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
Sunday, August 31, 2014
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name.For the LORD is good. His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations.
Big shout out and thanks to all the core leadership at Vineyard Recovery Church for taking care of everything last night so Vicki and I could celebrate our 42nd anniversary. And celebrate we did.
Chad, Robin and the grand kids, Tyler and Ashley,Josh and Heather,Vicki's Mother, and Steve and Peggy all gathered in our home last night for the Hoo-ha. Laughter and memories were the main course of the evening, and they were served up in bounteous portions. There was enough for everyone to have seconds.
Sitting there listening and taking everything in, I was filled with a real sense of gratitude and thankfulness. I was witnessing a true blessing from God. This has been a hard year, emotionally as well as physically, yet here we were, all together. I saw His grace around that table as I looked into the faces of everyone present. I was flooded with the idea of how quick the years get away. I saw back yard football games from the past when the brother and in-laws use to pound away at each other, celebrating every tackle and exalting every point scored. Then we'd all gather in the kitchen to re-fuel ourselves before the next game started. I could see Vicki and Peggy and the other sister in laws sitting around talking about the kids, how they were doing in school, and what all was going on at work. Usually when the women gathered, they automatically began to plan our next family get together. We were all younger. We had no clue to what the future held, nor did we give much thought about it. I remember that when I was in my twenties and thirties, I never pondered or thought on the fact that one day I would be in my sixties. I knew that I wanted to live a long life, but I never stopped to actually consider what being 62 and 3/4's would look like. But here in our home last night I got a good image of what being 62 and 3/4's not only looks like, but feels like and sounds like. You know what? It's not too bad. Not bad at all.
I think maybe I've gained some wisdom somewhere along the way. It didn't just shoot up one morning and I suddenly just "knew" things. But every situation and life circumstance has been an opportunity to learn from my heavenly Father. A chance to grow my faith and learn to trust Him even more than I thought I did. You know, you can construct a whole belief system in your mind, but until it is assaulted by life, you'll never find the truth or the weaknesses in your concept of trust.
Like I said, last night was a night of gratitude.
42 years with the most incredible woman I've ever known.
42 years of laughter and love.
Of kids now men with kids of their own.
Of their wives becoming a part of our family, and bringing a new level of love and life.
And over it all, has been the hand of God.
Today, I am grateful.
Thank you, Father!
God on you...
Saturday, August 30, 2014
...For God SO loved the world......
I John 4:8
......For God IS love......
I Corinthians 13:13
.....But the greatest of these IS love.....
...For the Father Himself loves YOU....
You know...if you can ever wrap your mind around this great truth, it will change you forever.
If you can ever let it seep down into your spirit, you will never be the same.
The incredible truth that the God of the Universe....
The God of the Bible....
Loves you, and He loves me.
With all our scabs and warts....
With all our wrong choices and bad decisions....
With all our emotional baggage and dark thoughts...
He still loves us and wants to grow us up and put His Spirit inside of each of us....
That is a bit overwhelming and almost more than a body can take in.
And for every one of those "God loves you" statements, I'm sure that most of us could shoot back with "Yeah, but"....and have a clarifying statement to tie to the end of it.
"Yeah but I've done some terrible things".
God still loves you.
"Yeah but I've cursed God for something terrible that happened in my life".
God still loves you.
Every terrible thing we've ever done....
Every terrible thing we've ever said....
Every terrible thought we've ever had float through our minds....
Can be brought under the cleansing tide of God's forgiveness, if we will simply turn loose of it through confession and let Him have it.
Sounds to easy doesn't it?
Well, remember who it is God is working with (you and me). It has to be easy for us to understand it. We just have a tendency to complicate everything, do we not?
Armed with such an incredible assurance and understanding, I turn this thought into action.
I don't just sing the words that are on the screen during a VRC service. Those very words become a lifeline to my heavenly Father as I pour out the emotion and joy that comes from knowing He loves me.
When I sing the Waterdeep song "You Have Redeemed My Soul"....it becomes an anthem of redemption because I remember what it was like to live in the pit of emptiness. I remember the hopelessness that accompanied such time, and it just rises up within me to let God know how much I love Him. I worship.
I sing the words to Delirious' "I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever"...and I mean it. I could!
I am free once and for all time. Nothing that I could accomplish on my on, or through my own power and strength. I am merely a receiver of God's love, mercy and grace.
