Happy New Year from Snowy Seattle
We made it over sleety streets to a tiny town near the foot of Mount Rainier. Spent a seventy-degree Christmas in Allen, Texas with my sister and her fam. The morning after Christmas, we put Britt on a chartered bus in Austin with his high school basketball team (about 50 favorite buddies) traveling to Disneyworld for a basketball tournament in Florida. Didn’t have the money to follow him and God gave a peace in missing it. We have hardly missed anything our children have been a part of, ever, but had to let this one slip through our fingers. Bob and I hopped on a last-minute flight to visit his 92-year-old dad who invited us up to the Northwest. He lives alone in a quaint northern town. No internet, just frost everywhere. I’m frozen! With nine decades of life, he has a span of stories having lived through wars and recessions and crises and inventions.
Lots of time to reflect on the goodness of our God this past year. “The nearness of God has been our good.” Psalm 73:28. Have caught up on lots of reading. This morning one quote just jumped out at me: “The place where I am most deeply hurt is what I am always trying to get, to collect---to get people to like us, to be in charge, to serve, to applaud, to get someone to take care of me. There is an anger at that point in us where we feel so small.” What do we do with those places? Is my repentance too shallow? I have believed lies in my life that have ended with demands that people come through for me and that I’ll have to arrange it if God doesn’t come through. How foolish. Phil 3:19 calls it a god: “Their god is their appetite.” Exploring and deepening my thirst for God will release in me deep repentance or I’ll keep my friends and my God “in court” in my mind examining the evidence that I am not loved, not cared for. Not true at all! If we don’t repent and relate to Him in such a way that HE frees me to love openly and receive love freely, then I’ll just control my world and arrange it to get what I want. People don’t have to respond in certain ways anymore for life to be okay. I want to live with no demands to fill the hollow spaces within that ultimately only God can fill. St. John of the Cross wrote: God cannot pass an empty life without filling it with Himself. That’s if we are empty---are we empty of ourselves and this world?
Happy New Year to each of you. Do you remember the quote in Braveheart: “All men die, but only a few men really live.” My wish for you this coming year of 2009 is that you learn more deeply what it means for you to really live. You were made to matter. You were made to make a difference. You were made for HIM. Psalm 73:24-28--- May HE guide you with His counsel and receive your words. May you desire nothing else on earth but HIM. “It is good to be near to God.” Draw near. He’s waiting.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Happy New Year from Snowy Seattle
I found a teeny tiny eatonville cafe that has wireless. It took about 45 minutes to warm up the computer so I'm staring out the sultry cafe window and what do I see??? S N O W...it's snowing outside. What delight! Pure joy! Baby, it's cold outside. So pristine and peaceful and pure white as snow. Stirs something deep inside of me and tears fall. From seventy degrees to snow. A precious moment for me as we came up to find a wireless connection to post a Monday Morning thought. It's the last Monday morning thought I'll post. It has been such a joy for me to read through the Bible with several of you this year. Here's my last meloncholy post...
DO I LONG TO BE UNDERSTOOD?
DO I LONG TO MATTER?
HE upholds the universe by the word of His power. He holds me up this moment, this circumstance. Or am I trying to hold myself together? “Pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift…” Heb 2:1. Pay attention to what God has said this year. I spent a lot of my Christian life thinking about how much I wanted to be understood, to matter in someone’s life, to belong, and be in charge of something of significance. But, now I long for the One Who understands me and my world; I long for the One Who matters more than anything; I long for the only One in charge of anything---the One Who holds me by the word of His power. It’s no longer about me holding things together.
AM I LIVING IN THIS PRESENT MOMENT?
“Today if you hear HIS Voice, do not harden your hearts.” Heb 3:15
So many of us are where we are this moment because of how we have handled our lives and the hurts over the years. A friend of mine wrote the following note: “I’ve yearned for my parents to give something they could never give me. I’ve sought for my sweetheart something that never fully finishes me and makes me complete. And in my dying age, I’ve tried to make my life a difference as I go to my homecoming and it still doesn’t fill me---even though I’m having a great ministry and an impact on my world---even if I’ve loved well. In all of this, I turn to the One to whom I owe my life, to whom I have found my life, and to Whom I have gladly given my life as an eager gift of all that I have, to the One I have come to adore. I feel grateful. I said He was not good, but He is. I’ve said He’s not here, but He is. I’ve accused Him of not loving, but He does. Everything is upside down, and yet in the face of Him, I see not the face of a scolder but One Who says, ‘Welcome! I’ve been waiting. The feast is prepared.’ “
DO I KNOW A REST THIS VERY DAY LIKE I’VE NOT KNOWN BEFORE?
“Let us strive to enter that rest…for the Word is living and active piercing our souls and discerning our thoughts and intentions. Nothing we do is hidden from His Sight, how foolish to think we are not seen and exposed and known for who we really are. Heb 4:11-13. So, if I don’t have rest in my soul this day, what will I do with that place in my heart? Will I just shove it down or will I enter it and embrace what is not of Him and repent more fully, more widely, more deeply. What I have loved about reading the Word chronologically with you all is that day after day we have opened the Word of God on our journey to read the historical story. But it is the Word of God that has read me and my thoughts and my intentions that don’t match up with His. I read but I am read and rest is revealed or released or recovered. He’s a beautiful God offering rest to each of us in this moment.
WHAT DO YOU WANT MORE THAN DRAWING NEAR TO GOD?
Heb 4:16 “Let us with confidence draw near to the throne of grace.” Whatever weakness we have, He is able to sympathize with that weakness, He says. So, if I choose this day not to draw near to HIM and all that means for my life, then there is something more important to me than following my Christ. Something more important than drawing near to our God. Our goals, our moments reveal what that is. Maybe it is my goals; maybe it is even just ruminating over what is not going right for me. Or, maybe it is a real circumstance that is not going my way. I have to take a look at what is not going my way and recognize that I am trying to make my life work. And God says in Heb 7:25 that when we draw near to Him, He always lives to make intercession for us. What a beautiful promise in our heartaches, in our dreams, in our longings, in our schemes.
WHY ARE MY HANDS DROOPING?
“Lift up your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame may not be out of joint but rather be healed.” Heb 12:12 Don’t let any root of bitterness spring up. Deal with present fray of your heart. The passage goes on to talk about Esau who sold his birthright for what he could see---a single meal. He found no chance to repent later even though he sought for it with tardy tears. Not all tardy tears are good. Tend to today’s tears. All those things that shakes our lives. One day God will remove all things that can be shaken in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” Heb 12:28. And let’s fall on our face and worship and speak the Word of God to our friends. Heb 13:7
On New Year’s Day (or any day after that), let’s post our final lingering thoughts for Cover to Cover from the Book of Revelations. Would love for you to share your thoughts about your journey in reading through the chronological bible this year.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 5:11 PM
Sunday, December 7, 2008
One Dollar a Day Sends an Orphan to School
Hi, my name is Britt Brandon
and I am Bev's 17-year-old son. I'm a junior in high school,
and I am doing a service project to help my sister, Brooke Brandon,
who volunteers at this orphanage in
Brooke volunteers weekly at
this government orphanage.
Your gift will go 100% to the orphan.
Would you be willing
to sponsor one orphan and
pray for that orphan
You can pay by check or Paypal.
Make checks payable to Britt Brandon.
$1 pays for one day for the orphan
you sponsor to attend school.
$5 = one week
$10 = two weeks
$20 = one month
We hope we can help these 7 orphans
whose parents have died mostly from AIDS.
Because they are all older than five,
they will not be able to be adopted.
They need our help. No amount is too small.
The following five boys and two girls are the remaining students at the orphanage
If you are interested in helping me reach the goal of sponsoring in part
The photo of Chon did not come out. He is a male.
Thank you for considering helping one of these seven orphans this Christmas.
They really want to go to school.
I hope I can find some sponsors and it will all add up
to send these seven orphans to school for a dollar a day.
and thank you for considering this opportunity to make
7 orphans very happy this Christmas.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 8:54 PM
Monday Morning Cover to Cover December 22nd - Conscious & 15th - May the eyes of your heart be opened to the immeasurable Power toward you - Eph 1:17.
I am shooting from the hip this week. Misplaced my notes with my checkbook, oh dear! This is what really moved me this week in what I read from the chronological readings.
AM I LIVING FOR THIS WORLD OR FOR ANOTHER COUNTRY?
“We who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength.” Wonder who I can find to build up? Wonder if I am more willing to think of their needs and live for another country or am I bent on my own seasonal needs in living in this world? Rom 15:1. Please others, not self. “May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing.” Rom 15:13. That so shakes my soul. The God of hope. It’s not dependent on me trying to find hope and make hope and have hope. We “overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom 15:13. I've thought long and hard about the theme of HOPE as we read this week. Way too much, we want to kill hope rather than walk into the future in faith trusting a good God to provide in whatever ways He so chooses. Hope is one of the most dangerous commitments we make for it draws us to Him to sacrifice without any guarantee of fulfillment in this world. But we live for another country, don't we?
