The Purpose of Proverbs and Parables Lies Behind the Stories I Write

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Purpose of Proverbs and Parables Lies Behind the Stories I Write

Written so we’ll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it’s going; a manual for living, for learning what’s right and just and fair; to teach the inexperienced the ropes and give our young people a grasp on reality. There’s something here also for seasoned men and women, still a thing or two for the experienced to learn—fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate, the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women. Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God; only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning. Proverbs 1:1-7 The Message

Reading the Bible’s psalms and proverbs are highly recommended as a foundation for a daily study of God’s Word. There are so many common-sense truths to be found in them. They touch upon one’s common sense to discover the spiritual sense that establishes the understanding of what it means to live rightly before God. Yet, how many of us take the time to really read and study the deep thoughts of wisdom found in the Bible. Even Jesus quoted and often referred to the psalms and the proverbs. In fact, through the telling of his parables, he continued the long tradition of speaking truths in riddles and proverbs. 

So what is the purpose of these proverbs and parables? These first verses in Proverbs indicate that the purpose is as follows:

for learning what’s right and just and fair

They help us to become more open to the wisdom found by reading God’s Word which guides us in living rightly before God. Right living offers evidence of knowing what is the truth, as well as how to live it out in our relationships with others. In essence, it helps us to live our daily lives according to God’s perfect, pleasing, and goodwill.

…for teaching the inexperienced the ropes

 The proverbs and parables help us to walk more confidently and thus steadily through life as a child of God. Where we lack practical experience about many of life’s issues, they provide the advice we need to make the right decisions. Demonstrating good judgment before others come with experience unless you have someone or something to provide wise counsel. The proverbs and parables offer sound counsel for most all situations and relationships.

for offering young people with a grasp on reality

The teacher’s goal is to become obsolete with each student because the student has learned how to learn without the instruction of the teacher. This is the ultimate goal of instruction from one generation to the next. Once the next generation has achieved knowledge, applying that knowledge in real-life situations and relationships establishes the grasp on reality needed to succeed in life.

seasoned men and women continue to listen and increase their learning

 The proof that one has matured in knowledge and understanding is his or her constant thirst and hunger to learn more and pass what has been learned onto the next generation. Wise seasoned people also realize that no matter how much we learn we never will know it all. The more we learn, the more we discover there is more to learn! Only God is omniscient—all-knowing! For us, wisdom is but a life-long journey, not a destination.

only fools thumb their noses at wisdom and learning

A wise person never attempts to walk through life alone. Only a fool would ignore and bypass the signposts and guides God provides throughout life’s journey. Only a fool rejoices in his or her ignorance and stumbles and falls in limited vision and understanding. A wise person chooses his or her way through life without haste and with confidence, never alone and always open to wise counsel.

How about you? Do you read and contemplate God’s Word? Do you seek to justify your understanding or to discover fresh, new “aha” moments of truth and understanding? Though the Bible was written by mankind, its inspiration comes from mankind’s desire to understand and know God’s perfect, pleasing goodwill for us.

Remember, the first step of wisdom begins shuddering at the fear of never knowing God and his love for us. The Bible is a good place to start the journey.

Coach

He (Jesus) would speak the word to them with many parables like these, as they were able to understand. And He did not speak to them without a parable. Privately, however, He would explain everything to His own disciples. Mark 4:33-34

What did Jesus want his disciples to learn by teaching them in parables? The closer you are to God, the clearer the parables and proverbs become for you. We are only as intelligent and mature as our ability to communicate our understanding and knowledge to the next generation.

Here lies the motivation behind the stories I write–a legacy of love for my grandchildren. 

T. M. Brown

TMBrownAuthor.com

 

Competence, Discretion & Confidence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Competence, Discretion & Confidence

Maintain [your] competence and discretion. My son, don’t lose sight of them. They will be life for you and adornment for your neck. Then you will go safely on your way; your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; you will lie down, and your sleep will be pleasant. Don’t fear sudden danger or the ruin of the wicked when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from a snare. Prov 3:21-26 (HCSB)

Godly wise people share common traits: Competence, Discretion, and Confidence.

The Importance of Competence

Being competent comes from not only knowing what one should know about any particular discipline but as a key trait of a wise person, being competent means you know how to properly and rightly utilize the knowledge you have acquired. You want more than just knowledge but also the proper understanding to apply that knowledge in practical, every day relationships and situations in life for the benefit of everyone, not just yourself.

The Importance of Discretion

A wise person understands the importance of Discretion which understands wisdom is more than just knowing how to do something right. A wise person also understands there is a right manner, right time, and the right purpose to demonstrate Competence. Discretion prevents a wise person from taking advantage of others or doing something just because you know how to do something well. A discrete person considers the implications of their competence as it may affect others. 

