Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Heart Of Mary

Christmas season has begun.
Usually when someone refers to the "Christmas Season," they mean the retail side of the celebration. People are shopping and the stores are crazy. In some cases, we see the real side of people as greed and anger come out on those Black Friday's.

As the years have passed, I find myself looking to the reality of the Christmas Story. The fact that God's timing was at work. The picking of Joseph and Mary to be the caretakers and parents of His Son, Jesus. That these two young people were on the verge of forging a life for themselves. You know they had hopes and dreams of a life together. But God had different plans. On the surface, this doesn't look like a good thing, does it? Mary...young....a virgin...was visited by God's messenger to announce to her that she, above all women, had been picked by God to receive the Holy Seed that would allow God to have a human body.  She would give birth to a baby that was fully God and fully man. This baby would grow to become the ultimate sacrifice by giving His own life to pay the sin debt that humanity was under.

Never mind that her pregnancy would come before she and Joseph were married. Never mind that she would become the center of conversation as tongues would wag and fingers would point as to what a harlot she was. Pregnant before she was married. She would become the source of ridicule and gossip. If I were a woman, would I be able to accept this plan that God had presented to Mary? This wasn't a mental exercise of faith...this was a get-down-into-your-business call to obedience.

The words that Mary said after the angel had laid out God's plans still, to this day, strike my heart with such force that I am undone.
The most unselfish act anyone, any where could do before God.
"Let it be to me according to Your word."
In other words, I lay aside my life and my plans and place them in Your hands, Lord.
You do to me according to what You have spoken.
Oh that I could grasp not just the meaning of what Mary said, but have a heart that reflects this.

To me, this is the heart of the life of one who claims to be a follower of Jesus.
My life no longer matters....
My plans are of no importance....

DO to me as You will, Lord. I become Your vessel. I become Your servant.
No wonder God the Father chose this young girl to be the mother of Jesus.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not elevating Mary to some ethereal position above others.
But at the same time, I don't believe she gets her due either.

So during this Christmas Season, re-read the Story.
Read it like these were real people ( because they are) Read it with the perspective of placing yourself in Joseph and Mary's situation. What would you have done had God visited You with this incredible news?

He is why I celebrate.

God on you.....

Friday, November 29, 2013

New Audio Message From VRC 11/23/13--"Follow Me"

New Audio Message From last Saturday night's VRC Meeting.
"Follow Me In The Way I Have Called You To".
Feel free to listen or download.

God on you...

Freedom.....Real Freedom!

Galatians 5:1
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

This is the scripture for tomorrow night's teaching, Lord willing.
Understanding exactly what it is Christ has done for us.
For some, it is hard to translate what is read into a viable part of daily life.
I think such comes from the enemy who does not want us to understand the Scripture.
He doesn't mind us reading it.
He doesn't mind us memorizing it.

He just doesn't want us to live it.

Here in this country, we equate the word "freedom" with the idea of having rights.
Seems these days, that "having rights" fall along the lines of being able to sin and be crass and cast off all moral restraint. "I have the right to (insert whatever behavior you desire).
Well, true freedom isn't the right to do what you want to do.
It is the right to do what you ought to do.

Big difference.

Living by our own instincts and desires has put us deep in our addiction.
So deep, that we have reached to point where we have lost will and strength to break free. But sin is like that isn't it? It entices you in with sweet sounding words and promises that go beyond your wildest dreams. For season, life is wonderful as you experience new sensations and feelings that make everyday living seem mundane. You become so enamored with this that it becomes the sole obsession you pursue. The pleasure lasts for a season. Then life begins to unravel. The funny part in all of this, is that as you pursue what you believe to be the ultimate freedom, you find yourself going further and further into  spiritual slavery and bondage. Your will becomes a puppet under the influence of the devil. He manipulates you so that your addiction, driven by your old sin nature, tells you where to go, when to go and what to do. You have no power but to obey. It truly will take a Power greater than ourselves to break us free from this downward spiral of destruction. That Power has a name, and that name is Jesus.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm....don't run. Don't turn again to the old ways and the old choices. And do not let yourself be brought back under the burdens, the darkness and the pain of the old way you use to live. Don't return to being directed and guided by the devil."

You want a new way to live?
Then you will find it in Jesus. Just Jesus.

You want true freedom?
Then you will find it in Jesus. Just Jesus.

Everything else pales in comparison to "Just Jesus".
God on you...

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Psalm 100:4
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name.

Thanksgiving 2013...
One more in a long line that I have participated in.

I woke up this morning with the line from the movie "It's A Wonderful Life" in my head.
"Here's to George Bailey...the richest man in Bedford Falls."

I am George Bailey on this day.
I am rich beyond belief and when I stop to consider all that has been afforded to me by my Father in heaven....I am overcome.

Oh, the bank account is laughable.....
The house needs work.....

Our vehicles are getting on up in years....
But the riches that we possess are beyond description.
First family.
I stand back at times, when we are all gathered together, trying to take in the whole scene.
My two sons, now grown, laughing and still challenging each other. Barbs and jokes thrown back and forth, but covering all the for each other.
Over the years, they have been each others champion. They have celebrated the accomplishments that each have overcome to get where they are. They have been there for each other when things didn't turn out like they were planned.

