Tag Archives: God

meeting

On September 2, 1992, just before 8a.m. I walked into Music Theory 101 a week late to Mobile College with no books.  So, I asked the prettiest girl in the class if I could share with her.  Praise God she said, “Yes.”  But He already knew she would.  His sovereign hand had been guiding us to this moment. The many ways God gently, or not so gently, corrected us and kept us heading to this point is simply miraculous.  Here is a little taste of what our life has been like these past 20 years.

And, if you haven’t read or heard it before, here is our story:

My Bride

Sonya and I met in Music Theory 101 on September 2, 1992, during the first semester of our freshman year at the University of Mobile (it was called Mobile College then).  I was late getting to school that year because I’d been touring with a musical group, had no books for my first day of classes, and needed to share with someone.  Naturally, I asked the prettiest girl in the room.  When the class was over, we introduced ourselves and I said something dorky like “My name is Brian, but my friends call me Odie.”  Yes, my college nickname was Odie, but that’s another story.  Incidentally, Sonya never called me Odie.

I was dating someone from that tour long distance at the time so Sonya and I just “hung out.”  We quickly became good friends and soon would call each other “best friends.” We went to the 1992 Homecoming dance together as well as every concert we were required to attend as music majors.  In fact, if the seat next to one of us was vacant, people would leave it vacant for the other.  Many people asked if we were dating and we denied it everytime.  We were just good friends.

Now, about that homecoming.  I would learn much later that a significant event took place the night before at the talent show.  I had practiced for weeks on a jazz band solo called “Nichole.”  Sonya listened many times, so we nicknamed it “Sonya.”  (I know, very creative, but it helps in a minute).  It was a very mellow yet emotional fluegel horn solo.  As I played it that evening with the jazz band behind me, Sonya sensed that we were going to be married some day.  While I would like to believe that I wooed her with my very passionate performance, I don’t think it had anything to do with the way I played the song.  God was speaking.  Now, that was in October.  Sonya committed to be patient and let God work.  She began to pray that He would either remove her feelings for bring me around.

Somewhere around that time Sonya asked me to come to church with her on a Sunday when she was singing.  Wow!  She was amazing.  Little did I know how blessed I would be by that voice in the future.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day 1993, my girl friend from Texas came for a visit so, I asked my best friend if she would provide accommodations.  For some reason S0nya politely declined to help.  But I found a mutual friend of ours who would let her stay the weekend. While staying with our mutual friend in the dorm, my girl friend asked “So what’s with this Sonya chick?”  Apparently, I’d been talking about her quite a bit.  Our friend reassured her that we were only friends.

Fast forward to March.  We continued to grow closer and closer.  I drove most Thursday nights to her home in Daphne, where she lived with her parents, to watch Seinfeld and Frazier.  (Now you know why we quote so many lines from Seinfeld.)  Then, she went on a date.  Not with me.  Someone else.  The best part of it was that I encourage her to go!  When they schedule the second date, I began to feel differently.  Oh yeah, I was still dating a girl in Texas.  But I didn’t like this idea of Sonya dating.  Our time was threatened and he like to put his arm around her.  He began to talk about their “relationship.”  To my relief, Sonya quickly began to confess her lack of enthusiasm for the relationship and I obviously encouraged her to end it!

Spring Break ticket

April 1993 came quickly and with it, the Spring Banquet: an off campus event with a catered meal and dancing.  (I believe it was the first one with dancing – lucky for us.)  Sonya did not want the aforementioned young man to ask her to it so we agreed to go together.  Three days before the dance, my girl friend from Texas broke up with me.  I was heartbroken and my best friend came to comfort me.  We sat on the front steps of my campus house (girls were not allowed inside – it was a baptist school!) and she consoled me with sweet words and side hugs.  Now I know that inside she was smiling and just a bit giddy. She confesses to also feeling a little guilty, thinking that all of her praying about our relationship had finally worked and now I was upset!

