Friday, August 31, 2007

It's Happening

Since I've been home I found that Frances had an interest in Lee University's new ENCORE program - through which those who are 60+ years of age may go to school and take two classes per semester for the incredibly low price of $50. One may audit (take the course for personal enrichment with no obligations as far as testing) or take the classes for credit. Therefore, it happened that I agreed, and we have signed up and are auditing "Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament", taught by Dr. Rick Moore. We missed the first class because I was not back from my latest trip to Kenya. I'm really enjoying the time with Frances in the class. Also two of our friends, Eddie and Irma Williams are auditing the class with us. It has been a habit of mine for several years now to read one chapter of Proverbs each day. Of course Proverbs is only one of the "Wisdom Books". The others are Ecclesiastes and Job. Did you know that Job was considered to be Wisdom Literature? I confess that I did not. I had to make several trips to the book store before finally getting the books for our clsss. Thank God I got the books USED! The price? $103.00 The titles: Character in Crisis by William P. Brown; The Wisdom Literature by Richard J. Clifford; and Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. Of course that price is for two copies each.

Yesterday, the 30th of August, we drove up to the Summit View nursing home near Lenoir City to see Frances' Mom. Frances' brother, Dewain, came to our house and rode with us. On Wednesday we had received a call saying that "it looks like the beginning of the end for Mamaw" because she was unable to swallow. However, after we arrived a speech therapist came in and was able to get her to take some small amount of nourishment. Please pray for Frances and the family as they go through the inevitable passing of their mother from earth's toils to Heaven's Rewards!

My friend, Eddie, came over to borrow my lawn mower trailer to help his son move. While they were at the house we discovered that wasps had made a nest (about 4 and 1/2 inches in diameter) directly under my boat seat! They sloshed gasoline on them and removed the nest, but when I looked later in the day there were about 6 wasps that had survived and were trying to re-build. Don't worry, I'll carefully examine the entire boat before launching next time. You know, I haven't put that boat in the water but one time in two years now, but when I mentioned selling it (can you believe) my wife said, "NO, Fred! Don't sell that boat. When you retire you will want it." Maybe. Maybe Not. Anyway - it's paid for.

By the way, I now have a new set of ratchet tie-downs for the trailer. Although I heard his father tell the son, "Be sure to tie those straps together!" the son either did not hear or did not think it important - so one of the straps got loose, fell under the trailer wheel, and broke. Nothing would satisfy Eddie but for him to buy me a new set of ratchet tie-downs. Not everyone would have been as thoughtful and considerate.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back From Nairobi Again

Yes, I said AGAIN. I know. I was just out there in June for a meeting with Eastern Africa Leaders - but now I have been back again with the Central Africa Leaders where once again I led them in the M.E.D.I.C.A.L program I wrote about earlier. This version had to be shorter because of the School of Ministry meeting which occurred the next week.

The School of Ministry meetings were led by Dr. Don Aultman, Chancellor of Education for the Church of God. Dr. Aultman and his wife, Wynona, and Dr. Dwain Pyeatt and his wife, Judy and Dr. Lynn and wife Dr. Mary Ruth Stone were the leaders. Special guests from the Executive Committee were Dr. Paul Laverne Walker and his wife, Carmelita. What a blessing as they all ministered to us.

Wow! What a nice thing to get back home and find that my #1 daughter has also established her blog place on the internet. Thanks to all of you for your comments about the last blog I did. Frankie, hurry up and put a picture of yourself on here and keep us posted on how your adventure at school is gong with all the new challenges with the new kids.

Yes, Donice, I tried to establish a second blog called "From the Cabin" - but lost it - now will have to try and find it again. It's just a matter of time.

I want to thank Lowell, who on the day of departure drove Frances and me and Mom to lunch and then took me to the airport. When I arrived back home from Nairobi I was also thankful to find that number 1 daughter (Frankie) and husband (Rick) with their daughter (Jessica) had brought Frances to the airport to meet me! It is such a blessing to have family who is willing to help me in this way.

Guess what, y'all? Can you believe that Frances and I have enrolled at Lee University in Dr. Rick Moore's class on Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament? Well, we are auditing only, but it is still stretching our minds. We, along with our friends Eddie and Irma Williams, had an exciting time at the school yesterday evening. This is because of the new "ENCORE" program by Lee that allows anyone 60 years and over to take 2 classes for a fee of onl $50. I think it is remarkable that they believe in us this much. We will try to keep you up-dated as events un-fold in this area of our lives.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


This morning in Chapel we had a guest speaker from Berea, Kentucky named Mitchell Tolle who is a well known artist. He also pastors the Man-O-War Church of God congregation in Man-O-War, Ky. His subject was "Vision" and he did an extra-ordinarily good job with it. Quite frankly most ministers I have heard speak on the subject did not leave me inspired but rather left me somewhat depressed. When I hear this verse quoted it is almost always with emphasis on "dreaming big". Very frequently they will say something like, "God has given me a vision to build a million dollar facility for my church. I cannot see how we're gonna pay for it, but I'm gonna follow my vision." Isn't it obvious to everyone that the man who cannot see (how to pay for it) has no vision? What I perceive as a major cause for mis-understanding here is taking a text out of it's context. The entire verse says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that hath the law, happy is he." What advantage does having the law give you? Why, it gives you vision. As David said, "Thy Word is a LAMP unto my feet." That is to say that if you understand God's law you will have enough insight to look ahead on this pathway of life and avoid the potholes that lie along your route. God's Word is the basic element that gives you enlightenment about any project that you hope to undertake.

Another statement often heard when this subject is spoken about usually comes out like this: "If you are pastoring a small church of 50 or 75, it's because you don't have any vision." They forget that you are living in a community of less than a thousand people and that your's is one of ten churches in the community. It would be senseless for you to try to build a church that will seat 25,000 people when there are not that many people in your whole county! What I'm saying is that God gives you some natural and spiritual laws that will give you keen insight into what you ought to do and how to do it.

As usual, this brother today quoted the first part of Proverbs 28:19, "Where there is no vision, the people perish..." and then began to talk about visualizing, or looking forward enough to see the completion of the picture. Being an artist he had to have an idea of how the picture would look at the end before he began to paint. (That made sense to me) He needed to know the size of the canvas, the color paint to buy, the size and type brushes needed, the structure he wanted to create, and how to go about creating the structure. That all rang very true with my spirit. Our vision is not just some un-attainable goal, but will be something that we can move toward completing logically. We may make a few strokes with the brush that have to be changed, added to, re-painted even, but we know what we want to paint.

Another fine point he made was, "An original 'one of a kind' Van Gogh painting is priceless. But if you copy that painting, no matter how good your copy is, it's practically worthless!" In other words it is more important for you to be original or "one of a kind" than to copy the greatest work of a genius. You are unique. You are priceless. Your ideas, your authentic work, your thoughts which God gave you are worth far more than doing anything you learned in someone else's seminar.

This message was very helpful to me. Hope you too are blessed by it.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Up, Up, and Away! That was Superman's words. Thrilled with Flyin? Not me! Not near so much as I am thrilled with the opportunity to minister among my African brothers and sisters in Kenya. In fact, I can say from experience that Flying is an experience that many people glamorize but which is not so glamorous after you've been on a plane for 23 solid hours. Oh well, that's a topic for a future posting.

It was my privilege in June to do a M.E.D.I.C.A.L. seminar with leaders from all the nine countries of Eastern Africa. Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zanzibar all had delegates there. No, I'm not a doctor. That's just something that I believe the Lord gave me to hang some thoughts on so I could remember to talk about them to my leaders in Africa. As some of you know those letters compose an acronym for Meaningful Membership, Evangelism & Discipleship, Doctrine, Intercessory Prayer, Church Planting, Administration, and Leadership Development.

MEANINGFUL MEMBERSHIP is the point I use to encourage the overseer's to get accurate statistics from their churches. There must be some commitment to the church organization on the part of the people. There must be some commitment by the pastor of the church to the flock over which God and the Church have appointed him.

EVANGELISM AND DISCIPLESHIP refers to the fact that if we do not follow up on our evangelistic efforts we are wasting our efforts. I said it this way: "Evangelism without discipleship is spiritual prostitution." There is a certain excitement in going out and looking for a place to deliver the seed (which is God's Word). There is a thill in inviting people to the front and center, and there is ecstacy in the encounter when the person actually receives that which we are sowing. But if we pull out without making any provision for the nurturing and training of the new-born babes in Christ - we are guilty of desertion.

DOCTRINE, sound doctrine, is a must if we are to stablize our churches. The Church of God Declaration of Faith is sound doctrine. These 14 articles of our faith will keep our members from being swept up in fads nd gimmicks which are being proliferated continent wide.

INTERCESSORY PRAYER: There is nothing that will take the place of prayer. It is basic to our survival as Christians. Someone has said, "When all has been done and said, there is more said than is done." This certainly applies to this area of prayer. We must learn how to pray. It is not easy. It does not come naturally. But "prayer can move mountains".

CHURCH PLANTING. When I talk about Church Planting I want to emphasize the fact that we need to plant churches among the un-saved. Too much time and money has been spent on planting churches among the religious who are dis-enchanted with their churches and/or pastors. Find the lost, get them saved, then organize the church.
One step further - don't abandon fruitful soil. At this point I take up a lesson I learned from someone else...Don't put all of your workers and your resources into green apple orchards. You cannot make apples turn ripe. Keep a watchman out there where the apples are green and when they start turning ripe then deploy more workers there.

