Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tickling Them Thar Ear-bones!!


Deflation of ego is first step in recovery.....
I am powerless....
I need a power greater than me, who can restore me....
I turn will and life over to God......


New Message in audio section of Greene Street Letters ready for your auditory enjoyment!
God on you...
mbb

January 28 1999


I Corinthians 2:1-2
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.


January 28th is a kind of anniversary of sorts for me. Maybe that is the wrong terminology...to say it is my anniversary. it really isn't about me...it's about God.
Him at work...me cooperating with Him. Him exercising power.....me an empty conduit for that power to move and touch. any who, I digress...it is an anniversary.


I came to Rapha in August of 1998. I was simply someone who filled in where I was needed. Some days it was to oversee a class....other times it was to show a video to the group. In December of that year, Steve Yarbrough approached me about taking over a time slot to teach. I immediately said yes and told Steve that I would teach a "God-101" class, kind of an intro to God. My first group started in January of 1999. The dynamic of teaching such a group was a whole other ball game than what I had was accustom to. Those first classes were not very good and thank God that He didn't give up on me. I am grateful as well to those who had to sit in those first excruciating teachings. I stumbled and fumbled thoughts and words, but I kept on coming back every day to teach.

Through the class time and the questions that seem to come my way, I learned to "hear" God on the fly (that is how I refer to it). In other words, the Holy Spirit truly became my guide taking me to Scriptures to help answer questions that were asked. He helped me to learn how to directthe flow of the teaching so that it was exactly what God wanted to teach rather than some meandering trip into topics that had no value to the group. 

On January 28, 1999, I finished up the days teaching and began to talk about God's desire to have relationship with us. I spoke of His love and mercy that was present for all who gave up life and will over to His care. As I began to pray, a young man off to my side began to cry. Bending over and placing his hands over his face, you could tell that God was all over this man. As quickly as the crying had started, he began to rock back and forth and the crying grew harder.  There was a struggle going on for this young man's very soul. There was evidence that there were demonic spirits involved trying to keep him from entering into this offer for salvation. Much prayer and interaction with the young man only brought out more of the demonization. But, God was not to be denied. The young man renounced all the darkness and sin he had embraced. He renounced the presence of the demonic influences in his life. With each declaration of wanting to break free from the darkness, the presence of God grew stronger. Finally the young man screamed at the top of his voice, "I want to be saved...I want God!!!" It all broke with that declaration. Salvation came to this young man. He looked different. He talked different. He was different. He was now a new believer....a child of God. Brad had been freed from the demons and darkness that had held him in bondage for years.

This was the first man who was saved in my class at Rapha. Each one since then, who comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is a celebration to God's faithfulness. I never will tire of seeing lives changed and the name of Christ celebrated. Lives changed...that's what it's all about. As I've mentioned before....every time someone gets saved, that is payday to me.

I haven't heard from this young man in years....
But on this day, I always think back to the first work God did in that cafeteria there on the compound at Rapha, and I have to declare..."God is good!"

God on you...
mb

Monday, January 30, 2017

Going Back To My Roots


Psalm 40:3
And he has put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God.......

A funny thing happened on this journey we call life.
Last October, I received a call from John Ritchey, a good friend and co-worker when I was at Rapha. John has been a pastor for a number of years, and was pastor at Northside Baptist Church. He told me that it was time for him to retire, and asked if I would fill in and teach for the month of December.


I had spoken there on several occasions, filling in for John, so I knew the people and the church very well. "Sure I will John. It would be an honor," I told him. So I went ready to fill in for the month. You need to understand that my particular way of teaching is not the standard "3-point" sermon or lesson. I was brought up in the school of speaking and hearing God on the fly, so to speak. In other words, all my years at Rapha  teaching Bible studies 4 and 5 times a week taught me to follow the Spirit at the drop of a hat. I don't consider myself to be an outstanding teacher, but I do teach the word.

Well, December turned into January....
And January is turning into February....
And I am having a blast.....
The folks who attend Northside are like family.
In some ways, this whole thing of teaching there reminds me of the church I grew up at Gallant.
There is a strong love for each other, as well as the other churches in the area.

And a over whelming love for God, to carry out the kingdom call that rests on Northside.

Last night I attended a community sing at Northside.
Every 5th Sunday, the churches in the area gather and have a praise service. Last night was Northsides time to host. The church was packed.....lot's of hugs and handshakes to go around....room full of "Hi ya'll doing!" and "Good to see ya!". 

As I sat there waiting for the service to begin, I thought to myself, "God, you sure do have a sense of humor." You see, I felt as though had brought me full-circle back to where my roots were......A small country church. The faces were different, but I could see Mr. Whisenant in the bass section....big booming, empty voice that could reach notes that didn't exist on sheet music. There was Mrs. Chandler....equal in volume to Mr. Whisenant, but following the Alto.  Being there last night was like coming home.

