Saturday, May 30, 2015

Looking Back At Christian Brothers

 The Following is an article written by David Finlayson's niece, Charity R. Carney
about the history of FREE house and Christian Brothers.

I can still smell the popcorn popping in the old carnival machine. I can remember the endless pots of coffee brewed into the evening to keep the audience caffeinated and upbeat. I can hear the warm tones of the guitars strumming a Larry Norman tune from the stage and the murmur of good friends and family as they discussed their weeks and their plans and their faith. Christian Brothers SKYLIGHT was a fellowship, a coffeehouse, a venue, and a ministry—and it was one of many that defined the Jesus People movement of the late 1960s and 1970s.

Reading Larry Eskridge’s impressive history of the Jesus People (God’s Forever Family: The Jesus People Movement in America) is like reading a religious biography of my family in Gadsden, Alabama. Eskridge presents an intricate account of how this California-based movement that became known as the “Jesus People”—believers who adopted the dress, musical stylings, and overall vibe of the counterculture and redirected it towards evangelical/Pentecostal designs.

Like many of the coffeehouses described in God’s Forever Family, the Gadsden group started as an informal meeting of young people who sought a way to outreach to their peers in a way that seemed more meaningful than the stuffy, traditional denominational churches in town. Started by a teenager named Emory Boggs (who happened to be engaged to my aunt Irene) in 1975, Free Relationship Everlasting Enduring (FREE House) began meeting in the back of a doctor’s office but as it grew it moved into a permanent home in a downtown storefront. My parents and my mother’s brothers and sisters served as founding members of the incorporated organization and renamed themselves Christian Brothers SKYLIGHT.

Transforming their new space, they set up a stage (with the only door to the bathroom on it, making pee breaks awkward), bought some café tables and chairs, and invited the community to come eat sandwiches, drink coffee, and
listen to folk and rock music that glorified God. Regular visiting artists included Nori and Barbie Kelley and Mychael John Thomas (nee Michael Jackson). In 1976, Christian Brothers organized the “No Jive Jesus is Alive!” Festival at Nocalloola Falls and brought in other Jesus People groups and musicians like Pslam and the Waddels as well as the Christian Brothers Band. Members of the band included my folks (Don and Jennie), aunt (Irene), and uncle (Brook). In 1977 they redubbed the event the Falls Festival and more and more bands and Jesus People flooded the park each year until the last festival was held in 1980. 

One of the groups that participated in the Jesus People festivals was the Twelve Tribes. Founded by Gene Spriggs in Chattanooga (an hour or so north of Gadsden) the Twelve Tribes established communes across the United States and opened restaurants like the Yellow Deli to fund their ministry. Members would work in the deli as part of their commitment to the communal spirit of the group. Unlike Christian Brothers, Twelve Tribes drew negative attention from groups like “The Parents’ Committee to Free Our Children from the Children of God,” who believed it was just as dangerous as David Berg’s famous communal society. Accusations of child abuse and child labor brought negative press to the Twelve Tribes in several states. My uncle Dan (who married into the
family after this experience) and several other young folks from the community joined the group after meeting them at Falls Festival and moved in to one of their communes and my parents visited one briefly as part of a research project. Dan made his way back home and into the Christian Brothers fold, but his experience (like many other youths at the time) with the Jesus People was varied and reflected the many biblical interpretations and social dynamics present in the diverse, nondenominational movement. Eskridge talks about the tensions inherent in the movement as some groups rejected the more fundamentalist teachings of others or the more radical practices (like Children of God’s “flirty fishing,” for instance). 

Eskridge also describes the strong connections between Jesus People groups and local Baptist and Methodist Churches (and some contentions that arose over the Jesus People’s countercultural vibe and rejection of traditional hymns). My family’s church maintained a closeness with the local Central United Methodist Church and my parents served as youth pastors there for a brief time. There were times when Christian Brothers musicians played for traditional churches and congregants left in the middle of their sets in protest. But, in all, the relationship to the local congregation remained firm and served both institutions well as it provided some additional structure and teachings for Christian Brothers and drew in additional members to the Methodist congregation.

