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, March 11, 2014
I have spent a great deal of thought and time about whether or not I should write this post. I wish not to sound like a bitter old man, nor do I wish to come across as one who sees nothing good in this world. But I have to write what is in my spirit and on my heart.
Where are the voices?
Where are those voices that call us back to remember what the church is here for?
Where are the voices that call us to accountability? The voices that stirred us to step out of complacency and apathy. The voices that awakened us to the need to take up our cross and follow daily........not once a week.
I'm not saying they aren't out there....they just aren't speaking to the church at large. They aren't crying for us to wake up before it's too late.
This all came about for me as I was driving home yesterday. I was flipping down the dial of my radio, searching for something to listen to (that's a whole other story) when I hit the "Christian section)....usually 93.9 to 88.3 on FM. Station after station was playing "Christian" music...Every song was about how wonderful God was. How wonderful His blessing's are. How wonderful life is with Him. How wonderful the church is. Now before you go off on me and say I've lost my mind, hear me.
If you receive a steady diet of such songs (A friend of mine refer's to such as "ear" candy) you wind up believing that you and everyone around you in church must be o.k. You never actually look deep into your own heart checking it under the light of God's word to see if there are things that you need to address.
If the messages you hear on Sunday morning are all about pop culture and "your destiny", then you won't be challenged to take up the mantle Christ gave His church in the first place. I like the way the Message Bible reads concerning this: II Timothy 4 - You're going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food--catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They'll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you----keep your eye on what you're doing. Accept the hard times along with the good Keep the Message alive and do a thorough job as God's servant.
I am all for encouragement! I am for exaltation of His church...but not at the expense of allowing sin and self to hid in the shadows. To do so would make a mockery of the cross. We need those voices that call us to repentance. We need to be held accountable to Christ and to each other. I fear that the church is closing the doors upon itself to become some sort of club where only the members enjoy the benefits. There is a whole world outside the doors of our churches that is lost and headed in the wrong direction. Such poor unfortunates view the church as one would a Chaplin on a cruise ship. Not much need for his services.........until the boat starts to sink, then everyone wants him.
People choose churches these days, based on what they can do for them. How many programs does the church have? What is available for the children? What extra curricular activity do they have....Very seldom does anyone go to the leadership of the church and ask, "Is the word of God being taught here?"
There is a quiet assumption that since it carries the name "church", then it must be o.k.
Jesus didn't die so you could enjoy the church softball team. He died for His church. When that spear pierced His side, and the blood and water came forth...so did the church, His bride. Just as God took a rib from Adam's side, God took the church from Jesus' side.
Keith Green said it best in the song "To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice."
"To obey is better than sacrifice. I don't need your Sunday's and Wednesday nights. Cause if you can't come to me everyday.....then don't bother coming at all."
We need those voices who speak beyond the walls of the church, directly to the center of our hearts. Calling us to remember what our real purpose is.
1.) Worship God
2.) Serve others through doing the works of Christ.
That is it.
We need to remember the voices that God has given to us, some of whom have died and no longer are with us.
Men and women such as Leonard Ravenhill...
and the list goes on and on..
People who stirred us from our slumber to take the message to others.
God on you...
Monday, March 10, 2014
And he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped.
We have a message to get out....
One that will give life....real life here and now.
A life that will extend far beyond the last breath.
it sounds all science fiction, doesn't it?
Talking about life that extends after death, but I just happen to believe that it is true.
How can I say that? Have I experienced it yet? Have I crossed over and then made the trip back to this side? No, I haven't. But I know that if my pitiful life can be changed by this force we call "God"....If my life can be turned around and then directed by Him...I don't really believe that He would take me to the end of my days and then say,"Just kidding...there is no "life after". You can say that I have faith....or I believe....or I'm crazy. I will bank everything on the simple fact that God is who He claims to be and will do what He claims to do.
So many I run in contact with do not believe either in God or any form of life after death.
"When you die, you die."
"Don't be a chump and buy this whole "heaven" thing!"
I had one man ask me, "What are you going to do when you die, you discover that everything you have believed is a joke. No heaven...no hell..nothing...that when you die, you simply die. It's over and there's nothing else." My reply to him was very simple. "What you are saying is 'won't I feel like a chump for believing in God?' Well, no I won't. If when I die, there is nothing else, I will die knowing that I have had an incredible life. I have seen things that most people will never see. I have experienced God on a level that was far beyond anything I could conjure up. I have been surrounded by some of the most incredible people ever. And I have felt that love of a woman that has been with me for 40 + years. I have watched my sons grow to be godly men and marry godly women. I have two incredible grand children who are growing up in the ways of God. So if I die and there is nothing else, then I do so a happy man." I then turned to the man and asked him a question. "What are you going to do, when you die and discover that everything I've told you about is true?" The choices you make on this side of eternity determine where you spend your eternity. This isn't some sort of crap shoot or dice game where you win. It is life and death on a spiritual level. Since we sin against an eternal God, then the consequences of our sin is eternal.
1.) All have sinned. More than this, we fall short of reaching God. No manner of intellect or talent will make up the distance between our fall and the eternal God. Without someone whose power and presence is greater than our own, we are hopelessly lost.
