Friday, October 31, 2014

What's That Sound? Oh, It's The Heavens Being Ripped Apart



Mark 1:10
And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.

Sometimes language, or choice of words, do not do a passage justice. I understand that translating from one language to another causes some concepts to get lost or changed. The verse above was part of our teaching last night at the Bible study.

The word that I do not like in that passage is "Parting" in reference to the heavens being opened. When I think of something parting, especially the heavens, I see clouds rolling back. I think of curtains parting. But the truth is, the event that took place was much more powerful than the word "Parting" implies.

Here is how the Mark 1:10 verse reads in the Amplified Bible.

And when He came up out of the water, at once he (John) saw the heavens TORN open and the Holy Spirit like a dove coming down (to enter) into Him.
The heavens didn't just part....
They were torn open.

The were ripped apart.
Why is that such a big deal?
Because the domain of our enemy, Satan, had been laid hold of by God. He ripped it into and sent His Holy Spirit down into our time and space.
That which Satan had sought to hide behind, his control and kingdom of lies and deception, had now been laid hold of by the hands of God, and was ripped open.

God had declared war.
A beach head had now been established and the ultimate communicator had been sent through the opening.

God's Holy Spirit rested upon Jesus.
Satan now knew that the one he'd been searching for ever since Genesis 3:15 was not here alive on planet earth.
In a word.........God declared war on Satan and sin.
And there came a voice out from within heaven, 'You are my Beloved Son. In You I am well pleased."

God put Satan on notice that the Messiah...
The Christ......
The Deliverer was now present.
As it states in I John 3:8,  The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo, destroy, loosen and dissolve the works the devil has done.

Such is why I am so passionate about God's ability to destroy addiction.
addiction and all the destruction it brings is a work of the devil.
When God ripped open the heavens, addiction was put on notice that it no longer had complete control of humanity.
You may be thinking, "Michael, have you fell down and hit your head? Look around at how many are existing in addiction. See how many lives have been taken by it.
What's your point?
Such is the very reason that I say we are in a war.

That is why I do what I do. To see people saved, by God's power, from the hell of addiction, which left unchecked, will lead people to an eternity of hell.
We combat this work of the devil by two things....
The truth of God...

And
The love of God...
Such will penetrate the hardest, darkest heart that is bound up by sin/addiction.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He (even) gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in, trusts in, clings to, relies on Him, shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.

That my friend is a promise from God.

God on you...
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

NOW!!!!


Couldn't believe it....
Driving home from town the other night....
Checking out the stations on the radio and managed to hit 96.5 out of Huntsville.
What did I hear?
"Have yourselves a merry little Christmas"
You've got to be kidding me. It's October 28th.
I waited a little while to make sure I was hearing correctly.

Sure enough, that  little tune was quickly followed by "Chestnut's roasting on an open fire."

We were entering into the Christmas season.
Can't wait...
Doesn't matter that we have two more holiday's before Christmas. We've got to get at it right now.

Impatience.

Impatience is defined as an eager desire for relief or change.
This is a cornerstone behavior in addiction.
Impatience.
I want to escape everything right now.
It's about relief in the moment, from the moment.
Too much guilt.
Too much shame.
Too many problems to deal with.

I want what I want, and I want it right now.
What I want the most is to be high so I don't have to think or deal with anything.


Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ. The power of what took place over 2000 years ago has been brought to bear in my own life through my repentance, confession and acceptance of Jesus as my Higher Power (Lord and Savior).

It is no longer I who live, but Christ the Messiah lives in me. My will has been traded in for His will and direction. I know that this will continue to be a battle, as my own will surfaces from time to time to exert it's power. I must be diligent and faithful to follow not what I want to do, but rather what I ought to do.

And the life I now live in the body, I live by faith (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) in the Son of God. The life I NOW, today...this moment....I'm alive. I have a choice. I have been given this moment. I will enjoy it and not be driven by impatience to look beyond it. I will not keep my focus either on the past or into the future, but will live in the NOW moment. I will do so by faith. I will place my trust in Jesus. I will not allow impatience to rob me of the blessing that comes from living in the NOW moment.

Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  I was a mess. He died for me so that I could have real life. I was a liar and a manipulator. He loved me all the way to the cross and beyond. I wanted nothing to do with Jesus, His church, His people, or the so-called life everyone kept talking about. He loved me into His kingdom. Because of such love, I laid down every vestige of Michael Bynum and embraced this Jesus. I didn't know where this would take me. Still don't. But I have come to learn that this journey I'm on is much better than the darkness I use to dwell in. I have learned the value of living in the NOW. I have learned to be content with NOW. I have learned that there isn't any future without a NOW.
I guess you could say "I have learned."

God on you...
mb

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It Was A Good Night


Acts 2:42
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers.

The room was dark.
The music playing softly in the background.
Kevin Prosch singing, "Come and meet the healer."

The three men sat there with heads down, eyes closed.
Each one inviting God to come and meet with them.
Such a thing would not have taken place in the lives of these men a few months ago.
The very thought of waiting on God to hear from him was a foreign concept.

Yet here they were.
They were ready to study the word of God.
They were ready to hear from God.

They were ready to meet with God.
And they were ready to experience all that God had for them.

