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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Finding The Value In The Outcast

"In that day," says the Lord,
"I will assemble the lame.
I Will gather the outcast, and those whom
I have afflicted.
I will make the lame a remnant,
And the outcast as strong nation."
so the Lord will reign over them in
Mount Zion from now on, even forever.

Recovery.....real recovery....is not possible with the empowering presence of Christ in a person's life. Oh, it is possible to stop using. It is possible to quit drinking. I know plenty who have simply "white knuckled" it and have willed themselves to not drink or use. But such are usually hard and their lives reflect the hardness. Quick to inject their view of their accomplishment of sobriety, they look down on others who cannot achieve what they have done. The "white-knuckler's" are usually very vocal against any mention of Jesus or God during a meeting. Such would take away from their feat of sobriety. Am I picking on these individuals? No. I celebrate their sobriety. But I mourn for the life they will never have. I mourn for the anger and bitterness they carry around. I mourn for the relationship they don't have, with the one who created them.

It is my true belief that since 1998, God has been at the forefront of raising up a community of men and women who have been delivered from the dark life of addiction. Those who have been part of receiving this new life have formed a strong nation, and it is my privilege and honor to be able to count them as friends. More than friends, they are my brothers and sisters in Christ. God is delivering a people, just as He did with the Hebrews when they were in slavery in Egypt. He is calling them out of the chains and slavery of addiction. Never was the Egyptian as hard a task master as addiction is. It demands a surrender of everything you hold dear. It takes your family, all your relationships,your property, your money, your freedom, your health.....and eventually your life. Death doesn't free the user, death only cements their destiny based on their choices, or lack of choice, made during their life. In other words, if the individual does not turn will and life over to the care of God (Salvation), then death becomes the exclamation point to a life that was stolen by the devil. Death proclaims, "One more for the kingdom of darkness."

That is why I'm so passionate about reaching out to people who are in addiction. To show them the Father and His love. To introduce them to Jesus, the One who can free them...and to teach them about the Holy Spirit...the comforter...the guide and teacher who will guide them daily. So that they can have more than recovery.........that they can have more than sobriety.....that they can have, and experience real life. Not merely exist in a drug induced haze of lies and half truths.

But coming to such truth can be a bit overwhelming to the one experiencing it. That is why Vineyard Recovery Church exists. We are a birthing room, if you will, where a person can learn about this new life. A place where their questions can be answered, if possible, and they become more aware of how to live in a new way. As they grow and mature, then we want to direct them to a fellowship that can meet their needs, that will become a home for them. Of course, we are not opposed to them wishing to make VRC their church home, but we leave that part up to God.

If you have a free Saturday night, come out and join us....
Our meeting is open and you do not have to be in addiction to attend.
We are about recovery....
Last time I checked, we are all recovering from the fall in the garden.

God on you...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bynum Always Follows Bentley--Alphabetically and Spiritually

Psalm 133:1
Behold, how good and how pleasant is it for brethren to dwell together in unity....

To me, this picture speaks volumes.
It speaks of a truth and a commitment that has existed since 1968.
Bynum always follows Bentley.
And spiritually.

Jim in front...
Me in back....
As it should be.

Jim in front...
Me behind, just like the first time we met in homeroom our senior year in high school.

Now don't get me wrong in what I'm saying.
I say these things from a heart of love for this guy.

It was because of him that I'm even a pastor. He saw the gifting on me and asked me if I had ever considered being ordained.
God lead me into a completely different part of the kingdom than where Jim was. Together we are able to minister to a broader range of people.

No matter where we may find ourselves, Bynum will always follow Bentley.

Both of us have always had these insecurities about ourselves, and even though countless people have spoken some really nice words about us....we don't always see ourselves as others do. While some may consider being insecure a bad thing...I believe it has kept us in a place where God can use us. It has kept us transparent and honest about our own lives. We haven't found the need to promote what we do or place ourselves up on a level of some kind of spiritual giants. We are two guys who are crazy enough to believe what John Wimber taught..."Everyone gets to play!" Everyone gets to participate in the kingdom business of our Father. Because of that belief, we want others to find out for themselves how this can impact and change their life.