My two daughters-in-law. You know, I hate that term, daughters-in-law. Too me, they are my daughters. Both godly women. Both striving to be all God created them to be. Full of joy and in love with their husbands, who could ask for anything more. They are at a point in their lives where stability is important and I am grateful to God that He is their rock and stable place.

God has given us two grand children.
Talk about spicing things up, God knew that as we grew older, we were in need of something to kind of shake things up. Such is the call and way of grand children. I never will forget the birth of our first grand child. Vicki, sitting there holding Tyler....amazed at this little wonder that had been deposited into our family. She turned to me and said, "I never knew I could love another woman's baby like I do this one." We laughed and cried at his birth, as we realized that God had made another deposit in our "bank account".

Later, a second grand child would be added to the account, Ashley. Our family had not know the joy of having a "little girl". We do now. Ashley is a stream of consciousness on two legs. In other words, if it's in her's flowing out of her mouth.

Josh and Heather are in Ohio on this thanksgiving day to celebrate with her family.
Chad, Robin, Tyler and Ashley will be going to her parents house for the noon time meal, but will be coming by here later for 2nd's.

My brother Wayne and Sue, his wife, will be coming over in the evening for pie and coffee. And if I know my brother.......more 2nds.
Through it all, my wife will be the consummate host and cook. She will pour out a spread that would rival any 5 star restaurant.
There will be tons of food...
There will be much conversation filled with the phrase, "Hey, do you remember when....."

Memories will be served up on platters of love for all to feast on.
And at the end of this day, my wife and I will lay our heads down safe and secure in the knowledge of the love that we have for each other.........and in the love our Father in heaven has for us.

Like I said, "I'm the richest man in Bedford Falls."

Happy Thanksgiving....

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I Love Your Presence

Are you bound to this earth by an appetite and desire for the things of this world?
Or are you free to worship God with abandonment?
I Peter 2:9......"That you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light."

I desire to be free from the opinion of men, flying with only the thought of my Lord and my Savior, Jesus and how I could worship Him even more than I do.
I don't want to be earth bound by limitations that I place on myself and in my God. I do not want to fall prey to the temporary, but always look to the eternal. Sounds mystical and way out there, doesn't it? Well, it's not. 
Save me from myself, O Lord.
Let me be found loosed in You. Saved and redeemed to fulfill the call and place you would have me be. 

Come and meet me today, Lord.
Come and meet me tomorrow.
And Father....
Come and invade our time and space this Saturday night.
Come in purity and holiness.
Come in power and purpose.
Come in love and mercy....

But Lord, please come to meet with us.
Not to us...Not to us, O Lord, but all glory belongs to You.

Psalm 24:3-5
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart.
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive blessings from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Psalm 27:4-6
One thing I have desired of the Lord, that I will seek.....
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the day of my life.
To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His pavilion.
In the secret place of His tabernacle, He shall hide me.
He shall set me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up, above my enemies all around me.
Therefore, I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle. 

I will sing....yes, I will sing praises to the Lord.

God on you....

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Additional Thoughts On A Rainy Day

Restless this morning....
But restless in a good way....
My prayers, this week, have been for God to come to us.
Come to us, His children.
I am experiencing a hunger for Him to come in a visitation of His Spirit.
I am expecting God.

My expectation isn't for healing's.........although I believe such are needed now more than ever.
My expectation isn't for miracles...........although I still am like a little child when I see the hand of God move.
My expectation is for God Himself.
For Him to come down into our midst and revive us.
Come and restore us.
Come and redeem us with His hand of power.
That God would come and receive our worship, as flawed as it is.
Receive our worship, as imperfect as we are....hear the song that comes from our hungry hearts, as we turn attention and will toward Him.

Why now?
Why this expectancy?
Because I have watched as addiction/sin has taken people away from us.
I have watched as some have come to our meetings, sitting with us on Saturday nights, only to be swayed and trapped again by their own lusts, under the influence of the devil and his kingdom of darkness.

I have taught everything recovery, but now is the time to lay it all down and cry out to God, "Oh God, we are in need of You now. We've tried it all in our own strength and we have failed miserably."

True freedom is found in the presence of Jesus.
True freedom comes to us because of the cross of Christ.
So my prayer is now for God to come with a visitation into our midst. Not just a "Howdy-do, I'm here" kind of visitation, but rather one where we are brought under the cloud of His presence. Where we are weighed down by God being with us.

No more recovery games....
No more.
I no longer want to live in quiet desperation.
I want to be like blind Bartimaeus, crying out, "Son of David! Have mercy on me!" And, like Bartimaeus, when those around me hush me and tell me to be quiet, I will cry out even louder.
The time for quietness has passed.
We have got to become a desperate people. Desperate for the very presence of God.
We need to be like the deer in Psalm 42...."As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God."
Did you catch that?
The thirst I am to have isn't for more teaching.
The thirst isn't for more church.
The thirst isn't for more literature or worship cd's.
The thirst is for the very presence of God.
I am thirsty for God!

May our thirst for the presence of God grow to such proportions, that we cry out, "O God! Come and meet with us, less we die!"

God on you....

I Am In Need Of "Just One Touch From The KIng!"

Come thou long expected Jesus
Born to set thy people free.
From our sins and fears release us
Let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation
Hope of all the earth, thou art
Dear desire of every nation
Joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver
Born a child and yet a king
Born to reign in us forever
Now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone
By thou all sufficient merit
Raise us to thy glorious throne.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Time To Pray

I thought I would post some of the requests we have been given to pray about.

