Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The God Who Can


Genesis 1:1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Step # 1
We admitted that we were powerless over our problem (drugs and alcohol) --- that our lives had become unmanageable.

Were there ever two polar opposites as Genesis 1:1 and Step #1 of the the 12 Steps? You may be thinking why put these two together? Well, these two anchor their respective places. They are the entry points into life....real life....God-live. You can't really separate them if you are desiring to move into recovery.

what's more, we have to come to a very clear understanding of these two pieces in our recovery. What is that understanding? That each contain a truth that becomes faith. That God is indeed who He claims to be, as evidenced by the demonstration of power, and that my life has been defined by the desire to pursue something that is killing and controlling me. In other words, I have no power while God has all power.

Both these pieces to our recovery form the anchor in which I can move forward to receive this new life. A new life that is defined by a changed heart, a renewed mind, and a clear direction of where I am headed. Such a move does not include anything from my past. In other words, you do not take this Higher Power we call Jesus and fit him into your life. You turn your life over to His care. The very idea that you are still trying to run the show reveals how much you need to turn loose. In spite of all the destruction. In spite of all the failed relationships. In spite of all the guilt and shame, something inside you tells you that you need to be in control...some how...some way you do not need to surrender "ALL" your control to this God. This thing that seeks to move you into a bad choice is referred to as your "SIN-NATURE"....or "THE FLESH". It's the stinky part that we all inherited from those two in the garden of Eden who decided to disobey God and eat the fruit. Notice I said "THE" fruit and not "SOME" fruit. Once eaten, the two became separated from God. The Bible says that they became "Self-conscious". In other words, they suddenly realized they were naked. Scripture says that when they became self conscious they sewed fig leafs together to cover themselves. In other words, they each looked to the their own needs. Adam:"Hey can you help me here. I'm not to good with this sewing thing." Eve: Sorry, I've got my own fig-leaf-suit to make." Created a rift between the two of them that probably carried through till their death. 

Genesis 1:1 is only ten words...
Yet those ten words are held together by two very simple words...."GOD CREATED". When you look at the extent of His power to bring forth from nothing everything we see, touch, taste, hear and smell...that's an incredible statement of power. And we may truly believe that God has the power to do so. Yet at the same time, we limit ourselves when we deny that His power can change us. Lead us into a Genesis 1:1 moment where we are recreated by placing ourselves under such power. Well, I've seen what I can do...I've run around trying to control and direct everything, only to watch it go over the edge into the ditch. Even with life in a ditch, I've declared that "I've got this...I can do this". I can't. 


I need a Genesis 1:1 God to come and take my weakness and fill it up with His power.
God on you....
mbb

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Clarity Of Thought This Morning

Psalm 71:23-24
My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing to You...
And my soul, which you have redeemed.

My tongue also shall talk of Your righteousness all the day long,
For they are confounded...
For they are brought to shame who seek my hurt.


I am full this morning...
Full of the mercy and grace of God.
Never at any point in my life have I ever experienced such an outpouring of God before....

It only fuels me to chase after Him harder...
To want to see Him...
To talk with Him and listen as He speaks....

IT is more than church.....
IT is more than religion.....

IT is more than anything the world has ever offered to me...
The world kept a ledger of my offenses and trespasses against God....
The world took every opportunity to remind me what a total wreck and loser I was....
"Why would God want anything to do with you?" The world would whisper in my ear....
For a time, I listened.
I looked around me to justify my own behavior ("I'm not as bad as some people!")

But nothing could ever remove the shame and guilt I carried. It clung to me like the very skin of my body...
It taunted me at every turn and offered no rest or peace.
Then I met God........


Where I stand today is so far removed from where it all began.
Isn't that the way it truly is....?
Spiritual progress....day by day, growing and learning?

Day by day, putting into practice the things that God teaches you?
It really is like a spiritual awakening...
One day, you just suddenly realize that you have grown and moved on in your life.

You feel more comfortable in you skin...more comfortable with yourself....
You still have a lot of things to work on....but somehow that's o.k.
That is the beauty and wonder of the Grace of God.

Grace- 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.
There's you a definition of Grace (From James Ryles). It has served me well over the years and I am constantly walking, living, and sharing in this grace given to me by God.
The work of the Holy Spirit in us is this grace....
It is evidence of the POWER we have sought for so long to live free and clear from out of sin/addiction. It is for this very reason....my salvation....my deliverance,, that I say with every thing in me.....Jesus is Lord. Not for what He has done around me....but through me and in me.

So, let me just declare to you this morning exactly HOW GREAT IS MY GOD!!! The more aware I am of Him.....the more aware I am of me....His purity and my filthiness. His power and my weakness. His love and my inability to love. I totally understand that He can do for me that which I cannot do for myself.

