Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Charles H. Spurgeon
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
too often people get burnt in prosperity teaching trying to fake it until they are tired of putting on the smile anymore. Proclaim it, but trust and live it so that whether it comes now or in heaven, you will make it.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
That's my question for Christians after reading today. They were always being brought to Jesus as i am reading so you couldn't be stuck on being high profile and high maintenance and hangout with Jesus all the time. But often that is how we ask God for our lives to look. Do we have a double standard in our lives sometimes?
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
I have had the privilege of growing up in the church and being a Christian most of my life. There are so many life changing amazing things that God does in our lives, but we can also become unaware of the common weakness and blindspots that can also appear.
We can forget to focus on the unseen and only focus on what is seen/temporary and begin to act as the blind if we are not careful
1 Jn 2:15-17
These are some Bad habits we can sink into:
1. Skipping over Scriptures
a. Memorization Mumble- mumble through words to get to a point
b. Skim- Skim the verses in a book to get to what the author has to say
c. Danger: Not Reflecting on the Living Words of God you have heard to allow His words to change and speak to you in a new way
2. Believing but not heeding Scripture
a. Pride- We have heard it and already know what it says
b. Bad assumption: that "since we have heard, we are living it out" when a lot of times we have heard but not fully changed and obey what we have heard
3. Putting Extra Guilt/ Rules on Christianity that God never did
a. We Often turn God’s Tools into Rules (Bible, prayer, church, etc.)
4. Forgetting the Purpose of what We Do
a. Church/Read/Pray/etc. We get to MEET with JESUS!
b. The Powerful Mystery of Prayer.
c. Loss of Perspective can lead to being Guilt Driven or blind instead of appreciative of serving opportunities.
This is not a criticism of all Christianity, this is a reflection to make sure we are aware of potential blindspots.
Sunday, July 03, 2011
Need vs. Wants
needs- something necessary to have an acceptable quality of life.
wants- something good but unnecessary to have an acceptable quality of life.
I do struggle at times with what we call needs in our culture or at least with what the media wants us to belief are needs. Computers/nice cell phones/TV/own car/insurance/nice makeup/etc. Our society and jobs can almost force these things to be needs, but in no way are they directly necessary to having a better "quality of life." They are wants they market as needs so that we buy them and feel like we can't live without them. It is not that these things are not good and that we can't consider them a blessing to be thankful for, but i do wonder
At what point do the goods become a Trap instead of a Blessing?
I personally like the simplicity of less technology instead of more even though i use it a lot. So it was hard for me to see people wanting to get back to their phones and facebook even before we had left Jamaica as though it was their lifeline to survival. I know it is good to want to be in others lives, but it is almost like we have made it a necessity to be able to reach each other at any time and to be able to keep up and know what everyone's doing at all times through text, twitter, and fb newsfeeds. But i constantly wonder when does this become a distraction and more noise to keep us from God? it also makes me think that we may be
Once again as you saw in my previous post, i am very thankful for convenience. At the same time, I think our American culture is constantly elevating convenience and worldly security to a higher and sometimes completely unhealthy need when it is really a luxury or want. We have to have a TV & cable in our house even though it would be cheaper going to a friends or restaurant when i wanted to watch something. We have to be able to track or be able to contact our kids everywhere for their own safety even though kids have continued to survive for thousands of years compared to our 20 years of cell phones being around. We have to have a cell phone instead of a land line because if people can't reach us, how will survive (see last sentence). Which brings me to my next question,
Are We Security Consumed?
One I struggle with sometimes is insurance. I don't think those houses in Jamaica have insurance on them. I am not sure about the cars. I don't think the families in Jamaica have insurance for their family. yet the culture continues on. Yes, on the opposite end i didn't get to see but i heard the hospitals were a place to be avoided and that our team walked away so thankful for what we do have, so don't get me wrong. I'm so thankful on some level for our system. But i still have to ask in my head, Is all the different insurances i pay for really necessary and are all the ways we want to protect our kids and families necessary? or are they also luxuries and wants that we have convinced or trapped ourselves into believe are necessities we stress over rather than luxuries to leave behind or be extra thankful for?
