Thursday, June 30, 2016
Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the LORD are true and right,and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.
The paths of the Lord...
The instruction of the Lord...
The discipline of the Lord we Are called to incorporate in our lives.
All boil down to one simple thing.
We are to look to Him in everything we undertake.
I know all to well what happens when I turn from His instruction to embrace my own.
It ain't good!
I know what it's like to pretend so others will think you religious and good.
Playing the church game where you know the lingo and can sing all the songs, yet on the inside you are dying. But never let'em see this! Keep it hidden and put that big old fake smile on. There is one certainty for everyone who tries to walk the path of the Lord playing this game.....He will uncover you.
I guess it is true that my greatest enemy is myself.
No wonder Jesus calls us to "deny ourselves and take up our cross daily".
If you think about it....
I mean really stop and think about it, on the surface this doesn't sound like something I really want to do. But maybe that's the problem. It's ME that is deciding instead of simply turning my stinking will over to His care so I can embrace His will.
As Bob Dylan use to sing..."You Gotta Serve Somebody".
It might be the devil....
Or it might be the Lord...
But you're gonna have to serve somebody.
Isn't it amazing that the greatest truth is always the simplest?
I think maybe I want to complicate it so I can have an excuse of why I didn't embrace the truth.
So the path you choose will ultimately uncover your heart (which isn't a bad thing).
Once uncovered, you have a choice to either follow Jesus, or join up with the devil and see how much damage you can do before it's all over.
I think maybe I'll choose Jesus.
God on you....
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Running late this morning! We had a late night game of Risk, and when there are four male egos at stake....quitting is not the word used much. Anyway, here I am ready to go.
Surely Your goodness and unfailing love (Mercy) will pursue me (Follow Me) all the days of my life,and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Not a bad way to go through life. The Lord's goodness and unfailing love trailing behind you.
Always remember, His call to us is to simply follow Him. That means that He is always ahead of us. He is always scouting out the day and warning us of impending problems. Maybe that is why we need to learn to listen more, so we can be made aware of what's up ahead. Whatever we may run into, I need to always remember that He has gone first.
So,with that picture fresh in our minds, why does goodness and unfailing love need to come dragging up the rear? Well, if God has taken care of our future, then would it not stand to reason that His love and mercy have taken care of our past? People from your past will continue to speak bad of you and the things you have done. They will not forgive you, and may even try to make you pay for what you've done in one way or another. But what a comfort it should be to know that God's love and mercy has separated you from that past.
What's done is done...I wish there were do overs, but it just doesn't work out that way.
Oh, we can make our amends and restitution, but the memories will still remain. Those memories will still come up from time to time, but God's unfailing mercy and love will remove the emotional pain that tries to come with the memory. God will remind you that the past is not who you are. It is what you do, here in the present that determines what you will be in the future.
Life is too hard to try and drag your past with you into the future. Let it go and remember what is chasing you......God's goodness and unfailing love.
One last point.
King David wrote that he wanted to dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Not a bad wish.....
But we don't have to have that mindset any more.
We don't have to "go to the Temple"....to find the presence of God.
If you are saved.....born again....or whatever term you use to describe your new found relationship with Jesus....then you ARE the Temple.
God dwells in you.....
Forever and beyond.
How cool is that?
So as you make your way through your day, remember who is walking in front of you....
Remember who is trailing after you..
And remember who lives in you......
That makes for peace of mind, if you know what I mean.
God on you.....
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
You do not desire a sacrifice,or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
Isn't it amazing what our mind will convince us to do?
Maybe that's part of our problem. We listen to our mind, and not our heart.
God's conviction comes to the heart, not the mind.
The Holy Spirit speaks through our heart and not our mind.
Now this doesn't mean that I chunk my noodle and go by feelings....
But it does mean that I put into perspective the way my thoughts come to me.
Somehow we think hooking up with God is all about doing better.
Acting holy, and going to church.
Singing all the worship songs and not cussing.
When in fact, all God is concerned with is the state of your being, not doing.
Doing for God will get you nowhere, especially when the doing is you coming up with stuff you think God likes.
It's kind of like making apple pies for God.
But you never considered the fact that maybe God doesn't like apple pie.
The one thing I have taught over and over is a simple truth.
We are called "human" what?
The answer? "Beings".
We are not called "Human doings".
God is more interested in us being the person He created us to be, rather that what we can come up with to do for Him.
If I concentrate on the "Being" part, the "Doing" will follow. And my doing for God will be second nature. I won't think a thing about it. It will just be a natural part of who I am.
Romans 12:1 calls us a "Living Sacrifice". Now in my book, those two words don't go together. Living and sacrifice. But the truth is, we give our whole "being" to Him in an act of obedience. I think this is all part of the "turning will and live over to the care of God." In other words, I quit trying to drive the train, and sit back to enjoy the ride.
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right (loyal) spirit within me.
Notice what isn't said in the above verse.
"Give me the strength to do a whole bunch of stuff so I can win your favor. Then maybe you'll let me into heaven when my life is over."
It's all about God doing for me what I cannot do for myself.
I cannot create a clean heart within myself.
