Saturday, July 1, 2017

God's Declaration of Independence


Every year, most citizens of the United States celebrate a holiday we call Independence Day or also known as the July 4th holiday. On July 2, 1776, Congress voted to declare our independence from Great Britain.  Two days later, July 4th 1776, The Declaration of Independence was drafted and published. On August 2nd 1776, fifty-six congressional delegates from the thirteen colonies began the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In 1870, Independence Day was made an unpaid Federal holiday and in 1941, it became a paid Federal holiday. Throughout our nations history, hundreds of thousands have died in pursuit to protect our nations most valuable treasure, FREEDOM!

To declare independence meant that the first continental congress must be willing to protect the shores of a young nation from attacks and be willing to develop a vision to see a nation of opportunity where other immigrants can come and experience freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and hope.

A couple thousand years ago, God designed his own Declaration of Independence for his children.  His freedom plan was not about an independence from other nations, but rather, a freedom from the tyranny of Satan. Satan’s main objective is to steal our freedom and destroy our spirituality.  God’s main objective is to give us a sustainable relationship that will protect us from the brutal attacks of Satan.  God’s freedom plan didn’t come without a price, nor did it come without heartache; but nevertheless God’s determination of freeing his children were more important than any sorrow he would have to endure to declare us free.

Countless millions are searching for independence from a life of spiritual imprisonment.  All one has to do is answer this one question:  Do you want to break the chains of sin that has kept you in bondage?  If YES, keep reading.  If NO, stop reading and allow the chains to keep you from experiencing the opportunities to know true happiness. Contentment. Love. Joy. Peace. Kindness.  Grace.  Forgiveness.  Mercy.

If you answered YES, God’s Declaration of Independence will give you the opportunities to experience freedom unlike you have ever known.  It does not mean everything will be perfect and without problems in life; however, it does mean that you now have resources that will engage you, empower you, and equip you to live out God, Jesus, and Spirit in your life. 

God’s Declaration of Independence:

God's Rescue Plan - Romans 5:6-8, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

God's Declaration of Independence - Romans 5:9, "Since we have now been justified (Declared Free) by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!"

God's Enduring Freedom - Romans 5:10, "For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"

To experience eternal freedom, surrender to the Lordship of Jesus and allow the Spirit to lead your life.  Freedom in Christ isn’t easy to live out, but worth it in the end!

Remember, Be God Controlled,

Brian

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Trusting God When Life Stinks!


How can we experience joy that lasts, when...
I’m feeling the affects of a financial crisis?
I’m unemployed?
I’m dealing with a bad marriage?
I’ve just lost my spouse to death?
I feel so lonely?
I’m rejected?
I feel God isn’t listening to me?


Joy and happiness are not the same.  Happiness seems to depend on our external circumstances. If our circumstances are pleasant, our needs are being met, and we have the approval of family and friends, we generally feel happy with our lives.

Joy, however, is a Spirit-fruit quality that sustains us when the storms of life are raging.  It is a quality that believers can experience because of the working of the indwelled Spirit in our lives.  It is true, however, that joy can be zapped by our lack of trust in God, sin in our lives, horrific experiences, hardships or an undisciplined life. They way joy can be enhanced is to keep our trust in God and know that God knows what He is supposed to do and how to do it.

John 14:1-4, Jesus said, "Trust in God...." I believe that trust is earned. It takes time to trust.  It is over time and as we getting to know a person that a relationship of trust is being built. I’ve talked to many people who have asked me,   “How can I trust God when life is hard? When I’ve been abused? Raped? Abandoned? “  Doesn’t God care about me?”

Mostly, my response is:  God doesn't do bad things to people; people do bad things to people. Joy comes when we put our focus on a solution, rather than find someone to blame.  God isn’t in the business of making our lives miserable, rather he is rooting us on to see him as one who deeply cares and loves each of his children.  He is sad when one of his kids hurt another one.  He hurts deeply when we hurt.  He gets angry when lives are taken because of the selfish behavior of others.  God does not always stop the brutality of his children.  But he always has a solution to help each of us through the difficult and painful hardships. 

