Wednesday, July 26, 2017

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 night for Bible study, and it looked like the old days.
Guys were out throwing a football....
Groups were gathered on porches, laughing and talking.

Of course the first thing that comes to my mind is "I bet this is the first time in a long time that some of these men have laughed." Addiction has a way of stealing all the "Funny" from life.

"Bro. Mike!!" began to resonate throughout different groups as I stepped from my car. It was almost 7 p.m. and it was time to gather for our weekly Bible study. Since the meeting is voluntary, I never know how many will show up. Tonight was a good night, as we had seven come through the door. I think what made it an even better night was that we had seven hungry men come through the door.

My goal in our Tuesday night Bible study is to open the Scripture up in such a way that they understand the principals we're going over. That if we are reading about an incident or event that took place as Jesus moved from town to town, then what does what we read have to do with us. What can I take away from the study that is applicable to my own life. You hear a lot about pastor's having a three-point sermon. Well, I only want a one-point sermon. 

Our focus for the evening was Mark chapter five. Demoniac man....religious man. Opposite ends of the societal scale, but both of these men needed Jesus. He met them right where they were. In the midst of a demon-oppressed life, Jesus brought freedom.....To a man whose daughter was dying...a man of religion, Jesus brought healing where the religion could not. Life to everyone involved.

What better example of a life of addiction than the Gadarene demoniac. Living among the tombs....a place of death, this man was in agony. Addiction is a place of death....And it takes Jesus, His Power, and His love to deliver us from such an existence.  This demonized man didn't just have one, two, or three demons....he was full of boogers. But even though they outnumbered Jesus, they knew who it was who had shown up. They knew the authority and Power Jesus possessed, and what He was capable of as evidenced in verse seven.
The demon speaking...."What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me."

Jesus stepped up...
He cast the demons from the man...
Sent them into a herd of pigs...

The pigs all ran over a cliff..
Isn't that weird?

When the demons entered the pigs, the pigs killed themselves...
I guess there is a moral there.
Pigs know better than humans....
A human will let a demon control them, and do so with their eyes wide open.

What did the guys take away from the study?
Step # 2 --- Came to believe in a POWER greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity.
Quickly followed by Step #3--- Made a decision to turn will and life over to the care of God, as we understood.

The evening was full of questions....not that I always had the answers.
Afterward, several wanted to have a one on one talk.
They shared from the heart, which is always encouraging.
Much prayer for those who asked....

As I drove away, I was filled with gratitude for the evening. I thought to myself, "You know, God.....You've got some good soil here at Rapha to plant in....mighty good  soil. Can't wait for the harvest to come out."

I'm asking for prayers for Curtis Arnold and family. Curtis' sister died yesterday. Remember the family as they move through these coming days, that God would grant comfort and strength to them.

God on you...


Tuesday, July 25, 2017


From the Greene Street Letter Archive 
Posted August 7, 2012

Have you ever thought about "emotions?"
The range that they cover....
The very fact that we possess them.
That they can come up and change in the twinkling of an eye. They can lift us to the heights of joy and in the next moment, cause to come crashing down into a pit of despair.

I had taken my grand daughter to the movies on Sunday and we were seated, talking before the movie started. She leaned over and placed her head on my arm and whispered..."I love you Poppa!"
Four little words....
Yet when she said them, it brought about a definite emotion within me.
Looking down into those eyes...that face....I spoke back to her....."And I love you too Doodle-bop."
Here was a young girl, 55 years younger than me.
We really have nothing in common except our names, yet God has allowed this emotional bond to take place between us.

He didn't have to create emotions, but he did.
He didn't have to label them with such names as Joy....Grief....Sadness...but he did.

And there in that theater, the emotion between the two of us was strengthened and made more sure..

Emotions weren't created to define us or drive us.
They were given to color and help us identify what is going on inside.
I think the devil hates God so much...and hates his creation, that he works overtime to keep our emotions off balance and out of whack.
How many times a day do you say or think..."I Feel  (insert emotion)" ?
We tend to use that emotion to be the fuel to make decisions.
Emotions are not a very good gauge on which to base our decisions.
I think God has called us to live by faith.

Faith stretches us to heaven. Emotions keep us grounded in the flesh.
Can God use our emotions?
Sure he can.
They can be brought forth to bring glory to God.

