by Meg Brown | May 8, 2020 | Hope for a Church Planter, Truth About Life, Truth about Worship
I sat with a towel twisting my wet hair up on our bed, back in our master, while our worship pastor, our children’s director and my husband sat no more than 10 yards away and I listened to their honest, pure, worship. Tears began to fill behind my eyes and threatened to stream down my face. The words that rang throughout my house were, “You are making all things new…” And yet, as I sat in bed with a fever and a desperation to heal quicker, I knew and loved that my church was still being a church.
In the Confusion
This time with the craziness of Covid-19 has been a whirlwind or as some have referred to as being like the movie, Groundhog’s Day… over and over. Social media has gone RIDICULOUS with people now having free time to spout off their thoughts and ideas about the situation (I’ve seen an immense amount of good come out of our situations) but this morning… I could just be… and listen… and softly sing to my King while no one watched. Honestly, I could barely get the words out. Here’s the conclusion I’ve come to amidst all of this chaos and disorder:
- I’ve found peace where once my heart was jumbled and stressed.
- I’ve been able to breathe, really breathe in, and experience pure joy with my kids daily.
- I’ve been able to dig into Scripture and geek out to the possibilities I find there.
- I’ve been able to worship with no one watching.
- I’ve been able to spend time reaching out to my church family more regularly to ask for or pray for them.
- I’ve watched my kids settle in and just be… without the crazy amount of time constraints they used to have.
- I’ve been able to see all of my church family’s faces via Zoom and laugh with them.
- I’ve watched our church family come together in a tighter knit community to support and love on each other even virtually.
Chaos and the Church
It’s not the same… we can’t meet together collectively. It’s not normal… we aren’t allowed to worship together in the same room anymore. It’s not even similar… we are spending church virtually instead of spending next to flesh and blood. But here’s the thing… we are meeting separately… but we are together in spirit.
We’ve got to let go our our stubbornness… our resentment for how things were handled… our need to want things our way… and move into a time of healing, rest, and thankfulness that we live in a time and age where we can still meet- even if virtually.
I think back to one of the first Sunday’s after Jesus’ death. We find the disciples and Jesus’s followers spread out all over the city of Jerusalem… hiding. Some followers had even left the city and were headed home to Emmaus. But when Jesus finally appears to them in Luke 24, they think he’s a ghost. They can’t even believe he’s back!
The Kingdom they thought was coming… didn’t.
The life they thought Jesus had alluded to- was completely upside down.
I mean- the guy they’d been following around had been preaching of a new Kingdom… and then, whelp, he was killed. And now, they were huddled in a house, just waiting for something and thinking that there was no way this Kingdom was going to happen anymore.
“Then he said to them, “Don’t you remember the words that I spoke to you when I was still with you? I told you that everything written about me would be fulfilled, including all the prophecies from the law of Moses through the Psalms and the writings of the prophets—that they would all find their fulfillment.” He supernaturally unlocked their understanding to receive the revelation of the Scriptures, then said to them, “Everything that has happened fulfills what was prophesied of me. Christ, the Messiah, was destined to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day. Now you must go into all the nations and preach repentance and forgiveness of sins so that they will turn to me. Start right here in Jerusalem. For you are my witnesses and have seen for yourselves all that has transpired. And I will send the fulfillment of the Father’s promise to you. So stay here in the city until the mighty power of heaven falls upon you and wraps around you.”
Here’s what’s crazy about us humans: we think we’re soooo smart. The disciples thought it was all over when their Savior was killed (and who’s to say we wouldn’t have thought the same?) They thought the Kingdom that Jesus preached, would never rise up. And yet, it did.
The Kingdom is happening around us. I’m seeing it in the faces of people who are selflessly dropping off food on our porch so that my husband doesn’t have to scramble to make dinner for all of us after taking care of us all day. I hear it in the voices worshipping from my living room. I receive it from the texts and social media messages that encourage and build me up with promises of prayer and healing. I read about it through the words of my King in scripture. I feel the Kingdom when I pray while weeping when no one is watching. It is all around us. God is with us.. even when we feel like church isn’t normal. The Kingdom is here… do you feel it?
Join my little world here on the farm, and you'll receive my latest thoughts on life, love and our Creator.
by Meg Brown | Oct 23, 2016 | Love and Relationships, Truth About Love, Truth Uncovered
The serpent waits in the shadows. He watches and observes every slight movement you make, decisions, interaction with others and words that comes out of your mouth. Waiting.
