Wednesday, April 30, 2014

God's Not Into Pre-fab

Genesis 1:1 tells us that God is a creative God.
Multi-colored, multi-leveled creations of all sorts, sizes and types.
Shades of green that boggle the mind.
Sky blue, yellowed moon, gray clouds, blood red....the list goes on and on.
And in the middle of this creative process, God created man.
But there was a difference to the process used to create us.

Genesis 2:7 tells us that "God formed man from the dust of the ground."
Hands on....
It was an up close and personal work that God did when it came to bringing life to us.
He didn't stand back and speak us into existence....
He didn't yell out, "Let there be man", even though he could have.
No, when it came time to create us, it became a personal work from our Father.
Down on His knees (o.k....I'm speaking metaphorically) God got dirty in the process.
Creating this dust dummy that would become a living breathing soul.
Shaping the contours of a body.....
Making it the right height....
Five fingers and five toes.....5 being the number of grace.....
Then when all was ready, God bent over that dust dummy and from His own mouth, breathed into it the breath of life.
And man became a living being (soul).
God is all about craftsmanship.
He isn't into pre-fab or stamped products.
God's unique personality is shaped and formed within each of us.
After all, we were created in the image of Him, Father / Son / Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 2:10 reinforces this idea of who we are in Christ and what our purpose is.
For we are HIS workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. In other words, we carry around the personal stamp and evidence of God's ability and purpose. The trouble is, all of this kind of got lost in the shuffle when sin warped and changed us. The workmanship has been there all along, but we couldn't see it or understand it because of all the damage sin has brought upon us. But now!.....Now is the day to recovery our real identity. To return to our roots of being the creation. To look to our Creator for His stamp of approval and allow Him to strip away all the layers of sin and addiction that has clouded the image.
You, my friend, are not damaged goods....
You are not a throw away....
You are not garbage, even though this is how our enemy, the devil, wants you to see yourself.
You are His (God's) workmanship, and from what I have learned, God doesn't take short cuts or skimp one bit on the material He used to create us.

Remember who you are this day....
Remember whose you are this day...
And walk in the knowledge and love that you have a heavenly Father who considers you to be the apple of His eye.....

God on you....

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What's With All The Name Calling?

Romans 7:18
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells. For to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.

Not a very popular admission in our society today.
An admission that nothing good at all is found in our hearts.

"He's just no good!"
We all want to present ourselves and be seen by others as being virtuous and upstanding people. We want others to think the best of us. 

Romans 7:18 is the key that unlocks the journey to new life in Christ and in recovery.
The admission!!!!

Not a verbal nod to your current state of being and living.
Not a mental ascent to your so called "problem".

But that point where you stand at the cross roads and can either admit to others, and yourself, that you not only have a "problem", but you are the problem.

Romans 7:18 puts you on the level ground that every human stands on. The admission that you are in need of being saved. That is someone with greater power doesn't intervene in your life, then you are not going to make it. To admit such is what is known as humbling yourself before God. I find it very interesting that it was the Apostle Paul who penned these words in Romans. The Hebrew of Hebrew's. The Pharisee of Pharisee's. Who later called himself the "Sinner of sinner's". He was fully aware of his own sin/nature and knew that all he had accomplish was to cover it and couch it with a bunch of religious hoopla. 

Now, with Christ as his Savior (and Higher Power) Paul can truthfully say, "Nothing good lives in me." Aren't you glad that the story doesn't end here? With an admission of guilt and a cry for help. Aren't you glad that there is an answer to our need for help?

Romans 7:24
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God---through Jesus Christ our Lord.
There he goes with that name calling again. "Wretched man"....Not because of what he'd done...wretched, not because of bad choices or bad behavior. But wretched because of his sinful heart which produced the bad behavior. Proverbs 23:7 says, "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."  That is the place that salvation changes...the heart. Oh, our sins are forgiven and we definitely have the penalty of sin removed and the power of sin broken in us. But God creates a new heart. One that is in tune with His voice and possesses a willingness to follow God. We don't have to know all the answers. We don't have to see the future. We simply have to follow.
Every day....
In every way....
Simply follow....

Step # 1---

We admitted that we were powerless over our chemical dependency---that our lives had become unmanageable. 
Such is the seed bed that produces new life.
Why wait?
Receive it today!

God on you...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Weekend Recap

Psalm 63:3
Because You loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You!

(photo was sent to me by Sam Colegrove at the first meeting of VRC)

Such a wonderful weekend.
The memories are still fresh here on this Monday morning.
The dedication of Ava Stubbs Saturday night. 
Friends and family all in attendance. Prayer over the parents for wisdom on how to raise her and teach her about God.
Very tender time. As I held Ava and began to pray over her, she played with my beard. She got a little fussy but that's o.k.

Baptized three: Matt, Phillip and Dawson.
New life coming up out of that water. New hearts searching for answers to the questions they have concerning this new way of living. I assured them that it truly was all about living "one day at a time". Once the baptism was over, these three new "babes" took their first communion. 

