Monday, March 31, 2014

Part 5 - John Wimber Teaches On The Carnal Church



Here is the last video of John Wimber teaching on the "Carnal Church".
Thanks for hanging in there for the entire series.
God on you...
mb

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Every One Gets To Play


Colossians 3:16

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in you hearts to the Lord.

I think maybe this should be the demeanor we carry around all day- every day.
Not just at church.
I believe that we learn how to do this in our meetings.
In fact, our meetings (in my opinion) should be filled with interaction among the people.
It really isn't about me, standing up front like someone who has all the answers. It is about everyone in the room bringing something to the table when we gather.

Now take from me.......this is a hard habit to break. We have been programmed by years of repetitive pew sitting to think that our main role is to listen and fill out the blanks in the bulletin during the pastors sermon. 

I firmly believe that the best messages we need to hear could come from the group and not the pastor. Now before you go all postal on me, bear in mind that I'm not advocating a religious free-for-all. I just believe that church should be a place where everyone has an opportunity to share what God has given to them. It might be a 'praise report', or it might involve a verse that was read during the week that had an impact on that person. Someone may have a song or hymn on their heart and suggest that it be sung. Someone may have need of prayer for healing. The bottom line is that the entire church has an opportunity to have a voice in the meeting. 

My goal for Vineyard Recovery Church is to help everyone who attends understand that they get to do the works of Christ. It isn't just those who "have been called"...(Pastors and deacons...elders and Sunday school teachers)....but everyone.  I want everyone to know that if you've been saved, then you are called to be "Salt and Light" to a darkened world.
It is my conviction that people want to work...they really want to do something for Christ.
But no one has ever told them they could. No one has ever showed them how to pray for people. No one has ever taken the time to teach them how to hear God. No one has told them that God truly wants then to engage with the people they meet and do the works of Christ.

We took baby steps at our meeting last night.
I passed out slips of paper and told every one to write down the biggest thing they were struggling with. It might be a financial situation It may be a physical problem. But no matter what it was, I wanted it to be personal and not write down something pertaining to a family member or friend.   We took up the slips of paper and put them in a bowl. I drew out a slip and read what was written. I then asked for volunteers who had never ministered before. I picked two out and gave them the slip of paper, instructing them to find a place where they could pray together. One by one we went through the slips until the room was filled with people paired off, praying over their slip. There was an energy in the room because they were getting to "Do the stuff" as John Wimber use to refer to ministry. 


It may not seem like a big thing to some, but this was huge for our group. 
It wasn't about me, standing up front like I was the only one who was tapped by God to minister. It was about the body of Christ being the body of Christ. How cool was that?
It was a good night.

Let's get together and do it again next Saturday.

God on you....

mb

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Vicki Bynum On Worship




Prepping To Meet With God



Psalm 100 has always been one of my most favorite Psalm.
Funny, sitting here this morning I suddenly began to see it in a different light.
My Bible reads that Psalm 100 is "A song of praise for the Lord's faithfulness to His people."

Automatically, I think of congregational singing.
Those times when a collective of voices seem to resonate beyond the notes and actually touch the Father's heart. Touch His heart to the extent He comes down and fills the song with His presence. Shouldn't that be our goal when we gather to worship? To become one in heart and spirit and let our words reflect the truth of our hearts. Such a reflection directed toward God always draws His presence. Now some may be pondering at this very moment...."But I thought God was Omnipotent? I thought God was everywhere?" Well, He is. But to me, as best I can explain it, it's like being in a room full of people. You can be a bodily presence in that room, yet sit in the corner and never interact with anyone. But, someone says something that is directed to you, and you get up and engage in the conversation. Same with God. Yes, He is in our midst, but it is our worship that draws Him to engage in the "conversation" of the song.

Truth be known...
Psalm 100 is a religion busting song.
It gets all up in our modern-western world-Americanized version of Christianity.

The very first verse shoots all our church-learning-on-how-to-act right out of the water.
V1. Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!"
Oh horror of horror's....shouting in the church.
We're too educated and dignified to elicit such a response.
"God didn't actually mean "Shout"....what He truly meant was to think "loudly".

Imagine a shout. Yeah, right.
Now, all this shout business is not about simply seeing how much noise you can make.
It is a collective release of love/praise/thanksgiving by the people for the understanding of what God has done to them, through them and for them.
Funny things happen when God's people shout....
Huge walls come down like Joshua at Jericho.
Those insurmountable times and situations will fall under the weight of a vocal shout to the Lord. I know...I know....seems so surreal. It seems that way because we live so far outside the scope of understanding God and His ways. 


V2. Serve the Lord with gladness
Every time I read this verse, I am reminded of a television show that I pass by periodically on Sunday morning. It is a local congregation and their Sunday service, and the show always opens with a tight shot of the congregation standing to sing the first song.   A tight camera shot pans the crowd...there they stand...hymn books raised....mouths open....singing to God...but they all look like they were baptized in persimmon juice. Frowns...droopy faces.....sad eyes....not a joyous one in the whole bunch. I don't want my life to reflect that. I want that whatever I do....whether it's taking a nap or raising the dead to reflect they goodness and gratitude that I have for God.

V3 Know that the LORD He is God
This is the very heart of why we do Saturday night at Vineyard Recovery Church.
That we collectively may know God.  Not a mental ascent to His greatness, but an experiential knowing as we allow Him to work in our hearts. You can talk about electricity all you want. But you ain't never gonna understand the real nature of it until you allow it to get a hold of you. Once you've been shocked, it opens a whole other world of understanding. Same with God....we need Him to come down and get up all in heart and in our business.


