Monday, September 30, 2013

Evidence That It Works

Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

He walked into the room yesterday, only to be met with shouts and screams of "Happy Birthday!" It totally caught him off guard, standing there speechless yet with a huge grin on his face. Family and friends had gathered together to celebrate his birthday. Yet this gathering held more than the acknowledgement of one more year in his life had come and gone.
You see, he has almost 7 years clean time. I believe that next March will be his sobriety birthday.

As I sat there taking in the sight and sounds of the room, I began to realize that such a thing would never have been possible if God had not touched this man and he, in return, had not answered God's call.

Had he not taken that step toward God, there would not have been any friends. Family would not have wanted to be around him because we all know that when someone is in the deep throes of Addiction, they suck the very life out of everyone they are around. 

If the man had not changed, the family could still have celebrated his birthday, but it would have been hollow and empty. A charade if you will propped up with fake smiles and false platitudes. All the while, addiction would be sitting in that room like an elephant. No one would want to admit it was there, but you could not mistake its presence. They would simply have gone through the motions of having a party, but the emptiness and darkness of addiction would have defined not only the one who uses, but every member of the family who has been wounded by the addiction in the mans life.

During these years of sobriety, God has given back to this man. He is now married to a wonderful woman and the two enjoy each others company. There is a completeness to them both as they have found peace with God, and in their separate lives which has enabled them to live as husband and wife. They have learned to trust God and to love each other.
The man regularly states that the greatest thing given to him by God has been peace. 

So we hugged and we sang "Happy Birthday" (more than once) and we enjoyed a wonderful meal. The room was filled with laughter, yet the greatest gift of all was the one we came to celebrate. A life that had been rescued from a place that some never return from. A life that had been snatched from destruction. A life that was now filled with the Spirit of God and walking in peace. 

Could you ask for anything more?

I think not.

God on you....

Sunday, September 29, 2013

It Was A Good Night At VRC

Psalm 107:20
He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

Each week, our prayer is for God's presence to not just be with us during our meeting, but that He truly would manifest himself in our midst.
We're not looking for some sort of emotional response or high. We're not looking to fall into some sort of group consciousness. We're are merely looking for God to come and do what He does so well.......heal.
We recognize that we have to be introduced to a Power greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity on every level. Sin has warped our way of thinking and has taken us outside the will of God where we are fair game to every evil spirit and influence the devil can muster.

The last song we did in the worship set was "HEALING RAIN". As it started I asked for anyone who needed healing from anything to come down and receive prayer. I explained that in the Psalm 107 verse, the need or cause to be healed was not listed, it simply said that the word was sent and people were healed. That healing could be needed for several different thing. Physical healing....emotional healing....salvation is a form of healing.

It was a powerful time as people came to the front. Emotional healing...forgiveness of sin.....there was even one who came to give his heart (not to mention the entire package...spirit,soul.and body) to Christ. Everyone in that room knew that God was present to heal. Lot's of tears and hands raised in worship unto God.

Young and old came forward to receive from God. We could have ended the service right there and went away with a "Wow! God, you are incredible" feeling. Such times as these validate God's word and promises as His Kingdom is made real in the lives of people. Our goal as a fellowship is never to leave that meeting carrying the same junk we brought in. But rather let God break off all the junk and bring healing to us as only He can.
Maybe I'll see you next weekend when we get to do this again....
How cool is that?

God on you....

Saturday, September 28, 2013

VRC 101

Ezekiel 34:16
....I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick.........

1.) The view of what we do at Vineyard Recovery is to recognize the whole scope of Scripture.
           A.) We are called to live in the day---in the moment
                 with an understanding that as events unfold around us
                The future promises of God are coming into play. The
                promises of God are being incorporated in our lives and do
                have an effect on us and those around us.

           B.) It is important for us to understand what God's promises
                 to us. This is why we need to not just read the Bible, but
                become students of it. Not to elevate the scriptures to an
                intellectual understanding as to make it practical and relevant
                to our daily life.

           C.) We are called to live a Kingdom life (Under the rule of God)
                 right here and now. When you hear the term "Kingdom of God",
                 it is referring to the dynamic rule and reign of God being carried
                 out in our life.

           D.) The Bible should be a practical book on how to live a

                 practical life in relationship to Jesus. Here again, we do not wish
                to elevate following Christ to a level where it is nothing more than
                a mental exercise.

2.) As we meet each week, we should begin to see the benefits
and promises that are tied to a life that is found through the
surrender of will and live over to Jesus and His care.
              A.) Step # 3 of the Twelve Steps show us that we accomplish this                      through confession, repentance and acceptance that Jesus is 
                   now the Higher Power we turn to. We look to carry out His will
                   as we daily seek direction from Him on how to live this new life.