Because we were just “friends” we had agreed to go to the Spring Banquet as a part of a 5 person group.  Two couples and a single guy named Eddie Gross.  The other couple made new plans, so Sonya, Eddie , and I went to the Banquet together in my Blazer.  We began the night dancing like friends with a safe distance between us.  By the end of the night, I’m not sure there was any distance between us at all.


first date - Spring Banquet

I took Sonya to her sister’s apartment and walked her to the door on the second floor.  Eddie, who had not said a word from the back seat the entire time, stayed in the car.  There was a awkward hug followed by a quick, glancing peck on the lips from the clumsy guy not sure what to do.  Not knowing what to do I tried it again.  I mean, this was my best friend.  I’m a guy.  I don’t know how to read “signals.”  I can’t sense feelings.  That’s when Sonya took things into her own hands.  As I turned to leave she said “Wait,” wrapped her arms around my head and did it right.  Boy am I glad she did!  It really was magical.  We say that was were we crossed the “platonic line” – April 3, 1993.

The transition to “dating” couple was pretty seamless.  We had really been dating for several months without actually dating.  I see God’s hand in it all.  We became best friends first.  We are still best friends.  As people noticed us holding hands, some would actually cheer.  Most just said they already knew we would be together.  Some asked when the wedding would be.

The next December, I took Sonya back to the apartment door where her sister once lived, reinacted our first kiss, and proposed to her.  That was January 8, 1994.  We were married on December 30 that same year.

 

Sonya is my best friend.  She is an incredible wife.  She has given birth to five amazing children who remain to be amazing because they have such a wonderful mommy.  She has been through the dreaded Seminary years with me as well as a very tough ministry stint.  I couldn’t have done any of it without her.  And those of you at Lynwood know that my ministry now would not be the same without her.  She sings and leads, which means that most Sundays she gets all five children to church on time to be in her spot by 8:00 a.m.  Our kids have such fun with her.  She brings laughter to our family.  Her smile is captivating.  There is no one like her and there is no doubt, God created and molded us for each other.  She’s my soulmate.  Thank you, God, for my wife.  And thank you, Sonya, for listening to Him.

I Love You!

Brian

First Date - before  

more pics:

 

 

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he came, he saw, he made an offer//the way God works

We are on vacation this week but I had to take a moment to tell you how our house sell is going down.  Only God can do things like this.

Two weeks ago we got a low offer.  I mean lower than any other first offer we’ve received.  After we countered, she countered – still lower than any other first offer we’d gotten.  So we dug deep and committed all of our savings to drop the price to the absolute bottom.  She countered $5,000 below that and asked for some closing costs.  Nothing we could do, just told her “no.”  Two days later she came back with the same number but no closing.  “No.”  Three days later she came up $2,500.  “NO!”

And so we stayed until Wednesday of this week.  I found out Tuesday night that we were getting $1,000 back from something so I called our realtor and subtracted that from our last offer.  Putting pride aside and going a little lower.

Within an hour, our realtor called back with news – but not from that offer!  A new guy had called and said he wanted “that house” – our house!  He was cleared by the mortgage company, wanted to see it that night for the first time, but was already ready to make an offer, a higher offer.  His offer would let us break even or maybe even walk away with a little cash!  Everything went as we hoped.  He came, he saw, he made an offer!

So as of this morning, we have a contract.  Now it’s our third contract so keep praying.  Anything can happen.  But he wants to close by the end of this month and it all appears to be pretty solid.

We still haven’t heard back from that low offer yet.  We just thought we would wait and see what she does.  Then we can break the news.  Stickin’ it!!!!!!

God is so good.  It’s an understatement I know, but I don’t know what else to say.  Thanks for your prayers, keep praying.

Brian


and God knew

This past week I spent some time on the phone with a dear friend in Alabama.  He, and his wife, have been waiting on the Lord for a long time.  As I spent time on my knees for him, God reminded me of Isaiah 40 – that incredible picture of our God and the promise for those who wait on Him.  I prayed for us as well – still waiting on our house in Alabama to sell.

Then, this morning, while reading through the bible, I noticed something I hadn’t before.  A great little phrase in Exodus.  Chapter 2. Verse 25.  In the ESV, just before the calling of Moses, it says,

God saw the people of Israel – and God knew.

For hundreds of years the people of Israel were enslaved.  For hundreds of years they waited.  For hundreds of years they cried out to the Lord.  Not sure if He would answer.  Not sure if He would deliver them.  Did He know what was going on?  He knew.  And He had promised.  Egypt was not their inheritance.  Not the promised land.  God had a plan and He knew.  He knew what was going on.  And He knew what He was going to do.

And…He knows.  He knows what my friend is going through.  He knows and He knows what He’s going to do.  He knows what we are going through and He knows what He’s going to do.  Why does He tarry?  Why does He delay?

