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

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hee Haw And Me

Hee Haw? Really?
Hee Haw Gospel Quartet? C'mon, you're pulling my leg!
That sound you hear...
Those four voices and that guitar is the style of music I grew up with.

I learned how to sing harmony listening to this type of music.

Songs such as the Chuck Wagon Gang's "On the Jericho Road"...as well as anything Tennessee Ernie Ford ever recorded was a staple on the record player at the Bynum house. And the funny part in all of this is that I didn't appreciate it at the time. After all, I was part of the Rock and Roll generation. I'm sure that my mother spent many a long night praying for the soul of her son and his love for "THAT" music. 

When I hear the song "Jesus, Hold My Hand" there are so many people that come to my mind. I can see Mr. Clarence Whisenant standing in our church choir. Booming Bass voice that filled the bottom of every song that was sung. Hymn book raised up in front of his face, head tilted back....the room resonating with his voice. I wanted to sing bass so bad. As I was growing up and puberty hit me with full force, I just knew that on the other side of this change, I would be able to sing like Mr. Whisenant. Alas...I was stuck forever in the tenor scale, never to trod the bass notes that I longed for.

Mrs. Chandler sang alto. She had a voice that relied on volume no matter what the dynamics of the song might be. Always moving underneath the soprano's, Mrs. Chandler kept all the ladies in line as the song progressed. The one thing I remember most about her, was that she was a very little woman. I always thought to myself, "How does such a huge voice come out of such a little person?" Always with a smile on her face, she loved Jesus. You know there aren't many people you can truly say that about. She really did love Jesus.

Charles Bryson was our choir director and possessed the clearest and most beautiful tenor voice I think I've ever heard. Charles sang "I Come To The Garden Alone" at my Mother's funeral. Charles kind of made me realize that not being able to sing bass was o.k. He is probably the most kindest and gentle man I've ever met. I still see him, from to time, at Wal-mart. Then again, I see everyone at Wally world. Quick with a smile and a handshake, Charles always asks how the family is doing. He probably encouraged me to sing more than anyone else in my life.

I could go on and on about these and others who have been a part of my life, but I won't bore you with the stories or details. I have been blessed over the years to make some pretty good music and sing with some pretty incredible folks. The Vineyard ReCovery Worship team is probably my most favorite group of all. We've been together for 9 years. We've learned how to take a 4 piece group and make it sound like a full blown band. God has given us a sound that, to me, is very unique. Not better than others....and, after last Saturday  night and the WE ARE ONE TOUR rolled through, no where close to some. We are who we are and if one thing could be said about our worship team, it would be how I defined Mrs. Chandler. We simply love Jesus. The fact that we have some talent affords us the incredible opportunity to play and sing to Him.

I'm very grateful this morning for all the people God has passed through my life that have had an influence on me musically. Every time I get to strap on my guitar and join others to sing and play.......well, that's a present.

God on you...


Friday, April 24, 2015

Storms Are A Part Of Life

Matthew 8:23
Now when He (Jesus) got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.

Jesus and boy's taking a trip...
Where'd they go?
Into the middle of a storm.
Didn't bother Jesus a bit.
He was fast asleep.

The boy's, on the other hand, were freaking out.
Boat's + High wind and crashing waves = disaster.
Not going to turn out good.

Do you think they boy's thought to themselves that this Jesus is lacking in some nautical skills? That He might have been one of those weekend boaters that went out to party and cruise around the sea of Galilee? They may have even thought, "You're really good with the theology stuff, but you don't know diddly about sailing!" Didn't mind what they thought........Jesus had got into the boat and they followed. Now here He was asleep.

Life is like that story.
Everyday, I have choose to get up and follow Jesus.

I follow Him right into the middle of life.
Life with it's ups and downs.
Life with it's celebrations and its disasters.

I choose to follow Him.
Now to follow means that I let Him lead. He decides the direction and course I am to take, and it's very simple.......I either go or I don't. I have found the wisdom in going and not hanging back.

No matter what, life is about storms....
Life is about those things we don't see coming at us.
Life is about problems that come crashing over us like the waves of a storm.
Life is winds that seek to blow us off course and stop our progress.

