Saturday, April 29, 2017

Memories.



Psalm 139:13-14
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous---how well I know it

It's early....
Been up since 2:27 a.m.....
Checked on my mother-in-law to make sure she was o.k.
I love this time of the morning. Sounds strange I know, but in the quiet of the house, my mind clear from the rest I've gotten, my thoughts seem to be more organized. The day has not rushed at me yet like a runaway train. Problems and situations have not lined up to lay claim to a piece of my day. Here at this time it's just me, my thoughts, and a cup of coffee.

I love the verses from Psalm 139 about how complex we humans are. No evolution here....
No random bumping of gases and molecules to form a baby.

No cosmic-crap-shoot to start ol' humanity on the road to becoming the dominate species here on this mud-ball that is spinning around in space.
We are the living, breathing evidence of a Creator who has wonderfully crafted each of us.

I think the one thing that has impressed me to no end about God's ability to create is the simple fact that He has given each of us the ability to create and store memories. At this point in time, these little mental/visual files that are stored in my brain have become more and more important in my life.

The ability to snatch out of nowhere a mental thought that creates an emotion and a feeling. Sometimes the memories are painful. Wrong words that were spoken in the heat of an argument years ago can cause the most painful of emotions to surface in the twinkling of an eye. Yet, at the same time, that same ability can bring to mind the most wonderful of times. 

Memories such as the first time you met your spouse. The first date. Your first kiss. Trips you took together. The day you got married. The birth of your children. And the list goes on and on. Each day is an opportunity to place more of these memories in storage.

My mother-in-law suffers from dementia....
It has robbed her of short term memory.
When I take her a meal, she always asks me to bless her food. So we hold hands, and I say a prayer over her and her meal. She will start to take the first bite, stop and ask, "Have we said the blessing yet?" Something simple as that is lost...but, here is the beauty of what our Heavenly Father has done. My mom can pull up memories of her childhood. Her marriage to Eldred, her husband. She can remember that in the 8th grade at her school in Altoona, she had a new teacher from down in South Alabama. The one thing that mom remembers about this lady is the way she pronounced the word "Girls". Mom said that it came out "Gulls". Why does mom remember this, and yet can't retain what day it is? I don't know. I do know that these long-ago memories bring her comfort and peace.


I love the picture I chose for today's posting.
A bench sitting alone....
Is it sunrise?
Or was the picture taken at sunset?
I like to think it's sunset. I see it as where all of us are headed unless the Lord returns.
To me the picture is a wonderful place where a man could recount the memories of his life.
As I've grown older, things don't matter as much to me as they once did. It's the memories that we are making, not only for ourselves, but also for our children and our grandchildren. 


Usually when clan Bynum gathers for a meal, and the whole family has their feet under our table, the conversation turns to favorite memories. Trips to Florida....
Scavenger hunts on Christmas day....
Riding the train up at Nocalula Falls one winter's night when it was so cold that you could not feel your face.

On and one, the memories roll, the laughter comes, and for the briefest of moments we are all transported back to a shared time.
I'm not sure why or how God thought up this whole memory thing....
But I'm sure am grateful that He did.
"Thanks God!"


God on you...
mbb


Friday, April 28, 2017

A Heart Full Of Nastiness


The illustration above point out a truth that many do not want to hear. A truth that some refuse to speak on from the pulpit and in the church. We want to ignore it and hope that it will go away or, at best, not be true. What is this truth? That the human heart is deceitful and wicked.

Our government thinks the solution to the moral condition of humanity is more education. Teach the people...give them instruction..and they will do what they deem to be right. Herein is the problem. Any choice that is made comes from heart conviction. If the heart be sinful, then the choice will not be truthful or even holy.

The heart reveals the nature and character of people.
I remember during former president Bill Clinton's first campaign, the Republicans kept hammering at his character. Clinton's response? Character doesn't matter, it is the issues. I never will forget the sinking feeling that came to my spirit when I heard this statement. Character doesn't matter? It is the character of the man that determines the decisions he makes.

