FeelMyFaith.com

Creative Biblical content at the intersection of life and faith.

Brian is the author of #TheWalk and Lionheart, as well as a contributor to the Faith, Hope, and Love Daily Devotional.  He is a pastor and teacher.  Brian speaks regularly for various groups and events.  FeelMyFaith.com began as a writing project in 2007 and has expanded into the media outlet of Brian's ministry.

3 - It’s All in What You Know - You Are Changing

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-4 ESV)

Yesterday we said that we can count it all joy in the trail because we know that God is working even when a situation is unwelcome.  According to James 1:2-4, there is also joy in knowing a second truth in the trial.

We are most changed when we are most challenged.
If you have ever worked out in a public gym, scenes such as these should be familiar.





The problem is that most of the people who become the hilarious spectacle known as the epic gym failure are usually wearing the nicest gym clothes.  They look the part - often a little “too much.”  They speak the language.  They drink the shakes.  They have mastered “the grunt.” They sit on all of the equipment, but they have no idea how to use it.
What ensues is an epic demonstration of weakness, form, and ignorance.  
Isn’t that often the case with our faith?  We talk a big game when things are going great, but there is no real strength to our faith.  Then, when life drops, we can’t hold up under the weight.  
Throughout his letter, James will confront 6 versions of weak faith that talk a big game, but have no strength and are easily shattered when life drops.

a)  1:19-27 - the person who hears the sermons, but there is no noticeable life change.
b)  2:1-13 -  the church that is judgmental, prejudice, and partial. 
c)  2:14-26 - the guy who says he believes, but does nothing.
d)  3:1-18 - the person who has the vocabulary of faith, but otherwise can’t control his tongue.
e)  4:1-17 - the church that is full of infighting, division, and worldliness.
f)  5:1-20 - the church that has real needs, but has no power because it is full of doctrinal error and greed.
If we were honest about our faith and honest about the modern church, especially in light of James’ 6 epic failures, we would say “it is not working” and that “it is now effective” and that “it is not powerful.”
We need strength.  The trial is key to the development of our strength.

The word steadfastness means the ability to hold up under something.  James says that in our trials that the longer we hold up under it, the stronger we will become.  But strength is not the only goal.  The ultimate goal is that we may be perfect, which means mature, complete, lacking nothing.  That means in short, that we develop such a strong faith that it becomes LIFEPROOF.

And this is what we want, a strong effective faith.  Look at what is happening at the end of the book.  Someone is suffering and so they are called to pray, anoint the person with oil and confess sin.  The effect is that the person is forgiven and healed.  The paragraph says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”  It is a powerful, effective faith that works!   

The Book of James is about saving us from gross error that when tested will shatter our faith.  The book ends, “My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins (5:19-20).”  In other words, we need to save them from being shattered.  We need to encase our life in a faith that is real. 

If we are going to change, we must be challenged.

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2 - It’s All in What You Know - God is Working

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-4 ESV)
Count it all joy?  Seriously?
When life drops it is hard to see the joy.
You’ve just been diagnosed with cancer, joy?
The pressure at your work is difficult to bear, joy?
You and your spouse hardly talk, joy?
There is too much month at the end of the money, joy?
1st century Jews of the dispersion who have fled for your life from intense persecution, are you having fun yet?
Joy?
According to James, it’s all in what you know.
According to these verses, we know two things in the trial
We know that even when the situation is unwelcome, God is working.
The verse refers to “trials of various kinds.”  The trial is an unwelcome situation.  Money issue.  Physical issue.  In the case of the first readers of James, persecution.  These are the life drops - the difficulties of being on an imperfect planet with imperfect people.  
James teaches us that even though a situation is unwelcome and unexpected that no situation is ever beyond the bounds of the sovereignty of God.  Life will drop you.  God will not.
As a matter of fact, the passage says in 1:12 that God is paying attention to our response and He rewards us when we respond rightly to the trial.  So we can count it joy because we know that God is not only working, He is watching.
There are various places in the Bible in which people stayed encouraged during adversity.  How?  Because they didn’t necessarily understand the significance of what was happening, but they knew God was working.  
  • In Acts 5 the apostles were arrested and beaten for preaching the name of Christ.  That is certainly unwelcome.  But the Bible says they left the council “rejoicing that they had been counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”  They saw God working in what was otherwise unwelcome.
  • In Hebrews the author speaks of the chastening of God, discipline He brings into our lives.  Certainly unwelcome, but not unwarranted and something in which God is working.  “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”  He. 12:11
  • Paul had a thorn in his flesh he asked God to remove.  God refused.  He did so to teach Paul about His grace.  The thorn was unwelcome but God was working.

