capabilities, but their words are empty promises. Trash and litter blown by the wind around the feet of the masses. But the blood and word of Christ delivers every time. 

It is not in vogue to speak of the blood of Christ. It offends people, so we shouldn't make them uncomfortable. Such is the mindset of some who claim to be a part of His body...His church. We need to be offended. We don't need the soft words of a bloodless Christianity. It only feeds our flesh and whisks us away on flowery ideology all the way to hell. I go back to the line from the hymn, "Oh precious is that flow".....the unsurpassed worth and value of that which was shed on my behalf so that I would not be separated from God. Such things as this are beyond my comprehension, but I find a thankfulness that cannot be put into words, for what God has done for humanity.

Thanks for letting me ramble this morning....
Been on my mind...
Been in my heart....

See you tonight at Vineyard Recovery / 7 p.m.

God on you....

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Screaming Me-Me's

Psalm 51:15-17
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
For you do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it.
You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken spirit and a contrite heart----
These, O God, You will not despise.

Isn't it crazy all the things you did while you were drunk or high?
Things you screamed out loud for everyone to hear.....
Songs you thought you could sing but weren't very good at it.
Dancing and gyrating all over creation under the influence of whatever the drug du'jour was.

But let a little sobriety come into our life, and we clam up.
We have nothing to say...

Nothing to share.
Especially in a meeting (church or otherwise such as A.A. or Celebrate Recovery).
We become a silent witness for Jesus....
Secret Agents for the Lord......Double "O" Nothings.
Now I've been out at Rapha during football season.
I've have felt the very foundation of my office shake because someones team scored a touchdown. Screaming and yelling...jumping and shouting....over a football game.

Is that wrong? No. It's fun to let off a little steam and cut loose a bit.
But you know what?
It seems to me that what Jesus has done for us should bring out a little more demonstration of gratitude that it usually does.

Bible says we are to be filled with the Spirit and not drunk on wine.
Alcohol has a tendency to lower your inhibitions....
Would it not make sense that the Spirit of God in us would do the same....
Lower those inhibiting behaviors the devil is trying to stick us with.
I can hear him now (the devil).....
"Sit down and shut up. Don't you dare say a word and embarrass yourself."

What do we do? We sit down in rows of chairs or pews...and never show any response to the incredible gift God has poured out in us.

In the verses in Psalm sounds like David is a bit inhibited himself.
He is praying and asking God to open his lips so he can get all up into shouting praises to God.
Try it....
While your driving, just cut loose shouting out a whole bunch of "Thank You"s to Jesus.
Give a couple of "Whoo-hoo's" for the Lord.
My favorite is actually an old Sly and Family Stone song....." I want to thank You for letting me be myself....again!!!" Gratitude to Jesus. IT doesn't get any better than this.

In Psalm 51, you have a man, David, who is very much in touch with all the stinky-ness of his life.
In fact, he has just been uncovered in some really nasty sin. But David understands that God loves him enough to uncover David and not let him get away with anything. The need to repent and be restored won out over the need to hide the sin and hopelessly believe a lie that you may have, in fact, gotten away with it. Not David! He was quick to deal with his sin and then let the praise party begin. 

Just like the Psalm reads....the beginning of praises begin with a broken heart and spirit that is 
Contrite. What does "contrite" mean? Contrition or contriteness (from the Latin contritus 'ground to pieces', i.e. crushed by guilt) is sincere and complete remorse for sins one has committed. The remorseful person is said to be contrite.  Crushed by guilt? Ground to pieces....believe it or not, this is a good place for praises to start. Realizing that we can't do anything but mess up....and God can do everything. "You know what? I think I'll just do me a little praising all up in the house."

Don't let the enemy steal your praises.
Let them flow from you daily....
Praise God from whom all blessing flow. Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above the heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

God on you...

Thursday, July 25, 2013

I-Pad's Problems With Audio Messages

Don't know why but none of the audio downloads show up on my ipad anymore. Column for audio messages to download at right of page is always empty. Even wed. Song post doesn't provide link. They show up on pc but no longer accessible on ipad. I still can get them on my phone which is where i listen mostly anyway. But ipad is blank. Anyway FYI. If folks can only access on ipad they may have problems like me. Works fine on pc and phone just blank on ipad. 