Jason: Goes to take his CDL test today. He asks that we would pray for him to receive peace and pass this exam.

Mark / Joshua: Pray that they make the most of 2nd chances. That they would always be reminded of the great grace of God that had been given to them during this time of transition in their lives.

We have been asked to pray for several families whose lives have been broken by addiction. Some of these relationships are headed toward divorce. While we understand that divorce is not from God, and that His desire is to see families healed and made whole, sometimes addiction has done so much damage, that one of the two parties does not want to be reconciled. Our prayer is for God to heal both parties. To keep the children free from the destruction that is being waged during this time. 

We have several who have asked for prayer concerning healing.
We have three who are struggling with various forms of cancer. Pray that God would bring healing to their bodies. Pray against the cancer that it would be driven back and removed. Pray for the medicine that is being administered to these individuals, that it would accomplish what it was created for, without the terrible side effects that accompany it.

Continue to pray for Grant. He was able to toss a football from his bed, to his son. Grant truly is a miracle and testimony to the awesomeness of God. Pray that Grant's recovery would be ongoing. That healing would continue to take place.

David: He has a new job that requires a lot of physical exertion. He is in the process of adapting to this, and finds himself exhausted, sore and hurting at the end of his day. He is grateful for the opportunity to work. Pray strength to his emotions and for resolve to see this all the way through. Healing to his body and endurance to his purpose.

Just a few of the requests that have come to VRC.

James 5:16
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Matthew 7:7
Ask,and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you.

God On You....

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Last Night's Message

Notes From Last Night's Teaching:

Luke 9:23
Then He said to the all, "If anyone desires (wants) to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

1.) We don't like change in our lives. We also don't like order.
        A.) If we don't have order in our daily lives, we have chaos, which means we have on-going change at every level. This chaos isn't for the betterment of our ability to live life on our terms. We have proven that our lives have become unmanageable. The chaos we experience only aids in the creation of more confusion and turmoil. In our old way of our old way of living.....when we encounter such chaotic times, we turn to using as a means of escape. Rather than deal with our problems, we run from them. Trouble is, such a journey in that direction only creates more chaos and more problems.

2.) While it would be nice to be able to quote chapter and verse as to how your life would turn out for the next ten years, I can't. But what I can do is share with you some necessary changes that will aid you this journey in recovery. First off, we need to set the record straight. When I speak of recovery, I am talking about someone who is in an active, ongoing relationship with Jesus. Some refer to this as being "saved" or "born again". The main focus in such a relationship is the idea that our old way of living, as well as our character, is undergoing change, under the guidance and work of God's Holy Spirit, which has taken up residence inside us. God brings order and peace inside us so we can navigate the daily situations we face that, in the past, would have swamped us in chaos and emotional as well as spiritual turmoil.

3.) Just as there are 12 steps to recovery.....there are some steps, or disciplines, we need to recognize in this relationship we have with Jesus. Disciplines that will reveal the intent and sincerity of whether or not we truly want to change. In other words, there are benchmarks we can look to, to measure our growth and maturity in Christ.

4.)  One of the problems we face is that we suffer from divided hearts. We want a better life NOW! We become discouraged by how tiresome this new life is. WE loose heart over promises we know God has made, but we haven't seen them come true in our own life. Our old addictive nature is craving the "quick fix". Right here, right now, today...change me God!

5.) We say that we want to be more like Jesus. Well, we only have to look to the passage from Luke 9:23 to find out our answer.

6.) Notice the first thing. Jesus qualifies who can have this relationship with Him. ANYONE!!
          A.) He says, "If anyone desires." It isn't based on race, creed, or color. It isn't based on education or economic stability. It is solely based on having a desire to move into a new way of living.
          B.) I like how the Amplified Bible states it:  "Anyone who wills to come after Me."
          C.) So we are brought under conviction by God's Holy Spirit about the way we have been living outside the boundaries of God's grace and love. Under this conviction, we exercise our will to move from our old lifestyle of sin, into a new life empowered by Jesus.

7.) So if it is in my heart to turn to Christ for the answer to my sin/addiction, I must deny myself.
          A.) Amplified says, "To disown yourself, forget, lose sight of yourself and your own interests, refuse and give up yourself."

8.) Take up "his" cross:  Personal sign or a symbolic idea of dying to self daily. Dying to the old sin nature that has driven straight down the road to destruction, so that we might embrace this new way of living.

9.) And Follow Me.  Follow me-----cleave steadfastly to Me...Conform completely to Jesus' example of living. And if need be, His example of dying also.

10.) Most people will want to ignore the things we have just shared. The denying of self and taking up the cross daily....Most simply want to jump to the last part, following Jesus. But without the change of will and heart, following Jesus simply becomes a religious exercise. One in which our commitment to a new life is shallow and will not produces the real Holy Spirit fruit that comes from a changed heart. In other words, we are simply going through the motions. We may have good intentions, but because we have not surrendered will and life, we find ourselves going after the first thing that whets our old appetite. 
           A.) We get the cart before the horse, so to speak. "Let's follow Jesus, then we'll worry about the "denying self and all that cross-taking-up later."

