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

Friday, August 29, 2014

Chosen



I Peter 2:9
....But you are a chosen generation......

Last night at Rapha, I had a break in all the action and was sitting in my office just thinking.
It was one of those times where the body had gone about as far as it could go,but the mind was still firing on a few of the cylinders. My thoughts began to drift to all the men who had come through the program, had been exposed to the truth of who Jesus was and what He was capable of doing....and had left the program and gone right back into the old lifestyle of using.
Some were still alive...
A lot of them were not.
So I began to ask "Why? Why is it this way? Why do some readily accept Jesus while others simply seem to play at recovery? Why do some thrive in this new relationship with Christ and others don't? As I was turning in my Bible looking for any answer to my question, I saw this....The truth takes root best in resistant soil. The following is what I wrote in my journal concerning this dilemma.

All of mankind is born with a resistance to God! As the Spirit of God works with each of us, our resistance is slowly chipped away. A verse we read...something someone tells us....an event in our lives...all are part of the chipping process. Sometimes the walls we erect to keep God out stand strong until at last we surrender to His call and His will. I do not understand how some can be totally resistant to the presence of God's Holy Spirit at work in them. They seem to have willed themselves beyond even God's Spirit. They seemed to be have willed themselves even beyond God's ability to save. I know that this isn't true, but it is a perception that creeps into my thoughts. We all know people who have died in their sins, proud and rebellious right up to the very end. They stand stubborn and unrepentant before their creator. We truly know that those who possess such a nature never have a good ending to their lives. They cross over into eternity to receive the wages they have earned by the life they have lived. The wages of sin is death. 

In this case, death is more than then end of life here in this time and space. Death becomes the door  we all pass through in which free will no longer exists. We now are left with the accumulation of decisions and choices that we made on this side of eternity. Decisions and choices that caused us to run counter to God's heart.

Why do some turn to receive Christ, and others don't? I don't know. I don't know if there will answer on this side to this question. I don't even like to mark those who I think may or may not have gained their salvation. I will just love...share the story...pray for and with...and watch God work. For years, I wrestled with my own salvation. I confess that I answered God's call to be saved on multiple occasions, each time getting up from that place of receiving feeling more lost than when I went to the front.  But I owe a debt of gratitude to the men who worked with me. Men who were patient and prayed with me and for me. Rev. Lewis Wood, Don Gentry and D.E. Hendrix all were very patient with this young soul, not turning away from me or turning me away, but rather receiving me each time, leading me into the presence of Jesus.


How can I do any less to someone who comes to be saved for the 18th time, than to show them the same kind of love? To show them patience and cover them with prayer the same as I received years ago. 


At the conclusion of all these deep thoughts and writings I had done, I made my way to the chapel for our 8 p.m. Bible study. God was there. At the end of the teaching eleven men came to answer God's call of being chosen. Pray for these eleven as they start this new journey in their new life.
God is good....all the time...every day.

God on you....

mb


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bad Fruit-----Good Fruit


Romans 6:21
What fruit did you have in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.

Fruit?
Well, that could mean several things. We read about the fruit of the Spirit of God in Galatians 5:22-23. In this regards, it's talking about positive character traits that are born in those who are living and walking with Christ daily. Fruit is evidence of the kind of tree it is. Apple trees produce apples because they are apple trees. Followers of Jesus produce integrity and moral uprightness because they are followers of Jesus. I think maybe we somehow have gotten the idea that such is something we have to work at No! It is the by product of cooperating with God's Holy Spirit, as He works in each of us. Philippians 2:13 reads For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. The Kingdom will of God is played out in the lives of everyone who are following Jesus. God is at work in us. Changing our hearts......changing the way we view life....changing our desires.....transforming our minds. The fruit that people should see is the behavior that has changed. We no longer live according to that old sin/nature, but rather are following the directives of Jesus. 

