Wednesday, September 14, 2011

what did he see?

we don’t necessarily see those words (what did he see?) placed together in scripture, but they are there.

Go with me for a moment back to the time before Paul had his Damascus road experience with Jesus (Acts 9). Go with me to when Paul was actually Saul and he was the best of the best from the tribe of Benjamin. This guy, Saul, was pretty good at spotting people who were following the teachings of Jesus Christ. I mean he was on the scene when Stephen was stoned to death and agreed with it completely (Acts 8:1)Stephen was described in Acts 6:8 (NLT) as, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed amazing miracles and signs among the people.

I mean I have been accused of being full of something, or even have throw a slur towards someone that they are full of something, but not so sure that any of us at those particular times are referring to someone being full of God’s grace and power! WOW….full of GRACE

Over in Luke 5:20 Jesus makes the following statement…Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”

What did you see Lord?

Paul writes again in Colossians 3:4 For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people,

What were you hearing about Paul?

As Paul and Silas, Timothy are traveling 1 Thessalonians 1:8….for wherever we go we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it,

Silas, Timothy what were the people telling you?

So what are our benchmarks? What do we see or hear that determines or makes us shout out inside WOW that person has some tremendous faith, will the same benchmarks work in a third world country, or in another culture? Have fun rolling this around with each other

love em up!

Monday, August 22, 2011

check the box

Do you guys remember when we were wee little bitty guys running around on the playgrounds during recess time, just hollering out YOU’RE IT, GOT YOU…..YES I did, shirt is part of the body! Or the times when you muster up enough nerve to write a letter to that someone that caught your eye and you wanted that person to respond to your question “do you like me”? and there were two boxes for that person to check or place their “X” ….sometimes the third box was given with a “maybe”. Man for me that should have a big ol question mark behind it! hahaha….

We still check boxes in our society, I mean think about filling out applications, or ordering things on line, or even now some sandwich shops have you checking boxes of the items you desire on your sandwich. In high school and college bring those #2 pencils and start darkening in the circles to reflect for me my best guesstimate.

Depending on the polls, surveys, research engines you read over, the number of folks that checked the Christian box is really pretty staggering. Here is what I mean. In recent surveys and numbers taken from the most recent census, when asked about religion roughly 70% responded with Christianity, yet on a given day of worship 23% will not stick a key in the ignition, or get on a bus, or walk to a local place of worship. It does make me wonder why? It’s almost like if I dressed up in full Tennessee Titan football gear, face painted up, chest painted up with the Titan flames, got the Titan number 1 fan finger and I start talking about how much I love the Dallas Cowboys. Yea kinda crazy uh….you would look at me and think man o man he really has gone whacko now….looking like (checking the box) for the Titans, yet saying a totally different message.

In preparing for a topic of discussion recently, I noticed that Rutherford County (TN) has over 260,000 residents and those residents live in 103,000 housing units, yet of those 260 plus thousand residents, 12.4% or over 32,000 live at or below the poverty line. At this point you’re thinking what does this have to do with checking boxes bivo? Well, my thoughts are this, that what if we took the time to find out where the other folks are that checked the box are. Yea remember we stated earlier that roughly 70% have stated or checked the box for Christianity yet only 60,000 of the 260,000 participate in serving Christ by gathering with other followers of Jesus….200,000 people that are made in the image of God are wandering, maybe looking, some maybe not….and in that number are folks that lay their head down in tents, on bridges, in parks, in libraries, shelters (if there is room).

So here is my point or what if moment…what if the believers, the followers, the lovers of Christ, lived out of the box they/we checked when surveyed. Heck what if just 50% or 130,000 folks really started living out Matthew 25:40 NLT 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'

Or what if the 130,00 really believed 1 Peter 4:10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another…
Or that we learned that we really don’t Owe nothing to anyone--except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God's law. (Romans 13:8) And that we, yea we the 130,000 that checked the Christianity box really did (Hebrews 10:24-25) think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. and not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

would we eventually change that 12.4% number to 0%? I believe so. So what do we do first bivo? Man I’m glad you asked, let’s find out who checked the box.

