Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stitches In Time...

Hello! My name is Jeff Brown and I'm with the Vineyard Ministry fellowship and Outreach Center in Doniphan,Mo. We've rented the old Ben Franklin building on Washington St. and we're in the process of establishing an ongoing ministry there centered around supporting people with drug and alcohol addictions in their efforts to find deliverance by establishing a relationship with Jesus Christ. As God allows we'd also like to expand into other areas including couples counseling and helping people dealing with depression. I'd like to tell you why I feel as though this is a vitally important undertaking, and why I feel as though it's something that all of us should be concerned with.

Most of us are familiar with the expression "A stitch in time saves nine" It simply means that to deal with things now can prevent a small problem from becoming a big problem later. A stitch in time can save nine, it may even save 900,or even 9000, depending on it's location the impact of that one stitch can be huge! My parents were divorced when I was nine, but it wasn't until a couple of years ago that my mother confided in me that the problems they had in their marriage were in fact actually very minor. I'm left to wonder what kind of a difference "a stitch in time" might of made to everyone in my family.

Some people have misconceptions about counseling or psychology and when they hear either term concerns arise as to their real value or even if they're something the church should be involved with at all. This is a valid concern because some of what secular psychology has to offer is in contradiction to basic Christian beliefs. It's important that we understand where the two part ways and stick to what Gods word teaches.

As an example, a few years later when I was twelve I was caught selling drugs at my Jr. High school. One of the results of that was my being referred to a psychologist for counseling, I met a wonderful man who I know cared a great deal about me and who I'm sure would've done anything to help me. I'm not saying he didn't help me at all, perhaps he may of kept me from careening off of some precipice but despite seeing him continuously for several years I continued to us drugs. He simply didn't know how to reach me, and despite all of his endeavors to rebuild my shattered self esteem I believe they failed because I simply wasn't buying the idea of my being worth loving. His therapy fell short because it's success hinged on my acceptance of something my worldly perceptions showed me to be false. Would it have made a difference if he had shown me in Gods word that it was because of His great love for me that God had sent His son to die for all of the things I hated so much about myself ? I can only speculate as to the different effect it might of had if he would've told me that God had a wonderful plan for my life and that He wanted to have a personal relationship with me. If, instead of trying to convince me to love myself despite the mess I was, he would've helped me to see how much I was already loved, and encouraged me to allow Jesus into my heart what a difference it might've made!

When I'm counseling a young couple with marital problems I think about my own parents and what I wish someone might have told them about the far reaching ramifications of what they're contemplating.

When I talk to a young man struggling with his identity who has chosen to hide who he really is behind drugs I can tell him about where that took me and help him to understand that there's a much better choice available to him.

All of my years of people watching have taught me something important and that is, "Where people are concerned, things are seldom what they seem”. Peoples outward behaviors seldom reflect their true feeling’s or tell the real story of what’s happening on the inside. And while that may sound complicated it’s really as simple as understanding that every one of us is just trying to be loved! And because we may never have experienced what that truly means I think that I can say without any qualification that it is without a doubt the most confusing aspect of life and that it’s the primary cause of all of mans problems. Following a trail of lies left by our enemy we’re drawn into a myriad of dead end streets strewn with broken glass and other garbage that we’re willing to ignore if we believe that in doing so it might bring us this elusive prize. We seek it out in substances like drugs and alcohol, dysfunctional human relationships, of course material possessions, all of which have the habit of leaving us empty and unfulfilled, some of which leave us dead.

I want people to know that God loves them!

As I see it, there are only two kinds of people. Those who have been greatly blessed by the presence of mentoring relationships in their lives and those who have greatly suffered as a result of not having them. If you're in the first category, It honors the memory of that person who helped you to "pay it forward"and be that person in another s life. If you're the latter, it's a sacred thing to reach out to people in an effort to keep someone else from making the same bad choices you did and perhaps from suffering the same consequences.

What has God done for you? What barriers did He have to patiently wait for your consent to remove from your life even while it caused Him so much pain to watch as you needlessly suffered?

The story of God and man is a story of love and of redemption; it’s a story of a creator and His rebellious creation and the extraordinary lengths that He’s willing to go to reach them. In Gods word He goes into detail as to the lengths He’s willing to go to in showing us His love.

