Friday, October 30, 2009

Grace Defined

Maybe this sketch will help explain the concept of grace a little better than I can. Although this video is almost ten minutes long, it's totally worth every second.

You're welcome.

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pray On, Sister!

I just read this blog and it made me feel really good... until I read some of the comments. There is a traditional belief in most churches of Christ that says women should not pray aloud if a Christian man is present. I'm gonna come right out and say it:


I may be way off base in my beliefs, but I honestly don't think I am. The Scriptures say that women should not have authority over men (1 Tim 2:12), which is another highly debated subject in and of itself. However, it doesn't say that women cannot pray aloud in the presence of men. As a matter of fact, doesn't Paul (the author of 1 Timothy) clearly state in other passages that we should pray for one another? I find it insane to think that he meant for us to be so legalistic as to not allow our wives or sisters or daughters to pray for us while we are present. Men, what happens when you're having a hard time with your faith and can't find the words to lead your family to God's throne in prayer? Does your family simply not pray? Somehow I doubt it. If that is the case, think about this: dads who have good relationships with their daughters who get married and move away want to hear from their daughters, regardless of whether their husband is in the room or not. When they don't, they feel slighted and unloved. Do you think our heavenly Father wants to hear from his girls on a regular basis, regardless of who else is there? I do. God always wants to hear from the women He created. It strengthens the Father/daughter bond that women need. It also promotes unity within families. That unity should spread throughout the Church and promote unity of God's family.

That's what I think about it. What do you think?

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Back To Basics, part 4

So far, we've talked about our spiritual blessings in Jesus, being adopted into his family, and the grace he gives. Now, let's talk about unity.

Eph 2:11-22 (NIV)
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

As I mentioned in the last post, we were all at one point or another separated from God. We had no part in his family, his promises, his hope. But now, since we have believed in Jesus and named him Ruler of our lives, we have been included in the family of God to share in the hope of eternal life and all the promises that come with being his children. We have been brought near to Christ by his blood, reconciled to God, and unified as a family.

"We are not foreigners, not aliens. We're citizens, members of his household.
We seek the good, misunderstood, a brotherhood living for his household.

Once we had no hope, not a will to live.
Now we are a family with so much love to give.

We are joined together to become a holy temple,
built together to become a dwelling place where God can live."

Bonus points for anyone who can name the source of that quote.

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Back To Basics, part 3

It's been quite a while since I blogged on this topic (sorry about that), so I wanted to try to catch up with Ephesians 2 and see if we can unpack this short-but-powerful portion of God's word to us. As usual, feedback/discussion is welcomed and encouraged.

Eph 2:1-10 (NIV)
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Let's break this down from the beginning. Paul is saying that we who follow Christ were not really living before we came to know Christ. We were simply existing, being led by the adversary instead of by the King. He says the adversary is the one in charge of those who are disobedient to God. We all did it. We all made selfish choices that we thought would make us happy and satisfied for the moment, not caring about the consequences of our actions or thoughts. We just wanted what we wanted when we wanted it. We didn't care about what God wanted for us. Then he calls us something peculiar, "objects of wrath." That means that we started off separated from God. That doesn't mean he hated us; he has always loved us because he created us. But it does mean that he was frustrated and angry with us because we were not at all interested in getting to know him and what he has in store for those who love and follow him. That's the way we all were.

But, since he loves us so much, he pursued us and pulled us out of the dead lives we were living and gave us new life in the name of Jesus Christ. It's called "grace."

{Let's pause here for a moment. I think one of the best explainations of grace (and mercy) was made this way:

Grace is getting what we don't deserve, mercy is not getting what we do deserve.

Mind-blowing, isn't it?}

Now, this grace that we believers have been given is a result of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. God is so kind and loving to us that he purposefully sent Jesus to become the sacrifice for our sins in order to rescue us from this age in which we live and offer us joyful, peaceful, unmatched, unending, unimaginable life!

Ain't that good news?! Can I get an "amen?"

And all of this is done by us having faith (putting our complete trust and loyalty into something or someone) in Jesus, nothing else. There is nothing that we can do to earn God's grace. It is given as a free gift to all who will accept it. And this grace is such a wonderful gift that God tells us to share the grace we've been given with those who need it. Who needs it? We all do! If we didn't, then what would be the reason for grace in the first place? Although we don't do anything to earn it, grace becomes our reaction to this gift. Part of showing our gratitude to God is sharing grace with the people that God created and placed in our lives. As a matter of fact, God prepared in advance gracious works for us to do so that we could use his gift to its fullest potential.