AM I REALLY LIVING IN THIS PRESENT MOMENT? ALIVE or DETACHED
IS OUR GOAL TO BE GODLY OR NICE?
"Take courage, for I have faith in God." Acts 27:25. It's a busy season but what is the beat of my heart? Is it for the faith of others? Who can I give courage to this week? I do have faith and believe Him because I know how HE has redeemed good in my life in the past. I have an anchor of trust in my beautiful God that is shored up and that no one can pull up. All that my present dilemmas can do is plunge me into present deeper depths of doubt where brand new faith is being reborn. If we don't have that anchor of trust, then we really are thrown into confusion when people let us down and unexpected unwanted things happen to us---confusion about our ID, confusion about our place in this world. What God has done for me in my past may not take away the pain of the present moment but "faith birthed in the dessert" (as one of my friends calls it) frees me to remember my past, remember the loss, and remember redemption. He so deepens our trust that our redemption draws nigh. It will dawn tomorrow morning as we awake as we trust the One Who is faithful and true. Maybe you have a friend who needs your faith. Maybe you need a little of mine. Take courage. HE is waiting to dawn on your day.
DO YOU KNOW THE HOPE HE HAS CALLED YOU TO?
I really struggled when my husband lost his job three years ago. I lost hope. I killed hope. But it's foolish of me to not anticipate the future and fear the failure again. A friend told me: The more we hope, the more we lean into the future risking the present to secure the dreams that entice us. Just like you, I'll keep on risking for nothing else is worth living for but HIM and His life! I hold so much hope in my heart at this place in my life, and am so humbled before my beautiful God for what HE has done for me! And my prayer for you is the mighty words that Paul penned in his opening letter to Ephesus. May the Father of Glory give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of HIM. May the eyes of your heart be enlightened this present moment to know the HOPE He called you to and the immeasurable greatness of His Power toward YOU.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 8:53 PM
Political unrest in Thailand caused their airports to shut down for days! Brooke has been "stuck" in Austin with us and are we ever excited! She just drove off on her way to the airport and I cried like a baby! I am so grateful for the extra week with my girl. We reminisced, and rummaged through sales, and racked up hours and hours of so enjoying her extra-long Thanksgiving stay with us. She's actually been in the states for one month now...see why I bawled??? Pray that she makes it back to Thailand in the midst of unsettling times for their country. The Prime Minister has been ousted and it's a messy situation.
AM I TRYING TO IMPROVE MY LIFE OR SEEK TO LET MY GOD TRANSFORM ME?
One word so lingers with me from our chronological readings this week. Transformed. Don't be conformed to this world, be transformed in this world. Rom. 12:2 I have been thinking a lot about taking a look at what God has done for me and becoming so gripped with what has already happened. In His favor, "I heard you, I helped you." 2 Cor. 6:1. There's no way in life I could be where I am today except to say that God did it---He has so helped me to wake up and be alive in Him. And true repentance brings about a changed life. 2 Cor 7:10 I may not understand what is happening this moment but life isn't about finding answers either. It's about living not working. And I am known even when regarded as unknown. 2 Cor 6:9.
IS IT ALL RIGHT TO BE HARD PRESSED? God says it's okay. I may be hard pressed sometimes on every side but not crushed. 2 Cor 4:8 I so want to be aware of the schemes of the enemy. 2 Cor 2:11. So FIX OUR EYES ON UNSEEN 2 Cor 4:18.
WHAT COMPELS ME TO MOVE INTO THE LIVES OF OTHERS?
For it is the Love of our beautiful Christ that compels us. Wonder if I am living compelled by the love of my God today or being ruled by other things? Where’s my joy? Whenever I am not enjoying my husband, my children, my life---that's a red flag. “In all my troubles, Joy knows no bounds.” 2 Cor 7:4.
IS MY REPENTANCE TOO SHALLOW?
It’s the kindness of our God that leads us to repent. Romans 2:4. And if our lives don’t change, if there’s not a little more rest, a little more peace, a little more solidness…well, I wonder if the repentance was really deep. Wonder if my repentance was self-serving? Sometimes our motives come from economic places in our hearts to make a better life. Not worth a lot. Let God do His Work in me. Because if we try to repent on our own, we usually end up resorting to self improvement or even doing our own penance. We end up saying—tell me everything I need to “do” to follow God and I’ll go do it. We want “lists” to check off. But when God shows up in His Kindness, there’s hope for our sin. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship? Romans 8:35.
IS MY GOAL TO BE AN OVERCOMER OR TO BE OVERCOME?
In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. So what does that mean? Sometimes, we make our goal to be overcomers. What about making our goal to find God and please Him? It’s not about us overcoming the world—HE has already done that. But it is about us finding Him for I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Wonder why we keep trying to make Him love us? He already does just like we are.
DO I THINK ABOUT REJOICING IN SUFFERING? IS MY DESPERATION REALLY A GIFT?
Romans 5:3 - We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. I picture the Holy Spirit in heaven pouring down on us a pitcher of His Love. And it came through suffering. When I have HOPE, I receive that Love lavished on me and release His Power in me to love others. Sounds lofty but it’s not about us trying to figure out how to love people. It’s the Love of God that pours into us and out of us if we are empty of ourselves and our own ambition.
AM I DOING WHAT I DON’T WANT TO DO?
“Count yourself dead to sin and alive to God.” Romans 6:11. “If I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” Romans 7:20. Wretched man! This is my real battle---it’s not with people, it’s the battle of my old nature. Who will rescue me? Thanks be to God! He did. He is. He will. Romans 7:24-25. “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.” Romans 8:9
WHAT AM I BELIEVING ABOUT MY SITUATION---AGAINST ALL HOPE?
The powerful book of Romans was written by a very mature Paul centuries ago for me and for you this day. We learned from James last week in our readings that we need to "receive the Word" and not just listen but take it to heart just like Abraham who was 100 with a wife with a dead womb. Do things look dead in our own lives? Dead promises? Dead relationships? Dead marriages? Dead worship? May we follow in the footsteps of Abraham who was backed into a corner against all hope. May we believe the God Who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. Romans 4. Against all hope, may you find Him in your need this present moment.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 8:52 PM
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I got this award from sweet Jenny Hope and I can't possibly remember how to link her up here. Nor can I imagine answering 50 questions with one word, so I'll pick and choose as I am supposed to answer to pick up this award. I'll give you about 10 answers just cause I love my real life friend Jenny Hope! No pretend friend anymore---she's a real one and a keeper. Her blog is: http://jennyhope-jennyhope.blogspot.com/
1. Where's the cell phone?---no clue. Two words, what a start.
7. Dream last night? forgotten somewhere. Two words again.
8. My goal? Isaiah 30:15
11. Your fears? being alone
12. Where do want to be in 6 years? more in love with my beautiful God...more alive!
14. What you are not? not bound up like I've been 2 Chron 32:22 not watching my own back
for God is taking care of me on every side and it's happening...a little more solid
15. Wish list item? I-Touch...there I said it.
16. Where I grew up? New Orleans
17. Last thing you just did? Bible study on Corinthians...2 cor 7:10 - real repentance leads to changed lives
22. My mood? Full of hope this day to live a quiet life of rest and trust and let Him pour out, not me being an overcomer but all about Him pouring out Romans 5:5
30. Last time you laughed? Brooke is here from Thailand and so makes me laugh real deep. But my last laugh was with my 17-year-old as he went on a field trip to hear Robert Schuller at a business conference with his school this a.m. and I TRIED to encourage him to remember whose he was (in other words, obey in public, even at 17, as he really tends to enjoy life). His response? He started singing "I'm in the Lord's Army, yes sir." Pretty funny to this mom.
31. Last time you cried? About 5 minutes ago when I was reading Romans and realized that that book of the Bible has sparked many revivals throughout history. Where are we? Start right here in my heart, o God, that I may find HIM in the midst of all we are going through not to get rid of the pain but to connect with my beautiful LORD.
