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Showing posts from February, 2020

Follow Up, Follow Through, Follow Jesus

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If you don't follow up, you won't follow through and you will fail to find assurance of your faith.  Some medical clinics have no show rates as high as 55% for follow up appointments. I polled a friend of mine who does the scheduling for a physician group, and she said their rate was about 30%. For whatever reason, a patient doesn't go back, failing to return to the doctor can be as detrimental to one's health as not having gone in the first place. We need to keep our follow-up appointments so that our doctor can make sure that the prescribed treatment has the desired effect. Jesus healed ten lepers. Luke 17 tells their story. Despite having healed ten lepers, only one came back to Jesus. The other nine missed a very important follow up that was critical for their faith. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus' feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered,

Prescription, Claim Promises, Follow Commands

We cannot claim God's promises if we have no interest in His commands.  It is "America's other drug problem." The term for it is  medical non-adherence . It's a serious issue as it leads to 125,000 deaths per year. What is medical non-adherence? Medical non-adherence is the failure to follow prescriptions. Did you know that you are 10x more likely to die from making an error with your own medications than you are to die from homicide? If you are over 50, that number jumps to you being 30x.  Read your prescription instructions and follow them! Medically, healing comes from not just having pills, but from following the instructions on how and when to take them. Jesus' Prescription for Leprosy Jesus met ten lepers, and they asked for His healing. Jesus responded with an unusual prescription.  He told them to,  "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went they were cleansed. Luke 17:14 A visit to a priest sounds like an odd prescription for

Examination

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Forgiveness comes from God's examination of us, not from our opinion of ourselves.  I recently went to my dermatologist. The nurse came in and began mindlessly reciting her litany of questions. Mr. Branam, do you smoke? Any recent surgeries? Any medications?  Never raising her eyes from the paperwork, she then handed me a paper gown and said, "Mr. Branam. Take off everything but your underwear and bra and put this on." I replied, "Well, I forgot my bra today, so we won't have to fool with that." Realizing what she said, she turned three shades of red, and we both had a good laugh. Perhaps it was some needed comedic relief because we both knew that when the examination began, it was going to get awkward again. The healing God brings from  confession  comes from an awkward and revealing examination.  And Jesus entered a village; he met ten lepers. They cried out, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us." Luke 17:12 Jesus! What a way for them to begin the c

You Gotta Get Sick

If you're going to be healed, you've gotta get sick!  Are you dishonest with your doctor?  Most of us are . We lie to ourselves by not going to the doctor. How? Because we believe that if they don't examine us, then nothing's wrong. As long as the doctor doesn't have the chance to tell us something's wrong, then nothing's wrong. Something could actually be wrong, but as long as we don't know something's wrong, then nothing's wrong. That's wrong!  If we actually go to the doctor, we lie about our medical history. Have you not ever noticed that on the medical history form that they ask you for your height and weight? But what do they do as soon as they call you back? That's right - they put you on the scale! When I'm in the waiting room, I'm 6'2" 205. When I walk into the examination room, I lose an inch and gain 20 pounds.  I think they put that height and weight question on there so that the doctor can look at your medica

Healed, but Not Well

Many people have been healed, but are not well. A young man began attending our church regularly. In conversation with him, I asked if he was a Christian. He said that he was. So I followed up by asking about how he became a Christian. He told me that it was a miracle that he was even alive. The doctors said he was supposed to die soon after birth, but he believed that God had spared his life. He then told me that as a child, he had another encounter with death. Doctors diagnosed him with a serious disease and, again, was not expected to survive. He said that many people prayed for his healing, and again, miraculously, he was healed. The young man believed he was a Christian because God had healed him twice. But as we continued to talk, it became apparent that he had no relationship with Christ. He was living in a way that demonstrated he had never repented of sin and had no intention of following Jesus. His story is not uncommon. He had been physically healed, but spiritually he was

