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, March 27, 2015

To My Son.

I Kings 2:2
(King David talking with his son, Solomon)--
I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man.

Has it really been 41 years? 
I enjoyed being with you yesterday, even if it was only to help move furniture.
I kept thinking to myself, "Who are you? What happened to that little boy that use to burn the candle at both ends?
Oh, I know who you are...you are my first born son.
But yesterday, I saw you as a man. It wasn't the first time this has happened, it occurs quiet frequently. It's kind of like having trees in your yard and one day you stop to really look at them, and your amazed at how much they have grown.

In the case of you, my son, the verse above where King David charges his son, Solomon, does not apply to you. You have proven yourself to be a man.
You have overcome obstacles and problems that others would have given up on. I know that at time, you too wanted to quit. You thought it.....you considered it.....you may have even verbalized it. But in the end, you didn't.
You kept on. You applied yourself with a greater zeal to see the task through to completion. You overcame.

I've watched you grow in God over the years.
You have always been passionate when it came to Jesus and the relationship you have with Him.
You took your talent in music and returned it back to Him through your worship.
You studied His word.
You surrounded yourself with good people who were like minded, and on a journey to know Jesus even better.

You have found the truth for yourself, that "Everyone Gets To Play" in the Kingdom.
That's one of the things I've always admired about you. You never wanted to be a spectator, you wanted to be in there "Doing the stuff" that Jesus did.

I've seen how much you love your family.....
It is very evident by the way you expend yourself to take care of them.
I guess if I could attribute a motto that would explain your love of family, it would be "Whatever it takes".  That what you are willing to do to see that your wife and children are taken care of. 

I've watched you with your children.
The tenderness and love that you show your daughter will go a long way with her in the future. Because you show her what love is....real love, she will not fall for the first thing that comes along.

I've watched as you have poured yourself into your son. I remember the day he was born and you held him in your arms....You may not have spoken it out loud, but I know that silently you prayed and committed yourself to see that Tyler was raised in the ways of Lord. And I have watched you do exactly this as Tyler has grown.

I've watched you in your role as husband to your wife.
How you have given yourself to her...
To cherish, love and honor..
To protect and serve.

Like your mother and I, there were rocky places along the way in your marriage. But the two of you worked through them. Isn't that what marriage truly is about? The two, under the guidance of the Father, face whatever has come their way and move through it. I'm proud of the husband you have turned out to be.

I remember the day you were born.
I was 22 and your mother was 20.
We were babes ourselves.
I was scared to death. I knew nothing about being a father. I knew nothing about taking care of you. But you know what? All that melted away the first time I held you in my arms. Oh the fear kind of lingered in the background, but I was filled with an incredible sense of wonder that God would entrust me with you. And that every decision I would make carried with it an impact on your life and who you would become. 

I remember driving home the night you were born. "I'm a father! What? Yes! I'm a father!".

You have brought me much joy over the years as I watched you grow to the man you are. Proud? You bet I'm proud of you.
On this day, my son, I pray that you understand how much I love you. I also pray that you understand how much God loves you, and that it become an even deeper awareness of the Father's love for you.

So on this day, Chad, celebrate life.
Celebrate 41 years of joy, tears, struggles and triumphs.

And in your celebration, know that I admire the man you have become.
Happy Birthday, my son.
I love you.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Yadsruht-- Finally!

Deuteronomy 31:8
And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be discouraged.

Sometimes when we read verses like the one above, we have a tendency to catalog it among clever sayings and cute phrases. "Oh yes, I know that God is with me." Usually such statements come when everything in life is just peachy-keen. When you've got money in the bank........when you're in good health.....when the car is running smoothly. "Oh yes,  know that God is with me." We sometimes have a bent toward judging God's presence in our lives by how well life is treating us. I don't think that is why He put that verse in Deuteronomy.

The last part of the verse tells us to "not fear nor be discouraged". Why would He tell us that, unless part of life was moving into situations that would cause us to be fearful or maybe even lose heart? The reality is, sometimes in an effort to sell this whole Jesus/relationship, the church will hype up the benefit's of it. I don't know if they willingly do this in an attempt to manipulate people. I don't know if they truly believe that if you come to Jesus then everything is going to be carnival food, puppy dogs and unicorns with rainbows in their hair. I just know that maybe we need to stop and listen to what we present as the Gospel sometimes.  So what is the truth if I surrender will and life over to Jesus' care?