ADMINISTRATION means "add to your ministry". Some seem to believe that if they become administrators then they can sit back and just push buttons and give orders. That may work for a short time - but Godly administrators add to their ministry. They look for ways to be of more and/or better service.

LEADERSHIP. Leaders Lead. If you think you are a leader it may be good to look behid you and see if anyone is following. "You can lead me with a piece of sewing thread, but if you push me I will kick you every step of the way."

Brother Jurgen Rudolph (Regional Superintendent) really coordinated the meeting exceptionally well. I am very grateful for his leadership. We were able to stay in the Discipleship College President's house on the campus in Eldoret because he (Gordon Bloodworth) was still here in the US itinerating. We did not know why the water quit working after the first night - until three days later when the workers found the main water-valve had been shut off. It was great to finally get another shower!

How many of you would be willing to sit this close for 6 hours each day to listen to a foreigner?

Here are some of the men and women listening intently to the teaching.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Good Health

Each day of my life I praise God for the Good Health I have enjoyed over these 69 short years! Only one major illness, and that was malaria. I do not take this good health for granted. In 1985, after a missions trip with Edward L. Williams down to Guyana, South America, I came home sick. The doctor expected it to come back on me frequently, and said that I should always have someone on standby ready to preach for me. The first Sunday after I got out of the hospital, my mind told me I could go to church - but my body was not ready. I tried to get ready...but alas...I was exhausted by the time I walked from the bedroom into the kitchen. However, by the following Sunday morning I was able to go to church and hear the visiting speaker. That same night I preached. Haven't missed a preaching session again because of any kind of illness and that was 22 years ago. Frances and I lived in Kenya for 9 of those 22 years and I have traveled to 23 countries on the continent of Africa. Still have had no more symptoms of malaria. I could get sick on this next trip - but if I do I will still thank God for the many years I did have good health.

Just last week I went for a complete physical, ekg, blood work and all. Positive report from the doctor says that I'm in good health. Thank God. I have no explanation for this except to say that God is merciful and good. Yes, my triglycerides were high and my cholesterol was elevated a very small amount. I am told I should work myself up to walking 30 minutes a day at least three days a week; I should take a baby aspirin each day; and I have to watch my acid reflux by eating the evening meal no later than 6:00p. (3 hours before bed-time!) Also I take a reflux tablet each morning.

Now, if you are sick or suffering, it does not mean God thinks any less of you than He thinks of others. Think of Job, 0f whom the Bible says that he was a righteous man and that he "eschewed" evil. Further it says that there was "no guile found in his mouth." Yet he sufferred more than most of us ever will. Also, Paul, who seems to be the hero of many Christians, sufferred in his body. Also he and other apostles were beaten, imprisoned, run out of town, ship-wrecked, maligned and mal-treated. Consider Hebrews 11 and as you study the heroes of faith you will find that many of the faithful died without ever having seen the fulfillment of promise - yet God listed them among the faithful.

To come to a point of closure let me tell you a story. Frances and I had come home from Kenya on furlough and our first-born (Frankie) and her family had come from Nashville to visit us in Lenoir City, Tennessee. When they were ready to leave, I grabbed the youngest up in my arms and in my best "Poppaw" tear-ful voice I said to the baby (who was about four years of age then) "Why do you have to go off and leave Poppaw here all by himself?" Her answer was a classic that the family now repeats often whenever difficulties of any sort arise: "Well, Poppaw, That's just the way life is!"

About Me

My photo
Cleveland, TN, United States
I am Fred Alton Brannen, the son of Louis A. Brannen (deceased) and Bonnie Jones Brannen, Louis was an Ordained Bishop with the Church of God. Bonnie is an Ordained Licensed Minister and at 89 years of age is still actively engaged in speaking and singing engagements. I am married to the former Frances Hildreth. We celebrated 53 years of marriage this past June and we are the parents of 3, grand-parents of 10, and great-grandparents of 10. I pastored in Tennessee for 24 years and served the Church in some capacity in missions for over 23 years. I retired from full-time ministry in August of 2008 but remain active, speaking and singing and teaching whenever opportunity affords itself. In January of 2010 I received a letter of commendation for having been credentialed as a minister in the Church of God for 50 years! My family is very important to me. Our get togethers are always noisy affairs and most times will include family sing-alongs. The children love their Mom's cooking so we have the privilege of seeing them regularly! WE LOVE having them over.

TheCabin on Day One

TheCabin on Day One
Fred Alton