Showing posts from March, 2011

Acts Chapter Notes 1 - 9

In case you missed a section of Acts chapter notes, here is a complete listing of the notes so far, including notes for this coming Sunday on Acts 9. Acts 1 Acts 2 Acts 3 Acts 4 Acts 5 Acts 6 and 7 Acts 8 Acts 9

Secret Twin Language


Sister Wives

Confession is good for the soul.   Although I am writing this, this is more of a confessional statement from my wife.   There is one more story from the missions trip to Helen I failed to share in my previous posts. For months Emily M. from our church worked with the people from Georgia Mountain Resort Ministries to put the trip together.   I am sure that somewhere along the way Emily shared with the folks from GMR that this would be a “family” missions trip.   By “family” I mean moms, dads, kids, church wide, young and old, male and female.   This is an important detail!   On Monday morning we were to meet Stephanie from GMR in downtown Helen for orientation.   At the time there were five men on the trip.   Two stayed behind at the cabin to cook.   Two took the van to be refueled.   That left one, me.   With me were 5 women and about 11 kids.   There we stood before GMR Stephanie who graciously introduced herself, and to which my wife replied, “We are the sister wives and this is our

10 Reasons I Will Not Be Running

Apparently tonight is the deadline to register for the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta.  I feel the need to share 10 reasons I will not be a part of this year’s field: 10.  There are over 70,000 people in the race.  Even if I were lucky enough to pass 30,000 people I would still have to tell my buddies that I finished in the 40,000’s.  No pride in that. 9.  The race is a 10k.  I need less “k.” 8.  The bathroom scale says 214 baby!  Need I say more? 7.  Are the Kenyans running again this year?  Well we know one thing, a guy named Bubba won't win. 6.  The water stations don’t serve Bar-B-Que. 5.  I run all those “k’s” and all I get is a crummy T-shirt? 4. I have a phobia of being passed by women pushing strollers. 3. I run a 10 minute mile.  I’m not proficient on metric conversion, but the way I figure it, at that pace a 10k on July 4 would take me well into July 5. 2.    I lost my entry form in my wife’s extreme couponing notebook.
 1.    The race is on July 4.  I

In Response

In light of the business meeting last night, I feel it is best for the unity of the church to withdraw the nominations concerning staff changes at this time.  I have spoken to all three candidates, including Kim this morning, she has agreed to continue as our Children’s Director.  Thank you for your consideration of this matter.  Let’s look forward to a great Worship Weekend beginning Friday night and a great day in the Lord on Sunday as we look at Acts 9 together. Your Pastor, Brian Branam, Gal. 2:20

Acts 8 (sermon audio: Sunday a.m.)

Acts 8:4 states that “when they were scattered, they proclaimed the Word of God.” The early church was forced apart by persecution, but they continued to proclaim the gospel regardless of their circumstances. What scatters you? Can it be said “when she went to college she proclaimed the Word of God” or “when he got cancer or lost his job, he proclaimed the Word of God?” In this passage, we see how God’s people built favor, brought clarity, and provided guidance to those searching for answers in their everyday lives... “when they were scattered.” Listen to Audio

Acts 6-7 (sermon audio: Sunday a.m.)

By Acts 6, the early church is already experiencing growing pains. They are a diverse people brought together by the gospel and now learning to live in that context. Placing a high priority on the Word of God, they emphasize its importance in their leadership structure and laity. Men rose up to serve who were faithful to proclaim the gospel. Among them was Stephen, not an apostle or preacher, just an ordinary man in the church who was empowered by the Holy Spirit to live fearlessly and die willingly for the cross of his Christ. Where are your priorities leading you? Listen to Audio

Jesus Burgers (Helen, GA 2011)

Jesus took five loaves and two fish and fed thousands of people.  On Wednesday we turned a side of beef into 65 hamburger patties and fed them to about 50 hikers.  I am not a grill master.  The good news is that people on a 2,000 mile hike on the Appalachain Trail (AT) will eat grilled lizard; and probably have.  The people at Georgia Mountain Resort Ministries have been doing this so long that the burgers are known as “Jesus Burgers” on the AT.  Jesus burgers on the AT are like Windex in Helen.  Its a way to show kindness, gain trust, and start conversations.  It is a fascinating way to engage in missions to a global sub-culture.  In about three hours we served burgers to a lady from Australia, a dude with dreadlocks from Florida, a guy named Pirate, two students from Israel, a guy hiking barefoot, a fellow by the name of Lumpy, a med student who graduated last week, a dad and his son on Spring Break, a 62 year old lady fulfilling her dream, a few vegetarians to whom we served “veggi

Neglect (Helen, GA 2011)

On Tuesday we were to go pass out trail favors to hikers on the Appalachian Trail.  But being that Helen, GA was experiencing a small, cold hurricane on Tuesday, my group was redirected to a local nursing home.  I am by no means anti-nursing home.  I think they can serve a virtuous purpose of providing shelter and care for those who need them.  I have had two grandparents who spent the final months of their lives in nursing homes.  They had been cared for at home as long as possible, but even with large extended families the nursing home provided the best and safest care for my grandparents whose health was failing.  Yet I also think that nursing homes are places where people can be easily forgotten, mistreated, neglected, and disrespected.  I have no idea if the home we visited on Tuesday was such a place, but every time I go to a nursing home I am reminded of the sin of neglect.  Many people are in nursing homes, not because the family can no longer care for them, but because the fam

Windex (Helen, GA 2011)

