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, January 16, 2017

Church 101


Church is not the building or facility....
Church is the people. We know this. I'm not some kind of visionary who thought this up. If you talk to anyone who goes to church, or has gone for any length of time, they will tell you right up front.."The church is the people not the building".
But the people have a function and purpose....everyone who claims to be a child of God and a follower of Jesus. Their very being is to be used by God as an instrument for His dynamic rule and reign here on this earth. Or, as John Wimber would say, "We are the vehicle through which the Kingdom of God is revealed to others who do not know our Jesus.
         A.) We proclaim, or tell others about our encounters with this Jesus. How He has changed our lives (you were changed, weren't you?).
         
         B.)We demonstrate and validate the truth of the Word of God by allowing the Holy Spirit to move when we pray. Remember, whatever happens...someone gets healed...someone gets saved....someone gets delivered from demonic spirits....we only a conduit through which the Holy Spirit and the power of God moves.
         
        C.)We care for the poor.
         
        D.) We are to replicate or reproduce by making disciples. Our business isn't making converts. Seems like sometimes the church is more excited about seeing people saved than helping them to move into being a disciple. Don't get me wrong, I'm all up in the salvation thing. Nothing stirs me more than to see a person be transformed by the saving power of God. But nothing is more fulfilling than to see that person chasing God, and doing the works of Jesus.

I use the word "experiential" a lot. Some think that I am discounting the discipline of being a disciple, that somehow all I want to do is run around getting a "warm fuzzy" from God (or if your really into the religious terminology..."glory bumps").  I do know people who spend their entire life running from meeting to meeting...conference to conference seeking out an encounter from God so they can tell their latest story of how God touched them. Such seems to be coming from a selfish view of God. Like He is some sort of personal feel-good dispenser. When I speak of "experiential" encounters with God, I speak from a view that every meeting we attend, we should go expecting to meet with Him. God is sovereign. He moves and touches at His desire. God is not manipulated or cajoled into coming so our flesh can be touched and we can have new "God" story to share in Church.  For those who have some doubt about this experiential stuff....then tell me, how did you get saved if God did not come down and touch you? How were you suddenly aware of your current spiritual state if God did not open your heart up to your need to be saved. I believe that experiencing God is the key to living and moving under the purpose we were created for. 

For the most part, I believe that the current, professing church is living in the past. I have heard many state that we need to get back to being the church we read about in Acts...the first church. Somehow we have fallen prey to the idea that the first church is the high water mark of what church is suppose to be. I happen to believe that the church has yet to hit a high water mark. That anything is possible to a people who are sold out to Jesus. A people who have a corporate mission to their location, town, community and, at the same time, each member has an individual calling to be carried out outside of the corporate group. The church is not to be directed or lead by those who are perceived to be the "Movers and the Shakers".....but rather should be lead by the "Listener's and the Doer's".  We must never forget that the church is Jesus'. He birthed it. He died for it. He empowers it. He directs it.

I need the structure of community. 
I need to be surrounded by like minded people who share a vision and the purpose to which God has called us to.
I need to worship in a way that speaks to me. A worship that proclaims the greatness of God, yet is culturally current. 


I want what we do as a community of believers to speak and draw those around us who do not understand what Church truly is, to come and join in to experience God for themselves.

 I want to break off the stereotypical view of church that has been burned into the consciousness of those who have been injured or hurt by church. I desire to have a place where all of us can encounter the living God and go away at the end of the night having fallen in love with Jesus a little more than when we got there.

 I want everyone who comes through the door on Saturday night to understand for themselves that when we talk about a Power greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity...we really mean POWER. Power in a person. The person of Jesus. The same power that raised Him from the dead should be evident and moving in our services, and in our lives when we leave to back out into our communities.. Maybe it is time we start standing on the promises, and quit sitting on the premises.

Think on these things....
What is the mission of Vineyard ReCovery?
To Follow In His Steps.


God on you..
mb

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Tender Moment @ VRC


I Corinthians 3:23
And you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

What a night at VRC.....
Last night was a keeper....
The picture above kind of sums it all up.
Baby dedication....
Little Zoe Michelle Wood, all of 15 days old was brought to be dedicated to God.
It wasn't an infant baptism, but more of a ceremony where the parents agree to raise her in the ways and teaching of God.
Very tender time.
I never tire of such things as this happening in our midst.

