Thursday, November 16, 2017

Where is God when it hurts?

We all have been trying to make sense out of the mass shooting that killed 26 people, including children, during a worship service in Sutherland Springs, Texas. When these kinds of thing happen we sometimes wonder where is God when it hurts, when bad things happen, and tragedy strikes. I believe He is right in the middle of it.

We don’t stand alone in the midst of helpless rage at life’s injustice. We don’t grieve privately. Jesus shares in our grief, weeping with us. I say this because my Bible reminds me it is so. Did you know Jesus wept on three occasions (at least three times were recorded in the Bible)? He wept over an individual (Lazarus) in John 11:35. He wept over a nation (Israel) in Luke 19:41. He wept over humanity as a whole (in the garden of Gethsemane) found in Mark 14:33.

We find Jesus weeping beside our tombs. He snorted with anger and wept with grief; anger at what sin has done to the human race; anger at what sin had done to blind the eyes of God’s chosen people. The Bible says, ‘We have a chief priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses’ (Hebrew 4:15). Jesus understands our pain. He knows every fear, every scrape, every scar, and every surgery. He knows every heartbreak and heartache.

But Jesus does more than weep, He comforts with promises of Hope.
  • All who believe in Him have everlasting life.
  • All who believe will rise from the grave.
  • All who believe will escape the second death.
Promises of Hope that one day everything really will be made right. Biblical Hope is not a mere aspiration, it is certainty coupled with glad anticipation. We can be certain because Jesus has the power to keep those promises.

So whatever struggles you personally face, whatever senseless tragedies we are exposed to, whatever sorrows and pains we face, remember we do not weep alone. You have Jesus.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. We tend to complicate, well, everything. The same is true for Jesus Christ and His gospel. Join us Sunday at 9:00 or 10:30 AM to simplify Jesus and His Gospel. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Get Your Bounce Back

What a week I’ve had... I was getting ready for family to come in to celebrate my mother’s 90th Birthday when two people died within 24 hours of each other. So I was planning two funerals the same weekend as the Birthday celebration. Then I officiated the two funerals while nursing the ongoing problem with sciatica and wobbly legs. Now, I’m not writing this for any kind of sympathy or for you to feel sorry for me. I know we all have these kinds of weeks from time to time.

But when I add to the list the tragedy of what took place at the Baptist Church in Texas, I will admit, I got a little discouraged. And I know that when we get discouraged, it opens the door for our adversary to come into our lives and try to defeat us.

I was reading one of my favorite blogs by Rick Warren and he was talking about four things to do when you find yourself being discouraged. He actually was writing about what Nehemiah did from the fourth chapter of Nehemiah.

The first thing to do is rest your body. That’s what Nehemiah did, and that is what I’m going to do as soon as I finish this blog. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do in a moment of exhaustion and discouragement is to go to sleep. (Psalm 127:2) It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.

Second, reorganize your work. Nehemiah did that for the families. He gave them new assignments and tasks. Tomorrow, I have cancelled some regular scheduled meetings and activities and am going to read about a new approach to accomplishing tasks.

Third, Warren says you must remember the Lord. His point is that when we get discouraged, we sometimes choose to think discouraging thoughts. What I am going to do is read Philippians 4:4-8, focusing on verse eight and then write out my prayer using the following acronym: ACTS
  • Adoration- focusing on God’s attributes and works
  • Confession- confessing my sin and discouragement
  • Thanksgiving- listing as many things I can think of that I’m thankful for
  • Supplication- praying for the specific needs I am aware of
Fourth, resist the enemy. James 4:7 states ‘Resist the devil.’ I know he wants to discourage me, defeat me, but greater is He (the Holy Spirit) who is in me than he (the Devil) who is in the world.

And when we resist him, he flees. Victory is ours because of Jesus Christ. So when you’re feeling down or discouraged, these four things can help you bounce back.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. God’s will is simpler to know and understand than you may realize. It’s not about what job to take, where to live, who to marry. If it’s not about those kinds of things, what is it all about? Join me at 9:00 and 10:30 and discover the answer. Why not bring a friend with you who might have some questions about knowing God’s will?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Disappointments are God's Appointments

What has been the greatest disappointment of your life? Perhaps it’s on this list:
  • Not getting that promotion
  • Early death of a loved one
  • An event that changed your academic or career goals
  • Not getting married
  • Marrying the person you married
  • Getting a divorce
  • Having a rebellious child
  • Not providing enough for your family
The list of disappointments goes on and on. Disappointments come in different sizes, shapes, and pain levels.

