Monday, October 31, 2016

Stepping Aside




Luke 1:38
....."Let it be to me according to your word".....

Mary's response to the angel Gabriel's announcement that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus. A simple reply. One that conveys a sense of "getting ones self out of the way." To put it bluntly, the angels proclamation to Mary is a pretty far out word.
Let's see...
"You've got plans of your own....but God has bigger plans. You're going to be impregnated and give birth to God." Yeah..that's pretty big stuff right there.
But Mary's response of "O.k. whatever your word has declared, then let it be done to me...I'll cooperate with you in this matter." ....Now this response isn't chicken feed, is it. She didn't say these words to placate the angel. She didn't let them roll off her tongue just to let them be empty promises. Her response was from the heart.


Now I know it might seem a stretch to you who are reading this posting, but the same mindset has to be in place as we begin this journey in recovery. "Let it be done to me according to your word."
In other words, I'm going to get out of the way...my will and life..and I'm no longer going to live according to what I want. Rather, I'm going to simply do what I know to do and follow your directions, O' Lord.

I have dealt with some people who make this recovery thing way to hard. They want to wrangle with the steps, questioning the "why" of doing them. They put up ten million reasons why they are so different and why it will be extra hard for them to live clean and sober. They balk at every turn and roll their eyes when you make statements of truth such as..."This can be the last rehab you have to go to!" These poor unfortunates actually are not ready for recovery. They want to take the principals of recovery and fit them into their current life. Well, it doesn't work that way. You don't fit recovery into your life. You don't fit Jesus into your life...you fit your life into Jesus. His life becomes your life.It's called being humble. It's called getting yourself out of the way, because "your self" has been your greatest enemy and roadblock to your own recovery.

Steve Yarbrough, founder of Rapha, use to say, "When you're sick and tired of being sick and tired..then you're ready to recover." When you quit asking questions at every turn, challenging the steps..then your ready. That is the heart and mind that is needed by an individual before the journey can begin. I don't care what brings you to rehab....whether you were court ordered or your momma made you...what I care about is how you leave. At some point during your stay in treatment...the lights should come on and you should come to the conclusion that you are powerless over your addiction. Or,as I like to put it..."Your best thinking...the top of your game, got you sitting in yellow chairs at white folding tables." If this is the best you can come up with...maybe you need to change the way you're doing business with life and the world.
When a proclamation is made as to your recovery...your response should be..."Let it be done to me according to the word of God."

Sounds to simple, doesn't it?
It's is simple.

Let everything be done according to God's directives for your life.
Get out of the way and let Him lead.

God on you...
mb

Friday, October 28, 2016

Faith No Matter What



I saw the photo above when I was looking for something to tag to this morning's posting, and I wasn't sure how I felt about it. The fact that suffering "is" optional kind of caught my attention. Then it occured to me what the message was. We all have pain in our lives....physical, emotional, mental, spiritual......pain is a part of life. Some would say that going through the pain is a form of suffering, and I would not debate that point. But I think what the photo is trying to convey, is that we don't have to be a victim of our pain. Somehow I think that if we look to, and cry out for God in the middle of our seasons of suffering, we are granted great grace by Him to move forward. We don't fall and crumble into a heap bemoaning our lot in life.Maybe faith is a part (or at least should be) in our suffering and pain. Maybe faith in God is the thing that keeps us focused on The day. Maybe faith in God keeps us from moving to that dark place of self centeredness and having that ultimate pity party.


Reading in Hebrews 11 yesterday.
The great "Faith" chapter.
The Hall of Faith.
A list of what we would consider to be the "who's who" of Bibledom.
Moses....
David...
Enoch...
Rahab....
Etc....
Etc...
Each verse begins with "By Faith"....then the name of the individual and what they accomplished.
As you read the chapter it pretty inspiring. Men and women who did great deeds under the unction of the Holy Spirit. But by the time you get to verse thirty-five, things kind of go south. 

But others trusted God and were tortured, preferring to die rather than turn from God and be free. They place their hope in the resurrection to a better life. Some were mocked, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in dungeons. Some died by stoning, and some were sawed in half. Others were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, hungry and oppressed and mistreated. THEY WERE TOO GOOD FOR THIS WORLD.

This kind of smacks in the face of the happy, happy, joy, joy God has a wonderful plan for your life.
Yes, God does have a wonderful plan for your life but it may not look like the plan we would choose.
I don't want you to think this is a downer posting this morning. What I want you to understand (even as I am trying to get my brain wrapped around this one) is that our Faith in God, our Hope in God, our Belief in God supersedes whatever the world has to offer, good or bad. 
Faith is the greater connector that locks me to God. Not faith in what God will do or not do, but faith that He is who He says He is and that His will and nature will be displayed in every situation I face...good or bad. For this very reason, I choose to wholly lean on and rest in Him. We live in a fallen world....a world that is under the dominion of Satan. He's running the show so to speak (at least he thinks he's running the show). No matter what we may suffer on this side of heaven, If I am a follower of Jesus (notice I didn't say "church-goer") then it all has a storybook ending on the other side. Once I breathe my last and then find myself translated to His presence, all the things of earth will grow strangely dim and fade from view.  Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people, In other words, suffering is a part of this world and this life. But there is another kind of suffering that takes place when you cast your will and life upon Christ. The world hates you....