V4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise
You know, it almost sounds like a party doesn't it? We come into God's presence with gratefulness and a thankful heart. We don't come thinking about what all we've got to do. We don't come weighed down by life....we turn our affairs, situations and circumstances over to Him. We come unfettered and free. You know, I can do that if I truly believe God is who He claims to be, and will do what He claims He will do. I have to give Him room to work in me and that can't happen if I won't turn loose of all my "stuff". Philippians 2:13 reads: For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
Simple! I have to let Him be God in me.

So for those of you who will attend a service either today or tomorrow...
Go with the idea that you are going to meet God.
Go expecting God to show up and work in you.

You might be surprised what happens...

God on you...

mb

Friday, March 28, 2014

Jason Knight Speaks about Vineyard Recovery Church




O Jah! Let God Arise



Arise.....
Arise Oh Lord.....O Jah, let God arise.
If ever we needed to see Jesus, today is the day.
If ever we needed to feel the presence of God....today is the day.
So I will wait for you.
I will wait.

Jesus knows all about our plight and current state.
He has heard our groaning and crying out to Him.
He is not slack or late in answering our cries....
He understands what it is like to be shunned by others.
Isaiah 53:3
He is despised and rejected by men.
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him.
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.


Even in all of this, He never turned His back on us.
Us....the ones who used His name in a way that did not honor Him.
Us....the ones who laughed and sneered when we saw or heard someone preaching on a street corner, warning us of the dangers that lay ahead in this life.....and into the next one.
Us....who thought ourselves to be above such religious drivel.
Us....who gave no thought to anything other than what would feed our own appetites.
We are the ones Jesus never turned His back on.
In fact, He gave His back to His accusers to be beaten and reduced to human rubble.
I am the reason Jesus went to the cross....
He wasn't weighed down by the weight of wood....
He wasn't bent over because of the burden of the cross....
It was my sin.....
And your sin......
That is what bent Him over in agony. Paying a price for a debt that was mine and mine alone.
It was the sin of the world, placed on Him that brought the most pain.
It was the awful realization that God the Father had turned His face away and darkness covered the earth so as not to see what was taking place.
He gave His life.
He chose to surrender it to the Father and cry out..."It Is Finished!" Loosely translated...."Paid in full." The sin debt was satisfied.

So now, here, today...
I ask you, Lord, to arise.....
Arise in our homes....
Arise in our hearts....
Arise in us and let us follow you this day.
I do not know what lies ahead.
I'm not sure what is out there waiting on me.
It could be that this is my last day here on planet earth.
If that be the case, then let it be said that "he died following".

God on you....
thanks for stopping by the Greene Street Letters.
mb

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Latest VRC Audio Message



Latest Audio Message now available in the podcast section of this blog. Listen now, or download to your mobile device for later.
Michael Bynum teaches on "Family Time" from the 2nd Chapter of Acts....the Scripture, not the singing group.
Thanks...
mb

John Wimber Teaches On "The Carnal Church" -- Part 4



Part 4 of the "Carnal Church" By John Wimber.
I really needed to hear this teaching. To be brought back to the reality of what is and what isn't important when it comes to the kingdom of God.
I needed to be reminded that nothing we do is of any consequences, no matter how religious it looks, if we don't learn how to love others and then apply it.

Nothing we say...
Nothing we teach....
Nothing we claim to believe in...

matters at all if we aren't a loving people bent on sharing that love with others.
Here again.....
it isn't the syrup, goofy love that the world has created as a sad copy of what God offers.
It is the agape heart of God placed in each of us who claim to be a follower of His Son, Jesus.

God on you...

mb

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dark Worship Is The Most Honest Worship


Acts 16
V.22/23- The the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.

V.25/  But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.

Let me get this straight....
Stripped in public view....

Beaten with rods....
Flogged with whips....
Thrown in prison....
Can't lay down because of the simple fact that their backs had been reduced to hamburger....
Locked up...
And at midnight, Paul and Silas decided to have a prayer meeting and some hymn singing....

Do you reckon they sang, "This is the day....that the Lord has made....Let us rejoice...and be glad in it....oh..this is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it."?
Or do you think their worship went deep inside..down through the torn flesh and muscle...through the blood and bruises and found that place where only God can be worshiped. Not worship that is fueled and propelled by emotion or feeling, but rather worship that is proclaimed because of the truth of who God is. The sudden realization of mind, heart, spirit and soul that we truly are His creation. 

That place where Paul would later write and say,"I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content."
This lead to the most majestic and Holy words a human being ever said....

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!"
I can endure for His kingdom.
I can suffer what ever comes my way for His name.
Not something we hear a lot about today, is it?
The ability to participate in what I refer to as "Dark Worship".
To reach out and lay hold of God Himself and heaven when we find ourselves in those places where there would seemingly be no joy.
To let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pure before Him....

This is what I want to learn.
Not that I will look for hard times or impossible situations.

Life has a way of leading us all down that path.
But when it comes, I want to be able to worship God, like at no other time.
I want my entire being to be focused on Him and not my own personal pain or grief.
To be honest with you, I fear that I may still be a babe when it comes to such.

But my heart truly desires to grow up in Christ.
To not live my life in fear of what is around the next bend, or over the next hill. To not let life rob me of the joy today because of fear of tomorrow.


To be able to say with all assurance, in those dark times, "You are my God....and I am Your child. I will worship you no matter what my lot is."
Thanks for letting me share.

God on you...
mb

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

VRC Worship: "If You Say Go"






What's Wrong With The Gospel Part 1



Not everyone will be able to sit and listen to this entire message. If you do have the luxury of time, please take a moment and listen to this "voice". Keith Green teaches on "What Is Wrong With The Gospel."