We looked to the book of James and Romans.
Testing and trials have a purpose, and are not merely a perceived punishment sent by God.
The ultimate result of going through such times, is that we get to see the "REAL" us. Hard times brings out our true belief's and allows us the opportunity to change as God would have us change.

Onward to Genesis 22, and the story of Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice Isaac, his son.
"Surely God didn't really intend for him to do this, did he?" This opened up a whole new thought. Would God require us to do such a thing? Hebrews showed us that Abraham, knowing full well that Isaac was a promise given by God to the be the first heir of a nation of people. Abraham believed that no matter what, God was going to keep his word. God would keep his word, even if it meant Abraham did kill Isaac. In other words, Abraham believed and had faith that even if he went through with God's request to kill his only son, God would raise him from the dead.

Hebrews 11:17-20 - By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, "in Issac your seed shall be called," concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.

Bible study concluded.
Prayers begin.
A sweet smelling savor that rises to heaven to be received by the Father.
A time of honesty for all of us.
A time to admit our weaknesses and frailties.

A time to be honest and transparent before God and each other.
A time to heal.

Amen....

Handshakes and hugs all around.
More conversation as we head for the door.
Heaven had come down into that room.
God had come with healing and now we were ready to go back out and face what ever may come our way.
Shouldn't it always be this way when we gather together to meet with God?
I think maybe yes, it should be this way.


God on you...

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Our Call And Mandate


I Timothy 1:4   Amplified Bible
Nor to give importance to or occupy themselves with legends (fables, myths)
and endless genealogies which foster and promote useless speculations and questionings rather than acceptance in faith of God's administration and the divine training that is faith (in the leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence).

I am questioned, from time to time, by well meaning individuals who do not understand the nature of addiction. I do not take offense at their comments or questions.
The problems facing someone coming out of addiction are multi-layered and, without Christ, are insurmountable when approached with human will and spirit. In other words, the addict is overwhelmed by his destruction once they are sober. Too many issues to work through. Too many relationships destroyed. Too much restitution and fines to pay. Such is enough to send them back into the darkness. Couple this with the fact that an addict suffers from low self worth and you have a precarious situation.

Such is why our focus on Saturday nights is Just Jesus!

His saving power and grace, freely given to those who encounter a Step #3 moment. The revelation that we are not God. We are powerless and in need of someone greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity. The thought that Jesus is the missing piece in our lives prompts us to turn will and life over to His care.

Over the past three weeks we have been teaching a series on what it means to be a follower of Jesus. To live by faith that He is who He claims He is, and will do what He has promised He would do. That is the key to sobriety and a new life. Such is why each Saturday, if you come to VRC, the topic of the evening will be Jesus. We don't look into end-time events. We simply trying to live in the moment or, as A.A. proclaims, one day at a time. We firmly believe that God's end time plans will be carried out. We trust Him! With such knowledge, we attack the current day. God has granted us 24 hours to maintain an incredible gift that has eludes us for years. Sobriety. Knowing that we possess the ability to make a choice, we choose Christ. We choose to follow Him. Knowing that as we string together day's of sobriety, life will take care of itself. Yes, there will be hard times. Yes, there will be times when we face problems where there seemingly aren't any answers. But we stand on the firm foundation that Jesus IS that Higher Power that can see us through whatever comes our way.

Vineyard Recovery Church is a place of acceptance. No matter where you are on this journey to recovery, we love you. If your still out there in your addiction, yet you have the desire to stop...come and join us. If you've got multiple years of sobriety, come and be a part. We are simply a gathering of people who have found value and life in Jesus. We belong to the greatest brotherhood and sisterhood of humanity ever to walk the face of the earth. Those who have been rescued from the hell of addiction. Dead men and women set loose from the tomb by the saving Power, grace and mercy of Jesus.
We are all on this journey of discovery.

Our goal is equip those who come with teaching and instruction that will enable them to leave, go back out and know how to follow Jesus. To have gratitude for what God has done for them, and give it away to others by sharing their story to those who need to hear it. In other words....we want to make disciples.

This Saturday night, we'll be taking a look at what it means to worship God. Debbie Handy will be doing the teaching as she unravels the idea of what true and real worship is. Come and be with us. This Saturday -- 7 p.m -- downtown at the Vineyard.

God on you...
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Monday, October 27, 2014

Kindness = Freedom


Romans 2:4
Are you unmindful or actually ignorant (of the fact) that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repent (to change your mind and inner man to accept God's Will)?

One thing about addiction that is true, is that it distorts our view about the truth of God.
We look at our lives and the destruction that we've brought about and judge ourselves to be worthless people. Our self worth is bottomed out and we put up a defense that tells our mind "How could God love me!"


Every time we encounter anything or anyone that points to God, we automatically go on the run. It is to painful to think about God because in our minds, we know that He is out to get us. That we have crossed over some imaginary line that will prevent us from ever being saved. Our own distorted thinking, which comes from our distorted heart, tells us that "we are hopeless...we are what we are, and addict, and we will never be able to change." Such thoughts are powerful in keeping a person locked up in the prison of addiction.

But God's love.....
Pure, holy and divine...
Is what fuels him to reach out to us.
A God who did not wish to save those who cannot save themselves would never reach out.

A God who only wanted to punish humanity for their sins would never have sent His Son to die on their behalf.
It is God's love that calls out to us in the darkness of our sin.
It is God's love that tells me that I have worth.
It is God's love that breaks through the haze of an addicted mind the crazy logic that drives it, to proclaim the truth that there is life and freedom.
Life and freedom from drugs and alcohol for anyone who will simply give will and life over to His care.