A Godly wise person considers relationships as more important than revelations of knowledge.

The Importance of Confidence

Beyond competence and discretion, one who has sought the wisdom that comes from God has unshakeable confidence about his or her life. Not only does a wise person know how (competence) and when to use (discretion) they also display the confidence to act in the right ways at the right time for the right purpose, even when their actions may prove dangerous to others. A wise person knows God is the source of his or her confidence. A wise person acts without fear or reservation when they know they are using their godly wisdom for the right purposes, in the right manner, at the proper time, according to God’s wisdom, will, and ways. 

Competence + Discretion + Confidence = Godly Wise Person

A godly wise person knows there will be times when God uses them to confront and challenge the wrongs in this world for the good of others though that can come with a price. When a person has competence, discretion, and confidence, that person is a formidable force because they know wisdom comes from God. They know there is nothing that a wise person cannot handle because God guides and directs all that a wise person does; the former fears and anxieties that hold them back are gone. A godly wise person lives life with no reserve, no retreat, and no regret.

 

Is becoming a godly wise person what you desire? Seek after God’s will, way, and wisdom and you’ll discover the inseparable importance of competence, discretion, and confidence as God shapes you as a godly wise person. 

Coach

For those who have read the Shiloh Mystery Stories: Which character(s) in the series demonstrate godly wisdom by their actions and attitude toward others?

TMBrownAuthor.com

Our Circle of Friends Should Spur Not Spurn Others

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Circle of Friends Should Spur Not Spurn Others

And let us…spur one another on to love and good deeds, and let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another… Hebrew 10:24-25

In the hustle and bustle of life, we may discover, if we take the time, there is at least one person that is hanging around our circle of friends who is looking to be asked to join you and your friends. 

Why? Maybe, they feel left out or are merely curious, or even a bit jealous. Either way, they do not know what they must do to join you and your circle of friends. 

Could it be you never took notice and extended an invitation?

What motivates people to want to join your circle of friends? 

It could be pride: They desire to have what you and your circle of friends possess because they do not have it.

It could be fear: They are afraid they could be wrong about you and your circle of friends. 

It could be ignorance: They simply do not know why they want to join but feel drawn to know more about you and your circle of friends. 

Whatever their motivation, should it matter? 

The fact is they have a need ripe to be spurred on and encouraged. Inviting them regardless of their motivation provides the opportunity for them to discover that your relationship with God makes your circle of friends so inviting. They will realize sooner or later that it has nothing to do with anything you and your friends have but what you share. In the end, it should never be because of who we think we are but who we represent.

Therefore our motivation for offering the hand of friendship should never be based upon what will be in our best interest, but for the one seeking our friendship. God providentially grows our circle of friends as we unselfishly connect with others and then spur and encourage one another. Fellowship and friendship are gifts we receive from others and are necessities to our social well-being in this life.

Remember what Jesus is quoted as saying on the matter. How different our society might become if more of us walked each day with this message on their heart.

“But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. If you do what is good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do what is good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil. Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give [mercy and forgiveness], and it will be given to you; a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over—will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:27-38

How inclusive is your circle of friends? Have you offered genuine invitations to others? Do you extend the hand of friendship with sincerity? Does your attitude toward others reflect the same mercy and forgiveness that others have extended to you?

Our daily walk was never intended to be a lonely, lifelong sojourn. Fellowship and friendship offer an eternal connection found in the many “one another” encounters we experience each day.

Remember this final point, we are not responsible for the actions and attitudes of others unless we are the cause. How would you define your circle of friends?

Never instigate a fight with others to be right, rather fight to do right before others.

Coach

Values shared in T. M. Brown’s Shiloh Mystery Series. Follow the link to learn more how entertaining stories can instill encouraging messages to ponder.

The Real Story of that First Christmas Eve

The Real Story of the First Christmas Eve

Please allow me to begin this story by sharing that over the many centuries, since the beginning of what we now celebrate as Christmas, our societies have painted a much different picture of the Christmas story. We have gotten sidetracked from the real story.

In each of our homes, a simple manger scene might be tucked away on a shelf or tabletop somewhere, symbolically placed without any real fanfare or notice. It has become just another ornament or decoration in our home already filled with lights, candles, bows, and assorted Christmas ornamentation. There is far more interest upon the gaily wrapped gifts under the tree, and we wonder, “What is under the tree for me?” Our attention turns to preparing and sharing scrumptious candy, cookies, and cakes with family and friends gathering while that Christmas manger depicts the real story and magic of Christmas.

Is it wrong to think about all the other wonderful treats and gifts and ornamentation that now identify with Christmas? Is it wrong to sing Jingle Bells and Grandma Got Run Over By the Reindeer on Christmas Eve? Is it wrong to talk about Santa Claus, the North Pole, and Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer? Is it wrong to watch the myriad of Christmas stories Hollywood has created that we seem to enjoy each Christmas season? No, all are a by-product of how Christmas has become shaped by our modern society.