Although many of the Jesus People fellowships and coffeehouses in Eskridge’s study disband in the mid-1970s, Christian Brothers lasted until 1998. For financial reasons, the coffeehouse finally closed its doors but soon reemerged (with many of the same members) as a Vineyard Fellowship. As
Eskridge points out, Vineyard has been deemed part of a “New Paradigm” in American religious history because they incorporated successful business elements, contemporary music, charismatic teachings, and a casual atmosphere. But the Jesus People did all of this first and established a framework for Vineyard’s success. My family’s church represents a direct correlation between the Jesus People coffeehouses and the Vineyard phenomenon and several of my aunts, uncles, and cousins lead the praise team at the Vineyard, carrying on the tradition of the Jesus People music in their worship.

This post was largely inspired by a panel discussion at the American Historical Association’s CHS panel on Kate Bowler’s book, Blessed. A topic that dominated much of the conversation involved how a Christian’s faith impacts their work.  Kelly Baker’s reflections on returning to church also encouraged me to consider how my religious past impacts my historical writing. While I do not subscribe to the beliefs of my family, I acknowledge that spending my early years at Christian Brothers had a significant impact on how I view the connections between various religious movements. In my current research on southern megachurches (due to be published with LSU in 2016), I can clearly see what Eskridge mentions in his study: “The rise of these new styles of evangelical music, easily accessible to anyone familiar with the larger popular culture, bespeaks another way in which the Jesus People movement has impacted American evangelicalism: the rise of the seeker-sensitive megachurch.” (8) My early exposure to music from Love Song, Larry Norman, and Phil Keaggy tuned my ear to the evolution of praise music and then the musical productions put on in seeker-sensitive megachurches. The Pentecostal leanings of the Jesus People movement also helps us see the powerful way that neo-Pentecostalism has shaped megachurch teachings and how seeker-sensitive strategies developed in these congregations. The emphasis on hip youth groups in these large churches smacks of the Jesus People emphasis on reaching young folks through familiar mediums and fun times. I’m excited to continue exploring the relationship between Jesus People and megas—and to find out a little bit more about the place of this child of Jesus People within that larger history.

Friday, May 29, 2015

WIND "Instruments"

To some it is simply a collection of sound...
To others, it is a force that can soothe or move....
Music should never be categorized or put into a label....
Who get's to decide the label anyway?

My taste in music has changed over the years. Growing up in the 50's and 60's when the face and sound of music was changing at a rapid pace, so was my love for the music I was listening to.
As I have gotten older and more settled in my ways, so has my taste for music.

I have a fairly large collection of Cd's and tapes from various bands and groups. If you were to look at it, you would probably label it as "oldies". I'm o.k. with that......after all, I'm an "oldie" myself.

I remember the first time I heard Duane Eddy. I remember the sound of that guitar on the opening licks to "Rebel Rouser".  I remember the first time my brother put his recently purchased 45 rpm of Buddy Holly's "That'll Be The Day" on our stero, and that sound came blasting out. Then there was the time when my good friend, Michael Plemmons, came running from his house, carrying his 8-transistor AM radio, yelling at me to listen to this song by a new group called the Beatles. Music has, and always will be an important part of my life.

So when Nori and Barbie Kelley's group, WIND, released a new Cd that covered 20 years of instrumental music they had recorded on various Cd's.....I had to have it. Can I say that it did not disappoint? It didn't.

As my life and relationship with Christ has changed, so has my music. I gravitate to music that stirs me to worship. Music that beckons me to lift my eyes and heart from the problems of the day, and direct them to the very one who had given me life. I'm not to fond of the worship that is out there today. Don't be mad at me, or think I'm putting it is simply a matter of preference. 

When I first saw WIND's "Instruments" Cd, my first thought was, "But I've heard these before", which would be true. But Nori and Barbie have taken the collective of instrumental music they've recorded over the past 20 years and complied it to one Cd.
The flow and texture of the music, when lined up and fired at you one at a time, is incredible. I was not prepared for what I heard. 

I guess the other thing that makes "Instruments" so incredible, is that I know the members of the band. More than simply having knowledge of the group.....I have seen their "hearts" and love for Christ. I have watched and listened to them grow into the band they are today....I'm still amazed that after all these years, they continue to stretch and reach for new sounds and new songs that reflect their own personal journey. Every new release from this band is one more stone along the path God has put them on. 

