Thursday, August 23, 2018

Freshly Bru'd

For the time being, I will be taking a break from Freshly Bru'd. I am planning to keep this on hold until further notice. As we enter a new ministry season at First Free, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to reassess this ministry. As I rethink the focus and work through the impact of Freshly Bru'd to our church community, l wish to thank you for your years of readership and feedback. 
Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

Thursday, August 16, 2018

I've Got Rhythm

It started this last Monday for over 40,000 Lincoln Public School students and will begin shortly for homeschoolers, private schools, and university students. School – class – education. With the start of a school year comes a new routine, and it usually takes a few days to get into a rhythm.

I think it’s easy to forget that God created the world with a rhythm by which we work for six days, followed by a day of rest. All human beings, especially our students, need a rhythm of rest every single day.

We all need to take breaks. Yes – even study breaks, enjoy meals, and get sleep at night so that our bodies may be replenished. Rhythm allows each of us to opportunity to: engage, then disengage; be involved, then withdraw; work, study, contribute, then rest and recover.

When you stop and think about it, God created everything to rest.
  • Nature rests under winter’s blanket of snow (at least in Nebraska).
  • Fields rest when the growing season is over.
  • Bears hibernate.
  • Snakes shed their skins. (Like Indiana Jones, ‘I hate snakes.’)
  • Animals mate according to a natural rhythm.
Unfortunately, the human soul sometimes defies the rhythm that God intended. Carl Honore wrote a book entitled, In the Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed. Written over a decade ago, when things were even slower than they are today, he said, “We mock the seasons by eating imported strawberries in the middle of winter, and hot cross buns, once an Easter treat, all year round. With cell phones, computers, everyone and everything is now permanently available.”

To recognize and live according to God’s rhythms fosters and nourishes life. To ignore and defy, it says, ‘I know best. I know what I need to do and want to do.’ Everything gets twisted when that rhythm is ignored. When we do life our way, the soul dries up.
Solomon had some wise words to say about rhythm. I am sharing Eugene Peterson’s Message with you as he understood Solomon’s wisdom.

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:
A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

-Ecclesiastes 3:18

What rhythm allows us to ask is this: What time is it for my soul right now? What does my soul need at this very moment?

Do you have the courage to ask yourself those questions? If you repeatedly ask these questions, you will create a culture of life over drivenness, recovery over burnout, and serenity over anxiety.

Developing a substantial rhythm for your soul is hard work. It demands honest, ongoing conversation with yourself regularly. Every week you and your family ought to ask, ‘Has the pace in which we lived this week been good for us? How can next week be better and more life-giving?’

Try this and the speed of your life might be more in your grasp than you ever realized.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott
P.S. Did you know God has given you a divine enablement to serve others? Do you consider yourself a person who serves others? Are you generous? These are just some of the questions we are going to answer as we conclude the series "Rooted in Christ" and find greater fulfillment in life. Come join us this Sunday morning, Aug. 19, at 9 or 10:30 am.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

I'm Baaaack!

I am looking forward to returning this Sunday to gather with our church body! I have had a wonderful time of rest with my family during my vacation, and I cannot wait to share some stories with you this weekend. 
In our current series "Rooted in Christ", we have been looking at eight essential characteristics of being a fully devoted follower of Christ. This week we will delve into the importance of sharing our story with others. In conjunction with last week's message, it is powerful considering how we are called as the church - not as individuals but as a team. Sharing who we are and how Christ has impacted our lives is one way we build this team and pursue loving relationships with others in our spheres of influence. Come join us this Sunday morning, Aug. 12, at 9 or 10:30 am.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Vacation (2)

I am savoring the last moments of vacation with my family. As summer winds down, the beginning of school is upon us shortly.  I encourage you to be praying over our leaders and teachers during this time of preparation, as well as for our students' education and well-being as they return to school. 

In our current series "Rooted in Christ", we are examining eight essential characteristics of a fully devoted follower of Christ. This Sunday we will cover the importance of being a part of a gospel-centered community and living a life worthy of the gospel.  Come gather with the church family this Sunday morning, Aug. 5 at 9 or 10:30 am.
Pastor Mark

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Vacation Season

I'm still on vacation with my family for the next few weeks.  I encourage you to join in worship as Pastor Nat preaches again this Sunday.

