Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Elizabeth Fritts

Happy Birthday Elizabeth!

Yesterday we traveled an hour north of here to help celebrate Frances' sister (Elizabeth's) Birthday.  She and her husband Curtis have graciously entertained and blessed hundreds and hundreds of people through the years.  We all went to the Cracker Barrell last night in Beth's honor.  She is a retired school-teacher. 

Husband, Curtis, relaxing after our meal.
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Yesterday was her birthday.  Here are a few pictures I snapped during the course of the evening.  Husband
Brother Frank and his wife Jan

Brother Dewain and wife Debbie sitting with Frances
having dessert
Your's Truly caught helping Brother-in-law Curtis with his new laptop

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pentecostals Speak With “Other Tongues”

           1 Corinthians 14:21 says, 21In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.”
          At the age of eight years, while Dad was pastor of the Church of God at Morristown, Tennessee, I received the baptism in the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit in the "old time way".  The old time way was that after a person was saved from sin, he/she was encouraged bo pray to be sanctified and to “pray through” to the experience of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance.  I’ll never forget the time and the great feelings of exuberant joy which came over me that night in the altar.  I remember praying and hearing others praying for me as I knelt at the bench in front of the pulpit which was called the altar.  Those praying for me were saying things like, “Hold on, Son.  Hold on.  Don’t turn loose.  Don’t give up!  Keep on praying.”  On the other hand there were some saying, “Turn loose, Son!  Turn loose.  Give up.  Surrender it all to Jesus.  Let God have His way.”  Maybe you have heard someone else testify to an experience like this and think that I'm being a Magpie – but this is actually how it happened with me.  In those days most everyone seeking an experience with the Lord was prayed for (outloud and fervently) by the faithful.  This was all done by the most devoted believers, all speaking their words of encouragement at the same time.  Plus, the musical instruments were playing and the people were singing in the background, something like, “Oh Lord, Send The Power Just Now” or "Send Down The Rain, Lord" or "Jesus, On the Main Line (Tell Him What You Want)".   Confusing?  No!  Not to me.  I knew exactly what they meant.  So I did exactly what they were suggesting: I held on in prayer until I couldn’t hold on any longer and then I turned loose.  I "let go" and gave everything I had (or would ever have) to God until tears of joy mingled with my tears of repentance.  I kept on praying and giving everything to God until total deliverance from sin came!  I was overcome then with the joy of salvation.
          "Ah...just an emotional experience,"  someone said.  "He'll be the same tomorrow that he was yesterday," said another.  God was so good to me that he gave me an “out of the body” experience similar to the passage of scripture from the hand of the Apostle Paul that says, “Whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell.”  No - I'm not claiming any of Paul's excellence - but I am claiming that the same Lord that transformed him also transformed me.  Anyway, as I prayed that night at the altar, the last thing I remembered before being filled with the Spirit was praying and leaning forward and slightly to the right while earnestly asking God to fill me with His Spirit.  The next thing I remembered I was standing at the back door of the church with both hands raised while tears of joy were flowing down my cheeks and I heard myself speaking in a language I had not learned!  I did not/do not know how I moved from the front of the church to the back of the church.  My soul was singing praises to the Lord Jesus Christ who had forgiven me of my sins.  After only a few moments I closed my eyes again and next thing I knew was when I opened my eyes and stepped over someone who was lying prostrate in the floor.  I was speaking in tongues.  I know that I walked (or ran) to the front of the church while under the Spirit’s influence…but I was not aware of what was happening until I was already back down front.  I cannot explain why, or how, this happened – except that I knew I had been filled with the Holy Ghost.
          I learned some years later from some well-meaning folks that a person could not even be saved until they were at least 12 years of age.  Ha!  They just came too late to tell me that because I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that God had saved, sanctified and filled me with the Holy Spirit.  I have thanked God for that experience many times in my life as I went through times of doubt.  Thinking back to that time even as I write these words gives me strong assurance that God is real. As wonderful as my experience was  =  there were many other things which I was told later that would have negated all of my experience had my faith not been based in the Bible.  Of course I have had questions.  I have doubted.  I have failed the Lord and had to repent again (more than once) – but I KNOW that God changed my life that night in 1946 and that I’ve never been the same since. 
          How could this be?  You asked.  Let me try and explain something.  Understand that I was born into a Pentecostal Preacher’s home.  Mama was living next door to her mother who was the Pastor of the Church of God, so when it was time for me to be born Mom was at the Parsonage.  One of the first things my then recently converted Daddy did was to place a Bible in my hand.  He had been raised in a great number of superstitions – one of which said that the first thing a baby takes hold of will determine what he becomes in life.  Other things were “Step on a crack – break your mama’s back.”  “If your nose itches – someone’s coming with a hole in his britches.”  “If a black cat crossed your path, turn around and go home - or suffer bad luck that day.”  “If you break a mirror you will have seven years of bad luck.”  He used to tell me that he wanted to break all of those old superstitious rules that caused people to live in fear – but that one about putting the Bible in a baby’s hand he tried, hoping it would work.  ☺   Daddy also taught me this:  "I'm going to teach you everything I can about what it means to live right before God.  You are free to disagree with Daddy.  You do not have to believe everything I believe or do everything just like I want you to do.  But remember this - the Bible is true no matter what anyone says.  You are going to be judged by it in eternity."
          The fullness of the Holy Spirit is one of the areas where there is much mis-understanding.  I hope to blog in the future about some of those areas.  I welcome your input - or your questions.  Let me say up-front that I cannot give satisfactory answers to all the questions that may arise - but I know beyone any shadow of doubt that my early experience with God was real.

