“The Miracle at the Men’s Warehouse”

Mens Warehouse

2 Corinthians 3:5, “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God”

             I seriously debated sharing this story, but my wife insisted I share because it demonstrates how God provides. She also thought part of it was quite humorous too. It may be the fact that it was just me experiencing what I experienced that made it funny to her. LOL! However, I do believe it really shows how God provides for us ( believers ).

             So, a few weeks ago I had been working in my office at church before people started arriving. Yes, it was a Sunday morning to be exact. Somewhere around 9:00am people started arriving for Sunday School fellowship. I had left my office door open to go make some copies of paper. Arriving back at my office I found a small gift box with a note that said, “Bro. Bryan – A gift for you”. I was intrigued, as most likely anyone would be. So I opened it up, and it was a gift card to the Men’s Warehouse clothing store. The tag on the card showed a two-digit number signifying how much the card was for. It would not have mattered the amount, but what did matter is that God had used someone to bless me. For that I was genuinely grateful.

             So I have had this double-digit card in my wallet for probably three weeks now saving up some money, and praying for the best use of this card. For example, “Do I buy a shirt with it?”, “Do I buy a sweater with it?”, “Do I buy a bunch of socks and / or ties with it?”. You get the picture.

             Another pastor friend of mine had given me 4 or 5 suits that he was unable to wear any longer due to losing a bunch of weight. LUCKY GUY!! I had already taken those suits and had them altered. I felt pretty good about my suit collection – at least until this summer anyway LOL.. Seriously though, I really wanted to genuinely make the best use out of this gift I had been given. I firmly believe God honors us when we genuinely seek Him even in these types of decisions. So, after prayer, and also some discussion with my wife we felt the best use of the money would be to save some more money and put with it and get me a blazer type coat that could be worn on Sunday mornings or even more casually on our Wednesday night services. Yes, I am a preacher, and we have to think that way sometimes. LOL.

             So, last night I show up at the Men’s Warehouse alone, because my wife ended up having to keep a bunch of extra little children at the last minute. I walk in to the store. The gentlemen helping me was very nice, and asked what I was looking for. I shared with him that I wanted to look at blazers that could be worn with dress pants, khakis, or even possibly nice jeans at more casual functions.  I also asked him if they had any sales going on at the time. Note to self – being a good steward does mean you should investigate sale items. LOL.

             Please note, at this time, I had no idea how unclear the salesman was being, and just how unclear I was understanding. Looking back, my mind must have been in Wonder Land, because I am not normally this clouded when it comes to dealing with money. Just ask my wife! First, I’m hearing that the sale is structured where I could possibly walk out with two blazers for one-hundred and something dollars. Doesn’t sound too far fetched because the last time ( YEARS AGO ) I actually bought a suit from the store it was S&K’s 2 for $200 sale. Next, thinking they were that great of a deal, and having a little money put back to go with the double-digit card, I pick out a third blazer like I have just hit the jackpot.

             After questioning the gentleman again on the price, some reality hits, and I realize that $300 would be too much to pay that evening for 3 blazers. I kind of felt guilty to be honest spending that on myself. So I told the guy, “Oh, don’t worry about the third one, I’ll take these two though”. In telling him this I am thinking I’ll be leaving the store with two really nice blazers for $200 minus my gift card, so I still have hit a grand-slam with my purchase.

             The salesman has done his job well measuring me, checking out the jackets and such. He proceeds to get his tailor and they both come out to make the right markings, measurements, and get everything set. I’m feeling really good at this point because these are the first two brand-spanking new dress coats I have bought since the year 2001. I confess. I liked it. It was then, I had glimpse into the fact that my taste for clothing far outweighs my budget LOL.

