Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hope


I Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a LIVING HOPE  through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...

Sin / addiction offers false hope.
A hope that will leave you dead and dry.
God offers hope that is alive.
Hope that changes as life changes around you, and in you.
Sin / addiction lies.
It gets down into the very core of who you are as a creation of God and fills you with half truth's which is no truth at all.

God is the giver of real life. Life based in the moment and reality of this time and space.

Sin / addiction fills your soul with empty promises.
Promises it never intends to keep.
God never lies.

He will always speak the truth to you and to me.
Sin / addiction does not want me to listen to this truth, but when God speaks it to us....we can rest in the assurance that whatever He tells us is a way to life...real life.

Sin / addiction wants to separate you from other people.
If it isn't successful in doing that, then it will place you with like-minded people who are also living in the darkness of lies.

Together, you will feed off of each other's misery. The lie becomes bigger and more cemented into your very being.
Any promise that God makes is countered by sin / addiction with the thought...."That may be true what God is saying...but look at your life. Look at your past. why do you think you will ever be any different?" Sin / addiction will beat you without mercy. God pursues you because He IS mercy. God's desire is to give you something that you do not deserve.....an abundant life with Him now....and eternal life with Him when we die. God's desire is also to keep from you something you do deserve. Something you have earned according to Romans 6:23---For the wages of sin is death (not of the physical nature, for we all die.But what some refer to as the "2nd" death or eternal separation from God)but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Are you hopeless this morning?
Did you stumble upon this blog by accident?
I don't think so.
I think maybe you were lead here, not aware that God was behind the leading.

He is as close as a prayer to you.
You may be telling yourself that  you don't know how to pray.
Well...if you can talk...you can pray.

Skip the religious stuff you're use to hearing when others pray.
God's desire is an honest dialogue between you and Him.

Tell Him what's really going on in your life. Not because He doesn't know, but because it is all part of the healing process when we confess to Him.

God on you...

mb

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Today is payday



That's the kind of morning it is....Hodge Podge.
Not really any one single thing to write about today.
Lot's of little things rolling around in my brain.

Today will be a good day.
Today will be a "pay day" so to speak.

I got a phone call last Saturday night shortly before church.
When I answered the call, a voice said, "Is this Mike Bynum?"
I replied, "Yes."
"Mike Bynum that was pastor out at Rapha?"
"Still am!"
"Hi! This is Jimmy McNabb."
Jimmy........
I was flooded with a million thoughts and images of him.


I won't go into his history.
Most addiction stories are all have the same beginnings. The locale may be different and some of the details may seem strange, but the destination is all the same.
What makes Jimmy so special is the struggle he went through to overcome his addiction.

Jimmy is from Los Angeles. Yep! They have drugs out there too.
He found his way to Rapha for treatment, via his mother's house in Troy, Alabama.
Jimmy's sobriety-birthday just happens to coincide with the very first House of Blue Recovery Meeting we held at Gadsden Vineyard........August 21, 1999. 

Jimmy is coming back to Alabama for a family hoo-ha gathering of clan McNabb, and wanted to come by to see me. So today, I will go to the church and await his arrival. 
Some of you may remember Jimmy for his saxophone .
He would play with the worship team when he came to House of Blue, usually bringing down the house with his version of "Amazing Grace". Because of his history and his gratefulness of what God had done in his own life, when Jimmy played Amazing Grace, the song took on a whole other feel of gratitude and thankfulness. You could feel the pleasure and love of God in that room. Jimmy's life is a message of hope and evidence of God's love available to all who seek it.

I wrote at the beginning of this post that today would be payday.
Anytime  hear from someone who went through the program at Rapha and is doing well, it let's me know that the seed that we planted is good seed. That life that was taken from darkness, and is now thriving in the light of God, well....that is payday for me.
Over the past 16 years, I have gotten a lot of payday's.
Still do.

I live for the payday's. When someone walks up and hugs your neck and says, "Thank you for all you did for me."
To hear the stories of how they are now working in recovery...be it at Celebrate Recovery, or just one on  one as they meet hopeless souls lost in the darkness of addiction.


Maybe that is what separates those who have overcome their addiction from the rest of society. They carry around a heart of tremendous gratitude for what God has done for them.
Every little thing.....from a cup of coffee to a morning sunrise, is a celebration of life. You don't find much apathy and complacency in those who are clean and sober, and living for God. They have been to hell. Now, because of God's great love, they are living each day...one day at a time....as a grateful overcomer.


Thanks for letting me share....
God on you....

mb

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Learning To Trust


I Corinthians 13:12
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

These verses seem to unsettle a lot of folk. Some people don't like the idea of "not having the whole picture" so to speak.
The idea of not being able to see the bigger picture, or not be able to "intellect" themselves through the mysteries of God is not right to some.

For me, I take great comfort in knowing that I don't have to know all the answers. That I don't have to see the grand scheme of things.
I think being comfortable with such a thing falls under the category of trusting God.
That is something I'm growing more and more comfortable with as I've gotten older.

Oh, I have my days and moments where the train goes off the track and I go into chicken little mode, running around voicing that the "Sky is falling! The sky is falling!". But those times seem to be few and far between. I think operating from a place of trusting God brings great peace to a person. I'm talking about the peace of God that by passes your brain and move straight to the very core of who you are. Peace that brings stability when everything around you is shaking and crumbling. Divine peace. Jesus' peace.

