Tuesday, February 28, 2017

More To It Than Sobriety

II Timothy 1:12
........."For I know WHOM (not what) I have believed, and  I am confident that He is able to guard that which I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return.

In search of sobriety? Or in search of life?
A life free from not just drugs and alcohol, but the destruction brought on by them.
Sobriety isn't found in Jesus. Sobriety is a by product of life with Jesus. 
Just as joy, happiness, grace, mercy and love are part of what you recieve when you find your life in Christ.
Sobriety is such a little part of life in Christ. True, it is major to someone who is struggling with addiction, but there is so much  more than just the absence of alcohol or drugs. We know, and understand, that a person who first begins this journey to recovery is solely focused on staying away from using drugs and alcohol. But somewhere, at sometime, along the way, they are awakened that to the fact that the life they are receiving contains far more than just being clean and sober. 

I love the passage in Matthew 11:28-30
"Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
It's an invitation, pure and simple. Leave what you currently know about life and come to me. Leave you old way of living (which isn't working too well) and come to me. It involves a decision on your part to step out in obedience which will build faith. Who would issue such an invitation except one who has the authority and power to see it to completion and make it happen.
Two parts:  1.) Come (that's my duty) and 2.) You will be given rest (that's Jesus' part).
Rest. Physical rest? That's part of it, but truth be known you don't need Jesus to get physical rest. The rest Jesus speaks of is spiritual. No more struggling against your old will and way of life. A rest from the destruction of old ways.

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls."
What is a yoke? It is the shoulder harness that was put on oxen and domesticated animals to guide them. So if Jesus has a yoke it is there for a reason. To teach us. More than that, the yoke of Jesus is for guidance. To keep us from going in the wrong direction and to stay the course under his hand. Notice again, if I do what Jesus is asking me to do, there is a benefit......rest for my soul. No more inward struggle concerning the world and it's pull to sin. I don't think Jesus mean that we are free forever from that battle, just that when the devil brings temptation and deception to our door, we don't have to answer it and open ourselves us for attacks. When I say "no more inward struggle," I mean we don't have to engage. Sure temptation will come, but I don't have to entertain it and dwell on it. I rest in the knowledge and assurance that Jesus IS the better way.

"For My yoke is easy and My load is light."
Don't be confused by what it means to have a burden for Jesus. A burden is God-given and is for our direction to pursue a course God desires us to move in. A burden spurs us to prayer and to service.
Even under the weight of a God-given burden, there is a peace and strength that comes to us.

So, Jesus is the LORD of my life 
and one of the gifts that comes from that relationship is "sobriety".
Ain't it great?
I think so.

God on you....

Monday, February 27, 2017

Recap: To Be Capped Again

Psalm 27:4
The one thing I ask of the Lord....the thing I seek most....is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord's perfections and meditating in his temple....

Monday morning....4:07 a.m.
The events of this past weekend are still fresh in my mind. Nothing I did to create these memories. God was he author and creator. I merely got to be in His presence.

Friday night:
The core family of Vineyard ReCovery met for our home meeting. A time of getting to know one another. Share some laughter and coffee. An opportunity to build solid relationships with one another. Even though we care coming up on the fourth anniversary of VRC, we are still getting to know one another. 

Friday night was about honesty and transparency. We didn't teach on it, or try to whip it up in our meeting. It was a by product of simply worshiping and being in God's presence. WE did speak about the simple fact of growing complacent and satisfied when it comes to our relationship with God. The danger of not moving forward spiritually, and lapsing into religious attitudes and mindsets. Out of this conversation came the honesty and a corporate need to be stirred by God once again. TO have Him come and blow over us with fresh wind and fire of His Spirit. As it says in Revelation 2:4 we needed reminding of our first love....Jesus. 

There was much healing in the room as we worshiped and allowed God to move over and in us. I know it sounds like "Twilight Zone/Star Trek" kind of mumbo-jumbo,if you've never experienced the Holy Spirit. But believe me, God brought it Friday night. In fact, I would go as far to say that Friday night kind of set up what took place Saturday night @ Vineyard ReCovery.

Saturday night:
There was a sense of anticipation in me as I drove to the building to prepare for the evening. This was not going to be a typical VRC meeting. The Paint Chip Worship band was going to lead the worship this night, so the music was going to be a tad different. Greg Birdwell was scheduled to speak, so I knew the message was going to be spot-on for the meeting. Top that with the simple fact that Greg is kind of a lightning rod for God to jump to. Greg is so transparent and honest that I knew what he had to say was going to impact those of us present. God did not disappoint, and Greg was totally Greg. 