Your situation may be unwelcome, but be assured, God is working.  Joy.
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1 - Lifedrops

Whether you are a smartphone lover or a hater who only has one out of necessity, we all share a common fear, THE DROP.  In an instant your $600 window to the world becomes a useless piece of shattered glass.  
The company Lifeproof has created a successful business by manufacturing what has become a necessary accessory to the smartphone - protection.  Lifeproof makes no technological contribution to your device; instead Lifeproof helps your phone do the one thing your phone does not do well - LIFE.
The people at Lifeproof know what is coming at your phone - YOU.  Drops.  Toilets.  Kids.  Sweat.  Dogs.  A lonely, lost overnight stay in the last place you set it down - in the rain.  There is no app for that.
James writes a letter to a group of Jewish Christians in the 1st century who started well.  If you heard them speak the language of faith, you would detect no issues with the lingo.  But they are suffering a serious life drop.  Dispersion.  They are being persecuted.  They are fleeing and as they do they leave behind everything familiar - family, work, peace.  
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.  (James 1:1 ESV)
But you must understand, James was not writing them because they were scattered.  James was writing to them because they were shattered.
So how are you doing with those “life drops?”
In many ways our life is like our phone.  It looks and sounds great when things are going well, but when life drops, we easily shatter.  Don’t you agree?  It should be much more difficult to fall apart.
In chapter 1 verse 2, James mentions “trials of various kinds”; life drops.  Financial issues.  Physical issues.  Marital issues.  Family issues.  Whatever form they take, trials are unwelcome, unexpected experiences.  We all have them.
Whatever the trial brings, these are the moments that go deeper than what you say.  They go deeper than what people see.  It is easy to say all is well and look the part.  But when the hard stuff hits, one of two things will happen - you will either hold together or shatter.
The Book of James is about encasing your soul in something life proof - authentic faith.  
My intent with these posts is to flesh out in print a teaching from the book of James as I also flesh it out through preaching to our church.  Hopefully the print versions will be a blessing as it will afford me the opportunity to share some thoughts and ideas from my preaching notes that may not necessarily make their way into the pulpit version.  

Follow along.  Let’s encase our soul in a life proof faith. 
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Get #TheWalk for Father's Day Weekend - $1.99




$1.99 FATHER'S DAY WEEKEND SPECIAL ON #THEWALK KINDLE EDITION. (SATURDAY AND SUNDAY) Click HERE: ...
Posted by The Walk on Friday, June 19, 2015
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Back Porch Psalms - Psalm 9 (Replay)

When we spend so much time in a verbally negative culture, how can we be affected but not infected?

Originally shared via Periscope.


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Back Porch Psalms - Psalm 6

Psalm 6 is our prayer after a sleepless, tear filled night.  It is the petition from our pain that seeks an answer from God of why life is so unfair and how long He will allow it to go on.  

Join me each morning for Back Porch Psalms live on Periscope.  

 




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Back Porch Psalms - Psalm 5

Prayer is to be honest, but not careless; spontaneous but not thoughtless.  A day well prepared in prayer helps one to remain in the presence of God even in times of deep distress. 

Join me each morning on Periscope for Back Porch Psalms. 




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Back Porch Psalms - Psalm 4

How do we pray in times of distress?  Our prayers in distress are important, but so are our actions.  How do we respond in times of distress?  Learn how as we take some time to meditate and pray through Psalm 4.


If you want to be notified when Back Porch Psalms go live, follow me on Periscope.
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God's Ungrateful Guest

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.  (1 John 3:1 ESV)
How often do I respond to God’s grace as if I am an ungrateful guest rather than His son?
The language of the gospel offers the invitation for me to abide in Him, enjoy communion with Him, to be guided and guarded by Him, to be loved.  God says I am His child.
Yet I only want to leave.  I do not want a place to dwell, I only want a place to stay.  In His grace He opens to me His home, yet I use it like a cheap hotel room.  I have no intent to connect with Him, I just need the password to the wifi.  I have no intent to commune.  I am staying here because I can get a free breakfast.  And then I’ll be on my way.
The gospel calls me to be a citizen of Heaven.  I go through the day more like someone staying at Hampton Inn.
Hey God, when I need you, I’ll call you.  I’ll make a reservation along the way - what’s the rate?  It’s all on my terms, in my time - can you help me with my luggage?  Whoops, I sinned.  Will you forgive me.  Thanks.  I’ll be on my way.  I have no intent to stay.
I’ll be back.  And when I return, I expect the same kind of service.  I’ll let you know.  See you soon.
I act like an honors member entitled to points.  I act nothing like a son.
This is not the language of a child to a father.  Our language to Him in prayer sounds more like the things we say to a clerk at a hotel.  We are His children, not His guests.  
His language to us is that of a Father who opens to us His home.  He does not intend for us to stop by.  He intends for us to stay.  The gospel is not an invitation to use a nice room, it is an invitation to dwell in the presence of God.  
Christ did not suffer the crucifixion so we could check-in and check-out.  He died so we could stay.  If I am as close to God as I am a hotel counter clerk, I have cheapened grace.  
Good morning.  Thanks for the newspaper.  I switched my door hanger from “do not disturb” to “housekeeping” so they can now clean up my mess.  I’ll be gone all day.
God bless me today.  I read my devotion, thanks for the encouragement.  Forgive me of my sins - because that’s what you do.  And now I will walk away from this prayer, AMEN, as if it doesn’t matter what I do all day. 
Never a word to the Almighty the rest of the way.  Tomorrow morning - same routine, same lack of intimacy.  It is more like the interactions we see in the breakfast nook at a hotel lobby than it is like children in communion with God.  
Each day should be lived like I know I am home.  I have been with God.  I have heard His voice.  He is impacting my life.  I am accountable to Him.  He defends me.  He provides for me.  He is my father - He is not room service.