Not to be outdone, the devil (as pitiful as it may seem) seeks to copy what Christ is doing. If Jesus is producing fruit in our lives........then the devil wants to do the same. Only his fruit is not of the kind variety. What would be some of the fruit that was evidence that he was at work in us?
How about lying.
Stealing.
Rejection of anything and everything to do with God.
Sexual misconduct.
And the list could go on and on and on.
End result in all of this "rotten" fruit we exhibit is death. I checked the word "death" out in Strong's Concordance and it means exactly what we think it does. The end of life. "But wait a minute Michael---don't we all die at some point?" Yes we do. It isn't so much the act of death itself as it is the finality of it. If a person hasn't accepted the free gift of salvation (Romans 6:23) before they die, then their fate is sealed. They will spend eternity separated from God.  We cannot do anything, in and of ourselves, to change this. Only acceptance of God's offer of salvation....the confession / repentance of our sin (Our complete independence from God) and the acknowledgement of Jesus as our Lord and Savior will place us in right standing and relationship with Jesus.
Changing the old ways  into new.
Old tree (sin nature) will be uprooted and replaced with a new tree that will produce the fruit of God's Holy Spirit.
Things to ponder this morning....
What kind of fruit do others see when they look at you?

God on you...
mb

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sons Of Thunder Revisited


John 4:22
....."You worship what you do not  know..............."

It's been in my heart for over 20 years.
A prophetic word that was spoken back in the 90's that worship and the music accompanying it would be changed.
It would become so filled with the Spirit of God that people would be healed just from hearing and being in the presence of the worship music that was being played.  The worship would become so filled with the presence of God that people would be saved from hearing such worship.

Sounds far fetched, doesn't it?
But I have seen such things take place on a very limited basis back when this word was first given. We were leading worship at the Vineyard in Anniston one Sunday morning. No words had been spoken. No preaching or teaching had taken place, but in the middle of the worship, two people got up and came forward to be saved. Wowzer's! Now what if that incident was a taste of what God really wanted to do? 

I confess that I have not taken my worship as serious as I should have. By saying serious I'm not talking about walking around with a scowl on my face, measuring the level of sanctification I have achieved by the droop of my frown. When I say serious, I mean recognizing exactly what is happening (or rather what should happen). First off, worship is for God....I am not suppose to worship so I can get something out of it. Sometimes I think we treat worship to God like we trying to manipulate Him into coming into the room and doing some "heavenly" tricks so that we can say it was good to have been in His presence.

Worship begins and ends with the heart of the ones who are worshiping. I know that some within the Vineyard at large will disagree with me, but I'd rather have one person whose heart burns and is consumed for worship, than a hundred who are professionally capable of playing their instrument on a worship team. I'm not saying that a level of talent isn't necessary, it is...but we put too much emphasis on the talent and not much on the heart.
Give me the heart to worship You, Lord!


From 1994 through 1998, the Vineyard experienced a visitation from God. The services were explosive. People were set loose from sin and bondage that had held them in place for years. Prophetic words flowed with ease and the level of God's presence was off the chart. As this was happening, we declared that the prophetic word we'd heard about how God was going to use worship music in new way, was happening then. I don't think such a statement was true. I do believe that God was priming us so that we could get a taste of what was to come. 

Isn't it funny how we can hear a prophetic word and if it doesn't come to pass according to our time schedule, we then discount it? The prophetic words concerning worship music was brought up again in me because of a cassette tape I found yesterday. I am in the process of transferring messages from tape to digital, so I was going through a box of old tape's looking for something work on, when I came across the "Sons of Thunder" tape by James Ryles (This was the tape that contained the prophetic message). I thought I would listen to it to fill in all the gaps that my memory had lost. What I didn't expect was for it to jump off the tape and go straight to my heart. As I sat listening, I realized that what James was sharing had not taken place, but in fact was more relevant for today that it was 20 years ago. What if what we thought was this new work God was going to do back in the 90's was actually the pre-cursor...the prep work for what He wants to do today? I think maybe it is.  I think we are going to see God work in ways we never have. I believe that it is going to take place through recovery meetings such as Vineyard Recovery Church. I believe that we are going to see the unbridled transforming POWER of Jesus Christ in our midst in ways that we've only dreamed of.

You may call it revival....
You can call it renewal....
You can define it as a new work....
But I believe that it will take place....

Our job?
To prepare ourselves to become instruments of worship through which this "new song" of God can flow to those still in spiritual darkness.

I am excited.

God on you...
mb

I will be making copies available of this prophetic word from James Ryles. I'll try to have them Saturday night at VRC  if anyone wants a copy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Hey Jude



Long day yesterday.
Long weekend too.
Makes for tired body and mind.
But as the saying goes around the Bynum household..."It's nothing a good nights sleep won't cure."


Lot of pain all around.
Mental pain from memories and thoughts of past events.
Choices gone wrong.
Bad choices embraced.

