Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Late Night Hucksters

Psalm 103:1-2
Bless the LORD, o my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, o my soul, and forget not all His benefits.

I've been "under the weather" so to speak since Saturday.
Can't sleep because of congestion and coughing, so I have taken to my chair.
Last night, I turned on the TV to find myself caught in a Tsunami of infomercials.

"Buy this and your life will be so much better."
"Act now and we'll double the offer."

"Can't be bought in any store."
Garden hoses that shrink back to the original size....
A compound that can be sprayed on your leaking problem that a will stop the leak.

And on and on.
The subtle message is that the product being hawked will improve the quality of your life. When in fact it only adds to the clutter we surround ourselves with. We think the answer to our problems is to buy more stuff.

Now I'm not here to debate the benefit or downfall of infomercial,but I do believe that there is something in all of this that I needed to hear.
There is only one thing on this side of heaven that is going to make my life better. And that one thing has a name, and that name is Jesus.

Let's be truthful here....
Isn't that the message of the world?
"You don't need this Jesus....look at the things we have to fill up your life!"

Are you hurting...?
We've got some killer drugs here that will take away the pain.
Are you depressed?
Take this pill and you'll be all Alice Through The Looking Glass as you enter a new state of being...

Drink this and you'll be the life of the party.
Smoke this and you'll be in a suspended state of splendid bliss.

Trouble with the stuff that the world offers to us is that it is only temporary.
You'll crash and burn.
Then you'll have to come back for more....
And more...
And more...

Until your using to just feel normal again.

Sitting there in my chair last night....
With my bloodshot eyes staring at the TV...
I began to tell God how grateful I was for what He has done for me.

I began to say the names of  the people I am grateful for....
This went on for some time, until I was flooded by a sense of peace.
Got up and went to bed.

Slept really well....
Glad we have drugs to help with our illnesses...
More grateful that we have a Savior who knows our every weakness and gives us His strength to help get through the difficult times.

Thank you, Jesus...

God on you...

Monday, May 30, 2016

God Has You....God Has Always Had You

Deuteronomy 2:7
For the LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.

Powerful truth spoken by Moses to the people in their wilderness journey.
These were not the same people who had walked out of Egypt after Pharaoh had relented to set them free from their slavery.
No, this was a generation born in the wilderness.....
One who inherited the problem brought about by their parents and grandparents.

What problem?

Unbelief......didn't believe God when He told them that they could take down the cities of Canaan.
Oh yeah, there was this thing about them grumbling and complaining.

Poor old Moses became the target of their talk.
"You brought us out here to die"
"We'd been better off to remain in Egypt."

And on and on and on the complaints piled up until God said, "Enough!"
So God granted to them an extended journey.
What should have taken eleven days, turned into a forty year journey.

Here's the kicker.....
God still took care of them during this 40 years march.
Whatever it was they needed, God provided.
I think such might fall under the heading of "MERCY"....

How many times do I not see the mercy of God in my own life, because I've been complaining about my life situation?
How many times has God provided what I needed and I was too blind to see it.
I was so wrapped up in my own little problems that held my own little world together, that I did not recognize the hand of God working in me, AND in my own mess that I brought on myself?
Now that's a scary thought to me.
One that gives me pause to reflect and ask God to forgive me of being short sided.

The one thing I hear from those in addiction is "I should be dead right now!"
I should have died in that car wreck, but I didn't.
I should be dead because I overdosed, but I didn't.
Do you think maybe God might have hauled your bacon out of the fire?

Do you think maybe the only reason you draw your next breath is because God said you can?

Seems to me that maybe God has sustained us for a purpose. Some larger reason that we might not even be aware of. You might want to start asking Him..."Lord, why did you keep me alive?" You might be surprised by the answer.
Bottom line, even in the midst of terrible spiritual darkness, God provided things that you needed that sustained you. He kept things away from you that were provided and created to kill you. He has truly had His hand upon you  even when you weren't aware of such.

Today would be a good time to maybe sit and ponder what I have written this morning.
I pray and trust that God will reveal Himself to you.
God on you...


Saturday, May 28, 2016

We Gathered Together

Isaiah 58:11
The LORD will guide you continually giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing strength.

Great verse from Isaiah.
It seem to be the central focus of our home meeting last night.
We, the core leadership of VRC, began to meet monthly in an effort to simply get to know each other better. I know that we've been hosting VRC on Saturday night for 3+ years, but there was a gap in the leadership because we weren't spending time together.
Me? Well, I almost messed the whole thing up by trying to make it look like the type of home meetings we use to have back in the early 90's. Seems as though God wanted something different. 

Last night we gathered around our kitchen table, with pie and coffee, and began to share what was on our hearts about VRC.  The good, and the not so good. I sat back and listened as each person shared from their own experiences. Vicki and I are blessed to be tied to a group that loves God....Loves to worship Him....and has a desire to give back to those in need.
Our conclusion was hammered around the point that we have been called to minister to those in addiction. Due to the simple fact that we deal with transients, we don't have a lot of time to "play church". For the most part, we have between 3 and 7 weeks to impact those who attend. Oh, we have built a base of regular attendee's, but we are very much aware that each meeting is an opportunity to show them Jesus. What this translates into is the simple fact that we have to tell them the truth...We have to be sometimes bluntly honest in ministry. Not blunt as in we're superior and we know what's best for you..but blunt in the way of "you know....if you don't change...if you don't wake up....you are going to die."

