Author Archives: Brandon

5 Ways to End the Summer Slump

Every summer christians all over the world get stuck in a slump.  During the school year there is clear routine and schedules.  During the summer, all of the routine and schedule gets thrown out.  So how do you keep your relationship with Jesus healthy?

I wish every person would read through the Bible every year, go to church every week, serve using their gifts and talents every week, spend time as a family talking about what God is doing in each person, serve people everyday, tithe to a local church, and be generous as a lifestyle not just to get the tax break (however I am very grateful for that break).  I know most of you would aspire to do many of those things but won’t.  So if I could encourage you to do one thing this summer it is this…..

Pray for at least 5 min a day

Pray like this…

  1. Say out loud that God is God. He is holy, righteous, good, kind, perfect, worthy of honor, worthy of praise, or anything else that speaks to His great value.
  2. Say out loud 10 things you are grateful for.  There is nothing that sets our heart right like gratitude.  If there is someone close to you that you are struggling with, speak 3 things that you are grateful for about them
  3. Confess the places you struggle with and ask God for strength and courage to life apart from sin. It is for freedom He sets you free, and by grace that you overcome sin. 
  4. Ask God to give you 3 people to encourage today.  They might need prayer, affirmation, or just someone to ask how they are doing and really listen for an answer.  
  5. Ask God to speak to you.  Now listen with your eyes and ears.  You might see something or hear something that will fill your soul

You will be surprised how fast 5 minutes will turn in to more.  

Psalm 27:Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
    Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
    And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
14 Wait patiently for the Lord.

    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

So today… Pray. God loves you and is for you.  His is not looking to catch you in sin but to forgive and save you from it.  Approach Him as a loving Father.  If you have never known a loving father, let Him show you and heal you.  He wants you to hear His voice more than you will ever want to hear his voice.  Go pray

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Rejected

Have you ever been so ashamed you wish you could change your name and who you were?  That was the story of Levi in the New Testament.  He was most likely given the name Levi because his parents believed he would be a priest.  Either at the age of 12 or 18, he was told he did not have what it takes to be a priest. So he changed his name and became the person priests hate the most… a Tax collector. 

Can you imagine the conversation over dinner when Levi tells his parents he is going to become what they hate and he is going to change his name to Matthew.  That is not a Hebrew name but a Roman name.  So not only was he going to be come what his parents hated, he was choosing to identify not as a Hebrew but the government that oppressed them.

Levi leads his life as a tax collector, robbing the jewish people along the way.  He is getting wealthy doing too by the way.  With wealth come parties and parties come with stories.  

I know what it feels like to not measure up.  I had a massive head growing up (I had to get a varsity helmet in the 5th grade because the kid and middle school helmets were too small), that will get you made fun of.  I often did not make the A team.  I was never the smartest kid in the class.  I was not the most religious or best behaved at church growing up.  I have been fired on more than one occasion.  I was an outsider in college. I had pastors say I did not have what it takes to lead in ministry.  

I am sure you have your moments to. I am sure there have been days that you have felt like moving away and changing your name.  Levi just did it in their faces.  Then one day Levi’s life changes forever…

Matthew is working his booth when a famous teacher shows up.  This teacher named Jesus comes right up to his booth and invites him to be his disciple.  Matthew knows what this means.  The most famous teacher in the region just said he was good enough.  The phrase he longed to hear for his whole life and thought would never happen, just happened.  I am sure he has to question if he heard correctly, or if Jesus wasn’t talking to the person standing behind him.

Jesus was talking to Matthew.  He knew what Matthew did and the mess he had made of his life.  He still chose him.  If you were Jesus and could only choose 12 men to change the world, wouldn’t there be a man with a little less baggage?

I wonder if that was the idea all along.  Matthew was a mess.  Most of the mess he didn’t create but he certainly made it worse and not better.  Jesus still chose him.  Matthew didn’t deserve it and did nothing to earn it.  He just got picked.  Jesus was able to see past the mess and into who Matthew really was.  You know the best part Jesus doesn’t change his name back to Levi.  He takes the broken part of the story and gives it purpose and meaning.

What is your mess?  Jesus is calling your name too.  He knows what you have done.  He knows the shame you carry.  He knows what they did to you.  He knows how you made it worse.  He knows you got looked over.  He knows you don’t have it all together.

