Thursday, October 31, 2013

Let The Word Out


Psalm 119:9-11
How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You. Oh let me not wander from Your commandments! 

Your word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.

Read or study?
Glance or focus?
Apply or file away?
Such are the choices we have to make when it comes to reading the Bible.

It seems to be old fashioned to actually study the Bible.
Popular to own one.
Vogue to carry one.
But to actually study it and then apply it to our lives? You've got to be kidding me.But here is where we learn the actual of truth about God. Either His word is true........or it's a lie, let's all go to Shoney's for some strawberry pie. Well I just happen to believe it to be true.
The promises as real.
The blessing come to those who apply His word in their hearts, and then walk it out in their daily lives.


That is why I am such a believer in the Twelve Steps.
There isn't any power found in the steps themselves, but when a person has surrendered will and life over to Christ, those steps become a guide on putting some discipline into a life once defined by chaos.
Such is the same with Scripture. The Bible becomes the daily instruction on how to live life. Christ is the source of power I need to carry it out. Jesus is the giver of life that makes the words of scripture come alive and become food for my entire being.

Matthew 7:24
Therefore whoever hears these sayings (words) of Mine, and does them (Puts them into practice), will be like a wise man who builds his home on the rock.

Kind of weird isn't it?
Jesus didn't say that we would be like wise people who built their home on "A" rock. He said that we would be wise by building our homes on "THE" rock. 

That there truly is only one foundation for rightful living in this live. A life that is grounded and finds it foundation in Him. We see the simplicity of this when we study the word of God.

Be truthful to God.
If you don't like reading the Bible, tell Him and then ask that you would be awakened to a hunger for His word.
Ask Him to renew your brain and rewire it so that you can understand what you read. Remember...it isn't the amount you read.....it's what you truly understand and grasp of what you read.
Go for it! Get you some word deep down inside and let it percolate.

God on you....
mb

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jason Knight Tells His Story



Jason Knight shares his story of the journey God has had him on for the past few years. 
This message is also on the right hand side of this blog, over in the Message Archives.
Feel free to download and listen later.
Feel free to download and give away to someone else.

God on you....
mb

Sheep And Wolves


Luke 10:3
"Go your way. Behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves."

"Lambs among wolves?"
I don't know if I like that example or not. Sounds to me like we are being served up as the main course for some hungry, ravenous animals.
Not what Jesus was saying. First off we need to see what Jesus is saying. "You've got a life to live. Your going to learn a new way of navigating through all the problems and situations that will come your way." But your nature has to be one of seeking the Father's will and face at every turn. Oh and by the way....He is sending us out.

It's one thing to be set free....
It's another to be set free and then sent back out into the world.
Some folks thrive in their recovery as long as they are in treatment.
They are model clients. They do all the work. They zoom down those twelves steps with no problem. But they simply stay cloistered, never venturing out. Kind of like when Lincoln freed the slaves during the Civil War. Many heard the good news that they were no longer slaves, but chose to remain on the plantations because they didn't know how to be free. The thing we have to wrap our heads around is that 1.) Jesus has saved us and is sending us out and (2.) He would never send us out ill equipped to take that journey.

The analogy of being lambs among wolves is a pretty daunting idea, isn't it. But in this case, we need to remember one thing. I call it the Psalm 23 factor. What is it that lambs have? Shepherds. What do shepherds do? They protect the flock placed in their care. So if we are sent out as lambs, we have to rest in the knowledge that we have the ultimate shepherd watching over us to protect us and keep us from those who would seek to destroy us.

Psalm 23:1 reads: The Lord is my Shepherd.....I shall not want. Catch that? Who is it that is watching over me and my recovery? Jesus ---the ultimate shepherd. And what is it I can truly say from this position of being a sheep with Jesus as my shepherd? I shall not want. I like the fact that the statement "I shall not want" is open ended. It leaves room for whatever needs I have. It leaves room to insert my cry to Jesus as I trust Him to guide me, care for me and protect me. Sounds like a winner to me.

So don't be satisfied to simply be free.
Go live free.
Give away freely what has been given to you.
God on you.....
mb

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Phil Strout Talks About One Of Our Own

Life in the Vineyard from Phil Strout on Vimeo.


Great Talk by Phil Strout concerning the state of the Vineyard and where we are headed as a movement.
As a bonus, if you get to the 7:48 mark of the video...Phil begins to talk about our own Debbie Handy, speaking of her commitment to staying and working in the Gadsden Vineyard. Debbie has been a part of the recovery side of Vineyard since we started it. We are blessed to know her and have her be a part of our family. She's a pretty good worship leader also. What am I saying? She is the only one I have ever heard my wife tell, "When you lead worship, I am taken into the presence of God almost immediately."
Thanks Debbie!


God on you....
mb

The Ultimate Line Dance



One eye here on earth....
One eye watching and waiting for You to return, Jesus.

My thoughts intermingled with verses that fill me with hope.
Darkness of this world.......this society.......this time.....try to stamp out my hope.
Problems come at me from every side.
They weigh heavily on me, but I am not crushed.
Problems that seem to not have any answers....
But I am not confused or without hope.

Because everything that I face today........good or bad..........is temporary.
I have hope.
Not a false hope that the Calvary will somehow ride over the hill to my rescue, but rather a hope that is found in my belief that Jesus is who He said He is, and that He will do what He claims He will do.

I possess a living hope. A hope that changes as I grow and mature in my relationship with Christ.

I am like the man in Habakkuk who proclaims, "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."

Doesn't matter what the day may bring my way....
Good or bad----
Helpful or hurtful ---
Darkness or light----
I will rejoice in God who has saved me for a higher purpose than to simply take up space, breath and eat.
I find my stride and lay hold of Him and follow Him every moment of every day.
There is life where once there was none.
So today, I choose to follow.
Today I choose to be permanently desperate for Jesus.

