Saturday, December 31, 2016

Last Post For 2016

Greetings here on this last day of 2016.
Seems as though it were yesterday that everyone was running around all tore up about Y2K.
Society was going to crash...
The computers were all going to be useless...
And hard times were ahead...
Well, none of that happened, but I still believe that we are looking at some hard times out there. Not going to make predictions. Much rather hold on to Jesus' hand and move forward, than to run around saying the sky is going to fall. 

So what was 2016 all about, when it comes to God and His purposes for VRC?
I think maybe it was all about simply being obedient.
Did we carry out the mandate given to us by God to be salt and light.
Did we love those we came in contact with...not just on Saturday night, but in our everyday life.

Did we grow in Jesus....did we become a little more mature.
Did we study His word. And more than study....did we apply what we had learned.

In other words, did 2016 see us grow up in Christ.

2017 is about 19 hours away as of the time of this posting....
Some will ring in this new year completely oblivious to their need for Jesus...

The call that rests upon Vineyard ReCovery is to take this message out.
To love...
To tell our story...
To make ourselves available to God's Holy Spirit to work through with healing, deliverance and salvation....
And to worship the very One who has called us into this new life.

God on you...

Friday, December 30, 2016

Declaration Part !

The Confession Pt. 1

Because of Christ's redemption, I am a new creation of infinite worth.
My identity.
I did not give to myself. I lay no claim as to being the author of it.
I state it as a simple fact.
Because of Christ's redemption.
Because of the work of Christ, He has brought deliverance to me through His death from the guilt and power of sin.
He has freed me from the penalty of sin, and has made provision for me to escape the presence of sin when it rears its ugly head.

Me responding to His call to relationship puts me in the place of being reborn.
This new birth gives me a new identity.
One that He sees in me even when I don't.
A new creation of infinite worth.
What an amazing thought, especially when I walk around with the "I'm-not-worthy-" blues.
I'm sure God chuckles at this attitude.
"Of course you're not worthy. That is why I sent my Son to die in your place."
I am grateful that God sees a worth that is not comprehended by human eyes.

This worth is found in every human being. That is why God said, "whoever believes ( in the work and person of Christ) will not perish, but have eternal life." Isn't it amazing how we run around trying to find our value, worth, and purpose in society? Looking to others to define us, and tell us how wonderful we are. When the only one whose opinion truly matters is one who is the creator of all that we see, touch, taste, smell and hear.

It took the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to uncover my true value as a human being. It was his redeeming, or taking back mankind, that gives me the right to say,"I am a new creation of infinite worth". Why? Because of Christ's Redemption.

I am grateful that you look at me and see me in ways that I tend to forget. So when the world piles on with troubles and situations that seem to overwhelm me, help me to remember who I am to you.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Twelve Stepping Here At the End Of 2016

Luke 1:38
....."Let it be to me according to your word".....

Mary's response to the angel Gabriel's announcement that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus. A simple reply. One that conveys a sense of "getting ones self out of the way." To put it bluntly, the angels proclamation to Mary is a pretty far out word.
Let's see...
"You've got plans of your own....but God has bigger plans. You're going to be impregnated and give birth to God." Yeah..that's pretty big stuff right there.
But Mary's response of "O.k. whatever your word has declared, then let it be done to me...I'll cooperate with you in this matter."

Now I know it might seem a stretch to you who are reading this posting, but the same mindset has to be in place as we begin this journey in recovery. "Let it be done to me according to your word."
In other words, I'm going to get out of the will and life..and I'm no longer going to live according to what I want. Rather, I'm going to simply do what I know to do and follow your directions, O' Lord.

I have dealt with some people who make this recovery thing way to hard. They want to wrangle with the steps, questioning the "why" of doing them. They put up ten million reasons why they are so different and why it will be extra hard for them to live clean and sober. They balk at every turn and roll their eyes when you make statements of truth such as..."This can be the last rehab you have to go to!" These poor unfortunates actually are not ready for recovery.

Steve Yarbrough, founder of Rapha, use to say, "When you're sick and tired of being sick and tired..then you're ready to recover." When you quit asking questions at every turn, challenging the steps..then your ready. That is the heart and mind that is needed by an individual before the journey can begin. I don't care what brings you to rehab....whether you were court ordered or your momma made you...what I care about is how you leave. At some point during the seven weeks of a stay in our rehab...the lights should come on and you should come to the conclusion that you are powerless over your addiction. Or,as I like to put it..."Your best thinking...the top of your game, got you sitting in yellow chairs at white folding tables." If this is the best you can come up with...maybe you need to change the way you're doing business with life and the world.
When a proclamation is made as to your recovery...your response should be..."Let it be done to me according to the word of God."

