Wednesday, May 25, 2016

He hears you

Do you mean to correct what I say, and treat my desperate words as wind? You would even cast lots for the fatherless and barter away your friend.  Job 6:26-27
We all want to be heard, for our ideas to be valued. But when we feel unheard, especially by friends, and family our heart can slump into an unhealthy posture of dejection.  From time to time we all need correction, but not to the point of contempt, where it seems like every time we open our mouth, we feel under attack. There was a season in my life and work where I felt totally unheard. My supervisor acted deaf. The intimidation and innuendos were painful to my heart and almost damaging to my very soul (thank God I knew how to do as David and encourage myself in the Lord). Eventually, we parted ways.  
Job finds himself in a situation where he feels totally on the outside of a relationship that once throbbed with passion and possibilities. He tries to reason with an unreasonable person, his friend Eliphaz but, Job’s integrity is on the defensive. Like a swirling wind captures a feather, once Job’s words cross his lips, they are swept away and dismissed by a mind already made up. He tries to claw back with a straightforward and stingingly accurate civil discourse. Job learns: unfair accusations need to be addressed with a prayerful, direct response. Integrity hears first, then speaks (See Proverbs 10:9).  
Do you feel unheard, misunderstood or misrepresented? If so, be patient, pray, don’t become like the one who makes you feel undone. Ask the Lord what He wants you to learn. As you experience a crucible of sadness, seek quiet but honest introspection. Ask the Spirit to burn away the unnecessary and leave only what’s necessary for Christ’s purposes. By faith you learn to scale the mountain of God’s will in the valley of death to self. Humility listens and learns.
By God’s grace, seek to speak the truth with patient, defenseless clarity. Integrity has nothing to prove, only to lean into its proven track record of submission to Jesus. Chronic, non verbal passivity only compounds a communication break down. Instead, courageously practice saying what you feel like the young people say: "Say it with your chest!!". Always remember that an unheard heart must express its deep desire for an honest hearing. God always hears you.
Our Prayer:  Lord, thank You for hearing our heart so we have the boldness to share our heart amen.

Pastor Todd A. Brown
New Mount Zion Baptist Church
The greatest ability is availability

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Is it time to let go?

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
The writer of Ecclesiastes follows the verse above with a list of seasons, or “times,” such as birth and death, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing. He even includes “a time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted.”

I don’t know about you, but I remember when I was growing up in West Chester Pa. I didn't enjoy plucking up weeds and doing yardwork even though it was a necessity of growing up in the Brown household. Though I did not enjoy it I have learned a lot from it (thanks Mom and Dad). First of all, it takes time, and second, it can be taxing, and sometimes painful to pluck and uproot things. You know what I mean. You have a relationship or friendship God is asking you to relinquish. Sure, He planted it in a past season of your life, and it served its purpose. But now He is asking you to uproot it because He wants to do something different. Or perhaps God is saying about your job, “Let it go. I want to uproot it. I’ve got a new assignment for you.” Oh, but we’re so slow to let go because it can be painful, inconvenient, and sometimes just plain hard work (like mulching) But what do we forfeit if we insist on holding on to the old things that either we or God planted in old seasons?

When we refuse to let go, we forfeit the peace of knowing we are following Christ no matter what. We forfeit the joy we experience of being used by Him. Thankfully, we can rest assured of one thing: God never asks us to uproot anything in our lives without a reason and a plan. And He is faithful. He always asks because He wants to plant some kind of new seed to bring about a good change. 
Are you afraid to pluck up something even though its season in your life is over? Yes, you can be sure moving into the unknown with God will never be comfortable, but it will always be right, and great in the end.  You’ll know you’re exactly where you need to be. I encourage you to get out your spiritual gardening gloves today and get to plucking if that’s what God is calling you to do. 

Our Prayer:  Lord, please give the courage to follow you by letting go of anything you ask to that your will and what you ask may be accomplished Amen.

Pastor Todd A. Brown
New Mount Zion Baptist Church, Orangeburg SC
The greatest ability is availability

Monday, May 2, 2016

The best advice

I [Christ] counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Revelation 3:18
The advice of well meaning people is not always best. They advise when we should buy or sell something, or borrow money: when we should save money or save more money, when we should give more money. In the case of a relationship, when we should give it a second chance or continue in a relationship, or when we should break it off. When we consider changing jobs, when we should stay or remain in a job, when we should change jobs. Sincere counsel that sounds right, may not be the best advice. Only Christ gives counsel that is accurate and true all of the time.
In the book of Revelation, Jesus’ very insightful counsel exposes the church’s inability to see its unhealthy condition. His remedy is the application of His Spirit’s salve to reveal their need to be clothed in righteousness. Those who recognize their needy state are in a position to receive counsel, but those stuck in denial live in a dream like delusional state, and in a perpetual state of pain. Money can mask issues, but eventually severe dysfunction drives people and organizations to recognize their sickly condition. The longer the delay, the harder it is to fully recover. Only that which is birthed and provided by the Spirit can truly satisfy the thirsty soul. 
Wealth of heart gets to the heart of what our Lord desires most for us. Riches can be a roadblock to relationships or can provide additional options for spiritual and emotional growth. Abundance is the asset our generous God offers to His children. Abundance of life, relationships and all we need and desire to live a fulfilling life. The riches of Christ are not without cost. As our faith is tried by the fires of adversity and success we remain faithful to be a channel of the Lord’s acceptance, intimacy and fruitfulness. The best advice comes from our God’s wisdom.
Beloved are you open to advice? Have you truly humbled yourself to admit you are in need of help from God and others? Remember, more money is not the answer to issues that set up residence in the heart. The closer a person is to an issue, the harder it is for them to see the best solution.  Faith takes a step back and invites in a third party to help parse the problem and provide good and wise counsel. The best counsel comes from our Savior Jesus Christ. What does He think about your situation? How does Jesus want to love you in your pain? Listen to the Lord, look around to see Him at work, and receive His best advice.

Our prayer:  Father give us an attentive ear, attentive, and humble spirit to receive the full counsel of your Spirt Amen.

Pastor Todd A. Brown
"The best ability is availability"