Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Finding The Value In The Outcast


"In that day," says the Lord,
"I will assemble the lame.
I Will gather the outcast, and those whom
I have afflicted.
I will make the lame a remnant,
And the outcast as strong nation."
so the Lord will reign over them in
Mount Zion from now on, even forever.

Recovery.....real recovery....is not possible with the empowering presence of Christ in a person's life. Oh, it is possible to stop using. It is possible to quit drinking. I know plenty who have simply "white knuckled" it and have willed themselves to not drink or use. But such are usually hard and their lives reflect the hardness. Quick to inject their view of their accomplishment of sobriety, they look down on others who cannot achieve what they have done. The "white-knuckler's" are usually very vocal against any mention of Jesus or God during a meeting. Such would take away from their feat of sobriety. Am I picking on these individuals? No. I celebrate their sobriety. But I mourn for the life they will never have. I mourn for the anger and bitterness they carry around. I mourn for the relationship they don't have, with the one who created them.

It is my true belief that since 1998, God has been at the forefront of raising up a community of men and women who have been delivered from the dark life of addiction. Those who have been part of receiving this new life have formed a strong nation, and it is my privilege and honor to be able to count them as friends. More than friends, they are my brothers and sisters in Christ. God is delivering a people, just as He did with the Hebrews when they were in slavery in Egypt. He is calling them out of the chains and slavery of addiction. Never was the Egyptian as hard a task master as addiction is. It demands a surrender of everything you hold dear. It takes your family, all your relationships,your property, your money, your freedom, your health.....and eventually your life. Death doesn't free the user, death only cements their destiny based on their choices, or lack of choice, made during their life. In other words, if the individual does not turn will and life over to the care of God (Salvation), then death becomes the exclamation point to a life that was stolen by the devil. Death proclaims, "One more for the kingdom of darkness."

That is why I'm so passionate about reaching out to people who are in addiction. To show them the Father and His love. To introduce them to Jesus, the One who can free them...and to teach them about the Holy Spirit...the comforter...the guide and teacher who will guide them daily. So that they can have more than recovery.........that they can have more than sobriety.....that they can have, and experience real life. Not merely exist in a drug induced haze of lies and half truths.

But coming to such truth can be a bit overwhelming to the one experiencing it. That is why Vineyard Recovery Church exists. We are a birthing room, if you will, where a person can learn about this new life. A place where their questions can be answered, if possible, and they become more aware of how to live in a new way. As they grow and mature, then we want to direct them to a fellowship that can meet their needs, that will become a home for them. Of course, we are not opposed to them wishing to make VRC their church home, but we leave that part up to God.

If you have a free Saturday night, come out and join us....
Our meeting is open and you do not have to be in addiction to attend.
We are about recovery....
Last time I checked, we are all recovering from the fall in the garden.

God on you...
mb 


Monday, September 29, 2014

Bynum Always Follows Bentley--Alphabetically and Spiritually


Psalm 133:1
Behold, how good and how pleasant is it for brethren to dwell together in unity....

To me, this picture speaks volumes.
It speaks of a truth and a commitment that has existed since 1968.
Bynum always follows Bentley.
Alphabetically....
And spiritually.

Jim in front...
Me in back....
As it should be.

Jim in front...
Me behind, just like the first time we met in homeroom our senior year in high school.

Now don't get me wrong in what I'm saying.
I say these things from a heart of love for this guy.

It was because of him that I'm even a pastor. He saw the gifting on me and asked me if I had ever considered being ordained.
God lead me into a completely different part of the kingdom than where Jim was. Together we are able to minister to a broader range of people.

No matter where we may find ourselves, Bynum will always follow Bentley.

Both of us have always had these insecurities about ourselves, and even though countless people have spoken some really nice words about us....we don't always see ourselves as others do. While some may consider being insecure a bad thing...I believe it has kept us in a place where God can use us. It has kept us transparent and honest about our own lives. We haven't found the need to promote what we do or place ourselves up on a level of some kind of spiritual giants. We are two guys who are crazy enough to believe what John Wimber taught..."Everyone gets to play!" Everyone gets to participate in the kingdom business of our Father. Because of that belief, we want others to find out for themselves how this can impact and change their life.

I was privy to something Saturday night at our reunion that speaks to the heart of Jim.
He came to me asking about one of our classmates who is struggling with physical disabilities. Jim was simply doing what Jim does........listening for God and then following Him. Before I knew it, there in the middle of all the hub-bub of the reunion, Jim had put together a ministry team and prayer was going on for our classmate. As I stood there with the others, praying and watching, I couldn't help but think to myself, "No one else would have ever thought to do this...but Jim did." why? Because he is always about the Father's business. God showed up and there was a level of relief for the one we were praying for. I'm pretty sure that the majority of the folks in that room had no idea, or were even aware that this took place. But isn't that the way it is suppose to happen? 

As we've gotten older, and hopefully a little wiser, we've also become comfortable in our own skin. I do believe that we both are on the same page when it comes to being about the business of our Father. Make Disciples. Train up those who will fall passionately in love with God, and be willing to go, do and say whatever they hear God speak to them.

Like I said at the first of this post....
Bynum always follows Bentley.....
And I wouldn't want it any other way.

God on you...
mb


Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Class Of 1969



Job 42:17
So Job died an old man and full of years.....

That verse has become a kind of special verse to me over the past few years.
The idea that Job survived life.....
The idea that Job was still standing after all he went through, to me, is a testimony to the power, grace, mercy and goodness of God.