We moved into the living room and began a time of worship.
Old Vineyard Songs......(old by our standard).
"I love Your Presence".....Voices as the guitars play.
Voices of prayer....
Two are singing harmony to the song....
One sits on the couch lost in God....

One prays with a lowly voice....calling on God to come and meet with us.
God answered.

In that brief moment of worship, the world stopped.
The troubles that we carry around were laid down and pushed aside.
Last night it felt like an "ACTS MOMENT".....where, like the first church, were in one accord. God was central to the moment....
There was room for nothing else except Him.

Next song....
"I Will Worship"
....."For as long as there is breath within me......."
....."For as long as I have hands to raise......."
....."For as long as I have knees to fall upon...."
....."I will bless your name."
There is a change that takes place in a gathering that takes place in a home...
An intimacy that you cannot experience in a large gathering...

Even though there were seven of us...
Each person was alone in their own experiencing God at that moment.

Not worried about what anyone else was thinking about them.
Lost in the moment.
Lost in God.
Such times as these are why I love home groups so much.

A greater sense and awareness of what God has called us to.
A renewed commitment to the call that God has placed on us to be a part of His body in downtown Gadsden.

It was a good evening.

God on you....


Friday, May 27, 2016

Jessica Haney At VRC Tomorrow night

Psalm 18:4-6
The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. 
The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path.
But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help.
He heard me from the sanctuary; my cry to Him reached His ears.

Every now and then, you run into someone whose story of recovery seems to be off the charts. They have fallen to the bottom of the bottom with no hope in sight. But.....(Isn't that a great word when you're talking about someones live story).....God steps in and begins the restoration, healing and salvation of this life. Such is one Jessica Haney. She will be speaking at VRC tomorrow night.

I first met here a few months ago when she spoke at Seth Barber's meeting. Her story isn't really much different than anyone else who has fallen through the darkness of addiction. What made her stand out to me was the love and excitement she has for the One who saved her. You could hear it in her voice as she spoke of the journey she's been on since turning will and life over to God's care. She readily acknowledges that she is a work in progress and has dedicated herself to pursing God with everything she has.

Come on out tomorrow night and hear her story.
Meeting starts at 7 p.m.
We do stamp court cards.

Sometimes we can listen to someones dark story of addiction and measure ourselves by what others have gone through.
"Well, I'm not as bad as they were."
"I never used a needle."

"I never went to prison."
Isn't that amazing that we find some sort of twisted solace in the fact that we aren't as bad as others.
Well, I hate to burst our corporate bubble, but God takes a dimmer view.
In fact, He divinely lumped us all together.

Romans 3:23
For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Wait for it....
Here it comes....
"Who falls under "ALL"?

Addict and non addict.
Drunkard or someone who is sober and never taken a drink.

We all are in need of running into the One True POWER that is greater than us who can help manage our lives.
No matter how hard I try...I still fall short.
No amount of church attendance...
No amount of cash in the offering plate....
No amount of promising to do better......
Even if you learn all the verses to Amazing Grace....
You're still short.....

That, my friend, is why we need Jesus.

Hell awaits us all without Him.
I'm not sure, but I think maybe hell is a place or position that I do not wish to inhabit simply because I tried to do it my way.
Now, there is a lot more to living for and in Jesus than escaping hell.

Jesus made a statement that He had come to give us LIFE and LIFE ABUNDANT.
That means a level of life here on planet earth, this side of heaven.
Once we die (and we are all going to board that train unless He comes back first to take His church home) we will cross over and receive Eternal Life.
Seems to me like it's a win / win situation.

I don't think such a thing should be taken lightly...
Or dismissed.
But that's the beauty of this whole process of having salvation offered to us.
Everyone can choose what they want to do.
Everyone gets to choose where they want to spend life after they die.

As for me....
It's a no brainer...
I choose Jesus.

How about you?

God on you....


Thursday, May 26, 2016

Could It Be Today?

Revelation 22:12-13
"Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."

You know, it is not seen as being vogue to talk about the return of Jesus.
The 2nd coming.....
I have run into a number of believer's who want to change the subject when it comes to the return of Christ. I don't know if this is true or not, but what I have noticed is that some folks seem to be in love with life here on earth.....the thought of leaving everything they have, to be whisked away to heaven is not a pleasant thought to them.

Well........I can hardly wait.
I'm not so much all up into the "streets of gold" or the "pearly gates" as I am to be able to worship in the presence of the one who died for me......JESUS!
To be able to converse with the Old Testament and New Testament saints about their time here on earth. Who would not be excited about such things?

This has been a wonderful season and time for me, as it relates to God's word.
I have been making my way through scripture in a systematic fashion, and this morning I found myself in the last chapter of Revelation. It has been a good study....notes....scribbles in my Bible and I am grateful to begin again, in the morning, to start over. 

The book of revelation has a way of taking ones attention and turning it to heaven.
Seems as though the older I get, the harder it becomes to carry on in this life.
I don't mean for that to sound morbid or depressing, but the truth is, if you live long enough then those around you, family and friends, began to die. Life becomes more precious and, for me, the truth of who Jesus is becomes greater. With that truth comes the understanding of why it is important to tell my story of Him redeeming me.
Taking me out of one way of life, and placing into another. From the bad....to the good.

