Sunday, August 31, 2014
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name.For the LORD is good. His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations.
Big shout out and thanks to all the core leadership at Vineyard Recovery Church for taking care of everything last night so Vicki and I could celebrate our 42nd anniversary. And celebrate we did.
Chad, Robin and the grand kids, Tyler and Ashley,Josh and Heather,Vicki's Mother, and Steve and Peggy all gathered in our home last night for the Hoo-ha. Laughter and memories were the main course of the evening, and they were served up in bounteous portions. There was enough for everyone to have seconds.
Sitting there listening and taking everything in, I was filled with a real sense of gratitude and thankfulness. I was witnessing a true blessing from God. This has been a hard year, emotionally as well as physically, yet here we were, all together. I saw His grace around that table as I looked into the faces of everyone present. I was flooded with the idea of how quick the years get away. I saw back yard football games from the past when the brother's and in-laws use to pound away at each other, celebrating every tackle and exalting every point scored. Then we'd all gather in the kitchen to re-fuel ourselves before the next game started. I could see Vicki and Peggy and the other sister in laws sitting around talking about the kids, how they were doing in school, and what all was going on at work. Usually when the women gathered, they automatically began to plan our next family get together. We were all younger. We had no clue to what the future held, nor did we give much thought about it. I remember that when I was in my twenties and thirties, I never pondered or thought on the fact that one day I would be in my sixties. I knew that I wanted to live a long life, but I never stopped to actually consider what being 62 and 3/4's would look like. But here in our home last night I got a good image of what being 62 and 3/4's not only looks like, but feels like and sounds like. You know what? It's not too bad. Not bad at all.
I think maybe I've gained some wisdom somewhere along the way. It didn't just shoot up one morning and I suddenly just "knew" things. But every situation and life circumstance has been an opportunity to learn from my heavenly Father. A chance to grow my faith and learn to trust Him even more than I thought I did. You know, you can construct a whole belief system in your mind, but until it is assaulted by life, you'll never find the truth or the weaknesses in your concept of trust.
Like I said, last night was a night of gratitude.
42 years with the most incredible woman I've ever known.
42 years of laughter and love.
Of kids now men with kids of their own.
Of their wives becoming a part of our family, and bringing a new level of love and life.
And over it all, has been the hand of God.
Today, I am grateful.
Thank you, Father!
God on you...
Saturday, August 30, 2014
...For God SO loved the world......
I John 4:8
......For God IS love......
I Corinthians 13:13
.....But the greatest of these IS love.....
...For the Father Himself loves YOU....
You know...if you can ever wrap your mind around this great truth, it will change you forever.
If you can ever let it seep down into your spirit, you will never be the same.
The incredible truth that the God of the Universe....
The God of the Bible....
Loves you, and He loves me.
With all our scabs and warts....
With all our wrong choices and bad decisions....
With all our emotional baggage and dark thoughts...
He still loves us and wants to grow us up and put His Spirit inside of each of us....
That is a bit overwhelming and almost more than a body can take in.
And for every one of those "God loves you" statements, I'm sure that most of us could shoot back with "Yeah, but"....and have a clarifying statement to tie to the end of it.
"Yeah but I've done some terrible things".
God still loves you.
"Yeah but I've cursed God for something terrible that happened in my life".
God still loves you.
Every terrible thing we've ever done....
Every terrible thing we've ever said....
Every terrible thought we've ever had float through our minds....
Can be brought under the cleansing tide of God's forgiveness, if we will simply turn loose of it through confession and let Him have it.
Sounds to easy doesn't it?
Well, remember who it is God is working with (you and me). It has to be easy for us to understand it. We just have a tendency to complicate everything, do we not?
Armed with such an incredible assurance and understanding, I turn this thought into action.
I don't just sing the words that are on the screen during a VRC service. Those very words become a lifeline to my heavenly Father as I pour out the emotion and joy that comes from knowing He loves me.
When I sing the Waterdeep song "You Have Redeemed My Soul"....it becomes an anthem of redemption because I remember what it was like to live in the pit of emptiness. I remember the hopelessness that accompanied such time, and it just rises up within me to let God know how much I love Him. I worship.
I sing the words to Delirious' "I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever"...and I mean it. I could!
I am free once and for all time. Nothing that I could accomplish on my on, or through my own power and strength. I am merely a receiver of God's love, mercy and grace.
As most churches sometimes have a benediction song that is played at the end of every service, we do the same at Vineyard Recovery Church.
If you listened to the video clip at the beginning of this post, you heard ours.
Ed Raetzloff's "Jesus Loves You".
I want folks to leave our meeting with the knowledge and understanding of what this statement means. To let it grab hold of them so that in the coming week they might have some assurance that they are not some sort of cosmic glob moving over the face of this planet, ;whose very life maters to no one.
So with that in mind....
Keep on truckin' down that highway....
Put some miles on your shoes....
And just remember one little thing....
Jesus loves you!
God on you...
Friday, August 29, 2014
I Peter 2:9
....But you are a chosen generation......
Last night at Rapha, I had a break in all the action and was sitting in my office just thinking.
It was one of those times where the body had gone about as far as it could go,but the mind was still firing on a few of the cylinders. My thoughts began to drift to all the men who had come through the program, had been exposed to the truth of who Jesus was and what He was capable of doing....and had left the program and gone right back into the old lifestyle of using.
Some were still alive...
A lot of them were not.
So I began to ask "Why? Why is it this way? Why do some readily accept Jesus while others simply seem to play at recovery? Why do some thrive in this new relationship with Christ and others don't? As I was turning in my Bible looking for any answer to my question, I saw this....The truth takes root best in resistant soil. The following is what I wrote in my journal concerning this dilemma.