A heart that is not or has not surrendered to Jesus can only produce one kind of behavior.
Listed in Galatians 5 we read that list.
Immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and the things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

God presents mankind in another verse, Jeremiah 17:10 -  and is desperately sick. The heart is more deceitful than all else Who can understand it? The heart? Not that organ that pumps blood, but that which is the very core of our being. The connection between our will, our ego and our intellect where our decision on how to act and what to do come forth. IF the heart is wicked and evil, then our actions and behaviors will reveal this.

When I was at Rapha, one of the hardest things to get across with people who come into the program , is that their addiction is a secondary thing. It is a symptom of a greater thing. The very truth that has to be addressed if recovery is to be our goal, is that we suffer from a broken relationship with Jesus. Our hearts are wicked and full of sin. Sin? Sin is my self chosen independence to live my life with no interference from God on any level. When the woman was deceived in the garden of Eden by the serpent, the serpent put fort the idea that God has holding back from Adam and Eve. The serpent told her, "God surely knows that when you eat of the fruit, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God." Imagine that! The subtle promise that we can be like God. If I am like God, then I won't  need him. That is the very point that mankind traded away the promises of God.  Ever since that time, we have lived outside the will of God because of our sinful hearts and the nature that drives us to do that which is contrary to God's will.

It takes a heart-transplant from the divine heart of God to take us out of this old lifestyle.
King David knew this when he wrote in Psalm 51, "Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me."
According to the Twelve Steps:
Step #1 -  the total awareness that we are powerless to do the right thing. As Romans 7 reads.."That which I want to do, I do not do. That which I do not want to do, that is the very thing that I do." My friend that is powerlessness.

Step #2 - We come to believe in a Power that is greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity.
Sanity comes with the heart change which produces a life change.

Step #3 - We made a decision to turn our WILL and our LIFE over to the care of God as we understood Him .

We look to every excuse and reason to validate our bad behavior except to the truth of God.
Therapy will not relive the pain and destruction of sin.
Medication will not free you from the bondage of a life separated from God.
Group-thought and Validation will not confirm the reality of Jesus' saving grace.
We find the answer for our life and for our future at the foot of the cross.
There forgiveness is applied to a life a sin.
There we find the unspeakable joy of the Lord. A joy that the world can neither comprehend or duplicate.
It is the shed blood of Christ that ushers us into the "new" life we have been searching for.

That is why I write daily.
To share with you the joy that has been brought to my own life.
To share Jesus with you....
May you find Him today for yourself.

God on you....
mb

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Time Either Rolls On----Or Rolls Over You



Time......
Has a way of rolling on by doesn't it? Taking with it every good intention...every "Should have"...every thing we meant to do.
Once time rolls on by, there is no going back. There is only today, and if you're fortunate, a tomorrow. No guarantee about that, but at least there is today. What I do with today sets the stage for my tomorrow, should I make it.

"I'll quit tomorrow".
"This will be the last time I use, I really mean it this time."
We bolster our own pride with these empty promises, but we know the truth that we can't quit."
We know the harsh reality that if something doesn't change, we are going to travel the same path millions have and destroy everything and everyone around us for the sake of our addiction.

Harsh truth, but truth none the less. Coming face to face with this truth only overwhelms us with fear. Fear in turn sets us to flight, and the flight we take always leads back to old thought.....old friends...and old behaviors, in an effort to escape the fear.

Funny how the only requirement to be a part of A.A. is a desire to stop drinking or using.
Funny how this journey toward a new life begins with a desire.
But desire alone isn't worth much.
That is why I want to build a community or people who are on the same journey to find life. Recovery is much more than sobriety. If sobriety was the chief goal to recovery, I'd take you and stick you in a room, lock the door, and shove food and water under the door to you. I guarantee you that you would be sober by the time you came out. But the real reason for your using would not have been addressed.