Who knows...maybe this will be the day that Jesus returns....
That is both wonderful and frightening...
Wonderful in that I am ready.......
Frightening in that I am painfully aware that there are people who aren't ready for his appearing.....
their own personal choices have taken them outside the realm of God's mercy and placed them squarely in the kingdom and rule of darkness....under the bondage of Satan.
We have to tell our story....
We have to tell HIS story....
Let's make today a time to share our story with someone

Maranatha, Lord Jesus......
God on you.....

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Power Of Choice

Joshua 24:15
......."Then choose today whom you will serve."

Orange slices.....
Love me some orange slices.....
Every time my Mom and I went to town she would stop by Sears or W.T. Grants to make a visit to the candy counter. There she would purchase a 1/4 pound of orange slices. And she would do so only if they were fresh. Such a delight would make the trip to town bearable, which is a good thing to a 10 year old boy who hated shopping.

Even today, these are still my favorite candy of all time. I guess because there are so many memories of this little orange delicacies. But life has a way of taking those delicacies and turning them into the "forbidden fruit".
You see, I have type II Diabetes.

Diagnosed back in 2001.
I regulate my diabetes through diet and exercise.
Here is where the rub comes in.

God has given me something that is both good and bad.
That would be free will, or the ability to choose.

I have the same free will / choice that Adam and Eve had. In fact, they are kind of responsible for this pickle humanity finds itself it.
You see, even though I have diabetes, I still have the ability to choose to eat those little orange delights. Yet doing so would not be good for me, and if I eat enough of them over a prolonged period of time, it could cause me serious health problems. So I choose to not eat them.

Now, take that ability to choose and spread it out over all our choices and we can see how we can make some pretty bad ones at times. Couple this ability to make a choice with the darkness of a heart that is driven by sin and you've got yourself a dangerous combination.
Such power can lead you into a darkness that is unlike any other. 
IT can lead you into addiction.
And the weird part about making this choice, you are driven by your sin/nature. Whether you want to believe that such an animal (sin nature) exist is up to you, but believe me, it does. And it will operate and influence every decision you make, especially when you are living outside the will of God.

The apostle Paul stated it best in Romans 7. "That which I want to do is the very thing I do....and that which I don't want to do....I do it anyway." I paraphrased Paul's words, but you catch the drift of it. Paul goes on to write...
"Wretched man that I am....who will deliver me from this BODY OF DEATH." Paul is very much aware of the nature that lives within him that controls and drives his every thought....Paul knew that living in such a state does qualify him to be a "wretched man". But he also knew the answer to his problem......Jesus Christ. This answer to our sin problem has not changed at all. From the moment Paul put pen to paper (or whatever it was written on) The answer to the sin/problem, or body of death as he called it, was found in one individual ....Jesus Christ. 

This morning...
May 25, 2016...
I choose to serve Jesus....

I turn will and live over to His care, and follow His instructions on how to live on this dark planet in such a way that I bring glory to His name.

It's all about what or who we choose to follow today.
God on you....

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Running Late

I know.....I know.....I'm late. Sorry about it.
Got a call last night that my grandson had injured himself playing basketball, so we were off the hospital. Possible torn MCL, and an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. Prayers that such will not necessary, but grateful if surgery is a part of the healing process.
No, I'm not hedging my bets about healing.....

It was a late night and I had a super early morning appointment, so this kept me from posting as I normally do. Excuse the life-hiccups.

Yesterday at the Rapha Bible study, one of the men made an interesting statement.
This particular man has found himself in a place he never dreamed he would be in.
Long time user, he was saved last Saturday evening. Sunday, as he attended Seth Barber's meeting, this particular man found himself at the altar praying. He said that it felt like all manner of things were falling off of him as he prayed. Then Monday morning, during a walk, he found himself talking to God. Question after question floated through his mind about what had happened to him. Finally with all the questions piling up in his thoughts, he stopped, lowered his head and said...."God, I don't know how to live. You've got to  help me. You've got to show me how." Now if that isn't truth, I don't know what is. Here we have the perfect picture of someone saying, "I am powerless to manage my life, and I need  a power greater than myself to do it, or at least show me  how."

This is an honest place to be walking in.
This is the place where one is open to being instructed in a new way to live.
This is the place that we all need to be.

We can't...
God can...
We let Him.....

It is funny how we finally find ourselves at such a place of surrender, and then suddenly we feel as though we can take over from God. We place God in a glass case and only take him out when we are facing an emergency. You know? Kind of like "Break glass in case of emergency."
Yet, reality dictates that we cannot box God in.
IF we feel that we have or that we can, then we've got the wrong God. Might need to take another look.

Pray for this young man as he takes those first few baby steps in faith.
Appreciate everyone who stops by to read these postings....
God on you....

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Heart Of Vineyard ReCovery Church

Psalm 139:1 and 6
O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

Ministry time at VRC last Saturday night.
This is what it's all about!

Honesty at all cost...
A desire to change....

Sick and tired of being sick and tired.

The young man at the center of the group with his head held back, has reached the point in his life that he is ready to do something about his addiction.
He is awaiting acceptance into a treatment center......