Saturday, July 02, 2011
- My own personal car- they can be lucky to have a family car, if not just taxi $, let alone each individual in the family owning a car
- Money to get to school and eat
- Parents who made Access to education (taxi's/uniform) possible
- Pastors able to be themselves- Sounds like their are some pretty strict rules of a religion rather than relationship put on pastors at times in Jamaica
- Urinals that don't splash
- Toilets that aren't falling apart
- Air conditioning
- Easily accessible Hot water
- Clean hospitals
- Reliable Car
- Washing machine
- Safety on roads
- Unending supply of water
- Less bug spray needed
- More Value in Families with one mom and dad
- Plumbing instead of Water in barrels
- Comfortable houses
- Proximity- churches/school close enough to get to
- Christian culture- the non-pressure to lose my virginity
- Not having Innocence lost- falling into bad circumstances early because of poverty
- Trash service- there is not a lot of recycling and mainly have burn piles there
- Nice Grocery stores
- That I was Taught/know how to swim/I met a few adult Jamaicans who were scared of the ocean or couldn't swim
- Not worried about having to be darker/lighter skin color for prejudice reasons
- Having a Christian community/good church back home
- Beau at Faith Church (Jim and Penny expressed their appreciation of his support)
- Lack of Accusations- against what I've done in ministry so far
- Lack of Distrust in the local church- I hear of a lot of people who don't trust the church anymore, but despite its flaws and humanity, i still have a wholehearted hope for its people.
- Cell phone
- How much money needs to be spent on securities
Friday, July 01, 2011
Unity- God really brought our two groups together(MI/CA & NC) and allowed us to mesh and encourage each other, Jim & Penny, & others in an amazing way!
Testimonies- We had testimonies share in the circle of where people were coming from in our team circle that cannot be shared but it was amazing to see who God had brought on this trip and how people were growing and giving even from some pretty dark past scenarios. Its fun to see God stretch people. Stories of past failures, current struggles, and future fears were all shared and prayed over.
Ian- (Jamaican below in the background) I had a really great conversation about what it means to be a light in dark places as a Christian and what it means to be a Christian. He considered himself a believer but not a baptized Christian since he had 4 girlfriends at the time (which I don't believe is right, but is more of a common practice in Jamaica from what i am told). It Was a really good conversation for me to share about saving myself for marriage and what it means to try and be to living a life of purity as a Christian guy in every aspect of my life. It was the first time i have actually been straight up laughed at by a group of guys for still being a virgin! Apparently, Reggae is connected with the "party scene" of Jamaica and once you become a baptized Christian from Ian's perspective, you will be judged harshly if someone who knew you to be a Christian were playing that kind of music out of your house. Interesting.
was riding by on his bike and seeing a group of us reading by the beach, he asked me, "What are you all studying?" I was able to tell him it was the Bible and slowly the conversation switched from small talk to me being able to ask him what it meant for him to get back into the habit of following God, since he said he had fallen out of the habit of church or praying. I suggested that while "he was riding his bike by the water would be a fantastic time to think about God and pray." I hope our conversation reminds him to do that.
Rosa- Was the mom who we helped rebuild her house(top picture). She had such a great attitude and was so thankful and optimistic about the future and her next steps from what others told me, despite living in such simple conditions. A blessing to be apart of helping and to see.
Also, Erika told me she counted 27 answered prayers over the trip as she looked back. I can't wait to hear all of them, but this was my starting list, although it doesn't even begin to scratch the surface...
- Logan got his passport on time before we left
- Logan's hand got better after being bitten and swollen by centipede
- Amanda's headache felt better after a day or two
- Amanda T had a God moment in her quiet time that she had been asking for.
- Trace was able to be on the team because he was obedient to moving to Michigan
- Cami Carter wouldn't have come if Trace didn't move to MI
- Kristyn stepped out in sharing her faith and talking to others as she had been praying
- Kayla Marie stepped up to play and sing by herself on Sunday at church for the first time
- I actually made it to Jamaica in God's timing
- Penny & Jim and the kingdom builders ministry should be making it in the Jamaican Observer newspaper which was a prayer of redemption and blessing that God seemed to answer through the article.