What Matthew did right was get up and follow Jesus.  He gave Jesus the mess and let Jesus decide what to do with it. His decision to follow gave him a front row seat to the greatest moments of history.  Matthew later dies preaching the message of Jesus.  He finished well. So can you.  I do not know what you have done or what you are stuck in.  I do not know the messes you have made or the ones you sit in others made.  What I do know is when you give your broken life to Jesus.  He changes everything.  So right now what broken rejected place do you have to give to Jesus?  Give it to him now!

Helping People Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg

Live a Better Story- Part 5

Where I live dog racing is a big thing.  There is a round horse track and attached to the middle of the track is a mechanical rabbit.  The race begins, the rabbit appears to be running, and the dogs lose their minds chasing it. Recently, one of the rabbits exploded mid race.  One of the dogs stopped, layed down and took a nap.  A couple dogs kept running thinking the rabbit was over the fence, and they ran through it breaking a few ribs in the act.  The remaining dogs realized the crowd and began barking at them.

I thought to myself, what a picture of humanity! When we do not have something specific to go after… aka a vision for our lives, we will either take a nap, hurt ourselves, or bark at the people around us. 

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint.

Restraint is something that holds us back.  It can be handcuff or an internal conscience that keeps us from hurting ourselves or someone else. The Message translation says it like this:

Proverbs 29:18 If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.

It is like a crowd of people running in the dark.  There will be chaos, and it will be crazy.  Turn on the news or go to the mall and you will see this verse right in front of you. So if that is not God’s plan what is?

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Good work prepared in advance for us to do.  What is the good work God planned for you?  The happiest people I know are not the ones with the best of circumstances.  In fact some have lost their spouse, been bankrupt, lost their job, faced physical illness, and many other things.  Yet they carry a joy that is bigger than all they face.  They have a clear purpose and are making a difference in the world they live in. How do you feel when you bless a widow, give a honkin’ tip… for those of you that did not grow up in the country “a generous gratuity”, buy groceries for a single mom, help someone on the side of the road.  Or people who start a business to help people get a job and keep it. I know people who serve homeless, serve in kids ministry because they want those kids to really know God, people who reach out to teenagers, coaches, teachers, CEO’s who give millions to churches and missions.  

1 Corinthians 9:22 Whatever a person is like, I try to find common ground with him so that he will let me tell him about Christ and let Christ save him.

Want to make a real difference that lasts for eternity.  Do you want your heart to be alive?  It can’t happen on the lake, or on the bike, or with the bigger house, or the bigger bank account, or the prettier spouse.  Your heart will be alive when you know God and look to make Him known.  How do you reach someone?  Don’t go on a mission trip! Cross the street!  Find someone in need and help meet that need.  When you do listen to their story and dont judge them.  What is wrong with them is not their bad behavior but they don’t know Jesus.  Meet the need and Jesus said that is meeting His need.

If you are bored, facing mid life, wandering if there is more than 9-5, get on your knees and ask God to give you vision for you life.  Know this… You cant Make a Difference if you don’t Discover Your Purpose. You can’t Discover Your Purpose if you don’t Find Freedom.  You can’t Find Freedom if you don’t Know God. 

So where are you?

Where ever that is take a next step.  When? Today! Now! Go!

Helping People Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg

Live a Better Story- Part 4

I meet so many men that want to know their purpose.  They get to a time in their life where they have done what they know, what have always done, and what paid the bills but look back to a time where they dreamed of something different life.  No kids dreams about being miserable in a 9-5.  Now before you think it is money that makes the difference let me clarify. I know men who have money and lack purpose.  I live in South Florida.  The weather is a paradise, the median income is 3x the national average, 25 minutes from the beach, and every kind of ethnic food within 20 of your house.  Theyhave beautiful homes, incredible cars, and lack purpose.  It is really simple.  Many people live life thinking success is around the corner. Then they get around the corner and find another corner of in the distance. 

Do you want to know God’s will for your life?  There is something wrong with you if you would answer yes. 

Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

We all want the 2nd part of the verse and forget about that the word “then” creates a condition.  The condition to knowing God’s will for your life starts with 2 things… Don’t pursue purpose where the world looks for purpose and admit you don’t think right and let God change the way you think. 

