What No High School Football Coach Will Say This Friday

If you are a high school football fan then you know that we are in that special part of the season in which there are only a handful of teams left competing for a state championship. The stakes are high as with each game there is a chance to advance. One team goes on. One team goes home. 

For the past 4 seasons, I have served the Christian Heritage Lions football team as a chaplain. I have watched our team go from 1-9 to now 9-1. It has been an exciting journey. But perhaps my favorite part is getting to be with the team in the locker room during pre-game and at halftime to hear the coach speeches.

I’ve heard a lot of things said in the locker room. But this week, I assure you, there will be some things you won’t hear said. I would go so far as to say, these things will never (or should never) be said by a high school football coach to his players. 

“Assume we will be given another opportunity.”

There is not a single high school coach who will this week tell his team that if they lose, it won’t matter. No coach of a playoff team is telling his players, “Don’t worry about it, they’ll give us another chance.”

There is no loser’s bracket in football. The other team is not going to feel sorry for you and give you another shot. There are no redos. There are no makeups. Your math teacher may give you extra credit, but the only thing “extra” in football comes after a touchdown, not a loss. In football even “extra” is earned. Once the clock hits zero the game is over. What’s done is done. If you lose, you go home. You get 1 shot. It is especially true this week; there is not a football coach on the planet that is telling his team that this game doesn’t matter.

“It’s about me, not we.”

There will be no locker room speeches about the importance of being an individual. There is not a coach who will suddenly decide that there really ought to be an “I” in “TEAM.” There is not a coach who will embrace his QB or star RB and look at the other players and say, “Hey fellas, it’s about this guy right here!”

There are no coaches who will counsel their players to scrap the playbook and just have fun. No coach will look at a 17-year-old and say, “I don’t know son, it’s 3rd and 1 and we are down by 6; just do what you feel like doing.” There is not a coach of a playoff football team that will tell his QB to look up in the stands and check with his dad for the next play call. No coach is going to pull his RB aside and say, “You know son, you’re so good, we really don’t even need an offensive line.”

Pulse by Brian Branam

My book Pulse originated from chapel talks given during the 2016 CHS Lions football season. Also available on Amazon.

“We don’t need anyone pushing through pain.”

If you are in the stands watching a playoff football game, you should appreciate the fact that just about every kid on that field is hurt. They may not be injured, but I guarantee you something on their body hurts. And if you don’t know the difference in hurt and injured, don’t Google or check WebMD, ask a high school football coach to explain the difference. He’d love to share with you some insight :)! All I ask is that you have someone video you asking him because what’s about to happen to you will be YouTube gold!

There will be no coaches, especially this week, asking which of his players “isn’t feeling it?” He won’t be asking, who needs a break? He won’t ask, “Who’s too tired to play tonight?” He’s not passing around a signup sheet for waterboy. There is not a single football coach that will draw the line at suffering.


When it comes to football, especially playoff football, those statements are ludicrous. Why? Because entitlement, self-centeredness, and an unwillingness to suffer are the key ingredients to a wasted opportunity. There is no player on a playoff team that has to be motivated about not wasting his opportunity. Every player knows the magnitude of this game. He knows what it takes. He knows he’s not entitled and that he will not be given another chance. He knows that it has to be a team effort and he’s counting on every other player to give it his all. Every player knows that he has to play through pain. If there was any semblance of these things in players at the beginning of the season, I assure you, for the elite teams that are still in it, those toxic attitudes are long gone.


Why do you have to be convinced not to waste your life?

If football players in the playoffs don’t have to be reminded not to waste the opportunity of “this” game, how much less should we have to be reminded not to waste our lives? But sadly, there will be so much more focus and discipline as players approach a playoff game than there will be to the rest of your life. As ludicrous as it is to think that a coach has to motivate his players not to waste an opportunity for a playoff game, isn’t it even more ludicrous for us to have to be convinced not to waste our lives? So just in case you didn’t get it – here’s a locker room speech for the rest of your life!

You’re one and done!

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

Hebrews 9:27-28

There is no team that makes the playoffs that wants it to be a “one and done” experience. If they haven’t already, playoff games are where you truly see players leave it all on the field.

But have we forgotten that our lives truly are a “one and done” experience? There are no redos. There are no retakes. We will not be given another one. Death seals our decisions. A life filled with fleeting pleasure but void of faith in Christ is a total waste. Eternal life does not come through entitlement but through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Your life matters, not your car. Your decisions matter, not dollars. In this life you need food and water, to have eternal life you need grace and forgiveness. In this life, people admire the words “I won a championship.” In eternity all that matters are the words “He made a difference.” When you’re one and done experience is over, where will you stand? You may be a great athlete, a good dad, a successful person, a talented individual; but if you don’t know Jesus you wasted your life.

Jesus explained it like this. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul (Mark 8:36)?” Don’t waste your one and done life.

Carry out the commands. This is not your turn to call a play.

Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Luke 6:46-49

There is no coach who is going to look at his high school QB and say, “Forget the game plan, do it your way.” That would be a disaster, not a championship! But somehow we believe it to be the duty of God’s Son to be our Savior but not our Lord. Somehow we have come to believe that He gives us eternal life but then turns us loose to do the rest of it our way. If you call Jesus Savior, the rest of your life is not your opportunity to call a play.

If you don’t want to waste your life, obey Christ. His commands are not suggestions. Learning self-control is not an option. Mortifying the desires of the flesh is not for only a select few who follow Christ, it is the standard sanctifying process for His disciples. Christ is not something you “feel.” Jesus is someone you follow. The Bible is not a book merely to be read. It is God’s Word to be obeyed.

The rest of your life should be about finding out how to be a dad, in Christ. How am I to be a husband, in Christ? How do I make the next business decision, in Christ? Work the plan. Don’t waste your life.

You should expect suffering. Don’t avoid it.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

I haven’t met a single football player who likes practice. There are always some remarkably odd exceptions out there, but I don’t hang out with aliens. So, I know plenty of players who don’t like practice, but I don’t know any football players who don’t want to make it to the playoffs. Football is a game of suffering. Athletes know that suffering is necessary if they are to achieve their goals.

I want to be very careful in how I say this, because a vast majority of those who read this post may have been “frustrated” for Christ, but I’m not sure that we have ever truly “suffered” for Him – or ever truly will.

I have sat in a church in Egypt amongst saints who have truly suffered for Jesus. I have heard a pastor preach in Samara, Russia who spent most of his life in and out of prison under communism. I have met Romanians who were ostracized as children because their family was Christian. These brothers and sisters understand the meaning of suffering for Jesus. I am in awe of Jesus in them.