Tonight, Vicki and I will go to my 45th class reunion.
The graduating class of 1969 - Etowah High School.
Where did the time go?
Like every other graduating class, we left school bright eyed, full of hope and dreams. We were ready to go make our mark on the world, so to speak.
We were ready to change the world.
To make our mark.

Sometimes wisdom comes at certain points along the road of life. The dreams we left with were soon filled with a reality. A reality that shaped and moulded us over time.
We found out that making our mark in society and in this world is found in the simple fact that we have survived.
We had jobs....some had careers.
We went to work every day and we paid our bills.

We married. Some divorced. Some lost their spouse through death.
But we have survived.

We celebrated the good times with zeal...
And we endured the hard times with resolve.
I guess you could say we made our mark the old fashioned way....we worked for it.

We had children and raised them as best we could.
Now we have grandchildren and we have turned into those people we swore we never would....pictures and stories about how incredibly talented, smart and cute our grand children are to anyone who would listen. (just for the record, mine are the cutest and smartest of any I have ever met).
We took family vacations.
We celebrated Christmas by spending more money than we probably should have.

Shot off fireworks and grilled out on the 4th of July.
Gave thanks at Thanksgiving.
We found our place in society and we dug out our niche so that we might live comfortably.

I think the one thing that encourages me the most, is that over time, and with facebook's help, I see many of my classmates who still have burning desire for God. The class of 69 represents many denominations, as many local churches are the home base for my classmates. 

Twenty eight who left Etowah in the class of 1969 have died. To me, that is twenty eight to many. But such is life, and I know that as the days, weeks, and months keep rolling by, the number will increase until the class of 1969 is but a memory. What we have done with our life.......choices made will ultimately define where we spend eternity. It's never to late to turn to God.

But here we are...
Still standing...
Still kicking, although I won't say how high.

So tonight I will celebrate life with my classmates.
I will speak of a time when younger men and women roamed the halls of dear old EHS.
Best band -- Devil Band....

Of Ghost walks on the week we played those dreaded Gadsden Tigers.
Bonfires to stir the spirit and show our zeal for our school.
Homecoming parades and the senior talent show.
We will speak kindly and thoughtfully of teachers that helped to shape us.
Miss Steffie...
Miss Trammel...
Mr. Stonicher...
Coach Glover and Hubbard, Moore and Payne.
Coach Balentine...

Miss Hicks...
Miss Sibert...

Miss Saffles....
Mr. Raines and Mr. York.
And all the others who passed through our lives....

Here's to the class of 1969....
Still standing....


God on you...
mb

Friday, September 26, 2014

Jesus----The Real Deal



Jesus?
Really?
Am I suppose to believe that whoever painted this picture really wants us to believe that Jesus looked like this.

O.k. before you go off on me for being "art-fully challenged"...don't
This Jesus looks more like he'd fit into a "boy band" than the Messiah.
I guess since the beginning of time, people have tried to make Jesus relevant to society, so people would embrace Him and the gospel. The only problem with that, is that you can't. Jesus loves people.........not society. Jesus loves people......not a culture. I think within us all is a desire to frame Jesus in a way that we can understand Him. But sometimes the framing goes off the scale a bit.

Truth be known.......

One comes to an understanding of Jesus through the heart, not the eyes.
We come to know Him through relationship.......a living, breathing, changing, organic relationship that changes as we change. What does that mean? The Jesus I know today, at the age of 62...is way different than the Jesus I knew when I was 18. Jesus changes? No, I do. My life experiences all combine (hopefully) to give me a perspective of Jesus that stretches over my time here on planet earth. More than intellect....more than religion is my understanding of Him and how He operates. Yet, in all of this, He stands above my ability to understand. He stands in a place where only faith can reach Him. So as I have traveled this path, I have found that exercising ones faith increases ones ability to see this Jesus.


Terminal brain tumor is healed after praying for someone.
How do you explain that? I can't, but I saw it happen. I got the story about how the doctors all went banana's because on one x-ray there was the tumor, but the next week when new x-ray's were taken....no tumor.

Tear ducts that wouldn't produce tears, suddenly began to flow after prayer.
I can't explain it other than........wait for it..........Jesus.


How do you explain that for the last 17 years, at the end of the year when we run the spread sheet for our household budget....
What we have paid out is always more than what we took in.....
To us it is very simple.....if Jesus can multiply fish and bread......he can do the same with money. After all, He Himself said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you." If you check out the context of the chapter...."All these things" refers to our basic needs. 

I don't have the time or space to write about all the things I have seen Jesus do to those in addiction.
Lives that seemed beyond hope, restored and set right.

People that had been cast aside and no one wanted anything to do with them are now leading recovery groups. 
Brains that suffered from short term memory loss, prayed for and suddenly the memories came flooding back, almost to the point of sensory overload.
I have witnessed first hand the power of God in my own life and in the life of others.

It is because of this Jesus that we have Vineyard Recovery Church.
We make no excuses...those of us who gather on Saturday's are a different breed of believer. We fully realize that we were dead...trapped, with no hope.
And because of God's love, He reached down and drew us out, cleaned us up..and called us son's and daughter's of the most high. Our desire is to look like, talk like, and act like our elder brother, Jesus.
Could a body desire anymore than that?
I think not.


