I Have An Addiction

Everyone needs to ask the question, “What has mastered me?”  What is it at this moment that is out of control in my life and is bigger than me? Because almost everyone has something that has taken over in some area of life.  II Pet 2:19, the Bible says, “For a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.”

What are you a slave to? What is it that is bigger than you?  And if you are honest enough to say, “Yes, there is something,” I have got incredible news for you.  I promise you that in the presence of a very holy God, if you will apply His living Word and submit to the power of His Spirit, the risen Christ will set you free.  You see, scripture says, “He who the Son has set free is free indeed.”  You can become absolutely free. 

That freedom begins at the question, “What’s mastered you?”  Be really, really honest.  It may not be something that’s apparently really dangerous.  It may be something like caffeine.  For example, if it takes six cups of coffee to get you to work in the morning, you may be addicted to caffeine.  Or maybe you are addicted to dipping, which, I have to tell you, is incredibly sexy. I have to admit, the way you put the little black stuff down in your lip and a little runs out the corner of your mouth and then you spit that black saliva stuff in a cup.  It’s a turn on.  Girls love that.  They love it.

Maybe it’s smoking.  You know, smoking some cigarettes, or maybe smoking some weed, or I don’t know, crayons for you.  It could be anything.  Maybe you are addicted to the internet.  You’ve got to check your email.  “I’ve got an email.  I’ve got an email.” Maybe for you it’s your stocks.  “Did my stocks go up or down in less than five minutes.”  You got to check it out.  Maybe you are addicted to work.  You work and you work and you work.  Or maybe it’s sports.  Or maybe its pornography, or masturbation, or maybe it’s shopping, and you’ve got the gift of going in debt.  Maybe it’s overeating.  Maybe it’s computer games, or Nyquil.  Maybe you are addicted to your appearance, your body.  You’re at the gym more than the people that work at the gym.  Or maybe you are one of those suntan freaks, you know.  You tan, and tan and tan, and, “I’m not very dark,” and your tan, and hopefully, if you’re lucky, you’ll look like a suitcase before you are forty. 

Maybe you are carrying along a generational curse.  You’ve got a temper, just like one of your parents did.  Or you are incredibly critical or negative, or you cuss like crazy, or you are abusive.  You look pretty normal and everybody on the outside thinks you are, but you are abusive, maybe, physically or maybe emotionally.  What’s mastered you? 

Now, you may be tempted to say, “Hey.  Yeah, yah, yah, I can quit at any time.”  Or you might say, “You know, I really don’t have a problem with this.”  Friends, please listen carefully.  If more than one person has told you that you have a problem, you better shut up and listen.  You have a problem. What has mastered you? 

Look at what the apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 6:12. He was speaking to a church that was full of people that had been mastered by sexual sin, and he said to them, “Everything is permissible for me-but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me-but I will not be mastered by anything”  I will not let any outside source, beside the presence of Christ be my master.  I will not let anything else be bigger than Christ is in my life.  If today is the day that you get set free.  Freedom begins with the bold and honest identification and admission of what it is that has mastered you—to whatever degree that might be true. So what is it? Write it down. Only then have you processed it enough to take the next step. Only then can God begin to do His divine work in your life.

(For more on winning over addictions got to this link, http://relaxedchurch.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=57, and listen to the 7/24/2011 message on “Overcoming Addictions.”)

Tom’s Supernatural Experience

“The word of God is living and active.” Hebrews  4:12

Let me set the stage and then I will introduce you to Tom. This past weekend I was invited to fly to Milwaukee, WI to speak at a Celebration of Life for Rob Stevens, a friend who was a part of New Venture Church for the first several years of our existence. When he was diagnosed with cancer, he and his family moved back to Milwaukee to be close to family during his last years. Rob passed away a week and a half ago, just in his 40’s.

Rob’s celebration of life was held at a huge farm grounds complete with a live band, a big barbeque, roasted corn, games and lots of renewing of old acquaintances. The celebration was pulled off by Kitty, one of Rob’s lifelong friends, who just happen to be an event planner. She and rob had walked the farm and discussed his desires for the celebration day, just a few weeks before his passing.

In addition to myself speaking, Kitty and three other lifelong friends of Rob shared their memories and feelings about Rob. I must say I have never been to a celebration of life for someone who has passed quite like this, and I liked it. I really liked it. It was a unique and enjoyable experience.

My only regret was that I had to leave before it all ended due to my flight out, in order to get back to Richmond for Sunday. The “formal” part of the celebration ended at 4:50PM and I had to get on the road to the airport by 5 to catch my flight. And I hadn’t enjoyed any of the food yet. But I wasn’t going to leave empty handed. So I slipped over to the food table that had just been opened, and filled a plate for the road. If women can put their make-up on while driving I certainly could eat and drive.