The one common thought I hear from those who have accepted God's gift of life is "Why didn't I do this years ago?" A gratitude and an appreciation for this new way to live life.
To see them smile and laugh.
To see them grow and mature, and face whatever problems may come up rather than run away to a bottle, a pipe, or a pill.

To fall head over heels crazy in love with this Jesus, and then go tell others about what has happened to them.
That is what the kindness and love of God can do.
It truly is the most powerful force known to man.
The divine love and kindness of God, that can break the penalty of sin.
Love that can break the presence of sin.

And love that can break the power of sin.
Now that is some kind of love.

God on you...
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Saturday, October 25, 2014

It Will Be A Good Day



Saturday....
Well into my second cup of coffee.
Feeling grateful.

Aches and pains from the mileage, but the years have been kind to me.
Sometimes in the quietness of my home I feel God's blessings.
Sitting in my chair, letting my thoughts roam too and fro, I find myself smiling, thinking back of all the good times God has given to me.


Good friends....
Good music....

Much laughter....
The love of a godly woman who has made for us a home.
The connection between two hearts, now one, committed to seeing this journey all the way to the end......
And beyond.
The two become four..
Four becomes six..
Then another generation adds two to our ranks.
Physical, tangible evidence of God's blessings.

I apologize for the advertising at the beginning of the video I have posted,but the song is, and has been, important to me.
Forever Young....

The body ages....
The spirit doesn't...
The body breaks down...
The spirit doesn't...
I look in the mirror and wonder who is that old man that stares back at me.
I kind of like the face...
Lines and wrinkles....
Hair, no longer a part of my head, has now migrated to my ears and nose. What's up with that?
Beard has moved into shades of winter and snow.
But the heart.....

The very center of who I am is still young and strong.
Forever Young........

God on you...
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Friday, October 24, 2014

Feeling Really Incredible Dude---- Are You?



Genesis 1:31
Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

The sixth day....Friday.
We made another one.
I know that some of you have struggled this week. Life has been hard, but here you are, still standing. Here you are...still alive.
Don't you find it strange that when God stepped back on the sixth day and took inventory of all that He had accomplished, He deemed it as being "Very Good."

I mean, after all, He is God.
He stands outside of time, therefore He is able to see beginning to end. He knew that Adam and Eve would throw everything away for a piece of fruit. He already had a plan in place to deal with the 'sin' issue. Yet with this knowledge, He gave creation His stamp of approval. "It was very good". 

Such knowledge is still a part of God's character and make up today. His approval of creation (including humanity) has not changed. Maybe because God knows the potential that each of us possess that has been covered up by sin. God knows that when connection is made between His Holy Spirit and our spirit...this potential is unleashed and given freedom so that we can truly become the people God intended us to be. 

Addiction is one of the many forms of sin that has destroyed many a man and woman. It numbs the mind and body, as well as the spirit. It creates a false reality that seeks to keep us separated from each other and from our creator. Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer. I would classify it as a "work of the devil". Well, I John 3:8 declares that this is the reason that Jesus came------to destroy the works of the devil. How? By bringing healing to those who need it. If that be the case, then why isn't everyone healed? Why just some? I don't have an answer for that. I know that it is all a part of the "Kingdom of God now....but the Kingdom of God not yet" theology that I hold as part of my beliefs. That what we see in our world today isn't the fullness of God's rule and reign, or the completion of His work. We are seeing glimpses of what God can do. We are experiencing the fullness of His Spirit, but not the fullness of His kingdom. Why do I believe this? Because if you turn to the book of Revelation, you'll see that where God is, there isn't any death, sadness, pain, grief or tears. Do we see such in our world today? Yes. But we also have times were God shows up and heals and saves. You see, salvation is truly the ultimate healing. Salvation is a gift that ties us to the completion of God's Kingdom rule. We are transferred, through Christ, from the kingdom of darkness and sin, to His kingdom of light and life.

That is why my view of addiction is found in the simple message....."You don't have a drug and alcohol problem....you've got a living problem".  We suffer from a broken relationship with our Creator. We have sought to run our own life. Make our own choices. Be the "little g" god of our own existence. Choices made have piled up one on top of another and have pounded us down into this state of shame and  guilt. We are truly in need of a power greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity. We are in need of a Genesis Week in our lives. A time of restoration and healing. A time so that when completed, once again God will look at us and say, "Good...very good". Such a time is now. Why not?

God on you...
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Place Of Connection


Acts 2:46-47
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Meetings.....
Support groups........
Church........
Celebrate Recovery......
Vineyard Recovery.........
Places where you can get connected.
Connected means more than showing up and filling a seat.
Connected means that you give yourself and your time to help facilitate the meeting.
It may be setting up chairs...
Meeting new people a making them feel welcomed.

The magic that takes place when you begin to give of yourself is incredible.
You find that you are part of a family.
Like minded people who have the same interest as you.
Like minded people who are on the same journey you are on.


You may be thinking that "I don't have anything in common with them."
Well, yes you do.
If you are saved...
If you have turned will and life over to the care of God, then Jesus is the common denominator that binds you to this family.

