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, February 8, 2016
Great television show from the 60's. A band of spies, who were given a mission that was seemingly impossible to carry out. Each mission was different and required some creative planning on their part to see it through to completion. Each week this IMF team (Impossible Mission Force) pulled off the impossible and accomplished their mission.
On the surface, what Christ has called us to is a seemingly impossible mission.
To live life under His guidance through the Holy Spirit at work in us.
To live life as ambassadors for His Kingdom.
Funny part about being an ambassador....you do not have the privilege or freedom to do or speak on your own. An ambassador can only say or do as they are directed by their government. We are called to operate and approach life in the same manner.
The government we are ambassadors for is the Kingdom of God.
The mission we have been called to is found in our everyday walking around, job site, marketplace life.
We represent the Kingdom rule of God to those around us who do not know Jesus.
Jesus had the same orders when He walked this earth in the form of a man.
Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work."
We see this call to "Finish the work" in step#12 of the twelve steps. "Taking the message to others." Telling those around us what we have found and how we have been able to move forward out of the darkness of sin, into the new life and light following Jesus. Isn't that weird how Jesus referred to His mission? He called it "my food". He found spiritual nourishment and was sustained by the simple fact that He was going to do whatever His heavenly Father told Him to do. Jesus was the original NIKE Spokesman. "Just Do It!" Don't analyze what you think you should do. Don't roll around the pro's and con's of whether you should or shouldn't do what you have heard God instruct you in. Just do it!
I do know this from personal experience.
If I am truly trying to follow God....
And not my own desires and wants....
Then if I do choose wrong, or miss it somewhere along the way....
He will not let me fall into destruction, or a ditch I cannot get out of.
I'd buy that for a dollar...wouldn't you?
Like I said at the beginning of this post, life seems like a mission that is impossible to carry out. And there will be the temptation and thought to cut and run back to your old ways.
All you have to do is today. All you have to take care of is today. All you have to focus on is getting through this day. Do that, and you may find that Mission Impossible turns into:
God on you....
Saturday, February 6, 2016
Mercy and truth have me together; Righteousness and peace have kissed.
Things that just naturally go together.....
Peanut butter and jelly....
Ocean and sand......
Fish and chips.....
Bread and butter....
Things that we can relate to in our everyday life.
But the reason I love Psalm 85 verse is the ultimate "going together" all of which stem from God's nature. Rising up to splash over on us from His character. Things that are not naturally found in our world.
Mercy and truth.....
Mercy - God giving me what I don't deserve.....and God keeping from me that which I do deserve. What is it I don't deserve? Salvation....redemption....eternal life with Him. What is it I do deserve? Hell. God's mercy is everlasting and His compassion's are made new every morning, according to the prophet Jeremiah.
Truth - Not just any truth, but truth that comes from God. I guess you could say that His truth is the ultimate reality. So when God gives His mercy, it is funneled to us as we see ourselves in need of Him. Would that not be reality? I think maybe yes. How could we ever see our real need for God's mercy unless we come to the place of truth....
I have made a mess of things...
I have no power to clean it up or manage my own life.
Oh God, help me...
Do I deserve help? Probably not, because we have used others help to simply skate by and continue on in our destructive path. But when we see ourselves with God's truth, we know that we are in nee of His mercy.
The verse from Psalm 85 goes on to say that "Righteousness and Peace have kissed."
And Peace...the ability to be centered and stable...
Have met in a greeting of intimacy and are now a gift given to us by our heavenly Father when we turn will and life over to His care.
When we allow God's Holy Spirit to work in us (Galatians 5:22-23) we begin to approach life in a new way. We are being changed by the removal of our old character defects, and the imparting of God's very nature and righteousness.
Part of that change involves the ability to trust God in every situation.
The by product of this change is His peace within us.
The mindset and heart set that tell us no matter what we may be facing...
No matter what our situation or circumstance is....
We have the peace of God to stabilize us, and not allow us to go over the edge into the darkness of our emotions and fear...
I'll buy that for a dollar!
Allow Mercy and Truth to rule your heart....
Allow the Holy Spirit to plant you deep in God's "Right-ness" and Peace shall be the fruit of this choice.
God on you....
Friday, February 5, 2016
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.
Step # 12
Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message (our story) to others and to practice these principals in all our affairs.
Every generation has a cultural voice that defines them.
Those who fought in WW II were called the greatest generation.
My generation has been labeled the baby boomers, due to the number of us who were born after the war.
There was generation X., The slacker generation...
