Thursday, April 30, 2015

Prayer List For The Week



Philippians 4:6
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

Really good Bible study last night at Rapha.
We are beginning a journey to take a look at all 66 books of the Bible. The guys were checked in and had many questions as to "How do I read this book? Where do I start?" Please keep this Wednesday night meeting covered in prayer, as it is a vital part of staying connected with them.

Well, here goes! Here is the prayer list for this week.


1.) T.G.- going through detox off of opiates. Not a good way to start the week. I sat with him yesterday as he was in day #3 of this detox. Very sick....does not want to use again. Pray that God would grant him the grace and strength to go through this ordeal.

2.) D.J.- new to the program. Says he is through with addiction and that Jesus is the only real answer that is going to help him. Pray that God would loose his angels and His Spirit to walk with D. and keep his mind off the old life, focused on the new.

3.) E.C.- has a job interview today. He said that he really needed to start work so he could send money back to his family. Pray that he gets the job that God wants him to have.

4.) C.B.- Has anger issues. Wants to learn to manage it when things are hard. I told him that one of the ways that anger gets managed is through this relationship with Jesus. Part of the process of being saved, is allowing God's Holy Spirit to work in us to change our character through the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Pray that C.B. would surrender to God and be saved.

5.) J.S.- has diverticulitis. Has a doctor's appointment but requested prayer that God would heal him.

6.) M.M.- needs income to take care of his children.

7.) B.J.- Asked for prayer for his children. They are going through a really hard time be separated from him.

8.) K.G.- His mother passed away last week, and he is struggling with having to be in rehab during this time. 

9.) K.S.- very simple prayer request----"Help me to do the right thing!" 

Well, there's the list for this week. I want to thank each of you who take time out of your day to pray for these people. 

Don't forget! This Saturday night at Vineyard ReCovery Church, we'll be hosting "WIND" from Myrtle Beach, S.C. for a time of music, worship, and in general...just being the church we're suppose to be. Make plans and come out and join us.
Meeting starts at 7 p.m.
We will stamp your court card if you need one.
Thanks.


God on you...
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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Truth Is In The Air



Psalm 107:20
He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

Time has passed by me....
Culture has left me standing here among my own thoughts and views.

I was talking to a person the other day and I happened to mention about burning Cd's of our service. He laughed....no really...he laughed and said, "You dinosaur you....nobody uses Cd's anymore." To which I replied, "I do".  He went on to school me in the latest whiz-bang cloud stored info do hickey. Sounded like something out of a funny book  (see there's a term some might struggle with..of course it dates me. Hey! I'm a dated man).

Our conversation went on and at some point I happen to mention the radio program, "Through The Bible". Dr. J. Vernon McGee hosts the show and it is a five year study of the Scriptures. line by line, verse by verse. Once again the laughter came..."Nobody listens to the radio." Well, yes they do.

To me, my friend had turned into a techno-snob when it comes to getting the word of God out. If you check out the webpage for Through the Bible, you'll find that it is produced in over 100 languages and is transmitted through out the world. People who would never have an opportunity to hear the gospel are given programs, in their own language, that helps them to understand who Jesus is and the life He is offering to all.

We have been blessed beyond measure in this country. Our technology is second to none and we have received great benefits because of it. But never look down on any means used to get the Word of God out to those who have never heard of Jesus. I am grateful to every man and woman who spend their lives in an effort to see that everyone hears the gospel. To every Wycliff Bible translator who works tirelessly to translate the Bible into various native tongues. Whose name will never be known to the general public, but will never be forgotten by God. Blessings on you this morning!


No matter where technology takes us, the gospel will always be about one person telling another about Jesus. It is the John 3:16 good news that has to be spread. Truth be known, we could use a little spreading in this town and state. I fear that we have a form of godliness, but deny the power that changes hearts. O.k....enough of my rant. I guess the bottom line is we are not alone on this planet. And we have a mandate to spread the word of God and make disciples. Truth is, everyone can't go to the far reaches of the world to be a missionary. But maybe you can pray for and support those who do.
Think on this...

God on you...
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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Steps.....Not Shoes


Ahhhh....the Mysteries of God.
Those tidbit's of divine information that always seem to be just out of reach. Always there nearby but unknowable. Or so we think.
We like the idea of mysteries. For some, such is the excuse for not chasing and following after Jesus. "Well, it's a mystery as to why my life has turned out like it has. I go to church and I have a big honkin' Bible I carry around. Even watch the Billy Graham Crusade program every now and then. But you know what....I just can't seem to quit drinking. I think the Good Lord won't hold me accountable for when I beat my wife and kids. It ain't my fault, it's the liquor talking. But I do love Jesus."  

Now to me, that is the mystery. How we could be so God-dumb to think that such behavior is acceptable. If it isn't acceptable in society, then what makes us think that God will wink at it and turn away? Don't think that I've made up that little scenario either. I've had this conversation on more than one occasion. The guy standing there with this really dumb look on his face thinking that I'm buying his load of bull. So what does God expect of us? Well, here goes. And guess what? It really isn't a mystery after all.


I Peter 2:21
For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in HIS STEPS.

Notice what it doesn't say....
"Follow in His shoes"......
When I was a little boy, I was fascinated by my dad's shoes. They were like something that belonged to a giant. I still have a photo of my standing in my dad's boots. They almost swallowed me up, but there I am grinning like it's nobodies business. I have this "Hey look at me! I'm just like my dad" look on my face. Even though my feet were firmly planted in those boots, I couldn't move or walk. I had to do a sort of jump/stumble fall down kind of shuffle to move around the room. 

