Author Archives: Brandon

Chase the Lion Part 2

When I was in 7th grade I went out for wrestling.  I was terrible!  I remember my first match, I was going as hard as I could and was winning.  I was looking at my coach for help and I remember him just laughing at me.  That season, a kid named Cody from my church went out for the team.  He was worse than me.  He went to my church and our moms were friends.  So my mom would have him over to hang out with me.  In the hallways at school he would put his arm around me and announce to the whole hallway full of middle schoolers that I was his best friend.  One day at the end of practice, the other wrestlers started making fun of him.  They were so cruel.  Cody looks at me looking for some defence.  I took the cowards way and join in the making fun.  I can still see the look on his face as his “best friend” humiliated him.

2 Samuel 23:20 Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it. (emphasis added)

In a pit- Defining moments often happen in enemy territory

Benaiah has to go into the pit to face the lion.  The pit is the lions home, for Benaiah this is enemy territory. I was on a wrestling mat with my character on the line.  For you it is at school, at work, at the party, or alone at a computer.  These defining moments rarely happen at church.  The lion you face is not a 500 pound predator. It is not even a person though often it all feel that way.

Ephesians 6:12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Your lion might look like addiction, or lust, or lying, or depression, or fear, or many other things.  The hard thing about facing those lions is your do not know what to hit at. If you are facing a lion you better go with a gun in 2018 or a spear in 2000 BC. When you look at a physical enemy you can know how to kill it.  But when it is unseen, it can feel like punching at the air. It is easy to feel stuck or defeated.  

So how do you go into enemy territory when you can’t see your enemy?  You build yourself up in the Word of God. You spend time in prayer asking God to give you victory. You show love.  You forgive. You confess your sin to God and to other people. You bring the things hidden in the darkness and bring them to the light.  The hope that we share because of Christ, is that when we do those things the enemy flees and victory purchased by the resurrected Christ avails. 

So today…  FIGHT! Find the Freedom you were freely given.  You are NOT too far gone, you have NOT sinned to greatly, your hopelessness is NOT too deep. You are deeply loved, highly favored by the Creator.  Go to Him and find freedom.

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Chase the Lion Part 1

Not too long ago, a bat invaded our house.  My grandma woke up to it flying in her room.  I went in the room and could not find it.  Part of me thought she didn’t have her glasses on and she was disoriented.  Later that morning it shows up again.  My 10 year old son decided he was up to the challenge.  He went and got his Red Ryder BB gun.  It was perched in a corner of our vaulted ceiling in a little ball.  Nervously he aims at the bat knowing it could get spooked and start flying again.  He takes aim and shoots the bat.  He nails it and the bat swoops to the floor at all the girls in my house start screaming.  My wife covers the bat with a towel and takes it outside dead.  Levi my son is now a sharp shooting warrior.  He has officially gotten his first man card at 10!

One of my favorite stories in scripture is about a man who steps up in a crazy way.  The act of heroism, by this many named Benaiah, along with a few others led him to eventually become the captain of the guard under King David and commander in chief under King Solomon.  Little did he know these acts of heroism would set up such a dream responsibility.  

Here is the account:

2 Samuel 23:20 There was also Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant warrior[i] from Kabzeel. He did many heroic deeds, which included killing two champions[j] of Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he chased a lion down into a pit and killed it. 21 Once, armed only with a club, he killed an imposing Egyptian warrior who was armed with a spear. Benaiah wrenched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with it.22 Deeds like these made Benaiah as famous as the Three mightiest warriors.

On a Snowy day-

Isn’t that just how God works.  If you live in Israel snow comes around about as often as it does in Alabama.  They are not used to this kind of cold.  On a miserable day comes a defining moment.  I don’t know about you but most of my defining moments were on a bad day or a hard day.  Benaiah has to face a lion one on one on a miserable day.  

I think in our lives we find ourselves here on our worst days.  The day you didn’t get enough sleep, had a rough morning, spilled something on yourself, lost an opportunity is the day you notice that person who is having a rough day, you have the opportunity to cheat or lie, or feel compelled by the Lord to be overly generous.

These are the days God tests our character and He find whether we can be trusted.  So this week I want to challenge you to ask God to give you an opportunity to show faith in a way that costs you like it would on a snowy day.  Then ask God to give you the strength and courage to do it.

Recklessly, obsessively following Jesus

Brandon Sereg

Sabbath

Have you ever wondered what Sabbath really was?  For those of you who have not grown up in church this word might as well be greek.  So let me explain… When God delivered Israel out of Egypt, He wanted to give them a standard to live by.  So He gave them 10 commandments. One of those commandments is: 

Exodus 20:8 Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Work six days and do everything you need to do. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to God, your God. Don’t do any work—not you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your servant, nor your maid, nor your animals, not even the foreign guest visiting in your town. For in six days God made Heaven, Earth, and sea, and everything in them; he rested on the seventh day. Therefore God blessed the Sabbath day; he set it apart as a holy day.

