Saturday, October 31, 2015

Message From The O.T.

Judges 2:10
After than generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.

Funny thing happens when we forget God.
When we are raised without any understanding of Who God truly is.
We tend to live our lives outside His will.
We become the captain of our own ship (or at least we think we are).
Never mind that we don't know how to navigate the shoals and rocks of life.
Never mind that we crash our ship and then complain that life isn't fair.
Never mind that most of the destruction we experience is self inflicted through the bad choices we make.
Life is isn't fair.

Well, i hate to break the news to you, but guess what?

Life isn't fair.
But life is a wonderful gift to be lived and experienced.
Have you ever notice that you only say "Life isn't fair" when it doesn't benefit you in what you are pursuing? We never say that life isn't fair when the girl gives us to much money back after we've paid for our groceries. She hands us $10.00 too much and we cry out, "Hey! That isn't fair!" No. we only pull the fair card when we don't get our way, or someone else attains something we didn't or couldn't.

One of the main focus point in our Saturday night meeting at VRC is too let people know about this Jesus. To let people know that He truly is the POWER that they have been searching for, who could turn their lives around from the darkness of addiction. Sometimes there are those who seek a way out of the darkness rather than someone who could lead them out. IF I attend meetings, I'll be free of addiction. Well, attending meetings is part of the discipline involved in staying sober, but there has to be this radical change that takes place inside. We look at the outward behavior as the problem in our addiction, when in fact it is the inward belief's that are really driving our behavior. Our outward behavior is only evidence of what we really believe.

What do I mean by that?
Every person has what is called "a world view".
IT is something that we have learned over the years. We pick it up from family, friends, the people we run with, from the media and on and on. In other words, we have created a belief system that tells us how we should respond to every situation we run into. Now couple that with the simple fact of never knowing about God and we are left with a belief system that is driven by our sin nature. You see, if you go back to Genesis 3 and read where man and woman messed it all up in the garden, you'll understand that they traded away their relationship with God because they were tempted to be like God. The serpent told the woman..."Yo! you not know that if you eat this fruit your eyes will be opened and you'll be like God." Behind that subtle message was the idea of "If I am like God.....I won't need God". So the rest is history. That is why we want to take control of our own life and live it outside the will of God. 

So when someone comes to Saturday night, they can expect to hear about this POWER whose name is Jesus. That there truly is a POWER greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity. If you are living in this swirling mess called addiction, wouldn't it be wonderful to know that you could be taken out of that lifestyle? No only be taken out, but given life...real life...
Such my be worth investigating.
What do you think?

God on you......

michael b

Friday, October 30, 2015

Rev. Lewis R. Perry

II Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

The man in the picture above died when I was three years old, yet somehow I think there is a connection between him and me that goes beyond blood lines.

The man you see is Lewis R. Perry, my grandfather, my mother's father. He was a preacher/teacher/pastor of the old school kind.
I don't remember much about the man...stories that have been passed down from my family. I have his pocket watch and some of his sermon notes. Not much value to some people, but to me they are a treasure beyond anything I could ever imagine. 

My mother told me that He would take that watch out, open it and place it on his knee, and that I would come over to him and lay my head down on the watch so I could hear it tick. 

I do know that two of the churches he served were New Liberty Baptist in the Painter Community (up on Sand Mountain) and Cherry Street Baptist in Attalla. A friend of the family, Bro. Lee Gibbs, had a reel to reel recording of my grandfather preaching. I would have loved to have heard that recording just to hear what he sounded like as he taught the word of God. Somehow the tape got misplaced and was never seen again.

When my mother married, she was not able to have children (at least that is what the doctor's told her). Well in 1942, my brother Wayne was born, and nine years later in 1951 I came on the scene. On the day of my ordination as a minister, my brother told me a story that I had never heard before.

Since my mother's father was a pastor, she wanted a son who would follow in his footsteps. I can only imagine the grief she carried when told that she would never be able to have children, and then, 7 years later be told that she was pregnant. Of course back in those days there wasn't any way to pre-determine the sex of the baby before it was born. So when my brother was born it only added to her joy. But for whatever reason, she knew that Wayne would not be the pastor she had hoped for. Call it intuition, call it a word of knowledge from God...she just knew. Now, before I write on, let me say that my brother is an incredible follower of Jesus. In fact he has his own story of an angelic visitation in the middle of the night where he was given a message concerning his own life and future. But I'll save that one for another time.

My brother shared with me the events that took place on the day of my birth. My mother almost died giving birth to me, but the grace of God saved her. The nurses finally brought me to her, and as she held me for the first time, Wayne said she looked at me and said, "Now I have my preacher." Did she really know that my life would take that path? Somehow I think she did. I know that such things sometimes seem beyond the realm of possibility, but n this case, I was called to follow that path into becoming a pastor/teacher. I can honestly say, without any doubt, that I enjoy moving under this call more than any other thing I've ever done.

Part of me would like to know what my grand father thinks about the whole ReCovery Church model. I would love to sit down with him and ask him questions about his own calling. About the struggles and triumphs he and grandmother faced during their time here on earth. I guess the good part in all of this, is that I will get to ask him those questions at some point in time. I'm looking forward to a real family reunion when my time is through here on planet earth. 

Thank you, Lewis R. Perry, for the legacy you left me. I pray that I honor the God I serve, and you as I move through my days.

God on you..
michael b.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

DTS:101 / Session #11- Wowzers!