Sounds to simple, doesn't it?
It's is simple.

(just for the no way am I implying that the steps used in recovery IS the word of God....but rather that the steps are from God's heart and plan to see all men and women drawn unto Him. The steps are a listing and guide that brings discipline to an otherwise chaotic life)

God on you...

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Lesson's From 2016

II Corinthians 2:4-5
For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the Power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the Power of God toward you. Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless indeed you are disqualified.

2016 drawing to a close....
2017 coming at us full tilt...
What did I learn over this past year? I learned that I need  this Jesus now more than ever.
I learned that as much faith as I think and believe I have...I need to exercise it more in believing that Jesus is who He claims He is, and that His promises are yes and amen. Yes and amen in spite of what I see in the circumstance and situations I face.
I have learned that "living by faith" is not simply a catchy religious phrase, but the cement that holds life in Christ together.
I learned that I do not let my circumstances or situations dictate my response to them. I look to God every day, every way, recognizing that my weakness is the very thing necessary for His strength to be manifested in me.

I learned that I cannot afford to be selective in what I will have faith in Christ for. It's an all or nothing effort. I don't get to pick and choose the areas of truths that I will turn over to Him in faith.
I learned that sin is sin, and is not to be measured by the deed done under its influence.
What part of "we all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God" do we not get.
Sin is a heart condition no matter what the behavior may show.

We tend to look at the actions of others and based their sin on their deeds. Can't do that. Sin is heart condition that every human is born with. It is a curse that has flowed out of the garden and tracked every down human born, putting them under a debt that can never be paid. God recognized this and provided a way out from under this debt through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. Jesus being the ransom and price paid for my sin debt that I could enter into real relationship with God.

I became more aware of my need to confess my sins and receive forgiveness. In turn, I have learned to extend forgiveness to others. Even the ones that I don't feel deserve it. When I find myself in such a "thought", I remember that God was super quick to extend forgiveness to me.

I really learned that God is not finished growing me.
Maturity in Christ does not have a chronological age attached to it. I know some years younger than yours truly who are far more mature than me. I say this with much shame on my part. As John Wimber use to say...."I want to grow up before I grow old". This has become my mantra for the life I have left on this side of heaven.

I have learned that I need the joy of the Lord in my life.
Life is hard enough....and dark enough without it letting it leech off of you and take away your joy.
To remember my "first love" of when I came to Christ.
To not let myself become hard and cold toward others.
To not measure myself by how pious and judgmental I can appear to be as I use the name of Jesus to cover my cold heart.

This whole salvation can be complicated at times....
Seems as though some folks believe that when you get saved you sit down and wait for Jesus to come back and take us all home.
Some seem to believe that if you're saved, then you can live anyway you want to. After all, we are just sinners saved by grace, aren't we?
I think maybe salvation is the door we enter through to began this life-journey with Jesus. That just as God took the Hebrews out of Egypt into the wilderness so He could get the influence and love for Egypt out of them, God lays hold of us to get the world influence out of us (Love for and influence by our society).
That is the place I think I will be heading in the coming year.
Praying that I don't cut and run.

God on you...

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Ultimate Hiding Place

The words above are from Psalm 46:1
It describes the actions of God, whose love for us is demonstrated by being a refuge for us.
Refuge is defined as being "a place or shelter from danger or distress." 
This is not so much a physical place where nothing bad happens or we are out of harms way, as it is a place where the evil that seeks to destroy my soul and body is kept at bay by God.

Bad things happen to people in this old world. You  know that, and I know that.  Good people are in car wrecks and are killed. Godly people get cancer and die. But the soul and spirit are kept by God and are not allowed to be touched by the enemy.

In the book of Jude we read the following: Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy....
In other words when I placed my trust in Jesus to save me from an eternity of damnation and separation from God, He keeps me. He guards that which I have entrusted to very soul. 

Now before I give you the impression that God keeps the eternal parts of us and throws the physical, tangible stuff to the side of the road, look at the second part of Psalm 46:1.
"A very present help in trouble."  
A present help...
A "today" help...
A "right now" help.