The #1 thing I have come to know, understand and fully appreciate is the old A.A. saying of "One day at a time." For someone in addiction living in the moment is a fundamental truth. Addictive thinking either shoots you to your past, where you focus on all the destruction and damage you have done, or it rockets you into the future. The future is a place of great fear to someone in addiction. Why? Because everything out there in the future is weighed by the destruction of the past. 
Example:
"I'm getting out of treatment in 5 weeks, and the future just scares me to death."
What that person is really saying is "I've been working on myself for a period of time, but no matter how good I feel about myself....no matter how much progress I've made....I'll mess it up because of how I've acted in the past. It all part of a false belief system that is carried around, and affects every decision that is made. False Belief # 4 - "I am what I am. I cannot change. I am hopeless. Someone may have never actually said these words out loud, but they are real and at work in the heart. 

So how do we change? How do we move beyond the bondage of these false belief's?
By realizing that we are on a journey. It is all about growing little by little, daily as we deal with life as it comes. We learn that God is indeed trustworthy, because we have made the decision to turn will and life over to His care. 


To me, the Serenity Prayer is a profound declaration of my dependence on God. It is more than just clever words and cute sayings when it is spoken by one who is truly accepting the message. When it becomes more than lip service and turns into a core belief, the past can be overcome. The future becomes ours to own. And Jesus then truly becomes LORD of our life.

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life 
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

God on you....
mb



Monday, July 28, 2014

The Latest From WIND


WIND
Nori Kelley / Barbie Kelley / Doug Sturgill
And
Joe Pfau

The latest musical offering from the band, Wind, is a must have if you are tired of the churned-out, vanilla music that falls under the limited name of Contemporary Christian Music. Like a good friend of mine, David Finlayson, I've always hated that label. In fact I'm not to fond of any music labels. Stephen Chapman, formerly of the group DOGWOOD, use to refer to his music as "Journey Music". It was simply the songs that God gave him as Stephen lived and walked out each day. 

It has been the greatest pleasure of mine to watch and listen as Nori Kelley has grown and matured as a musician, producer and song writer. Been doing so for about 34 years and I guessed you could say that I am a bit jaded when it comes to writing about Nori and the band WIND. Speaking on the band, each member is an accomplished musician in their own right. But WIND is the perfect vehicle where the sum is greater than the parts. WIND is like a glove that God puts on to make music......and what music does God make.



Beginning with Spring Rain, continuing through Storm, WIND's current album, Wave, opens with the sound of nature. Your senses are greeted with a night symphony of nature. Cricket's, peepers, and the sound of flowing water greet you with an invitation to come on a journey. Then as if to highlight the song, an Irish Whistle draws you in. The lilting sound carries with it emotion, not mournful, but rather like a promise yet to be fulfilled. Come and see what is around the next bend. Come and follow the river and let it take you away. The river gets to define the song. It has already plotted the course and is there to transport you. Your job? To listen with your spirit, and not just your ears.

Songs on the new Cd include:
Day River
I Forgive Them
I'm In Love With You
All Around The World
Crazy Love
Here We Go Again
Life Is Mine
Floydian Slip
Infinite
All The Day Long
Resolution
My Shepherd
Bonus Track
The Good Old Way

You can purchase downloads of WAVE at www.windmusic.us
I promise....
You won't be disappointed in the latest musical offering from WIND.

God on you....
mb





Sunday, July 27, 2014

We All Need The Real Jesus


Matthew 8:2-3
And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."
Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I AM WILLING! Be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

I knew that last nights message for Vineyard Recovery Church was to be about healing.
I knew that this was truly on God's heart and, I confess, that I saw the evening, in my mind, being played out a certain way. By that, I mean that I saw certain situations and people being used during the service. Of course God had other thoughts of His own, and His are much better than mine.

Around 2 p.m. I began to receive phone calls from people asking for prayer. They were people that I had not heard from in a number of years.. So why now? Why call now since I haven't heard from them in a while? Because it was God speaking.

Prayers for family that had suffered a heart attack that had done quiet extensive damage.
Prayers for a diagnosis of leukemia. Doctor's gave a prognosis of 2 months to a year left to live.
Prayers of cancer.
On and on the calls came. Some even under the guise of "I'm doing quiet well" but you could hear behind the voice that the individual was suffering. Their only request was for me to pray for them...........the conversation ended with "and please....don't stop praying." 
So many voices all looking for answers to their problem and situation.
They have turned to God.
It doesn't matter much about how correct your theology is when sickness comes. I mean the kind of sickness that threatens your life.
It doesn't matter what denominational flag you march under when the kingdom of darkness has invaded your body with an illness or a condition.
Suddenly God becomes real and the heart suddenly connects with the truth that He alone can heal. 

The best place to be in all of this, is in His hands.
To be at peace with yourself.....
Peace with others....
And at peace with God.

We do pray for healing....
We do not listen to the doctor's or what the tests may have revealed.
We pray healing down upon the body.

We have been given authority and His power to carry out the Kingdom mandate here on earth. Here in the middle of enemy territory, we will exercise the Kingdom call of Christ to be His vessel for healing and restoration.

For that very reason........for those who called yesterday.......
This morning I speak to the condition of heart attack and I say be healed in the name of Jesus.
I speak to leukemia and say be healed in the name of Jesus.
I speak to cancer......in every part of the body.....be healed in the name of Jesus.