The music ranged from Gaither tunes to bluegrass, and there was even a blues number.
There were some contemporary praise tunes sung by several young folks....
And hymns.....oh how there were hymns....
"How Great Thou Art"......
"I shall not be moved".....

"He touched me"........
Each one taking us deeper and deeper into God's presence.

The room was thick with His presence.

I'm not sure, but I believe that there were 4 or 5 churches that were represented there last night. No one-up-man-ship in that room. Just a common love for God and His church.
How can you argue with such...
I saw unity of the body of Christ for the first time in a long time.
I came away encouraged by the whole evening.

I am, and always will be, a Vineyard pastor.
I will (at least I think I will) always be tied to recovery....
But for this season, I am grateful that God has connected to, and with, Northside Baptist Church.
God's ways really are mysterious.....
Aren't they?

God on you...

mbb

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Drugs And Alcohol: The Universal Solution To Problems Of Darkness




II Timothy 3:1
But know this, that in the last days perilous (stressful) times will come.

Perilous = stress.
Stress = pressure

Pressure = the need for coping 
Coping = the need to handle whatever situation we may find ourselves facing.
Whatever situation we may find ourselves facing = Jesus.

Why can't this simple equation be grasped? Well it is simple and yet, at the same time, becomes very complicated when you and I get involved. It is simple because Jesus is at the center of the solution to whatever we face. The solution is not found in chemicals or alcohol.
I think too often that when people here the word "Jesus" they automatically think church. They think this, because this is the only frame of reference they have to understand who Jesus is. Occasionally they may think "Televangelist" which only complicated the picture (if you know what I mean).  Very seldom do they see the Jesus of the Bible. The loving, caring, giving, Savior of all mankind. Those who know Him and those yet to know Him all fall under His care and focus.

The darkness of a sin/addiction only drives the individual farther and farther away from the truth.  What comes as conviction from the Holy Spirit is often lost in translation to a heart that is far removed from Christ. By that I mean, at the first signs of conviction, the pain and remorse for things done, people hurt and words spoken, rather than surrender and accept the loving salvation Jesus offers, the individual runs to the comfort and numbness of their drug of choice. 
Does that mean that such a person if beyond the reach of God? No! What we must do is allow God to work in each of us, to be a voice of love and reason to draw that person into the light of Christ so they can see themselves as Jesus sees them. Not as something or someone that is worthless and has no value. 

If the scripture from II Timothy 3 is true, then we should not be surprised at the condition of the world we see all around us today. Self indulgent..........Self centered......all about image and how we appear to others....lovers of pleasure....haters of what is good...We should take all of this in and see it for what it truly is. The harvest is white. The harvest is now. Lives are at a stage where they are ripe to receive the gospel of Jesus. I know this because whenever I go somewhere to speak, when ministry time is opened, the front is flooded with people who want to know this Jesus. This has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with the work of God's Holy Spirit in the meeting. People are ready to come into the Kingdom of God, they are just waiting on someone to tell them that this God is real and He really does love them. 

A person does not have to medicate themselves into oblivion to feel alive. A person does not have to drink themselves into a coma in order to escape the darkness. All that has to be done is surrender. Give up. Turn to this Jesus and cry out to Him...."Lord, help me..I'm so tired of living like this. Save me please!" Don't be surprised if He doesn't take you up on it.

God on you...

mb

Friday, January 27, 2017

Communion On The Moon


(I usually don't reprint previous postings here at the Greene Street Letters. But going back through the archives, I found this one. As I read it, I felt God nudging me to put it up this morning. Sometimes we just need to hear the whole story).


I found an interesting article in Dr. David Reagan's E-zine LAMPLIGHTER. It tells of an event that happened on the day Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon. Mankind's first steps on a body outside of our own earth took place on July 20, 1969.

As most of you know the two men who landed on the moon were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. What has not been known, until recently, were the events that took place after the landing and before the astronauts left the lunar lander to began their historic excursion.

Two and a half hours after landing, before exiting their module for their first moon walk, Buzz Aldrin radioed Mission Control and said, "This is the LM pilot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and where ever they may be to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way."