I was privy to something Saturday night at our reunion that speaks to the heart of Jim.
He came to me asking about one of our classmates who is struggling with physical disabilities. Jim was simply doing what Jim does........listening for God and then following Him. Before I knew it, there in the middle of all the hub-bub of the reunion, Jim had put together a ministry team and prayer was going on for our classmate. As I stood there with the others, praying and watching, I couldn't help but think to myself, "No one else would have ever thought to do this...but Jim did." why? Because he is always about the Father's business. God showed up and there was a level of relief for the one we were praying for. I'm pretty sure that the majority of the folks in that room had no idea, or were even aware that this took place. But isn't that the way it is suppose to happen? 

As we've gotten older, and hopefully a little wiser, we've also become comfortable in our own skin. I do believe that we both are on the same page when it comes to being about the business of our Father. Make Disciples. Train up those who will fall passionately in love with God, and be willing to go, do and say whatever they hear God speak to them.

Like I said at the first of this post....
Bynum always follows Bentley.....
And I wouldn't want it any other way.

God on you...

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Class Of 1969

Job 42:17
So Job died an old man and full of years.....

That verse has become a kind of special verse to me over the past few years.
The idea that Job survived life.....
The idea that Job was still standing after all he went through, to me, is a testimony to the power, grace, mercy and goodness of God.

Tonight, Vicki and I will go to my 45th class reunion.
The graduating class of 1969 - Etowah High School.
Where did the time go?
Like every other graduating class, we left school bright eyed, full of hope and dreams. We were ready to go make our mark on the world, so to speak.
We were ready to change the world.
To make our mark.

Sometimes wisdom comes at certain points along the road of life. The dreams we left with were soon filled with a reality. A reality that shaped and moulded us over time.
We found out that making our mark in society and in this world is found in the simple fact that we have survived.
We had jobs....some had careers.
We went to work every day and we paid our bills.

We married. Some divorced. Some lost their spouse through death.
But we have survived.

We celebrated the good times with zeal...
And we endured the hard times with resolve.
I guess you could say we made our mark the old fashioned way....we worked for it.

We had children and raised them as best we could.
Now we have grandchildren and we have turned into those people we swore we never would....pictures and stories about how incredibly talented, smart and cute our grand children are to anyone who would listen. (just for the record, mine are the cutest and smartest of any I have ever met).
We took family vacations.
We celebrated Christmas by spending more money than we probably should have.

Shot off fireworks and grilled out on the 4th of July.
Gave thanks at Thanksgiving.
We found our place in society and we dug out our niche so that we might live comfortably.

I think the one thing that encourages me the most, is that over time, and with facebook's help, I see many of my classmates who still have burning desire for God. The class of 69 represents many denominations, as many local churches are the home base for my classmates. 

Twenty eight who left Etowah in the class of 1969 have died. To me, that is twenty eight to many. But such is life, and I know that as the days, weeks, and months keep rolling by, the number will increase until the class of 1969 is but a memory. What we have done with our life.......choices made will ultimately define where we spend eternity. It's never to late to turn to God.

But here we are...
Still standing...
Still kicking, although I won't say how high.

So tonight I will celebrate life with my classmates.
I will speak of a time when younger men and women roamed the halls of dear old EHS.
Best band -- Devil Band....

Of Ghost walks on the week we played those dreaded Gadsden Tigers.
Bonfires to stir the spirit and show our zeal for our school.
Homecoming parades and the senior talent show.
We will speak kindly and thoughtfully of teachers that helped to shape us.
Miss Steffie...
Miss Trammel...
Mr. Stonicher...
Coach Glover and Hubbard, Moore and Payne.
Coach Balentine...

Miss Hicks...
Miss Sibert...

Miss Saffles....
Mr. Raines and Mr. York.
And all the others who passed through our lives....

Here's to the class of 1969....
Still standing....

God on you...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Jesus----The Real Deal

Am I suppose to believe that whoever painted this picture really wants us to believe that Jesus looked like this.

O.k. before you go off on me for being "art-fully challenged"...don't
This Jesus looks more like he'd fit into a "boy band" than the Messiah.
I guess since the beginning of time, people have tried to make Jesus relevant to society, so people would embrace Him and the gospel. The only problem with that, is that you can't. Jesus loves people.........not society. Jesus loves people......not a culture. I think within us all is a desire to frame Jesus in a way that we can understand Him. But sometimes the framing goes off the scale a bit.