God on you...
mb

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Divine Glue That Holds It All Together



Hebrews 11:1-2 (The Message Bible)
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It is our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

This version of Hebrews 11 passage refers to faith as "a handle." Something that we can physically lay hold of like the handle on a suitcase. What is it we can physically touch where faith if required? How about our finances...."Whoa..wait a minute Mike! You're getting into the whole prosperity thing, aren't you?" No, actually I'm not. I'm getting into a God and a relationship with Him that extends to every facet of my life. It floods every corner of my existence and I cannot run from, hide from, nor do i wish to, Him.

Faith brings us to God,even though we may not recognize it as such. When life has you by the throat and you feel like you're about to draw your last breath, and you cry out to God. What prompted you to do so? Why now? You never have cried out before, why now? Because every person (according to scripture) has been given a measure of faith. You acted in faith, even though you may not have recognized it. 

Faith in God....
That He is who He claims to be....
And will do what He promises He will do...

Is the fuel that propels us out of our addiction.
But here's the weird part.
It takes us far beyond recovery.
Most people when the come to treatment, their major hope and prayer is to break free from using. Break free from the pain and destruction that is a part of the lifestyle. the thought is, "If I could just break free from the cravings, and the using, I would be o.k.".  Stop the pain. #1 goal of every addict. Just stop the pain. Stop the physical pain. Stop the mental pain. Stop the emotional pain. When the faith of the individual is brought out, uncovered and released, they soon discover that there is a new way to live that is way beyond what recovery has promised. Recovery promises freedom from drugs and alcohol. Faith in God promises a complete new way to live and move here on planet earth. 


Hebrews 11:1Amplified Bible (AMP)

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]

Did you catch what is said in this version of Hebrews 11? Faith is the title deed, given to us by God, for those things...those promises...that He has for us. A title deed that stretches from today...Thursday - September 25, 2014, until we draw our last breath and cross over to be with Jesus. 

Do more than believe....
Walk by faith.

Do more than hope.....
Live by faith.

Do more than exist.....
By faith, be abundant in Christ.

Faith?
Don't leave home without it.


God on you...

mb

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fruit Is The Evidence



Romans 6:21
What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed?
For the end of these things is death.


Life is all about the "fruit".
Life is all about the deeds that we do...
The behaviors we carry.....

The words we speak.
Why?
Because all of these paint a picture of the real us.

Deeds, behaviors and speech all are evidence of what we truly believe.
Oh we can con and manipulate and even try to appear to be on the up and up..
But we can't sustain such false behavior. There I said it....false behavior. Why is it false? Because the heart is filled with darkness that only comes up in the manipulation and con. Here again the behavior gives credence to the belief's of the individual.


When Paul speaks of 'What fruit did you have?" He is trying to get us to look at the whole of our lives. The complete picture. You see, I don't ever want to forget what life was like before I was saved. I don't want to forget what a stinker I was before I really met this Jesus. I want to remember the pain and fear. I want to remember the failure and utter hopelessness that accompanies a life that is lived separate from Jesus. You need to hear me as I say this.....I don't want to live in the past, but I don't want to forget about it either. I want to continually be thankful for the grace and mercy that was shown to me by Jesus. I want to live with an attitude of gratitude for where Jesus has taken me. Is life perfect? No. Do I have problems and trials? You bet. But in the midst of life, I am filled with God's Holy Spirit and He comforts me and will take me through whatever rears its ugly head today. That is a promise. Not just any promise, but one that was spoken to us by the God.

I have cast aside, through the work and power of the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the flesh. Always remember, if you give up something for God, then He will replace it with something better. Out goes the fruit of my old sinful nature and in comes the fruit of His Holy Spirit. He produces it in me! It's not an instantaneous work either. Fruit takes time. But each day that passes, I view life differently. I'm not longer driven by those old voices that whispered to me, trying to draw my heart and mind deeper into the darkness of sin. The voice I follow is found inside me....the voice of God speaks to me. I hear it when I read His word. I hear it when I talk with Him. Sometimes it comes out of nowhere and fills my mind and heart. He is all around me and I can wholly trust in Him and what He says. 

That is the message for today if you are struggling with the old fruit of sin in your life. You don't have to. All you have to do is cry out to God for His presence and salvation. Think about that. Help is just a "Cry" away. A new life for you is just a "Cry" away. God is that close and His desire is to clean you inside and out....fill you with His Holy Spirit and set you on a new way of living that will take you through any problem or situation you may face. How can I be so sure? Don't tell anyone, but I read the end of the book.........
We win!
God wins!


God on you...

mb

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Family Business


Isaiah 6:8
Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Who shall I send, and who will go for US?"

I've waited about posting from last Saturday night, until I could collect my thoughts. As most of you know we took care of some family business, so to speak, in the ordination of Seth Barber. It was truly an incredible evening as family, friends and regular attend-ees to VRC gathered together.

Seth is the first person that we have ordained under the covering of Vineyard Recovery Church. During the service, I opened the room up to anyone who wanted to either share a memory of Seth or wanted to pray a blessing over Seth and Emily. Several stood, including Steve and Marilyn Yarbrough, founders of Rapha. Each story only emphasized the miraculous work God has done in Seth. 

I shared our (Vineyard) view of ordination is a bit different from others, that John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard, was always being asked by people if he would ordain them into the ministry. John's reply was always, "Go get the puppies and I'll give you the papers."  In other words, go show me you can pastor, that you actually do have a call, and I will give you the papers of ordination. After sharing that, I said that Seth comes to us with all manner of puppies. He has proven that indeed he has been called to the ministry.

