Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Fred Brannen Christmas - 2008

Hailey listening as her Mom (Kimberly Lawrence) was doing the devotions. Don't you think she's cute?

Colby, our Ruthie's grandson, was dressed in a suit and tie because he was going to a church program after the party.

Great-grand-son Julian Atticus Cartwright was being fed by his Dad and Mom, David and Lydia.

Mom was here and held the kids spell-bound with her recitation of a lengthy poem that she has quoted each year for Christmas. It is called "Little Annie and Willie's Prayer." I video taped it and as soon as I can learn how I'll download it for all of you to see.

Kimberly, our grand-daughter who did devotions for us this year, used her "Ge-paw's" Bible. For those who don't know Ge-Paw was my Dad.

"Frankie" and Rick Durham our #1 daughter and her husband came early to help with preparations for the annual Fred Brannen Christmas Party.

Tabitha (our "baby"), her husband Rev. Phil Jaycox, their daughters, Rebecca, Hannah, and Gracie. Rebecca's friend is at the left. This daughter gave her Dad 10 pounds of butter as a Christmas gift. It was so fun - because since she was very little the girls have all noticed that their Dad eats too much butter on his bread, or potato, or pancake, or pop-corn, or whatever. Frances, my faithful wife, was/is so watchful of my health that she would/will caution me about using too much butter. Tabi, being the sensitive child, constantly tried to find a way to make people feel better in such circumstances. So her come-back was, "Dad, I'll buy you ten pounds of butter for Christmas - then you can eat all you want."

I would title this picture "Anticipation"!

This is middle daughter "Ruthie" and her husband Curtis with some of their family. Left to right, Chelsea, Crystal, Chloe (In Daddy's arms), Caitlin (in her Mom's arms), and Colin in his Dad's arms); Back row (l to r) Colby, Ruthie (who identifies herself as the "fayvrite one"), Curtis, Amy, and Terry.

All the kids and grands and great-grands got a hug from their "Memaw" when they came in the door. It was fun - but Memaw was worn out after it was all over.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why Missions?


Why should anyone sell out everything, leave family and friends and things behind, travel to a foreign country, establish residence in a totally different culture in order to tell others the story of Jesus? We go - for Jesus has said, "Go Ye into all the world". We go because we believe that Jesus is the only means of salvation. We go because we believe that hell is real and those who are not trusting in Jesus for their salvation will die and go there. We go because we believe that heaven is real and those who embrace the message of salvation will live eternally with Him in Heaven.

The Hardshell Baptists are on record that they do not believe in foreign missions. Their theology does not permit them to interfere in what may be the punishment of God on a nation because of the sins of the fathers of that people group. Also, their view of pre-destination is so extreme that they feel that those in foreign countries who are predestined to be lost will be lost whether they hear the gospel or not. They also feel that those who are pre-destined to be saved will be saved whether we help or not. Check them out on Wiki-pedia by "googling" for "hardshell baptist".

Some are motivated by a mis-understanding of Matthew 24:14 which says, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." This verse does not mean the gospel has to be preached unto all the world in order to hasten the coming rapture of the church. In fact we are going to rule and reign with Christ for a thousand years on this earth before "the end" comes. (Revelation 20:6) After the thousand years Satan will be loosed for a short season and will go out to deceive the nations. (Revelation 20:3;8) Another reason I do not believe that we become missionaries in order to hasten the return of Christ is that the day of his return has already been decided by the Father in Heaven. Jesus said, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." (Matthew 24:36) Again, Jesus said, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 25:13) I believe that this and other eschatological passages means that the date is already forever settled in heaven and nothing that you nor I do will change that date. The Bible says, in Mark 13:32, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." The Father knows what day He will return. He will return on that day regardless of what you or I do - or do not do - about world missions. We cannot slow the day of His return; neither can we hasten it.

This is all the more reason that we must be diligent in telling the story to those who have not heard. Jesus could come today. We must go and tell the story before the end of the day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Where Do We Go?

Where Do We Go?