In 6 days, God made the whole universe and everything in it.  He did it with His voice. On the 7th day, He rested. God is trying to show the world his power.  The world works 7 days and trusts in their labor for increase.  God said you will work less and because you are blessed will harvest more. Science shows people who really rest live longer, have greater happiness, and are overall healthier people. This is really about trust.  Do you trust God or do you trust you?  Do you trust God multiplies what you trust Him with?

Overtime sabbath became something different.  It turned into a religious duty about law instead of a matter of trust and filling our tanks.  So Jesus address it:

Mark 2:23 One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples began breaking off heads of grain to eat. 24 But the Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?”

27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”

So what is Sabbath?  Is it napping and watching TV? NO!  Sabbath is relational and restful.  Sabbath is about spending time with God and worshiping Him.  It is also about spending time with family and friends.  For me a great sabbath day is extra time in prayer, spending time with my family, and getting my tools out and building something. Why is that not work?  Because during the week I do not have a physical job and building fills my tank.

So do you sabbath?  Is it rules or relationships?  How do you need to find a sabbath rythm?  Btw… my sabbath is Saturday.  I do not work on Vibrant or counsel people.  If something comes up on a Saturday like it has this week.  I move my day.  Why?  I was not made for sabbath but sabbath for me.  So sabbath this week.  Do it every week!

Helping People Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg
@brandonsereg
www.thevibrant.church

 

Smite Thy Enemy

Have you ever had someone go out of their way to make your life miserable?  Like they have an agenda to embarrass and shame you infront of people. Then we play out what we wish we could do to them or we have these fake conversations in out head with them.  We tear them apart in our heads.  Some of us actually do those things.  We get even with them!

Then you come across the words of Jesus:

Matthew 5:43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 

Most of the time we are like “He is Jesus. He can do that. I can not.”  Or we think ok I will pray for them… “God get them, smite them, destroy them, expose them.” I do not think that is the kind of pray Jesus was encouraging.  Love your enemies.  Love those that go out of their way to make you miserable.  Love those who intentionally hurt you. 

Then if you actually do, something deep in you happens.  The pain of what they did hurts less. The hatred toward them goes away.  Here we feel like they are getting away with it.  What if God telling us to love our enemies was actually about us too.  What if He knew holding on to the pain and resentment would steal life from us? What if we would just let Him have our hurt we walk away free?

Then what about them? What if when they see you responding in love instead of anger, they see who the Father really is?  

So loving your enemies heals you and shows the offender the nature of the God.  So who do you need to forgive?  Who would God have you pray for?  Who do you not want to pray blessing over?  Go do it!

Helping People Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg
@brandonsereg
@thevibrantchurch
www.thevibrant.church

The Shadow of Death

Last week, we are outside on a beautiful Florida winter day, Johna and I are talking while watching the kids play.  The big kids have neighbors over and are playing kick the can.  Praise God for games that keep them from a television screen playing video games.  Yes kick the can is still the best backyard game when you have kids of all ages.  While the bigs were playing an intense game of kick the can, that yes still ends in tears as the rules change every time they play, my two year old Eliana discovered her shadow.  I can only imagine what happens in the mind of a toddler when they see this dark image on the ground that seems to follow them everywhere they go.   The image at first startled her, and then she just stared at it.  

Psalm 23:4a Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. 

David writes this psalm as he is leading sheep from one valley to another and has to pass through what is called “shadow of death.”  It is a dangerous ravine that has earned its name.  David does not see his own shadow but that of the high cliffs reminding him that if danger approaches he has nowhere to go.  The shadow is a constant reminder that his problem is so much bigger than him!

All of us find ourselves at times intimidated by the shadow of what could be. Fear has a way of causing our heart to be crippled. I know right now there are a lot of shadow.  What if I can’t find a venue?  What if the government shutdown keeps the IRS from approving my accounts?  What if no one comes to our start up parties?  What if no one comes to our church?  What if we don’t make it?  Will there be enough for my family after we launch and the church is my only income?

Your shadows probably look different? Will there be enough to make payroll this week?  Can my marriage survive?  Will I always have this addiction?  Will they show up?  Will I have a job next month?  What will the doctor say if I go see him?  Will the treatment work? Do I have what it takes?  Am I enough?

It is easy for our eyes to get fixed on the shadow of what bad things could happen.  David shows us another way.  He knew that a shadow had to have light.  He knew if he took his eyes of the shadow and onto the light, he would live differently.  Here is the rest of that verse: 

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

David knew God was with him.  Though the shadow of what could happen was bigger than him, it was not bigger than his God.  When we stare the shadow down we rarely feel like God is with us.  David was amazing at remembering God’s faithfulness in the shadow of his past.  They were a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness to him.  

So what shadow looks to take your courage? What shadow follows you and reminds you of what you are not?  What shadow of you past reminds you of what you have done?

Jesus paid way to high of price for us to let the shadows of our lives cripple us.  God is with you.  He had not abandoned you.  You have not sinned too greatly. You are not too far gone.  So turn your eyes from the shadow to the Light.  The Light has already overcome your shadow!

Helping People Live a Better Story

Brandon Sereg
@brandonsereg
www.thevibrant.church

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