Evidently we have some Tech. problems with the blog.
To be honest, I'm not tech savy enough to solve it, but I will be seeking help to remedy it, if a solution exists. May just be that people with I-pads aren't able to access it.


They Threw It Away

Romans 1:21-22
Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.

Bowls of soup for our birthright, and inheritance.
Cup of hot tea for the promises.
A sandwich for the seed in my heart.
A feeling for my faith...
Such are the things that we throw away.
Such are the things we trade off to appease our fleshly appetite.
Our sin nature, if you will.
Throw away? Why would we do that?
Because we can't see the value of them....
You can't fully understand  the value of the promises of God until you find the value of Him.

We trade and give away the eternal things of God, for a temporary satisfaction of our flesh.
We can't see tomorrow because of today.
We will worry about tomorrow when it gets here.
We have to take care of the right now craving we are going through.
That insatiable "itch" that won't go away.
That itch that fills our minds with a voice that screams to be satisfied.
To be fed...
To be taken care of.

But there is one....
yet there is three....
He stands as Father of all fathers. Your own earthly father may have let you down and hurt you in unspeakable ways.
He won't.
He stands as Son. Ready to act on your behalf as the Father directs Him.
And He stands as the ultimate Spirit. He is the comforter. The guide to direct us through this maze we call life. Using the truth of God as a weapon, He will defend us against all lies and deception the enemy...a.k.a. the devil, will throw at us.

Addiction has a voice. It is smooth and soothing to the soul that does not walk with God.
It whispers sweet delights and the only thing required to feast at its table is to surrender will an life over to its care.
To simply choose what it offers at the expense of knowing God.
In fact, addiction will tell you that it can coexist with God.
Twisted logic and dark hearts are not a good combination.
As it fills you with empty promises, it leads you down the path to destruction.
Don't be fooled by this voice.

Cry out to God right now....right where you are...if anything you've read strikes a chord in your heart.
Cry out for Him to come and reveal Himself to you.
Cry out for Him to come and save you from the darkness that wants to destroy you.
God will never forsake you.

God on you....

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Audio Message From VRF 7/20/2013

Slogging through the ongoing study of Romans.
Chapter 1:21-25
"Am I Capable Of Such Things?"

Enjoy the download...


From the late 80's....
A song I wrote that was later recorded for a "give away" tape (remember those? Tapes?) that the Gadsden Vineyard Church put together. 
Nori Kelley was the producer and played the kicking guitar at the first.
Brook Finlayson added lead and background vocals.
Debbie Handy soared above us all with the harmonies.

Hope you enjoy this blast from the past.

God Is Speaking Through The Weather

Job 38:4-7
"Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Do you know how its dimensions were determined and who did the surveying? What supports its foundations and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and all the angles shouted for joy?"

All though out the book of Job you have this running conversation between Job and his so-called friends. Back and forth, back and forth expounding and postulating as to the nature of God and how He acts toward mankind.

Eventually it reads as if God has had enough and steps into the conversation.
Bottom line----how can finite humanity understand the ways and thoughts of infinite God. Answer: We can't.

God spoke to me this morning concerning the weather we are currently experiencing. You and I both know that this isn't typical July/Alabama Summer Weather. On Sunday, Vicki actually took a blanket and covered up on the couch, saying, "I'm freezing!" 

During my quiet time this morning, God spoke to me.
Here is what I heard, as best as I can remember and repeat for you.
"The weather has you confused. You have tried to reason as to the "why" of it, but you have no answer. I am doing this. I am bringing the rain and the lower temperatures. Why? Because you have fallen into a pattern of expecting the same things over and over. It's will be will be humid. The grass will die. I am showing this to you to wake you up from your ways of simply accepting what you believe will always happen."

"Don't lock your understanding down---just because a thing happened one way in the past, doesn't mean that it will be that way in the future. Just because you expect the same thing over and over again, you become use to that way of thinking. you become comfortable with it. Truth be known, you quit believing that I can do what I have claimed I would do.  you talk about the weather and even though you try and predict it, you are powerless to control it. You are helpless and without power. All you can do is live in the moment. Learn from this example. Quit accepting what is and start expecting what could be from my hand."

