Thursday, October 25, 2007

On Coffee and Commitment

So here I sit in the local Starbucks listening to the currant sounds of coffee playing though the speakers. I casually sip on a cup of Pumpkin Spice Latte while downing my second Americano with soy and a Splenda. This is America’s Crack house.

As I write notes, I glance around at my fellow java junkies. Like so many other Americans, the Brewer needs his daily fix to define the day. We also need to chase away the threatening menace of the non-caffeinated migraine. Most don’t talk about it but my friends call it “the claw.” For those of us who stay highly caffeinated, we know that the beast must be fed. If not, terrible retribution will be taken upon us like an invisible alien wrapping itself around our throbbing heads.

The Daily Grind
My name really is Brewer and besides being fated to live up to my troublemaking name it is part of my DNA to consume large amounts of percolated pleasure. McDonalds should offer some kind of a “McCoffee” sandwich for guys like me. I imagine going to get a lap band and then surgically implanting a shunt to send coffee directly into my blood stream. I can invasion moving to Costa Rica and growing my own beans off the side of erupting mount Arenal. Oh, the things I will go through for just one serene bean. What else can I tell you; I love to drink coffee.

I love to love things. I do not want to be over compulsive but I like to play with the idea of it. There have been days when I've had too much and it caused me to be over stimulated and under motivated all at the same time. That’s not good. But I do love-to-love things and not just coffee. To me it’s kind of a loyalty thing. I’m big into loyalty. I love allegiance, commitment and sold out devotion. These are qualities and vices in people that really get my attention.

Holy Grounds
As a pastor I see how messed up the whole ecclesiastical system can be and from a closer view than most. I love the church and when I say the church I mean the body of Christ. People of faith who really love Jesus and also love other people. But oh my goodness how I hate a bunch of the religious junk that we tend to operate in and pass off as no big deal. I believe Jesus Christ is totally anti-religion. He was 2000 years ago, and He still is today.

A lot of religious people will show you their degree and spout off on their “calling.” They will boast on their talents and their qualifications about ministry. They look under their glasses at us lesser people in dignified snootiness on how blessed the rest of us are to have them contribute to the body of Christ gene pool.

I really don’t think Jesus gives a rip about our talents or degrees. I think he qualifies people that are faithful; God loves people that are selflessly devoted. I don’t think He cares about who’s got the coolest collar, the closest parking space, the biggest hair or waves smoke on a rope. I do think He is looking to use people that will be committed. Even messed up people. I think God loves faithfulness and loyalty. I really do. I also think He gets tired of our excuses for why so many of us run off the reservation. We run off morally, spiritually, ethically and just plain run off sometimes.
(See proverbs 27:8)

So here I sit, a highly caffeinated Christian. Musing on things that matter. Hoping I am on the same page as the biblical author. Believing that God thinks I’m funny and is crazy in love with me. Standing on the fact that it is by grace we are saved and not of works lest any man should boast. And knowing for sure that a little bit of Jesus makes up for a whole lot of stupid.

I also pen this down as I spill a little more latte on my stained white shirt. Faithfulness loyalty, commitment and devotion matter. If nobody else sees it, God sees it. Like an animal on the endangered species list, solid committed Christians are getting harder and harder to find. I encourage you in the lord, to keep your self-committed. Even if it is only for an audience of one.

“Most men will proclaim every one of his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” Proverbs 20:6

Monday, October 22, 2007

Decisive Battles

Saints at San Jacinto
The Brewer is a sixth-generation Texan and dang proud of it. I have an ancestor, Henry Brewer who actually fought along side Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto.

I was there, if only in microscopic form and really glad (for my sake) that Henry Brewer was with Houston, instead of Travis at the Alamo.

San Jacinto is the decisive battle that won Texas her independence. To wrap your head around what a big deal it really is, it’s important you read the inscription carved into the monument that stands on the battlefield today.

"Measured by its results, San Jacinto was one of the decisive battles of the world. The freedom of Texas from Mexico won here led to annexation and to the Mexican-American War, resulting in the acquisition by the United States of the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah and parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma. Almost one-third of the present area of the American Nation, nearly a million square miles of territory, changed sovereignty."

