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, May 29, 2015

WIND "Instruments"

To some it is simply a collection of sound...
To others, it is a force that can soothe or move....
Music should never be categorized or put into a label....
Who get's to decide the label anyway?

My taste in music has changed over the years. Growing up in the 50's and 60's when the face and sound of music was changing at a rapid pace, so was my love for the music I was listening to.
As I have gotten older and more settled in my ways, so has my taste for music.

I have a fairly large collection of Cd's and tapes from various bands and groups. If you were to look at it, you would probably label it as "oldies". I'm o.k. with that......after all, I'm an "oldie" myself.

I remember the first time I heard Duane Eddy. I remember the sound of that guitar on the opening licks to "Rebel Rouser".  I remember the first time my brother put his recently purchased 45 rpm of Buddy Holly's "That'll Be The Day" on our stero, and that sound came blasting out. Then there was the time when my good friend, Michael Plemmons, came running from his house, carrying his 8-transistor AM radio, yelling at me to listen to this song by a new group called the Beatles. Music has, and always will be an important part of my life.

So when Nori and Barbie Kelley's group, WIND, released a new Cd that covered 20 years of instrumental music they had recorded on various Cd's.....I had to have it. Can I say that it did not disappoint? It didn't.

As my life and relationship with Christ has changed, so has my music. I gravitate to music that stirs me to worship. Music that beckons me to lift my eyes and heart from the problems of the day, and direct them to the very one who had given me life. I'm not to fond of the worship that is out there today. Don't be mad at me, or think I'm putting it down...it is simply a matter of preference. 

When I first saw WIND's "Instruments" Cd, my first thought was, "But I've heard these before", which would be true. But when Nori and Barbie have taken the collective of instrumental music they've recorded over the past 20 years and complied it to one Cd.
The flow and texture of the music, when lined up and fired at you one at a time, is incredible. I was not prepared for what I heard. 

I guess the other thing that makes "Instruments" so incredible, is that I know the members of the band. More than simply having knowledge of the group.....I have seen their "hearts" and love for Christ. I have watched and listened to them grow into the band they are today....I'm still amazed that after all these years, they continue to stretch and reach for new sounds and new songs that reflect their own personal journey. Every new release from this band is one more stone along the path God has put them on. 

Here in "Instruments"....
The band paints a tapestry of worship with their instruments.
The sounds are rich and full and deep.

Level upon levels of the instruments playing off one another, each bringing to the song a specific offering. The sum truly is greater than the parts, when it comes to this band. 

To me, "Instruments" is not to be listen to on the fly, rushing through the day or during those busy times. 
IT is to be savored by stopping and sitting down.
You put the music on, and let it fill the room....as well as your heart, your mind and your spirit...
Turn your thoughts to God and the blessing that He has poured out over you.
And then.....

"Instruments" is available in the bookstore @ Gadsden Vineyard...
or you can check out "WIND" on Facebook.

God on you...

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Time To Pray

Ephesians 6:18
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to the end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

E.M Bounds, in his book on prayer, said, "Prayer is the currency of heaven. Prayer moves God's heart to act on our behalf". If that is true, then how much currency do we never use? How much spiritual poverty do we live in because we never spend time in prayer? 

I have always felt that I was not very good at this "prayer" thing. That I never prayed enough. I never prayed for extended periods of time. That I squandered my own personal "prayer currency" by never exercising my God given right to communicate my needs or desires with Him. Is that true? Am I really like this?
Well, if truth be known, I'm probably not as bad as I think I am, but no where near where I need to be. I have learned how to pray without ceasing, as Paul commands us in the Scripture. It involves kind of keeping a running prayer going throughout the day. I won't go into it in this post, maybe for a later time.

I know that prayer is something that I need to lean into and learn. You say, "Learn? Isn't prayer something that comes natural?" In some regards, yes...but if it was a natural act to mankind, then why did the disciples ask Jesus, "Teach us to pray"?

I want to personally thank each of you who participate in this weekly posting of prayer requests from the men at Rapha. I shared with them at last nights Bible study how I post their request every Thursday morning, and that people really are praying for them. So, with that in mind, let's go on with prayer.

Prayer request # 1
prayer for this young man to learn to hear God's voice. He recognizes his need to not listen to those "old" voices when it comes to making decisions that are going to affect his future.