I think one of the greatest examples of a person's faith and placing themselves in the hands of God came from my mother. She was told in February of 1981 that she was dying of pancreatic cancer. Mom set about getting all of her affairs in order. She made lunch appointments with old friends to have one last time where they could talk and share and make sure that everything was alright between each other. She got all of her financial business taken care of. She did what she had to do as with each passing day, you could see the cancer taking it's toll on her. She never complained, she never said that this was unfair that her lot in life would end this way. My mother told me time and time again that God was still in control of her life and if this was the path she was to walk out, she was not going to hold back but see it through to the end. She knew that "the end" was not that, but only the transition to the next part of her relationship with God.

On May 14, 1981, she left her house for the last time. As we walked out on the porch, she stopped for just a moment and turned to look at the front door. She turned back around, holding me by the arm said, "I'm ready to go home now." She was not bitter because she was not going to be here to see her grand children grow up. She was not angry because of this disease that invaded her body. She simply walked in the grace that God covered her with and she did so until she died on May 26th. 

In the eyes of the world, this was not a happy ending. 
In the eyes of my Mom and myself, she was receiving the ultimate healing.
She would no longer suffer or hurt.
She would be free of the confines of a sinful body and world.
She would know for herself the truth of what she lived by and for. That Jesus Christ is Lord and worthy to be worshipped.
I pray that God grant me strength during the hard times and that I may not cower in fear but stand strong in His strength.

God on you........
mb

Thursday, October 27, 2016

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor

video

Coming to you from high atop the Crystal Barber shop overlooking downtown Gadsden and the beautiful Coosa River. Another shameless plug for the goings-on at Vineyard ReCovery.

God on you....
mbb

Healed


Psalm 134:2
Lift your hands toward the sanctuary and praise the LORD!!!

I love it when God shows out....
It just cranks my tractor when God moves beyond logic and interjects himself into our time and space.
Some may call this supernatural....
I just call it natural because my God is still in the business of healing.


We have a lady who has become a part of the family at VRC. Miss Docress King started coming to our meeting a few months back. She has had more than her fair share of sorrows and pain. Her daughter died last Easter because of cancer. Docress has been moving through the process of grief and has relied heavily on God to take her through this season.

A few weeks ago she went to the hospital. Seems that they'd found a mass...a tumor on her brain. She was in great pain, but through it all her hope and faith rested in the simple fact that God had her. No matter what happened, Docress felt that she was a winner. If she lived, she had family that looked to her for strength and help. If she died, she would go be with her daughter. The day I visited her in the hospital, she told me that she had great peace about the whole situation. 


Well, the doc's were trying to formulate how to best approach her condition. Now all the while this is taking place, people are praying for Docress. You see there are some folks, me included, that still believe that God is in the healing business. That the Kingdom of God is here, maybe not in its fullness, but is still in operation in this old dark world. Anyway, they took her down for some tests and a funny thing happened. After an MRI, they could not find the tumor anywhere. It was gone. Get it? It had vanished. Almost as if someone had reached down and removed it. Oh yeah, that's exactly what happened. Someone reached down and removed it. She was healed. 

Docress was released from the hospital yesterday....And if I know her, she is telling her story to anyone who will listen..and to a few that don't want to listen.
I'm sure that if Docress makes it Saturday night to VRC, she will worship like it's nobodies business. Who could blame her. After all...........God is still in the healing business.

God on you...

mbb

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Fine Art Of Waiting

Isaiah 40:31
But those who wait (trust) upon the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Hurry....hurry...hurry! Got to go. Keep moving. Run, run, run. I thought maybe as I got older, things would slow down a bit, but our society runs at an even faster pace now. I guess the secret is to not let society dictate your pace. I chose the picture above to kind of illustrate the mentality that is common among people in today's lifestyle.

Everything has to fast and/or instant.
Carnation's Instant Breakfast.....pour it in a glass, add milk, stir and voila' you have instant breakfast.
Verizon advertises that they have the fastest phone service among all others.

Car's advertise (although subtly) that there's is the most luxurious and fastest (if you have a need for speed) than their competitors. 

If you think about it.....time is actually a concept that God gave us.
A unit of measurement to gauge our journey here on good ol' planet earth.
Minutes, seconds, hours....

Days, weeks, and months....
Years, decades, centuries....and the ever popular millennium.

