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

Monday, October 24, 2016

It Was A Day Of Gratitude

Psalm 150:4
Praise Him with the tambourine and dancing.....
Praise Him with strings and flutes......

David Finlayson, his brother Brook, and yours truly.
We came together to lead worship yesterday at Gadsden Vineyard.

Been playing with these guys off an on for nigh on 33 years. So when I got the invite to saddle up one more time, I said, "You bet!".

We actually joined forces back in 1989. Went by the name of The Guise. I don't remember the reason, but we were at Brook's house bouncing songs and just playing. The evening took us to a song by a friend, Arnie Sanford...."Would You Play". There was this moment when our harmonies melded into this incredible sound. I remember it vividly, each of us with a "What was that" kind of look on our faces. We knew we had something. I still have cassettes (And they still play) of our early concerts at Christian Brothers which I wouldn't take anything for. What made the whole "GUISE" thing work, was that it was a combination of the Marx Brothers meet Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Lot of spontaneous back and forth jabbing and joking. My favorite was when we were singing at a local church, and had done our version of Amazing Grace, complete with Brook's slide guitar (El Cheapo...remember that one Brook?). Upon completion of the song, David proceeded to tell the congregation that "Mike wrote that one". See what I mean?

We arrived at church yesterday at 8:30 to set up and run through the worship set, talking and reliving some old times. First song..."Let the Redeemed"...with a Steve Miller Band grove to it. It felt just right to be on the stage with these guys. Brook on electric, David on Acoustic, and me on Bass, along with Jimmy Henderson on drums. Suddenly it was 1989 again. 

As we moved through the set, we encountered bumps and ditches. In other words, the music had its moments where we kind of lost our way. But the fire was still there in the hearts to worship God. I remember at one point, feeling this incredible sense of gratitude that God allowed me to be connected to these men. To have a shared history that gives us the ability to pick right up after not playing for months on end. Oh, we're all older, move a little slower, and our voice may have dropped an octave or two, but the magic is still there.

So thanks Brook and David....
Lets do it again....

God on you...

Friday, October 21, 2016

Chariots Are Over Rated

Psalm 20:7

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses. But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

There is much fear in the air.

People are fearful for their jobs....
For their families well being.....
For their future.......
I keep hearing and running into the verse in Scripture that reads....."We walk by faith and not by sight."
This isn't a "pie in the sky" verse.
I don't think God is really interested in the "things of this world."
By that, I don't think God's first and most important point in His plan is my comfort or standard of living, as much as He is us learning to trust Him for our ever need.
Now before you go all tactical nuke on me, let me explain.

I believe that phrase----"Our standard of living" has become way larger than it should be.
For a lot of people, the most important thing in their life is to maintain a certain way of life they have become use to. So when anything comes along that would jeopardize this way of life, and there are no solutions to deal with it, fear becomes a part of this way of life. Usually we work in our own strength and effort to keep our way of life. It is like Detrich Bonhoffer wrote " Most Christians are satisfied with a minimum amount of God in their life....just enough to keep them from going to hell." Ouch!

We read in Matthew 6:
Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.

Seek (look, ask, knock, search for) first (before anything else) the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things (what things?  food, shelter, clothing) will be added unto you.

Either this is true
it's a bunch of hooey-balooey and we should just close our Bibles and lock our church doors and all go over to Shoney's and have a piece of strawberry pie.
I just happen to be crazy enough to believe that God's word is true.
We have become so enamored with the world that we have tried to meld the two together: God's Kingdom and this World system. It won't work now....it didn't work in the past and it will not work in the future.
Right now, fear for our own personal comfort has caused us to be tight fisted and not return unto God that which is rightfully his. What are you trying to say,Mike? I'm saying that giving is down because we are fearful that we will not be able to live in  the way we have become accustom to . God deserves the first part of our finances, not the crumbs and leftovers.

Matthew 6:24-25
No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life----whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing?

Confess your fear today....
Take it to God and tell Him that you are tired of living like this.
Ask Him to show you how to live.
Open your hands and let God be in control.
Walk by faith and not by sight.
Walk by faith and not by sight.
Walk by faith and not by sight...
Trust God with every area of your life.....
When times get so dark that fear is the prevailing wind blowing through everyone's life...
Then the truth of God will rise like a light and call people unto Him.

God on you....

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Prayer And Healing

James 5:16
.......The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

The one area that I feel that I lack in is prayer.
Oh, I pray....And I believe....
But there is a voice inside me, that tells me I did not do enough, or I did not pray correctly. I know this voice is not from God. I know this voice all too well, as it is my flesh. My flesh is never satisfied when I am going about God's business. My flesh is never quiet when I am moving under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It rises us and tries to cast doubt and fear into the mix. So rather than give it a place, I turn to prayer. I turn to meditation and focusing my thoughts on Christ. I picture the cross, the very giving of Himself for me. I try to see in my mind the body of Christ hanging on that wood. 