We held our 11th session of "Doing The Stuff:101" last night at VRC.
The group continues to grow and see the Kingdom of God in a new light.
The questions that are asked are causing us to look deeper in God's word and in ourselves to find the truth. More than anything, these meetings are causing those who attend to step out and begin to minister. The one thing I look forward to each week is finding out what took place during the days since the last meeting. I usually ask, "Did you have any Divine appointments during the week?" Or "Did God say anything specific to you?" The answers come back of running into someone who needed prayer. Or they encountered someone who had a physical problem that they got to pray for. Little by little, we are beginning to take a risk for the Kingdom of God. 

Those who are followers of Jesus have been given the authority and power to extend God's rule and reign here on earth. We have been called to play in His Kingdom. (I know that I probably should have said "We have been called to WORK in His kingdom, but I look at it as an opportunity to play because to me it really isn't a job). Bottom line, God equips those who answer this call.
He provides everything we need to interact with those who are dealing with physical, emotional or spiritual problems. Sometimes all three of these lap over in people's lives. How can you know what to pray, if you aren't taught to first hear what God desires us to pray? The obvious prayer might be for physical healing because we see a physical condition in the person's life. But what if the primary cause of the condition is because of spiritual issues, such as allowing demonic invasion into their life? What if the spiritual issue is about their salvation?

We read in Luke 5:20 where a paralytic is brought to Jesus to be healed.

Jesus takes one look at the man and declares, "Young man, your sins are forgiven!" Whoa...I thought the guy was paralyzed? He is, but Jesus saw the greater need. Jesus would heal his physical condition, but there was a need greater than the one that was evident.

Our part in this kingdom work is not to fix specific conditions when we are praying for someone. We are all about seeing a complete work in their life. Seeing the complete healing come to a person. What greater healing could there be than salvation? Sometimes what we see in a person who is suffering from a physical condition is because of a sin problem, or a demonic attack. I have prayed for people who were suffering from stomach problems such as sever pain. As I was praying, I saw (in my mind) the word "Unforgiveness". I would ask, "Are you struggling with forgiving someone who has wronged you?" Their answer would be yes. So the prayer would be turned to releasing the bitterness and pain of being wronged so that healing could come. As the old adage goes, "What you see may not be the problem."

I'm very grateful to everyone who comes out on Wednesday nights. It truly has been an adventure so far. My prayer is that we all learn how to hear God, and then simply follow His instructions. I think we are well on our way to moving in this new dynamic of His Kingdom.

God on you...

michael b.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

They Are Out There Doing The Stuff

Mark 1:14-16
Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee,where He preached God's Good News. "The time promised by God has come at last! He announced. "The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe in this Gospel (or good news).

Yesterday was a good day.
Lot of text messages and phone calls from former clients who were well on the way in their recovery.
What made yesterday even more incredible was the number of men who were, in some capacity, extending the Kingdom rule of God here on good ol' earth.

Men who had started, on their own, Bible studies or recovery meetings.
Men who were working with individuals in helping them to find this Jesus that had made such a difference in their own life.

Men who did not wait for someone to appoint them or ask them to do something, but rather felt the leading of God's Holy Spirit to get up and give back.
Should this not be the norm for every believer?
To find out what it is God wants of them and then carry it out?

It's not the size of the work that is done.
It's the fact that something is being done.
What is the one contributing factor in all of this?
These men, as a work in progress, have had...and continue to have their character shaped and reformed by the Holy Spirit.

One thing I think the church misses sometimes is that the call to "Follow Jesus" is not a flexible suggestion. It isn't a call that an individual can push off on the preacher or pastor.
"Well, I am going to church..and our church does a lot to help others, so I guess you could say that I am fulfilling the Great Commission." Really? Do you think that is the way it works? Really didn't cost anything but whatever you put in the offering plate.

Let's say that you go to church 3 hours on Sunday (Morning and evening), and that you attend mid-week service (if your church has one). That might be a total of 4 to 5 hours. What about the rest of your week? We take those hours and apply them to work, family, fun. I'm not advocating that we all turn into Monk's and Friar's, live on mountain tops, grow organic vegetables and wear brown robes and sandals. I am advocating that if you claim to be a follower of Jesus, then you should be listening for His instruction and carry it out.
It may be a simple, "Do yous that person in the wheel chair? Go pray for them."
It might come in a "Go buy groceries and fee your next door neighbor." But the bottom line is that we be an obedient people.

You know what the funny part in all this kingdom work is?
It's not a matter of having to do it. A sense of obligation that you've got to come up with your part of a greater cosmic plan....
No! You'll want to. You'll find that you have a desire to see the Kingdom will of God come down into our time and space.......into our everyday life and make a difference in the lives of those around us.

This is the part of salvation that no one wants to acknowledge as being an individual's responsibility. But it is what has been on the Father's heart forever.
He chose two people to take His creation and tend to it.
It has never is still His will.

God on you...
michael b.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Truth...The Whole Truth....And Nothing But The Truth

Matthew 16:16
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."

The acknowledgement of who Jesus truly is.
Spoken by one who would later turn against Him in His darkest hour.
Truth is simply that....truth.
And the truth concerning Jesus has to be spoken...cannot be covered up or hidden.

It can't be turned to mean something else, or to even rail against and claim that it isn't truth.
No matter what I say....
The Truth of God is the Truth.