However, for some of us, we embrace our heritage and the family traditions passed down to us as our way to celebrate the “Spirit of Christmas.” Though there are more and more outside influences competing to shape the Christmas traditions our children and grandchildren are allowing into their homes, we faithfully pass on the heritage and traditions as they grow up and raise their our family.

Just maybe, if we stop and pull aside all the shiny trimmings and colorful decorations, and mute more of the commercialized messages of Christmas, we might avoid missing out on the true meaning and joy of Christmas. But, if we allow ourselves to fall prey to all the glitz, glitter, and glamour, the real reason for the season might fade totally away; we might as well follow suit with the rest of the world and stop calling it CHRISTmas, as many in the world would prefer we do.

Why does the world want to avoid the real reason for CHRISTmas? Is it because if they join us in celebrating Christmas (the CHRIST MASS, as it originally was called), they will hear the true message and the story represented by the manger scene resting on a shelf somewhere? The celebration of Jesus’s birth is so we may acknowledge God’s love. In the confusing, chaotic and combative time we live in today,  there has never been a greater time for the world to grasp ahold of the real meaning of Christmas.

That very first Christmas Eve, though the term we now embrace as Christmas would not be known for decades, was a genuine, historical event involving real people; its story passed from generation to generation and recorded over the centuries so it could endure the test of time and become the anchor of our faith that God’s love was, is, and forever will remain available to us.

The Bible records that the Apostle Paul saw the Christ child event as significant because it reflected God’s deliberate act to demonstrate His love for us by introducing Himself through what would become the life and legacy of Jesus, born into this world just as we too are born into this world. In writing to the early churches, decades after the birth, Paul wrote the WHAT and WHY of that first Christmas Eve.

WHAT: But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Galatians 4:4-5 The Message

The timing of Jesus’ birth was not arbitrary. It was established by key events and came directed by the providential hand of God for His good purposes.

WHY: Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!” Doesn’t that privilege of an intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave (a nobody), but a child? And if you are a child, you’re also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance. Galatians 4:6-7 The Message

The why is much more important! Until this point in history, the people of God had lost contact with the personal God who led His them from slavery in Egypt and delivered them to a better place, a better life. Like many of us today, they had taken God’s goodness and love for granted and alienated themselves from God for over 500 years. In fact, many suffered exile and were driven into foreign lands – a reminder of what being a slave, a nobody felt like again. Even those who continued to live in the lands we know as Israel today, and those scattered throughout the known world at that time, faced Roman rule, no longer able to experience a “King” of their own to lead them from the oppression they endured. But, many clung to God’s promises of a Messiah, a Deliverer, to rescue them once again. They yearned for the relationship and inheritance they once trusted in because they were God’s children. Each day they prayed and hoped that “today would be that day” – and then it happened. God answered their prayers, and that first Christmas Eve unfolded into history.

About that time Caesar Augustus ordered a census to be taken throughout the Empire. This was the first census when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Everyone had to travel to his own ancestral hometown to be accounted for. So Joseph went from the Galilean town of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judah, David’s town, for the census. As a descendant of David, he had to go there. He went with Mary, his fiance, who was pregnant. While they were there, the time came for her to give birth. She gave birth to a son, her firstborn. She wrapped him in a blanket and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the hostel. Luke 2:1-7 The Message

This brief passage and a couple of equally short passages in the Gospel accounts of the Bible reveal the story. Today, we hear those timeless words at church and in the embedded lyrics of Christmas songs and carols, such as Silent Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Joy to the World, etc. Though many churches still perform manger recreations, how you personally respond to the story matters.

How about you and your family, will take the time to share and reflect upon the story and message of that first Christmas Eve? Will you allow that manger scene in your home to be treasured above all the other Christmas decorations and symbols of today’s Christmas season?

Also, rather than read the cute but created story about “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to your (grand)children, maybe this year read them the real, God-inspired true story about “The Night that Brought Christmas into the World! Below is how Hershel Hobbs wrote about that special night, recorded in his Illustrated Life of Jesus.

In faraway Rome, Augustus Caesar ruled his vast empire with an iron hand. True to Roman fashion he was primarily concerned that his subjects should keep the peace and pay their taxes. In 8 B.C. he had inaugurated a periodical census every fourteen years in order to enroll his people for taxation. According to Tacitus (Roman Historian) even the regna, the independent kingdoms under the Roman Empire, were included in this census.

Probably two years later this census was carried out in Palestine. Herod, the vassal king, would not think of disobeying Augustus. Yet, knowing the Jew’s aversion to paying taxes to Rome, he delayed it as long as he dared. Even then he sought to placate the Jews by adhering to their customs in dealing with them along tribal lines. So when the order for enrollment was finally given, it called for every Jew to be enrolled at the place where the tribal register was kept.

