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Does that even matter?

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

That’s a question we don’t ask ourselves enough. We are all so busy today. Representing the thirty-something parent generation, I have fallen prey to the distractions of this life as much as the next guy. Sitting under the teaching of our wise pastor a few weeks ago, I was struck with a sobering truth. We live with a constant state of anxiety. We are always “on”. Always connected. We are flooded with little bits of information all day long. We rush from this to that, and are always doing our tasks in haste. We are constantly so concerned about the future that we miss so much of what is going on right now. We are literally spinning out of control…all in an effort to make things “better” for us and our kids. However, with everything that we do, it all begs the question, “Does that even really matter?”

Anyone who knows me realizes that I am likely the most guilty of this problem. I often struggle with just sitting and resting. My mind is in a constant state of productivity, and I very rarely slow down. I feel like there is always something that can be done, but I am learning that this is not necessarily a good thing. I use myself as an example because I want to encourage you on a real level. I get this issue. It is a real problem with our society today and I am a part of it. So what can we do about it? Here are some penny-valued thoughts…

This world needs hope. Our society is a mess. With the recent events in our country causing such division among us, it is gravely important to identify what we are spending our time doing. So what are you really doing? What is the motivation for your efforts? Friend, I’d like to take the opportunity of the time that you’re reading this to challenge you. The hope that this world needs can only be found in one person…Jesus Christ. If this bothers you, please feel free to stop reading. But if you can spare a moment, I’d like to twist your arm. Don’t worry, you’ll be ok. I’m not that strong.:)

I’ve spoken to a good number of people since our country’s recent election. Many people have expressed the same thing…fear. They are worried about where our country is headed. Worried about the economy. Worried about their retirement. Worried about their freedoms. Well folks, I’d be lying if I said I weren’t as well, but then I have to ask myself, “Why?” What if the “worst case scenario” were to happen and I were stripped of everything I have? What would I do? Its then I am reminded that there are people who live like that EVERYDAY. We’ve unfortunately become so occustomed to our comfort, that we couldn’t bare the thought of living with less. That’s a problem. Despite all of this, I am also reminded that there is something so much greater than ALL of these issues. Jesus!! I could spend all day sitting and worrying about what may or may not happen, or I can rest in the peace that He gives me! Better yet, I can make use of the time I have RIGHT NOW to encourage other people to do the same! He has this world completely under control. He said it clearly in His word in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have many troubles. But take heart. I have overcome this world.” What a wonderful promise!! Those words alone are enough to strengthen my day, and help me to realize that all this “stuff” really doesn’t matter. All these things I get myself busy doing are useless, unless they are done to edify others and amplify Christ. So let that be a challenge to you today. Take a look at what you are doing and evaluate the reason you are doing it. Remember Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

I think in times like these, we need to stop and simply be thankful for what God has given us. He didn’t have to give us what we have. In fact, we forget that the world He created will go on without us. Its by His grace we are even given another day. What a gift! Now, there is nothing wrong with working hard and pursuing a better life for yourself. In fact, it is a wonderful part of of our human resolve. But if things changed and we suddenly had to live with much less than what we have, would it really change who we are? Not at all. We would still have the promise that God gives us through His son. Let that be enough to change your thinking. Stop fretting. Stop thinking so much about your life that you waste it. Get busy, but do so by loving others. Serve others. Go on a mission trip. Sponsor an orphan child. Support a local ministry. Buy someone else’s groceries. Volunteer. Step out of your comfort zone and see that there are people who live everyday like what you are so worried about happening to you. Friend, you woke up today. God has given you another chance to experience His love. Go! Show others what the love of God really means. Tell others about Jesus. That’s what we’re called to do! That’s what really matters!!

The paradox of philanthropy

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

I love to see how God works in people’s lives. I love to see people find their God-given talents and then use them to strengthen and grow God’s kingdom. If we are to be worthy stewards of what we’ve been given, we should do our very best to use it! There is a wonderful feeling of contentment that occurs when we think outside of our own little world, and focus on exonerating and helping others, whether physically, emotionally, or financially. That’s true philanthropy. There is a point however, that we need to be careful to not go past, and that’s celebrating our efforts.