In other words, there is a reason why people in Ft worth, Salt Lake, and Los Angeles don’t have to live the lifestyle of our neighbors in Matamoras, Juarez and Tijuana. That reason is because of a handful of heroes, not even trained solders, who chose to oppose and defeat a dictator back in 1836.

The Fight Is On
Some battles are so strategically important that everything afterwards hinges upon the results of that single event. I wonder if those Texans knew how important that one single battle actually was. I wonder if you know how important it is that you win the battles you are fighting. Unseen spiritual battles in brutal mental and emotional arenas you are choosing to oppose.

There is a lot more on the line for what you think then what you might think.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Every Christian has to fight in order to hang on to and posses the land or to have victory with the territory God trusts us with. Our fight is first spiritual and most of that fight goes on between our ears.

God has given us weapons to fight with and they are “mighty in God”. Powerless in and of themselves, but in God they are mighty, powerful and able to bring those thoughts under control. They break down the mightiest stronghold. These weapons include the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17), prayer (Ephesians 6:18) and the anointing of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).

One of the ways you use the Word of God as a weapon is to personalize it for you. It is no good as black ink on a white page but actually in your hand, it’s a sword that kicks mental butt!

Declare What the Word Says About You While God Works on Your Problem

Personalize Jeremiah 29:11 by saying, "I know that God has plans to prosper me. I know that God has a hope and a future for me and I know those plans are good and I know that they will come to pass because God said they would."

Let it be said of you, the reason why those behind you live in victory is because you chose to oppose and defeat an oppressive enemy in the battle between your ears.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Miracles at Wedgwood

See You at the Pole” is a worldwide event that started in Burleson Texas. It’s a student led prayer that happens around the flagpole at high schools all over the world. A day for the Christian kids to show their solidarity for each other and their witness to the rest of the school.

A lot of churches have special youth rallies the night of SYATP to celebrate Jesus and reach out to other kids. That is what was going on September 15th, 1999 at the Wedgwood Baptist church.

Larry Gene Ashbrook, a forty-seven year old jobless man known for violent rages and conspiracy writings, busted into that service yelling and cursing anything to do with Jesus. He pointed his pistol at bewildered teenagers and began pulling the trigger. A ten-minute rampage followed that would leave seven dead and seven more shot before he sent a bullet through his own brain.

Getting the World’s Attention

The unthinkable had happened. For the next several weeks, this single event would dominate anything that had to do with the media, particularly local media.

House Majority Leader Dick Armey issued a statement saying he “reacted with shock and horror”. Calling it a tragic event in a "house of hope and love," Gov. George W. Bush, along with other officials, expressed shock and dismay. President Clinton called Pastor Al Meredith and spoke to him personally, while Vice-President Gore spoke to him on “Larry King Live. This event dominated the media.

But for all the media, there was a lot that was not reported by the talking heads. Other things happened in the midst of those shootings that were not tragic at all, but in fact, miraculous.

Miracles in the Madness

Just before Ashbrook walked into the room, he shot out some windows right beside the children’s playground. Every children’s and preschool class was running late that night so nobody had made it to the playground yet.

In the midst of the shooting, Ashbrook lit a pipe bomb and threw it into the crowd of kids. Miraculously the bottom fell off and it didn’t blow up the way it was supposed to, sparing the lives of many.

As the killer walked back and forth through the room shouting blasphemous obscenities and shooting at teenagers, a mother was desperately trying to force her mentally disabled daughter onto the floor. There was no way to calm her down and she made an easy target for the coward with the gun. Mary Beth Talley, a 17 year old who had ran into the room to warn everyone of the shooter, saw the struggle and lay on top of the handicapped girl as Ashbrook went to kill her. Mary Beth heard the shot and then she felt a sharp sting as a bullet entered into her back.

Unlike other kids in the room, Mary Beth had scoliosis. This condition, a curse to so many, was in fact a blessing to this brave young lady. The curve in her spine directed the bullet away from her major organs and thus saved her life.