3.) Each week at Vineyard Recovery, we want to look into different areas that are relevant to all of us, that will aid us in growing in Christ.
              A.) Salvation is not the end but merely the starting point
                   in which our recovery can begin to produce results.
              B.) Results that we can apply to our lives.

              C.) The desire of God is not simply remove temptation and                                stumbling blocks that might cause us to return to our old ways,
                   but to enact a change of character in us that will create new
                   desires and a new kind of love in us. 

Ephesians 4:11
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers. For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

5.) God has put in place a structure in which we can experience
the growth God wants to give us. That place is the church.
This is why Vineyard Recovery Church exists.
                  A.) This is not a place where you come to be a spectator
                       but rather where you can be encouraged to take chances in 
                       learning how to live this new life.
                  B.) Playing it safe and doing nothing never produces
                  C.) That is why we pray for the sick
                  D.) That is why we do deliverance and break demonic
                       oppression from people.
                  E.) We feed the poor and minister, or serve anyone
                       who needs it or asks for it. We do so to the best of our                                ability and call that God has placed on this fellowship.

                   F.) As John Wimber, one of the founders of the Vineyard                                     movement, use to say, "Everyone gets to play in the                                     Kingdom of God. We all have a call to "do the stuff" that                               Jesus did." 
                   G.) When you were out there running with the devil, didn't you
                         get to his stuff? How much more would Christ desire you to
                         participate in the Kingdom work here, now.

6.) You should be challenged by what happens here
                   A.) Challenged to take a look at what you say you believe
                        to see if it is true.
                   B.) Challenged to ask yourself, have I truly been changed by
                        Jesus, or am I merely playing at this thing called                                         Christianity?

7.) This is His church/ This is His meeting

                       A.) This is why each week, as we gather together, will be                                   different. Some weeks may be an up-tempo celebration to 
                        the goodness God has brought forth in our lives. But then
                        we may have a service where the call is to quiet reflection
                        and adoration to God. 

                   B.) God directs the meetings. The one thing that was made very
                        clear to me when I started Vineyard Recovery was..."Stay out
                        of the way." By that, I mean I wasn't to inject my opinion or
                        try and manipulate anyone or anything. I believe that God 
                        wants us to allow His Holy Spirit to have free reign in our

I know that today's posting may have seemed a bit strange and different, but felt that this was something that needed to be said. Thanks for stopping by.

God on you.....

Friday, September 27, 2013

We Do Not Have Permission To Quit Or Stop

As I've grown older, I've tried to embrace different streams of music and song writing. Some have been good. Some did not satisfy my taste. Please realize as I make such comments, this is not an indictment against those musicians or the songs they have written. It is merely my taste.

Seems to me that taste and preference are forged over the years. The ear is tuned to the voice of your own generation. Such songs and people that were and are a part of that generation are given permission to speak to your spirit through their words and chords. 

I consider myself most lucky to have been born in the 50's and enter my teenage years during the 60's. As much as it was a time for radical thought concerning the establishment, it was also a radical time concerning the Kingdom of God. God was preparing a generation to exercise it's voice for His glory and Kingdom. IT was time for the Jesus People Revival.

There was a shift in the way people saw church and the way people "did" church. During a time of peace and love (as the Hippies saw it) God took those concepts and practices and poured out his own definition and Spirit among my generation and defined a people for himself.

To me, the entire Jesus people movement was summed up in the words of the call that God extended to Abram in Genesis 12:1-2 : Now the LORD had said to Abram, "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house to a land that I will show you."  God was not condemning church at that time....but He was raising up a generation that would approach relationship with Him in a different way. It would not be tied to our father's way of church. Here again let me stress that this was not an indictment against anyone or any group of that day. It was the simple pleasure of the Father's heart being expressed in a new way. Just as God told Abram that He was going to lead him to a new land, through the Jesus movement, we were lead to a new life and a new way of seeing the Father.

I guess that is why I love this song by Nancy Honeytree so much. Because we felt like pioneer's. We felt like we were on the cutting edge of something new and exciting. To be honest with you...I still feel that way. I still burn with a desire to express my love to God through song and worship. I still want to share Jesus with those I run into. I still want to be the Father's arms, legs and voice in a world that grows darker and darker every day. 

As I watched the video of Honeytree, it would be easy to look at her face and see the years that have rolled by. But I choose to listen to the voice that has not lost fire or love for the Father. I do not wish to glorify those early days, nor do I wish to create a museum to them. I simply want to acknowledge them as a turning point in my life, that has brought me to where I am today.