The human condition has the desire for belonging. We all want to feel important and needed. The paradox in giving or serving is that it can easily become more about us than who we’re giving to. We want to have approval from other people that we’re doing the right thing, and that our efforts are “making a difference”. The Bible teaches clearly against this, however. Philippians 2:3 states to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Matthew 6:1 also says, “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” When you serve others, it takes effort. It takes time and energy. It requires forgetting about yourself for a minute and focusing on someone else. In our ever-increasingly isolated society, that can be difficult. Even when we have the opportunity to serve or give, we can be quick to trumpet those efforts to the people around us, perhaps to feel good about what we’re doing. Interestingly though, it never gives us a true feeling of contentment, just the itching to seek more approval.

God designed us to serve…to serve Him and to serve others. Let’s put our best effort forth and do it, but let God get the glory. We need to be letting His light shine as our best attribute. God will fill our hearts with contentment if we seek His purpose in serving others. There is a great song from the mid 80s by Petra that says, “I don’t want to be a man pleaser, I want to be a God pleaser.” So true. The reward that God has for us in our efforts will far outshine anything other people can give us. So go. Serve. Give. Do what He’s called you to do. Do it humbly. Do it to better the other person. Be happy with the effort and not the applause. Imagine how many happier people there could be if we all truly focused on each other!

The (mis)information age

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

Picture this: you’re sitting at a restaurant waiting on your table. You get into a discussion about any given subject and someone asks a question you can’t answer off the top of your head. You Google, you check your Facebook, your Twitter, your Pinterest, your email, your favorite blogs, and on and on. You are flooded with all kinds of information, and all at once. If you are ever wondering about something, you are a click away from an answer. Or are you?

The internet has changed the way we learn and communicate. The beauty of our society is we are all free to live however we want, but a big problem with that is we tend to develop a million different ideals and answers to our problems. Everyone has a different idea of how to do something…and often use the internet to disperse that information. So what is legit? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. However, there are ways to validate the information you are reading. Check the source. See where the information is coming from. See what organization is behind the information. See if the information is “conveniently” packaged with a product for sale. Also realize that there is no hard fast rule for everything. Even scientific studies are flawed and weighted in some way, shape, or form. Its easy to come across a study and implies a result, but often its more suggestive than absolute. Here is a good cartoon on the subject:

Many times a study will have a conclusion, but that conclusion is subject to many other things. So instead of stating an absolute truth, it merely correlates a suggestion to consider and apply. We need to be careful about trusting it blindly though. The trouble starts when someone reads something and adopts it as fact without challenging it first. True understanding comes from digging deeper. I tend to trust sources with proven track records and not ones trying to sell something.

I love to learn and I love the fact that I will always have something to learn. Knowledge is fluid and is always changing. It is an amazing blessing to have such quick access to information at any moment, but we need to be careful and sift through it to find the truth. Be a skeptic. Don’t be paranoid, but don’t believe everything you hear, especially on TV or the internet. Weigh what you learn against multiple sources. Use your head and see if what you read makes sense. Always be a learner and realize you will never learn it all. Embrace that and you will love the process!

Why all the ranting?

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

Yes, I realize I rant a lot about nutrition. I know I’ve probably offended a few people through it, but I have come to learn that it is the most controllable and critical aspect of our vitality and quality of life. Eat bad, and you feel bad. Eat well, and you feel well. Moreover, I feel that taking taking care of your body is a responsibility that the Creator demands of us. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” The foundation of our bodily temple is our nutrition. It may sound harsh, but I feel that it is very irresponsible behavior to not learn all we can about what we do to our bodies, especially when it comes to food. Interestingly, I think the area of nutrition today is the most misunderstood subject, mainly due to two things. Pharmaceutical bottom lines and personal convenience. Let me expound.

Turn on any TV or open any newspaper, and you are destined to find a pharmaceutical ad. Overweight? Don’t put any effort forth, just take this pill (or have this surgery then take this pill). Depressed? Take this pill. Diabetic? Take this pill. High cholesterol? Yep. Another pill. Give me a break! Why do you think we are all so sick that we need pills to fix our problems? We’ve done it to ourselves. Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and eating poorly doesn’t necessarily cause a bunch of problems right away. We are able to adapt to many changes, whether they are good or bad. But over the last 30-40 years, there has been a steady decline in health, an increase in processed foods, and an exploding pharmaceutical market. Coincidence? Not at all. The same reason that companies are creating drugs to fix our problems, and make a killer profit, is the reason we are all so unhealthy and in need of a fix. We don’t respect our bodies enough to care. We just want to do what feels good to us, and if anything bad ever happens, we want the quick fix. That’s never the answer to anything, especially when it comes to health.