His intent is to connect with me as a father to a child.  He does not consider me His guest.
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How To Make Millions

From God’s Word I am going to show you not only how to plug the drain, but to turn on the faucet.  We need to stop the drain, but we also need to make some gain.
If you could, would you not only be willing to stop the drain, but would you be willing to make millions?  What I am about to say may shock you, but if you follow Jesus you should not want less, but more - millions!



">How to Make Millions from Brian Branam on Vimeo.
Are you making an investment with God's resources or simply holding on and just trying to plug the drain. Learn how to not only stop the drain in your finances, but how to turn on the faucet to true wealth.

Brian Branam is the Lead Pastor of 
Liberty Baptist Church in Dalton, GA 
and the author of #TheWalk, now on Kindle for just $3.49.
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Jesus Just Stops (An Excerpt from #TheWalk)

God is the prime mover, but He is not a fast mover.  As prime mover, God set all things in motion.  As a general mover, God is frustratingly slow.  Two stories serve to demonstrate.
The pace of Luke 8 seems fast and furious.  Jesus is healing.  He is teaching.  His family is looking for Him.  He is caught in a turbulent storm that He calms while crossing the sea.  He casts demons out of a maniac man who lives in a graveyard.  There is a lot happening.  The more He does, the more attention He draws and the crowd grows.
When it seems like the stories have reached fever pitch, Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue falls at Jesus‘ feet and asks Jesus to accompany him to his house.  His twelve-year-old daughter is sick and dying.  Jairus is desperate for Jesus to heal her.  Jairus thinks he needs Jesus to move fast.  Jesus is more interested in helping Jairus go far. 
As much as Jesus has going on, He complies and begins the walk toward Jairus‘ home.  The next part of the verse sets the scene, “As Jesus went, the people pressed around him” (Luke 8:42).  Imagine a throng of people, each of whom has needs, vying for Jesus‘ attention as He walks.  The scene is loud and chaotic.
All of the sudden, Jesus stops.  Unknown to the crowd, a woman with a blood issue has touched the hem of Jesus‘ garment and is healed.  She has dealt with this problem for twelve years and had spent all of her money on physicians who all failed to help her.  Like Jairus, she is also desperate.  
Her problem probably caused her to have a constant menstrual flow.  An issue of blood in Jewish culture was not merely a physical problem, but a spiritually crippling one.  Because of the flow of blood, she was constantly unclean and would not have been allowed to enter into the Temple for worship.  
Jesus stops.  Though the crowd has no idea of what happened, Jesus knows.  With all that is going on, Jesus is able somehow to focus on one thing.  The Master is not a multi-tasker.
In the midst of a throng of people that is described by Luke as a “press”, Jesus addresses the crowd and asks a question:  “Who was it that touched me?”  
The Bible says that everyone in the crowd denied it, yet Jesus must have persisted to know.  Peter, wanting to bring some logic to the situation, tells Jesus that it is impossible to know who touched Him.  It is a press of people.  A press is a group so large you have to keep moving, but you are stopping.  Who touched You?  Everyone is touching You!
Yet someone touched Jesus in a way that power came out of Him and He knew it.  Eventually, the woman reveals herself, and Jesus simply says to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” - Luke 8:48 (ESV)
Luke records nothing of Jairus’ reaction in this moment.  As the father of two daughters, I cannot ignore the man.  Luke says little of him in the scene at this point, but I can see him.  Time is running out.  In his mind the solution is in hand, but far from where it really needs to be.  We must keep moving.
For a man who needs Jesus to move fast, walking would be difficult enough; stopping and taking the time to poll the crowd for a mystery toucher would have been excruciating.  In Jairus’ mind his total focus must have been on the fact that it appeared by stopping for the woman, Jesus was going nowhere.  
It is inexplicable, but there are times in walking with God, that when it seems we need Him to move the most, He stops.
The progression to the next part of the scene is heartbreaking.  The Bible says while Jesus was still speaking, as if He is putting the final touches on His statements about the triumph of the woman’s faith, Jairus receives the most devastating news.  A nameless woman in the crowd may have been healed, but “Jairus, your daughter is dead.”  The bearer of the bad news follows up his statement: “do not trouble the Teacher anymore.”
Too late.
Too slow.