One other thing....
The evidence to whether truth is real or not isn't found just in the words that are spoken.
The proof of what we claim to be real truth is found in our actions and deeds.

Because God's truth is life changing.

God's truth is character building....
God's truth is a force and a power that can undo every argument built by man to discredit it.

I can say anything...
I can claim to be anything...
But my actions and behavior truly do define and identify what I really believe is truth.

We can go to church and sing all the songs...
We can put money in the offering plate...
We can carry our Bible and mark all the verses that are read...
We can call everyone "Brother" or "Sister"...

And we can Amen with the best of them.
But If my life doesn't reflect the Spirit of God who lives in me, then I am a sham.

Matthew 7:21-23
Not everyone who calls out to me, "Lord! Lord!" will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.
Only those who do the will of the Father will enter.
Here's the kicker...
You can't do the will if you haven't truly been saved. You can act like your doing His will...
You can go about looking religious and pious, proclaiming all sorts of nonsense. But only the truth of who Jesus is accepted into a heart that has confessed their sin and repented from it, can carry out the Kingdom business of God.

Such behavior as I've written about isn't reserved just for those who are in addiction and are trying to manipulate those around them by getting them to believe that a change has been made. #1 if you're playing at this whole "Salvation" thing, you won't be able to sustain it or carry it out. The old nature will rear it's ugly head and you'll be uncovered. Truth has a way of doing this.

Bottom line...
It isn't about spiritual perfection as we travel through this life...
It is about spiritual progress and growth.

There will be mess ups an failure along the way.
But there is forgiveness and restoration when it happens.

Because that is the truth of who Jesus really is..
And the truth of what He truly wants to do in each of our lives.

God on you...

michael b

Monday, October 26, 2015

Going To Take Off Today

Psalm 119:65
You have done many good things for me, Lord, just as you promised.

This past weekend was a marathon of sorts for me.
I can't truly put into words the faithfulness and presence that God brought to me as I moved through it, but I truly understood that He was "driving the car" so to speak. I was simply along for the ride.

Saturday night's VRC was one more in a long line of seeing God work.
Taught from the book of Haggai, which was a first.
Spoke on the idea of completing something when you commit to starting.
The people, who'd been in captivity...taken away to a foreign country, had returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. Kind of like entering into this new work of recovery after being a slave to addiction for a period of time. Anyway, these folks had been called to help rebuild the temple. Trouble was about a few months into the task, they quit. They reasoned (and that is a dangerous thing when we get together to collectively reason) among themselves that it wasn't time to complete the temple. So they turned from a God-called task, to the task of taking care of their own personal wants and desires. I've seen a lot of people enter into this new life, coming to realize that it is a lot of work to change. They become discouraged and begin to rationalize the need to return to their old lifestyle. Not a good thing.

Haggai was picked by God to be the voice that would speak on His behalf and encourage the people to return to the task they had been called to. The message seem to hit home as there were two who were saved . Always a payday when someone comes to the Lord.

Sunday found me speaking at Gadsden Vineyard's morning service. Doing this is like your Father giving you the keys to the car. Jim Bentley had asked me to speak for him and I was more than happy to oblige him. I was able to speak on the opportunity that may fall at the feet of the church if things in our society does go down the tubes. I shared that there was a lot of fear out there concerning the days ahead, and that fear only makes you selfish. you quit looking to God and began to think only of yourself. If the events in our nation do take us to the point of collapse, then such a time would be the ultimate opportunity for the church to rise up and meet the needs, physically and spiritually, of those who may not know our Jesus.

Sunday afternoon, I was asked to by the family to help officiate the funeral of Esther Finlayson. I've known the family for over 40 years. First came in contact with Clan Finlayson, when Jennie and I played together at the OTHER DOOR, a coffee house that use to be across the street from the Gadsden High School. Our church fed the family after visitation Saturday night, and it was wonderful to see the ones I had not see in years. There is a beauty and a peace when a family gathers after the death of their mother who was a tremendous believer. There was sadness...there were tears...but there was also laughter, and memories shared. The presence of God in that room was a sweet fragrance that filled the air with hope and promise that this death was merely a transition to the life God has promised to us all. Many thanks to the core leadership of Vineyard ReCovery for helping set up and serve the meal for the Finlayson family. You guys rocked it Saturday night.

Sunday night found me at Catalyst Recovery.
I had nothing to share.....
Sorry, it happens sometimes. You are called on to speak and the heavens are like brass. Nothing seems to be coming out...nothing seems to be going in. Usually in such times, all you can do is wait. And wait I did. I got to the church and went to my office. Taking out my Recovery Bible, I began to thumb through it and see if anything stuck out. It didn't.

But by as I stood up and moved to the front to speak, it arrived. John 3:16!!!
It wasn't just the fact that "God so loved the world", but rather it was the way God's love was demonstrated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. At the end, there was a lot of ministry and prayer as people flooded down to the front. Seth and I got to pray for two of the young men who were at the Bridge, a local adolescent treatment center. They both had finished the program and were leaving this week to return home. They wanted us to bless them and pray that they remains strong and committed to their recovery.

As my head hit the pillow at the end of the day, I was grateful and just plain full of joy for all that God had allowed me to see and participate in this weekend.
Like I said....

It was a great weekend.

God on you....
michael b.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

More Than Reading.......There Is Application

Psalm 119:9-11
How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You. Oh let me not wander from Your commandments! 

Your word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.

