Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Washed To The Sea



Hebrews 6:19
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil....

Hope? To me, it is a confident expectation.
Hope has a purpose and is truly defined by the focus of my expectation, Jesus.
It is my finite mind laying hold of a very simple fact.
No matter what life may hand me today...
No matter what my circumstance or situation may be today....
Jesus is my ultimate goal.
To hear Him when He speaks to me....
To carry out whatever He may say to me...
And to find a joy that is greater than anything this world has to offer.

Hope tells me that one day all will be made right.
Hope fills me with a resolve to not give up...
to not quit...
But to press into, lean hard against, and soldier on, no matter what the obstacle is
that I have encountered.

Hope keeps me moving forward, without looking back to my past.
There's nothing back there in "Egypt", my past.
And I have found that when I do let my mind dwell on the "Egypt" of my past...
My memory is clouded with a romanticized view of how life use to be.
I don't look back, no matter what this day brings to me.
Why?
Because I have hope, and such is found in a person, Jesus.

Life is hard..
Jesus is my reward.
Life isn't fair...
Heaven is my home...
Life is cruel..
The Words of God keep my hope alive...
Very simple truth at work here...
Either Jesus is who He claimed to be...
And will do what He has promised He would do..
Or it's all a lie.
I fall on the side of placing my hope in and on Him.

Life isn't fair..
But I trust that Jesus will make all things right at some point in the future.
I trust that there won't be any more tears, or sorrow, or pain.
Such seem to be my traveling companions on this journey called life.

I Peter 1:3
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a
Living Hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Those who choose to follow this Jesus through life, are reborn into a new way to live.
And the promises that have been given to us, in Christ, are new and fresh
every morning.
They are not carved on some stone, covered with the dust of the ages.
They are ever relevant to our lives today.

Cast off the chains of the past that have kept you from this living hope.
Step out of the cell that has defined who you are.
Embrace this Jesus...
Lay hold of Him, as He has laid hold of you...
And live!

God on you...
mb

Monday, March 30, 2015

Times of Testing



Matthew 26:30-31
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. The Jesus said to them, "All  of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night. For it is written: ' I will strike the Shepherd, and the she sheep of the flock will be scattered.'"

we enter into that period of time between Palm Sunday and Good Friday. Between the time when Jesus, upon entering Jerusalem, was greeted with shouts of "Hosanna to the King! Glory to God in the Highest!"and a trial with trumped up charges. Talk about one extreme to the other, this week, in the life of Christ, had it all. But such was necessary and such was all part of God' s plan to open the door for humanity to have real relationship with Him again.

But why would the disciples need to go through such a thing? Why would Jesus tell them they were going to stumble in their belief of Him? Why would they have to go through such a thing a running away in fear when the guards and religious rulers came to arrest Jesus? 
Very simple answer to a complicated problem.

These eleven disciples, for Judas had now turned against Jesus, were the same ones who would later be filled with the Holy Spirit. These were the same 11 men who would turn the world upside down, shaking Rome to it's very core with the message about a risen Messiah.
These would be the same men who gave their very lives for the Gospel of Jesus. Each of these men had to put in a situation and place that would reveal their true hearts, so that they could understand the depth of God's love and forgiveness. Not a pleasant thing to go through after you have beat your chest and declared your love and loyalty to Christ, only to run for your own life when He was confronted in the garden. It never is pretty when we see the "Real" us in the light of God's plans. But the one thing that rises above every tragedy that took place during this week of turmoil and darkness that would be Jesus' death and resurrection, was the simple fact that God is a forgiving God. 


These eleven deserters received the ultimate pardon.
Wouldn't Peter's story be tragic if it had ended at the point of his denial of Christ?

But it didn't. It only set up the incredible offering of forgiveness and renewal that Jesus offered to Peter and the others.
You see, we need such times in our own lives.
Times when the real "us" comes out and we see ourselves as Jesus sees us.

