Saturday, January 31, 2015

"Revive And Renew us, O Lord!"

Habakkuk 3:2
O LORD, revive your work in the midst of the years....
In the midst of the years make known....
In wrath, remember mercy.

Psalm 85:6
Will you not revive us again, that your people
may rejoice in You?

What is "revival?"
To those of us who live here in the Southern part of the United States, revival is a series of planned church meetings that usually take place during the summer months. An outside speaker is invited to come and preach in hopes that this "new" voice...this "fresh" voice might stir the hearts of those who attend.

Real revival is the renewal of the first love of all who claim to be followers of Jesus. This awakening of this first love results in the church moving into a new dimension of living. The worship takes on a new dynamic as people turn their attention to Jesus. There is a greater awareness of the kingdom mandate to "Go and make disciples".  I think sometimes the church misreads this part of Matthew 28. The church's greatest desire is to make converts, not disciples. This renewal of first love is of such a degree that it propels us out of the church and into the marketplace. We are rocketed off of the pew (or chair) and into the work place. We truly do become the arms, legs, voice and heart of Christ. In other words, we begin to "Do the Stuff" as John Wimber would say. We begin to operate under the ministry or service of Christ.

Revival also includes an uncovering in the hearts of those who are a part of it. Sin that has managed to escape notice or has laid hidden is suddenly revealed. The Holy Spirit invades the hearts of those that have grown cold toward Jesus. This is a hard thing to write because as over the past 21 months, God has been unraveling my own heart like a cheap sweater. I have seen unhealthy need to be accepted....judgmental...and on and on. Is it embarrassing? You bet, but it has given me an opportunity to be free of such. Am I finished with all the uncovering? I'd like to think so, but if I know God...there are still more layers and levels that will have to be dealt with. I am grateful that He loves me enough to show me and then give me an opportunity to repent and change.

So what is up with all this "revival" talk?
I believe that we are beginning to see the first fruits of a Renewal/ Revival visitation from God.
I wish not to define such a coming move...
Or to place any of my own personal expectations upon what God is going to do...
But I do, spiritually, feel the first breezes of the Holy Spirit.
Not my timetable, but His....
Not my agenda, but His...
Not my church...but His...
Come, Lord, Come!

God on you...

Friday, January 30, 2015

Stranded At The Mountain

Exodus 32:1
Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, "Come, make us gods that shall go before us, for as far as this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him."

How quickly the human heart and will turn aside from God.
Let the least little hardship come along.....
The first problem that we don't have an answer to....
And we listen to that old familiar voice in our minds that tell us to return to our "Egypt".

Egypt...a place of slavery.....misery.....pain and suffering.
Let life begin to pile up around us and we start to romanticize the past, to the point that we turn to go back.

The Hebrews, in Exodus 32, had seen the hand of God do some incredible feats while they were in Egypt. The became a free people and were on the move to a land that God had promised them. But now, here they were at a mountain in the wilderness. Moses had gone up to commune with God. Days passed. People became restless. What was their solution? Reach way back in the memories and draw from their dark hearts and dark thoughts the idea of replacing the real God with false ones. Isn't that what we do when we allow our past to influence where we are headed. When we reach a point where life is to much pain ....we look to our behaviors from the past to give us direction on where to go in our future.

To put it bluntly, the people who waited at the foot of the mountain for Moses to come back, let their impatience get the best of them. They demanded that Aaron, Moses' brother, build them a false god....a golden calf,if you will. It was the intent of their collective hearts that causes them to cast of the real God and return to their old ways of worship. 

God's will and call for those He brought out of Egypt never changed, and He never wavered in His commitment to them to see them all the way to the place He'd promised to give them. Knowing this should bring us great peace and purpose when we do go through those times that we don't understand the "why" of their purpose. Maybe that is why we read in II Corinthians 5:7: For we walk by faith and not by sight. That our journey is one of seeing life different. Seeing life with new eyes and a fresh vision that only God can give us.
Think on this....

God on you....

Thursday, January 29, 2015

WORD Power

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ...."
"For it is the POWER of God to salvation for everyone who believes..."

"For I determined not to know anything among you...."
"Except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

Is the message of the Gospel truly the power that Paul claimed it to be? Or have we offered something more palatable to those who are dying in their sin? Do we truly move under the unction and power of God's Holy Spirit once salvation has been laid hold of and accepted? Or do we store away religious platitudes in our memories and pull them out like Chocolate Cordials to feast on and make us feel better?

I am at a point in my life where some things are becoming clearer. I have walked on the side of darkness and have felt the hopelessness that people carry whose lives are trapped by sin. I have heard the cry of "That which I want to do, I cannot....and that which I don't want to do...that is the very thing I do. O Wretched man that I am...who will save me from this body of death?" And I....who claims to be a minister of the Word of God....Do I give an answer to that cry? Do I proclaim that salvation if found only in Jesus? Or do I water down the gospel so as to make it easy on the soul?

It truly is fine line that one walks when sharing the message of salvation. I guess the one question that must be asked is "Do I want to be popular and accepted?"....or do I want to be obedient and tell the complete truth of who Jesus truly is and what sin can truly do to a soul that rejects God.