Waiting for that perfect moment when he can use your words against you. Waiting to divide the flock, isolate and then separate you from the flock.
And then in a swift movement, he will come crashing in. He will use miscommunication, other people’s fears of being called to the carpet, and half- truths to try to cut your legs out from under you. Most of the time, it will be petty issues. Sometimes, it can mean the difference between a person having the capacity to serve or not.
He will twist and discolor people’s thoughts about you to try to confuse and cause division with those who should trust you. And so, you find yourself, pushed to the outskirts, while people bristle and are frustrated with you. They will blame, finger-point or worse- remain silent while others belittle you.
Now, if you’re like me, this kind of thing needs to be processed for a couple of hours. I nod and listen while they rip me to shreds (or accuse me of something that is not entirely true). They may stomp off in frustration or saunter off in accomplishment, while I try to maintain control and continue about my responsibilities at the church. Hours later… I crumble.
I overanalyze, play the conversations over and over… until my true feelings rise to the surface. My shock wears off and then I’m either sad, mad or frustrated… sometimes all three at once. I usually internally scream to God, “Really? I don’t have time for this kind of crude right now!” (I know- right? So eloquent… and completely disrespectful.)
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:8-11
The Thing about Satan
Here’s the thing about Satan. He’s crafty. He’s got these tactics DOWN.
Satan is motivated by pride and hatred toward God and the people of God. So, he intimidates with power encounters (as a roaring lion does) when he is stalking his prey. He even uses Scripture to twist the truth and accomplish his agenda… by only using part of the verse… or ignoring the context of the passage (look at the Temptation of Jesus in Luke 4:1-13). He turns people against God or God’s people against each other. He confuses the truth and frustrates the plans of the Church. He is also the Accuser; He will even contradict himself to confuse and frustrate you. Ever heard the voice in your head, “It’s okay, just this once. God will forgive you.”
Yeah. I’m gonna say that’s probably not the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the deal: if I’m being attacked spiritually by Satan, then I can be assured that other believers are out there being attacked as well. And most of us will never speak up. Most of us will take it on the chin and not speak truth so that others will hear it.
I’m not talking about gossip.
I’m not even talking about going to the person you have beef with. (Yet.)
First: Drop to Your Knees in Prayer and Humility
I’m talking about dropping to your knees and going to God with it. This is PARAMOUNT. If you go back two verses in the 1 Peter 5 passage, Peter asks those he’s writing to, to humble themselves and cast all their anxieties upon Him.
Without God’s help, you will not see through Satan’s lies. You will not find peace to be able to forgive the person for their part in the issue. Without God’s help, you may screw the situation up worse- and cause massive division in your relationships… whether in the church, in your home or in your workplace.
Second: Ask for Prayer
Ask a godly mentor for prayer, a person outside of the situation that you trust to pray for wisdom for you (see James 5:13-20.) Don’t ask your neighbor next door… or your friend at church who knows the person- that’s tacky and a little behind the back.
Third: Go to the Person
Go to the person who came to you with accusations and talk to them about it. Acknowledge what is truth- and what was misunderstood. Ask for forgiveness for any part that is on you- and work toward reconciliation. (Click here for more on how to reconcile.)
Fourth: Don’t Listen to Satan’s Lies
If you still wish to “take it on the chin” just know that slowly Satan will trick you into believing that God’s calling for your life isn’t real. He’ll tell you that maybe you aren’t meant to be the person needed at this job, in this ministry or at that organization at all. He tells you that you are just the one who stands in the back and supports everyone else. (Do you see how he takes good and twists it?)
Fifth: Focus on Christ
If any of those above statements ring a bell, I urge you to stop allowing Satan’s whispers into your heart. You have been called and chosen for a task far greater than standing in the back in support. Focus on Christ, His promises and His call.
Hope for Unity and Reconciliation
What gives me extreme hope is that last verse in 1 Peter 5:10:
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
He will restore us. He will give us the strength to hold firm and to be steadfast in truth.
So, speak up… in truth, with grace and forgiveness.
Join my little world here on the farm, and you'll receive my latest thoughts on life, love and our Creator.
by Meg Brown | Mar 12, 2015 | Truth about Church Planting
I’ve heard several planters say that at points in establishing the church, they realize that everything is going well… really well. People are coming to Christ. Families are jumping in and joining ministries at the church. The children’s and teen ministries are growing and expanding with great speed. And then they hold their breath. Waiting… for the storm to begin to rumble in the distance.
