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, July 25, 2014

God And The Doctor: 1 ----- The Devil and Oxy's - 0

A story of divine encounter for your approval::
Young man shared his encounter with me last night at our Big Book study at Rapha.
This particular individual had to go to a "Doc-in-a-box" because of an injury he received before coming to treatment. Sitting in the waiting room, there were posters all over the walls for different types of drugs, some of which use to be this young man's drug of choice. The walls were screaming  "LORTAB'S" and "OXY's". Trying not to look at the poster's, he tried thinking about other things, but he kept returning to the 36" by 36" full color, glossy temptation that seem to grow large with each passing moment.

 "What if the doctor gives me a script for oxy's? What'll I do?" He rationalized that it had to be an o.k. thing because after all, it's a doctor who is writing the script." This was countered with "don't do it! You've come to far." The nurse stepped to the window and called his name. He got up and made his way to the exam room.

The doctor came in and small talk ensued. He examined the injury and suddenly asked the young man about the bracelet he was wearing. It was a Vineyard Recovery Church bracelet which has Ps. 107:20 written on it. The young man told him about VRC and what all went on. The doctor then asked "What does the scripture say?" The young man said "He (God) sent His word and healed them and delivered them from their destruction." The doctor lets out a "Yeah!"...."That's what I'm talking about....Amen! You know that He is! He is the Healer! Yeah, that's what I'm talking about!" All of this kind of caught the young man by surprise. The doctor became more animated..."The healer...The Great Physician! You know what..we're going to pray divine antibiotics down on this leg! Yeah! yeah! We're going to pray that God would just heal this leg." Now the Doctor was up and moving....God was in the room. The doctor's voice got louder and louder...."We believe in medicine...we believe in doctor's and hospital's...but we rest on the One and Only God who brings healing! Yeah...Yeah...that's it!" 

The young man said every thought he'd struggled with about using was suddenly gone. There was a peace and joy that seemed to flood the room where the two of them were. Prayer ensued for the leg and the presence of God grew even stronger in that room. By the time it was over, the young man was, in his own words, "Intoxicated with the presence of Jesus".  He walked out a lot higher than when he entered. 

All of a sudden, for one young man struggling with his addiction, God came and blew the doors off and drove out the temptation and replaced it with incredible joy. Using, of all things, a small, rubber bracelet with a scripture on it. Never under estimate the power of the Word of God.

God on you....


Thursday, July 24, 2014

He Isn't The Grim Reaper or Casper the Friendly Ghost

John 16:13-14
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.

John 14:15-17
If you love Me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father and He will give you another Helper that He may abide with you forever. The Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He dwells with you, and will be in you. 

The Spirit of God.....
The Holy Ghost.....
The Holy Spirit.....

Why all this attention? Why focus on Him. Oh yeah, by the way...The Holy Spirit of God is a "HE".....not an "It"..
Some how along the way, we don't think much about Him.
I've been accused of worshiping the Holy Spirit and forsaking Jesus altogether. That I spend way too much time talking about Holy Spirit and have bumped Jesus from His rightful place in the church. Well, nothing could be further from the truth than such a statement.

The Holy Spirit, given to us by God, is the great connector between heaven and earth. He is the communicator given to us by God that speaks to us from the Father's heart. He is power....He is the grace enabler. He is truth beyond any truth we may know. He is the great convictor that uncovers not just my actions, but the motives and intent behind my actions. He is the healer, the comforter. He is the Spirit of God living in each follower of Jesus.

Scripture tells us that He will reveal things to come. We don't really believe that, but it's true. He is our teacher, yet we run to the bookstore for the latest, greatest book in hopes of learning something new. Maybe it would serve us well to spend time alone so that God can teach us through His Holy Spirit. He is the voice of God in us. When God speaks to our spirit, It comes through His Spirit. That is why we can receive what some refer to as "words of knowledge".....or, as we like to refer to it in the Vineyard as "reading someones mail.". My wife hears way better than me when the Holy Spirit is working during ministry to someone. I remember one time that Vicki was talking with a woman. Vicki knew that this woman was struggling and having a hard time coping with issues and life. During the conversation, the Holy Spirit revealed to Vicki that this woman had been sexually abused by a close relative. With great love and tenderness, Vicki asked her, "You've been sexually abused by someone you trusted in your family, haven't you? That opened the door for healing to come to this woman. Such is the work of God's Holy Spirit in each of us who claim to be a follower of Jesus.

Romans 8:26
Likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning's which cannot be uttered. 
The Spirit gives language to the pain of the heart.
The Spirit prays for us and conveys to the Father, through Christ, our condition and state of being. The Father receives from the Son, who also is praying....and from this three way conversation, executes His will to us. 

As Keith Green proclaimed about God's Holy Spirit, referencing Acts Chapter 2...
Rushing Wind blow through this temple...
Blowing out the dust within....

Daily cleanse me by Your Spirit....
For I've been born again.....

Worship God.....
Give Glory to the Son.......

And allow the Spirit to not just occupy, but live within you!

Here is Keith and this incredible song......"Rushing Wind".

God on you....

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Loving Rant If You Will Bear With Me!

Wimber on the value of relationships:
"The vertical relationship with God has its outworking in horizontal relationships of love between people. (I John 4:19-21). Christianity is not a system of religion. It is a way of life, a way of relating in love to God, people and the environment that God has placed them in.

The church in America has taken a wrong turn somewhere along the way. I don't want to come across as being some kind of religious judge, nor do I wish to simply act as though every thing is peachy-keen. I simply want to say what God has placed on my heart.

Too much effort, time and money is being poured into the structure of the church, with no thought to the life of the church. People are asked to tithe more and more...give more and more....to prop up the structure. John use to say that you have only two types of churches. (1) life in search of structure, and (2) structure in search of life. I fear that more and more are falling into the #2 category. I spoke with someone recently whose heart was breaking. Their church had divided and there was a lot of division and factions speaking against each other. This person was upset and you could tell that they were wounded deeply by all the bickering. "We only have about 75 people coming on Sunday." This statement was couched with the emotion that "Our church isn't very valuable because we don't have a lot of people coming." I asked them, "Which had you rather have----75 people who fall in love with Jesus and are sold out to doing the stuff of the Kingdom.....or 500 who simply come and never fully participate in the kingdom work?" 
I'll take the 75. 

 I've said this before, but I don't know that people really believe it, or they just don't hear it. The success of any church....any movement or denomination is not measured by the bank account and the number that attend each week. The success is measured by the quality of people produced by that church. Do they love Jesus? Are they about the business of the Kingdom when they aren't at church? Are they motivated by love to reach out to those around them? That is the measure. Do they know how to worship? Do they know how to worship corporately in community with others....and by themselves? Do they realize that their first and most high calling to God is to worship Him? Do they fully grasp the concept and directive from Jesus that they are not to be about the business of making converts, but rather making disciples? Such is what a successful church does. The true measurement of any church is the character of the people, and the fact that they are ministering every day where ever they may be. Praying for people, feeding people...reaching out to people. Not in an effort to enfold them into their church, but simply because that is what our Father expects of us. We do the Kingdom work because we have been called. And you know what? We do without a committee. We do it even when the pastor isn't around. We don't wait for the deacons or elders to give us the green light. Do you get it? We serve and minister because that is what we have been called to do. 

On the surface, if you look at VRC, you would feel very sorry for it.
Attendance wise, we probably have anywhere from 30 to 50.
But within those 30 to 50, we have 10 who are committed to learn how to serve and "do the kingdom work". More than this, you have to take in consideration those who are tied to VRC  who don't even live in this state. Daily they come to this blog page to receive a word from God.....an encouragement to keep on and not give up.....

Not to mention those who call me on a regular basis to let me know their status and to share their God encounters with me. God has raised up others to start recovery meetings as a result of our work in recovery. I guess some people are able to raise up those who go out and plant churches. We are about the business of planting meetings where the name of Jesus is lifted up as the answer to addiction.
And one last thing....
That 30 to 50 who come to VRC...........it is a constant roll over so it's never the same ones.
Our goal as a church?
Love 'em to death and influence them to really take a look at who Jesus is and the mission that every believer is called to participate in. That mission burns on our hearts, not because we have to do it......but because we want to!

Love those who come and reveal Jesus to them. Not the church Jesus.....Not the denomination Jesus...but the real-deal Jesus of the Bible.

Wimber taught us that who worship is the most important thing there is.
You may be thinking, "Well duh! We worship Jesus."
Do we? Does everyone who nails the word church to their sign really worship the triune God?
Here's how I see it.

Some worship God the Father, God the Son......and God the Holy Church. Here we have an over emphasis of the church as the only real frame of reference to knowing God. The end result is traditionalism.

Then you have some who worship God the Father, God the Son,  God the Holy Bible. Exalting the word of God above the Spirit of God. This results in legalism and fundamentalism (ideology).

Some groups worship God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Experience. Seeking the supernatural and the spiritual gifts as an end in itself. This results in sensationalism. Also leads to a sense of elitism as though those who receive such are living this relationship with Christ on a higher level than the average believer.

Others worship God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ministry. The ministry and mission of the church becomes the only and all-consuming reason for its existence. The results are that the people are driven to measure everything by performance.

Last but not least....
The One I strive for as pastor of VRC....
To worship God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.

Receiving and honoring the Spirit of God by giving Him His correct place within the church. Doing so results in the incarnation, the presence, power and freedom of the Father and the Son.
Jesus said, "I and my Father will come and dwell in you."  (John 14:23).
Is VRC the perfect church with perfect people? Heaven's no. We are a busted up, messed up group of folk's who are simply learning a new way to live according to our Father in heaven.
But we are about the business of change. Why? Because we have done time on the dark side and now we are free. 
God on you this day...

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Purpose Not Porpoise

You mean I was created for something else besides breathing this air, eating this food, and taking up space here on planet Earth?
Here it comes...
It sounds like it's going to be something spiritual or religious.

The One who created me has a purpose for my existence.
I knew it.
I knew there was a catch to the whole "live my life" thing.
I don't get a say in what my purpose is, do I?
Of course you do.
You can say "yes"
You can say "no".
But you do have a say in the whole matter.

Sounds to me like there's only one way that this thing will turn out right and that is if I say "yes".
Well, what's wrong with that? 
If the purpose is for your good.
If the purpose promotes a betterment to your life --- mentally, physically and spiritually---then why wouldn't you want to embrace this purpose? I think maybe the answer is "You would want to."

Our first, and highest purpose is very simple.
We were created for fellowship with God.

Under such a creation, we were created to worship Him.
Worship with our heart and lips as we proclaim His goodness.
Worship with our thoughts as we meditate on His Word.
Worship with our very lives, as we do everything as worship unto God.
What falls under "Every thing?"

Every thing!

I think our existence here on this planet is truly about living for Him.
Living in a relationship. Two way communication between me and God.
I talk to Him....He talks to me.

I share what is on my heart and He, in turn, shares what is on His.
I want to please Him in everything I do....
He wants to bless me in everything He does...

It is such a monumental way to live, that you want to tell someone else what is going on in your life.
So you do.
You share your story.
Actually you share His story that is being played out in your life.
You become a witness to the simple fact that God's purpose and your life have become one and the same.

In some ways, you are an extension of God's plan being played out in our time and space.
You become a living example of the love that God has for this world and those who inhabit it.

You become a living Bible, if you will.
Pretty heady stuff, isn't it?

I was studying for a teaching that I had to do when I ran across a verse that kind of jumped off the page at me.
The words were spoken by Jesus on the night before He was crucified, but I when I read them, I felt them deep inside.
They were more than words....
It was as if they were to be the punctuation that should define every believer's life.
Something that should be said at the end of every believer's days here on planet Earth.

To me, the words would exalt the call and purpose to a life lived for Him.
John 17:4
"I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do."
That is how I want to be remembered. A man who brought glory to God while he lived here during his lifetime. A person who finished what God had given Him to do. What better way to tie up the loose ends of life that with this statement?

God on you this day!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Lifter Of Head's

My message was finished....
I felt God on it and was quiet confident that this was the word God wanted me to speak.
I made my way to North Glencoe to their Celebrate Recovery, and took my seat.

Before I was to go on, Seth Barber had this video played of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
I'm usually not much of a choir person, but tonight something happened.
Realizing who was singing this song, I was totally taken by surprise as God told me that "my" word was of no use, He was going to give me another.
You may ask "what do you mean that you suddenly realized who was singing this song?" Well, Brooklyn Tabernacle is famous for going into the streets and rescuing people. Drug addicts........alcoholics......prostitutes........ex-cons and felons........those people who some would classify as the refuse of humanity.

As I watched the video and the camera scanned the faces of the choir, a thought crossed my mind. "You can't tell which ones were those that had been rescued from the streets by this church, and which ones weren't." They all looked the same.......Here they were singing about a God who had lifted their heads from the place of destruction...lifted their very lives out of the gutter and brought them into His family. It was praise in its purest form. Praise from heart's that were grateful.
The choir was all dressed alike. The women in gold colored dresses, and the men in tuxedo's.  Here again this speaks of the righteousness of God that covers His children.

What an incredible God that can take the worst of the world and transform it into the best of His kingdom. What an incredible God that has a heart to love beyond our comprehension. A heart that sees beyond the trash of sin and a heart of darkness. A God who is not taken aback by sin and its destruction, but reaches out to embrace and enfold the very ones that the world rejects.
That's my God!

I trust that you will take a moment and watch the video. More than watch it, let it wash over you with the message. Think back on how your own life might be at this point had God not intervened.

God on you...