Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tying Up The Year ---2014


II Timothy 4:6-7
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Paul writing Timothy from a Roman prison.
Paul knows that his days are numbered and that he will never see Timothy again.
The entire book of II Timothy is like Paul's farewell letter to Timothy, encouraging him to be strong in the faith for the days ahead will hard and treacherous.
I think this is the kind of life I want for myself. One that sees life clearly and does not try to sugar coat it as being wonderful but, at the same time, has a realistic view of life.
Life is full of problems and pitfalls....
Snares and strongholds....
Life is messy, but was given to us by God to live.
We are to experience life at every level as we grow and mature in Him.
The message that I get from daily life is that I must find God for every situation I face.
I must seek Him daily for every decision that I must make.
I have to hear Him for direction for every circumstance, good or bad, that may come my way.
I think it is all part of that "Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me" deal we read about in Luke 9:23.

Paul could have written Timothy and told him that he just knew that God was going to free him from his prison. He could have painted an incredible picture of angels coming down...Roman guards falling down as dead men.....doors and locks broken and cast aside....and there striding triumphant from the place of confinement....the Apostle Paul. But Paul knew down inside that this would not happen. He knew that his days were numbered, and that he would give his very life for the cause of Christ and for His church. Why would Paul be so sure and set that this was the way his life would turn out/ Because I think Jesus showed it to him. In Acts 9:16, God is speaking to Ananias, a man that has been picked to take care of Paul after his encounter with Jesus. God says, "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake." In spite of knowing what he would be facing, Paul chose anyway to follow Jesus, all the way to the end of his life.

2014 has been an incredible year.
A year of many salvation's.
A year of many baptism's.
Many messages shared....many hours of study.
But here on the last day of 2014, I have got to answer a question that God has posed to me.
"Did you learn how to love?"
"Did you learn how to love those that have been marginalized by society and cast aside like garbage."
How do I answer that?
That I am not there yet, but I am moving forward.
It is easy to proclaim having a love for everyone...
Truth be known, it is hard to carry out.
I have found that this year has been a time of learning how to give away.
As the year has passed, I have found that I am quicker to not hold on to things.
I have found that we will always have the poor with us. I can't solve the hunger or poverty problem.
But I can feed and help the next one I meet.
I can clothe and love the next one who asks for help.
I can pray healing down on the one who can't afford to go the doctor.
I can tell them the good news that there is a God who loves them more than they could imagine, and desires to have a relationship with them.
I can be salt....
I can be light....
And that is what I want for 2015 more than anything.
I pray that God will let me sit here at this computer next December 31st, and post about how I have changed even more.

Have a safe New Years, and we will see you here tomorrow at the Greene Street Letters.
God on you...
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Simply Being The Body Today



Prayer Needs:
I received two calls yesterday asking for prayer. 
Both concerning the need for physical healing.

1.) Dwayne's daughter is pregnant and the doctors have discovered multiple health problems with the baby, including being a carrier of the Cystic Fibrosis gene. 

2.) Brandon's wife is suffering from a debilitating condition that keeps her from work. She is trying to push through but just does not have the strength.

Father God...
You are the healer. So this morning we lift both of these prayer requests to you. We speak Your healing and health to both of these...this unborn baby, and this wife. Reach, as only you can, and set right everything that has come against them.
In Jesus Name....
Amen.

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John Wimber Quote of the Day:
"We must not ask God to bless what we are doing....We must see what God is doing and go and bless it.....learn from it....and work with it."

In fact, every aspect of following Jesus....(get it following..walking behind..seeing where He is headed) is cooperating with God. We only do what the Father gives us to do. We only say what the Father tells us to say. Boil it down to an even greater simplicity, and we are apprentices to Jesus. We are learning, on this side of eternity, what is taking place on the other side. Kind of a "spiritual" on-the-job-training.  Doing what I want to do, and then expecting God to bless it (kind of presumptuous on my part) is like spending my whole life making apple pies for God, only to discover that He never really cared for apple pies.

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Verse Of The Day:
Psalm 121:2
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

My help....my aid comes from out of the Lord Jehovah (the complete God...Father, Son And Holy Spirit)...the self-existent One. We are all in need of aid. No matter how successful you may appear in business, finance, academics, sports.....we all need God. The extent of human accomplishments are many....but at the end of every life, we all stand in need of a Savior.
Someone who can break the power of sin.
Someone who has paid the penalty of sin.
Someone who will defeat the presence of sin.
That someone is found only in Jesus.

Spiritually we didn't need any help to get where we were....totally running from God due to our sin.
But now, like Step # 2  implies....we need a "help" that is beyond ourselves. A help that is beyond our own abilities or capabilities. Don't you find it strange that it is us who are running from God? That in fact, God keeps chasing us, doing so with a  love that is beyond my understanding. 
I think Bryan Duncan said it best in his song We All Need



Only 367  shopping days till Christmas!
God on you...

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Monday, December 29, 2014

We All Need A Paul


This isn't going to be a posting of how I have discovered the missing piece that the church is lacking. I haven't. It isn't going to be me telling you what's wrong with church, for as much wrong that may exist...the church still does a whole lot that is good and right. Sometimes I think we forget that the church is a group of fallible humans worshiping an infallible God. Imperfect beings giving themselves to One that is perfect. On the other hand, I'm not going to make excuses for our imperfections...we are called to be a work in progress, as we allow God's Holy Spirit to transform us into the people God desires us to be.

So what is this post about?
It's about our need for a "PAUL" in our lives.

A "Paul" that would love us and speak truth to us. We all need that voice that from another human being who is telling us what we need to hear. Not in a busy-body kind of telling...but one who is in touch with God and is willing to be that person who will encourage us....edify us...and yes...speak those things that we may be ignoring that we know God wants to address in our lives.