As most churches sometimes have a benediction song that is played at the end of every service, we do the same at Vineyard Recovery Church.
If you listened to the video clip at the beginning of this post, you heard ours.
Ed Raetzloff's "Jesus Loves You".
I want folks to leave our meeting with the knowledge and understanding of what this statement means. To let it grab hold of them so that in the coming week they might have some assurance that they are not some sort of cosmic glob moving over the face of this planet, ;whose very life maters to no one.
So with that in mind....
Keep on truckin' down that highway....
Put some miles on your shoes....
And just remember one little thing....
Jesus loves you!
God on you...
Friday, August 29, 2014
I Peter 2:9
....But you are a chosen generation......
Last night at Rapha, I had a break in all the action and was sitting in my office just thinking.
It was one of those times where the body had gone about as far as it could go,but the mind was still firing on a few of the cylinders. My thoughts began to drift to all the men who had come through the program, had been exposed to the truth of who Jesus was and what He was capable of doing....and had left the program and gone right back into the old lifestyle of using.
Some were still alive...
A lot of them were not.
So I began to ask "Why? Why is it this way? Why do some readily accept Jesus while others simply seem to play at recovery? Why do some thrive in this new relationship with Christ and others don't? As I was turning in my Bible looking for any answer to my question, I saw this....The truth takes root best in resistant soil. The following is what I wrote in my journal concerning this dilemma.
All of mankind is born with a resistance to God! As the Spirit of God works with each of us, our resistance is slowly chipped away. A verse we read...something someone tells us....an event in our lives...all are part of the chipping process. Sometimes the walls we erect to keep God out stand strong until at last we surrender to His call and His will. I do not understand how some can be totally resistant to the presence of God's Holy Spirit at work in them. They seem to have willed themselves beyond even God's Spirit. They seemed to be have willed themselves even beyond God's ability to save. I know that this isn't true, but it is a perception that creeps into my thoughts. We all know people who have died in their sins, proud and rebellious right up to the very end. They stand stubborn and unrepentant before their creator. We truly know that those who possess such a nature never have a good ending to their lives. They cross over into eternity to receive the wages they have earned by the life they have lived. The wages of sin is death.
In this case, death is more than then end of life here in this time and space. Death becomes the door we all pass through in which free will no longer exists. We now are left with the accumulation of decisions and choices that we made on this side of eternity. Decisions and choices that caused us to run counter to God's heart.
Why do some turn to receive Christ, and others don't? I don't know. I don't know if there will answer on this side to this question. I don't even like to mark those who I think may or may not have gained their salvation. I will just love...share the story...pray for and with...and watch God work. For years, I wrestled with my own salvation. I confess that I answered God's call to be saved on multiple occasions, each time getting up from that place of receiving feeling more lost than when I went to the front. But I owe a debt of gratitude to the men who worked with me. Men who were patient and prayed with me and for me. Rev. Lewis Wood, Don Gentry and D.E. Hendrix all were very patient with this young soul, not turning away from me or turning me away, but rather receiving me each time, leading me into the presence of Jesus.
How can I do any less to someone who comes to be saved for the 18th time, than to show them the same kind of love? To show them patience and cover them with prayer the same as I received years ago.
At the conclusion of all these deep thoughts and writings I had done, I made my way to the chapel for our 8 p.m. Bible study. God was there. At the end of the teaching eleven men came to answer God's call of being chosen. Pray for these eleven as they start this new journey in their new life.
God is good....all the time...every day.
God on you....
Thursday, August 28, 2014
What fruit did you have in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
Well, that could mean several things. We read about the fruit of the Spirit of God in Galatians 5:22-23. In this regards, it's talking about positive character traits that are born in those who are living and walking with Christ daily. Fruit is evidence of the kind of tree it is. Apple trees produce apples because they are apple trees. Followers of Jesus produce integrity and moral uprightness because they are followers of Jesus. I think maybe we somehow have gotten the idea that such is something we have to work at No! It is the by product of cooperating with God's Holy Spirit, as He works in each of us. Philippians 2:13 reads For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. The Kingdom will of God is played out in the lives of everyone who are following Jesus. God is at work in us. Changing our hearts......changing the way we view life....changing our desires.....transforming our minds. The fruit that people should see is the behavior that has changed. We no longer live according to that old sin/nature, but rather are following the directives of Jesus.