But in the American church the experience is much different. Our refrigerator goes on the fritz on a Sunday morning and the entire family stays home because we think that the “devil is attacking.”

We are ridiculous in our belittling of what it really means to suffer for Jesus.

If we do not resolve to be faithful and to follow Christ no matter the cost, we will waste our lives. The reason we get upset at Chick-fil-A is because we think that by eating a “Christian” chicken sandwich that we are making a difference. We have relegated a fast food restaurant to be our bastion of truth rather than the church. It is much easier to douse nuggets in Polynesian sauce and feel good about ourselves than it is to put on the whole armor of God and stand against the wiles of the devil. It is a lot easier to order a #1 and supersize the waffle fry than it is to do what it takes to truly crash the gates of Hell. Jesus said that He would build a church, NOT a CHICK-fil-A, that will stand on the rock of Christ against the gates of Hell. Jesus said that the gates of Hell would not prevail against the church, not chicken.

So you don’t feel good enough to attend a 1 hour meeting we call a worship service this Sunday. You’re tired? Jesus told a man to let the dead bury the dead (Matthew 8:22).

So you’ve had a busy week? Jesus said that anyone having put his hand to the plow and turning back is not fit for the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62).

Oh, you need some “family time.” Jesus said that if you’re comparative love and dedication for Him doesn’t make it look at times as if you hate your family, then you cannot be His disciple (Luke 14:26).

How is it that football players are willing to suffer so that they can make it to the playoffs, but we as the people of God can hardly make it through a Sunday? We are wasting our lives.


Only one thing matters.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:44-46

Only Jesus matters. With the decisions in your life you are constantly assessing value. Football players do it every week of every season. They are constantly motivated by what is in front of them. They have an objective they are trying to reach. The pain of a workout is worth the playoffs. July is not too hot for November. The gassers on Monday are not even in your mind in the fourth quarter on Friday night. In football the joy that is set before them is the playoffs. And for that opportunity, they willingly, and joyfully suffer.

Your life is much bigger than a game. What is the joy that is set before you? If it isn’t Jesus, you are wasting your life. In the examples from Matthew 13 both the man and the merchant assessed the value of the treasure that was before them. There was not hesitation in giving all for something of such eternal worth. They realized that keeping what they had was a waste. They joyfully sold off all they had for something greater.

Don’t waste your life. You are “one and done.” Death seals your decisions. His commands are not options. You are either following Him or faking it. Expect to suffer. There are no valid excuses.

Not a single coach will stand before his players this Friday and try to convince them not to waste “this” game. Do you really need to be motivated not to waste your life? Don’t waste your life! Turn to Jesus!

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5 Places Joy is Always Available

What if I were to tell you that joy is always available? Are you interested in knowing more? I am. If you are reading this post, that must mean that you are as well.

I am starving for joy. I’ll admit that I have not been very happy. I walked through quite a streak of stresses and difficult circumstances over the past 3-4 years and it got the best of me. I’ve been waiting on the next bad thing to happen rather than shaping something good. So I started searching for joy. I found it. In Psalm 16 David shares 5 places where joy is always available.

Joy is always available in God

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

Psalm 16:1-2

Joy is a reaction. Joy is a response. There always has to be a reason for joy. You can’t fake it.

Joy is not like love in that we can love someone who is not easily lovable. Jesus commands us to love our enemies. But when it comes to joy, you can’t take joy in something that isn’t joyful. Taking joy in something that isn’t joyful is sinful. The Bible uses words like envy, jealousy, covetousness, and drunkenness to describe the misguided notion that a person can find satisfying joy in joyless things.

Joy is Not an Option

What’s even more interesting is that joy is not an option. The Bible speaks of joy about 430 times. The Bible uses the word “rejoice” about 230 times. Did you know that the Bible commands us to rejoice and be glad more than it commands any other thing? That means that just as it is a sin to take a human life, it is a sin not to be happy! That’s a problem if I can’t find joy.

So what makes you happy? Family. Food. Friends. Money. Sports. We all have a shortlist of things that make us happy. But there’s another problem. Those things are not always available or affordable. Then what?

You’re fine with your shortlist as long as there is someone at the top of the list that is always available to give you joy. So David secures his joy. He declares that the Lord is his Lord and that he will find no good apart from God.

Joy is not an option, it is a command. Seeing that the Bible so often mentions joy, we can conclude that God is concerned for our joy.

David does not share his circumstances, but if you know anything of his life you know that he is a man who seemed to surf the highs and lows of difficult situations. Declaring that he seeks refuge in God indicates that there is no joy in his current circumstances and so he turns to the faithful reservoir of joy. God. And that is wise. Since God commands joy He is always available for joy. Seeing that the Bible so often mentions joy, we can take conclude that God is concerned for our joy.

And David is not disappointed. In verse 16 he shares what he has found. “In your (God) presence there is fullness of joy.” That word full means satisfied, saturated. It means that the supply has not been exhausted but that you simply don’t have the capacity for more.

For those who name the name of the Lord, there can be no one else on the top of our list of things that make us happy than God. God commands us to take joy in Him. “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” If He commands it, He is available for it. Being the most excellent being in existence He will never fail to give us a reason for joy.

Joy is Always Available in God’s People (vv. 3-4)

As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.

Psalm 16:3-4

It is no surprise to hear that God is the source of infinite joy. But as a human, I need more than words on paper. I want to see Him, feel Him, and hear Him. I want to experience God.

One of the great doctrines of the Bible is that the church is the Body of Christ. God has chosen to minister His graces to His people through His church. Basically Jesus died for our sins. Rose from the grave. Ascended into Heaven. Gave us His Spirit and essentially said, now you be me on earth. No pressure!

Some of the meanest people I’ve ever met have been in church.

And David has found this to be true. Not only does he have an excellent God, but David has found some of God’s excellent people. The excellent ones are the people who have been affected and infected by God’s joy so much so that David not only finds pleasure in God, but he delights in God’s excellent ones.

Immediately we raise an objection. Some of the meanest people I have ever met have been in church.

The Bible has something to say about this as well.

