S04E087, Accepting things is a good thing! Andy B 2 Minute Video

Some wise advice from Andy here. How well do you accept praise?

When people say well done, do you try and deflect that compliment? I know this is something I’ve always struggled

S04E087, Accepting things is a good thing! Andy B 2 Minute Video

Poor Little Fig Tree

On Tuesday, I wrote a post entitled Anything, which looked at the awesome power of prayer. Yesterday, I shared a post called – A Fig Tree – which picked up that theme, and was written by the excellent blogger Bruce Cooper. Some comments on these posts highlighted to me that many do not fully understand the poor little fig tree that Jesus cursed. It is my intention to help you today to grasp why Jesus treated it so harshly.

Let’s look at Mark’s Gospel, which is the parallel account from Matthew 21. Mark splits the story in two halves; so I put the two together here.

In the morning when they were on the way out of Bethany, Jesus was hungry.

13 He saw a fig tree a little way off with leaves on it. So he went to see if it had figs. He came to the tree. There was no fruit on it, only leaves. It was not the time for figs.

14 Jesus said to the tree, `No one will ever eat a fig from you again!’ His disciples heard what he said.

Mark 11:12-14 WEB

19 In the evening Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

20 The next morning they passed the fig tree again. They saw that it had died from the roots.

21 Peter remembered about it. He said, `Look Master, you cursed the fig tree and it has died.’

22 Jesus said, `Believe in God.

23 I tell you the truth. Anyone may say to this hill, “Go and jump into the sea.” He must not doubt in his heart, but he must believe that he will have the things he asks for and he will have them.

24 So I tell you, when you ask God for anything believe that you will get it and you will have it.

Mark 11:19-24 WEB

So, Jesus wants some breakfast. Seeing the fig tree (from a distance presumably), the green leaves make the promise of fresh fruit. As He examines the tree, He find not one fig. Jesus is clearly displeased and curses the tree, saying no one will ever eat of it again.

In the second half of the story, Jesus and His disciples pass the very same tree and find it withered. They are amazed, and Jesus uses it as a teaching opportunity about the power of prayer and faith.

Many people feel rather sorry for this poor little fig tree. I mean, did it really do anything wrong? Or at least, did it do anything so wrong it deserved to be cursed unto death?

If you do feel sorry for the tree, then I have to tell you that you have misunderstood the point of the text. This fig tree was a phony – worse, it was a liar. It displayed its leaves to the world, offering the promise of fruit and nourishment, but did not deliver. It said one thing, and did another.

The key to understanding this picture is to read what happens in between the two halves of the account.

15 They reached Jerusalem. Jesus went into the temple. He began to drive out the people who were buying and selling in the temple. He threw down the tables of the money changers. He pushed down the seats of those who sold doves.

16 He would not let anyone carry anything through the temple.

17 He taught the people, saying, `The holy writings say, “My house shall be called a house for all tribes and nations, where people talk with God.” But you have made it a place for people who steal!’

18 The chief priests and scribes heard what he said. They wanted to find some way to kill him. They feared Jesus because all the people were surprised at his teaching.

Mark 11:15-18 WEB

Jesus goes into the temple, and not for the first time, creates something of a disturbance. The temple – the place where people could come and approach God in prayer – has been turned into a market. Complex systems of monetary exchange, purchasing of animals for sacrifice and a general lack of respect enrage the Lord and He turfs them out.

Look at how the priests react in verse 18. They want to kill Him! Why? Because they were likely benefitting from the state of affairs in the temple. Rather than revering the temple’s holiness, they have profited from those seeking to approach God. Jesus is incredibly displeased by this.

The key is this: the priest, who display the outward appearance of holiness, have no true fruit to offer. Like the fig tree, they put out their leaves – wearing fine robes, quoting Scripture, enforcing the Law, applying human traditions to temple worship, and so on. In their hearts however, they do not keep the Law of God, and make it harder to approach God instead of serving the people. They were phonies.

So what is the lesson for us? Are we to go around cursing unfruitful trees? Or ought we to go into church and start turning over tables and chairs? Of course not!