Can you imagine if every street in Rutherford County had at least one house that had the Jesus light on. Phillipians 3:20 confirms that by faith we live on Jesus’ culdesac…OK OK it doesn’t say culdesac, but it does say we are citizens of heaven. What if 50% to 70% of the housing units had their Jesus light on. Yep since Jesus is the light HE will leave the light on for ya…. That’s 51,500 to 72,100 housing units living out love, peace, joy, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. That last one, self-control, is a biggie and for another day for us to discuss. Let me close with this.

In order for Jesus to be famous in your community, or at your work or in your home, HE must be famous for you first. If you have a desire to learn or find some folks that are learning how to do just this, let us know by sending us a note or replying to this email and let’s start plotting out the houses within our county that are safe places for people to come to in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

GOing....GOd

This month at the Refuge we are experiencing and learning about our GOing. What? uh what is the Refuge? Oh hey that's a cool question, ok hang tight for a second. Hey gang for those that already know about the Refuge, you can go get you a donut, or cheetos, or for the healthy folks you can go grab some celery sticks, or tofu bars...

Ok for the rest of us, the Refuge is a safe place, yes i know that's what the word refuge means, but you asked hahaha. It's a place where folks can gather that have been unplugged or never plugged in with other people that are living out Christ in homes, living out Christ at work and living out Christ in the community. The Refuge is a place where you can live out and or learn about Christ at your pace and through your uniqueness. All of us are learning together how to make Jesus famous in our travels, but before we can make HIM famous (which HE already is) to others, we ask ourselves is HE famous for me? The Refuge is a place where conversations are a bit deeper than the weather, it's a place where folks can express their burdens and give others the chance to help them carry (not fix, that's Jesus' role, HE's the one that fixers us fixer uppers) therefore, living out Galatians 6:2.

Oh hey the others are coming back, I see some of them licking the glaze and tofu off their fingers. Real quick, that's a brief snapshot of the Refuge you can go to facebook and look us up or you can follow tweets at therefugemboro.

Kinda interesting that the word go is in both words listed above and the past few weeks and the weeks ahead we are taking time to learn a bit more about our GOing and in our GOing are we asking GOd if we should go. We are a busy people, I mean really, as I type this I am racking my brain over the past 48 hours and realize that i'm having some difficulty recalling the GOing of the days. And the crazy thing is that I just returned from an incredible time of rest with my bride, Debby, down in the sands of Destin, FL.

So what has our mind so tangled or is the tangled mind coming from our GOing at speedracer pace? What are we saying yes to and why? Now before you hit the delete button and unsubscribe hang in here with me....Jesus tells us to GO, that we are to GO and make disciples in all nations.... (Matthew 28:19-20) but why? Why did and does Jesus tell us to go and make disciples? Hang on to that question for a moment. As i thought it would be pretty neat to look up the word go in scripture, so i did...shows up almost 1500 times. WOW are you serious, other words like went, sent, depart show up quite a bit also, cumaltively up to another 1500 times, so we see that we are designed, commanded, encouraged to GO.But look at part of the definition...

to pursue the journey on which one has entered, to continue on one's journey

What is your/our journey? Where are we entering and are we making disciples as we GO in our GOing. What if in our GOing we decided as a people that love JEsus Christ, started in our homes and met every seen need, we didn't ask if we could do it, or we didn't wait for someone else to do it, we just did it. Or, or what about if at our workplaces we started with helping fulfill needs around the workplace, we didn't ask for permission, we just did it, and we did it without any recognition, that we almost try to do it like CIA....no not central intelligence agency but Christ In Action...or what if we as a people that love Jesus Christ just started meeting the needs of the community, what if we had conversations with the city officials and asked; "what are the biggest needs for our community"? and we just started fulfilling those needs, all along the way answering the question when asked "why" we could simply reply...Jesus, no other reason...just Jesus. i just wonder if anyone would be drawn? Doesn't matter, go check out Romans 13:8 NLT .....never mind i can't wait here it is!