Yet through it all, Jesus is there.
We don't always understand that.
Somehow we come up with a Jesus that acts like the Calvary you see in the old western's. They are never around when you need them. Things are dire and the settler's are about to be overrun and killed, when out of nowhere, the Calvary rides to the rescue. Well, Jesus isn't like that. He's a 24/7 - 365 Jesus. He is always there with us and for us.
So why did He wait so long to take care of the "Storm" problem we read about in Matthew 8? Because everything we receive from Him, including our rescue, is on His time, and He is never late.

The thing I have found out in my own life is as follows.
Sometimes Jesus will take me around my problems, giving me new directions in order to avoid being swallowed by them.
Sometimes Jesus will speak to my problems and make them disappear.

Wait for it.......
Sometimes Jesus will hold my hand and we both will go through the problem.

(by the way..that last one is not my favorite, but I totally understand how it works).
No matter which one He decides on, He is there with me.
I can make book on that one.

When Jesus calls us to follow, He really means it.
Not just follow when it's sunny and 72 degrees, with light breezes.....
But follow when life seems to have the wheels coming off and there isn't a solution in sight.
Follow when the storm clouds are building up on the horizon and your path keeps getting closer and closer to where they are.

Follow Him.....
Trust Him.....

Don't turn back....
And what ever you do.....
Don't let go of Him.

God on you...

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday Prayer Requests

James 5:16
.....The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Thanks to everyone who prayed from the list that I posted last Thursday. Going back over it with the men from Rapha, there was much gratitude that we would do this for them. As most of you know, this whole "Jesus-praying for folks-church thing" is new to most of them. When a prayer is answered, it catches their attention as they put the two together...
1.) Someone asked God to move on my behalf...
2.) God moved....
Hmmm! Might be something to this.
Here is this weeks list:

1.) Several of the men were friends with two people who had a motorcycle accident over the weekend. One man was killed and the other will be in the hospital for a while recovering from his injuries. There was much grieving in the camp for these two individuals and their families. Pray that God would comfort them during this dark time in the passing of a son, and the recovery of the other.

2.) J.K. requested prayer for his father-in-law. He is in the late stages of cancer, and his trips to hospital are becoming more frequent. Prayer that the father in law is ready to face what is ahead. Prayer for the family that they can be there for him.

3.) B.T. requested prayer for pancreatitis, an ongoing condition that has flared up from time to time.

4.) K.C. - has a 28 year old son who is an addict. Prayer for protection and that God would open his heart and mind to the truth.

5.) D.G. is having a medical procedure this coming Monday. D.G. was part of last weeks list, asking for healing. D.G. told me that they had felt better this past week than they have in a long time. Very grateful for the prayers.

6.) L.P.- Continued prayer for God to help focus their attention and mind so that they can get everything from the program they need to move on in their life.

7.) K. - continued prayer for daughter who has breast cancer.

The one thing I kept hearing as I moved around the camp yesterday, talking with the men, was gratitude that someone cared enough to actually pray for them. I assured them that their request were taken seriously and that prayers were going up on their behalf.

This Saturday night, we are going to be taking a look at the two types of people who were healed by Jesus.....
Come on out and join us...

meeting starts at 7 p.m.
Vineyard ReCovery Church is located at Gadsden Vineyard Church, on Broad street, downtown Gadsden, between 4th and 5th streets.

God on you...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Real Deal Joy

James 1:2
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials..

There's that word again....
Count it against what you are facing....
Weigh it as you go through the dark times...

Consider the reality of it in your life...
You see, on the surface, this verse seems to be saying, "Whoop it up for Jesus" no matter how hard life is...
Well, I don't think that is what James is truly saying.

I like the way Pastor Rick Warren sees the concept of the Joy of the Lord:

"Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation."

But even in this definition, we have to understand when he says that "ultimately everything is going to be alright". Sometimes that ultimately means at death. At the moment of my death, I will know fully what I only claim to believe now. I will know completely the whole truth of who Jesus is and what He is capable of doing. On this side of heaven, it is mostly faith and holding on to what truth my mind can comprehend.