To throw gas on the fire, my wife had a prophetic word about an increase in God's mercy...not to excuse us from our sin...but to empower us to run and get under the rain of His mercy. To receive a cleansing from all the hidden "Stuff" we think we hide from everyone around us and from God.

The worship set finished, and the message delivered, folk's streamed to the front to confess, receive from God and be healed of whatever needed healing. Here again, I can't explain the "how's" or the "Why's" I just know that God moved on that crowd that gathered at the front of the room. Tears of joy from those who did receive. Whispered prayers of "Oh God, Oh God, Oh God!" moved through the crowd. 

As the room emptied and people streamed back out into the night, I knew that (1) We'd been in the presence of a Holy God. And (2) we all have been touched by Him. Now how this "touch" is manifested, and the change that is brought to our lives is up to God. But as a friend of mine has told me more than once...."God has good seed, and when he plants in us, it will produce a harvest down the road." So I'm waiting in anticipation to see the fruit of the harvest in the lives of those who come on Saturday night.

Sunday Morning:
Made my way to Northside Baptist Church where I have been filling in since December of last year. Small congregation that loves God and each other. The messages God has given me for them are ones of encouragement...to not be satisfied where they are spiritually in their relationship with Jesus. They fully know that I am not the answer to the vacancy and need for a pastor. I know that they are seeking God for direction in who should fill that role. But in the mean time, while I am going each Sunday, it has been good for me to make sure that I take the message God wants them to hear. There is a freshness to the services as every thing is beyond informal. These incredible folks not only believe in the power of prayer...they practice it. Each Sunday a list of names is read, each one having a specific need. Updates are given....prayers are offered. But it just doesn't stop with this prayer on Sunday morning. I know, that I know these folks are busy being about the Kingdom business through the week of praying for this list of names. Who would not want to be a part of a family like this? 

It truly is, and has been, my pleasure to have been asked to fill in during this time of transition at Northside.

Well, there you have my weekend.
Now here it is Monday morning, and out there is a whole other week waiting for you and me to launch out. What do you say? Let's see what over the hill.....let's check out what's around the bend. Let's be the body of Christ and meet each day head on for Him.

God on you...


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Greg Birdwell And Romans Chapter 5 Message

Romans 5:1
Therefore, since we have been made right in God's sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us......

Launching from this verse in Romans, Greg Birdwell spoke last night at Vineyard ReCovery. Sharing his story, Greg made it very clear that he was a mess.....still is a mess....and will continue to be a work in progress as he allows God's Holy Spirit to change him.

You can find Greg's message over in the audio section of the Greene Street Letters....
Listen to it now....
Download it for later.....

God on you...

Dark Worship Is Where We Truly Meet God

This is a reprint from a posting I did back in 2014. As I read over it, God stirred me to the realization that we are called to worship him no matter what state or condition our lives may be in. Sometimes when I am overwhelmed, to the point that I feel like giving up, is the most honest worship a person can engage in. It is during those dark times when the walls seem to be closing in that we encounter the real-deal God. For it is in these dark times that if we will get honest with Him.....He will get extremely honest with us....

Acts 16
V.22/23- The the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.

V.25/  But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.

Let me get this straight....
Stripped in public view....

Beaten with rods....
Flogged with whips....
Thrown in prison....
Can't lay down because of the simple fact that their backs had been reduced to hamburger....
Locked up...
And at midnight, Paul and Silas decided to have a prayer meeting and some hymn singing....

Do you reckon they sang, "This is the day....that the Lord has made....Let us rejoice...and be glad in it....oh..this is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it."?
Or do you think their worship went deep inside..down through the torn flesh and muscle...through the blood and bruises and found that place where only God can be worshiped. Not worship that is fueled and propelled by emotion or feeling, but rather worship that is proclaimed because of the truth of who God is. The sudden realization of mind, heart, spirit and soul that we truly are His creation. 

That place where Paul would later write and say,"I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content."
This brought Paul to the most majestic and Holy words a human being ever said....