Why? Because I  have a life and relationship that is not bound up or stopped by time. It will extend beyond my own existence here on planet earth. It will transition me over into a new dimension and new way of living. In this place I will shake loose the old body that is breaking down to embrace a new one. I will dance like it's no one's business. I will dance before my Jesus with shouts and screams of His greatness. What a Savior.
So today, I choose to worship Jesus.
Giving glory to my heavenly Father...
And listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit inside me directing and guiding me.

I wonder what's over the hill?
I think I'll go see.


God on you.....
mb

Monday, October 28, 2013

One Condemns....One Brings Life


How many times have I quoted Romans 3:23?  For ALL have Sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Seems to me that is a verse that screams...."Hey Y'all (yes Jesus was a Southerner)...You all are in trouble. No way You can get to me!" 
Truth be known Romans 3:23 is a verse of hopelessness. A verse that says we are doomed. A verse that falls on hearts that are searching for a way out of this mess we call life. Life that has been defined by our sin/choices and, as such, has a track record that is filled with destruction and despair. So here in Romans 3:23 we have the plain-brown-wrapper truth that we are in trouble. 

Aren't you glad that scripture didn't just end there?
Aren't you glad that Jesus always points us to the way out of our judgment?
Aren't you glad that with Romans 3:23 there is a Romans 3:24?
I am


Being Justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Justified. What a beautiful word. I heard one person describe Justified like this. "It is Just-as-if-I'd never sinned. Jesus, through the salvation He offers us, undoes all the bondage of sin that we are wrapped up in. He frees us from the penalty of sin. He breaks the power of sin. He fills us with the Holy Spirit to drive away the presence of sin. Such is the new life He offers to all who come to him believing by faith.

I have seen the power of His justification.
I have seen it in my own life and in the lives of others.
Others,whose story was so bad, you wondered if anything or anyone could help them or save them.

Yet Jesus turned them around.
He birthed them to a new life. A new way of thinking and doing business in this world. A new way of walking daily in this life.
Such is the power and person of Christ.
As the big book of A.A. says, "God did for me what I could not do for myself."


You know, when you're struggling, it is easy to find those verses in the Bible that seem to point the finger at you and declare you to be beyond help. verses like Romans 3:23. But know this! For every verse that reads like Romans 3:23. For every verse that seems to go right to the very heart of who you are and what you are struggling with..........there is a Romans 3:24 that declares the incredible love God has for you, and his desire to see you made whole and well. Aren't you glad he put those in there? I am.
Go forth and have yourself a Romans 3:24 kind of day.

God on you....

mb

Sunday, October 27, 2013

2 More Years And I CAN Sing That Beatles Song


Psalm 121:2
My help comes from the LORD who made heaven and earth.

Well Gilligan.....
We are in uncharted waters.
Never been here before and not sure how to read the seas, but I'll press on and hope we don't have an end to this three-hour tour.
What am I talking about?
Well, yesterday was my birthday. Turned 62. Never been 62 before. But then again I was never 61 either. But God gave me a whole year to learn how. How to deal with all the "61" issues that I would have to face. Hopefully during the year, I gleaned some wisdom and grew in Christ. Hate to think I wasted a whole year and didn't learn anything.

62----
Feels strange in my mouth when I say it. But the mirror doesn't lie. Wrinkles, gray beard, no hair. No wait...I haven't had hair since Truman was in office. At an age when some are retired or looking forward to retirement, I am excited about where God is leading Vicki and me. Since returning to Vineyard to start the Recovery Church, we have been renewed in our spirit's. There is an excitement on Saturday's as we take care of the chores and head toward 7 p.m. Excitement because we are expecting God to come and reveal himself. Be it through the teaching of His word, the worship or during ministry time. We hold the meeting and the evening very loosely to allow Him to do whatever is on His heart. I guess you could call Vineyard Recovery Church a place and a people of expectancy. 


Last night was no different.
Lot's of visitor's. We now have a steady contingency from the Center Of Hope, a treatment facility in Anniston, who come on Saturday nights. But no matter where they come from, our prayer and desire is to love them and make sure they get what they need while they are with us. As I heard it said before by a young boy trying to explain what his church believes...."We love Jesus............We love people who love Jesus........and we love people who don't love Jesus." I think that pretty well sums it up for us a community of believer's. We want to love above everything else that is deemed important in a church. Not love as the world does, but with the heart and nature of our Father in heaven. That kind of love makes a difference.

Jason Knight shared his journey story last night and it was incredible.
Such is why we felt God call us to start Vineyard Recovery Church.
That it would be a place where everyone is important and has a part and role to occupy in the Kingdom of God. 
As Jason stood and talked of how God led him through all the destruction of his bad choices, I couldn't help but think back on what he was sharing. I met Jason through Rapha and spent a lot of time with him. He was ready to change and was willing to go to great lengths to leave the past behind. Now, last night, standing there telling of his journey, I thought to myself, "Here is living, breathing proof of the goodness of God." You did good God!

Now back to being 62. You may not get the title to today's posting.
"2 more years and I CAN sing that Beatles song".
That would be Paul McCartney's "WHEN I'M 64".
Actually been singing this song since 1967...
Never really considered the fact that I'd be around to actually be that age.
But hey....bonus. Right?
I love this time in my life and wouldn't go back for all the tea in China.

"Thank you for saving me, Lord."
"And thank you for my family."

"I really do like 62, Father, and I think it fits me pretty well."

God on you...

mb

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Support Of Truth


I Timothy 3:15
If I am detained, you may know how people ought to conduct themselves in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and stay (prop and support) of the truth.