John 3:16-17

16For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

I purposely included the 17th verse, because it breaks down any excuses I could possibly have to not be doing something to reach out to a world in bondage to ignorance, pain, and evil, with the love, redemption, and deliverance of Christ! When we choose to see ourselves and others as God see’s us, with compassion, it’s then that we can begin to understand the life changing power of Gods love and it's there that we can be "convinced" as the reality of what Paul stated in his epistle to the Romans.

Romans 8:38-39

38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I’ve said all of this in an attempt to explain to you why I’m doing what I’m doing but most importantly, I’m saying it out of my own personal gratitude for what’s been done for me! Many people considered me a lost cause; they saw me as a no good drug addict and told me I’d never amount to much. But praise God it was a loving savior who spoke truth into my life and made me see the lies of the enemy and all of the weapons which were formed against me, It was Jesus who reached out a hand to me and showed me my own self as He saw me, Who lifted me up out of the broken glass and garbage I was in and gave me hope and faith that because of His love for me those weapons would not continue to prosper against me, that I was somebody very special in Christ, because of His love for me!

What, if anything, could I ever do in return to show my gratitude or to show how much I love the Lord?

Matthew 25:35-40

35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

If we as the church are to have the impact on this world that God has called us to we're going to have to make some stitches where people are injured and bind up some wounds to heal the brokenhearted. We must do it now while we still have the opportunity, in time for it to make a difference. I'm asking you to join us in this undertaking, that it might become an overtaking victory for the sake of Gods kingdom and in the name of Jesus The Christ!

Luke 4:18

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised

Matthew 16:19

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Ezekiel 34:16

I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong; I will feed them with judgment.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Something About Faith

If asked, many Christians can to some extent explain the basis for their faith. What they say may seem intangible,because it is by nature "unprovable", but in their hearts, it is fact. They've never seen the Red Sea part, or manna fall from heaven. Never seen a blind man given sight or watched an altar be consumed by fire. What they've seen are very personal revelations of God in their lives, an answered prayer or an unexplainable peace in a time of trouble. A timely blessing or provision of some kind but nothing that couldn't be perhaps explained otherwise by someone with a mind to.

John 20:29

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Faith is an interesting thing in that the more of it you have, the less of it you need. Faith brings such abundance into our lives that we see the substance of it manifested, and furthermore, we know that based on the faithfulness of our God that His provision having been seen in both the past and the present is tantamount to proof of it in the future.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The story of the prodigal son is the story of man. Who left his first estate to wander in rebellion and ultimately found himself in squalor. Upon his return, he sought only to be a servant considering himself unworthy, but instead his father welcomed him back as a son with great joy! It's our knowing who we are in Christ and that the Father isn't mad at us, and mostly that we are still loved that form the crucial basis for practically everything about us! Our faith is simply the acting out of these beliefs!

I'm saddened that so many Christians have instead chosen to continue on as the servant. Don't misunderstand me, I am a servant as well, but the relationship I'm lamenting is one which denies our real identity and birthright. Paul described himself as being a "bond servant" which is someone who serves out of love, not obligation! Christian people who serve under a feeling of unworthiness or condemnation will seldom ask of the Father the things that a son would because they don't believe they're entitled to ask let alone to receive them. Faith rests on the knowledge that we ARE entitled not only to ask but to receive all good gifts and blessings from the Father through our adoption as sons which was the purpose of Christs work on the cross!

At this time of the year, and in this economy, most of us are thankful to have a few presents under the tree. Why is it that we have sold so short Gods gifts and his intentions toward us? Perhaps we're not expecting anything great from Him this year. I believe He wants us to pray for peoples healing's, and for all blessings, not as "beggars" but as representatives of the reality of His love in this world!

I was inspired to write this message by the reality of it's truth in my own life and circumstances. As we've continued on in our ministerial endeavor Gods purpose and provision continues to unfold before us in some very amazing ways. It's encouraged me to experience more and more of what God has for me, and wants to do through me! There truly is "something about faith" that lifts us up out of this fallen world and into an unimaginable world of possibility which is made possible merely because we believe that it is so!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Exciting Work of Ministry!

Catchy title don't you think? okay, maybe not so much but I am starting to get really excited thinking about where all of this hard work is leading! For all of us that are involved in this venture it's the culmination of the dreams, prayers and purpose's in each of our lives. I believe that we've all been uniquely prepared to fulfill this aspect of the Lord's plan, and that it's not only for us but for many others as well!