While most kids were wisely trying to protect themselves anyway they could, one young man with a troubled past and a biblical name sat up straight and bowed in prayer. “Lord, please let this end!” he prayed as bullets flew around him.

Jeremiah Neitz heard the shots; saw the slaughter, prayed the prayer, and then for some inexplicable reason, jumped to his feet and confronted Ashbrook. Not with his strong and muscular build, but with the love of God.

“Sir, what you need is Jesus Christ!” Jeremiah shouted as the gun was pointed at him.
“You can shoot me if you want,” but I know where I am going. I am going to Heaven. How about you, sir?”

As mad as it made Ashbrook, the love of God in Jeremiah’s voice shut the gunman down. He answered his question by sitting down in a pew, putting the pistol to his head and sending himself to eternity.

The people of that powerful church will tell you, “Yes, some of us have died because of our faith in Jesus.” They will also tell you that they see the hand of God in the midst of the attack that came against them. They will say things like this: Though he fired 100 bullets into a crowd of over 400, only 14 were hit. An off-duty paramedic happened to be in the room and stabilized victims. None of the adults that died had any children. All seven victims were passionate and bold Christians.

The memorial service was aired live all over the world on CNN, including countries like Saudi Arabia, that do not allow the preaching of the Gospel within its borders. Because of the powerful word of God given in that service, people heard the Gospel and received Jesus that would have never otherwise had Jesus presented to them.

For every bullet fired against Christianity, millions of steps have been taken that move the cause of Christ forward. For every life lost through the shootings, thousands have been saved through the courage and testimony shown from the lives of those shot at. A lot more could be said, but I’ll finish by quoting Paul as recorded in Romans 1:8....

"I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you,
because your faith is being reported all over the world.”

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Lego My Ego

On Sunday June 25th, 1876 in a remote region of what is now Montana, General George Armstrong Custer looked down upon a large village of Sioux Indians. A few days earlier when he left Fort Lincoln he was advised to take a gatling gun and 2 cannons with him to engage the Indians. But he was General Custer, and this was the elite 7th Calvary.

So at 3:05pm on a hot Sunday afternoon, Custer and his elite looked down on a large Indian village and what appeared to be very few men. What he didn’t realize is that the 100 or so warriors of this village had joined an alliance of thousands led by none other then Crazy Horse himself. They were waiting just over the next ridge.

On the way to the battlefield his trusted Indian scouts came back with the report. The few hundred warriors he saw were actually thousands he didn’t see. Custer undaunted simply replied, “HOGWASH.”

Custer pointed his sword towards the village and said, “We caught them napping boys. Attack!”

Less than 2 hours later a terrified and badly wounded remnant of 42 soldiers took a defensive posture to try fight off the relentless attack. Using dead horses as breast works a few watch helplessly as their fellow soldiers were killed and mutilated by their hated Indian enemy. In the midst of blood, brains, gun smoke and war hoops, the 42 (including Custer), were stripped naked and mutilated without mercy at a place forever known as “Little Big Horn.”

Nobody can understand the terror that these last few survivors felt. All because of the EGO of one man.

Webster defines the word ego as “an exaggerated sense of self-importance.” The Bible defines it as a recipe for certain destruction. Isaiah 5:21 says, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”

The Bible is full of people with unbelievable egos. Pharaoh for example had people full time that did nothing but made sure that no one looked at him in the face. If they found anyone looking at him they would burn their eyes out with red-hot pokers.

Imagine then the audacity as God sent a nobody by the name of Moses to stand in Pharaoh’s courtroom, point his finger in Pharaoh’s face and say, “God says, ‘Let my people Go!”

Our lives are full of people with unbelievable egos. Since we can’t change the hearts of anybody around us, we might do well to just work on our own. Walking humbly is absolutely essential to longevity.

Have you noticed that lazy people have great egos? King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 26:16 “The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.”

Ego is all about self-preservation. Ego and faith do not mix. You can’t be full of ego and have a heart for other people. You can’t be really happy and selfish at the same time. So the next time an exaggerated sense of self-importance comes flying out of your toaster, make yourself let go of that ego.

Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”