To top everything off, we also had two others who wanted to be baptized. So the entire group moved from our regular meeting room over to the Great hall.
There was family of the two men being baptized present and you could tell that this was a huge milestone for them. To see their sons being baptized was just the beginning of this new life these two men have laid hold of.  It was one more stone laid in a wall of hope that God was erecting in the lives of these families.

At the end of the evening as I locked the door, once again I looked back into that empty room and said, "Wow, God! How are you going to top this?" Funny part is that when we meet again this coming Saturday, I know He will. He's kind of like that, isn't He?

God on you...
mb


Monday, September 22, 2014

Today I Choose



Deuteronomy 30:19
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.

Today, I choose life. With all its problems and troubles. With feelings that go up into the positive and crash to the depths of negative. I choose life. Life that has God as its source. Life that is not defined or dictated to by society or commercialism.  

Today, I choose to be sober. I choose because the worst day sober is better than the best day drunk or high. I choose to be filled with God's Spirit and allow Him to control my tongue and my actions. I will not bow my knee to, nor will I partner with Meth, Crack, Weed, Alcohol or any other darkness that seeks to overpower me and control me. I choose to bow my knee to the One who created me........God.


Today, I choose God. I choose to give up my will and life to His care. To simply turn my entire being into a receiver....all my senses....my intuition....my heart...all tuned to hear what God has to say. Why? Because I am following His directives. Some are pretty simple. Don't use! Don't get drunk or high! You may say, "well everyone know that!" To which I would reply...did you notice that I never mentioned my brain or intellect in the list of being a receiver? Because we follow by faith, by what is in our heart...we don't rely totally on intellect or brain power. Proverbs 3:5-6 -- Trust in the Lord with all your HEART.....and lean not on your own UNDERSTANDING. Now He isn't saying check your noodle in at the door and become a machine. He is saying find the value of not totally relying on your own ability.

Today, I choose to forgive those who I have held hard feelings (that's a nice way of saying "a grudge") against. It matter not if I am justified in holding that grudge. I don't get to make that call. I choose to turn loose of it and move forward with my life. Chances are the person I'm holding the grudge against isn't even aware that such is happening. I'm the one who is suffering, not them.

Today, I choose to love as I Corinthians 13 defines love. I choose to love those that I don't really want to. I choose to love the outcast, the marginalized, the homeless and the oppressed. I choose to love my enemies. I choose to love those who God puts in my path. I choose to love as God loves. My Bible says that "God so loved the world". He loved mankind and His creation with a total love. Doesn't mean He excuses sin or wrong doing, but even such as that will not stop Him from loving.

I think maybe if I work on this today, it might turn out to be a good day. I choose to do so.
How about you?


God on you...
mb

Saturday, September 20, 2014

GSL Update



One of the real joy's in my life is this blog. To be able to post every day some little something that God has given me is something I look forward to.
To be honest with you, the Greene Street Letters has gone on a lot longer than I anticipated. But you know...life is hectic. Over the past few weeks, God (and my wife) has been giving me little signs and big hints that I needed to pull back a little. I won't bore you with all the details but my schedule had built back up till I was working, speaking, and going more than when I had my heart attack. So, I'm going to listen to God..........and my wife.........and my doctor and I'm going to scale down my schedule.


I'm still going to be posting here at the Greene Street Letters, but it will only be Monday through Friday. I will be taking Saturday and Sunday off, as far as the letter goes. In fact, if you need a "GSL" fix, there are over 2300 postings in the archive, so feel free to go back and read those you may have missed.

People ask me all the time how I am able to get up every morning and write something for GSL. The answer is simple. I don't know. I never know what I'm going to write until I sit down here at my computer. A verse will come to me. Or I will remember something I've read or something someone told me. Anyway, the words come...the typing sets in...and the letter is posted for the day.

Many thanks to all of you who stop by here and catch a posting. Whether you follow it every day or every now and then, I appreciate you. And I hope that you keep coming back. The other thing is that maybe it will encourage you to write. Maybe start a journal, or even your own blog...we need more out there for others to find and meet this Jesus we love so much.

Well, the coffee is calling and I must be about the day...

Thanks again....
God on you...

mb

Friday, September 19, 2014

Addiction Runs On Fear



Psalm 23:4
..........I will fear no evil.........

Fear plays a major part in addiction and recovery.
We don't like to admit that statement.
We won't admit that statement.
But fear is a by product of not knowing God....
And not trusting God. One who is caught in the storm of addiction is very much aware of how powerless they have become. Such powerlessness invades every thought....every waking moment of every day. It brings on such hopelessness that the only thing a person can think about is the next high. At least in that place of being high, the individual doesn't have to think about anything at all. Once that person comes back to reality, the fear kicks in again. Fear that they won't have enough of whatever their drug of choice is. Fear that if they have to detox the pain will be unbearable. Fear becomes the fuel that drives a person back to the darkness.

Fear is also a part of human nature ( I believe I can make that statement).
I'm not excusing our fears....But I do believe that God understands it is part of our make up.
Why else, all through out the Bible, when an angel would appear suddenly, would their first words usually be..."Do not be afraid...Do not fear?" In other words....when the fear comes, for whatever reason, our first instinct should be to turn to God. Jesus told His disciples "Let not your hearts be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me."