We have more diabetes, obesity, and metabolic disorders today than at any other point in history. Even though we have done it to ourselves, we can change it! But it takes effort. Effort in learning about your body, effort in making changes to your diet, and effort in getting up and moving! I hear so many people using the excuse that “I don’t know what to eat because the advice is always changing”. While that is true, you have to understand the source of the advice. There is a money trail behind almost everything. Now don’t misunderstand. I’m not vilifying pharmaceutical companies. Being in my profession, I fully understand the importance of medications when there is a distinct problem with our bodies. Even while being wonderfully made, some of us have bodies that can fail us. Some of us are born with problems. Some of us develop sicknesses that are unavoidable. However, when it comes to our health, so many problems can be changed with our diet, because they are caused by our diet! Take charge and make the changes! While there is no universal diet plan for everyone, some things are very universal. Stop eating sugar. Stop eating processed foods. Start eating real food and not fast food. Stop sitting around and start exercising. Use common sense…and respect yourself! You are a beautiful creation!

Sorry if this hits a nerve, but it is very important. I feel very passionate about encouraging people to change their lives. I did. I was an overweight and lazy teenager, and paid a price for it. Because of it, I have become dedicated to learning all I can about how to take care of myself, and you can too! Respecting your temple is as important as any other effort in this life. Get on it!!

The silent killer

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

There is an epidemic in our society. It is everywhere, and it is taking us all prisoner. So many of us think we can’t do without it. Some think they truly need it. It seems harmless, but in truth, it is a monster. What is it? Sugar. Its making us fat. Its causing our diabetes, growing our cancers, and generally messing up our bodies. Yeah, its that bad.

I’ve rambled on here about sugar before, but the more information I read and learn about the biology of our bodies, the more I realize just how bad this stuff is. But why? Well, if you have some time, please watch the attached video here below. It will tell you everything you need to know.

Since it is so bad, then why do we keep eating it? Why do we like it so much? Because it is nothing less than a drug. It triggers the pleasure centers of your brain and causes a spike in energy. But then you crash. And then you do it all over again. You become addicted. Its in tons of our food, especially processed foods. What’s worse is we are told by conventional wisdom and nutrition “experts” to eat low fat foods, but the fat is replaced with sugar. We’ve got it all wrong. We give it to our kids in our convenient foods, even baby formula. So no wonder we have a hard time moving away from it. We are programmed to want it from almost day one! Now, being someone who ate plenty of the sweet stuff for years, I can tell you that dropping it is not simple. You will have to detox from it and like any drug, you will have withdrawal. But once you drop it, I promise you will feel so much better…better than you imagined you could feel. Two great resources and plans can be found Here and Here. I highly recommend you pick up one or both of these books. You owe it to yourself. Give it a try…I promise you won’t be sorry!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM&w=640&h=360]

Know what you eat!

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) or genetically altered foods are everywhere today because of the push for more abundamt crops and bottom lines for big agricultural companies. Not good. Not good at all. They are also rarely known about, often being hidden in many of the foods we eat. Folks, what you eat DIRECTLY affects your life. The interesting part is that our bodies are beautifully made and can often compensate for a lot of the junk we put in them. However, at some point, the effect will be known. Seems harmless to say “just a little of this” or “just a bite of that” or “everything in moderation”. Not true. We need to know what we are eating. Is it food? What’s in it? What would it do to me? Please don’t be lured by advertisements, convenience, and savings. Your body and your well-being truly depend on it!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnntmIWl5Xw&w=640&h=360]

New Voiceover Demos!

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

Hey everyone! I’m really excited to have some voiceover demos up on the site now! Just go to the “Audio Demos” page and have a listen. Hopefully the samples will give you an idea of what I can offer, and perhaps it will be what you are looking for! I hope to be adding some more denos in the future, as ideas come along. Thanks so much for listening, and be sure to contact me if you are interested! I can be reached right here on the “About Brandon” page or via Facebook or Twitter on the links to the right. Have a great day!