For only in those moments, can we truly grow.
Only in those moments will grace, mercy and love, become more than just words that the church throws around.
They become life.
They become our connection to God.


The beauty in all of this is one simple fact.
You can't have the cross without the tomb....
And you can pass through Jesus' death without stepping into His resurrection.
From a place of total darkness and despair, comes life and light.
Only Jesus can do this for us and to us.
I know it's not Easter yet, but I'll say it anyway.

He Is Risen!

God on you...
mb

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Remember


Luke 24:8
And they remembered His words.....

The women had gone to the tomb of Jesus to prepare the body for a proper burial.
A noble gesture on their part, since His own disciples had scattered like the wind, fearing for their lives. Encountering two messengers sent from God, the women fell on their faces. The angels recounted the words of Jesus that the women had heard Him say before His death. As the message fell upon their ears, Scripture says that "They remembered His words."  

To remember the words of Christ opens the door to new hope. It bridges the gap between belief and the reality of the moment. To remember the words of Jesus is part of the work that the Holy Spirit does in us as we seek to follow Him each day.
To remember is the connection between the "Now and the not yet". To be tied to something greater than myself or my current situation, that brings me the assurance that God is still in control and I've nothing to fear.

John 14:24 reads: He (the Holy Spirit) will teach you all things, and bring to you remembrance all things that I said to you. That means when I study Scripture, even though my conscious mind may loose it...I may forget it, that, if needed for the moment, the Holy Spirit will bring it back because the words have importance for the situation I am facing. This is a part of relationship with Jesus that we have to work on and grow in. I guess the prayer I pray the most daily is, "Lord, I need to hear you!" I need your instruction, your guidance for this day. I do not have the luxury of just walking around willy-nilly hoping that God keeps me from going over the edge. Even though that is true, God's heart is for me to keep me from going over the edge, I have to listen for Him and not keep heading as fast as I can "to the edge".  Kind of like trying to walk out this new life of sobriety and recovery, yet you keep going to the bars and places you know you don't need to be hanging around. Somehow I keep hearing the words of Steve Yarbrough, "Jesus will save your soul, but He won't keep you sober."  There in is the need to be connected to Christ, to fill myself with God's Holy Spirit, and His word, that I might not make those destructive choices. That when life is a struggle between the old way and the new way....between going back to using, or pushing ahead in sobriety, I will remember His words. Not only will I remember them, I will act on them. 

Be strong and courageous this day....

Count it a blessing that you got up sober this morning.
You have been given an incredible gift this morning. Another opportunity to grow in Christ a little more.
To put one more day between you and your past.
Make this day count.

God on you...

mb

Friday, March 27, 2015

To My Son.


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Dad.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Yadsruht-- Finally!


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

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

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

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

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

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

God on you..

mb

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Jesus, Church, And Deviled Eggs


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

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

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


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

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

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

mb

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cross Talk On A Tuesday

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

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


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

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


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




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

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

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

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

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

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

God on you...

mb

Monday, March 23, 2015

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


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

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

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

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

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

This has got to stop.

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

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

Will there be trials? You bet'cha!

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

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


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


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

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


God on you...
mb

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Ruminating On A Saturday Morning


II Corinthians 5:9
Therefore we make it our aim whether present or absent to be well pleasing to Him (God).

I love this verse.
I love it because it reminds me that it isn't all about keeping a bunch of rules in order to please God.
I love it because it brings freedom to me. To realize that if you truly love someone, then you want to do things that pleases them.
Such is the way real relationship should be between God and me.


I don't learn what is pleasing by hanging out with people with who care nothing for or about God.
I don't learn what is pleasing to God by neglecting talking with Him.
More importantly, I don't learn what is pleasing by not taking the time to listen for and to Him to speak to me.
All part of the process of having real life with Him.

The process of learning to fall in love with God produces in an individual two things...
1.) the hunger to know (experience) Him more...
and
2.) the hunger to do those things that, we have learned, pleases God.
I don't share my story of what God has done for me to others because I have to...
I tell others about my God because I want to....


