Posts

Showing posts from 2012

Merry Christmas

Image
Merry Christmas

Define the Relationship

Define the Relationship from Brian Branam on Vimeo . Mark 3 reveals several groups and how they relate to Christ- the crowd, called, critics, common, and the chosen. It seems that the common thread in Mark 3 is about defining the relationship. We often portray Jesus as a needy lover who will take you in a relationship any way he can get you. We really believe Jesus is good with that. I don't have to go to church to be saved, and Jesus is good with that. How do you define your relationship with Jesus? Ultimately He defines the relationship and there is one measure of it - do the will of God. It is based on obedience. It is not enough to see His cause, not enough to be passionate, and fickle will never pass for being faithful. We must do the will of God.

Discouraged Not Destroyed

Discouraged but not Destroyed from Brian Branam on Vimeo . The opening Psalm sets the tone for the rest. It compares two people on two paths. The one is the blessed man who doesn't walk in the counsel of the wicked. He loves the Word of God and he is like a tree planted by a stream of water that constantly nourishes his life and in everything he does, he prospers. The wicked man isn't like that. His wickedness gives him to ground to stand on. It fails him. He is exposed. That's the way life is supposed to work... So what happened in the last 36 Psalms?  By the time we get to Psalm 37 we are angry? "Fret not yourself because of evildoers, be not envious of wrongdoers." Two dangerous things are happening to the righteous who in Psalm 1 were to be bearing fruit. Here they are fretting themselves, which means to be angered or burned up. To add to the danger, they are actually envious of the wrongdoers. They begin to question if God is fair, listening, good, e

How Not To Lose Your Mind in Our Final Week on the Planet

Image
"Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you.  For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. . . But you are not in darkness, brothers, for the day to surprise you like a thief. . . So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober."  2 Thessalonians 5:1-6 According to the Mayans and Nostradamus, the world is scheduled to conclude one week from today.  The prospects of finality bring several critical questions to the forefront.  What should we do with our final seven days?  What will I wear next Friday?  Will I have enough Double Stuffed Oreos to get me through my final week on the planet?  Should I do any Christmas shopping?  Does this mean I have to shave or can I let myself go?  I am supposed to finish a root canal on Tuesday, why? I have too much to do for the world to end in a week! As a Christian our response to doomsday should be

The Way He Created (A Conversation with The Gospel Project)

Image
This week our church begins using The Gospel Project as curriculum for our Sunday School groups.  My intent here is not to replace the material (as it is good enough), nor to write a commentary on it (as it is understandable), but to only add to the conversation in a way that may help our students and teachers hit the topics from other angles.   My wife’s grandfather was a real craftsman with wood.  He had a small shed in his backyard that served as his creative retreat.  Inside his workshop were not only his countless number of tools but also piles of what looked to me to be scrap wood.  What appeared to be scrap to me, in his hands, given time, would become nice pieces of furniture.  Each piece reflected his vision and his skill.  Each piece also bore his mark.  Somewhere, hidden from view, he would sign his name and the year he made the piece.   Several pieces he made now serve in our home as functional cabinets, tables, and stools.  But they are more than this.  They are

Introducing God (A Conversation with The Gospel Project)

Image
This week our church begins using The Gospel Project as curriculum for our Sunday School groups.  My intent here is not to replace the material (as it is good enough), nor to write a commentary on it (as it is understandable), but to only add to the conversation in a way that may help our students and teachers hit the topics from other angles.   When it comes to origins the church has been deceived into believing that there is only one conversation worth having.  And that conversation, seems to be more of a debate than a dialogue.  Was the universe created by God?  The winner is determined only by whom can yell the most science at his opponent and thus beating him into empirical submission.   The opening chapters of Genesis are not a scientific shouting match.  This is the opening scene of a story.  As such the primary intent of the creation account is not to provide a scientific record.  The intent is to reveal the Bible’s main character.  The message is not, “This is how God

False Assurance

False Assurance from Brian Branam on Vimeo . What do we mean by eternal security? Is it "once saved always saved," "perseverance of the saints," or maybe "eternal life?" After John offers great affirmation in the first of 1 John 2, he finds it appropriate to warn them as well. His message- "Do not love the world." John wants to convey that there is a style of life that can disrupt fellowship, destroy assurance, and place them in spiritual danger. The "world" is passing away and when we are connected to it, we will be carried away and pass away with it.