Carrie and Jeremiah were fresh back from their trip to Uganda with a missionary team. Many stories about their time there. Blessing on them both as they get their legs back under them and catch up on their rest.

Our worship continues to grow as people find freedom in joining in. The presence of God, on Saturday night, grows thicker and thicker with each passing meeting. Now of course when I speak of the presence of God, what I'm saying is that we are becoming more and more aware of Him. It's almost as though the veil between the natural world we live in and the spiritual world that we can't see becomes thinner and the two seem to overlap.

The "after-meeting" once VRC was over was especially good.
My wife got some good instruction on how to deal with someone who is still struggling with addiction. So please be in prayer for her as she talks with this person, that God would not only give her the words to say, but that His Holy Spirit would come down and bring conviction, not condemnation.

Got a last minute phone call asking me if I could teach at Duck Springs Baptist Church yesterday. I was happy to oblige. It's really kind of funny. Since my church meets on Saturday night, I'm probably the only pastor that doesn't have anywhere to go on Sunday's, so I'm available to help out those who run into last minute snags and problems. For that reason, when it comes to messages, "I keep one in the chamber at all times."
So to Duck Springs I went. Always a pleasure to be with those folks. Small country church that is growing. Lot's of folks and lot's of love in that building yesterday. I'm going to take a page from John Wimber's book if you don't mind. Traveling around visiting other churches with Peter Waggner, Peter would always tell John, "You know, if I lived here I would be a member of this church." That's the way I feel about Duck Springs. I would be a member of this church.

Dinner with the family. Time with the grand kids talking about our upcoming family vacation to Florida. It has become the highlight of the year as the Bynum clan gathers for seven days together. I like to think of it as a memory maker. 

So here on Monday morning, with a completely new week stretching out ahead, I look to God for guidance, mercy and grace to simply walk it out.
May I not say anything that you have not given me to say.

May I not go anywhere you are not leading me to.
May I not give ground to sin or the enemy.

God on you....


Sunday, April 27, 2014

Be Still and Know

Psalm 46:10
Be still and know that I am God.....

Be still....
A state of existence....
A posture taken.....
A place of serenity....
To be still means to cease from striving....
To stop what you have been doing and simply "BE".

Society today has created a "DNA" that demands that we "Run and Know that He is God."
Movement and activity is the norm.
The idea of contemplation and meditation is a thing of the past.

Yet such is not only rest for the body, but also rest for the mind, spirit and heart.
Be still and KNOW .
The word "know", as I have explained in the past, means intimacy and personal.
In the Old Testament, the word "know" was used to express sexual intimacy.
"Adam went to wife and knew her and she conceived and gave birth."
So when Scripture tells us that we are to be still and know that He is God, We are placing ourselves, spirit---soul---body, in a state or position to receive and give back to God.

To be still and know is like fine tuning a radio to receive better reception.
We hone in on God's "signal" as the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts.
I am an advocate of putting aside time each week to simply "BE" with God.
We have become a people that thinks serving God is about how much activity we can participate in.
When, in reality, God simply wants to spend time with us.

Be Still and know that I am God....
Once you settle in, think back over the past and ask Him to show you the times that He was speaking and working in your life that you missed seeing and understanding that it was Him.

Don't be afraid to ask Him, "Lord, come to me and reveal yourself. I want to know you as you know me."

God has called us to be a people who truly do know and understand Him.
You might be surprised what is given to you, by God, when you began to learn the art of being still.

God on you...

Saturday, April 26, 2014

It's Going To Be A Doozy!

Psalm 126:3
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad.

When I wake up on Saturday mornings, I do so with an anticipation.
I'm going to gather with others tonight and we are going to celebrate the goodness of God. We will sing to Him. We will tell of what He has done to us and through us. We will have an opportunity to worship Him by giving back in tithes and offerings. It is like Saturday has become an exclamation point to the week.

I can be having the worst of the worse weeks but when Saturday morning comes, I find that I have hope and a renewed sense of His presence and His purpose.Now, on the surface if you are reading my words, it sounds like we are just a bunch of self-centered, needy, whiny, children. "Feed me! Feed me! I'm next!" Whereas Saturday is a night to be renewed and restored, the greater purpose is that we are now able to go back out into our towns and communities and be the "Body of Christ" that we have been called to be. We can be Salt and Light to darkness and blandness that sin creates.

Since Saturday night is about recovery and the presence and power of Jesus, we deal with a sin/specific malady that affects a lot of people. Sometimes those who come on Saturday night are still either in their addiction, or slightly removed from it (a fair amount of clean time). So in one sense, we are babes in Christ, and being such, we still are in need of attention and being taught how to live this new life. Being babes, we will mess up. We'll say the wrong thing. We'll get our feelings hurt and act in ways that we shouldn't. Such is simply because we are babes. Now let's state the obvious. We don't want to remain babies, do we? Nope. We want to grow and mature and take our rightful place in the Kingdom. That is the focus and goal of Vineyard Recovery Church. To help people grow up to be productive, vibrant members of the Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God.