Basic message I took away? God is in control. He is showing us this through our weather patterns we are currently experiencing. He stands above how we think things should be done. He is calling us to move from accepting to expecting.
WE have accepted too much from this world already. It is time we start moving with the expectation of Your Kingdom Come...Your Kingdom Will Be Done....Right here in this it is being done in heaven. 

We have lived far too long accepting addiction and the destruction it brings.
Maybe we should start living in the expectation of healing only God can bring.

We have lived far too long accepting disease and sickness.
Maybe we should start living in the expectation of the Kingdom mandate from God  that Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8). 

The word that I received is related to living in recovery. 
We must (hear this)...
We must acknowledge what we cannot do in our own strength and power.

We must look for that Power....that Higher Power....whose name is Jesus, and give ourselves to it. Lay hold of Him and do not let Him go. Quit accepting the voices from your past that accuse you and condemn you. Listen for God's voice and learn to hear Him no matter what may be going around you or in you.

God on you....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Recovery 101: A Simple View Of What It's All About

John 1:4
Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone.

I do not claim to be an expert in recovery, or Scripture or any theological matters.
Sometimes the main thing is simply the main thing.
Over the years, I have read and listened to people a lot smarter than me get wrapped around the axle about addiction and recovery.

Is addiction a disease?
Is it Genetic?
Is it a by product of the environment a person was raised in?
Or could it be because of something so simple as a condition of the heart.
The heart, as in the center of our being. 
That place we love from, build our belief system from, and either receive or reject God from.

I have a good friend who came to our very first Vineyard Recovery meeting.
After it was over, they slipped me a piece of paper. I'd like to share the words that were written on it.

"The biggest addiction is not drugs or alcohol. But the addiction of the mind and the heart that tells us we are less that who God says we are. Remember we are recovering from a broken relationship with God. We are all looking for recovery."

Think about it....
People are addicted to drugs...
To alcohol....
To sex....
To gambling....
To work....
To food...

and the list goes on and on and on.
What is the one common factor in all of this?
It is something that plagues humanity.
In other words, the human heart is the one constant in all of this.

The human heart which is born under and with a sin nature.
A bent to run from anything God in order to run our own lives independent from God.
How's that working out? Not to good.
So addiction....any form of addiction begins with a simple thought and desire to do what we want to do. Then acting on it. Repeated over and over again, strongholds are erected in our minds and our belief system that lie to us about the process of recovery. At Rapha we teach a series of "False Belief's". Ways of thinking that come about in the addictive lifestyle. False Belief # 4 is the most dangerous to me. It states, "I am what I am, I am hopeless, I cannot change." That is the belief in a heart and mind that has lost hope of every changing.
Now as the addiction grows and dependency increases, the thought process gets skewed and our ability to reason is compromised by the addiction itself.

If you know anything about the Twelve Steps, you know that the first step is an admission of inability on our part to manage our lives and our using.
This admission that the answer does not lie within turns our attention outward looking for a POWER greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity (the ability to make sound decisions). All of this because the Spirit of God is drawing us into relationship with Himself. At Step # 3 we make the decision to turn will and life over to His care. IN other words, we simply begin to process of following God's leading and direction over our own wants and desires.

Surrounding ourselves with like minded people who are also on this journey, gives us the support and love we need to get on in this new way of living.
No more secrets in our lives, as we commit to live a life of rigorous honesty. That means no more secrets to hide behind. 
At times yes, at times no.

But it is well worth the journey.
Look back to the verse at the beginning of this post.
John 1: 4
Referring to Jesus, in Him was life.
And it was His life that he was willing to give all who believed in Him.
And the life He gives is light, or the ability to see and understand how to live free from sin. That is the ultimate present.

God on you....

Monday, July 22, 2013

I Have Met The Enemy And He Is Me!