I remember years ago when Vicki and I were church hopping, we'd wind up in a group and the focus was everything but Jesus. There was talk about vacations....football....the latest bargains they'd found...new bass boats. There was talk about people who weren't at the meetings and the family issues they were dealing with. But never was there any mention about Jesus, about what he was doing in their lives...nothing. I'm not saying these were bad people, they weren't. But I never could figure out why Jesus was an after thought among this group. 

Jesus is central to recovery.
Jesus is central to life.

He is the middle ground that we stand upon daily.
He is the main focus of why we gather on Saturday night.
I think you know, by now, that I am a believer in the discipline of the Twelve Steps. But unless you know this Jesus, those steps become an exercise in self-will.

He is the bond that brings us together.
Saturday night is a gathering of the greatest brotherhood and sisterhood of all time.

Men and women who are recovering from the fall of humanity that took place in a garden thousands of years ago.
We are a community of believers who celebrate the liberation from sin and addiction.
We are a family of believers who celebrate the new life that has been given to us by Christ.


We are a place of connection...
Not collection.
Our purpose is not to rope a bunch of people into coming just so we can count nickles and noses to feel good about what we're doing.

Our purpose is to provide a place where life can be found, friendships can be established and then name of Jesus exalted through each of us.
If you're free one Saturday, consider coming and being with us.
We'd love to see you.


God on you...

mb


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Would Like To Thank Everyone

Feeling mellow today.....
Lot of reflection this morning.
Taking stock of where I have come from, where I am today, and where God might be leading me tomorrow.
Some good...
Some bad....
All part of the journey.
Also found myself stuck at Colossians 3:15
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body,
And be thankful.
So that is what I want to do this morning.
Give thanks.


Thank you Vicki, for taking this ride with me. 43 years and you're still the only woman who can make my heart skip a beat when I look at you.

Thank you Chad and Josh, for becoming the men that you are. I see a lot of my own Father in each of you. Yet, at the same time, I see the mark that you have each made for yourselves.

Thank you Robin and Heather, for bringing a fresh view to our family. For the love you've shown to me and Vicki, and to our sons. If ever there were two godly women in this world, I see this in you.

Thank you Tyler and Ashley, for the joy and laughter you have both added to our family.
You have made me young again and for that I am grateful.

Thank you Debbie Handy, for giving me a place to learn how to lead worship. And for being my partner over the past 23 years. That's a lot of music. 

Thank you Mom and Dad for buying me my first guitar. What a beaut! Metal-flake orange Norma Electric. Move over Duane Eddy--there's a new Marshall in town.

Thank you Jim Bentley, for giving me a place at Gadsden Vineyard. For calling me on that Sunday morning back in May of '97 asking me....."Have you ever considered being ordained?"

Thank you Core Group of Vineyard Recovery. Your eagerness to serve and love those who come on Saturday night is incredible. Jason and Angela, Barry and Deb, Wayne, Debbie, Jeremiah, Carrie, Blake, Marie. Thank you for catching the vision.

Thank you Steve and Marilyn Yarbrough, for giving me a place at Rapha. If I'd known I was going to stay this long I would have dressed differently.

Thank you George Creel, for opening up the Bible for me. For introducing me to the work of the Holy Spirit. You made the Word come alive and it burned in my heart. A flame that has only grown hotter and more intense.

Thank all of you who were on staff at Campus Crusade for Christ in 1968. Lanier and Karen, Ruth Ann, Dwilene, John And Marilyn. You gave a young boy who was full of insecurity the keys to a future. You told me that I could play in God's kingdom and then turned me loose to do it.

Thank you Nori Kelley, Brook Finlayson, Kenny Young, Kim Jenkins, and once again--Debbiel Handy, for allowing me to be a part of the band. 

Thank you David Finlayson for allowing me to become a DREAMER with you back in 1983.

And last, but certainly not least....
Thank you Jesus...
For saving me and working me all these years. Today I feel like George Bailey. I am the richest man in Bedford Falls.

Y'all have a great day....

God on you...
mb

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fear

Seems to be a lot of fear in the atmosphere.
The news channels thrive on it.
It fills our newspapers.
It is founded on conjecture of what might happen.
Fear.

For a person in addiction, fear is a major part of life.
But the kind of fear they carry around is directed toward themselves.
Fear of failure....
Fear of rejection....
Fear of abandonment....

Because they don't have a way to battle these fears, they turn to their drug of choice.
It's all they know how to do to survive.

There are also these things we call False Belief's.
They govern our actions and dictate our responses. We grew up with them....were raised with them and now they guide us daily.
These false belief's are the fuel for the fear that an addict feels everyday.
False Belief # 1 tells us "I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself". Every person has a standard that they want to live up to. It may be something that our parents taught us or something we picked up along the way that we use to measure our self worth by. But because addiction has kicked in, we never quite measure up to those standards. IN fact, we have failed so much that we have given up trying to meet any standard. We use our past record to measure our future with. What does our past say about us? That we have failed at most everything we have tried. What does that say about our future? That we will fail, so why try.
Fear of failure kicks in and it has become such a powerful force in our life that we quit trying. 
The fear rises up and we turn to our drug of choice to escape the pain and the condemnation that we heap on ourselves.
What's the answer?