All of mankind is born with a resistance to God! As the Spirit of God works with each of us, our resistance is slowly chipped away. A verse we read...something someone tells us....an event in our lives...all are part of the chipping process. Sometimes the walls we erect to keep God out stand strong until at last we surrender to His call and His will. I do not understand how some can be totally resistant to the presence of God's Holy Spirit at work in them. They seem to have willed themselves beyond even God's Spirit. They seemed to be have willed themselves even beyond God's ability to save. I know that this isn't true, but it is a perception that creeps into my thoughts. We all know people who have died in their sins, proud and rebellious right up to the very end. They stand stubborn and unrepentant before their creator. We truly know that those who possess such a nature never have a good ending to their lives. They cross over into eternity to receive the wages they have earned by the life they have lived. The wages of sin is death.
In this case, death is more than then end of life here in this time and space. Death becomes the door we all pass through in which free will no longer exists. We now are left with the accumulation of decisions and choices that we made on this side of eternity. Decisions and choices that caused us to run counter to God's heart.
Why do some turn to receive Christ, and others don't? I don't know. I don't know if there will answer on this side to this question. I don't even like to mark those who I think may or may not have gained their salvation. I will just love...share the story...pray for and with...and watch God work. For years, I wrestled with my own salvation. I confess that I answered God's call to be saved on multiple occasions, each time getting up from that place of receiving feeling more lost than when I went to the front. But I owe a debt of gratitude to the men who worked with me. Men who were patient and prayed with me and for me. Rev. Lewis Wood, Don Gentry and D.E. Hendrix all were very patient with this young soul, not turning away from me or turning me away, but rather receiving me each time, leading me into the presence of Jesus.
How can I do any less to someone who comes to be saved for the 18th time, than to show them the same kind of love? To show them patience and cover them with prayer the same as I received years ago.
At the conclusion of all these deep thoughts and writings I had done, I made my way to the chapel for our 8 p.m. Bible study. God was there. At the end of the teaching eleven men came to answer God's call of being chosen. Pray for these eleven as they start this new journey in their new life.
God is good....all the time...every day.
God on you....
Thursday, August 28, 2014
What fruit did you have in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
Well, that could mean several things. We read about the fruit of the Spirit of God in Galatians 5:22-23. In this regards, it's talking about positive character traits that are born in those who are living and walking with Christ daily. Fruit is evidence of the kind of tree it is. Apple trees produce apples because they are apple trees. Followers of Jesus produce integrity and moral uprightness because they are followers of Jesus. I think maybe we somehow have gotten the idea that such is something we have to work at No! It is the by product of cooperating with God's Holy Spirit, as He works in each of us. Philippians 2:13 reads For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. The Kingdom will of God is played out in the lives of everyone who are following Jesus. God is at work in us. Changing our hearts......changing the way we view life....changing our desires.....transforming our minds. The fruit that people should see is the behavior that has changed. We no longer live according to that old sin/nature, but rather are following the directives of Jesus.
Not to be outdone, the devil (as pitiful as it may seem) seeks to copy what Christ is doing. If Jesus is producing fruit in our lives........then the devil wants to do the same. Only his fruit is not of the kind variety. What would be some of the fruit that was evidence that he was at work in us?
How about lying.
Rejection of anything and everything to do with God.
And the list could go on and on and on.
End result in all of this "rotten" fruit we exhibit is death. I checked the word "death" out in Strong's Concordance and it means exactly what we think it does. The end of life. "But wait a minute Michael---don't we all die at some point?" Yes we do. It isn't so much the act of death itself as it is the finality of it. If a person hasn't accepted the free gift of salvation (Romans 6:23) before they die, then their fate is sealed. They will spend eternity separated from God. We cannot do anything, in and of ourselves, to change this. Only acceptance of God's offer of salvation....the confession / repentance of our sin (Our complete independence from God) and the acknowledgement of Jesus as our Lord and Savior will place us in right standing and relationship with Jesus.
Changing the old ways into new.
Old tree (sin nature) will be uprooted and replaced with a new tree that will produce the fruit of God's Holy Spirit.
Things to ponder this morning....
What kind of fruit do others see when they look at you?
God on you...
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
....."You worship what you do not know..............."
It's been in my heart for over 20 years.
A prophetic word that was spoken back in the 90's that worship and the music accompanying it would be changed.
It would become so filled with the Spirit of God that people would be healed just from hearing and being in the presence of the worship music that was being played. The worship would become so filled with the presence of God that people would be saved from hearing such worship.
Sounds far fetched, doesn't it?
But I have seen such things take place on a very limited basis back when this word was first given. We were leading worship at the Vineyard in Anniston one Sunday morning. No words had been spoken. No preaching or teaching had taken place, but in the middle of the worship, two people got up and came forward to be saved. Wowzer's! Now what if that incident was a taste of what God really wanted to do?
I confess that I have not taken my worship as serious as I should have. By saying serious I'm not talking about walking around with a scowl on my face, measuring the level of sanctification I have achieved by the droop of my frown. When I say serious, I mean recognizing exactly what is happening (or rather what should happen). First off, worship is for God....I am not suppose to worship so I can get something out of it. Sometimes I think we treat worship to God like we trying to manipulate Him into coming into the room and doing some "heavenly" tricks so that we can say it was good to have been in His presence.