11.) I like the way the Message Bible reads concerning the Luke 9:23 passage:
The He told them what they could expect for themselves. "Anyone who intends to come with Me has to let Me lead. You're not in the drivers seat---I am. Don't run from suffering, embrace it. Follow Me, and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, My way, to finding yourself. Your true self.

I'll be posting the audio portion of last night's message, hopefully by next Friday.

God on you.....

Saturday, November 23, 2013

NEW AUDIO MESSAGE: Debbie Handy Teaches on "Walking In His Steps."

Debbie Handy shared an incredible message last Saturday night at VRC. 
Feel free to download it (you can do this in the pod cast section of this blog/ Right hand side of the page).


Who We Are And What We Are About

Luke 12 (The Message Bible)
"I've come to start a fire on this earth---how I wish it were blazing right now! I've come to change everything, turn everything right side up---How I long for it to be finished! Do you think I've come to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I've come to disrupt and confront!"

Jesus will get up in your business.
He will pull out your underwear drawer and empty it for all to see what you've tried to hide, and continue to hide. Why? Why would He do such things? Because He loves us, and He knows our base nature is to hide things. We've been hiding things ever since the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve hiding in the bushes. Moses hiding in the land of Midian. David running and hiding in the wilderness caves. And the list goes on and on, right down to today with Michael Bynum, running and hiding from Jesus. But thank goodness that Jesus is the ultimate "Hide and Seek" player. Thank goodness that I'm not good at hiding. That I can confess and admit to the wrong and the sin that I had done, only to find out that this is part of the whole "I love you" thing Jesus has going on. Confession...............Repentance...........Restoration...........Right living. How cool is that?

That is what VRC is all about. That is why we meet on Saturday night. We meet to worship (show our love and appreciation) God. We want to hear Him, meet with Him...learn from Him. In the process of the meeting, we want to get rid of any baggage (sin and the effects of sin) that we may still be carrying around.
We want to be about the business of living and working in the Kingdom of God (His dynamic rule and reign in our lives).

Matthew 5:48 (The Message Bible)
"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up!. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."

This is also part of the make up of Vineyard Recovery Church.
We want to provide a place where we can all "learn" how to live out our lives as followers of Jesus.
We want to provide whoever comes on Saturday night an opportunity to engage and grow in Christ.
We have a wonderful bookstore with some pretty incredible books that will aid and help you in your journey.
We want to provide audio teachings that you can listen to, and hopefully be stirred to chase this Jesus on your own.
We want to spark you so that the fire inside to know more about this Jesus who paid our way into the kingdom.

Matthew 7:13-14 (The Message Bible)
"Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easy going, formulas for a successful like that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to God!----is vigorous and requires total attention."

We're not looking to establish an agenda or a rigid set of rules and regulations in a effort to appear as followers of Jesus. We believe that relationship is an organic thing. One that changes and grows as we change and grow in Christ. I can truthfully say that the Jesus I know today is a lot different than the Jesus I knew 19+ years ago when I came into the Vineyard. Who changed? Me? Or Jesus? I think maybe it was me, since Scripture tells us "Jesus, the same........yesterday, today, and forever."

Consider coming and joining us tonight.
We start at 7 p.m.
Look forward to seeing you.

God on you....

Friday, November 22, 2013

Grace ---- The Sin Breaker

Romans 6:14
For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Taken from Rod Hembree's Daily Devotional:

The word excuse means to offer an apology in order to seek to remove blame.
In our society, we use this word and its meaning as a pillar of truth holding up the foundation of modern religious thought.

We seek to excuse our sin and lean hard on the grace of God for forgiveness. With little or no effort to change, we chug along gleefully, not realizing that we are doing violence to the Gospel. 

In Romans 6, Paul confronts the "live easy faith" phenomenon. It is not new to the church because we, the people, always try to humanize our faith.

What I see in the sixth chapter of Romans is that God's grace is freely given, but is very powerful and costs us our life. In other words, when we come to Jesus and surrender, our life is no longer our own, but His. I know this sticks in the craw of some, but the truth is, Jesus can show us and guide us better at living than we can on our own. Jesus won't send us down a path that He knows is filled with destruction and danger. He will help us navigate such path's, should we find ourselves in such places.

Much talk about grace so far, so here is my definition of grace, as taught to me by James Ryles.
Grace is the empowering presence of God, in my life, that enables me to be who God created me to be, and to do what God has created me to do.

So, with that definition, here is what Grace can do when we allow it to work in us.

1.) God's grace gives us a chance to change, not an excuse to keep living like we want to.

2.) God's grace is gives to us that we might break the chains of sin that hold us in bondage to our old lifestyle. Grace is not given so that we might simply polish those chains and wear them like jewelry.

3.) God's grace is given to us that we might rightly be able to give ourselves to Him.

The law...God's ten commandments given to Moses.
Is the law null and void now? Does it no longer matter in the life of a believer?
I think it does.

The law keeps me mindful of the debt that Jesus paid that I might have this life I currently live, and the one to come after I leave this old world.
God gave 10 commandments to show humanity their need for a Savior.

Once Christ died to pay for the sin of humanity, then sin no longer has dominion over those who are saved. No longer has dominion over us because the grace of God has broken that link and set us free to live in Him and for Him. I think I might could muster up a little gratitude and "thank you Jesus" if I think on this long enough.