Time as we know it is winding down. We may not like to think of it this way, but it is true none the less. Each of us is given a specified amount of time in our life. Psalm 139:16 tells us "You (God) saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in Your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed." So what have we done so far with our allotted amount of time? Have we spent it wisely? Or have we squandered it on thinks that have no eternal value?  Now, I'm not trying to get all religious-ly on you. Trying to make you think that every waking moment has to be spent like a monk-on-the-run. I do want you (and me) to understand that life is about balance, and God is the one who helps us keep it that way.

Learning to wait when things are dark and not going our way. Not waiting because we don't know what to do next and we might mess it up. But waiting for God to show us what's next. I believe this with everything in me that such is the way to life....real life. Waiting because He knows best. Not trying to make something happen in my own strength or just because I think I can will it to happen, but learning the divine art of waiting on God.

Waiting brings me peace...
Waiting comes from trusting God that He will answer me and give me the direction I need to move in.
Waiting comes from exercising my faith, that He knows better than me.
The Scripture from Isaiah tells me that if I wait on God, there is a renewing process that takes place. It must be a physical renewal of my strength, because it goes on to say that I will be able to run, walk and accomplish more than I could in my own efforts.
Doesn't sound like a bad thing does it?

I think I may wait on God today.
How about you?

God on you.....

mbb

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

One More Time


Wowzers! This is the 3000th posting of the Greene Street Letters. O.k....enough about that, on with the business of the day.

Got a call from Mark Cotney yesterday. You may remember that Mark lives Frog Eye, Alabama. Didn't make that one up. He called to let me know that life is good, and for us to keep praying for his lung condition. Mark is about as country as the day is long, and has a heavy dose of common sense. He was telling me that the one thing that turned him around during his time at Rapha, came one afternoon as he was walking around the pond. Mark was noticing all the baby brim, ducks, turtles and other assorted wildlife that call Rapha home, when a connection came to him. Mark had been worried about how he was going to stay clean once he left the program. It suddenly came to him that if his heavenly Father  takes care of the animals, well then, Mark could sure trust Him to take care of Him. Simple thought, but a true thought. And it has served Mark well ever sense he left Rapha.
Mark told me, "When you don't have to worry about anything, then you kind of free to live life for Jesus." God will use the natural to reveal the spiritual.


If it comes to your mind today, please pray for Trish. She came to Vineyard ReCovery Saturday night, a first-timer. God showed up for her and she was saved. After the meeting she came up to talk to me, she was just beaming. "I've never been in anything like this before." She came to get her court card stamped, and she left with a changed heart. Pray that she would continue this week to follow wherever God leads.

Each day that passes, for me, becomes a present. I'm learning to appreciate the little things that I encounter each day. Yesterday was my usual Monday Breakfast appointment with Jim Bentley. But yesterday was more about the journey the two of us have been on, lo these many years. We still are best-est friends....We still have this fire and passion to follow Jesus over the next hill, or around the next bend to see what He's going to do. It may take us a little longer to get to that next hill, or around that next bend, but we haven't stopped the journey yet.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that God allows me to have connections with some pretty incredible people. I wrote about one yesterday. Leading worship with Brook and David Finlayson, and Jim Henderson. There is a deep pleasure all down inside me when I get to hang out with old friends.

Then there is the pleasure that comes when you get to meet new folks. I got to the church early last Saturday and as I was unlocking the door, a man across the street yelled and asked what time church started.  His name was James. Seems as though he had arrived in Gadsden after spending some time in B'ham. We talked a bit and his story seemed to be the same as others I have met. New in town. Not enough money for a hotel but he'd found a place to crash (in other words, James was homeless). He stayed for the meeting and was very grateful that he had. Hot coffee and home made cookies always seem to open a hearts door that has been shut for a while. After the meeting, one of our core leaders took him to Walmart and bought him a heavy blanket as well as gave him a good sleeping bag. James was taken that someone would do this for him, a complete stranger. This was the Kingdom at work.  James showed up Sunday morning for the Celebration time, not to freeload or mooch off the crowd. James showed up grateful that he had encountered people that demonstrated the love of God rather than just talked about it.


Well, I guess I better close this out and move on with my day. I don't say it enough, but thanks to each one of you who stops by the Greene Street Letters to read what has been posted. Let's do another "3000", what do you say?

Oh yeah, one last thing.
It's not a fact that I keep secret. I just don't think about it that much.
I continue to get questions from people asking why "Greene Street Letters"?

The answer is.....
I live on Greene Street.


God on you...

mbb

Monday, October 24, 2016

It Was A Day Of Gratitude


Psalm 150:4
Praise Him with the tambourine and dancing.....
Praise Him with strings and flutes......


David Finlayson, his brother Brook, and yours truly.
We came together to lead worship yesterday at Gadsden Vineyard.

Been playing with these guys off an on for nigh on 33 years. So when I got the invite to saddle up one more time, I said, "You bet!".

