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Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Twenty (20) of us gathered around the table on Saturday the 20th of December. What fun! What food! What fine conversations were going on as the families expressed their love for God and each other around the tables. How we thank God for Christmas joy.
Two sets of "five generations" were present for our
Christmas party with the Fred Brannen Family... Mom and Me, plus our first-born, Frankie, had her daughter Kimberly and Kimberly's daughter Hailey there. They live here in Cleveland where Frankie teaches 2nd grade (at Yates Primary School).
The second set of "five generations" come through Mom, Me, then Ruthie, our middle daughter (the one with her arm on Dad's shoulder). Ruthie had her daughter Lydia there and Lydia had her son, Julian!
Thank you God for the institution of family. Thank you God for a loving family. Thank you God for sending Jesus to us to give us the opportunity to know salvation through faith in your only begotten Son!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
In Copenhagen, Denmark the world's leaders are anxiously discussing the world's climate changes in earnest. Ice-bergs are melting. The ozone is being poisoned. They seem to be sincerely worried that man is going to wreck the planet beyond repair. Here is another bit of good news from the Holy Bible that I've thought a lot about in view of recent revelations on the subject. Genesis 8:22 "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."Here is more good news. We have a promise from God that even in these troubled end-times God will give peace to those who trust in Him. May the Prince of Peace give you re-assurance to trust in the Lord with all of your heart and Bless you with his Peace this Christmas. The peace I'm referring to is described by Paul the Apostle in Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
At the General Assembly in San Antonio, TX all official responsibility was handed over to a choice servant of God and of the African people. Bishop Peter A. Thomas and his wife Deborah are now serving as the chief executive officer of the Church of God in the 33 countries of West, Central and Eastern Africa (basically Sub-Saharan Africa) where the Church of God has over 4,000 Churches. We will never forget the love and support we had from so many of you choice servants of God; nor will we forget the love we found among people from many different tribal, ethnic and social backgrounds. As found in 1 Samuel 12:23 “Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you.”
We have been honored to be invited to preach on several occasions. I have filled in at our home church, the Sixth Avenue Church of God in Lenoir City, Tennessee when Pastor Ernie Varner was away on missions trips.
I was invited to preach at the One-Hundredth Year “Home-coming” at the Tellico Plains Church of God on July 12, 2009. This was my first church; the church where I started my ministry on March 1, 1961 (Forty-eight years ago!). What a thrill to see so many of those wonderful folks still faithfully serving God in that church now being Pastored by my former Sunday School Superintendent, Pastor Paul Fritts and his faithful wife, June.
Again, on September 20th, 2009, we were highly favored to be asked to be the preacher for the “Home-Coming” at the Cedar Hill Church of God in Talbott, Tennessee – our last pastorate before going out to Africa as missionaries. Pastor Sam and Ruth Youngblood are now once again serving that church with their unique quality style of leadership! The place rang with tears of joy and the laughter of brotherly love.
Right after the Tellico Plains Home-Coming, I felt impressed to offer myself as Sunday School teacher to Pastor Fritts. So – on September 6th I began a year-long commitment to teach the Sanctuary Class in this church. We have already put the first quarter behind us as of this writing. Yes, it is one hour’s drive from my home here in Cleveland to the church in Tellico Plains – but what a thrill to feel that one is being led by the hand of God. Excitement is high. Words of encouragement and appreciation come regularly – but the greatest reward is the sense of God’s presence and direction I feel in this venture.
I feel that God put this special blessing within my reach. I was able to acquire a 5-acre lease on private land in the Cherokee National Forest here in East Tennesse. It has a two room hunter’s shack on it, powered by solar electricity and some basic amenities. Water for drinking and cooking is hauled in. It was immediately named “Pumzika Acres”, which is Kiswahili for “You-Rest Acres”. Many of you have heard me tell this story of how, at a time of great stress in the beginning of my Africa ministry God gave me a night vision in which he spoke that word to me: PUMZIKA! It has been my privilege to have 7 of my Africa brethren to visit this restful place. Last year we had the honor of having Rob and Kathy Davis and two of their children visit us here for Christmas day!!! Together with our children we cooked deer in an old iron pot over an open fire. Ahhh!
In Sickness and in Health:
Our first-born co-authored a book for teaching math – and continues teaching school here in Cleveland. She has received some funds for the work - and anticipates more as the book sells. Her husband Rick Durham has had heart problems complicated by diabetes. He is still able to work but does not feel good a lot of the time. Pray for them.