Disappointment is the feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations or hopes to manifest. It is similar to regret, but it differs in that a person who feels regret focuses primarily on the personal choices that contributed to a poor outcome. A person feeling disappointment focuses on the outcome itself.

Often when we experience disappointment, we get extremely frustrated with ourselves, with life, with others, and with God. When that happens, here are five simple steps to take to help with those disappointing and frustrating times in your life.

Step One: Ask yourself, “Did I cause it?” The Bible says ‘we reap what we sow.’ We often bring frustrating things upon ourselves. When that happens you have to ask, “Who’s to blame?”

Step Two: Ask yourself, “What can I learn from it?” Use the disappointment, the frustration, and the irritation as an opportunity to grow in character and become more like Christ.

(Romans 8:28-29) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

Step Three: Thank God in the situation. You don’t have to be thankful for a bad situation, but you can be thankful in a bad situation.

(1 Thessalonians 5:18) Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Step Four: Turn the disappointment into a funny, humorous event. A sense of humor is God’s antidote to anger and frustration.

(Proverbs 17:22) A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

Step Five: Ask God to fill you with His love. Instead of focusing on your frustration, focus on others, on Him, and let His love compel you to a healthier response.

(Isaiah 26:3) You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Try these five principles out the next time you find yourself disappointed or frustrated. You might want to keep a copy of them on your refrigerator door or dashboard of your car. Perhaps your office desk would be another appropriate place to have a copy.

P.S. Do you find yourself discontented with your car, house, job, life, or whatever? What about your spiritual life and journey? Do you believe there has to be more than what you are experiencing currently? This Sunday we begin a new series entitled: Uncomplicated: Making Christianity Simple. These questions will be explored as we begin to probe the book of Colossians for answers.

P.S.S. Don’t forget to set back your clocks one hour AND we are starting our new service times: 9:00 First Service and 10:30 Second Service.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Don't Waste Your Pain

For the last three weeks I have been suffering with some sciatic nerve pain. Perhaps you have seen me waddling up to the platform to preach or walking around with a cane. I must say that the pain is excruciating. And as a typical male, I waited until my arm started getting numb before calling the doctor to learn how to correct the problem.

During my time of suffering, fellow sciatic suffers have given me some therapy tips: ice cube baths, whirl pool baths, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, sleeping in a recliner, lying on the floor and attempting certain stretches, and of course my favorite suggestion: lose weight.

But, in the midst of the pain, I got to thinking about those people who live with chronic pain. My sciatic pain will eventually subside. But so many people have to live with chronic pain daily. How in the world can they do that?

Then I remembered what the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9 about his struggle with his pain. He concluded this: ‘God’s grace is all you need, God’s power works best in weakness.’

His grace is sufficient today and will help me today, and then tomorrow His grace will be sufficient and on and on. He gives me the strength, the peace, and the help I need in that moment. When God is all you have, you turn to Him and realize He’s all you needed in the first place.

The thing I’ve come to appreciate about my recent pain episode is ‘when I am weak, the power of Christ works through me’ (2 Corinthians 12:9b). It makes me more compassionate to the pain of others. It helps me identify with the hurts of others.

God never wastes a hurt. He will use the pains, wounds, difficulties of life, to enable us to be better encouragers, prayer warriors, supporters, and comforters of others.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. Did you realize the Bible contains some ‘dirty words?’ Many in our culture would say that these words are perhaps the most demeaning and devaluing words to be spoken. What are they? What do they have to do with relationships? Join me this Sunday at 9:15 or 11:00 AM to discover the answers.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Study in Contrasts

Let me give you a brief study in contrasts. The first part sounds negative, horrible, and comes across as a downer. Yet, it is our reality; it also makes the second part all the more wonderful and marvelous.

The first part of the contrast comes from Hebrews 4:13. ‘Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before God’s eyes.’ Included in the ‘nothing’ is our sin. The Bible defines sin as “missing the mark.” Anytime we miss the mark of God’s perfection that qualifies as a sin in God’s eyes.

Let me break that down in terms we can understand:
  • We think something that God would never think. Sin.
  • We look at something God would never look at. Sin.
  • We say something God would never say. Sin.
  • We don’t do or say something God would do or say. Sin.
  • We look at a person in a way God would never view a person. Sin.
  • We treat our spouse, children, grandchildren, and friends in an uncaring or unloving way. Sin.
  • We act like somebody we’re not. Sin.
  • We react in fear instead of trust. Sin.
  • We lie, cheat, or steal. Sin.
  • We act selfishly. Sin.
Depressing isn’t it? Honestly, if I were God, and I’m glad I’m not, I would be fed up with me. I would say, “Mark is a mess. He just keeps on sinning and sinning. What am I going to do with this guy?” Well, let’s get the second part, the best part of the contrast. This contrast is taken from Psalm 94:18 “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, you supported me.”

