Welcome to the Greene Street Letters. It has become my venue for sharing what is going on at Vineyard Recovery Church. Don't let the word Church scare you. The Greene Street Letters is a daily posting to simply say that there is more to life than what you see. More to life than "stuff". My simple take of 60+ years of following Jesus. Some days were good days...some days I managed to get off in the ditch. He is worthy of the pursuit, so that is what I do........I pursue Jesus in everything I do. Not the Jesus of the church. Not the Jesus of the denomination. Nothing wrong with those things, but Jesus is so much more. Thanks for dropping by and I hope you return from time to time to stop and ponder your own relationship with Jesus. God on you....mb

Friday, February 24, 2017

Lovers Of-----?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God on you...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Famous Last Words: "I Got This!"

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"Where Are My Car Keys?"

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Learning To Talk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God on you...


Monday, February 20, 2017

Cleaning Out The Old House----Forgiveness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God on you....