Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Reading Luke chapter 12 this morning and in verse 35 Jesus says, 

"Be ready for service and have your lamps lit.  You must be like people waiting for their master to return...."

One of the things that sets into our lives subconsciously at times we are not even aware of is stagnation.  The word stagnation literally means, "...having stopped, as by ceasing to run or flow, a foulness or staleness, a failure to develop, progress, or advance..."

To be "stagnant" is to be in a place of danger and not even know it, we have no direction and no purpose.  Life has become stale and we are not sure why.  It is because we have become stagnant.  The Dead Sea is dead because it has no outlet.  If you have ever been to a swamp or have encountered non-flowing water that has sat there for a long period of time I would say do not try to drink it.  When the flow of our lives stops, death begins to set in.  Maybe not immediate physical death but death of our dreams and passions, those things that God placed inside of us that make us who we are.  We need to be persistent and intentional in keeping from being stagnant.  Proverbs 11:25 says, "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."   

If we are not feeling refreshed it is because we are not refreshing others.  We are consuming everything and giving nothing.  Just like it is not healthy to eat for three months and never go to the bathroom.  If that were to happen our bodies would become toxic and we would die. There has to be flow in our lives in order for there to be true life.  If you are feeling dead, give something.

In Zephaniah 1:12 God warns Israel by saying, "...I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish men who are stagnant of spirit..."  (NASB)

God loves people.  He reaches people through people (2 Corinthians 5:18).  And just as God said He would search Israel I know that His Spirit even now and in this day is searching "the church".  His people. It is important to keep the big picture in mind.  The fact that this earth is ALL about a single story.  A God who wanted to relate and be with the people He created and when that relationship was broken he made a way for it to be made right again.  But God is reconciling the world to Himself through Christ and through our effort as we put Him first in our lives and reach others for Him.  What all of us need from time to time is to remember that there will be an end to this story.  There is a day, if we do not give up, Jesus Himself will commend us for being relentless in our service towards each other, in our love and in our submission to a greater agenda.  His agenda.  What is His agenda?  To know us intimately, to be our all in all, to free us from addictions and to bring a freedom and a hope into our lives to a degree that we can barely contain ourselves!  To save us from our selfishness.

We are most fulfilled when we are functioning the way God has created us.  He created us to love, to serve and to be submitted to him and to each other.  Let's engage the day we are living in, which is today and make a decision not to allow ourselves to become stagnant in life.  To not lose our passion to pursue Him or our passion to serve each other and definitely not lose our devotion to the Great Commission!  Which is to preach Jesus and see the world come to know Him as Savior and Lord.  Let's commit to join the story of giving, after all God gave first. John 3:16.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Rejoice In Suffering? Why?

Through life I have wondered why people around me at times and even I myself do not exhibit more strength during hard circumstances.  Why we can not seem to endure well a season of trouble or heartache. What is the answer?  Is it better circumstances?  I don't think so.   

Life like anything is a process and it is funny how those that go to gyms everyday to work out enjoy putting there body through stress and resistance but when it comes to our internal fortitude we don't realize the same principle apply.

You see getting stronger and conditioning your body to be able to put up with more resistance in an easier fashion comes from making it go through resistance, not only that but doing it EVERY day and sometimes resistance to the point of muscle failure.....can you see where this is going?  Why then do we get so bent out of shape when we have to endure trouble.  I think God cares more about our ability to persevere than the size of our bicep, although physical exercise has its place.  You see people endure the pain of physical exercise because they have hope in the end result.  They know that the formula is:  

the ability to get up and go to the gym consistently 
endured discomfort and pain for an extended period of time 
healthier/stronger body.  

And the most successful at this formula are the ones best suited to endure the most, because they know the process.  Can I briefly give you a biblical formula to living life well?  It has the same principles oddly enough. Romans 5:3-4 says,

 "...but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope." 

Do you see the process and the formula? It is:  

 get up every morning and enjoy the resistance coming your way all the while hoping in the result and trusting in your Creator and His plan 
the ability to condition yourself well for what you will face which is endurance
a life lived with increased daily character, problems are not as monumental as they once were
unshakable joy and hope is your final result

You may be reading this wondering why you do not feel any hope.  It simply may be that you have skipped some previous steps.  Rejoice in your sufferings knowing God is in control which is trust in the process He has set up, know He is orchestrating EVERYTHING for your good and that He cares for you. It will produce better endurance which will lead to character and ONLY THEN an extravagant hope that is has ALL been worth it.


Monday, January 9, 2012

A Picture I Will Never Forget

It was a picture that spoke more words than I could count.....

Standing by my wife with my arm around her enjoying the moment as we walked and talked together, a man came up to my wife and began to point out all of her imperfections.  He kept speaking of how this was wrong with her and that was wrong with her and he would not stop, needless to say I began to get very angry.  As the man talked it was an amazing amount of needless and heartless comments about the one that I had chosen to spend the rest of my life with, who does he think he is!  I am the one that fell in love with my wife, I am the one who is ok with her humanity and I definitely do not need an outsider making fun of her and picking her appearance apart!!!  As he continued his verbal criticism I reached a point of anger I had not felt before and I was about to act..............when I sensed Jesus was showing me something priceless......

You see the picture I just described to you was not something that physically took place to me but something God allowed me to experience in my mind's eye that brought a TON of clarity to my life...

Ephesians 5:25-27 the imagery and symbolism of marriage is applied to Christ and the body of believers known as the church.  These are those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their personal savior.  

You see, we have all had those times where we have been burnt out with church to the point that we are negative and critical in all aspects.  I have heard some brutal things said about the church.  I have even experienced this at several points during my life, where I did not want to have anything to do with church and I was that man spewing relentless words of criticism because I had had enough with the faults of others!!  ......but are you beginning to see the problem?

Remember the picture I had of the man that walked up to me and my wife?  God, through His love and precious Holy Spirit was gently reminding me of the perspective I needed to have on the church, His bride.  Remember, God knows the imperfections of His bride to be.  But He (Jesus) is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, the author of everything we: see, taste, touch, or smell.  And I do not think most of us would be brave enough to merely go up to an average married couple and begin reaming that man's wife for her imperfections, you and I both know it would end up with that husband coming to the defense of his wife in a very aggressive way.  Do we think now that it is a good idea to do it with the bride of Jesus Christ, the Creator of ALL things?

I would say the next time we become impatient and fixated on the problems of the church we remember she is the bride of Jesus Christ and if He has loved her and continues to love her and draw her that we probably should show a bit more grace and mercy towards her....after all, if you have received Christ you are a part of the church, His bride and the good news is His love for you is covering all of your imperfections.  

Thank you Jesus for your faithfulness in regards to our process of becoming like you, I love you.....Joel Brown