Our Savior says:
  • They’re broken, but I can work with that since I’m bigger than their defects.
  • They failed me, but they’re forgiven.
  • They’ve got a long way to grow, but I will never give up on them.
  • They are a mess sometimes, but they are my mess and my children, and the apple of my eye.
  • They are forgiven because they trusted in my final work on the cross and resurrection, and will never be more forgiven than they are right now.
  • They are already loved, and will never be more loved than I love them at this very moment.
Wow! Isn’t that great? Doesn’t that fill your heart with joy? It does mine. I still need to grow. I still need to change. Becoming more like Jesus is always the goal; saying no to sin should always be my desire. But how great to know that nothing separates me from God and His love!

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today or our worries about tomorrow- not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below- indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. In today’s culture, we are surrounded with opportunities to be alone. But is this what Christ desires for us? Join us Sunday at 9:15 or 11 AM to discover why we should pursue real community.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

A Personal Longing

Do you ever long for heaven? This was one of those weeks when I have. I came back from a beautiful week in Northern Minnesota with the fall colors thinking this must be what heaven looks like. I can’t wait.

I then went to church to be with the community of people I love. We sang praises to God, heard God’s word preached by Pastor Brian, and I thought: This is but a taste of what heaven will be like around the throne of God. Voices of people from every tongue, nation, and tribe will be praising God.

After church, I experienced the pain of this world. I met with a family at a funeral home, making arrangements for their 18 year old son who has died. Oh how I long for heaven.

Then I talked to a good friend who told me about one of his clients who has a 12 year old daughter with bone cancer. Oh how I long for heaven.

I woke up Monday morning to hear about 58 killed and 500 injured in Las Vegas at a concert in the largest mass-killing in U.S. history. Oh how I long for heaven.

Added to that, I spoke with one of our dear brothers who is in hospice care at Monarch, living out his last days. Oh how I long for heaven.

I also called another dear friend who has some unidentified infection and has to be flown to Mayo Clinic in hopes to determine what it is. Oh how I long for heaven.

Then to see the devastation of the hurricanes most recently in Puerto Rico, I once again said: ‘Oh how I long for heaven.’

Added to the above, very minor in comparison, I’m experiencing the aches and pains of my body approaching 65. Oh how I long for heaven.

I took some time out of it all to read the following words. First the words of Jesus from John 14:1-6. “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Second, the words of Revelation 21:3-5. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” 5 And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. What does the word “commitment” mean? Is commitment over-rated? How does it relate to our spiritual lives? How do I know if I am really committed? Join me this Sunday at 9:15 and 11:00 to discover the answers to these questions.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Success in God's Eyes

I looked up how many titles have “success” in them on Amazon books and came up with over 6,000 titles. In contrast, titles with “failure” in terms of ‘how to’ were 9. It suggests to me how we tend to overrate success in our culture and underrate failure. Does God look at success and failure the same way we do? I think not.

For example, we usually measure success by how much money or how many things you have accumulated over the years. But in God’s economy, success is measured by faithful obedience. Jesus said, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant’ to both the servants who received differing amounts of silver (Matthew 25).

‘Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful’ (1 Corinthians 4:2).

In man’s kingdom, success is measured by things like independence, personal strength, and survival of the fittest. But in God’s kingdom, success involves embracing dependence upon God and understanding that when we are weak, He is strong.

In John 15 we are reminded that Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. The closer the connection between the two, the better; we become stronger in our weaknesses. The last part of verse 5 says, ‘For apart from me, you can do nothing.’ Paul, the Great Apostle who wrote much of our New Testament, performed miracles, endured all kinds of trials, hardships, and tests concluded, ‘For when I am weak, then I am strong,’ (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

I have one last thought on success as measured by God instead of how the world measures it. With God, success is measured by our resiliency- the ability to become strong or successful after something bad happened, to recover after the wind has been knocked out of you, to get up when the chips are down, to keep our eyes on the prize. Success, no matter what the hardship, difficulty, problem, burden, or pain, is being able to say what Paul said at the end of his life. ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have remained faithful’ (2 Timothy 4:7).

Are you successful the way God measures success? If so, what do you need to keep doing to continue being successful? If not, what changes do you need to make so you can finish the race well and hear the words, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant’?

Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. If I were to ask you, “Are you a grace-filled person?” How would you answer? How can you tell? For that matter, what is grace? Join us this Sunday morning at 9:15 or 11:00 AM to discover what the Bible has to say about being a grace-filled person.