My favorite story is found in Acts 3, where Peter and John, on the way to the Temple, have an encounter with a cripple man.
Through the encounter, the man is healed.
Look what happens next.
And with a leap, he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them walking and leaping and praising God.

This man was not bound by rule or custom. He had been healed and now he was experiencing the emotions associated with the healing. There was joy! There was an outburst of praise. I can't prove it, but I think maybe there was a lot of noise as he shouted and "Woo-hooed" all over the place. Emotions ran high and furious as this man watched his feet and legs go back and forth, moving him all around the temple. If ever there was a reason to be emotional....this man had found it. He was allowing his emotions to direct his praise and adoration toward God who had brought healing to him. The man didn't care who was listening or who was present. He wasn't concerned with what others were thinking, he was free...he was healed.

Today, as you move through your routine, be very much aware of your emotions.
Don't let the enemy come and use them against you and keep you from seeing what God is doing in you and around you.

Let your faith over rule your emotions.
Don't deny what you feel....just don't let it rule your day.

God on you....


Monday, July 24, 2017

RIP Matt Godwin

Got the news yesterday.....
Heavy heart this morning....
Matt Godwin had died....
Too young for this to be true....
To much future to live for this to be a reality...

As with any death, we want to scream out, "This isn't fair!! This isn't the way it's suppose to be!"

Such news as this leaves us with far more questions that we have answers. For this, I will remember the good times.
First met Matt when he came through the program at Rapha. He was what I called a "Skeptical-believer". He was full of questions about God and was looking for me to give him an answer to every one of them. I set him straight right quick that I was a firm believer in the I Corinthians 13:12 passage which states..."We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us."

Matt wore my office door out... Every free moment, he wanted to talk about this Jesus he thought he knew. Turns out that Matt was shaking off some old belief's he'd had about Jesus and was now running into the real deal. There was enthusiasm and passion forming in his heart. He poured over scripture, under lining verses that seem to jump off the page at him. That was Matt....He was an "all in" kind of guy. No half-stepping or lagging behind. He was all in now on this new found relationship with Jesus.

Matt had an infectious laugh that seem to rise up from somewhere deep inside him. I think he laughed more during his time at Rapha than he had in a while. I watched as layer after layer of the old life fell away. During the process, Matt fought those old demons that seem to not want to let go. So for me to get the news of his death was hard. 

I've written this many times upon receiving the news of someones passing, and I'll write it one more time. Matt now knows the truth of what you and I only claim to believe. The truth that we all will come face to face with when it's our time to cross over.

My prayers are with his family....
His wife....
His children...
His Mom.....

That in the midst of this terrible time, God's Spirit would bring a level of comfort and grace to them. That He would walk with them as they navigate this thing we call grief.

I saw Matt some months ago. He and Lindsey, his wife, came to a meeting at Vineyard ReCovery Church. It was good to catch up with him. He told me of his plans for the future, as well as his sharing that infectious laugh I told you about. Good looking couple....
Seemed to love each other deeply.
I will miss you, my friend.

I love you, man.

I Corinthians 15 (Message Bible)
At the same moment and in the same way, we'll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will be true:
"Death swallowed by triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh, Death? Oh, Death, who's afraid of you now?"

God on you...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Stories From Last Night

Matthew 5:48 (The Message Bible)
In a word...what I'm saying is grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

Each week when we come together for VRC, we never know what is going to take place. Who will be a "first-timer"....who may have an encounter with Christ....Who will go away changed for the better. We do know that God will manifest himself during our meeting. That is the one thing we count on each week. Going back to the birth of VRC, God told me in no uncertain terms that this was going to be His meeting, for me to stay out of the way. I have done my best to operate in this manner. 

I knew something was up for last night when He changed the message at the last moment. It was 5:30 p.m., I was sitting, going over my notes as I always do each Saturday. Lo and behold, a thought floated through my noggin. "This isn't what I want you to say tonight." I've heard this before so to change was no big deal. The big deal is "what do you want me to teach on tonight." I happened to look down at my Bible, to a passage in Ephesians 3. It lit up like fireworks. "O.k....Ephesians 3 it is."

