Pastor’s Pen

Strengthened To Stand with Shane & Becky Browndividerbar 

The Real Enemy

The bell sounds. Ding! Ding! Ding! In one corner, what looks to be a giant in massive size and stance, whose eyes are piercing with evil. In the other corner, there’s us. The odds appear to be stacked against us and the fight is clearly uneven. Sounds like everyday life, right? That’s how we see ourselves most days, in the ring, fighting a fight we cannot win, against an enemy who won’t stop until we’re destroyed. Sounds like the battle has already been decided, doesn’t it?
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Half the battle is knowing who your opponent actually is. Our opponent is not the one who did us wrong, or the one who is causing chaos in our lives. Our real enemy is not flesh and blood! It’s that ugly, massive, mountain of a devil standing in the other corner of the ring. He masquerades himself to look this way, hoping to intimidate us so that he can gain the upper hand. Remember earlier I said “what looks to be.” 
I remember, as a kid, watching “The Wizard of Oz”, and how Dorothy had a traumatic event occur, that knocked her out, and caused her to dream a very detailed but unrealistic dream. She found herself in unfamiliar territory, that brought some happiness for a short while, but eventually placed her right in front of the wizard. His voice was dramatically loud and terrible, and his image sent even the lion running for the hills. As a kid, I hated to hear that voice and couldn’t wait for the scene to change. Yet, once Dorothy noticed the man behind the curtain, she unveiled the real enemy…a manipulator who had no power at all.
Our troubles tend to “knock us out”, catching us off guard, until we are already defeated in our minds. Many times, we play out the battle in our heads and have decided that the lion was wise in running away. After all, the devil comes to us in many forms, sounding loud and ferocious, as if his power can overtake us. But just like the wizard, the devil is a manipulator with no power at all.  Luke 10:19 says, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” 
We have to be bold and courageous, to pull back the curtain and expose the enemy for who he is. He’s not massive. He doesn’t have authority over us. Our power, through Christ, trumps the enemy’s power, and therefore makes us VICTORIOUS! Jesus Christ made you to conquer, overcome, and WIN! Don’t be intimidated by the one who is really intimidated by you. Through prayer, when we believe God and take Him at His word, we will no longer be running away, but having done all we know to do in Christ, WE WILL STAND!


The Mastermind Behind The Curtain (COVID-19)

During this time of uncertainty and the fear of COVID-19, caution has been increased in every aspect.  From the washing of hands, the raid on the grocery stores, the closing of schools, to the physical gathering of people everywhere.  While taking caution is needed, I’m wondering if we are taking the necessary precautions for our spiritual health?

Many churches have made the decision to move their services online.  This comes with the assumption that the congregation will watch live during the regular scheduled services times.  However, technology has made it so convenient in that we don’t necessarily have to get up early on Sunday morning to watch the broadcast when we would typically be sitting in church.  Technology has advanced in such a way that we can watch it at any time anywhere.  My point being that caution needs to also be placed on our discipline.  The chance of distraction is higher when not attending in person. Believe me, Satan has gone this far, and he’ll try his best to manipulate the time at home to benefit his agenda. Your mind will be focused on other things, the kids will be fussing, your to-do list of things around the house will multiply and seem more important, etc.
Satan has tried in various ways to interrupt the fellowship of believers.  Churches are at odds with each other, both internally and externally.  Families are at war with one another, and people are willing to go to the extremes to lash out in desperation.  Little by little, the small foxes are spoiling the vine in the hopes of destroying the church all together.

Studies show that once a person misses one Sunday, and then another, they soon find themselves engaged in other activities to where missing church becomes the norm.  Many people have said it’s easier to miss church services than it is to attend them.  Why? What better way to cause a gap between man and God than to disrupt the order of fellowshipping together, especially when fear is the main ingredient?  The Amplified version of Hebrews 10:25 says “not forsaking our meeting together [as believers for worship and instruction], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more [faithfully] as you see the day [of Christ’s return] approaching.”  Wouldn’t you agree that these are the last days and Christ is coming back very soon?

God has called us for such a time as this.  A time where the unknown ignites a fear so destructive that people become unrecognizable.  We need to open our eyes to the mastermind behind the curtain.  Be vigilant of what’s going on around you.  Not the things seen, but the unseen things are what’s important. Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we wrestle not against flesh and blood (the seen things), but against principalities, powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places (the unseen things).  Now is the time to stand.  Now is the time to examine ourselves.  Now is the time to fix our eyes, our hearts, and our minds on God and having done all to STAND.   


Where’s My Weapon?