I turned to slip unnoticed through the barn to the parking area when I was met by Tom. Tom was one of Rob’s best friends. Tom was one of the four that shared during the service. Tom is at a very different place in life than Rob was when he passed. Rob loved the Lord and wasn’t afraid to let anyone know. Tom only spoke of the Lord in profanity and not only isn’t a Christian, he isn’t even religious. Rob made him promise not to use any profanity in his talk, which he painfully kept.

Tom said to me, “Can I tell you what happened in Rob’s hospital room the night before he passed?” I was in a big hurry but I figured if Tom thought it was worth sharing I needed to take the time to listen. He said, “The night before Rob passed the room was just filled with visitors and Rob was highly disturbed. He was turning blue, unable to breath and clearly uncomfortable with it all. So I went out to Melissa and said, ‘What’s going on in there is not what Rob would want.’ ‘What do you mean,’ she asked.? ‘All the company, Rob is clearly disturbed by it all.’ So Melissa went in and asked all the people to vacate the room. Tom said, ‘I then went in alone. I knew Rob had a Bible somewhere, so I searched his backpack and found it. It had verses underlined throughout  that were meaningful to Rob. So I just opened it and started reading underlined verses.’ “

Now you have to understand, Tom is the kind of guy that has probably not read a Bible in years, if at all. With this shocked look on his face, He said, “The most amazing thing happened. Rob calmed down immediately, his breathing stabilized and his color returned to normal. So I sat there and read the Bible for a long time to him.” Then Tom looked at me and said, “I have never experienced anything like that in my life. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.” Rob peacefully slept through the night and was able to be visited by his children the next day before he passed.

I knew the word of God was powerful. I have seen its power work in many lives. Tom just got his first taste of the power of the Word.

I smiled and nodded strong approval and understanding and then just before I begged off to head for the airport I added, “Maybe that is a sign that you need to spend more time reading God’s Word.”  He just smiled and mentioned that I wasn’t the first person who had interpreted it that way.

God’s Word is supernaturally powerful.

The word of God is living and active. Hebrews 4:12

 

 

Josealeen’s Story

I first met Josealeen through an email out of the blue. She had emailed me to ask if I baptized people who wanted to be baptized. My response was brief. “Yes, I would love to. When could we get together and talk about it.”

Just a few days after the email Josealeen visited one of our Sunday worship experiences. While leaving she dropped her connect card in the offering basket expressing the same interest in baptism.  A few days later my wife, Josealeen and I met at my office to discuss her desire to be baptized.

Her story is quite intriguing. Josealeen moved to Richmond about four years ago from Brooklyn, NY. She wanted to get out of the city and start anew in a new location. Soon after arriving in Richmond she noticed some billboards around that just said, “Relaxedchurch.com—relax, it’s just church.” Fast forward four years and Josealeen begins to grow in her faith and desire to be baptized. The first thing she thought of was those billboards. So she looked up relaxedchurch.com and made her first contact, which led to another and another.

On this day we are not only looking at what the Bible says about baptism but also several other subjects that Josealeen had questions about like how and when does a person receive the Holy Spirit and what is the evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. You see, she had been a part of a very strict and legalistic church in Brooklyn and she was trying to sort out what was from God and what wasn’t.

Following our discussion Josealeen desired to be baptized more than ever. She didn’t care for it to take place on a Sunday so we scheduled it to take place at another church in the area.

I am delighted to introduce to you Josealeen Moses, baptized into Christ, Thursday, July 14, 2011.

Josealeen’s Story

I first met Josealeen through an email out of the blue. She had emailed me to ask if I baptized people who wanted to be baptized. My response was brief. “Yes, I would love to. When could we get together and talk about it.”

Just a few days after the email Josealeen visited one of our Sunday worship experiences. While leaving she dropped her connect card in the offering basket expressing the same interest in baptism.  A few days later my wife, Josealeen and I met at my office to discuss her desire to be baptized.

Her story is quite intriguing. Josealeen moved to Richmond about four years ago from Brooklyn, NY. She wanted to get out of the city and start anew in a new location. Soon after arriving in Richmond she noticed some billboards around that just said, “Relaxedchurch.com—relax, it’s just church.” Fast forward four years and Josealeen begins to grow in her faith and desire to be baptized. The first thing she thought of was those billboards. So she looked up relaxedchurch.com and made her first contact, which led to another and another.

On this day we are not only looking at what the Bible says about baptism but also several other subjects that Josealeen had questions about like how and when does a person receive the Holy Spirit and what is the evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. You see, she had been a part of a very strict and legalistic church in Brooklyn and she was trying to sort out what was from God and what wasn’t.

Following our discussion Josealeen desired to be baptized more than ever. She didn’t care for it to take place on a Sunday so we scheduled it to take place at another church in the area.

I am delighted to introduce to you Josealeen Moses, baptized into Christ, Thursday, July 14, 2011.