             Everything is set for me to pick up my coats this Thursday night. At this point, this is probably the closest thing to what my wife feels like in a shoe store. Then, the gentleman and I proceed over to checkout counter. Keep in mind that in my mind I’m getting out of there for a couple of hundred dollars minus my gift card so I am pumped. The salesman begins ringing up the order. I’m seeing triple digit numbers flash before my eyes. They seemed to be in such bold, bright, highlighted digits that anyone in the whole store could see them. The total is outrageous to say the least. Then, he shares that he has to take the amounts off for the sale going on. A bit of instant relief came over me. I will say, the sale took a good chunk out of the total, but then, it happened. The final number appeared before my eyes. Good grief, were these coats lined with gold? That was might thought. It was like I was in a daze, and had no idea what to do. For once in my life I was stunned. My palms got sweaty, I began to get light-headed, I think I started having heart palpitations. I even thought, my car is across the street and my asthmatic inhaler is all the way in there. I was too embarrassed to tell the guy “no” at that point, but I had not saved up that much to go with my gift card.

             So, as one last attempt to stall so I could come up with a good excuse not to purchase the items, I asked him if he could check to see how much I had left on the gift card. THAT’S WHEN IT HAPPENED!! God changed everything in that one moment of time. The salesman swiped the card through. The card was not a double digit card. It contained three digits of money on that card. My purchase was taken care of for the most part. Instead of lacking the adequate funds to purchase these quotes I was blessed beyond immensely. Where my resources were inadequate; God’s never-ending resources were more than adequate!  My flesh wanted to say get out of there in case that was wrong, but I had to ask if that were correct. So I asked him to please double check that amount, and he said, indeed it was correct. I will say I felt like David in the Psalms when it describes him as “dancing unto the Lord”. No, I didn’t literally dance in the store, but it almost happened. LOL. I was in such a daze about the whole thing that being in sheer amazement over what had taken place I almost didn’t get out of the store. I was trying to pull the door open when it had to be pushed open. Yes, the guy even had to instruct me to push because I’m looking at my receipt in unbelief and amazement.

             Now, I to this day have no idea who gave me the gift. This is what I do know. God put me on the heart of someone. I am thankful to that person for the gracious gift they gave no matter who it is. I say, “Thank you!”. I want to say, “Thank You, and glory to God in the highest” for the gift that He gave through this individual.

             I was sharing with my dad the whole experience, and he asked me if I had any idea who it was. I told him it was God doing for me what I could not do for myself. I believe that with every unction of my being. Praise God, Praise Him! God gives to us out of love. It’s not because I deserved it. I don’t, but He is gracious to us – not giving to us as we deserve, but giving to us what we do not deserve. So, all I can say is this, “Thank you Jesus!”

             It was the Miracle I experienced at the Men’s Warehouse – I guarantee it!

 Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

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“Changed By Love”

Compelled Love

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Real love is extremely powerful. Authentic love changes lives. Genuine love covers a multitude of sins. Love, it’s something everyone needs whether they realize it or not.

I think about the love I have received from other people in my life. The first love I was able to ever recognize was the love that comes from my mom and dad. Mothers carry their children inside them for nine months. That is special love. Dad’s are there to guard, protect and take care of you in a special way. Mom and dad’s love becomes combined and create a super-glue type love that is unique in itself. There’s the love of a spouse. It’s something very special and that God creates as He makes two people become one. Wow! There’s nothing like it. Certainly there are other avenues that love shines through. The love from children to their parents, which is one of the greatest blessings. Love can be experienced from siblings. Church members who love one another can be one of the greatest testimonies of the bride of Christ. Love, it is wonderfully powerful!

Paul shares how powerful love is in the above verses. He speaks of the love that he has experienced in knowing Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. In fact, God’s love is so powerful that Paul says it controls him. “For the love of Christ controls us”. The love Paul experienced in meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus changed his life forever. Paul, who was a persecutor of the church came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Since that time, Paul said that his life was not the same, and because of the love from God that he experienced he no longer lives for himself, but for God. God’s love was so powerful in the life of Paul that Paul could not help but be controlled by that love. That love changed who Paul was, it changed Paul’s perspective on life, it changed Paul’s life objectives, and it changed Paul’s purpose for living.

