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 29, 2016
I Chronicles 5:20
....They cried out to God during the battle, and he answered their prayers because they trusted in Him.
The dark place of the heart and soul....
Forces of evil come against you and batter you until you have no strength left.
Those seemingly soothing voices whisper soft and low..."Give in....you know you want to."
"Give up...you can't win, and besides, you don't really want to win, do you?"
This is the truth for the life of all who are followers of Jesus.
You have an enemy (the devil.....Yes! Virginia, there is a devil) who seeks to destroy you.
To stop you from believing.
To discourage you and create such doubt and fear within that you simply give up.
Two things I truly like about the verse above.
1.) They cried out to God......
a.) It wasn't a mental exercise. It wasn't something they simply thought about, it was a reality. It was a voice that wells up from within and explodes into the heavens. Very simple....prayers go up...answers come down. You know....what goes up must come down.
b.) The said "Crying out" took place during the battle. IT is at the point of realization that you, in your own strength, cunning intellect, and ability cannot win, that you cry out to God. Truth be known, the crying out part should take place before the battle actually begins, but sometimes we find ourselves caught up in a spiritual conflict before we even realize that is what is taking place. No matter.....Cry out to God!!!
2.) The Trust factor:
a.) God answered their prayers because they trusted Him. The literally believed that God was who He claimed to be and would do what He claimed He would do. Trust........cling to..........rely on........believe in......they trusted God and He answered their prayers. We read the truth about this relationship with Jesus we have been called to in John 15:5
"Yes, I am THE vine and are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing.
Did you catch that? The Holy Spirit living in me......Me allowing the Holy Spirit to not only work on my character, but actually instruct me in my daily decision making is the key. Jesus goes on to say...."Apart from me you can do nothing."
You can't get more clearer than that, can you? I think not.
Do my prayers echo my trust in God?
Or are they simply desperate cries to get His attention and hope that He intervenes in my "battle?" I want to trust him more with each passing day and the only way this is going to happen is to trust him with my life. My heart knows that He is trustworthy, but my head tells me different..."What if God doesn't come through this time? What if he leaves you high and dry?"
That is why Proverbs 3:5-6 is so important to me:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways and He will make your path straight.
This is life changing truth. It takes our focus off of our own ability and intellect and places it solely on Jesus. All part of learning to follow Him and not our own way, desires and talents.
Think on these things....
God on you.....
Thursday, July 28, 2016
It's been one year since you died...
365 days of "first's".
First Thanksgiving without you...
First Christmas without you....
Family Birthday's that you weren't there to attend....
A year without you.
I don't know who said "Time heals all wounds", but they missed it by a country mile.
Time doesn't heal anything....
It merely becomes a measurement from the event that brought the grief and pain.
Time is an opportunity to learn to cope with the pain of loss.
Time just puts distance from the event, that's all.
So as we move through the day.....
As we take care of whatever business God may lay on plate....
We have hope.....
We have a promise from the one who does not, nor cannot lie.
That where He is, we shall be also.
You know, too be honest with you, I don't see how families deal with the death of a loved one, if they don't know my Jesus.
In such a place, there exists no hope...
I will not choose to dwell in such a place.
If anything, Peggy, we have been made aware of the place you held in our family.
The things that we took for granted that you always did.
I could count each year on getting a birthday card from you....
Not only me, but every one of your brothers, sister and sisters in law....nieces and nephews....all got cards. Not a big thing, but it was who you are. You loved family.
Because you and Vicki worked together for 30+ years, you were around our sons the entire time they were growing up. You are more than just an aunt to them...you were like a second mother. You were able to transfer those same feelings over to Tyler and Ashley when they were born. I am so thankful that you were around to see my sons grow into the men they are today.
I guess I could go on and on, but I will stop.
So here this morning, July 28th, I will spend the day in memories.
Memories of the day you died.....
But more than that memories of the life you lived.
We are richer because of knowing you.
Know that you are loved....
Know that you are missed....
And we will see you shortly.....
we love you.....
My Thoughts On Death:
The vacuum that death brings to a family is painful..
We are overwhelmed with grief, sorrow and sadness..
The only thing that heals those raw, exposed wounds of grief is hope....
But not the kind of hope the world offers.
What brings relief in the middle of this vacuum is knowing the One who holds life in His hands....
That the life He brings to us is not measured in days, weeks or months...
His hope stands outside of time...
His hope is greater than anything this world could ever dream up.
His hope is found in His love for us.
Jesus sees death differently than you and I do...Amid all the verses and chapters in the Bible is one verse that opens the door to how He views death.
The LORD cares deeply when His loved (saints) ones die.
Such care and love is spilled out on our side of eternity.
Yes, I hurt for my wife who gets up every morning without her sister being here.
But the hurt I feel, and the hurt she feels is tempered by the simple fact that because of our salvation we shall see Peggy again at some point in the future.
That is a promise.
God on you...
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
I Corinthians 6:20
For God bought you with a high price........
I've been writing a daily journal since July of 1991. Yesterday, while going through these journals, I came across a dream I had back in 1999. I had forgotten it, but as I read through the entry, it all came back with great clarity.
In the dream, I am in a room that is dark.....a stage is at the front of the room and it is well lit. I am standing at the back, and all I can make out are the silhouettes of those in front of me. A man steps to the stage and I am suddenly aware that this is an auction. A young girl is escorted from off stage into the bright lights. She is in shackles and chains and is crying. The more she cries, the more excited those in the room become because those in that room were demons. The master of ceremonies reads the particulars of this young girl and she is forced to move back and forth on stage so those in the room can get a good look at her.....then the bidding starts.....
The auctioneer yells at the top of his lungs...."What is your bid for this young thing?" The bidding starts, but seems to be focused between two of the demons....One called "Prostitution" and the other "Human trafficking". Each one desires the soul of this young girl and the bidding continues at a furious pace.....going higher and higher with each bid by the demons. The young girl has now collapsed to the stage, and has given up. There are taunts and accusations from the crowd directed toward this young girl. The bidding goes higher and higher. The young girl fully understands that there isn't any way she could ever buy her freedom....that her future is bound in the hands of these dark spirits.
I keep wondering why doesn't someone do something to save her.
I felt a hand on my shoulder, and a voice says, "Why don't you bid?" Before I can turn around, I answered, "I have no money!" As I turn, I see an outline but cannot make out the face of the one who spoke to me....
"Make a bid."
"I have no money."
"You have something far greater than money," the voice said to me.
"Stretch out your hand and open it."
As I did, the voice held his hand over mine. I felt something drop into my palm, and straining to see what it was, I was surprised.
It was a single drop of blood.....
He instructed me to go forward and place my bid.....
"A drop of blood?" I thought to myself....this is crazy. They are not going to take this as currency, and they certainly aren't going to let her go....
The voice insisted that I carry through with the bidding of the single drop of blood.
So I began to make my way through the crowd, to the front.
I cried out...."I want to make a bid?"
The attention in the room turned to me. The auctioneer sneered and said, "What is your bid, my uninformed friend?"
"This," I said, as I opened my palm.
There was a collective gasp as the room grew silent....
Cries of "No fair" and "This isn't right" began to grow, but I stood my ground.
I approached the stage to where the young girl lay sobbing.
I asked, "Do you want to be free?"
Through her tears, she whispered......"Yes."
I held out my palm over the her, and as the blood fell from my hand to the shackles and chains that held her, they fell away.
I needed to remember this dream.
I needed to remember the power that the blood of Christ has over sin, darkness, evil and the purveyor of all of this...the devil.
The blood has not lost power....
It hasn't lost purpose....
And it stands today as the only thing that has power over sin, hell, death and the grave.
And they have defeated him (the devil) by the BLOOD OF THE LAMB, and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.
Maybe we need to remember what Jesus has entrusted us with to war against the Kingdom of darkness.
Maybe we need to remember that we have been given authority (AND POWER) to come against all sin in the name of Jesus.
Maybe we, as followers of Christ, need to remember that we are covered by this blood as we move daily through this world.
Because when you boil it all down....
It's about Jesus....
And the blood....
Need I say more?
God on you....
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels (sinners), and they will return to you.
The work of God always begins with us....
If we aren't brought into the kingdom work of change in our own personal lives...then how can we tell our story to others. In fact, we don't even have a story. Maybe that is why the very last step of the Twelve Steps is the "going out to share the message with others" step.
Step #1-3 ---have peace with God
Step #4-11...have peace with myself
Step #12----Give it away.
I love the verses from Psalm 51...(correction) I love the entire chapter. King David has been uncovered because of his affair with Bathsheba. Not only that, but David had her husband killed so he could have Bathsheba for himself.
David turns back to God.....and there in the pain, embarrassment, the guilt, and the other emotional baggage that comes with being uncovered....David confesses, repents and turns back to God. But it is the way he phrased his return that always gets me.
Restore unto me the joy of Your salvation!
A complete understanding that God is the one, and the only one, who can make us right before His presence. God is the only one who can cancel sin and raise us back up to a place where we are filled with Joy. From this place of restoration, we can begin to share our story with others.
yesterday was a kind of hallmark day for me. I drove out to Rapha for the Monday Bible study, and was in my office getting my things together, when a thought floated through my brain. Wasn't a big thought, only took a millisecond to make the trip. But it did catch my attention. "Have your class in the chapel". Huh? Have class in the chapel? But I don't like the chapel since it was gutted by the owners. It just wasn't the same as it was when we had church there on the compound on Saturday nights. "Have your class in the chapel". I walked over to the chapel, opened the door and stepped inside. It felt sterile and it echoed when you walked through the room. As I moved to the front of the room, I was flooded with memories....then God spoke. "You have memories of all the things that took place in this room....the salvation's...the teachings....the deliverance's......but did you notice you don't have any memories just about the building." He was right, I didn't. So basically what came next was a big ol' "Get over yourself, and be about my business." In fact, I came to realize that part of my hesitancy about being in the room had no basis for fact at all. It was a room. Granted a room where we saw God do a lot of cool stuff, but a room none the less.
So, yesterday, we had Bible study in the chapel at Rapha.
It was the first time I had taught a class in the chapel in over 17 months. Do you know what was wild? At the end of the class, when I began to pray over the ones who had attended, God came in power. We saw the beginning of a healing that came to one of the men. May not seem big to some, but it was confirmation that I was in the right place, doing what God wanted to be done at that time.
I guess from now on, I'll be having my Bible studies in the chapel.
Who knows what God is doing in this old/new room.
But I'm anxious to see and experience His goodness and grace.
God on you....
Monday, July 25, 2016
How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony.
During worship practice Saturday, before VRC cranked up, I received a phone call. A phone call to let me know that Bruce Bolds had died. I'm never very good at hearing such news, but this particular one really shook me. I had talked with Bruce before we went on our family vacation, and he was upbeat as usual. We shared prayer needs with each other, as well as a few memories. . You see, Bruce and I have a history that goes back to my time at Rapha. Even now, picturing Bruce in my mind, all I see is smiles.....big toothy grin.....and that accent. As Southern as I talk, Bruce never really escaped his Northern sound. We were as different as night and used tires (don't ask me where that example came from), but there was just something about this guy that you just couldn't help but love him. He was boisterous, loud, but also had a gentle side.
Bruce was on a journey to shake off his addiction and find real life. He'd done enough time in the darkness that comes with addiction. It was a hard road for him, but he kept pluggin' away. I think maybe this is what the Bible means when (in the book of Revelation) it speaks of "Overcoming". To me overcoming means to not give up....to keep following and chasing Jesus in spite of the falls and tumbles that throw you into the ditch. You don't stay there, you pull yourself out, confess, receive God's forgiveness and get back on the road. This was Bruce.
Bruce and I stayed in touch over the years, especially after he landed in Alabaster. He would message me on Facebook, as well as call me early in the morning. Bruce knew that I was an early riser, so he would call to talk about things he was learning as he studied scripture. He was an inquisitive soul, and was like a sponge. Invariably, Bruce would call me every few months asking for a stack of the "DECLARATION" cards we used at Rapha.
"Bro. Mike, can you send me a stack? I'm giving them out to others who seem to be struggling with their identity." That was Bruce. He seemed to be the unspoken pastor of the home he was living in. Always reaching out to others with the love of God.
Going back to the conversation he and I had before our vacation, I told Bruce that I was going to make my way down to Alabaster for a visit, and that we would go out for lunch. Life seemed to have gotten in the way, and I kept thinking "I've got to get down there." When the phone call came about Bruce's death, all I could think of was not having made that visit a priority. This will stay with me.
Well, if I could say anything to Bruce it would be...."Man, you made it. You have beat the very thing that tried to kill you and steal your life. Now go rest. I'll see you soon."
Life is all about learning HOW to live.....
Life is also all about learning how to die.....
I am a richer man for having known Bruce Bolds.
He taught me more about the art of learning how to be content in Christ than anyone I know.
I never heard Bruce complain or whine about his lot in life.
He was always grateful and thankful.
This I will take for myself and move forward in my journey.
I will miss you, my brother.
God on you....