The Ugly Side of Church

  1. Not all people who claim to be God’s people are God’s people. Unfortunately within the church, there are false teachers (2 Peter 2:1) and fake Christians (Matthew 7:15-23). These people are definite joy killers. They bear no spiritual fruit (Gal. 5:22-24). They exhibit no evidence they are indwelt by God’s spirit. They share no witness of Jesus. The Bible says they are there. Identify them, but don’t make decisions based on them. The fact that you can draw no joy from them and that they seek to distract you and destroy your joy should be no surprise to you. These are not God’s excellent ones.
  2. Not everything that is claimed to be of God is from God. Another unfortunate reality of church is that even sincerely saved, spiritually indwelt, regenerate people can exhibit spiritual immaturity. This is true of all of us from time to time. If we are not careful, we get caught up in gossip, accusation, deception, unfaithfulness, and anger. In response to this, we should renounce it and approve what is excellent (Titus 3:8-11). In short, we should seek to quickly end expressions of immaturity and approve joy (1 Peter 2:1-3). It’s especially true that when you are seeking joy in a turbulent time that it is wise to adopt David’s approach to ungodly people and ungodly things in 16:4. I smell blood, and I’m not going to go there! It’s false. It is not of God and it only ends in sorrow. And who needs more of that? Not me!

While it is true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, don’t fail to look around and find God’s excellent ones. These are most often the people who are not vocal. Often they are not noticeable, but they are excellent. They will pray for you, encourage you, and impart godly wisdom. Since God is an ever-present source of joy, you can take comfort in knowing that there will always be people who have been affected and infected by His joy who will be a delight to you.

Joy is Always Available in God’s Ways (vv. 5-6)

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

Psalm 16:5-6

Have you ever wondered “why?” Of course you have. What’s even more painful is when we find no joy in our circumstances and we seem to get no answer from our ever-present God of endless joy. THAT – I do not enjoy!

But notice that joy may be frustrated, but it is not lost. The cup in the Bible is a metaphor for fate. Jesus referred to this in his conversation with God in the Garden of Gethsemane, “If possible let this cup pass from me (Matthew 26:39a).” And then comes that beautiful statement of our Savior’s surrender, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

There is no way we could plumb the depths of the reasons for Christ’s surrender, but one of them is certainly cited here in Psalm 16. Notice the language. The Lord does not just give us the cup. God gives us Himself. He is our chosen portion and our cup. The Lord holds our lot. The fact that He holds our “lot” basically means that our fate is not simply left to chance. There is joy in knowing that God’s choices are providential and purposeful. Even more amazing is that we have Him! This is why the Bible speaks so often of the paradox of joy that God’s people find in the midst of sorrow (James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-5, Psalm 30:1-5). It can be said, because God is our cup and our portion that our suffering is not pointless, nor is it joyless.

The Lord does not just give us the cup. He gives us Himself. He is our chosen portion and our cup. He holds our lot. The fact that He holds our “lot” basically means that our fate is not simply left to chance. There is joy in knowing that God’s choices are providential and purposeful. Even more amazing is that we have Him!

The Lines in Pleasant Places

But what does the Bible mean here about the lines falling in pleasant places? This is a reference back to God’s distribution of the promised land to Israel as their inheritance. It is as if he is walking around within the boundaries of his inheritance and finding wonderful things. It is like a man who has just been given land exploring it for the first time and he likes what he sees with every step he takes.

What is interesting about Israel’s inheritance is that it was possessed in obedience. I think this sense of boundaries, or commands is also encapsulated in the word “lines.”

So let’s put it all together. Sometimes you don’t like your circumstances, but you cannot change them. When you don’t like your circumstances you may not think much of God’s commands because you don’t want to do them. But Psalm 16:5-6 tells you that there is joy always available here. How so?

The Journey and the Job

  1. Journey in the command. As the picture of the verse indicates, walk around, take a look. The command may not look like much when you take a look at it, but journey in it. You will find some pleasant places in it. You will find some unexpected beauty there. In God’s commands, there is no regret. There are no foolish mistakes. When certain things DON’T happen, certain things WON’T happen! Think about it! Take joy in the journey of waking rightly with the Lord.
  2. Work the command. Just like Israel had to work the land you have to work the command. It will bear fruit! You will find the joy of God’s preservation in the command. You will experience the bounty of God’s blessing in His commands. Don’t negotiate it, shortcut it, or question it. Just do what God says to do! His ways are not your ways and His thoughts are not your thoughts. He’s God. You and I are not! Work His plan. Do His commands. You reap what you sow! “Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy (Psalm 126:5)!” Work it! There is joy within the boundaries of God’s commands. You will never be truly happy until you are concerned with being holy.

Joy is Always Available in God’s Word (vv. 7-8)

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Psalm 16:7-8

I don’t know about you, but I do my worst thinking at night. Sleepless nights are filled with voices. It is at night that my mind replays every criticism, rehearses every doubt, and exaggerates every fear. But David does not hear cursing, he hears the voice of blessing in the night. David has found that joy is always available in God’s Word.

The passage is instructive to us about our approach to God’s Word. If you want to hear the voice of God bring you joy and drown out your critics in the middle of the night then God’s Word must be taken 1) as counsel 2) as instruction 3) to heart. God’s Word is not intended only to be read. The intention of God’s Word is for it to be obeyed. Furthermore, if it is to change me, it must be within me. Psalm 16:7 reflects David’s commitment to Scripture meditation and memorization reflected in Psalm 119:11, “Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”

I do my worst thinking at night. Sleepless nights are filled with voices. It is at night that my mind replays every criticism, rehearses every doubt, and exaggerates every fear.

And notice that his experience in God’s Word helps him to find that God is not only always before him, but that God is at his right hand. The result is that he will not be shaken.

There is joy in knowing that there is not a single thing you can go through that God is not already there. He is ever before you. God’s Word is filled with stories, prayers, illustrations, and wisdom for every circumstance of life.

There is always joy in knowing that God is always available at your right hand. What does this mean? It is a nod to the ancient warrior who carried his shield in his left hand. This means that his right side is most exposed. Every warrior knows that the person beside you is critical to you. His shield was the cover for your right side! Let His Word be your counsel and His presence be your defense. There is joy always available in God’s Word!

Imagine going to be tonight and instead of hearing criticism, you hear Psalm 16. Take God’s word to heart in meditation and memorization. It will not be long until you do your BEST thinking at night!

Joy is Always Available in God’s Salvation (vv. 9-11)

There is nothing more miserable than not knowing where you will spend eternity. I remember what it was like not knowing. Doubt is crippling. I remember what it was like to be lost.

But did you know that of the 430 plus times the Bible mentions joy, that it mentions most the joy that is found in salvation? There is nothing that can bring a person more joy than knowing God, defying death, and having hope in the resurrection.

