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

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Running Late

I know.....I know.....I'm late. Sorry about it.
Got a call last night that my grandson had injured himself playing basketball, so we were off the hospital. Possible torn MCL, and an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. Prayers that such will not necessary, but grateful if surgery is a part of the healing process.
No, I'm not hedging my bets about healing.....

It was a late night and I had a super early morning appointment, so this kept me from posting as I normally do. Excuse the life-hiccups.

Yesterday at the Rapha Bible study, one of the men made an interesting statement.
This particular man has found himself in a place he never dreamed he would be in.
Long time user, he was saved last Saturday evening. Sunday, as he attended Seth Barber's meeting, this particular man found himself at the altar praying. He said that it felt like all manner of things were falling off of him as he prayed. Then Monday morning, during a walk, he found himself talking to God. Question after question floated through his mind about what had happened to him. Finally with all the questions piling up in his thoughts, he stopped, lowered his head and said...."God, I don't know how to live. You've got to  help me. You've got to show me how." Now if that isn't truth, I don't know what is. Here we have the perfect picture of someone saying, "I am powerless to manage my life, and I need  a power greater than myself to do it, or at least show me  how."

This is an honest place to be walking in.
This is the place where one is open to being instructed in a new way to live.
This is the place that we all need to be.

We can't...
God can...
We let Him.....

It is funny how we finally find ourselves at such a place of surrender, and then suddenly we feel as though we can take over from God. We place God in a glass case and only take him out when we are facing an emergency. You know? Kind of like "Break glass in case of emergency."
Yet, reality dictates that we cannot box God in.
IF we feel that we have or that we can, then we've got the wrong God. Might need to take another look.

Pray for this young man as he takes those first few baby steps in faith.
Appreciate everyone who stops by to read these postings....
God on you....

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Heart Of Vineyard ReCovery Church

Psalm 139:1 and 6
O Lord, You have examined my heart and know everything about me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!

Ministry time at VRC last Saturday night.
This is what it's all about!

Honesty at all cost...
A desire to change....

Sick and tired of being sick and tired.

The young man at the center of the group with his head held back, has reached the point in his life that he is ready to do something about his addiction.
He is awaiting acceptance into a treatment center......

Knowing the struggles that he has been going through, coupled with the waiting period before he can enter, he asked for prayer that God would empower and keep him until he can get into the program. What makes this picture so special to me, is that this young man is surrounded by others who know his pain. They have walked down the same road, facing the same choices, trying to make sense of this thing we call addiction. But at some point all the reasoning in the world has to fall by the wayside. Reasoning has to be replaced by faith.
Faith that grabs hold of you and doesn't let go. Faith that says "God is who He claims to be, and God will do what He has promised He would do. Faith.....

To me this picture sums up what Vineyard ReCovery Church is all about. Breaking free of the isolation that addiction places on individuals, to answer the tug of God's Holy Spirit on our hearts. I've written this before, and I'll probably write a few million more....I go into each meeting expecting God to move on all of us. That we all go away changed. I expect that God will speak in some way, be it through the worship time.....or the teaching of the word. If we don't have these encounters with Him, then we go away empty.

When Jesus taught and spoke the word of God, he always  backed up His word with a demonstration of Power. He do so to validate that He was the Son of God and the word of God was true.  When we finish teaching each Saturday night, we ask for God's Spirit to validate the truth of His word. We open up a time of ministry where anyone can receive prayer. At the center of our prayers is a cry for God to come and heal.

Emotional healing....
Relational healing.....
Physical healing......
Mental healing.......

Spiritual healing.....
All within the scope and realm of God's ability.

In fact, the ultimate healing a person can receive from God is the healing of salvation.

I have been blessed over the years to be a part of a group that truly believes that God is in the healing business. Blessed to be a part of a group with , what I believe, is a healthy view and understanding of the Kingdom of God. The "Now" and the "Not yet" of God's kingdom.

So, this coming Saturday night, we'll go downtown and unlock the doors, set up the equipment, turn on the lights and make the coffee....and...oh yeah....spend time in prayer asking God to come and meet with us one more time.

God on you.....

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Trip To Gallant...

Judges 2:10
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.

The picture above is a place that I spent many hours at during the summer.
The Rock bridge located in Gallant, Alabama.

Growing up, my friends and I would camp out there. 
We would swim there.....
We hike the woods looking for arrow heads.

Lot of memories from my time there.

Friday, I took my grand kids out to Gallant to show them where I grew up.
But there was more to this than me getting to relive some memories.

My entire relationship in following Jesus began in this small community.
We drove to where Gallant Elementary school used to be. It's now the location of the volunteer fire department. My granddaughter, Ashley, asked me..."Poppa, you use to go to school in a fire department?" I explained that the school shut down, the property was returned to the community and the fire department took up residence.

I also told her that we didn't have indoor bathrooms at the school. Horrified over the thought of having to use an outhouse, my granddaughter firmly stated that she would "Just hold it all day till she could get home." Gotta love it!

The one thing I wanted them to know was that in that building was where I was saved.
Fifth grade....
Bro. Lewis Woods, pastor of Gallant First Baptist, had come to do a Bible lesson for our fifth grade class. This was back in the day when no one got offended by such taking place. Now days, the ACLU would be all over this with cries of "Separation of Church and State". But not so back in 1961. Bro. Lewis gave his message and then opened the floor up for anyone who wished to be saved. I remember that my heart seemed like it was going to beat out of my chest.

I went forward and prayed asking Jesus to forgive me of my sins, and for the Holy Spirit to come into my life.  Yep...right there in what is  now Gallant Fire Department is where I first met Jesus. 

I drove over to  Jones pond, located at the foot of Tumlin Gap Mountain.
This was where I was baptized.
I remember it was a beautiful June Sunday afternoon.
Elaine Whisenant and I were both baptized that day.

Family and friends lined the shore of the pond as Bro. Woods prayed over us and then lowered us under the water. Had no idea where this new found relationship would take me, but sitting here this morning, I can truthfully say, "it has been a ride!".

I drove by the house I grew up in.....seems mighty small today. Back in the day, it was huge to me. Like I said...many memories. In fact everywhere I looked my eyes saw one thing, but my memory saw another. People who have long since past from this life.
Mr. and Mrs. Lute,  Mr. and Mrs. Whisenant, Mr and Mrs. Phillips....house after house we past driving back to home was like a magnet, drawing out the memories. 

As I took the kids back to their home, I realized how blessed I have been.
Good folks that help to shape me into the man I am today.
A good church family that loved me and poured a good foundation into my life.
I just wanted my grandkids to understand where I came from, and at the same time realize that the exact same things are taking place in their lives today that I experienced when I was their age.

I want them to know the God I know.

God on you....

Friday, May 20, 2016

Red Letter Day

Psalm 27:8
When You said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You, "Your face, Lord, I will seek."

Well, today is one of those days that kindles memories.
May 20th will always be a red-letter day for me.
You see, it was on this day 22 years ago that God spoke to me and told me to start a home group for the purpose of worship and prayer.
I wasn't looking to begin such an animal. I was simply minding my own business reading a book titled "THE OPEN CHURCH". I had heard the book advertised on WDJC and I decided to buy a copy to check it out. 

For some time I had been wrestling with the model of church I had been attending.
It was a traditional church....on Sunday morning you could count on three hymns, a special song that was sung by one of our members....offertory......the message...the invitation...benediction and then everyone was out the door headed to Morrison's Cafeteria in hopes we beat the church down the street. In my mind there had to be more than to church and this ongoing relationship with Jesus, than I knew about. I had questions. "What if the Holy Spirit wanted to change the order of the service? Would we let Him?" "What if there was a time when we were suppose to sit and wait on God? Would we do it?" The questions went on and on. To put it bluntly, there had to be more than what I was aware of, when it came to following God.

I remember sitting outside of Mid-South Electrics ( I was working there in their electronics department) eating my lunch and finishing up THE OPEN CHURCH book. It was a causal prayer...kind of just threw it up into the air...."Lord, why can't I be part of a church like what I have read about in this book?" The answer (and I do mean "Answer") came immediately. "You can....Start One".  What? "No, you don't understand, Lord...I want to be a part of such a church." Same answer..."Then start one!"  I didn't argue...I didn't even give thought to "is this me, Lord? Or is it You?" I knew God wanted me to start a home group. 

I went to the pastor of the church that Vicki and I had started attending recently, and told him of what had happened and how God had spoken to me. He was genuinely excited for me, but told me that he could not sanction such a meeting. He gave good reasons as to why he couldn't, and I was grateful for his honesty and candor with me. But I knew that this was something I had to do. So I asked my pastor if he would bless me and release me to follow what I had heard God say. He agreed and we parted in good standings. 

The only church I knew that was founded on the principal of home groups was the Vineyard, so I called Jim Bentley and told him my situation. I asked if he would consider being my spiritual covering as we got the meeting up and running. He consented and the rest is history. Little did I know that this home group would be the proving ground and school that would bring forth a call to pastor that I had been given 34 years earlier. I was thirteen at the time, and when God called me to be a pastor, it scared the be-heebies out of me. "Me? A pastor? No way, I can't do that?" So I ran. I ran for 34 years until God locked me down on May 20th. I still didn't understand this was where everything was headed when God told me to start a home group, but the meeting itself was a proving ground that showed me I could pastor. That group became a place where I learned to worship...to hear God and then follow His instruction.....to teach...and to serve those who were a part of that group. 

So, I've written all of that  to say this....
Over the past 22 years, God has allowed me to see a lot of things...to be a part of some pretty incredible times.....and to grow and mature in Him. Does this mean that I have arrived at some sort of divine resting place? I don't think so. If anything, it has shown me how much more I have to grow. How much of God I still don't understand. I'm ready for the journey.

I still drive by the place where Mid-South use to be, and I can look over into that parking lot, to the very space my VW was parked, and say to myself..."There it is..there is where everything changed for me." Today I am grateful.
Thank you, Father.

God on you....

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Occupying The Future

Joshua 1:6
....Only be strong and of good courage.

Joshua 1:7
.....Only be strong and very courageous.

Joshua 1:9
.....Only be strong and of good courage.

Joshua 1:18
.....Only be strong and of good courage.

Moses had led Israel out of Egypt, and has been headed toward the Promised Land.
Forty years and an entire generation has passed.
Now, led by Joshua, the nation stands at the banks of the Jordan river. Directly ahead of them lays this land God has promised to give them.
For Forty years all they have heard is "The promise land....the promise land....we're going to the promise land." But now, here it is.

God has told them to go in and occupy it. Take it as their own. Drive out the pagan culture that has put its roots down deep into the soil of that area. There will be battles to be fought. But (And here is the kicker) God  has promised He would go with them and aid them in their effort to take the land.

It's no wonder There was fear among the people about crossing over.

This was not a well-oiled military machine like the Assyrians.
This was a nation of former slaves who fought when they needed to.
But this nation of ex-slaves had one thing going for them....
God had delivered them, and He would be faithful to the word He had given them that they would possess this land. So 4 times in the first Chapter of Joshua, the people were told to "Be strong and courageous."

So what does all this have to do with today?
Well, we've heard for years the word "Recovery".

"You can have a new life!"
"You can face the future and turn the page on your addiction!"
But when it comes to crossing over into this new life....well, that's another story.
We stand on the banks of our future staring across at the unknown.
We want to cut and run back to our old life.
It may be a painful past but it was ours, and we knew how to play the game, didn't we?

Now God has not promised us a "Promised Land"....
But He has said that we could have a "Promised life".

Just like those we read about in Joshua, we have to cross over into it...
Own it....
Occupy it....

Possess it....
Fight for it....

And all the while, if we do so, God has promised us that He would be there to strengthen us, guide us, and equip us for this new life.
Maybe we need to take heed of the verses from Joshua.
That the courage I need to lay hold of, comes when I recognize my own weakness. As Paul the apostle stated, "His Power is made perfect in my weakness."

Maybe it really is the day to cross over into the new life God has promised.
What do you say?

God on you.....