Thus Joseph and Mary journeyed from Nazareth to Bethlehem, for they were descendants of David and members of the tribe of Judah. Though they were peasants (poor, everyday common folks), royal blood flowed in their veins. By this time Mary was great with child (in her final days of pregnancy) and this journey of approximately 100 miles worked a great hardship on her.  Nevertheless, Caesar’s decree must be obeyed.

However, she and Joseph moved under a greater word (inspiration) than that of the Roman emperor, for God had said that His Son, the Messiah, should be born in Bethlehem. Augustus knew nothing of this prophecy and cared less. But unknowingly he was an instrument in God’s hands, as his decree like an invisible cord drew the virgin mother toward her destiny.

After several days of travel, late in the afternoon, these weary travelers climbed the last rocky, steep ascent leading into Bethlehem. The streets were crowded with hundreds of other men and women bent on the same mission. Clouds of dust boiled up from the stirring of the hundreds of feet of men and animals. A bedlam of noise characteristic of such a scene filled the ears of the weary couple from Nazareth as laboriously they made their way to the village inn. But it was already filled to overflowing.

So because there was no lodging to be had, Joseph bedded his wife down in the area provided for the animals. Here Mary “gave birth to her firstborn Son, and she wrapped Him snugly in cloth and laid Him in a manger (animal feed trough)” Luke 2:7.

Thus the Son of God was born – not in a king’s palace or in a home of the wealthy or mighty, but to a peasant mother whose delivery room was a stable. No physician stood by to assist. Only the gnarled hands of a village carpenter came to her aid, but they were hands made tender by a conquering love and a devotion to God. As the newborn babe slept through the night, He was under the watchful eyes of His mother and Joseph, but most of all He was secure under the never-failing gaze of His Heavenly Father.

The next morning, Bethlehem roused from her sleep. It was business as usual as the bazaars rang with the noise of commerce. The enrollment was finished, and the crowds moved out to return to their homes. Caesar’s bidding had been done, and the village of David returned to normal. Only a few simple folks knew that on that night in the little village there had transpired the greatest event in the history of the world.

…Jesus’ birth was largely unnoticed by the world. Outside of the Bible, no ancient historian took note of the event. They were so bent on the recording the affairs of men and nations that they failed to recognize God’s history within history, whereby in the person of His Son He entered into the arena of time to answer the universal cry of men’s hearts. But it did not occur without recognition by those whose hearts were prepared to receive it.

Heaven itself rejoiced over the glorious event. For the angelic hosts burst asunder the barrier of invisibility to proclaim the Savior’s birth and to sing the Christian anthem dedicated to His praise. For their audience, they had a handful of lowly shepherds, the simple folk who counted for little in the tides of history whichever beat upon the shores of time. But their hearts were firmly fixed in God’s promises upon which they meditated in the quiet hours of the night. In Bethlehem’s fields where Ruth had gleaned in the fields of Boaz, later to become his bride and the Moabite ancestress of the Savior; where David had tended his sheep, all the while contemplating God’s glory and on Him who was to be born; there the shepherds first heard the glad tidings that unto them had been born a Savior, Christ the Lord.

The shepherds hastened to Bethlehem to find it as the angels had said. They found Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in a manger. God in a cradle! Upon hearing from the shepherds about the heavenly declaration, Mary placed the event alongside the message of Gabriel, pondering them in her heart. And she knew that God had fulfilled His promise. The shepherds returned to their work, carrying back into their mundane sphere the memory of an experience which would forever cast an aura of glory about them and about all others who in humble trust some to Him who fills the universe with His presence, yet who for a little while was contained in a baby’s impromptu cradle – a manger!

Merry Christmas,

Coach

Hope you’ll visit my TMBrownAuthor.com page and discover “Christmas in Shiloh” attempts to exemplify a grandfather’s love for sharing Christmas with his grandchildren.

TIME – God’s Gift to Mankind

timeTIME – God’s Gift to Mankind

There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven: a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing; a time to search and a time to count as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace. Eccl 3:1-8 (HCSB)

Mankind may have devised how we measure and track TIME, but it is not a creation of man – TIME is God’s gift to mankind. TIME is finite, not infinite. TIME is marked by a beginning and an end. In eternity, TIME vanishes. God created TIME for man’s benefit. It defines our LIFE-TIME. TIME defines us and stirs a sense of urgency. TIME once lost cannot be replaced or reset. TIME for each man begins at conception and ends with our final heartbeat. For those in misery, TIME drags on. For those experiencing contentment with life, TIME races on. TIME exists only in the present; TIME once past can never be recovered; nor can we grasp TIME before it arrives. God created TIME for mankind to cherish and enjoy to the fullest.

