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

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Four False Beliefs

  1. 1.
    an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.
    "his belief in the value of hard work"

  2. 2.
    trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.
    "a belief in democratic politics"

One of the cornerstone of recovery for us is what we refer to as the "Four False Belief's".  A world view or belief system that has been adopted by an individual and governs the way the interact and make decisions.

False Belief # 1
I must meet certain standards in order to feel good about myself.

Sounds innocent enough doesn't it?
Well, what happens when all you've ever done is fail?
What happens to your thinking if you never measure up to standards that you or others have set for you? Now, throw in some drugs and alcohol on a daily basis and the failures grow and multiply. This false belief will cause you to not even try anymore. After all, why should you? You fail at everything. This is one of the obstacles we create in our own hearts and minds when we succumb to the spiritual, mental and physical darkness of addiction.

False Belief #2
I need the approval of others to feel good about myself.

In this case, our own self worth is so low that we seek to manipulate those around us to tell us how wonderful we are. We thrive on their opinion. We bask in their adulation. And when we don't receive it, we wither and die inside. We have created an equation to define who we are.

Person = Performance
We have bought into a lie that who we are, as person, is defined by what we have done (Our behavior / or our performance). Looking at our track record, we haven't done too well, have we? Yet, most of us were raised to gauge ourselves this way. When we were small, and we did something really nice for our Mother's......Mom would tell us, "Oh my you are a good boy!" But turn that around. Maybe we broke her favorite vase or some of her good china. What did we hear? "You're a bad boy."  So we slowly build a belief system that told us our worth comes from what we have done. Not simply from who we are.

I see a number of people who continue to live like this.
Who even try to serve God this way......
"If I do good...the Jesus will love me!"
"How can Jesus love me, I am a total mess up."
To counter this false belief, we have to address the issue or our person. Salvation puts me in the place where God sees me as perfect.
Hebrews 10:14 - For by one offering, He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

Did you catch that?
"He has perfected."
Not "He will perfect" nor  "He is in the process of perfecting."
But has perfected.
So when God see me, He sees my person/spirit as being perfect because of the blood of Jesus.
Is my behavior/ performance perfect?
But we're working on it.

I will continue tomorrow with the False Belief # 3 and #4.
God on you..

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

To Know God

Hebrews 3:7-8
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,"Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden
your hearts as in the rebellion. In the day of trial in the wilderness."

Verse 12-14
Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing form the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "today" lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.

II Timothy 1:6
Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

I am feeling an urgency.
I believe it is from God.
But I'm not sure what I am suppose to be urgent about.
I just know that it is there.

I have been parked in these verses all evening.
Cautionary verses directed toward all who are followers of Jesus.

I do believe it may have something to do with taking a personal inventory and making sure we are still on the right track. It is so easy to slide from following Jesus, into looking like we are following Jesus.
No life....lot of activity.
I have seen many a person get saved and then quit, thinking to themselves, "Hey..I've arrived. I've got my card and ticket punched to heaven. I no longer have to worry about hell, so I think I'll coast for a while. 
No longer are they "Standing on the Promises."
They are simply "Sitting on the premises." 
There is a vast difference between "knowing" God and merely knowing about Him.

Knowing God is what opens up the door to real recovery from drugs and alcohol. Some will read that statement and "Bah humbug" me all the way to China and back. Why? Because that is too easy. Addiction is a complicated disease, with many levels of healing that need to take place. Or at least that what the pundits will say. Now you've got to hear me on this. I am, in no way, advocating just putting a Bible in some poor addicts hand and then shoving them toward a church and say, "Go get healed, boy! Jesus will do you good."
However, I am advocating a life-changing encounter with the living God. 
Once that encounter takes place and a person is saved, they are now ready to be taught and shown the way on how to keep the fire burning so to speak. To not let the salvation die a cold death through neglect of complacency, eventually returning to their old ways and habits.

That is why we have Vineyard Recovery Church.
To be a place of encouragement to those who are moving in this new life.
To be a place where you can receive a "fresh" or new touch from God.
To be a place where we can all learn how to hear God and follow what we hear.
We gather together each Saturday night to meet with our Higher Power, Jesus Christ.

I chose the picture of the entrance to our building for this post this morning because I think it speaks to what I have written about.
The building is half in shadow and half in light.
You don't know whether it's early morning or late evening.

But change is taking place. We are moving forward. We may not always know what is next, but we can trust God to keep us. Whether we are moving into a time of darkness or a time of light. A time of hardship and suffering, or a time of joy and celebration. No matter which it may be, our need for God does not change. In fact we should develop a hunger for His presence like we never have before.

Maybe that is what the urgency I feel is all about.
Knowing that we are moving, and we all need to make sure we are prepared for the next part of the journey.

God on you...


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Day After The Day After.. part II

Every day should be Easter, shouldn't it?
Every day should be a celebration in the heart of every believer that "He is Risen....and continues to be "Risen" every day.
Every breath I take should be a reminder and testimony to the simple fact that Jesus has risen.
He is risen with every hour I clock at work.
He is risen when my life is less than reflective of the truth of God.
He is risen when I am struggling with a crisis of faith. Remember, Jesus has no such crisis as this. His crisis was cast off and left in an empty tomb.