Jesus never told us to "Follow In His Shoes"..... But rather, in His steps.

He knew that we were incapable of filling his shoes...
To believe that we ever could makes us believe in the oldest lie in the world. The one the serpent told Eve in the Garden. "God knows that if you eat the fruit, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God."  What's the real message behind the message? Eat the fruit and be like God. Guess what? If I'm like God, then I won't need God."  

When I try to follow in His shoes, I'm in control. I decide which way I should go. When I follow in His Steps, I simply walk the same direction that He is leading me. 

Following after Jesus involves communication, not guess work. He has blessed us with such communication that we never should wander from the path He has laid out before us.
1.) His Word -  He has given us explicit instruction on how to live life here in a fallen world that is ruled and dominated by sin. If I don't study ( did you catch that? Study, not read) His word, then how can I know what to do when I'm faced with a situation, or find myself in a less than desirable circumstance? Some view the Bible as an outdated history book when, in fact, it is as relevant today as when it was written. I have always loved John Wimber's take on the Bible. "IF it isn't a practical book that teaches us how to live our lives, then why study it." 

2.) Prayer -  This is more than me simply filling up the air with words, all sent skyward in hopes that there is someone out there listening. While even the most vile person will at some point in their life, utter a prayer, the hard part for most is to believe that God not only hears, but will talk back. Yes Virginia, God does speak. Why would we be stirred to talk with Him, if He wasn't stirred to talk back? Doesn't make sense to me. Somehow we get the idea that God is like W.C. Fields sitting up in heaven. You know it's hard work keeping the cosmos going....so with that Fields voice, God speaks when our prayers come before Him..."Get away from me kid, you bother me!". Well, my God doesn't act in that manner. In fact, my God loves to hear from me, and I totally love to hear from Him.

So we determine in our minds and hearts to follow in Steps, rather than putting on shoes.
Think on these things today.....
God on you...

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Life Among The Dead Things


Luke 24:5
...."Why do you seek the living among the dead?"

This was a verse I used last night, speaking at Celebrate Recovery North Glencoe. To me it defines the mindset of addiction....Looking for life...searching for real comfort....yet our search has us looking in places of death.

What is a common theme throughout all graveyards? They are a place of memories. We gather to honor those who have gone on, yet we remember the times and events of the past. Well, in the addiction/search for life, we are driven to mental graveyards....we are living death, but we are looking to forget about today. Forget about today's problems so we can remember only the good times. Problem is, the times aren't so good.


In fact, repeated usage keeps us bound to the graveyard. We become like the demoniac Jesus encountered....This man lived among the tombs. He roamed the hills around the tombs crying out day and night. No comfort in His life. No peace. No evidence of real life. Have you ever wondered why the Bible never mentioned how he got into this state? Truth is, it doesn't matter how. What matters is that there among the place of the dead....among those tombs, this man had an encounter with the only One who possessed the power and authority to release him from his condition. That One would be Jesus. 

The demoniac was hopeless in his situation. He had given himself to the darkness and the darkness had consumed him completely......spirit, body and soul. He was bound in misery to death and darkness. It was so terrible that he would take rocks and cut himself. You know when you're in that state of being, sometimes pain is only thing that let's you know you are alive. There was no hope for that man.

But then Jesus came....
Jesus came to him....
Jesus came to where he was...
Jesus, the ultimate symbol of life, went to the place of death. 

Jesus, possessor of real life, took this man out of the darkness.
This man, who was under the rule and torment of demonic spirits, found life...

It wasn't in the tombs...
It wasn't in the hillsides surrounding the graveyard...
It wasn't in the memories...
Real life came when Jesus showed up.


Such is no different today.
Real life begins when we encounter Christ.
He alone can take us out of our "graveyard" where we are searching for the living among the dead. 
There are a lot of hurting folks out there who are trapped in the graveyard of addiction. They need an encounter with the real POWER that can free them.


God on you....
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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hee Haw And Me




Hee Haw? Really?
Hee Haw Gospel Quartet? C'mon, you're pulling my leg!
Nope...
That sound you hear...
Those four voices and that guitar is the style of music I grew up with.

I learned how to sing harmony listening to this type of music.

Songs such as the Chuck Wagon Gang's "On the Jericho Road"...as well as anything Tennessee Ernie Ford ever recorded was a staple on the record player at the Bynum house. And the funny part in all of this is that I didn't appreciate it at the time. After all, I was part of the Rock and Roll generation. I'm sure that my mother spent many a long night praying for the soul of her son and his love for "THAT" music. 

When I hear the song "Jesus, Hold My Hand" there are so many people that come to my mind. I can see Mr. Clarence Whisenant standing in our church choir. Booming Bass voice that filled the bottom of every song that was sung. Hymn book raised up in front of his face, head tilted back....the room resonating with his voice. I wanted to sing bass so bad. As I was growing up and puberty hit me with full force, I just knew that on the other side of this change, I would be able to sing like Mr. Whisenant. Alas...I was stuck forever in the tenor scale, never to trod the bass notes that I longed for.

Mrs. Chandler sang alto. She had a voice that relied on volume no matter what the dynamics of the song might be. Always moving underneath the soprano's, Mrs. Chandler kept all the ladies in line as the song progressed. The one thing I remember most about her, was that she was a very little woman. I always thought to myself, "How does such a huge voice come out of such a little person?" Always with a smile on her face, she loved Jesus. You know there aren't many people you can truly say that about. She really did love Jesus.

