Thursday, March 31, 2016

Leaving a church

Here is a quick video with what is now becoming the cry of my heart.  Not that we force everyone to stay because that is not the way things go.  But that when we leave we value, communicate and refuse cowardice.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Do you realize this?

How important and impactful prayer and praise can be?!!!

Acts 16:16-35 Paul and Silas in prison

16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed (I have to giggle at this part, I LOVE it, I wonder why he waited so long?!) that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. (Do we realize the power we have in the Name of Jesus?!)
19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone (sounds like so many today / especially makes me think of human traffickers when they’ve lost a slave), they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. 20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.”
22 The crowd joined in the attack (Typical of “the crowd”, they get offended because others are offended, not that they have personally been mistreated) against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, (The Key – praying and praise) and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. (See what happened as a result of prayer and praise!) 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household. (Look what else happened as a result of prayer and praise, a man and his entire household was saved!)
35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.” (Last but not least, they were set free as a result of prayer and praise)

What is it that you need to see happen in your life or those around you?  Are you fighting with anxiety, stress, in bondage to an addiction, marriage issues, etc…. I encourage you to fight this battle in prayer and with thanksgiving and praise!  Chains are broken, mountains are moved, depression and heaviness is lifted by these two ingredients, (Isaiah 61:3).  Ultimately be set free TODAY!!!

Sarah Brown

Friday, October 30, 2015

Something Has Changed

Recently Joel and I were approached with the statement, "The church feels different."  My heart broke for the people we were talking to because they were missing out on so much.   I want to put this out there to help anyone else struggling in this way.  

If you feel your church has changed or you feel disconnected you should ask yourself these questions

How many Sunday's have I missed lately? 
When is the last women's/men's event I attended?
When was the last church outreach I was a part of?
What small group am I in?
What team am I serving on?
Who am I personally discipling for Christ within my church?

If you are continually missing church, not participating in the events and outreaches of your church, not plugged into a small group, not serving others and not pouring into someone else in your church YOU WILL feel like something has changed and most of the time it IS NOT your church.  It's easy for us to point the finger somewhere else instead of examining ourselves and our priorities.  If we are disconnected constantly in this way it is also unbiblical.

When we allow sports, fitness, theme parks, the beach, camping, concerts, friends, even work, etc.... to take constant elongated priority over God's plan for us and His Church we can guarantee something is going to be off because our priorities are out of order.

We were created to be a VITAL part of the body of Christ, and when we are not functioning and plugged into that role we are missing the mark.  The word vital means "absolutely necessary or important; essential."  When we decide to continually disconnect from church for any reason, the body of Christ you are a part of is missing a vital part of it.  So not only does it hurt you and allow feelings of being disconnected to creep in, it also hurts that body of believers.  If I were to decide to cut off my arm, that arm would die and at the same time the rest of my body would be missing a very valuable asset.  It's the same thing with you and being connected to a church.

Will you go to hell for missing church or not being a part of your church's events? Of course not!  But it WILL affect whether you feel connected or not as well as your spiritual growth.

Satan would love nothing more than for you to disconnect from the body, don’t give him that victory over you, STAY (OR GET) PLUGGED IN, keep your priorities straight. 

The local church is the hope of the world, don’t miss out being a part of it!!!

Sarah Brown

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

MY RESPONSE ~ Relevant Magazine ~ The Most Important Thing Your Church Is Probably Missing

There is a movement in America.  A movement of assumption that could possibly lead others unnecessarily to a critical mind.  It's assumption that feeds cynicism.  

Assumption can lead both the writer of these blogs and the reader to a overly critical place, a place that could focus people on the wrong things.  The blog I am going to respond to although this is very rare for me to do is The Most Important Thing Your Church Is Probably Missing.  

It is the word "probably" that gets me.  I can't even bring myself to agree with the truthfulness of this title.  Within this title is a huge assumption.  The author assumes that everyone reading this blog has a church that has a pastor that is idolizing ministry.  It is the blanket assumption that gets to me.