For the nameless woman, the stop was the beginning of new life.  For Jairus, the stop appeared to be the end of life.  Don’t trouble the Teacher anymore.  He’s too busy dealing with other things. 

Read the rest - #THEWALK, now on Kindle for just $3.49.  Get your copy today.


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How to Help When Mother's Day Hurts (Part 2)

I have a great mother who is involved in my life.  I have been married to the same wonderful woman since Feb. 1, 1997 and she is the mother of both of my daughters.  Mother’s Day is a joyous, easy fit holiday for our family. 
Sometimes life is not made for holidays.  Hallmark has yet to create a card that explains every situation.  Under certain circumstances, the perceptions of Mother’s Day may range from an annual reminder of loss to an empty celebration of a relationship someone never had. 
Yet, in our perfection and dysfunction, we all sit together in church.  In comes Mother’s Day, once a year, with a glossary of stereotypes, categorical assumptions, and ignorance of the caveats of life that may make celebrating motherhood at bit uneasy.
What do we do when Mother’s Day hurts?
How do we avoid, amongst the people of God, emotional separation in a day of celebration? How can we do Mother’s Day in a way that is not insensitive but at the same time remains sincere?  
In my previous post I stated the first two of four ways I believe we may help when Mother's Day hurts.

Everyday needs grace.
Celebrate the story of the gospel.

Below are the final two ways I believe we may be able to help hurting people on Mother's Day.

Speak to the opportunity all women have on Mother’s Day.   
On the Saturday before Mother’s Day I attended a birthday party.  Joan Hamrick was there.  There is nothing genetically that connects me to her, yet when I introduced her to someone at the party I put my arm around her and said, “This is Ms. Joan.  She is a mother to me.  I have lots of moms.”  
There was nothing in my statement that diminished the role of my own mother in my life.  There was nothing in my statement that took away from Ms. Joan’s role in raising her own son, who was also at the party.  Instead, the statement echoes something incredibly Biblical that rings true for all of us.  In Christ there are familial bonds that are birthed of which no hospital on the planet has record.  There is no birth certificate sufficient to explain the birth of the church.
If there is anything unfortunate in Mother’s Day, it is the way we ignore these otherwise unnatural bonds that are critical to the story of our faith.  Pat Bishop, Ellen Eaker, Wanda Altman, Carol Lea, Jessie Foster, Bernice Mueller, Janice Swanson, Kathy Johnson - there is a massive roll call of women in my story, many of them having their own children, some who had no birth children - yet all of them playing a critical, mothering role in my life.  
Birth is the most common way in which we think a woman becomes a mother, but it is not the exclusive way.
Mother’s Day should celebrate the role women play in mothering our faith, but it should also raise the awareness of a myriad of children in our culture who are in desperate need of a godly woman to step into their story.  This need also raises the ugly reality that birth doesn’t qualify a woman to be a mother.  Some women possess the biology but lack the character and love it takes to finish the job of mom.  If this is the case, the lack of birth doesn’t disqualify a woman from being a mom.  God has gifted far more women than we celebrate with a holiday to be moms. 
Be thankful for your spiritual moms.  Hug them.  Celebrate them.  Share with them the impact they have made on your life.  We don't have to wait until a holiday to give honor to whom honor is due. 
Use the day to advocate.
I did a better job of it last year, but on Mother’s Day we should be advocates for adoption and champions for the sanctity of life.  Mother’s Day should be the ultimate celebration of life.  As stated above, there are so many ways that women step into our stories and give us life, but how incredibly intentional does that life giving capacity of women become when they give life to a child who otherwise has none? 
In 2014 I set aside my sermon and asked three mothers to tell their stories to our congregation.  Two of them were adoptive moms.  One of them a single mom.  The third mother was adopted when she was a child.  We set their stories up in a panel discussion type format, but it was greater than any sermon on the subject I could have offered.  The experience not only enriched my life, but it touched many people in the audience and expanded our view of exactly what it means to be a mother.  
Mother’s Day give us an opportunity to advocate for something that is incredibly gospel centered; to protect the lives of the unborn and to give familial connection to those who have been abandoned.  We cannot ignore the fact that every person who believes in Christ has been adopted (Gal. 4:5-7).

Mother’s Day is not a perfect day.  Life on planet Earth, post-sin, provides us with many painful caveats.  Yet the hope of the gospel gives us reason not to allow loss and trial to overcome us, or any of our days.  May God bless us with more life giving moms and let’s look forward to celebrating what Christ has done again, next year on Mother’s Day.

Brian Branam is the Lead Pastor of 
Liberty Baptist Church in Dalton, GA 
and the author of #TheWalk.

