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Showing posts from 2013

The Irrational Season

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Madeleine L'Engle calls Christmas, "The irrational season."  She is not referring to the irrational behavior we often exhibit during this season.  Crazy we are, but it is not the irrationality that is a by-product of our greed or our busyness that inspires L'Engle's poem.  The focus of the short verse is the rebellion of Christmas against enlightenment. I do not sleep well.  I spend many nights wondering around the house, going from room to room, thinking, praying, watching the most boring thing I can possibly find on TV in hopes that it will someone put me to sleep, or finding a couch to just lay there. One night late last summer I was awakened by the barking of a dog somewhere in the dark shadows in front of our house.  There was nowhere in the house I could go that I could not hear him.  Sleeping was out of the question.  If I can be honest for a moment without being judged by dog lovers . . . I just want to be real.  I went upstairs and stood within the

A Leader to Take You Back

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Where you are headed? If you continue with your current set of habits, routines, and attitudes where will you be next year, in five years, in ten years?  What are your goals, ambitions, dreams?  If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time. If it seems to you that your current state of affairs are going nowhere I want to ask you a critical question that may enlighten you to the cause of your circumstances.  Who is your leader?   We need people of progress to influence our lives.  We need people in our lives who are where we want to be.  We need voices that help keep us on course, introduce us to new ideas, press us into greater possibilities.  The problem with a life that is going nowhere is that at some point a critical mistake was made.  We chose a leader to take us back. In Numbers 13 Israel stood on the border of the Promised Land.  They sent spies to scout out the land and found that it was just as God had promised.  Even though the land was fruitful it was als

The Wandering Son (Gen. 4 in Meta-Narrative)

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Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil thinking he would become like God.  When God pronounced the curse upon Adam it was a rude awakening.  He would not become deity, Adam would return to dirt ( Gen. 3:19 ).  Yet God cast Adam and his wife out of the garden with a glimmer of hope.  A son would be born who would bear the brunt of Satan's blow, but would in the end crush him and would somehow reverse the curse. Genesis 4 opens with great anticipation.  We find out first that the blessing of God to be fruitful and multiply was indeed in tact.  Eve has fulfilled her name, she is the mother of all living.  Not only has she given birth, but she has brought into the world a son.  Is this the son who will crush Satan?  We get a sense that Eve believes this to be the child of destiny as she praises his birth ( Gen. 4:1 ), "I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD."  And another son is born, with far less fanfare.  There is no applause, no praise surrounding

A Letter From the Field

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I received this message by email early this morning.  It is from a family serving Christ in Africa that we have been communicating with for many years.  It is easy for us to lose perspective on exactly what the gospel costs.  These updates help to keep me grounded and to also expand my vision of God's greater Kingdom in the world.  Thanks K. for sharing.  We are praying for all of you. __________________________ I have been talking with colleagues and personnel sent out by other organizations that serve here and we are all feeling it.  Though we have toiled long and hard, the fruit of our labor has shown itself to be very little.  But, we have a sense, given by the Spirit, that a movement is coming.  At the same time,  there is a heaviness of the dark cloud of persecution that overshadows us.  It hasn’t been an issue before, because we haven’t yet caused a major stir with our Message and the good things we do are pleasing.  But, once an Acts 2:41 type movement happens, we W

Missing the Tree (Genesis 3 in Meta-Narrative)

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It is no secret, I have a chemical addiction.  I take fish oil for inflammation.  I take CoQ10 for . . .well, honestly I have no idea why I take it.  I wash my hair with an expensive shampoo called Nioxin that is supposed to keep your hair from falling out.  I use a facial moisturizer in the mornings with an SPF of 30 because the sun makes my rosacea flare up.  I take some sort of famotadine tablet every morning or everything I eat makes me miserable.  In the past I have had a prescription for a statin drug to reduce my cholesterol . . .which reminds me of why I take CoQ10.  If I don't take cholesterol medicine I may die from a heart attack.  If I don't take CoQ10 I may die from cholesterol medicine. Before we lost the garden all we had to take to keep us alive was the fruit God offered us on the Tree of Life.  I indicated in my previous post that I'm not sure how it worked, whether we exported it or if we were able to root it in other places on the planet, but it was