- Conversations with Ian & Lloyd the morning we had prayed for such opportunities
Thursday, June 30, 2011
- Saying, "Ya, mon." This one is true! They said it way more than i thought they would. More than my canadian friends say, "eh." That's for sure.
- Fast Runners- Also True. I'm not sure everyone is, but they definitely were beating all of us in sprinting contests on sports day and following their runners racing in Kingston in the news!
- Good Climbers- Also True. I was climbing a tree and it felt kinda like how i pictured Africa in the Lion King (tropicalish)... sitting in a windy swaying tree over looking a field. When Four local kids all started climbing up the tree at the same time and were hanging upside down, by one arm, etc. like monkeys. Once again, this may not be all Jamaicans, but these boys definitely blew me and my American friends out of the water!
- Laid Back- Also true. From what I could see life was slower because you would run a shop or business out of the home, but it seemed like a lot of people would sit around the shops or by the street during the day and at least not appear too busy. Also, you could smell it and i was told that the ganja(mirijuana) was very popular among the people and what helps run some of the power and economics.
- Poverty- Fairly true. there were some nice houses and areas, but there were definitely way more simplistic areas and poor housing as you drove throughout the country. It was sad to hear that the kids can often get themselves into more trouble because this puts them in more situations where they might be performing favors or trying to find other ways to get the money needed for a ride, an education, or to provide for their family.
- Churched- Somewhat True. I've heard of a lot of missions trips going to Jamaica, but it seems that although it one of the leaders of the most churches per capita of people, it seems that a lot of people believe in God, but that a lot of people will not commit to the church or call themselves a "baptized Christian" because they don't want to live a godly life (have multiple girlfriends) or see the church as more religion rules (ie. have to dress a certain way) than a relationship and don't want to be too committed to that falsehood. So there is still a need for cultural and church shifts and outreach.
- Need Help? Yes. We can't just always be handing people things and the people there are happy with less, but yet there is so much we have to offer these people from labor to resources to loving arms to godly male examples to a pair of shoes.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
For those of you who didn't get to go or even know this was going on, I want to break this into 2 or 3 posts to give you an update because there is just too much to share! But i want to start by recapping what we did, the cultural things i saw, and then what God did over the three posts even though this will only scratch the surface.
This was not my first time on a missions trip, but definitely my first time to Jamaica.
We flew into Montego Bay(the top dot) and stayed in Whithouse (the bottom dot) which was about an hour drive through mainly mountains.
If you look at the first picture below you will see that I am not in it. I missed the flight when my passport fell on the floor of the car that dropped me off and then i got stuck in Orlando when i was on standby and didn't make the flight so I arrived two days late. but God is a God of impeccable timing. I don't know exactly the reasons for the mix up, but I had a good time of rest and rejuvenation and was ready to go when i arrived.
There were 21 of us between the 2 teams (11 connected to Faith church and 10 from North Carolina)
I missed the first two days which consisted of visiting the hospital and nursing home and digging an outhouse hole, playing with kids, and leveling a dirt floor the second day. I know that these two days were pretty eye opening for a lot of the group.
The team gave me a group hug when i finally arrived Wednesday evening which was huge to me feeling included even though i was late.
So the first full day after i arrived, was actually our one play day at YS Water Falls where we swam, played on a rope swing, and rode the zipline.
The other days consisted of:
Carrying water to houses without plumbing
and playing with kids and giving them toys.
Also helping out with construction projects where we could and putting up two walls on a one room house.
A Community Sports day with over 700 adults/teens/kids from the community... (yeah purple team)
And we had the privilege of leading a church service where their older pastor had just passed away the previous week. That was fun to help lead the music and share our hearts.
The house we stayed in was a 3 minute walk from the water,
so some of us did try and make sure to get out by the water for some God time and snorkeling in our very limited free time
It was fun to test some new foods like the flesh on the outside of an almond, mango straight from the tree, sugar cane, and chicken foot soup.