And as lightning strikes… they grab onto anything close to them and pray for God to carry them through. I know, because, we have just experienced this at our church. There was excitement everywhere at Thrive.. and then a slow ache of complacency creeped in. Doubts formed. Leaders were overwhelmed. And burnout begins to flicker.
The Looming Storm
If we turn to Matthew 8 and Luke 8, we learn how the disciples handled a very crazy storm upon Lake Galilee. I specifically love the description of this situation in Mark 4:35-41 (NLT).
As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”
How did the disciples handle the storm? With panic. With doubts that Jesus would allow them to perish. By trying to take control of the situation. So, how should they have handled it? Would they not have remembered King David’s song, where he wrote in 2 Samuel 22:10,
“He opened the heavens and came down; dark storm clouds were beneath his feet.”
Their own fears clouded their vision of who was sleeping in the boat next to them. They chose to panic and distrust rather than put their faith and trust in the One who had created the world. Yes, maybe they didn’t trust that God would take care of them. Maybe they didn’t trust that God knew the outcome of the storm. But don’t we all do that? When storms erupt in our lives, is our first instinct to trust that the God who created those waves, rain, thunder and lightning? Do we trust that He has the power to keep EVERYTHING under control? Or do we need some reminding?
Handling a Storm
So, if a storm is breaching the church, what do you do as a leader? Do you wait it out? Take cover? (As some storm chasers would say…) Or do you do the unthinkable and drop to your knees?
Something that most people would see as strange when a storm approaches.
Instead of running… and shutting people and relationships out… address the storm for what it is. It is warfare, not brought on by those around you in your church but from the one who is deliberately trying to bring you down: Satan. A minister once told my husband to remember who the true enemy is… not those around you in the church who bring frustrations or issues… but the one who has battled against God since before time.
When issues crop up, address them head on. Pull those in question to you, point out what Satan is trying to do and then get on your knees together to ask God for a solution… and for His Protection.
Remind Yourself and Your Team.
This is not the time for panic. Leave all of that behind. (Take a few breaths if necessary.) Ask God for strength and peace to know how to handle the situation. Isaiah 26:3 says,
“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
How do we keep our minds on Him? The easiest way we know how. Pick up His Word and remind yourself and team of his power and faithfulness to us. Keep a list of the things that God has shown his faithfulness in the past and reflect on them during these times. Knowing and remembering these things will help you to push through to the calm after the storm.
This verse shouts to me when I am weary and downtrodden. John 14:27:
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Gather your troops and read through scriptures that will uplift and give you strength. Remind each other of God’s faithfulness. Then pray and support each other through these times.
Stay tuned for Part 2!!
by Meg Brown | Oct 10, 2014 | Truth about Church Planting
Our church plant just celebrated it’s One Year Anniversary! (Praise Jesus!) We celebrated with a cookout, sand volleyball, and football in the park. As I looked around, I saw a true family. People were laughing, hugging, and cared for each other through their words and actions. It seemed surreal. But none of this would be possible if our team had not been in prayer for our church and each other.
Here are 3 things we have prayed for our church:
#1: For God to go ahead of us
This may seem simple but it is not. Too many times as humans, we believe that we can do it on our own. We cannot!!! If we are going against God’s will, we will just end up banging our heads on the wall in frustration! Our poor decisions and choices will return harsh realities. (This is true in our personal lives as well.) We must ask God to go before us and to lead us where He wants us to go. Deuteronomy 31:8 says:
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
#2: For God to send workers
Now, when you begin to plant a church, you are just happy when people walk through your doors. Any people. But a church needs good leaders and workers to be able to be sustainable. You will not be able to minister effectively to non-Christians, new believers or their families if you do not have enough hands that are willing and able. It’s okay if minor things fall to the back burner at a church plant… but not having someone to take care of babies on a Sunday morning in the nursery is a problem. Luke 10:2 reads:
He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
#3: For God to protect the flock
Many on our team began to recognize when God was beginning to work within our church and through our church. Why? We were all hit hard with spiritual warfare. (See previous post.) When we realized that Satan was doing everything in his power to distract us, we buckled down and dropped to our knees for protection. In these times, we cannot become focused on the negative things that are developing around us. They are being used as a distraction device. Our God is not a god of confusion. Remember that. There are several verses in the Bible that talk of God’s protection. Here is one of my favorites: Psalm 91:1
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Keep praying for your church. He hears you.
by Meg Brown | Sep 22, 2014 | Hope for a Church Planter, Truth about Church Planting, Truth About Life
It’s one of those things that is almost hush-hush in the Christian community. Even as a minister’s wife, I am sometimes hesitant to bring it up.