After hundreds of years in brutal oppression, slavery and hard labor, God heard the cries of the Israelites and freed them from a dictatorial regime.

It wasn't an overnight sensation of joy and trust that the Israelites developed with God; it was forty years of traveling, listening, and seeing that God can be trusted. After all, these people had been abused and neglected. No one can just turn off the switch and become joyful and trusting; it takes time. For the Israelites, they eventually trusted God and began to feel that God was in their corner.

The same is true for each of us.  When abuse has taken its toll.  When rejection has been so hurtful.  When a crisis overtakes our lives and no light at the end of the tunnel, it is hard to just turn everything over to someone whom we may not know very well or at all.  It is a journey to get to know them.    

God has many resources to sustain us, help us and lead us to a better place.  It is a willingness to travel the journey to find the inner joy we so desperately want.    Trusting God when life is at its worse.  It is trusting that God is our peace (Judges 6:4) and that he supplies all of our needs, when we need them (Genesis 17:1) and it's trusting that God will provide a way for a better day or medicines for illnesses or food when we are hungry (Genesis 22:14), it is trusting that God will lead us like a shepherd who cares deeply for us (Psalm 23:1) and it is trusting God to be our master when all of chaos is breaking out and the pain is so severe and the hurt is so deep.  The Master will make it better in the end. (Genesis 18:3)  Trust God even when life stinks! 

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Mark of a Great Dad!



He isn’t your ordinary father.  He has always been around to lead and teach and to discipline and to protect and to love and to pass on values that will sustain each of his children through life.  His work ethic is extraordinary.  His devotion to his wife no matter the hardships has been inspiring and his desire to lead a godly life is evident in his speech and actions. 

On July 4, 1939, Lou Gehrig declared himself the “luckiest man on the face of the earth” to have played for the Yankee’s.  Today, I declare myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth to have been blessed with a father who helped shape me into the man I am today. 

My father was born on March 1st 1938 in the little town of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.  His surroundings were farms of cotton, corn, beans and cattle.  The Black River provided a place of recreation and the one room school was his formal education.  His childhood wasn’t filled with all the gadgets we have today, rather it was filled with work and taking care of things around the farm in which he grew up on. 

My siblings and I have had the opportunity many times as children to visit my dad’s childhood places.  Some of us were taught how to swim in the Black River by my dad and we pretended we were the teachers at the one room school that had become over time a dilapidated building.   We walked the dirt streets where my dad once played and ran through the fields where he once worked. 

The older I get, the more I realize the impact my father has made on me.  The values, morals, ethics, integrity didn’t come by chance; rather, they came from a man who has been immersed in a relationship with God for decades.  As I write this, my eyes are filled with tears of joy because I would not be the man I am today without the father God has given me.  He is godly.  He is gentle.  He is patient.  He is loving.  He is respectful.  He is loyal.  He is a servant. 

The Gospel of Luke describes a story of a son who wanted his inheritance before his dad died so that he could experience the world.  The father granted the inheritance and the son left to sow his wild oats.  The story goes on to say that the son spent all the money and wanted to go home.  The father saw the son from a distance and had compassion on him, ran to him, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  The father was thrilled his son was home and they had a big party of eating, music and dancing.  You see; the father was more in love with his son than he was with his farm.  He was overjoyed that his son was now safe at home.

I’ve seen my dad do the same for one of his sons.  Day in and day out he would wonder where one of his children was.  One night he gets a call.  “Hi dad, this is Keith…can I come home….” The next morning my dad takes off and drives hundreds of miles to bring his lost son home.  My father has helped all six of his children to success in life.  Whether it was financial help, comfort in times of struggle or spiritual advice, he has been there through the thick and the thin. 