2.) The wages of our choices is death. Every wrong choice we make that is colored by our sin/appetite, drives us a little deeper into spiritual darkness. Wages are something you earn..you worked for them. You've got them coming to you. The death that I speak of isn't a physical death. We are all headed in that direction. Ever since you came out of your mother's womb and the doctor spanked your be-hind, the clock has been ticking. The death I'm talking about is a 2nd death. A spiritual death and separation from God and everything good. A separation that can never be broached. If you read Scripture, it doesn't sound like a place I would want to be in.
The funny part in all of this...We got ourselves into this mess, but it is the love of a God who is bigger than I can imagine that saves us. God reaches out to us. God bridges that gap between our sin and His forgiveness. He institutes the invitation for us to be saved and brought under His covering.
You may be wondering what the verse above has to do with anything in the blog today.
I look at recovery in this way. There is a divide between those who are living because they received healing and salvation from God....and those who are dying in the darkness of addiction, who refuse to receive this incredible gift from God Himself. Right there in the middle of that divide stands a cross. Oh, the cross has no power. It was merely a piece of wood used as an instrument of death. But the one who laid His back on that piece of wood and gave His blood and His life...that is a whole other story. This whole sin thing demands that a payment be made by the one who committed the sin. Jesus took my place. Jesus took your place and gave Himself in order to buy our salvation. Now He offers you this gift of life with Him. Life, here and now...and life after we die. It does sound a little like the Twilight Zone,doesn't it? But it's not. It's real. It's here. And it's now. What are you going to do with it? Receive? Or reject?
God on you....
Friday, March 7, 2014
Thursday, March 6, 2014
"Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe in Me."
Seems to be a season of great uncertainty in the lives of many I come in contact with.
The uncertainty of what to do....
Where should we go from here?
What is waiting for us out there?
Live has seem to reach a point where God is "stirring the nest", or making things uncomfortable. so that we will move forward.
A time between season's in our life.
We don't know what to do next, so we hold on tightly to where we are today. We find ourselves growing anxious and confused because we won't turn loose and take that step into the uncertainty that lies before us.
To me, and believe you me I haven't arrived at some sort of being a expert on this, every moment should be steeped and focused as like the words of John 14:1 . Our belief in God and His faithfulness should permeate every decision we make. Our energy should be poured out on hearing Him and following what we are told. If you really want to get down to it, all life is uncertainty. We do not know what is coming next. Here, this morning, sitting at my computer, I have no idea what truly will happen today. Oh, I have a schedule to keep and places to go, but no knowledge of what will interject itself into my day. I have to trust God.
Now, think about this? Why would Jesus say those words we read in John 14:1? Why would he make such a statement about "troubled hearts"? Because He understood the human condition. He knew how the human heart works, that it is has a natural penchant to be troubled by the future and the uncertainty of life. He knew that left unchecked, the human heart would be fearful to the point that it would put a halt to everything. He knew that this was a dangerous way to live and that it could eventually become a prison that kept us in bondage.
God never called us to live life on these terms.
Trust and obey....
Trust and move forward....
Believe and be free.....
Don't let fear and uncertainty lock you away from the blessings of God.
Hold to God's unchanging hand...
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Because you say, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing!" And do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked.
The emperor has no clothes on...
The fairy tale story of an emperor who went to a tailor to get a new set of clothes made. The tailor was so fearful of what the emperor might do, that he concocted a plan to make the emperor think that he was going to wear a suit that was more beautiful and breathtaking than anything that had ever been made before by any tailor, anywhere in the world. It was a one of kind suit. The tailor painted such am impressive picture with his words that the emperor would not doubt his words. The power to be deceived.
So, as the emperor was walking down the street, people everywhere began to ooh and ahh! at the emperor's new suit. "Beautiful"...."How lovely is the suit the emperor is wearing!". No one dared say what the truth was....the emperor was naked. It took a little boy who saw the truth, to exclaim out loud for everyone to hear, "Hey! The emperor has no clothes on."
Addiction is much like the suit of clothes the emperor thought he was wearing.
The power of the heart, especially one steeped in sin, has the ability to cloud minds and skewer judgement. It can literally take the truth and twist it to such a degree that a person will swear up and down that they do not have a problem with drug's and/or alcohol. The only way to combat this is with on going truth. To make them stand in front of a mirror and let themselves see that they have no clothes on, so to speak. To hold up to them the truth about the destruction they have brought on themselves. Truth is the ultimate weapon when dealing with sin on any level. Little by little you keep the truth in front of the addict and you do so through loving them. Not the syrupy, gooey, love that some think is from God...but the tough kind of love that won't let them go, even though they grow angry, and may retaliate against any effort to make them see....the God/love doesn't give up.
Jeremiah 17:9 reads: The heart is (not "was" or "Shall be") deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?
The truth about the heart being deceitful works two way. The human heart has the ability to deceive others and yet, at the same time, deceive itself. It takes a divine intervention to bring a person around to the painful truth of what they have done and their need to be saved from themselves. But such is the love and purpose behind God's conviction and invitation to change. This is the starting point to a new life and a new way of living. By seeing yourself as God sees you. No excuses for what you have done. No running away, but because of the pain and suffering you are going through, you face it head on and allow God to bring healing to you. Now you're ready to change.
God on you....