God's Sovereignty, My Responsibility

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God's sovereignty does not negate my responsibility. My life was predetermined . When I was born, there was already a lot going on, and no one asked for my input. My dad got married. But she wasn't my mom. Then our country drafted my dad to serve in Vietnam. While he was there, he lost his wife. When he returned home, he met this girl. While they dated, my dad went to business school and improved his skills. Dad married that girl, and they bought a house. That girl was my mom. And then I was born. They didn't consult me on how to raise me . My parents had a predetermined set of values and morals for me to adhere to. As I got older, they revealed them to me and called me to greater responsibility to adhere to them. But I richly benefited from their work. I enjoyed their house. They even allowed me to call it my house even though financially, I contributed nothing. It's tough for a three-year-old to hold down a job. They fed me. I was not too fond of the fish sticks, but

Our Theological Safe Place

In times of difficulty, our faith needs a familiar place. We need a theological safe place. Doctrinally, you've got to go home. Dreams are weird things and often inexplicable, but there is one consistent theme in my dreams. When my family is in my dream, the setting of it is always my childhood home.  My parents moved from that house during my sophomore year of college. I've lived in five cities and nine houses since then. My wife nor my daughters have ever been in that house. But it doesn't matter. When they are in my dreams, we are always in that brick rancher on Apache Trail. Maybe it's a comfort thing for my brain. But in my mind, at least in my dreams, I always go home. Paul is writing to a persecuted church. Things are not going to get better. Where are they going to go for comfort (2Thess 2:16-17)? Theologically, Paul brings them home.  But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be

Thinking About Quitting

Do you feel like quitting? Maybe so. But realize, quitting is not about how you feel, it's about how you think. What gets into your head that makes you want to quit ? Discouraging voices? Criticism? Insecurity? A lack of appreciation?  On the night Jesus was betrayed, he had a meal with his Apostles. The Bible says there were a lot of things in his head. Look at what he knew. Now  before   the  Feast of the Passover, when  Jesus knew  that his hour had come  to  depart out of this world to the Father,  having  loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when  the  devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him,  Jesus, knowing   that  the Father had given all things into his hands, and that  he  had come from God and was going back to God, John 13:1-3 How would you feel if: You knew that you were about to be betrayed? You knew that one of your men was making a deal with the devil? You knew that you were ab

The Best Thing You Never Did

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If you're ready to quit, second-guess yourself. It may be the best thing you NEVER did. In combat sports like boxing and mixed martial arts fighting, throwing a towel into the ring signals surrender. It means that your corner manager thinks that you've had enough. Up until 2011, no one had ever thrown in the towel in a  UFC mixed martial arts  fight. On New Year's Day 2011, in a championship bout, Frankie Edgar defended his belt against the #1 challenger Gray Maynard. The fight opened with the champ getting pummeled. Maynard's onslaught was so brutal that you can hear one of Edgar's coaches calling for his corner to throw in the towel. But no one did. Instead of surrendering the fight and losing his belt, Edgar not only endured the brutality of the early round, but he battled back to a draw and retained his title.  No one threw in the towel. It was the best thing they "NEVER" did.  Someone called for Edgar to quit. Someone else second-guessed the decision.

How Prayer Puts It All Together

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Answered prayer is not a finished project. Answered prayer is the instructions on how to put it all together. When our girls were small, we bought them a play kitchen for Christmas. We picked it out by going to the store and evaluating the various pictures that were on the boxes. We made our choice and headed home. What they fail to tell you is that when you open the box, you don't pull out a kitchen. You pull out a play kitchen in pieces, millions of pieces.  I was disappointed that we would have to put it all together, but I was undaunted. I mean, look at the picture on the box. How hard could this be?   FYI, it's extremely hard. Like, make a preacher want to cuss hard. I don't think I said a cuss word. My late Uncle Roy, who was a truck driver and an avid fisherman, he taught me all the cuss words I know. And while I didn't say a cuss word, I did think about what each of them meant. The problem with the project is that I was trying to go by the picture. My wife kept

What's a Person Worth?