My life shoud be a walking, talking, eating, sleeping, moving around testimony to Easter..I have life because He did rise! I have freedom in Him because He didn't just die, he came back and walked away from death.
Every day is a testimony to the fact that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He wasn't confined in some dark, dank, dirty tomb....
I love the angel guys who were hanging out in the cemetery....
Women show up to anoint and finish the preparation for Jesus' burial.
The angel guys ask the women, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen!"
Sometimes I think my walk with Christ gets over into the "Looking for the living among the dead"....that is nice way of saying...."Michael, you missed it son. You're seeking out the religious when you should be all up in a relationship." 
You can always hold a church service in the tomb....
You can mourn over the should-of, would-of, could-of...
But Christ has moved on and is out among the people.

He is risen!

You can know God....
Or you can KNOW God!
Don't let God be a mental ascent to the divine. Don't let God become a theological egg hunt for the ultimate answers.
God is love...
And God is life....

And if we don't breathe and live from that place, we have missed it all together.

Don't let Easter be watered down and separated into one day a year.
Every day is Easter.

He has risen today.
Tomorrow will once again proclaim to a dark world...Jesus has risen.
Next week will testify to the fact that Jesus is not in the tomb.
And if we declare it long enough and loud enough..who knows what might happen to those around us.

He is risen...
One last video....
Russ Taft singing Were You There.

Can't help but weep tears of joy when I hear this.
Let it get all down inside of you and let the Holy Spirit of God turn the lights on so you can see...

He is risen!

God on you...

Monday, April 21, 2014

O.K...He's Risen---Now What?

O.K.....Let's get this straight.
We celebrated Good Friday....Jesus on the cross.

Death...payment for sins....etc..etc...

We celebrated Easter.....The tomb....Stone rolled away...
"Up from the grave He arose!"....Resurrection Sunday....
Now what?

Do we go back to business as usual? Were those days just blips on the radar screen, that vanished as quickly as they appeared?
Now what?

The last thing I want is for Good Friday and Easter to simply stir some emotion in me so I can return to life as I have known it. I want to know Jesus more. I don't want to rest on the thought of  "God as I understand Him." I want my understanding to be ever changing. I want to be growing in Him. But you know what? I'm not talking about information. I'm not talking about "fun facts" about God. I'm not talking about "factoids" concerning the Almighty. I'm talking about a living, breathing, walking-around, getting-to-know-Him, relationship.

John 17:3 reads: And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." 
Now I may be wrong, but the last time I read the Scriptures, it said that Jesus appeared to His disciples and taught them. It doesn't say that He appeared and said, "O.k. boys, I need you to study the first three books of the Torah." I'm not advocating giving up reading the Scripture. But how can the Scripture make sense if you don't know they One who breathed it into men?

in his book, Knowing God, J.I. Packer makes the following statement.
"We need to ask ourselves a fundamental question. What is my ultimate aim and object in occupying my mind with Scripture? What do I intend to do with my knowledge about God once I have it? To be preoccupied with getting theological knowledge as an end to itself, to approach Bible study with no higher a motive than a desire to know all the answers, is the direct route to a state of self-satisfied, self-deception."

Our fundamental aim should be to take the knowledge we have of God and use it in a practical way. Our desire should be to know and enjoy God Himself. To value the knowledge about God as a means to this end (Quote by J.I. Packer). 

I cannot, nor will I take God and fit Him into my life like some addendum to a will or legal document. I must take my life and fit into God's will and purpose. Somehow Western Christianity has boiled down relationship with God as being something you display so that others will know you are a believer. Well, if truth be known, I think we have far too many believer's......and not enough follower's. God isn't something I put on display to gain respect from others so they won't think bad about me. Jesus didn't die on the cross for my comfort here on earth. He died (according to Romans 4:25) and was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. 

Let me go one step farther....
This new relationship isn't about doing a bunch of religious stuff.
It isn't about handing out tracts....
It isn't about witnessing....
It isn't about serving on a church board.
We have been given this opportunity to know (through experience) the God we read about in Scripture. 

Now what happens when you begin a relationship with someone? You truly want to get to know them. You want to understand what pleases them. You want to know what they love.
To me, it's the same thing with God. The more I know Him, the more I fall in love with Him. The more I fall in love with Him, the more I want to do for Him.
But the doing becomes second nature. I don't do it out of some feeling obligation to Him. I do it because it's what I do. 

I kind of figure that if we are referred to as Human Beings, then I should BE who God created me to be. We are not called Human Doings. The doing comes as a result of me "Being". Call me silly.....call me whimsical.....call me Ishmael..sorry, Herman Melville suddenly filled my brain. 

I would recommend J.I. Packer's book Knowing God as a good place to start.
I don't recommend a lot of books, but this one is a keeper.

Yes, He is risen.
But what are we going to do next?

God on you...


Sunday, April 20, 2014

No Bones In That Tomb

Dust of the ages and yellowed pages
Idols made of gold
Ancient mysteries and recorded histories
Secrets of this world untold
Myth's and legends we often read about
shrouded deep within the winds of change
Easy access to hearts which never know
subtly they rearrange

But there's no bones in Jerusalem
There's no bones in that tomb
There's no bones in Jerusalem
I know
I've been in that tomb

Difference of opinions provide philosophy
many path's which show the light
wide and smooth's the promise that they make
etched by shadows of the night
Some say service is the only way
works wrought by fleshly hands
But truth for the ages is a resurrected form
is the Son of God in the flesh of man

You can search for holy shrines
seek existence through the lines
graves to all their prophets testify
to all they claim to know

But there's no bones in Jerusalem
There's no bones in that tomb
There's no bones in Jerusalem
I know
I've been in that tomb

He is Risen.....
He is Risen indeed

( From the song "No Bones" by Mbb)