Anywhere - Matthew 28:19 Our field is “the world”. One may go anywhere there are lost people and “do” missionary work. 2 Tim. 4:5 “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." Because of these considerations I have often stated that one does not need a "call" or does not have to "feel led" to go to the field. Jesus has called us all to go into all the world.

Where do you feel led to go?
My call is first “Into All The World”. While I believe that it is legitimate for any saved, born-again, Holy Ghost filled individual to say at any time that he is going to the missions field to do something for the Lord, I also believe that God does call certain individuals for certain tasks at certain times to certain places. Indeed, "God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform". So how do we receive our call?

Dreams and Visions
I'm somewhat skeptical of dreamers because I've seen dreamers attempt to manipulate others through their dreams. I've also seen visionaries put people under financial bondage. However, despite my not wanting to accept every dream or vision as from the Lord, Holy Scripture teaches us that God does reveal things to his servants through dreams. God showed my wife, Frances, a picture of a map of Kenya in a dream. God allowed my mother, Bonnie Jones Brannen, to see herself in an airplane, flying over the Ngong Hills into the Airport in Kenya before she was certain that there was a place called Kenya. She said that in her dream she spelled it, K-E-N-Y-A. When she had awakened she asked my Ordained Bishop father whether there was a country anywhere in the world called Kenya. When he said, “Yes. It’s in Africa.” She said, “Well, I’m going there someday.” All of this happened at least two years before I ever considered going to Kenya with my wife to live and work as a missionary for almost ten full years.
Another way that God speaks to people is by showing them a need.
I really feel that this is how my calling came. Through circumstances that made me feel I needed to go as chaperone for my wife and mother, I visited Kenya for 3 weeks in 1987 and saw several needs there in our churches where I felt if I were there I could make a positive difference. Out of that (and the request from the people on the ground there) I did pray for God to meet that need and to show me if he wanted me to go to Kenya in person. I sought the Lord's guidance. In two weeks time the leadership in World Missions called me and asked me if I would pray about going to Kenya and becoming the overseer of our churches in that country.
God also speaks to us through our leaders.

We must also deal here with the issue of submission. Submission is to God first. Like the disciples, we will “obey God rather than men”. However, we are also told that we are to submit to those who are over us in the Lord. More strongly – we are told to “obey” spiritual leaders in the church. Hebrews 13:17 “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Compare also, 1 Peter 5:5 “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
My experience has been that when a man or woman gets to the point that they will not submit to the church leadership they are soon destined for personal failure. As Gene Rice often said, “Your attitude determines your altitude.” James said, “He that humbleth himself shall be exalted – but he that exalteth himself shall be abased.” So when the leadership of your church sees a need and invites you to help in an area because they know some of your skills you can go with confidence.

This idea of discipleship and obedience can be deceptive. The whole shepherding movement fed of the idea that there was a person who had extra special insight and the disciples must get advice from that leader before doing anything. They would seek his input on the car they would buy, the home they would live in, the person they would marry, and many other items of personal choice. For me that is extreme. But let us look at it with great care. Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world and make disciples, and to teach those disciples whatever Jesus had taught them. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I am not a disciple of other men – although at least one wanted me to be his personal “disciple”. That particular individual came to Kenya (and the rest of Africa) saying that “from today, we no longer have “members” of the church. We are now all “disciples”. Now – please understand that men can teach me, and have taught me many things about the work of God, but when I reach a certain point in my relationship with my fellow minister he has to know he is not my final authority. Jesus is my Master!

I’ve had missionaries under my supervision who refused to do what I asked them to do. It is o.k. with me - as long as they are sure of themselves and conduct themselves with honor and in a respectful manner when they disagree with me. It is my sincere desire for them to follow Jesus. I will never knowingly ask another person to do anything contrary to His will. However leaders do have the right and responsibility to give direction to missionaries. Maybe this point will be better understood through one example. A young missionary couple had learned Spanish and wanted ernestly to be assigned to a Spanish speaking country in Latin America. The director of missions saw a need in Africa that he wanted them to meet. That missionary told me she did not want to go to Africa, but went out of obedience. As a result one of the greatest ministries to orphans and street kids in Africa was birthed in Zambia by Rodger and Saundra Wikelund. It is called Emma's Kids.

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