God on you....

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Love Of God

Some days, I have trouble remembering.
"Where are my car keys?"
"Did I lock the front door?"
"What was the name of the girl that was in my Senior English Class?"
But there is one thing that I can never forget.
There is one thing that I will never forget.

The Love Of God!

Not just the idea or thought that God loves me.....
But the actual sensation that comes over me when I stop and really meditate on this relationship that He has initiated with me.

The mess.....
The Sinner....

The One whose heart is "prone to wander"...
God love me.

Creator of everything we can see, touch, taste, smell or hear.

The Everlasting One
The Eternal One...
The One whose heart is always to love me.
Does this mean that He is always pleased with me?
No...because sometimes I do really stupid stuff that He doesn't approve of.

His ultimate heart is to pull us all into relationship with Him.....pull us into His family.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that who so ever believes (trusts, clings, surrenders,) in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

Sometimes, I think I understand God's love.
I love my wife.
I love my sons and their wives..
I love my grand children.

But what I experience in these relationships pale in comparison to the love that God has for me.
My prayer is that I can fully understand and appreciate God's Love.

There is no addiction so strong, so deep and so powerful that God's love cannot reach out and strike it down.
There is no life so far gone in sin that God's redemption cannot lay hold of and bring back into His arms.
That is some kind of love....
May you find hope and comfort today in God's love.
And may you experience it....

God's love.

God on you.....

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


A highway or interstate?
May the 18th?
Room 518...
How about Vineyard Recovery, or VR...

V = 5 in Roman Numerals.
R is the 18th letter in our alphabet.
VR...Vineyard Recovery= 518
Does that mean anything? Probably not, but numbers have always interested me.
Notice I said number and not math.
I was horrible at math.

Page 518 in my Message Bible is I Kings 20.. a warning from a prophet from God to King Ahab to take the necessary steps to insure victory in a coming battle.

Page 518 in my regular study Bible is I Kings verse 18 we read where God spoke to David and told him, "Whereas it was in your heart to build a temple for My name, you did well that it was in your heart."
What does that have to do with anything? Well, we have been called by God to host a meeting, that would be Vineyard Recovery, and the one thing that we heard from God, was "I will build the meeting." Like David, we too have a desire to build a place where God's presence is welcome. But we know that it isn't a place made with brick or mortar, wood or stone, but rather the heart.
We want to gather as a community of believers and let God work in each of us. Saturday is a celebration of what took place Sunday through Friday. We come together to worship Him. To celebrate His goodness as it has been manifested in each of our lives. To hear a word from Him through the teaching. And to learn how to serve and minster to each other, so we can take it back out into our respective communities and towns.

518 ----Psalm 51:8
Make me hear joy and gladness that the bones You have broken may rejoice.
O.k., now that is weird. God breaks bones? Well, as best as I see it, he does it from time to time. Let me put it like this. Suppose you had a 5 year old child. You were at work and you received a call from a close friend who informed you that Michael Bynum had broken your 5 year old child's arm and leg. I mean it was a terrible break, and the child was in great pain, crying and asking for their parent. How would you feel about me? You'd probably have a lot of anger for me. So you got in your car and you drove to the hospital, only to see me there outside your child's room. You look past me and there they were. Your child, laid up in bed.........arm in a cast......leg in a cast and in traction. Tubes coming out of the little body as fluids were being pumped. The anger grew inside and you really wanted to hurt me. But before you could, someone stepped in and said, "You really should be thankful for Michael, he saved your child's life." The story went on and you discovered that your child had wandered out into the street to retrieve a ball. They didn't see the car that had come around the corner and was barreling down on your child. I saw the child and ran to knock them out of the path of the car and, in doing so, I broke their arm and their leg. They had been saved from being killed. Would you still hate me after hearing this story? I don't think so.

Sometimes God has to do the same things to us to get our attention so we don't get caught in the path of oncoming life that is trying to kill us. I have to remember this when I find myself in situations that cause me to think that God isn't fair, or that He is out to get me. Truth be known...God love me...and He certainly loves you.

I'm still not sure why I saw Vineyard Recovery in this manner or if there was a reason for it. But I'll keep chasing God and maybe He'll reveal what He was trying to say to me.

God on you....


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Free-dumb.....or Freedom?

Galatians 5:1
Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

He shows up at my door. So thin, his back pockets are touching. Eyes sunken in. His skin covered in sores. Yet, to his estimation, "I'm doing o.k."
He spoke of all the rejection he has experienced from family and friends. Yet turns around and begins to share about all these new friends he has. Friends who share his same experience. "They really care about me", he told me.

The words said one thing, his very physical appearance said another. The two did not match up. He went on to tell me about the number of arrests he had experienced and how the judges and police have it in for him. Bottom line in this conversation was "I just want to be free and left alone." Now to this man, "being free" meant that he should be allowed to do what he wanted to do. To make all the wrong choices, even though he didn't see it this way, and not be hasseled by anyone. That was real freedom to his mind. He had even gone as far as bringing in that tired old argument, "I'm not hurting anyone." Well, he might not have been hurting anyone, but he sure had become the center of attention and was taking up everyone's time. As a friend of mine put it, when referring to the mindset of someone in addiction, "They become little black holes of endless need."  Truth is, they really aren't hurting anyone.....they are hurting everyone. And when they say, "I don't need no on",what they really mean is "I need everyone to enable me to continue in this old lifestyle."