One aspect of the vision of our church is to engage in missions as family units.  Monday was an early step in the process.  From 9 a.m to 12 noon spreading the gospel looked like Mary Poppins cloned herself in Helen, Ga.  We invaded the downtown merchants (3 men, 6 women, and 9 kids) armed with squeegees, Windex, and what would equate to 17 miles of paper towels.  Kids are usually the devils that ruin clean windows.  In Jesus name, we would now lead the children to redeem them.  Cleaning windows was a simple act of kindness.  The people at Georgia Mountain Resort Ministries have been doing this for years.  Through the years they have gained the trust and favor of the merchants which gives the window washers an opportunity for gospel conversation.  We were just gospel tourists.  I fully realize all we were doing was joining in a conversation that was already happening.  One that began several years ago with Windex. This is the way the gospel spread in the days in which the New Testam

Shahbaz Bhatti Video

this is the video I shared in the sermon on 3/13/2011 Shahbaz Bhatti was an outspoken Christian as a member of Pakistan's elected National Assembly. As Federal Minister for Minorities Bhatti came to the defense of religious minorties and sought to reform Pakistan's Islamic based blasphemy laws and Sharia law. He recorded this video in case he was assasinated for his faith. In the interview Bhatti shares his resolve for the gospel. Shahbaz Bhatti was martyred on March 2, 2011. Related articles Another Assassination: Pakistani Minister Gunned Down ( You: Pakistan's Christian minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti assassinated in Islamabad (

Reasons I Like Whitestone

Every other year my wife and I try to take an anniversary getaway to Whitestone Inn in Kingston, TN.  This week marked our 5th visit and the first time we were able to book the Eagle's Landing Suite.  We have stayed in Hawk's Nest twice which is just next door within the Lion and the Lamb Cottage.  The views from the Lion and the Lamb are spectacular and the rooms are second to none.  Yet this week, we found out why it has been so difficult to book The Eagle.  The room is round and full of windows offering an incredible panoramic view of the Whitestone property overlooking Watts Bar Lake.  The pictures on their website are much better, but here are a few pics I took with my cell phone, not great quality, but you get the point.  You will like this place! The owners of the property, Paul and Jean Cowell not only have a heart for hospitality but also for ministry.  The chapel on campus is not just a hood ornament, it is a working church.  Paul holds worship there every Sunday

Another Great Pastor App

I know I have been doing some iPad gushing here lately, but I have found another great pastor app.  Maybe I need to start a weekly "pastor tech" column - very nerdy, yet cool!  If you are a blog reader Early Edition is a must.  This app gathers all your favorite feeds and displays them in a newspaper layout.  No more boring linear email looking readers.  This app makes scanning through the clutter of the blogosphere easy and inviting.  If you already use google reader Early Edition will import your current feeds.  This one is well worth the $4.99 price tag.

Acts 5 (sermon audio: Sunday a.m.)

It is not easy to spot a counterfeit.  The Acts church experienced rapid success after Pentecost, but is this a legitimate move of God or just another fake doomed to fail?  Gamaliel offers some sage advice, if it is of man, it will fail, but if it is of God . . . you don’t want to be found opposing God.  Unfortunately, Ananias and Sapphira illustrate this principle.  God is passionate for the purity of the church.  Counterfeits will not survive. Listen to audio

Good News from North Africa

A couple of weeks ago I shared my prayer for North Africa. Over the last several days I have gathered a few articles that indicate there is good news in the midst of the chaos. For now, a door seems to be opening for the gospel. May we continue to pray for our brothers and sisters there and that God would send forth laborers into this ripening harvest. Articles:

Brad and Michelle Aldridge


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Thanks Randy!

Not as Easy as It Looks

From time to time I get a note of gratitude in response to a sermon.  Most of the notes center around someone’s appreciation for taking otherwise obscure passages in the Bible and making them easy to understand.   These notes are always encouraging and deeply appreciated, but I must admit, the task is not as easy as it looks.  The people of God long to be able to pick up the Bible and be blown away by it every time they turn the page.  It is an honest craving (1 Peter 2:2).  Yet it is not an honest approach.  While there may be times when the Bible speaks quickly, there are others in which the text speaks slowly.  It is at these points that it beckons us to listen closely, for long periods of time.  It is here that God invites us to dig.  The fact that it is sometimes difficult to understand Scripture is an honest admission and one that resonates throughout the text.  Peter confessed that for him, Paul was hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16).  Paul counseled young pastor Timothy that it

The Case for Christ Begins Tonight (6:30 p.m.)

This is the trailer for "The Case for Christ" movie, but it will give you a good idea about the content we will be covering for the next six weeks, on Wednesday nights (6:30 p.m.) at Ridgecrest .

The Pastor App

Last fall Ken McKibben of Mediamerge gave me the idea of using the iPad as a way to integrate my tasks of study, blogging, annotation, teaching, and preaching. The initial quest was to find a way I could take control of presentations from the pulpit and be more spontaneous while teaching as if I were teaching in a small classroom with a whiteboard. Ken offered me the iPad as a solution and since then I have found it to be the most versatile and indispensible tool of my ministry. Here is a list of apps that make iPad a must have for pastors: 1. Kindle and Logos – the books are cheaper than print copies, and no matter how many you buy the iPad never gets heavy! If you are like me, you always have a stack of books in your hand. When I leave the office I look like a camel. I usually have a gym bag, a computer bag, and a book bag. With the iPad I have alleviated any need for carrying my laptop and I have reduced my book bag down from 40 pounds to about 3. Now my book bag consists of an