Read or study?
Glance or focus?
Apply or file away?
Such are the choices we have to make when it comes to reading the Bible.

It seems to be old fashioned to actually study the Bible.
Popular to own one.
Vogue to carry one.
But to actually study it and then apply it to our lives? You've got to be kidding me.But here is where we learn the actual of truth about God. Either His word is true........or it's a lie, let's all go to Shoney's for some strawberry pie. Well I just happen to believe it to be true.
The promises as real.
The blessing come to those who apply His word in their hearts, and then walk it out in their daily lives.

That is why I am such a believer in the Twelve Steps.
There isn't any power found in the steps themselves, but when a person has surrendered will and life over to Christ, those steps become a guide on putting some discipline into a life once defined by chaos.
Such is the same with Scripture. The Bible becomes the daily instruction on how to live life. Christ is the source of power I need to carry it out. Jesus is the giver of life that makes the words of scripture come alive and become food for my entire being.

Matthew 7:24
Therefore whoever hears these sayings (words) of Mine, and does them (Puts them into practice), will be like a wise man who builds his home on the rock.

Kind of weird isn't it?
Jesus didn't say that we would be like wise people who built their home on "A" rock. He said that we would be wise by building our homes on "THE" rock. 

That there truly is only one foundation for rightful living in this live. A life that is grounded and finds it foundation in Him. We see the simplicity of this when we study the word of God.

Be truthful to God.
If you don't like reading the Bible, tell Him and then ask that you would be awakened to a hunger for His word.
Ask Him to renew your brain and rewire it so that you can understand what you read. isn't the amount you's what you truly understand and grasp of what you read.
Go for it! Get you some word deep down inside and let it percolate.

God on you....

Friday, October 23, 2015

Faith Is Meant To Be Exercised

Haggai 1:5
This is what the Lord of Heaven's Armies says, "Look at what is happening to you!"

Been parked in the book of Haggai all week....
Not really a book that I've spent a lot of time in before, but it surprised me as to how much it deals with human behavior and the willingness to give up when things get hard.
We loose momentum in our recovery when we run into situations that are easily dealt with.
We allow ourselves to make bad choices when we are confronted with circumstances that nip and pull at us in a negative way.

Tomorrow night, I'm going to be teaching from the book of Haggai on this very topic...."Loosing Momentum". Bottom line in this teaching is the simple fact that when we face obstacles to God's plan for us, it is easy to get sidetracked. It is very tempting to follow the way of least resistance, or as the big book of A.A. states so plainly..."We look for the easier softer way."
It is easier to recognize problems when they pop up that it is to do something about them. Every one who choose to follow the path to sobriety, a new life, and a relationship with God, must take active steps.

Life is about action....

Not analyzing till your paralyzed.
We can have wonderful plans thought out in our minds, but they mean nothing until we take the first step to make them a reality. There is something very powerful about taking that first step toward this new life, free from the bondage of addiction. That first step requires something that we might not even realize. To take that first step requires faith. Faith in a power greater than yourself that can restore you to sanity and a new way of living. Faith is the action of belief. Faith is the fuel that moves us forward away from the old life.

I love the story in Luke 5 about the man who was paralyzed and was brought to Jesus. We're not told if this was his idea, or the men who brought him on a stretcher. It doesn't matter..what matters is that these men were determined to get their friend healed. The encountered problem after problem when they arrived on the scene where Jesus was teaching. But they faced each problem one at a time until their friend was laying at the feet of Jesus. Verse 20 of Luke Chapter 5 reads.....Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, "Young man, your sins are forgiven." Did you catch that....These men had expended themselves and risked everything to come before Jesus so their friend could be healed. Jesus took notice of this. Why? Because these men operated from the assumption that if they could get near Jesus, their request for healing would be granted. That is faith. But faith isn't something we keep in our pockets like spare change or car keys. Car keys are worth nothing unless taken our, put in the ignition and turned so the engine would start. Such is faith. It isn't worth anything unless it is take out, and exercised in the direction of the one who can change us.

I guess what a friend of mine said once about recovery is true.
You are not going to change until you're sick and tired of being sick and tired.

You have the "faith keys" right now. Scripture says that unto each man is given a measure of faith. I guess the question is, "What are you going to do with your measure?"

God on you...
michael b.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Movin' On With Step # 11

We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

I love Step #11....
I think it is something that goes beyond the world of addiction.
Remember that all addiction stems from sin.
We've been born with that old nature that tugs at us to live outside the will of God.

Every addiction begins with a choice that is made.
It doesn't matter what the drug or drink of choice is...We choose to reject God and embrace our own will's desire.

First part of the Step?

The acknowledgement that WE belong to a group that is trying to get life back on track by following a few simple steps. The steps are not magic...the steps are not some kind of cosmic mantra that will purge us of our desire to use. The steps are simple directions what aid us in this new relationship with have with our creator. The steps are discipline that help us in our daily life. Without my relationship to God....I am merely trying to overcome this heart problem in my own strength. Bottom line is you can't work step #1, which states that we are powerless, that our lives have become unmanageable, and then turn around and decide that you are also the solution. Doesn't work that way.

Next part of Step # 11....
Sought through prayer and meditation....

Basically it says that we are not only going to talk to God...but we are going to listen for Him to speak to us. We are going to focus our hearts and minds and listen for Him. It's not as hard as it seems, believe me. 

What next?
To improve our conscious contact with God....
This comes through simply being aware that God is indeed communicating with you. We find meetings and gatherings of other like minded people who are also on this journey. We connect! We establish relationship with others We listen to their stories, as well as share our own. This brings encouragement to keep on......and we might actually learn a few things. 

We read and study our Bible.
Start in the Gospels .....Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. See how Jesus interacted with the people, and take close notice of how they came to Him with their problems.

Keep going..what's next in Step # 11?
Praying only for knowledge of His will for us...
Not our will...remember we turned that nasty thing over to the care of God back in Step #3.
Our will has taken us down that dark road to destruction. Not going back there....

And last but certainly not least....
And the power to carry that out....
God is not going to call us into something and then not enable us to carry it out.
He is not taking your out of the old sin/life and not giving you the ability to walk out this new way of thinking and living.

Just a little refresher to remind us of the incredible life God has waiting if we will turn to Him.
As I have heard many in recovery say, "The worst day sober is better than the best day of my old life"

Ain't that the truth. I'd like to leave you with the Step #11 prayer.

God on you....

michael b.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Muscular Jesus? Or Wimpy Jesus?

Isaiah 53:2-3
My servant grew up in the LORD's presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance, nothing to attract up to Him.
He was despised and rejected--- a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned out backs on Him and looked the other way. He was despised and we did not care.

The idea of a "Common" Jesus is foreign to most believers. 
Because we want our Jesus to be superman....

We want bulging muscles and wavy black hair that fills a muscular face.
Jaw of granite...
Steely eyed....
Booming voice...

Able to leap the Temple in a single bound...
One who fights for truth, justice, and the right way to live.
The muscular Jesus.
but what I read in the Isaiah passage is that Jesus was plain....
Very plain.....
Maybe even what some might say would be homely.

Isn't that just the way our world operates?
All bout the image and not the substance.

Give me the flash and grin on the outside and cast aside that which truly makes the man

Kind of hard to wrap my brain around the fact that God chose an unassuming body to inhabit when He came to earth to walk among us. Isn't that just like God though? He came to where we were....He brought His complete power and authority and yet, laid it aside to become the payment for our sins.....A payment that demanded blood shed and death to satisfy justice. He didn't have to  do this. He didn't have to become one despised and rejected, but He did.
What manner of love is this that Jesus  possesses that He would leave heaven to once and for all time, with His death and resurrection, break the power of sin, cancel the penalty of sin, and arm those who answer His call to salvation and life with the overcoming of  the presence of sin.

The other side to the is coin is the idea that some have of a wimpy, powerless Jesus. Hanging there on the cross, you can count every rib in his side because He appears to frail. You might even say that His dying was a good thing, because it doesn't look like He could even take care of Himself. He probably got picked last at recess when the other kids chose sides for football games. "O.k.....we'll take Jesus. You go long and we'll fake the ball to you."
How Boink is this thought? The idea of a Wimpy Jesus? So we have the Terminator Jesus or the Don Knott's Jesus.

Truth be known, the reality is somewhere in the middle.
I love it that Jesus possessed the ability to blend into a crowd and not be recognized.
Think about it.
He has been going around the countryside teaching and demonstrating the reality of the kingdom of God. He healed people. He fed the multitudes with a simple "Happy meal". He raised the dead. Made the lame to walk. Gave the blind their eyesight back. He was at the Temple doing all of this in front of the religious rulers, but when it came time to arrest Jesus they  had to hire someone to identify Him. They could not pick Him out of the crowd, and it took the kiss of a traitor to mark Jesus as the one that was the focal point of all their hatred.

The common Jesus...
The unrecognized Jesus...

Unrecognized by the religious....
But not by the common man and woman....they knew this Jesus and they followed Him around to see what He would do next.
I think I would like this Jesus best....
The one who chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. 

The Jesus who chose the ones who were powerless to shame those who thought themselves powerful.
That is my Jesus.

The Jesus that chose those things despised by the world. Things counted as nothing at all.
That is my Jesus.....
Because I am one of those foolish things He has chosen to confound the wise.
I am well aware of my limitations and yet, through His empowerment by the Holy Spirit, I am able to accomplish things that were never in the realm of possibility.

That is my Jesus.....
What kind of Jesus do you have?
Think on these things.

God on you.....
michael b.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Weighed Down Or Lifted Up

Job 6:1
Then Job spoke again, "If my sadness could be weighed and my troubles be put on scales, they would be heavier than all the sands of the sea."

Sound familiar?
Sadness and troubles?

Weighed down and almost crushed under the relentless, always in your thoughts, situations and circumstances that you are facing.
I do believe that if you are drawing breath, and are walking around here on this planet, then troubles and sadness have come in and out of your life at some point. Don't get me wrong, there are days when we can truly enjoy life. We can catch our breath and not be walking around under a cloud of despair and depression. I always tell people that when you are having one of those extraordinary days of bliss.....drink it up....take some and put it in your pocket and save it for the day when it's not so sunny or enjoyable. 

One thing that helps us to get through the dark times is to remember verses that are actually promises given to us by God. Promises that will fuel us to keep plugging away and not give up. to keep pressing in and moving forward and not go back to our old ways.

I like how the apostle Paul puts it in II Corinthians 4:16-18:
That is why we  never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now...rather we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.