From my understanding of addiction, and what the Bible has to say on the subject of freedom, it is clear to me that we all are under bondage. Since that little "fruit" incident in the garden of Eden, there has been no "natural" freedom. It is only through the Grace of God's intervention in our lives, that we can detach ourselves and receive true freedom from the behavior and consequences of our old, addictive, lifestyle.

Think on these things today......
Are you truly free? Or are you still bound up in bondage to sin?
God does love you and desires for you to experience true freedom.

God on you.....


Monday, November 18, 2013

Good God.......Bad God?

Psalm 139 (Message)
I'm an open book to You, even from a distance You know what I'm thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back. I'm never out of Your sight. You know everything I'm going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and You're there. Then up ahead, and You're there too. Your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful----I Can't take it all in.

It is so easy to read the verses above and come away with two different meanings.
It all begins with the way we perceive God. How we think about Him. What He is really like. It all is played out when we read Scripture.

I was talking with a young man some years back, when he made the statement that "God was out to get him." I asked why he thought such a thing. His reply was, "I've never been able to be good. I've never done the right things or acted in a way I should have. God is just tired of me and is out to get me." Curious about statement, I asked him, "So why don't you change?"
He slowly added....."I can't. I'm too bad. Since I know this about myself, and God is out to get me...I figure I might as well be as bad as I can and enjoy myself while I'm still alive."

To that young man, the verses in Psalm 139 were not a comfort, but a terrible indictment of God's wrath and anger against him. Where could he go? No where because God was there, waiting at every turn to trip him up.

To me, those verses are a great comfort just knowing that I cannot escape God at all. Why? Because He loves me so much He looks out for me to guide me and show me the right way to live. Truth be known, God was also as loving toward the young man who thought God had marked him to be whacked.Usually such whacking comes because of our rebellion and disobedience. Even with any circumstances that we may bring on ourselves, we always lay it at the feet of God and proclaim, "God is out to get me". Well, yes!!! God is out to get you. To get you. To love you. To save you, and about a million other divine things to draw you into a loving relationship with Him. How cool is that? Cool x 10, that's how much.

I like how David ends Psalm 139:  Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me. Cross examine and test me. Get a clear picture of what I'm about. See for Yourself whether I've done anything wrong, then guide me on the road to eternal life.

This would be a great day for us to stop and take a look at how we view God. To make sure that our understanding hasn't been colored or tainted by some incident or situation we found ourselves in. To make sure that we haven't been listening to the voice of the devil, instead of the voice of God's Holy Spirit. You know why? Because God's voice is a voice of love.

God on you.....

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Home Improvements

The Message Bible.....
Not everyone's favorite version.
I like it because it colors that KJV with a common everyday language that helps those, who aren't familiar with the Bible, to understand and comprehend. 
Debbie Handy taught at last night's Vineyard Recovery meeting, and she used the Message Bible to reference verses.
This sent me to Matthew 7 this morning for my reading, and I was taken with the way the Message Bible colors these verses.

Matthew 7:13-14
Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life-----to God!----is vigorous and requires total attention.

No shortcuts. That is so a part of recovery. The Big book of A.A. says that "we look for the easier, softer way." In other words, our nature is look for the shortcut. To try and figure out how we can do 12 steps in 6 steps.

Matthew 7:24-25
These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational  words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit------but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

God provides the materials and the power to build a new life.
But we have to lay hands to the task and make use of the materials and allow the Power to work in us. We don't get to alter the blueprints or redesign the house. God knows what it's suppose to look like. But in the end, as we continue to work on our house (life), it doesn't matter what kind of storm comes our way......cravings...temptations from old friends to return to our old lifestyle.....rejection from old doesn't matter. As long as our house is fixed to the Rock of Jesus, we can stand.

How cool is that?

God on you...


Saturday, November 16, 2013

This Is One Of His Most Favorite Things

Does God have favorite's?
Are there certain things that He truly enjoys, or is His joy found in the completeness of His creation?
I know that what I am about to write may not fit into some theology, but I do believe there is something to it.
Take for instance, cities.
We know that He has an incredible love for Jerusalem.
It has been, and continues to be the center of man's attention, whether the intention is right or wrong. I truly believe that God loves the city of Jerusalem.

I think maybe God likes water. He did create a whole bunch of it, didn't He.
Jesus was always hanging out around water. Sea of Galilee. Jordan River. A well in Samaria where He had an appointment with an outcast woman. Jesus at the Temple, pouring out the drink offering. Jesus walking on the water. Jesus telling Peter to get out of the boat and go for a stroll with Him. God likes water. Part of me still can't figure out why we named it "earth" and not "water." I guess it's not up to me to figure that one out.

I know that God loves music. So with that in mind, I truly believe that God even has a favorite song that stirs His heart.
That song would be Amazing Grace. It doesn't matter who is playing it or singing it, God moves on people when they hear this song. It is an anthem to His love for a fallen race and the power He desires to pour out on them to draw them into salvation and a relationship with Him.

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound......
You hear it with your heart, even though your ears are capturing the sound.

The very idea that this "amazing grace" is offered to me is beyond my scope of reason and understanding.
You can't explain it, so you just stand there dumbfounded and receive from the goodness of God's grace. 