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The value of the possession is in the intensity of its pursuit. If so, how much is a person worth? I enjoy the show  Shark Tank . The premise is that startup entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a group of billionaires to try and gain their investment. What I like about the show is that these are real companies, real people, and real money.  At the end of the pitch, the aspiring entrepreneur names a number. What will it cost to invest in the company? This number is called a valuation. It's what they believe their company is worth. Most of the time, the billionaire "sharks" dispute the valuation.  Disputing Jesus' Valuation In Luke 15, Jesus is in a dispute over his valuation of "sinners." Jesus eats with sinners, but his critics think he should separate himself from them. In response, Jesus tells three stories to explain why he invests in sinners. In the first two stories, a shepherd searches for a lost sheep and a woman for a lost coin (Luke 15:3-10). Note th

Desperation for Lost People

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Losing things brings about frustration. Losing people moves us to desperation. The five  most common things we lose  are tv remote, keys, wallet/purse, glasses, and phone. 60% of people report that they have been late for work or school because they were searching for something.  We all lose things. It's frustrating. But when we lose people, frustration becomes desperation. Have you ever lost a person? I have. My wife and I have lost our children. . . . . . . . . 3 times!  We left them at church twice. The other time we went to church and left them at home.  Don't think bad of us. We didn't mean to. We recovered our children all three times and have spent a lot of time with them since. They turned out fine. Each time we quickly realized what we had done, and we moved toward them with total desperation.  The Desperation of Jesus In Luke 15, Jesus is criticized because he eats with sinners. In answer to his critics, he tells three stories about lost things. The first story is

It's Not Easier to Get Forgiveness Than Permission

They say that it's easier to get forgiveness than permission. If that's your mentality, you won't get either one.  Why? As David prays through the consequences of a dumb decision , he makes an important statement about God. Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.  Psalm 25:8-10 David's statement reveals 3 problems with the "forgiveness is easier than permission" mentality. Problem #1 - Permission is impossible. God is "good and upright." So yeah. There's a reason getting forgiveness is "easier" than permission. Getting permission from a holy God to sin is impossible.  Saying something is "easier" than impossible is insanity.  If a friend asked, "Do you want to go to the gym or Jupiter?" Would you answe

The Quick Fix or the Long Wait?

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When you make a mistake, which approach do you take? Will it be the quick fix or the long wait? In Psalm 25, David prays about a dumb mistake . In doing so, he compares two approaches. To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.  Psalm 25:1-3 Wait or wantonly treacherous? What's the difference? Wantonly Treacherous Wantonly treacherous describes me with tools. If my wife ever sees me with tools, she wonders what I am about to destroy. She describes my mentality as cut twice, measure once. It's very much a shoot, ready, aim approach. We no longer own the home, but there is a house in Birmingham, AL with a lot of holes in the hardwood. My apologies to the current owners, but if you're curious, let me explain how it happened. I was attempting to run some wires under the floor to tie together our

How to Pray When You Make a Dumb Decision

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We all do dumb things. The dumbest thing you can do when you make a dumb decision is to make another one. So how do you pray when you make a dumb decision? A San Antonio woman was walking through a nearby wilderness area when she found 2 abandoned kittens. Being an animal lover, she rescued them and brought them into her home. She tried to feed the kittens with bottles, but the kittens destroyed the bottles. They attacked the woman, and she suffered some painful scratches. The kittens also bit two other people in the home. Fearing the kittens might be rabid, she called animal control. Upon investigation, it was determined that the kittens were not rabid. In fact, it was determined that they were not house cats. The  woman had brought wild Bobcats into her home . The woman with the Bobcats had a choice to make. She could either raise wild Bobcats and risk further injury, or turn them over to experts who could safely handle the situation. She chose the latter.  More Than We Bargained For

One Another

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Two words possess both the power and the peril of the Christian community, one another. John Wooden won seven national championships -------- in a row as the head basketball coach of the UCLA Bruins. Overall, he won 10 national championships in 12 years. John Wooden was only 5'10," but he was the first of four men to be inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. Wooden said, "You must be interested in finding the best way, not having it your own way." Two Critical Words The words "one another" appear together 163 times in the Bible. "One another" is unity and diversity. It is individuality and community.  "One" describes how we are alike. Every one of us has experienced both joy and sorrow. Every one of us has needs. "Another" describes how we are nothing alike. Each person is "another story" born of another personality.  "One" means that we are all gifted. "Another