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, May 22, 2017

A Lesser Known Truth





 "When doubts come, meet them not with arguments, but with assertions of faith. All doubts are an attack of the enemy; the Holy spirit never suggests them--never. He is the Comforter, not the Accuser; and He never shows us our need without at the same time revealing the Divine supply." - Hannah Whitall Smith

"No soul can be really at rest until it has given up all dependence on everything else and has been forced to depend on the Lord alone. As long as our expectation is from other things, nothing but disappointment awaits us."- Hannah Whitall Smith

Treasure.....
Just lying there among the books....
Self-help....
Home improvement....
Fiction....
Non-fiction...
Book upon book just lying there.
Not a book store, it is a thrift store.
The last stop for a lot of items before they are cast upon the garbage heap.
For whatever reason, their owners have given them up. Maybe no longer useful, or have no need for them, these items are given to a thrift store in hopes that others may find value and use.


I confess that I bought the book because of the title.
I also bought it with the wrong intent.
The book itself is old looking...pages yellowed. The font used on the cover was ancient and out of style. I even smiled when I read the title....."The Christian's Secret Of A Happy Life". Happy? Why everyone knows that God never promised us happiness. I have spoken this on several occasions. Joy? Yes, the joy of the Lord, but never happiness. 


I confessed that I bought the book to read what someone wrote years ago. First surprise....the book was printed in 1952......but the book was written in 1870. O.k....so what would cause someone from 1870 to write such a book? And would what the author wrote be relevant and still speak to my time and society? 
As I began to read the foreword I got a glimpse into the life and purpose of the book written by Hannah Whitall Smith.

The following is taken from the intro to the book:
"She writes here, not for spiritual genius, not for the world-forsaking saint, but for those who are in the world and of it, for the great little ones who long for God as they struggle for bread. She writes in their language---plainly; the confusing theological speech of the scholar is not here; the secret is revealed in countless illustrations from the common walk of life. It is as simple and understandable as the language of Jesus Christ."

One of my favorite passages is found on the first page:
A keen observer once said to me, "You Christians seem to have a religion that makes you miserable. You are like a man with a headache. he does not want to get rid of his head, but it hurts him to keep it. You cannot expect outsiders to seek very earnestly for anything so uncomfortable." 

What I share this morning, I do so from my own personal perspective.
There is a message that runs in my mind, my heart and my spirit continually. I know that this message is not unique to me. I am but one who hears it. What message? That what passes for the Gospel today might just not be the real deal. It has  been slicked up and made shiny and appealing to those who stand outside the will and relationship with Christ. We dare not teach the cross and the blood of Christ for fear of offending others. We cannot teach that there is suffering in the denial of self in order to take up this cross. At the same time, we are afraid to say anything about the unspeakable joy that comes in the darkest of times. Joy that is born in this relationship between us and a God who has reached out to offer us the ultimate gift. The church is delivering "Carnival food" which has no nutritional value, to a starving people who need real nourishment. 

This message that I hear has many different voices.....Ravenhill, Tozer, Havner, Evans, Moody, Etter, Pickett, Bonhoeffer, Campbell. Each one carrying a passion for the truth of Jesus to be shared. So for me to purchase this book written by Hannah Whitall Smith only added one more to the chorus that burns in me. 


In the book, she writes...The greatest burden we have to carry in this life is "Self". The most difficult thing we have to manage is "Self". Only the saving power of God and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit can lift us out of this age old struggle with self. And example of this struggle to surrender self is found on page 39 of her book...It is much less difficult for us to commit the keeping of our future to the Lord, that it is to commit our "present". We know that we are helpless when it comes to our future, but we feel as though the present is in our own hands and must be carried on our own shoulders. To commit this surrender of self to God means that we learn to rest in Him. Let your soul lie down upon the couch of His sweet will---relax every strain, and lay off every burden. Let yourself go in a perfect abandonment of ease and comfort of being assured of the simple fact that He holds you up, and your are perfectly safe---your part is simply to rest. His part is to sustain you. He cannot fail.