Aldrin then proceeded to take communion personally and privately. In an article he wrote for Guideposts in the 70's, Aldrin described the communion service as follows:
In the radio blackout, I opened the little plastic packages which
contained the bread and the wine. I poured the win into the
chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity
of the moon, the wine slowly curled and gracefully came up
the side of the cup. Then I read the Scripture, "I am the vine, you
are the branches. whosoever abides in Me will bring forth much fruit."
I ate the tiny Host and swallowed the wine. I gave thanks for the
intelligence and spirit that had brought two young pilots to the
Sea of Tranquility. It was interesting for me to think: the very first
liquid ever poured on the moon, and the very first food eaten there, were
the communion elements."
The communion service was not announced at the time. In fact, it was kept secret by NASA until Aldrin revealed it in his book, Return to Earth, published in 1973. The reason for the secrecy is that at the time of the Apollo 11 mission, NASA was fighting a law suit brought by Madalyn Murray O'Hair who had objected to the Apollo 8 crew reading from the book of Genesis during a broadcast as the crew circled the moon.
Think of the accolades that Neil Armstrong received for being the first man on the moon, but think of the pleasure that God received, as Buzz Aldrin recognized his Lord and Savior there on the moon.
As Paul Harvey would say, "And now you know the rest of the story."
God on you.......
mb

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Getting Real

"We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, honesty and open-mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable."  Big book of A.A. (Page 568)
 Psalm 51:6
Surely You desire truth in the inner parts....
You teach me wisdom in the inmost place...

I seem to be parked in a place where God is showing me the need for complete honesty in my life. The only way this is going to happen is if I cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Allowing God to reveal my own heart so that I can see what He sees when it comes to the real Michael Bynum. Not always a fun place to go, if you know what I mean.

Part of me wants to ask..."Hey God! Will there ever be a time when this process is over...this seeing the "real" me, I mean?" But the answer that usually comes back to me is a loving, but resounding "No!". Reckon why this is? Because the longer I walk with God, the more aware I am of His holiness. The more aware I am of His righteousness. This awareness of His holy perfection only illuminates my own heart. I see not just the presence of bitterness or jealousy, anger or unforgiveness....but I also see the potential that my heart is capable of producing if I allow my flesh to be involved in my daily decisions. Such is why I need discipline in my life to keep me focused on God.

Galatians 5:16 tells us to "live by the Spirit". And that by doing so, "We will not gratify (or give into) the desires of the sinful nature. News flash!!! We all are born with this nature. Such is the very reason that Christ came to die on a cross. To pay the penalty for the sin debt we run up because we listen and live by the desires of this nature that seeks to direct and control us. Paul goes on to write in the Galatians passage..."For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature." It really is like the cartoons I use to watch growing up....

These two "voices" that run through our thoughts are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.

Sounds like something out of the Twilight Zone doesn't it? But if we are capable of listening to the right voice (that of the Holy Spirit) and obey what He is leading us to do, we will see evidence in our behavior that we are on the right track to sustaining this new life we have found in Christ.

Life is hard, is it not? Life is messy, and life is a struggle from time to time. But life doesn't have to weighed down and covered up by the evidence of our history of bad choices. The term "Recovery" is exactly what it means. We think of recovery as the ability to recover from our using. In other words, abstinence from drugs and alcohol. While this is true, real recovery is about the recovery of life. To take the high ground to a life where we can face whatever comes our way without retreating into that dark world of death and destruction that addiction brings to us. Never doubt for one moment that addiction is not a "EQUAL OPPORTUNITY DESTROYER". He is.

God on you....
mbb

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Huh? Leviticus? Really?


Leviticus 1:1-2
The LORD called to Moses from the Tabernacle and said to him...."Give the following instructions to the Israelites...."
I do love me some Leviticus.
"What?"
"Are you crazy....Leviticus is the dullest of the dull. Why I'd just as soon watch paint dry as to read this book!"
I use to think that until I began to see what was going on, and how it applied to my every-day-walking-around-eating-sleeping-life.
Lets take a look at how we got to the book of Leviticus.

God has delivered and removed Israel from the land of Egypt.
This was the land where they lived 400+ years.
I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I do believe if a group of people live in the same spot....the same country for an extended period of time, they would tend to take on the customs and habits of the society. You would have a tendency to lose your cultural identity to some degree.
Bingo! That is exactly what happened to Israel. They (As the Bangles so aptly put it) walked like an Egyptian, talked like an Egyptian, acted like an Egyptian. Now I don't want to stretch this to a view that isn't realistic. There were people within the Hebrew community who still tried to follow God.

Anywho, the people began to cry out to God to come and deliver them. God heard. God acted.
God delivered them with power and took them away from the influence of the Egyptian culture.
But as the old saying goes...you can take the boy out of Egypt but you can't take Egypt out of the boy. Well, in this case, you can.
You see God instituted rules for living.
Rules of righteous and right living because he knew it was going to take time for the people to adapt to a new way of seeing life.
That is why Leviticus and Number as well as the book of Deuteronomy is so exciting to me. Here we have the standards for life in this new community of people. 

So how does this all apply to me?
First off...I have not been called to live by the dietary or religious rules found in these books. It is helpful, however, for me to understand the extent that God does want to invade my life and change for his kingdom and his plans. I am not free to run willy-nilly through my day with an occasional passing thought on God and his purposes. He is center and at the front of every thing I say and do. I want to please him. I want to grow in him. I want to learn to "hear" him better and then follow the dictates of his will. I can't do this if I am steeped in the culture of today. I have to live in this culture, but I don't have to be a part of it. I don't have to sell myself to it and embrace its beliefs. 

