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

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Blind From The Past...Seeing In The Future

John 9:25
He then answered....."Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I WAS blind, NOW I see.

To me this sentence sums up every ounce of theology about Jesus Christ.
It takes a physical condition, blindness, and changes it for the individual to function in society.
It breaks every law or theory that could ever come from the mind of man.
It reveals the power and authority that Jesus commanded over nature and humanity.
It cannot even be explained in terms that science could understand.
But the whole event of this man, blind since birth, now seeing places all of us at a point where we have to make a decision.
Either Jesus is who He claimed to be....
Or He was a liar, lunatic.
Either Jesus could pull off what He has promised in the Word of God...
Or He is a fraud.

The simplicity of the man's statement is what grabs me.
Being interrogated by the religious police of his day, they have grilled him and his parents over what had happened.
I guess the man had had enough, trying to explain that which cannot be explained.
Finally in frustration he had reached the breaking point....
"Yo!....Come on! How can I tell you the how of what happened. All I know (here comes the great truth)...I was blind but now I see.

Did you catch the impact of what the man said?
Jesus took all of his past.....a world of blindness....
And changed his future, now the man can see.
Jesus is still in the same business today....

He takes our past....
All our destruction...
All our sin....
All our mess....
And brings healing to us, changing our future.
I don't know about you, but that is a deal to me.

When I am existing, even though some call it living, outside the will and a relationship with Jesus, I am spiritually blind. I can make good decisions because I am under the influence of my own sinful nature, plus the culture and societal pull to be conformed to their lifestyle. Such decision making is a train fixing to go off the rails. I am spiritually blind. I accept things such as relationship break-ups, jail, courts, stealing and having things stolen from me, as being normal and just the way things are.
Spiritual blindness....

But when Jesus steps in and through salvation offers you back your sight. Everything changes. Or at least the ability to change is given to you. You can now see and discern what is evil and what is good.
He has given you a spiritual sight that will aid you in your daily walk. Cool beans!
So which life do you want?
The before-blindness?
Or the after-seeing?
It rests in the choice you can make.
I think I would fall on the Jesus side.

God on you...

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

What is the number one thing I hear from those who are working a program of recovery?
"Life is hard!"
What is the number one thing  I hear from those whose struggles aren't found in addiction?
"Life is hard!"
What is the common thread between these two?
"Life is hard!"
You know what? I have found that to be true in my own life.
"Life is hard!"

I like how James 1:2-4 reads in the Message Bible.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Did you catch the way the verses were phrased?
"Under pressure, our faith-life (or what we truly believe) is forced into the open for everyone to see."
Pressure brings out the real "me".
Pressure shows me my real heart. Do I trust God, or has it all been a show and sham.
Pressure is where I find out the truth about myself. I either have changed or I am merely playing the religious game. Also, according to James, we should not run away from those situations and circumstances where we are under pressure but allow God to work through us. When we do, we find that we are being grown and matured to look more like our elder brother, Jesus.

Romans 5:3-5 reads:
There's more to come. We continue to shout out praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy, such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary, we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit.

It would be different if God merely took us through hard times, or allowed difficult situations to come to us and we remained the same, as far as our character mattered. But through the hard times, God works in us to change our nature and character. To mature us and grow us so that we learn to rely on God and not be tossed about like paper in the wind. 

It is in these hard times that we get a view of God that we don't get any other place.
We see him moving and leading us to become the people of his heart.
The people who will occupy his Kingdom rule here on earth, sharing their story of how this God was the real-deal God who delivered them out of the darkness of addiction and sin.

Far too many people who lay claim to the name of Jesus only live their relationship with him through their mouth. By that, I mean that they only talk about it. They are first to speak up against something or someone, yet let the hard times come and you don't see much of "God" flowing from their lives. The real colors of a follower of Jesus come spilling out when life happens.

Israel, the nation, saw God work in ways and miracles that no other nation had seen before. Yet these God-workings took place in the wilderness places where no one would dare have gone. You know what that tells me? That God does his best work in the middle of our problems and strife. He rises up to reveal himself in ways that we would not see in any other situation. When life is good, we don't really look for God do we? We tend to enjoy the moment and soak up the "sunshine" so to speak. But let the problems start rolling in and our attention quickly turns to God. I don't want to be a fair-weather follower. I want to be the same whether my life is going through a season of not having any problems, or I am drowning in a tidal wave of trouble. I am going to follow Jesus and let him lead me all the way.