There are so many opinions and theories of what addiction is and isn't, that it can be truly confusing. I guess the main goal of all recovery is to aid the individual in breaking free from the craving / using cycle and the destruction that follows. The longer the person stays in addiction, the greater the destruction until unless it is arrested, that person will either die, be in jail, or locked away in an institution. What we offer is life! Simple as that. Not life that is perfect, at least not on this side of heaven, but life that is worth the living. Life that can be faced by the individual without the aid of a pill or a mood-altering substance. Life found only in Jesus. I guess you could say that there are a lot of programs out there who offer recovery.....What I want to offer is RECOVERY PLUS! It begins with the solid truth that we are powerless to enact change in our own lives. Why are we powerless? Because our choices and decisions have been made by giving into our old nature that wants to be independent from God. The nature that wants to be like God (even though we don't ever say that). We want to be captains of our own ship. We want to be in control. We want to stand above anything or anyone that would tell us what to do. Addiction is a byproduct of a person being totally independent from having anything to do with God. 

So is there POWER in the Gospel message? Sure there is.
Is it the POWER for salvation? Yes it is....
The message proclaims that we are all sinners before God....
And unless our minds and heart and lives are turned over to Him through confession and asking for forgiveness of our sins....then we have sealed our own fate and destiny. 
We will continue on this dark path of destruction that will ultimately end up in hell.
It doesn't have to be that way...
It doesn't have to end this way...
There is a Power greater than ourselves who can do more than restore us to sanity....
And that Power has a name....

God on you...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Correction To The Blog Posting "JUST JESUS"

I must apologize for a typo in the posting "JUST JESUS"....
I mistakenly typed that Jesus invitation was not extended to the elite and socially acceptable....
The correction should read that the invitation to new life was not only extended to them but others.
I'm sorry for this and promise to have a second cup of coffee to sharpen my dull thoughts and sleepy eyes....forgive me for my lapse in word placement.

Michael B.

A True Worshiper

Psalm 42:2
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?"

The one thing I am indebted to the Vineyard for is it taught me how to worship. Oh, there wasn't a worship 101 class, but the Vineyard provided a safe place where I was not inhibited from worshiping God. I read in Scripture about how people would posture themselves before God when they worshiped.
Some would raise their hands to God....
They would even clap for God....
I read where some got down on their knees as they worshiped, while still others would lay face down on the ground before God.

I kept asking myself, "Why do we not do this in America?" Of course the answer is not very difficult. Sometimes we don't exhibit these worship attitudes because of the culture the church has created. Some would look at such worship behavior and deem it out of place, or label it as someone trying to draw attention to themselves.

The one thing I do on Saturday night with Vineyard ReCovery is to offer a place where everyone is comfortable in worshiping God. I try not to manipulate or force people in their worship. But there is someone on Saturday who has found that place of uninhibited worship. They come every Saturday night and for a brief period of time, as we worship, this person is lost in God.
They have said on several occasions that when the worship music starts, the room fades away and everyone in it, and all that's left is God and them.

If asked about their singing, they would reply that they considered themselves to not have a good singing voice. But I tell you the truth, when they worship, heaven comes down. Their heart and spirit takes them to a place where the words of God stream forth in song from this person. I have stood and listened to this person prophesy in song, and known without a doubt that God was singing back to us.

Who is this person?
My wife, Vicki.

She is a worshiper. Her fire and passion to worship burns brighter than anyone I know. If I am on the worship team, I always find her in the room to watch, and listen for God to speak through her.She truly does enter into the presence of the Living God.

I remember years ago, she and I were visiting another church. It just so happened that the Sunday we picked to visit with them was when they had a visiting soloist. The music was nice (not my preference) and the man singing was truly talented. The last song of the service was "We Are Standing On Holy Ground". The music started and Vicki leaned over and said, "He singing it! I've got to do it".  "Do what?"I replied. "I've got to stand up....that's what God wants us to do." Me being the great man of faith that I am, looked at her and said, "Are you crazy...these people don't know can't do that." So Vicki sat there in her seat and began to vibrate under the presence of the Holy Spirit. I just knew that if she stood up, she'd embarrass herself because this was the type of church who did not appreciate outburst and posturing in their worship. The music continued. What did my wife do? She stood up, both hands raised, face turned to heaven, totally lost in Jesus. Funny part is, the moment she stood up, the whole congregation shot up I was the last one to stand. I don't think I was much of a pleasure to God that day. But I learned. My wife's action and posture opened the door for that entire church to stand and worship. Everyone was waiting for someone else to tell them it was o.k. to take this step in their worship. Like I said earlier, that's my wife. A most uninhibited....lover of Jesus.....worshiper of God. I've learned a lot from her when it comes to worship, and I am truly grateful that on Saturday night she is in the middle of our meeting, worshiping like it's nobodies business. Shouldn't we all be like that? I think maybe yes, we should.

God on you...


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Just Jesus

I awoke this morning with Your name in my mind....

Years ago, when we started our first recovery meetings, I used a phrase to define what we were all about as a community of believers. I didn't invent it.....I didn't copyright it....But I could not think of another phrase that would capture our theology better.
The phrase? JUST JESUS!

All theology is centered on the belief that Jesus is who He claimed to be...
And that He will do what He has promised He would do...
It is Just Jesus!

As the Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 2:2, I have taken these verses and placed them at the center of all I believe and all that I teach.
"For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus and Him crucified."
Romans 4:25 says that Jesus was delivered up to the cross for our offenses. In other words, an innocent man took the punishment that sin demanded. Blood had to be spilled as payment for our sins. The cross is the exclamation point that humanity can look to for forgiveness.
SO the cross is the place of healing, restoration, redemption, and change. It truly is JUST JESUS!

Jesus is the one who extends an invitation to quit living under the demands of sin and the ways of this world..."Come to Me, all who labor and are weighed down with life....and I will give you rest." An invitation to a new way to live that has no qualifications as to who can receive such a gift. The invitation isn't extended only to the elite or the socially acceptable. You see, the things and ways of this world have a way of putting us into classes or levels of acceptance. Jesus looks at all of us and says to the billionaire..."Come to Me!" His gaze falls upon the one living under an overpass, trying to huddle against the cold, and says "Come to Me!" He finds the politicians and offers the same invitation. To the housewife and the factory worker. The preacher and the churchgoer. From the heights of society to the remotest village in Africa..........the call is the same..."Come to Me!"

Do I desire to live free? Then it's Just Jesus....
Do I desire to be made whole in spirit, soul and body? Then it's Just Jesus......
I've been called shallow in my teaching....
I've been even called simple....
It really doesn't matter what you call me....
After's Just Jesus.
Isn't it?

God on you...

Monday, January 26, 2015

Image Bearer

Genesis 1:27
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

I stood near the door at our Saturday night meeting, greeting everyone who came in.
Hand shakes....

A lot of "How are you doing?"
And "Good to see you!"
As the people filed in.
But Saturday night, I was different.
As I looked into the faces of those I greeted, I was suddenly aware of something.
Some faces were displays of joy and gratitude. Smiles and eyes that beamed.
Others were hard and cold.
Faces that didn't trust, and with good reason giving where they had come from.

Such a world holds everything close until connections are made.

But I was suddenly aware that each person I had greeted was an image bearer of God Himself.
Oh, not the physical part that we tend to judge others by...
but the internal / eternal part that really is the person....
The spirit....the center of who we really are.
God stamped His own image into our very being.

I guess you could say that we each carry around a piece of God's spiritual DNA.

Then I was suddenly aware of something else.
Unless these who showed up for the service came into relationship with Jesus, they would enter eternity completely separated from their creator forever.
We talk about sin.....we preach about sin....
But the truth is, sin has warped and covered over the image we were created in.
Years of abuse and bad decisions quickly followed by bad consequences, have crusted over God's image. In fact, I don't believe that we think about being an image bearer of Almighty God.
It never really enters our mind.
Such thoughts have caused me to see people in a different light.
Now, I'm going to go retro to the 60's and be all about  "make love and not war".
We aren't going to lock arms, standing on some mountain top, singing "we are the world".

But what I have got to do is learn to love...
More than that, I've got to learn to love with a purpose.
The purpose being making sure that those who I come in contact with understand who Jesus really is and what He desires for all of us.

How many men and women will enter hell today?
How many people we will meet on the street the work....
Don't know and are not aware of the promise of eternal life God has given to mankind?

Now, we could get all up and religious and grab our Bible's, go stand on the street corner and preach to those passing by. And that might not be a bad idea...but does God want you to do that? Or does He propose that you love the ones around you, to make sure that they know about God's gift of eternal life to mankind?

I just can't sit by and watch heroin steal lives around us.
I can't remain silent while alcohol destroys another family.
I can't be quiet while prescription med's function by lies and deception.

I've got to be about the kingdom business of loving those I meet....
Loving them and sharing with them that there is a better way to live, that God never created them to be an addict.

Saturday night, six people left that old lifestyle behind.
The shook of the crust and crud of sin and darkness, and walked out of the building changed.
Such is the heart of God to come and save.
To come and heal....
To come and remind us all that we are His image bearers.

God on you...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Power Connection

Acts 1:8
"But you shall receive POWER when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,and to the end of the earth."

John 16:13
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak and will tell you things to come.

The Holy Spirit....
Old timer's referred to Him as the Holy Ghost.
Samuel Bringle, a Salvation Army Evangelist, used to call the Holy Spirit "the Hound of Heaven".

The Spirit of God is symbolized throughout the Scriptures in various ways.

He is seen as a dove descending on Jesus as He comes up out of the water following His baptism.
He is defined as a "Mighty Rushing Wind" in Acts 2 on the day God loosed Him to fill every believer. 120 gathered in an Upper Room in Jerusalem experienced this "dove" coming as the "promise from the Father".

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was also symbolized as "tongues" or small column's of fire that rested over each persons head that was present in that upper room. If you go back to the book of Exodus, you will find that God appeared to the Hebrews, who had come out of slavery in Egypt, as a huge column of fire. He usually rested over the Tabernacle and lit up the entire camp with the light of His glory. One Column for One people. But on the day of Pentecost, God sent the Holy Spirit to every one who believed in Christ. His presence was now manifested and sealed by the presence of His Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. I'm sure even today, if we could pull back the veil that separates the natural from the spiritual, we would see that fire resting on each believer.
So...the Holy Spirit is seen as a "column" of fire.

The Spirit of God is also symbolized by water. Many refer to the "rain" of the Spirit...the washing away of sin after conviction and confession. The sudden awareness of His presence during a meeting, or in the solitude of being alone with God. We come under the rain of the Spirit.

No matter how you want to define or symbolize the Spirit of God, know this. He comes with Power. The same Spirit that entered that tomb and touched Jesus' body to raise Him from the dead, is the same Spirit that lives within you if you are a believer in Christ.
If you aren't a believer or follower of Christ, know that the Holy Spirit is working around you and in you to bring you to the place where you do "see' the goodness and power you need to be about the art of really living. 
As a believer, you may be thinking to yourself, "Yeah, I know this, but I don't feel the power." Maybe such is because we afraid to allow Him complete control of our life. Maybe we are in love with the things of the world and only want God for when times get hard, so we keep Him (at least in our minds)..behind glass with a sign that says "Break glass in case of emergency".

Acts 2:40
And with many other words he (Peter) testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."

Acts 2:38
The Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

The Spirit of God is the promise....
The connection between mortal human and immortal deity.
He is the Peace that is given when we surrender will and life over to the care of Jesus.
He is the Power that can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
But we have to surrender to this power.

I'm telling your right now, at 4:04 a.m. this morning, that if you are serious about moving on from your addiction.....all you have to do is give your will and life over to the care of Christ. Confess your sins.....Admit that you own was your choice to live in such a manner. The receive God's forgiveness. In the turning over of your will and your life, verbally acknowledge Jesus as the one you are going to follow.That you are no longer going to follow your own selfish desires or wants. Just say..."Jesus, You are Lord." Ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Now there is Power. Now there is a new way to live and do business with the world. Now you are plugged into a divine outlet and the Power of God will flow to you, and will flow through you. 

Come and fill us up, Lord!
God on you...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Yes He Is!

Job 38:4-6
(God speaking) "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone?"

Great conversation between Job and God. Job was going through the hardest time a human has ever endured. Such will cause you question why? And such will even cause you to question God. 

God's reply?
"Tell me Job....where were you when creation was taking place. When I was busy laying the guidelines and foundation for everything you can see, touch, taste, smell and hear? Huh? Where were you?"
We tend to forget that a God who can bring everything into existence, and keep it all in order and in line, is the same God who desires to work in our lives, to bring about His purpose and our good.

Such a feat on God's part, requires that I move in faith on my part. To not look at situations and circumstances and allow them to dictate my feelings, thoughts and emotions. When we do find ourselves in a hard place, we have a tendency to move toward doubt. Don't! Stop, get out your Bible and turn to Job 38 and read how God lets Job know who is in control, then believe that God is doing the same for you. 

I know that everyone loves to quote Romans 8:28, about how "all things work together for the good in those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose".  What falls under "All things"? Everything! The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the successes and the failures all work and piece together a complete picture so we can see God. That is the hard part in this whole "all thing" formula. Every situation we find ourselves in is an opportunity for us to mature and grow in Christ. Every problem we face is an opportunity for us to trust God a little more than we have in the past. I've said this before, and I'll say it again...........Life happens. Good things and bad things happen to us. Some because of dumb choices we make, others simply because it's life. But no matter which, I totally have to trust that God is in control, and that my job is to seek Him, listen for Him, and trust Him. Believe that He truly is God and that He still acts in the same manner we read about in Scripture. 

This is one of the reasons we need to be connected to a community of believers. It provides us with a place where we can gain strength, encouragement and prospective on what we're going through. We can receive prayer and some wisdom from others who may have gone, or currently be going through similar situations. That's why I'm so grateful to the people who are a part of Vineyard ReCovery. We all realize our need for God and the healing that takes place when we gather on Saturday nights. So no matter what you're facing today, stretch out your faith and tell God..."I trust you today. I trust that you are in control of my life and my situation. I will trust in you and I will not be afraid."
Think on these things...
God on you.....


Thursday, January 22, 2015


Psalm 51:1-4
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness. According to the multitude of Your tender mercies. Blot our my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight. That you may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.

The words of King David upon being uncovered for having an affair with another mans wife, and for having her husband killed. Even by today's standards, such acts are considered heinous and evil. David's Psalm 51 takes us through the steps of the uncovering and David's plea for forgiveness. There is a brokenness in David when he is exposed. It would have been very easy for him to exercise his kingly power and declare that he was above being scrutinized and examined. He could have decreed that such things as his sin would not be spoken of again while he reigned. But David knew all to well the conviction and pain that comes when a person truly is in touch with the fact that not only have they sinned, but they have sinned against God. In fact, all sin is committed against God.

I have been reading the memoirs of Charles Finney, one of America's great Revivalist. His conversion would seem so out of place in our society today, due to the emotional and mental nature of how God uncovered him. As I read the passages, I had to ask myself, "Is such a display a part of salvation? Does God still come with conviction and break people where they are to reveal their need for Him?" or have we become a nation of people who have become calloused to the voice and conviction of God's Holy Spirit? 

When was the last time you were broken and truly in touch with the fact that we, as humans, all stand in need of healing and forgiveness? It seems to me that the norm for the day is to be joyful and happy in Jesus. Hey! I'm all up in the joy part. I love it when there is that moment of sweet communion with God, coming through a thought or a situation you find yourself in. Nothing is better than to be caught up in the bliss of His presence. But there is also nothing better than the cleansing flood and release of our sin and tears as God pours His love and forgiveness upon us. 

When was the last time you saw a group of people on their face, repenting for their sin? When was the last time you were undone by the simple knowledge that He truly is God and that you only draw your next breath because He gives it to you. The awesome power, majesty and love of God that chose you to be the recipient of salvation and relationship with Him. I never want to become so calloused and hard that I can't sense when God is truly uncovering my heart. I want anything in me, be it sin, thought or deed, that would separate me from Him, to be revealed, confessed and taken away from me.

Psalm 147:3 reads: He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. Usually if you use the term "brokenhearted" most think of someone who has been dumped by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Or maybe they are brokenhearted over a situation or circumstance in their life. But the kind of broken hearts this verse speaks of, are those who truly recognize their need for God. Kind of like looking to yourself and realize that you are powerless to change anything in your life, knowing that God is your only answer. In order to bring about change in your life...change has to come to you. There must be a resetting of purpose and direction or else you'll continue to do the same things over and over. Why? Because the very thing that drives you and motivates you in your decision making, is a sin/nature that operates outside the will of God.
Thee is healing when our hearts are uncovered and we see the extent of our choices.

There is forgiveness for living outside God's will.
There is restoration...
There is forgiveness...

But it does come when we are truly broken before Him.

God on you this day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Galatians 4:4-7
But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights as sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out "Abba Father". So you are no longer a salve, but a son. And since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

When Jesus came, a new way of relating to God was opened. A new dynamic that wasn't available to all who lived prior to Jesus' appearance here on earth. Under the old way of approaching God, you had to drag your livestock to the temple, present them to a priest. Go through the whole rigmarole of sacrifice. Then after it was over, you rested in the knowledge that God had not taken away your sin, simply covered it with the blood of sheep and goats. Pigeons if you were really poor. Guess what? You got to do again next year. 

Unlike the ritual found in the Mosaic covenant that God established with Israel, Jesus' atoning work of paying for our sins by giving himself in our place was a once and for all time sacrifice. 

According to Gary Best, who wrote the study guide for Vineyard Bible Institute teaching Kingdom Of God III, "Jesus is sent as the door through which humankind can receive forgiveness and thereby re-establish intimate relationship with God as their king."
Because of Jesus' work on the cross, and through His resurrection from the dead, we are not simply redeemed.....we are redeemed to experience intimacy with God. Think about that for a moment. If that doesn't set you on fire, then your woods wet.

Jesus' act of reconciliation was a true resetting of the dynamic of relationship. It was not the Old testament appeasement of God's wrath, but the complete restoration of friendship with God. Such did happen to certain individuals we read about in the Old Testament, but did not happen to the people as a whole. Jesus was not just the redeemer, as important as that may seem. Jesus became the mediator, or go-between, on our behalf to God.As our redeemer, Jesus connected us, in relationship, with God. As deliverer, Jesus has freed all who trust in Him from the powers that oppress them. 

We need to remember that true freedom comes from being under the right authority. Such freedom takes place when be place ourselves under the rule of God. The cross was the ultimate power encounter to reveal who had the real power and authority. At the cross, Satan did his worst and Jesus showed his greatest submission to the rule of God. The result was the destruction of the devil's work (I John 3:8).  Jesus' response runs so contrary to our human nature. As Scripture states..."He was obedient to death.."   I might add..."And beyond". If it had simply ended with the death of Christ, the work would have been incomplete. Jesus rose out of that tomb and put back in place that which was lost in a garden many years ago when two people decided to do what they wanted to do. Jesus became the person who paid for my sins so that I could receive forgiveness and restoration of relationship with the complete God....
God the Father...
God the Son...

And God the Holy Spirit....
Now, that's some good stuff.

God on you...


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

What Do I Know?

What Do I know?
Give me a subject and I'll try to come up with something.
Naw....that's not what I'm talking about.
My wife says that I'm a vast storehouse of useless knowledge.
That would be true.
I do love me some trivia.

Did you know that the band "Bubble Puppy" only had one hit....Hot Smoke and Sassafras? Or that R. Buckminister Fuller designed and built the first Geodesic Dome? See....Useless knowledge. Fun at get together's but it won't land you that job you've always wanted.

What else do I know?
I know that God loves in ways I can't comprehend. Oh, I say the words concerning His love for people....we even sang about it a child. "Jesus Love me, this I know".  But when I look at myself, I wonder how He can do it.
A God that is perfect and holy....
A God who never messes up or gets things wrong, love me. Me! The Goof Up of all Goof-up-dom. God has affection and wants to work in my life even though I keep messing up. 

I think sometimes that is why the church comes up with rule and reg's, as a means to keep us all on the "Holy" Track. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating an "anything" goes mentality when it comes to following Jesus. I'm just saying that we seem to want to prove our worth back to God by trying to jump through the rules hoop.  There is a standard we are called to live to, but it is only possible when we realize who we are in Christ. That in Him, I can do all things. Outside of Him, I can only mess up, break, destroy, hurt, and loose things. In Him, I can love with a pure, unconditional love. Outside of Him, I have trouble even loving myself. I don't follow religious rules in order to prove my worth to others, or to Christ. In fact, I don't even follow the rules of religion. I follow Christ. What does that mean. Well, when Christ is my focus, I am falling in love with Him. As I study I spend time in I tell my story to others who don't know I meet with others who are also falling in love with Jesus, our focus becomes "How can we live our lives so that it is pleasing to God?" 

Living in this manner puts the desire inside to never want to disappoint God. Will we? Of course we will. We will sin. We will mess up. We will say the wrong thing. We will let the old nature surface and act in ways that are not in line with God's heart, but there is always forgiveness when we come to our senses and repent, confess and receive His forgiveness. In other words, God knows all to well the nature of man, but still desires to have fellowship with us. How cool is that?

I want to close with a passage from II Corinthians 4:7

But we have this treasure (The Spirit of God living inside us) in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.
God compares us to empty vessels made of clay. If I remember my Bible, Adam was made of clay. You say it was dirt? Well, in Genesis 2, we read where God formed Adam from the dust of the ground, but was also read where a mist of water use to rise up and water the earth. What happens when you mix water and dust? Well of get mud or clay. So God puts His presence, His Holy Spirit inside those clay pots that have turned over will and life to His care. Why did He choose to do this? So that we may truly realize that His power gives us the ability and desire to live a life that is pleasing to Him. 