Let's take a look at some verses from Jeremiah 5.
V.23 -Your iniquities have turned these things away.
In this case, God is speaking of His ability to bring prosperity and abundance to a life. When it speaks of iniquities as being the source of God with holding good things from you, it is referring to your lifestyle. Iniquities = lifestyle. We have laid hold of a lifestyle that runs against God's call to salvation and change. When we turn our backs on God to live life on our terms, God allows us to do so. But then as sure as the sun comes up, we find that turmoil and guilt and shame become our closest friends. God, who is ever loving, waits for us to return. He loves us beyond our capability to love and truly desires to give us life, real life.

V.23 - And you sins have withheld good from you.
kind of a no brainer here, isn't it. If good has been deducted from your life, that only leaves THE BAD. And what do we do? we press in more and more into that old lifestyle of using. Which only separates us more from all the good God is wanting to pour out on us. It's kind of like me having a terminal disease, yet I know someone who has the medicine I need to cure me. But because I don't really like the that individual, I refuse to take the medicine. 

So according to Jeremiah (and I think I can honestly put these two things together)...our lifestyle of addiction and the intent of our hearts, our motives, have separated us from a life that is given freely by God to those who truly want it. Sounds right to me.

That is why we do Vineyard Recovery.
We are a people who have either found this new life, or are in search of it.
We are a community of people who have found the value of allowing Jesus Christ to operate in our lives as our Higher Power.
We value the simple act of following Him, laying aside our will to embrace His.
The mission statement for Vineyard ReCovery is Following In His Steps. You do not have to take this journey alone. We are a place where you can receive encouragement. You can receive prayer (don't ever discount the power of prayer). And you can be loved for who you are, not what you've done.
We are all on this path to recovery.


Because of Christ's Redemption
I am a new creation of infinite worth.
I am deeply loved
I am completely forgiven
I am fully pleasing
I am absolutely complete in Christ
I am totally accepted.

When my performance reflects this new identity
That reflection is dynamically unique.
There has never been another person like me in the history of mankind
nor will there ever be.
God has made me an original
One of a kind
special person
And so are you!

Hopefully we'll see you Saturday night/ 7 p.m. / Vineyard Recovery.

Could be that there are some new things on the horizon concerning Vineyard ReCovery Chuch. God is taking us in a new direction that is going to undo some of the old thoughts and ways about how to address our recovery once we've made the decision to turn will and life over to the care of God. As they say on television...."Stay tuned for an important announcement!"

God on you...
mbb

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I Need Truth About The "REAL" Me.



Luke 18:9 - 14
Then Jesus told this story to some who had great self-confidence and scorned everyone else. "Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a publican (Dishonest tax collector). The proud Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: 'I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else, especially like that tax collector over there! For I never cheat, I don't sin, I don't commit adultery. I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.' But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, 'O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.' I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For the proud will be humbled, but the humbled will be honored."


Great Story! Jesus had a way, or rather should I say...has a way, of bringing to light the uncovered heart of mankind. He reveals the true nature of man and how deceptive and destructive the human heart truly is. The heart is the storehouse of our beliefs and the accumulation of who we truly are. Proverbs tells us that "As a man thinks...so is he." In other words, the real "ME" comes from the belief's I carry around in my heart. 

Kind of weird when you think of what Jeremiah wrote in Chapter 17:9 -The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Kind of smacks in what how the world and our society (sometimes even our churches) views humanity. No one truly likes to think of themselves as being wicked or having an evil heart, but I have to keep returning to what Scripture tells me. I may not like it, but truth is truth especially when it comes to God's truth. 

I think one of the greatest gifts God ever gave to me was an understanding of my own heart. By that I mean an understanding of what I am capable of without Him in my life. Such understanding makes me appreciate this gift of salvation He has given to me. I have made this statement on several occasions and it seems each time I do, it upsets some folks. Maybe they don't like to hear it because it reminds them of their own hearts. I will make the comment that within me dwells the possibility of behaving like the Apostle Peter. I have the capability of denying my Jesus! Some have told me that such things aren't possible if I have truly been saved. When I search myself and see that it is the Power of God's Holy Spirit that keeps sin at bay...that it is the blood of Jesus that has separated me unto His Kingdom and has removed me from loving this world, I understand the exact nature of depravity. As a friend told me once, "Without Jesus I'd just be an old stinking pervert!" You know what? He meant it. Without Jesus in my life, my old heart would run with every thought of evil it could produce. 