Prayer request # 2
This man, before he started using, had a close relationship with God. Now that he has begun this journey in recovery, his desire is to renew this relationship and move forward. His desire is to grow in Christ.

Prayer request # 3
I am going to put this request in the words that were written from this man.
"Help my desire for God....strengthen my resolve to chase Him. Help me to let go of my reservations so I can have a full blow commitment for God."

Prayer request # 4
Once again, here are the words from this mans request.
"I really want to know and feel (experience) God more. I need to understand and know what His will is for me...and then do it. I am really worried about all my court stuff. I want to save my money so I can go to college and make something of myself."

Prayer request # 5
This man wants us to add our prayers to his, in that he truly realizes that without God, he has no hope of ever staying sober. He wants to be the father his kids need him to be. He asks for prayer for his family, his sobriety, and his future.

Prayer request # 6
Very simple request:
"I want to have my family prayed for. I ask that I be prayed for as well. I need help ever so much I cannot do this on my own."

Again, I want to thank each of you who are a part of praying for these men. We are seeing hearts awakened to the fact that God is real and will do what He has promised. 

God on you...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Just Jesus.....Just The Cross

I Corinthians 1:21
Since God in His wisdom saw to it that the world would never know Him through human wisdom, He has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.

I Corinthains 1:18
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who ARE BEING SAVED know it is the very power of God.

Every day I am alive, I look to these verses and see greater and greater evidence of their truth in our culture, and in out time.
I see God being relevated to something that is understood and grapsed with the human mind. I see the Word of God being reduced to a tug-of-war among those who like to argue "the finer points." The Word of God is to be applied to life, not argued over.

Somehow I think I want to try and keep it all on the level of "I'm one of those foolish things God decided to use." I have no problem with that. In fact, over the past year, I have had several encounters with others who feel a strong desire to prove their beliefs to me. Now don't get me wrong...I am always up to checking out what I believe against the belief of others. But it profits us nothing if such becomes a point of contention. If our interaction is merely to drive home a point of "I'm right and your wrong" then we are no better than the Pharisees we read about in the New Testament. I don't know if you realized it or not, but Jesus wasn't to pleased with that bunch.

"Well in the Hebrew, Jesus meant this!"
"The Greek gives us the REAL meaning of what Jesus was trying to say."
I understand those who have a burning desire to look into such areas. But you know what? I don't think I've ever had anyone who was struggling with addiction stop to ask me how I felt about the Greek or the Hebrew behind what Jesus was telling us in the Bible. I never been stopped from praying for someone because my theology didn't match up with theirs.

I realize that there is a place for apologetics...
I understand the need to be Scripturally correct....
I am not saying that we should chunk all study of the Bible...
But the bottom line is that the most incredible student of Scripture, outside of Christ Himself, made the statement in I Corinthians 2:2 that "For I decided that while I am with you, I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified." Is that incredible or what? Paul determined.....set his mind on.....fixed his heart to focus only on Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Why? Because the entire structure of Scripture falls away without this act by Jesus.

So why do I consider this to be my theology? Because those I have been called to have to have a starting point in meeting my Jesus. The cross is that starting point. We all stand on level ground at the cross of Christ. The death and resurrection of Christ is the invitation given by God to us to enter into a new way of living. We are either drawn to this invitation......or we are driven away by it. No matter which direction we choose to go in...either toward the cross, or away into the darkness..the truth of the cross of Christ stands.

So while we do need scholars and theologians to delve into the Scripture...
we need a healthy dose of Spirit directed-common sense. We need plain language and a heart of love to work with those God brings in and out of our lives. One of my most favorite lines from a movie comes from "GETTSYBURG". In it, several high ranking officers are introducing themselves to a visiting British Officer. One particular officer is introduce along with a disclaimer about his military prowess. "He has a tendency to complicate the obvious and trivialize the momentous." Sometimes I think the church operates in this manner. We think we need to create hoops and steps for people to move through in order to get to God. When in fact, we need to boil the Gospel message down to its simplest and purest form...."God died for you so that you could have life with Him." We start with that premise.

Like I've said before....
You've got two people who claim to be followers of Jesus...
One who has little understanding but walks fully in the light that they have...
The other is very astute when it comes to understanding the Scriptures, but doesn't apply to their personal life, or walk in the light of their understanding.
Who is better off....
I will always come down on the side of the person who walks fully in the light they have.