Of course, you know I'm going to tie all this up and place it in recovery mode don't you? This whole "Treasure in earthen vessels" is the missing piece of recovery that has eluded many a soul. It is the turning to Him and recognizing He alone has the power to move us into a new way of living. I focus my will on following Him daily. I surrender my entire life.....spirit, soul and body to His care. I am now filled with a treasure that money cannot buy. As the big book of A A states...."I was rocketed into a new dimension of living."
Think on these things....
God on you...


Monday, January 19, 2015

What's It All About Ralphie?

Isaiah 13:2
Behold, God, my salvation! I will trust and not be afraid. For the Lord God is my strength and song. Yes, He has become my salvation.

I tend to bask in the glow of what transpires on Saturday night, all day Sunday. Thinking back on the good and the not so good that happened in our meeting. Did I say what needed to be said? Did I muddy the waters with the teaching, or was it easily understood.  Did the worship songs connect and provide a place where everyone could enter into worship. Did the Holy Spirit minister during the evening? Did I make myself accessible to everyone who needed to talk or share about something in their life? And the list goes on and on. I think it is the mercy of God that brings these things to mind, allowing a critique of sorts to be formulated. Bottom line in all of this, I want to grow as an individual and be about the kingdom business in my every day life. I don't want to drag out my "religiosity" every Saturday evening, put it on, and to to Vineyard ReCovery, only to go home and hang it back up in the closet until next Saturday. I want to walk in relationship with Christ, every moment of every day. Impossible you say.....I don't think so. All of these questions put me in a mind of remembering yesterday and this morning. "How did we get to where we are today? Has it really been 20 years?" So, I had to pull some of my journals and reread the entries that lead us to the present meeting we call Vineyard ReCovery.

August 3, 1999
There was a release today. A release for me to begin a Saturday night worship service. As far as I can tell, it will initially be aimed at the men who are in the program at Rapha, and their families. As I sat having my quiet time this morning, I was lead to the book of Nehemiah, how his heart was stirred by God for the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. My heart is stirred for the rebuilding of lives and of those who have been trapped in addiction. For them to have a place where they can come and receive prayer, ministry, and be experience the truth about the gospel (good news). What good news? That they do not have to live in a broken relationship with Christ anymore. They can truly be made whole and set free.
I'm yours Lord. I place myself in Your hands for this new work. I am very much aware of Your presence as I sit here and enter this into my journal. Give me the vision and the strength to see this Saturday meeting brought forth and established. I ask that you would send people to join in this work. People to love those who come....people who will serve in Your name. Burn us all.....set us on fire with a desire to move beyond what our minds are expecting. Let us move into the area where our expectations come from Your heart. I ask that You would keep this new work hidden from the enemy until the time of Your revealing. Your name to be praised. Great are Your works, Lord.
(The first meeting took place on August 21, 1999)

What was funny, strange, bizarre, or what ever adjective you want to us to describe it. At the first of the August 3 entry, I stated that there was a release for me to do Saturday night meeting, what took place in the whole "release" thing was pretty neat. I was at the church and was talking with Jim Bentley and Wayne Finely in the bookstore. I was sharing what all God was telling me concerning the Saturday meeting, when Wayne suggested that they pray over me, to release me to see where this meeting was going. He and Jim laid hands on me and began to pray. After a few moments, the presence of God came in power...and we all were thrown in different directions. As best I can remember, Jim was knocked to the floor, Wayne was thrown backwards into the bookshelves, and I was bent over, as though a great weight was upon my shoulders. I remember a lot of crying and gratitude and, at the same time ,the thought of "Oh God! Where is this going to go? What if I mess it up? What if I really hadn't heard you about starting this meeting." I have now come to realize that such are the thoughts and things we all wrestle with when we feel like God is calling us to move in a new area that we've never been before. We started a Saturday night called "House of Blue"....from that meeting, we started a Wednesday night meeting we called "Vineyard After Dark". We transitioned Sunday morning over to a "Doing The Stuff:101" class where we taught how to minister to others.
It truly has been a long, strange trip.
But I'm glad I went along for the ride.
until tomorrow.
God on you.....


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Rambling

Psalm 1
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly...
It's amazing to me how much "counsel" we take from sources other than God.
We rely on our own intuition....
Past experiences....
Suggestion of others...
We look for direction and solution in every place except where truth of the absolute kind is available. That would be in God.
It's kind of funny when you actually think about this verse from Psalm. It gives you kudo's of the heavenly kind....favor from the God who created the entire universe.....for not doing something. We win the prize when we don't walk (or live....or move through out daily lives) based on the information we receive from others who may not follow God.
It reminds me of John Wimber's story about trying to buy a Bible while he was living in Los Vegas. John was a musician who played the clubs so he was always working the late night shifts. This particular story was when John was being stirred to pursue God, so he felt that he needed to buy a Bible. Trouble was, he didn't know where to go or what to ask for. Turning to the only source of information he knew, John asked the bartender at the casino he was working at. The bartender told him that he needed to ask for a "Holy Bible" and that it would have a black cover. Oh final piece of information....just so you know if someone is trying to put something over on you.....The bartender told John to make sure he bought the King James Virgin of the scriptures. 