Owe nothing to anyone-except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God's law.
Hang on here are some more, this is better than that glazed tofu bar isn't it? YEPPERs

Galatians 5:14 (NLT) For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself

So why did Jesus tell us to go?

John 13:35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

Ah there's that word again.....You see our journey's and our teaching comes first in our homes, then at work and then in our communities. That our LOVE for CHRIST compells us to serve in our continued journey, not from obligation, guilt or duty, but out of incredible love for JESUS who emptied a tomb, once for ALL, that through our faith we are free to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13)....some folks want or desire to prove themselves worthy, we cannot folks. Thank God Christ did prove us worthy and now take another peek at what proof the world is seeking from me and you that are lovers of Christ.....yea....incredibly cool! Now GO really get GOing and serve GOd in a manner that leaves a sweet aroma of Christ (Ephesians 5:2
Gang, thanks for giving me the opportunity to share with you. If you desire and or know folks that desire to learn, encourage, teach each other what living life in Christ looks like, well come on. We don't have everything figured out with the exception that Jesus is who HE says He is and we are who He says we are...

will you forward this to those in your circle of influence, thanks for those that do and those that don't, i bet those that don't eat tofu HAHAHA....just kidding...you know I love all you guys. Ask em to like the Refuge facebook page. You then can keep up with where we are meeting throughout the week.

mike and debby bivins

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

water

So you're walking around with some buddies, just kicking rocks, picking some up and tossing em in the water, occasionally stopping to get some of the rocks out of your sandals. The day is hot and the murmurs continue, the rumors, the conversations, the questions, could it be? who is he? why is he doing this? not quite sure if this has anything at all to do with you…quite honestly you have ignored this topic for quite some time, as you have grown bored with it.

as you are walking you start to see a crowd, crowd of folks that are quite diverse, young, old, those with, those without, the lame, the athletic, numbers of people that are walking, some easing into the water and as you get closer you notice that there is this man that is lowering them under the water and he is screaming out something, but you can't quite make it out…and you are drawn, not quite sure what you are drawn to. Is it him? the water, the curiosity…why can I not stop myself from going…your buddies are not following…they start to holler out insults, call you things that you never thought would come out of their mouths AT you…but you keep walking and as you are walking some men dressed in clothes with colors that you have never really seen before, oh you've heard about these guys but there brushing, almost pushing you aside. Dang rude! these men and their flowing robes are heading straight to this man that is in the water, what do they want with him, he's not doing anything wrong, heck all you notice from your distance is that when people come up out of the water, there are these HUGE smiles on their face, it's like something has been lifted off of them……but you have drawn closer and you can hear more clearly the words that he is speaking, so you are drawn even closer.

And you hear this man that now others are referring to as John yea someone said that's jOhn the baptist, and your thinker are you serious? I kinda thought he was make believe…..no way……so you inch even closer, and you hear him tell these men, these men who quite honestly don't appear to be very pleased with the situation, you can almost sense that through clinched jaws, and maybe clinched fists under their robes, that they want this stopped immediately….but this man who is still in the water tells them "I am not the Christ" (John 1:20) WHAT? What did he just say? are you kidding me and you now notice the top of your feet are in the water and you freeze as you hear with the energy that parents use to scold their child for talking to a "stranger" Then who are you? What do you say about yourself?(John 1:22)you ask yourself why are these men so upset as you wait for this man's response and this man whose confidence is just dripping off him, more so than the water off his forearms as he is baptizing those that are coming and he you hear him "I am the voice of the one calling in the desert, Make straight the way for the Lord" IT IS him, you have heard of this guy, he eats locusts and dresses in camel hair OMG I'm going to go……but wait is he pointing at me….your stomach is rolling like thunder as you see who you now know to be John the Baptist look your direction and point. As he points, he SCREAMS out in the direction of another man who brushes by your side, yet this time not in a push like those others, but with the caress of a brother saying let me get in front of you, almost like someone trying to protect you, I've got this covered and now your in the water to your shins……words now come across your ears that you will NEVER forget….

BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sin of the world (john 1:29)whistling over your head! NO wAY the Messiah!, my grandaddy would tell me to be waiting and that we didn't know the day but to ALWAYS be ready, this is HIM…this is HIM you are wishing your buddies were with you but you desire to go get them but you are frozen ….and you hear a conversation between John and Jesus. Jesus is wanting to be baptized, are you kidding? and john is not wanting to do this he tells Jesus (Matthew 3:14)"I need to be baptized by you and you come to me?" and you hear Jesus as now you are in the water to your thighs, tell JOhn (matthew 3:15)"Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness. Wait a minute that word righteousness, I've heard that word, come on memory and you search your memory for that word, righteousness and it's starting to come back, yea that's the filing cabinet and the words you heard from your mama and daddy describe to you how you are acceptable to God…that there was a day coming that Jesus would fulfill the law and through our faith, belief in HIM we are made acceptable (righteous) and you now have this overwhelming desire to throw yourself onto these men BUT before you can move…. you hear the SPLASH of the water as John immerses your SAVIOR under the water and come up out of the water and as the heavens are opening up, with the water dripping off our Saviors hair and beard you hear this BOOMING melodic voice declare" "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."(Matthew 3:17)

you are now waist deep and there is no turning back; for as the old hymn states

I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
no turning back
no turning back

Saturday will be an amazing day for all of us as we participate in following Jesus in His example of fulfilling God's promise to me and you. Have you followed in showing the world your faith and belief in CHRIST through baptism? if you have questions will you give me or someone you are safe with a call? you will great….look forward to talking with anyone who has questions on what this means and why we decide to follow Jesus in this manner. (615)604-1760

love em up!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Holy Spirit

Luke 24:49 And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven."

Those are the words Jesus spoke to everyone in the room. Yea the room everyone ran to days before the He was crucified. let's stop and relive our week last week, simply AMAZING the emotions we rolled through as we journeyed through scripture to relive Holy Week, so can you even imagine the magnitude of the emotional roller coaster the disciples and others who lived with Jesus for the last 3 years felt? You just gotta believe that now the teaching, the promises, the statements, the healing came flashing back in micro seconds. I mean come on, this guy, JEsus who called himself Son of Man, said He is the Messiah and you kinda believed it on some days, other days when the heat was turned up our belief turned to running. And then HE is crucified! WOW and for the day before the resurrection, how heavy was the doubt? I can just hear some of the conversations in the room, after everyone caught their breath. DAng it I can't believe we got dooped like this…how could I be so na├»ve? What now, we left everything….. they had given up hope, the women are looking for the various ointments to finish preparing His body for burial. they were walking back to a tomb believed to be occupied by Jesus. YET what a glorious day! it's EMPTY, the running is back on, yet this time running with HOPE,running back to tell the others, running with the flashbacks, running with vigor…and you remember back you remember Jesus saying:

Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. (John 3:6) In your running you recall the moments after HE washed your feet that he stated: WHEN not IF the FAther sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. (John 14:26) And that peace, peace of mind and heart will come and that this peace is not what the world can give but only through JESUS…(john 14:27) And you are actually starting to experience this, you are actually starting to feel some of this peace where a few hours ago hope was gone…. a smile is broadening, the chest is swelling, oh my gosh I can't keep from shouting, I can't keep from praising God and that is just what they did. They did all day long (Luke 24:53)

they had a new life….how about us? Let's find out together over the next few weeks how the promised and delivered Holy Spirit through faith in Christ helps us live a new life. Look forward to seeing everyone Saturday

WE ARE STARTING AT NEW TIME! summer start time will be 6:00 pm for the open fellowship, 6:30 pm worship through song begins, help communicate through the various outlets you utilize.

love em up!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

two days before

Good morning,

Take the time today to read and soak in Mark 14:1-11….the scene is two days before the festival of the Passover. Jesus is in Bethany and he and his disciples are seated for a meal. Recall the exuberance they felt two days prior on Palm Sunday as they head toward to the cross, Jesus knowing that He is and will be fulfilling prophecy by transferring the LAW into GRACE by placing himself on a cross for our eternal and daily security in HIM. But He must travel through Tuesday before He gets to Friday.