The video is from Danny Daniels....One of my most favorite Ge-tar players in the world...
Easy on a string with a voice that begs to be listened to...
Enjoy this worship song from Danny.....

Merry Christmas from the "B's" of Attalla...
God on you....
mb




Monday, November 28, 2016

Confession---What A Gift To Us All


James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

One thing I have felt about Vineyard ReCovery, since day one, was that it was suppose to be a place where people felt safe. Not safe to hide in their sin or dark secrets, but safe that it would be a place of honesty and transparency. I wanted to open the door to those who may have been marginalized by their addiction so that they could encounter this Jesus I talk about. What better way to do so than being able to confess to one another, our deepest secrets. One of the sayings that I heard at Rapha all the time was "You are only as sick as your secrets.

The teaching may not always been earth shattering on Saturday night.....
The worship may have a few wrong notes, and forgotten words......

But never....
never....
never can we open the door and not love each other....Part of truly loving each other is to confess and receive forgiveness.
Whether it is a fist-timer to VRC, or someone who is part of the core leadership...
VRC is about being a place where no one has to hide their true self. No one has to play a "religious" game of appearing to be something they are not.

But it is a place where we made aware that we are all "Busted" and in need of God to put us back together. Think of it like this....Our physical body needs the healing touch of God to relieve us of whatever condition we may be suffering with. How much more does the spirit inside of us need the healing that comes with confession, repentance and forgiveness? Our physical body will eventually die and return to the dust, but the spirit man lives forever.

Saturday night after the service, I had something happen that seemed small at the time, but it made real all these things I wanted VRC to be. A person approached Vicki and me, asking if they could speak to us. What transpired was wonderful. This person came and confessed something they'd been carrying around for a while. This wasn't a superficial confession. This was a heart-felt-sobbing-get-this-off-your-conscience kind of confession. God brought much healing and release to this person. The weight of the world was now gone. They left feeling put back together and ready to push forward. As we prayed together, and hugged each other, the person told me that God WAS healing them. They confessed that they struggled with confessing their sin..afraid of what we might think of them. All those doubts and fears and shame faded into the night when forgiveness came.


Driving home, I was thinking of what had just transpired when it suddenly hit me like a ton of proverbial bricks. VRC had become that place that I felt God wanted all along. A place where we did confess our sins. A place where people were healed of the shame and guilt of carrying around all their sin baggage.
Thank you, Father....
Thank you for it all....


God on you....
mbb

Friday, November 25, 2016

Day After.....



Psalm 100:4
Enter His gates with Thanksgiving, and His courts with Praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name.

The house is quiet.....
5:24 a.m. and I've been up long enough to get the coffee cranked and going. Went out to get the paper, but our carrier must be sleeping in this morning. It's o.k....not going to be a cranky old guy because my paper wasn't here when I wanted it to be.  Making my way back inside, my thoughts turned to yesterday. Family time. A feast to end all other feasts. Laughter and stories of past thanksgivings. Football in the back yard....sidewalk chalk declaring that "Ashley Wuz Here!" Discussions about Christmas, which is just around the bend and headed at us full steam ahead.
A second piece of pie, and a cup of coffee. Plopping down into my man chair to see if the Dallas Cowboys could upend the Washington Redskins.

My grandson, Tyler, and I took some food to a person who is homeless. They'd been invited to eat with some other folks, but at the last moment they called and told him not to come, so here he was without any food. We met him at the Texaco station just off Meighan Blvd. He was not in a good way. After handing him the food, I asked if we could pray for him. He said, "yes".  So we did. God came down to that spot and touched the man's heart. Grateful for the food, the man sat down on the curb and began to enjoy his feast. My parting thought and prayer was for God to keep him from harm, and that the Holy Spirit would bring to remembrance the things that this man had encountered and been taught.

To me, this holiday was call Thanksgiving is about God's provision that has sustained not only this year, but for years that stretch way back into our past. Provision that includes His grace that empowers us to be who He created us to be. Grace that enables us to do what He has called us to do.
His love that changed the way I see the world, as well as others that I meet daily. I'm not quiet there yet in this whole "loving my neighbor" but I am a might better at it than I use to be. Then there is the Peace of God. The one thing I love in my life, is that no matter how bad my day may be....no matter how hard life may have become.....when I get home, walk up those steps, and enter into my home, there is peace. God has created this haven from the outside world, where His peace rules. That means more to me than anything. If your home isn't peaceful, where do you go to find it? If your home is filled with turmoil, anger and upheaval, how can you survive?

