Rediscovering the Word Evangelical

There is a beautiful word… an elegant descriptor… that has been maligned, tarnished, lampooned, distorted, and completely misunderstood. It is a name many have abandoned for all of it’s negative connotations and ugly stereotypes. But this bruised and battered identifier… this lowly mark tossed carelessly to the side by a cynical generation… is finally being rediscovered, reclaimed, renewed, and washed clean by those hungry to wear it and hold it high for the world to see clearly.

The word is Evangelical.

And it is beautiful because at it’s very heart, it’s very core, it simply describes anyone who proclaims the Good News. But it seems that many have skewed the Good News and given the name Evangelical a bad rap by proclaiming messages that don’t seem so good… that make people feel worse on the inside and not so hopeful that there is an alternative to this confusing, messed up world.

As an Evangelical, as a proud proclaimer of the Good News, I want to share with you the Good News of the Kingdom of God… and the reason why I will continue to wear the name and preach the message until the day I die.

The Good News is that there is an alternative. This is another way. There is a reason to have hope.

The great alternative to this world, that Jesus preached about and was preoccupied with establishing, operated by a new set of values, a new way of thinking, a new way of being human. The Good News that Jesus announced was like nothing the world had ever known or seen before. As such, Jesus was not preoccupied with fighting violently against the kingdoms of the world, or the prevailing governmental or political order. Jesus wasn’t even preoccupied with trying to reform them or preoccupied with trying to establish a new or different political system or governmental system. And, he was certainly not trying to build up a bricks and mortar palace where he would rule from the top-down.

The Kingdom that Jesus came to proclaim would be established much differently than those of the world, and it would not look like anything the world had ever seen, because the people in this Kingdom would do everything opposite from the ways and workings of the world. It would be a grassroots, organic movement that changes the world from the bottom-up and from the inside-out, defying every bit of worldly wisdom in the process.

When the world hits you, do not retaliate, but give the other cheek. When the world is weighing you down with heavy requests, don’t just go one mile with the request but go two miles. When the world takes everything you have, even the coat off of your back, don’t just give your coat but go even further by offering your shirt. When the way of the world harbors anger and holds grudges, be one who forgives your friends and your enemies alike. And, don’t just forgive once, but forgive and forgive and forgive.

When the world is quick to respond and rip a person to shreds, be one who controls your anger and the words that come from your mouth. When the world devalues relationships and marriages, be one who looks to the interest of others, honors commitments, and always remains selfless. When the world looks out for and protects its own pursuits and interests to the detriment of others, be one who treats others as you would want to be treated yourself. When the world is ready to cast the stone of judgment at the sinner, be one who loves and stands beside every single person without judgment. When the world shuns the outcast and pushes him to the edges of society, be one who befriends the outcast and welcomes him back into loving community.

When the world lords over you with mighty power and authority, be one who is humble and comes from the bottom-up to serve everyone. When the world takes the seat of honor so it can be seen and noticed by everyone, be one who takes the seat of low-position in the back of the room. When the world puts on a show of being pure and good but is corrupt at the very core, be one who is pure from the inside and let it work out through your life. When the world continues in the ways of injustice and is merciless to the least in society, be one who stands for the least and for those who cannot defend themselves by demanding justice and mercy.

When the world fights and wars, be one who always stands on the side of peace no matter the situation and no matter the circumstance. When the world insults, ridicules, and curses you, be one who blesses in return. When the evil of the world assaults you, be the one who does not resist the evil. And when the world beats you, spits upon you, and is preparing to crucify you, continue on the way of forgiveness and self-sacrificial love.

That is the Good News of the Kingdom of God! That is what it means to be a true, genuine, authentic Evangelical. That is the treasure of great riches that the world so desperately needs to discover. That is the pearl of great value that we sell everything we have in order to attain it. That is what will spread like an infection, a mustard seed, yeast in the dough if the world would ever hear it and see it put into practice by a transformed people. That is the in-breaking of heaven into the house that has been held hostage for far too long. That is the occupation, proclamation, task, and obsession of the follower of Christ… of every Evangelical… in the vineyard of the world!

The Kingdom of God is the full-on reign of God in the hearts and minds of those who believe in the way, life, and teachings of Jesus, who have died to the old, tired, and worn-out ways of the world, and who have been made new by the working and empowering of the Spirit of God in order to bring heaven on earth, while awaiting and anticipating the return of Christ as Lord at the renewal of all things!!! It is what a life looks like when God reigns in and through a person here on earth in every single thought, action, attitude, situation, or scenario. The Kingdom of God looks like an invasion from heaven into the strongholds of a person’s life, a cleaning out of the house, a light breaking through into the darkness, and a constant and continual in-breaking of heaven through one’s life into the world. It is a Kingdom that reigns in the hearts and minds of people, not through the political, governmental, bureaucratic, religious, institutional brick and mortar systems of the world. The Kingdom of God will never come through those systems, because they will all pass away one day.

That is why Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is not something that can be seen or observed. It is not visible with the eye for anyone to see or to visibly discover. In fact, people will not be able to say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the Kingdom of God is within the hearts and minds of those who follow the way, life, and teachings of Jesus. In this way, the Kingdom of God can not be conquered, destroyed, or defeated, but it continues to grow larger and continues to spread from person to person all throughout the world like a mustard seed in a field or yeast in dough. It breaks into our world like an infection to displace the kingdoms of the world and to establish the reign of God, through and through, in the hearts, minds, and lives of people who are like Jesus in everything we do.