We actually joined forces back in 1989. Went by the name of The Guise. I don't remember the reason, but we were at Brook's house bouncing songs and just playing. The evening took us to a song by a friend, Arnie Sanford...."Would You Play". There was this moment when our harmonies melded into this incredible sound. I remember it vividly, each of us with a "What was that" kind of look on our faces. We knew we had something. I still have cassettes (And they still play) of our early concerts at Christian Brothers which I wouldn't take anything for. What made the whole "GUISE" thing work, was that it was a combination of the Marx Brothers meet Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Lot of spontaneous back and forth jabbing and joking. My favorite was when we were singing at a local church, and had done our version of Amazing Grace, complete with Brook's slide guitar (El Cheapo...remember that one Brook?). Upon completion of the song, David proceeded to tell the congregation that "Mike wrote that one". See what I mean?


We arrived at church yesterday at 8:30 to set up and run through the worship set, talking and reliving some old times. First song..."Let the Redeemed"...with a Steve Miller Band grove to it. It felt just right to be on the stage with these guys. Brook on electric, David on Acoustic, and me on Bass, along with Jimmy Henderson on drums. Suddenly it was 1989 again. 

As we moved through the set, we encountered bumps and ditches. In other words, the music had its moments where we kind of lost our way. But the fire was still there in the hearts to worship God. I remember at one point, feeling this incredible sense of gratitude that God allowed me to be connected to these men. To have a shared history that gives us the ability to pick right up after not playing for months on end. Oh, we're all older, move a little slower, and our voice may have dropped an octave or two, but the magic is still there.

So thanks Brook and David....
Lets do it again....

God on you...
mbb

Friday, October 21, 2016

Chariots Are Over Rated


Psalm 20:7

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses. But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.


There is much fear in the air.

People are fearful for their jobs....
For their families well being.....
For their future.......
I keep hearing and running into the verse in Scripture that reads....."We walk by faith and not by sight."
This isn't a "pie in the sky" verse.
I don't think God is really interested in the "things of this world."
By that, I don't think God's first and most important point in His plan is my comfort or standard of living, as much as He is us learning to trust Him for our ever need.
Now before you go all tactical nuke on me, let me explain.

I believe that phrase----"Our standard of living" has become way larger than it should be.
For a lot of people, the most important thing in their life is to maintain a certain way of life they have become use to. So when anything comes along that would jeopardize this way of life, and there are no solutions to deal with it, fear becomes a part of this way of life. Usually we work in our own strength and effort to keep our way of life. It is like Detrich Bonhoffer wrote " Most Christians are satisfied with a minimum amount of God in their life....just enough to keep them from going to hell." Ouch!

We read in Matthew 6:
Don't store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves. Wherever your treasure is, there your heart and thoughts will also be.

Seek (look, ask, knock, search for) first (before anything else) the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things (what things?  food, shelter, clothing) will be added unto you.

Either this is true
or
it's a bunch of hooey-balooey and we should just close our Bibles and lock our church doors and all go over to Shoney's and have a piece of strawberry pie.
I just happen to be crazy enough to believe that God's word is true.
We have become so enamored with the world that we have tried to meld the two together: God's Kingdom and this World system. It won't work now....it didn't work in the past and it will not work in the future.
Right now, fear for our own personal comfort has caused us to be tight fisted and not return unto God that which is rightfully his. What are you trying to say,Mike? I'm saying that giving is down because we are fearful that we will not be able to live in  the way we have become accustom to . God deserves the first part of our finances, not the crumbs and leftovers.

Matthew 6:24-25
No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life----whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing?

Confess your fear today....
Take it to God and tell Him that you are tired of living like this.
Ask Him to show you how to live.
Open your hands and let God be in control.
Walk by faith and not by sight.
Walk by faith and not by sight.
Walk by faith and not by sight...
Trust God with every area of your life.....
Remember......
When times get so dark that fear is the prevailing wind blowing through everyone's life...
Then the truth of God will rise like a light and call people unto Him.

God on you....
mb

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Prayer And Healing



James 5:16
.......The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

The one area that I feel that I lack in is prayer.
Oh, I pray....And I believe....
But there is a voice inside me, that tells me I did not do enough, or I did not pray correctly. I know this voice is not from God. I know this voice all too well, as it is my flesh. My flesh is never satisfied when I am going about God's business. My flesh is never quiet when I am moving under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It rises us and tries to cast doubt and fear into the mix. So rather than give it a place, I turn to prayer. I turn to meditation and focusing my thoughts on Christ. I picture the cross, the very giving of Himself for me. I try to see in my mind the body of Christ hanging on that wood. 


I look to his feet....those feet that took the gospel through out the region. Feet that carried the message and power of God to people who were trapped in the darkness of sin. Feet that entered the houses and homes of people who were considered to be rejects and outcasts by the religious system of the day. But those wonderful feet of Christ took Him to those who needed Him most. But what I see as I look to the cross, is feet that are battered and bruised. Violent colors of yellow and purple amidst the swelling and bleeding. Feet that are still, not moving.

I see His hands.....those hands that reached out and touched a leper with healing. Hands that took a simple meal of fish and bread, and fed the masses. 5,000 plus on one occasion, and 4,000 plus on another. Taking up the bread, those hands blessed the meal and the very nature of atomic molecular structure of that meal was  altered. That which we look too as logic was blown out  of the water by the divine. Those hands....
On the cross, those hands are nailed to the cross beam. They are still....no movement...
Then too are bruised and blooded. Knuckles swollen to twice their size, are curled up in a fist. Not because of anger against the ones who carried out the crucifixion, but because these hands surrendered to the will of His Father. Now death has curled them and warped them.

I look to His eyes.... Those eyes that were filled with compassion. Eyes that were weighed down by the pain He saw in others. Eyes that flamed when He saw the level that religion would take some. Those who would turn His father's house into a place of money and greed. Eyes that saw the desecration of the Temple, moved from table to table to overturn the wickedness He saw. Eyes that would light up when He saw the joy and release of one who was healed. A leper.....A cripple....a woman with an issue of blood...a dead daughter....these eyes saw the Father's power bring life back to the dead. But now...
Now those eyes are dark and dull. They look akin to a dolls eyes...they no longer see.

But praise God, the story doesn't end here. In my mediation, I am transported to an early morning. Night mist is lifting from the ground, as the first rays of the morning sun began to sleepily rise above the horizon. I am in a graveyard. But something has happened. There is a tomb, but not no one there. The entrance has been ripped open and if you look inside, you will see......................................nothing. You will see no one. For the one who hung on the cross has risen from the dead. He is no longer the bruised, battered carpenter's son from Nazareth. No! He is now the rise, glorified Son of God. He has shed the constraints and bonds of this earth to move in power and presence of His Father. And He lives forever more seated at the right hand of His Father, having been given the title of LORD!!

It is because of this man...this Son of God...
It is because of who He is that I pray.
He is my intercessor to the Father.
All things are possible through prayer. When my heart is brought in live with His heart, nothing is impossible.

Such is why I am asking for prayer this morning.
We've had a lady coming to our meeting for some time. Her name is Docress King, and yesterday she went to the hospital. She was told that there was a mass on her brain, and that she is being moved to UAB to be treated. Now I know that when you say the word "Tumor" and you attach it to the location of being in the brain, the flesh has a way of automatically pronouncing a death sentence. Well not here, and not today. And certainly not over this woman. 


I want you to join me in prayer for her healing.
I want you to pray for God's power to bring healing to her brain.
"In the name and power of Jesus, We speak to that tumor and say "leave her body".
We speak the healing of Jesus to here body this morning."

In the name of our Savior.......Jesus Christ. Amen.

God on you...
mbb

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Ultimate Prison Break


Numbers 10:9
When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies.

It really is a war taking place in our town. It may not look like one....in fact, most would say I was exaggerating this statement. I'm not one who sees demons behind every bush, but I am one who recognizes the power and influence the enemy has. From time to time the warfare becomes all too real, as it manifests in the lives of those who are trapped in addiction.
To me the scripture that really rips the cover off of addiction is found in Psalm 107:10-12

V.10 -Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery
Notice the posture....sitting? There isn't any forward progress when you are addicted. Life comes to a grinding halt. The darkness mentioned here is the one that covers the mind and the heart. No ability to discern truth. In fact the person becomes spiritually blind and deaf. When someone is living in that state, the only voice they can here is the inner voice of self. The inner voice of self that is being directed by "self" that is being influenced by the devil and his plans for destruction. Living in this state of being only sucks hope and faith out of a person. They are surrounded by darkness and the only comfort that is opened to them is the company of like minded people who are also suffering.  Notice that the verse says that they are "Imprisoned in misery". No wonder they use! Anything to escape the mental anguish, guilt and shame that accompanies the lifestyle.

V.11 - They rebelled against the words of God, scorning the counsel of the Most High.
Here it is!!! The very heart of addiction. Rebellion....."I don't need anyone to tell me how to live"...."I know what is best for me". Such an attitude goes all the way back to where Eve stood before the serpent and heard these words...."God know that when you eat the fruit, your eyes will be opened, and you will BE LIKE GOD!" Bingo....If I am like God, then I don't need Him telling me what to do. So my life becomes the poster child for destruction, as I take charge of it. 

V.12 - That is why he broke them with hard labor. They fell, and no one was there to help them.
Hard Labor? Really? Yes. It is hard work to be an addict. A never-ending-always-looking life of having what you need to remain high. It is 24/7--365, and the appetite for drugs and/or alcohol does not take a vacation. It screams in your brain...and courses through your veins..."Give me more...More! More! I  need more!" and like the slave you've become, you answer the call. Verse 12 goes on to say that "they fell"....this is the direction addiction takes you....down. No one ever fell up in this madness. No one ever ascended to a high life. You go down...sin is a downward spiral that ends with physical and spiritual death.

Now if there wasn't a hope for a better life..then this whole sordid picture would be depressing. But God does not leave people in this state of gloom, despair and misery.

V.13 - "Lord, help!" they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.
There it is. The moment of clarity when God's truth breaks through the darkness. The moment when the heart over rides the mind and cries out to God. This is a moment of faith where we actually come to believe that there is a POWER greater than ourselves that can stop the madness and restore us to sanity. Do you see the simplicity of what is taking place?
The one trapped cried out to God....two simple words..."Lord (recognition of the one who has the greater Power)...and help (the acknowledgement of our own powerlessness). Then we read those glorious, magnificent words..."And he saved them".


V.14 - He led them from the darkness and deepest gloom. He snapped their chains.
He leads.....we follow. We don't remain in the darkness. We get up and move away from it. The misery is replaced by freedom w/ faith. We may not know what the future holds, but we are learning to trust God in His leading.

If these words spoke to you....
Then cry out to God for release from your own prison.
He will answer you...and He will free you.

Once freed, find yourself a group that you can join and have community with.
Ask God to direct you to people who are like minded and are on the same journey you are on.


God is good..
God on you....

mbb

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Saturday Night Worship


Psalm 51:15
Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you......

Had a moment Saturday night during Vineyard ReCovery.
I was leading worship.....
Up on the stage with my other cohorts that make up the band, when it just washed over me.
The room was filled with singing....
Now don't get me wrong, this wasn't the first time such has happened, but Saturday night I was suddenly filled with gratitude for everyone in that room.

For some reason, the songs connected with the hearts and praise broke out.
I didn't plan for it to happen...
Oh, I had prayed about it, asking God to show up in our meeting.
If you quiz anyone who leads worship they will tell you that it's their hearts desire for true worship to break out in the meeting. Such is kind of a barometer for the hearts of those present. 


Anyway, I found myself falling in love with each person in that room....
loving them right where they were in life.

Loving them even if they had come to the meeting for all the wrong reasons.
Maybe they just needed a stamp for their court card, and cared nothing about the worship or the message.
Maybe there were there to simply get off the premises of the treatment program they were enrolled at.

It didn't matter, they were there........standing...........singing.
O.k......you may be thinking. They were singing, so what?

It wasn't just the sound of voices that were singing....it was the emotion behind the voices.
A sense of gratitude....
A sense of thankfulness that for a brief moment in the day, the problems that everyone faced were moved to the back burner, so to speak.
For that brief moment, God was the most important thing in that room.

Those are the moments I live for. That is the focus for my own life.....always keeping God at the top of my life and situations. Never letting the world suck me down into the muck and mire of selfishness or self-centeredness. Not joining in the worlds' pity party of "Woe is me....everyone is against me". Lifting my vision off the things of this world,and focusing on the one and only Living God.

 In those moments when our attention is turned to God, there we begin the process of building on our faith. I don't have faith in God to straighten out my messes and make all my problems go away....
I have faith in God that He is who He claims to be....
And that He will do what He has promised He would do.
In this thinking (with my heart and not my head) I place my very life and will in His care, with a full understanding that He knows better what I need and where I need to go than I do.


As we leave the meeting every Saturday night, the coming week helps to strengthen and define my life in Christ. The struggles....the problems....the circumstances I face during the week, all become a part of my belief in God. They becomes the building blocks that God uses to change me into the man I am suppose to be.

So next time you're in a worship service....do that! Worship, I mean. Cut loose and be filled with gratitude...
If you're driving down the road and a you're listening to a favorite worship song..then yell out "THANK YOU JESUS!" at the top of your lungs. Let it come from deep down inside you.

To me...worship is gratitude that is verbally and openly expressed and declared.
Make such a part of your day. In fact, consider making it a  priority of your day, to openly and verbally declare your love for God.

God on you...
mbb

Monday, October 17, 2016

Redemption...Now There's A Word For You



Redemption....
More than just a spiritual term we hear in church.
IT is the whole work of Jesus that is kind of like a business transaction.
The cross...........the shedding of His blood......His death and resurrection.
All part of this redemptive process that gave us the opportunity to put in right standing with God the Father. Keep in mind that we were born into sin. All part of the "Adam and Eve thing" when they disobeyed God. From that point on, every human born was separated from God by this unpaid sin debt that each of us owed. 

Jesus became the payment that satisfied our debt. He took for us the penalty of our sin. As Scripture says...."He who knew no sin, became sin".  Don't ask me to explain all the theological in's and out's of this act of paying for our sins...I can't. But I can rejoice and get down right happy whenever I stop to think about what Jesus has done.