I like the passage from the 23rd Psalm....
It talks about a location....the valley of the shadow of death.
Valley's are depressions in the contour of the land, usually deep areas that lie between two mountains. Here, in the 23rd Psalm,  we have a valley that is located in a shadow. Double whammy! Not only is it a dark place.....but the darkness is because of death. To be honest with you, doesn't death cast a dark shadow over everything we do...everywhere we go? Death is the final destination that lays claim to every human. But the shadow...the reminder of it stretches across the horizon. We walk in that shadow, but like King David, I want to be able to proclaim that "I will fear no evil".  David makes a statement concerning his future....the "I Will" part. He didn't say "I use to not fear"...or...."I'm not fearing today..." He clearly states his state of mine and heart and his conviction that God is who God claims He is. By trusting in God, David can declare with all confidence that he (David) will not fear these dark shadows that lie across the path of righteousness that God has placed him on. Why? Because the presence and protection of God is always there to drive away the emotions and mental images that come to us when fear tries to lay hold of us.

David goes on to say, "I will fear no evil. for You (God) are with me.
The presence of God is always with us. We may not always be aware of Him. We may not think much about it, but such doesn't mean it is any less true. God is there with me. He is not a silent bystander. He is not passive presence. His is one that is always guiding me through my day. This is why in recovery you will here the statement "One day at a time".
(1.) That's all the time we are given....just today.
(2)  Take care of whatever comes at us today as we travel this journey.
(3) Realize that our Higher POWER Jesus is there to take us through whatever happens.

I can do 24 hours.
I don't know what tomorrow may hold, but I can do today.
So, today I choose to turn will and life over to His care.
Turn will and life over and simply follow Him.

God on you..
mb


Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Encounter



The following was written by a young man currently in the program at Rapha. It is his own personal experience of life before running into Jesus.......
And life after his salvation experience.....


The words turn to ashes in my mouth as I try and reformulate them to something with impact.
And I say, "Come down from your cross."
I know everyone needs saving...
Why don't you save yourself, to save me the satisfaction of saying "No" so everyone can let go of this silly superstition.

It's running rampant on the planet and I've failed to make contact.
So You contacted me, and it wasn't long distance. It was extremely loud and incredibly close.
Close enough to hear you even when you whispered.
A whisper so loud it could shatter bone and yet, at the same time, mend a broken heart


You couldn't stand the separation. You loved me when I was falling apart....for that, I am grateful.
I used to be so hateful.
I never cared one bit about who laid the foundation.

And me, just like Job with my questions, You came back with an answer very clear.
To put it all out there, made me take a second look.

I understood that I don't have to understand it. And would you believe it if I said that it helped me.
It's really not so crazy when I think on it.
I mean I was crazy anyway in the asylum of my flesh....

Crazy thoughts of where I would die and that I would soon decay, but the SON rose up this morning and for now it truly is another day.
Another day of life.
A life that I'm living because you're living with me...
Living in me.

Because of you, if I want it, I can part the sea...
I don't have to see...
I only have to be.
Here in the moment...
One breath at a time, as you take my breath away in the face of creation.


God on you....
mb

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Less



Ecclesiastes 3:6
A time to gain, and a time to lose. A time to keep and a time to throw away.

Sounds almost like an inventory doesn't it?
Sounds almost like someone taking Step #4 and #5 of the Twelve Steps, doesn't it?
The taking of a searching and fearless moral inventory. Identifying those character flaws that we have developed over the years.
Throwing away all the bad.
God's additions doesn't always look like we think it should.
Addition in God's kingdom always involves throwing away.

Throwing away things that weigh us down.
Throwing away heavy, burdensome ideas, concepts that clutter our brain and fuel bad decisions.

God's addition always leads us to a better way.
I accumulated a world view that was (wait for it) created by the dictates and group behavior of the world.
In other words, living in the world, which is a fallen, sinful world, I learn how to do business, live life, and get by using the ways and means of society and culture. This usually adds up to some stinking thinking on my part.

If you don't see it this way, then think on this.
The Hebrews were in slavery down in Egypt for over 400 years.
I'm not sure, but I do believe that if you live in a society for 400 years, you tend to pick up the behaviors and customs of that society. You start to talk like them, think like them, see life as they see life. In other words, you develop a world view that is influenced by the culture and society you are living in.
Along comes God.

"I'm here to free you from the bondage of the Egyptians."
A collective "Yahoo!" goes up from the Hebrews.
But they didn't read the fine print.
You know the part where God is going to take them out into the wilderness and lead them to a land of promise.

God took them out of Egypt..
but then He had to take Egypt out of them.

He took them out to a place where He became their only source of survival.
There weren't any stores or markets.

No clothing outlets.
No economy of any size, shape or fashion.
God was the sole source of survival.

There they would learn how to live.
There they would trade off all the baggage of Egypt for the freedom of living under His rule and reign.
Or that is the way it was suppose to work. God didn't miss the mark, the people did.
We have rebellion among the priests...
Fire comes down and consumes two of them.
We have rebellion in the camp. Ground splits open and 250 die.
Oh yeah, don't forget the whole "golden calf" thing.

Bottom line...
God's call to each of us is to have "LESS" of the world...To throw away the things of this world that we have placed to high a value on...

and accept the eternal things of God.....
And accept the eternal God.

Think on these things today.

You might want to consider having less in your life.
I know that I am going to take a look at this for myself....


God on you...

mb 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Go




I say that I love you....
But do I?
Do I really mean those words....
Or is it just a religious game I've learned to play?
You know....
Say the right thing...
Give off the right impression....
Have the correct image....

I tell others with a loud voice
that I would follow You wherever You would go...
Proclaim Your love to the ends of the earth...
But would I?
Would I uproot family and take them?
Would I leave all I know...
All I am comfortable with...
To go where you said go?