Daughter Ruthie and her husband Curtis Crockett continue with their work in the church. Ruthie is in charge of the Angel Food ministry for the Grace Assembly of God Church. She is such an angel herself. It is an appropriate ministry for her.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Last Sunday, December 13, 2009, we had a great time at the Tellico Plains Church of God! First it was teaching the book of Job in Sunday School...then the S.S. Class Christmas party in the afternoon... then an old fashioned Gospel singing with Dr. Edward L. Williams and his wife Irma being our main musical guests. I've also posted to youtube some videos of those songs. Driving home that night it occurred to me that I felt better physically and emotionally and spiritually than I have felt in a very long time. I'm a blessed man!
This coming Thursday we will be taking Frances to the hospital for a CT Scan. The doctor told her this past Friday that her heart is NOT functioning like it should be after having had the major surgery last March. We keep believing God for the breakthrough miracle of healing for her at any time. Meanwhile we quietly trust in the Lord.
Mom is "preaching" in one of the Wednesday night classes at North Cleveland Church of God tonight. I plan to go and hear her. She is such a special lady. I took her with me to Tellico Plains recently and she preached the fire down!!! She was exhausted afterwards - but it seems she is ready again in just a few hours to give the best of her strength to the ministry of preaching again. I'm so proud to live close to her and be able to be in church with her frequently.
Baby daughter, Tabitha and her husband (Philip Jaycox) were appointed to pastor the Church of God in Watertown, NY just about three weeks ago. That is, they have taken our wonderful grand-babies a looooonng way from home. I miss them terrible - but I do want the children to be obedient to the Lord above everything else.
May the Lord make each of you aware of the Good News! Jesus was born of a virgin, lived and died to purchase our salvation, rose to life on the third day, ascended into heaven and today sits at the right hand of God the father, interceding for us. Wonderful News! Great joy unto all people! Jesus is coming again soon.
Here's a video of me singing "I Need Not Leave With The Burden", a song about missions during our church's "Gospel Singing" on Sunday night, December 13th, 2009. Oh how blessed we are to have received the knowledge of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. I've observed other religious followers who live in foreign lands. Some of them I call by their names because they are friends. Their religion is complicated - the Muslim friends expect 72 virgins in eternity, the Hindu friends have over a thousand gods in their lives and the Sikh friends combine elements of three major religions. I pray that our witness to them will make a difference here and in eternity!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Pastor Philip Jaycox, our son-in-law.
There is just nothing like grand-children! Each one is special and each adds their own sweet flavor to our family life. Tabitha, our "Pet" (the name she has given herself) has three girls whom we love dearly. Rebecca, Hannah, and Gracie are always so loving and respectful with their Pop-paw and Memaw. Not saying the others are not - just sayin'.
I started to write this particular blog just about one year ago right after the Jaycox family came to visit us before moving to Watertown, New York to Pastor the Church of God congregation there. Then I got busy with something else (I can’t remember what) - saved it as a draft and just now pulled it up again. Guess what? Rebecca (Phil and Tabi's first-born) is now 18 years old, graduated from High School this past Spring, and last week decided to come down to Tennessee to spend some time hanging out with her grand-parents.
She flew down on Delta Airlines (her first-ever flight alone) for a week's visit! Hearing her tell of walking from one concourse to the other in the Atlanta Airport, then realizing that she was not in the right place, grabbing her purse and running back to almost where she had just come from, reminded me of part of the reason I’m glad I have retired!
Frances and Rebecca posed for the camera several times but I think this is the best of the lot of pictures I took. Do you see the thing that Frances is passing down to Rebecca? IT'S THAT SMILE!
Yesterday, Rebecca's cousin Jessica Durham (also 18) and her cousin Lydia Brannen (now 23) all met at our house and we went to Chik-fil-A for dinner. It was such fun having all three of them with us and watching them interact and hearing the two who live in our town talking with Rebecca whom they had not seen in a year. They had so much "girly stuff" to catch up on!