God on you....

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Name Calling

Matthew 10:2-4
Now the names of he twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus: Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.

Funny how God will park you in a verse to show you something. I've been hanging around this one for sometime. I know..I know...strange, yet I kept being drawn to it. A simple listing of names. The twelve who Jesus chose to teach and mentor before He returned to heaven. But it is the last name on the list that I kept looking at. Judas Iscariot.

We all know what he did. In fact, his name has become such an outcast that you don't find many parents who name their newborn son's "Judas Iscariot", thinking to themselves "I just like the way the name sounds".  No! The name has become synonymous with traitor and betrayer. The only reason we view Judas this way is because he died without ever making everything right. Do you think if Judas had not hung himself, and made his way to Calvary to stand before Jesus and ask forgiveness, that Jesus would have forgiven him? I think he would, but we'll never know will we? Judas took matters into his own hands and will forever be labeled "Who also betrayed Him". Four little words that are attached to his name that defines who the man was.

Addiction is like that. We have labels and names attached to us. Names like "Liar"..."Thief"..."Manipulator"...."Junkie"...."Drunk"...."No good"...and the list goes on and on and on. And with each name that is added to our list, the burden to end it all grows daily. Such a list hanging over a life will suck the very will and hope out of an individual. It will beat you down to you have no strength left to fight with. So many have taken their own lives only to be remembered by the list of names they had accumulated. God never intended for anyone to live like this. He is the NAME BREAKER! He is the great healer and restorer. He alone possess the power and authority to turn a life around. He alone reserves the right to name you. 

When you surrender to God and receive His gift of salvation, then you are given new names.
Names such as "Friend"...."Child of God"...."Chosen one". Names that restore your hope and lift you up.

One last thing before I finish this morning.
We saw how Judas Iscariot was labeled because of his actions toward Jesus.
Who is the first name on the list?
That would be Peter.
Why isn't he listed as the "One who denied Christ three times"?

Because he had been forgiven and that label had been stripped away.
Make sense?
I thought it would.

Do not carry those old names around with you today.

God on you....

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gemini? No .....Jim And I

Psalm 133:1
Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!

Lot's of miles between these two fellows.
Year's apart at one point of their lives as they took different paths. But like true friends, they can pick up like no time had passed at all.
Jim Bentley probably knows me as well as anyone, except my wife.
He has been, and continues to be my closest friend, brother and about a million other names as well.

If you go up to Etowah Middle School (where the old high school use to be), and you go in the main building, you'll see some stairs. Go to the next floor and as you round the corner at the top, the first door to the left is where Jim and I first met. Room 313 / Hazel Hicks homeroom. The year was 1968.

Bentley and Bynum......the alphabet put us together. If his name had been Zatunkadunk and mine had been never would have happend. But the "B"s brought us together. Me sitting behind Jim. I think there was more prophetic going here than meets the behind Jim because I have followed him all these years. Just glad that the connection continues to be strong.

I don't remember all the conversations of our first few weeks together, but I do remember we both played guitar and he was big into Simon and Garfunkel as well as folk music. One thing lead to another and Jim invited me down to his house. During my visit, Jim asked me if I would be interested in playing guitar with him for a musical his church youth group was putting on. I was in.
You have to remember that all this is taking place when churches viewed guitars as being instruments forged in the fires of hell. Any young man who picked up such an abomination was doomed forever. Not Jim's church....a man named Tony Traylor was all about shaking up the status quo. Score one for guitar players everywhere.

We made trips all over the state as well as a week long tour up to Canada and back, playing and sharing "Good News". Our friendship was now full fledged and little did we know that it would stretch over the next 45 years. You see, I think God knew and planned for me to not only meet Jim and sit behind him in home room, but that this pattern would be replicated time and time again as we both took on the call that God had for each of us. Me following after Jim.

Jim went on to chase God....eventually receiving a the call to start a church. I still love his telling of his initial encounter. After hearing that God wanted him to start a church, Jim replied, "I can't preach" which God responded, "I didn't call you to preach, I called you to start a church. Point God...set, match, victory.
Me? I went on to chase the darkness for a number of years. All along the way our path's crossed.

On May 20, 1994, God called me to start a home church and I knew that if this was what was truly on His heart, then I would need to be under a spiritual covering. Do you know how hard it is to find spiritual covering in this town? After trying different places, I knew I had to call Jim and see if I could start this new work under his covering of the Vineyard. He was quick to welcome me and Vicki and we had no clue where this thing was going.