Everything must have a foundation upon which it is built.
Buildings.....
Highways....
Governments.....
and yes....
even humans.
We must have a foundation of belief's, either wrong or right, that will guide us through life.
The older I get the more I see that what we truly believe is found in the actions of our everyday life.
If that life is wrongly grounded upon a shaky foundation, then the actions will be destructive and bring about bad consequences.
Given a sure foundation....
A firm foundation.....

even when life throws us a curve ball and we find ourselves in the middle of an emotional storm of conflict and doubt, we have that sure, steady place inside from which we can make our choices.

That is why this verse from I Timothy 3 is so important to me. If I want to learn truth, I turn to God. If I want a place where I can grow in truth, I turn to a community of like minded people. The church. This is why Saturday night's are so important to me. I can go and be grounded for the coming week. I can worship and be among people who also desire to continue in this new life we have been given. Being "Born Again" is more than a catchy phrase that some thought Jimmy Carter created when he ran for President. No...Jesus spoke to a religious ruler who had come to him under the cover of night to ask some questions. Jesus told him, "You have to be born again to understand and enter the Kingdom of heaven." In other words, you got to have a whole new foundation laid from which you will learn how to live life under the direction of God's Holy Spirit. Born Again.

This gathering of people who have been born again (we call the church) is the ground from which truth is grown. It is the pillar or support of the truth. You see we can't measure the success of any church by the number of people who attend.....we measure it by the quality of people it produces. Do they love Jesus? Are the being "Salt and light" in their communities? Do they love each other in word AND DEED? Truth is not a mental exercise. Truth is not merely a nod that something is condoned or accepted. Truth is what sets you free from any one or any thing that runs contrary to God's will. Truth is a weapon that is to be wielded when the enemy comes at us with his lies. We learn, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, how to accept truth about ourselves. How to embrace the changes that we are seeing that we need to make. 

What better place to make these changes that within a community of people who are just crazy enough believe that God is who He claims to be and will do what He claims He will do.
The church....

God on you....
mb

Friday, October 25, 2013

GSL 2000




Above you see the very first copy of the Greene Street Letters that we sent out back in 1994. I won't go into the history of the whole "newsletter" thing, but suffice it to say it has gone on longer than I ever though it would.

Today is the 2000th posting here at the Greene Street Letters. I guess that is a accomplishment of some sorts, but my real prayer is, and continues to be, that something written here will awaken something in the hearts of those who visit and read the posting.That you might see God in a way you hadn't before. That He would speak to you as you read.

I make no pretense as to the depth of intellectual content in this blog. It has been my firm belief that the Gospel is a simple message, and that we complicate it way to much. So I try to stick to the simple message, like Paul, of knowing nothing among you except Jesus and Him crucified. Everything goes out from the cross. Salvation, regeneration, justification, and sanctification all come to us because of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Tie in the message of the cross of Christ to the reality of addiction and you have the answer to all our problems. I'm not talking about church, or denominations or conferences or the latest, bestest seller by the hottest Christian author. I'm talking about a full-blown, Holy Spirit blasting us, encounter with the living God. That is our hope and salvation of being healed and delivered out of the bondage of addiction. To be born again. To have our old life destroyed, and be given a new one in Christ. That is real healing. That is real recovery. That is real life.

That is why I write every morning, in hopes that someone has the lights turned on inside them and see the truth that "You don't have to live this way anymore." This whole Greene Street Letters thing isn't about me. It's about God. This is His blog. These are His thoughts and words given to me to give to you. 

So to all of you who come here and read what is offered, I am grateful for you and thank you.
If you find value in what is posted here, then share it with someone.
God on you......

mb

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Really? You Expect Me To Believe That?



Luke 24:11
And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.

The women had returned from the tomb where Jesus had been laid.
Out of breath and everyone jabbering like magpies, they had tried to tell the others what they had found. But it was to far fetched to seem true. Truth was..............the women were not lying. Jesus had indeed risen from the dead. Whether the men believed it or not did not negate the truth. The truth stood in stark contrast to any argument that could have been delivered to counter it. Truth has a way of operating in this manner. It is not taken down by any conflict of interest or argument thrown out as a roadblock by those who don't believe. Now,  couple this idea with the knowledge wrap around the Truth of God.


I can speak truth to those still under the bondage of addiction and you can see it in their eyes.
"Fairy tales!"
"Yeah, right!"
"Who are you kidding!"
And on and on the litany of excuses surfaces with each statement of truth. 
Yet my Bible says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved".
Now that is a statement of truth.
Believe----rely on----cling to----lash yourself to this individual we call Jesus---and throw down all your arguments. You will be saved.
You will be counted among those who are living, breathing and prospering in this life we have been given. Prospering as your soul prospers. You know there are riches that go beyond dollars and cents. Now if God deems that you make a lot of money, more power to you. But don't use this whole "getting saved" idea to think you are going to launch out to "moola" island and live the rest of your life soaking up rays and eating cheese. Like I said, there is more to life than money and stuff. 

We have listened to the inner voice that plays out in our minds for so long, that we have bought into a lie. We need to listen to the heart voice that pulls us whenever we hear anything to do with Jesus or the gospel (come to think of it, the two are inseparable aren't they?) and when we feel or are aware of that heart tug, respond by saying, "Yes Lord...I give myself to receive whatever you want to do in me. That is called surrender. For once in your life, don't listen to the argument that comes to your mind and spirit whenever you are conflicted about what to do. Simply surrender and then wait for the real deal Jesus to speak to your spirit. Then do it! 

I don't know about you, but if I don't listen with my heart, my first response to anything I'm told is to reject it as not being the truth. That is not a healthy or smart way to live. So the more I walk daily with Jesus........the more I practice listening for His voice (inside me)......the more I study His word.............The easier it is for me to get out of the way and simply let Him work in my life.
Sure does make things more bearable and simpler.

