Friday, November 17, 2017

Kingdom Work Doesn't Always Look Like What We Think It Does


Parking lot was crowded yesterday. It was near noon and people were taking care of their business, hurrying in and out of the building. I had concluded my own business and was walking back to the car when I spotted him. Slow walk...shoulders stooped and sagging, as if the weight of the world and the years were crushing him.  Head down, he moved from person to person. I could not hear the conversation, but I knew what it was all about. One after another, people shook their heads and got in their cars. He continued this behavior as he moved to the next person he saw. 

I knew that he was asking for help...
Didn't know if it was money he needed...
A ride somewhere....

Maybe even a place to stay....
But I knew he was at the end of his own ability and wits.
As he approached me, I could see that the years had not been kind to this man. Probably been a while since he'd had a bath, ate a hot meal, or even had a kind word spoken to him.

O.k.....let's take a side bar here at this point.
You know and I know that there are a lot of lazy people who simply want to scam you out of some money by telling you a hard luck story. Ones such as these have made others wary of helping. Some are just lazy, don't want to work, only want a hand out. Those we need to stay away from. But the truth is, we need to ask God to help us see the exact nature of someone who is asking for help. I'm just crazy enough to believe that if I ask God to show me if I should help or not, He will. Now back to the story.

"Mister, I sure could use some help...any at all would be appreciated."
Going on with his story, he told me that he'd been robbed the night before...
Young guys...
They took everything he had....
All his ID's...
What little money he did have...
His backpack with all his belongings....

I asked him, "What is it you need?"
He didn't ask for the moon.....
"Just something to eat," he replied.
With kind of a crazy little giggle, he went on to explain to me that it would have to be something soft because he'd lost most of his teeth.
Still not sure whether he was on the up and up, I asked him a question.
"Do you want me to go get you something?" If he were going to  use the money for other purposes, he would say, "No...that's o.k., if you can help me out I can buy my own food."  But he didn't answer that way. "You mean it? If you could do that, it would be great." I knew he was on the up and up.

"How about a loaf of bread, a pack of bologna, some mayo and a bottle of coke?"
You'd thought he had won the lottery. His face lit up and gratitude was very evident. As we took care of our business, I told him about VRC. Told him that we met on Saturday nights, that we were downtown on Broad Street, and we would have hot coffee and cookies. Told him that he was more than welcome to join us. With a hesitancy, he looked himself over as if to gauge what he was wearing. Before he could say anything,  I told him, "Your dressed just fine. You'll fit in perfectly." He smiled.  I asked him if I could pray for him. He agreed.
So there in that parking lot, we took care of some kingdom work. Pray was short...but to the point. Tears in his eyes, he shook my hand and said, "Thanks, I appreciate it." He turned and started off to who knows where. But this time there seemed to be a little more spring to his step.


Whether or not he will show up tomorrow night for VRC I do not know. I hope he does. But I know that a seed was planted in his heart. This encounter was more than money, or food bought. It was about the God of the universe reaching out to one who felt forgotten and abandoned. Let me say one last thing. I did not post this so I could get you to think I am some kind of spiritual giant. I ain't. This whole encounter wasn't even about me. IT was about God reaching out. It was about someone who was running low on hope. Someone who needed a little help. I can bet you that at some time yesterday, this man probably threw up a prayer out of desperation asking God to help him. He may have not even believed in God when he did it. When you're desperate you do some crazy things. But the God of the universe looked down on this prayer and answered it. I pray that wherever this man is this morning, he would be stirred to pursue this God we so strongly believe in. What if we all threw up prayers on this man's behalf? Who knows what might happen today.

God on you...

mbb

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"What Are You Going To Do? Stand And Fight....Or Run"




Psalm 144:1
Blessed be the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle---
My loving kindness and my fortress. My high tower and my deliverer. My shield and the ONE in whom I take refuge, who subdues my people under me.

On this week before Thanksgiving, I want to remember that life is hard---is it not?
Life comes at us in many different ways and directions and sometimes blindsides us.
We get caught off guard or maybe we are thinking we can stop and catch our breath.
BLAM! A situation arises that sends us reeling.
Sometimes I forget that living a spiritual life (relationship with the real/deal God) in a fallen world is kind of like oil and water. It just doesn't mix and it never will mix, no matter how bad I want it to.
I forget that there really is a declared enemy out there who stands against everything God stands for. This enemies job is to stop me, discourage me, interrupt me and, dare I say it? Even Kill Me!.
Sounds like "war" to me.