Recovery Basics:101 -  You are who you hang out with.
Everyone who comes into treatment or begins a program to deal with their addiction knows this. But what most people don't realize, is that they themselves are the number # 1 person they don't need to hang out with.
In other words, isolation is the killer to any recovery.

When I'm left alone with my thoughts, I will lean toward going to that dark place where using or drinking is probably going to happen.

When I'm alone at home, I will more than likely give in to the emotional thoughts that come up in my mind. We will perceive the pressure we are feeling from life is greater than it actually is. We will feel that the slights and hurts from others is like a open wound with salt in it. All of these will be compounded by the isolation and the very simple thought of "I can get away with using. No one is around and no one will know." Truth is, God is there with you. He is not silent and if you listen for Him, you will hear Him bringing encouragement and help. 

We can come up with a million reasons why we don't need to be around others, but none of them are valid. We need community. We need people around us who are like-minded. Who can encourage us to keep on this journey with Jesus and our sobriety. There is strength in numbers....there is safety in the group....there is encouragement from each other. Sounds like church doesn't it? 

The very first word of Step # 1 of the Twelve Steps is "WE".
Not "I" or "me".......but We.
We have the collective experience that can be drawn from to aid us in this new way of living.
We can point each other to the Christ who IS the only Higher Power.

After all....
We really don't have an alcohol or drug problem....
We've got a living problem.
Somewhere along the way, we have allowed our hearts and character to be deceived. Just like the woman in Genesis 3, we have bought the lies of the devil.
We have tasted the fruit and it was sweet, and it was good.

But the consequences that followed our choice have brought utter destruction into our lives.

This is why God lead me to start Vineyard Recovery.
A place where we can gain strength and courage for the journey.
A place where we can grow in our understanding of who this Jesus really is.
A place where we can experience that change of character we all need to walk out this new life and relationship with Jesus.

A place where we can connect and realize what an incredible family God is providing us with.

If you are free this next Saturday, we'd love to have you come and join us.
It's about progress..."
not perfection in this journey of recovery.

God on you...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Peaceful Easy Grace

Here's A Snipet From Last Night's Service. Many thanks to Deb Hooks for shooting this and posting it.

It Was A Good Night---It Was A God Night!

Acts 2:44
Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common.

It was that kind of night last night.
A God night.
A night where you just knew that you had been in His presence.

It had nothing to do with me or anyone else who came through the doors, but you just knew that He was a very real presence.

We had another baptism last night.
Young boy who'd expressed a desire to be baptized had come with his parents and his sister.
I had forgotten that we had talked about this, so I had not prepared for it.
I apologized for it and told him we would reschedule it for another time.
God had a different idea.

Jason and Jeremiah took over and while the meeting was going on, they prepared everything for the baptism.
God wanted this to happen.

My wife worshiped. 
You see, my wife is a true worshiper. By that, I mean that when we enter into the music,she is oblivious to anyone and anything around her. Like she has told me before, "When I start to worship, everything around me disappears, and it is just God and me." During the song, "Lily Of The Valley", she began to sing from here heart. Such things are not done to draw attention to herself, but rather to pay honor and glory to God. In fact, you'd have to know my wife to understand that she does not crave any attention or the limelight. She just loves God. I've told her repeatedly that I am always moved when I see her walking in freedom during our times of worship.

Teaching was from Romans 1:21-24.
This was our fifth teaching from Romans, as we continue to look at a community of believers who were living in the middle of a society and culture gone bad.

This particular passage we were on last night, to me, was God showing the potential of the human heart when decisions are made outside of His will. Such decisions lead us down the slippery slope to self-destruction. The continual rejection of God point to a scary place. Therefore, God also gave them up to uncleanness...
God continues to show His love for those who have begun this descent from His will and His presence. But at some point, God will turn loose to let you pursue the very thing you have rejected Him for.
I thing the point in the teaching last night was to show the potential of the human heart when someone lives for their own desires and wants. God continues to woo and draw back that person who has rejected the offer of real life.