John 14:1
Let not your hearts be troubled, you believe in God, believe in Me.
The word trouble, in Strong's Concordance, is translated "Boiling Water". Heat is applied which agitates the water. Jesus is saying, don't let the outside pressures and unknown future dictate your response by becoming fearful. Don't pick up and carry burdens and emotions that only lead us away from Christ. What is the answer? It is so simple. Believe in God. Believe in Christ.
Not a mental nod to "Yep! I believe in God and Jesus".  But a deep down, lay hold of, don't let go belief that God is who He claims to be and Jesus will do what He has promised He would do. I am never to look inside myself for answers to my fears or problems. I look to Him. I turn my attention to Christ. Something that works for me if I find myself becoming fearful is to read the Psalms out loud. Sounds crazy I know, but it works. Why does it work? Here again ...simple. Romans 10:17 - Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God. I don't listen to that deceiving voice that whispers to my mind. I began to read out loud and speak the truth of God's word. I will not allow fear space in my head to do it's work. Keep in mind that we are human, o.k.? Fear is a part of life, but I don't have to let it rule over me. In the John 14 verse, what Jesus is saying is that when fear seeks to overtake you, fight back. You've got the greatest weapon in the world there in your Bible. Use it! When Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by the devil himself, what did He use? Scripture. Every time the devil came at Him, Jesus would turn he away with the truth that is found in God's word. I think it's time we all see the value and turn the word of God into a real weapon.
Truth will take down fear every time.

God on you...
mb



Monday, October 20, 2014

Knowledge About....Or Knowledge Of?

Even though you may be reading this in the A.M....
I started writing it on Sunday evening at 8:06 p.m.

Thoughts seem to float around from time to time in my brain...
Some of them seem to be good...
Some seem to be of the silly nature...
And then there are those thoughts that seem to be given by God.


One of the thoughts that has been renting space all day today, is the thought that God is bigger than my understanding and comprehension. You may say, "Of course He is...we all know that!" But what do we do about such a thought? Where does it lead us? Do we simply acknowledge the greatness of God and then move on with life? Or does such a thought stir the desire to know Him even more? I love what Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10--"That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death."  Such a statement does not sound like someone who is content with his current state of salvation. Doesn't sound like someone who is content to simply play the "religious" game. It sounds like a man who has been changed....A man who wants to expend himself on knowing (experiencing) the fullness of the presence of God.

Paul states that he wants to KNOW Jesus. Not an intellectual ascent or a gathering of information, but rather an on going experience of the presence and person of Christ. This interaction between divine and mortal, bound together by God's Holy Spirit, takes place daily.
You see, Paul was crazy enough to believe that salvation, and the call to follow Jesus, invades every area of life and takes precedent over everything else.  If we read the passage from Philippians correctly, we see a man who has sold out to Jesus. He is not holding anything back and has given up everything for this relationship. What is crazy is that we read of such a commitment by Paul and we consider it to be absurd and incapable of being carried out in our day and time. Now while I don't believe that everyone has the call that God placed on Paul, I do believe that everyone is called to follow Jesus with the same passion.


The verse from Philippians tells us that Paul desired to Know Jesus....
And the POWER of His resurrection. The kind of POWER that moved Paul to write "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." When he stated "all things" he was speaking of situations and circumstances. Paul could thrive and survive no matter if he was in jail, or a free man. No matter if he had a lot, or didn't have a dime. Paul could do all things no matter what the world threw at him. He wasn't a whiner or a crier about his lot in life. He considered it all to part of the journey. That is what I want for my own life. I don't want to resort to whining and crying and claiming that "Life Ain't Fair!".  Of course life isn't fair. Jesus told us in Scripture that if we chose to follow Him the world would hate us. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! 

I want to stay hungry from God.
I want to expend myself on Him and His kingdom.
I want Jesus!

I want to learn now to love others with the same love Jesus has.
I want to see His face, hear His voice, and walk where ever He goes.
Just for today...

God on you...
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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Life Seen With A Sunday Kind Of View

8:02 a.m.

Slept in this morning. Got up at a little before 5:30. I can remember when sleeping in meant getting up at 9 or 10 a.m. Not anymore. Two cups of coffee and a yogurt and I'm well on my way to face Sunday. 

Acts 2:42 
They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord's supper and in prayer.

Being connected with others who are on this journey of following Jesus is where real life is found. This common relationship we share with others is the focal point of everything in our lives. Or at least should be. Our  salvation binds our conversations. Our salvation has us pointed in the same direction. Our salvation is the common language that fuels our intent and motive. In other words, it's all about Jesus, what He has done to us and for us, and where He is leading us.

It was so cool last night at VRC. I love the fall of the year when the shadows deepen and night comes early to downtown. I love to stop and take in the view of the room and the sounds that surround me before the service starts. Last night, I watched as two brothers stood side by side talking and laughing. Both have come from terrible, deep darkness and have found new life in Christ. To a passerby, the two brothers would cause no reason to pause and reflect on what they were doing. But to me, they were tangible evidence of the miracle working power of Christ. This same Jesus we read about has reached down into darkness beyond darkness and taken up these two brothers. Something our society wasn't able to do. Something that intellectual minds weren't able to accomplish. But here they were.....smiles and laughter....gratitude and thankfulness. Their journey so far has taken them farther than they thought possible. But isn't that the way Jesus works. Real-deal-promise-a-real-promise miracles in our midst. Who'd thunk it.

