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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Seeing Beyond Seeing





In these days of confused situations and events that leave us with out answers, it appears that sanity has become in short supply....
There is truth that I cannot escape nor would wish to.
That no matter how hard I try...No matter how bad I want to....
I stand before God helpless without him.
Our Society and culture seek to exalt the human will and effort...
To celebrate our ability to think and reason...
to build from our dreams, monuments to our humanness....
Polished pillars of glass, concrete and steel..
medals and trophies....
building's with our names and statues of our likeness....Thinking all the while it will last forever....not so.

Like I said, I know the frailty of life...
One moment you here...the next your gone..
I know that the eternal offer and gift of life and redemption is at the fingertips of everyone who draws breath...
It comes down to the surrender of heart and will...
The acknowledgment of a Savior and redeemer..

A confession of wrong to be made right...
A love connection between finite will and infinite answer.
During this most holiest of days...I am drawn to the song "Every Grain of Sand" By Bob Dylan... A reminder that God is larger and more infinite, not to mention real, than my mind can comprehend...
In fact the more I see and draw life from God, the greater my awareness is of my need for Him....

Yes it is dark out there...
Yes there is pain, grief and sorrow..

but there is a living hope that sees beyond tomorrow.
That hope has a name...
That name is Jesus.

Merry Christmas.....
God on you....
mb

Friday, December 19, 2014

It's Time To Let Jesus Grow Up


Luke 2:16
And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in a manger.

You know, it occurred to me that we kind of have this whole Christmas thing wrong.....
Let me ask you....
When you celebrate someones birth, you don't celebrate them being a baby.....
You don't focus on them as an infant...
You mark down another year that has passed and you celebrate with them as they are today....
I know that Jesus' was not the typical baby, after all how do you stuff all of God into an infant body?
How does the One who created the universe and is the giver of life, choose to enter into humanity through the process that everyone one of us had to go through....being birthed by our mothers?

I mean, if we celebrate someones birthday, we focus on the fact that they have lived one more year, have had accomplishments for one more year...have made it one more year.We celebrate the total scope and realm of their life. Should we not do the same, and maybe more, for Jesus. Should we not recognize the simple fact that we draw breath because it has been given to us. Life is a privilege, not a right. Life is a gift, not something to be taken for granted and abused by our own selfish desires. Jesus was born with a purpose, and He carried out that purpose to the cross, to the tomb, across history and time, and still carries it out to this day.
So really, in our celebration of Christmas, maybe we need to let Jesus grow up and occupy His rightful place in our world. A place that comes with the title Lord and Savior. A place given to Him by His heavenly Father. A place from which He will arise from, at some point in the future, and come back to take a bride for Himself.

Because of the uniqueness of Jesus' appearance...
And the events that surrounded His coming...
Then yes....let's celebrate....
Let's worship Him...
Let's commit ourselves to Him and His kingdom...
Let us recognize that He is the answer for all of mankind's ills.
Jesus was born to destroy the works of Satan (I John 3:8)
Sin warps, twists, kills and destroys....
Jesus redeems.
Sin slanders, gossips, and curses...
Jesus speaks truth.
Sin want to demean, pervert, and cheapen life....
Jesus is life and He rises above and beyond anything sin ever hopes to accomplish in the lives of people.

So I want to celebrate the hope and truth of the one who chose to enter into the darkness of this world.
He didn't come bringing hope...
He is hope..
Hosanna in the highest!
Jesus IS Lord over all who claim to be lord...
Jesus IS King over all who claim to be king....

Merry Christmas from the "B's" in Attalla.
God on you...
mbb

Join us at Vineyard Recovery Church for our candlelight service tomorrow night.
Debbie Handy, Carrie Elrod and Liz Wood will be leading worship.
Service starts at 7 p.m.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Change - Love It Or Hate It - It's A Part Of Life


Hebrews 7:12
For the priesthood being changed of necessity there is also a change of the law.

God doesn't change....
He is a constant in a world that is ever changing.
The Trinity....

God the Father...
God the Son....
God the Holy Spirit...

is the one sure foundation truth that can be counted as always being there. Never swayed by public opinion, good or bad, God seeks only His will to be carried out amid the turmoil that we humans live in. Life changes as we grow older. Society changes as the new generation takes the place of the older. God never changes and His call remains constant.

I found myself in a state of change yesterday. I'll be the first to admit that I do not welcome change into the rut I live in. I love order and sameness when it comes to life. I do recognize that change is a part of life, and I try to move with it when it happens. Still though, I don't like it. I guess you could say that I accept it, but I tend to go kicking and screaming into change.