The Life Recovery Bible states the purpose of the book of Leviticus:
To show that God desires to have personal fellowship with those who turn to him. Only through the channels of worship and personal obedience to God can we fully experience the cleansing and freedom he offers to those who believe.

The book of Leviticus shows us a God who is beyond our imagination. A God who is holy, pure, clean, sinless and perfect. As you read the book you'll come across countless rules and regulations given to the Israelites. These only confirm to us the truth of God's nature and character. The people needed to humbly obey God if they wanted to live in close fellowship with him. But despite his holiness, God reached (and still does so) out to a broken and sinful people. He provides a way---(though the path is difficult)  for all to recover from their past failures.

The laws and sacrifices we read about in Leviticus point to or can be viewed as a type and shadow of God's later provision of the perfect sacrifice...........Jesus Christ. Because of Jesus' death and resurrection, we no longer need animal sacrifices to atone for our sins. Instead, it is through believing in God's loving forgiveness and in Christ's power over sin and death that we are saved.

Is that cool or what?
God on you....
mb

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Prayer Request



James 5:16
.....The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

I John 5:14-15
And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him. And since we know He hears us when we make our requests, we also know that He will give us what we ask for.

What is Prayer? – Talking With God
What is prayer? Prayer is our direct line with heaven. Prayer is a communication process that allows us to talk to God! He wants us to communicate with Him, like a person-to-person phone call. Cell phones and other devices have become a necessity to some people in today’s society. We have bluetooth devices, blackberries, and talking computers! These are means of communication that allow two or more people to interact, discuss, and respond to one another. 

Here is a quote from E.M. Bounds, taken from his writings on prayer:  "Prayer is the currency that moves heaven."  Just as the dollar is the currency that causes the wheels of commerce and business to move here in our country, prayer is what moves God to act and affect people and nations here on earth.
Take the idea of praying for someone to be healed. Some people will say that "why pray for healing when everyone doesn't get healed that you pray for." I would say that unless we pray, no one gets healed, and, as a side note.....everyone does get healed that we pray for. It's just that some get healed when they cross over into God's presence. 

So here are some requests I've received that we can begin to pray for.


#1 -  Young girl (10 years old) fighting for her life in a hospital in Birmingham. Gabby has been given up to death by the doctors, and prayers have been going up on her behalf. She has rallied and has improved to the point that the doctors are starting back up with surgery and other things to improve her condition. Pray for Gabby and the family.

#2 - A local family that is struggling. We helped with groceries yesterday, and I got a chance to pray for the daughter. But they need major, major help. First and foremost, we want to help them with the basic necessities needed to live, but then we want them to come to a saving knowledge of who God truly is.
Pray for this mother and her two children.

#3 - A friend of our church is on a waiting list to enter a treatment program. He has been to several over the  years and is still trapped in the darkness of his own choices. Pray that God would break off hardness and darkness so that this person's character can be changed into one that reflects the work that has been done to him.  Very much in need of being brought to the truth about themselves. This man has gotten older and the years have taken their toll on him. He may not have many trips left back out there if he doesn't change. He is very much in need of God's healing in his life.

#4 - Another man who has entered treatment asked for prayer. He came to his senses in a hospital room where family had taken him because of his drinking. Shaking, hallucinating, filled with shame and guilt, he reached out and asked for help, knowing that he will die if something doesn't change in his life. Now, here in treatment (and very grateful for the help) he battles those old voices that whisper death, telling him he never will break free from his addiction.

#5 - One man asked for prayer that he can continue to set right his relationship with his daughter and grand daughter. He admits that he is the one responsible for the break up in his family, but that conversation between him and his daughter has been on going and is beginning to show signs of healing. He asked that we pray that God would continue to guide him through this minefield of rebuilding his connection with his family. He has made amends to them, but realizes that words are not all that is needed. The family needs to see some action behind the words of forgiveness. He simple wants to follow God's direction.

There you go...
Join me in prayer for these, and lets watch as God moves on our prayers.

You guys are the best!

God on you...
mbb 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Waiting


Psalm 27:14
Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Do you drive life?
Or does life drive you?
In other words, are you proactive in your daily routine: always looking ahead and making your decisions before you get in trouble? Decisions that will aid you in staying clean and sober. Or do you simply let yourself be tossed about by the situations and circumstances that come your way?


For most, we live our lives in a reactive manner. Simply going with the flow, never mind that the flow is taking us farther and farther out to sea. Never mind that we refuse to deal with problems, thinking that if we don't think about them they will go away which is usually not the case.