I look to his feet....those feet that took the gospel through out the region. Feet that carried the message and power of God to people who were trapped in the darkness of sin. Feet that entered the houses and homes of people who were considered to be rejects and outcasts by the religious system of the day. But those wonderful feet of Christ took Him to those who needed Him most. But what I see as I look to the cross, is feet that are battered and bruised. Violent colors of yellow and purple amidst the swelling and bleeding. Feet that are still, not moving.

I see His hands.....those hands that reached out and touched a leper with healing. Hands that took a simple meal of fish and bread, and fed the masses. 5,000 plus on one occasion, and 4,000 plus on another. Taking up the bread, those hands blessed the meal and the very nature of atomic molecular structure of that meal was  altered. That which we look too as logic was blown out  of the water by the divine. Those hands....
On the cross, those hands are nailed to the cross beam. They are still....no movement...
Then too are bruised and blooded. Knuckles swollen to twice their size, are curled up in a fist. Not because of anger against the ones who carried out the crucifixion, but because these hands surrendered to the will of His Father. Now death has curled them and warped them.

I look to His eyes.... Those eyes that were filled with compassion. Eyes that were weighed down by the pain He saw in others. Eyes that flamed when He saw the level that religion would take some. Those who would turn His father's house into a place of money and greed. Eyes that saw the desecration of the Temple, moved from table to table to overturn the wickedness He saw. Eyes that would light up when He saw the joy and release of one who was healed. A leper.....A cripple....a woman with an issue of blood...a dead daughter....these eyes saw the Father's power bring life back to the dead. But now...
Now those eyes are dark and dull. They look akin to a dolls eyes...they no longer see.

But praise God, the story doesn't end here. In my mediation, I am transported to an early morning. Night mist is lifting from the ground, as the first rays of the morning sun began to sleepily rise above the horizon. I am in a graveyard. But something has happened. There is a tomb, but not no one there. The entrance has been ripped open and if you look inside, you will see......................................nothing. You will see no one. For the one who hung on the cross has risen from the dead. He is no longer the bruised, battered carpenter's son from Nazareth. No! He is now the rise, glorified Son of God. He has shed the constraints and bonds of this earth to move in power and presence of His Father. And He lives forever more seated at the right hand of His Father, having been given the title of LORD!!

It is because of this man...this Son of God...
It is because of who He is that I pray.
He is my intercessor to the Father.
All things are possible through prayer. When my heart is brought in live with His heart, nothing is impossible.

Such is why I am asking for prayer this morning.
We've had a lady coming to our meeting for some time. Her name is Docress King, and yesterday she went to the hospital. She was told that there was a mass on her brain, and that she is being moved to UAB to be treated. Now I know that when you say the word "Tumor" and you attach it to the location of being in the brain, the flesh has a way of automatically pronouncing a death sentence. Well not here, and not today. And certainly not over this woman. 

I want you to join me in prayer for her healing.
I want you to pray for God's power to bring healing to her brain.
"In the name and power of Jesus, We speak to that tumor and say "leave her body".
We speak the healing of Jesus to here body this morning."

In the name of our Savior.......Jesus Christ. Amen.

God on you...

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Ultimate Prison Break

Numbers 10:9
When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies.

It really is a war taking place in our town. It may not look like one....in fact, most would say I was exaggerating this statement. I'm not one who sees demons behind every bush, but I am one who recognizes the power and influence the enemy has. From time to time the warfare becomes all too real, as it manifests in the lives of those who are trapped in addiction.
To me the scripture that really rips the cover off of addiction is found in Psalm 107:10-12

V.10 -Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery
Notice the posture....sitting? There isn't any forward progress when you are addicted. Life comes to a grinding halt. The darkness mentioned here is the one that covers the mind and the heart. No ability to discern truth. In fact the person becomes spiritually blind and deaf. When someone is living in that state, the only voice they can here is the inner voice of self. The inner voice of self that is being directed by "self" that is being influenced by the devil and his plans for destruction. Living in this state of being only sucks hope and faith out of a person. They are surrounded by darkness and the only comfort that is opened to them is the company of like minded people who are also suffering.  Notice that the verse says that they are "Imprisoned in misery". No wonder they use! Anything to escape the mental anguish, guilt and shame that accompanies the lifestyle.