TIME is also the perfect complement to LOVE. TIME marks the breadth and depth of LOVE because who and what we LOVE demands the most TIME. Sharing TIME with those you LOVE is by far the most valuable gift one can give someone else. Wasted TIME weakens relationships, whereas invested TIME strengthens relationships. TIME establishes the true value by which LOVE is measured and cherished. Do not let TIME slip away, because LOVE will follow.

Since God created TIME, He cannot be defined by it, nor is He limited to it, however, He expresses His ultimate gift of LOVE by offering it for our sake. Yet, the greatest measure of God’s LOVE is reached when we step into eternity, far beyond TIME’s finite, Alpha and Omega limits of TIME.

Coach

Note: This passage from the Bible and the related thoughts about God’s gift of time came from the opening lines of my third novel in my Shiloh Mystery Series – Purgatory, A Progeny’s Quest (Winter/Spring 2020). For more go to TMBrownAuthor.com.

Light Never Forgets the Dark Days

Ecclesiastes 11 7Light Never Forgets the Dark Days

Light is sweet, and it is pleasing for the eyes to see the sun. For if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, since they will be many. All that comes is futile. Rejoice, young man, while you are young, and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth. And walk in the ways of your heart and in the sights of your eyes; but know that for all of these things God will bring you to judgment. Remove sorrow from your heart and put away pain from your flesh, because youth and the prime of life are fleeting. Eccl 11:7-10 (HCSB)

Darkness by definition is the absence of light. Absolute darkness leaves no reference points to stumble around. In total darkness, only fear exists. Fear reigns because we do not know what the next step will bring. Future hope as a destination does not exist to focus our eyes.

In our darkest days there is only desolation and desperation. Yet, even in the darkest days, God provides us with sufficient light to find our way. His love is so great that even when we cower in the darkness, he seeks to draw us toward his gift of light. However, as the passage reveals, our fears of the light reveal the state of our lives. Light reveals truth. Though truth sets us free, it also reveals the shortcomings of our life.

Light is relative. In God’s presence there is absolute light; no darkness exists. In God’s presence man risks entering the “shekinah” glory of God – God’s light of truth.It not only reveals but also cleanses away what is not pure. Man must be exposed to God’s radiant light to purify him, dispelling all remnants of darkness. However, our memory of those dark days draws us closer to the light!

Hope, faith and love thrive in the light, whereas fear, desolation, and desperation rooted in darkness are cast away. From isolation and separation we discover fellowship and lordship. In pure light, we focus upon the “good” and discover the “truth.” Both are a gift of God as we leave behind the dark days, and pursue the light.

One final thought, once we value light, we become light to those left in the darkness. It is for this purpose God drawed us out of the darkness. His radiant light is meant to be shared, never hoarded as if given exclusively. It is a gift to share and is inexhaustible sharing with others.

Coach

Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

My Shiloh stories contain these themes in both Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories and Testament, An Unexpected Return.

For Southern Fiction with a message, may I suggest.

Family Inspires Southern Mystery Series

 

The Brown Family

Family memories inspire the most believable stories…

T. M. Brown, Southern & Inspirational Author

 

 

 

Folks have asked about my Christmas in Shiloh backstory timeline and how family plays such a key role in the story of Sanctuary. Here’s a kernel of inspiration that came from one of my grandsons performing in front of the Christmas tree when he was but five. These are the moments to be treasured and worthy of inclusion in my stories of Theo and Liddy Phillips overcoming their fears as they unravel mysteries in Shiloh. Their love of family is the fiber that binds their courage as they confront scandals and uncover dark secrets in their new small-town community.

Click the book cover images below to order your copy of Sanctuary or Testament today. Buy an extra copy or two as gifts for your book-loving family or friends.

Don’t forget to share this with your friends and family.

For Southern Fiction with a message, may I suggest.

The Wonder of God’s Love

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

The Wonder of God’s Love

Love is patient; love is kind; love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in truth; bears all things; hopes in all things; endures all things. Love never ends… Now, these three things remain faith, hope, love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13

Love desires to be free and separated from all worldly attachments so that its inward sight will not be obstructed and it will not be entangled by any temporal prosperity or conquered by any adversity. Nothing is sweeter than love, nothing more courageous, nothing higher, nothing wider, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or better in heaven or earth, for love is of God and can rest only in God, who is above all created things.

Those who love, fly, run and rejoice – are free and cannot be restrained. Those who love give all and have all in all because they rest in the one who is highest above and, from all good comes. Those who love do not esteem gifts but turn themselves above all things to the giver.

Love knows no limit and is fervent beyond measure. Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, does not complain about impossibility, for it thinks all things lawful for itself, and all things possible.