Always be careful about who you let speak into your life. 
This isn't to say that we don't need others who will help us and guide us, we do.
But we should be very careful and always check out what we are being told by scripture.
What does the Bible say....
Yeah...I know...this means you actually have to read the book.
You have to do a little more than read the "fun" parts....
But believe will serve you well in the long run.
In fact, the more you study scripture, the more you will be able to hear God for yourself.
Well, that's my take this Sunday morning....
Vicki is in the kitchen preparing Shrimp/ Veggie/ Pasta for lunch, and the aroma is beginning to fill the house.
Good meal...
Some reading...
Yes sir, it is going to be a good Sunday....
See you tomorrow, right here at the Greene Street Letters.

God on you...

Saturday, January 17, 2015

DeGarmo And Key

It was the 80's.....
Jesus rock was in full blast mode...
You had wanna-be's and you had the real-deal guys who were sold out to Jesus.
They wrote songs and played the only way they knew how.

The so called "Big" names in Christian music weren't out to make a name for themselves, they were more intent on lifting the name of Jesus.
Such were DeGarmo And Key.....
High power..
High energy....
They wrote and sang about the hopelessness of Teenage suicide...that Jesus truly was the answer for the emptiness inside.

They sang about the apathy and complacency of the church in "Casual Christian".
"I don't want to be...I don't want to be a casual Christian...I don't want to live...I don't want to live a lukewarm life. SO I want to light up the night....with an everlasting light...I don't want to live a causal Christian's life".

In an era of living for the money...DeGarmo and Key seem to buck the odds and go against the grain (can I use more cliches'?). Their album "ROCK SOLID" was sold "Two for one". In other words if you bought a copy of the Cd, you got another one to give away to a friend, and the price wasn't jacked up to cover the cost either.

You have to remember that the 80's were laying the ground for Worship music to make it's rise. So the songs that DeGarmo and Key wrote were songs of encouragement. Songs that lifted you and turned your mind toward Christ.

I will be forever grateful to Bill Anderson for introducing to DeGarmo and Key's music. Many night, driving home from practicing with our band, I had the windows rolled down and DeGarmo and Key blasting away singing "Every Moment Of My Life."
We are all older now...but the rocker is alive and well inside me.
This morning as I downloaded the video for the blog, I took out my old air-guitar and dusted it off. I wondered if the old man still had the moves. Well, I'm here to tell you that he does....

Be grateful today for every moment of your life....
God on you...


Friday, January 16, 2015

Rambling Church Thoughts

Church is not the building or facility....
Church is the people. We know this. I'm not some kind of visionary who thought this up. If you talk to anyone who goes to church, or has gone for any length of time, they will tell you right up front.."The church is the people not the building".
But the people have a function and purpose....everyone who claims to be a child of God and a follower of Jesus. Their very being is to be used by God as an instrument for His dynamic rule and reign here on this earth. Or, as John Wimber would say, "We are the vehicle through which the Kingdom of God is revealed to others who do not know our Jesus.
         A.) We proclaim, or tell others about our encounters with this Jesus. How He has changed our lives (you were changed, weren't you?).
         B.)We demonstrate and validate the truth of the Word of God by allowing the Holy Spirit to move when we pray. Remember, whatever happens...someone gets healed...someone gets saved....someone gets delivered from demonic spirits....we only a conduit through which the Holy Spirit and the power of God moves.
         C.)We care for the poor.
         D.) We are to replicate or reproduce by making disciples. Our business isn't making converts. Seems like sometimes the church is more excited about seeing people saved than helping them to move into being a disciple. Don't get me wrong, I'm all up in the salvation thing. Nothing stirs me more than to see a person be transformed by the saving power of God. But nothing is more fulfilling than to see that person chasing God, and doing the works of Jesus.

I use the word "experiential" a lot. Some think that I am discounting the discipline of being a disciple, that somehow all I want to do is run around getting a "warm fuzzy" from God (or if your really into the religious terminology..."glory bumps").  I do know people who spend their entire life running from meeting to meeting...conference to conference seeking out an encounter from God so they can tell their latest story of how God touched them. Such seems to be coming from a selfish view of God. Like He is some sort of personal feel-good dispenser. When I speak of "experiential" encounters with God, I speak from a view that every meeting we attend, we should go expecting to meet with Him. God is sovereign. He moves and touches at His desire. God is not manipulated or cajoled into coming so our flesh can be touched and we can have new "God" story to share in Church.  For those who have some doubt about this experiential stuff....then tell me, how did you get saved if God did not come down and touch you? How were you suddenly aware of your current spiritual state if God did not open your heart up to your need to be saved. I believe that experiencing God is the key to living and moving under the purpose we were created for. 

For the most part, I believe that the current, professing church is living in the past. I have heard many state that we need to get back to being the church we read about in Acts...the first church. Somehow we have fallen prey to the idea that the first church is the high water mark of what church is suppose to be. I happen to believe that the church has yet to hit a high water mark. That anything is possible to a people who are sold out to Jesus. A people who have a corporate mission to their location, town, community and, at the same time, each member has an individual calling to be carried out outside of the corporate group. The church is not to be directed or lead by those who are perceived to be the "Movers and the Shakers".....but rather should be lead by the "Listener's and the Doer's".  We must never forget that the church is Jesus'. He birthed it. He died for it. He empowers it. He directs it.