Pic credit to: just4u, http://www.freeimages.com/photo/587236

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How to Help When Mother's Day Hurts (Part 1)

I have a great mother who is involved in my life.  I have been married to the same wonderful woman since Feb. 1, 1997 and she is the mother of both of my daughters.  Mother’s Day is a joyous, easy fit holiday for our family. 
Sometimes life is not made for holidays.  Hallmark has yet to create a card that explains every situation.  Under certain circumstances, the perceptions of Mother’s Day may range from an annual reminder of loss to an empty celebration of a relationship someone never had. 
Yet, in our perfection and dysfunction, we all sit together in church.  In comes Mother’s Day, once a year, with a glossary of stereotypes, categorical assumptions, and ignorance of the caveats of life that may make celebrating motherhood at bit uneasy.
What do we do when Mother’s Day hurts?
How do we avoid, amongst the people of God, emotional separation in a day of celebration? How can we do Mother’s Day in a way that is not insensitive but at the same time remains sincere?  
Every day needs grace.
We live in a highly sensitive culture that makes an impossible demand - get it right for everybody.  Fortunately the church is a community of grace that embraces us when we don’t get it right at all.  Romans 14 teaches the church how to handle our days with grace.
Some people will find a holiday hard to live without.  Some will find a holiday hard to live with.  It is required of both parties to use a measure of grace to realize what a holiday is and what it isn’t.  Paul warns us not to esteem any day as so important that we lose sight of Christ.
Mother’s Day doesn’t make a mother, but mothers make the day.  A mom with children should not be made to feel guilty for her family on Mother’s Day.  At the same time the day should not be used to deflate or devalue those who are not.  Yet grace gives us a loving way to handle our days that creates a bond between us despite the variables in our community of circumstances.  
Mother’s Day is an opportune time to share incredible stories of how God’s love has created familial relationships, helped in times of loss, or provided sustaining strength in a world not ready made for Hallmark.  In a culture that questions the value of birth and by its innuendoes communicates that parenting is a hassle; grace creates a place where the stories of women who want, love, lose, adopt, have big families or struggle to have any family are shared.  In grace each find a place.  
Some of my favorite moments of Mother’s Day, through the lens of a pastor, are not in the conversations we avoid, but they come while listening to the conversations grace demands.  Grace creates a place where the mother who lost an unborn child receives strength, love, and counsel from the matriarch of many.  At the table of grace sits an adoptive mother who shows a new mom how to handle her colicky baby.  Grace makes Mother’s Day beautiful. 
Grace liberates us from an environment of legalism in which sensitivity is the law and celebrates the story of motherhood in an imperfect world.  Every day needs grace.
Celebrate the story of the gospel.
Following the curse, Adam inaugurated the first celebration of moms.  In Genesis 3:15 God informed the serpent that a child would be born of the woman who would crush the tyranny of Satan and liberate us from the curse of sin.  
Adam understood well the prophecy and responded by changing the name of his wife, a woman who at the time had no children, to Eve which means “mother of all living (Gen. 3:20).”
While we do live in a world that struggles with infertility and infant death, we cannot deny that every person that exists can celebrate God’s goodness in preserving the blessing of God to be fruitful and multiply.  We have been born.
In Mother’s Day we should also be reminded that the Son of God has been born of woman (Galatians 4:4).  It is through His virgin birth, atoning death, and victorious resurrection that we find new birth.  
What we will deal with in this life, until the return of Christ, will always be an imperfect version Mother’s Day.  There will always be loss and caveats to our sin cursed stories that will bring pain into the holiday.  We are all vulnerable.  Therefore, Mother’s Day should not simply be a recognition of mother’s but a proclamation of the hope we have in Christ.
Mother’s Day should remind us of the gospel story.  It is a story that tells us, yes, you have been born, but we must be born again.  It is also a story that reminds us that in whatever situation we find ourselves on Mother’s Day, there is a meta-narrative that comforts us all, reminding us that in Christ all things will be made new.  His grace is sufficient.  He has not left us hopeless. 
Mother’s Day should carry with it the proclamation that for every broken hearted woman, no matter the circumstance, that we have a Savior who has stepped into our story.  The gospel gives us hope in the loss of every unborn child.  The gospel speaks into the grief of every mother who has ever said goodbye to a child of any age.  The power of Jesus being the firstborn from the dead brings the potential of fertility where there is none.  
When Adam heard the gospel it compelled him to look at his wife in a whole new way.  She was not yet a mother in one sense - in another sense, she already was and would always be a mother.  However, one chapter later she would lose a child.  Even after Cain killed his brother Abel, the gospel preserved the meaning of Eve.  Because of the birth of Christ, she would always retain the title Mother of all Living.  Through Christ, there is a dignity every woman shares with Eve.  The gospel is that powerful.  
I am sure in the centuries of life God gave them on the planet, that Adam and Eve experienced every conceivable heartbreaking story that threatens to crash a Happy Mother’s Day.  Yet Adam and Eve heard the gospel in the promise of the Savior’s birth and it gave them hope as they walked away from the garden as exiles into a less than perfect world.
Because of the gospel none of us are exiles on Mother’s Day.