Let Your Kingdom Come to each of these lives. Let your Kingdom "Will" be played out in each of these lives.
In the name of Jesus....
Amen!


God on you....
mb

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Heal......To Help......To Hug




Why Vineyard Recovery Church? 
Why does it exist?
Aren't there enough churches already?
Good questions.
Questions I have to ask myself all along this journey we call life.


Why does VRC exist?
Well, we are downtown for a reason. 
"To Heal.......To Help.........To Hug.'
In other words, we are an outpost for the Kingdom of God.
Our mission is to simply "Follow In His Steps."

His steps, those of Jesus, have led us to this place and this point in time.
We want to be more than just another meeting.
We want those who come on Saturday night to be able to experience God's love and presence.

O.K....I'm about to use a word that freak's out a lot of folks, especially the religious crowd..........I want whoever comes on Saturday night to Feel the love of God. 

Being a believer of the born-again kind, then VRC was conceived and born from heaven. John 3:3 tells us that "Unless one is born again (or born from above) he cannot see the kingdom of God." I didn't come up with the idea of VRC. It was given to me as a directive from God. The exact words that I heard (in my spirit) were...."I want you to return to the Vineyard. I want you to move the Saturday night meeting from Rapha to the Vineyard. It will be my meeting. I will build it." Pretty simple right? Just do it. And that is exactly what I've done, with the exception of me getting in the way from time to time.

Our goal, as a church, is very simple.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit.......
We want to:
1.) Speak the word.
2.) Do the works of Jesus.
3.) See the wonders of the Kingdom.
In my heart, I believe that the people who are the church (eklesia- the called ones) have been commissioned, or called if you will, to advance God's kingdom. Collectively, we have been given the task to push back darkness and re-establish new boundaries of the Kingdom of God. According to Scripture, those boundaries that the kingdom of God is to operate in is the "ends of the earth". So we have a lot of work to do. 

So how do you push the Kingdom of God forward?
How do you push back against a kingdom of darkness overseen by the Devil?
It is very simple. No need to complicate it.
Every time we pray for someone....
Every time we feed someone....
Every time we minister to someone....
The Kingdom of God is being advanced.
Seeds are planted in the lives of those we reach out to.
We may never see the fruit that comes from that seed, but we rest in the knowledge and understanding that (1) it's good seed, and (2) we have been called to plant.


VRC, and the church at large, is in the thick of a war, whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not. 
"We are instruments of God's rule confronting and destroying evil in all its forms. We are the called of God enforcing and advancing, for the sake of this world, the victory that Jesus has already accomplished" --John Wimber.

Keep in mind that the Kingdom of God we read about in Scripture is not an event, but rather an intervention of God into human history. It is His dynamic rule and reign here on planet earth. Where ever people are falling in love with Jesus, and are following Him.......there you have the Kingdom of God.
We get a taste of the "power of the coming age" right now. 

Hebrews 6:5 - And have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come. 

VRC has been commissioned and given a mandate to be an expression of God's love and kingdom to a segment of society that has been marginalized because of their condition. Because of a choice they made, they have been affected spiritually....physically.........mentally......emotionally .....and financially. I speak of addiction. All addiction begins with a choice...I want those who come on Saturday night to realize that healing also begins with a choice. A choice to answer the invitation to new life with Christ.
Come and visit with us. We'd love to see you. VRC starts at 7 p.m., every Saturday night. Downtown at Gadsden Vineyard, located on Broad Street, between 4th and 5th streets.


God on you....

mb


Friday, July 25, 2014

God And The Doctor: 1 ----- The Devil and Oxy's - 0



A story of divine encounter for your approval::
Young man shared his encounter with me last night at our Big Book study at Rapha.
This particular individual had to go to a "Doc-in-a-box" because of an injury he received before coming to treatment. Sitting in the waiting room, there were posters all over the walls for different types of drugs, some of which use to be this young man's drug of choice. The walls were screaming  "LORTAB'S" and "OXY's". Trying not to look at the poster's, he tried thinking about other things, but he kept returning to the 36" by 36" full color, glossy temptation that seem to grow large with each passing moment.

 "What if the doctor gives me a script for oxy's? What'll I do?" He rationalized that it had to be an o.k. thing because after all, it's a doctor who is writing the script." This was countered with "don't do it! You've come to far." The nurse stepped to the window and called his name. He got up and made his way to the exam room.

The doctor came in and small talk ensued. He examined the injury and suddenly asked the young man about the bracelet he was wearing. It was a Vineyard Recovery Church bracelet which has Ps. 107:20 written on it. The young man told him about VRC and what all went on. The doctor then asked "What does the scripture say?" The young man said "He (God) sent His word and healed them and delivered them from their destruction." The doctor lets out a "Yeah!"...."That's what I'm talking about....Amen! You know that He is! He is the Healer! Yeah, that's what I'm talking about!" All of this kind of caught the young man by surprise. The doctor became more animated..."The healer...The Great Physician! You know what..we're going to pray divine antibiotics down on this leg! Yeah! yeah! We're going to pray that God would just heal this leg." Now the Doctor was up and moving....God was in the room. The doctor's voice got louder and louder...."We believe in medicine...we believe in doctor's and hospital's...but we rest on the One and Only God who brings healing! Yeah...Yeah...that's it!" 