That is what it means to be an Evangelical. That is why I wear the name with honor and will hold the banner high. It is to Jesus Christ and the Good News of his Kingdom that I pledge my allegiance and give my life.

father…

There are valleys and hills in life.

The valleys are full of shadows.

The valleys are painful.

The valleys invite doubt.

We grow up believing that there is nothing redeemable in the valleys.

We prefer the hills.

But it is through both the hills and valleys where we learn perseverance and character.

It is where we find hope and where our faith is strengthened.

I first saw faith demonstrated in the valley- from my dad.

The Scriptures cry out to us, “If you have the faith of a mustard seed…the mountains will move.”

Our family was in the valley together… as my dad had just been told he could lose his eyesight.

The fear of not being able to see.

The fear of not being able to see his wife and children.

The fear of not being able to provide for his family.

The valley seemed so low.

The mountain seemed so high.

How could this impossible situation change?

How could the seemingly unmovable be moved?

His mustard seed faith stood in front of our church family and began to break forth through words and tears.

The roots of faith took hold and began to shake the mountain violently.

Prayers of faith and healing rained down on my dad and family.

Faith was no longer an empty idea.

It was a living example from my father.

It was Godly instruction, not from mere words, but from his life… his heart and soul.

The mountain was no longer a mountain.

It held no lasting or enduring obstacle.

By faith it was attainable.

The Father told my faithful father, “I will pick you up and put you on my shoulders.”

Faith is not a word. Faith is a life.

I saw the faith of my father through his life and by his example. As a child, I knew I wanted that kind of faith.

The seeds of faith had been sown from my father and into my own life.

Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains… than the bounty of the age-old hills.

The great blessing of faith I received from my father was greater than the very foundations of the earth.

And as a father now myself, I must pass along this great blessing of faith to my children.

For a father, there is no greater responsibility.

The seeds that were sown into my life have taken root.

They have been watered by the pouring of the Spirit, and illuminated by the he radiance of the heavenly Father.

Now, the reproducing seeds of faith must be sown into my children.

May my blessings upon my children be greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains… than the bounty of the age-old hills.

Let me be a father who instructs his children in the way of the Lord.

Let me be a father who lives, not simply by words, but by how he is living his life.

Let me be a father who loves his wife and his children.

Let me be a father whose words and instructions are respected by his children, because they have learned he has their best interest in mind.

Let me be a father who guides, teaches, encourages, and molds his children in the way of Jesus by demonstrating love, forgiveness, mercy, and justice to everyone.

Let me be a father who lives life to the fullest and encourages his children to do the same.

Let me be a father who delights in his children and enjoys the richness of our relationship together.

Let me be a father who prays over his children and their endeavors by day and by night.

Let me be a father who lives by the example of honesty, hard-work, and trustworthiness so that his children will follow in these ways as well.

Let me be a father who extends the blessings of God to the lives of his children.

Let me be a father who will always stand by his family and demonstrate his faith through the highs and the lows, the mountaintops and the valleys.

Let me be a father who passes along the rich heritage of faith was given to me by the faith of my father.

Thanks dad… and Happy Father’s Day!

Brandon

UNEARTHED

It is official…you can NOW order my book UNEARTHED:  How Discovering the Kingdom of God Will Transform the Church and Change the World.  You can order it at The Unearthed Project website.

I am super excited about this book for several reasons.

I have been obsessed over the last four years with the Kingdom of God.  The more that I studied it…the more I began to realize that while Jesus mentions The Kingdom of God nearly 120 times in the Gospels…we in the Church do not understand what it really means or how understanding it has the potential to transform us and then change the world.  I have a love and a desire for what the Church could be…but I also see that for which the Church has settled.  We run around in circles looking for an identity and purpose…but we run to all the wrong things…which leaves us shallow, divided, and self-consumed.

I believe that the Church will find it’s heart and soul…it’s identity and purpose…when we finally realize that there is something larger than ourselves that we have been looking and longing for…and it is found in the Kingdom of God.  The purpose of UNEARTHED is to open the eyes of the average Christian to the Kingdom of God through the parables and teachings of Jesus.  That is why I spent the last two years writing this book.

It has taken quite a bit of time to finish UNEARTHED.  Over the last two years I have been writing this non-fiction work in my spare time.  I wrote early in the mornings, on vacations, during lunch hours, and on weekends when I was alone.  While there have been many highlights during the process, there were many times I was ready to hit the delete button.  I never thought I would finish AND I never thought it would get into the hands of people who need to read it.  At one point I even quit writing and walked away from it for four months.  Little did I know that is exactly what I needed. Upon writing again…I wrote nearly 10,000 words in about four days to finish the book.  I am so happy that God carried me through this endeavor and I pray that it will be a blessing to you, your family, your relationships, and your churches.

This project is far from perfect but it is the best I could do for now.  There are still some errors in it…but I ask that you have grace and patience with me.  I would like to thank the countless number of people who helped me through photography, artwork, web development, proof reading, editing, conversations, debates, prayer, and study.  Each one of you have helped make this project what it is and I thank you!  Please open your heart, put down your guard, and let the Spirit speak to you through the words in my book.

Thanks again for your support and love!  It has certainly sustained me over the last two years!

peace…

brandon