God does bring His kingdom to bear in the lives of those who are a part of His family.
God does cover us with mercy and not allow the full weight and force of the enemy to be brought to bear on us. If there wasn't any mercy, the enemy would overwhelm us with all the wrath of hell because he hates God that much. He knows that he can't defeat he sets out to do the next best thing.......destroy the creation that God loves so
It is the mercy of God that keeps this old world from tipping over completely into spiritual darkness. It is the mercy of God that keeps extending the salvation message to those who don't know Him yet. It is the mercy of God and the compassion of God that is made new every morning, according to Lamentations 3:21

Even though we say that we know God acts in this fashion toward us, we have got to move this information from our brains to our hearts. We need to hold on to these verses, especially when times get tough or we find ourselves going through some hard lessons. God has not forgotten us or deserted us. He is a present help in trouble. Truth be known, God is the ultimate hiding place for us, His children. Psalm 91:1-2 tells us, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ' He is my refuge and my fortress. My God, in Him I will trust."  

Maybe your year hasn't turned out like you thought it would. Maybe you have been buffeted and tossed about by the situations and circumstances that have come your way. the time to lash yourself to this truth about God. Today is the day you dig your heels in and say, "I will trust God no matter what happens." It is my firm belief that God desires to reveal Himself to you as you do trust Him. May you find the reality of these words in your own life.

God on you.....


Monday, December 26, 2016

O.K.....Now What?

Luke 2:39
When Jesus' parents had fulfilled all the requirements of the law of the Lord, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee.

Underneath the tree is empty.........
No presents anywhere........
Stocking's have been drained of their gifts,,,,,,

the Christmas meal has been consumed, and what was left has been relegated to various sizes of containers. The leftovers have been herded together into the fridge.
It's the day after the day....
Now what?

If Christmas is suppose to be a celebration of the birth of Christ, then what about all the days that follow it until we roll back around to the next Christmas?
As much as I love Christmas, it is a day to remind us of the one who paid our sin debt.
One who possessed the character and call to go to the cross.
So what does this mean to me?
The next 365 days are to a learning experience for me.
Learning what real love is....
Then giving it away....
Learning what it means to be a servant...>
Then serving....

Understanding that worship is more than an adjective to describe the service I go to at church....
That worship truly is verb, which denotes action and movement.
Worship is a lifestyle.....

We celebrate the birth of Christ...
But we don't leave him there, lying in a manger...
This babe grows to be a man...
Maybe that is what Christmas is really all about...
A time to recognize the call from God for us to grow in Him.
To not be satisfied with being a "Babe" in Christ...

Take a moment to think back over the past year.
Have you grown spiritually?
What Scripture became important in your life?
What were the situations and events that tested you to the point that you felt like giving up?

These are the inventory things we need to take stock of in order to prepare ourselves for the coming year.
Look for times when you failed God...these are important also. Maybe you felt led to do something or go speak to someone, but another voice kept you from carrying the task out.
Such times are not for feeling guilt and shame...
They are to be recognized as areas that you need to allow God to work on.

After all, this whole recovery thing is simply about me getting out of the way so God can work in me....

Don't keep Jesus in the manger over the next year....
Grow as he did....
Become more like him...

God on you...


Sunday, December 25, 2016

It's Christmas!!!

Luke 2:10-11
And the angel said unto them, "Fear not: for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."

4:32 a.m.
Been up a while...
Coffee has just finished perking, as the pot gave one last "Whoozy-whoosh" to let me know that the brown gold was now ready for consumption. Paper has been delivered, and Vicki is down the hall catching the last of her night's sleep before moving into her day.
It's Christmas at the Bynum household.

Many thanks to Debbie and Lanny Handy for making the trek to Greene Street last night, bearing gifts and Christmas wishes. Very grateful for all our friends and family. 

Wore out my chair yesterday as I napped, snoozed, and slept through the ball game. It was wonderful. Last night we had the traditional Bynum Christmas supper.........Vicki's homemade pizza. Mom came over from her apartment and ate with us. Sitting around the table, we shared memories of Christmas past. For Vicki, it was family trips from Ohio to Alabama....Her mom and dad.....and the six Campbell kids. Six....count'em...six. But according to Vicki, as much as a circus as it was, it was a fun trip, save the time spent going through the winding roads of Kentucky, which only added misery to the ones who got carsick. 

I read the Christmas story, and then we sang some Christmas carols...sometimes having to insert our own made up words as we tried to pull this off without song books. After supper it was time for "IT's A Wonderful Life". Seen it a gazillion times, but never tire of the struggle between the needs of the many outweighing the wants of the one. I still tear up at the end when George Bailey is running through Bedford Falls shouting "Merry Christmas" to everyone. 