I cannot reset and restore my spirit so that it operates in a right manner.
Only God can do that for me.
Recovery is more than the simple act of not using or drinking.
It is about a total inner change of heart, spirit and mind, under the hand of a loving God whose desire is to see you made whole again.
Sounds like a good deal to me.
How about you?
God on you....
Monday, June 27, 2016
Timely wisdom that didn't come from me...
"Don't forget to laugh today!"
I love it that God invented laughter and humor.
I love it that when we laugh, our spirit become lighter.
Laughter is good stuff in my book.
The one thing I don't hear, but it lurks there in the mindset of those who are looking at beginning this road to recovery is, "I'll never have fun again."
You really believe that?
You, coming from a life that included orange jump suits, night rides in the back seat of our city civil servants cars.(also the simple fact that such rides usually included wearing bracelets)have made the determination that the fun you were currently having is over?
Oh son....you don't know what real fun is.
In many cases, such people have not really laughed in a long time.
They have forgotten how to have fun.
In their world fun with out a substance to indulge in is a foreign concept.
That is the sadness that sin/addiction brings to the table.
I guess you could call it "false/fun"
A pseudo copy of the real deal.
My take on life is that every now and then we need to cut loose and just have some fun.
Be it with family or friends....we need to just be free to laugh and enjoy ourselves.
It would do us all some good.
Oh yeah, don't be afraid to laugh at yourself.
Listen up Buttercup...the world doesn't spend that much time checking out your every move, so it's o.k. to laugh when you mess up.
Laugh when you pronounce a word wrong.
This whole laughter thing is a lot better when you can share it with someone.
I've heard is said that "misery loves company"....This might be true, but take my word
Laughter and fun is better when you share it.
I may offend some with the following statement.
When Jesus was here, I'm pretty sure he laughed.
I'm even pretty sure He had some fun, especially with the disciples.
Those bunch of knuckleheads were prime targets for a joke.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be irreverent. But think about it.....Is God not the creator of everything? Would that not include humor and laughter? I think maybe the answer is yes.
Life is too short to walk around in the doldrums, with that little grey cloud of despair always overhead. Find something to laugh about today.
Find something that gives you pleasure today, and go out and enjoy.
God on you.....
Sunday, June 26, 2016
....."My Purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life...."
Life.....something that we sometimes take for granted.
The simple act of breathing is more than it appears to be.
Life is messy.....Life is hard, and yet, at the same time, it is the most wonderful gift God could have ever given to us.
So why did God grant us another day?
Why did He stretch out the next 24 hours before us?
So we could live it.
That's right...God granted us life so we could live it.
Enjoy everything that is possible to enjoy in this dark, fallen world.
Fall in love a little more with Jesus, as we chase after Him.
Burn with a purpose. I can't think of anything worse than to simply move through life without the original purpose God called us to.
What is that purpose?
To worship Him.
No, God does not have an ego that needs to be stroked by His little creation.
You see, when we enter into worship....when we begin to praise Him for simply being Himself, an avenue of communication is opened between heaven and this side where we live. A back and forth communication begins to take place. One of the amazing things that happens, is that we lose focus on the situations and circumstances that weigh us down, and call for attention.....that focus is suddenly shifted to God. He kind of fills the picture until He is all we see, or want to see. As Mary, the mother of Jesus, said when the angel came to tell her of her being chosen by God...."My Soul Magnifies The Lord". In other words, her brain and her heart had no room for anything else but God.
That is the way I want to live.
Some might say I'm dealing in pie-in-the-sky theology. I say let's try it and see if we can connect with God on a level that puts us in that place. A place where God fills up my very senses and thoughts. That I am fed by His shear presence, and have no desire to chase anything or anyone else.
Real satisfaction can come only from God's hand.
Everything else pales in comparison to God.
Accept no imitations.
God on you.....
Saturday, June 25, 2016
And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had.
We gathered together last night for our monthly kinship meeting.
A chance to connect....
A chance to minister to each other.
An opportunity to encourage each other in this journey of life.
A heart cry as we sang Kevin Prosch song "Save Us O God"......
An admission of our need for God in an ongoing way. Not a one time encounter.
As Paul wrote, "We know that our sufficiency comes from God a
and not of ourselves."
"Refiners Fire" --- A collective voice that the holiness of God would be as much a part of our lives as the simple act of breathing. That we never take for granted the call of God to follow,nor the call to separate ourselves from the world.
As a believer, we are called to the economy of heaven not the ways and dictates of this world.
"Resting Place"--- We want to become the resting place for God to inhabit. We have built for you a home, O'Lord....We give ourselves as a receptacle for His Holy Spirit.
At one point, we began to sing as the Spirit led us.
"You are good.....You are faithful....You are Lord"....
Simple truth that was repeated over and over.......
The room became very peaceful, almost to the point that we didn't want to move or stir about, but rather just sit in His presence.
Pulled out Ephesians 4.
Kind of a checklist to see how we are doing as a fellowship.
1.) What does Paul mean when he says that we are to "live a life worthy of the calling?" Because we have been called by God.
a.) Consensus is that the call to salvation is a blanket call for all of us. But in that salvation, God begins to equip us for different parts of ministry for the common good of the church.