Charles Bryson was our choir director and possessed the clearest and most beautiful tenor voice I think I've ever heard. Charles sang "I Come To The Garden Alone" at my Mother's funeral. Charles kind of made me realize that not being able to sing bass was o.k. He is probably the most kindest and gentle man I've ever met. I still see him, from to time, at Wal-mart. Then again, I see everyone at Wally world. Quick with a smile and a handshake, Charles always asks how the family is doing. He probably encouraged me to sing more than anyone else in my life.

I could go on and on about these and others who have been a part of my life, but I won't bore you with the stories or details. I have been blessed over the years to make some pretty good music and sing with some pretty incredible folks. The Vineyard ReCovery Worship team is probably my most favorite group of all. We've been together for 9 years. We've learned how to take a 4 piece group and make it sound like a full blown band. God has given us a sound that, to me, is very unique. Not better than others....and, after last Saturday  night and the WE ARE ONE TOUR rolled through, no where close to some. We are who we are and if one thing could be said about our worship team, it would be how I defined Mrs. Chandler. We simply love Jesus. The fact that we have some talent affords us the incredible opportunity to play and sing to Him.

I'm very grateful this morning for all the people God has passed through my life that have had an influence on me musically. Every time I get to strap on my guitar and join others to sing and play.......well, that's a present.

God on you...

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Storms Are A Part Of Life


Matthew 8:23
Now when He (Jesus) got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.

Jesus and boy's taking a trip...
Where'd they go?
Into the middle of a storm.
Didn't bother Jesus a bit.
He was fast asleep.

The boy's, on the other hand, were freaking out.
Boat's + High wind and crashing waves = disaster.
Not going to turn out good.

Do you think they boy's thought to themselves that this Jesus is lacking in some nautical skills? That He might have been one of those weekend boaters that went out to party and cruise around the sea of Galilee? They may have even thought, "You're really good with the theology stuff, but you don't know diddly about sailing!" Didn't mind what they thought........Jesus had got into the boat and they followed. Now here He was asleep.

Life is like that story.
Everyday, I have choose to get up and follow Jesus.

I follow Him right into the middle of life.
Life with it's ups and downs.
Life with it's celebrations and its disasters.

I choose to follow Him.
Now to follow means that I let Him lead. He decides the direction and course I am to take, and it's very simple.......I either go or I don't. I have found the wisdom in going and not hanging back.


No matter what, life is about storms....
Life is about those things we don't see coming at us.
Life is about problems that come crashing over us like the waves of a storm.
Life is winds that seek to blow us off course and stop our progress.

Yet through it all, Jesus is there.
We don't always understand that.
Somehow we come up with a Jesus that acts like the Calvary you see in the old western's. They are never around when you need them. Things are dire and the settler's are about to be overrun and killed, when out of nowhere, the Calvary rides to the rescue. Well, Jesus isn't like that. He's a 24/7 - 365 Jesus. He is always there with us and for us.
So why did He wait so long to take care of the "Storm" problem we read about in Matthew 8? Because everything we receive from Him, including our rescue, is on His time, and He is never late.

The thing I have found out in my own life is as follows.
Sometimes Jesus will take me around my problems, giving me new directions in order to avoid being swallowed by them.
Sometimes Jesus will speak to my problems and make them disappear.

Wait for it.......
Sometimes Jesus will hold my hand and we both will go through the problem.

(by the way..that last one is not my favorite, but I totally understand how it works).
No matter which one He decides on, He is there with me.
I can make book on that one.


When Jesus calls us to follow, He really means it.
Not just follow when it's sunny and 72 degrees, with light breezes.....
But follow when life seems to have the wheels coming off and there isn't a solution in sight.
Follow when the storm clouds are building up on the horizon and your path keeps getting closer and closer to where they are.

Follow Him.....
Trust Him.....

Don't turn back....
And what ever you do.....
Don't let go of Him.


God on you...
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday Prayer Requests


James 5:16
.....The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Thanks to everyone who prayed from the list that I posted last Thursday. Going back over it with the men from Rapha, there was much gratitude that we would do this for them. As most of you know, this whole "Jesus-praying for folks-church thing" is new to most of them. When a prayer is answered, it catches their attention as they put the two together...
1.) Someone asked God to move on my behalf...
2.) God moved....
Hmmm! Might be something to this.
Here is this weeks list:

1.) Several of the men were friends with two people who had a motorcycle accident over the weekend. One man was killed and the other will be in the hospital for a while recovering from his injuries. There was much grieving in the camp for these two individuals and their families. Pray that God would comfort them during this dark time in the passing of a son, and the recovery of the other.

2.) J.K. requested prayer for his father-in-law. He is in the late stages of cancer, and his trips to hospital are becoming more frequent. Prayer that the father in law is ready to face what is ahead. Prayer for the family that they can be there for him.

3.) B.T. requested prayer for pancreatitis, an ongoing condition that has flared up from time to time.

4.) K.C. - has a 28 year old son who is an addict. Prayer for protection and that God would open his heart and mind to the truth.

5.) D.G. is having a medical procedure this coming Monday. D.G. was part of last weeks list, asking for healing. D.G. told me that they had felt better this past week than they have in a long time. Very grateful for the prayers.

6.) L.P.- Continued prayer for God to help focus their attention and mind so that they can get everything from the program they need to move on in their life.

7.) K. - continued prayer for daughter who has breast cancer.

The one thing I kept hearing as I moved around the camp yesterday, talking with the men, was gratitude that someone cared enough to actually pray for them. I assured them that their request were taken seriously and that prayers were going up on their behalf.