Got a call from an inmate yesterday. Good to hear from them. The best part was when they told me that they had several men lines up for me to pray over. Seems as though this individual had been telling them stories about me and these men wanted to know if maybe I would pray over them. One by one they took the phone and told me what they needed prayer for. One man in particular told me that he wanted to be saved...he was tired of his old life and old ways. So if you think about it today, throw up a prayer for this man as he starts this new journey with Christ.

Today will be filled with family once again...
Chad, Robin, Tyler and Ashley will come over.
Josh and Heather will come in from Athens, Georgia.
And Wayne, my brother, and Sue, my sister-in-law, will drive over from Oneonta.

Vicki will serve up a meal that will rival any restaurant, any where, for us to enjoy. This is her gift to her family.
There will be more memories shared, and more memories made as the bonds of family will grow stronger between us all.

I will drive up to Northside Baptist Church this morning to be a part of their Christmas program. Responsive readings and Christmas carols will make up the service, along with communion. It will be my last service, as I've been with them through out this month, until they invite me back. Good people at Northside Baptist. 

I guess I better close out this morning's Greene Street Letters.
Thank you for stopping by to see what's going on here on Greene Street. I'm grateful to each of you who read the postings. I hope that somewhere along the way, I may have written something that encouraged you to pursue this Jesus I follow. SO for the last time this year, I leave you with.....

Merry Christmas from the "B's" in Attalla

I will close out today's posting with a Video that has become one of my favorites. John Piper's THE INNKEEPER.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

It Was A Good Night

The night was dark....The road stretched out in front of me....Tunes were streaming from my radio....and I had a joy that just washed over me. I was headed to Centre, Alabama to speak at Celebrate Recovery. Been traveling this road for 12 years now. They keep asking me to come back, and I keep going.

Donnie and Shelly George head up this meeting, and you won't find two better people who have a heart and a love for people who are trapped in addiction. This group meets every Friday night no matter what. If Christmas falls on a can count on Centre Celebrate Recovery being open and ready to receive anyone and everyone who needs a meeting. 

Randy and the band were working through the usual sound/tech problems that accompany trying to get everyone and every thing (equipment) on the same page. You won't find frustration in such an exercise as this...these guys have been "rockin'" with Jesus for a long time, so they take it all in stride. The room feels warm and inviting. Kind of draws you out of any isolation you may tried to hide in, to be a part of a loving spiritual family. Everyone is invited to join....everyone is loved and it is very evident with this group.

Last nights meeting was filled with silliness. Silliness of the season, so to speak...there was an ugly sweater contest.....the Centre CR leadership did a stirring rendition of the "Twelve Days Of CR". 

"On the first day of CR this is what I got...
One Bluuuue Chip!"
On the second day of CR this is what I got...
Two mints from Donnie!
On the third day of CR this is what  got...
Three prayer warriors..."
You get the picture....and Kim Black stole the show with her "One Blue Chip"....
Kim just bubbles with the love of Jesus pouring out of her....

It was the silliness that caught my attention last night....
The simple joy of being together, singing and worshiping....
And the underlying thought and reality that it would be very easy to have spent the evening in darkness and death. But here we were in this room....singing at the top of our lungs. Smiles everywhere! It was Christmas and we were all sober, loving each other, filled with gratitude of what Jesus had done for us all.

My message was "THE CHRISTMAS CROSS".... 
At this time of year when Christmas trees are decorated and lit up with all manner of colored lights...there was a special tree that we all needed to see.
IT was the cross of Christ....illuminated by the Lamb of God, there are all manner of presents under this tree. Each one of them has a name of someone written on it. It is a gift from God to each of us, and all we have to do is receive it. What is the gift? God himself. Ephesians 2:8 - For by grace are you saved through faith; and not of yourselves. It is the GIFT OF GOD!" Notice that the verse did not say "It is a gift FROM God"...but rather that God is the gift. We get His fullness deposited into our life...our hearts...our soul and mind when we open His gift of Salvation.

Several came to the front to pray and receive from God at the end of the service. Always special to me when you see folks slip out of their chairs and come down to get on their knees. Many tears, and the core leaders of Centre CR came forward to be with those who were asking for prayer. 

Afterwards, many hand shakes and hugs as I made way to the door. I walked out into the night a grateful man.
Grateful that such a place as Centre CR had been created by God for those who are hurting.
Grateful that God had created a leadership that truly loved the ones who came through that front door every Friday night to be at the meeting.
And grateful that God had given me a place there to be a part of this movement.