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!"
I can endure for His kingdom.
I can suffer what ever comes my way for His name.
Not something we hear a lot about today, is it?
The ability to participate in what I refer to as "Dark Worship".
To reach out and lay hold of God Himself and heaven when we find ourselves in those places where there would seemingly be no joy.
To let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts be pure before Him....

This is what I want to learn.
Not that I will look for hard times or impossible situations.

Life has a way of leading us all down that path.
But when it comes, I want to be able to worship God, like at no other time.
I want my entire being to be focused on Him and not my own personal pain or grief.
To be honest with you, I fear that I may still be a babe when it comes to such.

But my heart truly desires to grow up in Christ.
To not live my life in fear of what is around the next bend, or over the next hill. To not let life rob me of the joy today because of fear of tomorrow.

To be able to say with all assurance, in those dark times, "You are my God....and I am Your child. I will worship you no matter what my lot is."
Thanks for letting me share.

God on you...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Hope Place

Romans 15:13
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Tonight we will unlock the doors....
Turn on the lights...
Set the equipment up for the worship team....
Make coffee.....
Put out the chairs....
Another Saturday night at Vineyard ReCovery.
Another Saturday night on Broad Street.
If you walk up and down Broad Street, you will see different shops and stores...
Bars, pubs, eateries....
All offering something different. Something to catch the attention of passing patrons, enticing them to come into their establishment.

We too offer something to those who walk up and down Broad Street. But what we offer, you won't find in any other store. We have the exclusive rights to our offer...no one else downtown offers it on Saturday night. As they use to say on certain commercials, "not available in any other store!" Besides there isn't any charge for what we offer. What is this incredible gift that is free? Simple HOPE!

The Oxford dictionary defines hope as being " (Noun) A person or thing that may help save someone".  Hope is the one thing that we can offer to anyone who is drowning in life.
Hope that Jesus truly will lay hold of those who surrender will and life to His care, and in this laying hold, He will change the focus and direction of a life that was headed to death and destruction.
Hope, here and now, seals our fate and destiny once we shed this body in death and move over into the presence of Jesus. Can't explain it....Don't know all the in's and out's of life after death. I just know that deep inside me it is true. I guess you could call it a knowing beyond knowing. Maybe that is what Hope truly is....knowing beyond knowing. Knowing something with your heart that your mind can't make sense of. Works for me. This is the very essence of Hope.

I John 3:2-3
Dear friends, we are already God's children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is. And all who have this HOPE will keep themselves pure, just as He is pure.

Hope is from God....given to those who will not walk through their daily life being driven by what they see, hear, smell, feel and taste. In other words, we do not make decisions through our own senses. This hope that has been given to me softly whispers to me (and sometimes screams at me) "Seek out God for an answer to what I am going through". I look to Him because my hope tells me that His will be the best answer...the right answer. Sometimes I believe that Hope and faith are first cousins....You can't separate one from the other. They coexist in harmony to aid us in our daily choices.

So if you find yourself downtown Gadsden tonight, drop on by 419 Broad Street...
we have a chair waiting for you...and, oh yeah...more hope than you could ever imagine.

God on you...

Friday, February 24, 2017

Lovers Of-----?

It's all about love!  If we would just learn to love one another, the world would be great....Love conquers all.  Come on, people now....smile on each other---everybody get together, learn to love one another right now....Lofty sentiments from hearts that don't really know this Jesus.

Two kinds of love...
Good kind, also known as "GOD" kind...
And the Bad kind, which usually is born in hearts that are under the influence of our old sin nature.
Bad love is selfish....
Bad love only reaches out to others when it needs something from them...
Bad love uses people, and when push comes to shove, it will abandon everyone to save itself.
Don't need any bad love in my life.
Addiction is fueled and stoked by "bad love"....
Now with this in mind, we do see the first words to II Timothy 3....
In the last days perilous times shall come....

Events, situations and circumstances will show up on all our doorsteps to  overtake us...
One version of Scripture translates "perilous" as "Stressful". In other words, what is going on in the lives of people will uncover and reveal their hearts. The real "US" will be brought to the surface. No more hiding...no more covering up...The human heart will be shown for what it truly is. I don't think this is going to be a pretty picture. In fact, we see that every day through the words, actions and behaviors of addicts.