Fussy people…

Written by brandon. Posted in Uncategorized

Ah…where to begin? Perhaps the title has caught your curiosity. I find myself interacting daily with at least someone who I lovingly refer to as “fussy”. You know who they are…the people that just aren’t satisfied with whatever they have. They always have something to gripe or complain about because life “just isn’t fair”. It truly is amazing to see over the three plus decades of my life on this Earth, how people these days are less and less settled with things. You know the familiar statements. “If only I made more money…” “I really wish I had a bigger house…” “Why can’t my spouse act more like my friend’s spouse?” “Why are my kids always so needy?” “I hate my job…” “I wish I could lose some weight…” “My arms…my teeth…my legs…blah, blah, blah…” Folks, the list can go on and on…

To bring a bit of perspective into this, I need to explain my upbringing. I was blessed to grow up in a small town, where not a lot of excitement happened, but we always had something to do and friends to do it with. Things moved a lot slower than what they do for me today where there is opportunity and privilege around every corner. People rush around in a day-to-day life today that my grandparents would never imagine living. Research and technology have allowed us to instantly communicate with virtually anyone at anytime. Our companies push us to produce, produce, produce…to where the American way is more about profit than freedom. We have developed our society into one that instantly gratifies us, and if something happens to not do so, we become bent out of shape. That’s the interesting part. The more we try to make our lives better, the worse it gets. Now don’t get me wrong…there is a time and place for everything. We should always be striving to learn and grow and not sit on our laurels and be lazy. I strongly applaud work ethic. In fact, that could almost be another subject to discuss sometime….and I probably will. But anyway, back to the subject at hand…:) Why is life so hectic these days? Why do we keep such busy schedules and rush our kids into 20+ activities? Why are people so stressed and at each others’ throats about things? Why? Why are people so fussy?

God designed us in a fearful and wonderful way. (Psalm 139:14) He knew exactly how to form us and what we could do. He created us in His image and designed us for His glory. We truly have the ability to do anything we set our minds and hearts to. How exciting! That is so encouraging to realize because with God’s blessing, He can help us overcome any obstacle or achieve anything. But wait a second…there might be something here. Notice I didn’t write “we alone can achieve anything.” Only by His strength can we stand. Only be His grace can we live. You see, we are ALL sinners and we will continue to be until the day we die. But it is only by His sacrifice of Christ on the cross of Calvary that can we amount to anything. God knew from the moment he breathed life into Adam that we would one day need a Savior. He knew that we would try and do it all on our own, but then find a breaking point. He knows that we are in a crazy time today and that we are all “stressed out”. He knows our reluctance to trust Him…but somehow He is still standing there waiting on us. So just stop. Breathe. Take a moment and chill. Is it really important to fuss about all this stuff around us? No…it isn’t.

As we prepare to travel to Guatemala in a few weeks, I am praying for God to start transforming my heart. Being adoptive parents, we had the privilege of seeing Guatemala first hand when we met our son for the first time. Let me just say how different life is to those people. They have nothing, yet are so happy. They work harder than you or I could imagine, yet make next to nothing. Now there is nothing unique about Guatemala. This is true in any “third world” country where they don’t have the freedoms and liberties we have here. In our country, hard work reaps reward. Plain and simple. There, hard work rarely reaps reward. All I will say about it is this. Stop fussing, people. We have more than we will EVER deserve. We have the ability to go anywhere, do anything, and say anything we want. Sure, we all aren’t millionaires, but so what. Would you be happier if you were? I doubt it. Our human nature is to look for something bigger and better no matter where we are financially. Now again, don’t misinterpret me. I am not a socialist or do I support that kind of society, but I do support the idea of being happy with whatever you have. More than that, I support us being thankful for everyday that God has blessed us with. He doesn’t have to give us that…

So what can you be thankful for today? What has God blessed you with? How can you take what He has given to you and bless others? I pray that we can all start to see how wonderful things really are. There is a lyric to a gospel song that says, “I woke up this morning and there was no hearse at my door…so I’m going to thank Him for another day”. Do you think you can live your life like that? I want to. God wants us all to…

So please, let’s all stop fussing…

Marriage and family…

Written by brandon. Posted in family, marriage

On the heels of celebrating Mother’s Day as a family, my thoughts and emotions are drawn to a very hot topic: marriage. What is it really all about? What is the purpose of marriage? Why does there seem to be an epidemic of failing marriages today? Why do so many men cheat on their wives? Why are so many people unhappy in their marriages? Lots of questions…some difficult or maybe even impossible to answer. For some help, let’s look first at what God has to say about it…

Marriage was designed by God himself. Genesis 2:22 “Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.” Then God explains further in verse 24, “That is why a man leaves his father and unites with his wife, and they become a new family.” God made the husband and wife together for His glory.