Love is able to undertake all things and complete many of them and cause them to take effect – where the person who does not love would faint and give up.

Love is watchful and alert even when it is dormant. When weary it is not tired, when pressured it is not stressed, when alarmed it is not confused, but like a living flame and burning torch it forces its way upward and securely passes through everything.

Anyone who loves knows the cry of the voice. For the ardent affection of the soul is a loud cry in the ears of God when it says, “My God, my love, you are all mine and I am all yours.!”

For-in-whatever

Love is swift, sincere, affectionate, pleasant, amiable, courageous, patient, faithful, prudent, long-suffering, and never seeks its own. For in whatever circumstances when we seek ourselves (our own interests) there we fall from love.

Love is circumspect, humble and upright. It does not give in easily, act frivolous, or pay attention to meaningless things, but it is sober, chaste, steady, quiet, and guard all its senses.

Love submits to its superiors and obeys them, but is unkind and contemptuous toward itself. It is devoted and thankful to God, and trusts and hopes always in Him – even when God does not impart sweetness to it, for without sorrow no one lives in love.

Those who are not prepared to suffer all things, and to submit to the will of their beloved are not worthy to be called lovers of God. A lover should willingly embrace all that is hard and distasteful for the sake of God, and not turn away from Him because of adversities.

My daily prayer: Lord God, my Savior, my Salvation, my Strength, the Spirit of Truth and Life that dwells within me, I humbly come before you to share that I love you with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I am completely yours, and I believe in my heart you love me, and nothing else in this life I live matters otherwise. I pray likewise that I am able to love others, beginning in my family with the kind of love that you exemplify within me, so that they may discover your love for themselves and surrender their lives to you as well. Thank you, my Lord and Savior, my Heavenly Father for the greatest gift of love that defines what love truly is: Yourself for me so that I can share that love with you. You are truly an awesome God, you are my God, and if all other things in my life were lost, I know your love will remain.

Lord, as Thomas a’ Kempis prayed, so do I pray these words and thoughts to you as well: Increase my love so that with the inward mouth of my heart, I may taste how sweet it is to love, to meet and bathe myself in your love. Let love possess me so that I rise up above myself in exceeding fervor and admiration. Let me sing the song of love; let my soul lose itself in your praise, rejoicing in love. Let me love you more than myself and not love myself but for your sake, and in you let me love all those who truly love you as the law of love that shines out you’re your commands. Amen

For additional reading: Romans 8:19; 1 Corinthians 10:33; Mark 12:30

Sanctuary Has a Pervasive 21st Century Enemy

Premier Southern mystery in the Shiloh series of stories by T. M. Brown

The greatest threat to any Sanctuary, where hope, peace and the presence of God’s embrace reside, is the pervasive cancer of sex, violence and vulgarity.

According to recent statistics, novels replete with explicit sex, violence, and vulgarity continue to thrive as the flavor of the month in book sales. However, should authors kowtow to earthy content to increase book numbers?

Good writers engage their audience so well, scenes calling for sex, violence, or vulgarity communicate through the actions and attitudes of the characters. Thus, allowing the story to unfold without explicitly necessitating every sordid detail.

I believe an author’s responsibility is not only to entertain but also engage readers, so they sense they are witnessing the story as it unfolds.

What images race through your mind that depicts anger and rage? Do you picture contorted faces and threatening gestures, or do you need to be explicitly told? Consider this scene from my book Sanctuary:

Hank gritted his teeth as the veins on his neck swelled, and his eyes glared through me. “Well, I think you’re putting your nose into places you’ve no business being.” He uncrossed his arms and pointed at my chest. “I’m warning you. Stay away from me and my wife!”

“Hank, I’m sorry if I’ve said or done anything to upset you. Have you spoken to your father?”

“This is between you and me. Stay out of our lives.” Hank’s effort to be more composed fell apart.

… Hank pressed his finger into my sternum. “This is all I’m going to say to you about Jessie or John…” He thumped his finger against my chest adding emphasis to each word. “I’m truly sorry about what happened to Jessie, but John got what he deserved. And you can quote me on that. Now back off! I’m warning you.”

Pete stepped out from the shadows, unceremoniously interrupting Hank’s exchange with me. 

“Mister P, is everything okay?” Pete asked as he glared at Hank. “Hank, who’re you warning about what?”

Hank surveyed Pete and the four remaining shadows just out of the light. His finger fell to his side, but his distended veins on his neck swelled even more. “Pete, this has nothing to do with you or any of you guys!”

…Pete extended his finger just shy of Hank’s chest. “How in the blue blazes do you know it don’t involve us? If you think you can flex your muscles and intimidate one of my friends, you just made it my business.” His stern warning and unflinching stare froze Hank.

Granted a few expletives could’ve been exchanged, but did the scene work anyway?