I pray because I have to...
I pray because I want to talk with Him.

I don't go to Vineyard ReCovery on Saturday nights because I have to..
I go because I can't wait to be with others who are hungry for God's presence, and to see what He is going to do in the meeting.

I go expecting to have an encounter....an experience with God.

So what is on tap for tonight?
We are going to talk about Divine Harmony.
What it is....

What it means to us as followers of Jesus.
How it plays out in our every day life.
If you are free tonight, then I want to extend an invitation to come out and join us. 
Meeting starts at 7 p.m.
We are located at Gadsden Vineyard Church..
Downtown Gadsden on Broad Street, between 4th and 5th streets.
Hope to see you..

God on you...
mb


Friday, March 20, 2015

Goodbye For Now, My Friend


I Corinthians 15:54-55
So when this corruptible has put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory."
"O Death, where is your sting?"
"O Grave, where is your victory?"

Sometimes when you look at a photo, and you see the person smiling, you think to yourself, "That's a fake smile." Not so with James Mulkey. He always had a smile on his face. James was an easy man....easy in life.....never met a stranger. Always had a story. Always looked for the good in a person. 
Now he has left us.
I know it's a part of life, but I don't think I'll ever grow accustom to it.

I would see James from time to time after we graduated. Most often it would be downtown as he cruised around in his patrol car. James really loved working for Gadsden P.D., and it showed. If ever there was an ambassador for the police department, it was James Mulkey. James had that "Will Rodgers" thing going on...He never met a person he didn't like. There were no strangers in the life of James Mulkey. A smile, a handshake, and a "How are you doing?" Always was a part of the drill. Funny part in all of this. James meant it, he didn't just say it.



This is a picture of James at our class reunion, last year. He was a mainstay at reunion time. Always making the rounds...seeing and speaking to everyone.
Like all of us, James had his struggles....
His wife died some time back, but James carried on.
Usually there would be a posting on Facebook about his grandsons, or his work at Anniston Army Depot.
No matter what storm may have come his way, James never lost that smile.
But that was just the way he was, wasn't it?

Times like this make me stop and give thanks for the people that have passed through my life. I got out my annuals from High school and took a trip back through them. Were we ever really that young? Those times at Etowah High School seem like a million years ago......then again, it seems like only yesterday. I don't know about you, but when I think of certain classmates, I still see them as they are in those annuals. The years may have rolled on by, but in those annuals, we never changed. We didn't get older. I guess that is the beauty of memories. 

So, if we have another Class of '69 Reunion, our group will number one less.
But somehow, someway, I do believe that James Mulkey will be there.
Rest easy, my friend.

God on you...
mb

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How It Works



Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.
John 14:6 - Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life.

Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves.
II Corinthians 4:3-4 - But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average.
Luke 1:37 - For with God nothing will be impossible.

There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.
Matthew 4:23 - And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and healing ALL KINDS of sickness and all kinds of DISEASES among the people.

I John 3:8 - for this the Son of Man was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the Devil.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it--- then you are ready to take certain steps.
Acts 1:8 - But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Remember that we deal with alcohol (and drugs)--- cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all Power---that One is God. May you find Him now!
Jeremiah 29:12-13 - Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.
II Chronicles 16:9 - For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro through out the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are COMMITTED to Him.

There is that connection that must be made between the Spirit of God, and the spirit of man. Such a connection brings the presence and the POWER needed to enact the change that is necessary to move out of and away from addiction.  I pray that you would find that connection this day. Should you need help, feel free to leave a message here at the Greene Street Letters. Know that we are praying for you and this struggle that you are currently in. 
There is hope...
There is an answer to your cries for help...

It is all found in a person....
Jesus.