Now let me take a step back and recognize a few things. What about people who are single? What about people who desperately long and pray for marriage but never seem to find the right person? What about people who have been widowed? Again, important questions that are sometimes hard or impossible to explain. Simply because God designed marriage, doesn’t mean He designed it for every person. Even the apostle Paul led a single life, and was one of the most influential witnesses for Christ. Essentially a point here is that God doesn’t have to call you into marriage to lead a meaningful and godly life, BUT when he does call you into a life of marriage, it is one of great importance and that is what I want to talk about here. So any of you who are married or planning to marry, listen up!!

My wife and I have been studying a series entitled “Marriage on the Rock” by Jimmy Evans. It is a very poignant and direct introspective into what a God-centered marriage is all about and how to make your marriage a solid union based on biblical principles and foundations. It helps you learn about how to effectively communicate with your spouse, recognize each others strengths and weaknesses, and work together as one unit to live out your lives in honor to God. For sake of space and time, let me just point out a few highlights that have caught our attention and that may be able to help shed light on the curse that is affecting our families today.

Perhaps the most impactful issue is what is important to men and women. God wired us all differently with different personalities and desires, but there is a common bond among all men and among all women. Men need honor and women need security. Sounds odd to boil it down to one word for each sex, but it is very true. Men function at their very best when they are validated and have a feeling of honor. It is oxygen to them and allows them to be the best that they can be. When men are marginalized or demeaned in any way, it very quickly destroys their self-confidence which then leads to a flurry of destructive behavior. Women, on the other hand, crave and need security. When a woman feels secure, they are able to flourish and function in a very powerful way, and be strong in their daily walk. Take that security away, and you destroy a woman’s self-confidence and they will want to find security on their own, which can lead to a feeling of loneliness and abandonment from their husband. However you may “feel” about this, we need to know that God set up these dynamics for His glory and if we recognize this, we will be able to better understand the divine order of marriage. God designed the husband to lead the home with love and wisdom, while he designed the wife to be the anchor of emotional support and edification for the home. When a wife helps to validate and support the husband, he is able to lead as God designed him to. When a wife is protected and loved, as Christ loved the church, she is secure and able to be a rock for the family. If we violate these dynamics, it sets the stage for failure.

Think about it. What is the common denominator in a marriage struck by infidelity? Too often, the man doesn’t communicate properly, becomes very passive in his leadership, leading to the wife feeling insecure, then the wife tries to pick up the pieces and take charge, and very easily becomes critical of the husband, leading to a dynamic of dishonor. Then guess what, the instinct of the man is to seek honor, so he finds it in the attention of another woman. Boom. An affair happens. This then leads to the woman feeling even more insecure, leading to more destruction of the husband/wife godly dynamic. It goes nowhere but down…the marriage is essentially destroyed and both are at fault.

Also think about this. We live in a society of selfishness. The world teaches us to look out for “number 1”. Folks, there is nothing good about that. It drives our sinful nature and selfishness, which leads to our inability to relate and communicate with those around us, especially our spouses. We become so obsessed with things that will “make us happy”. Its interesting to see that the pursuit of this leads to more “unhappiness” though. This is unhealthy for both men and women. We easily fall into a cycle of struggling for power both in our work and our family. Men in this situation bring home a poor attitude, which leads to poor leadership and poor love and respect for his wife, and then the cycle described above can easily happen again. I haven’t even brought up what this does to our children. They are modeled a destructive behavior and the cycle easily continues into the next generation. It is a dead end road. Ever experience any of this?

All of this to say, we need to work harder. Men, step up! Take leadership of your life and your family. Encourage and lift up your wife. Women, honor your husband and encourage him. Work together and approach life as one body. Remember, God made it to work that way! Obviously, this is not an overnight fix. Especially if you have struggled in this area, it takes a constant effort. The husband and wife both need to be on board. If your spouse is not on board, pray that the Holy Spirit can change their heart. Be encouraged, if you stay vigilant and focused on your marriage, God can save it! There is NO marriage that is beyond repair. You have to desire it though…

Friends, may God bless your efforts, and in all of it, let us give Him the praise! He has and always will have our best interest in mind. He wants you to live an abundant life that is lived in humility and honor to Him. Let’s get to it!!!