My brother, Wayne, and sister-in-law, Sue, came over for coffee and more dessert last night. More conversation and stories about our "growing up" years. Wayne is nine years older than me, and as we sat at the table, I was overcome with gratitude for this man that is my brother. Time and space here in this blog would never do justice to who Wayne is, but suffice it to say, he is a long time follower of Jesus. Proud to call him my brother.

As we settled into bed last night, my heart was heavy. Yes, it had been a good day. A memory maker. But after Wayne and Sue left, we got news that some old friends of ours had died earlier that morning in house fire. Mack Fambrough, his wife, Kathryn, and daughter Jill  had been killed by the fire. When Chad and Josh were little Mack and his first wife, Linda, looked after them while we worked. Lot's of memories there. Our hearts and prayers go out to his other children, Susan, Janet and Sharon and Christy, that the comfort of God would rest upon them in the days ahead.
No other words to say.
Grateful yet at the same time filled with sadness for this family.
Please remember then in your prayers.

God on you....
mbb

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Video

video
Taking a moment to share some Thanksgiving day thoughts with you.
To me the real message of Thanksgiving 2016 is that I need to be about the business of the Kingdom.
Continuing to allow God to work in me, for His good pleasure.
Realizing that learning to love is the most important aspect of Kingdom work. Not love as the world defines....but love that has been given to us as part of God's character and nature. That sometimes real love says, "No" when others demands things of us that aren't in line with God's will.

Anyway....
enjoy the day....
Love on your family....
Love on your friends....
Love yourself.....

God on you....
mbb

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Taking A Break For An Eagle



Yesterday was "leaf battle" day....
Rake, pile, haul to the street, until the yard is leaf free.
But yesterday was also a present day. A present from my heavenly Father.
I had been at it for a while, and stopped to catch my breath, when a shadow moved across the ground in front of me. Looking up, I caught sight of an eagle in flight. He was low to the ground and riding the wind. Dipping and diving, he never moved a wing, but made long, low circles around the neighborhood.

I watched him for at least three or four minutes. He never made a sound as he was in search of something....maybe food... who knows. Maybe he was just out to have a good time. I know if I could fly, I would take advantage of it every opportunity I could. Like I said, this whole event was a present for me. Yet at the same time, the whole event brought a passage of scripture to mind.


Isaiah 40:31
But those who trust in...those who hope 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.

Trusting God no matter what our situation may be. Trust does not mean that everything will turn out like we hope or think it will. Trusting God means that we will defer to Him, with the understanding that He knows what's best for us. Trusting is all part of the turning of will and life over to His care.

I like how this verse progresses. There is a benefit that we find when we do trust God. There is an imparting that takes place when we do trust God. The verse states pretty clear that such action on our part puts us in a place where we will find a strength to carry on that we did not have on our own. A strength that will lift us, like the eagle, above our problem....above our situation....above our circumstance. We will be given strength to move beyond, under God's guidance, whatever the world throws at us.


The entire verse from Isaiah is about moving forward.
Moving above the problems of this life....
Sometimes we run....we move quickly to forge ahead.
Sometimes we walk....but we do not get weary. We keep moving in this new found relationship. We do not get trapped by our past. We move forward.

Maybe that is what the whole recovery thing is about.
Truly attaching myself, will and life, to this POWER greater than myself.
That this POWER which is greater than can take me through, around, under, and above whatever is trying to lure me back into my old way of thinking and living.


I think I will "Step #3" it today.....
God on you...

mbb

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Seeing Things Differently


I Corinthians 15:22
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

(I do recognize that the word "loose" in the photo above should be spelled "lose"..it was a clipart photo I copied in order to use it for this morning's posting. My ever alert wife caught the "boo-boo" and informed me of it. Thanks Vicki!)

I love going to the thrift store and seeing what books have been brought in.
#1 -  people get rid of some pretty incredible books and, # 2 -  they can be bought for next to nothing. So this last week as I was making my run through the book section, I came across a Bible called the "Daily Walk" Bible. Nothing about it stood out....the art work on the cover was kind of generic. I have a Bible. In fact, I have more Bibles than I probably should have, but this one kept drawing my attention, like a little voice that kept saying...."Buy me! Buy me!'. It was only a buck and a half, so I shelled out the moola and took the Bible home. As I began to flip through it, I found some pretty interesting notes and material at the beginning of each chapter. It is from this material I would like to share with you this morning.

The author of the notes asked as question in this mornings passage (I Corinthians 15 & 16).
"Ponder this rather unusual question for a moment. ' Do you feel more or less sinful than you did a year ago?'"  
Never really thought about it. Which caused me to pause for a moment and come to the realization that if I am truly honest about this question...I do feel more sinful than I did last year. Then when that thought came to me, it was like a thunderbolt out of the blue...."Wait a minute! I'm not suppose to feel more sinful.....I should not have this thought at all. This must be the enemy planting this "Turnip Green" thought in my brain."