Worship begins and ends with the heart of the ones who are worshiping. I know that some within the Vineyard at large will disagree with me, but I'd rather have one person whose heart burns and is consumed for worship, than a hundred who are professionally capable of playing their instrument on a worship team. I'm not saying that a level of talent isn't necessary, it is...but we put too much emphasis on the talent and not much on the heart.
Give me the heart to worship You, Lord!
From 1994 through 1998, the Vineyard experienced a visitation from God. The services were explosive. People were set loose from sin and bondage that had held them in place for years. Prophetic words flowed with ease and the level of God's presence was off the chart. As this was happening, we declared that the prophetic word we'd heard about how God was going to use worship music in new way, was happening then. I don't think such a statement was true. I do believe that God was priming us so that we could get a taste of what was to come.
Isn't it funny how we can hear a prophetic word and if it doesn't come to pass according to our time schedule, we then discount it? The prophetic words concerning worship music was brought up again in me because of a cassette tape I found yesterday. I am in the process of transferring messages from tape to digital, so I was going through a box of old tape's looking for something work on, when I came across the "Sons of Thunder" tape by James Ryles (This was the tape that contained the prophetic message). I thought I would listen to it to fill in all the gaps that my memory had lost. What I didn't expect was for it to jump off the tape and go straight to my heart. As I sat listening, I realized that what James was sharing had not taken place, but in fact was more relevant for today that it was 20 years ago. What if what we thought was this new work God was going to do back in the 90's was actually the pre-cursor...the prep work for what He wants to do today? I think maybe it is. I think we are going to see God work in ways we never have. I believe that it is going to take place through recovery meetings such as Vineyard Recovery Church. I believe that we are going to see the unbridled transforming POWER of Jesus Christ in our midst in ways that we've only dreamed of.
You may call it revival....
You can call it renewal....
You can define it as a new work....
But I believe that it will take place....
To prepare ourselves to become instruments of worship through which this "new song" of God can flow to those still in spiritual darkness.
I am excited.
God on you...
I will be making copies available of this prophetic word from James Ryles. I'll try to have them Saturday night at VRC if anyone wants a copy.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Long day yesterday.
Long weekend too.
Makes for tired body and mind.
But as the saying goes around the Bynum household..."It's nothing a good nights sleep won't cure."
Lot of pain all around.
Mental pain from memories and thoughts of past events.
Choices gone wrong.
Bad choices embraced.
Pain that racks the body to the point, that silently (and sometimes out loud) prayers are offered up to "Take me Jesus...please take me!"
It would be easy to give into the darkness.
IT would be easy to medicate and blast yourself into a numbness of epic proportions.
But such would only mask the pain.
I'm not a proponent of suffering. Some have the idea that if you suffer, you become more like Jesus. Well, His suffering had to do with who He was and what He believed. I do believe we all will either go through such suffering or are going through at this time.
On the other hand, I hear some who treat God and His kingdom like the land of Oz, God being the incredible Wizard who lives behind the curtain. No pain...no sorrow...no trouble...."Come to Jesus and He will make everything right." I'm not saying that those who make such claims are wrong. It's just that their timing is bad. Yes, Jesus will make it all right. But not in this life..in the next one. After we die and cross over into His eternal presence, there we will find no sorrow. There we will find no tears. There we will find no death.
I'm continuing to read from Dr. Larry Crabb's book 66 Love Letters. Been parked in the book of Jude over the weekend. Here is what Dr. Crabb writes as God's response to all the pain and suffering we have to go through here in this life, and the false message of hope that others offer from the pulpit.
"Hidden beneath the happy smiles of blessings-now preachers is a spirit of discontentment smothered by confidence in their fake message (or by money and power and acclaim it brings). A grumbling that though smothered drives their theology. They bury their ache beneath their lives.
I want you to feel your ache (the pain of life) but to focus on MY call, MY love, and MY POWER to keep you on the narrow road to MY Party."
You see the message and truth of God is not a "party-hearty" till we wall drop. But neither is it ashes and torn garments accompanied by frowns and scowls. It is a tension, if you will. Living in the here and now, but fueled by the promises of what is to come. Yes! His promises include getting us through the here and now. Yes! His promises are for today. If this be true, then latch on to them and don't let go. Don't trade them for the temporary fix the world offers us. Don't turn loose of the eternal promises and presence of God.
Don't fall for the lies that are spewed which tell you that if you had more faith you wouldn't be suffering like you are.
Faith will take you through whatever you are facing today.
Faith that God is who He claims to be.
Faith that God will do what He has promised HE will do.
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory withe exceeding joy...
To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty. Dominion and Power, both now and forever. Amen
Those two verses tell me that my God supersedes everything and anything that is on this earth. That His power and ability reach far beyond any pain and suffering I may encounter during my time here. His grace is sufficient for anything that may be waiting out there for me today.
God is bigger than any craving that may come to you today.
God is bigger than that voice that may whisper to you to return to your old ways and old lifestyle.
God is just bigger.
God on you...
Monday, August 25, 2014
In these days of confused situations and events that leave us with out answers, it appears that sanity has become in short supply....
There is truth that I cannot escape nor would wish to.
That no matter how hard I try...No matter how bad I want to....
I stand before God helpless without him.
Our Society and culture seek to exalt the human will and effort...
To celebrate our ability to think and reason...
to build from our dreams, monuments to our humanness....
Polished pillars of glass, concrete and steel..
medals and trophies....
building's with our names and statues of our likeness....Thinking all the while it will last forever....not so.
We burn ourselves out chasing the desires of our heart.