Does this author really believe he understands the heart and internal processes of every pastor of every person that reads this post?  This title could produce more than just assumption.  It could produce fear, cynicism, doubt, and critical hearts towards the very thing Jesus Himself loves most, His Bride, The Church.  I do not disagree that there could be an unhealthy focus on unhealthy things by some who lead, most likely there are "some".  But its definitely "probably" not all.  Even the Apostle Paul corrected people in the New Testament that were in error.  But his letters were sent directly to the offending parties.  Not blanket statements to churchgoers.  He never said, "Church at Ephesus, guess what your pastor is probably doing in secret that is not of God?"  He would have never employed these tactics because of the repercussions those assumptions would have on the trust of the people toward their leaders.  We need to be careful.

No!  He dealt with specific moments of correction.  With things that were in full view.  The statements of assumption, hijack our emotions towards the one that statement was made toward.  I would love to see the blog title say, "Things We As The Church Should Be Passionate About."  And then post Biblical things and encourage.  This would be much more effective in rallying people instead of possibly giving them a moment to embrace offense for no reason, especially if their pastor is on the right track.

I believe in sending, I was sent to launch a church, my pastor was sent to launch his church before me.  But we would have never been sent to affect others if we had not been affected first. 

Luke 11:23 "...whoever does not gather with Me scatters."

Gathering is a huge part of what we do.  Jesus gathered His disciples before He sent, the disciples gathered to pray and receive the Holy Spirit before they went out with power to be witnesses.  Gathering is a part of the plan.  

While I agree we should NEVER idolize ministry, our job is to work together.  We are part of a body with different functions.  Not all will be missionaries to India.  While I agree with the basic principle that sending is the pinnacle of having discipled someone, you will never disciple someone if you do not reach them.  

One of my greatest desires is to see us champion the Church at large, not label Her unnecessarily.  Correct where you need to correct, but biblically, to the people that need corrected, but not using the word "probably".  

That means you need to know for sure the heart and motive of the people you are talking to.  I agree wholeheartedly on sending and going out, that is for sure.  I agree with releasing idolatry, for sure.  However, I am pleading that we stop using catchy blog titles in order to get people to click that could engender doubt, cynicism, and critical hearts unnecessarily into the minds and hearts of the Church at large.  

With love, 
Pastor Joel Brown

Friday, June 26, 2015

Same Sex Marriage & Supreme Court

Same Sex Marriage & Supreme Court

Today my heart is encouraged that God's word is still God's word even if others attempt to redefine it.  The Supreme Court has just legalized gay marriage across the United States.  I sit here right now hurting for those who have been misled to believe that this is ok.  Man is not in the position to say something is acceptable that God has said is not acceptable.  

We can not play God.  His word is clear.  Jesus even backed the biblical definition of marriage when He said that for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his "wife" and become one flesh (Matthew 19:5).

My position IS "love".  Love speaks out and does not keep silent when something could bring harm to another.  This decision will not only hurt our nation but help separate more and more people from a God who truly "loves" them and has the correct blueprint for humanity.

Do not be deceived.  God is the Creator and the Judge over all.  I pray for the church, to be bold, to be gentle, to correct with all humility those who oppose the word of God.  Our time is short.  Stand for the truth, do not back down because of intimidation or fear.  We are salt and light.  It is time to shine even brighter for the King of Kings.  Our reward is coming.  Holy Spirit lead and guide us as we continue to be relentless for the cause of Christ.  We pray for those who are in agreement with this decision that they hear and see the truth.  God let our compassion for them drive us to our knees in intercession for them.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

CHR 2015 | Bumper Crop Year

This blog is intended for those connected with CHR.  
But all are welcome to read it.

It is December 2nd, 2014 and the time is 9:40 am, Sarah and I are in North Carolina seeking God on what He has in store for 2015.  We are asking questions of Him like:  "What do you want us to do this year?"  "What do you want us to say this year?"  "Who do you want us to invest in this year?"  It is a time to seek God and see what He is up to.  By the way, you can do this too!  It is a great way to live, by asking God to lead.  Anyway, back to the blog...

Now, at times in my life I have had those moments where you know God drops a bomb on you, in a good way.  Telling you something about the future.  So, I am writing this in order that this specific blog can be a testimony of God's faithfulness when we see the story HE IS WRITING WITH HIS CHURCH unfold over the next year.

