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 26, 2015

Image Bearer


Genesis 1:27
So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

I stood near the door at our Saturday night meeting, greeting everyone who came in.
Hand shakes....
Hugs.....

A lot of "How are you doing?"
And "Good to see you!"
As the people filed in.
But Saturday night, I was different.
As I looked into the faces of those I greeted, I was suddenly aware of something.
Some faces were displays of joy and gratitude. Smiles and eyes that beamed.
Others were hard and cold.
Faces that didn't trust, and with good reason giving where they had come from.

Such a world holds everything close until connections are made.

But I was suddenly aware that each person I had greeted was an image bearer of God Himself.
Oh, not the physical part that we tend to judge others by...
but the internal / eternal part that really is the person....
The spirit....the center of who we really are.
God stamped His own image into our very being.

I guess you could say that we each carry around a piece of God's spiritual DNA.

Then I was suddenly aware of something else.
Unless these who showed up for the service came into relationship with Jesus, they would enter eternity completely separated from their creator forever.
We talk about sin.....we preach about sin....
But the truth is, sin has warped and covered over the image we were created in.
Years of abuse and bad decisions quickly followed by bad consequences, have crusted over God's image. In fact, I don't believe that we think about being an image bearer of Almighty God.
It never really enters our mind.
Such thoughts have caused me to see people in a different light.
Now, I'm going to go retro to the 60's and be all about  "make love and not war".
We aren't going to lock arms, standing on some mountain top, singing "we are the world".

But what I have got to do is learn to love...
More than that, I've got to learn to love with a purpose.
The purpose being making sure that those who I come in contact with understand who Jesus really is and what He desires for all of us.

How many men and women will enter hell today?
How many people we will meet on the street today...in the marketplace....at work....
Don't know and are not aware of the promise of eternal life God has given to mankind?

Now, we could get all up and religious and grab our Bible's, go stand on the street corner and preach to those passing by. And that might not be a bad idea...but does God want you to do that? Or does He propose that you love the ones around you, to make sure that they know about God's gift of eternal life to mankind?

I just can't sit by and watch heroin steal lives around us.
I can't remain silent while alcohol destroys another family.
I can't be quiet while prescription med's function by lies and deception.

I've got to be about the kingdom business of loving those I meet....
Loving them and sharing with them that there is a better way to live, that God never created them to be an addict.

Saturday night, six people left that old lifestyle behind.
The shook of the crust and crud of sin and darkness, and walked out of the building changed.
Such is the heart of God to come and save.
To come and heal....
To come and remind us all that we are His image bearers.


God on you...
mb

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Power Connection


Acts 1:8
"But you shall receive POWER when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,and to the end of the earth."

John 16:13
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak and will tell you things to come.

The Holy Spirit....
Old timer's referred to Him as the Holy Ghost.
Samuel Bringle, a Salvation Army Evangelist, used to call the Holy Spirit "the Hound of Heaven".

The Spirit of God is symbolized throughout the Scriptures in various ways.

He is seen as a dove descending on Jesus as He comes up out of the water following His baptism.
He is defined as a "Mighty Rushing Wind" in Acts 2 on the day God loosed Him to fill every believer. 120 gathered in an Upper Room in Jerusalem experienced this "dove" coming as the "promise from the Father".

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was also symbolized as "tongues" or small column's of fire that rested over each persons head that was present in that upper room. If you go back to the book of Exodus, you will find that God appeared to the Hebrews, who had come out of slavery in Egypt, as a huge column of fire. He usually rested over the Tabernacle and lit up the entire camp with the light of His glory. One Column for One people. But on the day of Pentecost, God sent the Holy Spirit to every one who believed in Christ. His presence was now manifested and sealed by the presence of His Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. I'm sure even today, if we could pull back the veil that separates the natural from the spiritual, we would see that fire resting on each believer.
So...the Holy Spirit is seen as a "column" of fire.

The Spirit of God is also symbolized by water. Many refer to the "rain" of the Spirit...the washing away of sin after conviction and confession. The sudden awareness of His presence during a meeting, or in the solitude of being alone with God. We come under the rain of the Spirit.

