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, November 27, 2015

The Bestest Christmas Gift Ever

II Corinthians 4:4-5
If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don't believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don't understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

Luke 24:5
......."Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?

It sounds like science fiction....
Like something out of the Twilight Zone....

All of humanity is born with a spiritual genetic defect.
To us, it seems normal.
We are influenced by it.
We have our choices formed and fashioned by it...
But it is a defect none the less.

Since it is universal among us, we have a tendency to excuse the actions of others who take the defect to extremes in their behavior.
We label ourselves as having a "good heart", even though our behavior says differently.
What is this spiritual defect?
It goes by many names...

The flesh...
The old man....
The sinful nature.

No matter what the name, the end results is set in concrete.
We will die and be forever eternally separated from God.

Sounds pretty serious.
Well, it is especially when there is a solution to this defect.

Someone has given their very life to come up with an answer to what has, and continues to plague humanity.
You see, a spiritual defect requires a spiritual solution to the problem.

The defect came into existence when long ago in a galaxy far, far...er..excuse me for that. My mind drifted to the new Star Wars movie for a few seconds.
Long ago in what some refer to as the Garden of Eden, mankind made a choice that would forever change us.

The first man, named Adam, and the first woman, named Eve, made the decision to reject God to embrace their own self will. I know, I know..they were tricked but the bottom line was that they were enticed by the idea of being like God. The ability to change and be like God was simple. Eat a piece of fruit from a tree that God had warned them not to eat from. Game over..things would never be the same.

So you see, the spiritual problem that was loosed on mankind in that garden, is still running rampant today. "If I am like God, then I DON"T NEED GOD!!!"
We are spiritually blind. We reject the fullness of God that has been offered to us, to chase after things that only have the illusion of filling us. We seek spiritual contentment and satisfaction through using drugs and/or alcohol. We enter into unhealthy relationships,using sex as means to satisfy an itch that can't be scratched. And because of all the emptiness we are feeling inside, we run and run and run, until we can't run no more. But that doesn't stop us. We get up and run some more. All along the way we create destruction and damage to ourselves and to those near us. 

The end will be death....
Now we all are headed to a physical death where the body gives up life and spirit and becomes an empty shell.
But we also are headed to a transition point where the choices we made while we were alive, will determine where our spirit will spend eternity.
If we carried our spiritual blindness all the way to our death...

Then our choice of rejecting anything to do with God has defined our destiny.
We will be separated from God forever.
Now there is the matter of hell. I'm not the brightest bulb in the pack but hell doesn't really sound like a place I'd want to visit, much less spend eternity in.

What I'm trying to write this morning is this.
1.) God is real
2.) Jesus is the real answer to that sin problem we all suffer from.
3.) The devil is real.
4.) He only does three things really well....
              A.) Steal from us
              B.) Kill us
              C.) And destroy everything around us.
5.) The answer to our sin problem has been offered to us to receive for our own.
6.) To turn will and life over to the care of Jesus.
7.) Such an act on our part will not solve our problems, but acceptance of God's gift of salvation will empower us (God sends us a helper to fill us up and guide us...this helper is called the Holy Spirit) to face every problem we encounter.

IF you are struggling with life and your ability to make sound decisions, you might want to consider what I have written this morning.
Believe you me, it works...
Believe you me, HE works for the betterment of who I am as a human.

God on you....

michael b.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Psalm 105:1-4
Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim His greatness. Let the whole world know what He has done. Sing to Him....yes, sing His praises. Tell everyone about His wonderful deeds. Exult in His holy name; rejoice, you who worship the LORD. Search for the LORD and for His strength; continually seek Him.

On this Thanksgiving day of 2015, that is exactly what I want to do here at the Greene Street Letters. Tell of the Lord's excellent greatness.
I never wish to convey the false idea that my life with Christ has been all "Puppy dog's and lollipop's....Rainbow's and kitty cats". Life is, and has been, a struggle. But through it all, the faithfulness of the Lord to His word has been the one true constant.  That He is indeed who He claims He is....and He will indeed do what He has promised He would do.

All my children were gathered at my table last night. 
Sharing of what has been going on in each others lives.
Catching up on the latest....
Through it all, across from me sat my wife.
From time to time, our eyes would meet and there would be a knowing between us. An unspoken understanding that this is truly what life is about.

Being together....
loving on each other...
Seeing the men that our sons had become.
To watch our daughters in law and be filled with gratitude at how rich they had made our family.
I'm not even going to get into grandchildren. That is a whole other level of thankfulness.

So today, we will gather once more.
We'll fill our plates and lift our glasses in gratitude and thankfulness that God has seen fit to give us one more year.
We will watch football and doze off.

We'll go outside and throw "tight spiral's" to each other, lumbering up and down the yard with visions of youth playing out in our heads. We'll huff and puff, making our way back inside for one more slice of pumpkin pie.
It will truly be a day of thanksgiving for who God has been to each of us.
And at the end of the day, as darkness covers the camp, we will rest in the knowledge and understanding that God is good.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, from the "B's" in Attalla!!

God on you...
michael b.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Rest Easy James Ryle...You Will Be Missed For Now

There have been many heroes in my life....
Growing up, my heroes were cowboy's and soldier's I saw on TV and at the movies.

Some were found in the pages of books that i read....Robinson Crusoe....Jim Hawkins from Treasure Island.....Robin Hood. Some were found in comic books.
Dreamed of being Robin following after Batman.
I wanted to be cub reporter Jimmy Olsen trekking after Superman.

I just knew that when I grew up, I'd be flying with the BLACKHAWK squadron.

It wasn't until I had grown up that I realized that heroes were all around me. Heroes that God had placed in my life. Real people who gave me guidance as I followed after Jesus.
One of the them came to me in a series of teaching tapes given to me by Brook Finlayson.
The series was "How To Hear The Voice Of God"....
The man teaching the series......James Ryle.

As Vicki and I made our way through the teaching, we were amazed because no one had ever taught us the simple idea of hearing God. Oh there were several along the way who mentioned the "still, small voice", but no one had ever laid it out like James did.

The "Hearing God" series was followed up by a teaching on Grace. James led us down a path that forever changed how we saw and felt about God's grace. Like many, I had been taught that Grace was God's unmerited favor given to us. James showed us the fallacy of such belief. Grace was more. Grace was a power. Grace was a force. Grace was the 
"Enabling Power of God in my life, that enables me to 
be who God created me to be....
And to do what God has called me to do."

James had a wonderful sense of humor and it made his teaching that much more enjoyable. In fact, I'll go one step further with this thought. When you listened to James, you never felt like you were being taught. It was more like an intimate conversation with someone who possessed a lot of wisdom, and simply wanted to share it.

Saturday, James died of congestive heart failure.
His race has been run.
Funny how God puts people (even if they are on a cassette tape) into your life to teach you. This was how I related to James Ryle. I never met him personally, but one day I will.
I never had a one on one conversation with James, but one day I will. And when that day comes, I hope to hug his neck and thank him for his faithfulness to the kingdom and to his Savior.

Though the body is still...
Thought the voice is silent..
It is but for a moment.
Truth be known...such stillness and silence only exists on this side of heaven.
James is celebrating and worshiping with the One he lived his life for.
Thank you Father, for the incredible gift of James Ryle that you gave to us.

I Corinthians 15:54-55
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is you sting?"

God on you....
michael b.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gratitude And Thankfulness

Psalm 92:1
It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to the Most High.

I know that it is Thanksgiving week...
Families will be gathering around a table filled with more food than you can shake the proverbial stick at.

But it truly should be a time to stop and give thanks, not just for the material things we have collected, but for the spiritual bounty God has blessed us with.

The people, past and present, that helped us....
Shaped us and taught us the reality of who God is.

They could be former Sunday School teachers....
They could be our parents...

Maybe a pastor or two could be thrown in here....
Never forget that we stand today on the shoulders of those who were there for us.
I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I believe if we truly are a follower of Jesus, then there will be those who will stand on our shoulders because of our love for God. The Kingdom is built on proclaiming and demonstrating the Kingdom of God.

The blessings of the Lord run deeper than our material possessions.
The Lord has been gracious to give Vicki and I peace in our home.
What a wonderful thing to be able to come home at the end of the day, walk into my home and leave the world outside. To have a place where the peace of God prevails and is very much real and present is a wonderful thing.

The blessings of the Lord can be found in the people He has surrounded you with.

Catch word in that last sentence is "PEOPLE".
You remember those don't you?
The imperfect, flawed creation that traded away the eternal things of God for a piece of fruit? Yep, the very ones that God continues to redeem and work through. Oh yeah, by the way,  I am one of those flawed creatures.  To help this messed up creation, God blessed us with forgiveness. The ability to receive it, as well as offer it to those around us. Somehow, I think maybe forgiveness should also be a part of our Thanksgiving. To be given to those around us that we might have grudges, or harbor hard feelings toward. Heaven forbid that we should be transparent and honest in our dealing with others. 

Truth be known, I am at a point in my life where the people around me are the most important part of my existence. I am grateful for those who are a part of our core group of Vineyard ReCovery Church. They have blessed me with the stories and struggles. They have encouraged me to not give up. To get back up when you find yourself knocked down to your knees. I truly see the word "OVERCOMER" when I look at each of them. Here's to the core group....You guy's rock it!!

I guess what I'm trying to say in this mornings posting, is that we should find gratitude no matter what state our life is in. Don't allow the enemy...a.k.a. the devil, to rob you of it.
Gratitude and thankfulness...
Don't leave home without them.

God on you..


Monday, November 23, 2015

I Saw Jesus

Matthew 25:34-36
Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me."

Special night at VRC last Saturday.
Didn't plan for it to be special, It just kind of happened.
Didn't have anything to do with me, it was in the heart of those who have become the core leaders of our meeting.
What was special about it?
I saw Jesus Saturday night.

Oh, not the Jesus you see pictures of in books and on the Internet. Not the Jesus you see portrayed on television.
I saw Jesus.

He came in the form of a person who was moved to give blankets and jackets to a couple of men who came to the meeting.
They were sleeping out under a bridge nearby downtown. This person saw a need and just happened to have the means to take care of it. Jesus gave out those blankets and jackets.

I saw Jesus in another person who gave money to help prepare food bags that we keep at the church. Being a downtown church, we get a lot of people come by looking for help with food.Now there can be a new supply of food made available for those in need.

I heard the voice of Jesus as a couple asked me about what was available where someone who was homeless could sleep for the night. There was genuine concern that Gadsden didn't really have much available as a resource to help those in need. I saw Jesus.

I saw Jesus as a man was prayed for during ministry time. He has severe arthritis in his hands. Prayed was given....the man began to move his fingers and hands and proclaimed that the pain was gone. I saw Jesus.

I saw Jesus in that room last Saturday as He embraced those no one else would. There were hugs and handshakes all around. There were smiles and coffee given out. And for a brief moment, I heard laughter from those who had not laughed in a long time. I saw Jesus.

And the thing I am most proud of was the way the people of VRC acted on their own without me having to direct or instruct in any shape, form or fashion. They saw a need, listened to the Holy Spirit, and then did what they heard. That was the incredible part in all of this. I didn't have to tell anyone to do anything. They truly were the body of Christ last Saturday evening.

Week before last, during our worship time, God spoke to me and said that, "Change was coming..embrace it!". I saw that change on Saturday night. I saw it in the worship...I saw it in the interaction of all those present...and I saw it in the fellowship afterwards. I know that these actions of those who attend VRC on a regular basis are not something that is done once a week when we all show up for the meeting. I know that they will continue this week, as other needs are seen. What I witnessed in that room on Saturday night was exactly what John Wimber meant when he said, "Everyone Gets To Play!".

God on you...