So here is the definition of redemption:

  1. 1.
    the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.
    "God's plans for the redemption of his world"
    synonyms:saving, freeing from sin, absolution
    "God's redemption of his people"
  2. 2.
    the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt.
    synonyms:
  3. retrieval, recovery, reclamation, repossession, return 

  4. Is it just me, or did I see the word "recovery" in the definition of redemption. I think maybe "yes". So the ideal of being in recovery is more than just the absence of drugs or alcohol. It is a total removal of one "old" lifestyle. It is the breaking of the power that held us in that lifestyle. It is a total shattering of the penalty we face had we remained in our old way of living.  I think maybe redemption includes forgiveness.....A dash of mercy.....a full cup of compassion....and is covered completely with the love of God.
  5. Now if that don't set you on fire....then your woods wet. I remember a hymn we use to sing when I was growing up. Some how the words seem to have taken on a different meaning as I grown in Christ.

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it.

Redeemed by the blood of the lamb.
Redeemed through His infinite mercy

His child and forever I am.

Redeemed....Redeemed...
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb
Redeemed....Redeemed
His child and forever I am.

Of course, how I can even think of the word redeemed and not have the Rapha Declaration come to mind.....
Because of Christ's Redemption
I am a new creation of infinite worth.

Sounds like Jesus is offering us a fresh start in life, does is not?
God on you....
mbb

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Love Of God



Romans 2:4
Are you unmindful or actually ignorant (of the fact) that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repent (to change your mind and inner man to accept God's Will)?

One thing about addiction that is true, is that it distorts our view about the truth of God.
We look at our lives and the destruction that we've brought about and judge ourselves to be worthless people. Our self worth is bottomed out and we put up a defense that tells our mind "How could God love me!"


Every time we encounter anything or anyone that points to God, we automatically go on the run. It is to painful to think about God because in our minds, we know that He is out to get us. That we have crossed over some imaginary line that will prevent us from ever being saved. Our own distorted thinking, which comes from our distorted heart, tells us that "we are hopeless...we are what we are, and addict, and we will never be able to change." Such thoughts are powerful in keeping a person locked up in the prison of addiction.

But God's love.....
Pure, holy and divine...
Is what fuels him to reach out to us.
A God who did not wish to save those who cannot save themselves would never reach out.

A God who only wanted to punish humanity for their sins would never have sent His Son to die on their behalf.
It is God's love that calls out to us in the darkness of our sin.
It is God's love that tells me that I have worth.
It is God's love that breaks through the haze of an addicted mind the crazy logic that drives it, to proclaim the truth that there is life and freedom.
Life and freedom from drugs and alcohol for anyone who will simply give will and life over to His care.


The one common thought I hear from those who have accepted God's gift of life is "Why didn't I do this years ago?" A gratitude and an appreciation for this new way to live life.
To see them smile and laugh.
To see them grow and mature, and face whatever problems may come up rather than run away to a bottle, a pipe, or a pill.

To fall head over heels crazy in love with this Jesus, and then go tell others about what has happened to them.
That is what the kindness and love of God can do.
It truly is the most powerful force known to man.
The divine love and kindness of God, that can break the penalty of sin.
Love that can break the presence of sin.

And love that can break the power of sin.
Now that is some kind of love.

God on you...
mb

Thursday, October 13, 2016

"You Made It Pete....You Made it!"



Some of you may recognize this picture from a posting I did here at the Greene Street Letters on August 17th. The posting centered around a man named "Pete". I was asked to come and talk with Pete about his salvation. Turned out, on that day, that Pete revealed he knew far more about Jesus, heaven, and salvation that he was given credit for.

As we sat on that front porch, Pete knew he was dying. The only problem Pete had was "Why has God not already taken me?" You see, he was in a lot of pain. Doctor's were at a loss as to Pete's condition. But Pete firmly knew his time was fast approaching.

I drove back up to see Pete on Tuesday of this week. He had been moved to a hospital bed that was located in the living room. Nurses and medicine decorated the room, as evidence of his condition. Pete was out the day of my visit, not sure if it was the medicine he was taking or not. But the man that lay in that bed was not the same man who sat on the porch with me. Frail, weak, looking nothing like himself. Isn't it funny how we, the living, judge people by the outside, while God looks to the heart? You see the real Pete was alive and well inside the body that lay in that bed. The Pete inside was simply waiting to be release from this shell we all walk around in.  I stood by his bed and prayed for the sweet release to come quickly.

I told Ina that I would be back the next day with some Cd's from Saturday night's meeting, since she has not been able to attend. She was grateful.
Yesterday, I drove back to see her and Pete.
Pete was more peaceful than the day before.
Not moaning, or struggling.
Ina and I talked. Once again I stood by the bed, silently praying for Pete.

After a while, I hugged Ina and left.

Pete died shortly after my visit.
He shook off the bonds and constraints of this life.....
And went home.
No fanfare....
No clouds parted....
No angels were seen.....but that doesn't mean they weren't there.
At that moment of death, every thing changed for Pete.