Ephesians 3:14 (The Message Bible)
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask Him to strengthen you by His Spirit----not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength----that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.

A young girl comes up for prayer....
She came for the first time last Saturday, and was back again last night. She told her story...
Last night, she wanted to use...
Life is hard beyond hard for is hard x 10.
I want go into the details of her life, but you see the grace of God on her as she should have been dead multiple times.
She said, "I wanted to use tonight..I didn't really want to come here. It was offered to me, but something inside me said, "No!". So I got up and came here.

Sometimes the stories from Saturday night don't always have happy endings. I met with a person on Friday who had hit bottom. They were totally drowning in shame and guilt. But here's the funny part of addiction...and I don't mean "ha-ha" funny. They wanted out of the mess that comes with using. They wanted a fresh start. They wanted it to happen their way. In other words, they were searching for the easier, softer way as the Big Book of A.A. states it. I told them that they needed to get connected with some folks that could guide them as the navigate out of all the mess and destruction. Some folks that could point to the real HIGHER POWER, Jesus. I mentioned several meetings that they could take advantage of, and when I mentioned VRC they assured me that they would be there on Saturday night. So last night I kept looking for them to come through the door. It never happened. I don't really know why they didn't come, but I do have a guess that it might not have been good. So without mentioning their name, We, as a group, prayed for this person. It's 4:56 A.M. on Sunday Morning, and I still lift the prayer to God that He would keep this individual from further destruction. To be honest with you, we've buried too many...way too many. 

After the meeting, folks seemed to hang around a bit longer than normal. This is my favorite time. Small groups gathered all around the room. Laughter....hugs....Shouts of "See you next week!" I stand and take it all in. Driving home, I have the same thought I have each week after VRC. "Wow God, you did good! How are you going to top that?" You know what? Next Saturday He will. He's that kind of God, isn't He?

God on you...

Friday, July 21, 2017

Simple Light

Matthew 5:14
You are the light of the world---like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.

There are certain things that take place in a person's life that you just know, are from God. That His Spirit is at work and has brought change to this life that only He could do. The person in question had chased the darkness for many years, leaving a trail of destruction behind them. But today, as you talk to them, you can attest to the fact that God has indeed brought them back from the dead, and has given them new life. I refer to these individuals as "Payday's". In other words, the effort to lead them to Jesus....their receiving His salvation offer...and their desire to change even more is  confirmation to me that God is still on the throne, and His word has not lost any of its power. In other words, Isaiah 59:1 is still in effect: "Listen! The Lord's arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too dead to hear you call."

I traveled over to St. Elmo's Cathedral last night. That is the term we use to describe the meeting place at Shane Elmore's Transitional House. Seth Barber was in charge of bringing the food and the Word, both of which he delivered on, might I add. Seth spoke from I Corinthians 6:17, and the need to separate from the old friends, old play grounds, and old way of thinking. It was a good word that Seth brought, using examples of his own life to show that the Power of God can indeed bring new life to those who are truly ready to change.

Afterwards, there is always a lot of back-slapping, "pray for me"..and hand shakes that goes on. Making my way to my car, I was standing, talking with Jeremiah Smith, when a man who'd been in the meeting came up. This particular individual is one who has truly turned from his old ways. He hasn't just given lip service to this change....He has cast off everything from his past and is now chasing this Jesus like nobodies business. He burns with a passion to know God more.

I asked him, "If God were standing here, right now in front of you, and He asked you, "What do you need?" What would you tell Him.  This man stood there in silence for a long words at all. His eyes filled with tears, and you could tell by the look on his face that these were tears of gratitude...."I don't need anything", he replied...."Just Him". 

This individual has a ways to go yet in his recovery. Everything is not perfect in his life, and there are still battles he must fight. But to say that He only wants more of God, tells me that he has found the secret of being content no matter what situation he is facing. He truly has embraced the truth that "He can do all things through Christ who strengthens him." 

Jeremiah and I got to pray for this man..
Thanking God for the blessing that is flowing to others through this individual. That Grace and Mercy follow him wherever he goes, and that he would never stop telling his story to others.

Driving away from the meeting, I couldn't help but be a bit jazzed, thinking to myself..."God, you just beat everything, you know that?" It was a good night...

God on you...