The joy of the Lord IS a knowing that God is in control of all my affairs, as well as the very breath I breathe. He is the giver of life. Does he "give" me problems and troubles? I know that most of what I face is a by product of bad choices as well as consequences for past actions. I guess the good part in facing such, is that He does not abandon me. He doesn't look down on me and my situation and say, "Well, I tried to tell you what to do, but you wouldn't listen." No, He doesn't act in such a manner. Daily He is trying to guide me along the right way, the right path, by my listening for Him and then following what I'm lead to do. Knowing that He will never, never, ever stir me wrong is part of that "Joy", that quiet confidence that can only come through trusting Him.

Yesterday was a good day...
I was reminded of God's goodness, in spite of the darkness that has covered this season of my life. In fact, God totally reminded me that just because it appears that the world has gone off its collective mind, doesn't mean that He has lost His grip on things. Such that I see is the exercise of man's sinful nature in spite of God's love and gift of eternal life to those who would believe.
So today, I rest in the knowledge (and joy) that God is God.
Such a simple statement..."God is God"...
But when it gets all down inside a person, it brings such comfort and peace....and dare I say it..
Yes, even joy.

Don't leave home without Him....
Or His peace...
Or His joy...

God on you...


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lot's Or Little, Jesus Is In The Mix

John 6:66
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more

Funny thought occurred to me when I read this verse.
Jesus spoke a hard truth to those who were along for the ride.
"If you want to follow me, you have to eat my flesh and drink my blood."
That put the brakes on the whole shee-bang.
But no one asked Him to explain what this meant.
No one said, "excuse me, could you help me out here and tell me what this is all about?" 
They reasoned among themselves....
I'm sure they postured and pontificated trying to look religious, but you know Jesus wasn't up in the religious thing.

He was all about truth.

In fact, the same goes on today.
People have a tendency to confuse religion with Jesus.
They love the structure and flash bang of church, just don't require them to reorganize the way they live. To do so would be getting up in their business.
People in addiction have the very same mind set. In fact, they do not want to look beyond "Jesus will save me." Get me out of the mess....get me out of the legal stuff and I'll take it from here.
Sorry, Charlie........doesn't work that way.
In the first place, you really need to ask yourself, "Why would Jesus save me?"

It stands to reason that there would be a greater purpose that He would desire for me to fulfill.

To me, the greater purpose would be to love Him.......love myself.......love those around me. No matter what may be going on in my life, I am to carry this out daily. I like the idea of the glass half-full or the glass half-empty scenario. The amount in the glass doesn't change at all, but it is clearly defined by my perception. 

I've heard some people get all down on the 'half-empty" people. "Oh you just are negative all the time." I've been mentioned with this group. I've been told that I appear to not have much joy in my life. I'm not sure what that means. Does it mean that I walk around with a scowl or a frown all the time? Does it mean that I do  not possess a bubbly, over flowing personality? That I'm not the life of the party. Come to think of it, I don't go to many parties. Well, I don't know if you'll understand what I'm about to write or not, but here goes.
I seek the peace of God. I'm not really sure I would recognize "Joy" from the Lord. Oh, I'm grateful and thankful for life, and I let Him know it. But the peace of God, to me is a much more powerful, life giving part of my relationship with Him.

Peace, not that my situations and circumstances are all taken care of....
But Peace that fills me and enables me to walk through and face whatever comes my way. Peace enables me to sleep at night. Peace enables me to take life one day at a time. Peace also gives me hope and the realization that He is still in control no matter what the world and society make look like. Give me His peace. If the joy comes along and I'm able to readily identify it, that will be a plus.

So really, to me...
It's not whether the glass is half empty..
or half full....
it's the simple fact that the glass has something in it.
Thank you for the portion you have placed in me today.
Some may see me as half-full...

I look at myself and see it as half empty, with room for you to do so much more. "Thank you, Father, for not quitting on me or giving up on me."

Now back to the whole, "Eat my flesh / Drink my blood" thing.
How did sin enter into our whole existence? Through the disobedience of the two who lived in the garden. To put it more bluntly.........they ate some fruit.
Jesus was showing the people that salvation will come in the same manner, so to speak. Jesus dying on the cross and then being raised to life through the power of the Holy Spirit. Part of this new relationship is to remember what He has done for us.....so we participate in His table..His communion. Sin came in through the eating of fruit.........we remember the life given to us through the symbolic eating of His flesh /body and drinking the wine (His blood) through this new covenant He has established.

Now I'll buy that for a dollar...

God on you...