God on you....

mb

(Passages taken from the BIG book of A.A. - "How it works" pages 58 and 59)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

That God Is Something Else


Acts 2:1-4
When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force---no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a  number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

Offensive, isn't it?
That the presence of God would show up and take control of this prayer meeting. That God would dare bring His agenda and plan into the middle of a gathering and then disrupt everything. After all, doesn't the Bible say that everything should be done decently and in order. No room for Spiritual pandemonium in church.


Truth be known, when God shows up, it's gets messy.
Oh there is an order to what happens, but it is His order.
I think maybe when God really shows up in a meeting, we have what I like to call "A Genesis Moment"....God's presence uncovers the chaos in our hearts. And as we all know, God is a God of order and to have order, you first must have chaos.

It's like a spiritual "spring cleaning"...
When God comes in, he empties out all the drawers, cleans out all the closets, throws open the blinds and the windows to let the clean fresh air in.
Isn't that what we all truly need?
A good spring cleaning by God?
I know that I do.


Sometimes I think we go to church in the name of God, but we don't really want Him to get down into our meeting because that would just upset everything. We might be late to Cracker Barrel and we wouldn't want those other church members to get there before us and get all the good tables, now would we.

I want the Presence of God in our meetings.
I will prepare a message to share every Saturday for Vineyard ReCovery.
I will help with the music to see that we pick the right songs for worship.
I will go and help set the room, pray over it for God to come.
But in the end, I am willing to throw aside everything if God shows up.
I'm willing to look foolish...
I'm willing to be completely undone and then put back together by His Holy Spirit.

Why even pretend to do church if God isn't going to come into the meeting?
I want to BE the church.
I want to BE HIS CHURCH!


That when we leave the building on Saturday night, we take His Spirit, His presence, His purpose and plan with us into the coming week.
That we might be the people He longs to work with and through.
Each of us, on fire for Him....
Each of us, moving under the unction and guidance of His Holy Spirit, loving those we come in contact with.

Like I said....
I don't want to do church...
I want to be the church....


God on you...

mb

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

You Trust Me?


Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.

Trust God...
We hear it all the time if you go to church or watch Christian TV.

"You've got to trust God."

Trust = cling to / rely on / believe in / connect one's self, and the list goes on and on. To do so, trust, means that the party we are going to trust is worthy of it. The person or persons we are going to trust is (wait for it) trust worthy.

But what if there are two sides to this trust coin?
What if there is a side that we never really stop to think about?
What if it's more than me simply trusting God?
What if it also involves God trusting us.
Wowzers! Didn't see that one coming.

It's not like God doesn't know us and our nature.
It's not like God doesn't understand our propensity to mess up and make wrong decisions. He does, and yet in spite of this, He still continues to work with us.

Matthew 16:19
And I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Last time I checked, you don't go around giving keys to someone that you don't trust. You don't include people into your plans that you don't trust. Some would say that what I'm writing about this morning is more about "spiritual manipulation" on God's part, than it is Him trusting us. I don't think I see it that way.

What's is God's ultimate purpose with us?
Relationship...

Now if He can see things about us, good and bad, and has the ability to lead us to a place where we can see the wrong and bad in us, would that not be a good thing? If He possesses the authority and power to change our nature, and we cooperate with Him, would that not be a good thing? I think so. No matter what God does to us, in us, through us and from us...we still possess that ol' stinking free will thing. I don't understand how all this plays out, I just know that God is trustworthy, and I want to be the same to Him.

Matthew 25:21 is the parable of the talents. A wealthy man is going to take a trip, so he calls his servants together and gives them each a portion of his riches to watch over while he is gone. The servants immediately begin to put the money to work (if you will) in order to gain a return on it. The king returns and begins to take an account of what he had entrusted to the servants. When told that his return was greater by most of the servants (there was one knucklehead that messed up) the man told his servants, "Well done, good and faithful servants. You were faithful over a few things. I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."