The young man said every thought he'd struggled with about using was suddenly gone. There was a peace and joy that seemed to flood the room where the two of them were. Prayer ensued for the leg and the presence of God grew even stronger in that room. By the time it was over, the young man was, in his own words, "Intoxicated with the presence of Jesus".  He walked out a lot higher than when he entered. 

All of a sudden, for one young man struggling with his addiction, God came and blew the doors off and drove out the temptation and replaced it with incredible joy. Using, of all things, a small, rubber bracelet with a scripture on it. Never under estimate the power of the Word of God.

God on you....

mb

Thursday, July 24, 2014

He Isn't The Grim Reaper or Casper the Friendly Ghost



John 16:13-14
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

John 14:15-17
If you love Me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father and He will give you another Helper that He may abide with you forever. The Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He dwells with you, and will be in you. 

The Spirit of God.....
The Holy Ghost.....
The Holy Spirit.....

Why all this attention? Why focus on Him. Oh yeah, by the way...The Holy Spirit of God is a "HE".....not an "It"..
Some how along the way, we don't think much about Him.
I've been accused of worshiping the Holy Spirit and forsaking Jesus altogether. That I spend way too much time talking about Holy Spirit and have bumped Jesus from His rightful place in the church. Well, nothing could be further from the truth than such a statement.


The Holy Spirit, given to us by God, is the great connector between heaven and earth. He is the communicator given to us by God that speaks to us from the Father's heart. He is power....He is the grace enabler. He is truth beyond any truth we may know. He is the great convictor that uncovers not just my actions, but the motives and intent behind my actions. He is the healer, the comforter. He is the Spirit of God living in each follower of Jesus.

Scripture tells us that He will reveal things to come. We don't really believe that, but it's true. He is our teacher, yet we run to the bookstore for the latest, greatest book in hopes of learning something new. Maybe it would serve us well to spend time alone so that God can teach us through His Holy Spirit. He is the voice of God in us. When God speaks to our spirit, It comes through His Spirit. That is why we can receive what some refer to as "words of knowledge".....or, as we like to refer to it in the Vineyard as "reading someones mail.". My wife hears way better than me when the Holy Spirit is working during ministry to someone. I remember one time that Vicki was talking with a woman. Vicki knew that this woman was struggling and having a hard time coping with issues and life. During the conversation, the Holy Spirit revealed to Vicki that this woman had been sexually abused by a close relative. With great love and tenderness, Vicki asked her, "You've been sexually abused by someone you trusted in your family, haven't you? That opened the door for healing to come to this woman. Such is the work of God's Holy Spirit in each of us who claim to be a follower of Jesus.

Romans 8:26
Likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning's which cannot be uttered. 
The Spirit gives language to the pain of the heart.
The Spirit prays for us and conveys to the Father, through Christ, our condition and state of being. The Father receives from the Son, who also is praying....and from this three way conversation, executes His will to us. 


As Keith Green proclaimed about God's Holy Spirit, referencing Acts Chapter 2...
Rushing Wind blow through this temple...
Blowing out the dust within....

Daily cleanse me by Your Spirit....
For I've been born again.....


Worship God.....
Give Glory to the Son.......

And allow the Spirit to not just occupy, but live within you!

Here is Keith and this incredible song......"Rushing Wind".


God on you....



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Loving Rant If You Will Bear With Me!



Wimber on the value of relationships:
"The vertical relationship with God has its outworking in horizontal relationships of love between people. (I John 4:19-21). Christianity is not a system of religion. It is a way of life, a way of relating in love to God, people and the environment that God has placed them in.

The church in America has taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way. I don't want to come across as being some kind of religious judge, nor do I wish to simply act as though every thing is peachy-keen. I simply want to say what God has placed on my heart.

Too much effort, time and money is being poured into the structure of the church, with no thought to the life of the church. People are asked to tithe more and more...give more and more....to prop up the structure. John use to say that you have only two types of churches. (1) life in search of structure, and (2) structure in search of life. I fear that more and more are falling into the #2 category. I spoke with someone recently whose heart was breaking. Their church had divided and there was a lot of division and factions speaking against each other. This person was upset and you could tell that they were wounded deeply by all the bickering. "We only have about 75 people coming on Sunday." This statement was couched with the emotion that "Our church isn't very valuable because we don't have a lot of people coming." I asked them, "Which had you rather have----75 people who fall in love with Jesus and are sold out to doing the stuff of the Kingdom.....or 500 who simply come and never fully participate in the kingdom work?" 
I'll take the 75. 

 I've said this before, but I don't know that people really believe it, or they just don't hear it. The success of any church....any movement or denomination is not measured by the bank account and the number that attend each week. The success is measured by the quality of people produced by that church. Do they love Jesus? Are they about the business of the Kingdom when they aren't at church? Are they motivated by love to reach out to those around them? That is the measure. Do they know how to worship? Do they know how to worship corporately in community with others....and by themselves? Do they realize that their first and most high calling to God is to worship Him? Do they fully grasp the concept and directive from Jesus that they are not to be about the business of making converts, but rather making disciples? Such is what a successful church does. The true measurement of any church is the character of the people, and the fact that they are ministering every day where ever they may be. Praying for people, feeding people...reaching out to people. Not in an effort to enfold them into their church, but simply because that is what our Father expects of us. We do the Kingdom work because we have been called. And you know what? We do without a committee. We do it even when the pastor isn't around. We don't wait for the deacons or elders to give us the green light. Do you get it? We serve and minister because that is what we have been called to do. 