Ask yourself and family questions today in preparation for our time together on Thursday (Maundy Thursday service @ Roasteries 6:30 pm). What is the aroma that we as followers of Jesus Christ fill the room with. You see nard (not a cool name for a perfume hahaha) or known as spikenard is an aromatic perennial herb, some say in the scent of roses. And when Jesus was anointed, when she poured the perfume over His head, scripture tells us the aroma filled the room. The presence and attitudes of the others also filled the room. Quite a different aroma. Which aroma are we?

Go back and look who is in the room, a man who had leprosy (past tense), disciples who probably knowing that they heard Jesus say he must die and suffer, then 3 days later return, but didn't really believe it YET. Or can we relate to the woman, who no matter what the crowd was saying, came in with an alabaster box of spikenard and did exactly what she knew was best for her to do and that was to pour, to anoint Jesus…. I love how Jesus replies in verse 8…She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time.

wow, she did what she could, she didn't allow the thought of what she didn't have, she didn't compare to the others who were "busy" around her, she did what she could do.

Let's not concern ourselves with what we can't do, but let's do what we can with what we have!

Have a fabulous day as you journey to the cross and then the EMPTY TOMB this week

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

keys

Hello Friends,

Spring is here folks! i love it....the color is amazing isn't it? WOW....so how is everyone doing? Good good i see some heads bobbing around out there, not sure if that is just shaking off the winter blues, or or the cobwebs from March Madness...i do enjoy this time of year as baseball starts to crank up from the little league teams all the way up to the loved Atlanta Braves, yep i'm a brave fan, struggled with them through the days at the "launching pad" of Atlanta Fulton County Stadium when in the 80's back in college the fellas would load up and do a roadtrip on Sunday to watch the Braves battle. Not sure what was more fun, the days out in the right centerfield seats with the shirts off getting third degree burns on our paste like chests or laughing at the various stories we could manufacture each trip to and from Atlanta. Can't recall to many of the stories that were told, but i'm sure we thought we held the keys to freedom in our journeys.
Speaking of keys! hahaha....hang with me here...Do you remember receiving the first set of keys to your car, or when mom and dad tossed you the keys to their car and you could go out with some of your buddies. Oh my gosh, how liberating, how freeing, and now that we have a few years under our belt and i have tossed keys to my oldest daughter, and now teaching our middle child how to drive. The responsibility of having keys is tremendous.

That's exactly what Jesus did. No not drive you numbskulls. He tossed keys (figuratively) over to Peter. We have discussed this scene before. It's Matthew, oooopsss ok some of you need to go get your Bible, that's cool....ill wait.........ok here we go. The scene is in chapter 16 where Jesus is asking the boys "who do the people say I am". And the guys are giving their answers and Jesus hones in on Peter. Don't you just love that, when the guy that typically blurts out is the one the teacher picks out to answer the question? Yea, deep down some of us are wanting him to answer incorrectly so we can giggle on the inside (so crazy that's for another time) But Peter answers correctly in verse 16 ...You are the Christ the Son of the Living God. If it were a gameshow, the confetti drops from the sky, the studio audience goes absolutely bonkers and Peter is swarmed under with high fives. But Peter and the gang GET SO MUCH MORE....you too!

v19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."

Unbelievable right? Not with Jesus folks, he takes the ordinary and makes us EXTRAordinary through our faith in HIM....what had Peter done at that moment to receive such a reward? Nothing other than to place faith in Christ, by stating, what he believed. Sure Peter ran a few hours later, but his place was secured when he stated YOU are the Christ, Son of the living God. You can have those same keys, a bunch of you already do, you are just not sure how to place the keys in the ignition and push the throttle. Think back for just a moment the feeling of freedom you experienced the very first time you drove by yourself...........you had to place the keys given to you in the ignition...YOU have the keys!

Jesus trusts you/us with the church (people, not buildings) and the building of His people, that's why He emptied out the tomb to set the captives free, to experience freedom from ourselves and to teach (disciple) others. Go ahead mash the throttle, live this life WIDE OPEN with us, it's a joy!