John Grisham achieved his decades-long success capitalizing on his uncanny knack of drawing his audience’s attention upon his colorful characters and settings. Doing so, he exited scenes involving sex, violence or vulgarity using innuendo. In fact, Grisham’s Theodore Boone YA mysteries found a broad new audience without much of an adjustment in his storytelling to do so. Neither should we to reach a wider audience to sell more books.

Sanctuary, a Southern mystery novel that celebrates small-town life dealing with 21st Century challenges while trying to move beyond scandal and dark secrets holding the idyllic, time-lost town of Shiloh hostage as Theo Phillips and his wife, Liddy arrive in town to retire. For more information – TM Brown FB Author Page or CoachBrown.org

The Source of My Inspiration – Family!

Avoid Conflict at the Crossroads

Your first Love will guide your crossroad choices. Choose wisely to avoid conflict.

Avoid Conflict at the Crossroads

Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For I have often told you, and now say again with tears, that many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction; their god is their stomach; their glory is their shame. They are focused on earthly things, but our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait… Philippians 3:17-20

Many love the promise of God’s heavenly kingdom, but few are willing to bear the burden of conflict at the crossroads along the journey. Many desire comfort, but few accept the tribulation that waits beyond the crossroads. Many companions seek to dine at God’s table, but few are unwilling to fast to be closer to him. Who willingly pursues labor and hardship, sleepless nights, hunger and thirst; often lacking shelter and proper clothing to reach the heavenly destination?

Many desire to rejoice with him, but few are willing to suffer for him – or with him. We quickly forget that God promised that through our suffering, our comfort awaits. Many acknowledge their weaknesses before they discover their God-given strengths. As a result, many find consolation in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in other pressures of life?

It has been given to us on behalf of Jesus not only to take heart in his example but also to struggle and suffer for and with him. However, do many understand what that means or are they merely words we claim?

Many follow the example of Jesus into the breaking of bread, seeking fellowship with him, but few willingly strive to share the cup of his suffering. Many revere and desire God’s blessings, but few choose to share in the humiliation of suffering. Many profess to love God, so long as adversities do not happen in their lives. Many praise him, so long as they receive comfort from him. However, if God abides in us and then seems to leave us for even a little while, how many start complaining or become depressed?

How powerful can our love for God be when mixed with self-interest or self-love? Those of us who love God for who God is and do not seek some personal comfort of our own – they are the few who bless God amidst the heartache, tribulation, and anguish of real life. There is no difference in their love manifested in a state of perfect comfort and peace. However, many always seek after the blessing of comfort and thus should be called a “mercenary,” because they only reveal their association with God when they receive their expected compensation. They are lovers of themselves, not God? They only desire to profit and take advantage of the relationship.

Who is willing to serve God seeking nothing in return? Is that not what God’s love with us reveals? Is that the example we learned from Jesus? It is rare that anyone becomes so spiritually disciplined that they willingly release their “white knuckle grasp” upon their worldly treasures. Consider how hard it is to find the truly poor in spirit, those free from the world’s afflictions and influences. Such a person would surrender all their material wealth and possessions as if they were nothing. This individual would still sense in their heart that all they have would never be enough. That same person would desire all knowledge and yet realize how little they know and far removed they are from ever knowing God. They may live an exemplary virtuous life and be fervently devoted, yet lack much because such a life would recognize one most necessary thing is missing. What is that one thing? Be willing to surrender everything, forsaking even ourselves. Turn completely away from our desires. Cling to nothing out of self-love. Release our “white knuckle grasp” on what pleases us and seek first and foremost God’s will, ways, and wisdom.

When we have accomplished all that needs to be done, so far as we know, and are able, consider it as having done nothing at all. At that point, we will realize that no one will be richer, no one more powerful, and no one freer because we can freely disregard all worldly things of value, humble ourselves, and rejoice in God, who exalts us with his blessings of comfort and peace.

My daily prayer: Lord God, I seek to understand the joy and discover the contentment found in knowing you for your sake, not for my sake. I rejoice in the blessings that flow from walking alongside you each day, no matter the conflict going on around me. May all I say and do honor and praise you. I lay all my worries and concerns that will affect my family and me that I have little control over. Direct my steps according to your perfect, good and pleasing will. Lord, may my life inspire my family and others to seek you to lead their lives as well. Amen

For additional reading: 2 Corinthians 1:5; 11:27; 12:10; Philippians 1:29-30; 2:21; Luke 9:14; 17:10; 18:14; 22:41-42; Mark 10:38; Matthew 16:24-25

Coach

My Lord is within Me!

Old Bucket and StairsMy Lord is within Me!