V.1 - People will love only themselves- The need for drugs and alcohol trump any need the family may have. We will abandon them in order to chase the dragon. I can't tell you the number of stories I have heard of parents taking their kids with them to score some drugs. And all the while feel like they are really good parents. No thought to the kids, other than "I can't leave them at home alone. I could get in trouble." But the love of self to get what "self" needs trumps the needs of the kids. Like I wrote earlier, self will use everyone around in order to get its needs met.

People will love money - you know the weird part about this verse? You don't have to have money in order to love it. Just the thought of being rich becomes so powerful in a dark heart, people will do whatever it takes to possess it. Here again, doesn't this go back to a heart that is selfish? I think maybe yes.

They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God - I see this a lot with guys who come in for treatment. When they are with others, they tell of how they can out drink, use more than anyone else. Been to jail and prison more than anyone else. Slept with more women than any man alive. O.D'ed more than anyone else....you get the picture. As the Scripture says, "They revel in their iniquities.

Disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred - Here again, that old heart of sin/selfishness rules the day. Mom and Dad are there to be used. If they don't meet the standard, then we drag out that tired old line...."You don't really love me. If you did, you'd do what I ask of you".

The list from II Timothy 3 goes on, and ends with this....
They will act religious, but they will reject the POWER that could make them godly - Dark hearts and dark minds are good at playing. They can become penitent at the drop of a hat (especially when caught in something spells trouble).  These know all the religious jargon....they can ever sing the 3rd verse to Amazing Grace...but they know nothing about the POWER that is God. The POWER that could set them free and transform them into a life that is beyond any thing they could dream or imagine.

The very last part of Verse 5 is a warning -- "Stay away from people like that!"
Sounds cruel....
Doesn't sound like something you'd hear in church, does it?
Bottom line, if you are trying to help someone who is living in addiction, and they show no remorse or desire to change.....let go of them. You cannot help someone who doesn't want help, other than what they can gouge you for. You cannot save someone who doesn't want to be saved.
Yes, pray for them....
Yes, love them.....
We build bridges to help, but if that person leaves and crosses over to that old life, my job is to simply wait for them to return for the help they need.
Hard truth on a Friday morning....
Thanks for stopping by the Greene Street Letters.

God on you...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Famous Last Words: "I Got This!"

I thought this new 12 Steps To Total Insanity was great.
It truly reveals the mindset of those caught in addiction. "I can do this on my own! I don't need help from anyone!"
Those who came to Jesus by faith and then suggest that He sit down while they take over.
I guess you could say it is the 12 Steps to being a Pharisee.

1. We admitted we were powerless over nothing. We could manage our lives perfectly and we could manage those of anyone else that would allow it.
2. Came to believe that there was no power greater than ourselves, and the rest of the world was insane.
3Made a decision to have our loved ones and friends turn their wills and their lives over to our care.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of everyone we knew.
5. Admitted to the whole world at large the exact nature of their wrongs.
6Were entirely ready to make others straighten up and do right.
7. Demanded others to either "shape up or ship out".
8. Made a list of anyone who had ever harmed us and became willing to go to any lengths to get even with them all.
9. Got direct revenge on such people whenever possible except when to do so would cost us our own lives, or at the very least, a jail sentence.
10. Continued to take inventory of others, and when they were wrong promptly and repeatedly told them about it.
11. Sought through nagging to improve our relations with others as we could not understand them at all, asking only that they knuckle under and do things our way.
12. Having had a complete physical, emotional and spiritual breakdown as a result of these steps, we tried to blame it on others and to get sympathy and pity in all our affairs. 

From The ACA Communicator -
March 1990 - Omaha, Council Bluffs Area Intergroup

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"Where Are My Car Keys?"

As I've grown older, the very thing I use to snicker at about my parents has now found a home in me. Now, at this age, I not only look my dad....I'm starting to exhibit some of his behaviors. Scary, right?
If you hang around the Bynum house, you'll hear "Honey! Where did I put my car keys?" Small bouts with memory loss. "Did I remember to lock the door?"
"Did I unplug the coffee pot?" Little things that seem to cloud and clutter my mind get lost in my brain.

Aren't you glad that God doesn't forget.
"Did I save him last week? I'm not sure?" 
You better believe it that I'm glad God doesn't forget.
But if you read Genesis 8, you'd think that God has a memory problem.