This Saturday night, we are going to be taking a look at the two types of people who were healed by Jesus.....
Come on out and join us...

meeting starts at 7 p.m.
Vineyard ReCovery Church is located at Gadsden Vineyard Church, on Broad street, downtown Gadsden, between 4th and 5th streets.

God on you...
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Real Deal Joy


James 1:2
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials..

There's that word again....
"Joy"...
Count it against what you are facing....
Weigh it as you go through the dark times...

Consider the reality of it in your life...
"Joy"....
You see, on the surface, this verse seems to be saying, "Whoop it up for Jesus" no matter how hard life is...
Well, I don't think that is what James is truly saying.

I like the way Pastor Rick Warren sees the concept of the Joy of the Lord:

"Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation."

But even in this definition, we have to understand when he says that "ultimately everything is going to be alright". Sometimes that ultimately means at death. At the moment of my death, I will know fully what I only claim to believe now. I will know completely the whole truth of who Jesus is and what He is capable of doing. On this side of heaven, it is mostly faith and holding on to what truth my mind can comprehend.

The joy of the Lord IS a knowing that God is in control of all my affairs, as well as the very breath I breathe. He is the giver of life. Does he "give" me problems and troubles? I know that most of what I face is a by product of bad choices as well as consequences for past actions. I guess the good part in facing such, is that He does not abandon me. He doesn't look down on me and my situation and say, "Well, I tried to tell you what to do, but you wouldn't listen." No, He doesn't act in such a manner. Daily He is trying to guide me along the right way, the right path, by my listening for Him and then following what I'm lead to do. Knowing that He will never, never, ever stir me wrong is part of that "Joy", that quiet confidence that can only come through trusting Him.

Yesterday was a good day...
I was reminded of God's goodness, in spite of the darkness that has covered this season of my life. In fact, God totally reminded me that just because it appears that the world has gone off its collective mind, doesn't mean that He has lost His grip on things. Such that I see is the exercise of man's sinful nature in spite of God's love and gift of eternal life to those who would believe.
So today, I rest in the knowledge (and joy) that God is God.
Such a simple statement..."God is God"...
But when it gets all down inside a person, it brings such comfort and peace....and dare I say it..
Yes, even joy.

Don't leave home without Him....
Or His peace...
Or His joy...


God on you...

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lot's Or Little, Jesus Is In The Mix


John 6:66
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more

Funny thought occurred to me when I read this verse.
Jesus spoke a hard truth to those who were along for the ride.
"If you want to follow me, you have to eat my flesh and drink my blood."
That put the brakes on the whole shee-bang.
But no one asked Him to explain what this meant.
No one said, "excuse me, could you help me out here and tell me what this is all about?" 
They reasoned among themselves....
I'm sure they postured and pontificated trying to look religious, but you know Jesus wasn't up in the religious thing.

He was all about truth.

In fact, the same goes on today.
People have a tendency to confuse religion with Jesus.
They love the structure and flash bang of church, just don't require them to reorganize the way they live. To do so would be getting up in their business.
People in addiction have the very same mind set. In fact, they do not want to look beyond "Jesus will save me." Get me out of the mess....get me out of the legal stuff and I'll take it from here.
Sorry, Charlie........doesn't work that way.
In the first place, you really need to ask yourself, "Why would Jesus save me?"

It stands to reason that there would be a greater purpose that He would desire for me to fulfill.

To me, the greater purpose would be to love Him.......love myself.......love those around me. No matter what may be going on in my life, I am to carry this out daily. I like the idea of the glass half-full or the glass half-empty scenario. The amount in the glass doesn't change at all, but it is clearly defined by my perception. 


I've heard some people get all down on the 'half-empty" people. "Oh you just are negative all the time." I've been mentioned with this group. I've been told that I appear to not have much joy in my life. I'm not sure what that means. Does it mean that I walk around with a scowl or a frown all the time? Does it mean that I do  not possess a bubbly, over flowing personality? That I'm not the life of the party. Come to think of it, I don't go to many parties. Well, I don't know if you'll understand what I'm about to write or not, but here goes.
I seek the peace of God. I'm not really sure I would recognize "Joy" from the Lord. Oh, I'm grateful and thankful for life, and I let Him know it. But the peace of God, to me is a much more powerful, life giving part of my relationship with Him.


Peace, not that my situations and circumstances are all taken care of....
But Peace that fills me and enables me to walk through and face whatever comes my way. Peace enables me to sleep at night. Peace enables me to take life one day at a time. Peace also gives me hope and the realization that He is still in control no matter what the world and society make look like. Give me His peace. If the joy comes along and I'm able to readily identify it, that will be a plus.

So really, to me...
It's not whether the glass is half empty..
or half full....
it's the simple fact that the glass has something in it.
Thank you for the portion you have placed in me today.
Some may see me as half-full...

I look at myself and see it as half empty, with room for you to do so much more. "Thank you, Father, for not quitting on me or giving up on me."

Now back to the whole, "Eat my flesh / Drink my blood" thing.
How did sin enter into our whole existence? Through the disobedience of the two who lived in the garden. To put it more bluntly.........they ate some fruit.
Jesus was showing the people that salvation will come in the same manner, so to speak. Jesus dying on the cross and then being raised to life through the power of the Holy Spirit. Part of this new relationship is to remember what He has done for us.....so we participate in His table..His communion. Sin came in through the eating of fruit.........we remember the life given to us through the symbolic eating of His flesh /body and drinking the wine (His blood) through this new covenant He has established.

Now I'll buy that for a dollar...

God on you...

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Reflections On Saturday Night (for the last time)


Psalm 100:4-5
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good. His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.