Is any of this making sense?

Talk to me.

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Monday, October 26, 2009

Water, Anyone?

I was checking out the Compassion International website and came across this blog. Please give it a look as soon as you can. Someone needs you now.

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Amazing Love!

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Romans 5:1-11 New Living Translation

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One Million Strong and Growing

You, too, can release a child from poverty in Jesus' name.
Sponsor a child through Compassion International today.

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

And I Quote...

"Short-term sacrifice means long-term benefits."
-Allen Smith, The Biggest Loser (season 8)

Peace, Love, and Dark Chocolate ('cause it's healthier!)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pure Joy

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Then And Now

Acappella twenty years ago...

Acappella ten years ago...

Acappella three months ago...

Isn't nostalgia fun?!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

I Love My Wife!

I want to take this moment to make it abundantly clear that I have the sweetest wife on the planet! Last night I had a lot of trouble sleeping, which is super important since my alarm goes off at 5:00 AM. Stephanie knew I wouldn't be able to fall asleep by just laying there, so she stayed up with me and we talked about all kinds of stuff - our goals for ourselves, family aspirations, frustrations. We talked about our desire to live healthy lives and cut out the junk. We talked about our financial situation and how we hope to improve it. We talked about the different things that cause us fear. She encouraged me in my new work endeavors and my exsisting work with Acappella. She encouraged me as a parent. She encouraged me as a friend. Most importantly, we prayed about all of it... together. I can't think of a better best friend to have! I love you, Baby!!

Husbands, if you're not praying with your wives on a regular basis, now is a perfect time to start. Wives, if you're not encouraging your husbands on a regular basis, now is a perfect time to start. What has happened in the past is exactly that - in the past. It's time to leave it there and move forward toward the goal that God has set before us.

I'd almost be willing to bet that my wife can "out-sweet" any other wife on any given day. Any takers?

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Monday, October 05, 2009

My Resilient Heritage

Today is an important day in the Brannon family. On this day, October 5, 1941, my dad, B. C. Brannon preached his first sermon. He is the only person I know of who has been a preacher for 68 years and is still at it! Although his health is not as steady as it once was, he still manages to find the motivation to study every day and prepare two sermons for each Sunday. I was beginning to wonder if he would be able to preach any more after coming down with pneumonia around his 90th birthday back in April, but my doubts were proven wrong in August. I haven't gotten to hear him preach since early last year, but I know he still "brings it" every time.

For those of you who know some of the history of the Churches of Christ, especially black churches, you know the name Marshall Keeble. Dad was baptized by Marshall Keeble back in 1939 and began studying to be a preacher at Keeble's seminary in Fort Smith, AR.

B. C. Brannon is my hero. He has been considered a great evangelist, a pioneer in the black Churches of Christ, and (most importantly) my dad. I am so proud of my dad and the legacy he is leaving for me. Someone who is determined to keep telling the Good News of Jesus until he is physically and/or mentally unable to do so will always have my utmost respect and admiration.

Even though there are only about seven people who attend services there on a regular basis, I will always have a certain fondness for the Jim Hall Street Church of Christ. It was the church where I grew up. It was where I made the decision to follow Jesus. It was where I was baptized. More importantly, it was where I saw my daddy at work week in and week out, teaching people about the God he knows and loves.

I hope to see Dad's name on this marquis for many more years. I pray he reaches at least 70 years in the pulpit. I would love to be in full time ministry at least half of the time he has been in it. Dad taught me what it means to never give up. I hope to live out that lesson!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Praise Time!

"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
- Psalm 118:24 (NIV)

...and how 'bout them 'Canes?!

Peace, Love, and Chocolate

Friday, October 02, 2009

Good Stuff

I love good drumming. It's almost a weakness of mine. Since I've been back in the drumming scene, I've been really itching to hear and see some great drumming.

Well, I'm proud to say that I've found some. Thanks to my old Blue Knights buddy, Rance Costa (great contra player from back in the day), I have been able to watch and listen to one of my favorite drum lines, Santa Clara Vanguard, playing the end of "Go!" written by one of my favorite writers, Murray Gusseck.

You're welcome.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate