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, November 26, 2014

I Am A New Creation Of Infinite Worth

Isaiah 43:18-19
Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth. Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.
I have spoken with a lot of folks this week who seem to not have anything to be thankful for.
Every story I  have heard is tinged with the power of things that took place in their past.
The past has a stranglehold on them. It chokes out any life that tries to come in. It loudly defines the individual in their mind, to the point that any hope of a future is clearly destroyed by the behaviors of the past.

I have seen men and women who, because of past failures and attempts to be clean and sober, actually sabotage their own recovery when they start having some success. Why? Because in their minds, failure is just around the corner waiting to drop down on them. So if failure is inevitable, then why not go ahead and stop this nonsense about being sober. That is what I refer to as "addict-a-logic".  

Sometimes we have a tendency to focus on the actual steps, at the expense of the One who can make all things possible. We read the steps and can only see them being carried out by our own strength, willpower and effort. They sound good. They seem like they would work, but our past keeps telling us, "It's not use! You can't do this."

What's the answer? 
A simple formula.
Person = Performance + what others think about me

This formula shows how we have a tendency to get our self worth from what we have done in the past (Our performance). We are also heavily influenced by what other people think about us. If our past behavior, or performance, has been one of destruction and addiction, then our self worth is at an all time low. The main thought that invades our thinking and directs our actions is "I am a terrible person----look what I have done in my past."  Any thought of moving on and having something positive in our life is automatically attacked by the "I'm a terrible person" thought. So what is the answer? Simple. Jesus.
Jesus? You mean the guy in the Bible? Yep..that Jesus.

Step # 1 / #2 / and #3 put is into a right relationship with Him.
We are powerless....we are the problem....
He is the Power......He is the answer....
I make a decisions to turn will and life over to His care.
SO, how does that eliminate the view I have of being this terrible creature because of my past behavior?
I have to replace those old thoughts with some new truth.
Hebrews 10:14 -  For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.
What offering? Jesus. He gave himself as a payment for every bad thing...every bad thought...every bad behavior we ever had, or will have. He died as a payment for my sin. (Sin being the very nature that drives me to be independent from God). He settled my "past" once and for all. Truth be known, Jesus broke the power my past had over me.

The verse goes on to say that "He HAS perfected forever". Not "will perfect", but past tense "Has".  What is it that has been perfected? Why my person.....that question has been settled by Jesus doing for me what I could not do for myself. SO when God looks at me, He sees me as perfect. DO I feel perfect? Do I sense that I have risen above life to a new state of being? Probably not. But hey....it isn't about me feeling something. It's about the truth of God, and the truth is He sees me as perfect. The question about my self worth has been answered once and for all time. So what does that leave?
My performance.
My behavior.
The rest of the journey you will take in the twelve steps addresses your behavior.
It goes to the root of such behavior through Step #6 and #7, the acknowledgement of our character defects and a willingness to have God remove them.

If you don't seem to have anything to be thankful for this holiday season....
Then proclaim the truth that you are no longer a victim tied to your past and defined by what you have done.

Because of Christ's Redemption...
I am a new creation of infinite worth...
I am deeply loved...
I am completely forgiven...
I am fully pleasing....
I am totally accepted by God...
I am absolutely complete in Christ...

God on you....
mb

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

It's All About Our Charcter


Romans 5:3-4
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance character, and character hope.

Webster's defines character as: The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.
Synonyms for the word character are: personality, nature, disposition, temperament and mentality.


So what does this have to do with addiction or recovery? Everything. It is the goal and completed work that God brings to us when we apply the steps to our lives. It is an on going process that we cooperate with as God's Holy Spirit works inside to change our world view and the way we approach life. It is about our character.

Step # 6 states that "We were entirely ready for God to remove these defects of character." If I work this step by putting myself in God's hands, and really are ready to change...then would it not stand to reason that the way I have viewed life and based my decisions on how to live would be changed? I think so. Change of character.

I have seen way to many people get all up in "Jesus", so to speak. Thrill to be saved. Overcome with joy and gratitude for what Jesus had done for them and to them. But then never move beyond that point. Never place themselves upon His plans (Romans 12:1) and allow Him to do the deep work needed to start a new way of living. Change of character. If I'm not changed on the inside, then I put myself in a place of repeating the old choices and old ways of my past. Salvation is a complete break with our past. 

The apostle Paul writes in Philippians 2:12 - 13: Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. What does it mean "to work out" our salvation? Well, I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I think it means we cooperate with God as He works in us to change us. To change our character. The way we think, determine what is right and then apply it to our lives. We fall under the influence and direction of the Holy Spirit.

Did you notice in the verse from Romans that it would be our problems and circumstances that would be part of the process in this change of our character. Our daily struggles will be the measuring stick to mark our growth. How we approach them. How we deal with them. All figure into the process of showing us God's mercy when it is applied to our lives and then played out through our behavior. God does not waste any event or situation. He is all about us understanding exactly who we are in Him. To see and comprehend our position in Christ as we face the world daily and deal with whatever comes our way. As John Wimber use to say......"I want to grow up before I grow any older". 
Well, John...........
Me too.

In other words, this journey in recovery......
This journey in a relationship with Jesus is all about change. 
Change me on the inside....
The outward behavior will follow.

Food for thought today.....
Let me know what you think.

God on you...
mb

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Beginning And The End Is Love



I Corinthians 13:13
And so faith, hope and love abide]
Faith - conviction and belief respecting man's relation to God and divine things.
Hope - joyful and confident expectation or eternal salvation.
Love - true affection for God and man, growing out of God's love for and in us
These thre, but the greatest of these is love.

My goodness how we do love to talk about the love of God.
We bandy that phrase about like it was religious currency.
We measure our churches and ourselves by this term, laying hold of it in spite that our definition of what love really is might not be close to what God has declared it to be.

In fact, for me personally, I find that the more I try to love....
the more I realize that I'm kind of in the dark about what love is and how I am called to demonstrate it here in this world. I think maybe I saw some truth concerning it last Saturday night.
Truth about God....
Truth about myself....
And truth about who we are as a community of followers of Jesus.


At our last VRC meeting, we probably had as many "first-timers" as we have ever had. They didn't know what to expect. They later told me that they weren't real sure they wanted to even be there, but it was an opportunity to get away from the daily grind. They ran into something they had not anticipated on finding. The love of God and those who follow Him.
It wasn't that the core leadership had a meeting before hand and made plans to "love them" into the Kingdom. It just kind of happened. This love we have been shown by God, is the fuel that drives the Saturday Night meeting. You see, to me, everything about the meeting is a demonstration of God's love to us, humanity. At least I think this is the way it should operate.  From the table that is spread with coffee and the fixin's, to the cookies and free stuff that we give away. If you want to boil it down to the simplest statements. What took place Saturday night was God loving through us to reach others.

Our worship on Saturday night is a bit different from what you hear at other places. When I say different, I don't mean better........I just mean different. Debbie Handy and I are the worship leaders, but we draw on the other members of the team to come up with what songs we feel like are to be sung on Saturday night. I have a tendency to lean toward what I refer to as "Road house" worship. Blues riffs and chords....even some take-back songs that everyone is familiar with. Debbie is the rocket that takes the worship into the next level where we come into God's presence.  Saturday night everything seemed to connect, as you could hear the group that had gathered singing above the instruments sound. Latching on to such phrases as "Now I'm Free!" the sound was more than singing. It was a declaration of truth in the lives of those who knew this Jesus.

While the teaching of God's word is always important, what's more important to me is what does God want to say about it. I have found over the years that people very seldom remember sermons or lectures or teachings. But within the context of the entire message, there is opportunity for a verse or a thought to strike a heart and make a lasting impression. That is what I want to happen. That something that is shared hits home and penetrates the darkness to bring hope, light and love to someone that might not know Jesus.

We make no pretense about our call on Saturday nights.
We are an entry point into Christ.

We are the pre-church church, so to speak.
We are a place where someone who doesn't understand church can come and be introduced to Jesus.
In the whole Kingdom of God view, we are just one more flavor that appeals to some folks.
So we celebrate our place that God has given to us.