People come in and take their seats. We set the room with tables and chairs, and if you were on the outside looking into the room, you might think it was you were seeing a coffee shop or a bistro. Never would have pegged it for a church. Church? On Saturday Night? Yep! I've always done church on Saturday night, save for two years when we first got to Rapha when we met on Sunday mornings. Last night's worship was blues oriented. Now when the blues is usually sung, it is a cry of pain and suffering. Love lost and relationships gone. A cry with no direction other than to lament ones suffering. But when we sing the blues on Saturday night, it is that same cry but there is a direction and purpose to our words. We are crying out to God. We are declaring that He, God, can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Opening song...The Father's Love, a declaration that we are the recipients of a love that is beyond description. "People let me tell you 'bout the Father's Love, demonstrated on Calvary."
Next came a declaration from God....I Will Take Care Of You- "I know you've been hurt /  by somebody else / I can tell by the way /  that you carry yourself /  if you will let me / here's what I wanna do/  I will take care of you / care of you /  I will take care of you.
Debbie, our keyboardist, came up with a new killer arrangement of No More -  the cry of a heart that has decided to follow Jesus. Going back to the old life and the old ways was no longer an option. 

The message was the second in our series of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Mostly taken from John Chapter 15, we saw the need to be connected to Him. That all life and nourishment to walk it out comes from Christ. In this interchange between us and Him, we find that He works inside of us to change our character. Removing old destructive patterns and thoughts that manifested in wrong behavior, we now find that we are producing a new life. A new life that is made possible by the fruit of God's Holy Spirit at work in us. We are being transformed and our character is being reconstructed in a new way of seeing life and dealing with it.

All in all, it was a good evening.
Much ministry....
Much love in the room.

Guess what?
The good Lord willing, we'll get to do it again next Saturday.

How cool is that?

God on you...
mb

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ramblings From a Tired Mind

Good morning!

I've been up and out for some time. Breakfast meetings....down to the church to set up for tonight. Saturday is one of my most favorite times....Busy, but there will be some rest this afternoon before we meet tonight.

Seems to me that I have been approached by many this week who are asking questions that I don't have answers to.  To be honest, they are questions that I ask myself from time to time. "How come God doesn't just take away the pain I'm feeling right now?"   "How long will I have to keep on hurting...emotionally, spiritually, as well as physically?" "Why can't I hear God?" I call these the questions of humanity. Questions that we all ask. Questions that come from our humanity as we struggle to understand who God is.

I wish I could give some answers that would satisfy those who ask. I don't really want to speak religiously and say, "Well, you just have to have faith." But truth is....you just have to have faith. Based on what I've seen God do in the past, coupled with what I have learned about His nature through Scripture, I point my belief toward Him.

Answers are nice to the questions we ask, but answers are sometimes over rated. What would we really do if God DID answer all our questions? Would be able to handle what we are told? I like leaving the "driving" to Him, so to speak. To place my will and my life in His care and just take the journey. Knowing that having questions are part of the journey...but also understanding that faith is what keeps me from going into the ditch.

I do believe that God created this incredible thing to help us make it through the doubting times....to make it through the hard, dark times. This thing we call "church".  Not the building....not the denomination...not the model...but the people. If you think about it, when we band together with like minded people, even if our questions don't find answers we have a peace in knowing that there are others who are asking the same questions. This isn't a gathering where we all sit in misery and complain about God's lack of compassion for our life situations, but rather a place where we can encourage and be encouraged to keep on. To not give up. To not turn back. To lay hold of God and each other and see this trip all the way to the end.  That is why I love Saturday nights. The people! Knowing that when we walk through those doors tonight, it will be a celebration of God's goodness being poured out on us for another week. We are still above ground........still breathing.....still have life.....and we're sober. That is something worth celebrating. 

So we'll gather together to sing and worship......
To testify to the goodness of God.
To get our batteries recharged for the coming week.
Be recharged so we can go back out and love on folks and hopefully show them the way to real life.

Along the way, in this journey, we will realize that we have grown and matured in Christ. We don't see life the same way we use to.
Isn't that what relationship and recovery is all about? Growing up before we grow older? I think so.


if you're free tonight, come and join us.
Love to see you....

7 p.m 
Downtown Gadsden on Broad Street -  between 4th and 5th streets.

God on you..

mb

Friday, October 17, 2014

Count Your Blessings And Find The Gratitude



Matthew 6:11
Give us this day our daily bread


How Rich Are You?

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep....
You are richer than 75% of the world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish somewhere, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend a church meeting without fear of imprisonment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

If your parents still alive and still married, you are very rare, even in the United States.

If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful....
you are blessed because the majority can, but most don't.

If you can hold someones hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder....
you are blessed because you can offer a healing touch.

and last, but certainly not least...

If you can read this posting in the Greene Street Letters this morning, you are more blessed than over two billion people in 
the world who cannot read at all.

Have a good day, and don't forget to count your blessings.


God on you...
mb

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Don't Let Addiction Fill In The Blanks For You


Step # 12
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principals in all our affairs.

I love this picture of a name tag....
You know the kind that they hand out sometimes at functions you attend.
The peel-off-stick-to-your-shirt kind of name tag. The "name" spot is vacant, so they usually hand you a sharpie to fill in with your name.

Addiction has a way of filling in all the blanks in our life.
When we try to define ourselves, addiction does it for us.
Only trouble is, addiction isn't very nice when it comes to the name department. Why? Because it uses guilt and shame to motivate you to keep it alive through one more high. 