Here in the middle of all the death and destruction that addiction seems to thrive on, we have a new life brought into our midst.
A new life that hasn't been scarred by the hands of this world.
A new life that hasn't been touched by the madness and pain of addiction.
Here was Asa and Sarah, the parents who have made the turn from such darkness, and now are dedicating their daughter that she should be taught the love and hope that they have found in Christ.
Now that's some good stuff.....

What was wonderful about this simple act, was the look on the faces of those present. This incredible look that they were being included in this act of hope and understanding that these parents had found God, and now they were going to raise this new born girl in the right way.
Yeah buddy, last night was payday for me.

We celebrate any moment that will lift us up into a greater understanding of who God is, and what His purpose is for our lives.
We celebrate with hearts of thankfulness and gratitude each time we gather on Saturday night, that we made it another week.
I look forward to the day when there will not be a need for Vineyard ReCovery.
There won't be a need because addiction will no longer exist.
You may call me a dreamer, but there will come a day when such is not needed.
Read the book, you'll see.
But for now, we will come together every Saturday night and celebrate the person and presence of God in our midst.
We will dedicated our newborn's.
We will worship and sing to God with hearts of gratitude for how He is changing us.
We will listen to His word as it is proclaimed and pronounced in our midst.
We will learn to love each other as God loves us.
We will continue to seek Him for a healing touch in our lives and in our hearts.
Then we will leave and share our story with people we meet.
That is why we meet on Saturday nights.....
And it is good.

God on you...
mbb

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Contact

Good morning....
I'm kind of running late this morning.
Trying to ease into the day, rather than head-butting it into submission.


Today....
Twenty-four hours...
We'll sleep part of it...
We'll spend time eating and drinking to nourish our bodies...
We may spend part of it, since it's Saturday, in recreation or rest.
Me personally, I choose the latter, but because I say that doesn't mean it will happen.

I guess what I'm getting at, is that we have all manner of possibilities out there waiting on us today.
Some will be pleasurable to our senses.....

Other possibilities may be very drastic or dark...
Some will enhance our day...
Some may determine the course of our future days.
No matter which, we are ill equipped to handle them without the Spirit of God living and working inside of us.

As followers of Jesus (if that is truly who we are looking to each day) we have an obligation to seek Him out for wisdom and direction.
Something the church is long on talking about and short on actually doing. For some reason, we want to pigeon-hole Jesus just in case we actually need Him during the day. He's truly is our "get-out-of-jail" card that we will pull when the day goes horribly wrong.

This is not the way He wants us to live.
Relationship is about interaction at every moment of every day.
Now lets not get silly in this...
I do not believe we need to seek Jesus' direction for which pair of socks we need to wear today...
Nor do I need Him to show me which cereal to eat ( Rice Kripies ...or Captain Cruch). You get the idea....


So today, set your mind, heart, spirit and soul to stay in conscious contact with Jesus. In other words....let today be a Step #11 Day.

God on you...

mbb

Friday, January 13, 2017

Lamps And Light Bulbs



It would be so easy for me to sit here and try to explain or tell you what following God really meant. I could clothe it religious speech and jargon that really would not explain it. I could try and use big words to give you the impression that I am a learned man but that wouldn't work either. I guess the best way to describe what a day to day walk with Jesus really is about, is found in Psalm 119:105----Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.

What does that verse mean?  Lamp? Light for my feet? How does that translate into my every day walking around, eating, sleeping life? It means that first of all I have to read and study "YOUR WORD". Not trying to find a hidden gem of knowledge but to simply pull out the truth for me. Notice that the word becomes a light (in the Psalm passage). The word become illumination and understanding and helps me to spiritually see what I need to do when I come to circumstances and situations that block my way. No more relying on "what I think I should do". No more "doing what I want to do." I told the group at my Bible study out at Rapha that for the first time in their lives don't do what you want to do.....do what you ought to do.

The Word is a lamp that I hold on to. I take the the lamp and stretch it out in front of myself (this would represent my future) to see what is out there that may cause me to stumble or fall. The Word of God becomes the light, the glasses that give me fresh new powerful vision to see.