Ahhh, it’s a new year and a new decade even!  2020 has begun, whether we were ready for it or not. Many people get excited about making resolutions.  Who doesn’t, right?  We often vow that this year will be different than prior years, as we set goals to become better.  However, through our own weaknesses, our commitment to those resolutions also become weak.  We are tempted to break what we promised would change us.  Sound familiar?
I, for one, am not a fan of resolutions.  After all, it seems to be the cliche thing to do upon the new year’s arrival.  Yet, the idea behind it is not so terrible.  We all wish to better ourselves, whether it be to lose weight, save money, or just live life to the fullest.  Some go as far to say that they will attend church more often, read the Bible more, and get closer to God.  Cue the enemy…
I, too, am one of the popular statistics that has promised myself in years past to be “a better Christian.”  Sure, my intentions were good and my heart was on board, until the enemy used it against me.  Time to read my Bible became more non-existent, leaving my mind and heart exposed.  Sure, I thought I was leaving my house daily clothed with my full armor, feeling like I was ten feet tall and bulletproof.  Except, I wasn’t.  I left off the most important piece of armor that could have changed my days of aggravation and despair—my sword.
Many days passed where I felt so weak spiritually that I didn’t even recognize myself.  I would find myself encouraging others, using scriptures that would come to my mind.  I tried to hold it all together for everyone else, making sure that their problems were fixed, thinking I was the glue.  In reality, I was trying to do for others what I failed to do for myself.  I was giving out more “daily bread” than I was taking in.  You’ve heard the story about safety precautions on an airplane, where it’s important to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others, right?  I found myself making sure others could breathe while the oxygen was next to nothing in myself. 
If denying myself “oxygen” wasn’t enough, the enemy trampled my belief system due to the absence of my weapon.  Yes, he used the word against me, mocking me for being a christian without the complete armor.  The sad thing was, he was right and I felt horrible for it.  I knew better!  It was bad enough that I found myself in a slump, feeling beaten and bruised for not doing what I knew to do.  But, to have the enemy point it out to me, all while laughing at my moment of weakness?  How degrading! After all, the enemy knew exactly what he was doing.  Filling up my time with “busyness” until I was depleted of spiritual strength was the very thing he planned for my demise.  Otherwise, he would have been destroyed the moment he opened his mouth.
That was my moment of truth.  Through it all, I heard that familiar small still voice, saying “how much longer will you go unarmed?”  Jesus was there, waiting patiently for me to come to myself, realizing what the problem had been all along.  Armor is great, but if you don’t have a weapon, it’s difficult to defend yourself, right?  All I had been doing was balling up in a fetal position like a baby, taking punches from the enemy day after day because I couldn’t fight back.  He was taking advantage while he could, throwing jabs to my mind like a punching bag.  Just like the prodigal son, I had my “aha” moment in my pigpen, coming to myself, realizing God made me for so much more than this.
At that moment, I realized what had been missing from my hand and from my daily walk with God.  The comparison of the word of God to a two-edged sword was not by accident.  When you have it in your mind and your heart, you can conquer what the enemy throws your way.  You can block his attempts to assassinate your very being, even if it is little by little.  Having the sword of the Spirit in your hand gives you the winning edge over any attacks the enemy designs.  No wonder he was sly in diverting my attention and time away from the word of God!
Call it a resolution, if you will, but I call it more of battle inventory.  If I ever feel like I’m drowning in the attacks of the enemy, I will know to first examine my battle gear.  If something is missing in my armor, the exposure could be crucial.  Whether you decide to make a resolution or not, make sure that the one thing you change about this year is your exposure to the enemy.  Be bold. Be courageous.  Be armed fully!


Do You Believe God Can?

Being fully persuaded is difficult at times, especially when it comes to people. People are wishy-washy, feelings come and go, and because of this, expectations are usually set low. After all, if expectations are set low, disappointment is less likely. Because of this, we tend to set expectations low for God as well.
By not being fully persuaded that God will come through for us, we might as well say “Hey, God, I know you’re the One who sits on the throne, but I’m not expecting too much from you. I’m used to disappointment and it’s okay if you don’t come through for me.” Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But in essence, that’s what we are telling God, maybe not with our words, but with our faith.
Faith is the only way that we can please God, and without it, we tie God’s hands to do the impossible for us. Just because people disappoint us, it does not give us the right to put God in the same box. The Bible says with man, things are impossible but with God, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. God’s reputation exceeds anything people can ever do for us or to us.
Don’t allow the disappointments of people to define what could be with God. Remember, our ways are not His ways, neither are our thoughts His thoughts. Abraham said that he was fully persuaded that what God had promised, He was also able to perform. People make promises all the time, and yet they don’t always keep them. However, when God makes a promise, you can take it to the bank that it will happen. When you’re fully persuaded about God and what He can do, then you open yourself up to the impossibilities that only God can perform!