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Goodness Gracious

Matthew 28:18
Jesus came and told his disciples, "I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth."

Matthew 10:1
Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness.

Every believer is given authority and power to walk out this relationship with Jesus through the filling or indwelling of God's Holy Spirit. I can't explain the "how" of it, I just know it to be the truth through what has happened to me.

Authority means that we have been given the right to act on behalf of the Kingdom of God.
What is the Kingdom of God?
Where ever God's rule is being carried out in the hearts of women and men.
Power means that our authority has teeth to it.
Authority  means we have the right....
Power means we have the ability......

In other words, when a person becomes saved and begins this relationship with Jesus...
they have the right to walk in this new life.
They have the right to be changed from their old lifestyle...
They have the right to defend themselves from the attacks of our enemy, the devil (Yes, Virginia..there is a devil).
But more than just possessing the right...God has given us the power!
I find that a lot of people have a hard time believing this.

Jesus told his disciples in Acts 1:8 : "But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power....."
Some will say, "I don't feel as though I have power."
It isn't about your feelings.
It is a stated fact from Jesus..."You will receive power."
If we have this power, then why don't we see it manifested more in our lives?
Maybe because of our doubt and fear brought about by our lack of trust in Jesus.
The devil wants to keep us bound in fear and doubt. In this place, we don't rely on Jesus.
We tend to be trapped by our past and, at the same time, fearful of what the future may hold.
We forget those two words spoken by Jesus to us...."Follow me."
Follow means that we get behind and walk in step with.
IF I am behind Jesus, walking and following, then I am hidden from the enemy.
When he looks for me, he sees Jesus. And he really doesn't want to tussle with Jesus.

We have been given power.
Power to walk out this new life.
Power to tell others about what Jesus has done to us and through us.
Father God.....
I confess that I haven't been walking in power.
I have been walking in fear.
Today, I choose to accept and hold fast to the truth that you indeed have given me the authority and power to be your witness here on earth.
I ask that you manifest yourself in me today as I walk and love and share with others what you have done for me.
I will not cower in fear to the threats of my enemy, the devil, but rather choose to take hold of your hand and move through this day, facing each situation knowing that you have given me authority and power.
Thank you Lord, that you have not given up on me.
I chose this day to not give up on you....
In Jesus name....

Go live!
God on you....

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pulling One Out Of the GSL Archives

(The following is a reprint from July 2014)

Wimber on the value of relationships:
"The vertical relationship with God has its outworking in horizontal relationships of love between people. (I John 4:19-21). Christianity is not a system of religion. It is a way of life, a way of relating in love to God, people and the environment that God has placed them in.

The church in America has taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way. I don't want to come across as being some kind of religious judge, nor do I wish to simply act as though every thing is peachy-keen. I simply want to say what God has placed on my heart.

Too much effort, time and money is being poured into the structure of the church, with no thought to the life of the church. People are asked to tithe more and more...give more and prop up the structure. John use to say that you have only two types of churches. (1) life in search of structure, and (2) structure in search of life. I fear that more and more are falling into the #2 category. I spoke with someone recently whose heart was breaking. Their church had divided and there was a lot of division and factions speaking against each other. This person was upset and you could tell that they were wounded deeply by all the bickering. "We only have about 75 people coming on Sunday." This statement was couched with the emotion that "Our church isn't very valuable because we don't have a lot of people coming." I asked them, "Which had you rather have----75 people who fall in love with Jesus and are sold out to doing the stuff of the Kingdom.....or 500 who simply come and never fully participate in the kingdom work?" 
I'll take the 75. 

 I've said this before, but I don't know that people really believe it, or they just don't hear it. The success of any church....any movement or denomination is not measured by the bank account and the number that attend each week. The success is measured by the quality of people produced by that church. Do they love Jesus? Are they about the business of the Kingdom when they aren't at church? Are they motivated by love to reach out to those around them? That is the measure. Do they know how to worship? Do they know how to worship corporately in community with others....and by themselves? Do they realize that their first and most high calling to God is to worship Him? 