Be a student of God's Word...
Read it....
Study it....

Apply it to your personal life...
Then go out an walk in it......

Just maybe..
You'll relish what God has done to you and through you as you realize, "Hey, I'm one of those foolish things mentioned in I Corinthians Chapter One!"

God on you...

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Division Ain't Cool.

Matthew 12:25
But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.

A people divided...
A people divided, pitting one group against the other.
We see it in our nation.
Doesn't take a PhD to recognize what's going on.
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that behind it are the plans of our enemy, the devil, and his rule here on earth.

We have black against white.
Gay's against everyone who disagrees with their agenda.
The church is being battered at every turn by those who feel that the institution should be pushed into the closet of irrelevance. 
I guess these kind of divisions are to be expected, as the eternal clock is ticking down.
II Timothy 3 gives us a list of human behaviors that will become very evident "In the last days."
In fact, we are told that in these days "Stressful" times will be a part of our national fabric.

What we are truly seeing is the uncovering of the character and nature of humanity.
We are seeing the dark side of mankind that we don't really want to talk about.
We are a nation divided.

But what truly concerns me it that we are seemingly becoming a church divided.
Finger pointing....
My church is better than your church....
Choosing sides.....
There are no sides if we claim to be the body of Christ.
In fact, we tend to forget that we actually have surrendered our right to choose when we come to Jesus.
If He is truly Lord of our life....
If we truly acknowledge Him as our Savior...
Then we can only choose what He chooses for us.

First and foremost....our choice is to love.
Not love as the world declares or defines..
But we love the same as our Father in heaven.

When we allow ourselves to be a divided body, we tend to forget that the world is watching.
We are giving them a perfect reason for why they don't want to be a part of our church.

"Why should I go to church? Those folks are just like every one else...hypocrites."
Well, you know what I say?
"Come and join us, there is always room for one more."

When I look at the church as a whole, I see a lot of slick imaging. 
Mission statements that are lofty and express great ideas...
But what if we had to use truth in advertising when it came to promoting our churches?
What if our mission statements read as follows:
"Come and join us! We have a clique for everyone!"
Or how about.....
"We the only church in town that will allow you to not change anything about your lifestyle!"

Or maybe.....
"We are great at pretending to be followers of Jesus!"

I keep hearing the words of John Wimber in my head.....
And I know that these words apply to me.
"I just want to grow up before I grow old."
That is what I truly desire to do.
To let love cover and rule over my disagreements.
To not let myself become jaded and hard against those I might disagree with.
Pray for me as I try to move toward the life Jesus really desires me to live.

God on you...


Monday, May 25, 2015

Deep In The Shadows

Psalm 23:4
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death....

Life is filled with sunshine and shadows....
A mixture of darkness and light that, at times, seek to define who we are and what we are trying to accomplish.
Not accomplish in the sense of job's or skills, or tasks...
but in the sense of who we were created to be.
Sometimes the shadows can be so deep that you can't find your way.

Sometimes the light is so blinding that you can see what lies ahead.

But there is a shadow that not only provides you with safety and understanding, but covers you with love.
The shadow of God.

Psalm 91:1-2
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress.....my God, in Him I will trust.

God's cover over you as you traverse this terrain of life...His shadow.
The shadow of love...
The coolness of His presence completely overtaking you.

The protection of His name flying like a standard for all the world to see that you are His possession. 

In Psalm 23 we read that part of life's journey includes going through other shadows. In this case, David writes of the valley of the shadow of death.
The lowest point between two mountains....
Mountains could symbolize problems and situations we find ourselves facing.
Mountains so high that they block out the natural light, casting long shadows down into that valley.

Such places can be scary and cause one to pause.
But David wrote that he wasn't afraid of such times or places, that he was moving through one shadow, in the protection and safety of another shadow.

The shadow of death has no cause for concern to David because he understands who it is that is taking him through this shadow. He understands that death cannot overtake until it is his time.

We all have these parts of our life journey that will take us through the valley of the shadow of death. Never, never, never forget who has a hold of you...
Spirit, soul, body all belong to God. I am His and He is mine. Such is a comfort to me. As David wrote in Psalm 23...."I will fear no evil."
I'm not the smartest guy in class, but I do believe that mindset and heartset will serve me well..."I will fear no evil."

Think on these things...

God on you..