I'm reading the book of Philippians and it just occurred to me (I am somewhat slow) that there was a real love relationship between Paul and the church at Philippi. You can feel it as your read the opening words in Chapter one. "I thank my God in all my remembrances of you. Always offering prayers with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel form the first day until now. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. For it is only right for me to feel this way about you, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you are all partakers of grace with me."

Don't get me wrong about what I have insinuated here in this posting. I'm not trying to replace God speaking to us, or rejecting hearing God through the study of His word, but we need people around us who will not only encourage us, but correct us as a fellowship. I have such people around me. The one thing that has come out of working in recovery is that it has to be done with a heavy dose of truth in everything you say. I have to have a voice that will call me when they see me being to  heavy handed, or to easy, letting things slide. Attitudes and behaviors that you know are part of the trail leading back to an old lifestyle that will end badly. 

I keep going back to the original mandate God gave me when we started Vineyard Recovery Church. In no uncertain terms He said, "It is MY meeting...I will grow it...I will heal it...I will be in it." What was my part in all of this? To simply stay out of His way and cooperate with Him. This means that sometimes when I think I've got a really good message..it may not be the message He wants given. Many is the time I've stood up to speak and have a knowing inside that God wants to say something else. To tell you truth, such times are unnerving because you are moving into uncharted waters. But God has been faithful, and continues to be, as He will provide what is needed to be spoken. 

As part of our end of the year, I asked several to be in prayer, and to seek God for the direction VRC will need to go in the coming year. One person called me yesterday to share what they had heard. It was a hard word, but one that needed to be shared. It gave a clear picture of what the coming year will hold, and our need as a fellowship to prepare. Such is the voice of "PAUL". This individual has a track record of hearing God, so it was easy to truly believe that what they had heard was true. They loved VRC enough to share it. This person was looking out for the welfare and good of the group. That is the true heart of a "PAUL". The realization that we are all in this together, serving one God with a common purpose. 

May God bless you in this coming year, and may you grow in Him in ever way.

God on you..
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Saturday, December 27, 2014

I Got A New Car For Christmas!!!!


During this Christmas season, I have taught on the tension between what the world says Christmas is all about, and what the Scripture teaches us. An example of the worlds Christmas is found in the picture above. I stated on more than one occasion that I have never seen anyone get up on Christmas morning and find a new car in the drive way with a huge red bow on top. My logic told me that either I live in the wrong part of town, or it just doesn't happen. Well, my friends...I was so wrong. On Christmas morning, Vicki and I woke up and what did we find outside? A brand new car. Not just any car mind you...but a brand new Ford Shelby GT-500, complete with a huge red bow on top. Needless to say it took our breath away. Of course it was a toy car...but there it was....compliments of Jason and Angela Knight. There was a note attached to the car that read..."Can't say you haven't seen it anymore".  It was the highlight of our Christmas and was the topic of conversation the entire day. 
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Matthew 6:13
....For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever amen....

The ending of the Lord's Prayer. But more than an ending...more than flowery words....they are 13 words that define the intent and the presence of God at work in the world today.

#1 -"Yours is the Kingdom"- The kingdom is defined by the dynamic rule and reign of God in our world. IT isn't about a geographical location. It is evident by action and power at work in the lives of those who have encountered Him. The Kingdom of God is present whenever someone is being prayed for, because such should be done in love. The Kingdom of God is present whenever someone is healed, delivered from demonic oppression or saved. The rule of God has come with power and has broken the stranglehold that Satan had over that life. That is the Kingdom of God....it belongs to Him and He exercises it at His will and for His good pleasure.

#2 - "And the power" - The word used here for power is a Greek word..."Dunamis". The same that we get our word dynamite from. Explosive, forceful power. In Strong's concordance, one of the definitions for this word, Dunamis, is miraculous power. So this Power that belongs to God and is a part of His kingdom, is demonstrated through action and movement on His part. In other words, what we are talking about isn't a mental exercise where we sit and think about receiving..it is a full-fledged invasion/ intervention of God's presence into our time and space. An invasion of His presence that comes with purpose to the one who receives.

#3 - "And the glory" -Every time God touches someone...every time someone is healed, delivered, saved or just comes in contact with God...they experience God's glory, or His nature and character. Because it is God who is moving and acting, His nature is brought to bear. Once again, looking to Strong's concordance, we find that the word glory means dignity, honor, praise and worship. If this be the case, then praise and worship are a result, or at least should be, of being touched by God's power as He exercises His Kingdom will.

#4 - "Forever" - perpetually on going. Never stopping. Never losing it's capability....the authority...or the purpose. The Kingdom of God continuing on until Jesus returns to complete the Kingdom here on earth.

#5 - "Amen" - Once again, looking to Mr. Strong's"...we find that the word amen means that this is a trustworthy statement concerning the Kingdom of God. It is a sure statement...a firm, foundational st statement that describes and defines God's kingdom.

So the next time you pray the Lord's prayer...let these words cause pause on your part to remember that we are declaring the rule and reign of God here in our time and space. That He has come to destroy the works of the devil, and does so with power, authority and ability...
Now if that don't set you on fire, then your woods wet.

God on you...

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Friday, December 26, 2014

Another One Is In The Books



Ephesians 4:15
But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head, Christ.