You see, as I have turned will and life over to the care of God as I understand Him, I want to immerse myself in this relationship I now have with Jesus. I want to know Him better than I ever have. I want to hang out with like minded people and learn how to have real friends as well as community. I want to rid myself of anything and everything that would remind me of my old lifestyle and way of thinking. I want to learn how to live and move through this old sinful world without being tainted by the sin. I want to become the person God originally intended me to be, before sin warped my heart and identity (My behavior was evidence of this warping that sin brought to my life). Such is what drives me daily in my pursuit of God. To become everything I am not currently.To not give into the old desires and wants, but to push out and up toward the call that God has given to everyone who accepts His love and new life.

And all this growth....
All this change in me....

Takes place no matter what my day may hold.
It takes place no matter what problems I may be facing.

Even those that I don't have an answer or solution for.
I choose to lift my vision and heart higher than my problem so that I can hear God. Receive His instructions on how to navigate through my problem. And yes, Virginia, God does speak...You can hear Him...and You can follow His instruction. I gar-on-tee it!
Why not now?
Why not turn to this new life today?
Why wait?

God on you....
michael b.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Ultimate Pouring Out

A man in deep thought.....
Pondering the unseen, unexplained things of the universe....
It's just me wondering if I locked the door before I left home.

Nothing deep about me...
I choose to be careful about how I wasted my ponders.

Big shout out to Chase and Tiffany for being with us Saturday night.
Always good to see you both..
They came from Birmingham to be with us.

I want to include Steve in that shout also. He was the "one" last Saturday evening who received from God. He let me know, after the meeting, that God had spoken directly to him and gave him words of encouragement and strength (not to mention that the way it happened really shook him a good way). 
That is why we gather every Saturday night like a bunch of wide eyed children. We gather because we have no clue as to what God is going to do, so we're excited about the possibilities. How cool is that? Way cool.

Debbie Handy is on the upswing and we give thanks to God for that. Had surgery last Wednesday and it was touch and go there for a while. Lot of prayers split the heavens on her behalf. Father heard and acted. Healing by the boatloads came falling upon her. We are very grateful this morning for Debbie, Lanny and Esther.
"You did good, God.....real good!"

Acts 2:17
"And it shall come to pass in the last days," says God, "that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh."

Acts 2:21
And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

So the time where God gave His Holy Spirit to all who believed was in the Last days. Lot of time has passed since that morning in Jerusalem when the Spirit came with the sound like a mighty,rushing wind. Every one of the 120 gathered in that upper room was covered, smothered, and filled with the Spirit. Then they began to speak in different dialects and languages. Sounds pretty chaotic to me. But isn't that the manner of God? To put things in order. To arrange things to function at a higher level? I think maybe yes. As I have noticed over the can't have order unless you have chaos first.

So the Spirit of God has been given to believers...but at the same time, has been poured out in liberal amounts on everyone. Why everyone? Because it is God's Holy Spirit that convicts, or makes us aware of our sin. The thing I like about being convicted and not condemned is that conviction always leads to salvation. Condemnation leaves wallowing in guilt and shame. Condemnation simply points an accusing finger to the very center of our being and tells us we are terrible, no good, never going to be saved people. Trouble is, we buy that load of bunk. Sometimes when God's Spirit comes to us with conviction, we cut and run because it kind of seems like condemnation. Believe me, there is a difference between the two.

V17 -  God's pouring out the way to salvation and restoration
V21 -  The solution...
              A.) Whoever calls on the name of the Lord.....
                   1.) Who fall under "whoever"? why everyone.
              B.) Shall be saved...
                    1.) No questions asked. No forms to fill out. It's real and it 

Such a cry on our part, coupled with the response on God's part, puts us in a place where our lives can truly change from what we've experienced in our past.

The ability to change is instant when we receive this salvation from God.
The process of change takes a bit. In fact it is a day to day event that is ongoing. Some call it recovery, some maturity in the Lord. I just call it normal when you're really listening and doing what God is instructing you to do.
Reading His word....
Hanging out with others who are hungry for God.

Giving back to others who are where you use to be, helping them to see what this God can do to them.
All part of the process....

If I can help in any way, leave a comment here at the Greene Street Letters, or message me on face book (Michael Bynum)

God on you....

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pick One

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

There is a level to life that is more than breathing.
There is a level to life that is more than walking around, taking up space here on this planet.
There is a place, in life, that God desires each of us to move to.
A place that only He could provide, and it's available to any who would come to Him and say, "I want that place".

In this "life" place, you will find out your real purpose for being here....for being born.
You will discover that there is a sense of peace and serenity that will appear when you move under God's direction.
Oh, it's not utopia or the perfect place where everyday is sunshine and lollipops...unicorns and hopscotch.

It involves awakening to the simple fact that God desires to raise you out of the abyss of the choices we have made that have almost destroyed us. Funny how this choice thing works isn't it?

That God would grant to us, his fallen creation, the power to choose. Some say that we really don't have that power, that God is simply manipulating us into His plans. I don't think that will fly. If that would be the case, then why not just make us all like automaton's. Why not simply keep us from choosing bad. To me, God allowing me to choose is the greatest form of love there could be. Does He approve when I choose badly? I don't think so.
But He is always there, beckoning me to return to His care when I do. If I don't return, then we're all up in the downside of sin.