If you find a person who says, “I have no reason for joy.” You have found a person who is in Hell already.

David found joy in knowing that the grave was not his end. As humans, we need something to look forward to. David looked forward to leaving behind a life in which we experience only the first-fruits of joy at best and entering into God’s presence where there is endless pleasure and fullness of joy.

If joy is always available in God, in God’s people, in God’s word, in God’s ways, and in God’s salvation and you meet a person who says, “I have no reason for joy,” that is a person who is in Hell already. For a human, created by God and commanded to enjoy God, to have no reason for joy, he is already experiencing the tragedy of Hell minus the flames.

If that is you, I would point you to Christ! Repent of sin. Turn to Jesus today! Today is the day of salvation. JOY IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE!

Other posts that may interest you:

Joy is Always Available (sermon video)

Why the Ladies Love Thomas Rhett

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Title blog by Brian Branam Live in Harmony with One Another football players standing on sideline

Live in Harmony with One Another

There are two things every team must have to make it until the end; endurance and encouragement. 

We are 3-0. That means every season goal that we have set before us is still in tact. You control your own destiny. We are not depending on “this one to beat that one.” You take care of business and you can win a region championship. That begins tonight. You take care of business, we make the playoff. You take care of business and we advance, and advance, and advance and it gets really exciting.

But no one will be crowned region champion at 3-0. No one has ever made the playoffs at 3-0. No one has ever made it to the dome and played for a state championship at 3-0. No one has ever been crowned state champion at 3-0. 

To achieve your goals you have to figure out how to do what you’ve been doing all the way to the end – and that’s a long, long way from here. This is September. Game 4. Game 10 is a long way away. November and December are a long time from now. 

You’re going to get tired. You will get weary. You will want to let up. It is very difficult to keep this level of intensity for a long season.

Commitment is like that. You are excited in the beginning. When you envision what could be you are all in. And then comes the grind. It is true of football. It will also be true in marriage, in parenting, in relationships, in recovery, in business . . . Most of the things that really matter are things that it can be said that it is not how you start, but how you finish. 

When you feel like letting down you will need endurance. You will need something to keep you going intensely to the end. That something is endurance.

No one ever had a perfect season because it was a perfect season.

And somewhere along the way something will go wrong. No one ever had a perfect season because everything was perfect. At some point we will face adversity and you will become discouraged. You will begin to lose heart. There will be something in you that wants to give up. It will threaten to drain your joy. It will test your resolve.

It may be in the middle of the game tonight. It may be the middle of the week, next week. It may be a month from now, but it will take something out of you. That is what it means to be discouraged. Courage is removed from you. You don’t want to go on.

In that moment you need to be encouraged. To encourage means to put courage in someone. It will remind you of your why. It will help strengthen your resolve. That’s what encouragement does. Encouragement replenishes lost courage.

Where does that endurance and encouragement come from? The Bible says in Romans 15:5 that God is the God of these very things. 

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you . . .

Romans 15:5a

There is no question as to who God is. The only question is who we are.

There is no question what God does. The only question is what we will do.

There is no question what God gives. The Bible says in Romans 15:5 that He will “grant you.” The question is as to whether or not you will believe it, receive it, and apply it.

What would it look like for us as a team to believe, receive, and apply the endurance and encouragement of God. The passage goes on to explain.

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:5-6

Interwoven in the explanation is an illustration. If you know anything about music you may be familiar with the word harmony. “You live in such harmony with one another.” Harmony is another line of sound added to the melody. The melody is the main song. The melody is the main notes.

Harmony is other voices added. Harmony sings the same song, but different notes. The harmony is other voices and sounds that add the highs and the lows.

The passage also uses the word accord. “In accord with Christ Jesus.” Accord speaks to the volume of the harmony. Accord speaks of the clear, rich sound that takes place when things come together. Accord is that part of a song that explodes and captures you.

This is not a perfect illustration of the concept, but it helps make the point. In the following commercial, everything in a popular song is stripped away, down to one voice singing the melody. And then, in the end, the the rest of the sound, the harmonies are added and the song explodes in accord.

That together you may with ONE VOICE glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:6b

I’m not sure if you’ve ever been to a concert that featured a symphony orchestra. Even if you don’t like classical music, you must go at least once. It is the greatest sound you can possibly experience. If you can hear, an orchestra helps you appreciate why God gave you ears. To hear master instrumentalists performing an amazing piece of music gives the ear all it was designed for by the Creator.

But the beginning is confusing. It is irritating. It is awful.

For about 10-15 minutes everyone is doing their own thing. They are tuning up and practicing. It sounds like total chaos. Here is a sample.

But then the conductor takes the stand. He raises his baton and every instrument is brought silent. There is this pause. He looks over the 30, 40, 50 players to make sure that they are all ready. They tune in to him. And then he moves the baton and wow – it all comes together.

The result is a rich, deep, full sound. The result is an iconic piece of music. The result of it all coming together is masterful.

I hope we have a perfect season as far as records go, but I promise you, this will not be a perfect season. No one ever had a perfect season because it was a perfect season. 

You will tire of trying to carry the intensity long-term. You will need endurance in that moment. There will be adversity. It will discourage you. It will take something out of you. You will need to be encouraged. You are going to have to seek out someone who can put things back in.

But when those times come, I can tell you what won’t work. Everyone doing their own thing, won’t work. Allowing factions to develop on the team, won’t work. If competing personalities dominate the team, it won’t work. Allowing pettiness or laziness or selfishness to creep in, won’t work. Pointing fingers won’t work. Quitting won’t work. Losing focus won’t work. 

If everyone starts doing their own thing, this team will descend into chaos and we will not only lose games, but we will lose the opportunity to achieve our goals. 

Live in harmony with one another. Don’t make it about yourself. Be humble. Be encouraging. See the big picture, not the moment. Win the season, not the argument. Live in harmony with one another.

Look to your leaders. You’ve got great coaches. If you get frustrated, talk to them. Do you need encouragement? Look to them. If you need some motivation to keep going, listen to them. Learn from them. One of the things I have experienced in leadership is sometimes in difficulty and adversity people forget the vision. They forget all of the good things that the leaders have done for them and focus only on the bad moment, not the good of the vision. Live in harmony with one another.

Ultimately, as the passage says, we must look to the God of encouragement and endurance and to Christ His Son who bore the reproach of disharmony and disunity for us (Romans 15:3). There is no amount of human ugliness or suffering you will ever go through that He has not already gone through FOR YOU. Look to Him and live in harmony with one another. 