2.) Paul goes on to write, "Always be humble and gentle,and that we are to be patient with each other".
a.) The group recognizes the call, but also collectively realizes that this is a work in progress. That it is something that each of us must strive to incorporate in our individual lives. Also the consensus was that this is an area our enemy the devil will try to exploit for his advantage.
3.) Paul sure did know how to get to the heart of relationship. He writes, "We are to make allowances for each other's faults." Really? Make allowances? Isn't it easier just to criticize someone? Of course it is, but criticism isn't God's way of dealing with each other.
a.) I asked "what the difference between ALLOWING and EXCUSING? This open the door up for some really good discussion.
This was our 4th meeting as a core group, and I really believe that God is doing a work among us and in us. We are getting to know one another on an even greater level, which will only strengthen us in the call to minister and serve those in addiction.
To put it another way....It was a killer evening.
Great worship.....fellowship and food.
God on you.....
Friday, June 24, 2016
But those who trust (wait) in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
Step # 3 of the Missteps of Life Recovery:
"I Can handle it by just trying harder or having more willpower."
Is it just me, or does the human mind amaze you with its capability to deceive?
As well as deceiving itself?
Walking down through the twelve steps, we start by coming to the reality that we are powerless over this addiction. Powerless-----not capable of providing ample strength, ability, or will power to overcome this "thing" that has trapped me and dictates my every move.
We are powerless.....
But after this sobering fact of coming to grips with our inability to break free of our addiction, we turn right around and talk ourselves into the lie of all lies...."I can do this.I don't need anyone's help."
We go on to reason that our failure has stemmed from the truth that we just didn't try hard enough. If we apply ourselves....really really hard.....buckle down...nose to the grindstone...get serious...then we can overcome this beast that has us under its control.
Wrong-O there buttercup!
Let's get real honest here...
Life is about surrender....
Whether you are an addict or not...
IT's about realizing that at some point, we are brought to the place where we cannot save ourselves.
My Bible says that "We all fall short of the glory of God."
Who falls under "all"?
Everyone of us
And without the salvation, forgiveness, and grace of God, we'd all slide over the edge of eternity into a place that I really don't want to go.
This whole "turning will and life" over to God is daily endeavor.
I turn my life over to His care one time.
I turn my will over as many times as necessary.
In other words, I defer my right to make my own decisions. I trust God to lead me and show me the right thing to do.
Trust comes from getting to know God.
I read and study His the writings He has given to us.
I talk to Him.
I listen for Him to talk back to me.
I surround myself with others who are hungry for this God.
I admit when I'm struggling and seek advice from others who have traveled this road to recovery.
The more honest and transparent I am in my life-dealings, the more I can keep from getting in the ditch by trying to drive my own life.
II Corinthians 12:9-10
Each time He (God) said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
Chew on this verse today.
Get it all down inside you and let it take root.
My admission of not being able to do this recovery in my own ability....
His promise to empower me if I turn to Him.
Makes sense to me.
God on you....
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Philippians 4 (The Message Bible)
Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quiet content whatever my circumstances. I'm just happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the ONE who makes me who I am.
Stopping for a moment to ruminate on life.
Not looking for answers, or pontificating on the meaning of our existence. I'll leave that to minds that are more intelligent that my noodle.
Just looking back over my journey of years.
Wishing I could do somethings different, but fully realizing that had I been able to, it would have probably changed who I am today. So, I don't think I am going to paddle down that creek.
Very grateful for people I've met along the way....
Got a call from one of them today. He got a bad report after having an exam by his family doctor. Lung cancer. Seems as though the cancer didn't originate in the lungs, but has spread at this time. As he told me the news, his voice was lite and filled with hope. He didn't like hearing that his body had been invaded but, at the same time, he wasn't going to pack up and move to the land of depression and gloom. His take was that he would face it one day at a time. Celebrate the good days...and hang on to make it through the bad. I want to be like my friend. Have a total understanding that life happens on this side of heaven. Good people get cancer. Bad people seem to skate through every bad thing that happens. Good people get their drivers license and go to the store for their mother. Bad people get drunk and hit said good person head on killing them. Bad people go away without a scratch. I want what Paul wrote about in the Philippians passage. The ability to rest in Jesus, and by doing so find a heavenly contentment that doesn't make sense to an earthly mind.
A contentment that has a foundation that cannot be shaken by earthly situations or circumstances. One that allows our steps to be sure and steady even though the path we're on seems to be experiencing mega-quakes bent on unsettling us, and knocking us off our journey with Jesus. I want that kind of contentment.
Sometimes, I wish God had written or spoke out about having a spiritual "Backbone".
I'm not so sure such backbone isn't a part of the giftings of the Holy Spirit. A kind of grit and mindset (not to mention heart set) that speaks to us saying, "Dig your heels in and stand firm in the strength of the Lord....this thing your facing won't last forever." All part of being content. Oh yeah....by the way, contentment doesn't mean you are happy or joyful about your current state of life....it just means that your o.k., knowing that it is a temporary thing you are facing. Face, everything is temporary when it comes to following an eternal God. Hmmmm. Maybe that is part of what contentment is all about.