Do they fully grasp the concept and directive from Jesus that they are not to be about the business of making converts, but rather making disciples? Such is what a successful church does. The true measurement of any church is the character of the people, and the fact that they are ministering every day where ever they may be. Praying for people, feeding people...reaching out to people. Not in an effort to enfold them into their church, but simply because that is what our Father expects of us. We do the Kingdom work because we have been called. And you know what? We can do without a committee. We can do it even when the pastor isn't around. We don't have to wait for the deacons or elders to give us the green light. Do you get it? We serve and minister because that is what we have been called to do. 

On the surface, if you look at VRC, you would feel very sorry for it.
Attendance wise, we probably have anywhere from 30 to 50.
But within those 30 to 50, we have a core group who are committed to learn how to serve and "do the kingdom work". More than this, you have to take in consideration those who are tied to VRC  who don't even live in this state. Daily they come to this blog page to receive a word from encouragement to keep on and not give up.....

Not to mention those who call me on a regular basis to let me know their status and to share their God encounters with me. God has raised up others to start recovery meetings as a result of our work in recovery. I guess some people are able to raise up those who go out and plant churches. We are about the business of planting meetings where the name of Jesus is lifted up as the answer to addiction.
And one last thing....
That 30 to 50 who come to VRC..........there is a constant roll over so it's never the same ones.
Our goal as a church?
Love 'em to death and influence them to really take a look at who Jesus is and the mission that every believer is called to participate in. That mission burns on our hearts, not because we have to do it......but because we want to!

Love those who come and reveal Jesus to them. Not the church Jesus.....Not the denomination Jesus...but the real-deal Jesus of the Bible.

Wimber taught us that who we worship is the most important thing there is.
You may be thinking, "Well duh! We worship Jesus."
Do we? Does everyone who nails the word church to their building really worship the Trinity?
Here's how I see it.

Some worship God the Father, God the Son......and God the Holy Church. Here we have an over emphasis of the church as the only real frame of reference to knowing God. The end result is traditionalism.

Then you have some who worship God the Father, God the Son,  God the Holy Bible. Exalting the word of God above the Spirit of God. This results in legalism and fundamentalism (ideology).

Some groups worship God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Experience. Seeking the supernatural and the spiritual gifts as an end in itself. This results in sensationalism. Also leads to a sense of elitism as though those who receive such are living this relationship with Christ on a higher level than the average believer.

Others worship God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ministry. The ministry and mission of the church becomes the only and all-consuming reason for its existence. The results are that the people are driven to measure everything by performance.

Last but not least....
The One I strive for and to worship as pastor of VRC....
is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Receiving and honoring the Spirit of God by giving Him His correct place within the church. Doing so results in the incarnation, the presence, power and freedom of the Father and the Son.
Jesus said, "I and my Father will come and dwell in you."  (John 14:23).
Is VRC the perfect church with perfect people? Heaven's no. We are a busted up, messed up group of folk's who are simply learning a new way to live according to our Father in heaven.
But we are about the business of change. Why? Because we have done time on the dark side and now we are free. 
 God on you this day...

Monday, July 17, 2017

Ending The Weekend In Glorious Fashion

John 1:4
The WORD gave life to everything that was created,  and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can NEVER extinguish it.

What an incredible ending last night to what turned out to be a really great weekend.
Friday night, I spoke at Celebrate Recovery Centre.
Great worship....
Friends....some old, and some new ones.
Stories of what God is doing in the lives of those who were once on the road to darkness and death.
That's what I love about hanging out with people in recovery. There is an honesty and hear-felt appreciation for what God has done to them and for them. There is a real hunger to share their story.

Saturday night's VRC meeting was a continuation of our journey through the book of James.
What did we find out Saturday night? 
#1) The difference between "Testing" and "Temptation".
Testing comes from God to reveal the weak places in our character and thoughts. Weak places where the devil can gain a foothold, so to speak, in order to reap destruction in our lives. Temptation comes from the devil, and is an instrument he uses to stir up our emotion and sin/nature to turn away from God, and indulge ourselves in sin. It's an invitation to feed our wrongful desires.

Sunday at Northside Baptist, was a time of worship, lots of laughter (these folks love a good laugh). I might be wrong, but I do believe that someone once said that laughter was the best medicine. If that be the case, then we had ourselves a whole pharmacy yesterday. Taught from Exodus 4, Moses' encounter with God. Moses throwing down his staff, as God commanded, only to see it turn into a serpent. I shared how this was a symbol of the things we need to throw down to God that keeps us from growing in Him. Like the staff, which was nothing more than a dead piece of wood Moses used to lean on, so are the attitudes, behaviors, thoughts and deeds we lean on rather than trust God to see us through. We can't really see the extent of how we have relied on these things until we cast them away from ourselves and allow God to show us exactly what we've been trusting in.

At the beginning of this posting, I wrote how last night at Catalyst Recovery was the perfect ending to a great weekend. Here is why I say this.
After I'd finished speaking, and ministry time was taking place, I'd moved back from the stage to a chair on the front row. Greg, who has been staying at Elmo's transitional house, came and motioned for me to come over where he was standing. Greg had a young man standing with him. Now Greg is one that God has gotten a hold of and turned inside out. I mean Greg has sold himself out to this Jesus. Greg introduced me to the young man, who was now crying .....let me rephrase that...sobbing was more like it. Between sobs, the young man said...."I can't live like this any longer"......"I need Jesus"......So right there, over in a corner, this young man was saved. If ever there was such a thing as "More than saved"....It happened to him. As he prayed, the tears came harder, only they weren't tears of conviction anymore. They were tears of joy and release. They were tears of freedom from a life that was killing him one day at a time. It was the perfect ending to a great weekend.

Oh yeah....
One last thing.....
The young man who was saved is Greg's son.
There was a celebration to beat all celebrations. 

That God is something else, isn't he?

Make it a great day today...
Be thankful and find gratitude for what God has done in your life.
Until tomorrow

God on you...


Saturday, July 15, 2017

C.R. In Centre

Step # 1 --- I am powerless....
Step # 1 / Part II ....My life has become unmanageable...

Romans 7:18
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but hot to perform what is good I do not find.

Last night found me up in Centre, Alabama for Celebrate Recovery at the R.O.C.
This is my thirteenth year to be making this journey. Lot of memories whenever I make the drive up there to speak. Good memories...lots of friends there. Walking into that building is like coming home. It's like being with a friend you haven't seen in a while. You know the kind of friend I'm talking about. No matter how long its been since you were last together, you pick right up where you left off. That is what C.R. fills like to me when ever I'm asked to come back to share and speak...... I get to meet old friends.

It was a great evening, and I got to find out what's been going on at C.R. Centre since the last time I was there. I'm not sure about this, but I think maybe the Centre C.R. has something that you might not find at other C.R.'s. A couple who came through the step studies...dealing with their own junk, found Jesus in a new way and are now living in East Asia.. How cool is that? This couple, Joel and Somer,  sent a video message to the group last night, speaking on the importance of forming relationships with like minded people who are on this road to recovery. I remember Joel from his days of playing in the worship band at C.R. But wowzers!!! Living overseas? There is no end to what God can do in the life of someone who is just crazy enough to climb out of the ditch and walk the path laid out for them. Blessings of the nth degree to Joel and Somer as they live and teach in East Asia. Now that is hard-core good!

After the meeting, I'm standing around speaking with different people as they came up to talk, when a man approached me. He introduced himself, shook my hand and proceeded to tell me his story. His intro was.."I love the way you teach. Haven't heard that style in a long time." Never considered myself to have a style,but I guess I do. This man went on to tell me that he had grown up in Calvary Chapel back in the 70's. He was there when John and Carol Wimber were ministering with Chuck Smith, the senior pastor of Calvary Chapel.. Of all the places in the world to run into some of my history, Centre would not have been on that list. He told me that he really needed to hear not only what I had to say, but the way I said it. That if had brought back so many good memories from his past. 

As I drove back to Attalla, the meeting still fresh in my mine, I was filled with a sense of gratitude for all that God has done in my life, and in the life of my family. The people He has let me meet. The places He lets me go. The times when I get to see Him move on a crowd of people, and lives are changed. All of these are wrapped up in memories I can pull out when times get hard, and remember the goodness and faithfulness of God. Like I said...."It was a good night up in Centre."

God on you....


Friday, July 14, 2017

Where Is The Voice That Calls Us To Holiness And Purity?

Ezekiel 44:23
They will teach my people the difference between what is holy and what is common, what is ceremonially clean and what is unclean.

