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

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

I Would Like To Thank Everyone

Feeling mellow today.....
Lot of reflection this morning.
Taking stock of where I have come from, where I am today, and where God might be leading me tomorrow.
Some good...
Some bad....
All part of the journey.
Also found myself stuck at Colossians 3:15
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you were called in one body,
And be thankful.
So that is what I want to do this morning.
Give thanks.


Thank you Vicki, for taking this ride with me. 43 years and you're still the only woman who can make my heart skip a beat when I look at you.

Thank you Chad and Josh, for becoming the men that you are. I see a lot of my own Father in each of you. Yet, at the same time, I see the mark that you have each made for yourselves.

Thank you Robin and Heather, for bringing a fresh view to our family. For the love you've shown to me and Vicki, and to our sons. If ever there were two godly women in this world, I see this in you.

Thank you Tyler and Ashley, for the joy and laughter you have both added to our family.
You have made me young again and for that I am grateful.

Thank you Debbie Handy, for giving me a place to learn how to lead worship. And for being my partner over the past 23 years. That's a lot of music. 

Thank you Mom and Dad for buying me my first guitar. What a beaut! Metal-flake orange Norma Electric. Move over Duane Eddy--there's a new Marshall in town.

Thank you Jim Bentley, for giving me a place at Gadsden Vineyard. For calling me on that Sunday morning back in May of '97 asking me....."Have you ever considered being ordained?"

Thank you Core Group of Vineyard Recovery. Your eagerness to serve and love those who come on Saturday night is incredible. Jason and Angela, Barry and Deb, Wayne, Debbie, Jeremiah, Carrie, Blake, Marie. Thank you for catching the vision.

Thank you Steve and Marilyn Yarbrough, for giving me a place at Rapha. If I'd known I was going to stay this long I would have dressed differently.

Thank you George Creel, for opening up the Bible for me. For introducing me to the work of the Holy Spirit. You made the Word come alive and it burned in my heart. A flame that has only grown hotter and more intense.

Thank all of you who were on staff at Campus Crusade for Christ in 1968. Lanier and Karen, Ruth Ann, Dwilene, John And Marilyn. You gave a young boy who was full of insecurity the keys to a future. You told me that I could play in God's kingdom and then turned me loose to do it.

Thank you Nori Kelley, Brook Finlayson, Kenny Young, Kim Jenkins, and once again--Debbiel Handy, for allowing me to be a part of the band. 

Thank you David Finlayson for allowing me to become a DREAMER with you back in 1983.

And last, but certainly not least....
Thank you Jesus...
For saving me and working me all these years. Today I feel like George Bailey. I am the richest man in Bedford Falls.

Y'all have a great day....

God on you...
mb

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fear

Seems to be a lot of fear in the atmosphere.
The news channels thrive on it.
It fills our newspapers.
It is founded on conjecture of what might happen.
Fear.

For a person in addiction, fear is a major part of life.
But the kind of fear they carry around is directed toward themselves.
Fear of failure....
Fear of rejection....
Fear of abandonment....

Because they don't have a way to battle these fears, they turn to their drug of choice.
It's all they know how to do to survive.

There are also these things we call False Belief's.
They govern our actions and dictate our responses. We grew up with them....were raised with them and now they guide us daily.
These false belief's are the fuel for the fear that an addict feels everyday.
False Belief # 1 tells us "I must meet certain standards to feel good about myself". Every person has a standard that they want to live up to. It may be something that our parents taught us or something we picked up along the way that we use to measure our self worth by. But because addiction has kicked in, we never quite measure up to those standards. IN fact, we have failed so much that we have given up trying to meet any standard. We use our past record to measure our future with. What does our past say about us? That we have failed at most everything we have tried. What does that say about our future? That we will fail, so why try.
Fear of failure kicks in and it has become such a powerful force in our life that we quit trying. 
The fear rises up and we turn to our drug of choice to escape the pain and the condemnation that we heap on ourselves.
What's the answer?