Saturday night is a place and time when we can come together and admit that "we blew it last week." IT is a time for forgiveness and healing. It is a time we can admit our humanity (some churches would collapse if someone ever stood and admitted their sin's and character defects). But it is also a place where we can receive the grace of God to carry on.

Tonight should be a doozy!
We are going to have a baby dedication, our first for Vineyard Recovery Church. Now before you get all religiously-bent, we are baptizing babies. We are simply dedicating this new life to God. That He would cover this young one and keep her as she grows. The parents are going to stand before God and pledge themselves to raise her and instruct her according to Scripture.

We are also having a baptism! Young man came to me a couple of weeks ago, on a rainy-down-pouring,day wanting to be baptized right then. The creek was up to high and running too fast for us to get in, or I would have done it. But wisdom prevailed before we could all float away down to pump station road and we decided on tonight. Like I said, it is going to be a doozy of a service.

Since we are having a dedication and a baptism, we are also going to prepare communion. I always love it when we have the Lord's table set. A special, special time for me.

There will be a time of sharing tonight.
A time to receive prayer.
A time to pray.

An opportunity to participate in Kingdom work through our offerings that are given.
It will be a time of watching and participating in God's presence among us tonight.
If you don't have anything to do, come on out and join us...

7 p.m.

God on you....

Friday, April 25, 2014

I Am An Awesome Spirit Being

Today, we'll continue on taking a look at the 4-false beliefs that govern the life of someone in addiction (as well as those who are trapped by sin and religion).

They are a system of belief's that cause us to see ourselves in a way that is unhealthy. God never intended us to measure ourselves by what we have done, or as we say, by our performance. 

Ephesians 2:8 reads:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not as a result of works (or behavior), so that no one may boast.
(Message Bible) -  Saving us is all His idea and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It's is God's gift from start to finish!
So with this in mind, let's move on.

False Belief # 3
Those who fail are unworthy of being loved and deserved to be punished.
This is the false belief that drives people away into isolation. The thought and idea that no one could ever love them. In their minds, they deduce that if they were good people, they would not have done the things they've done, but because they did, they are not worthy to be loved. What's more, they need to be punished. This is where guilt and shame come into play. When we operate in this false belief, we punish ourselves. Guilt is the feeling I have for the wrong I have done. Shame is directed at me as a person. Put the two toxic emotions together, and the only hope of ever coming out of that pit is the love of God being poured over this individual. 

And now we come to the fourth false belief.
False Belief #4
I am what I am. I cannot change. I am hopeless
This false belief, when allowed to fester in our minds and hearts, turns the key and locks us into a life of despair and hopelessness. It truly takes an intervention by God's Holy Spirit into this life to break this dangerous belief. 
When one resigns themselves to this false belief, they can see no way out. But yet, in some cases, reaching this point of believing you cannot change is where a person comes face to face with their need for God. A good friend of mine tells of reaching such a point. Sitting down with His Bible and a glass of whiskey, he'd reached the point of realizing that his life was hopeless. He prayed to God and said, "God, I can't quit. If I'm to die a drunk, I guess I'll be o.k. with that." It was at that point that he actually began to take that journey out of all the darkness he'd drank himself into.

If you have read the posting from yesterday, along with today's, then you see that the most dangerous thing we can do is define ourselves by what we have done. To see ourselves as the person God created us to be when we move into the salvation He has offered us, we only have to look to the declaration that we say at Rapha.

Because of Christ's redemption
I am a new creation of infinite worth

I am deeply loved
I am fully pleasing
I am completely forgiven
I am totally accepted by God
I am absolutely complete in Christ

When my performance reflects this new identity
that reflection is dynamically unique
There has never been another person like me in the history if mankind
Nor will there ever be
God has made me an original
A one-of-a-kind person
A special person
And so are you

God on you....

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Audio Message VRC 4-19-14

New Audio message
From VRC /  4-19-14

"Time Between The Times"


The Four False Beliefs

  1. 1.
    an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
    "his belief in the value of hard work"

  2. 2.
    trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.
    "a belief in democratic politics"

One of the cornerstone of recovery for us is what we refer to as the "Four False Belief's".  A world view or belief system that has been adopted by an individual and governs the way the interact and make decisions.

False Belief # 1
I must meet certain standards in order to feel good about myself.

Sounds innocent enough doesn't it?
Well, what happens when all you've ever done is fail?
What happens to your thinking if you never measure up to standards that you or others have set for you? Now, throw in some drugs and alcohol on a daily basis and the failures grow and multiply. This false belief will cause you to not even try anymore. After all, why should you? You fail at everything. This is one of the obstacles we create in our own hearts and minds when we succumb to the spiritual, mental and physical darkness of addiction.