That saved a wretch like me......
Not a very popular idea, calling ones self "a wretch".
I remember years ago, on a talk show, there were interviewing a popular country singer who was also a believer. As the show was coming back from a commercial break, the singer was leading the audience in singing "Amazing Grace". You could see the host of the show standing off to the side with this smirky smile and look on his face. "Do you really think that I am going to call myself a "wretch"? Do you think that I view myself in this manner?" The country singer smiled and loving said, "Hey, we're all wretches, some are just more in touch with it than others are." I thought  the house would come down with applause. 

Our society today wants to elevate humanity to a level it was never suppose to occupy. IN fact the spirit at work in our society today is the same one that we read about in Isaiah 14. The words found in that chapter are spoken by the devil.

"I will ascend to heaven and rule the angels. I will take the highest throne. I will preside on the Mount of the Assembly far away in the North. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High."
Through his own efforts and will, the devil determined that he would replace God. I see this over and over in the behavior and thoughts and belief's of people. Self-centered. Selfish, doing whatever it takes to get ahead. No need for God, no need for salvation. Yet, The song says that it was this Amazing Grace of God that saved a wretch like me.

Like Paul, I could state that I am chief sinner among sinners. And as a good friend of mine once so eloquently put it...."If not for God and His salvation offered to me, I would be out there running wild, an old stinking pervert."
How true.

So thank you Father for that Amazing Grace you pour on us every day.
Thank You Jesus for dying and then shattering everything hell stands for by rising from the dead.

And thank you, Holy Spirit for being the vehicle that this Amazing Grace comes on. For covering me. For filling me. For dwelling inside of me.
Don't leave home with out it.

God on you....

Friday, November 15, 2013

Useless Knowledge To Take Up Space In An Already Crowded Brain

12 Things You May Not Have Known About Me

1.) My hobby
I collect Comic Books. Preferably DC / Batman (early issues)
I do have a 1957 Action Comic featuring Superman. I think
this is my oldest comic in my collection. Why Batman? Because I always felt like he had to prove himself to everyone else. He couldn't fly. He didn't have any super-powers. But he was a detective...

2.) Phobia
 I have a fear of heights. May seem silly to some, but it is mine
I get air sick looking at airmail stamps.

Don't mind flying. That doesn't bother me.
Although I'm not to crazy about the announcement to

"Get on the plane", I'd rather get IN the plane.

3.) Favorite Book of the Bible 
  Malachi why? Because of God's interaction making a statement against Israel then answering the question for them. Of course they don't see it the same way as God does. Plus it introduces John the Baptizer as the coming Messenger for the Messiah.
Plus Malachi keeps me focused on watching how I think and rationalize
when it comes to God. Stay humble, my friend, stay humble.

4.) Favorite Author 
Ray Bradbury. Tales of the October Country 
R is for Rocket,  S is for Space. The Martian Chronicles
Always been partial to Science Fiction especially from the 40's, 40's and 60's.

5.) Favorite food 
Hands down my wife's banana pudding. 
Better than any steak, lobster, and or meat dish of any shape
form or fashion.When it's my time to go, fill up my casket with her Banana pudding and put the biggest spoon you can find on my chest.

6.) What is one quirky thing about me. 
Well, it isn't Christmas at the Bynum
household until I have eaten a Tangerine. This goes way back to my
growing up years. Part of our Christmas was the fruit and various kinds of
nuts my dad would bring home.
Tangerines were so scarce and unusual that if we ever got any, they
were always the first eaten. So this has become kind of a tradition
in my family that "It isn't Christmas until Dad has eaten a tangerine."

7.) Favorite Bible Teacher  
George Creel. 
George was the very first man who truly opened the Bible up to
Vicki and me.
George was the pastor at Central United Methodist Church in Gadsden,
and we were under his teaching for 14 years. He truly made the
Bible come alive for us.

8.) Favorite Time of the year
 It isn't so much a season as it is an event.
Some time back, Vicki and I started giving a family vacation as our
Christmas present to the kids.
A whole week where clan Bynum gathers in Ft. Walton and just
loves on each other.
Time with the grand kids.
Great food.
Long conversations and games of Risk and Trivial Pursuit.
Much laughter and memories made.
Who could ask for more.....
Chad, Robin, Tyler and Ashley
Josh and Heather
Michael and Vicki
Clan Bynum

9.) Favorite Band
Procol Harum
Yes, I love the Beatles, and all the other groups from the 50's, 60's and 70's.

But Procol has been my go to group even up till today.

They are still playing, recording and touring around Europe and England.

"Your witness, my own hand".

10.) Christian Album's that influenced me:
How the West Was One (Phil Keaggy and 2nd Chapter of Acts)
Victim's of The Age /  One of the Dominoes  (Mark Heard)
Horrendous Disc / Alarma!  (Daniel Amos)
Another Shade Of Blue (Danny Daniels)
Never Looking Back (John Barnett)
The Lord's Supper (John Michael Talbot)
I guess I could do this list forever and a day

11.) Favorite smell or odor/  
Tie between WD/40 and Bacon Frying.
If someone could come up with a cologne that smelled like either of'd be a rich person. Who wouldn't like to smell like bacon frying.

