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 3, 2015

Homesick




John 14:3
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself that where I am, thee you may be also.

My apologies to all you really early risers who stop here for the Greene Street Letters. We slept in this morning. Well, for us 5:30 is pretty late in the day.
I guess better late than never, right, so here goes.

Found a Cd full of "Jesus People" music some days ago while I was cleaning out my office at Rapha. Downloaded it to my mp3 player and spent yesterday listening to it. Funny thing happened. I found myself homesick for heaven.
I don't mean that I had happy thoughts, or that I was enjoying the music. I was homesick.

Maybe it is my age. I am a few years older than when this music came out.
Maybe it is looking at the world and culture around me. I really don't fit in anywhere.

Maybe it was God.
I think, in fact, it was God.

I think sometimes the hope we have, coupled with the promises He has given to us, all crash together and you see and experience life here on planet earth in a different way.

The only thing that tempered this homesickness was the simple truth that there are still a lot of folks out there who don't know my Jesus. So while I am walking around like a pilgrim here in this town, I have a desire to make sure that I introduce my Jesus to them.

This should be the motivation that we receive from God as we live for  God.
To realize the truth of Acts 1:8--- That we would be clothed with Power when the Holy Spirit comes to us, and we would be HIS witnesses. I think the whole "homesick" thing is a positive reminder that we do have an inheritance waiting for us if we overcome this world by looking to Christ as our all sufficiency. 

Yesterday, while waiting in line at the bank, I saw someone put this "telling our story" into action. I was standing at the back of the line, they were at the front. I knew they couldn't see me, as they are a part of our Saturday night group that meets. I watched as they struck up a conversation with a lady who was also in line. Pretty soon the lady was crying and prayers were prayed for her. There in the bank, a divine appointment had taken place. God used this person to reach another who needed to hear truth, who needed an encouraging word. 

So yes....my heart burns to "Go and see the King"....but my heart also burns to keep on keepin' on here in this life He has given me. I don't know when Jesus will return for His church. I don't even know if I'll be alive when it happens. But either way, I am in a win-win situation. I'll get to be with Him no matter what. Such promises make the day bearable. Such promises fill me with hope, while the world runs dry. 

This Saturday night we will be teaching on the "Two sides of being Independent".  Meeting starts at 7 p.m. / we do stamp court cards / VRC is located downtown Gadsden on Broad street, between 4th and 5th streets across from Gadsden Variety Store. Hope to see you there.

God on you...
mb

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Change.....Fuel For Life And The Kingdom Of God


I Corinthians 15:51
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.

Just as the earth moves through seasons and cycles, so do we. 
We must learn to adapt to new areas that we move to. New problems that come up. New  ways to live and do business here on planet earth. We must learn to change. 

The change we must learn has to come from our journey of following Jesus into this new life.

We don't learn from the culture or our society. It's like having a guide book to a big city. The guide helps to cut down on confusion and show you the best routes to take to the places you want to see. Well, we not only have guide book (The Bible) but we have a built in GPS (God's Holy Spirit) to help us navigate through life. 

Life is about change as we age and  grow older.
The Kingdom of God, or His dynamic rule and reign, is about change as we learn and grow in Him. WE change...God doesn't. WE change...His plans for each of us are "yes and amen". That means they are set and He will take us all the way through them. As He told Jeremiah the prophet..."For I know the plans (thoughts) that I have for you", says the LORD. Plans for peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." The more we move in obedience to God, the more we will see His plans brought forth in us an in our lives. But we have to learn to change when God leads us in that direction.

The one thing that scares a person in addiction (as well as most of the human race) is the unknown. The thought of changing and having to do something different is almost overwhelming to some. It becomes such a barrier that the only way out is to run away and medicate or drink. That truly is not God's desire for any of us...that we turn tail and run. His desire is not for us to embrace the change....but to embrace Him and allow Him to take us through whatever we are facing. For He alone has the power and authority to help us navigate any change that comes our way.

Life is change...
I am learning how to live this life as a 63 and 3/4 years old man. I'll tell you this....life is a lot more different now than when I was 50, or 30, or 20. Not saying it's bad, it isn't. In fact, I'm happier and more content at this point of my life than I ever have been. But it is definitely filled with changes, and I have laid hold of God's hand every step of the way. Now laying hold of His hand does not mean I was a happy follower. Sometimes He pulled me kicking and screaming into the change, and I found out it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

At some point in our life, we will all experience the ultimate change.
We will pass from this life into the next where we will be changed physically and given a glorified body in which we will be with Christ forever. I know.....I know....sounds all science fiction doesn't it. But my faith and my Bible, confirmed by God 's Holy Spirit, tells me it is the ultimate truth, and that we will experience the ultimate change.  Maybe all this change here and now is simply practice and preparation for the final change. 


All the choices we make on this side of eternity will determine where we will go when we cross over. It won't be important whether you voted Democrat or Republican.....It isn't about which football team you pulled for...It isn't about whether you like country music or rap. It is about Jesus and whether you really accepted Him as Lord of your life. 

There is change in the air this morning....
There are some new things headed our way.....
I'll be sharing more about this on Sunday (or Monday) of next week.
God on you...

mb

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Church At Philadelphia / What I Can Learn From Them


Revelation 3:10 - 11
Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Verse 8 - For you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name.

What is the message for us today found in the life of this church located in Philadelphia?
1.) The church which recognized its natural weakness, was supplied with supernatural ability through the power of God's Holy Spirit. It is amazing how we find the Twelve Steps hidden through out Scripture. The principals for living a godly life are all the same no matter whether you struggle with addiction or not. Remember the addiction is merely a sign or symptom of a greater problem. A sin problem. You don't have a drug or alcohol problem, you have a living problem. A broken relationship with Christ is at the center of the struggle. But here we see where God recognizes this church in Philadelphia because they have little strength. In other words, they know that as a congregation, they are powerless.