For 30 plus years an alarm clock would wake him up at four in the morning to start his day at General Motors in St. Louis, MO.  For 50 years of my life, I have witnessed a man who has admired Jesus so much that he can’t help but tell others about him.  My father has taught hundreds and hundreds about Jesus; mostly though, he taught all six of his children the importance of godly living and faithfulness to Jesus. 

The mark of a great father isn’t in how much he can purchase for their children, rather the mark of a great father is teaching and loving and disciplining and walking the second and third and fourth and fifth miles with each one. 

I am blessed to have a great father.  I love you with all my heart, DAD!

Brian

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Jesus prayed, but God said, “I Need You, Son!”


The supper was over and the journey to the cross begins.  Jesus leaves to pray in a garden that would soon become the place of betrayal.  While Jesus was praying, the three disciples with him could hardly stay awake.  After all, they just ate a big meal and exhausted from the heavy conversation they had with Jesus.  Can I blame them for falling asleep?  Not at all!  After all, they didn’t fully grasp that Jesus ate his last Passover meal nor did they grasp the gravity of Jesus’ desire to talk to his Father; for it wasn’t unusual for Jesus to spend time talking to his dad.

Jesus’ prayer was intense, heartfelt and sorrowful.  His prayer was emotionally raw and nothing was held back.  Jesus’ plea for a better way to save all of us wasn’t his way to wiggle out of his responsibility, rather it was his humanity feeling the pains relationally, emotionally and physically that were about to come upon him from the beating, the slaps to the face, the nails, the crown of thorns, the spear, the humiliation, the betrayal, the denials, the loneliness, the hatred. 

As Jesus falls to his face to pray, his prayer gives way to the Father’s will.  His ability to rise from his own will to the Father’s will is a demonstration of his character as a man and his faithfulness as the Son of God.  It was never Jesus’ intention to be selfish, weak or uncaring.  Jesus’ prayer was one that spoke from the heart of a man to the heart of the eternal Father who had the ability to make the course of salvation for mankind any way he chooses it to be.  Jesus was not exempt from his Father’s wishes.  Jesus said in John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.” (NLT)

Jesus’ prayer did not go unnoticed.  His Father heard every word.  I imagine Jesus’ Father was in as much anguish as his son.  I imagine tears flowed freely as he listened and watched his son struggling in the garden.  I imagine Jesus’ Father wanted to pick up his boy and whisk him away and say, let’s find another way to bring salvation to everyone.  I imagine Jesus heard clearly his Father say with a soft, but shaky voice, I need you, son.  You are the only one who can endure the pain and suffering. You are the only choice.  You are the perfect choice.  Son, I love you.  I will walk with you as far as I can and then you will be on your own for a bit as the sins of the world are placed upon your shoulders.  I know son, it will be an awful experience.  It will break my heart the day we will be separated.  But son, “you are the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through you.” (Paraphrased) John 14:6 (NLT)

The prayer is over.  Jesus makes his way to his sleeping disciples and says, “The betrayer is near.”  It was then all chaos broke out.  The mob arrives.  The leader was none other than one of Jesus’ own disciples.  Judas!  A back stabbing, selfish, money-grubbing fink who sold out his friend for a few hundred bucks.  How could he?  The rat was more interested in fortune than he was in sticking by his Saviors side.  How could anyone be so blatantly evil toward a man who led him for three years of his life?  No loyalty!  A traitor!

Jesus’ garden became the last place where he was free.  But, it also became the starting place for all us to be set free.  John 8:36 says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV) Jesus loves us deeply, that is why the cross is significant and powerful and an act of absolute love, mercy, forgiveness and grace.  Jesus wants every one of his kids to be saved, which is why he willingly went to the cross.  If you want to know more about Jesus and you want to be saved, too, email me at thegreatestcommandislove@gmail or call/text me at 931-545-7543

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Best Ways to Confront Someone


Confronting people isn’t so easy.  A lot could go wrong.  Trying to say the right words at the right time can be a difficult task; especially if the critic is on the defense or doesn’t believe he/she has done or said anything wrong.  There is the expression, “like it or lump it.”  Meaning, one can deal with it or agonize through it.  President Harry S. Truman was credited for saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”  Meaning, if you can’t handle the task, get out. 