Knowing the struggles that he has been going through, coupled with the waiting period before he can enter, he asked for prayer that God would empower and keep him until he can get into the program. What makes this picture so special to me, is that this young man is surrounded by others who know his pain. They have walked down the same road, facing the same choices, trying to make sense of this thing we call addiction. But at some point all the reasoning in the world has to fall by the wayside. Reasoning has to be replaced by faith.
Faith that grabs hold of you and doesn't let go. Faith that says "God is who He claims to be, and God will do what He has promised He would do. Faith.....

To me this picture sums up what Vineyard ReCovery Church is all about. Breaking free of the isolation that addiction places on individuals, to answer the tug of God's Holy Spirit on our hearts. I've written this before, and I'll probably write a few million more....I go into each meeting expecting God to move on all of us. That we all go away changed. I expect that God will speak in some way, be it through the worship time.....or the teaching of the word. If we don't have these encounters with Him, then we go away empty.

When Jesus taught and spoke the word of God, he always  backed up His word with a demonstration of Power. He do so to validate that He was the Son of God and the word of God was true.  When we finish teaching each Saturday night, we ask for God's Spirit to validate the truth of His word. We open up a time of ministry where anyone can receive prayer. At the center of our prayers is a cry for God to come and heal.

Emotional healing....
Relational healing.....
Physical healing......
Mental healing.......

Spiritual healing.....
All within the scope and realm of God's ability.

In fact, the ultimate healing a person can receive from God is the healing of salvation.

I have been blessed over the years to be a part of a group that truly believes that God is in the healing business. Blessed to be a part of a group with , what I believe, is a healthy view and understanding of the Kingdom of God. The "Now" and the "Not yet" of God's kingdom.

So, this coming Saturday night, we'll go downtown and unlock the doors, set up the equipment, turn on the lights and make the coffee....and...oh yeah....spend time in prayer asking God to come and meet with us one more time.

God on you.....

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Trip To Gallant...

Judges 2:10
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.

The picture above is a place that I spent many hours at during the summer.
The Rock bridge located in Gallant, Alabama.

Growing up, my friends and I would camp out there. 
We would swim there.....
We hike the woods looking for arrow heads.

Lot of memories from my time there.

Friday, I took my grand kids out to Gallant to show them where I grew up.
But there was more to this than me getting to relive some memories.

My entire relationship in following Jesus began in this small community.
We drove to where Gallant Elementary school used to be. It's now the location of the volunteer fire department. My granddaughter, Ashley, asked me..."Poppa, you use to go to school in a fire department?" I explained that the school shut down, the property was returned to the community and the fire department took up residence.

I also told her that we didn't have indoor bathrooms at the school. Horrified over the thought of having to use an outhouse, my granddaughter firmly stated that she would "Just hold it all day till she could get home." Gotta love it!

The one thing I wanted them to know was that in that building was where I was saved.
Fifth grade....
Bro. Lewis Woods, pastor of Gallant First Baptist, had come to do a Bible lesson for our fifth grade class. This was back in the day when no one got offended by such taking place. Now days, the ACLU would be all over this with cries of "Separation of Church and State". But not so back in 1961. Bro. Lewis gave his message and then opened the floor up for anyone who wished to be saved. I remember that my heart seemed like it was going to beat out of my chest.

I went forward and prayed asking Jesus to forgive me of my sins, and for the Holy Spirit to come into my life.  Yep...right there in what is  now Gallant Fire Department is where I first met Jesus. 

I drove over to  Jones pond, located at the foot of Tumlin Gap Mountain.
This was where I was baptized.
I remember it was a beautiful June Sunday afternoon.
Elaine Whisenant and I were both baptized that day.

Family and friends lined the shore of the pond as Bro. Woods prayed over us and then lowered us under the water. Had no idea where this new found relationship would take me, but sitting here this morning, I can truthfully say, "it has been a ride!".

I drove by the house I grew up in.....seems mighty small today. Back in the day, it was huge to me. Like I said...many memories. In fact everywhere I looked my eyes saw one thing, but my memory saw another. People who have long since past from this life.
Mr. and Mrs. Lute,  Mr. and Mrs. Whisenant, Mr and Mrs. Phillips....house after house we past driving back to home was like a magnet, drawing out the memories. 

As I took the kids back to their home, I realized how blessed I have been.
Good folks that help to shape me into the man I am today.
A good church family that loved me and poured a good foundation into my life.
I just wanted my grandkids to understand where I came from, and at the same time realize that the exact same things are taking place in their lives today that I experienced when I was their age.

I want them to know the God I know.

God on you....

Friday, May 20, 2016

Red Letter Day

Psalm 27:8
When You said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You, "Your face, Lord, I will seek."

Well, today is one of those days that kindles memories.
May 20th will always be a red-letter day for me.
You see, it was on this day 22 years ago that God spoke to me and told me to start a home group for the purpose of worship and prayer.
I wasn't looking to begin such an animal. I was simply minding my own business reading a book titled "THE OPEN CHURCH". I had heard the book advertised on WDJC and I decided to buy a copy to check it out. 

