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

Monday, August 3, 2015

Give It Away

II Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comforts who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

Give it away....
Not based on a church program...
Or a method or plan that someone came up with that screams, "If you do this, then they will respond this way. If they respond a certain way, then you are to quote this verse."

What in heavens name ever happened to the idea that the Holy Spirit inside us might be able to instruct us when we need it.

What happens if our "method or plan" doesn't fit the individual that we are talking to. You do know that people are a diverse group and as such, maybe we need the leading of a diverse Spirit to give us what we need for that particular person we are talking to.

Bottom line....
I need to better myself at hearing God when I am approaching someone to help.
"Well, they need Jesus in their life."
Yes they do.
But what if they need Jesus in a specific way that would truly catch their hearts. What if the Holy Spirit spoke to you and gave you the words to say that would unlock their cold hearts to the truth?  What if the Holy Spirit allowed you to plant a seed that would come forth at a later time?

These are the things we need to consider when we understand that we are called to be a giving people.

Give what?
Whatever we have.
Our time...
Our talents...
Our money...
Give it all away for the Kingdom.

If we cannot see the value of people's lives, then we will never get this Kingdom thing right.
Our call is to allow God to work through us to bring comfort to those we come in contact with who are truly hurting. To help those who are looking for answers. The beautiful part in all of this is that I don't have to be the answer man. I just have to be available to let God work through me.

For the most part, allowing God to work through me involves a lot of me not knowing the right thing to say, or the right thing to do. 

Actually all it takes is a willingness on my part to be used.
Not going to lie...that is a scary place because we have been trained to have a ready response to whatever question is brought up when we approach people.
I refuse to operate that way.
If someone engages me and they come at me with a barrage of questions I can't answer, I always give them my best answers.

"I don't know. What do you think is the answer?"
"Beats me."
"Wish I knew."
Somehow society (not to mention...the church) has created a mindset that places all the burden on the believer. You should just know the answer.
Sorry, Charlie...
I do know someone who does know, and I'd like to introduce you to Him. I'm sure that you've heard of Him, but I'm not sure that you know the real person.....Jesus!

The world is looking for comfort in all the wrong places.
We are called to be the conduit through which real comfort can flow to those who are hurting.
Comfort that goes beyond reason.

"Having had a spiritual awakening, I seek to take this message to others, and to practice all these principals in my daily affairs."
Michael Bynum Translation: "Give it away!"

God on you

Friday, July 31, 2015

Thank You, Everyone

There will not be a "usual" posting today, here at the Greene Street Letters.
Peggy's Funeral will be this afternoon at 12th Street Baptist Church (Located on H'wy 77)
Visitation at 1 p.m. /  funeral at 2 p.m.
Thank you for your prayers and support for the family during this time.
God on you...

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Grace ---Nothing More To Say

II Corinthians 12:9
And He (God) said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast of my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

No theology lesson here today.
No broad strokes of intellect to paint a picture of who God is, and what He is capable of doing.
Just some truth.
There is more to "Grace" than we truly understand.
Grace is a force.
Grace is a power.
Grace is God at work in me.
Working in me, not from a distance, but hands-on.

The infinite one working in the psyche, the spirit, the soul of a "mud-man" created by His loving hand.
Trace my heritage back and you'll wind up in a garden, to a pile of dirt assembled by God in what would become the first human.

I always refer back to James Ryles definition of grace that has had such an impact on my life. He defines Grace as:
"The empowering presence of God in my life, that enables me to be who God created me to be, and to do all that God has called me to do."
The one thing I am so grateful for in this definition of grace is that it has an open ended feel to it. Much like a lot Scripture we read. Open ended in that it does not actually give a list of "things" to which Grace will cover. Grace enables me to be who God created me to be. That is open ended.

Notice that the first part of the Grace definition is about me "BEING". Existing. Living. My Purpose. It all falls under the presence and power of Grace at work in my life. In God's eyes "Being" is much more important than "Doing". How can I "Do" what God has called me to do unless I am that person He created to do it? We tend to get the cart before the horse. Somehow we think if we run around "Doing" a bunch of stuff, that somehow will create in us a divine identity and a stamp of approval from God Himself. Nope, doesn't work that way. I can do all manner of stuff for the Kingdom, and yet my heart can be dark with sin. That my friend, is called being religious, and the last time I checked (and I may be wrong about this) Jesus had a real problem with the religious folk last time He walked this planet.

Grace isn't just the presence of God...
But rather the empowering presence of God. What this means is that God uses His nature, His character, His power and authority when ever He comes to us. I can't even fathom a power so great that it has the capability to change the human heart. A power so vast that it can transform the human will and character, molding it into a new creature. Removing old ways and old thoughts and making every thing new with in the person. 

This is the kind of power needed to break free from the darkness of addiction.
It is our own dark will that directed our choices.

We willingly went into that prison and shut the door on ourselves.
With each high...
With each drink...

We place brick upon brick until we were walled in.
Shut off from the light of God, we thought this to be normal. We thought that everyone lived like this.
That is the power of a lie when it becomes truth to a twisted mind.
But then Grace...
Grace came...the empowering presence of God.
It started with one drop....a thought...a single thought...

Maybe nothing more than a faint thought of the name of Jesus....
So that thought moved from our heart to our mind, and from our mind it formed in our mouth.

Air from our lungs pushed up and the name of Jesus rolled off our tongues and became sound. With our own ears, we heard ourselves say, "Jesus! Help me."
Even though our dark hearts fought against us saying that name, it came forth. Why? Because the Grace of God is greater than any dark thought our heart may conceive. 

With this cry for help came more drops of God's grace.
We continued to cry out in spite of not seeing anything change.
The drops turned into a rain of God's Spirit.
The rain became a deluge greater than our human heart could hold.

In the midst of this heavenly downpour, we realize our need of God's grace.
The reality of Step #2 and Step #3 open the door as we turn will and live over to God. Life begins to from in us. Life, real life from God, and the prison we build with all our bad choices, cannot coexist. So the prison begins to be dismantled, brick by brick, until we stand bathed in the presence of this God who has freed us.

To some, what I have written this morning sounds like a fairy tale. A feel-good cliche'. But to us who have experienced the grace of God, it is a reality that will never be defeated by those who choose not to believe.

Grace is more than a prayer over supper.

It is more than the words on some poster.
Grace is a force.
Grace is a power.
Grace is God Himself.

God on you...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

She Won!

I Corinthians 15:54-55
So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, 
"Death is swallowed up in victory."
"Oh Death, where is your sting?"
"O Hades, where is your victory?"

I hate death...
I hate everything about it.
I hate everything it stands for.
But if not for God's unending mercy and His power and authority....death would win.
But isn't that just like God?
To take the very thing that came in with the fall of man in the garden, and turn it around on the very enemy that perpetrated it?
That God would take the very vehicle the devil uses so creatively, and use it for His own eternal purposes.

Jesus rode that vehicle.
From the cross to the tomb.
For three days, Jesus rode the finality of death.
But on the third day.....
He busted it wide open.
It was more than a stone being rolled back....
It was more than the first Easter....
It was a statement for all mankind, for all time that death had been defeated.
Now those in Chris would not escape death, but would be taken from it's purpose and placed over into God's purposes. Death would become the transition from life here to life with Him.

Yesterday, my sister-in-law, Peggy Parrish, made such a transition.
Sleep was hard to come by last night. We miss her so. 
The family gathered at our house last night.
We carried on the Southern tradition of sharing a meal in the middle of sharing our grief.
But with Jesus Christ in the mix, we shared hope.
We shared a belief that God is truly who He claims to be....
And He will do what He has promised He would do.....
In other words....we shared Hope!
There was laughter around the table as we looked over photo's from years past.
Memories spilled out like fine wine, and soothed our hurt and pain.
One of the things I have come to realize, is that I have been blessed to have married into a wonderful family whose ties go deeper than blood. 

Peggy was to have a procedure yesterday that would improve her health and ability to breath. This, in turn, would hopefully strengthen her and give her an even greater chance to receive new lungs through transplant.
It wasn't to be.
But the thing I am most grateful for is that she went into the procedure full of hope and laughter. Steve, her husband, shared with us that as they were moving her to the O.R., they both were cutting up and laughing. That was Peggy...always finding the bright spot in the darkest of times.

So while we will move through the coming days preparing for a funeral, I truly know that this gathering will be for the living. IF I know anything, Peggy will be embarrassed by all the attention that is being placed on her. She never was comfortable with being in the spotlight.

I find myself with all manner of question as I sit here typing this post.
"What is the first day in heaven like?"
"IS it everything we thought it would be?"
"What does Jesus' voice sound like?"
Then it suddenly came to me. I'm asking the questions......
But Peggy knows the truth.

God on you...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What A Day

Being a guitarist (and I use that term loosely....very loosely) I have always been drawn to others whose talent seems over top. In other words, those who know how to feel the music and let it flow through their fingers to the fret board. It isn't about how fast you are....how smooth your scales are....how impressive you can stand with your guitar, striking that guitar pose. It's about the music inside that is translated to the fret board of the instrument for everyone else to enjoy.A single note born from the heart to the instrument can have more impact that a riff that covers hundreds of notes. 

Phil Keaggy was a very, very bright light that I found when I came back to Jesus after an extended seven year stay in the wilderness. I remember the very first time I heard him. The album (remember those?) was HOW THE WEST WAS ONE....the song was WHAT A DAY. There at the end of that live recording I heard playing like I'd never heard before. Couple this with a man whose heart was for Jesus and I was hooked. I have followed Phil's music through the years. The trail led me to other musicians who also brought their heart to the music. Mark Heard, Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Second Chapter of Acts, Rany Matthews and the list goes on and on. 

The video I've posted is lengthy, and perhaps you can sit down at some point and let it minister to you.
God on you...