On the surface, if you look at VRC, you would feel very sorry for it.
Attendance wise, we probably have anywhere from 30 to 50.
But within those 30 to 50, we have 10 who are committed to learn how to serve and "do the kingdom work". More than this, you have to take in consideration those who are tied to VRC  who don't even live in this state. Daily they come to this blog page to receive a word from God.....an encouragement to keep on and not give up.....

Not to mention those who call me on a regular basis to let me know their status and to share their God encounters with me. God has raised up others to start recovery meetings as a result of our work in recovery. I guess some people are able to raise up those who go out and plant churches. We are about the business of planting meetings where the name of Jesus is lifted up as the answer to addiction.
And one last thing....
That 30 to 50 who come to VRC...........it is a constant roll over so it's never the same ones.
Our goal as a church?
Love 'em to death and influence them to really take a look at who Jesus is and the mission that every believer is called to participate in. That mission burns on our hearts, not because we have to do it......but because we want to!

Love those who come and reveal Jesus to them. Not the church Jesus.....Not the denomination Jesus...but the real-deal Jesus of the Bible.

Wimber taught us that who worship is the most important thing there is.
You may be thinking, "Well duh! We worship Jesus."
Do we? Does everyone who nails the word church to their sign really worship the triune God?
Here's how I see it.


Some worship God the Father, God the Son......and God the Holy Church. Here we have an over emphasis of the church as the only real frame of reference to knowing God. The end result is traditionalism.

Then you have some who worship God the Father, God the Son,  God the Holy Bible. Exalting the word of God above the Spirit of God. This results in legalism and fundamentalism (ideology).

Some groups worship God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Experience. Seeking the supernatural and the spiritual gifts as an end in itself. This results in sensationalism. Also leads to a sense of elitism as though those who receive such are living this relationship with Christ on a higher level than the average believer.

Others worship God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ministry. The ministry and mission of the church becomes the only and all-consuming reason for its existence. The results are that the people are driven to measure everything by performance.

Last but not least....
The One I strive for as pastor of VRC....
To worship God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Receiving and honoring the Spirit of God by giving Him His correct place within the church. Doing so results in the incarnation, the presence, power and freedom of the Father and the Son.
Jesus said, "I and my Father will come and dwell in you."  (John 14:23).
Is VRC the perfect church with perfect people? Heaven's no. We are a busted up, messed up group of folk's who are simply learning a new way to live according to our Father in heaven.
But we are about the business of change. Why? Because we have done time on the dark side and now we are free. 
God on you this day...
mb

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Purpose Not Porpoise


Purpose?
You mean I was created for something else besides breathing this air, eating this food, and taking up space here on planet Earth?
Purpose?
Here it comes...
It sounds like it's going to be something spiritual or religious.

The One who created me has a purpose for my existence.
I knew it.
I knew there was a catch to the whole "live my life" thing.
I don't get a say in what my purpose is, do I?
Of course you do.
You can say "yes"
or 
You can say "no".
But you do have a say in the whole matter.

Sounds to me like there's only one way that this thing will turn out right and that is if I say "yes".
Well, what's wrong with that? 
If the purpose is for your good.
If the purpose promotes a betterment to your life --- mentally, physically and spiritually---then why wouldn't you want to embrace this purpose? I think maybe the answer is "You would want to."

Our first, and highest purpose is very simple.
We were created for fellowship with God.

Under such a creation, we were created to worship Him.
Worship with our heart and lips as we proclaim His goodness.
Worship with our thoughts as we meditate on His Word.
Worship with our very lives, as we do everything as worship unto God.
What falls under "Every thing?"

Every thing!

I think our existence here on this planet is truly about living for Him.
Living in a relationship. Two way communication between me and God.
I talk to Him....He talks to me.

I share what is on my heart and He, in turn, shares what is on His.
I want to please Him in everything I do....
He wants to bless me in everything He does...

It is such a monumental way to live, that you want to tell someone else what is going on in your life.
So you do.
You share your story.
Actually you share His story that is being played out in your life.
You become a witness to the simple fact that God's purpose and your life have become one and the same.

In some ways, you are an extension of God's plan being played out in our time and space.
You become a living example of the love that God has for this world and those who inhabit it.

You become a living Bible, if you will.
Pretty heady stuff, isn't it?

I was studying for a teaching that I had to do when I ran across a verse that kind of jumped off the page at me.
The words were spoken by Jesus on the night before He was crucified, but I when I read them, I felt them deep inside.
They were more than words....
It was as if they were to be the punctuation that should define every believer's life.
Something that should be said at the end of every believer's days here on planet Earth.

To me, the words would exalt the call and purpose to a life lived for Him.
John 17:4
"I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do."
That is how I want to be remembered. A man who brought glory to God while he lived here during his lifetime. A person who finished what God had given Him to do. What better way to tie up the loose ends of life that with this statement?

God on you this day!

mb

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lifter Of Head's




My message was finished....
I felt God on it and was quiet confident that this was the word God wanted me to speak.
I made my way to North Glencoe to their Celebrate Recovery, and took my seat.

Before I was to go on, Seth Barber had this video played of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
I'm usually not much of a choir person, but tonight something happened.
Realizing who was singing this song, I was totally taken by surprise as God told me that "my" word was of no use, He was going to give me another.
You may ask "what do you mean that you suddenly realized who was singing this song?" Well, Brooklyn Tabernacle is famous for going into the streets and rescuing people. Drug addicts........alcoholics......prostitutes........ex-cons and felons........those people who some would classify as the refuse of humanity.

As I watched the video and the camera scanned the faces of the choir, a thought crossed my mind. "You can't tell which ones were those that had been rescued from the streets by this church, and which ones weren't." They all looked the same.......Here they were singing about a God who had lifted their heads from the place of destruction...lifted their very lives out of the gutter and brought them into His family. It was praise in its purest form. Praise from heart's that were grateful.
The choir was all dressed alike. The women in gold colored dresses, and the men in tuxedo's.  Here again this speaks of the righteousness of God that covers His children.

What an incredible God that can take the worst of the world and transform it into the best of His kingdom. What an incredible God that has a heart to love beyond our comprehension. A heart that sees beyond the trash of sin and a heart of darkness. A God who is not taken aback by sin and its destruction, but reaches out to embrace and enfold the very ones that the world rejects.
That's my God!


I trust that you will take a moment and watch the video. More than watch it, let it wash over you with the message. Think back on how your own life might be at this point had God not intervened.

God on you...
mb

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Finish


I feel it.....
Didn't ask for it....
Glad I have it.....
 A gift....
The desire to see life all the way to the end.
Phil Strout, national director of Vineyard churches, talked about this at last years Southeastern Vineyard Conference.
He fully recognized that Vineyard has been built by first generation pastor's. As a movement, we are a mere babe......34 years old. But you add at least 34 to the age of those who first answered the call to plant a church, and you've got some mileage. I guess I'm a youngster compared to some...I've only been at this for 17 years. Phil urged us....implored us...encouraged us to "see it all the way through." To finish well.
I'm feeling that this morning.

This call really is universal to all who claim to have relationship with Jesus. We have all been called to see it through to the end. To be about the business of the Kingdom until we draw our last breath. I don't read any where in Scripture that we get to retire from the call of Christ on our lives. I do recognize that we will go through seasons and times where the way we carry out kingdom business will change. At 62 and 3/4, I'm looking ahead as to how I can keep doing what God has called me to.  I may not be able to led worship because the old voice is changing. I may have to sit down when I teach. But as long as I draw breath, I've got a story to share of what this Jesus had done to me, through me and for me.

I'm excited to be entering this new season in my life. Sounds silly, but I've never been this age before. I've never had this smidgen of wisdom that God has granted me through this journey I've been on. It's kind of exciting to see life through these eyes. I think that God has granted to me a desire, a fire if you will, to not sit down or give up. Last night at Vineyard Recovery Church, I taught on the three calls to follow Jesus.
First call is to relationship with Jesus.
Second call is to equipping and receiving the authority and power to do the works of Christ.
Third call is to make sure, and realize, that whatever we do.....where ever we go....whatever we say....is done so with the love of God as our motivator.
There was much ministry and prayer for several who were there.
One young man came up after it was over, his first time to be with us, and he told me, "I've never been a part of any service like this before in my life." God had spoken to him. That is payday. Someone came, not knowing what to expect, and they ran into the real-deal God. It isn't about me, and it isn't about VRC. It's about a place where we can meet God and be changed. That is why I want to finish this journey all the way to the end. Someone else needs to hear that addiction is no life at all. Someone else needs to hear the good news that Jesus can and will set them free. Someone else needs to learn how to pray and do the works of Christ. Someone else needs to understand the dynamic of the Kingdom of God. Someone else needs the indwelling of God's Holy Spirit.

I want to be able to say like Paul ---"I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the LORD, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing."

Thanks for letting me share this morning...
God on you...
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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Some People Get It Backwards: HTIAF


Bad math? 2 + 2 = 5?
New math?

This is actually an example of how we view God and the way He works in the lives of people.
It doesn't compute in our minds.
WE want everything about God to make sense to us.
We want to be able to "figure" it all out so as to understand Him.

Sorry...it doesn't work that way.
You see, God gave us this incredible gift that would aid us in our daily life.
What gift?
FAITH!


In other words, those who are part of His collective spiritual family, operate and conduct themselves with this faith.
We move under the assurance that God is who He says He is, and will do what He has promised He would do.


We don't try to rationalize everything that comes our way or that we experience. We take it by faith.
Now comes the part where some will say, "But what if we are thinking we are acting in faith, but we are really being deceived by the devil?" Some people are so wrapped up the devil and his cronies, and their ability to lie to us, that they loose sight of God's ability to lead them. TO be honest with you, I don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about the devil. Oh, I run into him daily as he tries to draw me into thoughts and attitudes that are contrary to the word of God, but I keep my focus on what God desires for me.

Hebrews 11:1 in the Message Bible reads: 
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It is our HANDLE on what we can't see.

I like that! Faith is our handle. Faith is the very thing I lay hold of, like the handle on a suitcase, that enables me to carry every thing God has given to me. I carry my belief's....I carry my purpose.....I carry my prayers......I carry my call to the do the kingdom work of God.....by faith. Faith makes the load easier to manage because, after all, God IS who He claims He is...and will do what He claims He will do. Faith.

Since you have it...
Why not exercise it today...

Faith...
Don't leave home without it.


God on you...


Here's a little extra.
Bryn Haworth putting to music Philippians 4:13 - 

"You Can Do All Things"...AN exercise in FAITH!

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Lamb


Judean wood shaped by Roman axe.
Rough cut, gnarly and twisted as the hearts of the men who were in charge.
Away from home, living in a land they did not want to be in...
Living with a people they hated...
Living with customs and rituals that were foreign to them.
Any chance to exact some pain and punishment on this people 
soothed the homesickness.

Filled with cruel intention and curses that rained down,
each cross was fashioned to inflict the most pain on whatever back was 
stretched upon it.
The cross was an equal opportunity destroyer.

The cross...
Scripted, designed, and birthed from dark hearts,
who knew that such an instrument was created for more than pain.
It was constructed for humiliation.
More than the breaking of a body, that piece of wood was all about
crushing will and destroying spirit.
A cruel exclamation point on a hillside outside the city for all to see
and fully understand who ruled.

Day after day, the procession came.
Man after man, slowly moving through the gates toward the hill.
If you were standing at the gate, and you saw such a procession,
you knew that at least one of those in the group would not be coming back.
Humanity reduced to the lowest common denominator.
The pinnacle of a God's creation was now inflicting pain and suffering on another.

Cross up....
Cross down...
Body disposed...
:"Who is next?"
On and on and on like a demonic drumbeat.
Hammer to nail...
High pitched screams...
amid the cries of voices that aren't heard by the legionnaires.
Ears numb to the suffering...
eyes that no longer see humanity, but simply trash and garbage.
hearts long cold and hard.

Silly men....
they never saw Him coming.
He was lost in that endless procession of humanity..
that journeyed up the hill but never came down.
Lost in the drudgery and monotony of the daily discipline.
Had they took notice of this Galilean, they might have had second thoughts.
Had they looked....
I mean really looked....
With heart and not eye....
They would have seen a man unlike any other.
Jesus...
The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

They never knew that they were part of a God-ordained event.
A dark ballet of sacrifice that would free the world...
The entire world....
Past, present and future..
from the penalty of sin...
Break the power of sin...
And destroy the presence of sin...
But they couldn't see...
Not until it was finished.
He went like a lamb to the slaughter.

They didn't take his life...
He gave it...
The cross didn't defeat Him...
The cross became the defining marker and moment when He took back
the keys to death, hell and the grave.

Some 2000 + years later,
sitting in a small house in Attalla, Alabama...
The power of the cross still burns with love
and an intensity that no demon can rail against.
Because I have been affected by the events of that day
on a hill outside the walls of Jerusalem,
I am able to say with all confidence...
That's My God!!

God on you...
mb


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Clarity of Thought


Psalm 139:17
How precious also are Your thought to me, o God! How great is the sum of them!

Step # 2 of the Twelve Steps
Came to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, who could restore us to sanity.

The illusion and false reality of being able to discern correctly and make good decisions is running full tilt in a person who is addicted.
The substance is in control and actually alters the chemistry of the brain.
Throw in a dark heart that is being directed by our sin nature, and you've got a dangerous combination.
I can't count the number of people who have shared with me unspeakable things they have done when high or drunk. Things they never would ever have imagined themselves participating in. But the high took away their moral compass and threw it to the floor to be smashed into a million pieces.

Under the influence, the rule of thumb is "Do what seems right in your own eyes."  Just like the last verse in Judges, which carries a tone of impending doom. "In those days Israel had no king, so every man did what was right in their own eyes."

When addiction is up and running, any thought or inclination about God is quickly pushed to the rear. Why? Because we view God through our own lack of moral character. Where do we get the idea that we are terrible, bad people? By measuring ourselves by our behavior. I must be a horrible person, look at all the horrible things I have done. IF there was a formula to show this, it would be the following:
Person = Performance + What others opinion of me
In other words, who I am as an individual....my self worth and my self esteem, is defined by what I've done. Throw into this volatile mess the idea of always being conscious of the perception that others around you are always thinking about you, based on your past behavior, and that is a dangerous combination. Should behavior and thought process in a person with an addictive behavior produces guilt and shame. These two toxic emotions are the fuel that drive the addict to seek out comfort in their drug of choice. 

The entire complex attitude and behavior of addiction really is very simple, if you view it with knowledge of God and His heart to heal.
God never created anyone to be an addict. Such behavior comes from having a broken relationship with Jesus. Living in such spiritual darkness is found in II Corinthians 4:4 ---Whose minds the god (devil) of this age has blinded, those who do not believe.

God's heart is that you be freed from the bondage of the the devil and this addiction that has defined your life. Truth is, those who are under the rule and reign of Satan live on a predetermined path for their life. One that ends in spiritual death as well as physical.  No matter what your background is...no matter what race you may be....no matter what socio-economic background you may come from.....educated or uneducated....the end result and the path taken is the same.  Ephesians 2:1-2 reads: And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (the devil) who now works in the sons of disobedience.