Truth be known.......

One comes to an understanding of Jesus through the heart, not the eyes.
We come to know Him through relationship.......a living, breathing, changing, organic relationship that changes as we change. What does that mean? The Jesus I know today, at the age of 62...is way different than the Jesus I knew when I was 18. Jesus changes? No, I do. My life experiences all combine (hopefully) to give me a perspective of Jesus that stretches over my time here on planet earth. More than intellect....more than religion is my understanding of Him and how He operates. Yet, in all of this, He stands above my ability to understand. He stands in a place where only faith can reach Him. So as I have traveled this path, I have found that exercising ones faith increases ones ability to see this Jesus.

Terminal brain tumor is healed after praying for someone.
How do you explain that? I can't, but I saw it happen. I got the story about how the doctors all went banana's because on one x-ray there was the tumor, but the next week when new x-ray's were taken....no tumor.

Tear ducts that wouldn't produce tears, suddenly began to flow after prayer.
I can't explain it other than........wait for it..........Jesus.

How do you explain that for the last 17 years, at the end of the year when we run the spread sheet for our household budget....
What we have paid out is always more than what we took in.....
To us it is very simple.....if Jesus can multiply fish and bread......he can do the same with money. After all, He Himself said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you." If you check out the context of the chapter...."All these things" refers to our basic needs. 

I don't have the time or space to write about all the things I have seen Jesus do to those in addiction.
Lives that seemed beyond hope, restored and set right.

People that had been cast aside and no one wanted anything to do with them are now leading recovery groups. 
Brains that suffered from short term memory loss, prayed for and suddenly the memories came flooding back, almost to the point of sensory overload.
I have witnessed first hand the power of God in my own life and in the life of others.

It is because of this Jesus that we have Vineyard Recovery Church.
We make no excuses...those of us who gather on Saturday's are a different breed of believer. We fully realize that we were dead...trapped, with no hope.
And because of God's love, He reached down and drew us out, cleaned us up..and called us son's and daughter's of the most high. Our desire is to look like, talk like, and act like our elder brother, Jesus.
Could a body desire anymore than that?
I think not.

God on you...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Divine Glue That Holds It All Together

Hebrews 11:1-2 (The Message Bible)
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It is our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

This version of Hebrews 11 passage refers to faith as "a handle." Something that we can physically lay hold of like the handle on a suitcase. What is it we can physically touch where faith if required? How about our finances...."Whoa..wait a minute Mike! You're getting into the whole prosperity thing, aren't you?" No, actually I'm not. I'm getting into a God and a relationship with Him that extends to every facet of my life. It floods every corner of my existence and I cannot run from, hide from, nor do i wish to, Him.

Faith brings us to God,even though we may not recognize it as such. When life has you by the throat and you feel like you're about to draw your last breath, and you cry out to God. What prompted you to do so? Why now? You never have cried out before, why now? Because every person (according to scripture) has been given a measure of faith. You acted in faith, even though you may not have recognized it. 

Faith in God....
That He is who He claims to be....
And will do what He promises He will do...

Is the fuel that propels us out of our addiction.
But here's the weird part.
It takes us far beyond recovery.
Most people when the come to treatment, their major hope and prayer is to break free from using. Break free from the pain and destruction that is a part of the lifestyle. the thought is, "If I could just break free from the cravings, and the using, I would be o.k.".  Stop the pain. #1 goal of every addict. Just stop the pain. Stop the physical pain. Stop the mental pain. Stop the emotional pain. When the faith of the individual is brought out, uncovered and released, they soon discover that there is a new way to live that is way beyond what recovery has promised. Recovery promises freedom from drugs and alcohol. Faith in God promises a complete new way to live and move here on planet earth. 

Hebrews 11:1Amplified Bible (AMP)

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]

Did you catch what is said in this version of Hebrews 11? Faith is the title deed, given to us by God, for those things...those promises...that He has for us. A title deed that stretches from today...Thursday - September 25, 2014, until we draw our last breath and cross over to be with Jesus. 

Do more than believe....
Walk by faith.

Do more than hope.....
Live by faith.

Do more than exist.....
By faith, be abundant in Christ.

Don't leave home without it.

God on you...