We want to love and be loved by our heavenly Father, and we want to give away everything that He gives to us. I want to leave this old world with a zero balance in my spiritual bank account. To love as God loves. To live as God directs me to. And to embrace this call to those in the darkness of addiction, to direct them to the source of life......real life.

We haven't lost that "loving feeling"......we have found it in Jesus.
Thanks for letting me share.
God on you..

mb

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Best Of The Greene Street Letters

I will be posting some of the "Best" of the Greene Street Letters on Saturday and Sunday. Today's offering comes from December 26, 2011.

The Church at Philadelphia

Revelation 3:10 - 11
Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Verse 8 - For you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name.

What is the message for us today found in the life of this church located in Philadelphia?
1.) The church which recognized its natural weakness, was supplied with supernatural ability through the power of God's Holy Spirit. It is amazing how we find the Twelve Steps hidden through out Scripture. The principals for living a godly life are all the same no matter whether you struggle with addiction or not. Remember the addiction is merely a sign or symptom of a greater problem. A sin problem. You don't have a drug or alcohol problem, you have a living problem. A broken relationship with Christ is at the center of the struggle. But here we see where God recognizes this church in Philadelphia because they have little strength. In other words, they know that as a congregation, they are powerless. 

2.) The church has kept God's word. In other words, the Bible was more than just a book, it became the very voice of God in their midst. They recognized the value in simply doing what God instructed them to do. How simple yet how profound is it to simply do what we read in Scripture.

3.) The kept or did not deny the name of God. Names were important back in Biblical times because a name revealed the character of the person. Keeping God's name would imply a belief in the ability of God. How incredible is this! To trust and rely wholly on God's ability to take care and direct those whose hearts are committed to Him and His kingdom.  Matthew 6:33 -- Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. Holding fast or placing all your trust on the name of God implies a reliance upon God's strength while rejecting your own ability or strength. This is the heart of recovery. "I've tried it my way and my very best thinking has got me in rehab." It's time to put down our way and embrace God's way. 

I guess the lesson for today (for me and hopefully you) is that God empowers those who persevere in the face of adversity. Realize that adversity is a given when you are putting your trust in God to deliver you out of your addiction. Not giving up ....Not giving in....Holding fast to God in the belief that He is truly who He claims to be and will do what He claims He will do is the heart of real life. Having this ongoing spiritual awakening is way to life. 
God bless each of you today....
mb

Friday, November 21, 2014

Countdown


Psalm 90:12
So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom.

Number our days?
You mean count them off, or mark them off the calendar?
Not really....
I think the idea is to realize that our time here on earth is short.

To make each day count for eternity.
To realize what a gift this day is, and that He has allowed each of us to possess it.
What I do today will figure into the eternal part of life I don't understand.

Choices I make....
Decisions that must be weighed out and considered carefully....

People I need to see and speak to...
All figure into this day. Am I going to be about Kingdom business of my Father?
Or am I going about doing what I want to, hiding behind His name?


Wisdom comes from the understanding that time is not something we should take for granted. Before I go any farther, let me say this.....I am not advocating that we should all run out fill up every minute of every day with some sort of religious behavior. I am advocating that we should follow the Spirit of God every minute of every day. Number our days as we follow Him and see where it takes us. 

Addiction has the potential of robbing an individual of their perception of time left to them. A person in addiction lives only for the moment. The right now, right here, give me a good feeling - life is to hard, moment. Such an individual can't, and sometimes doesn't want to, look beyond the next high. So the days become wasted as the individual. Falling deeper and deeper into a pit of lies and false belief's, finally giving up with no hope of ever coming out. All of the choices made become colored and tainted by the addiction. It really is a Romans 7 life! That which I want to do (be clean and sober and have a life) I do not do, and the very thing I don't want to do (Use and get high) that is what I do. Paul the Apostle kind of emphasis' this thought with a pretty good exclamation. He says, "Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of sin?" Turns out that Jesus is the answer to the problem.

Don't be mislead by the dark voice of sin/addiction.
Don't be taken down that road to despair and depression. Life is hard enough without signing up for the 3-hour sin tour.

As Larry Norman use to sing.....
"Why don't you check into Jesus---He's got the answers !

God on you...
mb