We try religion, only to find out how empty and ritualistic it is. Trying to convince ourselves that we are better spiritually because we have participated in a group activity.We are so in need of relationship with the one who created us. We are so in need of Jesus. We are desperately in need of His transforming POWER that strips away our "self" and replaces it with His Holy Spirit. It's all about change that comes through transformation.
Like I said, I know the frailty of life...
One moment you here...the next your gone..
I know that the eternal offer and gift of life and redemption is at the fingertips of everyone who draws breath...
It comes down to the surrender of heart and will...
The acknowledgment of a Savior and redeemer..
A confession of wrong to be made right...
I like the way the Message Bible puts this offer of new life that Jesus makes to everyone who will accept:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. In other words, learn to walk with Him daily.
Learn what it means to seek out only his will for your life, and the power to carry it out.
Learn what it means to seek out only his will for your life, and the power to carry it out.
To move about in conscious contact with Jesus.
Sounds impossible doesn't it?
Sounds like a fairy tale, doesn't it?
Well, it's not.
It is truth.
It is truth.
What have you got to loose if you do this?
Maybe only your old life, old ways...and a boat load of pain that was self inflicted.
Maybe only your old life, old ways...and a boat load of pain that was self inflicted.
God on you...
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The creator of....
The one who defined the boundaries and limits to what faith is and how it is played out in the lives of those who occupy this planet. Faith is not parceled out in dribbles and drabs to those who beg and cry for it. My Bible states that every person is given a measure of faith. Those who have recognized this simple fact, are now followers of Jesus.
I can't come to God without faith.
I can't ever please God without faith.
Faith is activated and empowered within me through my hearing, according to Romans 10:17.
Hearing the word of God. Hearing the voice of God. Hearing the invitation of God to quit believing that my salvation is found in the things of this world. Realizing that my salvation exploded on a hill outside the city of Jerusalem over 2000 years ago. It unleashed a crimson flow of blood that has lost neither purpose or power. That flow has moved through the ages claiming lives and changing destinies once defined by the penalty of sin.
Hebrews 2 also lays the title on Jesus as the finisher of our faith.
He finishes a lot of things.
All of these, no matter how powerful we think they may be, all crumble and fall at the name of Jesus.
When are hearts are turned to hear the voice of God, the things that once held us captive are suddenly no longer as powerful as they once were.
So Jesus is the one who can break whatever chain or shackle is holding us in spiritual bondage.
Jesus breaks the power of the pill, the pipe, the line or the bottle.
Jesus breaks the stranglehold such have over the life of someone who is addicted.
Jesus is the Power greater than ourselves who can restore us to sanity.
God on you....
(I apologize for the commercial at the first of this video. It was the only version of the song that I felt carried the weight of the message that Jesus has already paid the price for our freedom).
Saturday, August 23, 2014
"I am the door.........If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."
The words of Christ.
He refers to Himself as "the door".
An entry point...
An entry point to salvation.
Funny how we think church is the entry point. That Sunday School is the entry point.
We spend vast amounts of energy and time to get people to church, hoping they find Jesus.
Nothing wrong with Sunday School, or church. But what if the entry point, the door so to speak, was Jesus + love? What if we loved people toward the real door, Jesus? The one thing I really want to get right before I exit this old world, it's learning how to love like Jesus did. Not some syrupy, sugary mess that does nothing but soothe the flesh/old nature. No! I want to give away heaven-love, divine-love, Jesus love.
I just want folks to run into the Jesus that changed my life. Changed my life and called me to join Him in the greatest adventure a body could know. Navigating this thing we call life, here on earth, all the way to the end........and then some. It's an adventure because there are going to be some bumps along the way. Oh pish-posh...let's get real. We probably are going to get ourselves stuck in a ditch and need hauling out. Then there will probably be....
Dishonest people who will not have your best interest at heart.
People who will try to manipulate you.
People who look like they too are following Jesus, like you, but are really wolves in sheep clothing. They live to draw followers away into spiritual darkness.
The mission, or reason we exist, of Vineyard Recovery Church is very simple. We want to help others find "the door".
We want to shed ourselves of any religious trapping or jargon that might cause someone else to put up a wall (emotionally and/or spiritually) to not hear the great news that Jesus really is who He claims to be.
Some have accused me...well, maybe accused is to harsh of a word...
Let's say that some have suggested that my teaching is very shallow.
I prefer to think of it as simple.
The people we are blessed to serve come with all manner of baggage.
Low self worth....
They don't trust many, if anyone at all.
They are very skittish to anything that smells, looks like or sounds like what they have constructed in their minds to be church.
Such is one of the reasons that we hold our service on Saturday night. It won't fit their mold of what they think church is or should be.
We want to love them into a place where they can receive the truth about Jesus, and what He desires for them.
We really believe that the Holy Spirit is fully capable of speaking to everyone who comes through our doors on Saturday night. So it isn't my job to wrangle, beg, cajole anyone into making "A decision for Christ". He, the Holy Spirit, is a lot better at bringing conviction to someones heart than I am. If a person leaves our meeting on Saturday night, and Jesus is the last thing on their mind and heart.......we haven't done a real good job at what we've been called to do. But if they leave with questions about themselves AND about Jesus...well, that will be fertile ground for the Holy Spirit to work in. That is our desire.
One last thing...
We are not looking to build anything.
We're going to let God do that. What He decides to build may not be all under our roof.
It may go to some other town.
It may settle in some other existing church and be the catalyst that causing someone else to find the "Jesus door".
You see what some refer to as Vineyard Recovery Church is a lot larger than the number of folks who gather on Saturday night.
It covers many towns and communities.
It is carried out by those who have come to be with us for at least 7 weeks, sometimes more.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that you can't measure what God has done, and continues to do with our meeting, using the old standards and measurements some churches still use. I want VRC to be measured by the quality of people who have come rather than the quantity of people.
We meet every Saturday night at 7 p.m.
You are welcome to come and see what we're all about.
I've had several people ask if you have to be an addict or alcoholic to come to our meeting. No. Everyone is welcomed.
We're all about talking about the real POWER behind the Twelve Steps. That would be the Triune God.....Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
So as a people, we of VRC want to "Follow In His STEPS!"
God on you...
Friday, August 22, 2014
Barry and Deb Hooks....
Two people who make up the core leadership of Vineyard Recovery Church.
We all need people in our lives that will be examples and encourage us to keep on and not give up.
These two are that to me.
Deb has an incredible gift of thinking that she really isn't doing anything for the Kingdom of God.
On more than one occasion I have heard her say, "I just don't know what I'm suppose to do!" All the while she's making this statement, she is loving folks and praying for folks during ministry time. She has taken on the role of being our videographer of VRC. If you see a video here or on our Facebook page, Deb took it. Deb has the incredible gift of "Hospitality". She is always the first to meet the first timers to VRC. I wished I had more people who "didn't know what they were suppose to be doing for the Kingdom!"
Barry is one of our elders at Vineyard Recovery Church.
Barry and I worked together at Rapha for seven years, and he was on our very first worship team when we were the Church@Rapah.
I have watched as Barry has allowed God to stretch him and grow him through some pretty tough times and situations.
I've also watched as God has given great grace, mercy and peace to this man.
If I ever have any questions concerning A.A. or the Big Book, Barry is the one I turn to.
This Saturday night, at VRC, Barry will be speaking.
No frills, to the point, and dead on is what Barry will bring to us. I always enjoy hearing Barry share about what God has been showing him during this season.
Meeting starts at 7 p.m.
Come on out and join us.
Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me.
Jesus, on the night before His death, makes this statement to His disciples.
Seems to have been a difference of opinion between Jesus and Peter.
Peter has made a very bold statement as to the extent he would follow Jesus.
Jesus came back with the real truth about what was going to happen, and Peter didn't like it.
We never do like it when we face the truth about ourselves, do we?
But such uncomfortable places are where we grow in character and in the Spirit.
When we are brought face to face with not only the "real" us....but also the dark potential that lies within our hearts. The potential of what we are capable of doing should we ever reject Jesus and allow that old sin nature to rise up and take control.
We don't really like to consider the possibility that lies within each of us.
He knew the hearts of His disciples, just as He knows our hearts.
You know what is the funny part in all of this?
He wasn't put off by it.
He didn't go into some sort of religious hissy-fit.
He told them, "Don't let your hearts be troubled. I know you believe in God...now here is a golden opportunity for you to believe in me."
Jesus knew that the very ones that had followed Him over the past three years, would turn and run when the officials came to arrest Him. He knew that they would desert Him. But He also knew that such behavior was needed if they were to grow and develop the fortitude to carry His gospel to places where their very lives would be threatened.
A little pain now...
A little embarrassment now...
A little suffering now....
When covered with repentance and forgiveness, would produce Godly men who would move far beyond the fleshly boasting of " I"ll never deny You!"
I have got to learn that no matter what season I am in....
No matter how hard or dark the time may be....
Jesus sees it all.
He sees beginning to end.
He knows the outcome. I can't explain how He does it, I just know He does.
That being the case, I have got to learn to trust Him.
Trust in His promises and in His directions for my life.
Trust in the fact that as I move through whatever situation I'm facing, I will grow and mature, change and develop character that is pleasing to Him.
Such is the heart of God.
I want that!
God on you...
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and tell John the things which you hear and see. The blind see and the lame walk. The lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear. The dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them."
The mandate of the Kingdom of God.
Not to preachers....although they are counted among the those called.....
Not to deacon's and elder's.....they too are counted.
Not to Television or Radio Evangelists......yep, them also.
But to everyone....
And what falls under "Everyone"?
Everyone who is a follower of Jesus.
The call to carry on the mission of Christ.
To be a part....
To be a vessel through which the presence of God...
And the POWER of God may flow to those who stand and live outside the salvation God has made available to all who believe.
We are called to engage the kingdom of Satan and the darkness he spreads by being salt and light.
In other words...we take the weapons of warfare that God has raised up, and confront through our love and prayer the works of the devil we see in the lives of those around us.
As John Wimber used to say...."We get to do the stuff!" Such a mindset and a reality should not be limited just to Sunday mornings and night. It should flood the marketplace and the work place. Not in a religious get-on-my-soapbox type of delivery, but in a quiet, loving almost undercover kind of work. You pray for people because that is just what you do. You don't do because you have to, or because you think Jesus expects it of you. You do it because you want to. You love to see God come and heal and change people as He ushers them into a new way of living.
Wimber was the first person I'd ever heard tell me that I could actually pray and see people healed. That I could participate in the breaking off of demonic spirits from people who had suffered under their control. He was the first person who seem to say, "Hey, God trusts you with the keys to His Kingdom. In Wimber's eyes, and understanding, everyone got to play. He felt that the church had relegated power to just a few who were in leadership. Such a mindset usually resulted in a congregation who felt that their call was to simply support the leadership in what they were doing. But the model left a lot to be desired. Number #1--- what happens when you encounter a situation where ministry is required but there aren't any minister's around? Do you tell that individual that they need to wait until an appointment can be arranged and the church leadership is available to come, like a fire brigade, to put out the spiritual "fire?" Or do you realize that the Spirit that lives in you is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead? That you, as a follower of Christ, have been given authority and power over the kingdom of darkness.
Wimber taught us how to pray....more over...He taught us how to listen when we pray. Listen and follow what God is telling you.
This was hard for me at first. I felt awkward and like a fish out of water. I was so use to filling the air with words as I prayed. Filling the air with words, hoping that something I was saying got God's attention, and that He would move on my prayer. I was doing that and, at the same time, trying to beg Him to do something on the behalf of the one we were praying for. "Oh God! This woman has worked thirty years in the nursery of your church. She has taken care of countless little ones on your behalf. If anyone ever qualified for healing, it is this woman!" Funny though...I never read anywhere in Scripture where Jesus had to qualify anyone to His heavenly Father before they could be healed. IN fact, I don't read where it mattered if they were saved or not. Jesus prayed over them all. Jesus' desire was to simply do what the Father had called Him to do. Maybe we ought to consider this.
John taught us that the great commission was a call to do what Jesus started. To save those who stand outside the grace and mercy of God. Standing and living in spiritual darkness and under the control of Satan. IT is war. But it is a war of truth. The truth of God versus the lies and half truth's of the devil. But as we move through our day, we need to be aware that the truth God has given to us is backed and demonstrated through the display of His power in our prayers.
We no longer get to stand on the sidelines and watch others.
God has called us to enter into this realm of authority and power by actually "Doing the stuff"
How cool is that?
God on you..
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from you.......
God is in the exposing business......
This doesn't sound to good, especially if you are the expose-ee.
Having your deeds and your heart exposed is not something we all enjoy, but we should see such an act as God sees it.
He works this way in our lives because He has such a great love for us.
A love that sees the danger we can't see, or does not want to see, that will lead to an even greater level of destruction. Because of this great love, He will come and expose us so that we can see ourselves and turn to Him for forgiveness and restoration.
No matter what you've heard...
No matter what you may thing...
God's heart is for you to move beyond any addiction that may be dragging you down.
God loves you.
God loves you.
God loves you.
In other words, God wants us to dwell in a land (lifestyle) of rigorous honesty.
This is the seed bed from which recovery can take place. When we develop the heart-set and mind-set that living in honesty is the way to actually have a life. To be free from the things that we hide in our heart, our secrets, and not have to worry about being caught.
I know these terms don't sound very loving or something you'd want to embrace, especially if you're new to recovery. But believe me when I say that such is the way to a completely new way of living.
Genesis 1:4 reads .....and God divided the light from the darkness.
Even those this was a natural event in creation, it points to, and is a symbol of the work that takes place in our hearts as we cooperate with God's Holy Spirit work. God is always about the business of dividing and removing any darkness from our hearts. He uncovers our dark motives and intents and then gives us an opportunity to surrender them and receive healing. When I hang on to those motives and intentions, I give the devil a foothold into my life. The motives and intentions move toward becoming secrets I try to keep from those around me. Such secrets turn into lies and half truths. They multiple and fester inside and begin to be the fuel that drives me deeper into darkness. So when God shines the light of His Holy Spirit into our hearts, we should actually rejoice and give thanks. This past year (even to this day) has been a time of uncovering in my own life. Attitudes and thoughts that I had allow to accumulate have been uncovered and revealed for what they truly are....which is, they weren't from God. Funny how I was trying to justify my thoughts and attitudes by dressing them up in a religious covering. I think maybe I need the Twelve Steps For Recovering Pharisee's. I am grateful this morning that God loved me enough to show me my heart.
God on you....
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
I Chronicles 15:16
Then David spoke to the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be singers accompanied by instruments of music. Stringed instruments, harps, and cymbals, by raising the voice with resounding joy.
Took a trip yesterday and didn't leave my office.
Went back in time.
Listened to some cassette tapes (remember those) of some worship meetings I was a part of.
The first one,July 15, 1991, was the very first time I played on a worship team at the Vineyard. Brook Finlayson had asked me if I could come and play bass with their worship team. I didn't fully understand what worship really was. I just knew that these Vineyard folks sang wayyyyyy too much. I was use to 3 songs and an offertory before the preacher gave his message. But I found myself strangely drawn to what I was seeing and hearing.Worship!
The 2000 tape was from our first recovery meeting, House of Blue.
It was a "blow out the jam-bring the roof down" kind of meeting. As I sat there listening to the tape, I was surprised by how much life was in the sound. During that period, we used big bands. We would have as many as 10 people playing. Two guitars, drums, percussion, flute, two keyboards, bass guitar. What we lacked in talent, we made up for in heart. As I listened to the tape, I found myself a little melancholy. I found myself missing those days. Whoa ----where did that come from? This missing and longing for the House of Blue days? I suddenly realized that it was from my flesh and not my spirit. It was a selfish desire that rose up within me. Was that a bad thing? It could have been if I let it roll around in my brain long enough. I am perfectly capable of taking a though from my old nature, putting a spin on it, and calling it something that God wants to do. House of Blue was for a time and for a season. It accomplished everything God intended it to do. We shut it down at the appropriate time and moved to the next call God had given us.
It's been 14 years since the H.O.B. tape. Lot's has happened during that time.
The obvious is that I'm older. I was 48 when the H.O.B. tape was recorded. I'm pushing the hairs off of 63 now. Done a lot...seen a lot....been a part of lot...I'm not the same person. When I left the Vineyard back in 2006 to start a church at Rapha, worship was still a vital part of my life. We moved from big bands with big sound, to a four piece group. Keyboards....two guitars......percussion. I found out quickly that it wasn't the size of the group of that determines the worship, but the heart of the ones in the group. Our first attempts at worship were not very good. We were learning how to play together as a group. As I look back, I see that God took us out of our comfort zone and stretched us a little.
We had to be creative in the way we arranged songs. We wanted to be able to craft a sound that would be full and yet not overpowering. Truth be known, we never set out to create a sound, it just happened. We were very fortunate to have really good harmony, something we try to take advantage of. The harmony of voices is just as vital as the instruments that are played. Some of my most favorite times is when the Spirit of God comes and the instruments stop but the voices continue to sing. When the words move off of the page and are sung from the heart. The atmosphere in the room totally changes as God's Spirit manifests Himself in the song. I know that I know, in times like this, that we have touched God's heart with our worship.
Worship is totally about God. It's not about what I can get out of it, as if I'm trying to trick God into something. Oh, there are times when I am a recipient of God's grace and voice during worship, but not because I'm trying to manipulate the service, or coerce God into doing something. It just happens from time to time that He shows up to inhabit the praise of His people. Such is the heart of worship. We aren't singing about God. We are singing to God.
From time to time, Deb Hooks will post a video of our Saturday Night worship on Facebook. Oh, it's fun to take a look and listen to what we were singing,but it's more fun to look at myself. You see, to stand up and lead worship every Saturday night is a desire of my heart. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I'd still be playing at 62 and 3/4's. I remember writing in my journal back when I was 29 that "my music days were over." I'm thankful that God had different plans for me. He gave me something more wonderful than music...He gave me a heart for a sound that pleases Him. He gave me a heart for worship. He has allowed me to be a part of some pretty neat people to make music and worship with. So here's to Debbie, Barry and Wayne, my cohort's in this journey of worship. In the immortal words of one Larry Brick...."Let's make some noise!"
God on you...
Monday, August 18, 2014
ZZ Top's "Sharp Dressed Man" Becomes "Spirit-filled man"
Sam and Dave's "Hold on I'm Coming" becomes "Hold on He's Coming"
Sam Cook's "Bring Me All Your Loving" becomes "Bring Me All Your Pain"
Ben E. King's "Stand By Me" Becomes as heart cry for Jesus to come and stand by us...
It was a good night at VRC.
Such a complex and complicated problem as addiction should not have a solution, but it does.
Liquor or beer....
You can insert whatever you want to as the drug or drink of choice....
The solution never changes.
More than just quitting....
More than just stopping your using...
This solution is a change that will affect every atom of your being.
This solution is one that goes beyond the boundaries and laws of this world, and stretches beyond into infinity.
Such a solution is scoffed at by many....
Doubted by multitudes....
and embraced by few.
But the few who do, are changed forever.
What is the solution?
Not "what" but rather "who!"
I told you that you would think me crazy.
Could it be that your view of this Jesus has been tainted by church or denomination?
Could it be that you haven't really considered the real Jesus?
Not the one created by man...
Those Twelve Steps I write about in this blog are mere exercises in futility without Jesus as your Higher Power. Without Him, those steps are carried out in your own strength and ability. Here again we come to the age old conundrum. "I can't be the problem and the solution." That is why the search for a Power greater than ourselves is the key to our recovery. Philippians 2:9 - Therefore, God also has highly exalted Him (Jesus) and given Him the name which is above every name.
Philippians 2:13 - For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Reckon what kind of work God is wanting to do inside me that would require His will, but at the same time would create great pleasure for Him? I think maybe it would be the incredible "Genesis Creation" act of recovery. A taking back by this Higher Power of everything that sin has warped and destroyed inside of us.
Be sure to listen to the video posted at the top of this entry.....
IT is the Power of Jesus alone that can break every chain of addiction and sin in our lives.
God on you...
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Really good night at VRC.
Worship was made up of some of our "Take Back" songs.
"Blood Bought Man" which was formerly ZZ Top's Sharp Dressed Man.
"Hold On" the old 60's soul hit by Sam and Dave. Just had to change a couple of words in this one.
"Bring It On Home" originally done by Sam Cooke. Bring all your pain to Jesus and leave it there.
"Stand By Me" great recording done by Ben E. King.
We always enjoy not only singing those songs, but watching the folks who are first timers to VRC. They have kind of a "can they really do these songs in church?" look on their faces. That's all part of the plan. To help people feel comfortable to the point that they will let down the walls that they hide behind, long enough for us to drop a little Jesus into their lives.
Ann Wynne spoke on "The Things That God Wants To Take Away".
She used Job 1:21 as the foundation for her message.
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."
Here in our neck of the woods, such verse is usually reserved and heard at one occasion. A funeral. The lord gives life and, at some point, that life will end. But last night, Ann took the verse to a new level. Referring to the things that the Lord will remove....take away....if we will turn loose.
Such things as.....
and the list went on and on.....
Things that someone in addiction suffer with on a daily basis.
A list of behaviors, attitudes and feelings that all work against our self worth as a human being...a creation of God.
Of course, such a word as this brought ministry with it.
A family came up for prayer.
Not just for the son who is struggling with addiction, but for all of them.
Prayers of healing...
Prayers of restoration...
Prayers to break the bondage of fear..
Lot's of healing in the room.
We close with the usual benediction song....
Ed Ratezloff's "Jesus Loves You"....
Clapping....smiles all around....hugs and hand shakes.....lot of "good to see you....love you....see you next Saturday" fill the room.
Door opening and closing multiple times as people make their way out into the night.
Once again the room is empty, just like we found it .
God has met with His people.