At the "After-meeting" meeting, we gathered to share our perspective on what had happened during our meeting. It is an opportunity to learn from each other and pray for specific needs.
Ann Wynn, executive director of Sandy's Place, A local treatment center, is hosting an event next Saturday at the falls to raise funds for her program. Multiple bands and much more will be happening. I think it starts at 1 p.m. and goes till 11 p.m. So if you're free and you want to support a wonderful cause....Go by and at least make a donation to SANDY'S PLACE.

We got a chance to pray for a young couple who are leaving for Honduras on August 11. They are in need of financial support to make the trip. Not anxious or fretful, they are trusting God that He will provide.

Like I said, it was a good night.......It was a God night.
Thanks to Deb Hooks for the cake and coffee....I had a piece of the cake for breakfast this morning. Yes, my mother is turning over in her grave. Cake! For Breakfast!

A million thanks to Barry Hooks for going out to Rapha and picking up the guys so they could come last night. 

If your free next Saturday...
Come and join us.
We'll do it all over again.
Come together and see what God is up to.

God on you...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Taking A Hard Look

STEP # 1
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol ( and other mood altering substances) and that our lives had become unmanageable.

Hard place to begin, this Step # 1.
But something has clicked by the time you arrive here.

Something has shot up a flare, or hoisted the white flag in you life, because you have the urge, the desire to quit drinking and using.
It could be a gnawing fear of what might happen if you don't stop.
It could be the tiredness and emptiness of trying to hide the using.
It could be a combination of all of the above.
But whatever the reason, it's a good place to start.

Being a pastor, I can't help but believe that maybe God had something to do with your decision.
You see, recovery is more than just being alcohol/drug free.

Recovery is more than not drinking or using.
Recovery is just what the name implies.

The taking back and the restoration of the things that you have lost or traded away. Things such as on and on.
You see, this Jesus, that I have fallen in love with, is the ultimate restoration specialist. But everything in this madness we refer to as addiction begins with the ultimate truth. We have a problem.

We want to stop using.
We have the best intentions of quitting.
We just can't seem to stop.
Well, guess what? It isn't a matter of will power.
IT is a matter of the heart.

IT is a matter of the blood.
IT is a matter of the mind.

The heart, because somewhere along the way, we made a conscious decision to start. It may have been purely social. We drink because we are surrounded by others who also drink. We didn't want to stand out our be perceived as being prudish or anti-social. Guess what? The bottom line is you have an need to have the approval of others. If you don't, then you feel bad about yourself.
We call that False Belief #2.
So we made a choice.

Did this make us a person who abuses alcohol? No, but it certainly opened the door to start the journey.
It all began with a choice. Now that you have followed that choice, it seems that the ability to choose has been taken away. Welcome to the wonderful world of addiction and dependency.
But there is hope.

Hope found in a person.
That person would be Jesus.

I love the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15.
Here we have a young man who has decided he can live his life on his own.
He shakes down his dad for his part of the inheritance his dad has set aside for him.

Packs his suitcase and it is "good bye farm, hello big city."
Like drinking/ using, it is all glamour at first. The feeling you get from just holding that glass, the taste, the warmness it brings to your body and mind. It is your best friend.
But repeated over and over again, that friend turns into your master, and you, a slave.

The prodigal son was living high on the hog.
Money, women, drink, partying.

But then the bottom came up and smacked him right square in the face.
Funny part is, that this bottom-smacking was sudden. It didn't just suddenly appear out of nowhere. It slowly and deliberately add away at the young man until he had lost everything.

My favorite part of this entire saga is the verse that says, "And no one gave him anything, he came to his senses." 
That is the bottom.
You have lost everything, or you realize that you are going to loose everything if you don't stop.

Coming to your senses is the heart of Step# 1..
I look beyond what I want to do.

I look beyond what ever lie I may be telling myself, that I can stop whenever I want to.
And I take a long, hard, cold look at the simple fact that I am powerless to change.

What is the evidence?
My life has become unmanageable.

When you can look at Step #1 and honestly say, "That is me! That is the truth!"
The journey has begun.

God on you this day!


Friday, July 19, 2013

Final Score: God - 1....The Devil - 0

Psalm 51:6
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden parts You will make me to know wisdom.