Yes, my one guilty pleasure buys was this hat and dreads. I have a feeling it will get its use.
A few of us would go for a run in the morning and Every night we would have a time of worship, debriefing the day, and then share our personal testimonies. There were some huge breakthroughs, God moments, changed lives, and prayers that happened in these night meetings!
God was good. I can't wait to share with you more indepth over the next two posts, but this post is already long enough and we have youth group tonight here, so until tomorrow...
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Looking forward to it and appreciate your prayers and look forward to sharing the awesome stories, answers to prayer, and pictures when we get back!
Friday, June 10, 2011
We need to take walks more- I always think this when i walk around Michigan State's campus or think back to my college days. There are so many good talks and down moments that happen while we are walking. That is so key and refreshing.
Do The Math-
When i actually did the math at how much extra i was paying in interest on something rather than paying something upfront it was stupid (ie. paying an extra $5,500 over five years on a $20,000 loan when the interest compounds... that's just crazy ). High School Common sense math would've made me look at that and question adult's sanity, yet sometimes we may be too busy or ignorant to realize this because it is advertised so well
Thursday, June 09, 2011
I was thinking about how much the nervous bug in my stomach would have gone away if i would've just had my outline done another week in advance or studied the passage more or had one more really compelling illustration or analogy... and i felt like my thoughts (or God!) stopped me in my tracks and said.
"What are you trusting in to make this message succeed?"
This was a big slap in the face.
I was trusting in the fact that i was preaching the Word of God and the preparation and creative elements...
but i was FORGETTING The empowerment and leading of God.
preparation/study/application/creativity all matter
but probably not as much as:
Knowing God has given me the spiritual gift of teaching and that i am supposed to use in
Obedience to preach what God has revealed to me. that's most important.
A good analogy is important, but that is not what God would consider most essential. Many MANY successful sermons have been preached straight from the Word without the creativity I so often want to rely on for success.
God grant me the creativity and preparation that is important, but more, MUCH more importantly, grant me your empowerment and obedience to teach what you have called me to, and to equip who you desire(equip church) and have planned for me to equip(good works in advance)
Monday, June 06, 2011
A core of who i am as a person is an encourager/empowerer.
For years i have wanted to develop a habit where I keep myself accountable to sending out at least one encouragement letter a week because i absolute love to do this but don't always make the time.
This is one of the first times i have been almost completely consistent at following up with this for the past month or two.
It's a battle
God's Got This
How Can I serve?
GOD'S Spirit is in me
Prayer for my Family
Let me Encourage You!
But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,”
That is my 20 power minutes on Tuesdays!
Sunday, June 05, 2011
I love my family and love having this time to think about them and lift them up to God.
It's a Battle
God's Got This
How Can I Serve
GOD's Spirit is in me
Pray for my family
Saturday, June 04, 2011
It's a Battle
God's Got This
How Can I Serve?
GOD's Spirit Lives in me
Friday, June 03, 2011
It's a Battle
God's Got This
How Can I Serve?
With a Servants heart for God there can be No Negatives
Thursday, June 02, 2011
The best way i think i can add to this world is asking the question:
How can i serve?
This is what Jesus set as the example and epitome of being great: servanthood.
If life is a battle
God's Got This
and I'm Here To Bedazzle then
How can i Serve?
Wednesday, June 01, 2011
This was my cheesy yet best analogy of my place and contribution to this world. Bedazzling something helps to beautify and contribute but it doesn't effect or make a phone or computer or whatever function. That is already taken care of. God is the one who makes this world machine run and come out on top. I just have a chance to add his love and bedazzle it up a little! :)
Its A Battle
God's Got This
I'm here to Bedazzle! :)
Monday, May 30, 2011
God's Got this.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
We can so easily forget that we are in a spiritual battle and struggle. This is my weekly reminder that life is a battle which means i should expect wounds and attacks. God is on my side so the victory is certain, but it is good to acknowledge the reality we face.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
it's a battle.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
It was my everyday reminder to enjoy and be thankful for where God had placed me.
- It's a battle
- God's Got This
- How Can I serve?