I have nothing to boast of this morning except Jesus had mercy on me a sinner.
I have nothing to brag of except that today I have an understanding of what God expects of me. The Kingdom of God has been brought to me and through my salvation I have been changed from the inside out. My heart has been transformed. Maybe it's the fact that I do have an awareness of what I am capable of without Jesus that I stand like the publican....
"Have mercy on me today, Lord." It's not that I wallow in self pity or beat myself up in order to make myself feel some kind of worth. No! I fully accept God's salvation with a joyful heart. But as I am aware of God's Holy Spirit at work in me today, maybe it is He (the Holy Spirit) who reminds me of the danger of sin and how it seeks to destroy me at every turn. Sin would love nothing more than to destroy my testimony so that no one would ever listen to anything I have to say or write. Sin would love nothing more than to destroy my family, bring division and destruction. Sin would love nothing more than for me to crumble under the weight of tribulation and trials, lying there doubting and cursing God. Praise God for the love and power of Jesus, my Christ. He lifts me, spirit-body-soul, out of the muck and mire of sin. He sets me upon a solid rock where I can be who God created me to be.


Such things are why I get up every morning with a heart of gratitude that He has given me another day to be His son, to serve His kingdom and to love those around me.
God on you.....

mb

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A "Manna" Journey


Matthew 10:9-10
Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts. Take not bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff...........

Trust.....
Trust in God....
Easy to say...hard to do, yet this is the key cornerstone to our new found relationship with Jesus. His will is that we understand we are not to be sufficient within ourselves, but rather lean on Him and His provision. Doesn't mean we go all "lazy" on Him, rather that He becomes the one we seek out for whatever it is we need.

We say we believe these concepts and ideas about Jesus, but when push comes to shove, our faith falls away and we seek to meet our own needs, whether in a good way, or a bad way.


Notice what Jesus says in Matthew 6:28-32

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not ever Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you. O you of little faith? Do not worry, saying,'What shall we eat? Or what shall we drink....or what shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
When you got up this morning, your heavenly Father already knew what you needed for this day. Our job is to trust Him as we move through our day. I like to think of this type of view as we are taking a "MANNA" Journey.

Manna was the bread/cracker/wafer that God provided for Israel to live on during their 40 year journey in the wilderness. I pretty sure that there are any Publix or Aldi's stores in the wilderness. No 7-11 or zippy-rips where a guy could get a Yoo-hoo or a Slim Jim. God was the sole source of provision for those on that journey. Every morning the Israelite's got up, food was already there lying on the ground for the taking. In fact, God commanded them to gather up what they needed.....JUST FOR THAT DAY! In the morning, there would be a new, fresh provision. The people learned to trust God.

We have been called to walk in a like manner, with the understanding that God has provided everything I need to walk through this day. Whether it be clothes, a place to live, food and drink...God has it for me. What's my part in this equation? To seek Him first, and to be zealous to live in righteousness. Another way of looking at this is to say that we are to "Seek God's rule and reign in our own personal lives first and foremost. Along with His Kingdom rule, we are to seek His "Right-ness" or character. Isn't that a big part of the recovery journey? Allowing God to remove our character defects? If He removes something, rest assured that He is going to replace it with something better. Just how God rolls.

Actually learning to live in this manner takes away a lot of stress that most folks carry around. I find that the Joy of the Lord is alive and well within me. That life, real life isn't based on success or failure....it's found in trusting God. Trusting him when I succeed...and trusting him when the wheels come off and I find myself in the ditch. He is the one true constant in my life. I don't know about you, but I do believe I'm going to take my own advice and chase this Jesus through the day.

