Monday, July 31, 2017

Gratitude And Hot Dogs

Finding that "gratitude" today. That has to be priority # 1 in my life. Setting my mind and my heart not just on the things I own or possess, but on the source of my gratitude. That would be my Higher Power, Jesus.

It would be so easy to slide over into Lake "Whinny mouth", but I ain't going to do that. Life is hard, but it's hard for everyone. I notice that when I allow my thoughts to grow dark, and take hold of depressions hand it, I find myself headed in the wrong direction. Such dark thoughts make me want to be the single, central person that life has pegged to pour out all that is bad upon.  In other words, I become the poster-child for the "poor, poor, pitiful me bunch". Such thoughts as these wouldn't be the truth.  The real truth is, God has been beyond gracious and loving to me and my family. As I was pondering these things of God, I suddenly had an image / picture of a hot dog.

Hot dogs are a lot like life. They are what you make of them. 
You can have them plain and simple, but there isn't much taste to them. Nothing that causes your taste buds to go "Whoooo Hooooooo!". Taste buds just kind of lay there while your stomach gives you a courteous nod for supplying it something other than things that are good for you.

Take that same dog and doctor it up.
Some hot sauce.....
Now we are talking about a "Par-tay" in your mouth.
Something that wakes everything up.
I am grateful for that hot dog.
That is just one of the many things God places around me daily and I do not want to become such a gloomy-gus that I miss the blessings and directions of God. 
No navel-gazing for me. 
Keep my eyes up....
My focus on Jesus....
and a heart of gratitude for everything.....
even hot dogs.....
If I can get that whipped up by a hot dog, imagine how it should be if I find myself dwelling on my salvation? My relationship with Jesus? Life in the body of Christ? Man! Now we got us some A-1 gratitude fixing to erupt from my heart and mouth....
Don't leave home without it.

God on you.....

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Learning To Follow...Learning To Listen....Learning To Live

Luke 9:23
And He was saying to them all, "If any one wishes (or desires) to come after me (or follow me), he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.

What I am about to say is going to sound stupid to some....
Some will read it, and possibly be angry with me....
That will declare that I have no idea as to what a life of addiction is truly like....
They will scream that I am teaching a pie-in-the-sky theology that is not based or grounded in truth, much less reality.

I'm going to say it anyway...

This road to a new life begins in the simplest manner...
It is found in two words....
"Follow Me!"

It isn't the words that have some sort of magical property. In fact there isn't any magic to it.
But rather the other-worldly property found in those two words comes from the very One who spoke them. Jesus...
That's right...the Jesus of the Bible.

When we read the word "Follow"...that denotes an attitude of not only the body, but the mind, the heart and the spirit. It is a verb which denotes movement. You don't follow by sitting in one place and thinking about following. If you are invited to follow someone, you get move....more importantly, you watch which way they are going so you CAN follow.

The second word is "ME".
Notice that Christ never said to follow the twelve steps....He said to follow Him.
Now in the process of allowing Him to change our hearts, our character, and our way of thinking, we do follow those steps as a kind of guide that helps us. The power isn't in the steps.......the POWER in in the person of Jesus Christ. See, I told you that this was pretty simple.

Some will tell you to do so, to follow this Jesus, is hard. Well, in some regards it is hard. Why? Because we will want to run the show from time to time. Jesus will be leading us in one direction of our daily life, and we will want to take control so we can take a side trip. Here in is the great battle that follows us all. The need to be in control. The need to be the one calling the shots. The one who actually believes that we have gotten better, maybe even healed, and are now capable of running what use to be an unmanageable life. In other words, we cease to follow Jesus, and begin to follow "Self". How's that going to work out? Not good!

As you continue to follow Jesus through your daily life, such a process will become easier. You'll grow and mature spiritually into a person who can hear God when He speaks, and will be more ready to not follow self. Life is a struggle, and I would never tell you different. Life is meant to be lived. So why not do so headed in the right direction. Why not walk through life following the one who created us. How about thinking on these things today. I know that I am.

God on you...


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Don't Answer When The Devil Knocks

Ephesians 4:27
Do not give the devil a foothold.

Romans 13:14
But let the Lord Jesus Christ take control of you, and don't think of ways to indulge your evil desires.

Most do not consider themselves to be evil.
Oh we may think bad things about others, but we do drop money in the red pot outside of Wal-mart at Christmas in order to kind of cancel out those bad thoughts. We aren't really bad people.......are we?

For the most part, I think most do keep themselves in check when it comes to evil.
When we do indulge in something that we know is contrary to the Word of God, we are good at explaining it away. "Oh compared to someone who is a drug dealer, I'm not that bad. Or, "There are other things I could be doing with my money, I'm not hurting anyone."

To think in such a manner is a red flag in my own life.
When I start trying to justify what I am doing, that is coming from my own nature and not the leading of God's Holy Spirit.
I'm sure that Judas thought to himself that he really wasn't doing anything wrong when he agreed to identify Jesus. Notice the word I used? IDENTIFY! In Judas' mind, he wasn't betraying the Son of God, he was merely identifying Jesus for the guards. It is a slippery slope when we begin to rationalize and compromise the things of God.

Proverbs 14:12
There is a way that seems right to man, but it ends in death
Guard your thoughts today.
Don't be mislead by your own intentions that are not in line with God's will.
(O.k. more time in case you is God's will for your life....OBEY!)
So I need to spend my energy on hearing God and then doing what I am lead to do.
One last thing.
God will give you great grace to mess up if you are trying to carry out his will.
Did you catch that?
There is grace when you are truly trying to follow God.
There is no grace when you seek to carry out your own will using God's name.