The parable was to show us that God indeed wants to trust us with His Kingdom rule here on earth. That if we each embrace what God is calling us to, be faithful with it (no matter how big or small it may seem) there is a reward for us being trustworthy. That is what I want to do. Be faithful with whatever God entrusts to me. Whether it is taking care of one person, or a hundred. Whether I go about His business behind the scenes or He calls me out in public to advance the Kingdom. No matter what, I want to be faithful and trustworthy.

Chew on this bone today and see what God says to you....

God on you...
mb

Monday, March 16, 2015

It Was A Great Weekend


Psalm 150:6
Let everything that has breath, praise the LORD.

Morning check:  "Am I breathing?"
Answer: "Yes".
Solution: "Praise the Lord!"
O.k., here goes.

It was a tremendous weekend for Vicki and I, as we had an opportunity to get away. We drove over to Athens, Georgia to be with our son, Josh, and his wife, Heather. Lot's of catching up with late night conversation. Good food....good times.  Plus, the trip over and back was good for the two of us to simply leave our stuff behind, catch our breath and ask each other, "How ARE you doing?"

I would be less than honest if I said I like driving through Atlanta. I don't. As my wife so aptly put it.."the difference between people driving in Gadsden and Atlanta is simple. In Gadsden, you put on your turn signal and say, "Please let me over..please...purty please!" In Atlanta, you put on your turn signal and say, "I'm coming over no questions asked, you better back off!"

I want to take the time to say say a heart-felt "thank you" to the core leadership of Vineyard ReCovery for taking up the slack in our absence Saturday night. You guys are tremendous! Also a big thanks to Seth Barber and Todd Bagley for speaking and leading worship (respectively). It is a comfort to know that the meeting is indeed God's meeting and that it will go on no matter who is there.

I got the opportunity to go out to North Glencoe Baptist Church last night and speak at their Celebrate Recovery. Good folks...good time. God was good in that we had a lot of ministry at the end. I never tire of getting to pray for folks and with folks, to see the front fill up with people coming to meet with God is always a jump start to the spiritual battery for me. I saw a lot of folk's I haven't seen in a while..they seemed to be doing well and on the right path, so that is encouraging. A big thank you to Garrett Rule and his crew at N.G. C.R. for allowing me the chance to speak. 

Message was from Luke Chapter 5 ( A last minute-during worship-change-of-message) on the cripple man brought to Jesus by his friends. The friends finally get the man down through the roof to were Jesus was teaching. Scripture says that "Seeing their faith" Jesus told the cripple man..."Son, your sins are forgiven." My take on that was...if I was the cripple man, I don't want to hear that..."Your sins are forgiven". I want to hear "Rise, get up and walk". But the fact of the matter is, Jesus say the deeper crippling that was the problem. Jesus saw this as the ultimate healing that the cripple man needed. Now to put that into perspective, people go to Celebrate Recovery to be healed of their addiction. But to some, the idea of being healed is to make the court stuff go away. To help restore relationships that have been damaged. To put the pieces back together in their lives so that they can escape the pain and destruction the have brought upon themselves through their using. All this repentance, be saved, let Jesus take your sins away and make you clean, doesn't seem to have any relevance to their problems. But, as I've always said, Sin is the root cause of all addiction. Every one who uses began their addiction with a choice. They chose to use. This choice, no matter how insignificant you may think it to be, opened the door for the devil and his minions to come in and begin the process of turning you away from God. With every episode of using, a person separates themselves (at least in their mind) farther and farther from God. Of course, in reality, God is still in hot pursuit of them. 

So last night was an invitation to have "Your sins forgiven" so real healing could take place. I pray blessings on those who came forward last night to receive. I pray blessings and God's presence on those who resisted and didn't come forward, that at some point they would find the value and incredible life that awaits them when they do come to know Jesus.
Like I said, it was a great weekend.
Now, here it is Monday...
Another week of possibilities.
Let's go out and see what God is going to do this week.

God on you...

mb


Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Lord IS Good!


Psalm 107:1
Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! His mercy endures forever........