Thoughts from what took place last Saturday night:

I have pondered all weekend what took place Saturday night at the Vineyard.
I wish to not make more of it than what it truly is, and, at the same time, do not wish to discredit it either.

You see, Saturday  night was like a big family reunion with cousins and aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters that you haven't seen in a while. As I moved around the room Saturday night, I knew who I was. I knew that my spiritual last name was "Vineyard". In one sense, we had friends of the family there, who'd come by to worship with us, and we had family there who stopped by to catch up, swap some stories about the good ol' days,and also worship with us. Funny part, as good as the good ol' days were....I'm totally jazzed about the good "new" days ahead for us.

I don't want to give the impression that the Vineyard movement is high and above other churches in the body of Christ. We're not. But I just was reminded Saturday night why I love being a Vineyard-ite. To me the room was full of our spiritual DNA....in my conversations with others, I heard phrases such as "Doing the stuff"......and references to the different styles of worship that are coming out of the Vineyard today. Some outside the Vineyard movement might not have understood some of what we were talking about, but it is merely a matter of semantics....as I believe every church movement and denomination has a language that reflects who they are, as well as what Christ has called them to.

I felt whole and complete Saturday night...
Put back together...
Almost like being given permission, by God, to be who He created us to be.
Dare I say it?
Saturday night was fun...
Simply fun....
I laughed when Raymond and the band played Swing #9.
I danced with my wife when Crispin Schroeder sang "It Will Be Alright".
And I cried when they led us in "Not Be Moved".

The entire evening was a gift from my Father.
His way of saying, "I like you guys. Now keep pushing ahead with what I've called you to."
Bill Jackson, in his book Quest For The Radical Middle made the statement that "you don't join the Vineyard through membership.........you just discover that is who you have been all along." Saturday night left me feeling that quote. The Vineyard is what I have been all along.

God on you...
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Saturday, April 18, 2015

"But"



David's Finlayson's sketch of yours truly, sans beard. To me it's kind of a cross between David Crosby and Will Geer who played the Grand father on the Walton's (That would be the television show).

Spoke in Centre last night for their Celebrate Recovery. They've relocated due to flood damage and renovations which are in progress, and almost completed. First Baptist Centre is their temporary digs, and a good crowd showed up last night. 

I spoke on Naaman from II Kings Chapter 5. Poor guy had a lot going on that most would consider put Naaman in the "successful" category. If you read verse 1, it lists some of Naaman's accomplishments. Right off the bat, you find out that the king really liked this fellow. Not only that, but Naaman was the head honcho of the military, and he was good at it. Saved the king's bacon more than once. At the end of verse 1, we run into that dreaded word that changes everything............."BUT"...coupled with "He was a leper". 

All that good stuff listed about Naaman gets undone with that single word..."But". It's that label of being a leper that cancels out every good thing about Naaman. Truth be known, addiction does the same thing. I can't tell you the number of family members I have talked with over the years whose conversation goes something like this:

"He really is a good boy but he's got an addiction problem"
"He really is a hard worker but he just drinks all the time."
"He really does love his wife and kids but when he is high he abuses them."
And on and on and on.

Every good thing spoken about this person is changed with that one word..."But".
Like Naaman, we become labeled by our condition. It defines us. It follows us, and until the condition changes, that will be our legacy we will leave behind.
Such is why we are in need of a Power greater than ourselves. That is why we need Jesus. Because He alone has the authority and ability to change our very nature and character. I know it sounds like something out of the Twilight Zone, but it is the truth. In fact, Jesus will do for us the very thing we cannot do for ourselves. He can change the focus and impact of the word "But".

As we make the decision to turn will and life over to Him, Jesus begins to change our character by filling us with the Holy Spirit of God. One by one, our defects are turned into what the scripture calls "Fruit"....such things as peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, self control, all become a part of our make up. Over time as this change happens, we become aware of new labels that become a part of our identity:

"He use to be no good and a liar but now he is a man who keeps his word".
"We use to hate to see him coming whenever we had a family event scheduled but now he is such a important part of our family gatherings".
Only Christ could do such as change us, so that the usage of the word "BUT" took on a new meaning.

Have a great weekend....
God on you....

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Friday, April 17, 2015

Weekend Stuff And Learning To Love


Don't forget...
Tomorrow night @ Vineyard ReCovery Church....7 p.m...
The "We Are One" worship event will be happening....
A chance to hear some great music....
An opportunity to gather with "the Body" and worship like it's nobodies business.

No charge to get in...
But once you're in, we hope and pray that you become charged for Jesus.
We will take up a love offering to help the group with expenses.

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Every Friday morning, around 4 - 4:30 a.m., I get a present.
I awake to a message that tells me that "God loves you, and so do I. Have a great weekend." The message is from Randy Thrower, a good friend of mine. May not seem like a lot to some, but it means the world to me. It sets the tone for my weekend and keeps me focused on what's important. That my purpose in life is very simple....

1.) Love God with everything I am, and everything I have.
2.) Love those around me as I love myself.
Sometimes I think we sluff off this whole idea of "love"....

We want to focus on the so called "Big Things" in religion.

Learning Greek and Hebrew so we can dissect verses and find hidden meanings to the Scripture. I think Jesus said something about such. Now how did that go? Oh yeah, to paraphrase, Jesus said, "Hey guys, you search the scriptures, but you don't  know me."  

We can set up agencies and programs to aid the poor.
We can feed the homeless....
We can visit those in jail and prison...

But if we can't love those we come in contact with, we miss the point.