Physical pain...illness....injury....diseases.
Pain that racks the body to the point, that silently (and sometimes out loud) prayers are offered up to "Take me Jesus...please take me!"
It would be easy to give into the darkness.
IT would be easy to medicate and blast yourself into a numbness of epic proportions.
But such would only mask the pain.

I'm not a proponent of suffering. Some have the idea that if you suffer, you become more like Jesus. Well, His suffering had to do with who He was and what He believed. I do believe we all will either go through such suffering or are going through at this time.
On the other hand, I hear some who treat God and His kingdom like the land of Oz, God being the incredible Wizard who lives behind the curtain. No pain...no sorrow...no trouble...."Come to Jesus and He will make everything right." I'm not saying that those who make such claims are wrong. It's just that their timing is bad. Yes, Jesus will make it all right. But not in this life..in the next one. After we die and cross over into His eternal presence, there we will find no sorrow. There we will find no tears. There we will find no death.


I'm continuing to read from Dr. Larry Crabb's book 66 Love Letters. Been parked in the book of Jude over the weekend. Here is what Dr. Crabb writes as God's response to all the pain and suffering we have to go through here in this life, and the false message of hope that others offer from the pulpit.

"Hidden beneath the happy smiles of blessings-now preachers is a spirit of discontentment smothered by confidence in their fake message (or by money and power and acclaim it brings). A grumbling that though smothered drives their theology. They bury their ache beneath their lives.
I want you to feel your ache (the pain of life) but to focus on MY call, MY love, and MY POWER to keep you on the narrow road to MY Party."

You see the message and truth of God is not a "party-hearty" till we wall drop. But neither is it ashes and torn garments accompanied by frowns and scowls. It is a tension, if you will. Living in the here and now, but fueled by the promises of what is to come. Yes! His promises include getting us through the here and now. Yes! His promises are for today. If this be true, then latch on to them and don't let go. Don't trade them for the temporary fix the world offers us. Don't turn loose of the eternal promises and presence of God.

Don't fall for the lies that are spewed which tell you that if you had more faith you wouldn't be suffering like you are.
Faith will take you through whatever you are facing today.

Faith that God is who He claims to be.
Faith that God will do what He has promised HE will do.


Jude: 24-25
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory withe exceeding joy...
To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty. Dominion and Power, both now and forever. Amen

Those two verses tell me that my God supersedes everything and anything that is on this earth. That His power and ability reach far beyond any pain and suffering I may encounter during my time here. His grace is sufficient for anything that may be waiting out there for me today.

God is bigger than any craving that may come to you today.
God is bigger than that voice that may whisper to you to return to your old ways and old lifestyle.
God is just bigger.

God on you...

mb

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Unforced Rhythms Of Grace




In these days of confused situations and events that leave us with out answers, it appears that sanity has become in short supply....
There is truth that I cannot escape nor would wish to.
That no matter how hard I try...No matter how bad I want to....
I stand before God helpless without him.
Our Society and culture seek to exalt the human will and effort...
To celebrate our ability to think and reason...
to build from our dreams, monuments to our humanness....
Polished pillars of glass, concrete and steel..
medals and trophies....
building's with our names and statues of our likeness....Thinking all the while it will last forever....not so.


We burn ourselves out chasing the desires of our heart.
We try religion, only to find out how empty and ritualistic it is. Trying to convince ourselves that we are better spiritually because we have participated in a group activity.We are so in need of relationship with the one who created us. We are so in need of Jesus. We are desperately in need of His transforming POWER that strips away our "self" and replaces it with His Holy Spirit. It's all about change that comes through transformation.
Like I said, I know the frailty of life...
One moment you here...the next your gone..
I know that the eternal offer and gift of life and redemption is at the fingertips of everyone who draws breath...
It comes down to the surrender of heart and will...
The acknowledgment of a Savior and redeemer..

A confession of wrong to be made right...


I like the way the Message Bible puts this offer of new life that Jesus makes to everyone who will accept:


Matthew 11:28-30

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. In other words, learn to walk with Him daily.
Learn what it means to seek out only his will for your life, and the power to carry it out.
To move about in conscious contact with Jesus.
Sounds impossible doesn't it?
Sounds like a fairy tale, doesn't it?
Well, it's not.
It is truth.
What have you got to loose if you do this?
Maybe only your old life, old ways...and a boat load of pain that was self inflicted.

God on you...
mb