God on you....
Wednesday, June 22, 2016
"My kingdom," said Jesus, "doesn't consist of what you see around you. If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn't be handed over to the Jews. But I'm not that kind of king, not the world's kind of king."
The Pilate said, "So, are you a king or not?"
Jesus answered, "You tell me. Because I am King. I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feelings for the truth, recognizes my voice."
Pilate said, "What is truth?"
Truth seems to be in short supply in our world today.
That is what happens when the standard for what is truth and what isn't is removed. We become a people whose opinion is valued as truth. Never mind that hearts are dark and under sin/influence......never mind that personal agendas and manipulation are at the core of some who proclaim truth. Society runs on majority opinion and is fueled by the fire of self rule.
Now let me make something clear.
I'm in no way proclaiming that I am the purveyor and guardian of truth. I'm not.
I do have some beliefs that I have come to understand are true, and are not open to discussion or compromise. Not because I say so, but because they come from the word of God. End of story. Take for instance the way to salvation. My understanding from reading the word of God, is that Jesus is the only way to enter into a lasting relationship with God the Father. Now to some, they argue that I am close minded. I am intolerant. I am a religious bigot of some sort. Am I? I don't believe I am. I didn't say that Jesus was the way, the only way. He did! I merely shared my belief.
Now multiply this "truth" epidemic we suffer and throw it into the mix of addiction, and you've got yourself a powerful view of life. To an addict, the truth is something that is clearly avoided. Truth about ones self is taboo and off limits. "Can't we just get along and sing "We Are The World"? When real truth hits us under the conviction of God's Holy Spirit, it lays us open like someone on a surgical table. We are under the knife of God's truth.
The Message Bible, in Hebrews 4:12-13 puts it like this.
"God means what he says. What He says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen (to the truth) and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God's Word. We can't get away from it...........no matter what."
When we reject the real truth that we find in Scripture, we began a search for false truth thinking that this will comfort us. We look for ways to discredit the truth. We'll rail against the one who shared it with us....attacking their character and calling them hypocrite. We'll put ourselves up on the "selfish" pedestal in an effort to believe that "they don't know us".
II Timothy 3:16-17
There's nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another---showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us. What tasks? Maybe tasks like "staying sober" and "chasing Jesus" instead of darkness and destruction. What do you think? Hmmmmm?
What I have found in my own life, is that there really is a truth that is the standard for all that claims to be truth. God has set the standard and, here again, it doesn't matter whether we agree or disagree as to what God's Absolute truth is.....it doesn't change the fact that it remains as the rule and standard for everyone. Of course in our society today, there would be those who would claim...."That isn't fair!" To which I would probably reply, "What you're really saying is that God's truth goes against what you believe and want to live by."
Psalm 51:6 - What You're (God) after is truth from the inside out. Enter me, then, conceive a new, true life. King James versions says that "God desires that we know truth in our inner parts." In other words, God's truth is not a head knowledge, or a collection of facts. It is a dividing of soul and spirit that uncovers the very motives behind why we do what we do. This truth is not given to us to embarrass us or make us feel guilty. It is the beginning of seeing life in a new way. When I can see the real me and, at the same time, know what God's truth says about my old ways, I can continue to turn lose of my stinking will, and allow God to work in me, as He changes my character and nature. In other words, as I repent and confess, I began to make my decisions based on God's truth that is revealed to me.
Now that is the road to recovery.
That is the road to life.
Make it a great day!
God on you...
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer!
From the ends of the earth, I cry to You for help when my heart is overwhelmed.
Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for You are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in Your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of Your wings!
Very simple (how many times have you heard this before?)....
Yes, it is very simple. In this life you and I are currently living, who do we trust to see us through?
Who is it we turn to in the mornings when we wake up?
I know that the vogue or answer that most would give would be...."Why I trust in God!" And to some degree that may be so. But do we really? Or are we just giving lip service by saying what we think others want to hear. Or maybe even saying what we want to believe is true, but deep inside we know it isn't.
I love Psalm 61 because it is all about the rubber hitting the road. It's about real life. Those moments and situations where we are just emotionally and mentally overwhelmed. We don't know where to turn or even what to pray for. But in such moments, we find out exactly what it is we believe in, and who It is we truly do trust. I love what the Apostle Paul wrote in of the darkest periods of his life. Keep in mind Paul isn't just throwing out some flowery platitude meant to give false hope and comfort. No! Paul is speaking from the very core of his being about who sustains him through dark times.... Paul writes in II Timothy 1:12 - That is why I am suffering here in prison. But I am not ashamed of it, for I know WHOM I have believed (Who I have trusted in), and I am sure that He is able to guard and keep what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return.
So what is it Paul has entrusted to Jesus?
His very life and soul.....
Why? Because Jesus is trustworthy. He will do what He has promised us He would do...end of story.
This is where I want to throw myself and my energy.....
One hundred percent into believing and trusting Jesus as I have made the decision to turn my will and my life over to His care. I do so in the understanding I have of Him and who He is today. Knowing that if continue to live in this manner, I will grow in my knowledge and understanding of Jesus. Such growth will only lead me to trust Him even more. This is the heart of recovery.