Truth is the verse from Deuteronomy tells me that God is going to go before me. That means my biggest part in getting through this day is to follow Him. No matter what comes my way...no matter what ugly thing may rear it's ugly head, I will not fear, I will not cut and run. God is with me, in fact He is ahead of me already. I think maybe I need to hone my skill of listening for Him. IN my thoughts, those faint things that float through my mind, in my case, are usually God talking to me. They become urges or unction to do a certain thing, or take a different direction in how I am dealing with my problems. I am just crazy enough to believe that God still speaks and since He does, I am going to expend myself on listening. Sometimes listening means to sit down and get quiet. In my own life, the larger the problem I face, the more I do need to get quiet, pray and ask God to show me what to do. Then I exercise my faith in Him that He knows what is best for me by moving in what I hear Him say. Now, lets get real honest. There is always a lot of doubt and fear when you're trying to move in what God has told you to do. That is natural and some religious folks don't like for me to say that. Trouble is, we are human and humans are emotional creatures. Our emotions are like runaway Duncan Yo-yo's that have come loose from the string. We are all over the place. But God, in His infinite wisdom, coupled with the fact that He knows us better than we know ourselves, tells us to not be afraid and do not become discouraged by what is out there. So no matter how much I fear or doubt, I am going to focus my faith to Him. Faith to believe that no matter what I may be facing, He is still in control, He is still out there in front of me, and that He will never, ever leave me or forsake me. 

Every situation we face may not have a happy-happy-joy-joy storybook ending. But I can guarantee that God will always be there no matter what happens. And that we will come out of it, or through it, with a better understanding of who He is, as well as who we are in Him. I've said this more time than I care to count....I'm just crazy enough to believe that God is who He claims He is.....and He will do what He has promised He would do.
Such times, when life rises up to slap us, is why we need to be connected to a community of people who are believer's in Christ. We can gain strength and encouragement from each other as we go through whatever trial or situation we may find ourselves facing.

Take the Deuteronomy verse that started this posting and jot it down on a post-it note. Put it on your fridge. Put one on the sun visor of your car. Keep one in your wallet or purse. Put one on the mirror in the bathroom. Keep this promise ever before you so that it becomes a part of your very being. And then go live it!

God on you..


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jesus, Church, And Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs.....
Deviled eggs? What does that have to do with anything? Well, as a child growing up, I equated Deviled eggs and Jesus as one in the same. Let me rephrase that. Jesus/ church/ decoration day and deviled eggs always seemed to go together like PB&J. You couldn't have one without the other.

My history with church going included an abundance of special services....family reunions which always took place on decoration day. For those of you not familiar with decoration day, it is a day set aside each year for families to gather and honor those members who have passed on. Such usually took place at a church because most churches had graveyards where deceased members were buried. The church would designate a day, usually in the spring time, that would be decoration day. May 1st is always decoration day where my mother's parents are buried. So we would load up the car and head out to Painter, Alabama. Go to church at New Liberty Baptist, go to the graveyard and place flowers on the grave. After a lengthy stay at the cemetery, we would head back to Pet and Roscoe's house (more family) and have a hoo-ha spread to end all hoo-ha spreads. Invariably someone would bring the obligatory plate of deviled eggs.

If you've never had deviled eggs, then your life is incomplete. Those little oval morsels of poultry offerings all decorated with paprika...just sitting there waiting to be consumed is a party in and of itself. I guess the reason I equate deviled eggs and church is because my mother never fixed them. It wasn't something she just whipped up because the craving for such suddenly overwhelmed her. So the idea of never having them except on special occasions made them all the more "the forbidden fruit.....er...eggs."

We usually held our family gatherings outside. Tables made of planks and sawhorses were covered in table cloths and the food was spread out liken unto some sort a Southern version of a Medieval Feast. The only thing missing were men with beards, holding huge turkey legs.
Kids never went first in this meal times. The old folks always got to go first. I can remember standing in line, Dixie plate in hand, keeping my eye on that tray of deviled eggs.  I would count the number of people ahead of me...count the eggs. Praying and hoping that no one would be greedy with them so I could be. Sorry, that's a way a kids brain works. 

In my prepubescent mind, I rationalized that one person should equal one egg. On no! Aunt Bessie got two of them. This always created the need for a recount to determine the ration of people to egg. To make matters worse, someone would leave the table, plate piled high, only to exclaim to the others, still in line, "I don't know who made these deviled eggs, but they are delicious!"....
"No! NO! Don't announce it!" my tiny brain wanted to scream out. If you announce how wonderful the eggs are, then everyone will get two or three. I would like to say that these gatherings usually ended well for me. Oh, I got my cheeks pinched and kissed by every aunt that I hadn't seen since the last gathering. Such wasn't helped by the simple fact that as said aunt leaned in to kiss my cheeks, I could see there in the corner of her mouth, traces of something yellow. Deviled eggs. "You have the audacity to kiss me after you stole my deviled eggs? I think not." This was followed by my mother telling me to "let aunt (insert name) kiss you. She might not be here next year."  I would allow my aunt to kiss me, but in the back of my tiny mind was the thought that if she didn't make it till next year, there would be more eggs for me. I was a selfish little waif.