It has been a tremendous Christmas! One more to add to the old memory bank, so I can pull it out later and ruminate on it. Family and food....laughter and love in abundant portions. Got to see my nephew, Ryan, and his girlfriend, Lynn. Ryan lives in California so we don't get to see him very often. The only thing missing this year was my daughter in law, Heather, who is home in Ohio with her day who is in the hospital. Please keep her, her dad, and the entire Gozdan family in you prayers. It is a hard time for them, but my daughter in law has a faith and the assurance that God is in control.

SO what now....
Christmas has come and gone. Well, in my case, I usually start taking stock of how this past year has done. Did I grow in Christ...I mean really grow and mature. What was the one thing that seemed to be the focus of what He was doing in my life? In my case...it was His working on my selfishness and discovering that I needed to go back and revisit what it means to be humble.
You see, I really believe that as long as we draw breath on this side of heaven, we will always be a work in progress. We will always be under the gaze of the Holy Spirit. He will sift us and reveal the truth about our hearts and the motives behind not just what we do, but why we do them. Such is why I love the verse from Ephesians........we, as the community or body of Christ, are called to grow up. But we do this by speaking truth (in love) to each other. Now, I'm not talking about the meddling police running around getting up in each others business. It should be natural to speak truth....truth can be an encouragement to recognize a strength we have. Or truth can be an awareness of an area we need to work on. either way, if we hear the truth and then turn to God to show us what we need to do to change, it is a win-win situation.

What we do on Saturday night has a purpose. I know that the church has a mandate to share this message of Christ to others. I know that if salvation is accepted by whoever hears the message, they can live in the assurance that when it is their time to die, they will be absent from the body, but present with the Lord. Or, in other words, once they die, they will be in heaven.
But what about now...?
What about this side of eternity?
Well, my goal is the help them learn how to live. How to function under the guidance of God's Holy Spirit who has taken up residence inside them.

My goal for 2015, as a church or community of believers, is to birth healthy people. To help them become healthy spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically. 

I want us to be a people who have fallen in love with God. Psalm 42:1-2:  As the deer pants for the water brooks so pants my soul for you, O God----my soul thirsts for God...for the living God. Just as water quenches our natural thirst, the presence of God will quench that spiritual thirst. It was this kind of thirst that we felt in our rejection of God when we were out there living in darkness. Because of our rejection of God (not wanting anything to do with Him) we sought to quench our thirst in the things of this world....the drugs, alcohol, sex, money, power and greed..and the list goes on and on. We withhold nothing from our thirst in an effort to quench the emptiness and futility we were feeling. Only in Christ will that thirst finally be laid to rest. 

This Saturday night, I will be taking a look at where VRC is headed in the coming year. No, I'm not a psychic ...nor do I have a blue print....but Jesus did call us to learn how to read the signs of the times. In other words, know where we stand in His Kingdom, and what is it we have been called to do.
See you tomorrow night...
VRC / 7 p.m.


God on you....
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

John Piper's THE INN KEEPER




I try to post this video each year at this time.....
Some say it is a depressing video because of the subject matter...

I say it is life....
On this Christmas eve...
The day before a celebration of the birth of Christ...

The reality is that we still grown under the weight and rule of sin in this world.
NO amount of brightly wrapped packages....
Christmas trees with a million lights....
will change the fact that we await the return of our Savior.

We celebrate the Savior and the introduction of the Kingdom of God into our time and space...
And I still marvel at those times when I get to witness the power and presence of God move on people.

I still marvel at how God would come and heal someone through my prayers....
I am amazed at how the works of the enemy are destroyed by the movement and power of God's Holy Spirit.
These are the true "Points of Light" in this the Christmas Season.

Yes!!
Celebrate your families, as I will do.

Enjoy some good food, and unwrap a present to see what Uncle Frank bought you....
Enjoy the children as they throw themselves into this celebration we call Christmas.

But never forget that the birth of the Christ child,and our celebration of this birth was the first warning shots fired by God to announce that the Kingdom of heaven had come....It was here, but it wasn't here in it's fullness. Time and God's patience will see it to completion one day. Will I be alive? I don't know.....But, by faith, I  know that God will keep His word and that I have been given the greatest blessing to see Him move on people's hearts and lives and bring change, as only He can, to their lives. I have been been given the opportunity to participate in His Kingdom work. Or, as John Wimber used to say, "Everyone gets to play".

If you have never listened to John Piper's THE INN KEEPER, I pray that you will take time out to do so. 

Merry Christmas From The Bynum's In Attalla!

God on you..

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Let Heaven And Earth Receive Her King.



Mark 1:14-15
Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel."

The song calls us to "receive our King"....
That every heart should be in preparation to welcome Him.
For He is a King who comes in power. Power to destroy the works of our enemy, the devil. A King who steps down into the darkness of this world, with light and presence and power to undo everything the devil has brought forth through his work here on earth.

The Kingdom of God is the dynamic rule and reign of God in the hearts of men and women. Yet the rule and reign He brings is one that is steeped in action and power. It isn't a thought that God places in your mind or heart. It isn't a religious exercise that we are called to go through like some dead, dry ritual. It is a head on collision with the Holy Spirit of God that cuts through every bit of darkness.....blows away every bit of hardness that has captivated our hearts.....and brings the light (understanding) of who God is to the very core of our being. Coupled with this is the power to heal, to restore....the power to break off and cast away demonic spirits. The power to bring salvation to those whose hearts are prepared to receive it. 

Take recovery for instance....
Yesterday, as I was studying and contemplating on some verses (makes me sound real spiritual doesn't it.) I had a thought, that I believe came from God, form in my mind. "Recovery must not be reduced to a set of static teachings---it must always be shared as a proclamation...that the presence and power of God has come making recovery the end of one way of life and the beginning of another. A new way to live that Jesus Himself classified as "More abundant" leading to "Eternal" life."
Such a thing can only be accomplished by power. 
And that power can only be found in Christ.

The greatest Christmas gift you can ever give or receive begins with the simple act of looking to your own heart. Seeing with new sight that you truly are powerless. You've tried to move beyond the darkness of the cumulative bad choices that have piled up all around you. Evidence of such choices can be found in the damage relationships you have entered into with someone else. The financial mess you find yourself in....where you have more month at the end of your money. Looking inside is not a pleasant thing to do, but as the song says...."let every heart prepare Him room". 

Next comes the believing that Jesus is that missing piece in your recovery. He is the power...He is the purpose....and He is the one who will lay hold of you and take you on the greatest journey you could ever hope for. More than just sobriety...He will take you to a new level of life. Now even as I mention this, some may get pictures in their mind of new cars, houses, money and all the stuff that the world says makes us successful. I'm not saying that God won't provide for you...He will. I'm just saying that there is more to life than the bling of the world. I do believe God is all up in the "Bling".  The world will suck you dry and leave you Tum-BLING.....while God's desire for you is to show you the value of Hum-BLING yourself to His will and His presence. I choose the latter. To be humble simply means you are agreeing with God who He says you are. That you can be in a crowd and be perfectly at peace being in the crowd. No need to be the center of attention or stand out from all the rest.

Now that you've looked inward and found nothing...
And you've looked outward and found a Power greater than yourself with the ability to restore you to the ability to make sound decisions.....
You have prepared your heart to receive Christ.

With your whole heart....your whole mind (including whatever doubts you may have about this whole "salvation" thing) you turn your will toward receiving Jesus as the Power you've been searching for. You present your will and body (mind, spirit, heart and soul) to Him, and you become open to learning this new way of living.

Such a movement and acceptance of Jesus into your life will truly assure you that you'll have the best Christmas ever.
It's more than presents and decorated trees...
It's more than snow and Hallmark cards...

It's life..
Real life...

Who could ask for a greater present.

Merry Christmas from the "B's" in Attalla...
God on you..

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Thought's From The Candle Light Service



Isaiah 61:1
......He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted.......

The room was bathed in candlelight, as the music filled ears and hearts.
Heads bowed and eyes closed, each person there was covered with the Spirit of God, as He moved gently through the room.

Simple message spoken....
The Jesus that was born on that night long ago in Bethlehem, was the same Jesus that was still offering a new way to live. A life that was beyond the pull and darkness of addiction. A life that was filled with direction and empowerment by His Holy Spirit. Hard to explain but easy to receive by faith.
When you have spiraled downward for more time than you care to mention, the possibility of a new way to live is like water to a dying, thirsty person.

Hearts receiving a gentle prodding from the Spirit. "Come to me....Come to me...And I will give you life, and rest, and a new way to live." Dark voices counter with "It's not real...you know it is just emotions that you are feeling...there's nothing to this God-stuff!" The ebb and flow of a battle older than we can fathom or understand. In the end, God's Spirit triumphs over the flesh and sin. Hands are raised in an acknowledgment that they choose to turn will and life over to the care of God.

Such was the scene last Saturday evening as we held our candle light service at Vineyard Recovery Church. I've done a lot of services over the years, but I can truthfully say that this one ranks right up there. It was an evening where you knew with your heart that God was at work in the room. It wasn't anything to do with me or anyone else who is in leadership at VRC. The worship was....was.....well, to tell you the truth, I don't have words to describe it. I probably could use words like "Anointed" or "heavenly"...but such would pale in comparison to what really took place. Debbie Handy, Liz Wood and Carrie Elrod were our worship leaders that night, and the three offered themselves and their voices as they lead us into the meeting. Three distinct voices all blended into one harmony of worship.

The message was pointing to a decision that we all must make, using the shepherds who received the proclamation of Jesus' birth. After the angels left, the shepherds decided to go see for themselves this babe that had been born, so they made haste (that's biblical for "got to it") to find this baby. We've been given the good news that this babe grew to be a man...gave his life to pay our sin-debt, and now stands to offer to anyone who would come after Him, life now and life eternal. But we each have to go see for ourselves. It's not enough to stand around and talk about it. It's not enough to debate the finer points of salvation. It's time to act. 

The entire evening as one of tenderness and God's presence.
We took communion together..
Then, after communion was over, God placed it in my mind to announce that we were going to take communion again...only this time, if you knew someone who was out there still trapped in their addiction...still living in that darkness....come forward and take communion for them. This time the front was flooded with people who were weeping for their loved ones. There was a collective brokenness yet, at the same time, a huge sense of gratefulness that God has not given up on any of us.


As the evening wound down,and we cleared away all the chairs and tables, I stood (once more) looking back into that room thinking to myself, "Boy God...you are something else". Grateful that He had provided a place where those who have been marginalized by society, and their own choices, could come and meet with the real-deal-God of the universe, and the Savior of all mankind. And what falls under "All"? Everyone!

God on you...
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Seeing Beyond Seeing





In these days of confused situations and events that leave us with out answers, it appears that sanity has become in short supply....
There is truth that I cannot escape nor would wish to.
That no matter how hard I try...No matter how bad I want to....
I stand before God helpless without him.
Our Society and culture seek to exalt the human will and effort...
To celebrate our ability to think and reason...
to build from our dreams, monuments to our humanness....
Polished pillars of glass, concrete and steel..
medals and trophies....
building's with our names and statues of our likeness....Thinking all the while it will last forever....not so.

Like I said, I know the frailty of life...
One moment you here...the next your gone..
I know that the eternal offer and gift of life and redemption is at the fingertips of everyone who draws breath...
It comes down to the surrender of heart and will...
The acknowledgment of a Savior and redeemer..

A confession of wrong to be made right...
A love connection between finite will and infinite answer.
During this most holiest of days...I am drawn to the song "Every Grain of Sand" By Bob Dylan... A reminder that God is larger and more infinite, not to mention real, than my mind can comprehend...
In fact the more I see and draw life from God, the greater my awareness is of my need for Him....

Yes it is dark out there...
Yes there is pain, grief and sorrow..

but there is a living hope that sees beyond tomorrow.
That hope has a name...
That name is Jesus.

Merry Christmas.....
God on you....
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Friday, December 19, 2014

It's Time To Let Jesus Grow Up


Luke 2:16
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in a manger.

You know, it occurred to me that we kind of have this whole Christmas thing wrong.....
Let me ask you....
When you celebrate someones birth, you don't celebrate them being a baby.....
You don't focus on them as an infant...
You mark down another year that has passed and you celebrate with them as they are today....
I know that Jesus' was not the typical baby, after all how do you stuff all of God into an infant body?
How does the One who created the universe and is the giver of life, choose to enter into humanity through the process that everyone one of us had to go through....being birthed by our mothers?

I mean, if we celebrate someones birthday, we focus on the fact that they have lived one more year, have had accomplishments for one more year...have made it one more year.We celebrate the total scope and realm of their life. Should we not do the same, and maybe more, for Jesus. Should we not recognize the simple fact that we draw breath because it has been given to us. Life is a privilege, not a right. Life is a gift, not something to be taken for granted and abused by our own selfish desires. Jesus was born with a purpose, and He carried out that purpose to the cross, to the tomb, across history and time, and still carries it out to this day.
So really, in our celebration of Christmas, maybe we need to let Jesus grow up and occupy His rightful place in our world. A place that comes with the title Lord and Savior. A place given to Him by His heavenly Father. A place from which He will arise from, at some point in the future, and come back to take a bride for Himself.

Because of the uniqueness of Jesus' appearance...
And the events that surrounded His coming...
Then yes....let's celebrate....
Let's worship Him...
Let's commit ourselves to Him and His kingdom...
Let us recognize that He is the answer for all of mankind's ills.
Jesus was born to destroy the works of Satan (I John 3:8)
Sin warps, twists, kills and destroys....
Jesus redeems.
Sin slanders, gossips, and curses...
Jesus speaks truth.
Sin want to demean, pervert, and cheapen life....
Jesus is life and He rises above and beyond anything sin ever hopes to accomplish in the lives of people.

So I want to celebrate the hope and truth of the one who chose to enter into the darkness of this world.
He didn't come bringing hope...
He is hope..
Hosanna in the highest!
Jesus IS Lord over all who claim to be lord...
Jesus IS King over all who claim to be king....

Merry Christmas from the "B's" in Attalla.
God on you...
mbb

Join us at Vineyard Recovery Church for our candlelight service tomorrow night.
Debbie Handy, Carrie Elrod and Liz Wood will be leading worship.
Service starts at 7 p.m.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Change - Love It Or Hate It - It's A Part Of Life


Hebrews 7:12
For the priesthood being changed of necessity there is also a change of the law.

God doesn't change....
He is a constant in a world that is ever changing.
The Trinity....

God the Father...
God the Son....
God the Holy Spirit...

is the one sure foundation truth that can be counted as always being there. Never swayed by public opinion, good or bad, God seeks only His will to be carried out amid the turmoil that we humans live in. Life changes as we grow older. Society changes as the new generation takes the place of the older. God never changes and His call remains constant.

I found myself in a state of change yesterday. I'll be the first to admit that I do not welcome change into the rut I live in. I love order and sameness when it comes to life. I do recognize that change is a part of life, and I try to move with it when it happens. Still though, I don't like it. I guess you could say that I accept it, but I tend to go kicking and screaming into change.

The chapel at Rapha has been a part of my life for the past 17 years. I taught classes in that chapel. I gave sermons and messages in that room. I have prayed for more people than I can remember in that room. We saw salvation come to folks in that little chapel. People were healed, and we saw more than one delivered from demonic oppression.
SO it was hard for me to see the chapel gutted and cleared so it can be renovated.
Of course such things are within the rights of the people who own the treatment center, but I felt as though part of my own life was being ripped up and thrown into the yard, just like the stage that they took out from the front of the room.




But in the midst of all the construction, God spoke to me. "Michael....it is just a place. It is just a place where you saw me work, move, touch and heal. Let it go and move on, there are others who need to experience the same thing." I am to celebrate what took place in that room, but realize that each day, each moment is an opportunity to experience something new from God. I learn about myself through the change. I get an opportunity to glimpse my character and attitudes that have formed. Like that chapel, God gives me an opportunity, each day, to be renovated into the son that He desires me to be. Be grateful for all the memories, good and bad, yet move on with Christ. Rip out the complacent.....tear out the apathy......remove the bad character traits....and have them all replaced under the tender hand of the Holy Spirit.

I imagine the apostle Paul had to deal with change in his life. One time zealot and pharisee, now converted to the very belief's that he sought out to destroy and wipe from the face of the earth. Paul took the change and move forward with it. 

David, son of Jesse, spent his early years tending his fathers flocks. Warding off lions and bears (oh my!) David never saw himself occupying the role as King over his nation. But through a series of changes that David experienced, that is exactly what happened.

Moses spent 40 years in the palaces of Egypt, living in royalty. After killing an Egyptian, Moses goes on the run and winds up in the land of Midian. There he spends another 40 years being husband, father, and a shepherd. Has an encounter with God and then spends the next 40 years wandering around the desert leading God's people, the Hebrews, to land that has been promised to them by God. Change to max for Moses life.

One thing that makes change so hard is that we seek to make a comfortable place in which to live. Now I'm not trying to be anti-comfort toward anyone. I have "My" chair and "My" bed, I like comfort as much as the next fellow. But with comfort comes a subtle love for our lifestyle, and sometimes that love takes precedent over whatever God may be calling us to participate in. We hold onto the comfort more than we should. It is easy to rationalize that we have worked hard and therefore deserve to be comfortable. We can convince ourselves that God's call to follow would never involve uprooting our schedule and make ourselves available to His schedule. But it does....God's call takes precedent over everything in my life (or at least it should).

Rest assured that whatever change God has in store for you, will be followed by ample Grace to carry it out. Such is the ways of the Kingdom.

Merry Christmas from the "B's" in Attalla.
God on you...

mb

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Alive


Ephesians 2:4-5
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us ALIVE  together with Christ by grace you have been saved.

He had made us alive.....
Alive....the ability to experience life.
Jesus provided the power, authority and ability to take us out of our spiritual darkness, and transfer us to a new level of existence that had eluded us.
But do you really understand what it means to be alive?

It means we have the capability to experience the Joy of  the Lord. But sometimes that Joy comes in the middle of intense darkness. Sometimes that Joy comes when there seems to be no answers to what we are facing. Religion wants to cast out sweet, cute platitudes that truly have no substance. It's like eating cotton candy. Tastes good in your mouth, but has no nutritional value what so every. Religion has no spiritual nutritional value. The Joy of the Lord is food and water for our spirit in a dry and thirsty land.

The Joy of the Lord comes at the most unexpected moments when, in following Christ, we are consumed with doubts and fears. "Surely I have missed it somewhere along the way, as I have tried to follow Jesus," is a thought that precedes this joy sometimes. Hebrews 12:2 speaks of this Joy : Who for the Joy that was set before Him, endured the cross despising the shame....Life in Christ provides us with a vision to see beyond life. To see, with eyes of faith, the promises of God. To understand that faith is more than a fancy religious word for believing. Faith is the very substance on which my mind, heart, spirit and soul are nailed to. It is more than a belief system or a religious exercise. It is LIFE!

Being made alive in Christ helps us to face whatever life here on earth throws at us.
Pain? Sometimes pain is the only thing we possess that lets us know that we are alive. Yet Christ is no stranger to pain. He takes the pain we are experiencing and wraps us in His love and presence, telling us that His grace is sufficient to carry us through this momentary affliction. One of my most favorite lines every written in a song, comes from Pat Terry.  ....And it's funny how pain can touch you.....and it only makes you better, or it robs your heart and soul. All in all it defines the separation......between growing up.......and growing old. Left to me, I would run away from every pain....cower in the corner when fear comes to me.....pull the covers over my head when grief and despair knocks on my door. But being made alive in Christ, means I get up everyday with purpose and resolve to see the day through. That no matter what comes my way, I will look to the author and finisher of my faith, Jesus.

Christ has made us alive in spite of our pain....
Christ has made us alive in spite of the doubt and fear....
Like the three Hebrew men, in the book of Daniel, who were cast into the furnace to be burned alive for not worshiping the statue of the King.....Christ is with us in the furnace of daily living. The King looks into the fire and then asks one of his lessor's..."Did we not cast three into the fire? I see Four...and the Fourth looks like the Son of God." Whatever furnace you may be walking through today, know that you are not alone. Like those three Hebrews.....you have that Fourth man walking with you.

Merry Christmas from the "B's" in Attalla!
God on you...
mb


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

From The Bynum's To You..A Most Merry Christmas



Well, it's almost here....
Christmas 2014....
One more added to a long line of other Christmases....each one unique with memories to define them.

Christmas 1958...
My brothers new RCA Hi-fidelity Stereo as the main present. Bobby Darrin's album that had the song "Mack The Knife", as well as Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Star Carol".   Early, early Christmas morning, and there in our front yard stood my dad. He had placed the speakers in the window and turned the record player on. Sounds of "Joy to the World" Spilled out of those speakers and proceeded up and down the valley. There he stood waving his arms as if conducting an invisible orchestra, telling my mother, "You need to come out here and listen to this." As the impromptu concert took place at the Bynum household, lights began to come on in our neighbor's houses. I'm sure they thought that Jesus had come back.

Christmas 1970
The very first one I spent with Vicki's family. Coming from a small family, being thrust into the melee of the Campbell clam was almost sensory overload. People everywhere.....food, laughter, music, and Vicki's mom right in the center. Handing out presents was almost like being in the middle of a war. Instead of shells flying everywhere and bursting overhead, it was presents. Names were called out and presents were tossed across the room. It truly was, and continues to be, a family that loves being together. we will gather again this weekend to go through it one more time. I do think though that there will be a keen awareness and gratitude for what God has blessed us with over this past year. Gratitude for life and love. For the numbers that have been added to our family over the years.

Christmas 1974
Our son, Chad, had his first Christmas. Poor little guy was sick that day and didn't really feel very well. But it was our first time as a family to celebrate the Christmas season. We lived in Town's Apartment in Oneonta, Alabama. Chad wore a little one piece P.J. outfit that made him look like peppermint stick. But he was a real trooper and, like all children, seemed to love the bows and wrapping paper more than the toy's he received. This first Christmas was the one that opened my eyes to what being father truly was all about.....placing your family and their needs ahead of your own. 

Christmas 1977
Our son, Josh, had his first Christmas. We lived up in North Gadsden in one of my most favorite houses. It had this huge den that was gi-normous and just perfect for hosting a family hoo-haa. Mom and Dad came over as well as my brother Wayne and Sue, his wife. Josh was only 6 months old but was right in the middle of all the festivities. (O.k. here is where things get muddled and the years run together) Vicki reminded me that on Josh's first Christmas, we went to my brother's house. Dang, if she ain't right! Sorry bout that...
The other thing that she reminded me of was that my brother and my cousin, Gary, covered Josh with bows (the kind that stick on packages). He had them all over his head and arms....good stuff, and great pictures.

Christmas 1981
The first Christmas after my mom's death. She loved Christmas like it was no body's business. I remember that every one had gone to bed and I was finishing up putting out presents. As i walked through the house turning off the lights, I stopped by the tree for one last look. I suddenly found myself weeping because this was the first Christmas without Mom. She was not going to be there in the morning when the kids unwrapped their presents. In the middle of all the grief I was experiencing, a voice filled my mind. "It's o.k....she is with me. She is celebrating Christmas everyday in the presence of Christ." Such peace flooded over me. It was going to be alright. My mom was home.

Christmas 2002
Grandson  Tyler's first Christmas. Did we go over board? Probably...but that is what Grandparent's do, isn't it? He loved the packages and I think, had more fun with the ribbon and boxes than he did with the presents.

Christmas 2006
Granddaughter Ashley's first Christmas. Laughter and joy in that she was the first girl we had in our family. Vicki particularly loved shopping of her that year...picking out outfits and other such for Ashley's first Christmas.

Christmas 2014
Yet to be written, but anxious about the memories that will be created on this day.

So here is wishing you and your family a most joyous Christmas time.
Celebrate the birth of the Christ child.
Go out of your way to do an act of kindness to someone today.

Merry Christmas from all the "B's" ....
Chad, Robin, Tyler and Ashley
Josh and Heather
G.G.
Michael and Vicki...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rest My Friend....Rest


Psalm 116:15
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints......

If I close my eyes, I can still see him coming through the doors of the church.
Easy smile...
Easy gait......

Loose...taking life one moment at a time.
He would be carrying his saxaphone case....
We'd chat while he was taking his sax out....
Asking how he was...he would reply..."Nothing to complain about...life is good".
So it was with one Mr. Jimmy McNabb.
Never complained.....was always grateful for whatever the day held.

I received word Saturday evening that Jimmy had died.
Funny thing about death.....
When you receive the news about a passing, it leaves an empty place in the pit of your stomach. As a believer, you know the event should be a celebration. I mean, come on! Shaking off this world to be with Jesus.
Heaven.....
The Presence of God....

Finding out the truth about everything you believed while here on earth.
But there is still that empty place inside.
I was very empty Saturday night.

Jimmy was a unique individual. To look at him, you'd think he never had a problem a  day in his life. But, as it is with all men and women, there was a dark side. A season and time in Jimmy's life where he was trapped in addiction. Jimmy was successful on so many levels, but like all addiction...it was an equal opportunity destroyer. He lost everything. Making the trek from Los Angeles, Jimmy wound up at his mother's house in Troy, Alabama looking for help. She drove him to Rapha and Jimmy entered the program. Jimmy made the most of his "Second Chance."
At the time of his death, Jimmy was working on his PhD., after completing undergraduate and graduate school. 

You can't help but think of a sax when Jimmy comes to your mind.
He would join us in worship and play like nobodies business.
Jimmy would play "Amazing Grace" and bring the house down.

I have seen men and women weeping as Jimmy played.
Jimmy played to an audience of one....God. 

I received a call back in summer from Jimmy that he was going to be in town and wanted to see me.
He came by the church, and like all true friends, we took right up where we'd left off as though no time had passed at all. Jimmy told me that he'd been diagnosed with Leukemia and the outlook wasn't good. Then, as only Jimmy could, his face lit up and he laughed.."But you know  Mike, those doctor's don't know everything, do they?" He wasn't trying to put on some kind of pie-in-the-sky routine. He was simply stating that God had the final say in his life. He asked me pray....I did. We hugged and he told me how much he appreciated me letting him play whenever he visited. That was the last I saw of Jimmy McNabb.


As we journey through this life, God allows people to pass through our lives that touch us and make us better. I am grateful that I encountered one Mr. Jimmy McNabb. I pray peace and comfort over his family. I can't wait until I join him and play "Amazing Grace" one more time.

God on you...

mb

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Saturday-No Semblance Of Order - Posting

Matthew 2:11
........and when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him.....

Spoke last night at Celebrate Recovery Centre, Alabama.
This is my tenth year to be going there.
It has become home...a place where friendships have been formed and nurtured.
It is a huge Christmas Present to me each time I go.
Friends....
What an incredible, lovely word God created to describe those dearest to you.

These are not Facebook friends that are scattered all over creation that we only connect with through a computer or smart phone.
No, these are flesh and blood, give-me-a-hug people who truly love Jesus.

It is a messy place when you go to visit CR Centre. You have to watch your step because love is spilled all over the room. You step in it....you get it on your hands.....you can't seem to escape it. The love is everywhere. It isn't an exclusive love that is only shown to those who have attained a certain status in church or the Kingdom of God. It is love that is poured over every person that comes through the door to the meeting. You may not remember much about what was said, or the worship music that was played...you may not remember what the meal was that you ate, but I guarantee you, you will remember that you were well loved when you leave that place. Isn't that what the Kingdom of God really is all about? Loving and being loved? Sure it is. But not love that is defined by society or the world. Not the syrupy, mushy, fake kind of love. It is a caring about your soul kind of love. They have learned their lessons well in Centre, and they are having an impact on the community and the county. 