The chapel at Rapha has been a part of my life for the past 17 years. I taught classes in that chapel. I gave sermons and messages in that room. I have prayed for more people than I can remember in that room. We saw salvation come to folks in that little chapel. People were healed, and we saw more than one delivered from demonic oppression.
SO it was hard for me to see the chapel gutted and cleared so it can be renovated.
Of course such things are within the rights of the people who own the treatment center, but I felt as though part of my own life was being ripped up and thrown into the yard, just like the stage that they took out from the front of the room.




But in the midst of all the construction, God spoke to me. "Michael....it is just a place. It is just a place where you saw me work, move, touch and heal. Let it go and move on, there are others who need to experience the same thing." I am to celebrate what took place in that room, but realize that each day, each moment is an opportunity to experience something new from God. I learn about myself through the change. I get an opportunity to glimpse my character and attitudes that have formed. Like that chapel, God gives me an opportunity, each day, to be renovated into the son that He desires me to be. Be grateful for all the memories, good and bad, yet move on with Christ. Rip out the complacent.....tear out the apathy......remove the bad character traits....and have them all replaced under the tender hand of the Holy Spirit.

I imagine the apostle Paul had to deal with change in his life. One time zealot and pharisee, now converted to the very belief's that he sought out to destroy and wipe from the face of the earth. Paul took the change and move forward with it. 

David, son of Jesse, spent his early years tending his fathers flocks. Warding off lions and bears (oh my!) David never saw himself occupying the role as King over his nation. But through a series of changes that David experienced, that is exactly what happened.

Moses spent 40 years in the palaces of Egypt, living in royalty. After killing an Egyptian, Moses goes on the run and winds up in the land of Midian. There he spends another 40 years being husband, father, and a shepherd. Has an encounter with God and then spends the next 40 years wandering around the desert leading God's people, the Hebrews, to land that has been promised to them by God. Change to max for Moses life.

One thing that makes change so hard is that we seek to make a comfortable place in which to live. Now I'm not trying to be anti-comfort toward anyone. I have "My" chair and "My" bed, I like comfort as much as the next fellow. But with comfort comes a subtle love for our lifestyle, and sometimes that love takes precedent over whatever God may be calling us to participate in. We hold onto the comfort more than we should. It is easy to rationalize that we have worked hard and therefore deserve to be comfortable. We can convince ourselves that God's call to follow would never involve uprooting our schedule and make ourselves available to His schedule. But it does....God's call takes precedent over everything in my life (or at least it should).

Rest assured that whatever change God has in store for you, will be followed by ample Grace to carry it out. Such is the ways of the Kingdom.

Merry Christmas from the "B's" in Attalla.
God on you...

mb

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Alive


Ephesians 2:4-5
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us ALIVE  together with Christ by grace you have been saved.

He had made us alive.....
Alive....the ability to experience life.
Jesus provided the power, authority and ability to take us out of our spiritual darkness, and transfer us to a new level of existence that had eluded us.
But do you really understand what it means to be alive?

It means we have the capability to experience the Joy of  the Lord. But sometimes that Joy comes in the middle of intense darkness. Sometimes that Joy comes when there seems to be no answers to what we are facing. Religion wants to cast out sweet, cute platitudes that truly have no substance. It's like eating cotton candy. Tastes good in your mouth, but has no nutritional value what so every. Religion has no spiritual nutritional value. The Joy of the Lord is food and water for our spirit in a dry and thirsty land.

The Joy of the Lord comes at the most unexpected moments when, in following Christ, we are consumed with doubts and fears. "Surely I have missed it somewhere along the way, as I have tried to follow Jesus," is a thought that precedes this joy sometimes. Hebrews 12:2 speaks of this Joy : Who for the Joy that was set before Him, endured the cross despising the shame....Life in Christ provides us with a vision to see beyond life. To see, with eyes of faith, the promises of God. To understand that faith is more than a fancy religious word for believing. Faith is the very substance on which my mind, heart, spirit and soul are nailed to. It is more than a belief system or a religious exercise. It is LIFE!

Being made alive in Christ helps us to face whatever life here on earth throws at us.
Pain? Sometimes pain is the only thing we possess that lets us know that we are alive. Yet Christ is no stranger to pain. He takes the pain we are experiencing and wraps us in His love and presence, telling us that His grace is sufficient to carry us through this momentary affliction. One of my most favorite lines every written in a song, comes from Pat Terry.  ....And it's funny how pain can touch you.....and it only makes you better, or it robs your heart and soul. All in all it defines the separation......between growing up.......and growing old. Left to me, I would run away from every pain....cower in the corner when fear comes to me.....pull the covers over my head when grief and despair knocks on my door. But being made alive in Christ, means I get up everyday with purpose and resolve to see the day through. That no matter what comes my way, I will look to the author and finisher of my faith, Jesus.