So Jenny Hope told me I needed to pass the torch of questions on to you...so go to her blog to see the list of all the questions. Anyone who reads this blog can take this award and blog on. Just send me an e-mail when you post your 50 questions (I think Jenny quit at 31) cause I'd love to come read your answers and get to know you better. Lots of Love and let me know if any of you are going to Converge. I'll be there! Would love to hug your neck! Bev
PS - I am in desperate need of blog makeover help on a budget. Does anyone know where I can find a Christmas header or new template for free? E-mail me.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 10:54 AM
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Monday Morning Cover to Cover.............God is among you I Cor 14:24. He has provided for you to stand up under all you're going through I Cor 10:13
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU REPENTED? A friend asked me that question. Said he had put the question on one of his exams when he was teaching Bible. Am I really free in the place where I am this very day? We may think we are free but then someone shows up in our day and steals our peace. And do we repent no matter whether big or small sins. Sometimes we are not as free as we think we are. A teenager said to me this week that it was boring hearing about the love of God one more time---she wanted to hear something else. Maybe I misread her but it seems so arrogant to me. She had no idea how she came across. Have we lost our marvel over God’s love for us no matter what we do? What place in our heart do our thoughts and actions and attitudes come from. It’s not about cleaning up our behavior. It’s all about repenting and returning. This verse lingers with me from the chronological readings this week. God has done I Cor 10:13 - He has provided ways for each of us to stand up under all we’ve been through. We can look “spiritual” on the outside but what does that count for? It’s all about our hearts, isn’t it? We are so grateful to Him this Thanksgiving week for freedom. I loved reading I Cor 9:1 “Am I not free?” I am finding freedom in Him like I have never had. I am more free than ever! It’s freedom first, then love. Can’t move to love if we are not free from that person and their responses. Awesome work HE is doing in all of us. Faithful is He Who has called us and He is doing it! And if He is not working in your life, you need to ask yourself some hard questions. Here are 7 questions that linger with me from reading the chronological Bible this week. Pick one question and read that paragraph and leave a comment about what your mighty awesome God is saying to you.
1. When was the last time I repented?
2. Is God really among us?
3. What if I have faith that moves mountains?
4. What rules my heart this moment?
5. How do you deal with weakness and fear as you walk through your days?
6. Wonder how God is revealing to you what He has for you?
7. What would Jesus look like if He was living in your circumstances?
IS GOD REALLY AMONG US?
I Cor 14:24 – if someone walks into our midst, are they convinced that they are a sinner when they bump up against us? Now, if they bump up against our sin, how do we repent and show them a heart alive to God? Are the secrets of their heart laid bare so that they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming “God is really among you!” What is happening among us? If it is God, then we’ll know it cause we can’t conjure up the power of God. But we can do I Cor 14:1 “hold firmly to the Word.”
WHAT IF I HAVE FAITH THAT MOVES MOUNTAINS?
What if I give all I possess to the poor? But I live distant, distressed, disgusted, discouraged.
If I don’t have love for those God has brought into my life, I gain nothing. I am nothing.
If I have a successful ministry but really don’t love people enough to talk with them and walk with them whether they are right or wrong, I gain nothing from my passionate ministry.
If I have awesome kids but love them only when they do the things I approve of, that’s not love.
If I have great faith but withhold my love from one person even for very good reasons, what’s that about? I gain nothing. We think of love in terms of our behavior and then our definitions of love are so shallow.
WHAT RULES MY HEART THIS MOMENT?
Does God’s Love really rule my heart this day? Just look at what comes out of your thoughts, your mouths, your heart. Disgusted thoughts about others? Distant actions that communicate you don’t care. I Cor 6:12 says: “I will not be mastered by anything.” Not even the judgmental thoughts we harbor. Something rules our hearts more than the love of God if our thought life shows our ambition, our obsessions.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH WEAKNESS AND FEAR AS YOU WALK THROUGH YOUR DAYS?
I Cor 2:3,4 has meant so much to me over these past years cause I feel that I live in weakness and fear. Paul said that is where he was coming from “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” Oh, that’s what I long for. Not longing for the perfect wise words to say. Not longing to persuade people. But longing for the power of the Spirit of my God. That means I need to let Him work and trust Him and not try to make it happen.
WONDER HOW GOD IS REVEALING TO YOU WHAT HE HAS FOR YOU?
I Cor 2:9“No eye has seen,no ear has heard,no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” I have so struggled my whole life with believing that I’m not loved, not cared for. I've kept friends "in court" trying to prove I am not loved rather than seeing what God has done and how they have responded to God. And how I want to respond to God to move in loving others regardless of their responses to me. I’ve walked into a Love that I cannot lose in the past couple of years through suffering. I’m thinking differently these days. Embracing truth and remaining there and trusting like I haven’t before.
WHAT WOULD JESUS LOOK LIKE IF HE WAS LIVING IN YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES?
A couple of years ago, I couldn’t physically stand up I was so depressed. Doesn’t matter what got me there, the real question is why did I crater? How did I get to the place that I wasn’t able to function when I perceived a tragedy hit? Not the place of trust where my beautiful God wants me to live. So this verse speaks to me: 2 Thes 2:15, 16 “Stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. You know I cannot even stand firm without God’s help. What would Jesus look like if He was living in your circumstances? “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” And, yes, it was God Himself who strengthened me and I couldn’t be any more grateful. And I continue every day to grow and make shifts I could never do on my own.
My prayer for you this Thanksgiving week is 2 Thessalonians 3:16 - “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” Wonder what that peace looks like in your life, in my life?
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 3:06 AM
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Happy Thanksgiving to you this night and whatever it holds for you. Maybe things are going really well for you. But I have several friends who are in the midst of such suffering. I am thinking of Jean and Jen who have lost a love of their life---their children. I am thinking of three other close friends whose kids have gone off the deep end and are in trouble. What do you do?? I Thes 1:6 says: "In spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit and turned to God ." May we all turn to Him this Thanksgiving and every day and welcome His Word with joy!
PICK ONE QUESTION
Monday Morning Cover to Cover..."Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life." I Thes 4:11
I've asked 7 questions this week...one each day from our chronological readings.
1. Do you love Me?
2. Do I want to leave a legacy that is large?
3. What really are my goals this day?
4. How do I know if I am running the right race?
5. How is your love working?
6. What is your real ambition as you live today?
7. How is your faith working for you?
You might pick one question to read about below. My prayer for each of you this Thanksgiving is 2 Thes 1:11,12. Every desire that you have to honor Him and do what is right, what is good---may He make you stand!
DO YOU LOVE ME? This is why I have so loved reading the chronological Bible this year. The disciples were face to face with Jesus yet they didn’t live the Christian life well. “Do you love Me?” Yes we do and we’ll deny it before everyone. BUT when they receive the Holy Spirit, the disciples become alive and free. All of a sudden, they are bold and full of faith. It’s so intriguing to me that one of the first things they will hear after receiving the Spirit is about wrong motives in James 4. “You want something but don’t get it. You cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your own pleasures. James 4:1-4Can we get our motives right? Can we quit living for what works out for us? Peter had quit doing it---in fact, Peter was sleeping knowing he was headed to face his death. Talk about rest! And Peter’s LORD let the chains loose. Do I think that if I stay up all night praying then God will work? We will be free if we are living in our new nature and identifying that old nature of wrong motives that rears its face up on us. Oooh!
DO I WANT TO LEAVE A LEGACY THAT IS LARGE? Acts 13 has always tugged at my heart for I so want to leave a legacy. I don’t want to have served God for my purposes. Yet, I have been way too driven at times to do the work of the ministry to make a significant mark. For whom? For what? I must leave in His lap how He wants to use my life. I have measured success like the Christian world does not like my Father does. Now that I am a lot older and things didn’t turn out like I thought they would, how do I evaluate my life’s work, my contribution? I must hold fast to Him living in this present moment not trying to make something happen but spending it all on Him and His purposes and leaving the results to God. “For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep.” Acts 13:36. And here comes another verse right along these lines that pierces my heart: “After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” It is not about how hard we are trying to live the Christian life. It is not about human effort. So seems like that that is rewarded in Christian circles today—serving and working and programs and missions and even giving based on human effort profits what?
WHAT REALLY ARE MY GOALS? Gal 4:19 is my heartbeat. “I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” That’s really what it is all about…that Christ be formed in others…”Little Christs” as C. S. Lewis says.The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Ga. 5:6. Or, am I so distracted by how others treat me? Gal 5:7 You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? Either we live by our old nature or by our new nature.
HOW DO WE KNOW WHICH RACE WE ARE RUNNING? Our real battle is not our child, our husband, our friend and their sin. Our real battle is our old nature that shows itself every day. It's like me trying to take chlorine out of water. We'll battle it til the day we die. After prayer and trust, what results in your life? Is it the peace of God? Is it a rest you haven’t known in the midst of raging seas? If you are running the right race, what you see will be Gal 5:22, the fruit of the Spirit. Our goal is not peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control. Our goal is God Himself. And He will be those things to us. Otherwise, we get sucked into moral living. This is about transformation not information to be a better wife, a better mom, a better person. If we’d do anything to learn what we are supposed to “do” in given situations to live the Christian life, we are asking the wrong questions. Paul and Silas were in prison praying and singing. No panic there to “do” everything to get out of their circumstances. All at once, a violent earthquake, and their chains came loose. Acts 16:25. May our chains fall off when we pray, when we sing, when we walk, when He’s our King.