A group of people who look to Him for example, for encouragement for endurance can live in harmony with one another. He can take personalities, adversities, difficulties – He can take those moments when you are so tempted to do your own thing and it looks like it is getting ugly – He can bring it all together in harmony.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through enduracne and through the encouragment of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Romans 15:4

His Word is His baton. When we look to the Word all of the chaos of disharmony is silenced. Humans are humbled. Our eyes tune in to Him. We wait for the command.

When a group of young men like yourselves humble themselves for the cause of Christ and look to Him – He brings about an epic testimony, an iconic story – He will create a background to this season you will never forget for the rest of your lives.

For the sake of Christ, live in harmony with one another. 


This post is the manuscript of a chapel talk given before game 4 of the 2019 Christian Heritage Lions Football season.

Week 3 Talk – Love One Another

Pulse – Life in Rhythm. My latest book Pulse was inspired by team talks given during the 2016 CHS Lions season.

Love One Another

I am an only child, but I have brothers.

Some brothers are born by blood, but others are born of a different bond. The Bible says that this type of bonded brother is a special relationship. Proverbs 18:24 says that you can have a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

How does that happen? It happens when we “love one another.”

Love is one of the most misunderstood concepts in our culture. Our culture understands love to be emotion and sexual expression. In the Bible love is not sexual expression, it is covenant commitment. Scripturally, love is not an emotion you feel. It is a command you obey.

In 1 John 3:11-18 the Bible tells us to “love one another. The passage then gives us a negative example and a positive exhortation. The negative example is the tragic story of two brothers, Cain and Abel. The positive exhortation articulates the familial bond that love creates. And in these 8 verses, the Bible uses the word “brother” in reference to “love one another”, 7 times. If we love one another we can become more than friends. We can be like family. If we love one another a group of players can become more than a team. They can become a band of brothers.

If we love one another we can be more than friends. We can be family.

But why? Why be brothers? Why do what it takes to love one another? I want to share three reasons from 1 John 3:11-18.

Basic Need (1 John 3:11)

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.”

1 John 3:11

“That you have heard from the beginning.” Love is something the Bible stresses as early as Genesis. The phrase appears 12 times in the New Testament. Love one another is one of the most basic themes in Scripture. It is one of the most shared messages of the church. You have been told to love one another since kindergarten.

But the reason “love one another” is so often repeated is not because it is an elementary theme, but because it is a basic need. In the same way that your body needs food, air, and water, love is vital to every human relationship.

We are in week 4 of the season, game 3. Counting this week’s game we are assured of 8 more regular-season games. We do not want to regress over those 8 weeks. We are committed to progress. We have determined to get better and better together.

But what will make the biggest difference? The weight room is critical. Guys will continue to work at getting bigger, stronger, faster. But in 8-9 weeks, you will not make the same massive gains that you made in the offseason. it isn’t realistic to expect that we will be exponentially stronger and faster by November than we are right now.

In the same way that your body needs food, air, and water, love is vital to every human relationship.

We will continue to practice. The coaches will make adjustments. You as players will feel more and more confident in the schemes. We will get better at playing “our game” but it is unrealistic to think that we will become exponentially better than we are right now at running our offense or defense. There is no way you will advance in the execution of our gameplan in the next 8 weeks than you did over the spring and summer.

But there is something that can make an exponential difference. What is it? Love. A greater commitment to one another will make an exponential difference in the advancement of our team. The plays are important. Strength and speed are critical. But the relationships you have with one another are vital. “Love one another” means that you have not just committed to play together. “Love one another” means that you are committed to each other.

Love means that no one is left on the outside. It means everyone becomes an insider. Love means acceptance, a sense of belonging, loyalty. Where there is love, there is accountability, forgiveness, and justice. Love means that you will defend one another, fight for one another, and make sure you are together. Love means there are no selfies. There are no stragglers. There are no standouts. There are no holdouts.

Learning to love one another will serve you for your 4 years on this team, but it will serve you for the next 40 as well.

You can’t be a team without love. You won’t get married without love. You can’t stay married without love. You can’t raise children without love. You can’t work for someone or with someone without love.

Love is a basic need in every human relationship.

Bad Alternative (1 John 3:12)

1 John 3 recalls a tragic story of two brothers where love was lacking. Cain murdered his brother Abel and John uses this tragedy to offer us a warning.

We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.

1 John 3:12

When people lack love, things go bad.

I have been a part of some bad teams. I’ve seen enough of them. I am not interested in being on another one. Talent is not what makes the difference on a team; love does. You can have plenty of talented people on a team, but if there is no commitment to one another, the team goes toxic.

Antonio Brown asks to be released by the Oakland Raiders.

The most talked about man in sports last week was NFL wide receiver, Antonio Brown. At one time Antonio Brown was the highest paid receiver in the NFL. Since signing that deal he has asked to be released from two teams. The most recent was the Oakland Raiders for whom Antonio never played a meaningful down of football. And then after joining the New England Patriots, Antonio Brown faces sexual assault charges in his first week on the job. Antonio Brown has loads of talent, but Antonio Brown is toxic.

Antonio Brown has plenty of money. He’s the most talked about man in the NFL, but he is probably also the loneliest man in the world. Why? Antonio Brown lacks love.

When you lack love the Bible says that people devour one another, grumble against one another, and lie to one another. When people lack love they tell lies and speak evil of one another. Before joining the Patriots, Antonio Brown left a toxic trail of criticism, deceit, inexplicable behavior, and constant complaining.

And then comes the ironic voice of reason, Randy Moss. Randy Moss is a former NFL great who also had quite a history before joining the Patriots at the end of his career. When asked about Antonio Brown, Moss said,

Whenever Antonio Brown shows up on my phone it has nothing to do with football. The next time I see Antonio Brown on my phone, it’s got to be touchdowns. Football from here on out.

Randy Moss, Washinton Post

People who lack love become 1 story people. Anytime you’re around them it’s “the same old thing.”

For people like Cain and Antonio Brown life is never fair. There are problems wherever they go. The situation is never “right enough” for them. Eventually, they end up wanderers headed nowhere.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who have loads of talent, but lack love. Those people end up toxic to a team. They don’t help anyone. They will not help anyone get better. They can’t relate to anyone. Toxic people are an encouragement to no one. With them, its the “same old thing.”

We need to love one another like brothers. Otherwise, there is a bad alternative.