Assurance Through Congregational Affirmation

Assurance Through Congregational Affirmation from Brian Branam on Vimeo . Great debate within the church over approaches to the gospel and salvation has created an atmosphere of great doubt within God's people. The result is often that our congregations become disillusioned and disengage from the church body. Instead the church should be a place of great affirmation to those who are actively following Christ. The simple truth remains that repentance and faith will always result in salvation and therefore the believer can be eternally sure.

Combating False Teaching

Image
Here are some points I shared Sunday night in a sermon about the dangers of false teaching (from 1 John 2).  False teaching is a common cause of doubt for many Christians.  If we are to have assurance of eternal life we must recognize what makes us vulnerable to false teaching, remain in the faithful things God has given us to combat false teaching, and recognize prominent false teachings.  19th Century Pastor J.C. Ryle shares 8 symptoms of false doctrine which reveal why we are in a climate that is particularly vulnerable to false teaching: There is an undeniable zeal in some of the teachers of error: their “earnestness” makes many think they must be right. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge: many fancy that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe guides. There is a general tendency to free thought and free inquiry in these latter days: many like to prove their independence of judgment, by believing novelties. There is a wide-

You Don't Say

You Don't Say from Brian Branam on Vimeo . In this message, the apostle John takes 4 statements, all beginning with the phrase, “If we say” and then compares them to the life that is produced. Each of these statements in the initial context, are birthed out of Gnosticism. Gnosticism argued that since the body was material and evil, and the soul was spiritual and good, that all you had to do was to “know” God (which is reflected in 2:4 “whoever says ‘I know Him) but that it really didn't matter what you did with your body. In this then, John gives us three evidences of the truly saved life: 1) They are responsive to God's Word. 2) They are sensitive to sin. 3) They exhibit a changing life.

Eternally Sure

Eternally Sure from Brian Branam on Vimeo . Something was going on in the early church that was causing a lack of assurance as well as a lack of holy living. False teaching was and still is the culprit. In our church culture the issue of salvation has become extremely cloudy with lots of competitive teaching. In 1 John we see the causes of doubt as disfellowship, immoral living, false teaching, and ignorance. John had an experience with Christ that led to his own assurance. This is the sort of assurance we desire. It is one that is closely tied to the nature of who Jesus is.

Billy Gilmer

Most people are willing to remind you of what can’t be done.  There will be a few God gives you that will tell you otherwise.  Billy Gilmer was a man God brought into my life to tell me otherwise.   Not long after our church had made a difficult decision to relocate, Mr. Gilmer invited me to “ride around” with him in his truck.  He said he wanted to, “show me some things.”  He failed.  Mr. Gilmer showed me everything.  We surveyed the entire NE section of Jefferson County, Alabama in a Ford.  As we did so Mr. Gilmer told me the history behind every piece of property, every development, and every family in the area over the last 50 years.  You may not have known Billy Gilmer, but if you lived in Birmingham anytime since 1950 I would be willing to bet that Billy Gilmer knew something about you.  While we drove down Carson Road; Mr. Gilmer told me about Mr. Carson.  To make a long story short, Mr. Carson had done for Billy 50 years ago what Billy was doing for me that day.  Mr. Carson

If/Then/Deuteronomy

Image
There is a tiny but powerful word that operates in our lives, IF.  It is what we choose to do with our “ifs” that determine the course of a day.  Ultimately it is a series of daily “ifs” that determine the course of our lives.  Looking back we wonder, “What if?”  Looking forward we consider, “What if?”  We can’t escape the power of “if.” Possibility begins broadly.  At the center of it are a number of variables all hinging on “if.”  Once an “if” is chosen, its accomplice, “then,” takes control.  “If” invites us to choose.  “Then” becomes the stuff of destiny.   You have a choice with “if.”  You must live with “then.” The Bible’s Book of Deuteronomy is an if/then book.  In short Deuteronomy is a series of farewell sermons given by Moses.  The word Deuteronomy means, “second law”, but it is more than that, it is a second chance.  Deuteronomy is a big “if.”  A generation has passed away in total failure.  Their “if” came in Numbers 13 and 14.  They were at the edge of prom