God on you...

mbb

Monday, April 24, 2017

Authority And Power To A Bunch Of Knuckleheads



Matthew 10:1
He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

Great passage....
Twelve knuckleheads that no one gave a chance to do make an impact in their country. They weren't a part of the movers and shakers of the day. They had no place in the political as well as the religious circles of leadership. These guys weren't blue-bloods....they were working stiffs. Average Joe's. In some respects, they were "below" average Joe's. If you set out to concoct a plan where you could influence a society, and that influence would spread around the world, and last for thousands of years..........you would never have picked these men. I'd like to say that they'd be last on the list of potential candidates, but the truth is they would not have even been on the list.


But these are the very men Jesus surrounded Himself with. 

Notice the very first two words in the Matthew passage...."He called".
Now I know that some may disagree with what I'm about to write and I totally get it. But I do not believe that real recovery is begun by someone having a thought that they need to quit. I believe that such a thought can instigate the process. I believe that such a thought can point someone in the right direction, but real recovery begins with an invitation to experience a change of heart. Real recovery begins with that inward look, and seeing yourself for who you really are. Someone who is powerless. You can have all the college degrees in the world and still be powerless. You can be the leader of a great nation and still be powerless. That is the great anchor that starts this journey to a new way of living.

So if I'm powerless....what is it I need?
How about a power greater than me? A power that is not present to clean up my messes.....but rather a power than can help arrange my character and heart so that I can make sound, good decisions. In other words, a power that can take me out of the chaos that is addiction, and lead me to a place of clarity where I can begin the process of putting my life back together.

O.k....so Jesus CALLED his disciples. What next?

Why looky here! He gave them POWER, and this power that was handed to the disciples is not the kind of power you'll find anywhere here on planet earth. This power originates from the very source that created everything we see, touch, taste, hear and smell. That source would be God.

Now the power we read about in Matthew 10 that was given to these disciples was for them to go out and wage war against the darkness that is the kingdom of Satan. A kingdom that is the instigator of addiction. So this power these 12 knuckleheads were given gave them the ability to remove the presence and influence of demonic spirits. I know....I know....if you're aren't real familiar with this view of scripture, it sounds a bit freaky-deaky. But we've dealt with demonic spirits before and how they attach and influence a person who is under their power. I kid you not...these dudes are real and they mean business. Wherever you have people in addiction, you have these demons hanging around to cloud minds and influence men and women to make really bad decisions. So Jesus gave his followers the right (that would be authority) and the POWER to remove the presence of these demons. 


All so part and partial to the package of celestial goodies that Jesus gave his disciples was the Power to heal disease and sickness. And here is the kicker....the power covered every type of disease and sickness. Now from our 2017 view, this all sounds like a  fairy tale...something that is not very plausible. But it is the foundation for recovery. 

Living in spiritual darkness because of the choice we made to use.....
Coupled with the long term usage of our drugs and/or alcohol, we become blind to the truth. We find ourselves under the authority of the devil. SO in order to break free and experience what Jesus says is life, and life more abundant, we turn to Him. Our cry becomes "Oh God...save me!!!" He does.

Psalms 107:20 reads...."He sent forth His word and healed them, and rescued them from the grave." His word? The Bible? Well, there is power when we read this book and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us. But the Word that God sent to heal us could also be Jesus.

I hope to do some teaching in the near future on the Kingdom of God. What it is....what it means....who is it for...and how does it operate. I think it might be helpful in laying a good foundation to understand how this whole Authority and Power thing operates. Until tomorrow when I deliver a fresh posting here on the Greene Street Letters.......

God on you...

mbb 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Some Good Acronyms For Recovery



The world of recovery seems to be full of catchy saying and cute acronyms to aid our somewhat befuddled memory.  Simple wording and phrases that help us to stay focused on the job at hand. What job? Why "life" of course.Here are some that I found at various web sites.

H.A.L.T. is Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. These are four things to avoid because they weaken our resolve to stay sober. Consider these the enemy!

F.E.A.R. There are a couple of different versions to this that I have heard because we have a choice. We can either Face Everything And Recover or Flee Everything And Run.

E.G.O. Edging God Out. You mean it isn’t ALL about me???

H.O.W. Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness. The only way to approach the steps and the entire recovery process.