Friday, August 7, 2009
Yes, time and events move right along and it's hard to believe that it was this time one year ago when I formally retired. I have enjoyed this past year! God is continually with me. I can see His hand at work in so many, many ways. My buddy (Ed Williams) and I have visited many of our small churches together and blessed them by playing music and singing for them. We have had opportunities to witness to lost people whom we had never previously met. One day we went to Signal Mountain and gave ourselves to the task of helping making the Church's State Campground a cleaner and prettier place. Ed has helped me personally in so many ways like helping with improvements on my cabin (Pumzika Acres), listening to my funny stories that have happened in my ministry, sharing his knowledge of the Word with me, crying with me and praying with me. I thank God for this friend.
The year brought on some challenges - such as Frances having open-heart surgery on March 9, 2009. Our friends and family really "showed up and showed off" as it were - with many encouraging words, phone calls, cards, visits and acts of kindness. Each of them have blessed us in special ways. Time and space (and perhaps lack of creativeness) put limits on my ability to give proper recognition to all who have been so kind. We were especially touched during that time by the thoughtfulness of Gordon and Glenda Bloodworth who served as our Education Director while we were overseers of Kenya. They sent live flowers via FedEx! Also, Kathy and Rob Davis sent live flowers from Colorado.Speaking of Kathy and Rob - they and two of their children (Lauren and Tristan) came to our home for Christmas this year! They are what Frances calls her "Nairobi Children" because that's where we met them. While the Davises were here we spent one night at the Cabin in the mountains. When 23 year old Lauren wanted to sleep on the porch I was frightened for her because the cabin is in bear country. Because Lauren is so pretty and charming and young-looking I could not feel good about that. Maybe she has by now forgiven her "Uncle Fred" for not allowing her to make her own decision on the safety of sleeping outside at night. After all - she had just come back from spending a full year on her own in Ethiopia as a single young lady teacher with a mission organization.
OK - here's the latest...After much prayer and reflection over the past several weeks, I finally decided to take action on something that has been on my heart and mind for at least 5 - maybe 6 months. On Wednesday of this week (August 5) I went to Tellico Plains and committed myself to teach a Sunday School Class for the Church of God in Tellico. My friend (Pastor Paul Fritts) says he welcomes me there and feels that this is a "God-Send". My thought is to teach the Bible through in one year using Alan B. Stringfellow's "Through The Bible In A Year" study notes. I have used it before while I pastored the Cedar Hill Church and also used these notes to teach "Introduction To The Bible" as a class for the Bible School which we organized in Kenya. I am as excited about this project as anything I have undertaken since retirement. In a way - I'm "going home again"! This is the first church I pastored (began there on March 1, 1961) and was their pastor for five years. During those years Paul Fritts (now the pastor) came to work with me as my Sunday School Superintendent. I feel that this is God at work in and through my life. Pray that God protects us during the 50 mile trip each week. Pray that the funds are always there for fuel. Pray that the time is meaningful to the students in this special Sunday School class.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Now - for the record - On March 4th, 2009 we took Frances to Skyridge (local hospital) where we expected a heart catheterization and probably a stint or maybe even two. The results of the heart cath caused the doctor to send her by ambulance directly to Memorial in Chattanooga where she was to have open-heart surgery. Due to an over-load of Plavix administered by the Skyridge Hospital in Cleveland, the doctors felt they needed to give time to reduce the results of the Plavix. The Plavix, which made the blood flow more freely, was not a mistake but was the normal procedure to give for what we anticipated the problem to be. Now - after we were in the pre-op room awaiting surgery - the Doctor recommended we wait until Monday before the surgery because the blood was flowing too freely. Therefore on Monday, March the 9th, we were the first case for surgery done by Dr. Morrison and his team.