With Israel, He waited to display His glory and His might.  He waited to deliver a mighty nation that had grown as He’d promised.  He waited so that He could give them riches and plunder that they had not battled for.

In chapter 3, God says things like, “I have seen,” and “I know.”  Then He tells them what He is going to do.  In the end, they get to plunder the Egyptians.  Plunder?  That what the ESV says.  Usually you see that term after a military victory.  This time, it will be after a mighty move of their God.  Our God.

So we wait.  Our friend waits.  But we know this, God knows.  He knows what’s going on.  He knows what He’s going to do.

Are you waiting?  God knows.

To Him be the glory forever and ever.  Amen!!!

Brian


moving is hard but God is good

Moving is hard.  Even when you’re following God’s will.  I want to be all chipper and share about how great the adventure has been.  But this has already been a hard day.

Don’t get me wrong, the adventure has been great.  We love our church.  God is moving.  People are responding to our leadership.  We believe that Lynwood’s vision is so biblical.  There is an authentic movement toward biblical, radical, American-dream-shattering Christian living and we are pumped about it.  We love our house.  It fits us in such an amazing way that only God could have picked it out.  Our kids have great schools and wonderful teachers.  They have nurtured and cared for them and gone way beyond the call of duty.  We love our staff and are already forming great friendships on and off of the staff.  We love the worship team.  The people here have cared for us and accepted us into the Lynwood family.  We already feel at home in so many ways.  We do not have a shadow of a doubt about God’s will.  We are where He wants us to be.

But moving is hard.  Preteen hormones and moving stress came out at 5:30 a.m. this morning.  Brotey vomited all over himself on the way in to school – in the grass in front of the school (Nursey, thanks for helping him change clothes and taking him on to class).  The weight of needing to sell our house in Rainbow City sits on me (the provider) like nothing I’ve known before.  Missing our friends and family in Alabama.  Budgeting.  AT&T.  Driver’s Licenses (don’t get me started).  The burden for our kid’s friendships.  The inner turmoil is hard to describe.

But God has been speaking this week.  From Psalm 90, Moses speaks of how great our God is.  His eternal nature.  He was here before the mountains were formed and He will be here after they crumble.  In eternity, our time is short, so we better “number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (v.12)  Priorities, priorities.  Kingdom priorities.  We can be satisfied in His “steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (v.14)  He is all we need and we should not waste our time here.  We’ve got to worship and serve.  Seek and love.

In Psalm 91 we see that when we dwell with Him, we dwell in safety.  We can rest in the shadow of His protection and provision.  Because of our intimate relationship with Him He will answer us, protect us, and save us.

In 1 Thessalonians God has been challenging me to keep my priorities straight. (Pause – just got a call from Patrick White.  Great to hear his voice. I love that brother in Christ so much.  Thanks for calling man.  God is good.)  Chapeter 1 – It is God who has called us and filled us with His Spirit.  Chapter 2 – We work to please Him, not man.  He is the one who tests our hearts.  He has called us to be bold with the gospel but gentle with babes in Christ.  We must not just “preach”, we have to share our lives.  Open up.  We must be real as we encourage believers to “walk in a manner worthy of God.” (v.12)  Chapter 3 – We must display God’s love through our love for each other.  We are fellow servants, co-workers, soldiers in the same conflict.  Chapter 4 – Live to please God.  His will for us is our sanctification.  Live differently than the world, because…He is coming back.  Triumphantly, He is coming back.  Chapter 5 – like a thief in the night, without warning, He is coming back.  Don’t be caught asleep!  Live for His glory.  Work as though He’s coming today.  Respect your spiritual leadership.  Be at peace in the body of Christ.  Admonish and encourage the idle in the faith.  Help the weak.  Pick up the fainthearted.  BE PATIENT (all caps for me).  Seek to do good.  Rejoice.  Pray.  Give thanks in all circumstances – for this is God’s will for us.

How can we do all this?  “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (5:24)  Did I point out that God is good?

MeadowBrook, we miss you so much.  You guys are family and I am so proud of you.  I hear of your faithfulness.  Your service.  Your commitment to His calling.  We pray for you and lift you up in His name.  Stay true to your calling and seek Him with all your might!