G.O.D. Here is another acronym that has two different versions. The first is Good Orderly Direction which is what our Higher Power offers us when we are willing to believe; and the second is Group Of Drunks, which is what many folks use as their Higher Power before they can believe in anything or anyone else. Power of simply belonging to a community of like minded people. I don't know about you but I will pick door #1 where God is my Higher Power.

F.I.N.E. Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional. How many times has someone said, “How are you?” and your response was “fine” when you actually meant “F.I.N.E.”?

N.U.T.S. Not Using The Steps. I can’t argue with this one. If you are not using the steps, you are definitely NUTS!

S.L.I.P. Sobriety Losing Its Priority. The slip began long before it happened. All of the acronyms above have probably happened for this to occur.

K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid. Don't over think your recovery and don't complicate that which is very simple.

Psalms 107:20 -  He sent out his Word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death.
This has been a verse that I have relied on time and time again when it comes to remembering the truth about sin, addiction and recovery. The heart and root of all addiction is sin. Our own personal rebellion and independence to do what we want to do, free and unrestricted of any restraints placed on us by others or God.  Now the truth is, as we delve into the world of drugs and alcohol, repeated usage does alter our brains. We no longer think as those who do not use do. We develop a battle between mind and body. The mind says we can use, but the body responds and reveals to us we truly can't process alcohol and drugs in a way that is not destructive. So therein lies the problem. Our brains tells us one thing yet our bodies tell us another. We tend to lean toward the "brain" side, after all, we are in control (or at least that is what our brain tells us). We fall into the delusional trap that "I can work out my problems and I can keep using".  

It isn't until we reach the point of being sick and tired of being sick and tired that we are willing to go to any lengths to break free of this addiction. Breaking free is not found in self-will but in self-surrender. 

Psalm 107:27-28
They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits end. "Lord help!"they cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.

The Higher and Greater Power of Jesus Christ can do for us what we have been unable to do for ourselves.
Why not think on these things today if you are struggling in addiction.

Do not be a prisoner to the lie that addiction whispers in your ear. "Your always going to be like this. You'll never be able to break free." 
God can and will free you when you turn to Him.

God on you......
mb

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Look At What Is At The Heart Of A Vineyard Church



National Director, Phil Strout, speaks of his first meeting with John Wimber. The Vineyard movement was, and continues to be, more about values and priorities than making sure every church looks and operates the same.

John Wimber did not care whether the pastor wore a suit and tie, or a Hawaiian shirt and white slacks. In my case, it would be jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. John was more concern with the impact the values and priorities of our movement would have on the heart rather than whether or not our image was amazing. 


While helping the poor is a major focus at VRC, we've had to learn to become gentle as sheep but wise as serpents. Why? Because there are folks out there who are predators seeking to use others for their own selfish purpose. I feel like our job is to discern the truth about those we deal with. This is something that I struggle with, not wanting to be one whose heart is cold but, at the same time, not being a part of enabling someone to continue to a lifestyle that is wrong. It is a fine line we walk.

Vineyard has been home to Vicki and I for 23 years. It's more than church...it's more than a religious flag that we march under. Vineyard does not define us....we define what it means to be a part of this association of churches. In his book, Quest For The Radical Middle, Bill Jackson made the comment that you don't join a Vineyard.....you discover that is what you've been all along. The movement's values and priorities give credence and language to what you believe.

Granted that Vineyard ReCovery is not your typical Vineyard church. As I've written in the past, we are home to a "SIN"-Specific people. In other words, those who come through the door have a unique problem (among the many that human's possess) in that they are dealing with addiction. So our messages are geared to point to Jesus as being the Higher Power that can break the bondage of their addiction. We also want to help those who are saved to take the next step in this journey to a new way of living in Christ.

We feel that God is preparing us for a new season of teaching and worship at VRC. Excited? You bet. We are in prayer right now, asking God for direction and instruction on how to carry out what we are hearing Him say. Good day's ahead. Please pray for us as we all are trying to be the people God has called us to be, and do what He is instructing us to do.