For some time I had been wrestling with the model of church I had been attending.
It was a traditional church....on Sunday morning you could count on three hymns, a special song that was sung by one of our members....offertory......the message...the invitation...benediction and then everyone was out the door headed to Morrison's Cafeteria in hopes we beat the church down the street. In my mind there had to be more than to church and this ongoing relationship with Jesus, than I knew about. I had questions. "What if the Holy Spirit wanted to change the order of the service? Would we let Him?" "What if there was a time when we were suppose to sit and wait on God? Would we do it?" The questions went on and on. To put it bluntly, there had to be more than what I was aware of, when it came to following God.

I remember sitting outside of Mid-South Electrics ( I was working there in their electronics department) eating my lunch and finishing up THE OPEN CHURCH book. It was a causal prayer...kind of just threw it up into the air...."Lord, why can't I be part of a church like what I have read about in this book?" The answer (and I do mean "Answer") came immediately. "You can....Start One".  What? "No, you don't understand, Lord...I want to be a part of such a church." Same answer..."Then start one!"  I didn't argue...I didn't even give thought to "is this me, Lord? Or is it You?" I knew God wanted me to start a home group. 

I went to the pastor of the church that Vicki and I had started attending recently, and told him of what had happened and how God had spoken to me. He was genuinely excited for me, but told me that he could not sanction such a meeting. He gave good reasons as to why he couldn't, and I was grateful for his honesty and candor with me. But I knew that this was something I had to do. So I asked my pastor if he would bless me and release me to follow what I had heard God say. He agreed and we parted in good standings. 

The only church I knew that was founded on the principal of home groups was the Vineyard, so I called Jim Bentley and told him my situation. I asked if he would consider being my spiritual covering as we got the meeting up and running. He consented and the rest is history. Little did I know that this home group would be the proving ground and school that would bring forth a call to pastor that I had been given 34 years earlier. I was thirteen at the time, and when God called me to be a pastor, it scared the be-heebies out of me. "Me? A pastor? No way, I can't do that?" So I ran. I ran for 34 years until God locked me down on May 20th. I still didn't understand this was where everything was headed when God told me to start a home group, but the meeting itself was a proving ground that showed me I could pastor. That group became a place where I learned to worship...to hear God and then follow His instruction.....to teach...and to serve those who were a part of that group. 

So, I've written all of that  to say this....
Over the past 22 years, God has allowed me to see a lot of things...to be a part of some pretty incredible times.....and to grow and mature in Him. Does this mean that I have arrived at some sort of divine resting place? I don't think so. If anything, it has shown me how much more I have to grow. How much of God I still don't understand. I'm ready for the journey.

I still drive by the place where Mid-South use to be, and I can look over into that parking lot, to the very space my VW was parked, and say to myself..."There it is..there is where everything changed for me." Today I am grateful.
Thank you, Father.

God on you....

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Occupying The Future

Joshua 1:6
....Only be strong and of good courage.

Joshua 1:7
.....Only be strong and very courageous.

Joshua 1:9
.....Only be strong and of good courage.

Joshua 1:18
.....Only be strong and of good courage.

Moses had led Israel out of Egypt, and has been headed toward the Promised Land.
Forty years and an entire generation has passed.
Now, led by Joshua, the nation stands at the banks of the Jordan river. Directly ahead of them lays this land God has promised to give them.
For Forty years all they have heard is "The promise land....the promise land....we're going to the promise land." But now, here it is.

God has told them to go in and occupy it. Take it as their own. Drive out the pagan culture that has put its roots down deep into the soil of that area. There will be battles to be fought. But (And here is the kicker) God  has promised He would go with them and aid them in their effort to take the land.

It's no wonder There was fear among the people about crossing over.

This was not a well-oiled military machine like the Assyrians.
This was a nation of former slaves who fought when they needed to.
But this nation of ex-slaves had one thing going for them....
God had delivered them, and He would be faithful to the word He had given them that they would possess this land. So 4 times in the first Chapter of Joshua, the people were told to "Be strong and courageous."

So what does all this have to do with today?
Well, we've heard for years the word "Recovery".

"You can have a new life!"
"You can face the future and turn the page on your addiction!"
But when it comes to crossing over into this new life....well, that's another story.
We stand on the banks of our future staring across at the unknown.
We want to cut and run back to our old life.
It may be a painful past but it was ours, and we knew how to play the game, didn't we?

Now God has not promised us a "Promised Land"....
But He has said that we could have a "Promised life".

Just like those we read about in Joshua, we have to cross over into it...
Own it....
Occupy it....

Possess it....
Fight for it....

And all the while, if we do so, God has promised us that He would be there to strengthen us, guide us, and equip us for this new life.
Maybe we need to take heed of the verses from Joshua.
That the courage I need to lay hold of, comes when I recognize my own weakness. As Paul the apostle stated, "His Power is made perfect in my weakness."

Maybe it really is the day to cross over into the new life God has promised.
What do you say?

God on you.....

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Lamentations 3:24
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul, therefore I hope in Him.

"You have been on my mind most of the day and I thought about calling but wasn't sure when the best time would be. You see something has happened in me and I was trying to pin point where my turning point in life happened. 

You see June 1st 2008 I got locked up, June 28, 2008, I arrived at RAPHA. I believe in my heart and with all my heart some time's around my third week there, I broke down and ask You to Pray over me for my lower back, It Worked. I was healed.