Lynwood, we love you.  You are our family also.  We’re still getting to know each other, but we are home.  Thank you for loving and nurturing our family.  We are so excited about the days ahead.  Let’s seek Him.  Let’s serve.  Let’s love.  Let’s encourage.  He’s coming back, so let’s live each moment for His glory.

To everyone, thanks for reading.  Thanks for letting me vent, whine, well, pretty much vomit on the screen.  We love you all.

For His Eternal Glory,

Brian, Sonya, and family


do not keep silence

I love it when scripture seems to already be saying what I’m saying.  When my thoughts, which I may think are original, are actually several thousand years old.  Like when I see Christianity bashed on the news and I pray for God to do something about it.  I admit my thoughts aren’t always very Christ-like.  I just want Him to show up and wipe them out.  To display His power in some huge awesome way that leaves the world in awe.  Well, apparently Asaph felt the same way in Psalm 83.

O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God!  For behold, your enemies make an uproar; those who hate you have raised their heads.  They lay crafty plans against your people; they consult together against your treasured ones.   Psalm 83:1-3

All of the sudden, I realized that the same thing was going on back then.  People taunted the children of God and mocked His name.  So Asaph prayed for God to do something big.  But not for his own salvation.  His desire?

Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek your name, O Yahweh.  Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever; let them parish in disgrace, that they may know that you alone, whose name is Yahweh, are the Most High over all the earth. Psalm 83:16-18

Asaph, my brother, I hear you.  O God, don’t be silent.  Display your power for your glory.  Amen.

Brian


what a great God

This morning, Deuteronomy 4 reminded me of what an incredible, merciful God we serve.  He is holy.  And He is a consuming fire.  A jealous God.

Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that He made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden  For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.  Deut. 4:23 – 24

God is not willing to give up the glory He is due.  This is a serious matter.  It was serious to the Israelites and it is serious to us today.  We are not to give our allegiance – our worship – to anything, or one, other than the Lord our God.  But when we do…

The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the Lord will drive you.  But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul.  Deut. 4:27, 29

At first, this may look like an incredibly harsh passage.  Like I said, this is a serious matter to our Lord.  But look again.  What I see the incredible mercy of our God.  What I see is this: you can’t stray so far that you can’t return to God. From wherever you are, if you seek Him with all of your heart and soul, you will find Him.  Waiting.  Arms open wide.  There may be correction still.  There may be consequences to deal with.  But He’s there, like a loving Father.

For the Lord your God is a merciful God: He will not abandon or destroy you…  Deut. 4:31a

Man, God is so good.  Thank You, God, for your incredible love and mercy.  I am so undeserving.  Amen.

Brian


just what I needed

I love this season.  I love the lights, the decorations, the presents, family and friend gatherings, and the music.  I mostly of the story of our God, stepping out of heaven, taking on our flesh, living a perfect life, dying for our sins, and rising to life again.  I love this season.

But this is also the only season of the year that I lie awake at night thinking about all I have to do.  I wake early in the morning before the alarm clock and start stressing.  My back hurts.  My neck hurts.  Sometimes I think we’ve messed up Christmas, but that’s another post.  Here’s what else I love: our great God who gives us just what we need when we need it.  I woke early Sunday and spent time in the Word just thanking God for so many things.  Psalms 118 and 136.  Then, while walking between buildings I saw this:

There were so many colors.  So many shapes.  Contrasts.  Wish I had a real camera with me.

Yesterday, I was in Psalm 103.

Bless the Lord (Yahweh), O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!  Bless the Lord (Yahweh), O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

What benefits?  Read the rest of that Psalm and/or this post.  It’s awesome.  He’s awesome.

Today, it was Psalm 104.

Bless the Lord (Yahweh), O my soul!  O Lord (Yahweh) my god, you are very great!  You are clothed with splendor and majesty.

Read that Psalm as well.  It walks through creation.  Shows how God is in total control.  How we depend on Him and how He provides.  Notice verses 27-30:

These all look to you,  to give them their food in due season.  When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.  When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.  When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.

God is in control.  He gives and takes away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Then I looked out the window and saw this sky:

Can you see the pink colors from my limited camera phone?  I sat there in awe.  Only God can do that.  And this:

He’s just been loving on me that last few days.  Reminding me that He is God.  O that I would live my life in complete submission to Him each and every moment.  There is no need to fear.  No need to dread.  God is in control.  Boy am I glad He is.

Brian