I like the way Psalm 119:105 puts it: It is a lamp for my feet. Not my head, not my hands but my feet. Where the feet go, the rest of the body will follow. If you can't see spiritually where to go, you don't need to be walking. Let the Word be the light that shines before you. Notice how the verse reads: A lamp for my feet and a light for my path. That means that there is a predetermined course or way that has been laid out for me and I am to simple follow it. The name of this path is obedience. Pure and simple we are called to walk in obedience to God and the only way we can ever hope to accomplish this is through the illumination of His Word in my life that changes the way I view things and the way I make decisions. This is the transformation that comes through the indwelling or filling or whatever term you use when the Holy Spirit invades our lives and our time and space.

Psalm 119:130 
As Your words are taught, they give light. Even the simple can understand them.

Psalm 119:133
Guide my steps by Your word, so I will not be overcome by any evil.

Psalm 119:59
I pondered the direction of my life, and I turned to follow Your statutes.

What are you using to direct your life today? God? Or the world?
God on you........
mb

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Real Deal Power


Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of this Good News (Gospel) about Christ. It is THE POWER of God at work saving (and healing) everyone who believes.....the Jew first and also the Gentile.

He says all the right words that would lead you to believe that he was sincere in his relationship with Jesus.
But his life reveals a greater truth.....
Maybe he isn't as saved as he thinks he is.....

Harsh to say this?
Yes, it is.
But which is more harsh....

To let him go on thinking that he is something that clearly he isn't...?
Or to lovingly confront him with the truth that what he says and how he lives does not match up.


The very fact that God took care of all manner of sin that could come to a man's life is the ultimate Good News. That Jesus' primary mission here on planet earth was to take back that which was lost. What is it that was lost? The ability for mankind to have an intimate relationship with the very One who created us.

In our "Lost-ness" we sought to fill up the void that was created when man and woman fell from grace back in the garden. And the strange part is that we don't actually perceive this void as being the only thing that can be filled with God. But it's real.......and it's there in each of us. So as we grow, we set about the business of trying to fill it with different things. We have fallen under the illusion that the temporary things of this world could ever produce an eternal satisfaction in our very souls.


We try to fill the void with drugs or alcohol....

For a season this seems to be the magic formula we've been looking for.
Our pain goes away.....
We have times of great euphoria and ecstasy....
We become part of a new group of friends that join in with us.
Our problems seem to disappear, at least for the moment....
But we know now all too well where this little slice of what we thought was heaven has taken us.


We tried sex thinking that was the way to find real love.
Somewhere along the way after going through multiple partners, we are still empty inside. We may have become proficient at the act, but we do not know how to have a real relationship with another human being. Our relationships become filled with mistrust and manipulation. We think marriage is the key, so off we go to find a spouse. Only to find out that we really don't know how to life with another human being. Let's get real honest here.....even if you are superhuman and you're able to have sex for an hour......that still leaves you 23 hours that you have to live together. Seems to be developing a relationship would be the utmost of important things to do. Somehow we bought the lie that having sex means the same thing as falling in love. It doesn't.


We think that money will be our savior....
After all, money means power doesn't it?
The more you have, the more powerful you are perceived?

Strike three, you're out!
For the most part, money actually has us...

IT can be a drug unto itself.
It provides more opportunity to purchase what you think is real happiness.
But here again we've bought into the lie of society......

If money is the great problem solver, then why do the rich commit suicide?

So bottom line is that seeking God....
There in lies the answer to life's problems....
Not looking for what He can do...
But look to Him for who He is.


When God saves me, He gives me a part of Himself.
He somehow implants in me His Holy Spirit.
He becomes the compass by which I live.
I cannot lay claim to being one of His own, yet live my life by my own dictates, wants and fleshly desires.
There is a change that takes place within me.
It is a process as the old me gives way to the new me.
I'm learning to live life in a new way.

My words and my actions line up to reveal the new me.
Oh don't get me wrong...
I do not turn into SUPER-CHRISTIAN!!!!!
But the change I speak of is on-going and is proven by the way you interact in this old world.


This good news about what Jesus has done for me is POWER to my life.
It is a promise that God carries through with everyone who seeks Him.....
Turns will and life over to His care.

Sounds like a good deal to me....
How 'bout you?


God on you....
mbb