Here's a statement that I have had to learn in my own personal life. There is power in waiting when you are waiting on the Lord. There is a power that comes to you when you refuse to act on what you feel or think, but rather choose to exist in a state of prayer.
Waiting and prayer seem to go hand in hand. But such has to be born out of a faith that communicates the simple fact that God is in control, and that God is faithful to watch over us and direct us.


Addiction does just the opposite of this view of God. Addiction never tells us to wait. It is always dropping the gear shift down into high, pressing the accelerator as hard as it can, and moving us into the fast lane. No waiting when it comes to addiction. With each time of using, we move farther and faster away from hearing God. It's bad enough that we live in a culture and society that demands faster and instantaneous decisions and action. Throw on this fire the life that is filled with darkness and you have a dangerous combination.


Some have noticed the time of day that I post the Greene Street Letters, and on more than one occasion have been asked, "Why do you get up so early?" I like this time of morning. I like the quietness of our home, and it is the perfect time to be with God before I go out that door to face the day. A time to sit and wait. A time to listen and hear what is on God's heart for me this day. I like the idea that when I get up my mind is clear and quiet. I haven't yet allowed the day to infiltrate my thoughts.

In the verse from Psalm 27 we are told to wait patiently two times. Must be something important about this action if King David wrote about it twice. But there sandwiched between the two mentions of waiting is the foundation that holds them together....
Be Strong And Courageous. Not strong in your own ability, talent or strength, but rather in His (God) strength. How many times have you heard that Step #1 is the foundation for the rest of the Twelve Steps? The admission of powerlessness is the very heart of following this God. Because, as the Apostle Paul wrote, "His strength is made perfect in my weakness." Is that a comfort or what? We don't have to fight our battles in our own strength, but can rely on God...........if we wait. Might be worth giving it a try, what do you think?

God on you...
mbb

Sunday, January 22, 2017

New Message In Greene Street Audio Section


Listen Up!!! 
The message from last nights VRC meeting (1/21/17) is posted in the audio section of the blog.

We take a look at Genesis 13:10, where Lot got to chose where he wanted to live. Bottom line----what you see isn't always what you get. Be careful what you choose.
Feel free to listen to message....

Or download it for latter listening.
God on you..

mbb

Boring.....Tedious.....Step By Step

Numbers 3:36-37
Now the appointed duties of the sons of Merari involved the frames of the Tabernacle, its bars, its pillars, its sockets, all its equipment and the service concerning them, and the pillars around the court with their sockets and their pegs and their cords.

Sometimes this new life of recovery is simply us doing the every day things.
But doing them correctly and with the proper attitude.
What attitude?
Why an attitude of gratitude of course. Having this view of life, gratitude, keeps me from sliding over into the darkness and path that will take me back to old ways and old thoughts.


Just like the men and families that God appointed to carry the tabernacle (the tent and Ark of the Covenant) during their wilderness wanderings, it wasn't all glamour and 10 Commandment moments. A lot of the time it was simply doing the right thing, over and over and over. Set the tabernacle up.........make sure everything is in place according to God's design.....do the daily, monthly and yearly sacrifices according to instructions....take the whole she-bang down, pack it up and move to the next location. 

It would be really easy to slide over into a place of apathy or even resentment. Thinking to yourself, "Hey...look at the family Jones! They don't have to carry any of this tabernacle stuff! Why don't they have to? Why am I stuck with carrying the tent pegs while others get to carry the Ark? Why don't I get to carry the Ark? I'm as good as they are. I am not going to do this anymore. I had it better in my old life and job".

We need to guard ourselves and be grateful and content with what God has given us and the place he has given us to occupy. It is there in the place of his calling that we will receive his blessing and favor if we are faithful. It's more than simply doing what God has called us to do, it also involves the motive and attitude we carry as we do the job. We simply do the next thing.

The apostle Paul writes: Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
What was Paul's secret?
That God can be trusted.
Knowing that there is purpose behind what we know we are suppose to do. We are building a new life, a new way of dealing with the world one day at a time..
If God called us to carry the tent pegs of the tabernacle, why then we should be the happiest, most content tent-peg-carrying people that ever existed.
No matter what is going on in your life today, fall on the fact and comfort that God can be trusted and that your circumstance has not caught him off guard.

This relationship we now live with Jesus Christ is built on faith, his grace to us and trust.
Did you see how Paul's situations were always changing? Prosperity...or want....full stomach or going hungry...abundance or suffering...no matter what, Paul's faith in God did not waver. This is the kind of life I desire to have. How about you?

God on you......
mb

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Randy


Psalm 116:15
Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Vicki was on Facebook yesterday, when she came across a posting by John Barnett about the death of Randy Rigsby. I know....that name may not jump out for most you reading this, but Randy was a special person to me.