As I continued the reading in my Bible, I came across something that totally made sense. The writer of the Bible notes wrote, "You might think that the more the apostle Paul progressed in his walk with God, the more SINLESS and SATISFIED he felt. But in fact, judging from the apostles own words, just the opposite was true. The older Paul grew in his relationship with God, the more sinful he sensed he was." Could this be true? The closer you got in your relationship with God, the more uncovered your heart became...the more aware of your own sin you sensed? I think maybe yes. Take a look at what Paul wrote.

A.D. 59 - "I am the least of the apostles"  (I Cor. 15:9)
A.D. 64 - "Unto me.....the least of the apostles"  (Eph. 3:8)
A.D. 65 - "Sinners of whom I am chief!"  (I Timothy 1:15)

The writer goes on to say, "Least of all apostles....least of all saints.....worst of all sinners....
The longer Paul walked with God, the more sensitive he became of sin in his life----not because he sinned more, but because he saw more. The closer he drew to God's perfection, the more clearly he viewed his life from God's perspective.


I want to close out today's posting with Paul's own words from Romans 7:24
"O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? "
Paul sums it up with a single statement....Jesus shall deliver me.
So maybe today we need to see our sin as God sees it...not to excuse it or act like we can't change. We simply realize that without God...Without the cross, Jesus' death and resurrection.....our sin would become our very undoing into a live destined for hell. Growing in Christ....getting closer to God only magnifies His holiness and purity, while at the same time reveals the capability of what we could fall into if we don't stay focused on Him.
Praise God! I don't' have to live the old life anymore.
Because of Christ's redemption, I have become a new creation of infinite worth.

God on you...
mbb

Monday, November 21, 2016

New Life Part #1


Addiction....
Recovery.....
Cravings....
Clean and Sober.....
It's all a battle.
At one time, the mind and body was being pumped full of mood-altering substances which broke down any moral barrier that may have been present.
Lying became the norm for our old life style.
Cheating and stealing became the means of survival.
Spiritual darkness totally engulfed us, even though we didn't realize it or even acknowledge it. We were doing o.k. in our own estimation.
But those around us saw the slow decent into death and hell.

The addiction caused us to minimize what was happening to us....
"I don't have that big of a problem."
"I just use on weekends".

"What's happening to me is just a bump in the road...I'll be alright."
Do those sound familiar? 

So now you've worked Steps #1-3 and you have established this new relationship with Jesus. What now? 
You have to view this new life as kind of like joining the army.
There are certain things that you will need to address as you learn this new way to live.

We are going to take a look at some of the essentials needed to fight this battle as you move away from your addiction.

#1 - Get under authority ----learning to submit
Psalm 18:27 -  For You will save the humble people, but will bring down haughty looks.

Anyone who joins a branch of military service must begin the day knowing how to obey orders. From day 1 of their arrival to basic training, nothing belongs to the soldier anymore---
His hair is cut...
New clothing is issued to him.
His schedule is determined by leadership.
For a period of time, freedom is lost and submission is taught.

It is important to understand that putting the devil to flight will require submission to God. James 4:7 tells us, "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

We find our new orders for living in Hebrews 12:1-2:
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

If you read Step#3 carefully, you'll see that it involves turning over, or submitting, will and life to the care of God. We become followers of Christ.
Think on this today and ask yourself, "Have I made the commitment to submit to the authority of Jesus?"

God on you.....
mb

Friday, November 18, 2016

Real Help


Psalm 121:1-2
I will lift up my eyes to the hills-----
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

Step#3
We made a decision to turn our wills and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

The decision point...
The crossroads where the evidence of my life, and the hope of a new beginning come together.
I have been listening to some music from the 60's all week, and one tune in particular struck me as being a cry for change. In fact, I found an interview given by the author of the song in which he stated that he wrote the song at one of the low points in his life.


Now what is so strange about this is that this man's low point was considered to be the high point by his fans. He was making money hand over fist.....His popularity was totally off the charts....but his personal life was crumbling and falling down all around him. He was empty inside, and in need of a Power greater than himself who could restore him to sanity. I don't know if the man ever found this Power that I've come to know as Jesus. But the words of the song reveal a great truth. The need for every human to turn to Christ for healing and restoration.


This isn't just a religious encounter with God....
This isn't just a good idea or a mental exercise....

This is life...
Here now....

And beyond....
How about you? Are you secretly crying out for help, even though everyone around you thinks you're doing fine?
Don't let your pride get in the way of receiving from Jesus this day....


One last thing....
The man's name was John Lennon....
The song was "HELP!"