3 Enemies of Purpose

  1. Confusion– We don’t know where to look, or we think we do and find it is empty
  2. Comparison– You want their money, their house, their wife, their hair, their body, their influence, their life
  3. Counterfeit– You sought a career and not a calling. You looked for it in a person, did find it and got a new person and same story

How God Reveals Our Purpose

  1. The Call from Birth

Jeremiah 1:4-8 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah responds with how he is too young to God.  Funny thing is I hear this all the time from men.  I am too old, too poor, too many kids (this might be mine with 4), or I am too far from the starting line.  Funny thing is Joshua was 80 when he took the promised land, David was about 13 when he faced Goliath, and the writer of most of the New Testament was a terrorist before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Dave Thomas started KFC with his social security checks. Michelangelo was in his 80s when he began to paint the Sistine Chapel.  God has never been limited by the things we limit ourselves.

      2. Growing Awareness

Joseph had a dream of his family bowing to him.  He shared the dream and got sold as a slave.  That led to and accusation, prison, and being forgotten about for years. It was only after all of the hardship that God made a way for the purpose to be shown. 

      3. Walking Through Open Doors

Esther was an adopted misfit that had unusual beauty that led to a change to save her people by risking her life before a cruel king. 

Esther 4:14-16 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”… I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Here is what I know… You were created on purpose and for a purpose.  Even if you do not see it right now, you are not too far from that purpose.  You are not too old, too young, too poor, or have sinned too much.  God is God and before you were born He had a purpose to fulfill and then He created you to fill it. If you are not dead, He is not done! Start the business, plant the church, quit the 9-5, or go to your job with purpose to make a difference in the lives of the people around you!

Helping People Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg

Live a Better Story- Part 3

Have you ever wondered if there was more to following Jesus than being forgiven for your sins?  If you have ever had that thought, you are right!  Not that if the only thing received was forgiveness that would be enough, and we should praise and worship in response for all eternity. Jesus forgave us by His death but he actually died so we could have Freedom!  

800 years before Jesus the prophet Isaiah told us what would happen to Jesus and why.  He endured 4 unique wounds so we could experience the life He desires us to live.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.  He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.

The Whip: Freedom for my body “by His stripes we are healed”

The first wound was the whip or “cat of nine tails.”  It had a two handed handle and nine leather chords, each with pieces of rock, stone, glass, and metal tied to it with horse hair.  They would soak the whip in water to make it heavy.  They would whip you 13 times across each shoulder muscle and 13 times down your spine, let it stick and then pull down to sever the muscle.  I have been physically healed and I know many people who have been healed.  God still heals today!  Does He always heal? No. Why? I don’t know.  But we can go to Him with our brokenness and know He heals us.

The Thorns: Freedom for my mind “The punishment that brought us peace”

I know depression.  I know sadness that overwhelms me.  I know anxiety worrying if there will be enough.  I know fear that cripples my faith. I know what it is to have no peace in my mind.  I also know what it is to walk in freedom here!  Though the circumstances were just as big, in my mind the peace of Jesus overcomes the depression, anxiety, and fear.   So how do you get this kind of peace?  I am sure there are places in you mind where you lack peace.  You lose sleep over things that might happen, you don’t like being alone in silence because silence makes you uncomfortable, you stuff emotions choices you have made and will not look yourself in the eyes, you overcompensate for your lack hoping people won’t notice. Don’t worry you are not alone and Jesus knew you would be here.  This peace is not earned but received. 

The Nails: Freedom for your hands “Pierced for our transgressions” 

He was nailed to a cross for a slow suffocation to maximize torture. This was for the sin we chose to do. We knew it was wrong, we knew they would get hurt, we knew it was selfish, we know it had consequences and we did it anyways. You see the nails were in his hands and feet.  It was our hands that did the sin, and our feet that got us there. This is for the forgiveness of what we have done, are doing, and will do.  Jesus knew it all and died for you anyways. He bore your shame so you could have peace in your soul.  He not only did this to forgive you but he wants to give you the ability to forgive yourself.

The Spear: Freedom for my heart “crushed for our iniquity”

Finally, they took a spear and drove it under his ribs into His heart.  When they did this water came before blood, showing His heart sack had already been broken.  You see He did not die of blood loss, suffocation, but of heartbreak.  I know what it is to have my heart broken and be betrayed. You are overwhelmed by everything to such a level that you can only see your hurt. The Father turned His back on Jesus so He didn’t have to do it to us.  That is what crushed Him. He bore the weight of our inherited sin passed down to us by our families.  

This is the Freedom He purchased.  It is received and not earned.  Some of you need to read this 3x times today to let it sink in.  Where do you need freedom today?  Go to the source!  Receive out of relationship and not religion.

Helping People Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg

 

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