Let God work in you today.
Let him grow you and show you how to live no matter what your situation may be.

God on you....

Monday, March 27, 2017

My Son....

Ahhh....the Bynum men.
Motley looking crew, don't you think? Especially that one on the far right.
My sons.....Josh (in the middle) and Chad (far left).
My pride and joy.
Today is Chad's birthday....

Time has a way of slipping up on you. Well, maybe not slipping up as much as it distracts you and keeps your focus elsewhere. During these "elsewhere" moments...life moves on.
I remember this day back in 1974. Vicki and I drove over to the Baptist Hospital for labor to be induced on her. Seems as though Chad didn't want to enter this ol' world naturally. He needed a little "shove" if you will. Strange thing to be a married couple....and you've gone through the nine months of pregnancy...and now you're going to meet the life that has been living inside your wife's body. As we drove over to the hospital, all I could think of was that by this afternoon, I will be a father.

Back in those days.....
(Ehhhh...I've turned into the geezer-monster, referring to time as "in those days).....
Anyway, you did not know what sex the baby was until birth. Vicki and I didn't care if we had a son or a daughter. We were just excited about the fact we were going to be a family. Of course looking back, she and I both were terrified about the whole deal. "What if we're not good parents? What if we mess this whole thing up?" Truth be known, we were babes ourselves.

I sat in the waiting room during the delivery....once again one of those "back in the day" things. Dad's were not welcomed in the delivery room. Finally the doctor came out and told me, "You've got a healthy baby boy.....baby and mother are doing fine."
A son....
I have a son....
The nurse stepped from the delivery room to show me my son....
She was about 20 feet away, and I was not allowed to hold him at that time.
I've got a son....
It just kept washing over me.

They finally took Vicki to a room on the maternity ward, and I got to see her. She was beautiful....tired but beautiful. She wanted me to go back into to town and pick up a few things for her, so I did. When I returned to the hospital, the ward was closed for the night.....I would not be able to see her or my son until tomorrow. Bummer.....

I drove home that night, back to Blountsville with an overwhelming since of responsibility. Not in a bad way, but it was a bit scary. "God, you've given us this little life....You've actually entrusted to us this child. A life that is like a blank slate, and we've got to fill in the blank spaces with the way we raise him." That was 43 years ago, and it seems as though it was only last week.

Yesterday, as we gathered to celebrate Chad's birthday, I took stock of the man who sat next to me.
No longer a little boy...he has a family of his own. Children that he and his wife, Robin, are raising.
He has forged a place of his own....making a name for himself that will become the standard that his children will reach to achieve. Chad never has been a quitter. He is a fighter when it comes to life. He set goals, and then moved through every obstacle to see them completed. I see the same kind of character in his children.

He has a love for God, and for His church....At the same time, he realizes that it is his and Robin's duty to raise their children in the ways of God, not to leave it up to the church. Chad believes, like I do, that the church's responsibility is to reinforce what is being taught at home.

To say that I'm proud of Chad is an understatement.
I'm not even sure if there is another word that supersedes proud.
So here on the birthday of my oldest son, Chad....
let it be known that as your parents, we ask God's blessings down on you and your family.
I love you, Chad.

God on you...

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Truth About Pastor's

What is Going on with those who are supposedly called to ministry? Are pastor's held to a higher standard that is unreasonable? Are they suppose to be spiritual supermen who can leap any problem with a single bound......dissect Greek And Hebrew with no thought at all? Of course the answer is "No". But the truth is, being a pastor is a lonely, and sometimes frustrating  place to be in. The rate of burnout and dropout is staggering when it comes to those who are called to the ministry.There is one question that really needs to be asked by everyone who stands in a pulpit, or leads a church....."Were you really called to be a minister or did you decide that this was what you wanted to do?"

John Wimber had the best understanding of anyone I know on how to discern if someone was called to pastor or not. He would tell them..."Go and do it. If it works, then you'll know you were called..if it doesn't work, go do something else." I know that sounds naive but I tell you that it is the truth of God. By John Wimber saying that "IF IT WORKS," he is in no way saying that if you are successful in building a large church, have huge congregations and raise lots of money then that must be God. No, what John was saying is, "Is there evidence that the Kingdom of God is at work in what you are doing then it must be from God." The measure of whether something is from God is not found in nickles and noses. IT is found in the hearts of the people who become a shared worker  in  God's kingdom. A desire....an unction.....a tug of heart and spirit by God to shepherd others. .