I love the verses in Psalm 144 because it puts the focus on God training me for such combat and life battles that I will face daily. Mixed in with all this language of war and combat and battles, we also find words like Loving kindness. Strange isn't it? That Loving kindness be mentioned in the same breath with battle and war. You see, sometimes I discount the power of Love. Especially the love God has called me to have for Him, myself, and those I come in contact wit. The love of the Father poured out on me, and the love of Jesus that should be flowing from me.
Jesus didn't defeat the devil through power (although power was involved). He defeated the devil by taking the devil's own weapons (death and the grave) and rising above their capability to destroy. As wonderful as Jesus' death and resurrection is, you know what is even greater? The fact that it was from a heart of love and obedience to His Father that caused or moved Jesus to go to the cross.

Hebrews 12:2 reads: 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.  Did you catch that? The joy set before Him (Jesus) aided him in enduring the cross. That must be some kind of joy. It is the same Joy that Jesus wants to impart to us so that we can face each trial and situation for His glory, not our own. 

Bible says to "ask, seek and knock and it shall be given, found and opened unto you. Let the Joy of the Lord become a part of you. 
Remember.....
We choose to love....
We choose to seek the joy of the Lord....
Or...
We can choose to give into the spiritual darkness that seeks to destroy us.


God on you....
mbb

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Another Good Un'


John 12:31
And when I am lifted up from the earth, I  will draw everyone to myself."

You may recognize the picture above as being the cross @ Rapha....
On more than one occasion, I've had men tell me that when they come back from a weekend pass, the moment they round the curve and see that cross, there is a sense of coming to a safe place. They've been out in the world. They've seen it with  new eyes...fresh vision, and they can clearly see the darkness they use to be engulfed in. That spiritual darkness that clouds the mind, stirs the flesh, and places bondage and chains upon the heart. Seeing that cross gave them a sense of coming back to a place where they first met Jesus.

Last night's Bible study @ Rapha was another doozy.
Ever since we moved the start time to 8 p.m., the number of men attending has gone up.
We had fifteen who came last night, and (Heavens to Betsy) they even brought their Bibles. How cool was that?

Topic for the evening: "LEARNING TO SIMPLY FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS" / Genesis 6.
Noah: only man left on earth who was referred to as being blameless and righteous.
Why? Because Noah walked with God. That meant that Noah followed God's directives and instructions in his daily life. Not because he had to...but because he wanted to. There was a relationship established with God and Noah. 

The earth had become corrupt. Humanity had rejected God to the point that there was only one left who listened to and followed God. I shared with the men that this was a picture or example of the incredible love that God has for us. If Noah could become connected to, and follow this God, then it stands to reason that such was available for everyone. But "everyone" did not desire this. They followed their sin nature and gave it what ever it wanted, rejecting God and sealing their own fate.

God gave Noah some very clear instructions on what He wanted done.
1.) Build yourself a boat....
2.) It is to be made of Cypress wood/ waterproofed inside and out.
3.) The boat is to be 450' long....75' wide.....45' high.
4.) Put three levels inside the boat...upper...middle..and lower decks.
"There...now go do it."

Nowhere do we read where Noah asked, "Why?"....Or complain that such a task was too hard. Noah simply "Nike'ed" it....He just carried out the instructions. By doing so, Noah saved himself, not to mention his entire family.

So at the end of the study, I invited the Holy Spirit to come and open our hearts. To show us where we really stand with God. Are we truly in a relationship with God? Or are we fooling ourselves by simply playing the religion game? Or maybe we've never really thought about what it means to be saved by God.
Five of those who were present were saved.
They confessed and repented...
God saved.

Beautiful.
Please pray for these five who have begun this journey with Jesus.
It was a good night.

God on you...
mbb 


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Promises Of God


Psalm 19:12-13
How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep Your servant from deliberate sins! Don't let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.

Why did God give us life? The answer......to live. 
There are things that we face daily that are beyond our control. Life is messy. Life is hard. Life is, well.....it's life. But we make a statement each day when we get up and go out to face life. By our belief's and our actions, we say to the world...to life....we will not bend our knee and worship the things of darkness. We will not give into the rule of this world. Now these are not the empty boasting's of someone trying to convince themselves that they have a power of their own to defeat life. No! This is the declaration that comes from knowing and having a relationship with God. 

God has made promises to those who chose to turn over will and life to His care. He has brought to bare the entirety of His Kingdom Rule and Reign in the lives of those who have chosen to follow Him.  Such a life, while tempted to return to the bottle, the needle or the pill, will not surrender to the call of the darkness.  A person who has turned to Christ for the freedom they are now living in, will dig their heels in when the winds of darkness blow hard against them, trying to turn them and lead them back into old ways, old thoughts and old places....not to mention old "friends". 

My all time favorite promise that God has made is found in II Chronicles 16:9
"The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him." He we see the giving of power and resolve by God to those who have decided to follow Him. It is this strengthening that enables us to get up and face the day. To not turn and run from whatever situation or circumstance is out there waiting to undo us.  I'd like to end today's post with a poem I found.

You never have to use again my friend
Your life is a garden you must tend
When the wind blows, you must bend
a knee to God and He will send
The help you need and He will blend
The rainbow around the bend.

Sometimes your berries may die in the snow
Sometimes your crops may die for lack of rain
But God will be there with His rainbow
and your needs fulfillment blossoming
into the soothing of your pain
Relief is just around the bend
You never have to use again my friend.

May you find God today....
May He become to you more than just an idea, or a concept....
May He become truth that invades your every thought and action.

God on you...
mbb


Monday, November 13, 2017

Loving Like Nobodies Business




Thanksgiving is just around the corner. so I want to take a look at something that I am very thankful for. What would that be? Why the work that the Holy Spirit is doing inside me that is changing me more and more to look like, talk like, walk like, think like and live like my elder brother, Jesus. 
So I want to look at the Fruit, or evidence of the Holy Spirit at work. The evidence that an apple tree is healthy is by the fruit it produces. Proof that God is at work in our lives is evidenced by the change of our nature and character. These changes can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit at work in me and you. The physical, tangible proof of such work, we call "Fruit."

We begin in Galatians 5:22 with these opening words:
But the fruit of the Spirit is LOVE.
That is the number one by product of this relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus himself said that the entire Ten Commandments could be summed up in two things. Love God with everything in you, and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Must be pretty important if Jesus framed the commandments with his love.


Learning to love.
Not as the world loves, not as society loves...
But the pure, heavenly love that comes from God himself.
He wants this to be the fuel that drives everything I do.
Love Him.
Love myself.
Love others as I love myself.

Love is not an emotion.
Love is a choice. I choose to love as God wants me to.
I choose to extend this to those around me that my flesh wants to with hold it from.
How can I truly receive the unconditional love from God and not, in turn, extend to others? I can't.
I have been called to love.

When I open myself up to love others.....
I give God an open door in my life to love them also.
I am merely a conduit for His love to flow to those around me.

The love that a mother or father has for their children is to give us an inkling of understanding of exactly how much God loves us.
The love that a man has for a woman is to show us how much love and desire God has to have a relationship with us.

So here today...
I am thankful for God's love.
I am thankful that God did not give up on me, but pursued me and saved me for His own.

I am thankful that God is teaching me how to love in the way that He does.
I am thankful for the love of family.
My wife, Vicki...
My sons, Chad and Josh...
My daughters-in-law, Robin and Heather...
My grand kids....Tyler and Ashley...
My mother-in-law, Betty.

Those that God has brought to Vineyard ReCovery...
The people up at Northside Baptist...
The staff and men at Rapha, as well as Elmo, Gretchen and the men who stay at Elmo's place...I could go on and on, but I won't.

I think that maybe I have only begun to scratch the surface of what it means to love as God loves.
But we've got to start some where....
Don't we?

God on you....
mb

Friday, November 10, 2017

Power...Real Power Found In Prayer


Reposting from November 2009



Prayer....
Most misunderstood portion of having
relationship with God and the
dynamics that take place between
us and God.
We pray small prayers....
We pray wrong prayers.....
We pray "wordy" prayers...
We pray bold prayers....
We pray doubtful prayers...
I don't know that I have all the answers
to prayer.
I think prayer is something that God
teaches you how to do.
After all, Jesus' disciples asked him,
"Teach us how to pray."
It is an ongoing communication that takes place
as I grow in Him and learn what fills His heart.
I want to breathe back to God what
He has breathed out on me that has stirred my
heart to communicate with Him.
I think this is prayer.
David (the King...remember him...shepherd boy...giant killer?)
wrote in Psalm 4:3 that
"Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for
himself. The Lord will hear when I call to him."
God has set apart or sanctified those who have
accepted him (born again/ saved), and
in this setting apart, God proclaims that He
will hear when we call to Him.
He will hear, but He will answer according
to His will and plan.
God always answers our prayers.
He does so in 3 ways....
1.) yes
2.) No
3.) Not yet
and in these three possible answers to our prayers
we find the will of God. His desire is that we obey.
I love to pray.
I keep a running prayer all day long as I move about.
Throwing up sentence prayers for situations and
for people around me.
In the middle of talking, I am also taking time
to listen for God's answer.
I love to pray.
It's all part of the package when you come to Christ.
It's a comforting part when you ask and then see
God move on your request.
It builds your faith.
It causes you to trust God more.
It is the open heaven, communication link
that keeps me sane here on this insane planet.
Gotta love it!
mb

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Thanky...Thanky....Thanky!!!



Psalm 100:4
Enter His gates with thanksgiving. Go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and bless His name.
The devil (yes, Virginia there is a devil) is a mean motor-scooter and wants to mess with our heads a.k.a minds.
He wants us to stay focused on what we don't have in this life....
How terrible things are for us and around us.....
What a bunch of loser's he tries to make us out to be.
In other words, he doesn't want us to think on the things of God.
The Psalm passage says we are to enter into the rule of God, the presence of God with thanksgiving.
So what do I have to be thankful for today....
1.) A great family.....the Bynum's aren't perfect, but dog gone it, we are a fun bunch. My wife, Vicki...if ever there was physical, tangible evidence of a godly woman, it is Vicki. Everything you read in Proverbs 31 is true. My sons, Chad and Josh....godly men with a heart for the Kingdom. Daughters-in-law, Heather and Robin......the same a Vicki, women of integrity and love of God. Two grand children, Tyler and Ashley....the love of my life.

2.) My health. I have been blessed beyond measure with good health (so to speak). Oh there are days when I crawl out of bed and my bones and joints sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies ,but that is all part of growing older. There is only one alternative if you don't want to grow old.........that is die young.

3.) Friends. I have been blessed to have some really great people in my life. They make me a better man. Their lives are an encouragement to not give up or go back to old ways.

4.) My relationship with God. Saved in 1961. Up and down over the next few years. Really on fire 1968 through 1972. Walked in darkness from 1972 till 1979. 1980-1991 began a journey of chasing God. 1991-1993 preparation for what is happening today in my life. 1993-2006 training/ ordination/ full time ministry. 2006-2010 Staff pastor at Rapha Treatment Center.  Leaving Rapha in 2013 in order to start Vineyard ReCovery. Through it all....through my foul ups and my "getting it right" God has been the one constant. I am thankful and grateful for His presence and His grace in my life.

5.) Steve and Marilyn Yarbrough-  Obedience to God created a place where I learned how to minister to those in addiction. Sacrifice and service underline these two wonderful people. 

I could go on and on listing things I am grateful for.
Coffee.....
Color TV....
Dogs......
Morning rain......
Good sounding guitars and people who know how to play....
Nori, Barbie, Cynthia and their two daughters (and now a son-in-law)
Danny Daniels.....
John and Marie Barnett...
Early morning rain....
A good meal at the Waffle House.
The sound of Owls at night.
All the people who make up the core leadership of VRC.
And most of all....
At the top of the list....
No...
Beyond the top of the list....
Jesus Christ.....
Today I am grateful....

God on you....
mb

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Bible Study @ Rapha


Psalm 107:20
He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them out of their distresses.

If yesterday was Tuesday....
Then I must have been out at Rapah for another Bible study.
New time though...
Bible study started at 8 p.m.

Little later than I'm accustomed to, but hey! In the old days when I was on staff @ Rapha, we use to have a 9 p.m. Bible study on Tuesday's and Thursday's, but that was a few years back.

This was our first 8 p.m. study, and wasn't sure what to expect.
Turns out that 8 p.m. is the perfect time to have such a meeting. We had 12 show up for the study.

As we traveled through the verses, the guys had a lot of questions (most which had nothing to do with what we were studying).  The questions, or change of topic, really don't bother me. That was one of the first thing I learned in my early days at Rapah. If your teaching a class, be prepared to reel the topic back in because someone is going to ask a question that will totally derail the study. If the topic goes too far off, I usually ask the person who asked the question, "Now what does this have to do with your recovery and salvation?" 

Questions like:
1.) Where do you think Noah'a ark is?
or
2.) Who do you think the anti-Christ is?
And of course my all time favorite:
3.) Do you believe in once saved always saved, or do you believe you can lose your salvation?

Anyway, the study was a success. We prayed at the end and dismissed.
Guys were coming up to thank me for coming out to do the study. One who came up was finishing up his first day at Rapha. He had asked a number of questions,and had planted himself on the last row of chairs, as if to say "I don't want to get to close to anything that is going on...I'm just curious." Well, I thanked him for coming and looked forward to him making this a regular part of his schedule during his time @ Rapha.  We shook hands, he turned to walk away.

As he approached the back door, I asked him,"Are you having back problems? Problems to the point that you can't sleep at night?" He turned to look at me with a puzzled look on his face. Hesitantly he said, "Yes". I asked him if we could pray for him. He agreed and came back to the front of the room. He sat down in a chair, and I gathered up the 5 other guys who were still there to join me as I prayed. We placed our hands on his shoulders and waited to see what God wanted to do. 

I asked him, "These back problems are because of car wrecks isn't it?" Once again, hesitantly, he said, "yes." So we began to praise God as we prayed. We praised Him for His faithfulness in not allowing this man to have been killed. We praised Him for the plans that He must have for this man, as his life was spared. As the prayer continued, the man began to sink lower and lower into the chair. Tears began to flow....the Holy Spirit was at work. The prayer continued for some time, and the presence of God only grew stronger in the room. With our "AMEN", the man stood up knowing that he'd been touched by God. I think maybe he had a lot of questions to ask, but at the point in time, he didn't have language to talk about what had just happened to him. He left the room walking a little lighter than when he'd come in.

Walking to my car, I offered up a "Way to go GOD!!!!".
It had been a good night @ Rapha.
Wonder what He is going to do next week?


God on you...
mbb

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Our First Bible Study @ Elmo's

Psalm 119:130
The teaching (or unfolding) of your word gives light, so even the simple can understand.

I truly love to teach from God's word. Ain't to good at it, but love to do it just the same. I especially love it when it's a small group where everyone can draw in close. In these intimate times, people are a lot more open to sharing what is on their heart. They will ask questions that might never be voiced in a larger setting. So any opportunity to be a part of something like this is very much on my heart.

In the fall of 2015, I was asked by Shane Elmore to teach at one of his Thursday night meetings for the guys who live in his transitional house. We gathered at the boat dock down below Shane's house for an evening of food, hanging out together and the Word. That evening, God spoke to me (not audibly) in such a way that I knew He wanted me connected to this group. I didn't know what I was to do, or how it was going to work out, I just knew that I was to be a part. Over the next few months, I tried everything. I went over to the compound during the day and hung out, even when no one was there. I went to the Tuesday night and Thursday night meetings, occasionally teaching at them when asked. But no real confirmation as to what my place was, I was to simply be there.

Last Thursday night, I went to the meeting. First one I'd been able to make in a while. It as great! Phillip from U3B was teaching and the guys really were checked in. But last Thursday night, God opened the door and showed me my place there in this group of men. As the meeting opened, Elmo (that's what everyone calls Shane) was sharing about what was happening at the compound, when he suddenly looked at me and said, "You know what, we need a Bible study for the 3rd shift guys who have just gotten off from work. In other words, an early morning Bible study. The minute he said that, once again God spoke and said, "Here it is...here's what you have been sent here to do." You see, I could have run around trying to make something happen there with the guys, but that would have profited no one. But what made better sense than to provide a time of fellowship and teaching with the guys who really don't get to take advantage of the night time meetings available to the others.


So yesterday morning, at 8:30 a.m. sharp, we gathered in St. Elmo's Cathedral to have the first Bible study. There were seven present. Someone had bought a pastry for the meeting, another had made a pot of coffee, still another had brought sugar, creme, cups for the coffee. They were anxious and excited about having this available for them. It was time to start.

After prayer, I asked them to open their Bibles to Genesis 1:1, and read that verse aloud. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth". I told them that this was the doorway to the Bible and you could never progress in your journey until you truly came to grips with what this verse says. It speaks of a God who possesses more power and ability that we can truly grasp or understand. I asked for a show of hands of those who truly believed in Genesis 1:1. All the hands went up. So then I asked them, "If you truly believe that God possesses that kind of power....the ability to speak into existence everything we see, touch, taste, smell and hear,....then why do you doubt that He can speak into your life and change you?" The lights seem to come on as that statement sunk in.

For thirty minutes we shared back and forth about this verse from Genesis. My goal in the Bible study, to which I shared with the men, was to give them one thing that would stick with them, that they could ponder on and keep in their hearts. I think God did just that. So at the end of the study I asked if they wanted to do this on a weekly basis. The answer was a resounding "YES!"
We will be meeting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Keep us in your prayers if you would, that God's word would continue to be unfolded for these men, and for me. It was a good day!

God on you...

mbb

Monday, November 6, 2017

Bonhoeffer


Excerpt from Dietrich Bonhoeffer's
"The Cost of Discipleship"

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Privation is the lot of the disciples in every sphere of their lives. They are the "Poor". They have no security, no possessions to call their own, not even a foot of earth to call their home, no earth society to claim their absolute allegiance. Nay more, they have no spiritual power, experience of knowledge to afford them consolation or security.

For His sake they have lost all. In following Him they lost even their own selves, and everything that could make them rich. Now they are poor-----so inexperienced, so stupid, that they have no other hope but Him who called them. Jesus knows all about the others too, the representatives and preachers of the national religion, who enjoy greatness and renown, whose feet are firmly planted on the earth, who are deeply rooted in the culture and piety of the people and moulded by the spirit of the age. Yet it is not they, but the disciples who are called blessed---theirs is the kingdom of heaven

The kingdom dawns on them, the little band who for the sake of Jesus live a life of absolute renunciation and poverty. And in that very poverty they are heirs of the kingdom. They have their treasure in secret, they find it on the cross, and they have the promise that they will one day visibly enjoy the glory of the kingdom, which in principal is already realized in the utter poverty of the cross.

My Thoughts

Sometimes when you read passages like Bonhoeffer wrote it makes you uncomfortable. I think the uneasiness comes from the simple fact that we know we have read truth. But it is a truth that runs counter to what the church teaches. Church has become a commodity that is dispensed every Sunday morning to consumers. Our signs proclaim..."Come and be blessed".....very seldom, if ever, do we proclaim..."Come and die". I don't think that would draw much of a crowd. Am I anti-blessing? Of course not. But the blessing that are given from the hand of God are not intended to satisfy your flesh. If anything, they are to set you ablaze for to see the Kingdom extended. To see people healed and restores. TO see souls saved and added to the Kingdom. 

Salvation is free..
It is a gift from God to all who would believe.
A gift to all who would receive.
But the life we are called to lead costs us. I think the church has done a terrible disservice to God and to those who fill the chairs and pews, proclaiming a message of come and be forgiven. Come and receive Christ and you won't have to change anything in your life. Oh, we may not actually say those words, but that is the subtle message that is being sent out. A cross-less Christ who hands out forgiveness like chocolates to children.

If you go into the main hall at Gadsden Vineyard Church, there is a painting hanging on the wall. It is the motto of the Moravian's. They were a community of displaced believers who were cast out of their own country because of their faith. They eventually settled on the estate of a German Nobleman named Count Von Zinzindorf. They established a settlement there they called Hernhut. Their motto reads........To Win For The Lamb The Rewards Of His Suffering. That became the zeal and passion of this people who truly lost everything. That their very lives were to be spent on Christ. To be about the Kingdom Business. Each member sought out God for direction in how this passion was to be directed. 

The motto of Vineyard Recovery Church is Following In His Steps.We chose this because of our focus on helping those in addiction, as well as those who are beginning this new journey in recovery. WE are believers who adhere and believe in the Twelve Steps as a discipline and a set of boundaries for recovery. Jesus is the Higher Power, we make no apologies for that. How can you read Step # 3 and see that we are to turn will and life over to His care,and then simply decide I will do what I want to do? Yo can't. When we state that we are living by Following In His Steps, we mean it. Just like the disciples we are poor in Spirit. But also like the disciples, we have inherited the Kingdom Rule of heaven in our life.