Genesis 8:1 - But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark......
It reads like God had become busy with something and suddenly remembered, "Oh yeah, I got that Noah family out there by themselves in that ark." Well, thank goodness that isn't what really happened. God turned his attention to them. God never lost track of them, after all God is the ultimate GPS isn't He? I think we need to remember that today, God has not lost track of you, even though it feels like it at times. Feelings are not a good measure of the truth. As my wife so often says (and does not like to be reminded that she said it)..."Feelings aren't right or wrong..they just are."

God's thoughts about you are never far away.
Psalm 139:17-18 -  How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
I don't think David wrote this just be flowery and sweet. David was overwhelmed by the simple fact that God is continually thinking of him. Imagine this, God has the ability to think on each human who draws breath on the face of the earth this morning. Not only think on them, but to continually be in a state of thought about them all day. Your heavenly Father, this morning, is thinking of you. Not just thinking, but carrying out His will in your life even now as you sit and read this. He is not far removed from you, distant and uncaring. He is consumed with you. His heart beats with love for you. His thoughts are about you. 

I think I'll sit and think on this.....
God on you....

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Learning To Talk

Matthew 6:8
......For your Father knows the things you have need of before you Ask Him.

Prayer is kind of a nebulous word that the world has latched on to, to claim as it's own.
Every religion has a discipline of prayer....
A belief that what is spoken (either verbally, or thought) is heard by whatever deity is worshiped.

But there is only One who hears....
There is only One who has interjected Himself into our time and space, and has a heart to draw us all unto Himself. A heart that is moved by love for His creation.
There is only One who is also 3.
Can't explain it...
Just know it's true.

That One is who we call God. Big "G".....little "o"....little "d"....God!
God the Father...
God the Son....also known as Jesus...
And God the Holy Spirit.
Working in perfect harmony to stir, convict and save that which was lost in a garden many years back.

So here in this discipline of prayer, we find that the prayer that moves God is a cry from us to be saved....The realization that we are living outside His will and plan for our lives.
I know that when I write about "his plan" some of us cringe and get our back's all up. We don't like the idea of someone else making plans for us..........telling us what to do....it just sticks in our craw. Well, the reason it sticks, and the reason we get our backs up, is because we are rebellious. That rebellious nature that tells us that we run the ship is called a sin nature. It tells us that we need to be in control of every aspect of our life. Never mind that we actually aren't very good at running the ship. Never mind that we've run the ship aground, and it actually isn't going anywhere. This cry for help...for God to save us from ourselves and a debt that is as old as time itself, is how prayer really works. God stirs us....opens our spiritual eyes to the truth of who we are, the state of our life at that moment, and the future of our trying to continue on in this path of destruction we are creating. There is a connection made that awakens us to the truth that God is the only answer to our problem. No matter how that problem manifests itself in our life...God is that answer we've been searching for. Are you stuck in addiction? God is the answer.... Do you have bitterness and unforgivenes sin your heart? God is the answer.

Don't you find it strange that I did not say that "church" is your answer? I'm not anti-church, and I am totally for getting yourself connected to a group of folks who can help and encourage you to grow. But it all begins with this God connection that you've run into.Having been brought into relationship with God, we can now fully experience the power of praying to God. The incredible gift of being able to communicate with God..Talk to Him and He talk to us. This is what I want to grow in....prayer. To be able to breath back to God, in prayer, what His will is for me and those around me.

So with all this writing this morning about prayer, I have a prayer need that I need to share with you.
Got a call from a mom yesterday concerning her son. He is a veteran (Army) and, for whatever reason, has turned to drinking. This has been going on for some time and it has reached the point that the young man in question has asked for help. At the same time, he asked for help, he turns around and says he can quit on his own. He is drinking a bottle of vodka a day, along with whatever else he can get his hands on. The mom fully understands that if her son doesn't truly get help, it is not going to end well. So, I do believe that our mission today, if you want to join with me, is to pray God's intervention into this young man's life. An intervention of power and truth that will shake him and open his eyes to where he is in life, and what he has become. Thanks! Look forward to seeing what God does in this situation.

God on you...


Monday, February 20, 2017

Cleaning Out The Old House----Forgiveness

Ephesians 1:7
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace.
I played a worship song during our very first meeting of Vineyard Recovery. Not your typical feel-goose-bumps-love-you-Jesus song, but rather a gut wrenching, let's get real, down to the raw, kind of worship song. But it was one that I felt led of God to play, in order to set the tone for what we are trying to do on Saturday nights. Be real...Be transparent.....and be honest with God--ourselves--and each other.