I am not going to say I knew him well, but I do have a story to tell.
The year was 2002 and Danny Daniels was coming to play at our Saturday night meeting, The House Of Blue. I had met Danny two years before that when he was at the Anniston Vineyard for a night of worship. I had told Danny about what we were doing with our Saturday night group and he was genuinely interested in trying to set something up where he could come and be with us.
Two years go by. Lots of phone tag and schedule conflicts, finally a date is set. Danny is coming to Gadsden.


Three days before Danny's arrival, he calls me to ask if it is o.k. if a compatriot of his comes along to play. "No problem," I said. Turned out his cohort in crime was Randy. That was a very special night, as these two took the stage to play, sing and teach. I would be less than honest if I said the two of them, Danny and Randy, looked like mischief X 10. There was just this sparkle in their eyes that kind of said, "I can't believe we still get to play and sing for God!!!"

Randy really loved the room we held our meeting in. Just for the record, if you've never seen it, it looks more like a night club than a church. That evening, Randy and I swapped stories of where we had come from, and what God was doing in that season of our lives. I'm not usually very comfortable talking to others.....especially those I consider to be accomplished musicians. I tend to want to hang back and give them their space. Not pester them or try to get up under them to look like some sort of pseudo-relationship. But Randy was different. He sought me out to ask questions about our meeting. How we got started. If he said it once, he said it a million times...."We need to duplicate this! We need to have more of these type of churches." 

I guess the highlight of the evening was the very last song that Danny did. "Amazing Grace" which Randy played this incredible slow lead break on. Sustained note after note took us through the melody until he hit the last one which seem to hang in the air forever.....I know it may sound silly at this juncture in time, but when I think of that last note, I can't help but see God smiling and saying, "That's my boy!".

As Vicki read me John Barnett's posting about Randy's death, I wanted to cry, but it just didn't happen. Don't get me wrong...it's not that I didn't care, or that his death didn't affect me...it did. But for one brief instant, I was back in 2002, Randy was up on that stage playing...I could see him.......and a smile came over me.
That was who Randy Rigsby was to me.
More than one of the co-founders of Vineyard Music....
More than an incredible brother-in-Christ.....
More than a musician with more talent than most.....
That night I spent talking with Randy was a memory I will always treasure.


Prayers to the Rigsby family this morning....
Until I see you again, Randy....
I will miss you....


God on you...

mbb

Friday, January 20, 2017

Even The Wind And The Waves Obey Him


Luke 8:25
But He (Jesus) said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!"

Jesus and His disciples are crossing the sea of Galilee.
Storms come up.
Boat is tossed about, filling with water.
These are experienced fishermen, they've been on this water before. They fully know and understand when danger and death are eminent. When things look the darkest, they turn to Jesus, who was asleep in the front of the boat. Asleep? Yep...asleep. Seems this here Jesus knows something they don't. 


Eventually, overcome with fear, they wake Jesus up. What does He do? Steands up and rebukes the and the raging sea. Scripture says that "They ceased, and there was calm." End of story, right? No.

Why do we doubt such things could happen today? Or do we doubt? Do we really believe that God still moves, even in the elements. That they are subject to His commands, used for His purposes? 

Well, I came across a video while listening to teaching the other day. It is a video that was taken by Israeli soldiers at the border of with Syria. It seems that Isis fighters were attempting to cross the border into Israel. As the fighters approached the Israeli border, a dust cloud came up out of nowhere. Not unusual for this terrain. What was unusual, was that it stopped at the border. It covered the Isis fighters and prevented them from entering Israeli territory to carry out their mission. Would God do such a thing? I think maybe yes He would. 

I think God still looks at Israel with great favor. The church can say what they want to, but Israel is still God's people. In fact, the reason we Gentiles were even given access to the Father was to make Israel jealous (Romans 11). 
SO God does move in the natural world we see around us.

Oh yeah, one last thing.
This event took place on December 23 of last year.
Three days later the U.N. Security council voted to declare that Israel had no legal right to have settlements in Eastern Jerusalem, thereby declaring such territory to be free of Israeli rule. Could it be.....could it possibly be that God declared to those in the U.N. to not proceed with this vote? That He still has His hand on this nation, and that anyone who attempted to come against them would understand exactly who He is. I've included this video so you could see for yourselves. Was it God, or was it just a coincidence that this happened at this place, at the time it did just before a vote by the U.N. to undo Israeli territory.


God on you....
mbb

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Prayer Needs

Good morning....
Once again, late night / early morning. If my train of thought seems to have gone off the rails, forgive me.
Lots of prayer needs this morning, so let's get to it.


Yesterday's Bible study at Rapha was a good one.
We had six join in for the study, including one new guy who stated that he'd had enough of the old life. We'll see if his words are backed by a real desire. Isn't that the way it is when it comes to recovery? You hear the same old lines, but the truth is always revealed by the actions of the heart. I digress.