I've had several people comment to me that it seems as though I'm stuck in the past. I keep dragging out these old messages by people long since dead. While there is some truth in those who comment, there is also a truth in the messages that I am posting that you are not going to hear a lot of teachers and pastors share today. It's not popular. Because all of a sudden, through Keith's teaching and John Wimber's teaching, we are confronted with the truth that our modern version of Christianity is very self-centered and not very deep spiritually. 

I truly want to grow up in Christ before I grow any older. I want to do the works of Jesus. I want to share the gospel. I want my life to be a life of worship unto the Savior who died for me. I may seem out of touch, or out of step...But I just know what is burning in my heart......if I didn't know better, I would call it revival.

"O God, let it begin with me!"

God on you..
mb

Coming Into His Presence



Psalm 100:4
Enter into HIS gates with thanksgiving, and into HIS courts with praise....

The Temple....
The center of life in Jerusalem....
Spiritually, we could learn from this.
What is the directive we all should seek after when we gather for a time of worship and teaching? To come into God's presence. To worship Him and receive from Him.
To do that, you have to go into the Holy of Holies . The place that was reserved for the High priest to enter into. You may be thinking, "well, that lets me off the hook.' Not so quick.
According to I Peter 2:9, we are members of a "royal priesthood". In other words, as a follower of Jesus, we have been afforded the right to come into God's presence.


Too often, when we gather for corporate worship, we simply want to stand in the courtyard and view everything. In fact we are quiet satisfied to do such. We feel like just the act of being around meetings...and being counted among those who attend is all that we need to do. No need in actually participating in all the rig-a-ma-roll that goes on with these meetings. But the truth is, we find ourselves crying out to God for various reasons, but we are not willing to go into His presence. In our selfishness, we want God to respond to us, rather than the opposite. We want Him to leave the Holy of Holies and come out into the outer courtyard. Come and heal me...come and fix me...come and meet my needs, but don't ask me to come to where you are.
So we go away the same as we came...still with all our baggage and sickness...unchanged. 

Jesus proclaimed that He was "The way, the truth and the life", and that no one could come to the Father but by Him. He didn't say the He was the the way, the truth and the life and God could not come to you but by Him.

Don't pull a "Zacchaeus"and be content to hide at a distance hoping to catch a glimpse of Jesus.
Don't be satisfied with standing in the outer courtyard.....
Don't be satisfied with standing in the Temple.....

Go into the Holy of Holies where the presence of God dwells...
Go behind the curtain, if you will, and just bask in His presence. 

Let Him speak to you...
Let Him love you....
Let Him change you....




Above you see a diagram of the Tabernacle given to Moses to build. The entrance to the Tabernacle is at the bottom. The entire set up is a "show and tell" model of how to approach God. The very first thing you come to is the "Bronze Altar"..here you would present an offering to be burnt. A sin offering, if you will. It was to be totally consumed, nothing left. Today, before we can go into God's presence, our sin has to be dealt with. It has to be offered up to God, through confession and repentance.

Next we see the Bronze laver...it was like a huge bowl where water was kept. You were expected to wash yourself.....
We are washed in the blood of Jesus when our sin is dealt with. We are cleansed by the renewing of our mind. We are washed through the word of God.

Then we enter the Holy Place where we are reminded of who Christ is.
The Golden lampstand reminds us that Jesus is the light of the world, and that through our salvation, we are now "Light"....Light that is to be seen and not hidden. In other words, we become representatives of Christ here in this day and age.

Then there is the table of shewbread, reminding us that Jesus is the bread of life. That He is our all sufficiency as we walk out our days. we are to look to Him and Him alone for everything we need.


The altar of incense speaks of our prayers. Like the smoke from the incense, our prayers rise to the heavens and are received by God. IN fact, in the book of Revelation, it speaks of our prayers being collected in bowls and then poured out back to earth. I guess the old adage of what goes up, must come down is true. God answers our prayers.

Finally, you make your way behind the curtain into the presence of God. There is not other place I'd rather be than in His presence. That is my soul aim every Saturday night when we gather at Vineyard Recovery Church...to be in His presence. To pour out my heart to Him. To not walk away with anything but the sheer knowledge that I have spent time with Him.

Don't be content to stand on the shore, watching everyone else swim.....

Jump in!
"Come on in boys........the water's fine!!"

God on you...

mb

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Little Taste Of VRC





A little bit or taste of Saturday night.
We have a real treasure in Deb Hooks who, even though she claims to be Tech-challenged, has turned out to be our official Videographer. Thanks Deb for doing all the stuff behind to scenes to make this happen.

Part 3 - John Wimber "The Carnal Church"



"IF people leave our churches and they don't feel loved....then we have failed miserably in our call to the Kingdom."
It's more than a handshake and a smile during the meet-and-greet-time during the morning service. It is a deep move of the Spirit of God to make sure that those who come to our churches know that we do care about them. Care about their current state and lot in life, and about their eternal destiny. How can you do such without love? You can't. We're not their to coerce them into joining our church (after all it isn't "our" church....It is His Church). Seems as though we care more about their church membership that we do their souls and whether they know our Jesus or not.
Just saying....

Enjoy this 3rd part of John's Teaching.
God on you..
mb

Sunday, March 23, 2014

"If You Say Go, I Will Go"




Matthew 14:29
So He (Jesus) said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

Oh what must Peter have thought as he climbed over the side of that boat. What thoughts must have raced through his mind, matching his racing heart as he headed toward a place that he could not wrap his brain around.

Storm is raging...
Wind is howling....
Waves are rising and falling all around Peter...
Yet in the midst of the storm, the safest place Peter could be was in a place he was incapable of going to in his own strength.

There among all the tumult and danger...
There among the waves....
Stood Jesus.