Brian Branam is the Lead Pastor of 
Liberty Baptist Church in Dalton, GA 
and the author of #TheWalk.

Pic credit to: just4u, http://www.freeimages.com/photo/587236


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Your Biggest Money Mistake



Spending is a character choice, not a dollar amount.



">Your Biggest Money Mistake from Brian Branam on Vimeo.
Spending is a character choice, not a dollar amount.
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Just the Quotes from Exponential East 2015











Jim Tomberlin
  • “If they can do this in Mississippi, it will work at your church.”
  • “Growing churches have collaborative leadership teams.”
  • “God breathed into us the desire to be fruitful and productive.  God mastered multiplication (Gen. 1:28).”
Ying Kai
  • “We’ve been asking people to come when we should be telling people to go.”
  • “People don’t share the gospel because they don’t know where to start and they don’t know what to say.”
  • “Don’t ask for permission to share the gospel.  We don’t need permission to share Jesus’ love.”
Steve Murrell
  • “Jesus’ job, build the church.  Our job, make disciples.”
  • “In the western church ‘discipleship’ is a class to help members become better members.”
Joby Martin
    • On Matthew 16:19, “Are you building key rings, or handing out keys?”
  • Steve Stroope
    • “Acts 1:8 is not sequential, it is simultaneous.”
    • “Leadership is anticipation.”
Dave Ferguson
  • “The words we use reinforce the values of our culture.”
J.D. Greear
  • “Get beyond the idea that the call is for very few and the rest of us are just here to pay for them.”
  • “The future of the Great Commission is not in the hands of pastors, but in the hands of ordinary people who are disciples who make disciples.”
  • On John 16:7 “We are better off with the Holy Spirit in us than we are with Jesus beside us.”
  • On James 4:1-4 “How much of what we ask for, do we ask for as an adulterer?”
  • “What we do in church will not reach a majority of people because a majority of the unchurched people have no plans to be there.”
Mario Vega
  • Rough translation, “I had one of our men call me this week and ask, ‘How can I plant a church in Chattanooga?’  I don’t even know where Chattanooga is, but I told him, ‘Here is how you plant a church.’”
Michael Frost
  • “It is the stories we tell that give us the courage to believe and the strategy to reach the goal.”
Randy Frazee
  • “Is your church a starfish or a spider?”
Mark Jobe
  • On restarting dying and declining churches. “What you do with the first one will either open new doors for you, or close them forever.  Other people will hear how you do this.”
Derwin Gray
  • “Is who we are worth multiplying?”
  • “What we need in America is multiplied weakness; tear filled pastors.”
Danielle Strickland
  • “Let them see you bleed.”
Bob Roberts
  • “We don’t know how to do ministry in the open square because we don’t know how to love well.”
Ajai Lall
  • “We live in a world full of extremists.  It is time for Christian extremism.  Extreme love.  Extreme compassion.  Extreme forgiveness.  Extreme concern for the lost.”
Max Lucado
  • “Your actions have no thermostatic impact on God’s love.  God has determined to love you.”
  • On John 2, “‘They have no wine.’ You will never find a more naked, honest prayer than this one.”
  • “If prayer depends on us, we have no hope.  If prayer depends on the one who hears, then we have incredible hope.”
  • “Give your problems to Christ before they get to you.”
Oscar Muriu
  • “Do not let the smallness of your vision limit the greatness of our God.”
  • “Most of us know only sustaining faith (as opposed to mountain moving faith).  We under-challenge God.”
  • “An over abundance of caution is killing the church today.”
  • “Brave means God does not have to explain Himself to you.”
  • On Galatians 2:20, “Dead men are not afraid.”
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Best and Worst from Exponential East 2015