Special Bond (1 John 13, 16-18)

After telling the story of Cain and Abel John says, “Don’t be surprised brothers, that the world hates you.” In this life, no one is immune from hate and hardship. When we go through those experiences, we need brothers. And when people pull together to love one another through hate and hardship, it creates a special bond.

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little chilren, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and truth.

1 John 3:16-18

Anyone can love. We all need to love. But to experience and express love in the fullest sense, we need to experience the love of Jesus Christ. There is no greater example of someone loving us through hardship and hatred than that of the Son of God laying down His life as a sacrifice for our sins. If you truly want to love one another, first realize that you are loved by God. Turn to Christ in repentance and faith and experience brotherly love like never before!

And if we experience that love, we then can lay down our lives for our friends. We can walk into their desperate needs and be sacrificial for them.

At the outset, I said that I’m an only child, but I have brothers. There are countless men in my life that I know I could call on in times of hardship. There are men in my life that I know will rally around me in difficulty. They love me and I love them. We are brothers.

Last week was the anniversary of 9/11. I spent some time that day watching videos and reliving the story. There was a video shared on social media that retold a story of that day I had never heard. It was the story of the harbor pilots who brought their watercraft to the island to rescue people.

For me, one of the most powerful images in the video is at about the 6-minute mark when it shows the white water trails of dozens of boats coming on the horizon in response to the all call. If you lived through that day you remember that it was a day of terror and confusion. No one knew exactly what was happening or what was going to happen next. And for those boat captains to come charging into a cloud of smoldering death to rescue people – that’s the essence of brotherly love.

When you have brothers. People will come to your rescue.

If we are to be a team that loves one another we will not see people sitting alone. We will not see people standing alone. We will have no standouts and no holdouts. A team of people who becomes brothers for a season will be brothers for the rest of their lives. When you go through hatred and hardship, and you will, there will always be people on the horizon coming for you.

Brothers, love one another.


This post is the manuscript of a chapel talk given before game 3 of the 2019 Christian Heritage Lions Football season.

Pulse by Brian Branam

Check out Pulse, a book developed from chapel talks from the 2016 CHS Lions season.

develop blog title graphic

3D Parenting – D1 Develop

Dogs and cats reach maturity in about one year. Most species of songbirds leave the nest in 3 weeks. A lion is considered to be a fully-grown adult at age 3.

If you have children, you’ve probably figured out by now, this may take awhile!

And it should take a while to raise a human. While animal maturity is generally measured by height or sexual capability, there is a lot more involved in teaching a person how to be an image of God. While the lioness teaches her cub how to find food, your job as a parent should involve a little more than finding a burger for Bubba. God has entrusted you to not just tell your child about sex, but to teach them sexuality. You are not just trying to see how tall your son will be as a man, but you are to teach him how to be a godly man. Your objective as a parent should be to just find your kid a scholarship but to release them into the world as a mature image of God.

The Bible has a lot to say about parenting. This is no surprise since raising a mature image of God is such a critical responsibility. There’s a million ways to slice this, and most will do it much better than I, but when it comes to the basics of Biblical parenting, think 3D!

  1. Develop
  2. Discipline
  3. Demonstrate

Develop

The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6,

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

At the outset I need to say about this verse, this is a Proverb, not a promise. A Proverb is a general observation about life. It does not guarantee a result, but it gives you guidance toward wise ways of dealing with things. The formula for a proverb is this is what works, but there are exceptions. In this case, the exception is seen in a passage like Deuteronomy 2118-21. The indication there is that this child departed when he got older. The fact that his parents did train him in the way he should go is what makes the Deuteronomy 21 scenario so tragic. This is not a child brought up in neglect or abuse. This child is a rebel.

Rebellion is a tragic possibility in the parent/child relationship, but this does not negate the parental responsibility to “train the child in the way he should go.” What does that mean? Two things are critical for development. Train = an environment of reinforcement. In the way he should go = content. As a parent, develop means that your home is going to be one of consistent content.

Train Up a Child – An Environment of Reinforcement

The idea of training in this passage is the idea of reinforcement. Training is the environment of the home. It is an intentional, nurtured culture that offers a consistent pattern of opportunity to help the child grow in maturity.

A child is not just told to mind, a child must be trained to obey. A child cannot simply be told to share, they must be trained to be generous.

Much like a trainer at a gym sets goals for the athletes he trains, the parents have in mind the values and core beliefs that will be reinforced in the home. The trainer sets up his gym so that his athletes can make consistent gains through repetition. Is your home set up for consistent gains?

Have you taken time as a parent to think through the core values and beliefs of your home? If you were asked by someone to list them, could you? If you can list them, could you give examples of how those core values and beliefs are being reinforced with your children?

As they say, you inspect what you expect. Parenting is takes intentionality and kids need reinforcement. If you tell your child, “I’m only going to tell you this once” then it must NOT be important!

Revisit your values. Reinforce them over and over. Be consistent as a parent. Be willing to say it over and over again, each time training your child how to behave and why good behavior is a blessing.

In the Way He Should Go – Content

Training involves content. What is the content of your home? The primary content that is being reinforced in your home, does it come from television, social media, or video games; or does it come from conversation and interaction with you as a parent? As a parent, you can’t farm out content. You are the gatekeeper of the content of the home.

I recently listened to a podcast that told the story of a young girl who kept asking her father questions. Being a busy man, he told his daughter to write down her questions and he would answer them later. At 9 years old, the girl returned to her father 50 deep, meaningful questions like, “What is love?”, “Is there life after death?”, “What is the purpose of life?” Heavy stuff for a third grader! Three years later, dad is STILL trying to answer her questions!

As the podcast continues, you find out that the little girl wasn’t as concerned about having her questions answered, as she was about getting her father’s attention. Her father was always on his computer. The reason she wrote down so many questions was because she wanted conversation, interaction – CONTENT.

Parental Advisory, Don’t Over-Parent

In our culture we have not only a propensity to “under-parent” by putting a device in our kid’s hand and sending them off to fend for themselves, but also to “over-parent.” By “over-parent” I mean that the reinforced expectations of training are too much, they are overbearing, they are impossible.

The word “train” that is translated here in the Bible implies that you do not raise the child to be what you want them to become, but that you raise the child to be what God wants them to become. In this instance, train means that you are paying attention to your child’s giftedness, talent, and interests. You see their inclinations and you adjust your training accordingly. Parenting is not cloning, it is development.