HOW IS YOUR LOVE WORKING? Seems to me that too many Christians today focus on work, labor and endurance to be overcomers. These verses really talk about our faith, hope, and love. We are not human do-er’s; we are human beings. It’s not about working harder to improve our lives. 1 Thes 1:3 We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. How is your love working for you? I Thes 2:12. Listen to how you talk about others in your thoughts? Are you longing for your family and friends’ faith to be built or are you disgruntled and disappointed withholding your love a little bit? That’s not love. I Thes 3:9 - are you enjoying them?“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father.”
WHAT IS MY REAL AMBITION TODAY? If I had to say one verse that was my heart’s desire to grab onto this year and hold tight, hold fast. It would be I Thes 4:11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, so that you will not be dependent on anybody. I have so wanted to live a recognized life, a valued life, a successful life. No more. I want a quiet life — so what does that mean for me, for you? Paul’s ending words to this Thessalonican church in chapter 4 are moving. Wonder what they stir up in us? Service? Kindness? v. 13-17 “Live in peace with each other. Warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Always try to be kind to each other. Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Hard to do? Impossible really. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. May God Himself sanctify you. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. I Thes 5:24.
HOW IS YOUR FAITH WORKING FOR YOU? I Thes 3:5 - I want to find out about your faith for I'm afraid the tempter is tempting you. Scripture interprets Scripture. And it’s intriguing that we already know at this point the admonition of James to not spend our lives in wrong motives. Satan is tempting us all to sell ourselves short. Many Christians today live to be kind, no matter what. Or to serve, no matter what. It’s the LORD who will do it through us—that’s amazing. What do we need to put off, to let go of to get that place of repentance? My repentance is way too shallow.
I pray for each of you 2 Thes 1: 11, 12: May God count you worthy of his calling this Thanksgiving and always, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 10:20 PM
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Brookie is on U.S. soil somewhere in Texas. She doesn't have a cell phone YET but I bet she'll find one at Wal-Mart! On the way to the big Cajun wedding in Louisiana!!! Claire has found her true love and I hope that the presence of her God overwhelms them all this week! We love you baby Claire and we wish you all the happiness in your humble home and in your passionate life and in the beautiful God Who has so invaded your heart!
This has been the hardest week for me facing and embracing unexpected obstacles and opinions. And my beautiful God just rained down on me this afternoon---Deut 32:2--- as my good friend here took me to lunch for my birthday. Yep, it's tomorrow. We sat on a patio on historic 6th Street and as the sun beat on the top of my head at this turn-of-the-century Victorian house now restaurant, and with a cooler than normal breeze blowing in our faces, the conversation was straight from the God I so adore. My good friend encouraged me more than she'll ever know for right where I am this day. I so want to be further along in my walk with my beautiful God than I am. All He wants is me.
You know, if we just stay connected to Him, all we have to do is let His Beauty pour out of us---Psalm 50:2---and that's what just happened on sixth street. Right straight into this discouraged heart. She gave me a little hope for my solitary path. We all have a vacuum in our hearts and we can't make it alone in this life. No idle words this day, it was God's very life to me. Deut 32:47.
We ate the most decadent delectable chocolate cake for free for Z'Tejas birthday girls. It's called "Z'Tejas Ancho Fudge Pie." And it was unbelievably good! No way you can even taste the ancho peppers but it enhances the chocolate flavor to the utmost. And they even gave me the recipe. Here is a gift for you to cook for Thanksgiving that will make you popular. They say it wins the best dessert contests in Texas and I can see why. Didn't believe it until I tasted it for free. No way I could pay for pepper in my chocolate. The secret ingredient is the ancho peppers---yuk! Who would have ever thought? Wonder if the Indians used ancho peppers in their first Thanksgiving feast? Where do you even buy ancho peppers? What do they look like?? Sounds like "Whole Foods," HERE I COME...
PS - the recipes are on Z-Tejas' website if you want to take a look at their other stuff---I had blackened catfish enchiladas that tasted awesome---their ingredients are their big secrets and they give the recipes away on their site: http://ztejas.com/recipes.html
Z'Tejas Southwestern Grill Ancho Fudge Pie
1 9-in Deep dish prepared pie crust
2 each Eggs
1/2 cup Flour
1/2 cup White Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Butter (2 sticks)
1/2 cup Pecans
1/2 cup Walnuts
1 cup Chocolate Chips
3/4 cup Ancho Chile Peppers, ground
Recipe Directions:Ancho peppers are available whole. To grind, soften peppers in water for 30 minutes, drain,grind in blender. Do NOT use chile powder.Preparation:Melt butter and allow to cool. Toast pecans and walnuts in oven on flat sheet until lightly brown.Beat eggs well. Add white flour, white sugar and brown sugar. Mix until smooth. Add coolbutter, mix well.Mix in nuts and chocolate chips. Fold into mixture. Pour into prepared pie crust.Bake at 325 degrees for 45-55 minutes.
Hey, I might as well throw in their Corn Bread recipe too cause people say it's one of the best around. And they have it down to perfection! I'm going to try it this Thanksgiving with all my children coming home with their friends!!! And I am so making "Mocah With Linda"s Baked Potatoes recipe and Melissa's killer nachos.
T'Zejas Corn Bread
Corn Meal 1 ½ cups
Flour 1 ½ cups
Sugar 1/3 cups plus 1 Tablespoon
Baking Powder 1 tablespoons
Baking Soda 1 tablespoons
Yogurt (plain) 1
Cream Corn 1/3 cups plus 1 Tablespoon
Corn (frozen) 1/3 cups plus 1 Tablespoon
Buttermilk 1 1/2 cups
Eggs 3 each
Butter (melted) 1/3 cups plus 1 Tablespoon
Salt 1/4 teaspoon
Mix all dry ingredients together. In a large mixing bowl, whisk all wet ingredients together.Then add dry ingredients to form batter.Use a small pre-heated skillet, spray with non-stick cooking spray and then fill with 9 oz ofbatter.Bake at 375 degrees for 16 minutes. Rotate at 8 minutes.These recipes prepared by using a convection oven so try 400 degrees in regular oven.Test by using a toothpick in the center of the corn bread. Toothpick should come out clean.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 5:51 PM
Monday Morning Cover to Cover......Do you love Me? Do you love Me? Do you love Me? John 21:15 and Peter answers: "What about John?" John 21:21
There is something that lingers with me from our chronological readings all week about what the people experienced. They were filled with awe. Do I have awe in my life over my God and the release of His Power? Acts 2:46, 47 means a lot to me today. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. I want to enjoy the favor of people not experience their silence or absence. This really meant something to me.
Jesus had just left them and one of his last words was that he left a "new" commandment. Not new in terms of time. But "new" in experience for them. It would be the Spirit of God pouring His love into them. We are totally dependent on His Spirit for life and love. Yet, why is our experience of love today so lackluster? Seems like there are so many programs to make Christianity work. So many principles to follow for blessings. But is it the love of my beautiful God that rules my heart? John 21:15 - "Simon, do you truly love Me"? Jesus asked three times, once for each of Peter's three denials. And our sweet LORD is asking each of us this very day. "Do you love Me?" I've thought so much about this verse over the past two years. What words come out of my mouth, out of my heart this day? Is it the love of my God that rules my heart? If not, celebrate. There is grace for our sin! The problem is our repentance is so shallow, so meager, so intermittent, so scattered, so distracted. Does love rule my heart more than the things of this world. Do we live for this world or another world?
In John 21:21, Peter says: "What about John"? This so happens to me. I look at my own spiritual growth and then look at others and say why can't I be validated like they are or successful like they are. And Jesus firmly said to Peter: "What's that to you? You follow Me."
The question for believers is no longer what will we do with this Jesus but the question becomes what will God do with us when we refuse to trust Him? Will I deal with my doubt and celebrate that there is grace for my sin? Again, some of his last words: "some still doubted but Jesus said: 'Go and make disciples...I am with you always.' " "Why are you troubled? Why do doubts arise in your mind? It is I myself! Touch me and see." Jesus is always inviting us to touch Him.
What is going on in me if my mind is not "open" to the Scriptures? Luke 24:45---Jesus opened their minds as they walked the Emmaus Road so that they could understand the Scriptures. Do I have not because I ask not, says James.
What I have loved about reading the Bible chronologically is such a picture of truth in the readings this week. Unlearned and untrained men walked with Jesus face-to-face. They doubted Him over and over, in their hearts and in the marketplace. Yet, when the Holy Spirit of God came on these same decrepit, doubtful, depressed, damaged disciples, they touched the Jesus that invited them to rely on His power. And He began working a work of faith with power. II Thes 1:11, 12---it's my prayer for you this day!