False Belief #2
I need the approval of others to feel good about myself.

In this case, our own self worth is so low that we seek to manipulate those around us to tell us how wonderful we are. We thrive on their opinion. We bask in their adulation. And when we don't receive it, we wither and die inside. We have created an equation to define who we are.

Person = Performance
We have bought into a lie that who we are, as person, is defined by what we have done (Our behavior / or our performance). Looking at our track record, we haven't done too well, have we? Yet, most of us were raised to gauge ourselves this way. When we were small, and we did something really nice for our Mother's......Mom would tell us, "Oh my you are a good boy!" But turn that around. Maybe we broke her favorite vase or some of her good china. What did we hear? "You're a bad boy."  So we slowly build a belief system that told us our worth comes from what we have done. Not simply from who we are.

I see a number of people who continue to live like this.
Who even try to serve God this way......
"If I do good...the Jesus will love me!"
"How can Jesus love me, I am a total mess up."
To counter this false belief, we have to address the issue or our person. Salvation puts me in the place where God sees me as perfect.
Hebrews 10:14 - For by one offering, He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Did you catch that?
"He has perfected."
Not "He will perfect" nor  "He is in the process of perfecting."
But has perfected.
So when God see me, He sees my person/spirit as being perfect because of the blood of Jesus.
Is my behavior/ performance perfect?
But we're working on it.

I will continue tomorrow with the False Belief # 3 and #4.
God on you..

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

To Know God

Hebrews 3:7-8
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,"Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden
your hearts as in the rebellion. In the day of trial in the wilderness."

Verse 12-14
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing form the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "today" lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.

II Timothy 1:6
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

I am feeling an urgency.
I believe it is from God.
But I'm not sure what I am suppose to be urgent about.
I just know that it is there.

I have been parked in these verses all evening.
Cautionary verses directed toward all who are followers of Jesus.

I do believe it may have something to do with taking a personal inventory and making sure we are still on the right track. It is so easy to slide from following Jesus, into looking like we are following Jesus.
No life....lot of activity.
I have seen many a person get saved and then quit, thinking to themselves, "Hey..I've arrived. I've got my card and ticket punched to heaven. I no longer have to worry about hell, so I think I'll coast for a while. 
No longer are they "Standing on the Promises."
They are simply "Sitting on the premises." 
There is a vast difference between "knowing" God and merely knowing about Him.

Knowing God is what opens up the door to real recovery from drugs and alcohol. Some will read that statement and "Bah humbug" me all the way to China and back. Why? Because that is too easy. Addiction is a complicated disease, with many levels of healing that need to take place. Or at least that what the pundits will say. Now you've got to hear me on this. I am, in no way, advocating just putting a Bible in some poor addicts hand and then shoving them toward a church and say, "Go get healed, boy! Jesus will do you good."
However, I am advocating a life-changing encounter with the living God. 
Once that encounter takes place and a person is saved, they are now ready to be taught and shown the way on how to keep the fire burning so to speak. To not let the salvation die a cold death through neglect of complacency, eventually returning to their old ways and habits.

That is why we have Vineyard Recovery Church.
To be a place of encouragement to those who are moving in this new life.
To be a place where you can receive a "fresh" or new touch from God.
To be a place where we can all learn how to hear God and follow what we hear.
We gather together each Saturday night to meet with our Higher Power, Jesus Christ.

I chose the picture of the entrance to our building for this post this morning because I think it speaks to what I have written about.
The building is half in shadow and half in light.
You don't know whether it's early morning or late evening.

But change is taking place. We are moving forward. We may not always know what is next, but we can trust God to keep us. Whether we are moving into a time of darkness or a time of light. A time of hardship and suffering, or a time of joy and celebration. No matter which it may be, our need for God does not change. In fact we should develop a hunger for His presence like we never have before.

Maybe that is what the urgency I feel is all about.
Knowing that we are moving, and we all need to make sure we are prepared for the next part of the journey.

God on you...


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Day After The Day After.. part II

Every day should be Easter, shouldn't it?
Every day should be a celebration in the heart of every believer that "He is Risen....and continues to be "Risen" every day.
Every breath I take should be a reminder and testimony to the simple fact that Jesus has risen.
He is risen with every hour I clock at work.
He is risen when my life is less than reflective of the truth of God.
He is risen when I am struggling with a crisis of faith. Remember, Jesus has no such crisis as this. His crisis was cast off and left in an empty tomb.

My life shoud be a walking, talking, eating, sleeping, moving around testimony to Easter..I have life because He did rise! I have freedom in Him because He didn't just die, he came back and walked away from death.
Every day is a testimony to the fact that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He wasn't confined in some dark, dank, dirty tomb....
I love the angel guys who were hanging out in the cemetery....
Women show up to anoint and finish the preparation for Jesus' burial.
The angel guys ask the women, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen!"
Sometimes I think my walk with Christ gets over into the "Looking for the living among the dead"....that is nice way of saying...."Michael, you missed it son. You're seeking out the religious when you should be all up in a relationship." 
You can always hold a church service in the tomb....
You can mourn over the should-of, would-of, could-of...
But Christ has moved on and is out among the people.

