Thursday, March 31, 2016

Prison Of The Worse Kind

Psalm 107:10-11
Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery. They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High. 

Psalm 107:14
He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom. He snapped their chains.

Sin/addiction is a prison without walls or bars.
No guards....

No one watching over you.
You live within your own thoughts (at least we thought it was living).
Thoughts that are defined by what you've done.
We view our self worth based on our past behavior.

Guess how that turns out?
"I'm a terrible, low life because of what I've done."

This prison of sin/addiction is as real as the chair I'm sitting in right now.
You know what the weird part in all of this is?
You can't see it...
If you were to walk down the street of any city, you could spot some who would be residents of this facility, but not all would be evident.
You see the prison doesn't stop movement in daily life...
It just defines the quality of that life.
It dictates movement and effort.
Everyday spent in this prison saps the very life out of you, till your beat down and left for dead.

Now imagine being locked up in a prison like this, and there right next to you is the key that would free you.
The key has been there all along.
It wasn't hidden from you.

It wasn't disguised or hard to find.
It has been there since day one of your imprisonment.

But we wouldn't take it because we'd convinced ourselves that we didn't really need the key.
To put it bluntly, we rebelled against our only way out of this prison.

The key?
Oh, that would be Jesus.

Sounds to simple doesn't it?
But it's the truth.
Even Jesus proclaimed to his bunch of followers..."Hey guys! I am the way, the truth and the life....I will be the door through which you must go if you want to have freedom in a relationship with God the Father."

Isn't it weird that prison cells only have one door?
Maybe.....just maybe...this "one door" is a symbol for Jesus.
We made the decision to enter this prison.
We weren't forced or held at gunpoint.

We went willingly. Truth be known, if you run against the desires Jesus has for us, he will turn us lose so we can go chase the wind of sin/addiction. So we enter the prison by our own choice.

Once inside, we find that we cannot break out no matter how hard we try.

We scheme...
We manipulate...
We cry and whine...
We make promises...
We even try to clean ourselves up...

But we still remain an inmate of the inner prison.
You know, a wise man once told me that when it comes to breaking free of addiction will only happen when "You're sick and tired of being sick and tired."

When you take your eyes off of yourself and start looking for that key that will unlock your cell.

Psalm 107:13-16
"Lord, help!" they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom. He snapped their chains. Let them praises the Lord for his great love,and for the wonderful things he has done for them. For he broke down their prison gates of bronze. He cut apart their bars of iron.

Now that's my Jesus!
Chain breaking....
Wall busting......
Door opening....

Freedom giving Jesus that will set you free when you turn to him.
What's that sound?
What is I hear?
Could it be the sound of a key turning the lock to a cell?

God on you...

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Need For Awareness

I Peter 5:8

For your great enemy, the devil, he prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.

The silent killer of all who are on this journey of following Jesus. You slowly begin to lose momentum in your journey. You stop doing the disciplines that are a part of every day life. You never develop the daily study of your Bible. You never spend time with God.....sitting and waiting for Him to speak to you. You never communicate with Him through prayer. You quit looking around you as you move through your day for signs and evidence of Him in your situations and circumstances. You stopped looking for opportunities to give back to others. You quit reaching out to those around you who may need help. And then you fall back into old habits....old thoughts.....and old behaviors. You know what the funny part in all of this "going backwards" is? When the wheels come off, your first thought is "Why me, God? Why did you let this happen to me?" When in fact God didn't let it happen.....we brought it on ourselves.

Great truth is found in Hebrews 2:1-3: So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may DRIFT AWAY from it. For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. So what makes us think we can escape if we IGNORE this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak.
WE must never let ourselves become apathetic or complacent.
These "Twins of destruction" can never be allowed to exercise their power in our lives.
Recovery / Salvation requires the commitment to stay focused and aware of our own emotions and thoughts. When we become aware that our heart-thoughts are drifting away from the truth.........when we are aware that our wants and desires fill our thoughts, telling us that we have  need to take control of our lives, that should set off the bells and whistles in our spirit. Such thoughts should set off all the alarms that we are headed toward dangerous behavior. When this happens, we need to take those thoughts captive and not allow them to produce death in us.

I've heard several make the comment that all this "NEW LIFE IN JESUS" is a lot of work. This recovery stuff requires way to much work and effort. Really? Do you really believe that the end result is not worth the effort? Excuse me------didn't your old life require effort on your part? You spent your days expending all your energy on how you could get what you needed to stay high. You lied to your family in an effort to get them to give you money so you could get high. You used everyone around you so you could sustain your habit. You became the center of your own little warped universe and you dedicated your life to doing whatever it took to keep the train rolling down the addiction-line. Don't talk to me about recovery being too hard, or following this Jesus not being fun. We're talking about the difference between dying and living. We're talking about the difference between eternity in hell or spending it with Christ. 

Life is hard buttercup....
But life is harder when you step away from Jesus. That is why we take this recovery/salvation journey one day at a time. Because we don't let our focus or energy go beyond the twenty-four hours God has given us in this day. If I am faithful with this 24....then I've laid the groundwork for the next 24. And with every day that I stay focused and do the right thing....I grow stronger in Christ. Believe you me, the effort to listen and then follow instructions as we learn to "hear" God, will definitely bring the change to your life that you have been searching for.
Think on these things today....
God on you...