Most immediate need is for focus. Pray that God would remove the fog from the minds of these men. Minds that have been lost in the haze of addiction. Minds that have been lost in the haze of their old sin nature. Choices that they made were done so because of their flesh (driven by the desire to sin). Choices made because of the effects the drugs and alcohol have had on their brains. So the need to be able to focus on the task at hand (recovery) is a much needed thing. I kept reminding them that focus is just for today...not tomorrow or the next week, or month. The need is on today, to take care of what needs taking care of.

There are a lot of families out there hurting because of addiction.
Marriages that can never truly be what God intended them to be because of this darkness that fills the homes. Pray that there would be a great uncovering in these matters. Uncovering of the ones who have broken covenant with their spouse, to love another more. The one they have fallen in love with causes them to lie about this demonic relationship. Where there are lies in a relationship, true love can never exist. Always, always remember that our prayer to uncover should always be connected with God having mercy on everyone involved. 


Some of these I've written about have lost loved ones recently. Families are struggling with the loss. Some are blaming themselves, thinking that they could have done more,or something different to have saved the one they lost to death. Pray for God's Spirit to come to them and comfort and lead them through this time of grief.

Never ever forget that addiction is almost like a living organism, and it will fight to retain control over an individual's life. The workbook at Rapha use to say that "addiction was cunning, baffling, and powerful. I use to add one more to that list.....addiction is patient. It will wait for you, and if we move at any point in our recovery process toward that old life, old thoughts and old ways, it will pounce to reclaim you for its purposes.

If you could, join me in praying for these needs....
I mean really pray.
Thanks...you are the best.

God on you..

mbb


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Way To Go Libby!!!



Psalm 90:12
Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Number our days?
That is a huge thing in A.A....this numbering of days.
Each day is a celebration along the way to sustaining this new life we have committed ourselves to.

Days have a way of turning into weeks....cause for celebration.
Weeks have a way of rolling into months.....cause for celebration.
And months have a way of moving into years....Now that is a cause for real celebration.


Every Wednesday morning, I have a breakfast appointment with Barry Hooks and Wayne Wimpee. We meet at the Waffle House across from the Gadsden Mall, and it has turned into a time for us to share our struggles, our hopes and our failures...a time to "Confess to one another". Been doing this for a while. Over the course of time, we got to know our waitress, Libby. This happens when you share some of your story about what God is doing and has done for you.

Well like I said, over the course of time, we gotten to know Miss Libby, as she has shared her story with us. She is a recovering alcoholic and this week, she celebrates her 10th year of sobriety. That is a big deal! So Barry, Wayne, and your's truly are going to present Miss Libby with her Ten Year Chip this morning.


These are the times when you understand the gift that sobriety brings to an individual. It I had not shared this story with you this morning, you probably would never have recognized that this woman has applied the discipline of the Steps to her personal struggle, and has put together ten years of defeating that which sought to kill her. I sure if you talked with Libby she would tell of times where she wanted to go back to her old ways....but for whatever reason, she didn't. She didn't do what she wanted to do...what her mind and body said to do...For once she did what she ought to do. And now, ten years latter, she continues to reap the benefits of the life she is experiencing. That is cause to celebrate.

So if sometimes today, Libby's name pops into your head, throw up a prayer for her. Pray that she would draw closer to God. Pray that she would continue on this journey that God has given to her. Pray blessings on Libby today. Pray that there will be an 11th year to celebrate.

God on you....
mbb

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Discipline



Philippians 3:18
For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ.

Funny thing about this particular verse....
It doesn't say that they are enemies of Jesus....
Just the cross...

What does it mean to be an enemy of the cross? Well, to me it means that I reject the power and the work that Jesus accomplished by dying on this cross.

If I reject the Power of the cross, then for the most part, I am looking to myself as having what power I need to live life. Is there evidence that I am still in control (or at least have convinced myself) of my daily life.

You know, you can say all the right things. You can learn the jargon of religion and it can roll off your tongue with the greatest of ease, and still be as lost as a ball in high weeds. You can call everyone "brother" and "sister" till the cows come home and still not have a real relationship with Jesus or with others who are following Him.

Salvation brings something to each who receive Christ that is very evident (or at least should be)..........discipline. That is the one thing I see in the lives of those who truly have their lives turned from addiction.  It isn't a discipline that is done with clenched teeth and seething anger because you're having to do something you detest. It is a discipline that comes with a level of acceptance knowing that this new of living is going to pay off in the long run.