He left that broken shell to take on immortality.
He no longer needed medicine or oxygen.
As I have written so often when someone I know dies......
Pete now knows the truth of what you and I only claim to believe.

He is standing in front of Jesus....
He is worshiping the one who brought him into heaven.

He is with family and friends who had gone on before him.

How could anyone wish for Pete to come back here.
To this world....
To that bed he lay in....
To the pain and suffering that he endured until Jesus said, "Hey Pete! Come on home."

So this morning, I don't mourn the death of Pete. I celebrate the new life that has given to him, for I know at some point, I will see him again.

Psalm 116:15
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.

God on you....
mbb

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Tonight I Am Missing you









Philippians 1:23-24
I'm torn between two desires.....I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sake's, it is better that I continue to live.

"Tonight I'm sittin' on this porch in the rain....Been a pilgrim on this earth, since the day of my birth and tonight I am missing You."

Early morning here on Greene Street.....
Age and mileage have a way of wearing on you, don't they?

Seems as though every which way I turn, people are hurting...
Some are dying...
Some are merely marking time until they do die.....
Some seem to be rushing things, as far as death is concerned....


Phone calls in the night from lost souls looking for answers.
You give them an answer....
You tell them that every question they have is found in an individual. Someone who gave everything to answer the "why's" of life and living.
They hear, but they don't hear.

I don't know if they don't believe.....or if sin has so deafened them they cannot comprehend what truth is.
Still you listen....
You cry with them....


Not suppose to say these things out loud.....but you say them to yourself..."How long Lord? How long before you come back..."

You know that when He does (not if He does) life will all make sense.
All the unanswered questions will land upon one individual as the answer. Funny how we can see this truth on this side of heaven. I think maybe we believe the answers should be a lot more complicated.


Yet, as wave after wave of darkness rolls into your life, there is a yearning deep within to be at home with Jesus. As Glen Kaiser sings..."Tonight I am missing You." Such are times of great homesickness for a place I've never been before. A place I've never seen, but a place that is as real as this keyboard I'm typing on.............Heaven. Now don't get me wrong in what I'm saying here. Yes, there is a longing to shed this mortal coil that wraps my spirit. But in no way am I going to check myself out so I can go be with Jesus. I am just being truthful about the longing that washes over me from time to time. This song by Glenn Kaiser is just sword that penetrates deep inside me. The realization that I am no longer a citizen of this world. My home is in heaven. Yet, at the same time, in my salvation is a call to do the kingdom work of Christ. A work that every believer is called to. We are to be His voice......His arms and hands.....His legs, that go to a lost generation with the good news.  What good news? That Jesus has bridged the chasm between a Holy God and sinful mankind. 


I will rejoice in His truth....
I will celebrate when someone else comes to the saving knowledge of Jesus...
I will worship Him in the good times, as well as the bad....
I will follow no matter where He may lead me....
But as long as I draw breath on this side of heaven...
Tonight, I am missing You, Jesus.


God on you...

mbb


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Yo!


I love me some Yo Yo's.
Use to be pretty good with one. I could do all the standard "YO" tricks such as walk the dog, rock the cradle, Around the World and Loop the loop. I use to practice for hours trying to perfect my somewhat limited talent with the yo yo. I saved up my money and bought the best yo yo on the market.....the Duncan Imperial. That thing could hesitate (spin at the end of the string for those not familiar with the yo yo terminology) for ever, which only benefited you if you were trying to do these difficult tricks.

Life is like a yo yo ( sounds like a subtle shift into Forrest Gump theology doesn't it?).
It has ups and downs as well as its fair share of hesitations.
God has called us to master life by following him.
He gives us the ability to weather the ups and downs. Just like the yo yo, the more we practice (Matthew 7:24) the better we get at hearing and carrying out the directives of God.

Ephesians 4:14 speaks of this: As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.
We no longer live life like the yo yo. We are no longer to be tossed about by what we hear and what we see. We find stability and a solid place to stand on in Christ Jesus. He is the very place where all of life I experience begins. He is, not only the giver of life, but the one who sustains life. Real life that is found in relationship with Him. Christ has given us a place for this attitude and behavior to grow....the church.

Verse 11 - 13 read:
And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ until we attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to armature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
Did you catch that? He has given us teachers and leaders that are to equip us for works of service. In these works, we are a part of something larger than ourselves. We are a part of the body of Christ. The goal of the works and our fellowship is that we move into a unity of faith whereby we carry out the work of the Kingdom of God. What is that work? First and foremost it is worship unto God with every part of our being. Our very lives become worship unto Him. Our daily dealings and business become worship unto Him. The way I interact with people should bring glory to God and cause others to see Him in me.

No matter where I find myself on the string (remember we were talking about yo yo's), Christ is there to guide and empower me to always bounce back.
Go forth and "yo".

God on you....
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 ...