You may be asking what in the world does this posting of the Greene Street Letters have to do with anything. Well, nothing if you want to know the truth. Sometimes a guy just has to get things off of his chest. I mean, after all, it's moving into the spring season, and decoration day will be rolling around. Somewhere families will gather and tables will be set. There will be deviled eggs. I may not be there in person, but rest assured I will be there in spirit.
Thanks for letting me clean out my brain this morning.
God on you...


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cross Talk On A Tuesday

I Corinthians 2:2
For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

The cross....
The place that defined our belief's in Christ.
Who He claimed to be....
What He promised He would do....
All came together on a hill outside of Jerusalem when He was nailed to it.

Some of you may have heard me quote the verse from I Corinthians 2:2, and make the claim that this is my entire theology. Why such a claim? Because without the cross of Christ everything crumbles and falls away. Without the cross, Jesus was just a good man going about proclaiming God's truth. Without the cross, Jesus was no different than the religious rulers in Jerusalem.

Without the cross, Jesus would always be carrying the title of "Rabbi"...."Good Teacher"...."Prophet".  He never would have attained the place where God the Father bestowed Him with the name "Lord and Savior".

I find it ironic that life....
Real life....
Begins at a place of death.
But isn't that the way that Jesus taught? That in order to find your life, you had to lose it, and if you tried to hang on and keep your life, you would lose it? I think it was put that way in His teachings.

If the cross didn't carry such weight and importance, then why do we decorate ourselves with it.
Why shape it and form it into trinkets and necklaces? Don't you find it a bit strange that people who may or may not have any belief at all in Christ go out of their way to wear one? The cross of Christ has become a talisman of sorts. A trinket to ward off evil spirits, or a piece of jewelry that makes a statement. Kind of funny, isn't it? I don't think Jesus died to make a fashion statement, do you?

You cannot escape the simple truth that the cross of Christ was all part of God's plan to liberate and return  mankind to a place where we could experience real relationship with. No longer would we have to trudge down to the local temple with our animal offering to go through a ritual in order to have our sins atoned for. The cross of Christ destroyed the entire sacrificial system because Jesus became the Lamb offered for the sins of the world. He became payment for every sin we have ever committed, or will commit. 

The power of sin....
The penalty of sin...
And the presence of sin was broken at the cross...
John 12:32 proclaims "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." 
Peoples? What kind of peoples?
From every tribe, tongue and nation...
The rich and the poor....
The successful and those who have failed at everything....

The teacher and the student....
The old and the young..
And yes...
Even those who are trapped in the darkness we call addiction....
Jesus died for us all....
Glad the story didn't end there, because Jesus defeated the powers of this world by coming back to life. You see, you can't have the cross without the tomb.

You can't celebrate Jesus' death without celebrating His resurrection.

SO Jesus embraced death on our behalf so that we could embrace life .
How could you not love this Jesus?

God on you...


Monday, March 23, 2015

Life Is Real...Jesus is "Realer"!

Habakkuk 3:17-19
Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vine....
Though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food...
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls...

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will joy in the God of my salvation. 
The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, and He will make me walk on high hills.

I love this verse from Habakkuk. There is a reality in the message that I think is not being shared with people. A message that resonates with truth and with the promises of God.

I think that for whatever reason, some recovery meetings have been sending out the wrong message. They have, maybe unknowingly and unintentionally, packaged a message that says, "Come to Jesus and your life will be wonderful!"

Come to Jesus and all your relationship that have been destroyed by your using will be healed and put back together.
Come to Jesus and all your problems will go away.
Come to Jesus!
We package and present Him as though He were a modern day version of snake oil being shopped in a road side carnival. A panacea that is part spot remover and miracle tonic.

This has got to stop.

What is it that Jesus brings to us when we do give will and life over to His care?

But it is a hope that looks beyond our next heart beat, beyond our next step. It is a hope that looks beyond even life here and now. It looks to the person of Jesus that He is more than willing and able to take us through whatever happens on this side of heaven.

Will there be trials? You bet'cha!

Will there be troubles? Bet on it!
Will there be temptations and maybe even some failure? Bank on it.
If I give myself to Jesus...
If He becomes the voice that I truly listen for, and then follow, I can go through anything.

That is a promise...
And that is reality.

When I invited Jesus into my life and my plans....I can face anything. And hasn't that been our biggest problem? Not wanting to face anything. We automatically bail on every hard thing, running to our D.O.C. for comfort.
Jesus will whisper to us, "Stand still and watch! I will be here with you. I won't leave you or turn my back on you."

I love the 23rd Psalm...the Shepherds psalm written by King David.
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me."
David wrote that even in the darkest of times when there seems to be no way out...God was there to help him walk through whatever David was facing. More than that, God provided a level of comfort as this situation was faced and dealt with. That is a real comfort to me this morning.

I have no clue as to what this day holds for me.
It may be my last one.
I don't know.
But I do know this.
Jesus is worthy to be trusted. He is worthy for me to lay hold of His hand and say, "Let's go see what today holds."
And that is exactly what I will do.

God on you...