So here's to Donnie and Shelly George and all the good folks at Celebrate Recovery Centre!!!
Merry Christmas and keep loving as we move into 2015.
Let's do another ten years! What do you say?
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Prayer request:
Just received a call from my son, Joshua, concerning Heather, his wife, and her father.
Her dad has been taken to a hospital with a medical condition that is pretty serious.
I am asking for prayers on behalf of Galen and the family.
Prayers for healing and total restoration.

Prayers for comfort to the family as they move through this event.
Thanks...
mb
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VRC Saturday Night Meeting:
December 20th will be our candle light service at VRC.
Debbie Handy, Carrie Elrod and Liz Wood will be leading the worship, as we gather to celebrate another year of life.
Grateful for what has come, looking forward to what next year may hold. Service starts at 7 p.m. / Everyone (and I do mean everyone) is welcomed. 

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I want to thank each of you who take the time to stop by the Greene Street Letters.
Whether you are an every day follower of the blog...

Or an occasional drop in to see what's going on...
Thank you.
Please pass this blog to anyone you may think might find it to be an encouragement and beneficial. The one thing I've always tried to do is speak encouragement about the simplicity of the Gospel and of following this Jesus.

Should you ever have a prayer request, or a need...feel free to leave a comment here. I check them every day, and my wife and I promise to be diligent about your prayer needs.
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Haggai 1:14
So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God.

Lot of stirring going on......
Do you think maybe these folks knew they were being roused by God to move forward in a work that was on His heart? I don't know.
But what if that is still true today? What if God really wanted us to pray, "Lord --- stir up my spirit to do Your will!" ?  Doing His will could incorporate a lot of different things for a lot of different people. It might be that God wants you to feed some folks...take them some groceries. It might be that God wants you to give some of your money to that guy that sits by the interstate holding the "I am homeless" sign. It might be that God wants to stir you to go next door and invite your neighbor over to have a cup of coffee and to just talk. 


Now let's go out on that limb a little farther to a place that most of us find uncomfortable. It might be that God wants you to go over to that lady you see in Walmart....you know the one I'm talking about. She looks distressed and is covered with a cloud of despair. She may even be riding one of the motorized shopping carts because of a physical condition. God might be stirring you to go over and show her love because everyone is trying to avoid her. There are shelves she can't reach seated in the cart. There are items that are beyond her reach. God may even want you to pray healing down on her. Healing for her spiritual condition...healing for her emotional condition.....healing for her physical condition. I know....I know what you're thinking and what you're feeling. "Not me! I cant' do that. I wouldn't know what to pray." Guess what. You don't have to know what to pray. God will give it to you. It's not about the words, whether they are in the right order or even the right ones...it's about the language of the heart. If you have been stirred for this person, then take a risk and go over and simply ask, "Can I help you? Would you mind if I prayed for you?" I don't think I've ever had anyone say "NO" when I asked if I could pray for them. You might discover if you step out to love others, you will get the greatest, biggest, most stupendous gift in the world. The feeling that comes from knowing that you have extended the Kingdom of God a little farther out than it use to be.


Merry Christmas from the Bynums!

God on you...
mb


Friday, December 12, 2014

Repentance.....A Fresh Start



II Corinthians 7:10
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted. But the sorrow of the world produces death.

I saw it last night....
I saw it with my own eyes....

Two people coming under the influence of God's Holy Spirit, break down and confess and repent.
I saw tears streaming down their faces.
Eyes filled with a look of "please, God...please forgive me."
Forgiveness not for being caught in sin.
But forgiveness for having sinned.

I saw the weight of shame and guilt lift off of them.
Cries amid the sobs of "I'm so sorry for what I've done"...."I'm so sorry....Oh God, please forgive me".

Then I saw the sweet release of freedom come to each one as God truly did lead them to a place where each received that forgiveness that only God can give.
The tears turned from sadness and grief, to joy and release.
That, my friend, is godly sorrow turned to true freedom and joy.

Sometimes the greatest gifts we could ever hope to receive during Christmas come in the form of unseen, powerful moves by God's Holy Spirit upon our life.
The release of a soul from the bondage of worldly sorrow and shame.
The freedom of God's love and forgiveness, as He pours out upon the one who is broken and trapped. Money can't buy it, and words really can't describe it. But it is as real and tangible as the chair I am sitting in here at my computer.


Romans 2:4 reads: Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance,a nd longsuffering, not knowing that the kindness (goodness) of God leads to repentance?
The very nature and character of God is love. It is that love...that divine choice to look with favor on those who truly are broken by their sin...broken and looking for redemption for what they have done. The devil comes and heaps worldly sorrow and condemnation on  those who don't look to God. Condemnation accuses over and over and over again. It keeps you face down in the muck and mire of the memory of the sin. It causes shame and guilt to rise up in the individual, which becomes a crushing weight. Such toxic emotions usually fuel and addiction, as the individual seeks relief.

God, on the other hand, brings conviction through the Holy Spirit. 

His way is the show us the wrong that we have done, causing us to take responsibility for our actions. Then He brings forgiveness and release. We can rise up and continue on in this life journey. You know....I sure am glad He got the job being God..aren't you?

I'll be speaking tonight at Celebrate Recovery in Centre, Ala.
Starts at 6:15 p.m. / Come on out and join us, if you are in the area.

Merry Christmas from the "B's" in Attalla.
God on you..
mb

By the way...special shout out to Peggy C. for the Christmas card. Many thanks and love back to you.
Michael and Vicki


Tuesday Bible Study

Psalm 119:130 The entrance (or unfolding) of Your words gives light. it gives understanding to the simple. Pulled up at the camp last ...