Church Appreciation 2012

This month I will begin my 17th year serving the local church as pastor.  God has blessed me with the privilege of serving three great congregations during that time:  Lantana Road Baptist Church in Crossville, TN (1996-2002); Ridgecrest Baptist in Trussville, AL (2002-2012); and currently Liberty Baptist Church of Dalton, GA.  I am deeply appreciative of the experiences God has given me at every place and for the people He has brought into my life along the way.  I am a very different person now than I was when this journey began.  Thank you, to everyone who has helped to mold me as a man and as a pastor. This year we made a bittersweet move to Dalton, GA.  The bitterness came as we were called to leave a group of people we dearly loved and a place that was very much home in Birmingham, AL.  Added to the bitterness was the difficulty of watching our daughters deal with the natural challenges of leaving a place in which you are rooted.  Birmingham was really all they had ever known

The Return of Nehemiah

The Return of Nehemiah from Brian Branam on Vimeo . Nehemiah was a man who caught a vision for the revival of God's people. However, this return to a homeland could not simply be a physical relocation, but also a spiritual one as well. The scope of the gospel and plan of God for the ages has to be at the forefront of our returning or else we do not know to what we must return, what it looks like, what the standard is. The gospel calls us to return to the cross, return to the commission, return to the commandments, return to our family, return to missions, return to giving, return to worship - if we simply feel sorry and want to do better, then we have failed. The point of returning is to get ourselves back in line with God's love for His people in the covenant.

Your BEST at Mealtime

Image
This Sunday at Liberty we will begin to answer the question, “What if we all did our BEST?”  Each week we are challenging one another to do our BEST in six key areas: Attend Sunday School. Attend worship gatherings. Attend Wednesday discipleship. Serve where I am committed, commit to serve if I am not. Tithe (10%) of my income. Have a meal with my family, including time in prayer and reading Scripture at least 2x per week. One of the greatest challenges of our culture is finding time to spend together as a family.  Even though most everyone has a kitchen or dining room table, it has become a vacant relic, seldom used, sacrificed on the altar of quick meals on the way to the next demand on our time.  For families where both husband and wife are working, a home cooked meal is all but a thing of the past.  Not only is this lifestyle difficult on our wallet and our weight, as we are eating out more frequently, but our lack of time at the table is also taking a toll on ou

Resources that Help (Part 2)

Image
In my previous post I mentioned that there are three types of tools I use regularly that help us study the Bible faithfully.  They are:  1)  Resources to help us investigate Bible backgrounds 2)  Resources to help us investigate Biblical languages 3)  Resources that help pull all we would investigate together. In this post I will share about resources that help us investigate Biblical languages. The Bible was translated into English.  The Bible was not written in English.   The failure to realize the implications of the previous two statements has not only been the source of one of the modern church’s most ridiculous squabbles but it has also been the wellspring of poor preaching and teaching over the years.  The original languages of the Bible are Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic; not Shakespearean English.  So when we study the Bible we are not trying to get back to the meaning of the words in the KJV, we are trying to bring out the meaning of the words that appeared in the Greek

Hair Confessions

Image
To make a long story short yesterday I passed a joke to my wife via twitter/facebook that read as follows: @ShannonBranam did not mean to cancel the revival @LibertyBCDalton Sept. 30 - Oct. 3, she meant to instead cancel my hair color appointment. The end result is that now people think I color my hair.  As hilarious as that is, I don’t.  At the same time I do have some confessions about my hair that I think are important for people to know.  Confession is cleansing.  It opens the soul.  Confession also helps others come out of the closet.  So here is my hair confession, perhaps countless others will join me. In the 9th grade I had a mullet ( see it here ).  I wanted it to look like Andre Agassi of the ’80’s.  Instead it turned out to be a greasy mullet.  1987 was a bad hair year for me but a great hair year for Andre. For a lot of years I had a bro-crush.  Not necessarily on a bro, but on a bro’s hair.  I crushed on Brad Pitt’s hair from A River Runs Through It . 

Christ for Our Kids

Christ for our Kids from Brian Branam on Vimeo .

Husbands and Headship

Husbands as Head of the Home from Brian Branam on Vimeo .

Louis Zamperini Story

Image
Here is the video I shared Sunday night.

The Return of Nehemiah (Talking Points for Sunday A.M. 9/92012)

Image
From Nehemiah 1: Too often "revival" is a planned event, a mere "flash in the pan" with no long term consequence.  Nehemiah's return to God, his revival, was foundational not merely a flashpoint.  His return to God began the process of rebuilding a nation.  How do we experience revival that is more foundational than flashpoint?  For revival to have a long-term impact on a people and a community we must understand the nature of returning. Returning begins with confession out of brokenness. Returning is based in Scripture. Returning is born out of constant prayer. Returning brings us back from the extremes. Returning is a beginning, not an end in itself.