The point is that you and I, by bearing the name of Christ, are displaying leaves to the world. We represent Jesus in our homes, places of work and community, and when people come looking for fruit, we had better make sure they find it.

Don’t carry around a Bible under your arm and be as mean as a snake to those you meet. Don’t put a fish sticker on your car, and then cut off another driver before speeding off into the sunset exceeding the limit. Don’t put “Christian” on your social profile and then share materials far less than holy.

Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 5:

So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

2 Corinthians 5:20 NLT

Christ does not live on the Earth in bodily form anymore, so the only way people can see Him is in us – His church. We represent Him, and we are His ambassadors. God is making His appeal to the world through us! That is a huge responsibility, and one we must all take seriously.

That is not to say we must be perfect, or can never make mistakes, but where possible we must endeavour to back up our words with actions.

Do not feel pity for the fig tree, instead learn its lesson. Be a tree which bears good fruit, and remember the world is watching.

UK Christian Bloggers

Hi! My name is Andy Brown, you may remember me from such blogs as andy-brown.org…!

It has indeed been some time since my last proper post, although I have tried to share some older material and some great posts from friends and fellow bloggers. Life has gotten rather busy and my writing has suffered. I would like to tell you that I’ve been working on book projects or other writing, but alas no! Some days I feel guilty for neglecting the blog, and other days I reflect on my full-time job, wife and four children, church leadership and Christian study course – and realise that I do have a lot on my plate! I’m sure you understand!

Thursday evening I enjoyed a time of fellowship with a group of UK-based Christian bloggers. We have been (trying) to get together every couple of weeks to swap stories, encourage one another and pray for each other. It is a wonderful time and I regret not being able to make all of the sessions so far!

The photo lists some of the members and their sites, so do check out their blogs if you are not already familiar. There are doubtless many more Christian bloggers out there hailing from the UK, so this is by no means an exhaustive list!

I came away from our recent call feeling very much encouraged, and I value the prayers of the group. Having a fellowship of believers is so important, and in our largely disconnected modern world, it is even more so. We often feel alone or isolated, despite the noise of life, and so it is critical we connect with fellow believers in Christ and strengthen one another.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)

It is an instruction from the Bible that we do indeed encourage one another. There are times when life is a struggle, and in those days or seasons, we need the comfort of others to help us through. We absolutely rely on the Lord, but a little encouragement from fellow believers is most welcome too!

Encouraging someone costs little more than a small amount of time or effort. A kind word or timely phone call can really make a difference in someone’s life. You have that power today, and don’t let being busy be an excuse not to (talking to myself here…) My guess is that you won’t have to look very hard or travel very far to find someone in need of a boost.

While the gift of encouragement may be a specific spiritual gift (see Romans 12:8), it does not excuse the rest of us from doing it. Some have a special gift for evangelism, yet the call to share our faith is one we all enjoy. Naturally or spiritually gifted or not, we can all improve by practising. See if you can find a way to encourage someone in each of the next seven days, or even see how long you can keep the streak going.

I “encourage” you to check out some of the other writers I mention above, and have no doubt you will come away refreshed and uplifted. I will be sharing some of their posts in the near future, so do look out for them.

If you wish to encourage me, do leave me a comment, share a post or pray for me. I receive your prayers with delight and gratitude. Have a great weekend!


How To Be A Welcoming Church – Andy Brown

I happened to catch an episode of “Veggie Tales” the other morning while my children were watching it. If you are not familiar, it is a kids show starring Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber. In this particular episode, Bob had taken on a job of Chief Greeter at a local shop. He started…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2019/03/28/how-to-be-a-welcoming-church/

What is Prayer? – Andy Brown

Recent news has reported a big increase in the number of Google searches for the term “prayer.” The stories suggest that the increase in these searches is in step with the spread of Coronavirus and in general perhaps reflects people’s growing fears in recent times. Just yesterday I caught a video on Facebook of Russell…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2020/05/15/what-is-prayer/

Work Hard – Andy Brown

Some evenings I sit down after a hard day’s work and reflect on the day. I often ask myself how well I have represented God’s kingdom, and marking myself coming up short most of the time. Did I share my faith at any point? How much did I pray? Is God’s Kingdom any stronger because…
— Read on andy-brown.org/2022/04/06/work-hard/

One Thing I Ask (Re-post)

andy-brown.org/2022/01/29/one-thing-i-ask/

Just as He said He would

Happy Easter!