John 14:1
Let not your hearts be troubled, you believe in God, believe in Me.
The word trouble, in Strong's Concordance, is translated "Boiling Water". Heat is applied which agitates the water. Jesus is saying, don't let the outside pressures and unknown future dictate your response by becoming fearful. Don't pick up and carry burdens and emotions that only lead us away from Christ. What is the answer? It is so simple. Believe in God. Believe in Christ.
Not a mental nod to "Yep! I believe in God and Jesus".  But a deep down, lay hold of, don't let go belief that God is who He claims to be and Jesus will do what He has promised He would do. I am never to look inside myself for answers to my fears or problems. I look to Him. I turn my attention to Christ. Something that works for me if I find myself becoming fearful is to read the Psalms out loud. Sounds crazy I know, but it works. Why does it work? Here again ...simple. Romans 10:17 - Faith comes by hearing, and hearing the word of God. I don't listen to that deceiving voice that whispers to my mind. I began to read out loud and speak the truth of God's word. I will not allow fear space in my head to do it's work. Keep in mind that we are human, o.k.? Fear is a part of life, but I don't have to let it rule over me. In the John 14 verse, what Jesus is saying is that when fear seeks to overtake you, fight back. You've got the greatest weapon in the world there in your Bible. Use it! When Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by the devil himself, what did He use? Scripture. Every time the devil came at Him, Jesus would turn he away with the truth that is found in God's word. I think it's time we all see the value and turn the word of God into a real weapon.
Truth will take down fear every time.

God on you...
mb



Monday, October 20, 2014

Knowledge About....Or Knowledge Of?

Even though you may be reading this in the A.M....
I started writing it on Sunday evening at 8:06 p.m.

Thoughts seem to float around from time to time in my brain...
Some of them seem to be good...
Some seem to be of the silly nature...
And then there are those thoughts that seem to be given by God.


One of the thoughts that has been renting space all day today, is the thought that God is bigger than my understanding and comprehension. You may say, "Of course He is...we all know that!" But what do we do about such a thought? Where does it lead us? Do we simply acknowledge the greatness of God and then move on with life? Or does such a thought stir the desire to know Him even more? I love what Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10--"That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death."  Such a statement does not sound like someone who is content with his current state of salvation. Doesn't sound like someone who is content to simply play the "religious" game. It sounds like a man who has been changed....A man who wants to expend himself on knowing (experiencing) the fullness of the presence of God.

Paul states that he wants to KNOW Jesus. Not an intellectual ascent or a gathering of information, but rather an on going experience of the presence and person of Christ. This interaction between divine and mortal, bound together by God's Holy Spirit, takes place daily.
You see, Paul was crazy enough to believe that salvation, and the call to follow Jesus, invades every area of life and takes precedent over everything else.  If we read the passage from Philippians correctly, we see a man who has sold out to Jesus. He is not holding anything back and has given up everything for this relationship. What is crazy is that we read of such a commitment by Paul and we consider it to be absurd and incapable of being carried out in our day and time. Now while I don't believe that everyone has the call that God placed on Paul, I do believe that everyone is called to follow Jesus with the same passion.


The verse from Philippians tells us that Paul desired to Know Jesus....
And the POWER of His resurrection. The kind of POWER that moved Paul to write "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." When he stated "all things" he was speaking of situations and circumstances. Paul could thrive and survive no matter if he was in jail, or a free man. No matter if he had a lot, or didn't have a dime. Paul could do all things no matter what the world threw at him. He wasn't a whiner or a crier about his lot in life. He considered it all to part of the journey. That is what I want for my own life. I don't want to resort to whining and crying and claiming that "Life Ain't Fair!".  Of course life isn't fair. Jesus told us in Scripture that if we chose to follow Him the world would hate us. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! 

I want to stay hungry from God.
I want to expend myself on Him and His kingdom.
I want Jesus!

I want to learn now to love others with the same love Jesus has.
I want to see His face, hear His voice, and walk where ever He goes.
Just for today...

God on you...
mb

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Life Seen With A Sunday Kind Of View

8:02 a.m.

Slept in this morning. Got up at a little before 5:30. I can remember when sleeping in meant getting up at 9 or 10 a.m. Not anymore. Two cups of coffee and a yogurt and I'm well on my way to face Sunday. 

Acts 2:42 
They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord's supper and in prayer.

Being connected with others who are on this journey of following Jesus is where real life is found. This common relationship we share with others is the focal point of everything in our lives. Or at least should be. Our  salvation binds our conversations. Our salvation has us pointed in the same direction. Our salvation is the common language that fuels our intent and motive. In other words, it's all about Jesus, what He has done to us and for us, and where He is leading us.

It was so cool last night at VRC. I love the fall of the year when the shadows deepen and night comes early to downtown. I love to stop and take in the view of the room and the sounds that surround me before the service starts. Last night, I watched as two brothers stood side by side talking and laughing. Both have come from terrible, deep darkness and have found new life in Christ. To a passerby, the two brothers would cause no reason to pause and reflect on what they were doing. But to me, they were tangible evidence of the miracle working power of Christ. This same Jesus we read about has reached down into darkness beyond darkness and taken up these two brothers. Something our society wasn't able to do. Something that intellectual minds weren't able to accomplish. But here they were.....smiles and laughter....gratitude and thankfulness. Their journey so far has taken them farther than they thought possible. But isn't that the way Jesus works. Real-deal-promise-a-real-promise miracles in our midst. Who'd thunk it.

People come in and take their seats. We set the room with tables and chairs, and if you were on the outside looking into the room, you might think it was you were seeing a coffee shop or a bistro. Never would have pegged it for a church. Church? On Saturday Night? Yep! I've always done church on Saturday night, save for two years when we first got to Rapha when we met on Sunday mornings. Last night's worship was blues oriented. Now when the blues is usually sung, it is a cry of pain and suffering. Love lost and relationships gone. A cry with no direction other than to lament ones suffering. But when we sing the blues on Saturday night, it is that same cry but there is a direction and purpose to our words. We are crying out to God. We are declaring that He, God, can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Opening song...The Father's Love, a declaration that we are the recipients of a love that is beyond description. "People let me tell you 'bout the Father's Love, demonstrated on Calvary."
Next came a declaration from God....I Will Take Care Of You- "I know you've been hurt /  by somebody else / I can tell by the way /  that you carry yourself /  if you will let me / here's what I wanna do/  I will take care of you / care of you /  I will take care of you.
Debbie, our keyboardist, came up with a new killer arrangement of No More -  the cry of a heart that has decided to follow Jesus. Going back to the old life and the old ways was no longer an option. 

The message was the second in our series of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Mostly taken from John Chapter 15, we saw the need to be connected to Him. That all life and nourishment to walk it out comes from Christ. In this interchange between us and Him, we find that He works inside of us to change our character. Removing old destructive patterns and thoughts that manifested in wrong behavior, we now find that we are producing a new life. A new life that is made possible by the fruit of God's Holy Spirit at work in us. We are being transformed and our character is being reconstructed in a new way of seeing life and dealing with it.

All in all, it was a good evening.
Much ministry....
Much love in the room.

Guess what?
The good Lord willing, we'll get to do it again next Saturday.

How cool is that?

God on you...
mb

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ramblings From a Tired Mind

Good morning!

I've been up and out for some time. Breakfast meetings....down to the church to set up for tonight. Saturday is one of my most favorite times....Busy, but there will be some rest this afternoon before we meet tonight.

Seems to me that I have been approached by many this week who are asking questions that I don't have answers to.  To be honest, they are questions that I ask myself from time to time. "How come God doesn't just take away the pain I'm feeling right now?"   "How long will I have to keep on hurting...emotionally, spiritually, as well as physically?" "Why can't I hear God?" I call these the questions of humanity. Questions that we all ask. Questions that come from our humanity as we struggle to understand who God is.

I wish I could give some answers that would satisfy those who ask. I don't really want to speak religiously and say, "Well, you just have to have faith." But truth is....you just have to have faith. Based on what I've seen God do in the past, coupled with what I have learned about His nature through Scripture, I point my belief toward Him.

Answers are nice to the questions we ask, but answers are sometimes over rated. What would we really do if God DID answer all our questions? Would be able to handle what we are told? I like leaving the "driving" to Him, so to speak. To place my will and my life in His care and just take the journey. Knowing that having questions are part of the journey...but also understanding that faith is what keeps me from going into the ditch.

I do believe that God created this incredible thing to help us make it through the doubting times....to make it through the hard, dark times. This thing we call "church".  Not the building....not the denomination...not the model...but the people. If you think about it, when we band together with like minded people, even if our questions don't find answers we have a peace in knowing that there are others who are asking the same questions. This isn't a gathering where we all sit in misery and complain about God's lack of compassion for our life situations, but rather a place where we can encourage and be encouraged to keep on. To not give up. To not turn back. To lay hold of God and each other and see this trip all the way to the end.  That is why I love Saturday nights. The people! Knowing that when we walk through those doors tonight, it will be a celebration of God's goodness being poured out on us for another week. We are still above ground........still breathing.....still have life.....and we're sober. That is something worth celebrating. 

So we'll gather together to sing and worship......
To testify to the goodness of God.
To get our batteries recharged for the coming week.
Be recharged so we can go back out and love on folks and hopefully show them the way to real life.

Along the way, in this journey, we will realize that we have grown and matured in Christ. We don't see life the same way we use to.
Isn't that what relationship and recovery is all about? Growing up before we grow older? I think so.


if you're free tonight, come and join us.
Love to see you....

7 p.m 
Downtown Gadsden on Broad Street -  between 4th and 5th streets.

God on you..

mb