I've tried to do this over the years..
I've answered every call you've placed on me...
Maybe not as fast as You would have liked..
But I did eventually.
I know...
You had to drag me, at times, kicking and screaming...
But I do go.
Your grace and mercy far exceeded my childishness
when it came to changes...
new seasons...
different times...
You were faithful even when I wasn't.

The words still ring loud and true in my heart...
"Go ye into all the world"
But did you really mean it?
I mean the "all the world" part?
And were you talking to me...
or was I just an observer to a conversation
that took place on a hill outside of Jerusalem?

I know that, in my heart, You were talking to Your disciples.
But you did put the conversation into Scripture, didn't You?

I may be wrong, but somehow I feel that
"All the world" is meant for everyone who follows You.
But "all the world" also means that You call the shots..
My "All the world" may be different from someone else.

"All the world" may mean next door...
or across town.
It may involve a sub culture of specific people.
Like a call to minister to those in addiction....
or those trapped in human trafficking.
"All the world" may mean the lady who checks you out at the grocery store...
Or it could mean the Middle Eastern countries.

No matter which...
The call is constant...
The call is now...
The call is for everyone who lays claim to being a follower of Jesus.

If You say "Go."
We will go..
Can we do any less?


God on you...
mb

Monday, September 15, 2014

Weekend Recap


Acts 1:8
But you shall receive POWER when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me.....

Isn't that the real heart of the matter?  Power ----- Us------Telling our story?
I think sometimes we might forget the order God has created for us to participate with.
Holy Spirit -----Power -----Us-----The message.
His story becomes our story.
I can only tell of God what God has told to me.
I can only demonstrate what God has given me to show.
I can only attest to the things that God has done in me.

In other words.....
My life and God's intervention in it is the message.

Michael ----before God = mess
Michael ----after God = a mess sometimes, but it is because of my own stupid choices I make. But I become an instrument, a voice that God will use as I tell my story.

I spoke three times over the week end and each time I stood and watched as God moved among the people.
Friday night at Celebrate Recovery Centre, as I was coming down from the stage as ministry was winding down, a man stepped out into the isle and asked me to pray for him. He was hooked on pain med's and wanted to get treatment. I motioned for Vicki to come an join me in praying. God came....the man began to cry. Vicki moved over to where his wife was sitting and just wrapped her arms around her and began to pray. Likewise God came on the lady....she began to weep. There was healing and a resolve on the man's part to be in a program on Monday. Power. Do you know how hard it was for that man to admit that he needs help? Addiction, coupled with demonic influence, is a hard combination that has held many a life in place in silence.

Saturday night at VRC, we saw God move on a group of individuals who stood to receive.
I am blessed beyond measure to have a core group of leaders who are just crazy enough to believe our God wants to save and heal. They got up and began to pray over those who stood to receive. Once again, God came. A first-timer to VRC began to weep because she had hope again. God has begun a work between her and her husband and part of that work was putting hope back in their lies. Addiction will rob a family of hope and leave them dry and broken on the ground. Once again, God showed up and God showed out.

Lat night at CR North Glencoe God was there just as He had been on the other two nights.
To me, the very reason God shows up is because there are always hungry, desperate hearts there in these meetings who truly want to believe that God is real and that He will do what He has promised He would. It's not enough to simply hear a message and believe that what is being shared is truth. The message stirs the faith of the one who is listening. 
Romans 10:17 - So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Hearing the message only primes the pump and prepares it to receive from God. When God's word is taught, there should always be room left in the meeting for God to come and demonstrate the truth. This demonstration is always....(hear me on this) always accompanied by POWER! It isn't about the one who brings the message. They are the least important part of this equation. It is about the ones on whom the message falls, and the desire of Almighty God to see them brought under His Kingdom covering.

That is why I go to different recovery meetings.
I know that there will hungry, desperate people there.
I know that such people stir the heart of God to come and reveal Himself.
I know that when these two factors are brought together, it is going to be a wonderful night. 


God on you....
mb

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Times They Are A' Changing


Matthew 9:16
"No one puts a piece of new cloth on an old garment, for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse."

I firmly believe that God works in seasons and times in our lives. That He raises up things that we need to see and be equipped for so that we can be the people God has called us to be.
In other words........

It's about change.
New directions.
New insights.
New illumination from Him and His word that we may not have been aware of.
Our job?
To be open to such moves from God.
To not be so stuck in the way we have done business in the past that we miss what He is trying to  do.
To identify such times and seasons that we might see in other people's lives, or in a body of believers, and support it. To not turn up our nose at this "new" thing and say, "Well, that isn't God! He would not do such things." Who are we to question what God will or won't do.
It's all about change.

For me personally, I have found that October seems to be a point in our calender where God turns the page and begins new works. I have been writing in journals since July of 1991, and each October things seem to move in new directions. Over these past 23 years, I have seen some pretty incredible prophetic words given. I have participated in some prophetic acts and events where God revealed Himself and gave instructions for the direction He was taking us. So I don't write these words to sound "religious". I do write them to say, "Hey...maybe we need to dial into God during these coming days a little more than we have in the past."


We, as humans, are all about hanging on to our traditions. We may not see it that way, but we do. We are uncomfortable when God changes something in our church. We like our rote and routine. Don't you think maybe that the Hebrews, coming out of Egypt, were a little tired of always having to follow a cloud? When the cloud started moving, they had to pack up their belongings and follow it. When the cloud stopped, then they waited. Do you think maybe some of them made the decision not to unpack because they knew that at some point the cloud would move? I guess what I'm trying to say, is that we, as people of God, or no different that the Hebrews. We are called to follow Him. Maybe not in a physical, wandering around sense, but definitely in a spiritual sense of allowing Him free reign in our churches and in our personal lives. Always remember what I refer to as the "Divine Pecking Order".  He is God...
We are not....
There.