As For Me

We’ve all seen the familiar scripture “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”, found in Joshua 24:15.  Whether it be on a sign, plaque, or even the internet, this scripture has gained popularity for many households.  However, have you ever really thought about what kind of statement that makes?
Joshua did not command the others to serve the Lord.  He simply told them to choose who they were going to serve.  Joshua, bold as he was, reminded the children of Israel just how good God had been to them.  He reminisced how God delivered them from Egypt, and how he made a way of escape through the Red Sea.  The provision alone while in the desert was nothing short of a miracle.  But for Joshua, it was a solid choice for his household.  
Without a doubt the world could learn a lot just by the first three words–AS FOR ME.  We are living in a time where bad has now become good, and good has become unpopular.  Furthermore, the world wants everyone to jump on the bandwagon and go with the flow.  So what do we do?  Do we conform to the world?  Do we cast aside the word of God because it has become unpopular?  There comes a point in time where you have to choose whom you will serve.
The world may denounce the word of God.  But AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE,  we will stand firm on the word of God and strive to live our lives as the Bible instructs.
The world may say there is no God.  But AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, we know and believe in the one true God who loved us so much that He sent His Son to die an agonizing death so that we may have eternal life.
The world may say there is no hope.  But AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, we believe in a hope that truly exists only through Jesus Christ.
The world may say you must conform to the world and its standards. But AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, we believe you must be transformed by the renewing of your mind according to the word of God.
The world may say that you can live without Jesus.  But AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, we know there is no way to survive without Jesus.
In other words, just as Joshua told the people how it was for his household, we have to be strong enough to stand firm for ourselves and not be swayed in the wrong direction.  Circumstances shouldn’t change our beliefs.  Our beliefs should change our circumstances.


The Potter’s Wheel Experience

Brutally Honest 

Ah, the joys of parenthood! Children can be such a blessing, especially with their innocence and honesty. They often tell you exactly how they see it, regardless of how brutal their truth is. Yet, somehow as we mature, the brutal truth tends to be watered down, or not even told at all. I’ve seen and heard this regarding many churches across the land. God’s truth is being watered down, or better yet, transformed into the delight of the people.

Power of the Truth

We must be careful in hearing such teachings. These “enticing words” can cause soul destruction. Meaning, we need to hear the truth, God’s truth, no matter how much our toes get stepped on. It’s not up to anyone to judge another, but it is up to us to provide truth and allow the Holy Spirit to do its thing. Judgment and conviction belongs to God and Him alone. Yet, many are the spokesmen of God, and their job is to tell others the truth of what the Bible teaches. Many times, some spokesmen will deter from teaching certain aspects of the Bible because their congregation will oust him or her, fearing that their church will disband.

People Pleaser

Saul did a similar thing in the Bible, where Samuel was very direct with him, telling him the directions sent forth from God. However, Saul wanted to please the people instead of obeying God, which was the beginning of the end for King Saul. Bad decisions and disobedience cost him his kingship, his sanity, his peace, his relationship with God, and ultimately, his life.

Requirement of Truth 

If you have someone in your life that tells you God’s truth, obeying God to the fullest extent, regardless if the “people” are pleased, then you have a rare jewel. Don’t allow anger to fester up because a man or woman of God is being obedient to their calling. If we are happy every time we hear a sermon, without feeling a conviction of becoming better, of doing better, then it would mean that we are perfect, which we are not. We all must strive to do better, even if it means our toes are black and blue. It’s the potter’s wheel experience, and without it we cannot become that beautiful creation God intended us to be.


Temporary Amnesia

The older we get the more we tend to be forgetful, whether it be a grocery list, an item that needed to be returned, or even paying a bill. Usually it’s something frivolous that we forget, meaning our world is not going to stop just because we forgot something. However, it’s ironic that when something bigger happens in our lives, we tend to forget the very words that can change our circumstance. Our attention tends to shift towards the problem at hand, whether it be sickness, death of a loved one, job loss, etc.
When I think about situations like this, I’m reminded of the women that went to the tomb of Jesus. When they saw the empty tomb, they automatically thought the worst, such as a robbery. Yet the angels confirmed something they already knew. Jesus had already told them that he would die and arise three days later. But when it actually happened, they were distraught that their Lord and Savior had been crucified. The promise Jesus gave was somehow lost in the middle of their devastation. How many times do we forget the promises of God, right in the middle of our devastation? The Bible says in Luke 24 that after hearing the familiar account of the location of their Lord and Savior, the women in the cemetery ‘remembered his words’. It was then that they remembered the promises Jesus gave them.
We must hold on to the promises of God, even in the midst of our devastation, because it’s easy to lose sight of where we are headed. Nevertheless, God’s reputation is impeccable, and if He said He was going to do something, it’s up to us to lay hold of the promises, not the trouble. Jesus did exactly what He said He was going to do, and that still holds true today. Don’t allow devastation to give you temporary amnesia. God knows exactly what He’s doing.