If you're free this Saturday night, come out to Vineyard Recovery Church. Jason Knight will be sharing the story of his journey. It's always neat to hear others and how they found the way out of darkness. VRC starts at 7 p.m........everyone welcome.

God on you....

mb

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Power Of Love



"For God So loved the world......."
"For God is love......"
"For the Fruit of the Spirit is love......"

The Power to change and the power to be changed is found in the most misunderstood word in the English language. That word is love.
Love isn't an emotion.
Love isn't a feeling.

Love is a choice.
A choice that is birthed in a heart that has been the recipient of the most incredible types of love ever. The Love of God poured out on me, the most undeserving person ever to walk this earth. He chose me. He loves me. And in return, He is trying to teach me how to love like Him.

Ephesians 3:17-19 - That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. That you, being rooted and grounded in LOVE, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth, and height----to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge. That you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Did you catch that in the verses above?
Did you catch the dimensions of the love of God?

His love is so wide that it will cover anything and everything.
His love is so long that he will go to any lengths to pour it out on you.
His love is so deep that nothing can escape His power to heal and restore. To forgive and redeem.
His love is so high it reaches to heaven. In other words, His love, poured on us, is to be returned to Him by us. That is the spiritual life-line, or connection that ties us to God.
His love.


God on you....
mb

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Peace In The Middle Of The Storm




Peace in the middle of the storm.
Storm's come in various ways and with various intensity.
But they all have one thing in common. When we talk about the "storm's of life", they come to rob us of our stable place. They come to stir our emotions and bring anxiety to us. They come to steal our peace and cause us to return to our old way of thinking and doing business with world. In other words, the storm's of life come to drive us back into our old life.

The old life that was full of doubt and fear.
The old life that looked to "self" to figure out how to make it.
The old life that nearly killed us.

Jesus is our haven of peace in the middle of the storm.
Jesus is that rock and stable place on which we may stand and face whatever storm comes our way.
Jesus!

As much as I love the Twelve Steps....
The Twelve Steps won't save you.....

They will not undo the wrong that had festered inside and became the driving force you listened to.
Only Jesus can do bring right to every wrong you possess.

Only Jesus can break the power of addiction, the presence of addiction and the penalty of addiction in your life.
Only Jesus can break the power of sin, the presence of sin and the penalty of sin in your life.

Isaiah 4:6
And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.
You don't have to continue living life as a punching bag for every storm to batter and buffet.
You can be set free to live life as God created you to live.
When the storm's come (notice I said when, not "if") and they will come, you will have a refuge to go to.

Lord......Help me to respond rightly to the storm's of my life when they come. Let me find refuge in you and in your Word. Be an ever present strength and help to me during the seasons of storm's. 
Amen!

God on you.....
mb

Monday, October 21, 2013

Caleb's Got A Little Attitude



Numbers 13:30
Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it."

I taught from this passage Saturday night.
Too often we skirt the edges of recovery, thinking that just being near someone, or going to a meeting without the commitment is all we need to do.


Crippled by fear and doubt, we are like the ten other men who were sent by Moses to spy out this new land that God had given to the Hebrews. It was a fantastic place with an abundance of natural resources needed to survive. The timing was perfect because it was harvest season. The fruit trees and vines were full of ripe fruit just waiting to be picked. But there was one thing wrong.......the people who lived there.

The ten naysayers who were a part of the group made a collective statement that sounds so much like what I have heard in recovery before. Comparing themselves to the people they say, the ten said, "We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes...and we looked the same to them." Recovery means facing up to the giants that we have created through our own destruction of using. It does seem insurmountable and impossible. But II Corinthians 5:7 commands us (not suggests to us) that we are to Walk by faith. We can't let what our natural senses tell us be the measure of whether we do or don't do. Whether we go or stay. We move, eat, breathe, play, sleep and rest by faith. 


On the surface, Caleb's statement of "let's go get'er done!" sounds a bit over confident. Maybe even a pie-in-sky kind of statement. Not so. It was founded on the knowledge of who God is and what God wanted to accomplish through this new nation of people He had claimed as His own. Caleb merely stated the truth. We can do this!

That is what I share with the men who come through the program at Rapha. Why would God go to all the trouble to created a treatment facility (and it was the hand of God who brought Rapha to life) only to see a  person fail and remain in addiction? I can truthfully say that Rapha can be the last rehab a man has to go to, because I know that God can and will deliver anyone who is ready to go in and possess this new "LIFE" that only He can provide. Pie-in-the-sky? Nope. God-in-my-life! That is difference between laying hold of what He has promised and walking away in fear only to be consumed by the giants of addiction.

God on you...
mb

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Voices Part 2


John 10:4
When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

Continuing on from yesterday's posting about the wrong voices that we listen to sometimes. 

5.) Family History- Things or attitudes that seem to have followed the genealogy of families. Maybe someone keeps saying, because of your foul ups and bad track record, "You're just like your father."  It may even be tied to generational curses that will speak to you and against you.

6.) Challenging Voices- Voices that will come to question everything you try to do that is right. Like the serpent talking with the woman in the garden of Eden, there is this challenge against God.  "Did God really say?" Automatically brings doubt into the mind. We have to be strong in God's Spirit to resist and not allow our minds to put down roots in those thoughts.

7.) Road Blocks- Such thoughts always question decisions we have made. "Be careful you're about to loose it all!" "Watch out, you're getting religious." And on and on the voices speak putting road blocks in our way as we navigate life.

8.) Voices of Perfectionism- Usually comes under the guise of "getting it right for God".  The voice will tell us, "You need to do better." Or "That's not good enough. Do you think God would accept this?" These voices take us out from under the Grace of God and forces us into a place where we feel like we have to perform for God. Not only perform, but get it all right and proper. While I'm not advocating messing up or totally botching it for Jesus, I am saying that God's heart is for us not what we do. What we do is a by-product of who I am in Him. No matter how perfect I want to be...I can't be any more
"Save-der" than I currently am.