Jesus had to confront two of his disciples during and after the Last Supper.  The first was Judas.  He was a money-grubbing kind of guy.  His actions before the supper demonstrated that he would do anything to get rich, even if it meant to sell out a friendship with a man he knew was the Son of God.  Judas was selfish.  Like it or lump it kind of guy.  A conniving fraud that made it look as if he was really into the whole discipleship idea.  He was a liar.  He was a pretender.  He was a con man. 

The second disciple Jesus had to confront was Peter. It was after the supper when Jesus told his disciples, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me….” Matthew 26:31 Peter became argumentative by saying, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”  Matthew 26:33 In the moment, Peter believed it.  He wanted to believe it.  He was determined to get Jesus to believe his ability to “stand the heat!”  But, when Peter is left alone and was tested in his true loyalty to Jesus, the Son of God, he had to “get out of the kitchen.”  Peter failed.  Peter cursed and swore that he didn’t even know Jesus.  The once determined disciple has now become the reality of Jesus’ prediction.   

Confronting can be painful and exhausting.  Jesus proves that confronting isn’t easy; especially with people who will not listen or lie or think they know more than Jesus does.  Confronting is necessary and will ultimately reveal the real truth.  When the truth is revealed, that too, can be painful, as it was for Jesus, but again, it is necessary to get it out in the open. 

For me, I totally dislike confrontation.  For those who know me may have a hard time believing that I struggle with confronting other, but it is true.  I know how difficult it can be and am afraid at times of the reaction to the person being confronted.  However, it is important to remember the motive, goals and desired outcomes when dealing with sensitive issues. 

Jesus’ model for confronting was to simply put it all out in the open and deal with it head-on.  He never sugarcoated anything for the sake of not offending the one being confronted.  However, he was not rude, nor was he hateful.  When he confronted Judas and Peter, he was calm, gentle, and sensitive.  He never said hateful and demeaning comments, nor did he belittle anyone.  Rather, he stated the facts and dealt with the problems with an open and honest heart and attitude. 

In order for our homes, churches, communities and government to be a better place, we have to learn to sit down and deal with our differences with an honest and open heart and attitude.  The bible is full of ways to deal with difficult people and situations.  The key is applying them with a desire for a positive outcome.  It is true, not all outcomes will be positive, but at least the issues were dealt with and the motives were right. 

Best ways to confront someone God’s way:

#1.  “Get rid of ALL bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice” Ephesians 4:31

#2.  If your brother or sister sins against you, go and show him/her faults, just between the two of you….” Matthew 18:15a

#3.  Make every effort to live in peace with all men….” Hebrews 12:14

#4.  Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

As we confront, ensure that the heart is right, the motive is right, and the desired outcome is right.  We represent Jesus and to stray from his way of confronting people will be disastrous.

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Loved to Hate


A couple thousand years ago a man entered the scene of a clannish group of elites who had the market on the know-it-all.  I mean; they knew the law inside and out.  They lived it.  Breathed it.  Talked it.  Commanded it.  To veer one iota of it was to break all of it.  The religious elitists pompous attitudes were not attracting those searching for a better life; rather, they were hindering those searching. 

Jesus comes on to the scene with a new kind of message.  An attractive message.  A grace-filled message.  A hopeful message.  Jesus was Kind.  Compassionate.  Patient.  Jesus sees the searchers as an opportunity to steer them toward God.  He made them feel better about themselves and about the future.  Jesus was an optimist.  A Can-doer.  A mercy man.  Jesus was the light in the darkest of moments.  Jesus was the open-door for those who were being hindered by rejection from the religious elite who prevented them from seeing God as one who was a provider, a comforter, a caregiver, a protector, and a lover. 

Jesus’ messages put the religious elites on the defensive.  The elites came out swinging at him and looked for every opportunity to take him out…permanently.  However, No matter the attempts, Jesus still stayed focused on the plan, God’s plan.  The plan was to help people like the Samaritan woman whose life was in chaos in John 4.  She had five husbands in her life and now she is living with a guy.  Jesus saw passed her past and gave her hope.  Not just hope for her, but others as well.  Because of Jesus’ compassion to a woman who needed it the most, the people of the town said, “We’re no longer taking this on your say-so. We’ve heard it for ourselves and know it for sure. He’s the Savior of the world!” John 4:42 (The Message)

The Samaritan revival was just one of many life-changing events that happened because of Jesus.  His desire to build relationships and point people to God was the hallmark of his ministry.  His desire to teach and model what he taught made way for countless people to become Jesus followers.  Jesus was a change-maker, a storyteller, and a salvation giver.  However, Jesus’ goodness ultimately became part of the reason many of the “religious” people hated him with a vengeance.   Their hatred grew to murderous thoughts and to eventually killing him in front of a slanderous mob whose only purpose was to make a spectacle out of him. 

The murder of Jesus seemed hopeless to those who loved him.  The days to follow were filled with sorrow and grief.  Dismayed.  Hurt.  Disappointment.  Defeat.  Depression.  Lost.  Could it be that Jesus is really gone for good?  His life’s work all for naught? 

Any hope?  Is this it? 

Could it be that the one who claimed to be the bridge-builder, the better life inventor, the Holy Son of God was taken down by those who loved to hate him without a fight? 

Is this really it?

Not a chance!  Something extraordinary is about to happen.  It will blow your mind!  Get ready!

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Life is About What is and What Can Be


“The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.” William James

There is a story told of identical twins: “One was a hope-filled optimist. “Everything is coming up roses!” He would say. The other was a sad and hopeless pessimist. He thought that Murphy, as in Murphy’s Law, was an optimist. The worried parents of the boys brought them to the local Psychologist.

He suggested to the parents a plan to balance the twins’ personalities. “On their next birthday, put them in separate rooms to open their gifts. Give the pessimist the best toys you can afford, and give the optimist a box of manure.” The parents followed these instructions and carefully observed the results.

When they peeked in on the pessimist, they heard him audibly complaining, “I don’t like the color of the computer…I’ll bet the calculator will break…I don’t like this game…I know someone who’s got a bigger toy car than this…”

Tiptoeing across the corridor, the parents peeked in and saw their little optimist gleefully throwing the manure up in the air. He was giggling. “You can’t fool me! Where there’s this much manure, there’s gotta be a pony!”
(Excerpt from Chicken Soup for the Soul)

There are two kinds of people: Optimists and pessimists. Some will see the wonderful works that are being done everyday, while others are always looking to find the bad.

Christian living isn’t about what isn’t, but rather, what is and what can be.  We are so blessed with brothers and sisters who see us for who we really are, but they also stick with us for they have an eye for who we can be. Jesus is the perfect model of taking a bad situation and making something good out of it. There was no joy in suffering, separation, or sin being splatter all over Him. However, Jesus took our suffering and our separation, and our sin and created the most spectacular opportunity ever! Jesus healed us spiritually by His wounded flesh. By His bloody body, and by taking the sin bullet for us!

Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was not a prayer of pessimism, but rather, a prayer of humility and service opportunity for mankind. Jesus didn’t see the last days of His life as doom and gloom. Jesus saw the last days as an opportunity to show case His Father’s limitless and unquenchable love for mankind. Romans 5:8 say, “God demonstrated his own love for us….”

The Jesus walk isn’t about whether we have all the latest gadgets, but rather, do we really have a joy for Jesus living? Do you love people for who they are? And, do we see people as an opportunity to show case God by the way that we live our life everyday?

Remember, Be God Controlled!

Brian