Thank you, Donnie and Shelly for being obedient to the call of God.
Thank you Randy and the band for allowing God to fill your rock and roll hearts so that you can rock out to the One and Only Rock...Jesus.
To everyone who stacks chairs, serves the meal, takes up the offering, runs the sound gear, all the cord leadership...thank you for your servant heart.
It was a good night....

Merry Christmas from the "B's" in Attalla.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas 2016

Luke 2:6
So it was while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth here firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

I love Christmas...
Always have...
Always will...

It is the only season that comes to the Bynum household with our own specific traditions.
Traditions that have now been handed down to another generation.
Oh, on the scale of human endeavors, our traditions have no significance to anyone else.But at this time of year, those who gather at our house know full well what to expect in our celebration of Christmas.

Putting up our Christmas tree is a night of memories.
Each ornament has a story...
And we share those stories out loud as we hang them.
There are paper cut-out donkey's that Chad and Josh made when they were little boys. Crayon scrawl on the back of each ornament show the attempts to spell their name. 

Hallmark ornaments to mark the passing of years.
1974 Baby's first Christmas, Chad was born.
1977 Baby's first Christmas, Josh was born.
1982 ornament looks like it went through the great fire. It's kind of melted on one side from hanging to close to a Christmas light.

There are ornaments that were given to Vicki from patients at her office. Each hand made, each evoking a memory of how special these people were to her. We have truly been blessed to have had so many wonderful people pass through our lives. I just pray that we can do the same for those we meet. That we may be able, not just at Christmas but all year, to be an encouragement and a blessing. 

What Christmas would be complete without Tennessee Ernie Ford.
My mom and dad's favorite singer.
His album, Star Carol, was a mainstay at the Bynum house growing up. I can't tell how many Christmases I woke up to the booming sound of "Joy To The World!" I will forever equate Tennessee Ernie Ford with Christmas.

It isn't really Christmas until I eat my first tangerine. Thanks to my wonderful daughter-in-law, Robin....for the last couple of years,she has provided me with that wonderful fruit. Tangerines were something that we got in our stockings, along with nuts and peppermint sticks. Just peeling the skin off of tangerine and smelling that citrus aroma brings back many wonderful thoughts and memories. Christmas morning would not be complete without a slice of Banana Bread. My other daughter-in-law, Heather, has brought me a loaf every year, to enjoy with my first cup of coffee. 

Christmas eve will find me in my chair, as night closes in, watching "It's A Wonderful Life". The thing I love about this movie is the thought that each of us have the ability to affect and edify those around us. Sometimes we do so without even thinking. George Bailey, the richest man in Bedford Falls. He puts his own hopes and dreams upon a shelf to help others. He forgoes his own life to take up running a Building and Loan Association. His house is old, drafty and the roof leaks. He feels as though he has done nothing with his life. 

It takes a divine encounter with an angel to reveal the truth about George's live. How each person touches another and either makes them better, or steals a little piece of their soul through selfish manipulation. In George's case, he gave of himself without really thinking, to build up and encourage those in need. 

At the end of the movie, George realizes what he has accomplished through his years of being unselfish. He realizes that riches and wealth are not measured by some bank book or account ledger. They are found in the friendships we make, and in the lives of those we have reached out to help. Nothing really changed in George's life. His house was still old and creaky. The roof still leaked, and he still was president of the Building and Loan. But God had given him a glimpse into the bank book of heaven. There under the name George Bailey was riches beyond George's imagination.

Christmas eve will find me stepping outside before we go to bed.
Walking out to the edge of our driveway, I will stand and listen. What am I listening for? Nothing. By that I mean that Christmas eve is the quietest night of the year. It is as if God himself stood and said, "This night is a holy still and know that salvation has come to earth." I'm not sure why I started this little slice of tradition, I just know that I've done taken this little Christmas eve stroll ever since the boy's were little. OH, the stroll has shrunk over the years, till it is a simple walk to the end of the driveway. Out into the middle of Greene Street to survey the night. It truly is the quietest night of the year. 

Christmas is a time to give of ourselves.
God gave...
He gave a Son, come to earth to fill up a baby's body.
Grow to be a man..

A man who filled up a cross with his own body to pay for the sin of this world....
A payment that would fling open the doors of heaven to provide relationship with the Father to all who accepted this wonderful gift.

How could you not love it.

As I've gotten older, the traditions of our family have become a high point in my life. They kind of remind me of the simple fact that life does move on. That time passes, and in spite of this ever moving fact, there are some things that will never change......our family traditions. Such are a kind of spiritual glue that hold us together as we gather to celebrate the birth of Christ.

Merry Christmas from the "B's" in Attalla.

God on you..

Thursday, December 22, 2016

We Should Because He Did

The birth of the Christ child....
In this tiny package was the fullness of God come down to us..
Down to our time and space to pay the price, once and for all time, that sin demanded.
Jesus was born to serve....
Jesus was born to give away what the Father had so freely given to Him....
Jesus demonstrated a new way to live in a world that was dark and driven by man's cruelty to his fellow man.
Rome, the greatest power on earth at that time, was no match for the Son of Mary, and the adopted Son of Joseph.
This "Serving" Jesus' life has never cease to echo through time, touching and changing those who heard the good news, that whoever believed in Him would not perish, but have eternal life.

In an age of "It's All About ME" is time we remember that it isn't about us.
It is about Jesus.
It is about a call to be saved by accepting Him and the gift of eternal life He offers to each of us.
It it is about learning to love others...especially the ones we don't want to love.
You cannot love from afar....You cannot simply think about loving others...
Real love.....
God's love is to be demonstrated to those in need.
The ones who look different from us...
The ones who may not smell to nice.....
The ones who stand on the fringe of our society, looking into the blessings that we have been blessed with.
Matthew 25:40 - And the King will say, "I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of these, the least of my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me."

Feeding the hungry....
Clothing the homeless...
Being there for the elderly....
Taking care of each other with no thought to our own needs...
Giving that last dollar to someone else....
Bending down to tie the shoes of a small child who doesn't know how....
Giving someone a hug...
Sharing your coffee with someone else.

One of the reasons that I love recovery is the common bond shared by everyone who is on this road to a new way of living.
It doesn't matter what your status in life may be....bum or or or white...there is a link that pulls and binds them together.....they are part of a fellowship.
They have each drank from that dark cup that only kills....
They have shared the same pain...T
The same depression, guilt and shame....
They know what loneliness feels like when everyone else has cast you aside and written you off.
It is this past that links them as them move toward a new future.
Maybe it is this shared past that motivates and moves them to reach out to others...
To share the Twelve Step message of Christ and His power to restore to sanity those whose thinking, as well as life, has gone off the tracks.

I have been blessed to be connected with some of these wonderful people....
Steve and Marilyn...
Barry, Nick, Seth, Elmo, Greg, Jeffrey, Mark, Tony, Jason, Hugh...and the list goes on and on and on.
People who have been snatched from the darkest darkness, and have been translated into the glorious light of new life in Christ.

So you see, especially at this time of year...
We need to remember that Christ has called us to serve.
Isn't it weird that He didn't specify how or who we are to serve?
It's because we are all different, with the capability to reach out to all parts of our community and society...I just have to let God show me the "Who" and the "Where"...the Holy Spirit will show me when.
So as we move closer to Christmas, remember that the best gift you could ever receive is one that you give away to someone else in need.

Merry Christmas from the "B's".....Vicki and Michael!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

God's Invisible Compass Leading Us

Luke 2:1
Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
This verse has begun more Christmas stories, plays and pageants that I care to think about.
It is the focal point that leads us to the night of the Christ Child's birth.
But have you ever really stopped and thought about what was really going on?
The Old Testament is filled with prophetic verses that reveal the coming Messiah.
The book of Micah speaks of the town (Bethlehem) and the exact location within the town (Ephratha) where Jesus was to be born.  Isaiah 9 tells of the names that Messiah would be known for (Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father and Prince of Peace).  Yet for all of these prophecies to be fulfilled, all the people involved had to be in a specific place....a specific town....a specific location. Bethlehem.

Here is where things get a bit sticky.
We know (or at least we give a head nod) that God indeed moves people to fulfill his plans (Somehow we think that kind of behavior from God ended many centuries foolish are we?). Thousands of miles away from Bethlehem, in Rome, we see Caesar pittering around the palace with nothing to do. Suddenly (and without warning) a thought forms in his mind. A thought that did not come from his own intellect, but one placed there by God Himself. "WE NEED A CENSUS..........WE NEED ONE NOW........EVERY PERSON OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE MUST RETURN TO THE CITY OF THE ANCESTOR'S.

This single thought put into motion everything needed for the Scriptures to be fulfilled. What do you think is happening today in our world that God is moving and directing? Governments? I believe so. Leaders? You know it. Societies? Yep! God has not changed the way he carries out his eternal plan for this planet and His creation. So, with that in mind, it doesn't matter how spiritually dark it may get, God is still in control and I should be about the business of trusting Him that He knows best. I should trust him with my life, my family, and my future. 