It's not enough to say "We love"...
We've got to put feet to our proclamation, and do it.

It's not enough to say "I love you" to the ones that we truly do love....
It's the ones that we don't want anything to do with, the ones that irritate us...the ones that make us mad...that the place God wants love to emanate from. Bottom line, it's about changing me and my perception of those around me. It's about me becoming a little more like Jesus.

I Corinthians 13:13
And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is LOVE.

God on you...
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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Prayer List


James 5:16
.......The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

One of the things that I have come to enjoy is going back to Rapha each week. My absence seems to have created an interest among the men when I do go back. Yesterday, I went out in preparation for the Bible Study I teach there on Wednesday evenings. My timing was such that I caught the men between classes, so they were scattered all around the camp, talking, eating snacks, and just hanging out before going back to class.

I made my way around the camp, stopping to talk with each one and, as I did, I took with me a pad to write down any prayer requests that they might have.
What I would like is for you to join me in praying for these men. I mean lets really commit to prayer on their behalf. Due to the privacy laws, I am going to use initials instead of names by the prayer need.

1.) T. K.- Comes from a really hard life. Prison is all he's ever known and at this point in time, he really is working hard to turn his life around. He asks that we pray to know Jesus better. That T. knows he is at a turning point in his life and there are fears that come to his mind about making this transition.

2.) J.S.- He is suffering with a sever allergy/cold situation. He is in good spirits but would really like to be healed of this. I did pray with him after I wrote down his prayer need, but let's keep him covered in prayer.

3.) M.S.- He wants to be free of old feelings and old ways so he can reestablish connections with his kids and grand kids. He also wants to let go of his anger toward  his ex-wife. M. knows that he is the one responsible for all the damage and destruction in his family. 

4.) S.M.- Desires a more intimate relationship with Jesus.

5.) D.G.- Has been going through some serious health issues. Needs a major healing from God. Also ask for prayer for Rapha, that God's presence would bring peace and harmony for the camp. There was also a request for prayer for a friend of their family who lost a son to a drug overdose. Prayers that God would comfort the family during this time of grieving.

6.) L.P. - Asked for prayer that God would provide peace of mind and help to stay focused for the tasks at hand.

7.) K.S.- prayers for a daughter who has breast cancer. The cancer is at advanced state, but K.S. believes that God is a God who still heals.

8.) J.B.- Going home this Friday after completing the program. Asked for prayer that he would be sensitive to God's leading, and that he would be able to find people to connect with, rather than his old running mates.

9.) B.G.- He is focusing only on each day, not looking ahead. His prayer was that each day would be productive and give him what he needs to move forward with his life.

I am going to try and start posting here at the Greene Street Letters every Thursday the prayer needs of those at Rapha. Let's be diligent in our prayers for these men, and watch as God works in their lives.
Thanks...

God on you...

mb

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Living Sacrifice


Romans 12:1 NKJV
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1 Message Bible
So here's what I want you to do, God helping you. Take your everyday, ordinary life---- your sleeping, eating, going to work and walking around life....and place it before God as an offering.

All part of the recovery process....this giving of yourself to God.
Paul, the author of Romans, describes it as being a "living sacrifice"."
Is it just me  or do those two words, living and sacrifice, not go together.
Whenever I think of sacrifice, I think of something dead. Something that was offered up for a greater good. Jesus became a sacrifice to pay the sin debt humanity owed.

So why us? Why do we become a sacrifice?
Well I think you have to look at the word that precedes the word sacrifice.

Living!

We are giving up ourselves...our ways...our old lifestyle...our wants and desires that come from our old sin nature...we are giving all that up to embrace a new way of living.
But before I can take up the role as a living sacrifice, I have to see and find the value in doing so. I have to realize the value in going through this process of transformation. If I don't and I try to do this whole "living sacrifice" thing in my own strength and effort, I will only become a religious attitude and behavior added to a long list of stupid, religious behaviors that have no value for real living. In other words, it's me trying to look like I've got it all together. It's me trying to look like I'm working a recovery program. It's me with not change whatsoever to my heart, my will and my character. As a friend of mine once stated...."You take a drunk horse thief and get him sober, and all you've still got a horse thief. No change on the inside.

I am a true living sacrifice when I offer myself completely to Him.
Offer myself for His guidance...
Offer myself for His life in place of mine.

You want recovery from your addiction...
Simple...
Change the heart (as only God can) by working Steps #1, #2 and #3.

Change the heart and your change the mind.....Steps #6 and #7
Change the mind and you change the behavior.....Steps #8 through #11
Steps #4 and #5 are the confession steps to free yourself from your past.
and finally...
Step #12 is the taking this new life to the streets.....a daily practicing of the principals that you have learned, along with a renewed desire to tell your story to others.

Why?
Because you are a living sacrifice....

dead to the old life...
Living in the new one.

God on you..

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"WE ARE ONE" Tour Is Coming




Psalm 100:4
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name, for the LORD is good. His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.

This Saturday night at VRC, we will be hosting the "WE ARE ONE" worship event. A chance to hear what's going on with worship outside our own community.

I have worn out my copy of "WE ARE ONE", which is hard to do since it is a CD. The sound is totally New Orleans, but the heart is totally worship unto God. Being a musician (and I use that term loosely) I am captured when I hear a style of worship that comes along that doesn't fit into how I define worship. This is what you've got with "WE ARE ONE". The music, coupled with the simple truth that we have been called to worship makes for a powerful combination.


So this Saturday night, 7 p.m. @ Gadsden Vineyard Church, Raymond McDonald, Bobby McDonald, and Crispin Schroeder will be bringing the "WE ARE ONE" tour to Gadsden. It's an opportunity to participate (and that's what we will do....worship is participation, not spectator) in a community of others who simply love to worship. 

We must never forget one simple fact.

When we worship, the verse says that we "Enter His Gates".....
And we move into "His courts"......with praise.
We are called to be thankful to "Him"...
And to bless "His name"....
You see, even though we have this group coming on Saturday, the whole thing is still about coming into the presence of God. It is about laying down whatever is holding us back in life, and giving glory to the One who gives us life.

Make plans to come out and join us!
We don't charge for such events, they are free...
But we will take up an offering to help these guys meet their expenses.

See you Saturday night....
Put on your best pair of "Worship" shoes and come and join us!

God on you...
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Monday, April 13, 2015

You Have To Be Broken Before You Can Be Put Back Together


John 15:16
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.............

He was there last night at the meeting....
Nervous....

Not knowing what to expect or what to do...
He was uncomfortable....
He was with a group of men who live together in a transitional house.
He wanted to leave.....

Bad history was running like a bad film in his mind.....
Mother had been murdered.....
Brother had been murdered.....

He'd spent time in prison.......
Wanted nothing to do with church, Jesus, or religion.
He'd been beaten as a kid by someone who was full of religion.

Hard to reconcile something like that.
"God loves you!"....
All the while the bruises and whelp on your back say differently....
Of course that is how religion works sometimes, isn't it?
White washed tombs on the outside...
Dead and decaying on the inside...

Yep, that's religion.

Worship starts....
"This is recovery!" is the theme of the first song...
Recovery found in Jesus....

The young man can't take it, he bolts for the front door....
I go to check on him.
He says he is o.k.
Those words ring hollow and empty.
Truth be known, he's had a sensory overload of memories.
Not the warm, fuzzy, kodak kind that leave you feeling good...
The nightmarish horror filled kind that make you want to run...
Somewhere along the way, the choices began to pile up in the form of destruction and relational damage. The toll grew higher and higher.

I make my way to the front to share a message on being connected.
Connection is more than going to a meeting...
Connection is where you give yourself to Christ...
You allow Him to lead you to a group of like minded people. There, in that group, real life begins to take shape as you grow.
I transition over and begin to speak about God's love...the enemies hatred for anything "God"....and the battle for heart, mind and soul.
I'm never to sure about what is going on whenever I speak, but I knew that God's was working in that room.
The message goes on....


Message over...
Time to get down to business, so to speak.
I extend the invitation to come and meet this Jesus I've been speaking of.
Several come forward...
Down to their knees....
Crying, tears...."thank you Jesus"..rises up from the front.
Then slowly, I see someone coming from the back of the room...

It is the young man I have written about.
There aren't just tears....
There is a flood of sweet release...
There is that moment where religion meets relationship, and religion is swept away in a tidal wave of mercy and grace.

Several gather round to pray with and encourage this young man.
Things changed last night in the life of this young man.
He will get up this morning to face life differently than when he awoke yesterday morning.
He will face it with God's Holy Spirit guiding him, showing him the way.


That is why we do what we do....
That is why we are so passionate for Christ.
To see the one person who truly runs into Jesus, and is changed.
I got to see that last night.
Ain't God good?


God on you..

mb


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Are You Chasing?


Luke 2:16
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Matthew 8:2
And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."

Luke 9:23
The He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."

The Shepherds came because the angel told them that a Savior had been born that day. They didn't just come...they came with haste. They left everything to find this Jesus.

The Leper came because of desperation. Desperate to be healed, and recognizing Jesus as the only source of healing, this leper risked everything to get to Jesus. He truly believed that Jesus possessed the power to change his life by healing Him. He just wasn't sure if Jesus would. Maybe the leper didn't thing Jesus would see him as being worthy of healing. After all, he was a leper. All he knew in live was scorn, ridicule and rejection. He may have even prayed, "Oh God....you are going to have to either heal me....or kill me...I can't go on like this!" 

Jesus in talking to the crowd, opened the door for relationship with Him. When I read the verse from Luke 9, I see it written where Jesus was talking to everyone who was present that day. But like the words of Christ, they did more than strike the ears of those who were there, they have continued to speak year after year.....century after century...and are as relevant today as they were on the day Jesus spoke them. He lays down some very simple guidelines for following Him.
(1.) You've got to deny yourself. 
I have heard several messages on what it means to deny ones self. To me it is very simple, and very hard. To deny yourself, according to what the Amplified Bible says, is to Disown yourself ---forget yourself---lose sight of yourself---and lose sight of your own interests---to refuse and give up yourself to Christ. In other words, we take the back seat to whatever Jesus is doing in us and where He is taking us on this journey we call life.

I like the way Proverbs 3:5-6 puts it.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.
In our old lifestyle of sin/addiction, we trusted in our own wants and desires. We fed our cravings and our appetites with everything that was counter to what God wanted for us. We continued to move farther and farther away from God, and deeper and deeper into spiritual darkness. Destruction and depression piled up higher and higher until we were totally submerged under an ocean of guilt and shame. If we stay in this place long enough, we become numb to the truth. We give into the deadly thought that "we are who we are and we cannot change, we are hopeless. That very thought is a lie from the pit of hell, created to keep us away from God. 

This is the very reason we get together on Saturday nights at Vineyard ReCovery. To call on Jesus to break the power of that very thought. Because we know all to well that if the thought is broken, then the lie is uncovered. If the lie is uncovered then the truth will be known. If the truth is known, then the heart will turn to this Jesus, and if the heart turns to Christ, the chase is on.

One more life redeemed from the pit of emptiness.
Truth be known...
Everyone of us should be chasing  Jesus.
He should be the focus of our day...
The destination of our journey...
Love for Him should be the fuel that motivates me every morning when I get up.

How could it be any other way?

God on you..
mb

Friday, April 10, 2015

VRC Is Two Years Old



Acts 1:8
......."And you shall be Witnesses to Me......

Tomorrow night, we will celebrate the second anniversary of Vineyard ReCovery Church. Has it really been two years? Well, kind of. The actual date of our first meeting was April 13th.

The verse from Acts kind of describes what it is we do and who we are as a community of believers. We want to be a witnesses, not to religion but relationship. We want to influence everyone who comes to Saturday night. We want to strip away every wrong conception that others may have about "church" and help them to see Jesus.

I never have wanted to have a church where I just collected a bunch of folks and held on to them. I've always felt that if we could influence people to see church in a different light......influence them that this Jesus was worth chasing after.....then they would seek God on their own for relationship and community. Influence them to go beyond sitting in a pew or chair, to being a follower. 

I guess you could say that we are a seed-bed for the kingdom. People come to the meeting, and hopefully run into the real deal God. In the process, our prayer each week is that they would have something planted in their spirit by God. We may not get to see the fruit of what God did, but we know and trust that the seed is good seed. We trust God to bring out what He desires to in that person at His time.

We try to keep the meetings loose and open to what ever the Holy Spirit wants to do. That means that you may come one Saturday and I have a message planned out. Or you may come and the message gets tossed because that wasn't what God wanted to say. The worship may be loud and gritty one week....and the next very intimate to the point of drawing us into an very private and intimate place with God. 

I always encourage people to come and try one meeting. See if you like it.
I know that meeting on Saturday night is not your typical church night, but even that has a purpose. For whatever reason, Saturday night has always been looked at as a night to party...which in that old lifestyle means to get "tore up from the floor up". Well, Let's get tore up from the floor up for Jesus.

We want to take back Saturday night from the devil and, at the same time, show people that it is possible to have a little fun with Jesus. All Christian's don't sit around looking like they were baptized in lemon juice, measuring their sanctification by the droop of their frowns. No! We've got something to celebrate. THAT is why we do Saturday evenings.

Hope to see you this Saturday.
Gonna be a good one!

God on you..
mb

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Medicine For The Soul



Genesis 1:16
........He made the stars also......

I love this verse.
It always brings a smile to my face whenever I read it, or it comes to mind.
This incredible account of creation is punctuated by the words, "He made the stars also."
Like it was an after thought.
God was speaking and flinging cosmic matter all over the place.
Explosions!
Planets formed and set into motion all through the power of His words.
Yet, it was like God was leaving the room, when He suddenly had a thought, turned around and said, "Oh yeah.....stars!"
He made the stars also.
No big deal.
They're just stars.
"I can whip them up and out, no problem."

This is the same God who wants to have relationship with you and me.
This is the same God who wants to give us abundant life here and now, coupled with eternal life once our time here on planet earth is over.
This is the same God who sent His Son, Jesus, to settle the sin debt once and for all time.
Settle the debt so that we could be filled with His Holy Spirit, who would act as a communicator between us and Him.
God's Spirit would be the ultimate energizer Bunny (No disrespect, Father) that would empower us to be who we were created to be, and do what we have been called to do. 

News flash!
God did not create you or me to be an addict.
He never gave us life so that we could destroy every relationship we ever had.
Life was not given so that we could curse Him and turn our backs on Him.
You know, if I were God, I would probably be a little hacked at the way my creation related to me.

Truth be known, we're like little spoiled children whose parents are chasing them around trying to give them medicine that will make them better. Sick, spoiled children who are screaming, "Leave me alone! I'm not going to take that medicine and you can't make me!" The child perceives the parents intentions as being punishment. The parent knows that taking the medicine is in the child's best interest. God knows that if we reject Him, and His offer to real life, we will do more than simply die. By our rejection and our death, we have sealed our fate as to where we will spend eternity. The choice we made to reject Him comes with consequences.

More than once, I have heard others say, "I could never believe in a God that would send people to hell." Well, you know what? I couldn't either. How incredibly cruel and heartless would such a God have to be to do such a thing. People go to hell because they have chosen to. God, in His infinite love for us, has provided the means to change the direction we are headed in with our lives. Such is the Power and heart behind Step #3 of the the twelve steps.

Romans 10:9-10
That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Through confession and repentance for my sins (the rejection of God and all the subsequent behaviors and actions I took listening to my own will) I can enter into a new way of living.
It isn't a magic trick where "Zimo/Zamo" all my troubles disappear, but it is a changed me that doesn't run away from my troubles or problems. Rather, I look to God to give me direction and guidance on how I should approach them. I know, I know, it all sounds like a fairy tale....maybe even something akin to the Twilight Zone. But because of what I have seen in my own life, I am latching onto this Jesus like it's nobodies business. Why? Because I've tried living life under my own direction and selfish mindset. It didn't turn out to good. 

Today, ponder the reality of God's desire and love for you.
Let it soak all down into your thoughts and heart.
I was that spoiled brat running away from that terrible, awful medicine that was suppose to heal me.
God was my loving Father who knew beyond my thoughts and desires what was best for me.


God on you...
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Tuesday Bible Study

Psalm 119:130 The entrance (or unfolding) of Your words gives light. it gives understanding to the simple. Pulled up at the camp last ...