9.) Accents my lack of talents and skills- Such thoughts come against me with, "Who do you think you are? There are others who are more talented than you. Better speakers. Deeper thinkers. They even love God more than you." Boy, when I allow these voices to talk to me, it is an uphill battle. The example Jon Sterns used was the shepherd boy, David.  Not exactly a military genius, David went out to face the giant, and after being taunted by the Giant, David delivered a prophetic word from God. I Samuel 17:45-46 - David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of The Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. Did you catch where the victory for David was coming from? The source of how this fight was going to turn out? David said, "This day the Lord will hand you over to me." It had nothing to do with David's ability, and everything to do with God's.

10.) Voices of the future- The create every terrible scenario that could be imagined about what might happen in the future. "Oh if you continue on this religious path, you're going to destroy your family." We seem to have a propensity to be fearful of the future anyway. After all, it is the future isn't it? No one knows (at least human wise) what lies ahead. No one knows what is going to happen. Such is all the more reason we should trust God. After all, we are called to follow Jesus, aren't we? Well, if we are following, that means that is going to always be in front. He arrives in the future before we do. 

I trust that these past two posting here at the Greene Street Letters have been helpful and that you will take them to heart. Don't let these voices side track you and bring you to a screeching halt in your journey with Jesus.

God on you.....

mb

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Jon Sterns And The 10 Destructive Voice


More From the Southeaster Leadership Conference: Day 2

Jon Sterns, pastor of Franklin, Tennessee Vineyard Spoke about the Cycles of Seasons.
We all go through season and times of growth as we move through life. Times where we face new challenges and maybe even new directions in where God is taking us. During these seasons, there is a cycle we go through that has four parts.

1.) Cycle of renewal - we have zeal and passion for this new thing that God is doing in us. We are excited and the possibilities are endless as to what God might do.

2.) Cycle of reality- We are met with life's counter punch to this new season. Not that it's all bad, but reality comes and separates what is from God and what is simply our own strength and miss understanding.

3.) Cycle of reality stinks- We begin to bog down and loose momentum in this season. We loose focus and began to question why we are doing what we doing.

4.) Cycle of moving forward or getting stuck - At this point, we began to deconstruct life because it is no longer working for us.

So to put it in a nutshell,  Cycle #1 -  Go for it! all excited.  Cycle #2 - doldrums...the new has worn off. Cycle #3 - cocooning. We close the door and stay home. Cycle #4- Getting ready for the next season.

So what is the answer to the cycle problem?
# 1 - Proverbs 4:23 - Above all else, guard your hearts for it is the wellspring of life.
Or, guard your heart because everything you do flows from it. Keep all vigilance and determine to not let every thought meander and grow in the heart. 

#2 - Guard and possess what God is entrusting to you.  Numbers 13:30- We should go up and take possession of the land,for we can certainly do it.
This was Caleb's response to the others who were to terrified to take what God has given to them. Caleb was all about getting on with this journey and not let fear stop the momentum God had given to the people.


During these cycles, we have to be aware of "voices" that will come to our minds and hearts and speak to us. This really hit home with me as I struggle at times with these thoughts and voices that seem to want to derail what God is doing.

Jon listed 10 voices not to listen to:

1.) The voice that tells you, "you have limited financial and physical resources."
If God has called you into a new season, a new place or a new work that he desires to bring through you. Then he will finance it and he will provide what you need.

2.) Voice of comparison - Causes you to look at others and how well they are doing as opposed to your own screw ups and miss steps. In fact, Jon said that comparison was a sin. Dude! I so needed to hear this one. I find myself looking to others and their success and measuring myself by it. As the Bible so plainly states, "STOP IT!".

3.) Past Failures- Keeps you tied to the past. Even when you have repented and confessed and received forgiveness, the enemy likes to remind us of what a failure we are. don't buy into this one.

4.) Public Opinion- False Belief #2 - I really, really need the approval of others to even feel good about myself. When I don't get that approval....I go into a tailspin.

I will continue this posting tomorrow....Keep you guessing, o.k.?
Have a great Saturday!

God on you....

mb

Friday, October 18, 2013

Audio Message 10/12/13 ---He Left Us His Peace



Of all the things Jesus could have left when he returned to heaven, he chose to leave us his peace.
How cool is that?
Here is the audio message from VRC 10/12/13.
Feel free to download.

God on you...

God Was In The House!


Matthew 16:18
.....And on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Last night was the opening session for the Southeastern Vineyard Leadership conference that was being held in Guntersville. I never really know what to expect from these gatherings, and I must admit they are not my cup of tea. But After attending and hearing Phil Strout, national director of the Vineyard, share his heart about our future, I went away encouraged and very hopeful.

Before the meeting started, I was seated in the main portion of the Hotel watching and writing down my thoughts in my journal. At one point, after seeing Bubba Justice, Pastor of the Inverness Vineyard, I wrote how we were all older, but the fire doesn't seem to be dying, only growing and getting hotter. The fire of God to embrace the call to speak, teach and demonstrate the Kingdom of God to a world that doesn't know Jesus. I jotted down a prayer which basically said, "Lord, give us the fire to carry out your call....all the way to the end." Turns out this was the heart of Phil's message. 

Phil was very transparent in the way he talked and shared. I like that. You feel like you could sit down and have a conversation with him and there would be no pretense. He is who he is. I am going to list some of the comments he made during his teaching.




1.) We (the Vineyard) have got business to do concerning the Kingdom of God. It's time we quit thinking we have the corner on the Holy Spirit. God is at work around the world, so we better wise up and move out.