You don't mean to, but slowly the names start to be filled in.
"Liar"....
"Thief"....

"Crack head"....
"Meth Head"....
"Drunk"......

And the list grows larger and larger as the names start to pile up.
Funny part is...
You begin to believe it.
You even go as far as to reason in your mind..."This must be who I really am. If I was someone else, I would quit doing this." But you can't quit, can you?


In the beginning, all this Twelve Step stuff seems like a bunch of hokum.
But truth is, the steps are a pathway to freedom and life. A way that will rip that name tag off of you....destroy all those thoughts and names that addiction has labeled you with....and replace them with the truth of who God says you are. After all, doesn't the one who creates something have the honor and privilege of naming what they have created? Yes, they do. Well, God, being our creator, is the only one who gets to name you. His name that is chosen for you will always reflect His love and care for you.

Work the steps and you will find yourself at Step # 12.
The point at which you begin to give away what you have learned and observed in your own journey. You may be thinking, "I can't do that? I'm not good at telling someone else my life story. I'm not comfortable putting myself out there for others to see." Truth is, you are out there everyday aren't you? Don't you think people are watching you? Don't you think that some people know where you have come from (You addictive past) and are watching to see how you handle life? Sure they are. But even with all of this going on, you can begin to give away with baby steps.

One of my most favorite stories is told by a good friend of mine concerning his first A.A. meeting. He knew he needed to go and had made up his mind to do so, but in order to actually accomplish this task he got drunk. Showing up at the door, he made it through his first meeting. Today when he speaks of that first meeting, he will tell you..."I don't remember much that was said or that took place at that A.A. meeting. What I do remember is that someone met me at the door, handed me a cup of coffee and some cookies and said, 'Come sit with me'".

We give away by loving on those who can't even love themselves.

Work these steps and the names of the past will drop off and disappear, only to be replaced by new names. Ones that reflect the integrity and honor of a life that has been reclaimed by God.

Step # 12 -  James 5:19-20
My dear brothers and sisters, if anyone among you wanders away from the truth and is brought back again, you can be sure that the one who brings that person back will save that sinner from death and bring about forgiveness of many sins.
God on you...

mb

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Under The Care of Jesus



John 17:23
I in them, and You in Me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent Me, and have loved them as you have loved Me.

Sometimes in our worship to Jesus, we forget that He understands our human condition better than anyone.
We have elevated Him to a position where we forget that He has walked among us here on planet earth.
He has seen death up close and personal.
He understands the emotions and grief that death brings to a family who has lost a loved one.
A wife's broken heart over the death of her husband.
Children whose Mother has died.
Father's who have lost son's and daughter's.
Jesus understands the pain that we feel.

He knows fully well what temptation feels like.
To have an urge within that is so strong that it would pull you away from God into the darkness of your own soul. Left unchecked, this temptation leads to sin and sin to death. Jesus knows what that is like.
He was tempted in every way, as we are.
But praise God! He did not succumb to it. He was not shackled and broken by the weight of His own sin. He has not sinned.
The closest that Jesus has come to sin is when He took upon Himself my sin.....your sin.....the sin of the world.
He took on His own shoulders every sin that has been committed or will be committed. There on that cross, Jesus became the target for God the Father to pour out every bit of His wrath and hatred for sin. Jesus became ground zero for me and for you, receiving the full weight of the penalty for sin. His body and spirit took the punishment meant for you and for me.

With such in mind, Jesus now calls us to come to Him. To receive full pardon and release from our sin.
Not only that, He has promised to take care of us. To be the good shepherd and lead us. What's our part?
Confess those sins we have committed and receive forgiveness and healing for the damage they have done in our lives. Wowzer's!

I love the song "I Will Take Care Of You" in the video above.
The words speak of a loving Jesus whose soul aim is to save that which was lost.
Save...
Fill .....
Protect....
Empower....
Send out to share the message of hope.
All the while, everyday, watching over us and taking care of us.
What a Jesus is this that calls me to walk with Him?

I know you've been hurt
By somebody else.
I can tell by the way
That you carry  yourself.
If you will let me
Here's what I want to do
I will take care of you.
Care of you..
Care of you....

God on you...
mb

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Part Two From Saturday's VRC Teaching On "Knowing Your Position In Christ"


John 15:5
"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing."

(continuing on with more of last Saturday night's teaching on "knowing your position in Christ")

The whole deal of following Jesus is simply that. Follow.
To follow means to take up a position behind someone. In this case, the someone is Jesus.
Jesus spells out for us the symbiotic relationship of life with Him. He is THE vine. Not one of many vines. Not a vine. The Vine. And we, if we have been saved, are branches that are connected to Him. In Him we have life. In Him we have abundance. In Him we have everything we need to make it through our time here on earth, and beyond into eternity.


But there is the idea of abiding. Putting down roots In Christ. Letting Christ dwell richly in each of us. This abiding centers around the idea of giving up my right to choose to accept His choices for me. I can do so because I have found the value in what He wants for me. I know this kind of smacks in the face of Western-American-Christianity. But to me, it's pretty simple, and falls to the end of the verse from John 15. "For without Me you can do nothing." What falls under "nothing?" Everything. So the idea of learning to abide is one that we have to build on as we learn the value of listening and then following the instructions that Jesus gives to us. All the while, obedience is building a shelter for us to live under. Jesus even said so in Matthew 7:24 -  "Anyone who hears these words of Mine and then puts them into practice, is like a wise man who builds his house upon a foundation of rock."  No one builds a house unless they are planning on living there. Jesus calls us to abide, or live, in Him. 