Sometimes I have a problem trying to bring these spiritual, ethereal concepts over into my reality.
I can say them....such as "The Lord is good"....
And I can apply them to my life, giving examples of the Lord's goodness, but at certain points, I find myself asking..."Is this real? Am I simply making this up..that the Lord is good?"
But then good ol' faith kicks in and kind of slaps me up side the head as if to say, "You goober..you know He is good."


And that would be true.
I know, that I know, that I know that the Lord is good.

Such an attribute is not measured by my current state emotionally, spiritually, mentally or physically. It is a statement of truth no matter what place I find myself. Not, don't get me wrong, I like it when the goodness of God is translated into real physical tangible evidence in my own life. I like it when I can see situations brought under control and solved with a good ending. But the goodness of God is so much more than what takes place in my own life. The goodness of God stands over this world and the events of nations and governments. We may not see it with our natural eyes, and we may not understand it with our own understanding, but that does not lessen the goodness of God.

The Lord is good...
Today..
Right now...
No matter what our lot in life may be.
Whether we have much or little..
Whether we are free or incarcerated...
Whether we are healthy or dealing with physical maladies...
The Lord is good.

IF that is a true statement, the Lord is good, then I want to find it in the middle of whatever I may be facing.
I want to lay hold of this reality and keep it close at all times.


We may not always be aware of His goodness...
In fact, we may not see Him as being good...

Did you ever have a time when you may have been sick, and your mother or father came to you with some vile tasting medicine. Medicine that you did not want to take. 
But they gave it to you anyway because they knew that it could relieve and help you to get well.
They were acting in your best interest, even though you would have said differently.
Sometimes God comes to us in such a way that we see it as being anything but good for us. Yet, it is His overriding goodness that is at the heart of His actions. His love for us. His care for us. His mercy...His goodness.


I have to keep such in mind when I find myself struggling with life.
To remind myself that it is the goodness at God at work in every situation and circumstance I find myself in.
Think on these things...

God on you...

mb

Friday, March 13, 2015

Hoo-Ha For The Day...



Break Time.



Going to take tomorrow off from posting here at the Greene Street Letters.
Just a break...
I know that when I get up in the morning, sit here at this computer, and stare at the screen, and there is just the sound of cricket's in my head,it's time to take a break.

Someone ask me one time, "how do you come up with what to share?" Simple response is...."I don't know."  And that is the truth.

I try to watch what happens around me each day...
what is God doing...
Did someone say something that kind of stuck in my mind (Something akin to a dull dart that sticks in a cedar wall).

Did I run across a Scripture in my readings that jumped out at me.
Sometimes I wake up with the topic or verse already running around in me brain.
Whatever the means of transportation, I enjoy sitting down, coffee in reach, and letting it spill out onto the monitor screen.


This has been a transition week for yours truly.
My first week of being back at the Vineyard full time.
I am use to having a regimented schedule to follow...
You know, be here at this hour...
Teach class at this hour...
Meetings from this hour to this hour...
So to be without that structure kind of made me feel like a duck out of water.

Now, don't get me wrong...
I'm not complaining...it's just different.

It was good to be at the church in my "office-of-doors"...
For those who may not know what that means, my office walls are constructed from doors. I love it. My nook....my mini 'Fortress of Solitude".
I can go inside and shut the door....
And shut the other door....
And then there's the door that needs to be shut....

If you wanted to break into my office, it would be like playing "Let's Make A Deal!" Do you want door #1, door #2 or door #3...or would you like to trade for what Jay has in the box?

Anyway, I like being at the church because you never know what is going to happen, who is going to come by, or what God might drop on you at any instance. 

Tomorrow night, Seth Barber will be speaking at Vineyard ReCovery...
Todd Bagley will be leading worship...
And God will moving and ministering to those who attend.
How can I say such?
Because it is the truth. If you come to this meeting expecting to meet with God...
If you come with a hungry heart to be with Him and some good folk...