Last week we kicked off a new sermon series called “Rooted in Christ.” We are taking 5 weeks to look at 8 characteristics of a fully devoted follower of Christ. This week we will look at the characteristic of prayer. Prayer often frustrates people because they don’t know how to pray or what to pray. Join us Sunday at 9 or 10:30 am to learn the ingredients of effective prayer.
Pastor Mark

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Soul Communication

In premarital counseling, I always spend a session with the couple on the importance of communication within their relationship. I talk about the five levels of communication.
Level 1 is cliché communication like, ‘How are you?’ ‘Fine!’ 
Level 2 is like reporting the news: ‘What did you do today?’ ‘I went to work, I came home.’ 
Level 3 communication is sharing an opinion. ‘In my opinion, turnips are absolutely delicious.’ 
It’s just the person’s opinion and that’s all. T
hose three levels of communication are not deep enough to sustain a healthy, deep relationship. Although each level goes a little deeper, they do not go deep enough for a deep, satisfying relationship.

When we begin to communicate at Level 4- the sharing of a conviction- one begins to share more of him/herself. You are sharing a part of you. ‘It is my conviction that children should be loved unconditionally by their parents.’ If you disagree with my conviction- a part of me is being rejected by you.

Of course, Level 5- the deepest of all the levels- is the most open, the most vulnerable, and the most ‘out of the soul’ kind of communication. I tell the couple that they need this kind of communication if they hope to grow in their love, become soul mates, and have a deep, intimate, satisfying, and enriching marriage. I then tell them that to get to this level, you need at least 3 things and these 3 things you really have to work at.
  • First, you have to minimize external distractions. You can’t get to Level 5 Communication amidst a crowd, with screaming kids around, cell phones ringing, televisions on, in front of the computer, etc.
  • Second, you need time. Soul talk with anyone cannot happen if you’re always running off to your next thing or in a few minutes. You need chunks of time.
  • Third, have patience. You don’t get to Level 5 Communication the first week of marriage. In fact, after 42 years of marriage, we still have to work at it.
Why am I boring you with this information? Because if we want to have a deep, intimate, soul-satisfying, authentic relationship with God, we need to communicate with Him at  Level 5 Communication. In order to get to that kind of genuine soul talk with God- which we call prayer- it requires hard work. It requires silence. How much of your life is lived in silence, removed from activity, noise, and distraction?
Second, authentic prayer requires time. It cannot happen in a few minutes, in your car driving to the next appointment. When was the last time you had a block of time- I mean an hour or two or three- just to commune with God?

Third, it takes patience. You have to work at this for a lifetime. It doesn’t happen instantly. So don’t give up- don’t be impatient but strive to have a conversation with God at a soul level.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

What kind of older person do you want to be?

What kind of older person do you want to be?

The question is not designed to describe where you want to live in your older years or how much money you have in your account.  Rather, the question has to do with your character, your personality, and your style of being as you see your life moving forward.

If I were to choose a biblical character who I would love to model in my older years, it would be Caleb.  He was one of twelve men entrusted by Moses with the responsibility of exploring Canaan, in anticipation of a Hebrew invasion.  Ten said, ‘No, we can’t take back the land.’  Joshua and Caleb said, ‘Yes, we can!’

When we read about Caleb again in Joshua 14:6-14, he is in his mid-eighties.  Most of the younger Israelites were being intimidated by the enemy’s fighting ability.  Not Caleb!  He stepped forward to take on the challenge, to fight and take the mountain. (Read Joshua 14)

Three times in this chapter the word ‘wholeheartedly’ is used to describe him.  Everything he did, he did with his whole heart.  This is the kind of man he became.  His enthusiasm, faith, and toughness were not by accident.  Whatever he has done, he has done it wholeheartedly with nothing held back.

It takes a disciple, a determination to live life like that.  I have known a few people like Caleb in my lifetime—and I have to be honest – they are rare.  He was always a man who had strong convictions and lived by them.  He was a man who loved challenges and preferred the toughest of all.  He was a man who had unlimited faith that the God of his youth is the God of his old age.  When others were fearful, he wasn’t.

How many men or women do you know like that- let alone 85-year-olds?  What kind of older person do you want to be?

Here are some of the characteristics I hope to have in my toolbox from the older people I have admired through the years.  I’m confident they were in Caleb’s.
1.        An attitude of gratitude.  This means having a spirit of thankfulness, rather than ‘the world owes me’ attitude.
2.       A mind that is sharp and agile.  I don’t want to quit learning.  I want to revel in new things and new ideas.  If my eyes can’t read anymore, I’ll find someone to read to me.
3.       “I never want to retire.”  Now, that doesn’t mean walk away from a job or a position.  I mean never retire from a life mission of becoming more like Jesus, using your gifts and talents to influence others to Jesus.  Your income production may change but your value production need not change.
4.       Pave the way for the next generation. Let's take an enthusiastic interest in the accomplishments of the younger generation, making them successful whenever possible. 
5.        Don’t be afraid of death.  We should strive to have the attitude of Paul when he writes in Philippians 1:21-24: “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.  But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.  I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me.  But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.”
What characteristics would you add to the list?  We all are growing older, so what kind of older person do you want to be?  Respond to me with your answers.