I am Miley, I am Thicke, I Too Am Sick

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In the first article I wrote about Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke's performance at MTV's VMAs, I argued from the standard of beauty.  I judged the performance to be less than art because it was not meaningful nor did it add virtue to our society.  Instead it exposed us as illiterate fools because we did not discern the song long before we saw the dance.  In that article I wanted to offer a more secular response; examining ourselves as a society, appealing more to the ideals of excellence and intelligence that should exist in virtuous art and culture. Even though my argument may have pointed out (to those who received it well) some very important issues for us as a culture, the best we can do in response is to either do better or to dismiss it all together and see what happens next year.  The article may provoke us to scan our children's iPods before we plug them into their ears.  It may cause us, as a member of my previous congregation had done, to watch the Walton

What to Make of Miley

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One Monday a year bombards us with highlight reels from the freak show circus that is the VMA's (aka MTV's Video Music Awards).  Yesterday was freak show Monday. The normal topics on freaky Monday are the run of the mill, garden variety things like: Who dressed in meat? Who kissed who (and that one could go in any number of directions)?  Who cussed more?  Who was more drunk? Who dissed who? Which stoned person interrupted another stoned person's performance with some sort of social, environmental issue rant?   Other than a 43 second out of shape and overweight, backlit NSync reunion, the freaky moment of the night went to Miley Cyrus.  The girl we watched grow up on Disney's Hannah Montana has been the news since Sunday night.  All of the snippets of the performance show Miley barely clothed and barely off of pop sensation Robin Thicke.  For those of us who grew up in the '80's, basically what we have here is the guy with the mullet that brought us Ach

Genesis 3 in Meta-Narrative

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If the Bible is the story that explains why the world is as it is, we should find some profound connections between Genesis 3 and our current state of affairs.  ( introduction to series ) To borrow a philosopher's term, I would call the end result of Genesis 2, the best of all possible worlds .  God is good for all and in all He has done.  Man is good for the world.  The woman is good for man.  The environment is teeming with potential.  The story is given traction because all of it is able to multiply and bear fruit.  The world in this state is declared by God to be "very good." Central to life in paradise is a pair of trees (and yes, there were two despite what you learned in Sunday School; see Genesis 2:9 ).  One is a tree of life.  The idea here is a tree able to keep man living.  As long as he has access to this tree he has what he needs to live eternally on the planet God created for him.  In my previous post I briefly called attention to the idea that implie

Genesis 1 and 2 in Meta-Narrative

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A meta-narrative is an overarching story that explains why things are the way they are.  It is the one story that helps make sense of everything else.  It is the narrative of narratives.  If a meta-narrative is true, it will be able not only to explain human history but it will also provide context for your own story. Christians believe that the Bible is this world's meta-narrative.  The reason we exist (creation).  The reason we are the way we are (the fall).  The solution to our problems (redemption in Christ).  The action that will return us to the ideal (renewal).  All of these ideas are connected in the story of the Bible.  If this is true, that the Bible is our meta-narrative, there should be some direct connections between the Biblical story and the world as we know it, that shape our thinking.  This influence on our thinking is known as the Biblical world-view.  In Sunday School your mamaw called it, "doing what Jesus said." I am currently walking through th

Harvest Hope

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There is a pattern characteristic to many Psalms.  The Psalmist voices a prayer or a concern as in Psalm 43, "Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against ungodly people . . ."  There is an expression of frustration and confusion as God does not seem to act quickly enough, "For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me?"  Even though He is discouraged, the Psalmist makes a request of God knowing full well what God can do, "Send our your light and your truth; let them lead me."  The writer then ends the Psalm with a note of hope that encourages him in the trial, "Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God." During the good seasons of our lives it is important to harvest hope. It is not difficult to call life to a halt and wrestle with God when we do not like the current circumstances.  When we need vindication.  When w

Temptation in the Story of God

Temptation in the Story of God from Brian Branam on Vimeo . How does the temptation of Christ fit into the story of the Bible? There is an incredible message in this!