Truth is a powerful force especially when it's God's truth.
The young man sat in front of me, defiant and angry.
He had been sent to treatment instead of serving a jail sentence.
This was his opportunity to change and move on with his life.
Instead, his eyes were focused and ready to argue at the drop of a hat with anyone who would challenge him.

I've met others like him many times before, so I knew where this was leading.
Extending my hand, I introduced myself and told him I was glad he was in the program.

He refused to shake my hand. I was the enemy.
Self-proclaimed atheist, he was ready to do battle with anyone who brought God into the picture.
I wasn't about to challenge him.
But I did explain a couple of things to him.
1.) You chose us, we didn't choose you.
2.) We are a Christian / faith-based treatment center, therefore we are going to talk about Jesus.
I assured him I was not about to "Shove Jesus down his throat." Seems to be the term most used by atheist addicts. This whole "shoving Jesus" idea. Funny part, I never told him that I wouldn't direct Jesus to his heart. Forget about the throat, lets go for the real deal, the heart.

The young man was looking for a fight, so to speak. He was looking for someone to challenge him. I was there to simply love him. He never saw it coming.
During the 2 p.m. class, I began to teach about the power of sin/addiction and how the only solution to the lifestyle was not medical or psychological, but rather one of the heart.
The whole addiction process was the result of a broken relationship with Jesus Christ. Only he could put the pieces of our own destruction back together. Jesus is the great healer. He is the restorer of shattered lives. On and on I went, taking them through the Scriptures.  I knew that God was at work on this young man, that the Holy Spirit was probing and uncovering the very fabric of his heart.

I began to pray....
The young man began to cry.

God came.

He gave his life and will to God as he understood him.
That is the God I serve!
One that takes love and shatters walls and strongholds built by the devil and his kingdom of darkness.
I don't know what today will hold, but I would that you pray for this young man.

Pray protection over him, that he would grow in this new found way of life that has been given to him.

That God.....
He is something else, isn't he?

God on you.....

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Good Word From David And Gia Downs Of The Huntsville Vineyard

David and Gia Downs talk about their vision for missions.
Keep in mind that mission is another word for "serving".
So a mission fellowship can be as far away as Africa or New Zealand...and it can be as close as Vineyard Recovery on Saturday night.
God's call for us is to create community for a sin-specific group of people. By that, I mean those who are dealing with addiction.
Our call is to be a mission of hope, love, and the real-deal truth about who God is.

We are all learning how to live and function in this new life God has given to us.
It's messy...
It's fun....
You'll want to quit sometimes and run away...
But you won't because we are committed to Him and to each other.

Come and join us....
Vineyard Recovery every Saturday night at 7 p.m.

God on you....
Michael & Vicki Bynum

VRF audio 7/13/13

Continuing on in our teaching from Romans.
Learning how to live in a culture that doesn't find value in who Christ is and what He has to offer.
Feel free to download...
to share...
to cast upon the gossamer wings of the night wind to be taken to realm beyond the sea...
er...excuse me. I don't know where that one came from...

The Umpire Doesn't Say, "Work Ball!" He says, "Play Ball!"

The title of today's posting comes from former major league baseball player Dave Winfield. When asked if being on a major league ball team was his dream job. Dave replied, "Dude, this isn't a job. The umpire doesn't say "Work ball" he says "Play ball!" This is an attitude we need to adopt to the Kingdom of God and our place in this world. It isn't a job, it's an opportunity to play in His kingdom. To literally see His kingdom come, His kingdom will be done here on earth as it is being carried out in heaven.
                                                  7/18/13 m.b.b.

Here's a term for you.....
The priesthood of the believers.
That one will bring up all kind of mental images won't it?
Clerics in robes....rituals and traditions.
It just makes all the religious hairs on our body stand up and scream, "Run Away!"
But before you do, consider one thing.
Everyone gets to play.
Everyone gets to play.
Play what?
In the Kingdom of God.

You are a priest....I am a can run away! No, wait. Let's take a look at this thing.
If you have been saved....been born again....had your ticket punched or whatever term you use to refer to relationship with Jesus....then you get to play in His kingdom. God has granted/given to each of us a measure of authority and power to carry out the things that Jesus started.