He is risen!

You can know God....
Or you can KNOW God!
Don't let God be a mental ascent to the divine. Don't let God become a theological egg hunt for the ultimate answers.
God is love...
And God is life....

And if we don't breathe and live from that place, we have missed it all together.

Don't let Easter be watered down and separated into one day a year.
Every day is Easter.

He has risen today.
Tomorrow will once again proclaim to a dark world...Jesus has risen.
Next week will testify to the fact that Jesus is not in the tomb.
And if we declare it long enough and loud enough..who knows what might happen to those around us.

He is risen...
One last video....
Russ Taft singing Were You There.

Can't help but weep tears of joy when I hear this.
Let it get all down inside of you and let the Holy Spirit of God turn the lights on so you can see...

He is risen!

God on you...

Monday, April 21, 2014

O.K...He's Risen---Now What?

O.K.....Let's get this straight.
We celebrated Good Friday....Jesus on the cross.

Death...payment for sins....etc..etc...

We celebrated Easter.....The tomb....Stone rolled away...
"Up from the grave He arose!"....Resurrection Sunday....
Now what?

Do we go back to business as usual? Were those days just blips on the radar screen, that vanished as quickly as they appeared?
Now what?

The last thing I want is for Good Friday and Easter to simply stir some emotion in me so I can return to life as I have known it. I want to know Jesus more. I don't want to rest on the thought of  "God as I understand Him." I want my understanding to be ever changing. I want to be growing in Him. But you know what? I'm not talking about information. I'm not talking about "fun facts" about God. I'm not talking about "factoids" concerning the Almighty. I'm talking about a living, breathing, walking-around, getting-to-know-Him, relationship.

John 17:3 reads: And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." 
Now I may be wrong, but the last time I read the Scriptures, it said that Jesus appeared to His disciples and taught them. It doesn't say that He appeared and said, "O.k. boys, I need you to study the first three books of the Torah." I'm not advocating giving up reading the Scripture. But how can the Scripture make sense if you don't know they One who breathed it into men?

in his book, Knowing God, J.I. Packer makes the following statement.
"We need to ask ourselves a fundamental question. What is my ultimate aim and object in occupying my mind with Scripture? What do I intend to do with my knowledge about God once I have it? To be preoccupied with getting theological knowledge as an end to itself, to approach Bible study with no higher a motive than a desire to know all the answers, is the direct route to a state of self-satisfied, self-deception."

Our fundamental aim should be to take the knowledge we have of God and use it in a practical way. Our desire should be to know and enjoy God Himself. To value the knowledge about God as a means to this end (Quote by J.I. Packer). 

I cannot, nor will I take God and fit Him into my life like some addendum to a will or legal document. I must take my life and fit into God's will and purpose. Somehow Western Christianity has boiled down relationship with God as being something you display so that others will know you are a believer. Well, if truth be known, I think we have far too many believer's......and not enough follower's. God isn't something I put on display to gain respect from others so they won't think bad about me. Jesus didn't die on the cross for my comfort here on earth. He died (according to Romans 4:25) and was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. 

Let me go one step farther....
This new relationship isn't about doing a bunch of religious stuff.
It isn't about handing out tracts....
It isn't about witnessing....
It isn't about serving on a church board.
We have been given this opportunity to know (through experience) the God we read about in Scripture. 

Now what happens when you begin a relationship with someone? You truly want to get to know them. You want to understand what pleases them. You want to know what they love.
To me, it's the same thing with God. The more I know Him, the more I fall in love with Him. The more I fall in love with Him, the more I want to do for Him.
But the doing becomes second nature. I don't do it out of some feeling obligation to Him. I do it because it's what I do. 

I kind of figure that if we are referred to as Human Beings, then I should BE who God created me to be. We are not called Human Doings. The doing comes as a result of me "Being". Call me me me Ishmael..sorry, Herman Melville suddenly filled my brain. 

I would recommend J.I. Packer's book Knowing God as a good place to start.
I don't recommend a lot of books, but this one is a keeper.

Yes, He is risen.
But what are we going to do next?

God on you...


Sunday, April 20, 2014

No Bones In That Tomb

Dust of the ages and yellowed pages
Idols made of gold
Ancient mysteries and recorded histories
Secrets of this world untold
Myth's and legends we often read about
shrouded deep within the winds of change
Easy access to hearts which never know
subtly they rearrange

But there's no bones in Jerusalem
There's no bones in that tomb
There's no bones in Jerusalem
I know
I've been in that tomb

Difference of opinions provide philosophy
many path's which show the light
wide and smooth's the promise that they make
etched by shadows of the night
Some say service is the only way
works wrought by fleshly hands
But truth for the ages is a resurrected form
is the Son of God in the flesh of man

You can search for holy shrines
seek existence through the lines
graves to all their prophets testify
to all they claim to know

But there's no bones in Jerusalem
There's no bones in that tomb
There's no bones in Jerusalem
I know
I've been in that tomb

He is Risen.....
He is Risen indeed

( From the song "No Bones" by Mbb)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Time Between The Times

Alas and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die...
Would He devote that sacred head for sinners such as I....
At the the cross where I first saw the light

And the burden of my heart rolled away...
It was there by faith I received my sight...
And now I am happy all the day.

Tonight as we gather for our meeting, it will be a strange time.
Good Friday has already passed....
Easter isn't here yet.....

We are kind of in a time between the times.
And such will be our focus tonight...

The sheer fact that we do exist in a time between the times.

Paul, in Galatians 1, referred to it as "This present evil age".
We live between Jesus' first appearance here on earth, and His second coming.
Such time has passed, that many view Jesus as one more religious "fairy tale." A good story that has nothing to do with our current day and time, and certainly nothing to do with our personal lives. After all, if in fact this Jesus did do everything people claimed He did.....well, that was over 2000 years ago. Different time. Different culture. Different country.

The one thing that is always left out of the equation in this disproving of the validity of Jesus is the heart.

The heart of man (humanity).
That has not changed.
It still beats with the same greed, lust for power, a penchant for sin, huge amounts of anger. And the list could go on and on and on. That part has not changed. Look around you and see the evidence. Mother's killing their children by drowning them. Sexual perversion that no longer shocks us as a society. Some might throw up the argument, "Yeah, but we didn't pass our children through the fire like the people did when they worshiped the false god, Molech!" I'll give you that one. We didn't pass them through the fire....we just aborted them. We don't even refer to them as children or babies. In an effort to cleanse our conscience, we call them fetuses and tissue. That sounds more humane. Well, let me ask you this. If we gave fetuses and birth tissue the right to vote, how do you think they would vote when it comes to abortion.

As much evil as there is in the hearts of men....
We must never forget that Jesus did not die in vain.
Jesus did not walk out of that tomb on the first day of the week and think to himself, "Well, that was all for nothing." He knew all too well the power and the plans of His heavenly Father. He knew that lives would be changed. And the cross would stand as a defining moment when everything changed here on planet earth. The door was now open for everyone to be made right and reconciled to God. The gift of abundant life and eternal life was now awash over the planet. No wonder our enemy the devil works so hard to tear down and corrupt. He knows that he can never stop or thwart God's plans. That devil must be one frustrated individual.

So tonight as we gather, we will give thanks for the cross of Christ.
We will look forward to His resurrection....

But we will acknowledge that we are living in a time between the times, and we need Him more now than ever.

God on you...

Friday, April 18, 2014

New Audio Message

Just down loaded the message from last Saturday night into the pod cast section.
"Our One Year Anniversary of Vineyard Recovery Church".

Feeling A Bit Homesick

You know...the longer you live the more you become aware of exactly how far away you are from home.
Not your current address or the place that you rent, but the place where your heart is drawn to.
For like Paul, I too realize that I am not a citizen of this world.
I am only passing through.
Heaven is my home.

Such understanding could be ground that would only produce a harvest of depression and sadness, given the current state of our nation and the world....
But it only makes me lean into the wind and rain and push forward. I am painfully aware of the darkness I encounter on a daily basis.
Heaven is my home.
Such thoughts makes me very grateful for those days when the sun warms my face and God warms my heart.
But I am never faraway from the eternal homesickness that tugs at my heart from time to time.
A yearning....
A longing to shake off this mortal coil and be free from the battles and strife of this world.
Do not despair for me.
I am not contemplating suicide on any level.
I am simply sharing what is on my heart.
Every time I find myself in thought concerning heaven and my heavenly Father, I see faces of people.
I see one young man who still doesn't know my God. I see the pain on his face as he wanders around living a life of misery and self inflicted pain. I see needles and bottles. I see yellowed fingers from too many cigarettes. When I look into his eyes..........I see nothing. Dead, lifeless eyes that have seen too much of this world. And I think to myself..."How selfish can you be? You want to leave this old world and this young man needs to hear, once again, the good news of who Jesus is.

I see the face of a young lady. Once full of hope and dreams for the future, she confused the act of sex for love. Her heart longed to be loved by someone. Longed to be courted and favored by someone who truly loved her for who she was. But such love never transpired. Instead, she moved from relationship to relationship, and along the way she became a punching bag for every insult and fist of the men she gave herself to. Oh they told her that they loved her, but the outcome was the same. She gave...and they took. She was beaten down so bad that she could not find any worth or value as a person. How could anyone ever love her.She was damaged goods.  No one would ever want to be with her. In my mind, when I see her face, I know that I've got to tell her about the ultimate love. The love of a Father that transcends all love. That in His eyes, she had worth and value. So much in fact that Jesus gave His life so that she could experience this love. She needs to hear this good news called the Gospel.