Help
When I was younger, so much younger than today...
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now those days are gone and I'm not so self-assured
Now I find I've changed my mine, I've opened up the door.
Help me if you can I'm feeling down, and I do appreciate you being 'round.
Help me get my feet back on the ground, won't you please, please help me.

And now my life has changed in oh so many ways,
My independence seemed to vanish in the haze.
But every now and then I feel so insecure,
I know that I just need you like I've never done before.

God on you...
mbb


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Be Grateful And Be Thankful



Next week, here in America, we will enter into what is known as "the holiday season."
Thanksgiving which is quickly followed by Christmas and then New Years.
The television is already filled with commercials for Christmas.
Images of perfect families gathered around the perfect tree, everyone smiling and laughing.
Snow outside, dog by the fireplace. Men dressed in khaki pants and flannel shirts....
The women dressed in festive sweaters.
The children all neat in their attire.
This is the worlds view of how holidays are to be celebrated.
Of course in this perfect picture is the cry to "BUY OUR PRODUCT!"
You gotta love Madison Avenue and the ad's they produce.

IF we look to Scripture to get a grasp of the holiday's, we find a very different story. 
We enter this time and there has been great silence. God has not spoken for 400 years. From the time Malachi was written until we read Matthew, God has been silent as he said he would do in Amos 8:11.
Once we enter Matthew, there is suddenly all this "divine" activity. Angels appearing bringing messages from God. World events being moved by the hand of God to bring about the fulfillment of prophecy. God was moving and nothing was going to stop Him.

An old woman who was beyond child bearing and a young virgin who had never been with a man became the focal points for God's invasion. One would give birth to a herald...a voice crying in the wilderness, the other would give birth to God's Son, Jesus. These two women would become the central focus of life during the time of Jesus. As quickly as the two women came on the scene, they would exit and their sons would take up the prophetic mantle. 

Why am I writing this? Because God has not disappeared from our stage. His plans are still being carried out today in our time and space. When we read Scripture we tend to view it with the idea that it is ancient history. While the events took place thousands of years ago, the  ramifications of those events have rippled down through time and are affecting us today. Let me put it this way, we are currently living and participating in God's plan that we see and read about in the book of Revelation. It  is unfolding around us daily and we are part of this entire plan God has brought about. A plan that involves our salvation and redemption A plan that wants to include us in helping with His Kingdom. We are to tell our story about what Jesus has done for us. He has saved me! He has changed me! He has given me a life! That is the message of the holidays. Jesus has done for me what I could not do for myself.

Having had a spiritual awakening, I seek to take the message to others.
Simple huh?
May God be with you!
mb

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Those Dadgum Meetings!!


Going to a meeting....
I hear more people grumble about this particular part of recovery than any other.
They will make an attempt at working the steps...
They will read the Big Book.....
But when you ask them about going to meetings....they come unhinged and begin to recite the litany of reasons why the either can't or won't go.


1.) To many angry people trying to tell me what to do...
2.) I'm not like those people....
3.) I don't have time...I wish I did,but I don't.
4.) I don't need to go....
And on and on and on....
Here in lies the very core of why a person cannot retain their sobriety...They have taken control of their life and are calling the shots again.
Deciding what they are and are not going to do.

Meetings are not punishment.....they can be when you look at them with a negative mind set. Meetings are to be a place to connect with others who are either in the same situation you are, or have found this sobriety that has eluded you. A place where you can be honest and transparent. A friend of mine talks about his first A.A. meeting. He didn't want to go, but felt compelled. That little rebellious streak that comes with addiction told him to drink before he went to this meeting. He did....drank a whole bunch of beer. After a few moments of being at the meeting, the chairperson asked if there were any new comers. My friend stood up and said,"I'm a first timer and I drank a bunch of beer in order to get drunk before I came to this meeting." Thinking that making such a statement would get him ostracized by the group, he was surprised when everyone started clapping and telling him how glad they were that he came. Wasn't exactly the response he thought he'd get. 


Now let's put meetings into perspective when we add God to our recovery. When we actually work Steps #1,2 and 3.
Hebrews 10:23-25
"Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promis. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love (working a 12th step)and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His (Jesus) return is drawing near."

Sounds like wisdom to me.
So when is the best time to go to a meeting?
1.) When you want to.....

and
2.) When you don't want to....

God on you...
mbb


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Word = Truth


Proverbs 9:10
Fear of the LORD is the foundation for wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.

Step # 2
Came to believe that a POWER greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Turned off of highway 77 yesterday and started down that long stretch of road that I'd driven thousands of times. Made the curve and there ahead of me was an all too familiar sight. The field....the pond....the cross.....the buildings....Rapha. Still get a sense of home when I drive into the compound. Parking under the tree, I survey the goings-on. Men moving between dorm and class room. Some sitting in the swings, the air filled with conversation. I grab by Bible and as I exit my car I am greeted with "Hey! Bro. Mike!" from several of them. I make my way over to the porch to greet the men, standing there for a few moments catching up on the latest "Rapha" news. 

Letting the staff know that I have arrived for Bible Study, I make my way toward the chapel. Passing by "Concrete" Jesus, a statue donated by the men to Rapha years ago, I reach up and pat his head. Don't ask me why....just something I started doing after "Concrete" Jesus showed up. Opening the door to the chapel, and stepping inside I am flooded by a tidal wave of memories. I see men on their knees, crying out to God for salvation. I see men delivered of demonic oppression. I see men healed of various ailments and illnesses. We were the church in this little chapel for seven years. I've done more Bible studies than I can count in this room. I once had a former client come back to visit after being out of Rapha for a number of years. He had turned his life around, was totally sold out to God and had attended Rod Parsley's Bible school in Ohio. As the client and I were talking, he got teary-eyed there in the chapel and made a statement that I never have forgotten. He told me.."You know, being a part of a class at Rod Parsley's school, we get to hear the "A" list of preachers and evangelist. All the men and women you see on TV come there to teach and preach. But I can honestly say that nothing they shared topped the truth that I found in this little building." 

Teach the word....
That's the foundation for real recovery. Don't assume that everyone knows this Jesus that has changed our lives. Don't take for granted that since we live in the South, everyone is on the same page when it comes to Jesus.
Teach the word....

Teach the cross....
Teach the blood...
Teach the consequences of not turning from sin....
Teach....teach...teach...
That has been my call for almost 19 years.

Now, I'll be the first to tell you that I am not a great teacher or orator. I wish I were. But I never stray from the cross. It is the focal point where change takes place.

My message is very simple. You don't have a drug and/or alcohol problem....
You've got a living problem...
You've got a broken and separated relationship from God....
And until you are saved and healed, you'll never have the real life you've been searching for. Jesus is the POWER you've been searching for. He stands ready to bestow upon you His forgiveness.....His mercy.....His grace.....His salvation.
What's my part?
Confession, repentance, and a receiving by faith this incredible promise of a new life.

Sounds like a deal to me.
How 'bout you?

God on you....

mbb

Monday, November 14, 2016

Spiritual Eyesight




Sometimes seeing means not using your natural eyes,
but rather the "eyes" of your spirit.
Seeing means letting God reveal things to you.
Things, that in your mind, will seem faint and distant almost
like a whisper.
But to your spirit, you will have a knowing that God is in fact
communicating with you.

Seeing with "eyes" of your spirit means that what is
discerned does not always match up with the logic of your mind.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart"
"Lean not on your own understanding"
This doesn't mean we check our brains and intellect at the door
when we start this new life with Christ.
It means that we establish ourselves in his word (Bible)
and communicate with him through prayer.
The heart will confirm what the mind is trying to perceive.

It also means that we spend time listening as we pray.
Ps. 103 is a good chapter that speaks of this new life we have given ourselves to.
V.1 - Praise the LORD, I tell myself, with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
I think the KJV reads, "Praise the Lord, O my soul".
I like this.
David is speaking to his inner parts not allowing them (the desires and wants and lusts) to dictate how his body responds.

V.2 - Praise the LORD, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me.
When we remember what God has done in the past, it strengthens us for the hard times and situations we are currently facing.
Remembering brings hope.

V.3 - He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
What part falls under "ALL"?
Everything.
All my sins.....My what a glorious thought that when I confess and repent and turn from my sins, God forgives everyone of them.
Check out the rest of Psalm 103 for yourself.
Read it slowly and put yourself in the verses.
Everywhere you see the word me, I or mine...insert your own name and see the precious promises that God has spoken.
2017 is just around the cornor.
Begin to prepare now to enter this next year with a mandate to follow God as you never have before.
God on you.....
mb

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Seth Barber Teaching From V. ReCovery last night

Seth Barber shares the story of Zacchaeus, taking a look at the reality of Jesus' heart for this man. Jesus went home with Zacchaeus that day. Went to where he lived. When we draw near to Jesus, His desire is to enter our hearts, our lives, our very being and begin the cleaning out process that leads us into real life.

Go to the audio section located on the right hand side of the blog. Click and listen for now.....or down load for another time.

Friday, November 11, 2016

No One Wants To Do The Work


Nehemiah 2:18
Then I told them of my God which was upon me for good, and also the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, "Let us rise up and build!" So they strengthened their hands for the good work.

Story of Nehemiah...
God directed him to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls that surrounded the town. Big task. hard work. But God said do it. Funny part in this call to work is that God empowered Nehemiah and all that were with him to accomplish this task. Nehemiah did not have an army of construction workers at his disposal to tackle this job. He had everyday people who may have done some construction, but the task was a call from God to finish no matter who said yes to it. Young, old, probably even the elderly. Maybe even those with disability. All called to work a project given to Nehemiah to finish. Why do it? Because God said to.


One thing we see over and over in recovery, is that some people don't want to do the work. They want the life....or at least they say they do, but they will not work the steps. They will not go to a meeting. They will not change anything. They just want their external circumstances to change. They want the pain to stop, in spite of their continuing to make bad choices. They want to get off the legal merry-go-round, but they won't quit making bad choices. In their minds, recovery=no more bad circumstances. They want this without any effort on their part. Sorry Charlie....it doesn't work that way.

Just like Nehemiah, the call to recovery is a call to rebuild the walls of your life.
To remove the rubble of years of bad decisions so that a new way of living can be constructed. Work? You bet. Are you alone in this task? No way. The God who flows through those Twelve Steps will empower you to see it through all the way. But you have to do the work. What's that old saying from the Big book? "God does for me what I cannot do for myself?" I think that's the way it goes.  After all, aren't we in search of a HIGHER POWER who could restore us to sanity? I think maybe yes we are. What is sanity? The ability to make sound decisions about my life. Well, once I make a sound decision, what next? Duh! Carry it out in your daily life. Act on the sound decision. Move in the direction it is leading you. In other words.....ACT! 

We do not have the luxury of sitting around waiting for recovery to bop us on the head like an apple falling off the tree. It doesn't work that way. But I see plenty of people with that mindset. To them recovery is being in treatment, away from all outside influence that may cause them to use. They do not do anything to address the real issue of their addiction, which is a heart problem. A broken relationship with God. I know there are physical ramifications to addiction. I know that there are mental aspects to addiction. But I also know that every addiction begins with a choice made to take that first drink...that first hit...that first needle and that first puff. But everyone one of those is a choice. Such begins with a dark heart listening to the old sin/nature. That dark voice that whispers inside "I want what I want, and I want it now!". Such a voice comes from the heart that is separated from God.


Recovery is work....
No one can do it but you....

But you don't have to do it in your own effort or ability....
You don't have to do it alone....
God is there...

God on you...

mbb

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Dying Leaves.....Dying Life


Luke 9:24-25
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it....
But whoever loses his life for My sake will save it...
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?


Galatians 6:14
But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Leaves.....
Falling leaves.....
Falling leaves piling up in my yard....

Each year I fight the great "leaf" battle here on Greene Street.
The trees shed their leaves until they stand like crooked sticks bare to the sky.
All part of life I guess.
They fall..........I rake..........they fall..........I rake.

It is also all part of the process of dying so life can return next spring.
The trees shed themselves of these leaves so that over the winter months the buds for next spring are being prepared. 

In order for new life to come next spring there is a dying of the old life. The leaves are evidence of the passing of one life so the new one can come out next year.
Kind of like recovery isn't it?

The passing of one life so we can embrace the new one that is going to blossom and bud out.
All part of a process....
The old has to fall away to make room for the new. The two cannot coexist in the same body...this old life and the coming new one.

Isn't it funny how we find such value in that old life.....
Of course whatever value we may ascribe to the old life is based on our flesh or what some refer to as our "sin nature"....the dark desires of our hearts that affect the way we think and make decisions. Such must become like those falling leaves....it must be replaced by a new way of thinking and living. This can only come about when we allow God to change our hearts.


Funny part in all this process of the tree shedding its leaves so new ones can come out next spring is that at the height of winter the trees all look dead. Barren.....crooked...you can see every knot and branch clearly. The tree has been exposed. Isn't that just like God? He helps us to shed everything of old life. There we are......completely exposed.....for everyone to see...
Yet we don't realize that inside of us (like those barren trees) is new life that will come forth in due time. Our desire is that the new life push out the old life and voila' ....we are covered with new leaves. Doesn't happen that way. God takes our old life all the way down to the core. He begins to rebuild our old character....removing all the dead leaves, so that we can produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).  Isn't that a process? The bearing of fruit? Sure it is. The fruit tree loses its leaves in the fall.....they come back in the spring....once the leaves are out then the tree produces fruit.  The fruit of God's Holy Spirit is manifested or revealed in our life when cooperate and let Him remove our character defects (STEP #6).


So what's all this "Falling Leaves" stuff about?
Don't be discouraged in your recovery walk....
Don't be alarmed when the old life begins to fall away and you are exposed for the world to see....
New life is being formed within you.
New life and new character that will come forth in God's time.