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

More Prayer Requests From Rapha

I Chronicles 4:10 - A man named Jabez calls on the Lord asking for God to bless him. God does.

I Samuel 1:27 - A woman named Hannah cries out to God to heal her inability to have children. God does.

Jeremiah 33:3 - Call unto Me and I will answer you.

Psalm 91:15 - He shall call upon Me, and I will answer.

Matthew 7:7 -  Ask, and it shall be given to you. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

The power and purpose of prayer is to effect change here on earth through God's intervention in our time and space.We line our hearts up with His, and the words that come from this lining up, is defined as "being in God's will." From this lining up of me to His will, He stands ready to act on what I pray.
Sounds complicated, but it isn't.

If I pray for God to give me a pound of Cocaine or a bottle of fine whisky, it ain't going to happen. Why? Because I have asked God for something that has originated from my own fleshly wants and desires, and has nothing in common for His will for me. I trust God that He knows what is best for me and will provide when I ask (pray) accordingly. So why do I have to ask...? Is that God being mean to me...making me beg Him for something? No. In fact we read in Matthew 6:8 where "God knows exactly what you need even before we ask Him."  SO why ask? When I come to God with my will in line with His and I ask from Him....then I see Him answer my request, it builds up my faith in who God is. I move from believing He will do something to a place of knowing He will answer my prayers.

Our Bible study at Rapha continues to grow in numbers and in substance. The men are beginning to ask some really good questions about the scripture we are studying. They are learning to cross reference scripture to get a better understanding of what they're reading. Continue to pray that God would pour out on those whose hearts are hungry for Him and His word.

Here are the prayer requests from yesterdays study:

1.) Daughter named Kaylee has a genetic abnormality that keeps her from taking food in. Her father shared the name of this condition, but I could not remember what it was. She will be 3 years old tomorrow. Prayers for healing that God would use whatever means necessary to stop this affliction.

2.) One of the men has a dog that he has owned for 15 years. It is more than a pet to him, and he asked that God would grant good health to this "friend". 

3.) Young man who just arrived into the program asked for focus so he can move beyond this addiction that has robbed him of life.

4.) There was a prayer request for strength to deal with temptation.

5.) One man asked that God would give him a clear mind as he is going through a divorce and custody dispute in court. He does not want his emotion to rule him, but to keep his tongue from speaking what his emotions are telling him.

6.) There was a request that was based on gratitude. This person has 14 days sober, and this is the longest period of time he has been sober in years. His request is that God would grant him just "One more day" of this sobriety and that this man may come to know God on an even greater level.

7.) Prayers for the staff at Rapha that they may walk in the authority and wisdom that God has called them to.

I want to thank all of you who take the time to pray for these men.
You are the best!

God on you...

Monday, March 28, 2016

Which Do You Want? The Tomb Or The Risen Lord?

Mark 24:5
The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, "Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?

Happy Day After Easter!
Jesus is alive....
Shouldn't every day be a celebration of Easter?  I would say yes.
Shouldn't every gathering of believers be celebrated as evidence of Easter?
Again, I say yes!

In fact the entire church body of Jesus Christ is held together by this simple truth. He ain't dead.
No body to look for to disprove this so called resurrection.
Oh, the History channel would pay great money to find His body. They'd do it up right. It would be the event of epic proportions to tell the world that Christianity is predicated upon a myth.

Don't worry, He isn't there.
He rules and reigns forever more.

Sometimes I think we live life like the women who went to the tomb to finish preparing Jesus' body for burial.
We spend our money...
We give our time....
We expend our very life on searching among dead things trying to find life.

When all along the life has been right in front of us, offering a way out of the graveyard.

To me religion is a lot like the efforts of the women who went to Jesus' tomb.
They have purpose (or so the thought)...
They are dedicated to the task at hand.
But their aim was a bit lower than it should have been.

Why did these women go to the tomb?
Because they had forgotten the WORD that Jesus had spoken to them.
The angels explained to the women that Jesus had risen from the dead.

Verse 8 tells us..."Then they remembered that He (Jesus) had said this (that He would rise on the third day). 
Religion is a dry, dead effort to show others that we are different.
Trouble is that religion falls short of relationship.
Religion busy's us into a form of godliness, but there isn't any power found in it.

I don't want a dead Jesus.
I want the risen glorified Savior....
Not the bruised, battered carpenter of Nazareth.
I want the Jesus that said He was coming back for us.

I want the Jesus that has overcome the evil one and his kingdom.
I want the real Jesus.
I want life, real life.
Sin busting....
Addiction breaking....
Hell shaking.....
Jesus life.

How about you?

God on you...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Taking A Short Break

Family coming in today....
I"m going to take a break from posting the Greene Street Letters.
Be back Sunday morning....


Thursday, March 24, 2016


Psalm 100:4
Enter His gates with thanksgiving. Go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and Praise His name.

To bad we only designate one day a year to be thankful. Don't get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving. Family, food, football....the three "F's" of the Bynum clan. But shouldn't we be thankful every day? Shouldn't we be thankful for drawing breath and getting up this morning?

