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

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Never Quit...Never Give up

I Peter 2:9-10 (The Message Bible)
But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do His work, and speak out for Him to tell others of the night-and-day difference He made for you----From nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

We were the generation that was going to change the world.
A revival was sweeping the country and it was unlike any revival that we'd ever seen.
From California came a wave of God's Spirit calling out those from the counter culture to be changed. Salvation was everywhere, touching and changing lives that had been counted out by society.

Those who were changed by the Holy Spirit began to tell others...
The ones who heard this message  were changed through God's Salvation....
They, in turn, told others, and it became a wave of God's love and freedom that took off across our country. Funny part in all of this..........it began out side the walls of the traditional church. In fact, the very fabric of church began to change to accommodate new music....new language for theology. As I've said over and over...."The message never changes...God's truth does not change. The vehicle the message is delivered in may change, but not the message."
And empowered by this message, we knew that we were going to be the generation that changed everything with the Kingdom message of Jesus.

We thought this movement would last forever.....

It has.
It has not lessened or lost power.
It has not become static or institutionalized by ritual or rote services.

We've grown older....
But as for me, I still burn with the fire of God to see people meet my Jesus.

You see, movement in the kingdom......this dynamic of bringing change to society through the message of Jesus Christ is not confined  to only those who are young.
No doubt about it....hose who are young have passion and fire. When they are touched by the Holy Spirit, something wonderful happens in the midst of all their "young-ness".
It's like being in love for the first time in your life. You want to tell everyone how great it is, and how they are missing out if they don't have that special someone in their own life. So you run around telling your story.

But I've found out something about having a few years under my belt that I could never have known when I was younger.  There is this thing called wisdom. Not as the world defines or gives to us, but that which comes from walking with Jesus for a number of years. Wisdom that comes from life experiences. I do not want my wisdom or view of life to distort the beauty and splendor that is Jesus. I don't want to be cynical of new ways or models that come along. I want to see Jesus in every aspect of His church. I don't want to be the old geezer who is always complaining and punctuates his sentences with "Back in my day....."

I want to be a torch passer. One who comes along side of this generation and encourages them to strike out and follow Jesus. I want to be like Billy Crystal in the movie "The Princess Bride" telling the hero and his followers...."Have fun storming the castle". I may not physically be able to do as much as when I was in my twenties....but my love for Jesus and the Kingdom message is still as fresh as the day I heard it for the first time.

I want to worship Him and see Him in new ways.
I want His word to unfold and reveal to me things I've never seen before.
I want the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to move and heal people.
I want to be the conduit through which the Holy Spirit flows and brings new babes into the Kingdom family.
I want Jesus.
Lastly, I do  not want to define this upcoming generation. I want them to let Jesus define them and what they are called to do.
Think on these things today...

God on you...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Building Life The Right Way

Matthew 7:24-25  (The Message Bible)
Jesus talking: "These words that I speak to you are not incidental additions too your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work (apply/practice them) these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit----but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock."

It's all about being in this for the long haul.
It's about a process that we move through.

It's about not quitting or giving up.
It's about the application of truth into our lives that brings change to our hearts, our nature and our character.
In other words, it is about cooperating with the Holy Spirit of God as He works in each of us.

Jesus' instruction is for real.
We may receive it from reading the Bible.
We may have it spoken to us by another individual.
We may have an intuitive knowing inside that leads us to carry out a certain behavior.

We many even have the word delivered to us by an angel.
We may hear His instruction in our hearts.
Doesn't matter how the word and instruction comes to us, what matters is that we apply it.
You know the funny part in all of this? I give up my own personal right to decide what I will or will not do. I no longer make the call when I know what it is I am to do in order to move on with my life and not hang around old places, old friends.
I am not the judge and jury of my choices.
Jesus is my directive...
Holy Spirit is my God....
God is my enabler through the grace that He gives to me.

Building a house takes time.
Especially when you think of how different this task was when Jesus spoke these words from Matthew 7. It was all manual labor. Hands on....back breaking.....sweating like a piece of bacon...kind of work. But in the end, you were provided with a place that would keep you safe from the weather.
Maybe we've become soft when it comes to following Jesus today, and this life of recovery that we say we all want.
Maybe we're not willing to expend the energy doing what we know to do that will propel us out of the old life into the stratosphere of the new life. As a friend of mine has told me over and over....."Everyone wants to be sober.....no one wants to do the work." 

Now keep in mind the work my friend is talking about is the application of Twelve simple things. Taking them one at a time, like laying brick for this new house. Place a brick, put mortar on it, lay another brick. There is a pace to this work that comes when we choose to follow Jesus. There isn't any room for any shortcuts to completion. If we try to short cut the work, then the storms, floods, tornadoes and wind will reveal the flaws and weaknesses in our work. God gives us the plans (which are perfect)....God provides us with the materials we need to construct our new life/house (the materials are A #1 grade)....God gives us the strength and power to carry out this endeavor.....but we provide the sweat.
Sweatin' for Jesus.....
That's where real life is found.
Doing what He tells us to do is building something that will last while we're here on this ol' planet.

Think on this today....
God on you....


Monday, August 22, 2016

Love Me Some Vineyard

Matthew 6:9
....Our Father......

Our? If we pray this prayer, we are placing ourselves inside an incredible family.
A family united by the blood of Christ.
A family reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
A family that is not bound by color, economics, or location.

Within this world wide  family, we find that we tend to gravitate toward groups and communities of believers that we connect with. Like minded people that seem to share heart values.
In my case, the Vineyard is the flag I have chosen to move under.

This weekends "Living Sacrifices Worship Conference" only reinforced my love for this family.

The one thing the Vineyard has allowed me to see is the diversity of the different churches within the movement. That what binds us together is a set of values and priorities given to us years ago. Now these values and priorities give language to what we know and are drawn too instinctively. How these values and priorities are played out is left up to the personality of the community that is Vineyard. In other words, each Vineyard appears to be different from other Vineyards, but if you peel away the model, you'll find those values and priorities that I've written about. The best definition for being part of the Vineyard is found in the book "Quest For The Radical Middle". Bill Jackson, the author, stated...."You don't join a Vineyard church....you just discover that is who you are."

I sat through sessions this weekend at the conference, and I would be less than honest if I didn't say that God was reading my mail and sending me answers to my hurts. It was a time of healing for me. A time to release some grudges and anger. It's hard to admit that you carry these things around. I mean for heaven's sake I'm suppose to be a pastor. But here I was, sitting and hearing a truth that undid me. Oh, I could push it away and act like it wasn't affecting me. I didn't. I knew all too well that God was at work. One more reason I love the Vineyard. I have found a place where anyone, including yours truly, can receive prayer and healing. I like being with a group of people where honesty and transparency are the key to healing and moving forward in this journey with Jesus.

Saturday night as the last chord, note and drum roll ended, and the room erupted with applause and shouts....there was such a sense of satisfaction in me. I looked around that room and I saw people who never have darkened a door of a church smiling and laughing.
Handshakes and hugs all around. I saw the Spirit of God at work as darkness and sin had been silenced by a worship team led by a tall lanky drink of water that goes by the moniker "Sleepy Ray". I saw the power of worship and the power of God come down and inhabit the praises of His people. I saw John Wimber's vision of what a Vineyard should be.

Are we perfect? Nope.
Are we better than say the church down the street? Nope.
Are we special and have more favor than other churches? Once again, nope.

We just love God, that's all.We want to set a table where anyone can come and dine.
My goal every time we meet, is that everyone who left that meeting last Saturday  night knew two things....
That God loves them....
And so do I.
Glad to be a "Vineyard-ite" this morning.

God on you...


Saturday, August 20, 2016

It's Prayer....Not A Shopping List

Jeremiah 29:12
In those days when you pray, I will listen.......

Never doubt that God doesn't hear your prayers.
Never doubt that God doesn't have your best interest at heart.

Never doubt that God doesn't answer your prayers.
He does.
He is God.

But.......(here it comes...)
He also answers your prayers when what you are praying about may not be in your best interest.
Sometimes we pray for good things....
God wants us to have "GOD" things....