V.11 - They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High.
Here it is!!! The very heart of addiction. Rebellion....."I don't need anyone to tell me how to live"...."I know what is best for me". Such an attitude goes all the way back to where Eve stood before the serpent and heard these words...."God know that when you eat the fruit, your eyes will be opened, and you will BE LIKE GOD!" Bingo....If I am like God, then I don't need Him telling me what to do. So my life becomes the poster child for destruction, as I take charge of it. 

V.12 - That is why he broke them with hard labor. They fell, and no one was there to help them.
Hard Labor? Really? Yes. It is hard work to be an addict. A never-ending-always-looking life of having what you need to remain high. It is 24/7--365, and the appetite for drugs and/or alcohol does not take a vacation. It screams in your brain...and courses through your veins..."Give me more...More! More! I  need more!" and like the slave you've become, you answer the call. Verse 12 goes on to say that "they fell"....this is the direction addiction takes you....down. No one ever fell up in this madness. No one ever ascended to a high life. You go down...sin is a downward spiral that ends with physical and spiritual death.

Now if there wasn't a hope for a better life..then this whole sordid picture would be depressing. But God does not leave people in this state of gloom, despair and misery.

V.13 - "Lord, help!" they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.
There it is. The moment of clarity when God's truth breaks through the darkness. The moment when the heart over rides the mind and cries out to God. This is a moment of faith where we actually come to believe that there is a POWER greater than ourselves that can stop the madness and restore us to sanity. Do you see the simplicity of what is taking place?
The one trapped cried out to God....two simple words..."Lord (recognition of the one who has the greater Power)...and help (the acknowledgement of our own powerlessness). Then we read those glorious, magnificent words..."And he saved them".

V.14 - He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom. He snapped their chains.
He leads.....we follow. We don't remain in the darkness. We get up and move away from it. The misery is replaced by freedom w/ faith. We may not know what the future holds, but we are learning to trust God in His leading.

If these words spoke to you....
Then cry out to God for release from your own prison.
He will answer you...and He will free you.

Once freed, find yourself a group that you can join and have community with.
Ask God to direct you to people who are like minded and are on the same journey you are on.

God is good..
God on you....


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Saturday Night Worship

Psalm 51:15
Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you......

Had a moment Saturday night during Vineyard ReCovery.
I was leading worship.....
Up on the stage with my other cohorts that make up the band, when it just washed over me.
The room was filled with singing....
Now don't get me wrong, this wasn't the first time such has happened, but Saturday night I was suddenly filled with gratitude for everyone in that room.

For some reason, the songs connected with the hearts and praise broke out.
I didn't plan for it to happen...
Oh, I had prayed about it, asking God to show up in our meeting.
If you quiz anyone who leads worship they will tell you that it's their hearts desire for true worship to break out in the meeting. Such is kind of a barometer for the hearts of those present. 

Anyway, I found myself falling in love with each person in that room....
loving them right where they were in life.

Loving them even if they had come to the meeting for all the wrong reasons.
Maybe they just needed a stamp for their court card, and cared nothing about the worship or the message.
Maybe there were there to simply get off the premises of the treatment program they were enrolled at.

It didn't matter, they were there........standing...........singing.
O.k......you may be thinking. They were singing, so what?

It wasn't just the sound of voices that were singing....it was the emotion behind the voices.
A sense of gratitude....
A sense of thankfulness that for a brief moment in the day, the problems that everyone faced were moved to the back burner, so to speak.
For that brief moment, God was the most important thing in that room.

Those are the moments I live for. That is the focus for my own life.....always keeping God at the top of my life and situations. Never letting the world suck me down into the muck and mire of selfishness or self-centeredness. Not joining in the worlds' pity party of "Woe is me....everyone is against me". Lifting my vision off the things of this world,and focusing on the one and only Living God.

 In those moments when our attention is turned to God, there we begin the process of building on our faith. I don't have faith in God to straighten out my messes and make all my problems go away....
I have faith in God that He is who He claims to be....
And that He will do what He has promised He would do.
In this thinking (with my heart and not my head) I place my very life and will in His care, with a full understanding that He knows better what I need and where I need to go than I do.

As we leave the meeting every Saturday night, the coming week helps to strengthen and define my life in Christ. The struggles....the problems....the circumstances I face during the week, all become a part of my belief in God. They becomes the building blocks that God uses to change me into the man I am suppose to be.

So next time you're in a worship service....do that! Worship, I mean. Cut loose and be filled with gratitude...
If you're driving down the road and a you're listening to a favorite worship song..then yell out "THANK YOU JESUS!" at the top of your lungs. Let it come from deep down inside you.

To me...worship is gratitude that is verbally and openly expressed and declared.
Make such a part of your day. In fact, consider making it a  priority of your day, to openly and verbally declare your love for God.

God on you...