God on you....

mbb

Friday, April 21, 2017

Where Does GSL Go?


Just thought I would post
This to let you know where
the Greene Street Letters
Are Currently being read:
Here Are Today's Total.

United States
1599

France
116

United Kingdom
20

Germany
14

Spain
6

Portugal
6

Ukraine
5

Brazil
3

India
3

South Korea
3

Can't say that I fully understand how all this here Internet thing works. All I know is that I write here in Attalla, Alabama. How it finds its way to these other parts of the world is beyond my little pea-brain. I just pray that whatever I write, whatever is posted will impact someone in some small way.

God on you...
mbb

God Is



God is good!
I could write more, but I won't
I could say more, but I'll stop
I could expound on those three words "God is good"
But I choose not to
I could ask for comments on what I've written
But I don't think I will
Why?

Because sometimes we need to let simple truth sink into places
inside of us that have been devoid and empty
of such incredible truth as this.
These ideas and concepts tend to be over-explained
over-hyped
and often serve as places of excuse for our flaws
and nature that we, for whatever reason,
choose not to surrender to the goodness of God.
God is good.

Get it?
It's not that God WAS good...
Or
God SHALL be good...
But the idea exist in the here and now.
God IS good.

We don't get to define or judge whether such is 
real or not.
We simply either receive or reject this truth.
As for me....
I choose to believe
GOD IS GOOD!

God on you..
mb

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Searching For The Easier Softer Way


Bible study led me to a very familiar passage found in II Kings 5 yesterday.
The story of Naaman the leper.
Powerful man: Commander of King's Army
Man of integrity: Mentioned in Scripture.
Then comes the words........"But he was a leper."
All the positives were shot down with those 5 words: But he was a leper. No matter what good he did....no matter how kind he may have been....no matter what his intentions were...Naaman was defined by those five words...."But he was a leper."

Sounds like someone who walks in addiction, doesn't it?
He's a good boy........but he is an alcoholic.
He's a smart young man isn't he? But he's an addict.
This one manifested behavior has laid hold of life, and now defines the very existence of the person who is trapped.


Naaman was determined to do something about his current condition. Trouble was that Naaman had an idea of his own how this healing should take place. In other words, he wanted to control the process, rather than accept it and follow simple instructions. He begins the journey to be healed at the suggestion of an Israeli slave girl who knows of a prophet.

Naaman makes the trip to meet this man of God, Elisha, who seems to know the skinny on how to get rid of this condition that has defined Naaman's life.
Naaman arrives. Elisha sends his messenger to the front door and gives instruction on what to do for the cure of Naaman's leprosy. Go wash yourself (or dip) seven times in the Jordan river.


Naaman is furious on many different levels. "That's it? I came all this way to hear these stupid steps on how to be clean?" Naaman had a "Furious" list and he was going to tell this so-called prophet a thing or two. Naaman's list went something like this.

(1.) I am important.
(2.) This prophet doesn't even come to meet me personally, he sends his messenger.
(3.) Whats up with this "Go to the Jordan and dip myself 7 times?"
(4.) This is not the way I want it to happen.
(5.) We've got rivers in our country that are much better than the Jordan.

This is so like people who come into recovery.
They want to be clean and sober, but they want it on their terms.
12 Steps? You've got to be kidding me? That's too simple.
There are other ways and rehabs that are so much better than this.

The addictive mind looks for the softer, easier way.
The sin driven mind looks for the softer, easier more pleasing way.
But God says, "Jordan River and 12 Steps."

Naaman eventually gave in and did what he was told.
Guess what?
He was healed.
Imagine that? Doing what we have been told to do. Wouldn't that be called obedience? I think so.
"You want to follow me?" Jesus said.....
"Deny yourself....Take up your cross.....and let's go."
Three simple things that will provide life and life abundant.
The human mind still screams, "That's too simple! It has to be harder than that."

I do love God......
He understands exactly how simple I am.