Throwing the old way of living away....
That old life that said I had to trust myself and no one else.
Such misplaced trust will only lead me down the path to more and more destruction.
And embracing a new way.....
One that you grow into....
A way of living that will aid you in weathering the storms of life that come to everyone.
A word of thanks to Ann Wynne for supplying me with a computer that has enabled me to post this morning. Ann....you beat everything. Take $10.00 out of petty cash.
God on you....
Monday, June 20, 2016
......All the believers were meeting together in one place.....
Friday night in Centre, Alabama, there is no better place to be than at the ROC.
Celebrate Recovery! Good food.....great company......killer band that loves to worship...
Stories from lives that have been changed through the power of God.
Stories that stir hope in the hearts of those who are still trying to find their way.
Stories that have a message of "God saved me...He will save you".
One person sharing with others what they have found.
Giving away freely what they have received.
The night had a retro feel to it. The meeting was moved back upstairs where it began.
I'm sorry, but I love that room. I love the intimacy that came with the move, and it reminded me of how VRC feel son Saturday night. I usually open up our meeting with "Welcome to my living room!" because that is what it feels like.
Prior to the start of the meeting, person after person came by to speak with me.
Touching base, letting me know what has been going on in their journey.
Some good stories....
Some hard ones......
Prayer over all that we keep on keeping on. We can't afford to quit or give up.
To me this is the thing that makes recovery meetings of any kind special...
The honesty and transparency that says it's o.k. to be who we are...with all our character warts and scabs. What isn't o.k. is to excuse our unwillingness to change. We all are very much aware that we are all "works-in-progress"...
As we use to say at Rapha....."It's all about spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection."
There seems to be an unspoken connection among those who are on this road to recovery.
A bond that transcends blood and kin....
A binding together by a collective purpose that is colored by acceptance of a shared history. In other words, it doesn't matter who you are....what you drug of choice was....or how old you are......when it comes to recovery everybody's story is "The Same Song...Second Verse"....in other words, the stories are all the same.
It truly is about the new life that has been found. This new way of dealing with life is at the heart of our stories. No longer running away when troubles come, but the new found strength to meet them head on and, with the Holy Spirit guiding us, follow God's instructions on what needs to be done. THEN DOING IT!!!!
Our good friend Jeremiah Smith met Vicki and I Friday night and joined us up in Centre. He was given a heaping, helping portion of Recovery Centre Style. I do believe he enjoyed it. Of course Jeremiah is part of our core leadership at VRC, and truly has a heart to see people come to know Jesus, and allow Him to turn their life around. All in all, it was a great weekend. Now, here on Monday morning, I will continue to wrestle with this dinosaur of a laptop to see if I can post this entry into the Greene Street Letters.
Keep in mind that if there isn't a posting tomorrow morning it's because the dinosaur won.
God on you.....
Thursday, June 16, 2016
A gift is given to each of us when we decide to turn will and life over to the care of God. It may not seem like a gift, but trust me....when you have wandered in the wilderness of sin/addiction you will accept it and hold to it tightly. It is a gift that will serve you well, as you change directions in your life journey. It is a gift that cannot be measured in gold.
According to the Recovery Bible, these gifts "Show us that recovery is more than escaping the pain and destruction of our choices." This gift points us toward the possibility of a new and exceptional life. So what is this gift?
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help to develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.
The hope that God gives to us helps us to see beyond our problems.
It lifts our vision so that we can see through our situations and circumstances, and lets us know that God is at work as we go through whatever it is we are facing.
Hope settles me in the understanding that whatever happens in life, God has me. Did you notice the order that God brings to us when we choose Him.
The Romans 5 passage shows us clearly that the first priority after turning will and life over to His care is that no matter what we face, God is equipping us with the understanding that we are not to give up. This is endurance.
No "quitting" sense....
Stay the course....
During this mindset and heart set of not quitting, we begin to be changed by the Holy Spirit at work in us. We are given strength of character. Our view of the situation starts to change,and the decisions we make are done so to benefit our recovery and this new life we have been given.
It is from this "not giving up" and character change that we find ourselves, possibly for the first time, feeling that flicker of fire that tells us we can do this. We can have the life we've heard others talk about....this life of recovery. This is the hope that God gives. Now call me crazy, but why would God grant such a gift if it were not possible to change to and move beyond our addiction? If all this were not true, would that not make God extremely cruel?
But it is true....
God's hope is not like the hope we find in this world.
Empty and hollow yet promising you everything.
God's hope has substance and a stability that settles us inside as we face our troubles.
Like I said earlier....
God's hope given to us provides us with a new vision to see life differently.
It's not a pie-in-the-sky, puppy dogs and rainbows kind of hope.
It's a hard core belief spoken and given to us by the creator of all we can see, touch, taste, smell and hear.
I think maybe I could trust this hope.
What do you think?
God on you....
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
If you read yesterday's posting, you'll remember how I wrote about everything is temporary. Little did I know that such would include hot water heaters.
Our's gave up the proverbial plumbing ghost, and had to be replaced.
Fortunately for us, my wife knows everyone this side of Mars, and was able to get in touch with some plumbers who were glad to do her a favor. That's my wife....she can't go anywhere without running into someone she knows.
My favorite story of all time happened when she took a trip to New York City during the Christmas season. She was waiting to cross the street, when she happen to run into one of her former employers. What are the odds that such would happen in New York City? That's my Vicki. She sees people she knows ever where she goes. I have this running fear that should she and I die at the same time and arrive at the Pearly Gates.....Saint Peter will tell her..."Vicki! It's so good to see that you made it!" But then he'll look at me and ask her, "Who's this homeless fellow with you?"
I Corinthians 8:
But for us....There is One God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live...
And there is One Lord, Jesus Christ, through who all things were created, and through whom we live.....
Isn't that an incredible verse?
We live for God....everything we do should be done with an understanding that we are pleasing to God.....
That His will becomes our will...
But life....real life comes through the person of Jesus Christ.
We live for God...
We live through Jesus.
So how does all this happen?
Through the person of the Holy Spirit who is given to each of us when we are born again....
He becomes the source of power and the compass we follow in our daily lives.
Jesus told the guys before He went back to heaven to wait for the Holy Spirit.
He sent them back to Jerusalem to wait for the promise to come to them.
Jesus told them, in Acts 1:8, that when the Holy Spirit had clothed them with power, they would become His witnesses, in an ever expanding circle of influence that would stretch through the world.
How was such possible?
The power of the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of those who are dedicated to following Jesus.
Power to overcome any sin/addiction.
Power to turn loose of the old life to embrace the new.
Power over the influence of sin....
Power to break the penalty of sin....
And Power to overcome the presence of sin.
I think maybe when we live for God...and we acknowledge that Jesus is our source of life, we began to move in harmony with the will and plans of God.
We are no longer straining or pulling at having our own way. We don't run around exercising our rebellious streak. Oh, don't get me wrong, we don't become docile and some sort of automaton. We simply have this moment where we truly realize that His way if better than our way.
Well, that about wraps it up here on Greene Street.
Hope something spoke to you today in this posting.
If I haven't told you lately, God loves you....and so do I!
Go out and make it a good day.
God on you...
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
II Corinthians 4:16-18
That is why we never give up, though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are 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 we cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
Finding the value in our relationship with Christ.
Understanding the truth of who He is.
Seeing the wisdom and the truth of His word...
Not only this, but that we would learn to apply His word to our every day, walking-around-sleeping-eating life.
To see that everything around us is temporary....
Even our very life, is temporary.
That doesn't mean we shirk all responsibility in the here and now, and run around like spoiled children.
What it does mean is that we face each problem head on. We do not cut. We do not run.
No matter how hard or how bad, we face it.....
And we look to Jesus for the direction and answer on how to deal with whatever it is that has reared its ugly head in our life.
You know what the funny part in all of this is?
As we do face our problems.....
And as we do look to Jesus to give us direction and strength....
Our faith and trust in Him grows. We simply find out that He is trustworthy. He is who He claims to be, and He will do what He has promised He would do. Simple as that.
II Corinthians 4:1
Therefore, since God in His mercy has given us this new way (of living) we never give up.The only giving up that is acceptable in the Kingdom of God is when we give up our will and life to Him. When we turn to Him to truly lead us through the pitfalls and traps that we face each day. He will not only lead you, He will empower you. This is called GRACE.
Let's look at the definition of Grace one more time.
Grace is the empowering presence of God in my life, that enables me to be who God created me to be.....and to do what God has called me to do.
It is the power of Grace that helps me to make through my day.
It is the power of Grace that causes thoughts and ideas to rise up in my heart and mind, that become direction that I need to follow.
I guess the main thing I have learned over the past few months, is that everything truly is temporary when compared to the eternal greatness of knowing Jesus. There isn't anything on this planet, or in this life that we should allow to come between us and our relationship with Jesus. Hey, I know life is hard. I know that there are times you want to cut and run to whatever it is you use to give you comfort. But realize that the comfort you have sought out is only temporary. And it does nothing to help you with whatever problems or situation you are facing.
When it comes to life and living it out here on planet earth....
It's just Jesus....
He's all you need.
God on you....
Monday, June 13, 2016
But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
There is a path (A way of living) before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.
In the beginning, it seemed like I spent a lot of time trying to convince folks that there was a better way to live than their old way of addiction. I would teach....I would explain....I would almost beg them to change. But nothing ever happened. Why? Well, it became very evident that I was trying to take God's place. I remember when it all changed for me.
It was while I was on staff at Rapha.
We had a group of in-house clients that wanted nothing to do with recovery, not to mention God. Their time in treatment was merely a vacation until they could get back out on the streets. I would teach a class, and everyone would sit there with this deer-in-the-headlight kind of stare. They refused to do their homework. They didn't participate in any discussion at all. This rocked on for 4 weeks, and I was at the end of my rope.
I remember being home cutting grass, and having a really one sided conversation with God. In other words, I was doing all the talking and God was listening. I was giving Him up the country because of these men and their lack of interest in getting themselves straight. Then in the heat of the moment, along with feeling like I was a "big-boy", I uttered those fateful words.....Kind of drawing a line in the sand in front of God.....
"You know what, Father? If You aren't going to let me make a difference in the lives of these men, I'm not going back out there." I then proceeded to state my case as to why I felt that way. I had said "Yes" to the call to go to Rapha. I had given my life to that program, to teach and counsel and be there for anyone who needed me. Needless to say, I was feeling pretty spiritual at this point. But then God spoke.
Unlike me, God didn't dilly dally around. He got straight to the point.
"I didn't call you to make a difference".....I heard those words, not audibly, but in my spirit..."I didn't call you to make a difference! I called you to be obedient. I'll make the difference!" There it was. The very thing that changed me. I no longer had to feel like I had to drag everyone to safety. I had to make sure I was in God's will, doing what He asked of me. Teach, pray, counsel, be there for people...that was my call. God was he one who touched and healed. God was the one who changed hearts. God was the one who saved those who were drowning in sin/addiction.
So that is why I point to a better way, because it's real and it's truth from God. Must be something to this relationship thing with Jesus....lot's of folks out there been delivered because they chose to walk out the narrow, difficult way. Now to some, that would be a turn off.....this whole narrow-difficult thing. But answer me this. Isn't life even more difficult when you are running outside the will of God? I think maybe the answer is yes. With that truth staring me in the face, it only makes sense that Jesus IS the Power greater than me who could restore me to sanity by showing me the better way to live.
There is just something about the human mind and will that is under the influence of the sin/addiction nature. It rejects the narrow way that leads to life. It embraces the wide open, broad super highway that leads to hell. Why is that? Because the mind and heart that is being directed by our sin nature always makes choices that benefit the fleshly appetite. It will always choose to be satisfied now, rather than look to the future and the larger picture of the consequences of our choices. The broad way is alluring and much easier to navigate than the path Jesus has laid out for those who choose Him. The funny part in all of this, is when you do choose Jesus, that narrow path begins to expand and widen as your faith in him grows. Yes, there will be difficult times. Yes, there will even be times you want to go back to your old ways....but believe me that it isn't worth it. As Seth Barber once told me, "The worst day sober, chasing Jesus is better than the best day I ever had when I was high!" As the big book of A.A. so aptly puts it...."In our addiction, we look for the easier softer way." In other words, according to Scripture, we look for the broad way that eventually leads to destruction.
Which road are you on this morning?
God on you....
Saturday, June 11, 2016
II Timothy 1:9
For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time.
Tonight at VRC, we will continue on in our study in Luke Chapter 5.
In this particular passage, we have five different groups of people who have different experiences and situations to deal with. The one constant in the entire chapter is that each of the five groups has a run in with Jesus, and He becomes the answer that each one is searching for.
First group was Simon and his cohorts....the fishermen.
Jesus gets in Simon's boat and asks him to push out from shore so He can teach the multitude nearby. Simon does so, but then when the teaching is over, Jesus tells Simon to go out to the deep water, let down the nets for a catch. Simon tells Jesus....."Look, we've already been out all night fishing and we have nothing to show for it." Does this sound familiar? I've tried to manage my life over and over and over again, and each time I try to take control, I end up with a mess. Anyway, cutting the end...Jesus is a man of His word. Simon and company obey and wind up with more fish than they can shake a stick at. Moral of story...."Obey!" Not matter what it sounds like or looks like, if it's Jesus telling you to do something..........Do it!
Second group / individual is a man with leprosy.
He may have been a really good person....
He may have been a family man with a wife and children...
He might even have belonged to the Kiwanis, and been president of the Lions club...
But he was defined and labeled by his condition, which was one of leprosy.
Isn't that like having a history of addiction? Every good thing you may have accomplished prior to using has been done away with and you carry around that label of addict/alcoholic.
Funny part about this story is that the man with leprosy did not doubt Jesus' ability to heal him of his condition....
He just didn't know if Jesus was willing.
In other words, the man did not think himself important enough for Jesus to waste His time and His healing on such a person.
Well did this fellow get this one wrong or what?
Jesus was willing...
Man was healed......
The other part of the equation is that in spite of what the man thought or felt, he still got up and went to where Jesus was, and asked to be healed.
Sometimes we've got to get up and make a move toward Jesus is we want healing.
I think maybe it might be tied to the whole "having faith" thing.
Faith that Jesus is who He claims to be....
Faith that Jesus will do what He has promised He would do.....
Which brings us to tonight...
We'll be taking a look at a group of folks who were very close minded.
Close minded to the point that they couldn't see the truth, even when it is standing in front of them.
Maybe that is what the whole "Romans 12:2-having your mind renewed" thing is all about.
Maybe that is why we read in Proverbs 3 that we should trust the Lord with our whole hearts and not our collective noggin's. Not that we check our brains in at the door when we're saved, but we realize that we are following a higher leading and instruction than we could ever hope to squeeze out of our own heads.
If you're free and don't have any commitments, come on out and join us....
Love to see you.....
Until the next time....
God on you...
Friday, June 10, 2016
We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.
O.k.....so I've been stuck in the whole "Character" issue after my melt down this morning.