Here in "Instruments"....
The band paints a tapestry of worship with their instruments.
The sounds are rich and full and deep.

Level upon levels of the instruments playing off one another, each bringing to the song a specific offering. The sum truly is greater than the parts, when it comes to this band. 

To me, "Instruments" is not to be listen to on the fly, rushing through the day or during those busy times. 
IT is to be savored by stopping and sitting down.
You put the music on, and let it fill the well as your heart, your mind and your spirit...
Turn your thoughts to God and the blessing that He has poured out over you.
And then.....

"Instruments" is available in the bookstore @ Gadsden Vineyard...
or you can check out "WIND" on Facebook.

God on you...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Time To Pray

Ephesians 6:18
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to the end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

E.M Bounds, in his book on prayer, said, "Prayer is the currency of heaven. Prayer moves God's heart to act on our behalf". If that is true, then how much currency do we never use? How much spiritual poverty do we live in because we never spend time in prayer? 

I have always felt that I was not very good at this "prayer" thing. That I never prayed enough. I never prayed for extended periods of time. That I squandered my own personal "prayer currency" by never exercising my God given right to communicate my needs or desires with Him. Is that true? Am I really like this?
Well, if truth be known, I'm probably not as bad as I think I am, but no where near where I need to be. I have learned how to pray without ceasing, as Paul commands us in the Scripture. It involves kind of keeping a running prayer going throughout the day. I won't go into it in this post, maybe for a later time.

I know that prayer is something that I need to lean into and learn. You say, "Learn? Isn't prayer something that comes natural?" In some regards, yes...but if it was a natural act to mankind, then why did the disciples ask Jesus, "Teach us to pray"?

I want to personally thank each of you who participate in this weekly posting of prayer requests from the men at Rapha. I shared with them at last nights Bible study how I post their request every Thursday morning, and that people really are praying for them. So, with that in mind, let's go on with prayer.

Prayer request # 1
prayer for this young man to learn to hear God's voice. He recognizes his need to not listen to those "old" voices when it comes to making decisions that are going to affect his future.

Prayer request # 2
This man, before he started using, had a close relationship with God. Now that he has begun this journey in recovery, his desire is to renew this relationship and move forward. His desire is to grow in Christ.

Prayer request # 3
I am going to put this request in the words that were written from this man.
"Help my desire for God....strengthen my resolve to chase Him. Help me to let go of my reservations so I can have a full blow commitment for God."

Prayer request # 4
Once again, here are the words from this mans request.
"I really want to know and feel (experience) God more. I need to understand and know what His will is for me...and then do it. I am really worried about all my court stuff. I want to save my money so I can go to college and make something of myself."

Prayer request # 5
This man wants us to add our prayers to his, in that he truly realizes that without God, he has no hope of ever staying sober. He wants to be the father his kids need him to be. He asks for prayer for his family, his sobriety, and his future.

Prayer request # 6
Very simple request:
"I want to have my family prayed for. I ask that I be prayed for as well. I need help ever so much I cannot do this on my own."

Again, I want to thank each of you who are a part of praying for these men. We are seeing hearts awakened to the fact that God is real and will do what He has promised. 

God on you...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Just Jesus.....Just The Cross

I Corinthians 1:21
Since God in His wisdom saw to it that the world would never know Him through human wisdom, He has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.

I Corinthains 1:18
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who ARE BEING SAVED know it is the very power of God.

Every day I am alive, I look to these verses and see greater and greater evidence of their truth in our culture, and in out time.
I see God being relevated to something that is understood and grapsed with the human mind. I see the Word of God being reduced to a tug-of-war among those who like to argue "the finer points." The Word of God is to be applied to life, not argued over.

Somehow I think I want to try and keep it all on the level of "I'm one of those foolish things God decided to use." I have no problem with that. In fact, over the past year, I have had several encounters with others who feel a strong desire to prove their beliefs to me. Now don't get me wrong...I am always up to checking out what I believe against the belief of others. But it profits us nothing if such becomes a point of contention. If our interaction is merely to drive home a point of "I'm right and your wrong" then we are no better than the Pharisees we read about in the New Testament. I don't know if you realized it or not, but Jesus wasn't to pleased with that bunch.

"Well in the Hebrew, Jesus meant this!"
"The Greek gives us the REAL meaning of what Jesus was trying to say."
I understand those who have a burning desire to look into such areas. But you know what? I don't think I've ever had anyone who was struggling with addiction stop to ask me how I felt about the Greek or the Hebrew behind what Jesus was telling us in the Bible. I never been stopped from praying for someone because my theology didn't match up with theirs.

I realize that there is a place for apologetics...
I understand the need to be Scripturally correct....
I am not saying that we should chunk all study of the Bible...
But the bottom line is that the most incredible student of Scripture, outside of Christ Himself, made the statement in I Corinthians 2:2 that "For I decided that while I am with you, I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified." Is that incredible or what? Paul determined.....set his mind on.....fixed his heart to focus only on Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Why? Because the entire structure of Scripture falls away without this act by Jesus.

So why do I consider this to be my theology? Because those I have been called to have to have a starting point in meeting my Jesus. The cross is that starting point. We all stand on level ground at the cross of Christ. The death and resurrection of Christ is the invitation given by God to us to enter into a new way of living. We are either drawn to this invitation......or we are driven away by it. No matter which direction we choose to go in...either toward the cross, or away into the darkness..the truth of the cross of Christ stands.

So while we do need scholars and theologians to delve into the Scripture...
we need a healthy dose of Spirit directed-common sense. We need plain language and a heart of love to work with those God brings in and out of our lives. One of my most favorite lines from a movie comes from "GETTSYBURG". In it, several high ranking officers are introducing themselves to a visiting British Officer. One particular officer is introduce along with a disclaimer about his military prowess. "He has a tendency to complicate the obvious and trivialize the momentous." Sometimes I think the church operates in this manner. We think we need to create hoops and steps for people to move through in order to get to God. When in fact, we need to boil the Gospel message down to its simplest and purest form...."God died for you so that you could have life with Him." We start with that premise.

Like I've said before....
You've got two people who claim to be followers of Jesus...
One who has little understanding but walks fully in the light that they have...
The other is very astute when it comes to understanding the Scriptures, but doesn't apply to their personal life, or walk in the light of their understanding.
Who is better off....
I will always come down on the side of the person who walks fully in the light they have.

Be a student of God's Word...
Read it....
Study it....

Apply it to your personal life...
Then go out an walk in it......

Just maybe..
You'll relish what God has done to you and through you as you realize, "Hey, I'm one of those foolish things mentioned in I Corinthians Chapter One!"

God on you...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Division Ain't Cool.

Matthew 12:25
But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.

A people divided...
A people divided, pitting one group against the other.
We see it in our nation.
Doesn't take a PhD to recognize what's going on.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that behind it are the plans of our enemy, the devil, and his rule here on earth.

We have black against white.
Gay's against everyone who disagrees with their agenda.
The church is being battered at every turn by those who feel that the institution should be pushed into the closet of irrelevance. 
I guess these kind of divisions are to be expected, as the eternal clock is ticking down.
II Timothy 3 gives us a list of human behaviors that will become very evident "In the last days."
In fact, we are told that in these days "Stressful" times will be a part of our national fabric.

What we are truly seeing is the uncovering of the character and nature of humanity.
We are seeing the dark side of mankind that we don't really want to talk about.
We are a nation divided.

But what truly concerns me it that we are seemingly becoming a church divided.
Finger pointing....
My church is better than your church....
Choosing sides.....
There are no sides if we claim to be the body of Christ.
In fact, we tend to forget that we actually have surrendered our right to choose when we come to Jesus.
If He is truly Lord of our life....
If we truly acknowledge Him as our Savior...
Then we can only choose what He chooses for us.

First and foremost....our choice is to love.
Not love as the world declares or defines..
But we love the same as our Father in heaven.

When we allow ourselves to be a divided body, we tend to forget that the world is watching.
We are giving them a perfect reason for why they don't want to be a part of our church.

"Why should I go to church? Those folks are just like every one else...hypocrites."
Well, you know what I say?
"Come and join us, there is always room for one more."

When I look at the church as a whole, I see a lot of slick imaging. 
Mission statements that are lofty and express great ideas...
But what if we had to use truth in advertising when it came to promoting our churches?
What if our mission statements read as follows:
"Come and join us! We have a clique for everyone!"
Or how about.....
"We the only church in town that will allow you to not change anything about your lifestyle!"

Or maybe.....
"We are great at pretending to be followers of Jesus!"

I keep hearing the words of John Wimber in my head.....
And I know that these words apply to me.
"I just want to grow up before I grow old."
That is what I truly desire to do.
To let love cover and rule over my disagreements.
To not let myself become jaded and hard against those I might disagree with.
Pray for me as I try to move toward the life Jesus really desires me to live.

God on you...


Monday, May 25, 2015

Deep In The Shadows

Psalm 23:4
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death....

Life is filled with sunshine and shadows....
A mixture of darkness and light that, at times, seek to define who we are and what we are trying to accomplish.
Not accomplish in the sense of job's or skills, or tasks...
but in the sense of who we were created to be.
Sometimes the shadows can be so deep that you can't find your way.

Sometimes the light is so blinding that you can see what lies ahead.

But there is a shadow that not only provides you with safety and understanding, but covers you with love.
The shadow of God.

Psalm 91:1-2
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my God, in Him I will trust.

God's cover over you as you traverse this terrain of life...His shadow.
The shadow of love...
The coolness of His presence completely overtaking you.

The protection of His name flying like a standard for all the world to see that you are His possession. 

In Psalm 23 we read that part of life's journey includes going through other shadows. In this case, David writes of the valley of the shadow of death.
The lowest point between two mountains....
Mountains could symbolize problems and situations we find ourselves facing.
Mountains so high that they block out the natural light, casting long shadows down into that valley.

Such places can be scary and cause one to pause.
But David wrote that he wasn't afraid of such times or places, that he was moving through one shadow, in the protection and safety of another shadow.

The shadow of death has no cause for concern to David because he understands who it is that is taking him through this shadow. He understands that death cannot overtake until it is his time.

We all have these parts of our life journey that will take us through the valley of the shadow of death. Never, never, never forget who has a hold of you...
Spirit, soul, body all belong to God. I am His and He is mine. Such is a comfort to me. As David wrote in Psalm 23...."I will fear no evil."
I'm not the smartest guy in class, but I do believe that mindset and heartset will serve me well..."I will fear no evil."

Think on these things...

God on you..


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Getting Back Our True Identity

John 17:20-21
I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through this message. I pray that they will all be one, just as You and I are one----as You are in Me, Father, and I am in You. And may they be in Us so that the world will believe You sent me.

Matthew 4:3
During that time the devil came and said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread."

Sin robs us of our identity in Christ.
Addiction gives us a raging case of spiritual amnesia.
Put the two together, and we haven't a clue as to who we are and why we were created.

Life becomes complicated....
Our choices become skewed and misdirected.
Instead of following God's voice.....
We listen to our own, making our decisions based on what our old nature wants.

In other words, we reject the real-deal God for one created in OUR image.
We bend our knee and worship at the altar of self....
Such always demands that a price be paid.
So we pay...
We sacrifice friends and family...
We turn over our future...
We give our money, and the money of others to chase a feeling.

A feeling that is based on spiritual lies spoken to us by the devil.
Yes, Virginia, there is a devil.
And he seeks to steal from you...
To kill you...
And destroy anything that in any way might point you to God.

Sin/ addiction is a tool in his cache of weapons.
He will seek to overwhelm your thoughts and emotions using doubt and fear.
He will tell you that he is much more powerful than God, and that all this talk of recovery and a "new life" is nothing more than a bunch of hokum. 
Yet even in this moment when all these lies seek to overwhelm you....
Another voice is speaking to you....

One that speaks truth....
One that speaks hope....
A voice that is filled with mercy and grace....
A compassionate voice....

The voice of God speaking through His Holy Spirit.
I can't explain how all this truly works....
I just know it to be real...
I just know it to be truth...
And I know it to be the key that unlocks the cell where I was kept prisoner.