Here is the truth I received when I was considering answering God's call on my life. I was told by a very wise person that "If you can pastor one....you can pastor ten. If you can pastor ten, you can pastor a hundred".  So I set about to see if I could pastor one. I got the opportunity to see if I could take care of one person. Believe it or not, that did lead to ten.....Bottom line is that I discovered that God had called me, and was in the process of equipping me to be a shepherd.

SO here is some truth from another blog I was reading concerning the state of Pastors in this country.
•Surveys consistently place the number of ministers leaving ministry every month in America between 1500 and 1800. That's over 20,000 per year or one about every 2-3 hours. And while a good many of this number are senior pastors, I would estimate that at least half or more are actually associate pastors of every persuasion, from worship to students, from pastoral care to missions, and everything in between. These are the folks I want to talk about. Why so much frustration, so much discontent? Why are they so unhappy and who or what is to blame?

•100% of pastors surveyed said they had a close associate or seminary buddy who had left the ministry because of burnout, conflict in their church, or from a moral failure.

•1500-1800 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.

•50% of pastors' marriages will end in divorce.

•80% of pastors feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastor.

•50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.

•80% of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.

•70% of pastors constantly fight depression.

•Almost 40% polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.

•90% said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be before they entered the ministry.

•80% of adult children of pastors surveyed have had to seek professional help for depression.

•70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.

•95% of pastors do not regularly pray with their spouses.

•80% of pastors surveyed spend less than fifteen minutes a day in prayer.

•70% said the only time they spend studying the Word is when they are preparing their sermons.

Now is the time for the people to pray for their pastors. They are in need of spiritual prayer covering as much as anyone else. A wise man told me when I first began to pastor, "Take time to fill your own plate and eat from it. If you aren't healthy, then how can you help anyone?"
How true...

God on you....

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Little "WORD" To Start Your Weekend

It's the weekend!!!
Even as I type this, the percolator in the kitchen is huffing and puffing to bring forth that brown nectar we call coffee.. The birds are jabbering to beat the clock. A little chill in the air as if winter is reminding us that it still has a hold on the weather for now.
Lets take a look at some verses this morning.

Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Paul, the Pharisee of Pharisee's, makes a really bold statement. The gospel (the good news) that Jesus was who he claimed to be, reveals a power that accomplishes something that religion never could. The gospel or the entire account of Scripture, tells the facts of Jesus' death and resurrection. In those facts lies the power. Sin has been defeated and the 2nd death has been eliminated. Mankind no longer carries a death sentence over their head. Who could break the power and penalty of sin and death except someone who possessed greater power and authority.

This should make every believer the most incredibly happy, joyous, kick-out-the-jams, person who ever walked this earth. We do not live under a curse any longer. Jesus took the curse upon himself so that we can live free and in relationship with our heavenly Father. Man! If that don't set you on fire.....then your wood is wet.

Did you catch what Paul wrote?
That this news...this good news...this gospel is the
Power of God for salvation. Power....a force, a strength that is exercised on our behalf to remove us from the kingdom of darkness and transport us into the Kingdom of God and light. Who may receive this power? Paul writes "everyone". Who falls under everyone? EVERYONE!!!! Ah...but there is a catch. (I knew it..the fine print always gets us). It has nothing to do with fine print. It is spelled out plainly in this verse. "To everyone who believes."

Romans 10:9-11
V9.- That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.

V10. - For with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

V11. - For the Scripture says, (Is.28:16) "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed."

This "believing" that we are to have is more than a mental exercise of "yes, I believe."
It is that deep knowing inside.
The knowing that is faith driven beyond what you see.
I can remember sitting in church as a young boy and the invitation would be given...the music would be playing and my heart would be beating out of my chest. There weren't any words spoken, but I knew that God was calling me. I knew it and I believed it in spite of what my mind was telling me. This is the place we need to live in. The place where the voice of God is louder than our thoughts and our vision. That we act on what our heart is telling us (Prov. 3:5-6).

I like the last part of Verse 11....."Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed."
Life here is filled with disappointment. But you know what? Imagine our first glimpse of heaven and Jesus. All disappointment will fall away. Every hurt, every wrong, every terrible thing we have ever gone through or experienced in our life here on earth, will disappear as we stand before the One we have trusted in.

Have a great weekend.
God on you....