I want to learn to simply follow...
I want to abandon myself to complete surrender of my will so I can embrace His will.
I want to share with others the real, life changing news that sin has been defeated.
The power of sin has been broken...
The penalty of sin has been paid for....
The presence of sin is daily being kept at bay by the Holy Spirit that lives within me.

This is the life that is lived in Him.
Maybe........just maybe there is a happiness in coming to an understanding that such a life is possible on this side of heaven.


Thanks for letting me share....
God on you...

mbb

Friday, May 19, 2017

Thoughts....Circles...And Detours


3:14 a.m.
Sitting here at my computer with thoughts running through my brain.
Oh, they aren't the kind of thoughts that you might go "Eureka!" with, but I'll own them just the same. "Thoughts?" you may say. Yep, thoughts. Let me give you some for-instances about the train that goes through my head.


#1 -  Reading from Exodus yesterday...this morning I keep thinking "Don't make the trip to the wilderness last nay longer than it should." Because of Israel's stubbornness, what should have been an 11 day journey turned into a 40 year wandering. How much of my own life has been a wandering because of my refusal to follow God? How much of the things my family has had to go through has been because of my own personal stubbornness? 

#2 - This call that we have received to follow Jesus is more than my life being divinely arranged by Him so that I spend my days in comfort. In other words, if comfort is my goal, I've missed the point. The call to follow Jesus into learning a new way to live is also a call to warfare. We have an enemy. We have an enemy whose soul purpose is to either stop us from following, or slow us down in our following of Jesus. He uses deception, and the idea that he can frustrate us through throwing up roadblocks in our daily walk that we have to deal with. Those roadblocks sometimes involves others who have become tools to be used by the devil to keep us from moving forward. 

#3 - Just because we refuse to engage in this warfare....or, even worse, believe that it doesn't exist, does not make it any less real.

#4 - I read in Ezra 9:2 where many of the people of Israel, and even some of the priests and Levites did not keep themselves separate from the other people living nearby. In other words...we had some folks who had a position and call upon their lives from God, but chose, because of their relationship with these other folks, to take up what Ezra refers to as "the detestable practices" of their worship. In other words, you can't lay claim to being a follower of Jesus, and live like the world. Or as Romans 12:2 reads..."You can't be conformed to the patterns of the world." Look like...smell like...walk like...talk like what the world defines as being okey-dokey and all-righty. 

#5 - Being Holy is something you are because of the Holy Spirit at work in you. Holiness is not a set of rules. Holiness is not a list of don't's. If I boil the Holiness of God into a list of rules, I've missed the point. I'm trying to conform my outward behavior without changing my inward beliefs. I may be totally off base here, but I truly believe that all outward behavior is governed by a person's world view. In other words, our behavior is evidence of what we truly believe. 

#6 - I do not see myself as others do. Some will come forward and tell what a great teacher I am. Some will tell me that I am a godly man. While I appreciate such, I know the real Michael Bynum better than anyone except for my wife and God. I know that the real Michael Bynum is one step away from, given the right situation and/or circumstance, like Peter would deny Christ. I know that such still dwells inside me. And it is for this reason that I chase Jesus even harder. It is for that very reason that I keep my focus and purpose fixed on Him. I know this may sound crazy but secretly one of my most favorite verses is Romans 7:24. I love it because of the honesty that Paul reveals in his own heart. Paul, the Christian of Christians....says, "O wretched man that I am!" Isn't that amazing that this man we hold in such high regard...this man who penned the most of the books of the New Testament...this man who was knocked from his horse during his first encounter with Jesus, calls himself "Wretched". Now there is a man I want to hang out with. Someone who is honest and transparent in his own view of himself. 