Last week I spent four days at Exponential East hosted by Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, FL.  Exponential is a movement of reproducing churches envisioned by Dave Ferguson, lead pastor of Community in Chicago.  This was my first time participating in the conference and I plan to return in 2016.  I left the place with a notebook full of takeaways.  Here is my list of the BEST and WORST from Exponential East 2015. 
  • WORST - Realizing how un-cool I really am.  Maybe it is the shape of my head or the shape of my face, but there is nothing about me that can pull off the whole “I’m wearing a toboggan in Florida in late April” thing and make it look awesome.  Scanning the crowd I realized that I was one of only a handful of people who did not have facial hair or a forearm full of tattoos.  As a matter of fact, I think I saw the other ten clean shaven, tat-less preachers at the Jacksonville pastor’s conference in January.  Hey fellas, next year let’s sit together and exchange Ike Reinhard tapes.  I am so 41, suburban, white guy pastor.
  • BEST - Not coming home from Tampa with tattoos, a toboggan, or facial hair.  Tattoos look like they hurt.  I’m too old to get that sort of thing started.  I sweat a lot, so a toboggan would only be torture.  My wife loves me clean shaven - AND THAT is all that really matters (if you know what I mean)!
  • WORST - The technical glitches during Eric Bramlett’s segments.  
  • BEST - Realizing that my church is not the only one Satan hates.  Technology remains very much in the realm of Hell and the Devil messes with all of us equally well.  
  • BEST - Eric Bramlett’s introduction of Max Lucado to a parody of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.  Even if somehow it remains possible that you are a Christian, have never been to Lifeway to pick up communion wafers, and know nothing about Max Lucado, you can still appreciate this.  If you know anything about the great Max Lucado - you will love this!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16Gg537_WrY
  • WORST - Looking on Google maps and thinking Port Richey is not far from Lutz; only to realize once you’re there that Florida is nothing but long stretches of toll roads.  Flight from Birmingham to Tampa - $250.  Daily commute on toll roads - flying is cheaper.
  • BEST - The 2 hour nap I took on Monday afternoon at the Hampton Inn in Port Richey. Great staff, great room, great price, very clean.  Pastor crash - much needed.
  • BEST - The Brazilian thing I ate for lunch on Wednesday.  I’m sorry that I can’t remember the vendor, nor do I have any idea what you called it - but HEY that big wrap of meat and stuff, it was really good. 
  • WORST - Thank you Exponential for the strategically placed snack baskets in hidden corners.  Your volunteer staff gave me the warm-fuzzies,,, BUT,,,, have you ever eaten a Nature Valley Oats and Honey bar?  Fiber - GOOD, resulting dental bill from eating honey coated concrete - BAD.
  • BEST - The Exponential red t-shirt volunteer staff.
  • WORST - The Exponential red t-shirt volunteer greeter guy that kept trying to touch me - on the way in - on the way out - OF EVERY SESSION.  Dude - I’m not a hugger.  Slow your roll.
  • BEST - The worship band with the mysterious violin girl - very Mumford of you all.
  • WORST - The worship band sitting behind you on the flight home and feeling the pressure of failing to share Jesus with the obnoxious Alabama fans beside you, while also having to exercise the Fruit of the Spirit - Don’t Punch People, the worship leader is watching you and so is God.
  • BEST - Propaganda.  Because most of my readers are probably more familiar with Bill Gaither than with hip-hop artists, allow me to explain.  Propaganda is a collision of Scripture and urban plight in spoken word.  In his lyrics he is harshly honest about what the church believes itself to be, what if fails to do, and what it categorically ignores about itself and the world it is called to engage.  I am not cool enough to have ever downloaded any Propaganda tracks.  My daughter loves him.  Yet at Exponential I was glued to every word.  Incredibly convicting. 
  • WORST - The moments when I imagined myself before my church, on stage beneath a single smoky spotlight, without notes, wearing a torn T-shirt, bringing rhythmic, poignant, edgy spoken word to the good Baptists of Northwest Georgia.  Not good.
  • Even worse - The guy who actually tried to do that last weekend at his church.  Please send YouTube link!
  • BEST - If @prophiphop would give me a follow back on Twitter!  I would get a ton of awesome pastor/dad points.  (That’s @BrianBranam just in case).
  • BEST - Multi-site workshops.  This is not to say that the other workshops were not stellar, but I actually signed up for Exponential because of the multi-site workshop, so I attended nothing else workshop wise.  I saw a lot of room 214 in the children’s wing.  The entire conference was more than I expected, but the multi-site sessions were everything I needed.  The speakers brought a great balance of content for the guys way down the path of multi-site while remaining relevant for those of us who are just entering the on-ramp.  
  • WORST - When I showed up a few minutes late to Randy Frazee’s session, he stopped what he was saying and asked, “Guy in the red shirt, who just joined us - why are you here?”  Oh crap, the guy who re-wrote the Bible just called me down like a sixth grader.  Me and Frazee, we’re good.  He emailed me his notes.  Great session.  Sorry I was late.  Please don’t tell on me to Max Lucado.  Yay Church of Christ.  He Chose the Nails, The Story, I’m a big fan.  Won’t happen again.    
  • BEST Quotes -
    • Jim Tomberlin
      • “If they can do this in Mississippi, it will work at your church.”
      • “Growing churches have collaborative leadership teams.”
      • “God breathed into us the desire to be fruitful and productive.  God mastered multiplication (Gen. 1:28).”
    • Ying Kai
      • “We’ve been asking people to come when we should be telling people to go.”
      • “People don’t share the gospel because they don’t know where to start and they don’t know what to say.”
      • “Don’t ask for permission to share the gospel.  We don’t need permission to share Jesus’ love.”
    • Steve Murrell
      • “Jesus’ job, build the church.  Our job, make disciples.”
      • “In the western church ‘discipleship’ is a class to help members become better members.”
    • Joby Martin
      • On Matthew 16:19, “Are you building key rings, or handing out keys?”
    • Steve Stroope
      • “Acts 1:8 is not sequential, it is simultaneous.”
      • “Leadership is anticipation.”
    • Dave Ferguson
      • “The words we use reinforce the values of our culture.”
    • J.D. Greear
      • “Get beyond the idea that the call is for very few and the rest of us are just here to pay for them.”
      • “The future of the Great Commission is not in the hands of pastors, but in the hands of ordinary people who are disciples who make disciples.”
      • On John 16:7 “We are better off with the Holy Spirit in us than we are with Jesus beside us.”
      • On James 4:1-4 “How much of what we ask for, do we ask for as an adulterer?”
      • “What we do in church will not reach a majority of people because a majority of people have no plans to be there.”
    • Mario Vega
      • Rough translation, “I had one of our men call me this week and ask, ‘How can I plant a church in Chattanooga?’  I don’t even know where Chattanooga is, but I told him, ‘Here is how you plant a church.’”
    • Michael Frost
      • “It is the stories we tell that give us the courage to believe and the strategy to reach the goal.”
    • Randy Frazee
      • “Is your church a starfish or a spider?”
    • Mark Jobe
      • On restarting dying and declining churches. “What you do with the first one will either open new doors for you, or close them forever.  Other people will hear how you do this.”
    • Derwin Gray
      • “Is who we are worth multiplying?”
      • “What we need in America is multiplied weakness; tear filled pastors.”
    • Danielle Strickland
      • “Let them see you bleed.”
    • Bob Roberts
      • “We don’t know how to do ministry in the open square because we don’t know how to love well.”
    • Ajai Lall
      • “We live in a world full of extremists.  It is time for Christian extremism.  Extreme love.  Extreme compassion.  Extreme forgiveness.  Extreme concern for the lost.”
    • Max Lucado
      • “Your actions have no thermostatic impact on God’s love.  God has determined to love you.”
      • On John 2, “‘They have no wine.’ You will never find a more naked, honest prayer than this one.”
      • “If prayer depends on us, we have no hope.  If prayer depends on the one who hears, then we have incredible hope.”
      • “Give your problems to Christ before they get to you.”
    • Oscar Muriu
      • “Do not let the smallness of your vision limit the greatness of our God.”
      • “Most of us know only sustaining faith (as opposed to mountain moving faith).  We under-challenge God.”
      • “An over abundance of caution is killing the church today.”
      • “Brave means God does not have to explain Himself to you.”
      • On Galatians 2:20, “Dead men are not afraid.”
  • WORST - That convicting feeling you get realizing all of the things you could have done and should have done.  The sense of loss in the years you did less than that for which the gospel calls.
  • BEST - Knowing that we have a redemptive God who is sovereign in all things.  He never fails.
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Why You? Why Easter?