We are called to follow. Not lead.
We are called to follow. Not dictate the route.


So as we approach October, I do so with a sense of anticipation.
What is God going to do next.

I have some thoughts on that....
He has shown me what might be.....

But I will wait and watch in wonder as He brings it forth.
I like the adventure He has me on.


God on you...

mb

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Rocking It In Centre, Alabama


Matthew 10:27
But Jesus looked at them, and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God. For with God all things are possible.

Vicki and I drove up to Centre last night for their Celebrate Recovery. I always enjoy speaking at this meeting, God gives us much grace to go and be a part. Been going up there for Ten years. I've watched this group grow, change, and become a family over that span of time. Several of the original members, including one of its founders have died. Regina George was a dynamo and it showed as she oversaw the service each week. To me she and her husband, Donnie, were walking, talking evidence of God's love. When Regina died, Donnie took over and has been overseeing the meetings. 

Funny part in all of this, every time I go to speak I'm never sure of what is going to happen. God has given us such grace to see Him move and touch lives that in the back of my mind I have this thought..."Tonight could be the one night in which God won't show up...people won't get saved....no one will get healed...and they are never going to ask you to come back."  Of course I recognize such thoughts as being from the enemy. 

Well, God did not disappoint. People did come to the front for ministry. People were saved. And as of this morning, Vicki and I are believing for a woman who got prayer for ear trouble....pain and oozing from her ear. She was also one who got saved last night. Her sister brought her to Vicki and I as we were making our way out after the meeting. They were excited about what had just happened, as the new believer told me..."You were talking to me! I felt it! I knew that God has sent this message just for me!" There were tears, laughter and a whole lot of hugging going on. Did I mention that this bunch in Centre CR love to hug. Nothing wrong with that. I noticed that the lady had cotton in her ears, so I asked if she was having trouble. She replied that she was experiencing much pain. I asked if we could pray for her that God would heal her. I loved her response..."Sure, but they've been like this for two months." I laughed and said, "And what does that have to do with God healing tonight?" So we prayed. I know that God has healed her.

As I finished my sharing and was making my way back to where my wife was, a man stopped me and shook my hand. He told me that he had been taking prescription pain meds for some time and had become addicted to them. It had gotten to the point that he knew he had to do something or it was going to cost him in a big way. He was asking about treatment and Rapha, so I shared with him about our program. Then I asked if I could pray for him. "Yes!" was his reply. So pray we did. God came on him as we prayed for the bondage and darkness to be broken off. My wife moved over to the lady who was sitting next to the man, it was his wife. Vicki began to minister to her, there was much healing going on and you could tell that she received from God.

So if you would, keep these three individuals in your prayers.
The lady who was saved.
The man trying to come off of pain med's. 

And this man's wife who is caught up in this drama with her husband.

It was a good night....
Thanks for showing up -----one more time, Lord.
God on you...

mb

Friday, September 12, 2014

That Will Feel Good When It Stops Hurting



Rev. 21:4
.......And there shall no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

No more pain....
What a glorious thought....

No more pain....
What an incredible promise....

No more emotional pain..
No more physical pain...

No more mental/psychological pain...
No more pain.


In a world that has the corner on the "pain" market, this is a verse that resonates in the heart of every human. The idea of living in a state of being where pain does not exist. 

Pain is a major part of addiction. Pain usually is one of the vehicles that drives some to use. Not so much the physical aspect of pain, but the mental and emotional. We hurt, so we get high to escape the feeling. Trouble is, in the state of being high, we usually create more pain through our using,so that when we come down from the high, the pain we sought to escape from is now ten times worse. Such a burden only fuels the desire to escape again.
Repeated attempts to out run the pain only drives us deeper and deeper into the addiction. Suddenly you find yourself not just trying to escape pain, but you are the instigator of new levels of pain. It's kind of like getting shot in the foot. It's hurts really bad. So what do you do? Get yourself a gun and shoot your foot one more time. This time the pain is worse and it's harder to walk. What's your answer to the pain? Shoot yourself again. At a certain point in the addiction, the pain that is experienced is self-inflicted. 

You don't have to live like this.
You don't have to walk crippled through life.

There is healing for you.
I know...I know...you've heard all the religious mumbo-jumbo about "Jesus will take your pain" and "Just come to Jesus and He will give you a new life".  Let's get honest here, can we? You've heard it, but you've never lived it. Did you get that? I said, "you've heard all the promises of what Jesus can do for you...but you've never experienced it for yourself." Consider this. If there was an inkling that these comments might be real..that this Jesus truly is who He claims He is, and is capable of doing what He claims He can do....wouldn't it be worth it to simply check it out for yourself? I think it would.

To be able to live life without the pain that addiction heaps on you. To be able to clean up the destruction and rubble that have come from repeated bad choices. To actually have hope again, and a future. In other words...to have a real life. Would that not be worthy of looking into? 