But it’s real. And still at work in this world.
One of the things that has affected me the most this last year have been the attacks that have occurred towards my family, my husband, and myself. We have seen members of our original team attacked. And they retreated. I was attacked… and I retreated. We watched other churches attacked… and they retreated.
But the one thing I have learned, if anything this year, is never retreat.
Because that is what Satan wants us to do.
When I was in high school, I toured with a traveling Christian choir during the summer. I was chosen to do a skit with another student about putting on the full armor of God. I remember having to memorize Ephesians 6:10-18. It reads:
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
My minister when I was growing up, John Green, pointed out, that the armor of God does not cover your back. God has given you everything to protect you when you are advancing into battle. But nothing to cover your back if you decide to retreat. Why? Because God wants you to stand your ground… and after you’ve done everything… to stand firm. Your faith in God, is where you will deflect the attack arrows that Satan will undoubtable send your way.
Attacks on the Plant
The week before our One-Year Anniversary, our entire team was hit with spiritual warfare. Men and women both grew weary, let fears run rampant and many got physically sick. At this same time, my mom found out she had breast cancer and her father (my Gramps) was diagnosed with dementia and needed to be put in a nursing home.
For two days, I walked around in shock (maybe I should say, sat around in shock… as I don’t know if I left the couch for two days…) My entire extended family was on their knees, asking God, “What’s next?” My husband went into “Take Care of Megan Mode” and the boys pitched in around the house.
I just kept shaking my head in confusion. And then someone said something to me- and my robot response snapped me back into reality.
A woman, I greatly respect, in the middle of a conversation with me said, “I’m just really confused right now… and am not sure what to do.”
My response? “Well, our God is not a god of confusion. God will show you what His Will is.” I immediately froze.
Did I really believe that? Because my actions right then were not demonstrating my belief.
All of a sudden, it was like my brain and my heart snapped back into alignment. I realized how little I had been running to God when things were getting hairy. I picked up my Bible. Verse after verse confirmed what God had been trying to whisper to me for days. “I will rescue you. Just lift up your head to me! Look for me… I am just waiting for you!”
I battled depression off and on this year; it is humbling to admit. There were times when I ached for my home to be just my home and not an open door to everyone in our church. There were times I fought off urges to isolate myself from impending harm from others, and so I built up walls to protect myself. There were times when gossip ran rampant through a neighboring church and I literally felt the betrayal anytime we bumped into someone from there.
I wanted to quit. I wanted to move away and hide. I almost came to the point where I began to ignore my God. But something stopped me.
Burgers and Spiritual Warfare
Michael, the boys and I were sitting down at a restaurant we’d never been to before, and a man and his son, sat adjacent to us at another table. He began to make friendly conversation with Michael about our boys and soon they were asking each other questions about work, our kids, where we went to church, etc. When he found out we had just planted a church, he began inquiring about it. Our food came, and the conversation sort of ceased, as we jumped into our burgers and fries.
Suddenly, he cleared his throat. “Do you ever preach on spiritual warfare?”
I almost choked on my bite. My husband answered, “I have before… but not this past year. Why do you ask?”
Yeah. Why did he ask? I wondered. Maybe I am just naive. But I have never heard anyone inquire about spiritual warfare the first time they’ve met my husband.
He answered my husband. And it was a legitimate answer. But it just made me scratch my head. The Holy Spirit seemed to want me to pay attention.
Later that afternoon, in the middle of worship band practice, our team admitted that they were all being attacked. Our leader spoke it well when he said, “We need to address this right now. There is some battles going on right now that we need to take to God… ” He was right. We stopped right then and there and prayed. For our team. For our church. For our families.
Our anniversary Sunday was awesome. God showed up in a big way. I felt like we were all just spectators watching Him show off. It was so good. (I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about it.) People walked through our doors and left with huge smiles. And for the first time in a long time, I cannot wait to see my church family. Can. Not. Wait. In fact, when we bumped into several of them tonight at the soccer field, I was SO EXCITED.
God is moving at Thrive. So much so. When we don’t retreat during attacks by the Evil One, God’s Kingdom can advance. And it will continue to!