And as I'm driving home down broad street, a smile breaks across my face, and I couldn't help but sing to myself..."Keep on trucking down that highway.....put some miles on your shoes....and just remember....one little thing.........Jesus loves you."
He sure does...
God on you...
Saturday, August 16, 2014
When it comes to addiction, everyone has an opinion.
"Why can't they just stop using? Don't they see the damage they've done?"
Such statements only push the addict deeper and deeper into their using.
When they hear such statements spoken against them, they don't hear the words...they feel the guilt and shame that rises up within themselves.
When it comes to the Twelve Steps, everyone has an opinion.
"They didn't work for me!"
Some get wrapped around the axle concerning the phrase "Higher Power".
Lot's of people are for the Twelve Steps.
Lot's of people aren't.
I happen to be one who does favor them, maybe for a different reason.
I see the Twelve Steps as a blue print for new life. A defining of boundaries in which, if you work them, you will find freedom and a new way of facing life. But....
and here is the kicker.
Only if you allow Jesus to be your Higher Power....
Or to put it in a religious context.....
Your Lord and Savior.
In some ways, the church has done a disservice to the addict and the alcoholic. I don't think it was intentional, but it is there none the less.
The church has silently propagated the message that you can come to Jesus, pray a prayer and everything is done. Nothing further than to show up on Sunday's and put a little change in the plate.
You don't hear much about the discipline of following Jesus.
And discipline is just what a recovering addict needs in their life.
Such is the reason for the Twelve Steps.
Steve Yarbrough, founder of Rapha, used to hit home hard the saying that, "Jesus will save your soul.....but He won't keep you sober. In other words, there is a discipline that needs to be embraced by the addict in order to live out this new life. This is where the Twelve Steps come int.
The discipline found in the Twelve Steps is very simple.
Step #1-3 --Trust God.
Here we face the truth about ourselves.
We are powerless over our using.
Our lives have become unmanageable.
Step # 4 - 11 - Clean House
Here we begin by looking at our past and formulating a moral inventory, both the good and the bad. We want to deal with out past by letting God bring healing to us after we have confessed our sins.
We do this to God.....ourselves....and another human being.
Once that is done, we are ready for God to remover character defects and patterns of sin from our lives.
We not make a list of persons we have harmed and are entirely ready to make an amends for the damage we've done. Once the list is complete, we take each offense, one at a time, and go to that individual (when possible) and make the amends.
We learn to promptly admit when we are wrong, taking a daily inventory of our actions and motives. Keeping secrets, no matter how large or small, is fertile ground for addiction to creep back in.
We pray daily that our conscious contact with God improve. Praying only for His will in our lives and the strength to carry it out.
Step # 12 - Give it away
Here we find the addict moving under the power of God's Holy Spirit, after having a spiritual experience ( or awakening). Now the mission is to take this message to other who are still trapped in addiction. And the very last part of step # 12 --- to practice this principals in all our daily affairs.
I want to close by writing part of a verse from Matthew 7.
It will be very familiar to some of you.
I do not want anyone to take offense by the way I'm going to use it.
I know the implication of what Jesus is saying in this verse, but when I read it, I can't help but think of the Twelve Steps.
"These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life. Homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit---but nothing moved the house. It was fixed to the rock."
God on you...
Friday, August 15, 2014
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.
Who forgives all your iniquities.
Who heals all your diseases.
Who redeems your life from destruction.
Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies.
Who satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Sorry...running late this morning.
Slept in. Something I don't usually do, but I took advantage of it today.
I really like Psalm 103....
If it had been written today, Old King David would have probably been put away in a padded room.
Because he was talking to himself. He was talking to his soul. I don't think that the "soul" is recognized by the American Medical Association as a viable part of the human anatomy.
David recognized the need for his entire being to be in harmony with God.
Sounds weird, but I think he may have hit on something.
Isn't our greatest problem those battles that rage within us? The conflict between Spirit and flesh is as old as time itself, but is something that is cast off by most everyone.
Yet David found the incredible benefit of telling his soul to "Bless the Lord!"
Reminding his soul to think back and go down the list of all the benefits that come from having relationship with God.
Then there is the list.
Iniquities.....that would be our deeds....our behaviors. You may not have ever thought about it, but your outward behavior is a direct result of your inward beliefs. You see, each of us have constructed a "belief system". A world view that we look to, to tell us how we should deal with problems and situations that we face. We construct such a world view through family and friends....we are influenced by media and others that we see. Throw in the mix the old sin/nature we carry around and without the influence of God in our life, we will not have a complete or very good world view.
He heals all our diseases.....
What falls under all?
Yes, even addiction.
So why isn't everyone healed? Because we, humanity, is living in a time between the times.
We live in a time between Jesus' first appearance here in our time and space, and his coming return at some time in the future. Paul called it, in Galatians, this "present evil age". The Kingdom rule of God is here. We see glimpses of it every time someone is prayed for. Yet, we do not see the complete full kingdom rule of God. We are moving toward that completion every day. Sometimes healing comes in a form that we don't want to view as healing. Sometimes the we receive the ultimate healing...the transition from this life to the next. Crossing over, we will see the complete Kingdom of God at work. Life is hard whether you are a follower of Christ or not. But it sure is easier to face whatever comes my way if I am a follower of Jesus.
Maybe we all need to take a page from Psalm 103 and begin talking to our "insides".
Who knows...what's the worst that could happen?
We might actually be filled with a greater peace.
I think I'll try it!
God on you...
Parking lot was crowded yesterday. It was near noon and people were taking care of their business, hurrying in and out of the building. I...