Resources that Help (Part 1)

Image
In the past several posts on teaching and Bible study I have argued for an approach that seeks to understand the meaning of the Bible in its original context.  This keeps us from pressing on the Scripture a meaning that is skewed by our own experience and cultural reference points.  Instead, by seeking to know what the intent of the author to his original audience, we actually uncover a more powerful meaning that brings out the eternal relevance of Scripture to our current context.   This all sounds great, but how does the reader make it happen?  The key is tools .  We employ great Bible study tools that will help us get a better understanding of Scripture in context.  I would call your attention to three that I use regularly.  1)  Resources to help us investigate Bible backgrounds 2)  Resources to help us investigate Biblical languages 3)  Resources that help pull all we would investigate together: Resources that help us investigate Bible backgrounds. Many would refer to

A Word to the Wives

A Word to the Wives from Brian Branam on Vimeo .

Christ for our Kids (Talking Points for Sunday A.M. 9/2/2012)

Image
According to Ephesians 6:1-4 the Christ centered model for the relationship between parents and their children emphasizes: Parents are given authority over their children. Parents are to exercise benevolent discipline toward their children. Parents are to raise their children to know the Lord. Children are to see their parents as a gift from God. Children who receive godly instruction will reap the fruits of their obedience well into their adult lives.

The Christ Centered Family

The Christ Centered Family from Brian Branam on Vimeo .

Proper Ex and Eis in Ruth

Image
It has been several weeks since I posted in this series, but in the last piece I wrote about the importance of discovering the context of a passage in Bible study, especially for the purpose of teaching.  Context is the story behind the story.  It is the surrounding, perhaps unmentioned details that help give the story meaning.  When a passage is taken out of context we commit a hermeneutical no-no in that we are then free to make the passage mean what we want it to mean.  Yet, as we have discussed before, a passage never means what it never meant (Fee and Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth , loc 574 Kindle Ed.).  Context is important.  Allow me to demonstrate. As a pastor I feel sometimes like a wedding groupie.  If there is a wedding within 50 miles I’m probably going, either by invite or as the officiant.  Over and over again I have heard Christian couples include a powerful Bible verse in their vows: “Where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. 

6 Words for Men (Talking Points for Sunday A.M. 8/26/12)

Image
6 words from Ephesians 5:25-33 a man must take seriously if he is to be the head of his home: 1)  Responsibility 2)  Self-sacrifice 3)  Communication 4)  Nourishment 5)  Union 6)  Love

Crushing on Isaac

Image
I posted earlier this week that I am beginning a new endeavor in my life, that of a barely part-time 9th grade Old Testament teacher.  I also shared that one of my classes is all girls.  That was never more apparent than it was today as I brought them the story of Abraham’s almost-sacrifice of his son Isaac. I had a masterful lesson plan, one which I imagined would result in a great epiphany in the minds of the masses about the meaning of sacrifice.  The problem was that I was not teaching the masses, my assignment in first hour was 9th grade girls.  So, as the class began I read Genesis 22 with the authority of a professor and the passion of a preacher.  I called attention to a few important caveats to the story and then I asked a question that was well rehearsed in my mind.  A question that was destined to peak the curiosity of even the most distant soul.  “If Isaac is to survive, what does he need?”  One young lady responded, “A replacement.”  Yes!  Being fully satisfied that

Back to School

Image
I started school in 1978.  Apparently the educational institution is my siren song.  I cannot escape her allure.  Numerous times since ’79 school has deemed me done, but I keep going back.  Last December I graduated from seminary.  Done!  Yet, you guessed it, I’m back in school.  The Siren has called my name again. This time I am back in school in a way I have never done school.  For the first time in my life, I am a teacher.  It is true that after I graduated from college I did some sub work for the elementary school I attended.  It was going well until I subbed for my 4th grade teacher.  A word to the wise.  Your 4th grade teacher doesn’t want to see you after you graduate college.  It makes them feel old.  I was proud of the moment.  I think it ticked her off.  She was sick the next day as well.  That was the last time they called me to sub. So this time I’m not a sub, I’m real.  My assignment is 9th grade Old Testament in a local Christian High School.  Its only two hou