What do I mean when I say that everyone"gets to play?"
We have been called to participate in the works that Jesus did.
"You mean like pray for the sick?"
Actually no...I mean heal the sick. Jesus didn't just pray for them, He healed them.
Now you can run away. Not!
I know what you're thinking. "Me? Me? You don't mean Me, do you? I can't do that...pray and see people healed?" Your right you can't. But God can and will.
We are merely cooperating with God in the work He is carrying out here on earth.

This is pretty heady stuff for someone coming out of addiction and taking their first baby steps in recovery. But that is the plan, always has been, always will be. Join in the work of Jesus. I mean, come on! Why would you want to be saved and spend the rest of your life sitting in a chair or pew at church, taking up space, not doing anything. Why not venture out into uncharted territory where you've never gone before (Sounds like Star Trek, doesn't it?). Actually learning how to hear to pray for to to be a part of the body of Christ.

This is what Vineyard Recovery is all about.
Let's get real here. We are all messed up to some degree. We all have our baggage of wrong attitudes, behaviors, and sins that we need to turn loose of. In this on going process of allowing God to work in us, we have been given this incredible opportunity to tell our story to others who are probably struggling like we are. The only difference is that they may not "know" this Jesus we talk about. They may be familiar with who Jesus is, but that isn't the same as knowing Him. Here, from this place, we get to pray for them. Maybe they need to know that God simply loves them, that their understanding of God is that He is an angry old coot up in heaven with a hand full of lightning bolts just waiting to whack them. We know that isn't true, so we can be His voice, speaking the truth of God's love. We can demonstrate the love of God by asking the Holy Spirit to come and show us / tell us what we are to pray over this individual.

For every reason you have as to why you can't do this...
I have one good one that says you can.
God told you to!

Didn't your read the fine print when you were saved?
Right there in paragraph 4, section D, line says.."Everyone Gets To Play!"

That is why I'm excited about Vineyard Recovery. We're all learning how to play. How to live and work and share in this thing we call the body of Christ (church). We're learning how to worship and what worship really is. We are starting to see that this Bible we've carried around for a while might actually be a practical book that would help me make it through my day.
And horror or horror's...God is still speaking and He wants to speak to me!!!
How cool is that?

God on you...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wounded Soldier

To be wounded means that I have been engaged in the fight.
I have risked myself for the sake of the call to not stand idly by and watch, but to walk it out everyday.
I will not go back to my old ways of thinking or doing business with the world.
Old folks use to refer to this as "pressing in and pressing on."
To press in shows that there is resistance to your forward progress.
Pressing in is not walked out in my own strength or will, but rather taking my will and placing it squarely on the shoulders and in the hands of Jesus. Then I simply follow.

Being wounded isn't fun or glamorous. But it is part of following after this Jesus.
Rest assured that with the wounds that you suffer, there is healing.
Sometimes the wounds come from people you thought were your friends. They will stab you with accusations and slander.......saying that you've changed. You've gone over the edge with this "God" stuff.
You turned into a Holy Joe or, dare I say it?  Their words will tear and rip at your heart causing you to think to yourself, "What have I done to deserve this?" Well, you've done nothing but given your life to the call of Christ.

To me this is the hardest part in the whole recovery process. When a person begins this new journey with Jesus, they long to be understood and accepted. Trouble is, we look for understanding and acceptance in the world. The world (Society or cultural system) will never accept us. Just as Christ said, "The world hates me...the world will hate you." The arrows of hateful words shot at us,do wound us and scar us, but as I said earlier, there is healing in Christ. He'll turn all the hurt into a love for those who brought the pain. I can't let the devil take my pain and hurt and coerce me to use it as a weapon against the ones who brought it to me. I can take all the pain and hurt and forge it in the fires of forgiveness, releasing me to love again.

Like Danny Daniels put it so aptly...."I am loved, I am accepted by the one who saved my soul."
If you are suffering from open wounds that are still fresh after years and years of bitterness, it's time to be healed.
If you are carrying around the ripped and torn places in your soul from the damage done to you by those closest to you, it's time to allow the great physician to heal you.
Don't let the past define who you are today.
Recover from the past.
Recover from the hurt and pain.
Recover from the old way of thinking and living.