God on you.....
mb

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hebrews On The Barbie---




I have always loved the story of Daniel and the three Hebrew men: Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego.
Snatched up from their home and their country by a foreign government. Taken to a land with strange customs and rituals that seemed to go against everything they stood for or believed.
About the only thing they had going was the fact that God gave them favor with the king. I guess you could teach a whole week on that simple fact alone. When God gives you favor, even in your most darkest times, He will protect you and see you through.

I'm sure that living in Babylon was not part of the future these four had mapped out, but the sin of Israel brought down the judgment of God. God had repeatedly warned Judah and Israel to repent and turn from their sins. The warning fell on deaf ears. Sin continued. This went on for a period of time until God's patience had been exhausted, so judgment came. Ta!DA!....The monster of monster's, king Nebuchadnezzar shows up with the Babylonian Army to take names. Point....Set....Match....everyone get on the bus, we're headed to Babylon....next stop..your new home.

Well, Daniel and his posse seemed to fit in and had made a niche for themselves, even finding favor with the king and all the people who hung around the palace. But as you would have it, the king went a little crazy. Some of the people that ran with him convinced him to build a statue of himself so that everyone in the country could worship him. It's bad enough when you have an ego..but couple that ego with all the power and authority that a king possesses and you've got a nuclear problem. Old "Neb" loved the idea of seeing himself 60' high, all gleaming and shining in the midday sun. So let it be written, so let it be done...we got us a statue.

Now the ruling gang of Babylon came up with the idea that everyone should fall down and worship the statue of ol' king Neb at different points during the day. So the conscripted a band to come up with a catchy tune that, when played, would let the folk of the kingdom know it was worship time. Simple huh? Hear the tune....get down on your face....worship. How hard is that? Well, it's seems like it was a pretty hard thing for the three Hebrews..remember them? Shadrack, Meshach and Abednego. Since they were servants of the Most High, Real Deal, Creator of the Universe, God...they weren't not about to do any face-laying, worship type stuff to ol' king Neb's statue. Was not going to happen.

You know that it was bound to happen. Those who served God were going to come into conflict with the kingdom of darkness.......and it did.
Beautiful Babylonian day...sun shining bright....cool breezed blowing in.....wonderful day to worship a false idol, image of ol' king Neb. The band was in rare form, so that at the appropriate time, they cut loose with the "Worship The King" Suite. People every where fell down to their faces and began the whole, "You are worthy, king Neb...you are worthy." Something was wrong with the picture...there were three men who were not down on their faces worshipping. The band leader thought maybe they hadn't heard the tune..so they took it around for one more chorus. Still standing. What's wrong with these guys? Didn't they get the memo? Hear music....fall down...worship. How hard is that?

To make a long story short, the three radical, right wing, Hebrews were arrested and taken before the king.
It was not a good day to be taken to the king, he was dealing with problems left and right and now here were three Hebrews who didn't get the whole worship-me thing. Threatening them with being thrown into a furnace which, by the way, will put a damper on any future you might have or be considering if your are the throw-ee and not the thrower. Fire, hot, burn, flames.......dead.
I've written all of this to get to this point. I love the answer the three Hebrews gave the king.
"Oh king, if that be the case (that you want to kill us) our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, And He will deliver us from the from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods. Nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."
In other words....(you've got to love this)....
Our God is able to deliver us....
But if He doesn't, He is still God.
Now that is some hardcore, backbone belief.
No matter what you are going through today...
No matter how it appears or what it may be like, rest in the knowledge and love that no matter the outcome, God is still God and He is still in control.
I believe that Dog will hunt.

Cut to the end of the story....
The three Hebrews are thrown into the furnace...
Babylonians can't count because when they look into the flames, they see four men instead of three. Get this...Jesus shows up with the Hebrew three.....
This is the kings answer to the question...three or four.
"I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God!" Jesus done busted up all in that Babylonian Bar-b-que.
God is still God...
Don't let the enemy, a.k.a. the devil, rob you of this incredible truth.
Get it all down inside of you so you can draw strength from it when the clouds roll in and the storms come.
God is in control.

God on you....
mb

Here's Johnny Cash singing about the 4th man in the fire....

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

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