In other words, sometimes my prayer may sound like the desire of a little kid...
"Hey God! I sure would like for you to give me a gazillion gallons of ice cream!!"

God knows full well that I don't need a gazillion gallons of ice cream so, even thought that is what I prayed for, he isn't going to fulfill that prayer.
Bottom line, God decides what is and what isn't best for me.

This line of thought may wrankle a few folks, but somehow I think it is truly God's nature to act this way.
I have known several who were facing possible jail and/or prison time.
They would come to me all full of confidence that God was not going to let them go to jail or prison.
"Bro. Mike...I've been praying real hard and I think God is going to answer my prayer."

Some have even tried to strike a bargain with God.
"Hey God! If you keep me out of jail, I promise that I really will turn my life around."
Sorry Charlie...God isn't in the bargaining business. Why should He? He is God.

What I have seen happen is that when we are truthful in our prayers to God and place ourselves at His mercy, He acts on our behalf.

One man in particular had to go to a sentencing for his guilty verdict the courts had laid upon him.
Now he was one of those who came to me telling me that God would never let him go to prison. But as his sentencing date drew near, he changed his tune.
"I prepared to face whatever God has for me....I don't want to go to prison, but I want to simply be obedient to God. If it is prison, then He will be with me."

The man, who was facing three 20 years sentences, went before the judge.
His sentence? 36 months.
In fact, before the judge gave his sentence, he made the statement that he didn't know why he was doing this. Oh, I think I know. I think maybe there was some divine influence covering the whole matter.

What I'm about to write may sound strange to some, but my take on the whole prayer thing is that I am simply breathing (praying) back to God what He wants to do. I am joining in a prayer circle that goes on 24/7 in heaven. Son intercedes on our behalf to the Father. Father dispatches Holy Spirit to stir us. We pray and the Holy Spirit takes our request back to Jesus who, in turn, prays it to the Father. The Father acts. I am merely joined into this on going prayer meeting that never ends. 

Well the old clock in the lower right hand corner of my computer says....nothing.
It does show me that it's 7:25 a.m. and I need to get up and moving toward this mornings sessions of the LIVING SACRIFICES WORSHIP CONFERENCE.

Hope to see you tonight for Vineyard ReCovery.

God on you....

Friday, August 19, 2016

Better Late Than Never

Sorry about no posting this morning....
It's kind of like getting your morning paper and then it doesn't show up at the usual time.
I know that I dated myself what with the reference to newspapers....
who reads them these days....

Any who, the internet was down on Greene Street this morning.
I looked outside my window and thousands of little internet gnomes and elves were busy trying to get it back up and running. Have you ever tried to navigate a maze of gnome ladders and elves bucket trucks? Such is not an easy task or for the faint of heart.

I am posting this from up in my office high atop Gadsden Vineyard Church, overlooking downtown Gadsden and the beautiful Coosa River. Even as I am typing this, the sounds of the worship team below are filling my office. Should be a good conference.

Don't forget we are still having Vineyard ReCovery church tomorrow  night @ 7 p.m.
Come out and join us. All in all it's been a pretty good week. Some dark times yet the light outweighed them. Isn't that what's it's about? Finding the light and giving it away. Taking it with you every where you go, so that whoever steps out the shadows is engulfed with the light God that comes from within you. Such always changes the person you come in contact with. They are either changed for the better, or they harden their heart a little more in resisting the light, and become colder toward God. No matter which, we are light-bringers, and image-bearers of the One True Living God.

I always love reading Genesis chapter one where God said, "Let there be light".
In my messed up way of thinking, when ever I read this verse, I see it as God giving light permission to exist. Kind of the similar thing we read in Matthew 5:14 where Jesus says, "You are the light of the world"......Not only is that a defining statement (this is who you are)...it is a directive statement also....(of the world)..He tells us who we are and where we function best. Any kind of light reveals its true power and worth when it is revealed in darkness.  Flashlight's are no good if used in the day time, but take them into the woods away from civilization, then become a powerful tool to find your way around.

Well, I guess I better head downstairs and join the others....
If no one has told you lately, I will
God loves you....
And so do I.

God on you.....