The choice was really simple...
Stay in that prison cell of doubt, fear, and unbelief...
Or walk out into a new way of living.

In the process of moving into a relationship with Jesus, we will begin to grow and understand exactly who we are IN Him.
We will experience our new identity in Christ.

Why not today.....
Why not choose now....

Because of Christ's Redemption...
I am a new creation of infinite worth..
I am deeply loved...
I am fully pleasing...
I am completely forgiven..
I am totally accepted...
I am absolutely complete in Christ...

That is the person that sin tried to destroy...
But Jesus has rescued me..
Filled me with the Holy Spirit....
Every day is an opportunity to learn and grow in Him.
Every day is another opportunity to move farther and farther
away from the "Old" me..

God on you....

Friday, May 22, 2015

Random Rollings On A Friday

Good Friday morning to you....
Time: 4:33 a.m.
Coffee: Well into my first cup.
Place:  Greene Street / Attalla, Alabama.

Purpose: haven't a clue.
Now that isn't true...
I do know what my purpose is.

To worship God....
That's it...

Worship includes learning to love Him....
Worship includes learning to love others...
Then Jesus threw me a curve ball....
Love others as I love myself.

The first two are fairly easy.
I have spent the last 36 years learning how to love God.
Some day's I'm really good at it...
Some day's I fully expect Him to show up and kick me out of the club.

But I haven't given up.
I haven't chucked it all to run back to an old lifestyle that puts God out to the curb.
I'll keep trying.

There are two verses that have been with me all week.
They clearly point out my need to not only pray, but to lean into Jesus. Keep my attention and my heart focused on Him. No matter what life may be handing me, I have to believe that Christ is the answer to every thing I face.

I Peter 5:6-7
Therefore, humble yourselves ( A decision I have to make) under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting ALL your care ( Anxieties / problems) upon Him, for He cares for you.

Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything ( What falls under the heading of "everything?") by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Do you catch the gist of what these two verses are really saying?
Because this is life changing if you can ever wrap your head around it. The bottom line is that God has made a promise to us, that if we exercise our faith in Him, then He will reciprocate in a manner that will lift us up and take us through whatever comes our way. No longer do we have to be tossed about by our emotions. Not longer do we have to dwell within the prison walls of doubt and fear, lingering in the darkness not knowing how to deal with life. 

In the old life of addiction, a person always seemed to know where to run to when life got hard......their drug of choice. Such behavior didn't make life better, it only opened the door to alter the mood and provide a temporary escape to whatever was out there waiting for us to deal with it. We ran down that path so many times, that we actually programmed ourselves to respond in this manner whenever any problem reared its ugly head.

In this new life, we should be of a mind and spirit to turn to Christ daily....
Turn to Him in the good times...
Turn to Him in the bad times...
Turn to Him when nothing is going on...
Turn to Him when it seems as thought he wheels are coming off.

Go back and take the two verses above and read them carefully.
Ask yourself, "Is this behavior a part of my life?". If not, then carefully consider how much your life might change if you decided to start living according to these verses. You might, in fact, discover that this Jesus really is who He claimed to be, and will do what He has promised He would do.

Think on this...

God on you...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

If It's Thursday....That Must Mean It's Time To Pray

Matthew 6:9-10
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Over the past few weeks, Thursday's have become prayer request days...
Don't ever doubt for a moment that your prayers for the men I list here aren't being answered by God. This exercise in faith that we enter into is producing fruit. 

When I go to Rapha on Wednesday's, I spend my time walking around, talking with the men. Mostly chit chat about how the weekend was.....what about the food....are you homesick...that kind of stuff. We will talk about ballgames and hobbies. Who caught the biggest fish over the weekend. But along the way, I direct the conversation over to "What's going on between you and God?" For the most part, they get real honest about this portion of their life. Some will tell me that they are growing in Christ..they have a hunger to read their Bible. Some will tell me that they are struggling. They want to believe that there is a God who can do all these marvelous things they have heard, but they just aren't sure.

As I share about how others are praying for them and their situation, I also help them to understand that they can pray too. That their prayers carry weight and substance, not to fall prey to the old idea that they are so damaged that God won't hear their prayers.
My time and trips to Rapha have produced a foundation that God is building on.

Last night's Bible Study @ Rapha was probably one of the best we've had in a long time.

At the end of the teaching, the guys were not ready to a group, they asked me if I could keep teaching....could I expound on what was shared. They had questions...they had comments..You could see it in their faces....they wanted to know this Jesus.

Such nights as this...
Such Bible studies as we had last night...
let me know that God isn't finished with me or Rapha...
O.k.....lets get down to the business of prayer....

1.) K. --- Ask for prayer for discernment. He is afraid of that old part of his life that deceived him over the years. Affecting the way he thinks and views life, that lead him down a dark path. He realizes that, at this point in time, he doesn't need to really make any decisions without good counsel. He desires to have a correct view of God's truth.

2.) V. -- Begins the process of job hunting this morning. He isn't concerned about how much he will make, as he is the job site being one that will not be a detriment to his recovery. His prayer is that "God would let me work in a place that I can stay clean and sober."

3.) S. -- Asked prayer for his wife who is going through some terrible pain in her back and in her legs. She is going to the doctor, but he fully realizes that God is the healer. Also strength and grace for him to be who God created him to be.

4.) D. -- He asks for God's hand to be the real guide in his life as he moves forward in his recovery. He has been to multiple rehabs and is tired of this merry-go-round. He is ready to move forward with his life and get it right this time.

5.) B. -- Ask for provision for his family while he is in treatment. He is really struggling with the thought of leaving, so he can get to work and take care of them. Behind this thought is the reality that he isn't ready to leave. That if he did make such a choice as to to leave treatment, it would not turn out well.

6.) J. -- He has a really good relationship with his grandmother who is getting on up in years. He fully understands that she isn't going to be around much longer, but that doesn't ease the pain of knowing that she won't see him beat this addiction thing. He simply asks for favor from God to rest on him and her, and that somehow she would know that he is doing o.k.

7.) Rapha Staff --- prayers for strength and guidance that they can teach and model what these men need in order for them to move forward in their respective lives.

Thanks to everyone of you who participate in this Prayer exercise....
God on you...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Jesus---He's My King

I first heard Dr. Lockridge's message ten years ago. There was fire and passion pouring from this man as he shared who Jesus was to him. I felt a need this morning to revisit this wonderful proclamation.

Dr. S.M. Lockridge expounds on who Jesus is to him.


My King was born King. The Bible says He’s a Seven Way King. He’s the King of the Jews – that’s a racial King. 

He’s the King of Israel – that’s a National King. 
He’s the King of righteousness. 
He’s the King of the ages.
He’s the King of Heaven. He’s the King of glory. 
He’s the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. 
Now that’s my King. Well I wonder if you know Him. Do you know Him? 
Don’t try to mislead me. Do you know my King? 

David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament show His handiwork. My King is the only one whom there are no means of measure can define His limitless love.
No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of His shore of supplies. No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing. 
Well, well, He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. 
He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. That’s my King. 

He’s God’s Son. He’s the sinner’s savior. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. 
He stands alone in Himself. He’s unique. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s pre-eminent. 

Well, He’s the loftiest idea in literature. He’s the highest personality in philosophy. He’s the supreme problem in high criticism. He’s the fundamental doctrine of proved theology. He’s the carnal necessity of spiritual religion. That’s my King. He’s the miracle of the age. He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him. 

Well, He’s the only one able to supply all of our needs simultaneously. 
He supplies strength for the weak. 
He’s available for the tempted and the tried. 
He sympathizes and He saves. 
He’s strong God and He guides. 
He heals the sick. 
He cleanses the lepers. 
He forgives sinners. 
He discharged debtors. 
He delivers the captives. 
He defends the feeble. 
He blesses the young. 
He serves the unfortunate. 
He regards the aged. 
He rewards the diligent and He beautifies the meek. 
Do you know Him? 

Well, my King is the key of knowledge. 
He’s the wellspring of wisdom. 
He’s the doorway of deliverance. 
He’s the pathway of peace. 
He’s the roadway of righteousness. 
He’s the highway of holiness. 
He’s the gateway of glory. 
He’s the master of the mighty. 
He’s the captain of the conquerors. 
He’s the head of the heroes. 
He’s the leader of the legislatures.
He’s the overseer of the overcomers. 
He’s the governor of governors. 
He’s the prince of princes. 
He’s the King of kings and He’s the Lord of lords. That’s my King. 

His office is manifold. 
His promise is sure. 
His light is matchless. 
His goodness is limitless. 
His mercy is everlasting. 

His love never changes. 
His Word is enough. 
His grace is sufficient. 
His reign is righteous. 
His yoke is easy and His burden is light. 
Well. I wish I could describe Him to you, but He’s indescribable. He’s indescribable. 
Yes. He’s incomprehensible. 

He’s invincible. 
He’s irresistible.
I’m coming to tell you, the heavens of heavens cannot contain Him, let alone a man explain Him. 
You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands. 
You can’t outlive Him and you can’t live without Him
Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him. 
Pilot couldn’t find any fault in Him. 
The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree. 
Herod couldn’t kill Him. 
Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. That’s my King. Yeah. 

He always has been and He always will be. 
I’m talking about He had no predecessor and He’ll have no successor. 
There was nobody before Him and there’ll be nobody after Him. 
You cant impeach Him and He’s not going to resign. 
That’s my King! That’s my King! 

Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Well, all the power belongs to my King. 
People around here talking about black power and white power and green power, but it’s God’s power. 
Thine is the power. Yeah. And the glory. We try to get prestige and honour and glory for ourselves, but the glory is all His. 
Yes. Thine is the Kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever and ever and ever. How long is that? And ever and ever and ever and ever. And when you get through with all of the ever's, then  Amen. 

This is who my Jesus is.
He is bigger than any sin-addiction,
He is greater than anyone who would try to usurp his power and place.
He saved me, and I will live forever with Him.
That's my Jesus.

God on you....

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Let's Review

Step # 1
We came to believe that we were powerless over alcohol/drugs and that our lives had become unmanageable.

Romans 7:24
Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

It's all about the "S" word.
We even have stuck the moniker on a town in Nevada. "S" City.
Missing the mark is one definition. That means that there is a target or destination or behavior that we are aiming at, but because of sin, we do not hit it. We can never hit it. It is impossible.

Alcohol / drugs are the outward signs or symptoms of an inner wrong.
A nature that constantly puts us in danger to do the wrong thing.
Now the wrong thing doesn't always manifest in killing or dope dealing or rape.
It appears through lies.
It shows itself through envy and jealousy.
It comes on the scene through greed and lust.
Bottom line is that what takes place in our hearts is played out through our bodies.

For the addict, the sin nature introduces them to their drug of choice.
Once this happens, a love affair begins between user and drug.
The longer this relationship continues, the more the body and mind changes.
the addict, through alteration of body chemistry and brain function, looses his ability to choose to stop.
This is hard for some folks to grasp. I hear people say all the time, "Why don't they just quit. They know that it's killing them." Well for the addict it isn't that easy. They want to quit. They have tried to quit. But that craving (an actual physical response), driven by that old (sin) nature draws them back time after time.

Fix the sin problem.
Fix the addiction.
The root of all mankinds problems is a broken relationship with Jesus.
That is why the Apostle Paul went on to write in Romans 7:
Who will set me free from the body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ out Lord! 

See...You don't have to live in the darkness of addiction any longer.
There is an answer and it's been right here all along.
I can write these things as being true because I have witnessed, over the past 14 years, the power of Christ to deliver a person out of the bondage of sin and addiction.

Father God!
This morning, right now, I ask that you would open the minds and spirits of those who may read this, who are still trapped in addiction.
I would that Your Holy Spirit would break off all hardness of heart, mind, eyes and ears so that the truth can be seen and understood.
I pray that the power of the message that Jesus has defeated sin and the devil once and for all time be brought to bear in the hearts of those who struggle.
I pray that you would pour immeasurable amounts of hope, grace, mercy and love upon everyone who reads this today.
And that we might come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

In the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ....

God on you....


Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing. Not it shall spring forth. Shall you not know it?  I will even make a road (path) in the wil...