Opposition Is Not Always Bad

Aren’t you tired of being pushed back, pushed down, and made to feel like you can’t achieve anything? Who isn’t?? It seems the more we try, the more things become worse. I’ve even had someone tell me that they do all kinds of good things for people and they still get knocked down. The fact is, opposition is going to occur in your life, whether you’re a child of God or an unbeliever. Yet, how you deal with the opposition is a different matter all together.
If you don’t believe in God and believe that He is the one true Lord and Savior, then you are left to deal with the situation alone. On the other hand, if you believe with all your heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you and rose again, you then have the ultimate advantage. God said to call upon Him in your day of trouble and He would deliver you. Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean life is way easier than unbelievers. It just means we are not alone.
Opposition is going to follow anyone who threatens the plans of the enemy, especially when you are anointed. Furthermore, (and this may take some time to sink in) God sometimes utilizes the enemy to mold us. After all, He made the enemy (the waster to destroy). You may ask ‘Why would a loving God allow the enemy to harass us?’ Simply because God does love us, and we tend to get ‘too comfortable’ where we are to move ahead.
Think about a relationship or a job you lost. If God had allowed the relationship to continue, you would have missed out on the person He had lined up for you. You may have loved your job so much (or even too much) that you alone would have never walked away on your own. Because God knows us better than we know ourselves, the job loss had to occur to get us in the place that God prepared for us as our next step in life.
The problem is that we tend to look at these ‘setbacks’ as failures on God’s part, which enters the voice of Satan. Hard as it may seem, we should look at these ‘setbacks’ as changes in our seasons. Don’t allow the enemy to rob you of what is actually taking place–the promises of God. The steps leading up to us obtaining these promises will never be what we think. But then again, that’s why He’s God and we are not. Don’t allow the opposition to keep you pushed back, but rather stand firm on God’s Word, knowing that everything is working out for your good!


What Did I Do Wrong?

As kids, did you ever get in trouble and wonder what you did wrong? We often feel that way as adults when it comes to God. Bad things happen and we find ourselves asking God, “What did I do wrong? What did I do to deserve this?” Furthermore, the more we do right (or try to do right), the more trials we are faced with. Sound familiar?
Job experienced this, as we know too well. He loved the Lord with all of his heart, and everything was going right for him–until it wasn’t. Job did nothing to cause such destruction to his life. Rather, God saw an opportunity to show Job, his family, his friends, as well as the devil, what he was truly made of. God offered Job to the enemy (Job 1:8), and said he could do anything to him, except take his life. Have you ever felt like you’ve been put through the ringer, and you didn’t really understand why? I’m sure Job felt that way as well. Nevertheless, Job continued to trust in God (Job 13:15) through all the hell that was surrounding him. After all was said and done, God doubled what Job had lost.
You may say, “but why?” God knew Job was strong enough to handle the schemes of the devil, just like he knows you are strong enough to handle what you are going through. No, it’s not easy, even uncomfortable perhaps. Nevertheless, the plan of God outweighs the pain of our circumstance because the pain is temporary, but His plan is forever. You are stronger than you think, stronger than your family and friends think, and stronger than the devil himself thinks. Don’t count yourself out, just because bad circumstances arise. Endure through the pain until God’s plan unfolds, and you’ll see the strength that you had through God while receiving double for your trouble!


Running For The Prize

Pressing through, pushing forward, moving on. All of these come with resistance. Regardless of the situation, in order to get past it, there will always be an opposing force. The situation may be death of loved ones, divorce, unemployment, or just spiritual warfare in general. No matter the reason, in order to get to the next level and come out of the pit we are in, we must keep our eyes on the prize.
“Running for the prize” is difficult indeed, with many stumbling blocks along the way. The stumbling blocks could be people, our jobs, our finances, or even our minds. We know that the greatest battle is always in our minds, because one thought can change your world. If you believe that God is going to get you through your current situation, then half the battle is already won.
Our thought process will make us or break us. Meaning, if we don’t trust and believe that God is who He says He is, and can do what He says He can do, then we have stumbled on our journey, lying on the path that leads to our destiny. We, in fact, delay our arrival to our appointed destiny, all because of our thoughts. Alternatively, if we take God at His Word, regardless if we trip or stumble, we make it a point to get back up, and keep going, then we overcome the “resistance”. Sometimes, a thought will determine your ETA (estimated time of arrival) to your destiny.
Some folks like taking the scenic route, focusing on what they see opposed to the end result. If your destiny is being delayed, take a look at your thought process, and analyze if you’re taking a scenic route, or the fast path to your destiny! It all depends on your thoughts!
Never give up!
Becky Brown