Calling Peter to come to Him.
Calling Peter to get out of what Peter considered to be a safe place and walk out on the water....walk out and come to Him.


Such is the call of Christ even today.
To leave our place of comfort.
To walk out into that place where the storms of life are raging all around us, and come to Him.

To live by faith.
To answer His call.
A simple call.

"Come!"

"IF YOU SAY GO" was one of the songs we sang last night at Vineyard Recovery Church.
The simple call of Christ to follow Him.
"Where?" we ask...

"To the storm," He replies."For if you are with Me, I will keep you and see you all the way through."
As we sang the song, an invitation was given to come forward and simply declare, "If You say go....I will go. IF you say wait, I will wait." In other words, we place ourselves in the hands of Jesus and simply follow.

There is incredible peace in the simple obedience of following Christ.
Oh, there are times of great confusion and fear..but those aren't from Him. They are cast upon us by our enemy, the devil, in an effort to side track us from obeying.

John 10:4
And when He brings His own sheep, He goes before them and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice."
There have been times in my own past where I knew His voice.
I recognized it...
But chose to ignore it because I was afraid of what He might ask me to do. Now I know that His call to Go is an invitation of love to join Him in the greatest adventure you could ever hope to experience.

God on you.....

mb

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Step # 2 / Belief Or Unbelief?"

New audio message on Step #2 is now available in the podcast section of the blog.
Thanks...
mb

John Wimber "The Carnality Of The Church" part II

Matthew 16:18
......and on this ROCK I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.

In talking with an individual who wasn't familiar with Vineyard Recovery Church, I was asked a series of questions about what we did.
I think the name "recovery" intrigued them.
It wasn't so much about our theology (which is being formed) or our focus, as much as it was about what we offered those who come to the meeting.
"Do you have programs?"
"No."
"Do you have any outside activities that promote community?"
"No."

"Do you have any trips to events or amusement parks?"
"No."

The questions went on for some time, and I finally interjected, "Look...we simply have Jesus."
Now that is not me trying to be a religious snob. I would love to have things to offer those who come to Vineyard Recovery.
But right now, today, there are things we are facing that are far more pressing that what can we do to draw people in.


The focus of any church should be the same.
(1.) It isn't my church....it isn't your church....it isn't the denominations church. The church belongs to Jesus. It is His church. And on the simple fact that "He is the Christ, the Son of the living God." is all we need. 

(2.) God doesn't mind programs and events. But when such supersedes the call to make disciples, then we have missed it. I don't see anywhere in scripture where we are called to make church members.....but disciples. People who can hear God for themselves, and then do the works of Jesus. John Wimber use to say "We are truly Biblically literate....but woefully Biblically obedient." In other words...those who are a part of the church (Body of Christ) have much knowledge of Scripture...but lack the leading to go out into the market place and be the Body of Christ. I'm not just talking about handing out tracts and sharing your story, nothing wrong with that. I'm talking about praying for folk's and seeing them healed. I'm talking about recognizing when demonic oppression is part of a person's problem, and then breaking such of that individual. 

(3.) The church was not created to collect people. There is nothing wrong with churches who have large congregations....you just don't measure it success by how many people it has. You measure the success or failure of any church by the quality of people it produces. Some seem to be more in the "Tare" business rather than the "Wheat" business.

Right now...as far as Vineyard Recovery is concerned....we do one thing. Introduce those who come through the door to Jesus. The real-deal Jesus who comes and touches and saves individuals. I'm o.k. with that.

Here is part two of John Wimber speaking on "The Carnality Of The Church."

Friday, March 21, 2014

John Wimber Speaks On "THE CARNALITY OF THE CHURCH"



This is the first part of a five part message that John delivered on the state of the church. Recorded in 1984, this problem has grown worse and the current state of the church is at a critical point. If ever there was a time that "WE" needed a visitation from God, that time is now. That time is today.

If possible, please listen to each of these messages that I hopefully will post over the next 5 days. But when you listen, don't listen from the place of thinking that you are doing well and this message is for others. Listen to it so that you can receive what God desires for you.

Such a timely message.....
God on you...
mb

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I Saw Forgiveness


John 8:11
.....And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."

I saw it last night with my own eyes.
The mystery of forgiveness....
The ability to receive it....
The ability to apply it to one's life....

The ability to let go of "hating yourself....and punishing yourself for your past."
I saw the Spirit of God descend upon a young lady, and I saw her become free.

I spoke at Celebrate Recovery last night.
Small group.
Good group.
Message was from John 8...the woman who was caught in adultery. 
Not much hope in those opening verses.
She was caught in the act.

Law of the day demanded that she be killed...stoned....
No mercy anywhere to be found.
No plea for her forgiveness.
But there was Jesus.


Isn't it funny how Jesus can just undo people and put the perspective back on them when it comes to wanting to dish out pain and hurt toward others.
As the event unfolds, Jesus disarms the crowd so that they leave.
It's just Him and the woman.

I'm sure she doesn't know what to make of the whole thing.
But then comes the question.
"Where are your accusers?"
Where are the ones who wanted you dead a few moments ago?
"They have left"....

Then this Jesus........
This very one who, in the book of Genesis, spoke creation into existence with His very words....looked at the guilty woman and said.....
"Neither do I condemn you...go and sin no more."
The words of Jesus carry weight.
The forgiveness of Jesus carries life.

I saw that last night.
The young girl came forward at the end of the teaching.
She had put together a fair amount of clean time, in other words, she had not been using.
But for whatever reason, she had slipped.
Now here she was, covered and drowning in guilt and shame. Unable to forgive herself.
But I saw God do a work in her. I saw the power of God break through all that "stuff" that was choking the life out of her. I saw her get free from all the toxic emotions that come with not being able to forgive yourself.
I saw her forgive herself and then receive healing from God.
She hugged my neck, tears streaming down her face. The were tears of joy that had replaced the tears of sorrow I saw a few moments before.
She was free.
I could hear the words of Jesus....
"Neither do I condemn you....go and sin no more."

It was a good night.

God on you...

mb

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Love-----Real Love------God's Love



I John 4:19
We love Him because He first loved us.

Found myself in a strange place this week.
Asking myself, "Do you really love God?"
I know that I have claimed to love Him.
I know that the words have come out of my mouth....
But is that the real truth?
Does my life reflect this love I profess to have?


One might say that I do love God because I am a pastor.
Isn't it possible that being a pastor was just the by product of a thought or a desire? Yes it is.
I might say that I love God because I work at a drug and alcohol treatment center....but I'm sure that they are others who do the same work, who truly don't profess love for God.After all, it is hard to love someone that you can't see, touch, taste or smell. Notice I didn't say "feel or touch". Because this love for God exists in that realm....in the heart. 
It becomes a knowing that grows and takes over every part of your being.

I think God allows us to experience such questions as "Do I love you?" in order to remind of us of some simple truths.
He loved us before we loved Him.
He loved us when we were out there in the spiritual darkness.
He loved us when His Holy named rolled off our tongues in the form of a curse.
He loved us when we were hurting so bad that our thoughts weren't even on Him, but instead were on the next "using" time.
He loved us when rejected Him at every turn. Rejected His word, rejected His church...and rejected those He sent to speak truth to us. We rejected Him! We grew angry at the way our lives were turning out, and turned that anger toward God as if He were responsible for our bad choices.
Truth be known, I think God would probably have been very fair to, at one point, say, "I'm through..I've done all I can. If he doesn't want me...then I don't want Him."
I'm so thankful that He didn't give up on me. His love for me was far greater than my love for Him.

Such is the place where real love for God is born.
In the moments when you are very much in touch with God's saving grace...not because He had to, but because He wanted to.
When you measure the extent of sin and damage you have brought about, and in spite of everything, God was still there waiting and drawing you to Himself.
Such actions on His part draws out love on my part.
Yes, I'm thankful for what God has done to me, for me and through me...but my love for Him is beyond that. My love for Him is simple...I love Him for who He is. His character. His nature. His very presence is life to me.
You can't explain to someone what chocolate cake taste like until you have eaten a piece.
You can't tell someone what the love of God feels like until you have been bathed in it.

So today, I do love God and I know it to be something that comes from my heart and my spirit. It is a real love. It is the fuel that keeps me getting up every day and saying, "What now, Lord? Where do You want me to go? What do You want me to do?"

God on you....
mb


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Quick Study for March 19




If you are in new at studying the Bible, then Quick Study is for you. Vicki and I use it in our quiet time each morning. I especially like the segments that delve into the ruins that have been uncovered and the customs and rituals of the ancient middle east.
Rod, Janice, Corrie and Ryan take the word of God and frame it in the practicality of life here in this day and age.

In other words, the Bible is a practical book for practical living.

mb

Forever Young




Job 42:17
So Job died old and full of days.....

More than the sum total of our days here on planet earth....
More than a state of mind....

More than how you feel.....
It's what you make of it.
To be forever young......
What did you do with the time God granted you?
What will you do with this day?

Will you spend it looking backwards at what might of been?
Will you spend it drowning in self pity and shame and guilt over what has already happened?

Or will you go through this day looking beyond the moment?
Trying to catch a glimpse of what lies around the bend, or over the next hill?
All the while missing the moments that are surrounding you.
Missing conversations and hugs...

Kisses and handshakes....
Words of encouragement and even direction from God Himself.
Will you be the ultimate planner and schemer only to find out that your plans have been thwarted by something you didn't see today?
Such a mindset will never rest in being "Forever Young".

I want to be "Forever Young".
You see, such a thing as being forever young isn't measured by the sum of your days or the mindset you possess. It is a simple concept of gratitude and appreciation for each day God grants you. It is the giving of yourself to that day to be used by God as He sees fit.
Forever young is a gift that God grants to those whose hearts are totally committed to Him.
Forever young isn't squandered on dreamers or schemers.
Forever young isn't sold like cheap ware at a flea market.
Forever young is a treasure held dear by God and granted to those He trusts.

Forever young is living each day.......each moment with God. 
Forever young is found in relationship with my creator.
I want to be forever young.

Forever young isn't a pie-in-the-sky-Pollyanna view of life. I
Forever young recognizes the pitfalls and dark days that come in and out of our lives like refuse that is watched to the shore by the tide.
Forever young doesn't shrink from trouble but rather turns its face into the wind and moves forward with an assurance that God, our Father, has our hand.
You see, I love the verse from Job. Job died full of days....
He'd seen the best life had to offer....
And he'd seen the worst....
But Job knew God and had been brought through it all.

I want to be full of days when it is my time to die.
I want to have said all that needed to be said.
I want to have loved everyone that needed to be loved.
I do not want to leave this old world full of regrets.....

or bitter over the way my life turned out.
Why?
Because my God has taught me the value of being "Forever Young".


God on you....
mb

Monday, March 17, 2014

Worship Video





Wonderful day at Gadsden Vineyard Church yesterday.
Got to play on Debbie Handy's worship team....
God was good....
Jim's message was personal story + truth + promises of God.
Good to be with family yesterday.

God on you...

I Went Home Yesterday



Psalm 116:15
When the arrive at the gates of death, God welcomes those who love Him.

There is an old saying that, "You can never go home."
Yesterday, I went home.
I wrestled with whether or not to attend the funeral of my friend, Noel Whisenant. I hadn't seen him in over 35 years. In my mind I thought, "They won't remember me. No one will think anything about me not attending." But as I sat at the dinner table with Vicki and mom, another thought pushed everything else aside. "Go!" Simple as that. Just one word......go. So I went.

I don't drive to Gallant much these days. Oh I may cut through the cove every now and then, on my way home from Oneonta. But such is not my normal route. As I drove, I tried to name as many homes (by the kids who lived there) as I could. First one coming out of the Clear Creek Curves was JoAnn Battles and her brother, Phillip. One by the one the houses and the names came quickly. I was surprised that I remembered as many as I did. Benny and June Campbell.....Nancy Hutchins.....Mike and Shannon Cunningham....Mary and Joe Herring....and on and on went the list.

I finally pulled into the parking lot of the church that was my home for 13 years, from age 5 to 18. They have built a new sanctuary which was very impressive. Making my way in, I could see so many faces.....of those who have gone on.

My brother, Wayne, was already there and we made our way to pay our respects to Noel's brothers, Larry and C.B.
Noel had died of cancer. C.B. had taken care of Noel for a long time. Both were self proclaimed bachelor's who just loved spending time together. Ball games....races....they were kind of a mutt and Jeff twosome.  


I saw many folks I hadn't seen in years. Most didn't recognize this old grizzled, hairy face, but once I told them my name, they began to share stories of their memories of when I was a kid.

When the service started, the choir came in. As the music started and the voices of the choir moved in, I suddenly could hear Mrs. Chandler, even though she has been dead for a number of years. She sang alto...a really loud, distinct alto. A smile came over me....she was a good lady.

Friends and family got an opportunity to stand and share memories of Noel.
The common denominator of all their stories was that Noel was a gentle soul who loved Jesus, his church and Auburn football. 

After the service, I got a real treat. I walked over to the old sanctuary. Some of it has been converted into class rooms, but the front part (choir loft, pulpit, altar, and 7 rows of pews) still remain the same. It was one of those surreal moments that happen at times. I made my way to the right side of the room and sat down on pew 7. It was here on a hot July night that Bro. Hugh Chambliss preached a sermon about God's call on a life. As far as i was concerned, there wasn't anyone else in the room on that night. Just God, me and Hugh Chambliss. He was talking to me. It was here on this pew and in this room that I knew God had called me to be a preacher. Funny part....even though I knew God had called me, it scared me to such a degree that I spent the next 33 years running from it. I quietly spoke...."Thank you Father that you didn't give up on me."

Wayne and I made our way out to the cemetery to where mother and Daddy are buried. I don't get out to their graves much. In fact, over the past 33 years, I think I've been twice. But this was a good day. He and I stood there and the one thing we wished is that they both could see how we turned out. Not sure if they really  believed we would make it. But here we were....almost as old as they were when they died. I put my arm around my brother and said, "You did good!" He reciprocated. I laughed and told him, "Mom and Dad were more concerned about how I would turn out than they were you." 

As we parted, I came away put together. I came away thinking that even though I had attended the funeral of a friend, God had used it to remind me of some pretty important things. 
1.) Life truly is short
2.) Pay homage to those who poured themselves into you when you were growing up.
3.) Love....

Thank you Gallant First Baptist, for giving me a foundation that I have stood on over the last 57 years.

God on you....

mb

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Rainy Day Thoughts


Mark 12:27
He is not the God of the dead...........but of the living.........

Life?
Life is more than the ability to breath. To have a heartbeat. To be aware.
Life is the God given ability to process what goes on around you.
As you process everything, your emotions come into play. Each situation....every event....each encounter you have daily, stirs your emotions and defines what life means to you.
Life has ups and downs...
Life has highs and lows....

Life is a mystery.

This morning, as I sit here at this computer, life is peaceful.
The sound of the rain flowing down the gutters of the house beats a steady rhythm...and I smile. Rainy days, especially Sunday's are a present to Vicki and I. Always have been. To settle in with a cup of coffee and some music as the rain comes down....that is a good part of life.

Thoughts from last nights Vineyard Recovery remind me how gracious our God is. Once again I smile. Young man named Brian wanted to share what God had done for him. To say he was nervous would be an understatement. The proverbial knees knocking and trembling voice....but the words were from the heart. Life was filled with joy and gratitude last night as I stood there beside Brian listening to his "coming home" story. 

Life also has sadness and tears this morning. A friend that I grew up with died on Thursday His funeral is today. He was 4 years older than me, and growing up, he was someone I looked up to. But seeing his name in the paper flooded me with memories......mostly good ones. Funny though. I haven't seen him in over 30 years...so it wasn't like we stayed in touch, but the connection that life gave us back when....brought the grief. His mom and dad died years ago, so his brothers will bury him. I'm grateful for memories. I think they are an incredible gift from God to help us not lose hope. 

I get to play on the worship team at Gadsden Vineyard this morning. Now that really brings joy to me. Debbie will lead and I will join Barry and Wayne, as we bring a little VRC worship to the morning service. 

You truly are the God of the living, Father. And living means overcoming. Living means persevering and not giving up. Life is filled with good and bad, yet through it all, You are the one constant that I hold fast to. You are the hand in the darkness that grips mine and leads me forward. Even when I'm scared to move, You're not. 

So this morning, Lord........
Thank you for rain.
Thank you for Gadsden Vineyard and their love for worship.
Thank you for old friends that we will meet again at some point.
Thank you for the chicken and dressing, along with the pumpkin pie that will be waiting on me when I get home.
Thank you for the love of a wonderful woman and the family that You gave us.
Above it all....
Thank you for Jesus


God on you....
mb

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Unbelief


Mark 9:24
At once the father of the boy gave (an eager, piercing, inarticulate) cry with tears, and he said, "Lord, I believe (Constantly) help my unbelief (weakness of faith).

Most of you know the story from Mark 9.
Desperate to see his boy healed.
Demonic oppression and presence caused the young boy to be throw into fire...to be constantly in pain.

The Father had probably done all a parent could do. Doctors....couldn't help. Family gave all the good advice a family could give, which probably included home remedy's.He may have even taken his son to the religious rulers of the day. But they could offer nothing more than flowery platitudes and pious looks. Through all of this the Father grew more desperate, having to stand by and watch his son tormented and injured. We're not told how long this went on. Really doesn't matter...the father reached the end of his wits and rope. Being at such a place will shatter a man's pride and belief in himself. 

I can see him take up his son in his arms, walking out the door to go find this so called prophet from Galilee. The father arrives on the scene with his son, but finds no prophet. The prophets disciples are there, and the father may have thought it was a wasted trip, but he stayed. The disciples took the boy and prayed and spoke words over him. The father thought to himself, "I've heard these before." Where was the prophet? Where was Jesus?

Suddenly the crowd parted and through it walked the man the father had come searching for. The father thought to himself, "Is this the man I've traveled all this way to find?" There was nothing about his appearance that bolstered the father's confidence. Not the way he dressed.....not the way he walked and carried himself...nothing about him seemed to say, "I can heal you boy." But Jesus stood before him. It was the moment of truth. It was now or never. Jesus was the last hope for this father. 

The father speaks...."If you can do anything, do have pity on us and help us." Plural....us...not him, my son, but "us". Such events as this family was going through touched every member. The pain the boy felt was multiplied ten fold because of the parents inability to solve this problem. "Help us!"

Jesus tells the father, "All things are possible to those who believe!"
At this point, Jesus wasn't talking about a mental assurance followed by a verbal confession. Jesus was going straight down into the heart. The place where all our morals and beliefs exist. The place where we know the real truth about ourselves. Desperation has a way of getting down into that heart-place. It brings up the real you, not the one everyone else sees. It brings forth all your doubt and fear...it flies the flag of what you truly cling to. Here is where the Father cries out..."I believe..help my unbelief."  He isn't double minded...it wasn't a riddle..this "belief"/ "unbelief". It was the truth of a father that wanted to believe for the healing of his son, but at the same time was beaten down by the failures of all the others who had tried to help. He was merely saying..."If I didn't believe, I would never have brought my son to you...but please..please..don't be like all the others. Heal him."
Jesus did.
Jesus healed the boy.

In every person who struggles with the darkness and sin  of addiction, there is that point that must be reached. The place where the father reached...the place of "I believe...help my unbelief." The place where the heart is behind the cry of the one in need of healing. The place where desperation says,"I will do whatever it takes." The place where you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. As one young man prayed, 'God---either heal me, or kill me....I can't go on like this any longer." As I listened to him pray this prayer, I knew he was ready to change. He had tried everything else and gotten no result. In his mind, Jesus was all that left. 
You know what?
That was over 10 years ago, and this man is still clean and sober. Still chasing this Jesus who changed his life.
I think maybe Jesus helped this man with his unbelief.
What do you think?


God on you...
mb

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sad Morning


I Corinthians 15:54
So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory."

Like the picture above, people wander in and out of our lives. For the briefest moments in time, we connect. Words are shared, memories are made and then life takes us in different directions. He was a troubled soul....
You could count the years on his face...lines etched deep and yet, at the same time, he was always wearing a smile.
Slow shuffle...
He always had a "Howdy" to everyone he met.
Yes, he made bad choices during his time here....
His body evidenced the truth to this.
But his demeanor was one of a gentle soul. 

Now don't get me wrong....
He was demanding at times, like a little child.
He wanted what he wanted and he would sometimes pitch a fit if things didn't turn out like he wanted them to.

He was, what we at Rapha refer to as, "high maintenance." 

My most favorite memory of him is still captured on a Cd of one of our Saturday night meetings when we held them there on the camp at Rapha.
For whatever reason, I had chose to do the song "Hold On" by 60's group "Sam and Dave".  The place was rocking that night. I mean everyone was into it. People were singing at the top of their lungs....God was in the house. At the end of the song, you'll hear my friend shout out...."I ain't in jail no more....I'm in Church!" Everyone just cracked up.

Somehow in the midst of his childish view of life and the way he saw things, I do believe that he made peace with himself and with God. He came up during one of our services and told me that he wanted to know this Jesus like I knew Jesus. He didn't want church Jesus..he wanted the real deal Jesus. So we prayed. Oh the words weren't very pretty and he stumbled and fumbled over what to say...but it was the heart that I think God was listening to. I do believe that my friend laid aside his church Jesus that night, and met the real deal Jesus. 


So this morning, when I opened the paper to the obituaries, there was his name. This has become my morning ritual. Checking the obit's to see if anybody who came through Rapha is listed. As I read his obit, my mind was filled with his face, his voice and the simple fact that "he wasn't in jail any more.......He was in church."

Rest in peace Gary....

You done good.

God on you...
mb

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Night Of The Angels


Psalm 91:11
For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.

Sometimes, in this crazy world, God will peel back the fabric that separates the natural from the spiritual and give us a glimpse into the reality of what is really going on.
Tuesday night was such a night.

I left Rapha around 9 p.m., headed into to town to clean the office. Been doing this (cleaning this office)for 23 years and have discovered that time sure goes a lot quicker if I have something to listen to. Shortly before heading out, I loaded up my mp3 player with some teachings from various folks. One, in particular, was a message by Larry Randolph that I had owned for some time, but for what ever reason, had never got around to listening to it. It was from 1999 and was entitled "The Coming Visitation." 

As I started the message, there was nothing in particular that jumped out at me as if to say, "Hey! Pay attention...this is important." In fact, in my mind, I was thinking "what could a message from 1999 do for me here in 2014?" Little did I know.

Larry went through his teaching, laying out different prophetic views and pronouncements concerning the coming of the year 2000. He specifically hit home on the point of angelic interaction, that we would see an increase in such. I thought to myself, "Yes! I need this"
You see, all through out our marriage, and especially over the last 25 years, my wife has seen angles at various times. She has seen them in our yard. She has seen them in our bedroom. She has seen them as we were driving. It isn't like it is a continual thing, but from time to time they have appeared to her. I am not as fortunate, but when such an event does occur, I am very much aware of the spiritual atmosphere in the room. For me, I have had only one encounter with angels. It happened on August 14, 1999-- at the church one Saturday night, as a group of us gathered to pray. The angel appeared at the front door of the church and blew a shophar (ram's horn). I wrote all of this to lay out some ground work for our history of angelic visitation. But over the past 10 years, we haven't had any visitation. Zero....bupkus....zilch!

As I listened to Larry's message, I became very much aware of the absence of the visitations. I felt stirred to begin to pray. "Lord! We welcome you into our home. If we have offended in any way...if there be any hidden sin in us, forgive us. Come and take up residence in our home. Make it a holy place by your presence. Loose Your angels to cover our property."  I finished up my chores and headed for home.

As I entered the house and began emptying my pockets of keys, phone, change and etc....
I went into our bedroom to let Vicki know I was home. She woke up enough to tell me that angels were in our house. Our house is an old house and it has the usual creaks and groan's that accompany such a structure. As Vicki was drifting off to sleep, she kept hearing noises as if someone was walking down the hall. As fear tried to come upon her, she prayed. Opening her eyes, she said the room was filled with angels. She knew that she had nothing to fear, as the angels had appeared to stand guard over her. Why now? Why this time after all these years? I do not have an answer other than because we both prayed, asking our Father for protection. The reason they came really isn't important. The fact they showed up and took up positions around our home and bedroom shows me the love and concern God has for us. Filled with the knowledge and assurance that God was watching over her, Vicki closed her eyes and filled with the filled with God's peace drifted off to sleep. 

I just find it strange ( if you are trying to analyze this with the natural mind) that on the very night I prayed for the presence of God to make our home a holy place and for His angelic hosts to come and stand guard over us, my wife is also praying the same thing. God honored our prayers. Please don't misunderstand anything I have written. I am not advocating a worship of angels or that they somehow have replaced the person of Jesus. They are simply God's messengers sent to minister to us. What an incredible gift from a Father who loves His children. 

God on you....
mb


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Word's Of Bonhoeffer

The following are quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran Minister who served the church in Nazi Germany.

"It is much easier for me to imagine a praying murderer, a praying prostitute, than a vain person praying. Nothing is at odds with prayer as vanity."

"The religion of Christ is not a tidbit after one's bread, on the contrary, it is the bread or it is nothing. People should at least understand and concede this if they call themselves Christian."

"Christianity conceals within itself a germ hostile to the church."

"Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless, and the infinite worthlessness of that which seems so valued."

"In New York they preach about virtually everything, only one thing is not addressed, or is addressed so rarely that I have yet been unable to hear it, namely the gospel of Jesus Christ, the cross, sin and forgiveness, death and life."

"In the place of the church, as the congregation of believers in Christ, there stands the church as a social corporation."

If we aren't being stirred to worship and then serve (outside the walls of the church) then we miss the point.
It isn't really about us....It is about Him and Him alone.
John Wimber saw the ineptness of the church. In most churches, people were invited to come and join, sit and give their money and buy into the program. Wimber felt that each person was to join a local community of believer's, but that each person should hear God as to what their part was in serving outside the walls of the church. Wimber established the fact that there was no perceived "A-Team" of ministers, nor were there "B-team" or "C-team" members. Every one got to play. Every one got to pray. Everyone was called to do the works and ministry of Christ. It wasn't about the "man up front" on Sunday's who was suppose to have all the answers. It was about learning how to "do the stuff".

Truth be known, wouldn't it be great if you went to church one Sunday and the doors were locked. Posted on the door was a sign that read...."Gone fishing!" The church being the church. Yes, we need corporate endeavors. We need the collective finances and muscle that only a church can bring. But we need to recognize the need for people to be true followers and disciples of Christ. What happens between Monday and Saturday is as important as what takes place on Sunday mornings. Do we suspend ministry between Monday and Saturday because the pastor wasn't available? Do we tell people, "Come and visit my church if you need help, we are open on Sunday's and Wednesday's" ? No....we are the B-O-D-Y of Christ. The body doesn't fall apart after the closing prayer on Sunday, only to be resurrected the next Sunday for service. No! The parts disperse through out the city and should be actively engaged in doing the works of Christ in the work place, in the market place, in the school and on the streets.

If you listen, you'll hear people who are hungry to be touched by God. To  know that this "Christian" stuff is real and worthy of giving themselves to. Don't be a secret agent for Jesus.....Double O Nothing. Go ahead and blow your cover so those around you will know you are a follower. Not so much with your words, or tracts...your t-shirts or Time-life worship CD's....but by your love. Remember, the Bible doesn't say "By their T-shirts you shall know them." I think it say's by their love you will know them.
Christianity is not a spectator sport....
It calls for participation.
Don't go to church....
Be the church....

God on you....

Little Life? Or Big LIFE?

Great story in the news today about scientist (gotta love these guys and gals) are doing a study to determine what death really is and ...