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 5:47 PM
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Just drove across the bridge here in the city where I sit on a dismal day. No sunlight in my home or heart, but it is morning and His mercy on me is brand new. Things haven't turned out like I had hoped they would. And I mean good things. So grateful to God for standing me up at this time in my life, for lifting my head in the midst of some bleak stuff. Much praise rising in my heart to Him for Who He is in my life and that when I turn to Him, He listens and loves. Morning has broken open, the birds are singing, the wind is whipping the leaves about, and parts of me feel like I could burst for my God is saying to me this bleary beautiful morn: "I have come to you." He doesn't leave us like orphans.
Here's my posting on what lingers with me from the chronological readings this week.
HAVE I FALLEN AWAY FROM GOD IN MY BUSY LIFE, IN MY BUSY THOUGHTS? There's a thread through my week tugging at my heart about "falling away from Me." Matt 26:31. The disciples sang a hymn with Jesus. Wonder what that was like. I so adore singing worship songs to my beautiful God. I love doing it with others! But I can't imagine standing there in His Presence singing it with Him, to Him, for Him. And the next words out of Jesus' mouth were:
"This night, you will all fall away from Me." I think people think that music sweeps away their sins. No, only repentance does. It's what we do with those things that bother us in the fray of our hearts.
IN THE MIDST OF MY CIRCUMSTANCES, AM I LIVING OUT OF A GOOD PLACE IN MY HEART? John 15:5 - "Apart from Me, you can do nothing." We think we can be overcomers and hold our heads high, and set out face like a flint to do the right things, and dig way down deep and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. But what does that count for? Apart from God, we can do nothing of value for eternity. We might look pretty good in this world. Maybe we are even successful in what we touch. But are we living life out of our old nature that we are so comfortable with or do we live out of our new nature. Seems to me that it gets mixed up. We are living out of the old and people see right through our arrogance, our pride. Yet, we think we are doing right. Apart from Christ, what we do amounts to nothing.
DO I BELIEVE THE MIRACLES I HAVE SEEN? This has been a difficult week for me. Extremely. So, how do I live and embrace what God has allowed, provided, planned, when it's not what I had hoped for. It's not what I thought I really needed. Here I am telling the God who hosts the starry skies tonight what I think I need. How arrogant of me! There's a thought in John 14:11 that has helped me in my dark week. "Believe in the miracles you have seen." I don't see any miracles in the place where I am tonight but I can believe in the Ones I have seen. And I can know way down deep that Jesus prayed for me this day "that my faith fail not." Luke 22:31.
And I just broke down and wept when Jesus said: “I won’t leave you as orphans. I will come to you.” I have felt like an orphan all of my life. I am an orphan this day having no parents. Never felt loved when I had them. But those five words just overwhelm me:I WILL COME TO YOU …
AM I IGNORING MY CIRCUMSTANCES OR EMBRACING AND ENTERING THE PLACE GOD HAS FOR ME? Luke 22:42 - I am so moved that even Jesus asked the Father if He was willing to take the cup from Him—-yet not my will, but Yours be done. Jesus didn’t deny the pain He faced but He embraced the will of the Father. May we not deny what we are in nor ignore it but enter and embrace what God has provided and willed for our lives.
DO YOU HEAR YOUR BEAUTIFUL GOD CALLING YOUR NAME TONIGHT? John 20:15 "Woman," Jesus said, "why are you crying?" He appeared to Mary but she thought He was the gardener. I wonder how many times I have missed my beautiful God thinking he was the gardener??? But when he said her name, she knew. God called my name this week as a sweet special ed student blew me a kiss goodbye. I'll never forget the moment. I had spent most of that day teaching fighting back the tears. And God so showed up for me.
I sit here in my pain with tears rolling down my cheeks knowing that my Jesus is calling my name, calling your name tonight. He is risen. He is alive. Apart from Him, we can't do anything that counts.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 8:48 PM
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Something happened to me yesterday that disappointed me beyond measure. I had been waiting for 5 months for an answer on an event that I thought would help me find my beautiful God in ways I have not. The answer came yesterday and it was "no." I had to embrace the loss and remain there not denying its existence nor feeding it with pleasure. Isaiah 40:1-4 are verses that have come to mean a lot to me this year. It seems to me that people deal with disappointment by pushing it down and trying to be an overcomer or saying I am going to accept that as my lot from God and move on or even try to explain it away. But I must face the disappointment, the loss, the hurt, and wrestle with my beautiful God Who has different plans for me. And as these verses in Isaiah say: He promises us that if we really want to know Him, then HE will lower our mountains and raise our valleys up so that we may know the God we so long for. The promise is not to fix our world, or give us the better life here, but to truly know Him. Yesterday I read the words of Jesus saying that if there was anyway, let this cup pass from Me. He was honest with right where He was. And He was God. He didn't say: "It's all right." "I'll be fine." "They can do to me whatever they want." No, He said, take it away. Then He stood to remain in the suffering and embrace God's will. May I stand today to remain in my suffering of disappointment. I do feel my valley has been raised a little overnight. I subbed and sobbed at a Special Ed Department yesterday with precious kids close to the heart of God. I asked my sovereign LORD to speak to me in my immense disappointment and He did: He spoke to me Isaiah 41:17 which says----I hear you Bev in your desert! I will make pools of water for you in your wilderness, for you who are needy at this moment. And He did. Yesterday, as my last student parted my presence, she turned back around to me on her crippled feet and threw me the biggest kiss ever using both of her crippled hands. It was straight from the mouth of my beautiful God!
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 9:53 AM
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
This post is being e-mailed to people in my address book AND I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO STOP IT!!! I've never seen that happen before! Is it a virus or what?? I apologize if it was e-mailed to you---not my intent. Here's the post: Well, my presidential candidate just lost and I am very sad this night because it seems to me that a race was not decided on issues. People do vote with their pocketbooks. "Personal peace and affluence" says Francis Schaeffer. But I may be wrong. But, I do know this...there are two kinds of people in the U.S. --- and it is not Democrats and Republicans. There are those who trust God and those who do not trust God. Nothing changed tonight. We still trust God and will pray for His Hand to be on our new president-elect and on our country and its leaders. Acts 11:21.
I just watched a video of McCain's concession speech and oh my was he ever gracious! I liked when he said that he has "no regrets." He so graciously thanked people who so served him---people like my daughter Blair in Washington DC who so serves her country. (She met Joe the Plumber while campaigning in Ohio yesterday. I have the photo on my laptop at school so I'll have to post the pic tomorrow.) And I love that McCain always talks about remaining a servant. And I liked that he said that "he holds in his heart a love for this country and its citizens." I hold him and his POW story in my heart! And then he wishes Obama godspeed! And tells us not to despair in our difficulties but never quit! Never hide in history---just make it. I only have a certain amount of time left in life---don't we all---but I don't want to spend my later years hiding in my heart, hiding in my house, hiding in my actions. So thrilled I am free tonight and becoming more free being redeemed from my old nature---if I can just keep recognizing it all the more as the Day draws near.
I had the privilege of teaching US History this very day and one of my students shared Psalm 75: 6,7 with me this morning as we talked about the election. And it is a verse that is very true as night falls on the close of an ordinary working day that will be chronicled in every history book forever. Praying for our new president for God's protection and presence in his life.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 11:41 PM
Sunday, November 2, 2008
19 days and this mom is counting. Brookie is flying home from Thailand for Thanksgiving. Barrett is in Korea racing and he'll be flying back soon and bringing sweet Lauren. Blair is flying in from DC and bringing her friend Patrick whom we have not met yet. The funny thing is that they all booked their flights to Dallas and we don't live there anymore! It will always be their home where they grew up.
Still struggling over here with some health issues. But for me these days, life isn't about solving problems and everything working out...it's all about trusting Him in the midst of what He is doing and what He has provided, no matter what. God is so showing up in Austin in the midst of some difficult times for me. Couldn't be more grateful for His Presence, His Power. Deut 4:37,38.
Three pictures linger with me from reading the chronological Bible this week.
1. Zaccheus Climbing a Tree. Luke 19:4. Am I climbing trees to find my God? Am I spiritually hungry like this guy? I think I am at times. And Jesus says in Luke 19:42: If you only knew what would bring you peace. I keep asking myself that question. What will bring me peace? Not solve my problems, my issues. There is one that looms too large. But how can I find my rest in Him in the midst of these difficulties. And in the midst of confusion--- just like the disciples who lived confused and Jesus was right there with them. John 12:16. Jesus didn't explain everything away to them. He let them wrestle with truth. May we wrestle well to find the escape from the anxieties of this life that He talks about in Luke 21:34. I think most of my anxiety stems from wanting to look good. As He said in Matt. 23:5 - "done for men." Looking good in the marketplace. Matt 23:7. There is so much put on us to be successful in the eyes of this world. So when the pressures hit this day, one question for me is what will my God do with me if I don't trust in His Goodness? He is waiting and watching at the bottom of the tree where a sinner sat looking for Him.
2. Jesus Washing Their Feet. John 13:14. Wash one another's feet. Do I assess whose feet I want to wash? It's a humbling thought. A pastor called me out of the audience to wash my feet. All I could do was weep. Washing feet doesn't make you clean on the inside. We can be righteous on the outside and not on the inside. Matt 23:28. We can give out of our poverty or wealth. Mark 12:44. Wonder what is going on inside of our minds and hearts this moment as we face our lives? Mean thoughts? Unkind words? Are we repenting of what is going on? Jesus tells us all we have to do is love. Can we do it without Him. We can do a lot without God but it means nothing, no eternal value. Are we giving out of our poverty or wealth? Are we sitting at the Lord's supper table clean on the inside? Life isn't about behavior modification. It's all about dealing with the fray of our heart and repenting from what's inside that makes us unclean---pride, self ambition, self obsessions. We so want to be saved from everything in this life. But Jesus said: "save me from this hour, NO, it was for this very reason I came to this hour." John 12:27. As we encounter the moments in our lives, may our eyes be opened to see what our beautiful God is doing in our lives and trust His goodness.
3. A Woman Pouring Perfume. He is a good God watching and waiting for us to return to Him in our every thought, our every move. Just like the woman who poured perfume on Him. Mark 14:6. A sinner who had repented. The perfume was worth one year's wage at that time. Oh my goodness! She did what she could! She responded to that prompting inside to lavish love without thinking about what others would think. She had no idea that she was preparing Him for His burial. She did know what the cost of her alabaster box was---she knew what she had been saved from! My prayer for you this week is that you love Him extravagantly!
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 10:55 PM
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Mum is still the word in Austin. I’ve never seen anything like it for homecoming attire! We had mums in high school but I thought they were extinct. Uh uh, not in Austin. One high school here raises $10,000 on their mum sales. The moms do it. Unbelievable. Britt is on his third homecoming in a row. Hyde Park’s was first with his new best friends and he got 2 mums---boy mums. Then Anderson was last week with faithful friends and now Lake Country this weekend with his forever friends.
We are in Fort Worth emptying our attics. My diligent oldest son plowed ahead of me and tossed about 20 garbage bags before I arrived. It was good. The verse I read this morning said: "Say good-bye to your possessions if you want to be my disciple." Ooooh.
So what lingers with you as you read the Bible this week? We've had quite a bout with strept and are still recovering. Thank you so much for your prayers! You move the hands of God. God acts in our behalf and He has certainly shown up in this place this week. Couldn't be more awed and grateful!
HOW CAN I UNWRAP THOSE WHO ARE BOUND?…..There are some words in John 11:43 that will remain with me for the rest of my life. It’s the beautiful story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. “Come out Lazarus!” So we know Lazarus could walk but his hands and feet and face were wrapped with laboriously heavy strips of linen. Some say they weighed over fifty pounds. And Jesus said to Lazarus’ mother and friends: “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:44. Lazarus rose from the dead but he needed someone to help him take off what still had him bound. Aren’t we like that? Jesus frees us up but yet we still need others. And I love thinking that Jesus wants us to go around taking the grave cloths off of our friends and family who are bound. Ever wonder how to do that??
WHAT WOULD JESUS SAY TO ME IF HE WALKED INTO THE ROOM RIGHT NOW?
Would He tell you how disappointed He was in you? Would He rebuke you and throw over your table? No, if you are alive to Him, then Luke 15:20 - The father was filled with compassion and He ran to His son and threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And the son’s reply is probably what you and I would say this day if we are sitting in our sin, in our old natures…we’d say “I have sinned in your Sight.” But our Father is saying: You are alive in Me. You are found. You are known. He knows our frame. He surrounds us with His compassion and love. What a Father! So what would He say to you if He walked in right now?
WHAT IF I CRY OUT CONSTANTLY? Will not our beautiful God give justice if we cry out to Him day and night?? Luke 18:7. That verse so speaks to me to be like that persistent widow bothering the judge, and not stop crying out to my God Who will fight for me. I really need Him so for no man can fill the hole in my heart.
WHAT ABOUT THE MIRACLES GOD HAS DONE FOR YOU? Think about those many many miracles God has performed in you and through you. Just this weekend, something happened that could only be explained in terms of God did it! You know what I mean. John 5:38 says to believe the miracles and you will find your beautiful God there.
WHAT IF I AM TERRIFIED OUT OF MY MIND OVER STUFF? I spent so many many years of my life being terrified of my brother. When you witness the violence that I did, if I think that I have to protect myself in life, then we really are in trouble. God spoke to me through John 5:28 that "no one can snatch me out of His Hand.” No one!
WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO FOR YOU? Mark 10:36. Jesus asked this question to the disciples. He is asking the same question to you and to me this very night. The sons of Zebedee replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory." There have been too many times I have asked for the same thing. God, don't let me fail. Let me have success in your ministry, in this life. Let my book sell. Let people respond to me. Let me end my life with a successful ministry bringing many people to You. Sounds great. But is it for God's glory or our own measure. Jesus came not only to be ministered unto but to minister to others. Mark 10:45.
Have a great week filled with His Presence and His Power, Deut 4:27. May we recognize when we are living in our old nature. May your Counselor, the Holy Spirit, let you know. We don't have to dig. He'll pierce and melt and blast and comfort our hearts! Looking forward to what only HE can do in our lives this week.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 9:56 PM
Monday, October 20, 2008
Monday Morning Cover to Cover.............5 Loaves and 2 Fish and a beautiful God shows up - Mark 6:41
At 1:45pm on Friday, I swallowed and it happened in one swallow, one second. It was like fireworks burst in my throat. I am not being dramatic this time. I experienced the most horrible pain in my throat ever as an adult. My teaching job ended at 2:00pm and I went straight to one of those Minute Clinics and got an antibiotic. I remember having strept throat as a kid but it was nothing like this. A couple of days later and the severe throat pain has subsided but now I have a pain in my back that is simply excruciating. Plus I am still hobbling around on my foot with plantars fasciitis. The verses we read this week mean a lot to me as I face some small pervasive trials.
Matthew 11:28 lingers with me from our reading the chronological readings this week. I am weary and burdened not only physically but with another trial I am facing in my heart. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." I need to find that place of rest in this scared heart of mine today. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." I weep as I read these words. They are so for me and so full of hope.
Just as Jesus said to Martha in Luke 10:41 - you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. That's all I need to hear. That's where I need to go. My beautiful God is saying "Come closer." My God wants me to see things more clearly. Two and one-half years ago, I sat in church and my pastor shared a verse that we read this week—Mark 8:24. The blind man was touched by Jesus. What do you see? “I see people—they look to me like trees walking.” I prayed that day that I could see more clearly my Lord and my life for I knew I had been touched by God for the 30 years I followed Him but there were some areas in my life I just couldn't see clearly nor get victory in those areas of self hatred and ambivalence and a poor self image. Three days later, news would come that devastated me and we left the church and friends who loved us and whom we loved so very much. God was healing me and helping me to see more clearly. Sometimes suffering brings sight and release that I would have never found in safety.
Life is hard to understand at times. Are we seeking Him for what He can do for us or just because we love Him so much and want to be in a relationship with Him, no matter what He does for us or through us or in us. Matt 6:26, 27 - "Are you seeking Me because you saw signs or because you ate your fill of the loaves and you want more?" Sometimes I am working way too hard for the food that perishes. "Labor for the food that endures to eternal life."
And I'll end with a story that will remain with me for the rest of my life. It's the story of 5 loaves and 2 fish. Mark 6:41,42. There are areas of my life that unless my beautiful God shows up and changes the 5 loaves and 2 fish into a miracle, then I'll never change. My prayer for you today is this story--- that the God who can feed over 10,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish is the same God present for you this moment in whatever you face. May you be filled with His Power and His Presence to believe Him and enter a rest you know not.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 12:51 PM
Monday, October 13, 2008
Monday Morning Cover to Cover........Blessed is the One Not Offended by Me - Matt 11:6...always Go to Him not just studying diligently - John 5:39
We just walked by the light of the moon. Incredible clouds. Round full moon. My husband by my side. A prayer that we walk and live "all in." And I thought about Jesus walking by the light of the moon only. And to think he placed us at this moment in history and in this privileged country. I wonder why sometimes for we have so much in comparison to so many. Jesus is asking us "What do we want?" and I am asking Him tonight "What does HE want of me?"