Suzy Yaraie (Pictured above) was the composer and worship leader singing this particular song and from the very beginning the words tell you that this isn't going to be like any song you may have heard before. it isn't about unicorn's-puppy dogs- sunshine and lollipops. The life that lived this song had been touched by the love and mercy of God. The very first words of the song are:

"I killed my children.........You forgot that."
"My fornication.......You forgot that."
"My prostitution.....You forgot that."
"I left my husband....You forgot that."

She goes on to talk about her addiction. Her worship of idols. How she stole God's glory and trampled on it through her lifestyle.
Like I said, it wasn't your typical worship song.
But here in those brutal words of truth lies the incredible power of God.

How could someone sing those words about their own life unless they truly had experienced the forgiveness of God?
How could a person lay themselves bare and reveal things that, in church, you're not suppose to talk about. If you do talk about it, it is in the context of speaking about someone other than yourself.

Yet here in this declaration of her past, Suzie goes down her life revealing each sin and wrong she has committed against God. As you listen to her voice, you don't hear pain or regret. You hear the voice of someone who has been forgiven and healed from all the damage that sin has brought to them. You hear a voice of gratitude for all that God has done for her, and to her.

This is the thing I want you to hang on to this morning.
Memories are forever.
They don't go away.
They don't fade over time.
They will pop up for no reason at the most inopportune times.

When they do, they usually bring what I refer to as the toxic emotions of shame and guilt.
Here is where the power of God comes into play.
How can Suzie sing this song and not come undone by the shame and guilt? Because her receiving the forgiveness of God has eliminated those emotions from the memory. All it is now is just a memory.
I'm sure that if she let herself, she could dredge up those emotions, but she won't.
She has been set free...
She has been given the most incredible gift of all....forgiveness.

Forgiveness all wrapped up in God's love...His mercy....His grace...and His presence in the form of the Holy Spirit.

Don't let the enemy keep you from growing in Christ by dredging up memories laced with those toxic emotions. Take everything to Christ and get rid of it....
Every foul deed you ever did...
Every curse that ever fell from your lips...
Every sexual act that you ever committed outside the boundaries of marriage.
Every bit of unbelief, doubt, and fear...
Take it all and lay it at the feet of Jesus....

Ask Him to take it, and in its place, ask Him to grant you forgiveness.
Ask Him to pour His peace over you.

Then receive it!
When the devil comes at you and tries to get you to remember all the vile things you have done....
Rest in that forgiveness.
That's some kind of good stuff...

God on you....

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Finding An Old Message In A New Song

I don't find much new music out there that stirs me inside. Music that stirs old passion that seems to have gotten low....a flame that needs to be rekindled. Carrie Elrod sent me a link to one of Zach Williams songs (Chain Breaker). I listened to it...."yeah, that was good"...and kind of shelved it, thinking I would get back to it. Well, it's time to "get back to it". I took it down and began to play it. For whatever reason, I have a tendency to listen to something, then lay it aside for a latter time, only to be blown away by it when I take a second listen. That's what happened to me with Zach Williams music. The fire was flamed back to life as the sounds and words filled my ears, my heart and my mind.

In fact, "Chain Breaker" was a part of our worship selection last night at Vineyard ReCovery. Carrie sang it, and boy did she sing it. It was one of those times where the Spirit comes upon a person and they sing with a passion and power that sweeps through the entire room. That song was the exclamation point on everything that took place last night. The message found in "Chain Breaker" was central to what God wanted to do in the lives of those present last night.

So, today's posting will consist of a short testimony of Zach's journey, as well was a video of "Chain Breaker". Sure is good to know that there are some folks out there who I am able to connect with and find life in their songs. Thank you, Zach Williams for not only listening to your Heavenly Father, but getting up and following Him. I think maybe that is what life is all about.....following God.
Enjoy this!!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Play Like? Or The Real Deal?

Ephesians 5:1-2
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

I have a picture of me when I was 4 years old.
I'm standing in the back yard with a pair of my father's work boots on.
They come up to my knees and are huge.
I remember clumping around in them trying to be like my dad.
I was trying to imitate him, be like him, walk like him.
Paul wrote in Ephesians we are to do the same thing except that the imitation we reveal comes from an inward change not just outward behavior.