I started believing in a Power Much Greater than myself, what I didn't know at that point God Touched my entire being. Today I can't picture living without His Hand nudging me along the way. My Friend all I wanted to say, I Love You Man, this all started when God used Your Hand To Touch me. May my God continue to Bless You and All The Work He has laid For You. Your Friend, Mark."

This was a message sent to me by someone who I am honored to call friend and brother.One Mr. Mark Cotney.
Mark has a few years on him. Maybe that is why we relate to each other so well. Along with the years, Mark has a lot of mileage also. His body shows the scars and pain of a life lived in the darkness of addiction. But his face shows the gratitude and glory of the Lord for being saved out of the madness.

Someone today needs to read this because of their own struggles with addiction. Too often we read the horror stories when it comes to drugs and alcohol. Death, misery, destruction seem to grab the headlines, or become the story that is passed. We need to hear the stories of the ones that have made it. We need to trumpet the name of Jesus as being the source of real life and real sobriety. That is why it is a pleasure to reprint Mark's message to me this morning.

You see, all this talk about God and His ability to end the misery of addiction is a problem to me. Either it real and true.... Or it's all a lie. Well, for me, it's true. I've seen the proof of it in the lives of those who gave up will and life,and handed over to Christ. Why not you? Why not now? Why not today? What do you have to loose except years of pain and destruction.

Psalm 107:14
He (God) brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and broke the chains in pieces.

God on you...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fishing My Way....Or Fishing Jesus' Way

Luke 5:4
When He (Jesus) had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, "Launch out into the DEEP and let down your nets for a catch.

I think maybe this is a word for me this morning.
"Launch out into the deep".....
Go to the place you've been afraid to go to...
That place inside your heart that you've tried to hide from God for a long time.
Maybe it's a place of bitterness....
It might be anger, or jealousy....

Who knows...it might be unforgiveness.
But it is the deep place where the Lord wants me to drop my nets and then pull up the catch.

This entire episode we read about in Luke 5 is one of my favorite portion of Scripture.
I love Simon, soon to be Peter, and his response to what Jesus has told him to do.
But Simon answered and said to Him, "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at YOUR WORD I will let down the net."

Did you catch that?
Simon said that him and his crew had been fishing all night.....

And they had bumpkus to show for it.
Not even a minnow.
That would represent me trying to do everything in my own strength, power and ability.

I have nothing to show for  my toil and effort.
But Jesus comes along and gives specific instructions.

"I know you've been out all night".....Translated into my situation..."I know you've been working in dark places in your life......But tell me, how's that working out?"
Well, to put it bluntly...it ain't working out.

Jesus gives the instructions, it is my job to follow them.
Could it be anymore simple than that?
"But Lord, you don't understand...I've been trying to stop my addiction"

"I've been trying to forgive that person who hurt me really bad."
"I've been trying"....."I've been trying"....."I've been trying".
Well, with Jesus there isn't any "try"....
There is simply "Do"...

Launch out once more into the deep water...don't hang around the shallows...
And let down your nets.

Because there is a catch waiting to be hauled in.

Maybe that is the word for today...
Launch out into the deep one more time.
Launch out and let down your nets...
Jesus knows that if we follow Him, at some point we are going to truly have a divine fish fry.

Now this is something you can hang your  hat on....
Believe I will!

God on you...

Monday, May 16, 2016

It Was A Good Weekend

There is some truth to this cartoon.....
We have a propensity to sit at the very back of the room. Don't know where it comes from, but I have seen it in action. I remember going to a celebrate recovery in Cedar Town Georgia. Massive church and the sanctuary would seat over 600.....guess how many were there for the recovery meeting? Less than 20. Guess where they sat? The very back of the room. I told them that from my perspective it looked like we were in terrorist mode....like someone had called in a bomb threat, and everyone was trying to scatter out in hopes that if a bomb did go off some would make it out alive.  Ah...I digress. On to the business at hand.

Psalm 107:1- 2
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed say so. Who He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy.

It was a great weekend, beginning with VRC.
Good group. Had some first timers come and join us on Saturday. 

The message was on "Situational Christianity", using the story from Acts 16:22-25 about Paul and Silas being beaten and thrown in to prison. Yet through the entire ordeal, Paul and Silas never turned away from God, angry at what had happened. In fact it seemed like the more stress and persecution they encountered, the more they pressed into God. The two of them were not just thrown into prison.....they were put in the "Inner" prison. Yet at the darkest time when others would have been cursing God...these two bozo's began to pray and (Get this) SING TO GOD!!! They had a worship service right there in the jail. 

So how did they do this?
What kind of man operates in this fashion?
When in the face of pain, rejection, persecution, and humiliation.....

Has a prayer meeting and worship service.
They could operate in this fashion because they trusted God.

They had no answers as to how they were going to get out....
They didn't even know if they would live through the night...
But they trusted God to the point that they were willing to accept whatever came their way.

The same kind of trust that we find in the three Hebrew men we read about in the book of Daniel. Ol' Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego got themselves in a terrible jam. They refused to obey the King's order to bow and worship a statue of the king when ever they heard a trumpet blast. King told them they were going to have to die for their refusal to worship his image. Get this reply they gave to the king --- "If that is the case (our death), our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from you hand, O king. But if not let it be known that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image you have set up." Isn't that crazy weird? Hey king....God can deliver us...and even if he doesn't...He is still God and we are not going to worship your hokey statue. Got love it!