2.) Vineyard is preparing to release the country of Brazil to form their own Association of Vineyard Churches. American leaders have been in Brazil for years and have raised up leaders and churches. Now they are turning them over to the Brazilian pastors. 

3.) There are currently 50 churches in Indonesia soon to be released as their own Association of Vineyard Churches.
          A.) AVC is the ruling or governing section that aids churches of the region. So rather than trying to pull everyone under a single covering...the AVC of a country would better understand the needs of the local churches in that region.

4.) Phil taught on leadership and used racing as an example. He said that the most dangerous part of a race course is not the straightaways...it is the curves...
Every race car is built to go fast, but it is in the curves where your accidents happen. The call of Christ to be a pastor or leader in the movement is not to the fastest. It isn't about being fast. It is about simply lasting and carrying it out all the way to the end.

5.) Over the years, Phil has had to deal with pastors and leaders who have spun out in their commitment to Christ and the call. He said that there was a common factor among everyone who had found themselves in this place.
        A.) A lack of personal growth -- spiritually.
        B.) Ministry, all ministry, comes from overflow not overwork.

6.) In a race of 600 laps, the fastest car usually doesn't win. It is the one who plans and pays attention to detail. They are always looking ahead.
                                     "Thrive until We Are Done!"

7.) We are servants: There is any shelf life for being a servant. In other words, we keep on keepin' on till the end.

8.) When a leader spins out they usually take 5 - 10 others with the crash. So this thing we call leadership isn't a solo act. Like the body of Christ, we are connected and draw strength from Father God and each other.

My Personal favorite:
9.) Phil emphasized that no one at the conference was to go around asking "How's your church running?" IF you want to ask anything, it should be "How's your soul?"

I will update more tomorrow.
Good stuff...
God stuff....


God on you...

mb

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Real Superman


John 2:7-8
Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water." So they filled them up to the brim. Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."

Jesus was incredible was he not?
He had the ability (power and authority) to alter matter.
He could simply speak and elements would increase, or they would be changed into something totally new.
In the case of the verses in John 2, a wedding was going on. Wine was a part of the celebration and in this case, someone forgot to inventory how much was needed. The hosts were running out. To have this happen was the most embarrassing of situations a person could face. So what did Jesus do? Told the servants to fill up some urns with water. Six urns and the capacity of each one was estimated to be between 20 and 30 gallons. That is at least 120 and could have been 180 gallons of water.

Somewhere along the way between the filling and the talking....Jesus altered the molecular structure of the water and turned it into wine. Not the cheap stuff either. His authority and power went down to the atomic level of matter and changed it. Hard to wrap my head around that one.

Then there was the matter of feeding 5,000 plus people with a Happy Meal. To be honest, it was 5 biscuits and 2 fish sticks.  I mean, come on! How can you even look at that meager portion of food and then look at that crowd and declare, "Well, we've got enough here."?
But that is what Jesus did.
He took the fish and bread.
He broke them (like that was going to make it go farther)....No, all blessing come to a place of brokenness in our lives. We can't be blessed until we are broken and ready to receive.

He blessed the food.
Then He distributed it among the disciples to be passed out.
Here again, Jesus goes right to the atomic level of matter. Only this time, he isn't going to change it as much as he is multiply it. If I remember correctly, my early science teachings told me that matter can neither be created or destroyed. I think maybe Jesus messed all that up when the fish and bread was created and multiplied to feed the multitude. That Jesus! He'll get all up in some science and mess it up, won't he?

Why all the "matter" talk this morning?
Because if Jesus can do that with water and bread and fish.....
Imagine what he can do with me.
Imagine what he can do with addiction.

If this Jesus can command all the way down to the atomic level....I am certain he can speak into my heart and work a new work.
I'm sure he can move attitudes and thoughts and behaviors by the introduction of the Holy Spirit into my miserable existence, putting me on the path to a new way of living and doing business with the world. That's my Jesus!

As Larry Norman sang----"Why don't you check into Jesus...he's got the answers."

God on you...

mb

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I Am Free



I have been set free because I ran into the ultimate authority and power.
An authority and power greater than any on earth, under the earth or in heaven.
A Power that is able to break the bonds of any sin/addiction.

Able to command doors to open and prisoners be set free.
But even as the door swings open and I hear the words, "Do you want to be free?" I have to make a decision. Do I go........or do I stay in this cell.

Do I step out and experience the freedom of Christ?
Or do I remain in bondage and only dream of freedom.
Living in bondage accepting a pseudo-freedom that only pretends to offer me real life?


I know this cell all to well.
I know the dimensions of it, the boundaries that hold me fast.
I know what is expected of me if I stay in this cell. I make not like it, but I do know what to expect. If I step outside the cell, I am entering uncharted waters of freedom. The only thing I am sure of is the presence and the voice of the one who had called me into this new life.


I can trust Him.
I can rely on Him. Not as a get-out-of-jail-free- card like in Monopoly.
But one who has my good will and best interest at heart. One who wants to call me into an adventure outside the walls of the cell that I have lived in for so long. To experience what true freedom really means. Free from "self" to live in Him. Free from addiction to live in Him.

There are a lot things I am not.

But free is not one of them.....
I am free because the Son has made and set me free.


I Peter 2:16
Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil. Live as servants of God.

God on you....

mb

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Seth Barber Teaches From Acts 27



One of the best messages on recovery I've ever heard. 
Seth Barber teaches from Acts 27 about getting what we desire, even though it is bad for us, and then having to suffer the consequences for our actions.

Feel free to download this message.
It is also posted in the mp3 player located on the right side of this blog.

Doxology? No It's Not A New Detergent


How many Sunday's did we sing this at church?
More than I care to count, but the sad part is that the Doxology became a ritual. It became something that we did without really thinking about. Let me rephrase that....it became ritual to me. I said the words....I hit the right notes...but my heart was not bound to the words. 


"Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen".

Written in 1674 by Thomas Ken, an priest in the Church of England, the words above are the most widely recognized "doxology" or praise to God. A declaration of faith directed toward God, doxology is found throughout the scripture. It is, what I would call, an encapsulated praise service within itself. 

In Acts 16:25, we read about Paul and Silas being locked in a jail. They have been beaten and flogged by the authorities for "insurrection" for preaching the gospel. They have been placed in the inner cells to be guarded and not allowed to escape. They have had their feet placed in stocks to insure their incarceration. But no man can confine the spirit. No man can stop praises and worship of Almighty God. That is what Paul and Silas did there in the most miserable of places a human could be. They prayed and they "Doxologized" to God. There in the darkness of this prison, something took place that I am pretty sure had never happened before. A worship service broke out. Scripture tells us that the other prisoners were listening to what was going on (Acts 16:25). Sometimes our praises to God spill over and affect those around us as we worship. They are brought into the circle of God's presence by our actions. They are brought in, and find themselves coming under the influence of God's Holy Spirit.

As the men continued in their praise service, a funny thing happened. An earthquake broke out and shook the foundation of the prison. The walls of the prison did not fall. The roof didn't cave in. But the doors to the cells flew open and all who were prisoners had their chains fall off. A pretty intense example of what happens when we worship and "doxologize" Jesus. We are set free from the things that are trying to hold us in bondage. Praising God in the bad times is really not the norm for our culture, but it truly goes to God's heart when we learn this example. Praising God for who He is and for what He has done for us is important and helps to keep me grounded in the reality of who I am in Christ.

Here is something that I believe every follower of Jesus is called to do:
1.) Know the Word of God
2.) Know the God of the Word
3.) Learn to incorporate worship to God in our daily lives.

Learn to "doxologize" to God! You might be surprised as to what happens when you.

God on you...

mb


Monday, October 14, 2013

Jesus And The Kids



What an incredible thoughts.....
To simply be in the presence of Jesus because that is all your heart desires.

No prayers for anything other than Him.
No intercession for events or others....just a desire to be with Him.
Sometimes I need this.
Just to sit and be quiet in His presence.
I won't read my Bible....
I won't pray any prayers at all, other than "come Lord Jesus".

To simply rest in Him and listen for His voice.
Funny how my thoughts change when I do this.
I find myself slowing down in thought. My mind doesn't race with a million different things. I loose my anxiousness and I find myself almost to the point of drifting off to sleep.


I remember being with my family on a trip to some location, and we'd be driving back at night. It would be late and I would curl up in the back seat to sleep. We would eventually reach home and my dad would take me up in his arms, carry me into the house and put me to bed. Sometimes I would wake up during this process, knowing that my father had me, and I would feel safe and loved. It is no different with Jesus. Resting in His presence, feeling His love for me, and being aware of my love for Him. 

He called us to be like little children. To believe Him with a faith that is pure and not tainted by the world. To take Him at this word and stand upon His promises.
In the verse from Mark 10, the people brought their children to Jesus for no other reason than to have him touch them and pray over them. I think (here again this is conjecture on my part) that Jesus truly loved these moments when he got to interact with children. Their honesty and loving hearts were open to receive from Him. The tone of His voice brought peace to their little hearts. They knew that He could be trusted and would do nothing to harm them. Jesus looking down into those little eyes, all wide with amazement that He had taken the time to be with them. Truth be known, there was probably a lot of laughter during this prayer time with the children. And for that brief moment in their lives.....nothing else mattered except Him and the words He was speaking over them. They became the most important thing, as Jesus spoke to the adults about the need to be like children if they wanted to enter the Kingdom of heaven. How could you not want to be blessed by Him? I know I do. so, yes! I want to grow up before I grow older. And yes! I want to be childlike in my relationship with Jesus. To simply be with Him because that is all I want.........to be with Him.


God on you.....

mb

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Why Vineyard Recovery Church?


Ephesians 4:12  (Amplified Bible)
His intention was the perfecting and the full equipping of the saints (His consecrated people), that they should do the work of ministering toward building up Christ's body (the church)

A lot of people have been asking me what Vineyard Recovery Church is all about, and why there is a need for such a thing. They usually refer to the multitude of meetings that are recovery driven and wonder if there is a need.

As we are still in a building process of coming together on Saturday nights, the one thing I do know is that VRC is a bit different. We are called to be an entry point into the body of Christ for those who are coming out of addiction. You may be thinking, "But isn't that what Church is for?" That you go to church, you get saved and and you join a fellowship?" On some levels I would agree with that, but what happens when the individual who is saved has no concept or idea about how church is operated, or what is expected of them? What happens when they don't understand such phrases as "Blood-bought" or "Justification"? I remember a good friend of mine got saved gloriously and found a church home to go to. Latter they confessed that it felt like being in a foreign country,  not being able to understand the language (Which I refer to a "Church-ese".  No one was there to help guide her into this new way of living.


Sometimes if you're the one who doesn't understand exactly what is going on...you feel like you're on the outside looking in. VRC was created to be that place where questions can be asked. Where the teachings all point to God, showing how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit operate in this new life we have embraced through salvation.

We teach what worship is all about, and what is happening while we are worshiping. I guess you could say that VRC is a "show and tell" of what church is really all about. 
While I encourage people to continue to go to recovery meetings, I also encourage them to come on Saturday night if they want to learn more about the body of Christ. The one thing that every person who starts this journey in recovery needs is family. A community of people who can share their stories, their struggles and their triumphs.

We will see a huge turnover in the people who come to VRC, but that is all part of the process. Some will stay and will join the ranks of leadership. Others will get what they need and move on back to their hometowns and communities. But hopefully they will do so with a more clearer understanding of who God is and what church is truly all about.

To me, what we are called to do on Saturday night will make the body of Christ more richer and fuller as people take their place and begin to "Do The Stuff" as Wimber use to say. 
Last night's service was another brick placed by God as He continues to build upon this work called Vineyard Recovery Church. We focused on the work of the Holy Spirit and how He is the promised "POWER" sent to us by Christ. The Holy Spirit becomes the internal guidance system in this new life of recovery. At the end of the service, I asked for those who wanted to be filled with God's Holy Spirit to come forward. The front flooded with people, and as the ministry team began to pray, God's presence was very thick in the room. 

As I stood upon the stage and surveyed the room, I began to see not just the individual people, but the stories of the past life. A young man stood with head bowed, tears streaming down his face as a woman prays over him. This young man was suppose to have died last year because he had OD'ed and coded three times on the way to the hospital. God wasn't through with him and now here the young man was asking to be filled with God's Holy Spirit.

Such as this is why we do Vineyard Recovery Church.
God on you....
mb

Saturday, October 12, 2013

God, Celebrate Recovery And The Holy Spirit


John 16:8
When he (Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.

What a beautiful thing conviction is. It strikes the human heart as only the Holy Spirit can deliver. It uncovers and brings up old emotions tied to the memories we have tried to suppress through drugs and alcohol. Bottom line, He makes us uncomfortable. We don't like having this spiritual light turned on so that everything is exposed. But this is the place where real healing can begin.

It is an amazing thing to teach the word of God and then see the teaching backed up by a demonstration of God's power and love. A demonstration of people coming down for ministry and prayer as God begins to heal and restore. Such was the case last night at Celebrate Recovery Centre, Ala.

The evening always begins with the CR Worship Band. One of my favorites because I know that they are going to follow the Holy Spirit in their music. They are not at all intimidated about going off into the music, singing prophetically and just letting the Spirit have His way. Such as this sets up the teaching and prepares people to hear what God has to say. 

Heather Danner Owens, along with Donnie and Greg (leaders of CR) stand to give the chips out to mark the milestones in recovery. Heather shares from her heart about her journey from this madness we call addiction. What a story! She is an ongoing work of progress but has fallen in love with this Jesus and is just crazy enough to follow Him where ever He leads. Such stories as this always catches the "first-timers" there at the CR meeting. To hear of the depth of darkness that a person has been pulled from by God, always plants the seeds of "Maybe He could do this for me".  

I teach from I Corinthians about being chosen. About how God is here in this meeting and the choice has been made by him. He is offering a way out of the madness and he has chosen each of us to receive. The real question is "what are we going to do with this invitation?" Are we going to receive it and be changed? Or are we going to reject it and continue deeper into the madness and the darkness? 

Prayer for God to come...
The band begins to play....
People slowly start to make their way to the front falling to their knees, heads bowed.
Tears begin to fall as each person is met by a staff member of CR.

God is at work. His Holy Spirit is uncovering and at the same time, bringing healing and salvation as only God can give. 
Not a temporary fix or a spiritual high that will vanish like a vapor.
But real, solid, divine restoration that will provide the foundation for a new life to built upon. The foundation of Jesus Christ.
This is why I go to CR.
To see God move.
To see people saved.

To see lives turned around and filled with His Holy Spirit.
To remind myself of what an incredible gift I have been given by God.

God on you....

mb

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Person, Presence And Power Of God's Holy Spirit


II Timothy 1:7
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (Of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but He has given us a spirit of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.

I love this verse from II Timothy because it plainly spells out what God has not given us.
Well, if these things didn't come from God, then where did they come from? They are a result of our indulgence into sin and the influence behind our actions....the devil.

The primary emotion (whether an individual wants to admit it or not) behind addiction, once the using starts, is fear. Fear of being uncovered. Fear of being caught. Fear of not having enough drugs or alcohol...fear...fear...fear. This fear becomes a huge beast which will consume the soul given over to addiction. But the Scripture clearly states that such has not been given to us by God.


In fact, the things that God has given to us (those who have been saved and are living out this new relationship with Jesus) is like a tool belt. We have the necessary things to aid us and guide us through our everyday life. No matter what we may face or run into, God has and will continue to give you what you need to move forward. To move forward and not cut and run back to the old lifestyle.  

NO.# 1 thing God has given us, according to II Timothy 1:7 is a spirit of POWER! Isn't that weird that this is the first thing mentioned? Power? Yet that is the first thing mentioned in the Twelve Steps that we go in search of. A Power greater than ourselves. The search doesn't have to go far, because God is more than willing to provide this needed Power in our lives to help us.
This Power comes in the form of God's Holy Spirit given to everyone who is saved.

John 14:16 reads: And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby) that He may remain with you forever.

All of those titles given to the Holy Spirit is for our benefit to aid us through whatever we face.
If we need wisdom on how to deal with a situation, we have a Counselor.
If we are at a loss on what to do,  we have a Helper.
If we are hurting so bad we don't know what to pray or how to pray, we have an Intercessor.
When we feel like the entire world is against us and we are being drowned under a tidal wave of accusation, we have an Advocate.
When we admit our powerlessness, we have a Strengthener.

And when we don't know how we are going to make it, we have a Standby...someone who is right there with us to hold us up.
This incredible presence, God's Holy Spirit, is right there 24/7...365!
Now if that don't make you feel good....I don't know what will....
Recognize who lives within you....
He understands what you are facing and is willing to guide you through whatever comes your way today.
Lean on Him!


God on you...

mb

Kingdom Work Doesn't Always Look Like What We Think It Does

Parking lot was crowded yesterday. It was near noon and people were taking care of their business, hurrying in and out of the building. I...