Ever since then, Jim has given of himself and his talent to help me. He is one who encourages and helps to equip others so they can do what God has called them to do. 

After three years of doing home church, Jim asked me one Sunday morning during a phone conversation, "Have you ever considered being ordained as a Pastor." I had a million reasons why I shouldn't but only one as to why I should. God had called me to pastor when I was thirteen but it so scared me that I ran. Now it all had come full circle and the time was right.

Jim ordained me on July 6, 1997.
I started left my job on August 1, 1998 to begin full time.

I took over as pastor of Vineyard's Sunday morning service, New Compassion's.  
On August 21, 1999 we hosted our first Recovery church meeting, which we referred to as VINEYARD HOUSE OF BLUE. This proved to be my training ground and school for what God was bringing me into at Rapha. Jim saw the value in this new thing God was starting, so he prayed over me and released me to go and see where it would lead.

I left Gadsden Vineyard April 28, 2006 to start a church on the compound at Rapha, a local treatment center here in Attalla. It was during this time, God begin to put together what is now Vineyard Recovery Church. We learned a whole lot of how "not to do" church.  In October of last year, I started to receive prophetic words concerning a move back to Vineyard. This was solidified on February 2 of this year. Once again, I approached Jim about having a place at Gadsden Vineyard. I was given the small sanctuary room, the one where we originally hosted House of Blue. We held our first meeting on April 13th. 

Jim has been there every step of the way. He is one incredible man and I count it a blessing to know him as friend. My prayer is that I can return to him a small portion of what he's poured into me. Isn't that the way the Kingdom of God is suppose to work? I think so.

God on you.....

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Not Running From But Running Toward

Song of Solomon 1:4
Draw me away! We will run after You. The King has brought me into His chambers. We will be glad and rejoice in You. We will remember Your love more than wine.

To me, this symbolizes the dividing line between those who are committed to Christ and those who are merely playing at being religious.
It is that point in which the Higher Power we so desperately need to aid us in our recovery, becomes the focus of our life. A focus that causes us to forsake the old ways, the old friends and the old places we use to frequent, in order to embrace the unknown of the future. 

We will run after You! Run where? Wherever God is taking us. We will follow. We won't play 21 questions with you, God in order to achieve some sort of pseudo-control over our own existence. 
1.) Where are you taking me God?
2.) How long will I be expected to stay there?
3.) What's in it for me?

4.) What happens if I decide that I don't want to go with You to this place?
and on, and on, and on....

Addiction is a malady that throws up it's own roadblocks to being healed.
The course that we teach at Rapha says that sometimes addiction appears to be a living organism bent on remaining hidden and in control of they individual.
It defines addiction as being cunning, baffling,powerful and patient

Proverbs 14:12 tells us that There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Some versions read that there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is death. In other words, the addiction that is being manipulated by the devil and his kingdom of darkness, causes a person's heart (center of will, intellect and emotion) to become blind to the truth. What the persons sees as a way out or a way of escape is only drawing the noose tighter around their neck. I have watched this happen over and over as individuals made choices that you knew were not going to end well. I have even counseled them about the choices they are making, telling them that it wasn't wise, but they would not listen. I'm telling you that sometimes being associated with people who are suffering from addiction is like watching a train wreck that you can't do anything about.

I have also seen the amazing transformation that only God can bring to a life of destruction.  I have watched as those being transformed through the saving Grace of God, develop a hunger and love for Him and His word. I have seem them cast off one set of desires to embrace this God. It truly is like the verse from Song of Solomon...."We will run after You!" Why? Because only Jesus has the words of life. Words of life. Words. More than simply spoken to be heard, but the vehicle used to cause true life to grow in the hearts of those who are learning how to fall in love with this Jesus.
That is why the Scripture tells us that Faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God. Life begins through the faith I have that Jesus is who He claims to be and will do what He claims He can do.

To me.....
He is worthy to be chase after.
Every day....
In every way....

We spent our lives chasing the darkness and where did it get us?

God on you...


Monday, September 23, 2013

If You're Not Ready....It Is Such An Ugly Word!

Psalm 37:5
Commit your way to the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Not a word that is often used when referring to someone who is struggling with addiction.
Commitment is not something that is often found in that persons life.

Because failure has been a constant friend and companion as they have journeyed together on the road to destruction.

Lack of commitment is a common denominator among most alcoholics and addicts.
It has nothing to do with willpower and everything to do with the mental and spiritual beating they take for their lifestyle choices.

The devil attacks daily using shame and guilt to keep them under submission.
Guilt is aimed at what a person has done. All the lies they have told. All the relationships they have destroyed.
Shame is directed toward who they have become, the person they are. No mother sets out to raise a child who grows up to be a liar, thief, manipulator, or sexually immoral. Yet these are a part of the character makeup of most who travel down the addiction highway.