On that day you will say: “I will praise You, Lord, although You were angry with me. Your anger has turned away, and You have had compassion on me. Indeed, God is my salvation. I will trust [Him] and not be afraid. Because Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my song, He has become my salvation.” You will joyfully draw water from the springs of salvation, and on that day you will say: “Give thanks to the Lord; proclaim His name! Celebrate His deeds among the peoples. Declare that His name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things. Let this be known throughout the earth. Cry out and sing, citizen of Zion, for the Holy One of Israel is among you in [His] greatness.” Isaiah 12:1-6 (HCSB)

What a glorious proclamation of one’s deliverance from the crucible of life to find the Lord’s love, grace and mercy waiting upon you, although you had walked away from him! Sometimes in our difficult and challenging life choices we walked intentionally away from the Lord because we wanted our way and not his way. We may even have cursed him and blamed him for the difficulties we have faced in life. However, his love is stronger than our acts of rebellion and rejection. His love is a Father’s love. He patiently waits for the opportunity for you and me to open our eyes and recognize the state of our life when we have walked away from the source of life. He perseveres through our outbursts of anger and even when he only sees the backside of our head because we have turned away from him. He waits for us to recognize the love he has for us.

Consider why this is true: The strongest declarations of God’s love come from those who have tried to survive without his love. Once we have found our way back to his protection and loving kindness there is no other way to respond but with loud proclamations of praise. The greatest hymn sung in and out of the church, “Amazing Grace” was written as a testimony by a former slave ship captain who came to the point in his life where he recognized his rejection of God’s love and how he returned to the Lord and experienced the true meaning of God’s grace – the presence of God’s love in one’s life. He turned his new found deliverance from his life of sin and misery to one of praise by becoming a preacher and song writer. He turned London upside down through his preaching and sharing the good news he had experienced through God’s grace.

Never believe that you are so far gone down the road of sin that you cannot return and claim God’s grace and mercy. He loves all of us, no matter how far we tried to run away from Him. Your debt has already been forgiven in full for whatever sin that controls your life. All he asks is you turn back to him and become freed from your old life. No questions asked – your past will remain in the past with the Lord. If you seek God’s will, ways, and wisdom, you will find God’s love waiting for you. He created you to be who you are and wants you to seek his face to discover his smile. He will introduce you to the peace that surpasses all understanding and change the direction of your daily walk – you will know the Lord lives within you, just as he lives within all of us.

Coach

Are You Just Going Through the Motions?

WRONG-WORSHIP

Are You Just Going Through the Motions?

Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah! “What are all your sacrifices to Me?” asks the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings and rams and the fat of well-fed cattle; I have no desire for the blood of bulls, lambs, or male goats. When you come to appear before Me, who requires this from you [this] trampling of My courts? Stop bringing useless offerings. I despise [your] incense. New Moons and Sabbaths, and the calling of solemn assemblies I cannot stand iniquity with a festival. I hate your New Moons and prescribed festivals. They have become a burden to Me; I am tired of putting up with [them]. When you lift up your hands [in prayer], I will refuse to look at you; even if you offer countless prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.” Isaiah 1:10-15 (HCSB)

God will not be mocked! God seeks fidelity and sincerity in our worship and in all our relationships.

If we say we love and cherish someone, then our actions should testify to it. However, history has proven repeatedly that we (mankind) have tried to go through the motions to gain the benefits of a relationship without really committing to or investing in the relationship.

Why worship God if you are only committing or investing in your own needs? If you were God, how would you feel when it is clear our hearts and minds were focused solely upon being seen or heard. In our own family relationships, how would you feel if you expressed a sincere “I love you” to your son or daughter and in return all you got back was a contrived and almost rehearsed, “Yeah, I love you too! Can I have the car keys?”

Our lives can reveal a glorious, passionate relationship with God and others, or it can reveal a very lonely, self-centered, orchestrated and artificial existence. God provides us with many stories of the desolation that comes to lives pretending to be one of God’s chosen ones. They are the sad examples of those who gladly desire the benefits of God’s covenant protection and provision, but are more focused on the benefits rather than the relationship with God. They feel entitled to the benefits without investing in the relationship. If you were God how would you feel in such a relationship? Would you grow weary of such a one-sided arrangement?

God created us to be in relationships. Loners do not survive in this world without causing controversy, chaos or conflict. However, we are selfish by nature. However, God knows how we were created and shares His love unconditionally to demonstrate how to love others, as He loves us — but God also declares, genuine love only comes from making a choice. Love does not come naturally, but is necessary for our well-being. However, love cannot be contrived or rehearsed. It must come from within and not merely be an outward action to elicit a self-serving response.

Is your love relationship with God sincere or are you going through the motions? If you are sincere, you understand what God’s ways, God’s will, and God’s wisdom according to God’s Word is all about in your life. Worshiping God is not to be an outward action but an outpouring of love that comes from within our hearts, minds and souls.

Coach