The world and the system created by the devil and the kingdom of darkness produces all manner of substitutes for the Love of God.
Drugs promise to take away the pain and make you feel good. "You don't need this God love. Haven't you read the Old Testament? God kills everyone. He has a divine mad-on for anyone who cross's Him!" Such is the mantra spoken over and over into the hearts of those who don't know my Jesus.

"Yeah, God created it...but He really doesn't want you find any pleasure in the act."
"This God is a selfish God who gives you a gift and then doesn't want you to enjoy it!"
"C'mon! If it feels good.....then do it!"

"You can buy happiness! You should expend yourself on the pursuit of riches. Riches mean real happiness. Money means power. Power means control and respect."

And the promises of our enemy goes on and on about what he has to offer us that is better than the love God has offered. Such are the lies that manipulate this world. Maybe that's why I need to hang around a bit longer. I need to share the truth and demonstrate the Power of God to anyone who would listen. You see, there are a lot of people who need to hear the truth. There are a lot of people who need to feel the presence and the power of God in their own life.

So while I am missing my home.....
I will stay the course.
I will go Saturday night and share the story of Jesus.
From the cross to the tomb....
But thank God that the story didn't end there.
There was that thing called the Resurrection that totally changed the dynamics of this world..
Now that's what I'm talking about.

He is risen!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

It's All About Those Spontaneous Moments

Scheduled to speak....
And nothing to say....
I'd been in prayer for the past two days after receiving an invitation, but there was nothing rising up that would lead me to a message.
Had I missed it?
Was I  not suppose to go?
No...I knew I was suppose to be there.

It was going to be one of those times where the message would probably come at the last minute.
So my job was to not be anxious and fearful, but prayerfully wait for God to speak.

Arriving a few minutes early, I sat in the sanctuary as the worship team practiced.
"Holy And Anointed One" written by John Barnett was the first song....
Hmmm....a Vineyard Song.....
"Fall On Your Mercy"....another Vineyard song....
Had I wandered into another Vineyard church and I just didn't know it....

The last song was the message....
"Breathe" by Marie Barnett.

Both John and Marie had been a part of a worship conference that was held at Gadsden Vineyard Church last year. It was the most incredible weekend I'd had in a long time as I sat and worshiped under their music. But the part that caught me, was that the song "Breathe" was actually a prophetic song that Marie sang during a practice time. It wasn't planned...she didn't sit down and try to write a song....this song just rose up from within her and became one of the most recorded worship songs ever.

This is the air I breathe.....and I am desperate for You.

So as I sat there listening to the worship team go through the song, God spoke to me about the times when things come spontaneously. Songs and messages just seem to rise up from within and almost catch you off guard. They may not sound polished or refined, but they carry the fire and weight of the Holy Spirit. They carry power to strike the hearts of those who are listening.
Such was the message for last night. Spontaneously given to me by the Holy Spirit.
It was about the cross of Christ....
The love that it took for Him to stretch himself out on that rough wood and allow mortal men to nail his flesh to it. Love....real love....

As we finished up and moved into a prayer time, one young lady could not wait any longer.
She jumped up and hurried to the front. Falling on her face, she began to weep. Not cry...weep...long, deep sobs. This love I had talked about....this love of God, had touched her and she was undone. She was ready to meet this Jesus she'd heard about.

I don't know what she was expecting when she came to the meeting last night. I don't even know why she was there. But I know that she left it a lot different and changed. I know she left with a new heart and a new beginning. I know that she left as a daughter of the Most High God. 
It was a good evening....

God on you...


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lay Your Burden's Down

Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden....
Come to me, all whose shoulders are bent under the strain of carrying around things you were never created to carry.
You see, you were not created to view yourself as being worthless.
Your heavenly Father created you through an act of love.
Now, He wasn't naive or oblivious to the ways of this world.
He knew the darkness that existed in the hearts of men.
He knew their penchant and ability to inflict pain and suffering.
He also knew His own ability to love far outweighed anything man could bring to bear.
That is why He extended this invitation to shake off the things of this world and walk with Him.
Not a religious walk.....
Not a spiritual walk....
But one born in relationship.
God knows all about us.
Even the scriptures declare that He knows what we need before we even ask Him.
So, if God is so all knowing....
So powerful......
Why would He want to have anything to do with me?
Because everything He does is fueled by His heart of  love.
In spite of my mess, He wants to return me to the way I was suppose to be.
He wants to save me.
He wants to see me make a choice to receive what He has to offer.
He loves me.