I tried to move our Monday Morning bible study Cover to Cover reading through the Bible chronologically to another new blog. Blogger set up a violation block on it. They lifted it or so it seems but I cannot get it to work...so we are moving back here on Monday mornings. I think Karen will be glad! Here's my Monday morning post...
If you dropped by for Monday Morning Cover to Cover, here is what lingers with me after reading the chronological readings for this week. To watch Jesus walking through his life in four gospels at the same time...ooohhh! It seems like his public ministry all happened so fast. How could the disciples grasp in their hearts what they had just witnessed this week:
the funeral of a widow's only son being reversed,
and Jairus' dead daughter rising up from the dead and
a very sick woman touching His Hem and being healed.
And at that same moment,they were burying a headless John the Baptistwhile his mother Elizabeth grieved for the loss of her son.
Matthew 7:13 so lingers with me through life. We read it this week: "Enter through the narrow gate…small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Only a few find it. Only a few find life. What does it take to be that few? I don’t want to miss God in my life. I’m looking for that narrow road where it’s not about saying and doing the right things but it’s all about being with HIM, no matter what. No matter if he heals my sickness or not; raises my dead or not; rescues me from my prison or not. What HE has called us to is impossible—it's just not possible to love our enemies, to take the log out of my own eye. But HE can and can make me want to. Where’s that narrow road that leads to life? I think a lot of Christians think they are on that narrow road---and they are really living for this world and for themselves. How tragic if we spend our lives and miss it. But, all I can do is deal with fray of my own heart on my narrow road---and it's not a road paved with success and numbers and performance. No, it's a single surreal road of suffering, silence, and surrender in the Presence of Holy, Almighty God.
"Out of the abundance of whatever is in our heart, our mouth speaks." Luke 6:45. Pay close attention what comes out of your mouth. Let your sin surprise you and take the log out of your own eye. Luke 6:42. I’m speaking to myself.
Jesus said to the Roman soldier in John 4:48, do you want signs and miracles so you can believe? Or do we just take Him at His Word? “Blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.” Matthew 11:6. And whatever our beautiful God chooses to do or not do. John was in prison and sent word to Jesus—”Are you the One?” Wonder if John held hope that Jesus would free him from the prison bars because, after all was said and done, John was there for the cause of Jesus and His mission. I can’t help but think that John had to entertain thoughts that Jesus would free him. Jesus answered John: “What you hear (about ME) and see—the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.” It’s all true John, says Jesus. I am the ONE. And blessed is the One who is not offended by me and what I am about to do for you. Jesus didn’t free John from the prison. He didn’t rescue John. John was beheaded, his head on a platter at the request of a vicious seductive woman.
And what did Jesus say of John? Matthew 11:11 “Among those born of women, there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” I make decisions so pitifully by observation of what I see. Jesus loves me if life happens this way. If not, I am not loved. Did Jesus love John? Oh my! I don’t want to maneuver through life trying to make it work and find happiness. I want to lose my life for the sake of Christ, no matter what! So what does that mean for me this morning? Am I offended by what Christ is doing or not doing for me on that narrow path. How am I interpreting my life circumstances?In the parable of the sower in Matt 13:15, I think that I sometimes read the Bible thinking that if I do this, then God will do this. But the context of this story is John in prison asking Jesus if He was the one and the will of God was to leave John in prison—-YET John could be free even in prison, couldn’t he? Our circumstances working out do not make us free. It’s what is in our heart. “For this people’s heart has become calloused;they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes." I need to humble myself today and deal with my heart. So how do I do that? God just brought to my mind something to do, something to believe. I will. Otherwise, I might not see with my eyes cause all my eyes see is that things aren't coming together well. Otherwise, I might not hear with my ears cause what my ears here is that I am not doing the right things. Otherwise I might not understand with my heart so I’ll go find the will of my beautiful LORD for this day. I probably am not making sense but I’m struggling through this chapter on a narrow road, and trying to lay it before Him Who is Unseen on this narrow road.
It so grabs me that Jesus explained the parables privately to his disciples. Wonder what He is explaining to us privately in our own lives—are we listening? Am I lifting my hand to touch the hem of His garment? I'm invited this day to touch the hem on this narrow road. I am not alone. Mark 5:36 has lingered with me over decades. It’s one of those verses I think about constantly on the narrow road. He has brought me through much. Mark 5:36 says: "Only believe." Translated: Keep on Believing. It’s progressive tense. Not just for one time. Jairus knew his daughter was dead. He had to walk with Jesus to his home—it was a journey that would take longer than a day. Wonder what Jesus told him as they walked. We think of things happening instantly in time but this miracle happened a couple of days after she died. Some of you know the desperation you face when your children die. I was pregnant with a child and had to check myself into a hospital for them to take my baby’s life or we would both die. You could have heard my heaving crying as I sat alone in the ER waiting room while people stared at me. When I got to my hospital bed, I smoothed out the sheets and prayed to my beautiful God that He sit in that bed with me and help me face my unwanted sorrow, my incredible loss, cause the pain was unbearable for me. My God was there but He didn't take away my sorrows---He helped me enter them. This father in this story trusted blindly wildly humbly in abandonment. As we face our circumstances, may we find the courage to live out God’s will on the narrow path He has us on, not our own will.
And I will end with John 5:39 ---so powerful. I think there are many who believe that if you study the Word of God, you will have life. The verse says: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” We have to go to God Himself, the Living Word! Matthew 10:38 - Anyone who loves his father or mother or son or daughter more than Me as he walks on his narrow road is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” I wonder if too many people today are trying to find their life on a narrow road. The only way we will find life of that narrow road is to lose our lives for His Sake. So what does that look like in your life today?
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 9:01 PM
Sunday, October 5, 2008
* Still hobbling around. Think I may have plantar fasciitis. It's called flip flop fasciitis. I've had to retire the sandals. I so miss walking/jogging. Some days I can barely hobble.
* Went to hear Chris's band at Gateway. Oh my goodness. I was the only one there taking notes from a band while tears streamed down. They sang this Switchfoot song that so stirred my heart! "Meant to Live for So Much More." I have so been thinking about that lately that there is so much more.
* If you dropped by for Monday Morning Cover to Cover, I have moved it to:
Come on over and visit us there. There are 20 of us who are reading the New Testament chronologically together. You are always welcome to join us at any time. I won't be posting cover to cover here anymore but you can find us
DAILY at http://engagethejourney08.wordpress.com/ and every
MONDAY at http://covertocoverchronologically.blogspot.com
* A new friend took me to lunch. The Oasis. If you ever visit here, that's where I am taking you. It's the sunset capital of Texas. The waitstaff applaud at sunset. Wonder if they know Who they are applauding. It's spectacular sunsets like in a Mediterranean setting over Lake Travis.
* Our renter in Fort Worth bailed on us---wasn't what he wanted. So there we stood last Saturday with Macy, our dog, home alone in an empty house. Bob made a quick run to pick her up and brought her here to Austin. Our pastor's family babysat her for this week---is that unbelievable that they did that or what??? We cannot have animals where we live. She is back home with Barrett today who flies in from France
* Speaking of Barrett...my son is home from his long stay in France and this mom is so happy he's here in Texas. He's actually been at a race in China so we're so glad to have him back. Hop on a train and come visit us!!! Hint hint hint....
* Our finances kind of dipped this past week with all our start up stuff and I still had no job. So, here comes in the mail a huge check from a past employer and another huge check from an unexpected friend. I was so humbled by our good sovereign God. I read yesterday in Matthew 6 that life is not about blessings and money but it's all about putting first things first.
* I have a job!!! Oh, I am so very grateful! It has been six weeks of waiting. Finally was approved on Friday to work for the Austin ISD as a substitute teacher. I start tomorrow. Thought I could work like right away when I got here so that has set us back. No surprise to God---He provided in another way and taught me much along that way.
* The move here has probably been a little harder on me than my boys. Bob goes to his church every day surrounded by staff and people. Britt is at a great school that he loves and has made many "besties." I've been at home for the past six weeks and it's harder to meet people. I do already have precious friends but a lot is so unfamiliar to me. But God has been so very real to me in all of this. So grateful for His Presence. As I glance back on what I left behind and the loss is real, I can't help but see the beautiful peace that God has brought to me and is bringing to me. A rendezvous with rest that I've not known. A little bit of a shift is happening over here! Only God can do that!
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 10:54 PM
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Monday Morning Cover to Cover.....the Lord is my Keeper - Psalm 121:5 and my feet are standing - Psa 122:2 so look til He Has Mercy on Me Psa 123:2
This will be my last post for Cover to Cover on this blog. I am MOVING Cover to Cover Monday Morning New Testament readings to another blog. I’m moving Cover to Cover to: http://covertocoverchronologically.blogspot.com/ You can also access it through my profile.