Seems to me today that there aren't any voices (or at least I am not aware of any) that are speaking about what is holy in our society and what isn't. We seem to have adopted a "don't ask, don't tell" attitude about what is and isn't acceptable for those who are believers. You won't hear a lot of messages about purity and holiness. Why? Because it infringes upon our liberty. The one statement that I hold to is one that I heard years ago. Liberty and freedom do not give you the right to do what you want to do.......if affords you the opportunity to do what you ought to do.

Seems to me that some are offended at the idea of there being any standard to morality. A standard of purity and holiness that lifts us from the pit of self indulgence, and places us in the light and call to live as Christ instructs.

We somehow have the idea that because we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us we can take the attitudes and behaviors of the world and turn then into things that are Holy before God. I don't believe that is the way it works. Whenever I get involved in deciding what is right, pure and holy, I will probably pour in an unhealthy portion of my own fleshly, sinful desire. These two attitudes  (1.) A life of holiness and (2.) A life ruled by flesh, cannot coexist.  Contrary to the belief of some, the call to follow Christ is simply that.....a call to follow. It doesn't operate on majority opinion dictates what is right and what is acceptable. Christ has set the standard, not us.

For some, they want to set the limits in their recovery....
They want to be free and clear of drugs and/or alcohol...
But not their old friends and hangouts.
They want to be clear of their legal issues and court appearances...
But not rid themselves of the defects of character than led them to this point in their life.
In other words....Some want just enough Jesus to get them out of hell, but still allows them to pursue the leading's of their sinful nature. What I'm about to say isn't grammatically correct....."It ain't working this way...never has...never will."
We are called to pursue holiness, and such isn't a list of do's and don't's. It is a heart attitude that only Christ can bring to us. I don't live the way I do, now that I've been saved, because I have to. I live this way because I want to.

Think on this today-----Are there things in your life that are displeasing to God? Do you try and justify your actions under the guise of God's grace?
Seek that which is holy and cut off, and remove that which isn't.
God on you...........

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Name Game

Proverbs 22:1
A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.

I can remember, as a child, going to spend the night at a friends house. Before leaving, there was always a list of rules to go over by mother.
         #1- say "Yes man...Yes sir"
         #2- eat whatever they put on your plate come suppertime.
         #3- Don't make them have to get on to you....
The list would go on and on.....
It wasn't until years later that I realized that the reason for the list was not to keep me in line (that was a supposed by product of giving me the list), but to not shame my mothers name...the family name....

You see, lets suppose that I got to my friends house and proceeded to trash the furniture. Or maybe I just disobeyed their rules and, at the same time, declared that they couldn't make me behave because "They weren't my parents"....Well, it would not be old Michael Bynum's name that got bandied about through the community sir-ee Bob! IT would be Florine Bynum's name. I was a reflection of who she was. I was evidence of whether or not she raised me right. Rest assured, she did. I can't count the number of journeys I set out on to find, and cut a switch so that my mother could whip me. Or in the vernacular of the day, she set about to "kinnel them legs". I knew my mother loved me, and even though the whipping was not pleasurable on my end, I knew (after it was over) that is served me well to learn from it so as not to be asked to go and find another switch.

Sometimes I think we forget that we carry around the name of our heavenly Father. That our actions and behavior reflect on Him more than ourselves. Case in point.....Election time is coming up here in our state. The airwaves are being filled by solicitations to vote for a particular candidate. These commercials usually, at some point, refer to the said candidate's "Christian values"...or that they are a "Strong Christian". I'm not here to say that anyone who is running for office is or isn't a follower of Jesus....But I did mention to my wife that if we did go by all the commercials we've seen over the past 10 years, then Montgomery should be full of Christians. Laws should be getting passed, and the people of the sate should not worry about how the government is being run. But you know what? It's easy to say that you claim the name of Christ, when your actions may tell a different story. Bottom line is that the name of Christ gets smeared in the mud.

The same as when any prominent pastor/teacher is uncovered in scandal. Because of a hidden sin, they are uncovered and disgraced. Such actions always lead those who are living outside of God's will to start up the cry..."Why should I believe this God....I'm as good as any of those Christians"....And the word Christian is usually pronounced with sneer, as if it were being dragged through the mud. I do not think this pleases my heavenly Father. I think it, in fact, breaks His heart to see His name used in this way. To use His name for political advancement, or to manipulate a way into a position of power.

Whenever I'm teaching or speaking to a group who are in recovery, I usually ask them, "What do people say when your name is mentioned in your home town?" The response usually includes such names as "junkie"...."addict"..."liar"..."Thief"..."Low down sorry person"...
I continue by asking, "How did these folks arrive at this view?" Of course the answer is "By what I've done in the past." I then tell them that if they truly surrender will and life over to God's care, and receive His salvation, then God will rebuild your name, your reputation, and restore your self-worth as you follow Him. In other words, your name will be viewed as being a person of integrity...someone who keeps their words...someone who does the right thing. As it says in the Proverbs passage..."A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches."

Chew on this today and see what God would tell you.
God on you...


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

"And a man shall leave his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two shall become as one...."

In the midst of all the darkness surrounding addiction there are those moments where things are set right.
When all the destruction of a life gone off the rails is put back together and set straight on a new course.

Yesterday was one of those moments.

The wedding of John and Tamara Powers.

Simple ceremony....
But as I stood there reciting the vows, I watched these two individuals look at each other with eyes that said way more than words ever could. They truly love each other.

I knew John from his time at Rapha many years ago.
When I met Tamara, I realized that she and I had a connection through my time at Celebrate Recovery in Centre.
So on this journey in sobriety and a new way of doing business in this old world, these two had been brought together. 

My prayer for the couple is that their love for God and each other would grow with every passing day.
This marriage thing is a blessing and, at the same time, something that has to be worked at daily. But the memories that are built from such effort are well worth it.

Father, I ask your blessings to be upon John and Tamara as they begin this new part of their life together. Be a voice of reason when storms come their way. Be a sure foundation for when life tries to keep them off balance. Be a light for them when times get dark. And fill them with Your joy, that they may be complete, whole and ready to follow where ever you lead....

I pray this in the name of my Lord and Savior...
Jesus Christ...

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

It's Not About Where You Are...It's Who You Know

Psalm 137: 1-2 / 4
By the rivers of Babylon there we sat down, yea we wept when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it.
How shall we sing the Lord's song in a foreign Land?

Here we have the lament of a people taken into captivity to live as slaves. Taken away from everything they know, everything that brought them comfort and forced to live in a land that was foreign to them.
They have "hung up their harps." They have ceased to worship God. Now let it be known that the reason this people were taken away is because of their sin against God. They forgot their "first love" and turned to the gods of the nations around them. They became ungrateful for what God had done for them. They cast off the instruction of God to pursue the lust of their own imagination. Here, at the river Chebar, in a foreign land they have given up.
Yet there is such a contrast that we read in Scripture between what is going on in Psalm 137 and what is going on with a single man who is among those who are lamenting their lot in life.

A man.....a priest who never got to serve in that office was among the captives there by the Chebar river. We read his words in Ezekiel 1:1 - "I was among the captives by the river Chebar that the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God."
He was not mourning or weeping. Ezekiel was not fixed or focused on his past. He was focused on a "now" moment. God revealed Himself to Ezekiel in ways that no other prophet had seen. What an amazing contrast between these two. One group of captives who mourned over what they had lost and where they currently were, and a man (in the middle of the captives) who saw the heavens opened.

Where are you today? Are you trapped by where your past deeds have brought you to? Are you sitting and mourning over what might have been? Is darkness and depression causing you to give up? Like the captives do you proclaim your inability to worship God? Or are you going to detach yourself from your past and allow God to open the heavens for you? No one is saying that you'll be able to forget the past or the things that you have done, but what I am saying is that God, through your confession and repentance, will frame your memories in such a way that they do not bring guilt and shame to you. I know! He has done this for me.

You can choose to sit and mourn in your current state, or you can call out to God and see your salvation. I choose this day to accept the goodness of God and move on in my life. I choose to serve Him in whatever capacity He might have for me today. As I heard one man say, "It doesn't matter if your taking a nap, cleaning the toilet or raising the dead, with God it all pays the same."
Don't allow your current place in life to drag you down and destroy you. Cry out to God and He will answer you!

Psalm 138:7
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me. You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me.
That is a promise...

God on you.....

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 ...