Bottom line.

That is the kind of relationship I want. That is the kind of trust I want to have in my God. That no matter what situation I find myself in, I can be steadfast in my love for Him.
kind of like what ol' Paul wrote about in Philippians......"I can do all things ( I can face all things) through Christ who strengthens me. Now that there is some good stuff.
Another week to face....

Coffee-ed up and ready to go.
See you tomorrow, right here on Greene Street.

God on you...


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Whetstones For Jesus

Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend......

Game on....
Prep started last Tuesday for tonight....
Study, pray, study, pray....listen for His voice during it all.
Saturday.....tonight is the night.

We'll gather at 419 Broad Street at 7 p.m.
We'll come early to catch up on the happenings of the past week.
There will be laughter, and probably some tears as well.

Sometimes the greatest ministry and teachings come before the service actually begins.
To me, it's all about our sharing with one another.
Sharing about what God has been doing (and continues to do) in our lives.

I need to hear other people's stories.
I need to be a part of a group of folks who real and transparent.

I don't  need to be surrounded by people who are playing at religion, thinking that somehow if you can project an image that suggests you are holy, then this is what we are all suppose to do.

I need to be with folks who, if they are  hurting, can say, "I need some prayer because I'm really struggling."
I need to surround myself with folks whose life battles encourage me to not give up.
I need  a place where I can be me......warts and all....and will be accepted.
Such a place is what I believe God is trying to create in Vineyard ReCovery.
The Scripture we read.....
The messages we hear...
The worship that we share as we sing TO God....

Are all part of the inner working of God's Holy Spirit in each of us....
But the reality of that working is evidenced by our interaction with others.

VRC is a place where we don't have to hide from our past.
But we also don't have to let the past define who we are today.
We are learning new way to live in this salvation/relationship we now are experiencing in Christ.

We have done a spiritual about face, moving away from our old way of life to embrace this new one. I need to be with like minded people who are on the same journey.
I like what II Timothy 2:22 says...

"Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love and peace. Enjoy the COMPANIONSHIP of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.

Being a part of such a group makes me a better person.
Because, as the Proverbs verse states, "Iron Sharpens Iron".

Their life stories sharpen me to not quit or give up.
Hopefully my journey will produce the same results in others.
We sharpen each other through our interaction.

Yeah buddy....
I can't wait to be sharpened tonight...
It's going to be a good one.....

God on you....

Friday, May 13, 2016

Perfect In Christ

"Hello...my name is...."
The paper name tag that we use at meeting to identify who we are....

But truth is, we carry around an invisible name tag in our mind.
Just like the one above, it has to be filled out each day.

We don't write in our given name....you'll never find MICHAEL on my name tag.
We etch the name in stone, thus it becomes a hard, cold fact that we believe is unchangeable. What name you may be asking?
The one that we use to define ourselves....

"Hello my name is LIAR"
"Hello my name is DRUNKARD".
"Hello my name is USER".

WE are very much aware of the name on our tag, and we feel as though everyone around us can see it. Living with these feelings brings about a downward spiral that really becomes the reason we continue in addiction.
"I am what I am, I cannot change, I am hopeless".
Names that we have given our self.

Psalm 51:6 reads: "But you (God) desire truth in the inward parts. And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. What truth would it be that God desires me to know? What truth does he want to invade the very core and center of who I am as His creation? The truth about myself. The truth that comes from Him, that tells me that I a loved and that He wants to take off all the name tags I have placed on myself.

I know this may sound a bit corny, but since I am His creation, and He is THE creator, then I don't have the right to label myself. Only He does. And His desire is to see us walking in the total understanding of who we in Him. 

When I looked to myself, in the past, I saw failure.
I saw insecure.
I saw a total mess up.

Now here's a verse that is going to mess up your mind, not to mention your theology.
Hebrews 10:14 - For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
Did you catch that?  He, meaning Jesus, has perfected.....this is past tense....
In other words, when I am saved God has perfected me. When God looks at me, He sees me as perfect because He is looking at me through the blood of Christ. You may be saying to yourself, as you read this, "I don't feel perfect". Well, it isn't about your feelings, it's about the truth. What does the truth say? It says that since I am saved, God sees me as perfect. RIGHT!!!!

So what now? Well, God may see you as perfect, but now His desire is to see our performance (behavior/deeds) brought into line with How He sees us.
In other words, God helps me to clean up my act, by cleaning me and setting me right in my thinking,and in my heart.

Don't let our enemy, the devil, put another stinking name tab on you today.
Take this verse from Hebrews 10 and quote it all day today. "I am perfect in God's sight"....."I have been perfected by God"...."I don't have to earn this, It is a gift from God".
Now that's some good stuff we can use, don't you think?

God on you...

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Do You Really Know Him?

John 1:10
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn't recognize him.

That verse from John always causes me to take a pause.
It always brings up the thought of "Really? They didn't recognize the very one they had been looking for? The Messiah?"

Such a thought then leads me to the next landing point of..."How can we be so arrogant to think that we have all knowledge and understanding of who Jesus really is?" I mean we live in a day where knowledge has gone off the charts....technology has changed the very way we live and do business. But the one thing that hasn't changed is the human heart. Everything we face daily is filtered through that heart.