We finished reading the Old Testament this week. Nine months of lingering in the Word of God that changed our lives. It is not the word that changed our lives, it is the Person behind the words Who changed us all---The Living Word!. The psalmist wrote that His Word was like oxygen to us; like a hammer that broke our rocks to pieces; like a healing balm; and like melting snow melting our hearts. He sent His Word to us and healed us because we are greatly loved (Daniel 9:23). And, His Seal is on it. What a privilege to have journeyed with those of you who blogged on Monday mornings. You have no idea how much your comments have brought God to me! I cannot thank you enough for the challenge and encouragement of reading through the Old Testament chronologically with me. Please share with us for the last time on our journey through the OT, what lingers with you from this week.
If one word lingers with me from this week’s chronological readings, it is KEEPER. Psalm 121:5. “The LORD is your Keeper.” HE keeps me together when I have weeks like the one I’ve had. HE keeps me from all evil though HE allows some. HE keeps my life. HE keeps my going out and my coming back in. When I feel so lost, I can know, there is Someone Who is not sleeping tonight. He’s wide awake keeping my life. That so speaks to my moment. Psalm 122:2 – MY FEET ARE STANDING all because of my Keeper. Only HE could have done that from whence I came! Psalm 123:2 – So my eyes look to the LORD til HE has mercy on us. HAVE MERCY on me, o My God!
I went through a severe depression a couple of years ago and could not even stand up physically for a few weeks. But my beautiful God intervened and literally stood me up again. One verse He spoke to me through was: Psalm 147:10-11----His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. It’s not about how strong I am; it’s all about how strong HE is in me. The joy of the LORD is my strength. Neh 8:10. You could hear the sound of their rejoicing for miles away, they had such great joy – Neh 12:43. Wonder what sound comes from my life? God is not committed to our comfort; He is so committed to our deep joy in HIM.
Another verse in our chronological readings this week was one I remember well from a day of desperation about 15 years ago---I was freaking out over life, came to God, and randomly opened the Bible to that unknown verse…. Joel 2:12-13 “Return to me with all your heart…REND YOUR HEART, not your garment.” Don’t pull your hair out of your head, Bev. Live broken before ME and deal with the fray of your own heart. Who knows? He may turn and have pity. But, how I LOVE my Lord’s answer: I am sending you enough to satisfy you fully. I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—my great army that I sent among you Joel 2:25. That so makes me think of Job and how God restored what His great Army took away. Yes, the day of the LORD is coming and I so want to live this day like it is. So what needs to go? Something has ruled my heart more than the Love of my God this week. I’m seeing it for what it is…and laying it down.
And our OT readings end in the Book of Malachi. “Guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with your wife.” Mal. 2:16 You have not set your hearts to honor your God. The LORD is listening and hears you as you talk with each other. A scroll of remembrance is being written in His Presence--- Mal. 3:16.
And so the OT closes with a prophecy: “The Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in its Wings.” Mal. 4:1. It will be 400 years of silence after these inspired words fell on open ears. Waiting for the Sun.
If you would like to be a part of reading the New Testament chronologically with us, join us daily at Engage The Journey starting Sunday September 28th and ending December 31st. Come visit the blogsite at http://engagethejourney08.wordpress.com/ and take a look. You can blog daily with this online community and read or listen to the daily readings online. You don't even have to comment---we just want you to be in the Word with us if you are available. The blog has been a powerful tool to connect with our beautiful God Who is bending low to each of you. Then, on Monday mornings, you can weekly share one or two thoughts that LINGER with you from your readings on my new blog http://covertocoverchronologically.blogspot.com/ I’ll still be here with my “take” on life on this personal blog so I’m not moving, just Cover to Cover on Monday mornings is moving to another blog.
Please e-mail me (sixbrandons(at)sbcglobal.net) if you would like to participate in the chronological NT readings. Go to http://engagethejourney18.wordpress.com/ and take a look. This is not an accountability group. It is an invitation to read the Word together and ask God to show you what lingers in your heart. Malachi 4:1---surely the day of the LORD is coming and the Sun of Righteousness is so rising on you with healing!
Let me hear from you! Call or e-mail (cell numbers are listed at the bottom of my e-mails) with any questions. I’ve made this post way-too-long. I so want you to be in the Word of God and if this is for you, let me know.
Those of you who have journeyed through the Old Testament chronological readings, leave a comment here and tell us what it has meant to you. We are servants for the knowledge of the Truth which leads to godliness, changed lives---Titus 1:1-3. You are not the same person you were when you started nine months ago!
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 6:47 AM
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Came over a hill and it was the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen in my few weeks in Austin. Spectacular! How can you not believe when you witness God's hand writing on the heavens. I gasped. Nature so stirs something so deep in me these days. As if God were saying, just for you and all the Austinites.
One of my favorite things in my short repertoire in town is walking Town Lake's 3-mile jaunt. The first time I went with a friend, I asked her if they were having a race that Monday morning. I have never seen so many scores of runners and walkers on a trail. It was a normal day at noon. I cannot believe the number of people who "workout" here!
Couldn't wait to walk this a.m. with a friend! I've kind of had a weird pain in my heel, right at the back of my arch, for about two months now but it always subsides when I exercise. Not this morning. Something happened and since that moment, I cannot put any weight on my foot. Crawled to dinner, fixed compliments of my husband. Oh dear me. I do hope this is really short-lived, like overnight. I feel weird asking for prayer for a heel ---but hey, I can't walk. And why would I be embarrassed about asking for prayer for a heel injury or for anything? Some things seem trivial, like heels. Really appreciate your prayers.
Every night about this time, God forces us to stop what we are doing and rest---sleep. We can't go without it. But when we are forced to rest in the daytime, there is something inside of me that feels trapped with all I have to do. Guess it doesn't have to be done, does it? The boxes to unpack will wait. I might miss the wedding this weekend. What does my God want of me? A rendezvous with Rest in my heart I know not.
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 9:13 PM
Monday, September 22, 2008
My car battery is deader than a door nail on MOPAC. Husband is out of town. Kid needs to get to school---no car. Called a new friend. They not only loaned me a mini-van, they REPLACED and FIXED the corroded connector. Things happen when my husband goes out of town. Seems like the enemy of my soul is trying to discourage me. I don't want to live self obsessed about my needs in a new town. Have been on my face asking God to put closure on my past life of 33 years. We left town so quickly. Moved in a micro minute to MOPAC. Didn't get to say goodbye to so many people I truly loved. I'll be honest---it's really difficult. I'll be humble---my beautiful God is so present, how can I complain about anything.
We went with new friends to the UT football game (TU for Brookie). Woohoo! 97,000 people there...an ocean of orange (and I was in the wrong color). Behind me, I heard a couple talking about church planting. I could see the wife's pink shirt out of the corner of my eye. I liked her spunk instantly. I was curious, so I stole a peek to see if their faces were young or old. OH MY! It was a couple we so love that we haven't seen in maybe 20 years. We exchange Christmas cards every year and have kept up by snail mail. Boomer Sooner graduates and friends from our former church in Fort Worth---they had gone to Nebraska to plant a church there. One of their kids was an Aggie and the others were Huskers and Sooners. Right smack behind me---the aggiesoonerhuskermom were AGGIESOONERHUSKERparents. We caught up on our children who are about the same age.
Then the guy said to me something I don't think I'll forget for a long time! I'll think about it every time I pass that UT Stadium and every time I say "Hook 'em Horns" (and according to Brookie, that may not be often). The guy leaned over to my ear and said: I just asked God why he would put you in front of us with 97,000 other people here. HE said to tell you that people from your past really care about you. In light of the silence in my life, I can't tell you how much that meant to me from my beautiful God. This guy had no idea what he was saying to me that would sink so deep in me (Psalm 51:6). So deep.
We can't define our story by how people deal with us. We can't define our lives by our circumstances. I cannot define success by measurable results like numbers and noses.
Today is our 29th anniversary with my sweetheart. I get so nostalgic and evaluative. What have we built together. Maybe I should say what has God done in our hearts---oh my, that is so HUGE! New hearts! I can define my life by the peace I have in my heart that no man can steal; the rendezvous with Rest I know that is so real. The Presence of our beautiful LORD that is worth more than anything this life gives to me. Happy Anniversary to a sacrificial unselfish surrendered guy that I have the privilege of walking alongside for three decades now---he's the real thing. I know.
God sent His word and gave some perspective to me in that UT stadium, and I think a little bit of healing occurred at that Longhorn game. I barely knew who they were even playing, but it was one of those games I'll remember for the rest of my life. He so stirred my heart for His world! Take my eyes off of myself and revive me in your ways! Psalm 119:37
Posted by Bev Brandon @ The Fray at 9:00 AM