A meltdown that was, as I believe, God's way of revealing my stinkyness. I was with someone who just didn't do things the way I wanted them to. I don't know why they couldn't see that my way was better. My way was the best. My way was the way they needed to carry out their responsibilities. But nooooo.....they had to do it their way. "O.k.....go ahead," I thought to myself. As soon as those words formed in my mind, God spoke to me.
"Michael, you're wanting to control others."
I replied, "Not really Lord, I'm just trying to help."
Of course this was a half truth, and I knew it.
Bottom line, I WAS trying to control someone. How messed up am I?
But what came out of all of this was that the problem really was me, and not the other person.
Once more God peels a layer off of me to reveal something I need to work on.
Then as I pondered over Step #6, the whole character defect thing, it suddenly dawned on me. (Yes, Virginia, dawn comes to me quiet slowly sometimes). God is truly interested in our actions and behaviors....but God is more interested in our character. Because out of our character comes the decisions that we use to base our actions on. Eureka!!!
Here we have a bunch of people (Addict & church goer) who have kind of spent their energy on being good. We told them they needed to be saved. We told them that God was the answer to their problems, but we never really went into what was behind their problem. Am I slow or what?
We prodded them to be saved....
To accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior....
But we really never took it much farther than that.
Oh, we talked about the need to read the Bible....
We taught them how to pray....
We told them of the need to share their story...
But very seldom did we explain that real change comes when the Holy Spirit changes our character.
I don't know this for a fact, but I think maybe this changing over is a process that takes a while, and is usually most effective when we find ourselves in situations that require us to take action. I say that because unless our character is being changed, then we will resort to our old thinking which means we'll probably get it wrong.
I think most people probably never give any thought to their character or to any defects they may possess. Maybe we'd rather excuse them than to identify and work at changing them. I seen people whose character came out in a very bad way, through their actions, and the person used the excuse, "Well, that just the way I am....deal with it".
Maybe we spend too much time trying to be good.....
when we should be letting the Holy Spirit grow some of His fruit in our life...
The fruit you read about in Galatians 5:22-23.....Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Back up in Verse 16 if Galatians 5, we read..."So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves."
Did you catch that?
Our doing....our behavior....our actions, come from who it is we are listening to.
If The Holy Spirit has the power to produce a new character in me, then why would I not let Him? Why would I not follow Him in my daily decision making?
As John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard movement, once stated...."I want to grow up before I grow old." What did he mean by that? He wanted to have the character and nature of Christ living and guiding him in his daily life before he died.
You know what?
So do I.
God on you....
Thursday, June 9, 2016
That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life........
These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.
I've said it myself when talking with someone about their recovery.
You know what I'm talking about.
"You just need to focus on one day at a time."
We see it on bumper stickers....
Throws and pillows....
Notebooks and lapel pins....
"ONE DAY AT A TIME".
But you know what?
I can't think of any thing that is better at describing the way we all should approach life, not just someone in addiction.
I went with a friend of mine this morning to do a "Twelve Step" call.
A mutual acquaintance had relapsed and was going off the tracks.
One bad decision led to two bad decisions, and you know the rest of the story.
Anyway, here we were, the three of us, standing outside talking over the situation.
Our relapsed buddy was all remorse and guilty, yet at the same time, he was spinning way out into the future of what all he needed to do. Never mind there was a mess to clean up today....let's get all wrapped around the axle about this weekend, as well as next week.
We quickly reminded him that his only concern was to take care of today.
Do what needed to be done to get back on the right road to recovery.
I told him that if he didn't take care of today, there would not be any "tomorrow" to worry about.
The focus should be on "What do I need to do today?"
Go to meeting? Probably...wouldn't hurt.
Place myself in a setting where I can be accountable? Well, duh? I would say that was a good start.
Do you catch what is going on here.....
All of us....
Sober or drunk, no matter what state you are in, need to focus on today.
"Did I spend time with God?" (Reading His word, listening for His voice). If not, why? Why did I neglect this valuable asset that would aid me in the journey He wants me to follow?
We discount today because of our problems, thinking that if I can simply get through this 24 hours, I'll be able to catch my breath. Well, sometimes that works. But more often than not, those things we have ignored hang around out there in the darkness waiting for tomorrow to get here so they can rise up and bite with an even more vicious bite. Take the time to take care of your business today.....
Part of our daily "business-taking-care-of" includes watching over our heart and mind. Making sure we haven't allowed any bitterness, resentment or unforgiveness to take root. If we don't removes such character-defect-roots, we will harvest trouble at some point down the road. We do a daily inventory to make sure our lives are free from such. In fact, in Hebrews, we are admonished to not let our hearts go cold and hard to the leading of God.
Remember what it says (Psalm 95:7-8) "Today when you hear His voice, don't harden your hearts" as Israel did whey they rebelled.
One day at a time....
Stay focused and always be listening for God to speak to you.
You'll know it's Him because He will always instruct you to do the things you don't really want to do.
All you have to do is take care of today.
God on you....
Parking lot was crowded yesterday. It was near noon and people were taking care of their business, hurrying in and out of the building. I...