I work with a high school football team as chaplain. From time to time I stop by practice through the week to connect with the players and encourage them during the tough grind of game preparation. As a pastor, I always enjoy watching the coaches as I am interested in how they lead, motivate, and develop student athletes.

Most of the men on the coaching staff were great high school and/or college athletes. One of my favorite coaches I have ever worked with was a quarterback at NC State. He was a young guy and an extremely gifted athlete. At the time he was working with our team there were not five bodies we could tie together that would even come close to accomplishing what he was able to do as a high school quarterback. But what I loved about him was that he NEVER compared the kids to himself. He very seldom used the word “I.” He was not trying to produce another version of himself, but he was trying to push the kids to become the best version of themselves as men and as athletes.

Parenting is not Cloning

Parenting is not cloning, it is development. Too many kids fail to launch because they feel like they have failed long before they even got to the starting line. Because they are different than their parents or may have made some choices that their parents would not have made, they have been made to feel as if they failed.

Another scenario I see too often is a parent trying to make up for his own disappointments and failures through his or her kids. While every parent wants his or her child to learn from their mistakes, your kid is not your best chance at a state championship, or a better job than yours, or even a better life than yours. You can’t live vicariously through your kids and think that sets them up for success. It only pigeon holes them for a pathway to failure.

Development means that you are helping your child find their God-given calling. As a parent, you are God’s steward to help train, develop, and reinforce the critical content that will help them fulfill God’s call in their lives.

In my own home, I have two daughters. Though we raise them reinforcing the same Biblical, core values and beliefs, we realize that they are very different people with distinct personalities. My eldest daughter is a leader. My youngest daughter is an artist. Daughter #1 got a kayak for her birthday. Daughter #2 got a guitar for Christmas. One daughter doesn’t want to be talked to before 9am while the other can’t get enough hugs.

Know your kids and tailor your content.

Taking Steps Toward Development

As a parent, think reinforcement and content. Reinforcement, sit down and write out the core values of your home. Evaluate your consistency in reinforcing these things. Is it working? Is your child getting the message? Are they beginning to demonstrate those desired values in their behavior? Why or why not? Are there things in your life that make that message inconsistent that need to be reprioritized?

As far as content, are you acting as the gatekeeper of your home or are you farming out parenting to a device, television, or video game system? Is your child getting attention and conversation from you? Are you paying attention to their bends, gifts, talents or are you just trying to make them another you? Are you seeking God’s direction for their lives?

Watch this message on My YouTube Channel

how to get bubba out of the basement graphic

Why is Bubba Still in My Basement? Missing the Point of Parenting

What is the point of parenting? Is it to raise a happy, healthy child? That seems to be a fairly generic goal.

How does one measure success as a parent? Is it GPA, earning potential, athletic achievement, or some sort of moral standard? How do we know if we’ve done well?

The point of parenting is articulated in the 28th verse of the Bible. Even before God rested, He explains the purpose of a parent.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’

Gen. 1:27-28

OK, nice Bible verse. So what’s the point of parenting?

  • Image – you are the representative of God on earth. You demonstrate how His Word works in the world and share the blessing that it brings. Your home, as imperfect as it may be at times, is a demonstration of the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His redemptive power to the world.
  • Multiply – notice the Bible doesn’t say add but multiply. All things being equal, any man and woman can biologically add children, but the word “multiply” means that there is something exponential in the purpose of parenting. Teach your child how to be an image of God and you double yourself. If that child has children who also pass along those values, and so on and so on, what you have done for the benefit of the world is exponential. The greatest contribution you can make to the world is not the business you start or the recognition you receive. The greatest contribution you make to the world according to Genesis 1:17-28 is in the children you send.
  • Fill – what you are for your children doesn’t stay put, it moves. Notice that the verse does not say fill your basement space, but fill the earth. What has happened in your home needs to happen again, in another place. The word “fill” assumes there is an empty space with a need. When we fill the earth with “image-ness” there is less of a void. People tried the stay-put plan with the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11). God didn’t take it well. Don’t make your basement Babel 2.0. God was the first father to boot a Bubba out of the basement. The earth left to itself descends into chaos. It needs more images to fill the earth, spread out, and work God’s plan (Gen. 2:5).
  • Subdue – God created the world by applying His Word day by day. In the same way that God applied His Word and brought chaos to order, His images continue to work the earth, day by day, by applying God’s Word bringing an otherwise chaotic culture to order. We need MUCH more of this, don’t we?

So, in short. The point of parenting is to teach a child what it means to be an image of God so that when you release him or her into the world they will continue to apply God’s Word to an otherwise chaotic world and bring it to order.

But Houston, we have a problem; failure to launch.

Failure to Launch

A study published in November of 2016 found that in The State of New Jersey, 45% of young adults aged 18-34 live with their parents, even though they are employed.

The common term for a child’s unwillingness to leave out on his own is “failure to launch.”

I realize that there are a lot of circumstances in life in which a young adult may choose, or need for a time, to live in their parent’s home. Many college students save on the high cost of housing by commuting. I was one of those. My parents encouraged me to go to college by offering to pay tuition. The rest of it was on me. When I realized how much debt I would have just in housing expenses, and then took a look at what they were serving in the cafeteria, I realized that home is a really good deal!

There may be hardships or unforeseen circumstances that require a young adult to shelter at home for a time. There may be mental or physical disabilities that make staying at home a wise choice. But from what I understand of the study, these circumstances are not factored into the 45%. Even if I am making a mistaken assumption and all of these variables are included, 45% still sounds a little high don’t you think?

Life can be difficult and expensive, but I don’t think it is any parent’s dream to raise a capable kid, only to find that at 31 Bubba refuses to leave the basement!

Why am I being so hard on Bubba and his parents?

So what if Bubba is still in your basement? Or maybe he’s a boomerang kid – he moves out but keeps coming back. Am I saying that you are a bad parent? Not at all. I’m not even saying that Bubba is a bad person. Bubba’s first choice may not be for him to be in your basement. Furthermore, I know of some amazing single people who have greatly impacted God’s Kingdom who have lived their entire lives in their parent’s home.

But if you have an adult child who has no plan to launch out on his own and no concern for God’s Kingdom, I do have a question. What’s your release plan?

Surely you are not about to give up on Genesis 1:27 and 28. It’s too great of a vision. I’m not trying to condemn you, but I do want to challenge you. The world has enough people in it that eat Dorito’s, play video games, and binge watch NetFlix. We have some definite void in this culture that needs to be filled. Rise up, don’t give up!