- No Negative
- GOD'S Spirit is in me
- Prayer for my Family
- 1 Letter of Encouragement
Thursday, May 26, 2011
I'm not sure if you have ever had a day where you practiced the idea of solitude and went off for yourself for hours at time to spend time with God, but it is well worth it and a suggestion i would make for everyone, especially those who are in ministry. Its often called a Day Alone With God.
I have heard it said that it is good to get into rhythms of
Monthly: Days Alone with God
Yearly: few day/week retreat
(I am actually trying to implement this more into my schedule now)
- We Need to Focus More on What We're Made to be instead of What we Could Be
- Our Gifts are given to us by God to edify the church
- If you want a Definitive answer, Pray for God's promises more than your wants because God always follows through on his Promises.
- Becoming Weird/unrelatable/overbearing if speak in tongues
- What family and church will think (small concern)
- Becoming unstable emotionally & rationally
- No system for proactiveness
- Fear of not being productive: always talking or being drawn to conversation instead of work as a relational person. Mislabeling or attributing natural wants as the Holy Spirit prompting.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
One or two through me off because i wasn't sure how they related to me..... and there were way more pictures than these four but what it was...
was my mom saying that she was praying for me continually. Her exact words over text were, "U cannot escape our prayers 4 u! In bed throughout the nite, in the car to & from work, special spots: greenchair, ur room, taco bell, sitting in church, under NZ cloudy skies, on a walk, reading ur blog... always praying 4 u with more love and pride than you will ever know!!! O:-) "
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Does Faith Church Realize How Lucky They Are To Have Brandon Bruce?
No, this is not me trying to suck up.
No, this is not Brandon hacking into my account.
No, this is not because there is a problem in the church.
Just something that Needs to be said.
Too often we can forget to appreciate what we have.
Too often senior pastors can't make everyone happy and people can forget to focus on the 100 great things instead of the 1 bad thing.
Faith Church is growing
Brandon is a man of God with character.
Brandon has a heart for the lost and the church.
Brandon has continued to build excitement which has led to more and more people coming through the church doors.
Brandon is stretching people to take risks for the Lord and stay on the frontline of reaching this next generation.
Brandon tries to care for those under Him as a part of His team.
It also helps that he has such an awesome, godly, and supportive wife!
Thank you God for being in control and leading and sending Brandon here to Lansing, MI.
Monday, May 23, 2011
I had one Sunday school teacher who said: God cares about everything in our daily lives
She prayed for front spots to the grocery store and God gave them to her
Another Bible Study Leader said that God laughs with him and i thought to myself as a teenager "God never really laughs with me..."
Another Bible Class teacher said that biting my fingernails and what candy bar i ate were spiritual issues and i kind of smirked as a teenager thinking, Really?!?
I had another very analytical boss who said he never didn't analyze things! This thought alone exhausted me as a college Student
God doesn't care about anything in your daily life.
Basic idea of Deism: God is up there but not involved in our lives.
Doesn't care about sports and the outcome
Doesn't tell you what food to eat or not eat
Doesn't answer small requests because he has bigger issues at hand
What I have learned: I respect those who do live in a constant conversation and relationship with God; that truly is the goal of our lives. The Danger is I have seen people get borderline extreme, crazy, and to the point where they can't seem to understand other people & where other people can't understand them. I'm not sure if they go spirit led, or just socially awkward at times.
When is walking with God Spirit led vs being overly analytical because sometimes the thought of God caring about every detail of my life kinda exhausts me.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
rich or poor?
active or laid back?
love or justice?
I think balance it the answer to a lot of life, but finding the the right level of tension can be so hard at times.
- Generosity is more important than rich or poor and that can look different...
- Obeying God is more important than how much or little you do...
- and the list goes on.
In regards to be overly self-righteous or overly foolish the Bible makes this clear statement:
Saturday, May 21, 2011
"being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience" Colossians 1:11
Usually i think of getting power to make things happen NOW in the way you envision.... I usually think of endurance and patience being things you need LATER when things aren't happening the way you envisioned....
He gives us power for the long run, not simply for our whimsical wants.