Well, I think maybe that is enough of my thoughts for today. The coffee has finished and I believe there is a cup with my name on it.
If your free tomorrow night, come and join us @ Vineyard ReCovery. meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Until next time...
God on you...

mbb

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Obey? Or Sacrifice?



"We can never be fully healed until we are broken before God. There, with all our pieces scattered every where, He can put us back together and bring the healing we so desperately need."............mb


Psalm 51:16-17
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it. You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
The sacrifices of God are (1.) A broken spirit  (2) a broken and contrite heart. O God, you will not despise.


I spent a great deal of time in these verses yesterday. 
If you are familiar with Keith Green, you know that one of his songs is titled To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice. The truth of that song is that God truly does receive the acknowledgement of "I give up" quicker than he does the deeds of a person who is not ready to submit.To obey comes from a place where we surrender each day (Luke 9:23) and follow, or live by, the Spirit of God that lives in us. It isn't about doing for God as much as it is "being" for God. Letting God change me as I submit to His desire for me and the life He has called me to. Obedience is where the "death" of self runs into the "will" of God. At this point the will of God wins. Here and only here can we truly begin to experience real life. 

Reckon how many fill the pews and chairs of church each week, singing at the top of their lungs. Giving when the offering plate is passed...and signing up for every church function there is, but yet have never come to the point of being broken before the Lord.

Being broken is not a place of pleasure, but a place of release. Having the things, behaviors and attitudes that are all contrary to God and His will, poured out for you to see. All placed under the pure, piercing presence of God himself. You are suddenly aware of how sinful you are, and how Holy God is.

King David also wrote in Psalm 51, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only have i sinned and done what is evil in your sight..." These are the words of a man who has just committed adultery with another man's wife. These aren't flowery words meant to move us emotionally. They are the open wounds of someone who is painfully aware of who he truly is and what he is truly capable of doing. It is from this place that we can receive healing and restoration.

Praise God that He doesn't leave us in such places but takes our brokenness and restores us. Makes us new and fills us with His Holy Spirit. That is the promise of God! Don't allow the devil to steal your joy today by keeping you from being broken. Brokenness is but a season.....Healing from God is forever.
What a Savior we have! 

God on you.....
mb

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Living Stones



The church of the Living God is not a structure (we know that).
It isn't a building (we know that)...
The church of the Living God isn't a denomination (we should know that).
It is a structure of stones....living stones....placed one by one...each touching the stone that is on either side....each touching the stones that are above it and below it, as they are placed in their proper order. We are those living stones.

I Peter 2:5
And you are living stones that God is building into His spiritual temple.

We are connected to each other in this building that God is erecting. We may not have thought of church in this manner. What we call "church" today is a structure that seeks to find life....
The church of the Living God is life that seeks to find structure....
There are stones that make up this church that God is building that are from ages past. Stones that have weathered storm and assault by outside forces. They show the signs of the struggle, but they hold firm because they have been through the fire.

There are stones that are from our own past. Stones that gave us life and showed us the way to real truth. Stones that made a place for us to occupy, and kept us safe until we were strong and ready to take our rightful place in this church. To these stones we should give honor an respect.

And if we look closely at the structure, we'll see that there are places yet to be filled. Such are for the stones yet to be placed. Who will be found in such places because we did the Kingdom work? Who will be included in this vast structure of living stone because we spent time on our faces before our Father, crying out for their salvation? Our mission is to tell these stones who have yet to be placed in His church,  the wonderful news that they no longer have to be a slave to sin.

This church made up of living stones is not bound by man-made theology. It derives its life and breath from the work of the Holy Spirit, which is the mortar that binds each stone to one another. Take away the mortar and the building collapses. These living stones are more focused on serving than receiving, for they know and trust God that He will meet their needs. 

The church of living stones is not easily swayed by emotion, feelings, or the latest religious fad. They are firmly in the hands of their Father, and they look only to Him for guidance and direction. These stones do not pass on the Kingdom Call to others, but seek to find their own call in Christ. Once found and realized, these living stones expend themselves in carrying out the Kingdom will of God here on earth (Matthew 6:10).


Adam Clarke explained how God's work in building His Church gives credence to who He is, and what He has promised He would do. We should praise God for His glorious Church.
There is nothing as noble as the Church, seeing that it is the temple of God.

There is nothing so worthy of reverence, seeing God that dwells in it.

There is nothing so ancient since the patriarchs and prophets worked to build it.

There is nothing so solid, since Jesus Christ is the foundation of it.

There is nothing so high, since it reaches as high as to the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

There is nothing so perfect and well proportioned, since the Holy Spirit is the architect.

There is nothing more beautiful, because it is adorned with building stones of every age, every place, every people; from the highest kings to the lowest peasants; with the most brilliant scientists and the simplest believers.

There is nothing more spacious, since it is spread over the whole earth, and takes in all who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

There is nothing so Divine, since it is a living building, animated and inhabited by the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 16:16 
.......Upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.

God on you....
mbb

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

C'mon....Another Wimber Story?





Oh no.....
Another John Wimber story....
Isn't there anyone else besides John who can speak for the Vineyard.
Sure there is....
Come on Saturday night to Vineyard Recovery and you'll hear me speak...but if you listen really close...you'll hear John in the mix.

If you come to the Vineyard on Sunday morning, you'll get a chance to hear Jim Bentley speak....guess what? That's right...if you listen close, you'll hear John in the mix.

John never envisioned himself as being the leader of any kind of movement. It wasn't something that he craved or wanted to create. What he did want to do, was to simply follow Jesus where ever Jesus said to go.


You see....
I'm not really interested in doing church or having church as much as I am in "Being" the church. 

It really is about the ones who have just kind of fallen in love with Jesus and are crazy enough to go out and do the kind of things that Jesus did. You know...pray for the sick and see them get healed. Pray for God's Spirit to break off demonic oppression on those who are demonized. Feed the hungry....visit those in jail....and even give away cups of cold water. After all this thing call Christianity is not a spectator sport. It's a get-in-there-make-mistakes-in-Jesus-name-sometimes- but-never-quit-trying-kind-of-LIFE

I think the coolest thing in the world would be to go to a church one Sunday morning...all spiffed up and ready to worship, but when you got there, there was sign on the door that said..."Closed-gone fishing." That the people of that church had taken the word of God literally and had left to go be with others who needed a demonstration of the Kingdom of God. Radical? Perhaps. But none the less it is the heart of God to reach out to everyone.  That is what John Wimber planted in my heart.

The funny part in all of this whole Wimber-thing, is that I never met the man. I came on board the Vineyard in 1994....was ordained as a pastor in 1997 and moved into a full time work in 1998. John died in November of 97. So how did I get Wimber-ized? There is a wonderful room at the Vineyard that has hundreds and hundreds...yea...thousands of tapes. Yep! Tapes...old school. During the eight years I spent as Associate Pastor, I listened to every one of them. They became my seminary. John was my instructor. And the Bible was my text book. God, through John, defined my belief in who He was and what the Kingdom of God was all about. 

Through John's teachings, I became a "fool for Christ".  
And I have been foolish ever since.
So if you keep coming back to the Greene Street Letters, you'll probably see or hear more Wimber stories. Because he was the compass that God used to set us on the course we are on.


Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." Mark 1:1-15.

So you may be asking, "What's with all the Wimber love? Why do you keep going on about a guy who died back in 1997?" Well, I go on and on because God used that man to form me into who I am today. God used John to show me His kingdom...now and not yet, and in this man we call John Wimber, I saw a flawed human being who loved his creator more than anything else. That is why I keep the memory of John Wimber alive. Not to exalt or lift him up to a status that is "saintly" or "divine", but to simply to say "Thanks, John for showing so many of us the way."
God on you...
mb