12.) What I wanted to be when I was a kid
I wanted to drive a city bus. I thought that had to have been the greatest job in the whole world. Sitting in that huge padded seat, gripping that steering wheel. The drivers of the city buses always had that little fan mounted up to their left that kept a cool breeze blowing all day. Man, that was the life---at least when I was a kid.

I was just feeling a little like having some fun this morning, hence the list.
Hope you didn't mind a little deviation from the usual fare here at the Greene Street Letters.
God on you....

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dust Bunnies For Jesus

3 Stooges.....
Sometimes, this is the mental picture I have of myself when I think about my relationship with God.
I'm a mess.
I'm a pie-throwing, head bonking, woob-woob-woob-woob mess.
I could give you a million reasons as to why if I were God I wouldn't save me.
I'm not even sure I would have given me the time of day, much less the keys to the Kingdom.
Times like this, I'm glad I didn't get the job of being God.
Times like this, I'm sure He's glad I didn't get the job of being God.

He seems to be much more at ease with His position than I would if I were in charge.

Genesis 2:7 reads: And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being (or soul). Dust. A most common element found here on planet "earth". Dust. Why Dust? Why did God create what some perceive as the high point of creation, man from the dust of the earth. Why not a diamond? Hard, containing a brilliance and fire when placed under the light. Would not man have reflected the person of Jesus better had man been created from diamonds?

Why not a pearl? The perfect pearl of great price to show the suffering of the coming Messiah. Pearl's are created through irritation within the oyster. Would that not have been a perfect example of God helping us to get through those times of great irritation. Those times when we find no comfort in life. Why not a pearl.

Dust...I still don't understand. I mean dust will not even hold together. It is easily blown by the wind, scattered across the countryside. I might even be able to wrap my head around this whole creation thing if God had of even used "dirt". At least with dirt you can grow things. Dirt contains nourishment so that plants can thrive and produce their fruit. Dust is of no use to anyone or anything.

Maybe that is the whole point.

Dust represents the fact that when we look at ourselves, we see nothing of value within. And maybe it is that view of our own self-worth that opens the door for us to realize our need for a Savior. You see, dust isn't worthless to God. If you back up in the Genesis 2 passage and read verse 5 and 6, you'll see that God created a mist to form and rise to water the earth (dust included). What happens when misty water hits dry dust? You get a kind of mud, if you will. Would that not have made it easier to mold and form man? I think so. Water has always been a symbol of God's Holy Spirit. So without water (or God's Holy Spirit) I'm a useless pile of dust that is easily blown about by the winds of the age and time I live in. But when the mist (or Spirit of God) comes to cover me, I gain form and substance that is easily molded and changed from a useless pile of inert material, into a living, breathing soul ready to do my Lord's bidding. I kind of like that picture, don't you? 

So today, let God define who you are.
Let His Holy Spirit dwell within you and listen for Him as He guides you through this day.

Live today to the fullest and give away what has been freely given to you.
Know that God loves you, and so do I.

God on you...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

12 Steps With Jesus

John 8:32
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

"12 Steps With Jesus" by Don Williams has been on my book shelf for a long time. I take it out at least once a month and go back over the portions that I have highlighted to refresh my understanding of what addiction is, and how it operates.

I'm sure that there are better books out there on the subject of addiction, but this one is written with a down to earth take on what addiction is and how it operates.

Don Williams, a former Vineyard Pastor now working with a ministry called Soul Survivor, points to Christ as the only real hope of not just recovery, but of life itself. He states that Jesus attracted the people who were marginalized in society. The broken, the pain filled people from every station, class and race. I like how Don describes these people and their interaction with Jesus. He says, "They came to Him, as we read the Gospels, to undress in front of Him. They came to show Him their wounds. Matthew 8:2-3, "Look Jesus! Look at my leprosy." Matthew 9:27-28- "Look Jesus, I am blind." Mark 2:3-5, "Jesus, help this paralyzed man!." Luke 13:10-12, "Jesus, here is a woman who has been bent over for 18 years." John 8:3-4, "Jesus, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. What about her?"

Through all the painful uncovering and undressing before Jesus, He loved them. He forgave them. He drove out their demons and healed them. He was, and continues to be, in the business of restoring their fallen humanity. He sets them free from their pasts. Did you catch that. He sets them free from their past. Why their past? Because that is where the accusations come from. The voices that fill our minds and darken our hearts. The voices that beat us down on a continual basis, chipping away at our self-worth until we have none left. The past where guilt and shame come from, Jesus spoke into our past and commanded us to "Be free!". Free to grow. Free to be changed. Free to have life, real life. Free to be free in Him, because He is life.

These people who came to Jesus to undress and reveal themselves to Him, walked away with a new dignity. A new purpose and destiny. For those folks, His Kingdom had come. That is why we do what we do on Saturday nights at Vineyard Recovery. We want to reveal the power and person of Christ as we invite His kingdom will to be done in the lives of those who are hurting. That those who are ministered to may go away truly knowing that Jesus eternally loves them. as Don Williams states, "That is that!".

I usually am not in the business of plugging books, or telling you, "Hey! This is the next great thing, hurry out and buy a copy." But I will tell you that I believe that 12 Steps With Jesus is worth the read. 

Have a great day!
And if I don't see you before Thanksgiving.........
GO ahead and carve the turkey.

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...