What Andy Murray Taught the Church - There is More to Championships Than What You See in the Highlights

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Yesterday Andy Murray brought an end to the angst of an entire nation becoming the first Brit to win Wimbledon in 77 years.  What made the win even more appreciable probably escaped the view of the casual tennis observer or even the sports enthusiast who caught the highlights on ESPN.  What made Murray great was the struggle; the immense amount of persistence in suffering that resulted in a championship.   Winning Wimbledon is not easy.  If you don’t understand the tournament allow me to fill you in.  While Wimbledon gets better TV coverage than most tennis majors, the primetime stuff most of us see is only the last three rounds.  The tournament actually takes two weeks and it consists of seven rounds.  In perspective, there are 68 teams in the NCAA basketball tournament.  There are 128 players competing in the bracket at Wimbledon.   For the men, each round consists of a best 3 out of 5 set match.  I am not trying to diminish other sports.  You’ve got to be a MAN to play footb

14 Days from 40

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In 13 days I will supposedly stand at the peak of my chronological life.  In 14 days I will turn 40 and officially be over the hill.  I think I may have started some of my over the hill activities early.  In the past 20 - 25 months I have pulled a hamstring playing football (for the first time in my life), been prescribed cholesterol meds, began taking fish oil, and started going regularly to a chiropractor.  I already have this weird thing about wanting to eat dinner early - what’s that about?  Yet, I have heard from some that life is not so bad over the hill.  I have heard from others that it is horrendous.  Two weeks away from death valley, I can’t quite see the other side, but I can hear the echoes in the distance.   That said, below is sort of my mix tape of fears, hopes, aspirations, and questions about the down hill side of life. I wonder about bi-focals.  I have heard that after 40 your vision changes making bi-focals necessary.  When you wear your bi-focals do you

Freedom Sunday 2013 at Liberty

How do you reconcile a world that can be so fun with one that can be so cruel?  How is it that we can live in a world of such amazing victories, but at the same time suffer sheer terror? Join us for answers, Sunday morning, June 30 at Liberty Baptist Church of Dalton, GA ( www.libertybaptistchurch.ws ).  10:00 a.m. breakfast and panel discussion on terrorism.  11:00 a.m. service honoring those who help keep our communities safe. Freedom Sunday Intro Video from Brian Branam on Vimeo . bumper video

Multiply

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August 11 we ( www.libertybaptistchurch.ws ) will begin using a valuable resource from author Francis Chan entitled Multiply .  The reason I like this book is because it is solid, simple, and short! As a pastor you are always looking for ways to get your people grounded in the Word quickly and to bring them to a place of Spiritual health where they are bearing fruit and bringing other people to Christ.  As simple as this may sound, this is not an easy task.   The Bible is a HUGE book.  It is not only huge, but it is old and difficult for most people to understand.  As a pastor, I need something that can help people grab on to the story quickly.  You may not understand everything you read in the Bible, but if you can grasp the basic concepts and the premise of the story you are at least heading in the right direction.  Multiply spends a great deal of time helping its readers become well acquainted with the Biblical story and its redemptive theme in Christ.   Life is crazy.  

How Should Same-Sex Marriage Change the Church’s Witness? (From Russell Moore)

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The Supreme Court has now ruled on two monumental marriage cases, and the legal and cultural landscape has changed in this country. The court voted to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and remand the decision of the Ninth Circuit in the Proposition 8 case, holding that California’s Proposition 8 defenders didn’t have standing. The Defense of Marriage Act decision used rather sweeping language about equal protection and human dignity as they apply to the recognition of same-sex unions. But what has changed for us, for our churches, and our witness to the gospel? In one sense, nothing. Jesus of Nazareth is still alive. He is calling the cosmos toward his kingdom, and he will ultimately be Lord indeed. Regardless of what happens with marriage, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, it often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. That’s why the gospel rocketed out of the first-century from places such as Ephesus and Philippi and C