No matter how you want to define or symbolize the Spirit of God, know this. He comes with Power. The same Spirit that entered that tomb and touched Jesus' body to raise Him from the dead, is the same Spirit that lives within you if you are a believer in Christ.
If you aren't a believer or follower of Christ, know that the Holy Spirit is working around you and in you to bring you to the place where you do "see' the goodness and power you need to be about the art of really living. 
As a believer, you may be thinking to yourself, "Yeah, I know this, but I don't feel the power." Maybe such is because we afraid to allow Him complete control of our life. Maybe we are in love with the things of the world and only want God for when times get hard, so we keep Him (at least in our minds)..behind glass with a sign that says "Break glass in case of emergency".

Acts 2:40
And with many other words he (Peter) testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation."

Acts 2:38
The Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

The Spirit of God is the promise....
The connection between mortal human and immortal deity.
He is the Peace that is given when we surrender will and life over to the care of Jesus.
He is the Power that can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
But we have to surrender to this power.

I'm telling your right now, at 4:04 a.m. this morning, that if you are serious about moving on from your addiction.....all you have to do is give your will and life over to the care of Christ. Confess your sins.....Admit that you own them...it was your choice to live in such a manner. The receive God's forgiveness. In the turning over of your will and your life, verbally acknowledge Jesus as the one you are going to follow.That you are no longer going to follow your own selfish desires or wants. Just say..."Jesus, You are Lord." Ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Now there is Power. Now there is a new way to live and do business with the world. Now you are plugged into a divine outlet and the Power of God will flow to you, and will flow through you. 

Come and fill us up, Lord!
God on you...
mb


Friday, January 23, 2015

Yes He Is!



Job 38:4-6
(God speaking) "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone?"

Great conversation between Job and God. Job was going through the hardest time a human has ever endured. Such will cause you question why? And such will even cause you to question God. 

God's reply?
"Tell me Job....where were you when creation was taking place. When I was busy laying the guidelines and foundation for everything you can see, touch, taste, smell and hear? Huh? Where were you?"
We tend to forget that a God who can bring everything into existence, and keep it all in order and in line, is the same God who desires to work in our lives, to bring about His purpose and our good.

Such a feat on God's part, requires that I move in faith on my part. To not look at situations and circumstances and allow them to dictate my feelings, thoughts and emotions. When we do find ourselves in a hard place, we have a tendency to move toward doubt. Don't! Stop, get out your Bible and turn to Job 38 and read how God lets Job know who is in control, then believe that God is doing the same for you. 


I know that everyone loves to quote Romans 8:28, about how "all things work together for the good in those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose".  What falls under "All things"? Everything! The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the successes and the failures all work and piece together a complete picture so we can see God. That is the hard part in this whole "all thing" formula. Every situation we find ourselves in is an opportunity for us to mature and grow in Christ. Every problem we face is an opportunity for us to trust God a little more than we have in the past. I've said this before, and I'll say it again...........Life happens. Good things and bad things happen to us. Some because of dumb choices we make, others simply because it's life. But no matter which, I totally have to trust that God is in control, and that my job is to seek Him, listen for Him, and trust Him. Believe that He truly is God and that He still acts in the same manner we read about in Scripture. 

This is one of the reasons we need to be connected to a community of believers. It provides us with a place where we can gain strength, encouragement and prospective on what we're going through. We can receive prayer and some wisdom from others who may have gone, or currently be going through similar situations. That's why I'm so grateful to the people who are a part of Vineyard ReCovery. We all realize our need for God and the healing that takes place when we gather on Saturday nights. So no matter what you're facing today, stretch out your faith and tell God..."I trust you today. I trust that you are in control of my life and my situation. I will trust in you and I will not be afraid."
Think on these things...
God on you.....

mb

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Broken


Psalm 51:1-4
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness. According to the multitude of Your tender mercies. Blot our my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight. That you may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.

The words of King David upon being uncovered for having an affair with another mans wife, and for having her husband killed. Even by today's standards, such acts are considered heinous and evil. David's Psalm 51 takes us through the steps of the uncovering and David's plea for forgiveness. There is a brokenness in David when he is exposed. It would have been very easy for him to exercise his kingly power and declare that he was above being scrutinized and examined. He could have decreed that such things as his sin would not be spoken of again while he reigned. But David knew all to well the conviction and pain that comes when a person truly is in touch with the fact that not only have they sinned, but they have sinned against God. In fact, all sin is committed against God.