I need the structure of community. I need to be surrounded by like minded people who share a vision and the purpose to which God has called us to.
I need to worship in a way that speaks to me. A worship that proclaims the greatness of God, yet is culturally current. I want what we do as a community of believers to speak and draw those around us who do not understand what Church truly is. I want to break off the stereotypical view of church that has been burned into the consciousness of those who have been injured or hurt by church. I desire to have a place where all of us can encounter the living God and go away at the end of the night having fallen in love with Jesus a little more than when we got there. I want everyone who comes through the door on Saturday night that when we talk about a Power greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity...we really mean POWER. Power in a person. The person of Jesus. The same power that raised Him from the dead should be evident and moving in our services. Maybe it is time we start standing on the promises, and quit sitting on the premises.

Think on these things....
What is the mission of Vineyard ReCovery?
To Follow In His Steps.

God on you..

Thursday, January 15, 2015

It's Simply What's On My Mind And On My Heart

Deuteronomy 32:31-33
For their rock (or the foundation of their belief's) is not like our Rock. Even our enemies themselves being judges. For their vine is of the vine of Sodom and of the fields of Gomorrah. Their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter and their wine is the poison of serpents and the cruel venom of cobras.
We are either living our lives with a foundational under pinning of Christ's Saving work and His presence....
or we are standing on shaky ground. That which we think is solid, and will support us for life....isn't and won't. Such is the deception that drugs and alcohol bring. 

 Heroin as defined by the dictionary:
Heroin /ˈhɛrɪn/ (diacetylmorphine or morphine diacetate, also known as diamorphine (BANINN[4]) and commonly known by its street names of H, smack, boy, horse, brown, black, tar, and others[5]) is an opioid analgesic originally synthesized by C.R. Alder Wright in 1874 by adding two acetyl groups to the molecule morphine, which is found naturally in the opium poppy. It is the 3,6-diacetyl ester of morphine. Administered intravenously by injection, heroin is two- to four-times more potent than morphine and is faster in its onset of action.[6]

Lot's of terminology that I don't understand.
Big words and scientific grouping of components that are beyond my comprehension.
To me, the definition of  heroin left out one key component.
Oh, I'm not trying to make heroin into the latest scare fad to grab your attention.
Heroin has been around and really hasn't gone anywhere.
It was just bumped from the TOP 10 by Oxy's, Crack, Crystal Meth, Prescription Meds, and the old reliable....weed. Heroin has managed to hang around there in the back ground since its inception.
Now heroin has made a huge comeback.
We're seeing more and more people who are battling heroin addiction.

I don't make any claims to being an expert on the subject, but in my dealing, a person who is dealing with heroin seems to have a spiritually darker component to their demeanor. Lot more anger in their heart and a greater propensity to reject anything to do with God and the healing He offers. Like I said, it may just be me, but somehow I don't think so.

4 months before we held the first meeting of Vineyard ReCovery, God spoke to me about what lay ahead.
I confess that I missed the message that was given.
The whole concept of VRC is about spiritual warfare. The ebb and flow, give and take of going against the darkness that the devil dishes out everyday. We know from experience that if God does a work, demonstrates power, or opens hearts on some level, then we can expect a counter attack from Satan within a short period of time. In trying to dissect what I had heard God say, I missed  it. I went back in my journal to re-read the words. "You are going to experience a new level of spiritual warfare as you move forward. It will be unlike anything you've ever experienced before." When I first got this, I assumed that God was talking about spiritual warfare in our personal lives. We have had the enemy come against us whenever we moved forward in ministry. Sudden illnesses, major malfunction in the things we possess, sudden onset of depression or sadness....all coming in retaliation for advancing the Kingdom of God. In my mind, I thought the message was a warning to guard ourselves from the coming attacks of the enemy. I now know that what God meant was that the level and type of darkness we would be encountering would be different than anything we'd ever experienced before. I think we are seeing it now with the reintroduction of heroin into the addiction picture.
Like I said earlier, heroin has been around and really hasn't gone was just not as popular as it has become. But for whatever reason, the enemy seems to have attached a greater level of darkness to this particular season.

So what do we do about this new scourge?
We do the works of Jesus.....
You don't pray against the darkness.....
You push darkness away by loving and serving in the name of Jesus.
You push darkness away by doing the works of Jesus.
Praying healing over those in need....feeding the poor.....breaking off demonic oppression .....and yes...even raising the dead. (I know such flies in the face of the model of church we've come to know)
You intercede for those out there under all addiction.
You speak the word of God in every meeting....
You go one on one with those who are trapped, asking if you can pray over them...and as you do, you invite God's Holy Spirit to come and break off hardness and blindness so that the individual can experience the healing touch of God.
You want to get them into a place where they can have a power encounter with the real-deal-promise-a-real-promise-GOD of the universe.
For He alone is the answer to every level of darkness the enemy places on people.
There is not darkness so deep that it can stop the work of God's Holy Spirit in a people who are laid low by the weight of addiction/sin. John 1:5 -- And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (over power it).

We read in Matthew 5 where Jesus refers to those who have chosen to follow Him as being "Salt and Light". These two were created for one influence and touch everything they come in contact with. Salt brings flavor to that which otherwise is bland and dull. Salt also preserves and keeps. Light brings the ability to see and discern when it is interjected into darkness. If ever there was a time when the church should rise up, that time is now. If ever there was a need for Salt and Light, now is the time.
Think on these things....

God on you..

Fired Up

Luke 24:45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. I don't think I've heard very many m...