In other words, lay hold of Jesus' hand and press in and press on.
God on you..

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sweet Lies Or The Real Truth?

They come on the heels of your pain with promises to soothe.
Those voices that speak soft and low.
They wrap tender arms around your heart and whisper that it will be o.k. if you will only invite them in.

They are the promises
Promises that mean nothing.
Promises spoken by sweet tender voices of darkness.
Such are the ways of a flesh appetite when tied to drugs and alcohol.
Always promising but never fulfilling.
Empty promises that only give birth to empty lives.
Empty lives which are left discarded like so much trash strewn along the highway. Only declaring that once a life had existed that meant something but now has lost its way following hard after those empty promises. Left for dead by the side of the path. No one notices...and no one seems to care.

There is one.....
One who does care.
A person....
Whose words of promise will never fail.

Whose promises promote life now, not something to be laid hold of at some future time. Life!
Take three steps and you'll run into the giver of promises.
He has a name.

Not the Jesus we try to dress up for church, but the one-true-not-watered-down Jesus of the Bible. The one that cannot be defined by the mind, but rather through the heart.
The one who brings strange thoughts to our hearts that contain eternal truth.
Truth that seems almost to be an oxymoron.
IN order to live you have to die.

IN order to get you have to give.
In order to love you have to pray for the very ones on your enemies list.
Such as this doesn't compute in this world, for it is not of this world.
It emanates from a heavenly dwelling and has broken through into our time and space. It is the mandate of the kingdom of God.

The rightful rule and reign of God here on this planet.
Wherever people are loving and following Jesus, then there also will be His Kingdom.

Why not trade the needle for the cross?
Why not pour out the bottle to receive the blood that poured out for you?

Why not discard your "rock" for the real ROCK. 
Take you pain....
All your pain...mix it with your hatred, jealousy, bitterness, unforgiving, self-loathing, bag of feelings and emotions and bring it with you to give away to this Jesus I speak of.

What do you have to loose?
Maybe an old way of living.
What do you have to gain?

God on you...


Monday, July 15, 2013

Words In The NIght

The words flowed through my mind all night....
Over and over and over....
I knew I was dreaming, but it didn't stop them from coming.
When I woke up this morning, they were still there.....

"I can hear the pounding of nails........I can hear the thunder roar. There on that hillside, where wrath was poured on innocence and all my sins were paid for.....when you died for me......Jesus....when you died for me."

If it were possible to be filled with joy during a time of sleep, then last night it happened.
I do not know the "why" of those words filling my dreams....but I am grateful to God that He planted them in me.
Those words come from Hebrews 12:2 --Looking unto Jesus (or fixing our eyes on Jesus), the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Powerful images found in those words.....
The Cross....
Author and finisher...the one who created and brought it to life, as well as the one who completed what we call our faith. The consummation of creator and creation opening the door to redemption and restoration.
I guess the two words that have the most striking contrast is "joy" and "cross". Were there ever two more words than these that did not seem to fit together? The horror of the cross..the pain, the humiliation, the complete dehumanizing drama of being nailed to a piece of wood, and then hoisted up for all the world to look upon you. Yet found next to the word cross we have the word joy. Looking to Strong's Concordance for the meaning of joy, I found that it was "pure delight". Pure delight? To be nailed to a cross? That is pure delight? No! The completion of the act was where the delight came it. Jesus looked to the greater good, not the moment of dark pain. He looked to the redemption of men and women being brought back into the Kingdom of His father. He saw down through the ages, the salvation that would be poured out on hearts once held sway to the kingdom of darkness. That is what filled Him with Joy! My wife's salvation...the salvation of my two two daughters-in-law and two grandchildren. This joy would be repeated over and over and over as the ages rolled on.

So this morning was a present from my Father.
A present to remind me of the incredible price that was paid to redeem me.
I am grateful and thankful....
I think maybe I'll share this bit of good news with someone else.

God on you.....

Fired Up

Luke 24:45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. I don't think I've heard very many m...