2.) The church has kept God's word. In other words, the Bible was more than just a book, it became the very voice of God in their midst. They recognized the value in simply doing what God instructed them to do. How simple yet how profound is it to simply do what we read in Scripture.

3.) The kept or did not deny the name of God. Names were important back in Biblical times because a name revealed the character of the person. Keeping God's name would imply a belief in the ability of God. How incredible is this! To trust and rely wholly on God's ability to take care and direct those whose hearts are committed to Him and His kingdom.  Matthew 6:33 -- Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. Holding fast or placing all your trust on the name of God implies a reliance upon God's strength while rejecting your own ability or strength. This is the heart of recovery. "I've tried it my way and my very best thinking has got me in rehab." It's time to put down our way and embrace God's way.

I guess the lesson for today (for me and hopefully you) is that God empowers those who persevere in the face of adversity. Realize that adversity is a given when you are putting your trust in God to deliver you out of your addiction. Not giving up ....Not giving in....Holding fast to God in the belief that He is truly who He claims to be and will do what He claims He will do is the heart of real life. Having this ongoing spiritual awakening is way to life.
God bless each of you today....
mb

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Oh, The Times They are A' Changing


Judges 2:10-11
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.
Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals.

Judges 21:25
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

The church seems to have gone into panic mode after the rulings last week by our Supreme Court. Lot's of rhetoric and "saber rattling" by those who claim to be believers. But then the church has a tendency to over react at times, don't we.

I'm not going to get into the politics of the ruling by the court. I'm not going to point fingers and quote scripture. But I do have a view that I think might be more in line with what God expects from us.

During the darkest times of World War II, England stood alone facing an enemy that was preparing for invasion. There were attacks by the enemy air force over London, devastating it with deadly accuracy as bombs rained down on the population. But in the middle of it all was a man with resolve. That man? Winston Churchill. In a speech to the country, Churchill stated that what they were facing as a country would bring out the best of the people. That when history looked back at what England had done, it would be said of the country..."This was their finest hour."
Such should be said of the church during this dark time in our nation, "This was their finest hour."

The church should rise up and become the body that Christ deserves. Loving in truth and speaking what needs to be said. The church has a history of thriving during the darkest of times. I believe such times are when the Father prunes away the dead branches from the vine. Those branches who are not committed to the kingdom of God. Those branches that are only playing at this thing we call relationship with His Son, Jesus. Yes, I truly believe that the best days for the church are ahead of us. I also believe that the hardest days for the church are out there also. But the darker it gets, spiritually, and the harder times become...the more we will see the glory of God. 

Yes, I believe that the best days for the church are ahead of us. But we need to learn how to "Walk" as Jesus did. We need to have His heart so that we can interact with the people around us. We need to be saturated with His word so that we can speak truth to those who need to hear. Now is no time to exalt denomination above Christ. Now is the time to exalt God alone and become united in bringing in His Kingdom rule and will to a world that has lost its way.

Now is the time to train and be trained in how to go about the kingdom business. The church has been slow in training and more about collecting people. We have done a disservice to those who have come through our doors, sat in our pews and chairs, only to go away with no understanding of the call that comes with our relationship to Jesus.


I think maybe that is about to change.
God on you...
mb

Monday, June 29, 2015

Truth In A Bowl Of Cereal.


I got to attend a recovery meeting last night where I didn't have to speak. It's good for me to be a part and receive rather than be up front being the one bringing the message.

During the worship time, the band had moved into a very intimate song, leading us deeper into God's presence. I felt as though I was to slip out of my chair, get on my knees and just worship. Like my wife always says, "There are times during worship when the song takes me into the presence of God. There, the room disappears and it's just God and me." It felt like one of those times.

I was praying asking for God's mercy to rest upon everyone in the room (including me) that we really needed a word from Him on this night. At the end of the prayer, I slid back up into my seat. The worship team continued with the song and the room seemed to be filled with peace. As I looked around the room, I suddenly got a mental picture. Of all things, I saw a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal. "What's up with this?" I asked. God began to speak to me in my spirit.

"This is what the heart of man craves."
Lucky Charms?
"Look closer"....
I noticed that the bowl had cereal flakes and milk, but the marshmallows were almost gone. Only one or two in the bowl. People are like children. They will pick through the very things I give them and only "eat" that which has no spiritual nourishment by itself. I was reminded of a verse from the Message Bible. II Timothy 4:3-5 - You're going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food-----catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They'll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages......

To me, spiritual junk food would be teaching an "easier, softer" way of recovery. Not telling the truth about the daily struggle people face. Painting some kind of pie-in-the-sky picture of a Jesus who is more like the man who puts you on the rides at Disney Land.  People need to be told of the struggle that comes with recovery but, at the same time, they also need to hear about the incredible benefits that come when you persevere, continue to follow Jesus, and not look back at the old life. Sure the spiritual marshmallows taste better than dry flakes. But it is the flakes and the milk that have the spiritual nutrition that promotes growth. The last thing I want is a room full of perpetual babies, feasting on spiritual marshmallows, and who refuse to grow up. Such will only want what their appetite demands, and not the food needed to move forward in their lives. 

Last night's meeting was the full bowl of cereal.
Greg Birdwell brought the word with passion and truth. It was the whole message and left no doubt in anyone's mind that Jesus is the only way to move forward in this life. I'm very appreciative of those who will not compromise God's word, or try and sugar coat the reality of moving from the old lifestyle into this new relationship with Christ.  

I appreciative of the "whole bowl of cereal" that God pours out in these meetings. But I need to realize that such meetings are not created for us to pick and choose what we will or will not do.
Thanks for stopping by this morning.
God on you...


mb