I guess this is another reason I enjoy watching God work among those in addiction. By the time we encounter someone, they pretty much have lost everything, or at least are painfully aware that if change doesn't happen, they will loose everything. They are hungry to know that this God is real. They are ready to change. That is why Saturday night's are so important to me and to the core leadership of VRC. It is a door way to a new way of living. Not the meeting, mind you........but the introduction of God into the dark heart and life of someone who is in bondage to drugs and alcohol.

God on you...
mb 

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Good Night @ VRC


Psalm 25:8-9
The Lord is good and does what is right. he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them His ways.

I know we live in an age of hype, where everyone wants to put their best face forward. To proclaim that what ever meeting they attended was the "Greatest one every held!" We see churches proclaim that they are changing the world....that God has kind of endorsed their meeting above others. While I don't discount what God is doing in any meeting, I do have trouble with the idea and concept that such needs to be shouted from the roof tops. As Leonard Ravenhill ( if you aren't familiar with Leonard, you need to go on line to Youtube and look up some of his messages) use to say...."If God is in your meeting, you don't have to advertise it, people will know. If a building is actually on fire, people will come from miles around to see what is going on. If the Holy Spirit is lighting a fire in your church, you won't have to advertise it . People will begin to show up to see what is going on." This is a truth I have held to for twenty years. I have seen, and continue to see the proof of that statement. If God is moving in your service......If lives are being touched and changed by the Holy Spirit....word of mouth will flood out into your community and people will come to see what is going on. One of the great enigmas of the church is the idea that only large groups are the recipient of a move of God's Holy Spirit. As far as I can tell, it only requires hearts that are hungry for God's presence and people who are open to receive for the Holy Spirit to move.

Last night we saw such a move.
The crowd was smaller than usually......15 were present.
But within the 15 were hearts that were desperate to meet with God.
First song in the worship set was a tune we usually play as the benediction for our service.
Ed Ratezloff's "JESUS LOVES YOU". 
"Keep on truckin' down that highway...
Put some miles on your shoes.....
And just remember
One little thing....
Jesus Loves You"

People were up out of their seats, moving about the room greeting one another. Hugs, handshake's and back slaps all around. Laughter and smiles as they sang and moved from person to person. "Glad you're here---how's your week been?" 

We moved into an original song, "TWELVE STEPS TO HEAVEN", which ends with the old hymn...."WHAT A FRIEND WE HAVE IN JESUS.
"Twelve steps, taking them one at a time....
Twelve steps, moving me, keeping me in line...
And I know it's the power of Almighty God..
That gives me the grace to say...
"Thank you Lord for saving me...
Heaven's twelves steps away."

Next song was Glenn Kaiser's "LAY MY BURDENS DOWN".
  "Glory, Glory.....Hallelujah....
As I lay my burdens down'''
Going to heaven...
To be with Jesus....
Gonna lay my burdens down.."
As the song progressed, I felt the Holy Spirit say, "Invite everyone to come down front and lay those burdens down." I did. People flooded the front, most of them reaching for the rock that we have on the stage, as a kind of touch point to pray from. Burdens were released, and you could feel the room grow lighter (Spiritually) as folks got up from the front and moved back to their chairs. God was on the move and people had responded.  I guess you could say that God had showed up and primed the pump for the word to be taught.

Last song was another original: "I FALL DOWN".
"I fall down......upon Your mercy...
I fall down....upon Your grace...
I fall down.....on Your compassion
I worship You....
By Your amazing grace."

At the end of the message, as ministry began, I knew that someone was going to be saved. Sure enough, a first timer, a young man, stood to acknowledge the mess he'd made of his life. The ministry team moved up and prayed with him, as others acknowledged their need for Christ also. This was payday for me. To see people respond to the move of God's Holy Spirit is why we meet every Saturday night. I want VRC to be a place where those who've never felt a move of God...never felt that Holy Spirit come with conviction and life, can experience such a thing for themselves. 

As I have written many times before, if you've read this blog for any length of time....
"Boy, God!! How are you going to top what happened tonight?"  And the funny part in saying this for as many years as I have.....He always does top it. But He's that kind of God isn't He?
I think maybe yes, He is.

God on you...
mbb


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