God on you............

Friday, July 28, 2017

Them There Thought Wars

Galatians 5:16-17
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.

Have you ever had one of those days where life is a constant war that seems to be taking place inside of you?
A day where doubt, fear, uncertainty seemed to have grabbed you by the throat and all three of them are  screaming, "Listen to me!!!".
Kind of hard to move forward when such is happening.

Funny part is that your heart is telling you something contrary to what your mind is saying.
The heart is communicating truth to you.

It may come in the form of a verse that you suddenly remember....
Or something someone else may have told you in the past that helped you....
No matter which, it is as though the mine is telling you to discount what the heart says.
"Pay no heed to what your heart is saying!" So you have this struggle between mind (sinful nature/ flesh / Paul refers to it as the "OLD MAN"....and your heart. Now of course when I speak of your heart, I am not referring to the muscle that keeps life's rhythm, in your chest. I am referring to the very core of your being. The center of who you really are. The place of the spirit, intellect, emotion, and world view of life. 

Yesterday was a day where I was battered on every side by doubt. Really had no reason for such to be happening, it just was. Every time a wave of thoughts would come to knock me off my feet, I would recite a verse.  One wave would consist of  "Who do you think you're're not really a follower of Jesus. If you were, you'd be kinder and more attentive to the needs of others." I would counter with Ephesians 4:21-23 - Throw off  your old sinful nature and your former way of life (which includes the former way of thinking), which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God----truly righteous and holy.

Hannah Whitall Smith, in her book The Christian's Secret To A Happy Life, writes "Our fight is to be a fight of faith, and the moment we let in doubts and fear, our fight ceases, and our rebellion begins." A rebellion that will encourage us to not listen to the Holy Spirit, but rather our sin nature. Remember what Paul wrote in Ephesians 4..."Do not give the devil a foothold." In other words, do not let him rent space in your mind. God has provided for us, through His Holy Spirit, power to deal with these wrong thoughts that seek to pull us away from following Him.

II Corinthians 10:4-5
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every though into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
Did you catch that?
Bringing every thought (and what falls under every "every"? Why every thing, of course)

into other words,  through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, we have the authority AND THE POWER, to take our thoughts captive and  not allow them to roll around unopposed in our brains. Now that is some kind of good stuff. So the next time you get beat up by your old nature trying to draw you into some kind of spiritual funk....rise up and say, "NOPE! Ain't gonna happen."

God on you....


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Above The Rainbow

There is a hope that is higher than what the world can give us....
It is a hope that brings life right here.....right now .
Hope that invades the darkest places of a human heart and lifts it above the muck and mire that sin-darkness brings.

It is hope wrapped in a promise given by One who will never break His promises.
Hope that lifts our vision above our current condition.
Hope that fills our hearts in the middle of our current circumstances.

Hope that is divine...
Hope that is pure....
Hope that lays hold of us, as we lay hold of it.

It is a hope that will never be defeated by cancer...
Never defeated by addiction....
Never defeated by death...
It is a hope that is divinely inspired in the heart of One who stands unchallenged.
Hope that came forth at the dawn of creation when all the "LET THERE BE"'s were spoken.

The world tries to offer hope, but the flavor offered is bland and empty.
It's like carnival food....
No redeeming quality so ever, except to satisfy for a moment only to leave you empty and starving for something real.
The hope that I that I speak of was bought and paid for on a hillside. A place that wasn't covered in flowers or butterflies...No it was a place of pain and the air was filled with the cries of men on their way to die.  But yet, here in this awful place, Divine Hope was birthed and offered to a lost world.

This Divine Hope was stretched out upon a rough-hewn Roman cross.
This Hope was nailed to the wood by spikes....
Lifted high and dropped low for all the world to see.
In spite of the insults and names hurled at this Hope, it retaliated with the words, "Father! Forgive them, for they know not what they do."

The Hope I speak of was signed, sealed and delivered with three words.....


Those very words are as powerful today, as they were when they were spoken.
The One who died on this cross...
The One who stepped from a tomb into the light of a new day....
Is the very One who powers the hope I've written about.

Hope has a name...
That name is Jesus....

You may be thinking that "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" is an unusual song to be attached to the word hope, but it isn't.
You see, the individual singing the song in the video accompanying today's blog is Danny Daniels...
Danny has made several trips to be with us at Gadsden Vineyard, and with each trip, he would always come out to Rapha to play for the men (Rapha is an in-house treatment program for those in addiction). 

The last time Danny was at Rapha, he played this song....
I watched the presence and power of God melt hearts as Danny sang.
Men who had not cried in years, were openly weeping as we all followed Danny through this song of hope.

I can't explain the "how" or "Why" of what happened that night. I just know that for a brief moment, in the lives of men who had been trapped in darkness....the light, love and presence of God broke through, bringing hope where before than wasn't any.

It was an incredible night...
One that I will never forget...
Thank you Danny Daniels for your heart, your voice, and your life.

You led us to a place far beyond and above any rainbow, and showed us the hope that only God can bring to those who are hungry to change.

God on you...


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Tuesday Bible Study

Psalm 119:130
The entrance (or unfolding) of Your words gives light. it gives understanding to the simple.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God on you...


Tuesday, July 25, 2017


From the Greene Street Letter Archive 
Posted August 7, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God on you....


Monday, July 24, 2017

RIP Matt Godwin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I love you, man.

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

God on you...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Stories From Last Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God on you...

Friday, July 21, 2017

Simple Light

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God on you...


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Goodness Gracious

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go live!
God on you....

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pulling One Out Of the GSL Archives

(The following is a reprint from July 2014)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 ...