The word "ABIDE" is a verb that means "to stay, dwell, stand in a given place, a state of being, standing in expectancy."  In other words, we must live in the moment and listen in the moment for the next step in life journey. Jesus states that if we abide in Him...then He will abide in us. He, Jesus, being the vine, produces nourishment for the vine to help it grow and produce the fruit it is capable of bearing. 

Going back to the verse from John 15 (Without Me you can do nothing) is the very heart of the first three steps of the Twelve Steps.
Step # 1- we admit we are powerless. Our lives have become unmanageable. 

Step # 2 - Come to believe in a Power greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity.
And finally....
Step # 3 - Made a decision to turn will and life over to the care of God as we understood Him. 
That final step, Step #3, is the abiding step. The driving down of our tent pegs to weather whatever storm life may bring our way. We are powerless without Him. We have power when we are in Him and He is in us.

Well, if you noticed, I'm up late:  12:14 a.m.
So I'm going to check out now and I will continue on with this teaching tomorrow.
Thanks for stopping by the Greene Street Letters.

God on you...

mb

Monday, October 13, 2014

Knowing Who We Are In Christ



Luke 9:23
and Jesus said, "If anyone desires to come after me (follow me)......"

Saturday night was the first teaching in our "Doing The Stuff: 101 - Part 2" at Vineyard Recovery Church.
The basic premise of the series is "what next?" after salvation.
VRC is seen as a community of believers whose major aim and focus is to help those seeking to break free from their addiction. While that is true...we are also a community that holds to the truth, that our chief aim is to point to Jesus as the sole answer to breaking free from everything that is wrong in our lives.

It seems as though two opposing views seem to exist when it comes to salvation. On one side, the thought (sometimes unspoken) is that once salvation has been reached, then what? Do we carry on with life as usual? Do we simply attend church and wait for Jesus' return? Merely acting religious. Salvation has been reduced to a "get-out-hell" free card that we keep with us.
On the other hand, you have some who think everyone that is saved should turn into a super-hyper spiritual being. To me, the real truth lies somewhere in the middle of these two opposing views. The place John Wimber use to refer to as the Radical Middle

This middle ground is a place where real life is experienced under the direction of God's Holy Spirit at work in the believer. Salvation opens the door for the individual to understand who they are in Christ. Understand their position in this new way of living.

Once a person is saved, we must learn to fall in love with Jesus.
John 14:15 - If you love Me, keep My commandments. Funny! It doesn't say "Keep My Commandments" first. It speaks of falling in love with Jesus. We do this by hanging out with others who love Him. Why love first? Think back to the first time you fell in love. I mean really in love. You laid aside your wants and desires in order to do what pleased the one you loved. Jesus is laying out this wonderful dynamic of relationship with Him. We don't "DO" in order to say that we love Him as evidenced by our actions. We love Him, and from this love, the doing comes natural. I don't keep the commandments because I have to. I don't keep the commandments because it will make me look more spiritual. I keep the commandments because I want to. I want to do those things which please Him.


John 14:16 - And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever.
Helper? Yep...the Holy Spirit is given to us to be our helper...our guide...our teacher. Yet, this incredible gift of God's Holy Spirit is often relegated to a place of being ignored by some. Not me! He is the Power that is going to make the difference in my life. He guides....I follow. He empowers, recognize my weakness so He can be made stronger in me. It is about me, laying aside my own desire to drive the bus, letting Him take control. I merely follow. The Holy Spirit always has the greater good working in me. Why would I fight against that? 

Well...that enough for today.
I will continue with the notes and teaching from our first Doing The Stuff:101-part 2 tomorrow.

God on you..

mb

Friday, October 10, 2014

Shadow Of His Love



"I Just Want To Stay In The Shadow Of Your Love"

What would such a shadow look like?
Would I readily recognize it?
Would it be familiar to my eyes?
I think maybe the shadow of God's love
would be in the shape of a cross.

Isn't it weird how something so horrible
could be view as the ultimate symbol of love.
Pain...
Humiliation...
The reduction of a life to nothing more than
human rubble.
Yet every act that took place on the cross of Christ
Defined what real love was.

In the shadow of the love of Christ,
I find out exactly how shallow my love is.
I find out how selfish my love is.
I am made painfully aware of how divine love
has the power to undo the darkness of this world.
I am the recipient of such a love.

If such love does in fact exist...
then how could we, as mere mortals, not be changed
when we come in contact with it?
How could we not be transformed by this love that
fills shadows every where?
A love that seeks out the darkness of the human heart
to bring real life...
true life...
abundant life...
eternal life...

Me?
My part is to simply receive it.
To recognize the futility of living outside the boundaries of 
this divine love...
and accept this wonderful gift of love from the Father.
Then...
I can move into the shadow of His love.

Psalm 91:1
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

Sometimes, and for whatever reason,
we view darkness and shadows as evil...
Accept this free gift of love from God
and move into the shadows of His love.
Experience for yourself the richness of His love..

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 ...