If you come ready to worship and just expend yourself on Him...
He will come and meet with you....
Service starts at 7 p.m.


The verse that has been on my mind this morning comes from Psalm 72:17
He name shall endure forever...
His name shall continue as long as the sun.
And men shall be blessed in Him.
All nations shall call Him blessed.

When it says that His name shall endure forever, it is speaking of God's character....
His nature...
IF ever there was a constant in this changing world, it would be God.
He doesn't waver back and forth in His dealings with Us. He is faithful to what He says....
And His promises are yes and amen.

It goes on to say that His name will be around long after I've left the stage of this life. Once again, He is the foundation from which all life comes from...
He is the foundation from which all life returns.....
We, as humans, run around expending great amounts of energy and money trying to find something that will bring stability to our lives.
Only God can do this....
Not church...
Not TBN
Not the latest, greatest Christian book....
Not a denomination...
Not a job, or income...
Not any amount of drugs or alcohol..
Only God.
Just Jesus.

If you are struggling in life....
And you can make it.....
Come out and join us tomorrow night.
We are a jeans/ t-shirt / sneaker kind of crowd...
We also include: overall's, cammo, boots and ball caps....
It is a place where you can be yourself.
Think about it...

God on you....
mb

Thursday, March 12, 2015

God Is My Support

Psalm 18:15-18
He sent from above, He took me.
He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me.

For they were too strong for me.
Then confronted me in the day of my calamity.
But the LORD was my support.


No.#1 thing I hear from people who are moving into a life of recovery...."I feel so alone"...."I feel as though I'm in this by myself".  
To some degree they are.
They have left one life style to embrace another.
They have left so-called friends and really haven't made many new ones.
The social graces of interaction are really a part of addiction, if you know what I mean.

The one thing I try to do is reassure them that while they are making this transition, they are not alone. They are not alone if they have made this relationship with Jesus a part of their life. He promised to be there with them.
Jesus promised to be there for them.

We tend to forget this in the heat of a moment when we're struggling to make sense of life.
We tend to forget the truth of Christ, that He is with us, when we feel the tug of our old lifestyle pulling at us to return.

In such a moment, when someone is telling me that they feel alone, I ask them, "What's the truth?"
"What do you mean?" they usually reply.
"What is the truth? Are you alone?"
I want them to see that feelings are a part of life, but feelings aren't what I measure life by. Feelings are a great thermometer, but they are a lousy thermostat. In other words, you can gauge your feelings for the moment, but they should not dictate your decision making.
"So, you feel alone...what's the truth?
I remind them that Jesus said He would never desert them or forsake them. So what's the truth? The truth is, our feelings do not convey to us...wait for it...the truth.

That is why it is so important for us to "GET" the word inside of ourselves. To fully realize the extent that God IS our support, no matter what we may be facing or dealing with. Our greatest prayer should be that God would teach us, show us, lead us into a deeper understanding of what it means to truly trust Him. No wonder we become discouraged and give up...we lay claim to knowing God, but we never exercise the values or promises that have been given to us. It's like someone who is drowning in the ocean, crying out, while all around them are thousands of life savers. All you have to do is reach out and take one. It's the same with the truth and promises of God. All you have to do is reach out, in faith, and lay hold of it.


Get your Bible and start reading in the book of John.
Take your pen or pencil and begin to underline the words whenever you run across a promise/passage. Read it...mark it...then pray.."Today, I will take this promise from You, Lord, into my heart." Then think on what you've read throughout the day. Let it roll around and get all down inside you.
There...
That's a start...
Go be with God today...


God on you...
mb

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New Audio Message From VRC

Message From March 7th
"The Mystery Of Facing The Day".
Joshua Chapter 1

Listen to it now...
or download it for later.
Thanks...
mb

Tuesday Bible Study

Psalm 119:130 The entrance (or unfolding) of Your words gives light. it gives understanding to the simple. Pulled up at the camp last ...