Monday, May 2, 2011


L to R Me, Mom, Grandma Jones, Grandma Pearce (Grandma Jones' Mother)

My Story: Pentecostal

Acts 2:
          “ 1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Yes, I was born in and grew up in a Pentecostal Family. My maternal grandmother was the pastor of the local Pentecostal Church in the little saw-mill town of Lacoochee, Florida. Hearing people speak in tongues and seeing them dance ecstatically in the spirit was as common for me as drinking water from a glass. Praying for the sick that resulted in Divine Healing and miracles was not at all strange or different. I grew up thinking that was the way “church” was supposed to be. I have seen people “slain in the Spirit” in the church as far back as I can remember. Let me give you some background to my faith.

Dad had left home at 15 and had become a hobo on the freight trains, where he learned to smoke and drink and swear with his buddies. It was 1934-1937. When he and his friends would come back home after a long trip they would entertain in the dance hall and work awhile in the Cummers Saw Mill, where orange crates were made. He was making the fantastic sum of $9.00 per week for a full week’s work. It wasn’t long until he cut off the first joint of his index finger on the saw. He refused to go to a doctor but just stuck the joint of his finger on, wrapped it in a wrag, poured on the rubbing alchohol and let it heal back naturally. “Natural” in this case turned out to be a crooked “pointing finger”. While playing his guitar in the dance hall in the evenings, slipping a sip of whiskey from the bottle and getting himself generally drunk - the little Pentecostal church across the railroad tracks could be heard with characteristic singing, praying and shouting (in the old time way) for, you see, it was summer and the windows were left open for ventilation in the small wood-framed structure so typical of country churches of that day. As Daddy explained it to us, “While playing at the dance when we’d hear a shout break out we would run over to the church and peep in the windows to watch the show!” While peeping in the window, Dad saw the “most beautiful girl in the world” and was captivated by her beauty. He made up his mind that he wanted to get better acquainted and soon learned that this 16 year old young lady was the Pastor’s daughter.

Sister Jones was a very charismatic leader. She was charismatic before most of us ever knew what that word meant. She found out that Louis could play the guitar and invited him to play with the church band. I do not believe that was normal for Pentecostal churches in those days for they were also “Holiness” churches but this may give some insight into the wisdom of Pastor Jones. [“Holiness”, That will be a subject for a later blog] She eventually won the young man to a deep experience with Christ. During a Revival, while the house was full of fervent worshippers, Dad had “slipped a sip or two” before the meeting started. At one high point of leading the service, Sister Jones playing the fiddle, called out to the crowd, “Saints! I feel the Spirit in this place tonight!” Dad, by now feeling the effects of his “slippin’ and sippin’” shouted back, “ME TOOOOOO!” Grandma then called to the congregation, “Praise God, Church! The Spirit’s move is so powerful here that even these old sinners are feeling it!” I’m not positive that it was the same night – but during that or a similar service, the house was so crowded that there was no room to sit in the back of the church. So – after playing his guitar for the preliminaries – young Louis Brannen sat on the only available seat – the front row! After the sermon was finished he was invited to the altar to pray. He says, “The Devil said to me, ‘Just smack Sister Rosier in the face and tell her NO!’” Instead of obeying the Devil, he obeyed the Lord, “took two steps and fell into the altar” where he was gloriously converted.

Events moved swiftly. Louis was “Sanctified and Filled with the Holy Ghost” with the evidence of speaking in other tongues as mentioned in Acts 2:4. This Glossalalia phenomenon was for the common man. Louis became a changed man. He immediately stopped drinking. No more cursing. No more smoking. Just like that. It was permanent. I was 60 years of age when he died and I can honestly tell you that I never ever observed my Dad say or do anything that would make me doubt his experience with the Lord. Soon he became the clerk of the church and asked for the hand of Bonnie Jones in marriage. He was just 20 years old. Bonnie was 16 when they married. True to her oft repeated words, “I’ll NEVER marry a preacher, she married this saw-mill worker. However, it was only a few short weeks after they were married that Daddy announced to the congregation that he now felt “called” to preach. This was the beginning of 62 years together in full-time ministry before Dad passed from this life into the presence of his Savior.

Grandma Jones, Mom, Dad
The picture below was made about 1952, at a General Assembly of the Church of God in St. Louis, Missouri.  Mom and Dad were pastoring the church at Campaign, Tennessee about 12 miles out in the country from McMinnville, Tennessee.  Grandma still lived in central Florida.

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