You can bank on that...

God on you...

mbb

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Don't Just BE Free.......LIVE FREE!




Luke 10:3
"Go your way. Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves."

"Lambs among wolves?"
I don't know if I like that example or not. Sounds to me like we are being served up as the main course for some hungry, ravenous animals.
Not what Jesus was saying. First off we need to see what Jesus is saying. "You've got a life to live. Your going to learn a new way of navigating through all the problems and situations that will come your way." But your nature has to be one of seeking the Father's will and face at every turn. Oh and by the way....He is sending us out.

It's one thing to be set free....
It's another to be set free and then sent back out into the world.
Some folks thrive in their recovery as long as they are in treatment.
They are model clients. They do all the work. They zoom down those twelves steps with no problem. But they simply stay cloistered, never venturing out. Kind of like when Lincoln freed the slaves during the Civil War. Many heard the good news that they were no longer slaves, but chose to remain on the plantations because they didn't know how to be free. The thing we have to wrap our heads around is that 1.) Jesus has saved us and is sending us out and (2.) He would never send us out ill equipped to take that journey.

The analogy of being lambs among wolves is a pretty daunting idea, isn't it. But in this case, we need to remember one thing. I call it the Psalm 23 factor. What is it that lambs have? Shepherds. What do shepherds do? They protect the flock placed in their care. So if we are sent out as lambs, we have to rest in the knowledge that we have the ultimate shepherd watching over us to protect us and keep us from those who would seek to destroy us.

Psalm 23:1 reads: The Lord is my Shepherd.....I shall not want. Catch that? Who is it that is watching over me and my recovery? Jesus ---the ultimate shepherd. And what is it I can truly say from this position of being a sheep with Jesus as my shepherd? I shall not want. I like the fact that the statement "I shall not want" is open ended. It leaves room for whatever needs I have. It leaves room to insert my cry to Jesus as I trust Him to guide me, care for me and protect me. Sounds like a winner to me.

So don't be satisfied to simply be free.
Go live free.
Give away freely what has been given to you.
God on you.....
mb

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Vote Today


Romans 12:21- 13:1
Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in position of authority have been placed there by God.


This blog has never been about politics.
Never will be.
And I don't consider today's posting to have broken that view that I hold to.

I know that it is election day, and we all have the right to exercise our privilege to vote, and we should do this.
No matter who you vote for today, by tomorrow morning a new person will be preparing to move into the office of president.
One side will declare victory.....
One side will live with the reality that they and their candidate lost.
But to me the sad fact is...........we all have lost.


We have lost the idea of civility....
Showing respect for one another.
When did we become so angry and bitter?
The American way now is to out-shout those who you disagree with.
To slander and defame the name and character of those who believe different than you.

I have watched as this election didn't just turn nasty, it has become an instrument through which the vilest of profanity and excused behavior poured out over our country.

There are some who claim to be followers of Christ who have announced that both candidates do not fit the bill of who should be in the White House, so they are not going to vote. Really? Maybe your check list of who should be president is a standard that no one could meet. Have you considered that maybe we should be on our knees asking God to show us who we should vote for. Casting aside the tsunami of information that overwhelms us by the news networks, we truly should be storming the gates of heaven with our prayers.
My take is either those verses from Romans 12/13 are true............or they're not.

I may not agree with the present President and his views of what is best for our nation.
I may not agree with either candidate and what their vision for our nation is.
But it seems to me I'd better be spending a great deal of time praying for all our leaders....past, present.....AND FUTURE....that God would reveal Himself to them, that they might see the truth and carry it out. You may be thinking that such is a pipe dream....one that is lifted up by fools and fairy tales. I believe it is the mandate from heaven, pray for our leaders. 


No matter who wins the election, the call of Christ has not changed for those who claim to follow Him. It's time we quit playing at church and become the church. It's time we quit skimming over verses simply to say that we read our Bible. Instead we need to feast on, devour, and digest this word that has been given to us. You cannot separate the word of God from the life of our country. To do so would make us no better than those who worked to take prayer from school.....
More than simply read His word....
We must live it...
We must live it in the sight of those we disagree with...
We must live it in the sight of those who hate us....
We must live such a life in humility and love toward those who even want to see any influence of God in this country totally removed.

I will close for now...
I pray that what I have written this day be clear to you...

And that you find comfort that no matter how the election turns out today.....
The church has work to do for the Kingdom in our nation.
All to the glory of God.


God on you....

mbb


Tuesday Bible Study

Psalm 119:130 The entrance (or unfolding) of Your words gives light. it gives understanding to the simple. Pulled up at the camp last ...