Christ has made us alive in spite of our pain....
Christ has made us alive in spite of the doubt and fear....
Like the three Hebrew men, in the book of Daniel, who were cast into the furnace to be burned alive for not worshiping the statue of the King.....Christ is with us in the furnace of daily living. The King looks into the fire and then asks one of his lessor's..."Did we not cast three into the fire? I see Four...and the Fourth looks like the Son of God." Whatever furnace you may be walking through today, know that you are not alone. Like those three Hebrews.....you have that Fourth man walking with you.

Merry Christmas from the "B's" in Attalla!
God on you...
mb


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

From The Bynum's To You..A Most Merry Christmas



Well, it's almost here....
Christmas 2014....
One more added to a long line of other Christmases....each one unique with memories to define them.

Christmas 1958...
My brothers new RCA Hi-fidelity Stereo as the main present. Bobby Darrin's album that had the song "Mack The Knife", as well as Tennessee Ernie Ford's "Star Carol".   Early, early Christmas morning, and there in our front yard stood my dad. He had placed the speakers in the window and turned the record player on. Sounds of "Joy to the World" Spilled out of those speakers and proceeded up and down the valley. There he stood waving his arms as if conducting an invisible orchestra, telling my mother, "You need to come out here and listen to this." As the impromptu concert took place at the Bynum household, lights began to come on in our neighbor's houses. I'm sure they thought that Jesus had come back.

Christmas 1970
The very first one I spent with Vicki's family. Coming from a small family, being thrust into the melee of the Campbell clam was almost sensory overload. People everywhere.....food, laughter, music, and Vicki's mom right in the center. Handing out presents was almost like being in the middle of a war. Instead of shells flying everywhere and bursting overhead, it was presents. Names were called out and presents were tossed across the room. It truly was, and continues to be, a family that loves being together. we will gather again this weekend to go through it one more time. I do think though that there will be a keen awareness and gratitude for what God has blessed us with over this past year. Gratitude for life and love. For the numbers that have been added to our family over the years.

Christmas 1974
Our son, Chad, had his first Christmas. Poor little guy was sick that day and didn't really feel very well. But it was our first time as a family to celebrate the Christmas season. We lived in Town's Apartment in Oneonta, Alabama. Chad wore a little one piece P.J. outfit that made him look like peppermint stick. But he was a real trooper and, like all children, seemed to love the bows and wrapping paper more than the toy's he received. This first Christmas was the one that opened my eyes to what being father truly was all about.....placing your family and their needs ahead of your own. 

Christmas 1977
Our son, Josh, had his first Christmas. We lived up in North Gadsden in one of my most favorite houses. It had this huge den that was gi-normous and just perfect for hosting a family hoo-haa. Mom and Dad came over as well as my brother Wayne and Sue, his wife. Josh was only 6 months old but was right in the middle of all the festivities. (O.k. here is where things get muddled and the years run together) Vicki reminded me that on Josh's first Christmas, we went to my brother's house. Dang, if she ain't right! Sorry bout that...
The other thing that she reminded me of was that my brother and my cousin, Gary, covered Josh with bows (the kind that stick on packages). He had them all over his head and arms....good stuff, and great pictures.

Christmas 1981
The first Christmas after my mom's death. She loved Christmas like it was no body's business. I remember that every one had gone to bed and I was finishing up putting out presents. As i walked through the house turning off the lights, I stopped by the tree for one last look. I suddenly found myself weeping because this was the first Christmas without Mom. She was not going to be there in the morning when the kids unwrapped their presents. In the middle of all the grief I was experiencing, a voice filled my mind. "It's o.k....she is with me. She is celebrating Christmas everyday in the presence of Christ." Such peace flooded over me. It was going to be alright. My mom was home.

Christmas 2002
Grandson  Tyler's first Christmas. Did we go over board? Probably...but that is what Grandparent's do, isn't it? He loved the packages and I think, had more fun with the ribbon and boxes than he did with the presents.

Christmas 2006
Granddaughter Ashley's first Christmas. Laughter and joy in that she was the first girl we had in our family. Vicki particularly loved shopping of her that year...picking out outfits and other such for Ashley's first Christmas.

Christmas 2014
Yet to be written, but anxious about the memories that will be created on this day.

So here is wishing you and your family a most joyous Christmas time.
Celebrate the birth of the Christ child.
Go out of your way to do an act of kindness to someone today.

Merry Christmas from all the "B's" ....
Chad, Robin, Tyler and Ashley
Josh and Heather
G.G.
Michael and Vicki...