Now when I speak of heart, I mean the very core of our being. Our will, intellect and emotion. Throw in a heaping portion of our sin nature, and you've got a dangerous combination. You looking at a body that is motivated and driven by being selfish and self centered. There is no room to recognize Jesus when all the room has been filled with "ME!" Such an existence always seeks to keep Jesus at arms length. Oh, we will recognize him as the Son of God...we'll lay claim to the understanding that he is Jesus the Christ...but we will not let him into the darkness of our heart. 

Romans 1:18
But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
In the Romans verse, we see the actions of those who are living outside God's will. They suppress the truth. They push it down and keep it away from themselves. They deny the truth and continue down the slippery slope of self destruction. 

I received numerous calls last night from people who have chosen the darkness, and not one of them asked how they could turn their mess around. Some of the calls were to justify the choices they made. Some were railing against the unfairness of life. Not one asked "what do I have to do to be saved?" I shared as best I could what the answer to their problem was, but not one wanted to heart it. I think maybe this would fall under the whole "suppressing the truth" part.

Romans 1:21-23
Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools.

I'm telling you right now, if that doesn't describe someone who is trapped in addiction, I don't what does. Some people become so entrenched in this sin-cycle that they actually consider themselves to be very intelligent. It doesn't matter what you share with them, they've got it all figured out. Such people are usually referred to as being "Too smart to recover". These are the ones that you can pretty much bet are going to continue on until they crash and burn. And the sad part in this twisted play they call their life, is that they can be some of the most religious people you'll ever meet. Because they can quote some scripture, or they hold their hands up during a worship service, they somehow think that they've made it. They have reached the pinnacle of knowing God.  When their own dark hearts testify to the truth that they know a ritual or have memorized some verses. It profits you nothing to know the verse and be totally ignorant of the One who it testifies to. 

I remember one individual who came into the Rapha program. His first day in my class, he was all up into Jesus. Every other word was "praise God"...or "Amen". This guy had not even detoxed to the point of having an unclouded mind. But here he was all about this Jesus. He loved Jesus....He taught Sunday school...but he loved crack more. His behavior went on for a few days until one day in class, I spoke to him. "You love Jesus don't you?" His reply? "Yes I do, Amen..praise God".  I replied to his answer with..."You know what? Your Jesus sucks." Well, he looked like I had dumped a bucket of cold water over his head. He was offended and wanted to argue with me until he heard the next thing I had to say. "If your Jesus is so wonderful, what are you doing in Rehab? Why are you hooked up in crack houses and sleeping with prostitutes? My Jesus wouldn't lead you to such a life". 

The point I wanted him to understand was that he had an idea...a concept...that had nothing to do with the truth of who Jesus is, and nothing was going to change until he met the real Jesus. 
Maybe we all need to look at our understanding of who Jesus is.
The last thing I need is for me to allow wrong ideas or concepts to creep into my heart and change the way I see Jesus.
How about you?
Think on this today.

God on you...


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Truth I Need In My Life

Matthew 6:13
....For Yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever amen....

The ending of the Lord's Prayer. But more than an ending...more than flowery words....they are 13 words that define the intent and the presence of God at work in the world today.

#1 -"Yours is the Kingdom"- The kingdom is defined by the dynamic rule and reign of God in our world. IT isn't about a geographical location. It is evident by action and power at work in the lives of those who have encountered Him. The Kingdom of God is present whenever someone is being prayed for, because such should be done in love. The Kingdom of God is present whenever someone is healed, delivered from demonic oppression or saved. The rule of God has come with power and has broken the stranglehold that Satan had over that life. That is the Kingdom of God....it belongs to Him and He exercises it at His will and for His good pleasure.

#2 - "And the power" - The word used here for power is a Greek word..."Dunamis". The same that we get our word dynamite from. Explosive, forceful power. In Strong's concordance, one of the definitions for this word, Dunamis, is miraculous power. So this Power that belongs to God and is a part of His kingdom, is demonstrated through action and movement on His part. In other words, what we are talking about isn't a mental exercise where we sit and think about receiving..it is a full-fledged invasion/ intervention of God's presence into our time and space. An invasion of His presence that comes with purpose to the one who receives.

#3 - "And the glory" -Every time God touches someone...every time someone is healed, delivered, saved or just comes in contact with God...they experience God's glory, or His nature and character. Because it is God who is moving and acting, His nature is brought to bear. Once again, looking to Strong's concordance, we find that the word glory means dignity, honor, praise and worship. If this be the case, then praise and worship are a result, or at least should be, of being touched by God's power as He exercises His Kingdom will.

#4 - "Forever" - perpetually on going. Never stopping. Never losing it's capability....the authority...or the purpose. The Kingdom of God continuing on until Jesus returns to complete the Kingdom here on earth.

#5 - "Amen" - Once again, looking to Mr. Strong's"...we find that the word amen means that this is a trustworthy statement concerning the Kingdom of God. It is a sure statement...a firm, foundational st statement that describes and defines God's kingdom.

So the next time you pray the Lord's prayer...let these words cause pause on your part to remember that we are declaring the rule and reign of God here in our time and space. That He has come to destroy the works of the devil, and does so with power, authority and ability...
Now if that don't set you on fire, then your woods wet.

God on you...



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