It's been a very long journey for me, wandering through the desert for the last forty years. If you've ever been lost you know what I mean, you think your heading in the right direction but with very little confirmation it's cause for anxiety. When you see a sign that tells you how much further it is or you recognize something that you were told to watch out for a sense of peace replaces the panic. Ironically, in my current circumstances most of the things I've been told to watch out for are not good but I'm happy to see them because it means I must be on track!

More exciting ministry work!

Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Speaking of being "on track", in the last week we've got a phone, designed and printed some brochures and cards, done some clean up work, and Lord willing we'll have electricity later this week! Tonight my partner Gerald told me that they're delivering some carpeting and a little bit of furniture which includes a desk, next I'm looking for about twenty or thirty chairs, enough to have meetings with. We're currently working on a newsletter, and I'm looking into various signage options for our front glass. I'm also starting to work with our website So yeah, it is busy but it's fun and exciting!

Based on what I've just described I can already tell that this ministry is going to stretch my boundaries and allow me to wear many different hats, some that I've kind of worn before, like in the area of public relations. Others, like being involved with drug and alcohol cessation meetings and one on one counseling are more familiar to me.

Earlier I mentioned being lost in the desert for forty years which you may of taken as a metaphor but it's truer than you could know. I was saved at age nine and I'm forty nine now. To me it's an interesting similarity, so now am I ready to cross the Jordan into the promised land? I've stepped out in faith, and based on what the Lord's done for me in the last forty years I know that all of His promises to me are real and that He'll continue to abide in me as I abide in Him now even more than ever! He continues to give me a vision of what He wants to accomplish through this work and of how to go about it. For me thats as good as it gets, it really is exciting to be a part of !

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's All About Jesus!

After a few weeks of holding my breath, yesterday I was handed the key to our building! (exhales) Now, I've got to get insurance,utilities of various types,and of course nearly everything else that will be needed. I've put up an add on Craigslist of Southeast Missouri soliciting donations of office furniture,partitions,and used carpeting. My partner and I are planning to talk with some of the local ministers to let them know what we're trying to get going,we definitely could use some help! Our mission is to bless as many people as possible with the services we plan to offer, but I think that it's going to be just as much of a blessing to those who decide to help us. I've inquired around at a few of the local help agencies and apparently there isn't any sort of open drug or alcohol abuse support group meetings currently being held anywhere. It occurred to me what a great opportunity it would be for us to pursue, and also for many people in the church to act as mentors! The one "saying" that's been going through my mind is...

"All that's necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to stand idly by and do nothing"

In the last fifty years or so the church has lost so much precious ground! I don't feel like there's anyone who doesn't know that! I also know that church's do lots of great work in this country and all over the world but unfortunately here in the United States they're perceived by many as hypocritical and judgmental. So much of the work done by church's happens outside the country while the spiritual needs of our own go unmet. Sure, we have sanctuaries everywhere but I'm afraid we're following in the footsteps of Europe where the majority of the church's are empty, empty because they had a "high on the mountaintop" attitude,because they tried to keep Jesus all to themselves and away from the masses,because in the end, despite the gilded rituals and dry dogma they really didn't have much left to offer anyway.

The Dead Sea

It reminds me of the Jordan river, it flows from the sea of Galilee which is full of life into the Dead sea that isn't,because it's incredibly salty and there's no outlet. The Spirit of The Lord is like electricity, it won't flow through a connection that's not connected, or through a people who won't reach out for those whom The Father loves and wants so desperately to reach.

Like many of you I've felt overwhelmed by the size of the powers and principalities that we're at war against. Of all the weapons that have been formed against me personally in my life, I feel that the one's that have done the most damage are hopelessness and discouragement. I found these verses in 2 Kings that have given me hope and encouragement, and emboldened me to walk even more so in faith...

15And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

16And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

17And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Elisha wasn't alone or outnumbered,and neither are we! When we come together as the body of Christ it's no contest!

And that's definitely what it's all about, reaching people for Christ! Introducing the people of a fallen world to a risen Savior! Through the compassion and understanding we can express through this ministry we know the victory has already been won, that hearts can be touched and strongholds of the enemy can be brought down.