God’s desire is for you to embrace the point of parenting. It will be a blessing to you!

Why are there so many Bubba’s in New Jersey?

Bubba stuck in the basement is not just a New Jersey problem. Failure to launch is becoming epidemic in the American family. Why is this? Perhaps it is because many have missed the point of parenting.

The point of parenting is not to just please our children, but to release them as mature adults. Instead of our homes being launch pads we are instead creating safe, sterilized bunkers in which our kids have everything their heart’s desire, where they are never hurt, never disappointed, never told “no”, and somehow sold on the snake oil that they should never fail.

The problem then becomes that they NEVER leave. Even worse, some parents, never get it! They don’t want to release their children. And YES – this I condemn. It is disobedience and not AT ALL God’s design!

Some parents simply want to control their children no matter how old they are. God has called parents to be equippers, not enablers. If a parent is an enabler, there sits Bubba in the basement thinking he is the center of the world; having no plans to impact the world. This is a child that has been added to the world, but who multiplies nothing. He is a consumer; a proverbial black hole of a family’s resources. He only adds to the chaos, making no contribution to subdue it.

So what if I don’t want a Bubba in my basement?

But maybe that’s not your vision. You don’t want Bubba in your basement. Perhaps you want to be an effective parent who releases an image of God capable of impacting culture and subduing the chaos. So how do we accomplish the point of parenting and raise kids with for purposeful release?

So now that I’ve intrigued some readers and perhaps angered others, let’s offer the proverbial cliff hanger. What’s the answer? I’ll share it in my next post. This week I’ll also address the issue of parents who have done it right, but the child rebels. What then? Stay tuned! Subscribe! Comment, ask questions – let’s have a conversation. How would you explain the point of parenting?

For the Latest Content Subscribe to BrianBranam.com.

Check out a past post – God’s Good Reason for Bad Things

Watch a message related to this post via my YouTube Channel.

HATEFUL ENEMIES BLOG POST GRAPHIC

Redemptive Response to Cursing, Abusive, Hateful Enemies

Between emotion and action, Jesus issues four corrective commands. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” – Luke 6:27-28 Those commands seem unreasonable and impractical especially when we have such cursing, abusive, hateful enemies. Does Jesus really expect us to respond to such horrible people with redemptive action? The answer is, Yes. Not only does he expect it, but one character in the Bible exemplifies it, Joseph.

In my previous post, we looked at how Joseph loved his family despite them becoming his enemy. How did Joseph exemplify the other corrective commands of Jesus?

When Family Becomes Enemy Title for Blog Post

Do Good to Those Who Hate You

Joseph did good even when life was bad. Joseph’s brothers sold him. He served his master well and God gave him favor (Genesis 39:3-6).

Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of rape. Potiphar put Joseph in prison. Even there he did well and the Lord gave him favor (Gen. 39:21-23).

“Where” Joseph was never changed who Joseph was. He did well because the Lord is good. Joseph’s actions became a testimony to everyone around him. We can learn from his example. When you respond with bad, it does no good!

Bless Those Who Curse You

Joseph’s brothers conspired against him. Blessing and cursing; both are about words. Words hurt.

Our natural emotional response to cursing is to curse back. In Genesis 45, Joseph had the opportunity to get physical and verbal revenge on his brothers. At one time they determined his fate in a pit, now Joseph had the opportunity to determine their fate from the palace. What sort of words would Joseph choose, blessing or cursing?

Joseph chose blessing. If you read Genesis 45:4-14 you will find that Joseph directs his brother’s attention to what God has done. He then promises to bless them and provide from them out of the abundance of Egypt. Notice the last line of this paragraph full of blessings.

“After that his brothers talked with him.”

How many of us in our time of hurt would welcome a productive conversation? Imagine having a conversation in which wrongs are confessed, the hurt is expressed, and apologies are exchanged. That sort of reconciliation only comes through redemption. A conversation like that does not come about through revenge. Cursing for cursing does not cure the hurt.

Pray for Those Who Abuse You

The Bible doesn’t record Joseph’s prayers, but make no mistake, Joseph prayed. The integrity of his character, the strength of his witness through trial, and the favor God gave him only comes through prayer. Joseph never wavered from God’s will. He interpreted dreams through the wisdom of God. When the moment of redemption came, the emotions were overwhelming. I’m sure the hurt resurfaced. But rather than revenge Joseph chose redemption. A choice like that only comes as the product of prayer.

As for you! But God!

The climax of Joseph’s story comes in Genesis 50:20. Jacob, the father of these lost boys brothers has died. Now that dad is gone, will Joseph finally get revenge? Absolutely not. He explains:

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today.

Genesis 50:20

Somewhere between angry emotion and destructive action is something only Christ can do in you.

So how do we tap into this redemptive response only Christ can give?

  1. Know Christ as Lord and Savior. Through repentance and faith, we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9,10, 13). We don’t need a situation change as much as we need a nature change. The Bible teaches that when we repent of sin and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior that He places His Holy Spirit inside of us (2 Cor. 1:22). The fruits of our new nature will begin to emerge (Gal. 5:22-24).
  2. Renew your mind. After giving his discourse on such a great salvation, Paul turns his attention to life application in Romans 12:1-2. Our new life in Jesus calls for us to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed into Christ. That transformation comes only through “renewal of the mind.” Renewal of the mind means that we unlearn those habits and patterns of reaction to emotion that conform to the ways of the world. We then learn Biblical, Christ-honoring patterns of behavior as part of the transformation of salvation.
  3. Feed and foster new life from the graces of the church and spiritual discipline. Part of discipleship is discipline. Seek to establish daily habits of Bible reading, prayer, service, and worship. Your church becomes a critical ally in the transformation process. God uses the church to minister His graces of forgiveness, conviction, grace, mercy, and love to His people. Prayer is a conversation with God. Sometimes in prayer, you feel as if you are only speaking to Him. You will be amazed at how God uses His church to speak back to you.

Conclusion

We will all have cursing, hateful, abusive enemies. When people take destructive action against us we are flooded with negative emotion. Our natural reaction is to return destruction for destruction. But Jesus is our in-between. He is our corrective thought. In a sin cursed world He has chosen to call his people to be the conduits of redemption. Unnatural? Yes. Supernatural? Absolutely. But by following Christ we introduce into the fabric of a fallen story something that will save many people alive. Think about it. Had Joseph chosen destructive action and destroyed his brothers the seed of the Savior would have been lost. What salvation could Christ bring from you if you choose redemptive response rather than destructive action?

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