Sin gives us the illusion that we are in control.
Sin gives us the illusion that we are free to live our lives any way we want to. While this is true...the living our lives the way we want to...Sin never reveals the end result of such choices. The eternal separation from God. I know that it may not sound bad....after all if we haven't chosen God, then our whole life has been a separation. One difference on this side of eternity, there exists the possibility that we would come to our senses and choose rightly. Once we die....once we cross over, then our choices are sealed and will never change. There will be, according to scripture, wailing and weeping and the gnashing of teeth. It will be the ultimate "beat yourself for your choices". And it will last beyond our comprehension of time and space.

Isn't it incredible that God would give us life in Him? That He would place before us, just like the passage in Deuteronomy says..."Life and blessing"? And such a gift would not be based on anyone's intellect or ability. It would not be with held from those who didn't have enough money. Or lived in a specific part of town. It would be for every human who draws breath. Real life..and the on going favor of God poured out on those who choose life in Him.

There's no other way to say it...
That dog will hunt!

I think maybe on this day, here at 4:34 a.m.....
I choose His Life...
And I choose His blessing.

God on you...
michael b.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Art Of Movement

I Corinthians 9:10
.......For out sake, no doubt this is written that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.

Yes sir, we're moving....
We're rolling like the Red Ball Express....
Ain't no stopping us now....
Only problem I see is....
What direction are we headed in?
Movement doesn't mean anything if you aren't headed in the right direction.

Not backward.

Sometimes we can deceive ourselves into thinking backwards is the new forward.

We're going to regroup...
We are going to rethink this place we are in...

Relationship/ Recovery is about forward progress.
It isn't about achieving spiritual perfection as much as it is making spiritual progress. You can't make progress by going backwards. The only thing you truly do in going backwards is to hopefully learn from your mistake and push on.

We move in hope.
We move in the knowledge and understanding that this God we have chosen to serve is who He truly claims to be and will do exactly what He has promised He would do. Laying that as the coordinates for my journey, I press on. I press upward.....I lean into the day and set my heart and mind to not move backwards.

I Corinthians 3:13-14
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended. But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the UPWARD call of God in Christ Jesus.

I need to develop double vision, so to speak.
One eye on today, meeting and facing each problem with the understanding that God is capable of instructing me in what to do. I listen, I hear, I do, I move forward.

The other eye, I keep on tomorrow...

I cling to the promises that God has made to me. You see it is very simple, if God has made a promise as to my future and my well being, then He will carry it out to completion. The only problem occurs when I reject His promise to embrace my own desires and will. I have cancelled out what God wants to do for me, in me and through me. Dumb, huh?

I love Paul's understanding of this journey we call life. I love how he says in the I Corinthians 3 passage that he is pressing on toward the goal. Pressing gives the impression of leaning into...pushing other words, Paul plainly states that there will be resistance in our own personal journey of moving forward. Did you ever notice that there never is resistance when you turn away and start back into your old way of living....your old way of thinking. Why is that? Because you are going with the flow. There is a constant flow against any forward movement in the Kingdom of God. We truly are learning how to swim upstream. But the prize Paul speaks of is well worth the commitment and determination to see it all the way to the end.

Thanks for letting me share...
Thanks for letting me ramble...

God on you....
michael b.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Doing The Real Two Step

Each week, someone asks me about Vineyard ReCovery Church..
"Who are you and what do you believe?"
Not a bad question. Just  not sure how to answer it. I confess that I still haven't gotten the answer down to fifteen words or less, but I am in the process of trying to give language to answer their question.

Are we a church who mission is to help those in addiction?
You better believe it. But the difference in what we do is that we take the word "recovery" beyond the using of drugs and alcohol. In fact recovery is the taking back of the entire person....spirit, body and soul, from a life that has been separated from its Creator. We fully realize that we cannot recover except by God's help. Recover from a fall into sin-life.

Like any good 12 step program, honesty if the key. Honesty about ourselves and the fact that there is nothing within each of us that can pull us from the mess we call life. Help begins with an honest confession that we are powerless to manage and control our life. That by our admission of powerlessness, we seek someone who can help us. That someone being God.

We do not chase our confession of helplessness around and around a bush, instead we move forward with God help and direction. With each step, we are simply reaffirming the fact that we can do nothing, but He can do everything. Coming to the realization that we have to walk a solitary path of relationship, we soon come to understand that there are others walking similar paths. Called to chase God as individuals, we soon find ourselves bonding to like minded people. From this place we draw strength from each other's stories and tales of what God has done, and is continuing to do.

We walk a two-step path as we follow God. The first step we take, we take for ourselves. In this first step we find forgiveness for our sins, and are awakened to the fact that our attitudes and behaviors were being drawn from this place, our sinful nature. Standing still with no movement will bring no progress in our journey. It isn't until we make the decision to pull our leg up, swing it out and then let the momentum propel us forward that we begin to understand the true meaning of faith. Faith requires us to act...not simply think. Even though it doesn't seem like much is accomplished with a single step, what we sometimes fail to recognize is that the first step sets up the second. Faith that is acted upon pushes us away from our present (and past) circumstances and situations. It enables us to embrace what God has out there waiting for us to possess and own.

Propelled by faith, we take the second step for others. For those around us who may be in a place that is more difficult that the one in which we found ourselves. Faith that we find in our first step is always an abundance that will carry over as we move forward in our salvation/recovery. Faith is to be directed from the first step (leg) to the second step (the other leg). As we go through the movement of spiritually walking, we see it as first step (faith)...second step (giving) step (faith) step (giving) and so on and so on. 

With our second step, we listen carefully for God to direct us in ways that we can be helpful and useful to others. See how it works? One step for our own health, followed by one step that requires us to give of ourselves to others for God's Kingdom. 

For too long, I was trying to walk my path on one leg. The leg of  my own needs and desires. Even with God trying to help me, I would never use both of my legs, afraid that I might not be able to stand on the one that requires me to give to others. But through patience (both on God's part and my own) I am learning to walk on two legs. Alternately receiving and giving to others.

what about you? Are you walking on two legs, or are you trying to take this journey on one leg? Has fear got you so bound up that you are afraid to try the other leg? This is why we need other like minded people in our life, and why we need to be in their life. So we can encourage and push each other to not quit or give up.

Vineyard ReCovery Church has not been called, as a body, to walk on only one leg. We have two strong legs that can take us, as a fellowship, to wherever God directs us to.
Proud to be a part....
Looking forward to what's over the hill....

God on you....
michael b.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

More Than Running....It's Running With A Purpose

Hebrews 12:1
......Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Sometimes when we read the verse from Hebrews 12, we see that life is a race. But a race that doesn't go to the swiftest, but rather to the one who endure and doesn't give up. I guess since scripture says that there is a course set out before us, we automatically assume that we will run in that direction. Truth be known, we can choose not to run on the course that God has placed in front of us. We can run a course laid out by the devil....we can participate in his kingdom walk, following his directives and submitting ourselves to his rule and reign. Doesn't really take a rocket scientist to understand that there are two race courses set before us. One good.......One bad.

The heart tells me that I should choose the course laid out by God.
but one thing that we don't always consider is that the course laid out by God is a Kingdom course. Everything we choose should come from our willingness to follow, listen and do what we hear the Spirit of God telling us. Sounds hard....really isn't. Our biggest problem will be "US". We will want to pick and choose what and where we will run. We want to be included in making decisions in this journey called life. Well, we don't operate in a democracy...we live in submission to the will of God. 

As such, if we have been called to a particular path or course in our life, laid out by God, would it not reason that He desires us to operate under the kingdom directives of Christ.
Pray for the sick....
Feed the poor.....
Visit those in jail and in prison......

Cast out demons.....
Raise the dead......

Proclaim the Kingdom news that God has invaded our time and space, and that we no longer have to live under the bondage of sin and flesh.
Make disciples.......

You see the verse in Hebrews is more than simply making it to the end of our days....
It is about embracing God's call for our life, and then carrying it out under the direction of God's Holy Spirit. It is about "Doing the Stuff"....aka..the works of Christ, in our daily walking around, eating, sleeping, working life. The call to run the race is about expending ourselves in the cause of Christ. To find gratitude for what He has done to us, through us, and for us...and pour out that gratitude on others. 

Food for thought, here on a Wednesday...
God on you....


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Thanks For Your Patience

II Timothy 4:18
"Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack, and will bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.

I'm going to be shifting the time I post the daily writing here at the Greene Street Letters.
We're having work done on our house, so everything is kind of moved, shoved, stacked and stored. In this state, it hasn't been easy for me to get to my computer. I'm old school, so I don't tablet, pad, or phone. I sit at a desk and use a big honkin' personal computer. Needless to say, it is covered and moved which makes it hard to get to. With this in mind, I'll be posting on my computer at the church. 

I really like the verse from II Timothy....
Pretty heady stuff if you think about it. Paul is saying, "Hey is out there. Life is out there and the devil will use it against me. There will be tough times. There will be hard time...but no matter what...I win! I win whether I live out my life and die of natural causes...or if I am killed by those who seek to take my life. God will be faithful to carry me all the way through. We don't really like to think about God's faithfulness being played out in extremely hard and difficult times. We'd rather stake out flag down in the ground of the false belief that He won't let anything difficult come my way. After all, He is God, isn't He? He can stop sickness....He can stop any of the plans of the enemy, can't He? The answer to all of these questions is "yes". But I don't have an explanation as to why it doesn't always play out in fairy-tale solutions to our dilemma. Truth be known, When I ask all those "Why" questions, I do so from a very selfish place. A place that is more concerned with my own comfort that it is in growing in Christ. 

Life is about reward....
You make choices...
You are rewarded...
You move on your decisions....
You are rewarded....
Guess what?
Good choices usually bring good rewards...
Bad choices usually bring bad rewards.... There are consequences, good and bad, for the choices we make.
Part of growing up in Christ and in the recovery He gives to us is to reject your old way of thinking and allow the Holy Spirit to change you within.

II Timothy 4:14
But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.
The big thing about being taught is that we sometimes miss the most important part.
We can be taught...
But we must be willing to learn...

We must be willing to apply and walk in what we are learning.
When Jesus gave the commandment to "Follow Him", it meant that we are to watch and listen for Him. We are to not strike out on our own and do what we want to. As my wife, Vicki, so aptly puts it..."IF he ain't talkin'...I ain't walkin'".  

Every day, in every way, I want to get better at the "following" thing.
I want to grow up and mature in Christ.
I want His nature and His character to in me.

I'm tired of Michael....He is just a fowl up from way back. Give him three choices and he'd pick bad two out of three.
I want Jesus!
Simple as that.
How about you? What do you want?
More importantly, Who do you want?

God on you....

michael b.

The Good (And Wonderful) Shepherd

Psalm 23:2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. The care and love that Jesus shows to his ...