You see, as great as the love is that I experience from my parents, my wife, my children, and our church family, nothing can compare to the love of God. He loved me before I was born. He loved me when He went to the cross at Calvary. He loved me when He hung on the cross and died. He loved me when arose from the grave. He loved me, and He continues to love in spite of all my mess-ups, hang-ups, and many many failures in life.

His love has changed me. God’s love has given me a new perspective on life, a new mission in life, and it has totally transformed my life. I now want to live my life for Jesus, and not myself.

Have you experienced His love in such a way that it has totally transformed your life? If not, you can. I encourage you today to pick up His word, start reading in John 1 and see how much God loves you.

Blessings,

Bro. Bryan

“Making Decisions”

Decision Making Dice

Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

              It’s true that in this life we make so many decisions day-in and day-out. Some decisions are really easy while others can be quite difficult to make. Why is that? Well, I think it has a lot to do with the outcomes and consequences of the decisions we make. For instance, deciding whether I am going to eat a hamburger or a burrito is not a major decision; therefore the consequences do not have major impact on the future of my life. You’re right, one may give more heartburn than the other, but there is no major impact to my life or my family’s life. On the other hand a more difficult decision may be something like determining where to go to school. This could have major implications because of location, accreditation, tuition and many other aspects that make up the decision. A decision made for going back to school could possibly affect me and my family in multiple major ways. Glad I’m not making that decision right now in my life.

I remember when we ( my family ) moved to Henderson County, TN where I pastured at Mt. Ararat Baptist Church. Before making the decision to accept the position I remember our family feeling the burden of making such a BIG decision. We knew the decision would effect lives either way. If we felt the Lord calling us to go there it would change our lives around completely. We would be further away than we had ever been before from the people we loved so much. It would be a totally different atmosphere altogether for our family. If we chose not to accept the position it would effect all the lives of those who were counting on us being there. They trusted us enough to place a vote for us to come. They believed it was God’s will. So you see, either way, lives were effected in a major way.

Before making the decision our family spent much time in prayer, and on our knees before God. The outcome was that we felt the Lord leading us there, so we went. God used that time in the life of our family to teach us some of the greatest lessons in ministry and life that we could ever learn. In fact, I believe that part of my ministry was some of the greatest seminary of my life.

I believe David really shows us some golden nuggets about decision-making in Psalm 16. We have to remember, in all our decisions we make that it is about God, and not about us. This Psalm says, “You make known to me the path of life”. That’s the first key. We should never trust our feelings, emotions, or some fuzzy wuzzy inside of us to make these great decisions of life. We should seek God’s counsel in EVERYTHING. When we earnestly and honestly seek Him through prayer and in the meditation of His word He will make known the path of life.

David also points out that, “In your presence there is fullness of joy”. I can tell you what this means to me when I am making big decisions in my life. It means that when I desire to follow His direction I will not be disappointed. In fact, I will find joy in following God’s lead because my joy is in Him. Realize that there is peace in following God’s directions. There’s no doubt that if you choose another direction than what God is leading, He can make lemonade out of the lemon-decision you made. I also would say that it is ALWAYS best to obey and follow Him first rather than having to drudge through the landmines and potholes of our own ways.

David then points out, “at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore”. You see, when we follow God’s plan and make decisions that keep us in His plan, He blesses in ways that are unimaginable. For instance, because our family obeyed God and left everything that was comfortable in Oakland, TN to move to a place we knew nothing about God taught us things that we may have never learned any other way. We learned things that made our family stronger, that made our ministry stronger, and these things could not have been taught where we had previously lived and served.

So, in making important decisions in life never forget these things:

  1. It’s all about God, and not about us.
  2. Seek God’s counsel in everything.
  3. You will find real peace in following God’s directions.
  4. Following and trusting God leads to blessings that are amazing.