Colossians 1:10 
Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

In growing, we will put into place the discipline that we need to never return to our old ways. We will go to meetings... We will find a group of like-minded people who can help us to do the necessary things to move away, and stay away from our old ways. We study the Bible...not just read it, but asking God "how do I apply what I am reading". We pray...a lot...and then when you're finished, you pray some more.We watch who we hang around. Bad company corrupts. Sorry, but that is the truth. There's only one way to look at this. The people I am hanging around with either help me in my recovery, or they hurt me by their behavior. No matter how hard you tell yourself you are not going to get dirty, if you choose to jump into a mud hole...well, you get the picture.

One thing that we must always keep at the forefront of our thinking comes from the big book of A.A. -----We have a tendency to look for the easier, softer way. Discipline will not let you do this. You may want to...you may even think about it, but you will not carry it out. If someone tells me to do something that will aid my recovery, and I start trying how to figure out a faster way to carry it out...I'm in trouble. 

I leave you with this verse...
Colossians 1:13-14
For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

Have a good day...
God on you...

mbb

Monday, January 16, 2017

Church 101


Church is not the building or facility....
Church is the people. We know this. I'm not some kind of visionary who thought this up. If you talk to anyone who goes to church, or has gone for any length of time, they will tell you right up front.."The church is the people not the building".
But the people have a function and purpose....everyone who claims to be a child of God and a follower of Jesus. Their very being is to be used by God as an instrument for His dynamic rule and reign here on this earth. Or, as John Wimber would say, "We are the vehicle through which the Kingdom of God is revealed to others who do not know our Jesus.
         A.) We proclaim, or tell others about our encounters with this Jesus. How He has changed our lives (you were changed, weren't you?).
         
         B.)We demonstrate and validate the truth of the Word of God by allowing the Holy Spirit to move when we pray. Remember, whatever happens...someone gets healed...someone gets saved....someone gets delivered from demonic spirits....we only a conduit through which the Holy Spirit and the power of God moves.
         
        C.)We care for the poor.
         
        D.) We are to replicate or reproduce by making disciples. Our business isn't making converts. Seems like sometimes the church is more excited about seeing people saved than helping them to move into being a disciple. Don't get me wrong, I'm all up in the salvation thing. Nothing stirs me more than to see a person be transformed by the saving power of God. But nothing is more fulfilling than to see that person chasing God, and doing the works of Jesus.

I use the word "experiential" a lot. Some think that I am discounting the discipline of being a disciple, that somehow all I want to do is run around getting a "warm fuzzy" from God (or if your really into the religious terminology..."glory bumps").  I do know people who spend their entire life running from meeting to meeting...conference to conference seeking out an encounter from God so they can tell their latest story of how God touched them. Such seems to be coming from a selfish view of God. Like He is some sort of personal feel-good dispenser. When I speak of "experiential" encounters with God, I speak from a view that every meeting we attend, we should go expecting to meet with Him. God is sovereign. He moves and touches at His desire. God is not manipulated or cajoled into coming so our flesh can be touched and we can have new "God" story to share in Church.  For those who have some doubt about this experiential stuff....then tell me, how did you get saved if God did not come down and touch you? How were you suddenly aware of your current spiritual state if God did not open your heart up to your need to be saved. I believe that experiencing God is the key to living and moving under the purpose we were created for. 

For the most part, I believe that the current, professing church is living in the past. I have heard many state that we need to get back to being the church we read about in Acts...the first church. Somehow we have fallen prey to the idea that the first church is the high water mark of what church is suppose to be. I happen to believe that the church has yet to hit a high water mark. That anything is possible to a people who are sold out to Jesus. A people who have a corporate mission to their location, town, community and, at the same time, each member has an individual calling to be carried out outside of the corporate group. The church is not to be directed or lead by those who are perceived to be the "Movers and the Shakers".....but rather should be lead by the "Listener's and the Doer's".  We must never forget that the church is Jesus'. He birthed it. He died for it. He empowers it. He directs it.

I need the structure of community. 
I need to be surrounded by like minded people who share a vision and the purpose to which God has called us to.
I need to worship in a way that speaks to me. A worship that proclaims the greatness of God, yet is culturally current. 


I want what we do as a community of believers to speak and draw those around us who do not understand what Church truly is, to come and join in to experience God for themselves.

 I want to break off the stereotypical view of church that has been burned into the consciousness of those who have been injured or hurt by church. I desire to have a place where all of us can encounter the living God and go away at the end of the night having fallen in love with Jesus a little more than when we got there.

 I want everyone who comes through the door on Saturday night to understand for themselves that when we talk about a Power greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity...we really mean POWER. Power in a person. The person of Jesus. The same power that raised Him from the dead should be evident and moving in our services, and in our lives when we leave to back out into our communities.. Maybe it is time we start standing on the promises, and quit sitting on the premises.

Think on these things....
What is the mission of Vineyard ReCovery?
To Follow In His Steps.


God on you..
mb

Little Life? Or Big LIFE?

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