I cut grass yesterday, which isn't my most favorite thing to do.
But as I was navigating the yard, I really was thankful.  Thankful that I still was healthy enough to take care of our yard. Thankful that I still had my marbles and could make rational decisions (well, rational most of the time). The wind picked up and a breeze began to blow around me. Found myself be thankful for that, as it felt wonderful.

Too often we let the worries and problems of this world rob us of our ability to be grateful and thankful. We become mired down in a pit of depression, worry, fear, and sometimes even anger because we can't see beyond the day. When this happens, it's hard to be thankful. When our minds are weighed down under a burden of emotion, it's hard to see anything. I think maybe that is why God has given us hope.

I want to be clear in one thing.
Gratefulness and thankfulness is not a "pie in the sky-puppy dogs- unicorns-rainbows and lollipops" attitude. It is a realistic view of life. The good and the bad. But beyond everything we see is the hope of glory. That I have a Savior and Lord who has prepared a place for me, and that He is coming back to take me there so I can be with Him forever. I am not a citizen of this world. As Larry Norman said, "The world is in a mess...don't ask me who began it....I merely passing through I'm just a visitor to this planet."

II Corinthians 4:17-18
For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So we don't look at the troubles we can see now, rather we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things that we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Now I have a problem with this passage of Scripture.
Either it's true....
Or we've been lied to...
I tend to fall on the side that it is true. That I need to "Fix my gaze"...get my spiritual eyes working and look beyond this life, to the glory that awaits me. To not allow the devil and his dark rule to take away my spiritual sight by trying to get me to focus on my life problems.
I will turn my gaze to Jesus.

I can do this because I have been born again.
Not of my own doing, but because of what He has done for me.

I find it no coincidence that all this "thankfulness" and "gratefulness" is starting to kick in, what with this weekend being Easter. Jesus' death and resurrection made salvation and the Holy Spirit available to everyone who would come to Him. I don't know about you, but I'd buy that for a dollar. 

God on you.....

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Real Authority And Real Power

Matthew 28:18-20
Jesus approached and, breaking the silence, said to them, "All authority (all power of rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the  name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (Perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion) to the very close and consummation of the Age. Amen (let it be).

Been kind of parked here today.
The transference of the ministry of Jesus to the disciples. Then He tells them that they have been called to transfer to others the same ministry. It wasn't about just doing something.
It wasn't about a system of sacrifice that had a gazillion rules that you had to do perfectly if you wanted results. These verses from Matthew is about the transference of purpose and authority to carry out the ministry of Jesus.

Would it not stand to reason that if we have been called into the ministry of Jesus, that we would be empowered and given authority to do so? I think maybe yes. Too often we boil this incredible transference down to a list of rules that we must keep, thinking that somehow our ability to keep said rules is evidence that "BY JINGO!" we made it.

Do this....
Don't do this.....
Go here....
Don't go here.....

Hang out with these folks....
Stay away from this crowd...

And on and on and on.
When in fact, being saved includes the call to follow (can't follow if I'm not told which way we're going) obey.....(Obedience because I want to, not because I have to).  In other words, I see people trying to do the "Born Again" thing without really being born again. Oh they got the terminology down pat. They bought the Bible and got all the trappings, but as you interact with them, you see that they are really struggling to walk out this new relationship. It isn't that they are lying, or cheating in this relationship. It's simply because no one had taken the time to help them understand what it's all about.

They've never been taught that their number one thing on their "GOD LIST" is to worship Him. Sorry guys....worship triumphs over evangelism. We are worship machines that have chased the wind looking to satisfy the worship itch we have. We rejected God, but the worship itch was still there. SO we tried money and it satisfied for a season. We tried drugs and alcohol and they only lead us farther and farther away from God and our original purpose here on planet earth. 

We are worship unto God. He gave us life and we took it away from His purpose and served our own purposes. At least we thought it was our own purpose and doing. We were so blind that we couldn't see that we were serving an enemy who solely existed to steal, kill and destroy us. So when we came under the conviction and influence of the Holy Spirit, we were suddenly awakened to our need to change. We may not have totally understood it, we may not even have had language for it, but we knew that something was up. So we came confessing our sins....realizing our need to be forgiven and cleaned up inside from all our mess. We placed ourselves under the rule and reign of Jesus, and we opened up our hearts to receive His Holy Spirit. It's the power and authority transference from Jesus that enables us to be worship unto God. Our lives should be filled with thankfulness and gratefulness. Are our lives perfect? Far from it. Do we have problems? You bet. But the power and authority we've been given helps us to see and approach life differently that we did in the past.

Now here is where it gets dicey and some folks fall away.
If we have gone through the born again process, then we have been given the authority and power to move through our daily affairs and, at the same time, be available for Jesus to use at a moments notice. Scary? Yes. You'll come up with a million reasons why you can't follow this part of this new life, but it won't wash. Why? Because you......have......been......given......power.....and.. face whatever confronts engage and overcome under the direction of the Holy Spirit leading you. Sounds like Twilight zone, but it ain''s Jesus!

God on you....

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Prayer Time

Psalm 5:1-2
O Lord, hear me as I pray. Pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but You. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to You and wait expectantly.