I have been reading the memoirs of Charles Finney, one of America's great Revivalist. His conversion would seem so out of place in our society today, due to the emotional and mental nature of how God uncovered him. As I read the passages, I had to ask myself, "Is such a display a part of salvation? Does God still come with conviction and break people where they are to reveal their need for Him?" or have we become a nation of people who have become calloused to the voice and conviction of God's Holy Spirit? 

When was the last time you were broken and truly in touch with the fact that we, as humans, all stand in need of healing and forgiveness? It seems to me that the norm for the day is to be joyful and happy in Jesus. Hey! I'm all up in the joy part. I love it when there is that moment of sweet communion with God, coming through a thought or a situation you find yourself in. Nothing is better than to be caught up in the bliss of His presence. But there is also nothing better than the cleansing flood and release of our sin and tears as God pours His love and forgiveness upon us. 

When was the last time you saw a group of people on their face, repenting for their sin? When was the last time you were undone by the simple knowledge that He truly is God and that you only draw your next breath because He gives it to you. The awesome power, majesty and love of God that chose you to be the recipient of salvation and relationship with Him. I never want to become so calloused and hard that I can't sense when God is truly uncovering my heart. I want anything in me, be it sin, thought or deed, that would separate me from Him, to be revealed, confessed and taken away from me.

Psalm 147:3 reads: He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds. Usually if you use the term "brokenhearted" most think of someone who has been dumped by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Or maybe they are brokenhearted over a situation or circumstance in their life. But the kind of broken hearts this verse speaks of, are those who truly recognize their need for God. Kind of like looking to yourself and realize that you are powerless to change anything in your life, knowing that God is your only answer. In order to bring about change in your life...change has to come to you. There must be a resetting of purpose and direction or else you'll continue to do the same things over and over. Why? Because the very thing that drives you and motivates you in your decision making, is a sin/nature that operates outside the will of God.
Thee is healing when our hearts are uncovered and we see the extent of our choices.

There is forgiveness for living outside God's will.
There is restoration...
There is forgiveness...

But it does come when we are truly broken before Him.

God on you this day.
mbb

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Friend



Galatians 4:4-7
But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights as sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out "Abba Father". So you are no longer a salve, but a son. And since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

When Jesus came, a new way of relating to God was opened. A new dynamic that wasn't available to all who lived prior to Jesus' appearance here on earth. Under the old way of approaching God, you had to drag your livestock to the temple, present them to a priest. Go through the whole rigmarole of sacrifice. Then after it was over, you rested in the knowledge that God had not taken away your sin, simply covered it with the blood of sheep and goats. Pigeons if you were really poor. Guess what? You got to do again next year. 

Unlike the ritual found in the Mosaic covenant that God established with Israel, Jesus' atoning work of paying for our sins by giving himself in our place was a once and for all time sacrifice. 

According to Gary Best, who wrote the study guide for Vineyard Bible Institute teaching Kingdom Of God III, "Jesus is sent as the door through which humankind can receive forgiveness and thereby re-establish intimate relationship with God as their king."
Because of Jesus' work on the cross, and through His resurrection from the dead, we are not simply redeemed.....we are redeemed to experience intimacy with God. Think about that for a moment. If that doesn't set you on fire, then your woods wet.

Jesus' act of reconciliation was a true resetting of the dynamic of relationship. It was not the Old testament appeasement of God's wrath, but the complete restoration of friendship with God. Such did happen to certain individuals we read about in the Old Testament, but did not happen to the people as a whole. Jesus was not just the redeemer, as important as that may seem. Jesus became the mediator, or go-between, on our behalf to God.As our redeemer, Jesus connected us, in relationship, with God. As deliverer, Jesus has freed all who trust in Him from the powers that oppress them. 

We need to remember that true freedom comes from being under the right authority. Such freedom takes place when be place ourselves under the rule of God. The cross was the ultimate power encounter to reveal who had the real power and authority. At the cross, Satan did his worst and Jesus showed his greatest submission to the rule of God. The result was the destruction of the devil's work (I John 3:8).  Jesus' response runs so contrary to our human nature. As Scripture states..."He was obedient to death.."   I might add..."And beyond". If it had simply ended with the death of Christ, the work would have been incomplete. Jesus rose out of that tomb and put back in place that which was lost in a garden many years ago when two people decided to do what they wanted to do. Jesus became the person who paid for my sins so that I could receive forgiveness and restoration of relationship with the complete God....
God the Father...
God the Son...

And God the Holy Spirit....
Now, that's some good stuff.

God on you...

mb