So many promises have been spoken over what God has started at Grassfield High School, meaning Church at Hampton Roads.  The most predominant is a verse God gave us November 28th of 2011, BEFORE we even moved to Hampton Roads.  It says,

"Thanksgiving will come out of them, a sound of celebration.  I will multiply them and they will not decrease.  I will honor them and they will not be insignificant."  Jeremiah 30:19

We know this is a specific verse pertaining to what God has started here.  Since this Summer, the Summer of 2014, God has been reminding me of the story of Peter in Luke 5.  Peter had been fishing all night and caught nothing and Jesus looks at him and says, "put out into open water and let down your nets for a catch."  And here is what happens next

Luke 5:5-7  "Master, Simon replied, we've worked hard all night long and caught nothing!  But at Your word, I'll let down the nets.  And when they did this, they caught a great number of fish, and their nets began to tear.  So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them…"

What God has been confirming to my spirit earlier this year is that as we refuse to get tired of doing what is good, meaning the Great Commission, staying connected to Him and loving His people, He WILL BRING such an increase that it will challenge and frustrate our systems, capacity and ability just as the catch that Peter had.  His nets (current capacity) was overwhelmed in a good way.  I even spoke this portion of scripture to our Serve Team this Summer after God had spoken to me through it.

That brings us to this morning at 9:36 am.  I had just finished my daily reading in the Psalms and the phrase "Bumper Crop" hit me like a ton of bricks.  I could not even remember the last time I heard this term or referenced it myself.  But that is what I heard, "This will be a bumper crop year."  Meaning specifically 2015 will be a bumper crop year for the Kingdom of God as it pertains specifically to Church at Hampton Roads.  What is a "Bumper Crop"?  Good question…that is what I thought as I struggled to remember the definition.  I remembered hearing the term I just had never fully researched it, or looked it up.  So I did.

Bumper Crop
An agricultural term that refers to a particularly productive harvest yielded for a particular crop during a specific season.

This is interesting to note about a bumper crop
A bumper crop can also be a source of problems, such as when there is insufficient storage space for an overly large crop.  Also, the word "bumper" has a secondary meaning, "something unusually large".

This goes right along with the story of Peter's nets!  They were ripping because they were overfilled.  They didn't even have the manpower to deal with the situation.  Wow.  God has bigger plans up His sleeve for us church!

What is even more crazy is that the single word I know God gave me as a theme for 2015 is "unstoppable".  This goes along with the other verse God had given me…

Matthew 16:18  "... I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it."

Satan CAN NOT stop the advancement of the Kingdom of God.  You see, the weight to change people, free people, give peace, joy and life to people IS ON GOD.  We do not have any ability to do this work.  We have the ability to be obedient. To make sure we love God with all that we have and to love each other as we would ourselves.  And He DOES THE REST!  In 2015, we are going to let God be God and watch the show!

Now, I am unsure as to how God will do all of this, but I know one thing, God is about to do AMAZING things because He NEVER goes back on His word.

What does this have to do with you?  EVERYTHING!
You have been called and placed at CHR for a reason and purpose. Not to serve Sarah and I, as we are here not to be served, but to serve.  Our job is to equip YOU (Ephesians 4).  You are called to BE the Church.  To reach out and help reconcile others to God through Jesus.  WE are ALL called to do the work of the Great Commission. To go and tell others about the God of all things and how He loves them extravagantly and wants to bring life to them, save them, as they learn to let Him lead the way.  To tell them that the dead areas in their lives can and will be brought to life by the Giver of Life! That they are not worthless but called.  Not insignificant but valued!  



Jesus, to You ALONE be the glory for what you are about to do. ONLY YOU have the power to save.  You did not have to choose us (meaning all of us reading this), but You did.  

Here we are send us!  Amen….so shall it be.

Joel Brown
11:02 am  |  12.2.14

Friday, September 26, 2014

PORN, Parents, The Church & The Point

I sit here this morning excited.  It's 8:21 am on Friday September 26th and we are 9 days away from Porn Sunday at Church at Hampton Roads.

Isn't this taboo?  Aren't we suppose to stay quiet?  Aren't our kids to young?  This should not be discussed in Church.

I have experienced the death grip of porn in my life.  Early on in my marriage it almost took everything from me.  But God, in His mercy AND POWER, delivered me from the lies that were fueling my addiction.  Porn is everywhere.  It is pervasive.  It ranges from ads to music videos to beyond hardcore (take my word for it).  It is a destroyer of intimacy & physiology.  It has more of a grip on our culture than we know.  Because, we do not discuss it much.  We live in a self regulated bubble where we do not seem to care about the plight of others.  The social mandate is to remain quiet.  Porn, for the most part is taboo.

Proverbs 24:11 says, "Rescue those being taken off to death, and save those stumbling towards slaughter."

We have received for the most part a lot of great response to our desire to tackle this subject. People who are grateful.  Then there are those who start to squirm, cringe and back away.  Then rarely things are said like:

"My kids are too young..."

"This makes me uncomfortable..."
"Should the Church be talking about this?"
"Aren't you by talking about it opening the door to it?"

I grew up in a generation where not many took the time or effort to tell me about porn.  And when I became affected by it, resentment built up in me like a flood.  I can understand if you (the older generation) sent me out into the world equipped for what I was to face.  But to stay fearful?  To leave me defenseless and open to something like this?  That is NOT love.  Why did I not have older men spending time with me?  Parents doing a lot more for me? WARNING ME?  This thing almost took EVERYTHING!  My marriage, my kids and my future!  I have forgiven, but I wish as a son, with all my heart, someone would have gotten in my face fearlessly about this and possibly have saved me and my wife years of pain.

We, as a church, are dealing with 11 year old girls who have accidentally clicked on "pop-up ads" while online and now are addicted to porn.  THIS IS A WAKE UP CALL.  Your kids WILL eventually be introduced.  Are they ready for what they will face? The lies that come from this industry?

Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he/she should go and when they are old they will not depart from it (leave it....)."

What are you doing to "train"?

Train undergo discipline and instruction, to drill.

You might say your kids will pursue it if you talk about it.  I say Satan is going to lure them whether you think he will or not.  And if you do not talk to them about it they will have to fight off possible future resentment because you were too afraid to instruct them, train them, and discipline them about things that REALLY matter.  Our role as parents is to equip.  And the best equipping comes BEFORE THE BATTLE! I want to work alongside the Holy Spirit to see Him raise a generation that is equipped, not that has to be fixed after the collateral damage.  The worst that could happen is that even if you have taken the time to equip them, if they still choose to embrace porn they at least know you loved them enough to engage them on this one.

We, the parents and THE CHURCH, ARE THE ONES RESPONSIBLE.  The apostle paul wrote letters to the Corinthian Church exposing sexual immorality that was so bad not even those outside the church were doing such things.  YES, the Church is to talk about any issue pertaining to life, Jesus and perversion.  We are equippers.  Unafraid, relentlessly holding up a banner of truth.

Ezekiel 44:23 says, "They MUST teach My people the difference between the holy and the common.  And EXPLAIN to them the difference between the clean and the unclean." That was said about the Levites (the priests...the "church" and me who make up the church now.)

Jesus said he would leave the 99 (the church, the found) to look for the 1 (the lost, the broken) Matthew 18:12.  He also said He is the father who is outside on the porch looking for His lost son even though the older son (the found one, the Church) is tugging on His shoulder, at times bitter that the world isn't revolving around him (us) (Luke 15:11-32).

Jesus came to deal with real issues, not hide from them. He has asked us as followers to be like Him:

"A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher." - Luke 6:40

Are you ready?  To be like your Teacher?  Jesus Christ? To be unafraid of sin, brokeness, perversion.  To seek and save that which is being lost?  Are you ready to equip those around you instead of being silent while they die inwardly and spiritually?  

Proverbs 10:5 says "...he/she who sleeps during the harvest is a disgraceful son/daughter."  There are people out there. They are the harvest.  The Great Commission to reach is our mandate!  Let us NOT sleep during our watch.  We will give account to God for how we honored Him and His Son by how we did or did not pursue people fearlessly.

It is time for us to reach boldly into Satan's kingdom and snatch those who are being led away to death!  Does every church or christian have to do it exactly the same way or in like manner? NO. But do not be ruled by fear.  Fear is a demonic spirit, not just an emotion you do not like (2 Timothy 1:7).  God has given us a SOUND MIND, READY for action.