Let me tell you that there was an out-pouring of love and concern by family and friends. So many visited us in the hospital to pray. Frances family, Frank and Jan, Elizabeth and Curtis, Joe and Sandra, Dewain and Debbie, were all so supportive and were with me during the most difficult and apprehensive times, encouraging me with their prayers and love. Our pastor from Lenoir City, Dr. Ernie Varner, drove down and stayed with me through the entire surgery. Our General Director of World Missions and his wife, Doug and Wanda LeRoy, and also Calvin Wood, Missionary Advocate, stayed the full time until the surgery was over. Of course our good friends, Ed and Irma Williams, came and stayed - plus they brought food to feed all who were waiting with me in the surgical waiting room. Travis Porter, from North Cleveland Church, Wendell Smith from Westmore, Edmond and Mildred Stallings from Ooltewah Church, our personal friend Max Morris, founder and director of His Hands Extended, and many others came and prayed and were such a source of encouragement to me during this time. David Stephens, the Administrative Bishop of the Church of God in Tennessee called me and prayed with me over the phone. I'm sure I am forgetting some minister who came - and if you are one of those, be assured that every one of the visits were important to me and blessed me. Also - I must say how much it meant to Frances and to me that our family came and stuck with us during this time. [As per reminder below, I forgot a very important visit/s -- from Ruthie's Pastors -- Pastor Steve Lewis and Pastor Smalley and Pastor Lowell Brannen.] Our three daughters and their husbands and children were all so supportive. The girls were very "in your face" protective of their Mom. They pitched in and helped not only in the hospital but also here at home after hospitalization. Frankie Lynne, our first-born, was very insistent with her Mom when Frances wanted to go home before the surgery. Ruthie, our middle daughter, stayed by her Daddy's side and went beyond the call of duty in being there for me. Tabitha and her friendship with Dr. Mitchell (one of the heart doctors) got us information we might not have otherwise had. And I cannot forget my Mother and my brother Lowell and wife Janis - Sisters Bonita Landrum and husband Mike, and Sister Donice Brown and her husband Raymond. We are so blessed to have them all living near us.
After surgery we returned home and still had cards and phone calls and people bringing food and messages by e-mail and on Facebook giving or offering support. Jean Moore, a neice of Frances' and her daughter, Hannah, cooked and brought food and encouraged us. Jean is a Registered Nurse and has worked for Home Health Care in the past. Her information and input about Home Health was priceless. Josh Beslisle and Shannon, a great-nephew of Frances, also cooked and brought food and encouraged us with their love. What a wonderful feeling it is to have young folks like these loving you. God Bless 'em! We had flowers received by Fed-Ex from missionary friends Gordon and Glenda Bloodworth who live in Kenya, East Africa, and also flowers from friends who are like family - Rob and Kathy Davis who live in Colorado - sent by Fed-Ex.
Now - it is June 11, and we have passed our 52nd wedding anniversary! Frances medical readings in all departments (i.e., blood sugar levels, Hemoglobin, Cholesterol, Blood-pressure, heart rate, etc.) are better than they have been in ten years! That is documented fact. Thank God for ALL His goodness. His mercies are new every morning. Frances is now driving herself to cardiac re-hab three times a week and is doing really, really well! She is still tender and sore and needs extra attention -- but that will soon disappear and we will travel to Branson, MO for a little vacation in just a couple more months! Ain't God good?
Monday, March 16, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
While I agreed with all of these things, most of which the preacher said well, I have to say that there is an important truth in this passage which most preacher's miss. We need to get the whole verse because the second half of this verse qualifies the first.
Proverbs 29:18 "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
What does it mean when the Bible says, "He that keepeth the law, happy is he."? I submit to you that if you do not have the law you do not have clear vision. It is the law of God that casts light on all of our plans. As the Bible says in Psalm 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." And again in Psalm 119:130 "The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple."
I have heard men say things like, "God gave me a vision and told me to do this but I don't see how I'm ever gonna pay for it!" I submit to you that if you cannot see how to accomplish it then you don't have vision. You cannot see - you are stumbling in the dark. You need to go and bury yourself in the Word of God until his law casts light upon your pathway and it gives you some know-how!
Let's say an artist is planning to paint a picture of Niagara Falls. He gets his large canvas ready. He has his painting coat on so as to get no paint on his clothes. He takes his stool and his easel and places them so that he has the view he wants of Niagara. Everything is in place ... but he has no paint! He had purchased everything needed to do this painting with - but without paint he cannot produce the picture he has in his mind unless he or someone purchases paint. There is a law for painters. If you are to create a painting, you must have paint. If you forget that law you cannot produce the picture.
Let's say a professional driver has the desire to drive from Miami to New York. He maps out his route, he gets his lunch, he plans his rest stops, he knows how to calculate his speed and knows how much fuel it will take to reach his destination. Yet, when the time comes, there is no fuel available. This law says when there is no fuel for your vehicle you had better not travel.
Yes, plan big! But please do not become a visionary. Look up the term in the dictionary.
I know this thought needs work - but I'm leaving this with you as is for now. If you want to, please feel free to study this subject and share your criticisms with me.
Friday, February 13, 2009
- Fred Alton
- 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.