This simple act, in Luke 2, of calling for a census, set in motion the most incredible event in the history of our world. An event that would eventually lead to a hill outside of Jerusalem where this Jesus, would give his life in exchange for freedom from sin for anyone who would repent and receive. And to think that a pagan ruler, who considered himself to be God, would be used by the real-deal God to carry out the plans of the Kingdom of Heaven.That God is something else.
Maybe today, we need to recognize that some of our thoughts may be "God-given". That some of our thoughts may be the fuel that God is using to move us in certain directions for His kingdom plan to be carried out. I can look back over the years and see events and times in my own life that played a part in me being where I am today.

The very fact that I was asked to start school at Gallant Elementary by Mrs. Iva Moore, when I was five years old, started me on this path of working in recovery.  Had I not started at five years old, I would have been in the graduating class of 1970 instead of 1969. If I had not been in the class of 1969, I would never have sat behind Jim Bentley in homeroom my senior year at Etowah High School. If I had not sat behind Jim Bentley we never would have met and become good friends....
and so on and so on until that time thread leads me to seek out Jim as a Spiritual covering for a home group that God told me start when He spoke to me on May 20, 1994. If I hadn't of started the home group, I never would have been ordained as pastor in July of 1997. From there God told me to leave my job and enter into ministry full time. He spoke on February 28, 1998, and I entered full time ministry on August 1 the same year. 

If I had not entered full time ministry, I never would have been invited out to Rapha to help lead worship with a friend of mine. Had I not gone to Rapha, I never would have taken up the call to minister to those in addiction. See what I mean? The smallest event (like starting school in the first grade) can be the first step on a journey to follow this God. Think on what I have written about today, and look back over your life to see God's hand prints.

Merry Christmas from the "B's" in Attalla;.l
God on you....

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Good And Evil Are Neighbors

Romans 6:14
For sin shall not have dominion over you; for you are not under the law, but under grace.

Tis a strange world we live in, is it not?
We celebrate the human will and spirit and the achievements it has accomplished.
Mountains that have been conquered and claimed by humans.
Feats of strength and stamina wrought by mankind.
We lift up our sports heroes....
We heap accolades on our celebrated musicians.
We give awards to our celebrities.
But all fall short and pale in comparison to Jesus.
Amidst this false reality of the goodness of man dwells the truth about the human heart of darkness.What is this truth?
#1 - We are all sinners in need of being saved. Saved from that old nature that is born in every human heart, thanks to the two who decided to eat fruit long ago in the garden.

#2- No matter how hard we try to dress up our sin still is there. We can deny the existence of it....we can commit ourselves to "doing good"....we can promise to do better until everyone on Bear creek has broken ankles....but we can never escape the truth that we cannot save ourselves.

I found out last night how the evil and ugly side of humanity lives in the same neighborhood as the innocent and perceived purity of all that is good with man.
The two really are next door neighbors even though one would not admit to it.
Given the right set of circumstances, all that is pure in the eyes of our own flesh, will open the door to all that is evil and invite him in.

I Corinthians 13:12
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
Strange words, this verse.
What does it mean?
It means that the sum total of our knowledge of God is but a part. 
Even the greatest of theologians know only part.
It is for this reason that my theology is very shallow...........Just Jesus.
As Paul states in I Corinthians 2:2 - For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. That also is my creed.

If I dwell on the question of evil and good residing in the same neighborhood, I will come to no conclusion except for the fact that "there is none good, no not one." Mankind's heart reveals our  need of a Savior and the only one who can fulfill all the need is Jesus Christ. It is this partial "knowledge" of a heart that does not know Jesus that allows evil to flourish and prosper. It is the truth of God at war with the lies of Satan. This Kingdom war isn't about power or else God would have simply wiped clean all evil. It is about truth. 

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he simply "out-truthed" the devil. Truth uncovers evil and breaks the power of darkness. The greatest source of evil can be found in the human heart that does not know God. This is how the two inhabit this planet. This is the purpose of God to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus manifested in flesh, paid the price that sin demands so that evil would be defeated.

It would be a disparaging hope if Jesus is not who he claims to be.
That is why if you read verse 9 and 10  in I Corinthians 13, you will find the hope.

"For we know in part and we prophesy in part but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away."
When the perfect comes.
When Jesus comes.
One who is perfect will destroy the veil between this world and the next and we will stand face to face.
It is then that all we lay claim to believe in will be revealed as truth.
This is the season for salvation.
Seek the Lord while He may be found.
Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.
Believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead and you will be saved.