Currently you have the Millennial's.
Each generation has their own set of struggles that also ads to the defining of who they are.
We had Viet Nam....The draft.....multiple assassinations...Woodstock (and the somewhat overlooked Altamont Music Festival). We were a generation that railed against the establishment and then realized we became the establishment. We now find ourselves slowly fading into the pages of history. We have a voice, but it grows dimmer with each passing day.
Such is why we need to be about the business of the Kingdom. We don't need soap boxes from which to preach from. We need wisdom and the Spirit of God to temper our tone and touch the hearts of those we are speaking to. We really are leaving a generation that does not know God. That truth cannot stand.
From my years at Rapha, I have found that the story is the key to recovery. People want to believe in something...They want to believe that this God we claim to know is really real. They want to believe that He will do what He has promised He would do. In other words, our very lives become the message. Words alone won't change anyone. But the truth of God coupled with evidence of a life changed is a powerful thing.
Seth Barber has thirteen years clean time....
Barry Hooks has nine years clean time....
Hugh Robinson has thirty-eight years clean time....
Jason Knight also is counted among this list, as is Greg Birdwell and Nick Johnson, along with Rannie Childress.
What is the one common denominator among these three men?
They all have a relationship with Jesus.
Notice that I didn't say they had religion....or that they belonged to a particular church or denomination. They know Jesus. The follow Him on a daily basis. He brought a common discipline and order to their lives as result of giving themselves to God. Each of these men have a story of their own personal life that is tied to a greater story of the One who saved them.
Part of my daily prayer is that God would grant me the "Voice" that would break through generational barriers and bring truth to others. I never want to preach down, or parent anyone. I want to keep the message simple. As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 2.....I determine to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified, for here is where change takes place. It really isn't about drugs or alcohol...it's about lives that are being lived outside of the will of God. God has been rejected in order to pursue our own desires. Unfortunately our desires take us right into a ditch that we cannot get out of on our own. We become so use to the ditch that we resolve ourselves to live out our days there. My message says you don't have to live that way. There is a POWER greater than any of us that can lift us out of that ditch. A POWER that can give us life...real life. That POWER has a name, and that name is Jesus.
Tell the story....
Tell your story....
Tell His story.....
God on you...
Thursday, February 4, 2016
Fall of 1969.....
First quarter at Gadsden State Junior College. Our parents thought dear old GSJC was the epitome of a college education. Those who attended lovingly referred to it as "Harvard On The Hill". It was like High School 2.0
That first quarter, being a newbie, I had scheduled 8 a.m. classes. Why? Because for 12 years, starting time for school was 8 a.m.. Imagine my glee when I discovered that you could, dare I say it? Start your classes at 9 a.m.. And if you were truly bold and rebellious (and of course if they offered it) you might even stretch it out till you didn't have to show up until noon.
But it was here at GSJC that I first ran into the movement. I was walking between the Hut, which was the gathering place for social interaction, and the library, when I first saw him. Now keep in mind that if you weren't from this period of time, then your view of history may be a bit skewered. Much like questions I get sometimes from younger guys at Rapha. "Dude, were you at Woodstock?" See what I mean? Just because I was alive during the 60's doesn't mean I was a hippie or drove a micro-bus. Hello!!! I live in Alabama, the counter culture had not yet arrived on the afternoon bus. I digress. I was headed toward the library when I encountered this young man who looked like the real deal counter culture type. Bell bottom jeans with patches sown all over them....T-shirt blowing in the breeze. Blonde hair that went well beyond the acceptable level that grownups attempted to enforce. And a gait that was as free as any breeze blowing that day. As we met on the sidewalk, he flashed a big goofy grin....held up his hand, index finger extended, and proudly proclaimed..."One way, man!" One way? No doubt a subversive communist infiltrator sent to Gadsden, Alabama to corrupt the youth....us youth. Asking around, some friends of mine told me that the "ONE WAY" symbol was part of a movement that had sprung up on the West coast a few years back. One way to heaven....Jesus is the One
way. Hippies,as the old folks liked to call them, were being saved. Here's the kicker...it wasn't happening in the churches. It was happening on Sunset Strip...it was happening in coffee houses and gathering places. Jesus was invading time and space in a place that no one would ever have suspected.
Within the next few weeks, I found myself, thanks to one Jim Bentley, connected to Campus Crusade for Christ. John and Marilyn Bruce, part of the CCC team, quickly became someone I wanted to get to know better. They were as California as you could possibly get (or at least in my Southern mind). Jim took on the responsibility of turning the front part of the CCC offices into a coffee house. Not our typical church sponsored endeavor where good intentions are not necessarily conducive to good designing. This coffee house would have the personal touch of one who was majoring in art. Jim was from Alabama, but his brain was from a galaxy far, far away.
The room quickly turned into a psychedelic frenzy. Can you say "day-glo paint"? We brought in huge wooden spools used by the phone company that held the wire necessary to run the lines. Jim painted checker and chess boards on the top of the spools in day-glo. Painted the pieces for the games also. Now throw in walls that were alive with movement and waves...and turn on some black lights....you've got yourself a coffee house. Well, what do you name such a place. Hmmm...let's see. Oh yeah, the way the building was situated, we could not use the front door. You had to go around to the side and come through the other door near the back. You guessed it. The name of the coffee house was THE OTHER DOOR.
Over the coming months the Other Door became THE place to be. A place where Jesus was defined for a whole generation that grew up here in Gadsden. It was a radical place in that we were hearing things from Scripture that we'd never heard in our churches or Sunday schools. It was coming from people not much older than ourselves. The Kingdom of God was being revealed to us in a way that would impact some of us for the rest of our lives. We were told that we were part of God's Kingdom and that we could effectively change our city and schools for Christ. As the Jesus People movement grew on the west coast, we began to get our feet wet in the wave that came to Alabama. Seeds were planted in our hearts back in '69 that are still bearing fruit today.
I have no idea where that young man I encountered on the quad that day who flashed the "One Way" sign is. I do know that he is probably in his middle to late 60's now. I pray that the fire that burned in his heart is still alive and well today here in 2016. I thank that young man for what he did for me. His single act caused me to ask a question, and the answer I got started me down a path that has led me to where I am today.
Those were incredible days....
So are these.
So are these.
"One way, man....One way to heaven!"
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
( Disclaimer: I know I put an "i" in tittle of this mornings posting...and even after I changed it, it did not appear corrected on the Facebook pages. So, think of it as an offering from an "Appalachian-American...otherwise known as hillbilly)
Give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I will pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord. In the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up (I will wait).
James Span and I stayed up late last night, as the storms rumbled through our area. Kind of a Bynum tradition to take such a posture when the weather turns. I don't do it out of fear or dread, but rather a sense of just being safe. I know some who could sleep through an extinction level event. Wish I were like those, but alas (Can you believe I said "Alas"?) it is something that has followed me for a number of years. I think it started back in 1974 when we lived in Blountsville. Chad had just been born, and Vicki and I lived in a farm house that was so far out in the boonies that we couldn't get a telephone line. Weather turned bad, so we sat up all night as tornadoes went over our abode. Yep, you heard me right.....multiple tornadoes.Ever since then, I just kind of stand guard and pray....well, actually before the storms ever arrive, I pray. Not out of fear, but out of a sense and understanding that my God is still God over the elements. I figure if Jesus could yell at a storm and it would dissipate......He's still highly capable of doing the same here in our time and space.
Monday's Bible study at Rapha was really good.
Only had two show up, but I think it was a God-thing.
Took a look at II Corinthians 4:7-18. To me this particular portion of scripture is all about "REAL LIFE"....
In other words...life happens, even to those who have a relationship with Jesus.
According to Paul's own words (and we all know Paul doesn't lie), he says that if you are drawing breath, you are going to be
Hard pressed.......perplexed.....persecuted......struck down.
Such would be real draw for people to get saved wouldn't it? Come on down and get whacked by life to the point that you feel like a cosmic punching bag. But truth is, God intervenes into every one of these "life situations". Paul goes on to write the counter to life...
"But we are not crushed."
"We are not in despair."
"We are not forsaken."
And "We are not destroyed".
Like I said, the Bible study was really good. Many questions and comments flowed around the table as we looked at each verse.
So here are the prayer request for this week.
1.) Prayer for strength and resolve to go back to old ways or former friends. The desire to move forward is there...to have a life, but, at the same time, fear of the unknown is also in the mix. Pray that these men would see the wisdom of taking this new journey one day at a time.
2.) Pray for the entire camp at Rapha. There was concern that some are simply going through the motions until they can get released. The relapse of former clients has hit home the reality of the need to move beyond the addiction.
3.) Had one request for prayer that they would receive mental strength to simply face the day. The pull of depression has been strong, yet they do not want to give into it.
As always, pray God's Spirit down over the camp for the residents and staff.
Well, I guess that about wraps it up....
God on you....