I can't give you a theological or scientific explanation as to what happens when a person finally decides to commit to God in this process of recovery. I know that it begins with God's Holy Spirit bringing that individual to a place where the real truth is known in their hearts. They are either going to change or they are going to die.  Behind the idea of death is also the understanding that a choice made on this side of eternity affects their existence on the other side of eternity, so there are a lot of factors at work here.

That is why I love the verse from Psalms.
Commit....make that decision under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Make that commitment to not just quit using and drinking...but a commitment to God.
A commitment to turn will and life over to His care. You may not know what tomorrow holds, but it sure has to be better than your today.

Once that commitment has been made and you start this recovery journey, you will find that the desires of your heart begins to change.
You no longer will desire those things that use to cloud your mind and bring you into one bad choice after another. You will find that you will begin to desire what God desires for you.

This idea of commitment carries us into a new community of people.
Some refer to this community as "Church".
I find life in such a place. I learn how to love others and be loved by others.
I find a place where my hunger for God's word can be fed. Where I can be equipped to carry out Step#12-- taking the message to others. 

In my commitment to God, I learn to leave everything with Him. In turn, God is trusting me, or rather entrusting me with more than just sobriety. More than just having a new life that is free from addiction. He has placed me in a geographical location to establish His kingdom rule. That is, I will go out everyday and be ready to share with others. Tell our story! Simply share with others what God has done to you and through you. Isn't that what Jesus told the disciples in Acts 1:8? "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be MY witnesses. I think it is. You see this Higher Power that we find in Step # 1, 2 and 3 does more for us than enable us to be clean and sober. We are infused with His perfect love. I don't have to tell my story. I want to tell my story. I wait for God's direction when I meet others and simply follow His lead when the moment is appropriate. All part of this commitment to new life and new relationship with Jesus.
How cool is that?

God on you....


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Homelessness Of The Contemporary Church

The Profound homelessness of the Contemporary Church

Taken from "DOING CHURCH" a VBI study course
Teachings from John Wimber

Just as Socrates stated that "The unexamined life is not worth living", then the same could be applied to the church. The unexamined church is not worth doing. It there is no decided purpose, no real foundation and no planned building process, what on earth are we doing? (Let me interject here: when referring to a building process, John is not speaking of physical buildings or programs or agendas. He is referring to the need for following Christ in developing disciples and people who are engaged in "doing the stuff."

Without a desire to allow Christ to work and direct the building of His church, human nature will take the line of least resistance and will fall into accommodating, pleasing and appeasing, instead of leading. Such a mindset will place both the pastor and the church in a state of being blown back and forth by every wave and wind of new doctrine, new method, new book, the latest conference, the latest way of doing church ---- Be it "Vineyard-style", or "Restoration"....or "Word of Faith"...or "Purpose Driven", or "Seeker-Sensitive". This wind or wave can also be the latest evangelist or teacher to hit town, the most recent circumstance to affect the Church. It may come from within in the form of a controlling person who is part of the leadership, or a group that wields power. It may come from well-meaning intercessory/prophetic people who use prophecy to put forth an agenda or to intimidate the pastor.

What we have today are leaders, who, for lack of vision from God, have become conference and seminar junkies. Such behavior only reinforces what is known as Church consumerism. It is a sad commentary on the profound homelessness, lack of identity and shaky foundation in the contemporary Church. 

Many pastors are so insecure and so desperate to get their Churches to grow, that they will do almost anything to be successful. At worst, it is a form of spiritual prostitution, running after every thing that comes across our path. At best it is like the quote from Ghandi. "There go my people, I had better run after them because I am their leader." 

This doesn't mean that we close ourselves to new methods, new people, new paradigms or going to a conference. We must always be learning and growing. But our need should always be to follow the simple directive Jesus gives to us to grow HIS church, not our church.

I must never forget that my highest calling is to worship God.
Love Him...
Love myself...
And love those around me....
In this, I seek to share, to equip and train those around me so that they can go back to their homes and affect their corner of the Kingdom God has placed them in.
To help them learn how to hear God for themselves and not have to rely on others to tell them what God is saying.
TO me this is the heart of what I am called to do.

God on you.....

VRC Recap

Psalm 16:5
O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup. You maintain my lot.

Vineyard Recovery Church 
Mission Statement
"Following In His Steps"

Last night was our 25th meeting for Vineyard Recovery Church.
IN some ways, it seems like we've been doing if for a lot longer than 25.....
IN other ways, it seems like we've just begun.
God has been true to His word. He is building this meeting week by week and the call to me is to stay out of the way. To merely cooperate with what He is wanting to do.
Last night was no exception.

Since we are learning and growing into a family for the Kingdom, I felt it was important that we truly get to know each other. So, we've been telling our life story. From time to time, I ask certain people who have truly bought into VRC  to share their story. Of course, being a recovery church, some of the stories are not the norm, or those you might hear in a traditional church service. We're not here to glorify the destruction and misery that sin brings to every life, but rather point to the fact that if not for Jesus, we'd be a hopeless mess. 

Barry Hooks shared his journey last night. I will be posting his story here for you to listen to sometimes next week here on this blog. As they use to say on TV....."Stay tuned!"
The one common denominator we keep hearing from people is that VRC is unlike any church they have ever attended, which I think is a testimony to what God is doing.
It's not that we've tried to create something different. It is merely a by product of the model we were given when we first came to the Vineyard. I wanted VRC to be a safe place where people could receive from God. We have no grand view of ourselves or what we are trying to do. We know full well that we are dealing with people who, for the most part, have never been to church. And if they did go, they just could not relate to what was happening. We have always felt that if it didn't look like what most people thought church should look like.......and it didn't sound like what most traditional churches sounded like......then it would be very easy to share the good news about the Kingdom of God. 

VRC is merely an entry point into the greater body of Christ. We know that and we accept our position and call to those who show up on Saturday night. We do not want to water down the gospel or paint a picture of a life of ease for those who accept Christ. Nor do we wish to be "Suffering Servants" for the Lord, measuring our salvation by the droop of the frown on our faces. We want everyone to know that recovery is possible and that this thing we refer to as recovery is larger than merely the absence of alcohol or drugs. It takes you into a new way of living. It connects you with a family you did not know you had. It gives purpose to your day and your steps as you move forward in life.

Life is hard....but there is joy in Christ and in recovery.
Life is difficult....but there is direction and purpose in Christ and recovery.
Truth be is hard whether you sober or whether your drunk and high.
It's just a lot harder without Jesus.

God on you.....

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Plumb Tired? Or Plumb Tickled?

Step # 5
We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another
human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step # 5 is the vocal, confessional part of working a program of recovery.
IT is bringing into the light all the dark secrets we have tried to hide over the years.
It is a cleaning out of our spiritual closets, getting rid of all the dusty trash that we have tried to ignore and act as if it didn't exist.

We are taking our old lifestyle and measuring it against the word of God which does not change.
Prior to our relationship with Christ, we measured our behavior by whether it simply made us feel better or not. 
We lived for feelings....
A chemically created, mood altering feeling that create a false sense of serenity so that we would not have to deal with the real world and all the problems that we had created.
A false sense of reality, if you will.

The more we used, the more the false reality became real to us.
We could rationalize our behavior....
We could justify our decisions.....
We could embrace destruction and not see it as such because of the impact the drugs and alcohol has on us.

Life is a measurement.
Every decision we make, good and bad, is weighed against what the word of God tells us.
Let me rephrase that....
Decisions of consequences fall into this category.
I don't think God is really interested in whether you eat Rice Krispies or Captain Crunch.

We read in Amos 7:7-8 - The the Lord showed me another vision. I saw the Lord standing beside a wall that had been built using a plumb line. He was checking it with a plumb line to see if it was straight. And the Lord said to me, "Amos, what do you see?" I answered a, "A plumb line". And the Lord replied, "I will test my people with this plumb line. I will no longer ignore all their sins."

The word of God is the plumb line by which we all measured.
Some might proclaim that they don't believe in such foolishness.
I might say that I don't believe in the law of gravity but that doesn't stop it from working does it?

Step # 5 is all part of the measuring process as I am moving into a new way of thinking and living. When things in our life don't measure up, we need to admit that we have a problem and begin the process of tearing down the old and be about the business of rebuilding the new and right way.

I need instruction and direction daily to keep me headed in the right direction.
Such comes from God as he leads me. 
I find it through studying God's word (Notice I didn't say reading...but studying).
I find it through praying and by listening after I finish my prayers.
I find it through hanging out with like minded people.
I find it from not trying to hide anything from anyone.
What's the old saying in recovery? You're only as sick as your secrets.

God on you....

Friday, September 20, 2013


Communication between people....

Words come...
Words go and they help to define a generation.

You won't here the following words anymore:
Beseech (Unless you are praying one of those King James prayers that are sometimes prayed in church). You will never here someone at Wendy's saying, "Please, I beseech you to give me a Frosty!"

Groovy - You only here this from someone who survived the 60's, hopefully with all their brain cells intact. "Wow---like groovy man!"

Fender Skirts - Totally lost on this generation. Kids today would think that Fender skirts would have to be connected with High Fashion. Never mind that any boy who grew up in the 50's and 60's wanted a set of these for his car.

Speaking of cars: how about Curb Feelers- Usually reserved for "Caddy's" and larger transports. How did folks ever survive without curb feelers.

And the list can go on and on and on.
Even in the church, some words have fallen out of favor and if you use them, you are looked at as archaic and out of touch.
Go to any church today and start talking about the Holy Ghost.  That will   shake them up, won't it? "Oh...he's not a ghost...he is the Holy Spirit. To which I would reply, "True, true". But this is the way He was referred to in the generation that raised me. "Oh God! Send your Holy Ghost down into our midst and change us!" I have heard many a prayer using that term. But no so today....we are more educated. Spirit doesn't sound at intimidating as "Ghost".

Tarry- To wait, to not move until direction and instruction comes. "Can you tarry here with me?" Jesus asked his disciples on the night before his death.
Tarry means to not be distracted or drawn away into things that serve no purpose to God and His kingdom. Tarry.

Sin- Some really don't like this word. This word carries the idea of being responsible and accountable for our actions and our words. Some who stand to teach others will not use this word, sin, for fear they will offend and drive people away. They will say "We all have problems"...I know I was at a Celebrate Recovery one times speaking and I made the statement that "You don't have hurts, habits and have sin...I have sin...we all have sin and are in need of a Savior who can deal with our sin." I have not been asked to come back and speak.

Bottom line is that every problem mankind struggles with, is a result of sin.
We are born with a bent to reject God and chase our own desires. Addiction is a byproduct of a choice made by the individual. Can it be influenced by genetic makeup. Some say yes, it can. But you can't blame genetics for it all. And if it is genetic, then there is no hope, right? I happen to fall in the camp of those who simply believe that there is a Higher Power who can restore us to a state of sound decisions and a life free from the destruction of our own choices. That Higher Power has a name........and that name would be JESUS!

Colossians 3:16-17
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

There is a word that will never fall out of favor,at least not with the family of God.........The "word" of Christ.
We are called to get it all down inside.
Let it percolate and bring forth truth and change to our hearts.

Don't let the "words" of this world have control over you.
Don't allow the words of the enemy to keep you trapped in a life of addiction.

Allow the truth of the words of Christ to free you.
Hope to see you Saturday at Vineyard Recovery.

God on you...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Seth Barber Audio Message From 9 / 14 /13

Seth shares from II Kings 5:1-4 - the story of Naaman.
Feel free to download for later, or listen now.

I Am

Two sisters heartbroken
One brother dead, lying in a tomb.
One man who should have been there to stop this.
All three bound together in a time and event that would bring the Father
glory and honor.

The two sisters knew the day would come when death
would invade their family...death is a certainty.
The brother probably didn't think much about death
until he found himself bedridden.
Maybe he too had questions and thoughts as to why
Jesus had not come.
Did the man doubt?
Did he grow angry at God?
Or was he simply given over to the truth that
he was going to die?

Jesus arrives 96 hours to late.
The funeral has taken place.
Life has moved on, but it offered no peace
or relief for the pain the two sisters were feeling.
There was an emptiness to the lives of those who knew

Do you ever stop to think that when his mother named him,
that she knew that one day his name, Lazarus, would forever
be associated with the power of God?
That his  name would forever be linked to coming back from the dead?

Martha runs to meet Jesus.
Overcome by the grief and maybe even some anger for
his tardiness, Martha launches into him.
"If you'd been here, this never would have happened."
But what she could not see or understand, this was all God's timing.
God's purposes far exceeded what Martha wanted.
Does that mean her tears were wasted on a God who didn't care?
Her tears and the grief in her heart only made God aware of how 
fragile life is and how short his creations time is here on earth.

With much love in his voice, Jesus told Martha---
"Your brother shall rise again!"
But Martha's grief clouded her understanding as she
perceived Jesus to mean at the last resurrection.

Then Jesus spoke with a voice that was older than time itself.
With a voice that transcended the words written by Moses in Exodus...
Lazarus shall rise again
"I am"

Not I was...
Nor I will be...
But "I am"
The present, almighty God who holds the power to heal and restore.
Believe and you will see the dead brought to life again.
I see it every week....
I see dead men and women walking around
bound under the curse of addiction.
I see tomb-livers and cemetery dwellers living under death's curse
bound by memories that will not let them go.

I have seen the power of "I am" as he calls them out of their
tomb to new life.
I have seen the grave clothes stripped away from them
so that they could walk and run and be free.
This isn't a fairy tale or an attempt to persuade you one way or the other.
IT is simply a statement of truth.
Jesus is the way if you want to change.
Jesus is the truth if you want to break free from all the lies.
Jesus is the life if you want him and what he can do for you..
He is the great
"I am"

God on you

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wiesenheimmer's For Jesus

James 1:5
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

Sam Colegrove is responsible for the picture above. It was taken on our first night at Vineyard Recovery Church. Believe you me, if anyone knows, I have no wisdom. Anything that comes out of my mouth that even sounds wise is because of God's Holy Spirit at work in me.

I have ruminated (that's a good word, isn't it? Ruminated.) over this verse from James for some time now. I know that we read it.....I know that we say we believe it...but do we really do what the verse directs us to do? Do we ever go to God with our prayer of "Grant me wisdom!"?  According to my way of thinking, if the verse claims that God will give liberally, that means get ready, He's fixing to pour out buckets of wisdom upon you. I don't think it means that you turn out like the Holiday Inn Express commercial where you can do brain surgery and solve impossible math equations. I do believe that it is the wisdom of the Kingdom that will enable you to be discerning and see through whatever the enemy is trying to bring against you. It is the kind of wisdom that enable you to follow God through whatever problem you may be facing today. 

I guess the main part of the verse from James begins with the understanding that I need some wisdom to deal with life's problems. I have tried and tried....I have beat my head against that "life" wall and it isn't moving. Maybe I need to turn to God and ask for wisdom to move forward and not stay stuck in this place. In order to receive wisdom, you've got to realize that you need it. To me, this sounds like you're beginning to get wisdom if you truly realize that you need it.

To many people spend their days living by their feelings. As one of our video's we show at Rapha states, "Feelings are a good thermometer, but they are a lousy thermostat." Feelings simply register the state of life we are currently in, but they do nothing to adjust our way of thinking, or give us a plan to deal with what we are facing. Here is where the wisdom of God comes in. And as far as I can tell, it is there for those who will ask for it.

What are you waiting for?
Go get some wisdom...
I'll race you!

God on you....

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Got Hosea?

Hosea 11:7
My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Me.

Rod Hembree makes the statement in today's Bible study that it is a dangerous delusion to believe that we are our own "gods". Or, we are the masters of our own soul. Evil will seize on this weak-mindedness.

This is the very heart of the trouble we experience in this life. Trouble that is brought on by our own selfish choices. All part of the sin nature we were born with. This incredible dumb idea that we can live independent from God. Outside His will, His influence, His protection, His purpose and on and on and on. A life totally driven and influenced by the devil. To put it bluntly...we become nothing more than a one-string banjo that he plays. How hard is it to play a one string banjo? Not hard at all. You just keep plinking that one string. He just keeps plinking our live over and over and over. Nothing changes, as we struggle to make sense of it all. We keep moving from one bad choice to another, all the while making excuses as to the reason our life has turned out like it has.

I talked with a young man recently and he shared the story of his life.
25 years old....
Living out of his car....

Family wants nothing to do with him because he has bled them dry of money and life because of his using.
Girlfriend has abandoned him because he got her hooked on drugs and now he can't provide the drugs she needs. She has taken up with another man who can.
Legal troubles times 10.....
As I talked with this young man, his whole take on life is that he is a victim.
It's everyone's fault but his. If he could just get a break, he knows he could make it.
I told him that if somehow he did get a break.........he would break it.
Because he is looking at his circumstances and situations as the reason for his using.
When, in fact, his using is the reason for his situations and circumstances.
Crazy isn't it.

I love the last part of the verse from Hosea.
Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him.
People in addiction are a praying people.
They pray when they get locked up.
They pray when no one will help them.
They pray....
But most never put God in the proper place or acknowledge Him as the true source of life and the power to escape this miserable existence they have created for themselves.
God has been reduced to a vending machine that will dispense the needed solution to whatever problem they have created.

Now, let's be real about this.
I have seen some who have gotten themselves into a jam and have turned to God in prayer for help. I have seen their prayers answered by God and be delivered from whatever situation they have gotten into. But this deliverance was the first step toward total healing through salvation. It did not become a means to escape so they could go right back into their old lifestyle of using.

It is a dangerous delusion to believe that the human heart can extinguish its own criminal activity and conspiracy.
Step # 2 says it the best. We come to believe in a POWER greater than ourselves who can restore us to sanity.
That POWER would be Jesus.
Are you plugged in today?

God on you...



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