In the verses from Ephesians, Paul refers to believers as "dearly loved children". Now some could take offense at that but it is really a wonderful label.
We are to be "child like" in our relationship with God, not childish. Big difference between child like, and childish. 

Children have a wonderful capacity to believe what is told them.
We should do likewise in this relationship. Take God at His word and simply be who He has called us to be. God will never steer us wrong or take pleasure in pulling "cosmic" jokes on us. 
I have this kind of warped view of how things work.
I have never believed that God has called us to "Do" first.
He has called us to "be". We are referred to as human beings, not human doings. Stay with me here. If I concentrate and expend my energy on being the man God has called me to be, then the doing will follow. This doesn't meant that I spend months or years on learning how to be before I ever do. No! The doing follows as you grow in God. Whereas you use to fear sharing your story with others, you will suddenly find a boldness and a willingness to incorporate what God has done for you into your conversation. The doing comes from falling in love with God, and not falling in love with what He does for us and through us. Don't get me wrong. Nothing inappropriate about loving a blessing from God's hand...just don't let the blessing become the sole reason for your chasing after Him.

Somehow our thinking has been twisted. We bought the idea that if we "do" a bunch of stuff, then God will look at us like we are really growing when, in fact, we have not changed or grown in Him. Wouldn't you be really bummed to have spent your entire life running around making apple pies for God only to discover that God doesn't like apple pies? Sure you would. But what if you spent your life becoming the person God has always wanted you to be? That would be worth the time and energy as you allow the Holy Spirit to truly guide you.

Those who only "act" religious.....are probably just that....religious. They form an idea or construct of what they think a person who really knows God looks like. They develop a language that has words and phrases that are a part of what I call "Church-ese". All the while, they are a poor imitation of a real heart that has been touched by God. A heart that has only one purpose. To be like their Father in heaven. Such is the call for all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus.
As Paul wrote......
"Think on these things."

God on you...

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Spirit Comes To The "Shed" Bible Study

Acts 1:8
But you will receive POWER when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.....

If you hang around recovery long enough......at some point you will hear this word.
It might be at a meeting....
Conversation with someone who has embraced the lifestyle....

Or you might read it in the big book....
But you are going to run across the word "POWER". Lot of opinions and thoughts as to who or what this power is.

Now in our case, at Vineyard ReCovery, the Power is delivered to us when we receive Christ, and make Him our Lord and Savior. The Power is found through the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. I can't explain it....I just know that's the way it works. Just like the verse from Acts....you WILL receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. Not you might receive....or if you're really good, then you'll get a little bit. No! You will be transformed by the daily working of the Holy Spirit, through the Power of God in you.

But to talk about power, and never experience it, is a hard road to walk if you're trying to move forward in you life. This power that is available through the presence of God in our lives becomes nothing more than a mental thought, if you have never run into Him. Well, last night at the "Shed" bible study, some of those present had an encounter with the Spirit of God.

Seth Barber spoke on the disciples that followed Jesus. He took a look at their lives before Acts 2 (Day the Spirit came in fullness to all mankind) and afterwards when they became emboldened to speak the gospel. Big difference between a group that ran away when times got dark, and that same group dying for the message they carried. What made them different? The Power of the Holy Spirit. As Seth taught, and I sat there listening, I felt an urging from God...."Hey! This needs to be demonstrated. These men need an encounter with the Holy Spirit." That urging only got stronger and stronger as the teaching went on. Finally at the end, I asked if it would be o.k. if we prayed for God to come and touch those who wanted to experience this power that we'd heard in the teaching. I was given permission to pray.

I asked for one person who would like to have an encounter with this power. A man jumped up and came forward. Now, you've got to know that at this point I have no idea what is going to happen. All I know is that God wants to demonstrate what we had just heard. So, I began to invite God's presence to come and manifest for this man. it wasn't long after wards, the man began to wobble....he began to tremble......he went down like a sack of wet cement. I've always made it a practice to never put my hands on anyone when we are praying for God's Spirit to come, that way no one can ever say that I pushed them down. This man sat there on the floor looking around like "What happened?" He was laughing, crying, shouting, all with a puzzled look on his face. I assured him that what he'd just encountered was God coming to touch Him. I also pointed out that "falling down" was not a prerequisite or a requirement for having an encounter with God.