You see, that is what we do on Saturday nights at Vineyard Recovery Church. We want to spread a table, if you will, of the truth of who this Jesus is. And you are invited to come and sit and dine at that table. You may not like everything that is presented, but there is something for you that will lead you into a deeper understanding and experience with this God we have fallen in love with. We simply want you to know that you do not have to live under the lies and bondage of drugs and alcohol.
I know that the word "Church" brings up all kind of negative connotations....I want you to understand what it means since we have attached it to the words "Vineyard Recovery". Church simply means "A gathering of people who have found life in a relationship with Jesus." Those who gather on Saturday night share a common sin/sickness ---addiction. We have found a common solution to our problem....Jesus. So we gather and sing worship songs to Jesus. Singing from hearts of gratitude that not only has this Jesus spared us from destruction and death, but has given us a future and a hope. There is comfort and power in being with like minded people. In one sense, Saturday night is a time where we can get our "batteries" recharged so we can go back out and fact Sunday through Friday, then next Saturday we will gather and do it all over again.


If your free tomorrow night, consider coming and joining us. We'd love to see you. Meeting starts at 7 p.m.
We are located on Broad street between Fourth and Fifth Streets.
See you then!

God on you...
mb

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Power Evangelism


Matthew 4:23
And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.

The proclamation of the Word of God....
Demonstration of the Power of God....

Why?
The demonstration validated the truth of the Word.

As a Vineyard pastor, we refer to the combination of these dynamics as "Power Evangelism". 
The manifestation of the rule and reign of God among a group of people who have gathered together. 
Such an event is never to focus on anyone person who may be in charge. It should always point back to Christ. In fact every meeting, every service that falls under the covering of church, should always point to Christ. People should go away from the meeting having fallen a little more in love with Jesus. 
We have a tendency to forget that God is a God of power. That the very things we label as being "Supernatural" are, in fact, very natural to Him. They appear supernatural to us because we live out sub-natural lives when it comes to God. We sometimes have a tendency to create a God in our own image. Because many of us had never seen a manifestation of God's power in a meeting, we then automatically put God under a category where such was not suppose to happen. "God doesn't act that way!" Of course He does. 

Have you read that Book?

That's a weird book....
Weird things happen in that book.....
Ax heads float....
Seas divide themselves and provide escape routes...

The Sun stands still......
A man dunks himself seven times in a muddy river and loses his leprosy....
Dead people come back to life....

Cripple people walk again.....
Blind people are given their vision back....

Demonized people are set free through a spoken word....
That is a weird book....
But it all points to a God who is all about revealing the truth of who He really is, through a demonstration of what He is capable of doing.


II Corinthians 2:4-5
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not lie in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.


I am pleased to announce that beginning this Sunday, at Gadsden Vineyard Church, Josh and Regine Brady will begin a teaching series on "Power Evangelism". The sessions will begin after the main service  (around 12 noon). You are encouraged to bring a lunch with you. It will be an informal time of learning one of the key beliefs and values that we hold in the Vineyard. 
1.) Everyone gets to play --  That is a Vineyard term that means we all are called to participate in the Kingdom work of sharing our story with others. Along the way, there will be opportunities to pray with and for the people we meet, and see the power of God demonstrated in their lives as they receive this good news.

2.) God still operates in the same manner as we read about in the Bible. He still has a heart to save and heal those who have been marginalized by the sin from experiencing the fullness of life when relationship with Him has been established.

3.) The Kingdom of God is here but not yet. 
John 4:23 - But the hour is coming and now is when the true believers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth....Did you catch that? The Hour IS COMING and NOW IS. When we look around we see evidence of the rule and reign of God in our midst. But we do not see the complete rule and reign. Sin is still at work here....there is disease and illness...there is death and suffering. But the Father is at work, and is still in control, of His plans for humanity an for this planet.

I hope that you might consider coming and being a part of this incredible teaching on Power Evangelism. Gadsden Vineyard Church is located at 419 Broad Street between 4th and 5th street.

God on you....

mb

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What Time Is It? Wise-Time


John 17:1
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come........"

Jesus was very much aware of his call and mission here on earth. He knew that He had a well-defined period of time in which to carry out the mandate given to Him by His Father. He made the most of His time. He did only what the Father instructed Him to do. He said only what the Father had given Him to say. His time was from the economy of heaven. No wasted effort. No wasted movement. No wasted time.

Now before you think I'm going to lecture you on how you spend your time, I'm not. Why? Because who am I that I should take on such a roll? I do, in my own personal life, have moments that are selfishly spent. I do have minutes and hours that are wasted on frivolous things. Does God keep tabs on my time? I don't know if He does or not. I do know that scripture says He has ordained all my days. He knows the number that I get to live out, but as far as the moment to moment of my day, I do believe that He cares.


This brings up another problem. 
My nature would be to fill it up with so called "religious" activity.
To run around "Doing" for God. It has always been my firm conviction that I should run around "Being" for God instead. To give myself to the task of being who the Holy Spirit is shaping me to be. Letting Him change my character by taking out the deeds of the flesh and replacing them with His fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). The doing for Him becomes more effective because I am moving from a place of desire to carry out His call. In other words, if I am being who God wants me to be, then the doing for God will come natural, almost like second nature. 

John Wimber used a phrase that has been a model for the way I view life. 
He referred to life with God as being best lived when we seek out the radical middle.
Not living life in a hyper-spirituality....
Nor living it in oblivious to what God has called us to do...
But in the middle place of balance.

Balance to see souls brought into the kingdom and disciples made.
Balance to stop and watch a sunset with your family.

Balance to see the Power of God come down and heal someone as you have prayed healing on them....
Balance to laugh and play at the pool.

We all need to find that place of balance.
The Radical middle ground of life with Christ.
That's what I'm working on today.....

God on you....

mb

Little Life? Or Big LIFE?

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