In all of this madness we call addiction, one simple truth exists. You are always on God's heart. His thought toward you outnumber the grains of sand on the seashore. And it isn't until you turn will and life over to His care, that your spirit, body and soul, not to mention your mind, can be restored to sanity. Sanity that lets you make sound decisions. Sanity that produces good judgment. Now that's a promise from God. I think you could take that one to the bank, don't you?

God on you.....
mb

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A little slice of VRC Worship





Tommy Puckett, worship leader at Gadsden Vineyard Church, came over to VRC and lead worship for us last Saturday evening. Here is a short video clip of what went down. Needless to say, God showed up and showed out.

God on you...
MB

Talking To Myself


Psalm 106:4
Remember me, O LORD, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation.

Who is that guy?
Seems like I should know him.
The face is very familiar.
I vaguely remember him. But that was so long ago.

Now I remember!
 Senior photo, class of 1969, Etowah High School. 
Seventeen and 3/4 years of age. When did we stop measuring our age with fractions..? 

I'd like to visit with him for a while. 

I'd like for him to know what is going to take place over the next 45 years. The good and the bad. 
I'd like to see his face when I tell him where he is going to land, what he is going to be doing.
How this God that he thinks he knows is really so much more than he could think or imagine
But then that would take all the fun out of life, wouldn't it? I think I'll keep silent and not spoil any of the fun that is out there waiting for him. Not to mention the heart ache and pain that accompanies every one's journey. The good and the bad, all a part of life.

I look at him, and I think to myself that in 1969 life was all about decisions. There were so many that had to be made. What am I going to do? College? Marriage? A job or a career? Back in '69, we had the added pressure of the draft and the war in Viet Nam. I guess it is good that it is the young that have to scale the mountain of decisions. I think I might be too tired to attempt such a journey now.As I've gotten older, the decisions have become less and less. I guess you could say that I am benefiting from the some of the decisions that he made on this journey to today from 1969.

Sitting here in my home this morning, ruminating on that photo, I am filled with such emotion over the goodness that God has shown to me and my family. No, I'm not the same person that you see in that photo, and rightfully so. Life is about change. It is about learning from the disappointments and failures. It is about celebrating the accomplishments and milestones. It is simply about not giving up. Life is best defined when found in a relationship with our creator. To me, this relationship has been the most satisfying and fulfilling part of my journey. I am grateful for the different church families God has placed me in during my journey. From the good folk at Gallant First Baptist who took me in and nurtured me. Gave me a solid foundation of who Jesus is and the study of His word, all the way to this day and the good folk at Vineyard Recovery Church. The God is serve today is so different that the one I gave my will and life to back in 1960. Is that true? Not really, it is just a way of stating that I have grown and my understanding of who God is has changed. 

That young man in the photo had no idea about becoming a husband, father, and grand father. He knew nothing about putting an additional 46 years of wear and tear to his body and mind. I guess the one thing I would want to tell that young man would be "Take heart my son, you turned out o.k."
Just grateful to be here today.
Thankful that God did not give up on me....


God on you...
mb

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Desperation


Luke 15:16-17
......And no one gave him anything. But when he had come to his senses.....

It's the prodigal son.....
It's the leper who meets Jesus coming down from the mountain....

It's a man name Jairus whose daughter lies at the point of death....
It's an unnamed woman suffering with an issue of blood....
It's a blind beggar named sitting outside of the city of Jericho who refuses to be quiet as Jesus is passing by.

All of these had one thing in common.
They were desperate for their condition to change.
They were without any answers and knew that something had to happen if they were to go on living.

There is a common behavior that runs through an connects each one of these stories together.
Jesus is surrounded by a multitude of people.
In my study, I found that whenever the word "multitude" is used, it stands for multiple thousands. So we know that at least 2,000 people were around Jesus. Two thousand people who each had a story, and maybe even a need that Jesus could take care of.
But.................

It was the ones who were truly desperate that were healed.
It was the ones who refused to be quiet, but rather approached Jesus and recognized Him as the only source of healing possible for their lives.

They were not content to sit back and watch, hoping something would happen.
They were desperate.


Desperation will make you do some strange things.
Make you act in ways you thought you never would ,when it comes to change and being healed.

Desperation will make you pray...."Jesus! Either heal me or kill me, but something has got to change. I can't stand this any longer."
Healing came to the ones who were desperate.
Healing came to the ones who could no longer stand their current state of life.

This same heart-set ( I refuse to use the term "mind-set") is what it takes to break free from the bondage of addiction. If you haven't become desperate in your heart to be free once and for all time, you will not make it. The Big Book of A.A. states in the section How It works---
"Remember that we deal with alcohol (and drug use)--cunning, baffling, and powerful! Without help, it is too much for us. But there is ONE who has all Power--that One is God. May you find Him now. Half measures avail us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked for His care with complete abandon.

Desperation deals in the here and now.
It doesn't look to the future. When you desperate, you're not sure that you even have a future if something doesn't happen today.

It doesn't look to the past. In fact, the past (all your behavior and bad choices) is the fuel that has stoked this desperation into a roaring fire in your spirit. 

Desperation contains hope when set in the right direction.
When the target of your desperation is Jesus, then there is hope.
When the target of your desperation is Jesus, then there is healing.

It is the heart-set that will transfer you and change you into a new way of living, when you give will and life over to the care of Jesus.

Thanks for letting me share this morning.
God on you...
mb

Who Are We?

Joshua 1:2 ....Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them....the childr...