Even though I am posting this on my blog I want to make a local, personal appeal to those of you who are within driving distance of North Murray High School in Chatsworth, GA.  If you can get there by 10:00 a.m. Easter Sunday morning - get there.  Why?
You may be thinking, yep, another big, over-hyped Easter church service.  I will go and hear the same sermon about the same thing that I have heard at every Easter service I have ever attended.
Not this Easter.
The resurrection is important and we will talk about it, but unless it answers your most serious questions, what’s the point?  
Have you ever cried out to God over and over again and it seems all you get is silence?  Me too.  On Easter Sunday morning - THIS is the sort of stuff we will begin to talk about.
Why do children who are being abused cry out to God for help, but the monster just keeps coming in?  Why do the people we need most in our lives get sick and die while it seems that evil people live long and continuously get their way?  Why do we struggle sexually to figure out who we are?  If the Bible teaches that we are not supposed to be homosexual, why is it that those desires can be so incredibly strong?  You may be a young wife who seems healthy in every way, you so desperately want to be a mom, but can’t.  Why not?  There are people on this planet who don’t deserve children, you’ve asked God for help - why not you?
This Easter Sunday I want to begin a conversation with you about the question you want answered the most - WHY ME?  
There are a million versions of the question.  Somewhere in your story it has been left unanswered.  Why me?  
It is time for answers.  Let’s talk!  
Please join me, Easter Sunday, in the North Murray High School auditorium for this critical conversation.
Why Me?
Easter Sunday, 10:00 a.m.
Chatsworth, GA 30705    
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Manipulation, See the Strings, Cut the Strings (Video)

Is someone manipulating you?  Manipulators emotionally turn people into puppets.  How do you see the strings and cut the strings of manipulation?









">Manipulation Man from Brian Branam on Vimeo.
If manipulation were a super power, could you identify the man behind its mask? Probably not. Manipulation is subtle, deceptive, and cunning. It turns people into puppets. The ultimate danger is when the people of God don't know the difference between being manipulated by man or being led by the Spirit of God.
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