Praise God what a Savior....
Merry Christmas from the Bynum's
God on you....

Monday, December 19, 2016

Jesus Paid It All

Luke 2:7
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them at the inn.

John 19:30
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished": and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

I guess for this year, my view of Christmas has been a little different. Some might say a bit dark, but I like to think of my view as being real....
I know that this season is thought to be one of great joy, and a celebration ( and it is), but maybe the celebration should be about how Christ defeated the darkness by taking it upon himself.

Isn't it a bit ironic (not that God would ever use irony to get a point across) that His Son, Jesus, came to this world and was laid in a manger. A manger made of rough hewed wood...Funny how wood played an important part of Jesus' life. He came into this spiritually dark world that was running low on hope. A world and a society that laid claim to be looking and waiting for THE Messiah to come. A deliverer who would over throw the oppressive chains or Roman rule. They waited for Him.....they watched for Him.

On the night of His birth, because of their situation, His mother Mary laid this new born babe, who'd been wrapped in strips of cloth, in manger. A food trough was His first bed.
The feel of the rough cut wood on His back was one of the first sensations Jesus felt.

The last sensation He felt was also wood....
The feel of a Roman cross that He lay upon.

Can't have a manger without a cross....
Can't have a cross without a tomb....
Can't have a tomb without a throne....

As A.W. Tozer once stated..."Let us never forget that weakness lies at the manger...death at the cross...and power at the throne.
This entire process of living, dying and rising from the dead is the same road we all travel to find and receive this new life of salvation.

I am born again into this life because of what took place on the cross of Christ.
His shed blood opened the door for my sin-debt to be paid in full.
Upon receiving it, I die to self...
My sin was nailed to that cross once and for all time never to be remembered by God.

Because of this, I am born again into a new life... a new way of interacting with God, through Jesus.

So if you want to look at all this in a new way, consider this.
The cross is the ultimate Christmas tree....
Around the base of the Christmas Cross, there are packages with our names on them.

Gifts from God.
In fact the gift we receive is God.
Romans 6:23 - The wages of sin IS death, but the GIFT OF GOD is eternal life through Christ Jesus. The verse didn't say "The gift from God", but rather that God is the gift.
He becomes our all sufficiency that we look to in this life.
That is the ultimate Christmas gift, and I receive Him every day....

So this Christmas season, celebrate the birth, but keep your focus on the cross.
Find the joy that flows from Christ.
Feel the love of the Father.
Pass on what He has provided to you.

Merry Christmas from the "B's" in Attalla

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Manger To A Cross

He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He lived his life as the world rejected him. On the night of his birth, in the town of his step-father's ancestors, no one gave his mother a room to sleep in. No one opened their door to the young couple who were expecting. Bethlehem, the town of Joseph's lineage, offered no comfort. There must have been relatives there because this was where Joseph's family came from. But Aunt nor Uncle, Cousin nor kin offered anything to him and his young bride who was expecting.

Why should comfort be offered?
She was pregnant out of wedlock.
Her's was a bastard child.
Why would Joseph, a man of integrity and honor, continue his betrothal to this girl?
Here they were.......
away from home.....
all because of the whim of a Roman ruler who decided to see how many people were truly under the rule of Rome.

"And she gave birth to here first born son, and she wrapped him in cloths and laid Him in a manger, becasue there was no room for them in the inn."
There was no room for them in the inn.
Around back of the inn....
In a smelly, dark, dank stable that reeked of urine and feces.........the Son of God made His entrance into this world. A world that rejected Him.
Even today, the world stills reject Him.
But He has not turned back nor cheek upon the world and, in fact, continues to beckon and woo those who are trapped in the darkness of sin.
"Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest."
Becoming sin for us, Jesus suffered the ultimate in rejection.
Hanging on the cross (think about this) weighed down by the sin of the world........
Heaven didn't want him....
and the earth rejected him.....
God, the Father could not look upon his own son because of the sin.
The people of this world jeered and taunted him.
"He can save others! But he can't save himself!"
Spoken by a religious ruler of the day, truer words were never spoken.
Jesus came to save others.....He would not place himself above the call of His father to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of this world.

So here.....
During this Christmas season.....
Enjoy family....
Have a good meal together.....
Open some presents......
But open your heart to the truth of God that Jesus truly is who He claims to be and will do what the Word of God says He will.
Merry Christmas....
God on you.....


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