At this point of my life, I don't think God ever stops loving us not matter what choice we make.
Doesn't mean He excuses my bad choices which lead to bad consequences....
But He loves us.
In the story of the "Rich, Young Ruler"....Jesus lays out exactly what He sees in this young man. That he has a heart that loves wealth, position and power. So Jesus tells him to go and sell everything he has, give it to the poor, and come and follow Him. The young man could not do this, so he went away...and yet the scriptures says..."Jesus loved him".
The thing that convinces us we are unlovable and Jesus would have nothing to do with us is that sin/flesh nature we each possess. Our sins sends us on the run from Jesus. Our sins separate us from God. God didn't separate Himself from us.

So today, with the thought of God's love hovering all around us, why not lay those burden's down?
Why not turn to Jesus.
Discover the truth about yourself and about Him.
Sounds like a deal to me....
He is risen!
He is risen indeed!

God on you....

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Yo! Is That Really You?"

A wise man once told me..."God isn't speaking half as much as people are saying He is....and people aren't really listening half as much as they should be."
Does God speak?
Yes, He does.

Usually on this topic, the next thing someone would say to me is, "Well, I don't hear Him."
I believe that they do. They just don't recognize what they hear as being from God.

During our life, there will be ebbs and flows to our encounters with God (whether you are saved or not). God will be trying to speak to you and get your attention. If you are trapped in addiction, the message you'll get the most is "Turn from what you are doing."  It may come in the form of thoughts that come to your mind. It may be what you perceive as your conscience speaking to you. It may be words from others who are concerned about you. All are used by God to talk to you. 

God's Holy Spirit is all up into bringing conviction to us. Showing us the wrong that we have done. Showing us the state of our hearts and how far we are from God. Sounds like it would be party time for this to happen to us, doesn't it? Well, it isn't. It is a time of sorrow. What usually happens when someone in addiction encounters sorrow? They use. They want to stop what they believe are all the accusing voices reminding them of what they have done and who they are. They use to escape those voices and feelings. But conviction from God is different. Conviction points out the wrong, but then offers a way out from under all the pain and toxic emotions that are driving the individual to use more. God speaks to the heart.

Why is it we feel that God speaks so obscurely or vague? Well, in His mercy, He allows us room and time to respond. He lets us know that He is talking to us...but that we need to process what we are hearing. Sometimes we don't need much room or time. If God is drawing us into salvation, our heart will over ride what our mind is telling us and we will respond.

We need to always remember that it is God's heart to communicate with us. We read in Jeremiah 33:3 - "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know." These are God's words. Jeremiah was probably in the darkest place a person could be. He had been taken away from his home and was living in a foreign land. A place with strange customs and belief's, under the rule of a dictator. Jeremiah was a slave. Funny isn't it? Addiction is a taskmaster that will take you away from home and family and put you under it's thumb as a slave. Yet, you will never be removed from God's sight or His ability to talk with you. I don't think the words of Jeremiah 33:3 have changed or that God does business differently now. To hear God, you simply cry out to Him.

What do you have to loose?

and the list goes on and on and on...

God on you....

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Great Leveling Ground---The Cross

I Corinthians 1:18
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the POWER of God.

I Corinthians 2:2
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Easter week....
A celebration of the tomb...
A proclamation of the resurrection....
You can't keep God in a box...
Or your mind....
He will escape and go right to your heart.

God does not deal in mental exercise.
God does not exist in verbal acknowledgement.
God is the God of the heart.
The place from where real life is birthed.

The tomb and resurrection is an exclamation point to a week unlike any other in the history of mankind.
But to get to that morning when those closest to Jesus found out that He wasn't there....
You enter through the cross.
The cross has a way of revealing every one's true nature.
It strips away the outer coverings we create to hide behind and label ourselves with.
It shreds college degrees as well as police records.
We all stand naked and uncovered before the cross.
The cross either humbles us......
Or causes our sinful pride to rise up so that we declare we will not bow before this Christ.
I have seen the latter time and time again in individuals who refuse to give themselves over to Christ.
Steeped in addiction and darkness...sin so rampant in their lives that you could almost smell it, they stand before the message of the cross and thumb their nose at Jesus.
I fear for those who do so.
I pray that God would humble them and break through the hardness and darkness they have given themselves to.
For I know that such are storing up God's wrath that will be poured out eventually if they do not turn.

It is still the greatest mystery to me...
How one can come in contact with this Jesus and be completely changed.
Given to salvation and a new way of living...
while others can remain in their sin and darkness and give no thought to their future or what will happen once they draw their last breath.
Maybe it isn't for me to understand....
Maybe it is just for me to be obedient and love everyone I come in contact with.

This I will do...
I will love Jesus...
I will love those who love Jesus....
I will love those who do not love Jesus...
And I will tell the story of the cross.

At the cross. at the cross
Where I first saw the light
And the burden of my heart rolled away..
It was there by faith
I received my sight
And now I am happy all the day

God on you....


Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing. Not it shall spring forth. Shall you not know it?  I will even make a road (path) in the wil...