I hope you will read Psalm 16 before you make your next big decision in life. By doing so, you might just see the great blessing that including God in your decision-making can bring.

Blessings,

Bro. Bryan

“Casual vs. Committed”

Casual or committed

Matthew 22:37, “ And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. “

              One day Jesus had really upset the Pharisees because he had silenced the Sadducees; therefore, the Pharisees gathered themselves together to go up against Jesus with questioning. Once they were all gathered together, a lawyer in the group of Pharisees asked Jesus a question. It wasn’t because he really cared to know the truth, but he was intending to try and trip Jesus up on His words. We know that Jesus never fell into the trap of the Pharisees, but they still asked their question. The lawyer asked Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment in the law?”. Jesus gave that answer here in verse 37 when He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

You see, Jesus cut to the heart of the matter. They had asked what was the greatest commandment of the law, but the answer Jesus gave them was considered the greatest commandment of ALL! It wasn’t just the greatest commandment of the law, but the greatest commandment that rules over everything. Loving the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul is the greatest thing. Nothing else compares.

What does this tell us about where we, the church, are at today? Certainly, there are tons of Christians out there that do live verse 37 to the very best effort they can with God’s help. However, for most Christians in America this verse brings great conviction as so many churches are filled with believers who at heart are very casual about their Christianity.

You see, when we have a real encounter with Jesus Christ we experience real change. That change is evidenced in the believers life. Sure, there may be some drastic changes that take place, and there may be other changes that come slowly over time. However, we cannot neglect to shine the light on the fact that there should be a real, authentic, noticeable change in a persons life when they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Have you had that experience with Christ?

So, if this is such a big problem in our churches today, why is it? Obviously, I cannot list out every detail in this short blog, but it definitely provide enough material for a book of good size. At the very core, I think it goes back to verse 37, and what Jesus said in that verse. Our churches are filled with people who want casual Christianity. They want to come to church on Sunday mornings in an attempt to silence their conscience because it makes them feel as if they did their duty as a Christian to come to church one time a week. What does this mean? Those that fall into this category could be seen in the same light as Jesus saw the Pharisees that day who asked Him that BIG question. So, I would ask you this question. “Do you love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, and all of your soul?”. If so, why do you give God the minimal time of your life each week? Why do you so easily let every thing in this world take precedence over a commitment to God’s house and God’s work?

Many times, the church in America so easily allows the little things to get in the way of their devotion to joining themselves together in cooperate worship, which I remind you we are instructed to do in Scripture. If that were not so, we would not have seen the local church formed in the New Testament. Let me give you an example. Many churches have their evening service somewhere around 5:30 or 6:00pm on Sundays. At 5:00 o’clock it begins to rain. Yes, it is cooler than usual outside. A man decides because of the rain, the coolness in the air, and he is tired it would be best for him to simply stay home that evening, relax and get re-charged for work on Monday morning. This same man would never think about calling his boss up on Monday morning and saying, “I can’t come in today because it’s raining, it’s cool this morning, and I’m tired.”. No, he would fear that he would lose his job, and then there would be no paycheck.

So, what does this tell us? There are a few things it reveals, even though it is hard to admit. First, whether this man admits it or not, he fears his earthly boss more than God. Second, he values his job and the status he holds with his job more than he values his relationship with God. Third, he cares more about his own personal comfort than his commitment to God. More can be said, but you see the pattern is that he really is no better than the Pharisees. He does not love the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his mind. If he did, the greatest commitment of his life would be to God. Everyone and everything else would come after.

More can be said, and yes more will be said in later posts. The fact is we need to pray for the church in America to wake up!! The church’s priority should be on exalting the Savior, equipping the saints, and evangelizing the lost. How can the church be faithful to carry out these responsibilities when those who make up the church are not committed? We must begin to change our course, or realize that death is the future reality. It is sobering, but true!

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan