Friday, February 28, 2014

Audio Message from 2/22/14



This was a kind of "living room" discussion and talk on why Vineyard Recovery looks they way it does. Not deep, but hopefully informative.

God on you...

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Weekly Recap


Yeah, Buddy! It's Friday....
What a week it has been.
Sunday night, I was at Celebrate Recovery watching Seth Barber give one of the best teachings I have ever heard. More than that, I saw God's Spirit uncover hearts and bring them to a healing place.

Monday night I was with Garrett Rule and the Vibe.There I saw a pure, unbound, get-on-your-feet and worship till you drop-generation who was falling in love with Jesus. After those two nights, I came away with a sense that God is alive and well in this upcoming generation. 

You see, I'm beginning to see the need to pass the message and the vehicle to this next generation. To seek out those people who burn for Jesus and aid them in any way I can. To mentor and love...to aid and equip those who feel the call to take the message to those who are still in darkness. 

Tuesday night was teaching night at Rapha. Each Tuesday and Thursday, I hold an "8 0'clock" Bible study. It is voluntary and we usually have between eight to twelve men show up. During this time, I try to personalize the message to them. To kind of kick it up a notch, if you will. It's more than just about salvation, it's about the next step in this journey of following Jesus. What they can expect if they truly buy into this journey. Lot's of prayer for healing and support usually accompany these Bible studies.

Wednesday found me at New Seasons Celebrate Recovery in Southside. Good folks out there. Charlie Pitts heads up the meeting and he truly has a heart for people in addiction and recovery. God was more than gracious in this meeting, as five were saved. I will never tire of seeing new hearts come to know Jesus. To me, it's like getting a payday. You go, God!!!

Thursday took us to another Bible study at Rapha. Jeremiah Smith comes out to join us for these studies, and the men have grown fond of seeing him pull up in his truck. Jeremiah is what I refer to as "the love of God on two legs". He truly does love these men who are in the program at Rapha.
Taught from I Kings 18:21, the prophet Elijah talking to the people before the contest with the Baal prophets to see who had the real God. Elijah tells the people, "How long will you falter (hesitate) between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people answered him not a word." Hesitation has been the death of many a good person. God constantly is giving us opportunities to choose life, real life with Him, over this life that is offered up by the world. If you go over to Revelation Chapter 3 and read about the church of the Laodiceans, you'll see that they were a bunch of fence straddler's who could choose one way or the other. God says that they were neither hot nor cold. Living in such a place of hesitating to go one way or the other, made God sick at His stomach. In fact, when we don't choose God nor reject Him either, we have actually made our choice. Like I said, hesitation will kill you.


So, here we are...
Friday!

Tonight Vicki and I will drive to Centre, Alabama and be with Donnie and Shelly George and the good folks at Celebrate Recovery. Every time I go there to speak, I am amazed at the receptive hearts that attend this meeting week in and week out. If I could sum up what I see when I go to this meeting, it would be the love of God in action. Folk's loving on folk's who have never been loved on before. Isn't that what the church is suppose to do? I think so.

Tomorrow night, I'll be at Vineyard Recovery Church for another meeting. Saturday night has become super special for me. Anxious to see what God will do next when we gather. Anxious to worship with my family and friends. Anxious to see what God will uncover in me and what He desires to teach us all. 

Well, for better or worse ( and I like to think for the better)

that is my life.
If you're free, come on out and join us tomorrow night for VRC.
Starts at 7 p.m.

God on you....
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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Son / Sun



Spring is whispering and teasing us with glimpses of itself.
Winter is loosening its grip on the day and prepares to leaves us until later this year.
We are 'tween the two right now.
The Sun is out.
The Son is here....
The Sun is bright...
The Son is near.....
A stirring deep inside to remember who I am and whose I am.
Resurrection from the dark days of winter into the new life that we celebrate each spring.
Like the Kings of Jerusalem, spring time is the season to go out to war.
To take the struggle into the streets...
Take it out of the church into the back alley's and dark haunts where no one ever goes.
To feel, once again, the Son upon our soul and remember why we were born....
To rejoice in the simple fact that we have been given life....
life abundant.
That our purpose is far greater than pay checks and flat screens.
Carries far more implications than new coats and luxury cars.
Here comes the Sun.....
Here is the Son.
It's alright.

God on you...
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Does God Play Hide And Seek?


I Chronicles 15:4
But in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, and He was found by them.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I'm sure you have heard that one before, but there is great truth in that statement.

Desperate times will make a person do things they normally wouldn't do, or even think about doing. Pressure, both emotionally and spiritually, will turn a persons belief system upside down. The things and ways that have been relied on in the past are cast aside and a frantic search for something that would bring stability to an individuals life.

Kind of funny really, if you read that verse from I Chronicles.
It doesn't say that "in their distress they turned to the church."  It doesn't say that "In their distress, they turned to Christian TV or radio." No! They turned to God.
Desperation has a way of breaking down the barriers between a person and God. In fact, I'm not so sure that desperation comes from God. That He uses it to get our attention. He will get you arrested with numerous felony counts staring at you on your next court date. He will get your so called "friends" to roll on you when it means their own necks.  He will corner you until there are no options left and, in your desperation, wait for you to cry out for Him. Sounds cruel doesn't it? Sounds like God plays these little games with our very lives. Bottom line here is that we are talking about eternity, not only about what happens here on this side of heaven. Why would God do this? He love us. No, really He wants to give each of us this incredible gift of real life and a relationship with Him that is not bound by time or distance. 

It's kind of like me making some really dumb choices and,in the process, breaking my arm. I mean it is a terrible break where the bone is sticking through the flesh. They rush me to the hospital and when we roll through the emergency room doors, I'm screaming, "Morphine!"....the doctor is screaming "X-ray!". He's not real concerned with my comfort at that point, but he is concerned about me getting healed. Get it! The doctor doesn't appear to be loving or caring, but in fact that is exactly what he is. It just didn't look like it to me. Same with God. We find ourselves in situations and circumstance where "the bone" is sticking out and we are in such emotional pain. We cry out to God and He comes and begins to take us through the process of healing. It doesn't always look like what we think it should look like, and sometimes we get mad because of this. We get mad and turn back away from God. Give Him the time to bring this healing to you. Don't let your impatience cut short what He has in store for you.

Remember the verse from I Chronicles....
They cried out.....
They looked for Him....
HE was found by them....

You can take that to the bank. God works in this fashion.
Think on this today...

God on you..
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I'm Just Crazy Enough To Believe It




John 17:16
They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

John 16:33
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.

John 15:18-19
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

The world?
The system and influence that permeates the way society does business.

It is run by the Kingdom of darkness. We are no longer a part such. We are like the slaves Moses brought out of Egypt. God took them into the wilderness to teach them a new way of living. 

So why should we surprised when we are attacked for who we believe in?
Why should it take us back when we are slandered and treated badly because of the choice we have made to follow Jesus.

There is a price to pay when one makes this decision to turn will and life over to His care.
Sometimes even family doesn't understand why we made this decision. They will look at us like we are some kind of freak show oddity.
"Oh, you went got religion!" Heaven help me should I ever "Get" religion. NO! I got Jesus and He got me. Simple as that. I'm not referring, when I say He got me and I got Him, to a casual, go-to-church, do  nothing else form of believer. I'm talking about that person who has been turned inside out for Jesus. Their entire world has been rocked and re-rocked and they have Jesus on the brain. They think about Him all the time. They can't wait to go and hang out with others who have also been rocked by Him.

Such people usually have the moniker of "Holy Joe" or "Holy Roller" attached to their behavior. Attached by those who are clueless to who this Jesus is. How are suppose to respond to such behavior? We love 'em! We bless 'em! We pray for them! We don't let is stop us. We keep on keepin' on with Jesus.

May you find that kind of fire this morning.
May you have a burning desire to simply be with Him this day.

God on you....
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Video From The Vibe





Wished the video could have shown some of the worship....
Make an old man feel young....
I wanted to get down...
Just afraid that I couldn't get back up...
God On You

The Vibe


I went last night to the Vibe-nation.
I went last night and felt the passion and heart of the Vibe-ration.
I saw the church in action last night.
Oh, the package was different, but the message was as old as time itself.
Just Jesus!


Lights...
Strobes....

Smoke....
Music that you felt....
Movement.....
Dancing......
And in the middle of it all, binding it together for the Kingdom....
Jesus.

I watched a young man that I met years ago, leading this group.
He is one who encourages...
He is a new voice that is filled and empowered by God's Spirit.
His passion is that no one is left behind in this journey. That all who come would run into the Jesus that changed his life.
Take him outside the setting of his church, and he is insecure and somewhat taken aback by the fact that God has chose him to lead this group.
But let the clock strike seven, the music pouring forth from the speakers and he turns into a man who carries the anointing of God and the mantle to reach this generation for the kingdom. He isn't content just to see people saved...He wants them to go all the way with Jesus. He wants disciples that will go out and take back those who are trapped in the darkness and prison of sin.

Some who are my age would be offended by this type of church.
I wept.

I sat there with tears in my eyes, thanking God for this group.
These kids don't want to just talk about God....
They don't just want to hear about God....
They want to taste God...
They want to be washed in His presence...

Don't get me wrong. They hear the word. They are encouraged to devour the Bible for themselves. But it is the simple act of coming together to worship and experience the presence of God that burns on the heart of this generation.

I spent most of the day asking God, "What could I possibly say to them?"
As I took the stage last night, it became very clear what was to happen.
I wasn't suppose to preach to them....
I wasn't suppose to teach at them....
I was there to honor them. To honor this next generation who was taking up the torch of being the church.

Oh, I shared stories of God's desire for us all to come to a saving knowledge of Him.
I shared how God asked three questions in scripture that still applies today.
And then we invited God's Holy Spirit to come and minister to us all.
We saw depression and hopelessness broken off of several who were there.
I watched as the love of God fell in that room and people began to weep. Weeping because their own earthly parents had never affirmed them. Never put their arms around them and told them that they were loved. But last night, God the Father came and loved on His children.
I left the Vibe last night encouraged.
God bless you, Garrett!

God on you...
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Monday, February 24, 2014

Early Morning Ramblings.

It is not for the faint of heart.
It is certainly not for those who are sitting on the fence of indecision.
It is most definitely not for those who are not committed.
It is for those who are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Recovery.....

Each morning when you awake and your feet hit the floor, you carry with you a most incredible gift if you are in recovery. You get up sober. You get up and start the day ahead of the curve, so to speak. Your goal and your plan must be to maintain that sobriety for the next 24 hours. That means that you have to be on guard.....against yourself. To guard your mind and heart from old thoughts coming back into the picture. Guard your heart and mind from seeking out old friends or old places you use to haunt. It is a battle, but it is a battle that is doable and can be won. It is won by surrender and giving up. A turning of will and life over to the care of a Power greater than yourself. In our case, such a Power is an individual, Jesus.

It all seems so awkward at first, this whole surrender thing. It doesn't feel normal and you will be filled with doubts and fear of the future. Don't worry. Having such thoughts and fears are normal. But don't let them dictate your actions.Before taking any action that even remotely resembles your old way of living....Stop! Don't do anything. Now cry out to God. Really? Cry out? You mean actually verbally, say out loud, crying? Yep, that's what I mean. You can cry "Help!" You can cry out "Save me!"...You can cry out "O, God do something!"....the words aren't important, but the need deep inside of you is. That desperation of not truly wanting to go back to the old ways. 

This next part is going to be hard to swallow for some. You see, we are living in the 21st Century and with all the technology that we have, anything that is founded in "Spirituality" is looked at with deep skepticism. So what is this next part? Well, if there is a Higher Power that is trying to save you and aid you in your recovery, then there is a Lower Power that is trying to make sure that you never do recover. In fact his actions go a little farther than simply trying to keep you from hooking up with Jesus. This Lower Power's intention is to kill you...destroy you and everything around you...and to steal everything from you (John 10:10). This lower power goes by many names.....Satan, Lucifer, but most know him as the devil. He is not some made up figure on which we lay all the blame for evil in the world. He is a real being, a fallen angel whose pride drove him to take on God in a head to head match. How'd that turn out? Not too good. Got the old boy kicked out of heaven. Ever since that day, the devil has been trying to get even with God. Now he knows that he cannot beat God in a head to head match, so his next best bet is to go after God's highest creation.....man/women.

To me, that is the entire reason behind addiction. The devil knows that we have an appetite for all the wrong things (it is called a sin nature--every person is born with one). So he develops new and interesting things to feed that dark appetite. He knows that we are creatures of emotion and, as such, when those emotions are pointing to the dark side, he whispers to us that life would be so much better, and pain free if we would simply introduce alcohol and/or drugs into the middle of our emotional turmoil. Thus begins that slippery slide down into self destruction. Because we have surrendered will and life over to the care of this devil, it only makes sense that a greater Power is our only answer. This is where Jesus comes into the picture. 

Motivated by a pure love for us, Jesus steps onto the scene with a promise of deliverance. He offers us real life that is not motivated by our own selfish desires, wants and needs. He offers life with Him. Now before we go any further, let's get one thing straight. This isn't a life of religion. It isn't a life bound by a list of rules and do's and don't's. It is a life of freedom from our past. It is a life of relationship with Him. It is organic, always changing, always moving forward confronting what ever may come at us today whose aim is to destroy us or, at least, move us back into that old lifestyle. 

Whereas the promises made by the devil are empty and only seek to destroy us, the promises made by Jesus are meant to show us the way to real life. The devil will promise you anything and everything to get you to forget all this recovery nonsense. He will promise you the moon, never intending to fulfill it, if you will only stop your journey with Jesus and return to him. Is it any wonder that I hate this devil so. I have stood over coffins of those who succumbed to his lies. I have sat up all hours of  the night listening to the ranting and ravings of those who returned to the darkness. Why did they call me? They wanted me to know what an incredible liar this Jesus was. At least that was the delusion and demonic influence that was behind the call. I always answer back to such nonsense with, "Well let me ask you this. Is your life better today that it was when you were in recovery and were following Steps?" They never seem to answer that one. Why? Because they know the truth and there is no rebuttal to real truth. 

I want to close with one of the most incredible verses found in the Bible.
It was written at one of the darkest times in human history. An entire country had been taken captive and lead off into slavery. Why? Because they had rejected the Power greater themselves who could restore them. Instead they sought to feed the dark desires of their own hearts, giving it anything and everything it wanted. God stepped in after countless attempts to get them to turn from their ways, but the nation would have no part of it. Now, sitting in the rubble and destruction of what was once a great, thriving city, the prophet of God penned these words....
"The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this; The unfailing love of the LORD never ends. By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is His faithfulness. His mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, 'the LORD is my inheritance, therefore, I will hope in Him."........................Lamentations 3:19-23

Hope...found in an individual....
Jesus.

God on you...
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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Wrong Place----Wrong Time


II Samuel 11:1
The following spring, the time of the year when kings go to war, David sent Joab and the Israelite army to destroy the Ammonites. In the process they laid siege to the city of Rabbah.  But David stayed behind in Jerusalem.

Wrong place....Wrong time. Didn't seem like a bad idea at first, but as the consequences unfolded, it proved to be a downfall. Isn't life like that? Wouldn't it be great if we could see a day or two days or a week forward and know what was going to happen. It might eliminate some of the major pitfalls we find ourselves in. 

Getting in the car with a couple of friends seemed like something innocent.
But then the bottle came out, along with the pipe, and as you drove along, you suddenly find the inside of the car bathed in blue light, along with a policeman who is asking you step out of the car. Wrong place....wrong time.

Sometimes what seem like innocent choices put is in jeopardy of winding up in the worst of situations. In our old lifestyle, we don't really take the time to ask ourselves, "Is this a good idea?"  In the verse from II Samuel, we have a King named David who, for whatever reason, does not take his rightful place as his army goes out to battle their enemy. David decides to stay back. We not really given insight as to why. Maybe he was just tired of all the fighting. After all, he'd been at war for the majority of his life. But this innocent decision to stay behind started a series of events that eventually led to David having an affair. Killing the husband of the woman he was having the affair with, and produced a child because of the affair. These events would haunt David for the rest of his life. His family would always be in a constant state of turmoil and upheaval, even to the point that incest would become part of this sordid story. Even David's own son would try to overthrow his father and seize the throne for himself.  Just because David wasn't where he was suppose to be, when he was suppose to be there. 

I felt like I was to share this story of David this morning, to point out our (me included) need to not be hasty in our decisions but to weigh them carefully and prayerfully. To seek God's directions and the counsel of those we look to, to aid us in the choices that we have to make. 

David, in spite of this lapse in good judgement, still found favor with God at the end of his life. He was still God's anointed and still the line through which Messiah would be born through. I guess what I like best from all of this, is that no one is beyond restoration when it comes to God. No amount of bad decisions followed by bad consequences, is beyond the redeeming hand of the Lord. There is no pit so deep, that God is not deeper still. There is no mess beyond God's ability to clean it up and bring order to life. 

Only one more reason that I need this God- life......the real life....that only God can offer. I know I'm a mess.....but I'm God's mess. Sounds too simple doesn't it? Maybe it is as simple as recognizing the state of your life and the fact that, if left to your own devices, it isn't going to get any better. Couple this awareness with the understanding that death isn't the end, but merely the transition point in this process of living, and that everyone of us has a destination once we pass from life through death. This destination will be based on the choices we made here while we were alive. Choices of who did we worshiped. Who did we look to and answer to all throughout our life. Was it God? Or was it Satan? Keep in mind that our belief or disbelief does not alter the truth. Such is hard pill for some to swallow. 

So, I guess the bottom line on today's posting, is to realize that you do have choices. Be careful as to how you exercise them. 

God on you...
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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday Thought's

I feel very weak this morning....
Oh, not the kind of weakness that comes from being sick or injured. It's more like the weakness that is a result of truly realizing who and what you are. Seems to me the human race loves to lay hold of titles and nicknames. We love looking to those who excel in various endeavors and feats. What with the Olympics going on, we are bombarded with the "Fastest" skier and the "Most graceful" ice dancer. We are given glimpses of the "World's Best" Hockey Team. And in the fray of battle and competition, if you don't make it to the medal podium.......well, you're just a mere mortal.

Don't you find it strange, that in this thing we call recovery the key is to be weak? The one over riding factor that must be realized is the admission of ones weakness. In order to find the strength needed to walk away from the destruction and damage we have created through our using, is the simple admission of "I can't stop drinking or using." I am powerless.......my life has become unmanageable. I'm so glad the process doesn't stop there and leave us dangling over the cliff of despair and gloom. But in order to receive help, you first have to know that you need help. It's like I tell the guys at Rapha..."If you don't come to grips with the reality that you've got a problem, then nothing I have to say will matter to you. It's the realization that  you don't get to call the shots anymore or decide what you are and are not going to do. As a friend of mine once told a room full of men who were entering the program at Rapha...."Gentlemen, you best thinking....the very top of your game....the very best thinking you are capable of making...has got you here in this program." If this is the best that we can come up with.....and this is the end result...we need to find a better way to live.

For an individual to admit they are powerless is a hard and bitter pill to swallow. Even with the evidence of our using stacked up in front of us, the human heart is so rebellious and deceitful that it will fabricate a way to spin the truth so that we don't have to own it. "It's not my fault!" or "I really don't have a problem, I can quit anytime I want to." When such stubbornness is allowed to run its course, we wind up with sons and daughters who have to grow up without father's and mothers because they died using. Self will run riot leads to seedy hotel rooms where they find your body with the needle still stuck in your arm. Holding on to the old life will get you beaten so badly because a drug deal went South.  Love ones can't identify your body because your face is beaten beyond recognition. Then there are those who choose to take their own life.
And the list goes on and on and on.....
Chris....
Jeff....
Josh....
Jason...
Brandon....
Matt......
If needed, I could write out the names of over 80 who have died.
Much too young and gone way too soon because of the power of a lie.

That is why we have Vineyard Recovery Church....
To introduce the real power behind any recovery....Jesus Christ.
Step # 1----I'm broken inside. There is something within me that drives me to fill this emptiness I live with. The only thing that seems to flow into this empty spot are things that produce only more pain and shame and guilt. These emotions are so overwhelming and I don't know how to deal with them, so I use. I use to feel nothing. I use to be numb. I've been using so long, that I use now just to feel normal. When I look around at what I have done and the people I have hurt...it causes more pain. This only leads to more using. I am in The Cycle now......I will do whatever I have to, to get my drug of choice. I will steal from those who love me. I will lie to anyone and everyone to get what I need. I will break free of every moral restraint I ever possessed to serve the god that I have created inside myself. One that demands total allegiance on my part. The god of self and the god of addiction. I will bow my knee and answer their every call.

But there is hope.
Not hope found in a program or a process....
But hope that is found in an individual. Jesus.
Sounds too simple, doesn't it?
It is.
A simple matter of surrender and turning to Him.
A giving of one's self to His care.
Then begins the process of learning how to live.

God on you....
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Friday, February 21, 2014

VRC Audio Message From 2/8/14 --- Putting on Jesus!



Audio message From Vineyard Recovery:  February 8, 2014.
Download and listen later...
or enjoy now...
God on you...
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Why?



Why?
As a parent, I can't tell you the number of times I heard this from my sons.

"Go clean your room."
"Why?"
"You need to wear a jacket today."
"Why?"
Or, turning the tables around, "Why are you bald headed?"
"Why is your beard partly gray and partly brownish-red?"
Why...Why...Why...

In this journey of new life, we need to always guard ourselves as to "Why" we are doing what we do. What is the motive behind our action/  What is the intent of our words? Are we saying what we think is the right thing to say, but the motive is to manipulate someone else into doing what we want them to do?
"Why" needs to be a part of our arsenal as we learn and grow in Christ.

Psalm 139:1 reads: O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me (my motives and intentions). We go on to read in verse 23 and 24, Search me, O God, and know my heart. Test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
In other words, we truly become that living sacrifice we read about in Romans 1. We spiritually climb up on the altar and tell God, "Here I am! Cut me open and see what's really inside, so that I can see and be aware of anything I am doing that is offensive to you."  Talk about brutal honesty....this is the core to recovery.....being honest with yourself and being honest about yourself is where real life with Christ starts. Not honest about all your mess, so you can just beat yourself up and tell yourself what a terrible person you are. No! Honest so you can receive healing and strength to move forward. Seeing the things that need to change. Isn't that part of the serenity prayer? "Give me courage to change the things that should be changed?" I know, I know..you think I wrote that part down wrong, didn't you? Well, I didn't. Today the prayer says, "Grant me the courage to change the things I can." The original serenity prayer stated "Grant me the courage to change the things that should be changed."  Such courage can only come from God. Seeing the things that need to be changed in my character and my life can only be seen when God asks me, "Why? Why did you say that...or why did you do that?" Out of the heart flow all our behaviors. Out of our belief system comes our actions and words. In other words, if my character is flawed and dark, then my motives and intentions will be likewise, which will evidenced by the bad, selfish choices i make. 

I truly am learning a new way to live...If you pursue this Jesus long enough, and allow Him to work in you and through you, you'll find yourself experiencing a freedom and a peace you never thought were possible.

Honesty demands an answer from me...
Not an excuse.

Hope to see you tomorrow night at Vineyard Recovery Church / 7 p.m.
Until then...
God on you...

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Us'un's Or You'un's


Matthew 6:1
....."Our Father....."

These are the very first two words spoken in what we refer to as the Lord's Prayer.
If you look at the first word of Step # 1 of the Twelve Steps....it reads...We.
The idea behind each of these words, is that we are being brought into a community...more like a family of people who identify with God and with the idea of recovery.

More than identify, we surrender and begin the journey toward a new way to live.
We have brothers and sisters all along this journey who we will meet and draw strength from, just as they will draw strength from us. Such are the ways of God, that He designed us to find strength when we gather with like minded individuals. Like minded and like hearted put us on the same path moving from our past, and old way of living, to a future with promise and hope. 

There aren't any Lone Rangers in this journey, yet some still live by that old way. Oh, they go to meetings, but they hang near the back and won't interact with anyone. They graze on what others are saying, without adding anything from their own struggle, only to be out the door when the meeting is over. All the while feeling like they have truly accomplished something by their attendance. While attending a meeting, whether church or A.A., is important, it profits you nothing if you aren't engaged and a part of the meeting. The spiritual call to give is more than putting two bucks in the plate....as Romans 12 describes it.."We become living sacrifices". In other words, I should want to give my entire being....spirit, body, soul, mind, heart and all the left overs, to the meeting and become a vital part of what's going on. I do so out of a heart that is learning to love and trust again. I do so because I am building a support that will get me through some dark times that are surely lying ahead in my journey. I do so because it has proven to be the way God wants us to live....in community. 

This is one of the reasons that we have Vineyard Recovery Church. So that others can connect and come to realize there are family out there. We have no strings attached to anything we do on Saturday nights. We don't even have required church membership that you have to jump through to be a part. We figure if you show up more than twice, then there  must be something in the meeting that is drawing you to attend. That would be the Spirit of God. Cool how that works, isn't it?

So, boys and girls, the moral of today's story is ....
Don't do this on your own....
Don't just go and take up a seat at meeting or at church...

Begin to participate....
Begin to be a part....
Begin to find life....real life.
Take a chance....take a risk and reach out to this wonderful new family God is giving to you....


God on you...
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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Call To Honor God




John 8:54
Jesus answered, "If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God."

Hebrews 12:1
.....and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

God created us to run....
To move....
To not be deterred from completing the race.
The race we call life.
The prize doesn't go to the fastest or swiftest.

The prize isn't handed out to the smartest or the one who sees the course the best.
The prize is given to those who simply do not give up but rely on Jesus the entire way.

This race is hard on a body.
It will tear at your emotions to the point that you'll want to give up and simply sit down.
It will drain you of heart and strength in such a way that you think you'll never ever recover.
But at that moment when defeat seems so near and the dark voices are whispering in your ear....it is then that something incredible happens.

God reveals Himself.
God shows up.

The words of Scripture, which only moments before had been nothing more than that......words, now become life as they are pulled out of the depths of your very being and brought to life in your heart and in your spirit.
"He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youth shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. The shall walk and not faint.

These are words of truth from God himself to remind us that it is His strength we rely on daily to run this race of life.
It is His power that infuses us to not give in to the tug of our past or the uncertainty of the future, but to press on. Press on with the understanding that no matter what comes our way today, we can make it.
Understanding that this is the heart and nature of God to come and aid me in those times of hopelessness is what keeps me going everyday.
Life is hard....
Life is harder without Jesus.


Honor God this day....
Honor Him with your life.....

Bring honor to Him by allowing Him to not only live in you,but become the voice of reason and the spiritual compass with which you get your directions on what to do and which way to go.

You were born to run this race.
Don't let the enemy and his kingdom of darkness keep you from reaching the prize.

God on you.....
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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Day I Went To The Moon


I'll never forget the first time I laid eyes on her....
Standing there in the heat of a July sun, she had all the lines that just seemed to scream "fast".

Constructed of the finest materials, she stood there like some wild mustang, chomping at the bit to be turned loose so she could do what she was created to do.
Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have imagined that I would get to take part in this incredible adventure, but here it was all right there in front of me.
I was going to the moon.
The time was 1960. I was 8 years old and the space race had blasted off with strange names like Sputnik and Echo. Man made objects that raced across the night sky, drawing our eyes to the heavens to marvel at them. As for me, a young boy from Gallant, Alabama...it was my time. I was going to the moon.
I climbed aboard the Astro-liner 1, taking my place in the specially designed chair that would enable me to stand the G-force that was sure to come when we lifted off.
The Command Module Pilot made his way to the seat, hands moving across the control panel, making last minute adjustments for our flight. Then over the loud-speaker came the countdown. 10.....9......8....my heart was racing....5.....4.....3 ...what is something went wrong and we didn't return from our flight....2.....1....too late now....0.....ignition......the cabin shuttered and vibrated as if it had been grasped by some giant hand and was being shaken.....lift off.  The vibrations increased and we slowly lifted off from the launch pad. We were on our way. The rocket begin to move to an awkward angle........45 degrees.....90 degrees....on the view screen in front of the cabin, I saw clouds racing by as we climbed higher and higher. Blue sky gave way to the inky darkness that was space. I was going to the moon. Stars filled the screen and seem to zip by with such speed that I knew our trip would not take long. I was going to the moon.

Truth be known, it was an amusement ride. But it was real to me. It would be as close to a journey to the moon as I would ever come. But it was real to an eight year old boy.
Sometimes, we treat recovery from addiction like that amusement ride I took back in 1960. We go through all the motions of going to meetings.
Reading the big book.
Having an accountability partner and a sponsor.
We memorize all the steps and can quote them at the drop of a hat.

But because our heart hasn't become engaged in the process....
Because we are merely going through the motions physically but not engaged spiritually...
we are no closer to a real life of sobriety than I was to the moon when I climbed aboard that ride.

I don't want a life that is plastic and fake and just appears to be doing well.
I want the real-deal life that only Jesus, the true Higher Power, can give to me.
I want Him to do for me what I could not do for myself.

I love the verse from II Corinthians 12, where the apostle Paul is talking about his struggles and how he is so tired from the fight that he wants to give up. God speaks to Paul and tells him...."My grace is all you need My power works best in you weakness." SO now I am glad to boast about my weakness, so that Power of Christ may work through me.

Don't settle for a fake recovery. One that is merely a game played to appease those around you.
Lay hold of the real deal.
Lay hold of this Jesus and let Him lay hold of you....

It will be the journey of a lifetime.

God on you..

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Discipline



Psalm 119:3
They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in His paths.

Some say that discipline is self-will controlled.
Some say that discipline is a learned behavior.
But when it comes to recovery....
When it comes to working a program and following "the" path that others have walked, to me it all boils down to a heart transplant.

I'm not talking about that bloody muscle inside my chest that pumps blood and keeps me upright and ventilating.
I'm speaking of the very center of who I am, as a human being.
That part of me that collectively is my will, my intellect, my emotions.....the part that actually rules my behavior and influences my decisions.

That has to change. Wrapped up and in all this center part of me is something that is called the "sin-nature". Some refer to it as the "flesh" or the "old man",but it is the driving force behind all my addicta-logic that has brought me to this place of destruction. I am in need of being saved from this sin nature and from myself, being a slave to it. I am in need of a heart transplant.
I'm pretty  sure this new way of living isn't something that you just wake up after years of addiction and decide, "You know, I think I'll just be disciplined this morning."


In fact, we've already proved ourselves to be disciplined during those dark time, didn't we?
I mean nothing separated us from what we wanted most, our drugs and alcohol.
If we were low on money, that didn't stop us.
We came up with a plan to get what we needed, and then we carried it out.
It may have involved lying or stealing, but we were disciplined enough to see it through so we could get high.
So discipline is a two edged sword.

When most people enter recovery, their idea of recovery is simply making the pain and pressure of our bad choices go away. They have no inkling about addressing the bad choices they made or the amends that have to be addressed. They simply want the pain to stop. When the pain does stop, then discipline is needed to walk through the mess and years of bad choices that have piled up around them. 

We go on to read in Psalm 119:5 - Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect Your principals. To me the key word in that verse is "consistently". To be able to sustain the success we are finding in this new way of living. Success that comes from simply giving up and turning will and live over to the care of God. In other words, we come to a saving relationship with Jesus. A surrender, if you will, of not just our old ways, but of our old nature. I can't explain the nuts and bolts of how this thing works...I just know that I am living proof of what God can do. I remember the old me. The stinky me. The me that wasn't very nice. Looking back to that B.I.G.U period in my life (Before I Gave Up)....discipline was not something that was a part of my vocabulary. That all changed when I gave up...I mean really gave up.

Many folks rail against the Twelve Steps. They have all manner of reasons why they are not true and why this "GOD-thing" really doesn't work. God bless 'em! They are missing the big point There isn't any magic in following a list of instructions. IF there is magic (and there's not) it's in the change that comes to the addict through the first three steps. Those first three steps provide the base and foundation, AND THE ABILITY...to carry out the other nine.
Why?
Because we have entered into a new dimension of living we never thought would be possible for us. Not because of our own strength, talent or ability, but because of the presence of Jesus as the one we now follow.

Sounds way to simple, doesn't it?
It works.

God on you....
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Sunday, February 16, 2014

No Matter What! Keep Pluggin'



I Samuel 16:13
Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward.


Change...
Life is about change....
Life with God, and life in God is about Change.
Jesus is the great change agent that opens the door for us to a new way of dealing with the world.


Change is good...
The ability to adapt is a much needed characteristic in our lives.

But couple that with the presence of God's Holy Spirit living in those who have been saved, and you've got a dynamic view of life.
Now before you go all googly eyed and seeing rainbows and puppies, lollipops and unicorns....know that when I said "A dynamic view of life" I meant the ability to weather every storm that comes to you. Physically.........mentally.........emotionally.......spiritually......financially.....no matter what the storm is, you will come through it.

We only have to look to Scripture to see the truth of this. Time and time again, those who followed Jesus closely were caught out on the Water during great storms. It wasn't that these men were ignorant of sailing, no, these were men who'd made their living fishing the waters. They knew how suddenly a storm could come up without warning. Time and time again they found themselves in perilous places. Time and time again they called out to Jesus to save them. He never failed.

If you look to the verse from I Samuel about David receiving the Spirit of the Lord and He, the Holy Spirit, never departed David from that day forward, you'd think that everything from that point was hunky-dory. Not so. David had to run for his life from King Saul, who sought to separate David's head from his shoulders. David had to fake insanity to escape from some of his enemies. He lived in the caves and rocks out in the wilderness. Sounds like the good life to me. But yet the Spirit of the Lord never departed David. 


You see, I think we need to get a realistic view of how life truly is, even when we are filled with the Holy Spirit.  John 16:13 says that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit at the time of our salvation, He will guide us into ALL truth. In other words, He will speak to us....He will show us how God wants us to approach our problems and situations that we find ourselves in. Life is constantly rushing at us and, at times, is a bit overwhelming. We've tried living life with out Jesus, and made a fairly big mess of things. Why not consider another way. A better way. As Larry Norman sang..."Why not look into Jesus..he's got the answers."

So, what I am hearing, as far as my own life goes, is to hold everything loosely. Be prepared to move in a different direction at a moment's notice. Don't fall in love with the "Temporary" things of this life, they will only satisfy for a season. And above all...listen, listen...listen for God to speak.
You know.......I want to see this thing all the way to the end.

God on you....
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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Can You See? I Mean Can You Really See?




Sometimes seeing means not using your natural eyes,
but rather the "eyes" of your spirit.
Seeing means letting God reveal things to you.
Things, that in your mind, will seem faint and distant almost
like a whisper.
But to your spirit, you will have a knowing that God is in fact
communicating with you.
Seeing with "eyes" of your spirit means that what is
discerned does not always match up with the logic of your mind.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart"
"Lean not on your own understanding"
This doesn't mean we check our brains and intellect at the door
when we start this new life with Christ.
It means that we establish ourselves in his word (Bible)
and communicate with him through prayer.
It also means that we spend time listening as we pray.
Ps. 103 is a good chapter that speaks of this new life we have given ourselves to.
V.1 - Praise the LORD, I tell myself, with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
I think the KJV reads, "Praise the Lord, O my soul".
I like this.
David is speaking to his inner parts not allowing them (the desires and wants and lusts) to dictate how his body responds.
V.2 - Praise the LORD, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me.
When we remember what God has done in the past, it strengthens us for the hard times and situations we are currently facing.
Remembering brings hope.
V.3 - He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
What part falls under "ALL"?
Everything.
All my sins.....My what a glorious thought that when I confess and repent and turn from my sins, God forgives everyone of them.
Check out the rest of Psalm 103 for yourself.
Read it slowly and put yourself in the verses.
Everywhere you see the word me, I or mine...insert your own name and see the precious promises that God has spoken.
2014 is well under way.
Prepare yourself to enter the rest of this year with a mandate to follow God as you never have before.
God on you.....
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Friday, February 14, 2014

Audio Message: Spiritual Solutions To Our Natural Problems.



II Kings 4:1-7 is the story of the widow's oil and a prophet named Elisha. We need to begin to look to Jesus for solutions to our natural problems, rather than looking to the world and heeding the voice of society that tells us how we should act and how we should approach out problems.

Here is the audio message from February 8, 2015 /
Vineyard Recovery Church..


Enjoy
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His Strong Hands Of Love


I Corinthians 13:10
But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away with.

Valentines day...
Heart shaped boxes of candy will fly off the shelves of stores every where.
Roses and balloons will be snatched up as a show of affection toward a girlfriend or wife.
Cards will be signed and sealed in envelopes in order to show how much love is fostered between two people.
And yet, every one of these acts pale in comparison to the gift that was given to mankind by Jesus.
Did you ever wonder why red seems to be the official color of Valentine's Day?
Could it be that the blood of Jesus was the ultimate love gift?
That instead of a heart shaped box, Jesus gave His heart to a world that despised Him and hated Him.
Each blow that reigned down on His body from Roman whip was done so in hatred. But He received each blow because of love.Maybe that is why in I Corinthians 13 it states that Love suffers long. 
Love is not to be confused with meekness or gentleness...those are separate and actually act in accordance with love. To love as Christ does demands a strength that is not found on this planet. It can only come from a divine source. It is not dictated to by the morals of a society gone corrupt. It cannot be tainted by sin or easily taken for granted.

Real love...
God love....
That is what I more than anything. Not so I can horde it, or flaunt it like some cheap medal. But so I can see the world as my heavenly Father sees it. To have my heart break for the things that break His heart. To love with a love that can't be defined by words, yet is as real as anything we've ever seen or experienced.
I want to sing and dance under the strong hand of love that my Father has.
May the love of God flood over you this day....
God on you....
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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cloneliness Is Next To Godliness



Matthew 16:18
........And on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (Hell) shall not prevail against it.

I have always held to the belief that there are only two kinds of churches.
1.) The professing church
and
2.) The confessing church

The first one is the one that is most visible to everyone.
It is defined by building, program and size.
It contains a congregation and usually a governmental system that varies from denomination to denomination.

The second one is not as easy to see, because it is found within the first.
You see, we would be foolish to think that everyone who attends church is actually saved.
We would be amiss to think that every pastor who stood behind a pulpit to deliver the word of God, was actually called to do so.

We would be off the mark to think that every man or woman who occupies a place of authority within the professing church is actually a part of the family of God. To think such would be foolish on our part.

But within the professing  church, you have those who truly belong to God. Whose hearts burn with passion for Jesus. Hearts that burn to "do the stuff" that Jesus called us to do.
Heal the sick.....
Break off and cast out demonic oppression....
Feed the poor....
In other words.....these don't wait for a program to be instituted by the church government.
They are driven by the Spirit of God to minister. To bring to earth the Kingdom of God.
Sometimes such hearts threaten the professing church.
Why?
Because they, the professing church, can't control those who truly burn for Jesus.

I remember the day God spoke to me about starting a home church.
I was filled with excitement and yet didn't have a clue on how to go about it.
I left work and drove over to the church Vicki and I were attending, to speak with our pastor about what God had shown me.
My pastor's reaction was, " I cannot support what you are saying." Did I hear him right? Yes, I did. He went on to say that such a move could serve as a tool that would disrupt and derail what the church was trying to do." After all, I wasn't licensed or ordained, so the thought of a lay-person starting something was just not condoned or supported. I told him that I had to do this (start the home group). I was totally sold out that God had put this call on me. So I asked him if he would release us and bless us to move on.

I picked out the song I Want To Be A Clone because of the message.
That there are some out there who simply want to replicate themselves believing that this is from God.
The prevailing thought is that if you have been saved, then you need to act and look like everyone else . 
To the professing church, the main point is that conformity is the sign of what a believer should look like. 
I am not advocating a spiritual free for all...I'm not saying that anything goes...
But the true identity of the true Church that God is building, is found in the heart, not in the outward actions and behaviors.
A heart that has been changed will be evident in the behavior.

There will be a love for Christ and a love to carry out His mandate.
There will be peace, not necessarily in the situations and circumstances, but in the person.
Such is the kingdom of God.....

I am grateful that God saved me....
But I am also grateful that God didn't call me to clone others, but to simply share my love and His story to those who may not have heard the Good News.
That, my friend, is how the church should be.


God on you...

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sounds To Simple---Doesn't It?

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Wouldn't it be great if there were a secret formula to this thing called life?
Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could unlock some hidden wisdom that would give us the edge in our daily life?
Yet, the very thing we search for has been there all along. He isn't hidden. He isn't covered over by centuries of dust, locked away in some small country that we can't even pronounce the name of.
As the picture above states so eloquently......There's no secret formula...Just Jesus!

Psalm 19:13 is speaking of Jesus' capability to watch over a life that has been entrusted to Him.
Keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins....
Let them not have dominion over me....
Then  I shall be blameless And I shall be innocent of great transgression.

In these verses, we see a Jesus who watches over and guides those whose hearts are committed to Him. A Jesus who is an active participant in the daily life of an individual who has been saved. This Jesus, that I write about today, is the missing piece in the recovery of many an individual.

Why is that? Why do they miss the simple fact that Steps # 1, 2 and 3 all point to the cross of Christ and the saving work that He accomplished? Sometimes it is because they have no frame of reference in which to understand who Jesus truly is. They approach their addiction and recovery as a mental exercise, with the thought that all they have to do is make decisions.
Well, the deciding part of recovery is a reality. But the decision comes from the heart and not the brain. It comes from the total realization that we are broken or, as the Bible states, Poor In Spirit. No answers to any of the problems we are facing. No solutions that seem to pop up from our own thoughts. We are powerless. Only God can take us into the depths of our brokenness so we can truly see the state of our life. The feelings that we experience during this little journey of self discovery are called "Conviction". In other words, God shows us the exact nature of what has been accomplished through our using and drinking, but He doesn't leave us in that place to wallow in self-pity and despair. God lovingly point us to the solution to our problem. The solution is found in an individual........Jesus. Just Jesus!
Freedom and Salvation aren't found in a program or in  working the steps. 
Freedom and Salvation are found in the person of Jesus Christ.
The Twelve Steps are merely directions on what to do next as we are entering uncharted territory. The Steps point us in the direction we need to head in and provide a clearly marked path that has been trodden by many who have come before us.

Psalm 107:19
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses.
Here we have the first steps to a new way of living.
The recognition that
1.) I need help on multiple levels. Spiritually, I am in desperate need to be saved from the power of sin......the presence of sin.....and the penalty of sin.

2.) I place my trust and my faith in Jesus as being the only means of being restored to sanity (or the ability to make sound decisions).

3.) I turn over my will and my life to His care, and become willing to simply follow Him.

So scream out to God------"Oh God! Save Me"
One of the best prayers I've ever prayed occurred during one of the darkest periods in my life. I was at the end......and I mean the end. I never will forget that I cried out to God while I was driving home, and said, "God, either heal me or kill me...do one or the other, but I can't go on living like this." 
You know what?
He answered that prayer.
Oh, it wasn't an instantaneous the-heavens-parted-and-angels-descended answer to my prayer.
I was filled with a quiet peace for the first time in a long time.
The anxiety was gone along with the doubt and fear.
There was a knowing inside me that He was going to take me through the things I was facing.
Isn't that weird?
That in an age that prides itself on the technology it creates....
That prides itself on the ability of the human will and spirit....
That the answer to our situation is found in one individual, and only one....
Just Jesus!

God on you...
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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 ...