E.M. Bounds referred to prayer as "the currency of heaven". It moves God to act on our requests when we pray "IN" His will. In other words, I am breathing back to God, through my prayers, what is on His heart to do. I am moving in cooperation with His Spirit and His will to usher in His plans for me and those around me. Why do some of my prayers not get answered? Because I pray wrongly, or for the wrong reason. What I ask God for is not what He wants for me. My prayer may be filled with that which comes from my flesh (old sin nature) rather than what is communicated to me by His Holy Spirit. To put it plain and simple...."I am learning to pray. I am trying to listen to what God is stirring my heart to pray about. 

Yesterday at Rapha was a really good day.
Our One O' clock Bible study was a keeper. Had eight men show up and all seemed eager to get at the word (which was a plus). We took at look at a man named Naaman. A military man who had racked up some impressive victories in battles he had fought. He was kind of a national hero at the time, and had all the credentials to prove it. If you described Naaman's resume it would read like a who's who. But at the end of his list of accomplishments was a "BUT" I don't know about you, but when there is a "But" tied to a man's accomplishments, that isn't always a good thing. Here's how it works....

He was brave....
He was a military genius....
He was a leader of men....
But....(see what I're waiting for the shoe to drop)

Naaman was a leper.
That short phrase undid everything positive about Naaman.

It took the Power of God applied to Naaman's life to undo the "BUT".
It takes that same Power of God in our life to undo our "BUT's".

Are we not like Naaman? People talk about us...and maybe their conversation goes something like this...
He's a good boy....
He's so smart.....
He loves his family.....

He is an alcoholic...
He is an addict.

See how that "BUT" just tears it all up?
Let God remove that "BUT" so yours can be saved.

Here are the prayer requests from yesterday's Bible study.

1.) Three of the men present at the Bible study asked for the Lord's help that they may be focused on working the steps, and developing a relationship with God.

2.) One asked for God to grant him favor as he begins the process of looking for a job.

3.) There was a request for God to show him how to be humble and sufficient on God and not anything of this world.

4.) One man asked for healing for his legs. He is suffering with a painful condition that really takes a toll on him when he tries to walk.

5.) There was a request for restoration of a family relationship. He readily admitted that he was the reason for all the discord in his family. He was ready to do whatever it took to clean up the damage and destruction he had caused through his addiction.

Well, there you have it.
Please join me in praying for these requests.

God on you...


Monday, March 21, 2016

Learning To Love

I Corinthians 13:1
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn't love others, I would only e a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

The logo you see in this posting for Vineyard ReCovery Church was done by a friend of ours.
While I appreciate the effort and the ability it took to come up with it I think it misses the mark just a bit. The part about being impacted by a "life giving message".....I understand what he was trying to say, but I'm not so sure that it doesn't miss the mark a bit. You see, to me the heart of VRC is the people. The ones who come week after week and invest themselves into what we are doing. The ones who have fallen in love with Jesus and seek to simply walk out what He has told them to do. To me, this is the heart of our Saturday night meeting. We gather to love those who come through that front door.

Oh, don't get me wrong, the message that is given each week is important. But a message that isn't backed up with an action doesn't really go very far does it? Case in point.
Young girl comes to the meeting last Saturday night. She walks in, I'm at the door so we speak. I introduce myself, she does like wise. There is small talk.."You're first time here?" "Yes," she replied. "How'd you find us?" "A friend told me about you." I show her where the coffee table is, gave her a short tour of the facilities and helped her to find a seat. Worship was really intimate and on target as the room grew peaceful under the presence of God's Spirit. Message was the passage from Matthew 5:3 and what it meant to be "Poor in Spirit".

We moved into a time of ministry, and when offered prayer the young girl stood to receive. Wowzer.....first timer stands to receive prayer. That was a bonus. Afterwards, the young girl comes up to me....very grateful....very excited....and she tells me...that was great. I've never been in a meeting like this. She shared that she suffered from anxiety attacks that seem to be worse when she finds herself in a crowd. She has tried to go to church but the attacks got so bad that she simply gave up.  She then went over the points of the message that had really spoken to her...something that see saw and understood for the first time as being an attack by the devil upon her.

She thanked me for the way I taught and the simplicity of what I said. I told here that my philosophy for teaching had been defined by Dr. J. Vernon McGee. Dr. McGee always said that a good teacher always "Put the cookies on the lower shelf so everyone could get to them." The last thing the young girl said to me was, "I felt loved and accepted here." There you have it. The body of Christ has a call to love those who are on the fringe of society. We're not called to love only those who look, act, and think like us. We called to love period. Without reservation...without judging...  To me the job of VRC is to get people to let their guard down while they are with be loved into a state of acceptance of what we do as a fellowship. Let their guard down, with all their suspicions and fears of what VRC may be. In that brief moment when they do let their guard down, share the truth and let them join us as worship God. For in that state, we can drop a Jesus-seed into their heart.

I have written this post this morning, not to exalt VRC, myself, or anything that happened last Saturday. If anything, I wrote it to remind of how far we have to go as a fellowship. We still don't have this "love others" thing down perfect yet. But we're working on it. We open to being changed ourselves by the Holy Spirit so we can carry out the call God has placed on us.
I guess that is a fancy way of saying, "We are an ongoing work".

God on you....


Friday, March 18, 2016

The Skinny On Worship

Psalm 150:6
Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord....Praise the Lord!

Strange verse....
Last verse in the book of Psalm.
Last entry in the Hymn / Poetry book written by King David and few other of his contemporaries. Moses, Solomon, Asaph....

They were a creative bunch that used their talent to put down the inner thoughts and leading of God's Spirit. In other words, what we have in the Psalm is a very clear picture of the human heart and the will of God coming in contact with each other.

Here in this last verse of Psalm we see an incredible picture of how our response to God should be. 

Sing praises...
Let your mouth open up.....

Let the air from your lungs rush across your vocal chords...
And let the sound that comes from this process proclaim the greatness and the goodness of our God.


We were born to worship...
Our very lives are worship, or at least they should be.

And the weird part in this whole Psalm/worship thing is that everyone should participate in it. We need times of corporate worship where we join with others and just sing what's in our heart to God.
It dawned on me some time back that no where in the Psalm 150:6 verse does it say that only those in relationship with Christ should praise the Lord.

The verse says "Let everything that has breath" other words God IS worthy. God deserves our worship. Not because He has an ego that needs to be stroked, but simply because He is God.

I've posted a short video of John Wimber teaching on Worship in today's Greene Street Letters. Please take a few moments and watch it.
Then go out and praise the Lord....all day, every day, by the way you live.

God on you....


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Don't Open The Door

This morning's Bible verse is a bit lengthy because I have taken it from the Amplified Bible. I like the way it reads and explains the battle between us and temptation, and God's answer to this ongoing problem.

I Corinthians 10:13
For no temptation (No trial regarded as enticing to sin, no matter how it comes or where it leads) has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man (That is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance,and such as man can bear). But God is faithful to His Word and to His compassionate nature, and He can be trusted not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength and resistance and power to endure. But with the temptation He will always also provide the way out, or the means to escape to a landing place, that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.

Temptation is always around us as we move through our day.
Temptation comes in various forms.
It may surface in simple thought...
It might come in the invitation by a friend you haven't seen in a long time. An invitation to use and get high.
It doesn't matter what the vehicle temptation drives to get to your house, it only matters that you don't entertain it.

In other words, you can't stop temptation from "leaning on the doorbell", but you don't have to open the door, even the slightest, to see who it is. I've always said that you can't stop the thought to use and get high from entering your mind. Thoughts come. What I don't have to do is entertain it and let it roll around in my brain. Such is flirting with disaster, and is a sure fire way to end up back in the darkness. I may not be able to stop dark thoughts from coming to my mind,but I don't have to let them rent space in my head.

Philippians 4:8
Whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things (fix your minds on them).
In other words, I look to Jesus for deliverance from any and all temptation.
Did you notice back in the I Corinthians 10 verse that it says "God will provide a way out" of any and all temptation?  Here's the kicker. Suppose you are in a room and you find that a fire has broken out. The flames are getting higher, and the heat is getting hotter and hotter. I'm standing at the door yelling "Come on, this is the way out!" Your reply? "I don't want to use that door, I'll look for another way." Get it. God provides the way out, but it's up to you and me to simply follow His instructions. We fall into sin because of the temptation, and then blame God for not delivering us out of it. That argument won't wash. God always (and falls under always? Every time) provides a path that will remove us from temptation. We've just got to humble ourselves and simply follow His instruction. 

One aspect that the church fails to drive home, is the thought of practicing our relationship with Christ. Doing the disciplines that will strengthen our communication and ability to hear God when the Holy Spirit is speaking to our hearts.

Philippians 4:9
Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it. And the God of peace (of untroubled, and undisturbed well-being) will be with you.

We don't live in a spiritual free-for-all where anything goes. We live under the direction of a Holy Spirit that fills us and empowers us to see life all the way to the end, and beyond.
Now that's something to think about.

God on you...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Miles Johnson, I Want To Be like You.

Matthew 25:34
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."

Every time I spoke at New Outlook Christian Fellowship, I would see him.
Eyes all crinkled by 93 years he had lived.
Big smile on his face. Always thankful for another day of life.
Mr. Miles Johnson went home to receive his reward yesterday morning.

If the words of Matthew 25 are true (and I believe they are) then Miles heard them as he entered the presence of God.

He was always quick to shake my hand after the service, and offer up a "Boy that was a humdinger of a message, Bro. Mike". He loved the Word, and he definitely loved Jesus.
The men from Rapha always attends church at New Outlook every Sunday, and Miles was a kind of unofficial spokesman for the church. He loved talking to "the boy's" as he called them.
Miles Johnson had the gift of encouragement and hospitality. He made you feel at home whenever you came in contact with him.

A veteran of World War II, Miles fought in the European Theater and was a part of the Battle of the Bulge. He spoke often of what he saw and experienced in the war, but he wasn't one of those who glorified combat or seeing others be killed. It more of a matter of fact that this was what he went through during that war. The one thing I will always remember about Miles is that he always had a story to share if you sat down to talk with him. It wasn't a pointless story either, as it was always relevant to our day and time. 

I think if anything, Miles Johnson taught me that life was to be lived. Now I know that may sound kind of goofy, but it's the truth. He believed that life was to be experienced and enjoyed as much as possible. God put us here for a reason, and with a mission. In Miles eyes, life was too short to be wasted on complaining and whining about our situations and circumstances.  If God saw fit to  let us draw breath, then we should be about the business of following Jesus. Life is purpose, and purpose is found in Jesus. We don't need to waste time by following our own selfish desires and wants. 

So this morning, the world seems a bit empty without Miles Johnson.
But heaven is fuller.
Miles now knows the truth of what you and I only claim to believe.
He is worshiping his Lord and King.
Thank you, Miles Johnson for being an example of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

I will miss you for now.

God on you....


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Psalm 24:3-4
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol. Who has not sworn deceitfully.

Clean hands = the deeds and actions I take. The work of my hands, good and bad.
Pure heart = who I truly am. The real me. The hands only follow where the heart is headed. Choices actually are born in the heart. MY mind simply follows where my heart is headed.

So, in order to see God...
In order to follow God....

In order to claim to be a believer....
A change of heart must take place.
Here is where the "POWER greater than me" comes into play.

This POWER, who I believe is Jesus, must be in the business of not only empowering me in this new endeavor, but also have the ability to direct and guide me. If such does exist, the directing and guiding I mean, then I must be humble enough to set my own personal desires and wants aside in order to embrace what I'm being taught.

Checking out some Scripture, I see this entire process taking shape.
In Psalm 23 I read about God's interaction:
V2.- He makes me
V3. - He leads me / He restores me/ and once more, He leads me.
V4. - talks about going through some hairy places and spite of this, we read where "YOU ARE WITH ME".

Go over to Psalm 25, and you'll read where King David begins the Psalm by saying that he completely trust in God to sustain him and watch over him. This is followed by some requests to God.
V4. - Show me  /   teach me   /  Lead me.
Why such requests?
David writes, "For You are the God of my salvation. On You I wait all the day."

David realized that God is a teaching God, and that if He is teaching, then David needs to be about the business of learning.
David truly believed that this interaction of being taught and applying the lesson was an ongoing, everyday thing. In other words, school was in session every day, all day.

Maybe this is something we need to consider.
Some seem to think that school is only in session on Sunday mornings (Or in our case, Saturday night). No! Salvation is an ongoing lesson. While salvation is a free gift from God, there is upkeep required on our part.

If indeed God is "showing and teaching and leading"...then doesn't it make sense that I have to be "Watching, learning and following"? I think maybe yes.
What good is claiming to be a follower of Jesus if we never follow.
Such would make us "Fans" of the Almighty God.
We bought the T-shirt...
We saw the movie and cheered when Jesus rose from the dead....
And we have the book, but we don't really read it, much less study it.

Fans of the Almighty.
I don't really want to live like that.
I want to chase Him.

I want to fall deeper in love with Him.
I want His word to be my word.
I guess I'm just kind of crazy like that.

God on you...


Monday, March 14, 2016

A Real Deal Celebration

Psalm 133:1
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

Great weekend....
One of those you just knew was going to be a keeper.

Focus of Saturday night was to be a celebration of Barry Hooks ten year sobriety chip.
We had a meal planned...
Got a huge honkin' cake that was chocolate on chocolate since Barry is a chocolate aficionado.

But as last week progressed and we headed to Saturday, other things begin to happen that only added to the celebration.
Got a call text message from Seth Barber that Jeffrey Cothran was in town and wanted to get together. Jeffrey was the first client ever to go through Rapha. He has been a friend and brother for years. I had not seen Jeffrey in a while so the idea that he might show up at VRC was great.

Then Charlie Copeland called to let me know that he was bringing someone who had just started this recovery journey with Jesus as the guide. A young boy who had 60 days clean time was coming with Charlie. Awesome!

Saturday night was everything I thought it might be. Worship was solid and was topped off by Debbie Handy singing "You Are So Beautiful To Me". It was great having Carrie Elrod to sing the 3rd part of harmony. She has been a real blessing to come and be on the worship team. I digress. Debbie has a way of taking you into the presence of God when she sings, a talent and heart that not everyone has. I'm always grateful for her being on our worship team.  Then we have Barry Hooks who adds so much to the songs we play. Using his guitar, he moves in and out of the melodies, adding small touches here and there to influence the music. And last, but certainly not least, Wayne Wimpee , our resident percussionist and Harmonica player extraordinaire.  

At the end of the meeting we shared a meal. I love moving from table to table getting to talk with everyone. Hearing their stories....prayer requests...and just about life in general.

At one point I looked up and saw Jeffrey Cothran, Vance Ritchey, and Jason Knight all standing together, talking. There was laughter and a look of peace on these three. These were some of the first guys who went through the program, and here they were at our meeting. I don't know what that means spiritually, or if it even means anything at all. I just know that there was something about the three of them being here on the night we celebrated Ten-Years for Barry Hooks. 

The meal went for a while, as plate after plate was filled and then refilled.
Would you believe filled one more time.
I don't think anyone went home hungry Saturday night.
As clean up started, and people moved out the door to head home, I had a very deep sense of satisfaction that God was pleased with what had happened.

Community was strengthened...
We had worshiped Him....
The Word had been taught...

A meal had been shared.....
Prayer had been offered to those who needed it....
I guess you could say that we had church....
I guess you could say that we were (and are) the church.

Like I said...
It was a good weekend.
I think I'll do it again next weekend.

God on you...