Next man up followed the same behavior as the first one. Only this guy had a kind of "you can't make me fall down" attitude about him. I do believe he wanted to meet God, but there was a little stubbornness in him. Down he went. Only he didn't just go down, he fell. He fell, trying to keep himself righted, but it didn't work. Stumbling backwards, falling onto the coffee table there in the room, and then down to the floor. He too sat there with that same puzzled look on his face. He knew what had just happened, but he was trying to make logical sense out of it.

This went on with different men for some time. Now hear me in this. What took place in that shed had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with God.

I found it amazing that there in that run down, windows boarded up, old couches, chairs and a church pew, shed....the God of the universe came down to meet with some men who have been trapped in a life of spiritual darkness. Why would He do this? Because He cares and loves them all.

How else can you make heads or tails out of a belief in God unless you have an encounter with Him.  Saul had an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, and he was never the same. Moses had encounter with God in the wilderness, and he was never the same. And on and on and on, all through Scripture we read of people who had encounters with God....
So why not today, in our time and space?
Has God changed the way He approaches people?
I think not....

God on you...


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Listen Up!!!
New Audio message from VRC  ( 2/11/17).
Todd Bagley teaches on how the disciples responded during the three days after Jesus' died. What this story means to us, and how do we keep from sliding over into unbelief, doubt and fear.

An auditory banquet that you can listen to now or download for later.
Another tasty offering from your friends at Vineyard ReCovery Church.

Turning Happy Meals Into Banquets!

The human mind has limits.
The human will can be broken.
The human spirit is unable to rise above situations.
The human condition is in need of being healed.
All true statements, yet Jesus seemed to never understand this as he ministered to those around him.
Of course the statement I just made was not true. Jesus clearly understood everything about what it meant to be human.
He knew that faced with situations and circumstances that seemed to be beyond our ability or intellect, we would cry out, "That's impossible!".
He knew that given a task to big, with resources that were too small we would cry out, "That's impossible!"
In fact that is exactly what took place in Luke 9:13.
Let's set the picture.

Jesus has sent out the disciples on their own to minister and teach. He had given them power and authority to cast out demons and to heal all diseases. That's pretty heady stuff for a bunch of ol' fisherman and a tax collector. I mean that kind of stuff would give a fellow the big head in a heart beat. That's exactly what happened. The disciples show back up and, as Scripture put it, "They told Jesus everything they had done." Do you think maybe as they told their stories, they put a little jam on the bread, so to speak. The stories got a little bigger and a little more stretched than they actually were? I don't know if it happened or not, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Well as they told their story, they noticed that a huge crowd was hanging around. In fact they had been following Jesus for three days. The disciples tell Jesus...(Can you picture this....THEY ARE TELLING JESUS WHAT TO DO!!") Yo! Dude...you need to send these people away so they can get something to eat. Jesus takes them down a notch...."You feed them."
Here we see the divinity of heaven confronting the mortal mind. Jesus wasn't scolding them for their arrogance...He was simply reminding them of where their sufficiency came from. 
What's the first words out of the disciples mouths?"Impossible!"
The disciples looked at the situation.....weighed it against their own ability and resources and proclaimed such a task to be impossible. How many times have I done this. Found myself in a situation where I needed help and looked at myself as a source to solve the problem? Many more than I care to count. How many times,after reaching a conclusion that I was powerless, did I throw up my hands and proclaim, "It's impossible!" Once again, more than I would care to count. 

Here is where I have met the God of the impossible. IN fact, I think maybe God created things that were impossible to show us that, with Him, all things are possible. I read this over and over through out the Bible...God's ability far exceed anything that I would deem or define as impossible.

In the story, the disciples brought to Jesus five loaves of bread and two fishes to feed a multitude of thousands. When we look at our situations with human eyes, we see five loaves of bread and two fishes. Not even enough to make a dent in our problems. But when Jesus looks at our situation, he sees a never ending meal and feast. He sees so much that everyone who takes and eats from his provision is filled. No one goes away lacking or still hungry. What is impossible with man is very much possible with Jesus.

So whatever you lot in life today....
Whatever problems or situations you may be facing.....

Don't be scared because you only see "five loaves and two fishes."
Just know that your heavenly Father sees the banquet.
When we turn everything over to Him, the impossible becomes the possible.

Trust Him today....

God on you.....

The Good (And Wonderful) Shepherd

Psalm 23:2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. The care and love that Jesus shows to his ...