Not to be outdone, the devil (as pitiful as it may seem) seeks to copy what Christ is doing. If Jesus is producing fruit in our lives........then the devil wants to do the same. Only his fruit is not of the kind variety. What would be some of the fruit that was evidence that he was at work in us?
How about lying.
Rejection of anything and everything to do with God.
And the list could go on and on and on.
End result in all of this "rotten" fruit we exhibit is death. I checked the word "death" out in Strong's Concordance and it means exactly what we think it does. The end of life. "But wait a minute Michael---don't we all die at some point?" Yes we do. It isn't so much the act of death itself as it is the finality of it. If a person hasn't accepted the free gift of salvation (Romans 6:23) before they die, then their fate is sealed. They will spend eternity separated from God. We cannot do anything, in and of ourselves, to change this. Only acceptance of God's offer of salvation....the confession / repentance of our sin (Our complete independence from God) and the acknowledgement of Jesus as our Lord and Savior will place us in right standing and relationship with Jesus.
Changing the old ways into new.
Old tree (sin nature) will be uprooted and replaced with a new tree that will produce the fruit of God's Holy Spirit.
Things to ponder this morning....
What kind of fruit do others see when they look at you?
God on you...
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
....."You worship what you do not know..............."
It's been in my heart for over 20 years.
A prophetic word that was spoken back in the 90's that worship and the music accompanying it would be changed.
It would become so filled with the Spirit of God that people would be healed just from hearing and being in the presence of the worship music that was being played. The worship would become so filled with the presence of God that people would be saved from hearing such worship.
Sounds far fetched, doesn't it?
But I have seen such things take place on a very limited basis back when this word was first given. We were leading worship at the Vineyard in Anniston one Sunday morning. No words had been spoken. No preaching or teaching had taken place, but in the middle of the worship, two people got up and came forward to be saved. Wowzer's! Now what if that incident was a taste of what God really wanted to do?
I confess that I have not taken my worship as serious as I should have. By saying serious I'm not talking about walking around with a scowl on my face, measuring the level of sanctification I have achieved by the droop of my frown. When I say serious, I mean recognizing exactly what is happening (or rather what should happen). First off, worship is for God....I am not suppose to worship so I can get something out of it. Sometimes I think we treat worship to God like we trying to manipulate Him into coming into the room and doing some "heavenly" tricks so that we can say it was good to have been in His presence.
Worship begins and ends with the heart of the ones who are worshiping. I know that some within the Vineyard at large will disagree with me, but I'd rather have one person whose heart burns and is consumed for worship, than a hundred who are professionally capable of playing their instrument on a worship team. I'm not saying that a level of talent isn't necessary, it is...but we put too much emphasis on the talent and not much on the heart.
Give me the heart to worship You, Lord!
From 1994 through 1998, the Vineyard experienced a visitation from God. The services were explosive. People were set loose from sin and bondage that had held them in place for years. Prophetic words flowed with ease and the level of God's presence was off the chart. As this was happening, we declared that the prophetic word we'd heard about how God was going to use worship music in new way, was happening then. I don't think such a statement was true. I do believe that God was priming us so that we could get a taste of what was to come.
Isn't it funny how we can hear a prophetic word and if it doesn't come to pass according to our time schedule, we then discount it? The prophetic words concerning worship music was brought up again in me because of a cassette tape I found yesterday. I am in the process of transferring messages from tape to digital, so I was going through a box of old tape's looking for something work on, when I came across the "Sons of Thunder" tape by James Ryles (This was the tape that contained the prophetic message). I thought I would listen to it to fill in all the gaps that my memory had lost. What I didn't expect was for it to jump off the tape and go straight to my heart. As I sat listening, I realized that what James was sharing had not taken place, but in fact was more relevant for today that it was 20 years ago. What if what we thought was this new work God was going to do back in the 90's was actually the pre-cursor...the prep work for what He wants to do today? I think maybe it is. I think we are going to see God work in ways we never have. I believe that it is going to take place through recovery meetings such as Vineyard Recovery Church. I believe that we are going to see the unbridled transforming POWER of Jesus Christ in our midst in ways that we've only dreamed of.
You may call it revival....
You can call it renewal....
You can define it as a new work....
But I believe that it will take place....
To prepare ourselves to become instruments of worship through which this "new song" of God can flow to those still in spiritual darkness.
I am excited.
God on you...
I will be making copies available of this prophetic word from James Ryles. I'll try to have them Saturday night at VRC if anyone wants a copy.