Friday, March 11, 2016

Shoot For Sobriety---End Up Short

I Corinthians 15:57
But thanks be to God, who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Call me crazy, but I have a different view than some folks.
You get into the recovery journey and you'll hear the word sobriety a lot.
Sobriety this...
Sobriety that...

Life is better sober.
Sobriety becomes the goal...
Life without the alcohol or the drugs.
Sober living...
Well, what if sobriety is simply a byproduct and not the end result?
What if sobriety is what happens when we allow God to work in us as we surrender will and life over to His care?

Would it not make more sense to chase the POWER that is greater than us?
Would it not make more sense to surrender to that power so we can experience life.....real life.....true life. Or as Jesus stated in Scripture...Abundant life. 

I think sometimes we elevate the word "Sobriety" to a place that makes it the magic solution to our problem, when in fact it is the incredible benefit that comes with our new life in Christ.

To me, that is one of the differences between what we do on Saturday night at Vineyard ReCovery than some other meetings. We are all about the Power. We are all about Jesus.

Look at it this way.
Do you know anyone who has gotten sober through their own determination?
Sure you do.
I do.

I know men and women who have extended years of sobriety simply because they were able to quit on their own.
Now do you know anyone who has gotten sober through their own determination.....and has a life of peace, grace, mercy and love?

No, I don't.
Such men and women who have willed themselves to sobriety usually are bitter, angry and hard hearted. Not really the life I would want. 
In fact, at my age, I want the rest of my years to be ones filled with peace.
Peace with God....
Peace with others....
And Peace with myself.

I love the verse from I Corinthians 15.
God gives us the victory through Jesus.

That God has a sense of humor and is smart as a whip.
Notice it didn't say victory over what. He left that part open ended so you could insert whatever it is you need victory over.
But the one true constant that is rock solid in that verse, is that whatever victory we need is found in one place, and in one person....Jesus.
Victory over alcohol?

Victory over drugs?

Victory over bitterness and unforgiveness?

Maybe that is why Jesus said that "He was the way, the truth, and the life."
Food for thought here on this Friday.

If you're not busy tomorrow night, and you're looking for somewhere to go, come out and join us at Vineyard ReCovery Church.
We're located down town Gadsden, on Broad street between 4th and 5th street.

Meeting starts at 7 p.m., and we do stamp court cards.
Hope to see you there..

God on you....

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Dealing With Life

Philippians 4:11
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

Wednesday nights here around the Bynum household is usually a "breakfast for supper" meal.
So I'm sitting in my chair after supper....
Cup of coffee to top everything off. (Or as one former client use to say..."I'm just going to fill in the chinks).

Soft breeze blowing in from outside...
I've got my house shoes on...and life is good.

I mean it is good.

I had gone to the heart doctor for my yearly check up, and gotten an A+ on my report. The old ticker is motivating and moving the way it should.
The renovation work we began back in August of last year is slowly headed to the finish line.

I suddenly realized that I was content.
There in my chair, with my coffee....I was content. There was a peace in me, and around me, that wasn't of my own doing. 

It wasn't because of the things I've written about (Heart check up or renovation, or even the meal). The contentment came because I knew that no matter what my situation was, God was in control. He was in control, and I didn't have to be.

Those moments we run into where everything seems right with the world are the best. Are they not?
But those other times when it seems as though the wheels are coming off and everything around us is falling apart are no less important to God or to me. According to Scripture, the apostle Paul wrote that he'd learn the secret of being content no matter what. He wrote of being stuffed with a good meal, or those times when there wasn't anything to eat. He wrote of those days when he had his freedom and wasn't under attack, as well as those dark days when he was in prison, or had been beaten. He said that the secret to navigating these up and down parts of life is to place our faith solidly on God to take us all the way. Paul stated that "I can do all things......." What falls under all? Everything. We have been called to live life. I know that sounds like a dumb statement, but it's true. We haven't been called to simply exist and crawl our way to the grave. We've been called to live life, with all it's hardships and problems, to the glory of God. We are living testimonies to others about this God we have chose to follow. 

I've heard it said more times than I care to count, that our lives may be the only book that others read. Really? Me? A Bible? Yeppers...Others will either see Jesus manifested in the way we handle situations, or they won't. Don't get me wrong here in what I'm writing. I'm not talking about looking religious. I talking about being in a relationship with the living God. One that can't be hidden, or faked. I confess that I'm not always good at this "Being a Bible in front of others". Sometimes the Bible I am seems to be stuck in the Old Testament. You know...the parts where God has told someone to lop off somebody else's head. I'm angry about a situation and I want to show someone my Old Testament side. God gently reminds me by thumping my noggin with a "don't be this way" moment. I confess that I am a work in progress.

This whole contentment thing comes from trusting God, that He knows best in every situation I am facing. Not trying to run around fixing everything, or running away from everything, but allowing myself to face it all, and trust Him that He will instruct me as I move through my problems.  I know that this whole divine contentment thing isn't the way the world does business. And to some of you who read this posting, it may seem totally alien, but I'm just crazy enough to believe that if it is in the Bible, then it's in there for a reason, so maybe I'd better take a look at it.

One last thing...
Being content doesn't mean that you're satisfied with everything.

It just means that you are spiritually in a good place.
That you are o.k. today.
Because like I said....

"God is in control".

God on you....

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

You Can Know....Or You Can KNOW

Mark 12:24
Jesus replied, "Your problem is that you don't know the Scriptures, and you don't know the power of God."

Got to hand it to Jesus. He never sugar coated the message did He? Always a straight shooter, Jesus would unload both barrels so that there would not be any questions as to what really meant to say. Such behavior makes us uncomfortable in today's p.c. police.
Wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Never mind that it might keep them from sliding over into hell...let's not say hurtful things. 

Funny part in Jesus' statement is the ones He is speaking to. The Sadducees....a ruling part of the Jewish synagogue.They were using their collective noggin's to try and trip Jesus up on a theological point. They came up with a doozy of a question. Won't go into it, but it involved a woman whose husband died, and she ended up marrying his six other brothers as they all died off one by one. So what was the question? On the resurrection day, which one will she be the wife of? Really? No wonder Jesus went into the temple and turned the tables over....nothing worse than theologically-challenged goobers. Ah, I digress.

Jesus' answer to these mental shortcakes kind of hit home with me.
He went straight to the point and the problem.
"Hey guys, your trying to talk about things you are "Clueless in Jerusalem" about."

They thought they knew the Scriptures. After all, it was their job to know them. They were expected to be the religious pez dispensers of truth and knowledge when it came to the word of God. But Jesus uncovered the simple fact that they were trying to discuss something they did not understand. They were busy focusing on this theoretical dilemma when Jesus totally uncovers their hearts.

When Jesus said that "Your problem is that you don't know the Scriptures," He wasn't talking about the intellectual pursuit of truth. He was saying, "Hey guys-- you never been touched by the message of the Word. It has not moved from your head to your heart. It hasn't caused the lights to come on inside of you. As long as the Word of God remains in our will never enact change. It's the heart where the real change takes place. The Word is to be experienced in our lives. Not held at a distance and seen as some sort of religious do's and don'ts. One particular verse tells us that we are to let the Word of God dwell deep inside of us. In other words, the Word of God becomes an agent used by the Holy Spirit to enact the change needed for us to live out our relationship with Jesus.

So what about the "power"?
The power is the ribbon on the package so to speak.
It changes the words on the page into truth in our hearts.
Not just any truth, but truth that creates a desire in us to follow where God is leading us.
As Jesus said, "You will know (experience) the truth and this truth that you are running into at ever turn will set you and make you free." We find our instruction on how to live in the Word of God. We find the ability and power to do so through the Holy Spirit at work in us.

It seems to have fallen out of favor to study the Word of God.
In an age where information is a commodity, maybe we should take another look at the Power of the word of God.
Read it for ourselves.

Digest it and let it work and dwell deep inside of us.
Draw nourishment from what we read.
Then let the Spirit of God apply it to the areas we need to strengthen.

I don't want to be like the Sadducees.

I don't want to run around playing games with the word of God.
In fact, I'm just crazy enough to want everything God wants for me, and if you don't want what God has for you......slide it over here. I'll take it.

God on you...


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Endurance In The Face Of A World Gone Mad

Matthew 24:12-13
Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

So which came first....chaos or our choices that produce chaos?
We fall victim to our own thoughts and actions that produce chaos. When such happens, we then have a tendency to blame others, or society, or luck, karma, fate. Doesn't matter which one we try to lay the blame on.....we have created chaos in our own life.

Verse from Matthew says that in these last days people will grow hard and cold toward anything to do with the Gospel. I can see this happening. When it refers to love, it is talking about love for for the truth.  Most everyone can quote the verse from John where Jesus said that 'You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."  Know the truth....experience the uncovering in our own lives. Why do we need uncovering by God? So that we can truly see the state of our heart. The hatred...the selfishness...the jealousy, bitterness, unforgiveness, need I go on? That entire list is because of sin. Our character defects are a result of unconfessed sin, coupled with a rebellious nature.

Jesus defined the state of humanity here in these last days by saying that mankind's nature and appetite will increase to carry out behavior that stands outside God's will. In other words,  we will see an increase in behavior and speech that goes against everything God stands for. Hearts will grow cold toward God and toward each other. Love will be redefined to fit whatever is needed for the moment. True love will burn only in the hearts of those who are seeking God.

In the midst of all this turmoil and acceptable behavior that our society will condone, there will be those who have not allowed themselves to be caught up in this charade. In some ways, they will be like Noah. They will be building spiritual "arks" for survival. They will look to Jesus as the answer for what they need to get through the day. It will be all about having endurance.

Let's take a look at Romans 5:1-5
V1. - Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

V2. - Through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

V3. - And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulation, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance

V4. - And perseverance , proven character, and proven character, hope

V5. - And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

No matter what the world may throw at you today, you can make it.
No matter what choices you may have to make today dealing with problems and circumstances, you can choose rightly.
No matter how weak you may feel...
No matter how helpless you may feel in tackling these things....

God's strength is made perfect in you when you admit your weakness.
I can't explain how all this works, I just know that there is truth in it. It is real, and it is available to all who turn to Jesus and cry out for Him.

Paul said that he had learned the secret to life....No matter what he faced, good or bad...
"I can do all things through Him (Jesus) who strengthens me."
Maybe it's time we look for the real Jesus who can accomplish the same thing in my life.
Maybe it's time I admit my I can embrace the power of Christ.

God on you....

Fired Up

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