It was my privilege to share for a few minutes this morning at our early morning sunrise service on this Resurrection Sunday.

I share below a recording of the message which I hope you enjoy.

May you be eternally blessed this Easter weekend!

A message from Andy on Easter Sunday morningA message from Andy on Easter Sunday morning

Marriage Matters, It’s A Family Affair, S01E012

Can’t recommend this highly enough! Do give it a watch!

In this week’s Marriage Matters, Andy B and Jo talk candidly about things that cause problems in our marriages, that may lead to unfaithfulness in …

Marriage Matters, It’s A Family Affair, S01E012

Fasting – Sunday Suggestion

Over the season of Lent, I have been fasting. It has not always gone according to plan, I hasten to add, but it has been an enriching experience in many ways.

This Sunday, why not give it a try yourself? Be sure to do it sensibly and wisely if you have never done it before. For instance, if you have any medical conditions which may be affected by it, then give it more thought and seek some advice if you need to.

There are different ways to fast, and it does not necessarily mean giving up all food altogether. You may choose to limit what food you eat, or to only eat certain foods. You may decide to miss a particular meal, or you may decide not to eat anything at all for a period. Pray about it before you begin, and follow the Lord’s lead. Start off slowly, and build yourself up.

Most importantly, fast with a purpose. Do not do it merely to appear spiritual to others. Instead, use the time you would have spent eating or preparing food to talk to the Lord or read your Bible. When you feel that sense of hunger, use it as a prompt to thank God for all the good He is doing in your life. Let this disciplining of your body remind you that we are not merely physical, but rather spiritual beings, and the spiritual needs to be primary, not the physical.

Remember, Jesus said:

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:16-18 (NIV)

Jesus wants us to fast for our spiritual good and to draw nearer to God, not to look good in front of others. If we talk about our fasting, or worse fish for compliments, then we have already received any reward we may get from the exercise.

Use the experience to strengthen your relationship to God, and praise Him for the plenty you have.

Preaching to the Choir

Are you preaching to the choir? Is that wasteful, or does the choir need your encouragement as well?

It was a great pleasure yesterday evening to meet (on video) a couple of fellow Christian bloggers, and lovely to share some of our stories, questions and experiences of ministering through this medium. It was humbling to see God at work through our words and videos, and (at points) amusing to hear of some of the mistakes we had made along the way… for instance, the time I accidentally shared a post inviting people to a psychic evening!

Alan at Devotional Treasures writes frequently inspiring posts, giving us Scripture to ponder on and encouragement and challenge to take away. Andy, at Berry Bunch Family, put outs a huge amount of video content for all the family, and has recently published his first book – Broken Dreams and Hope – which I highly recommend. Do check out both feeds if you get a chance.

We reflected that often we feel a little like we are preaching to the choir. We produce our materials and they seem to primarily reach a Christian audience, and we wondered whether we were reaching those who are yet to believe in Jesus.

This inspired me to share a few thoughts with you today on this subject.

Firstly, it is no bad thing to encourage the family of believers (not that we ever thought it was!). The church is a body, and we all have a part to play. There will be days when each one of us needs a boost or bit of encouragement, and blogging is a great opportunity to do this. There have been countless times when I have read a post or watched a video from either of the two men of God mentioned above, and God has used it to uplift and strengthen me.

It is things like this that keep us going. Being a Christian in this hostile world is no easy thing. At times, we feel like aliens on a dangerous planet, completely at odds with the views and people around us. The Christian family needs to come together to support one another, and keep on keeping on!

Secondly, being consistent and producing material regularly means that a huge library of materials is slowly built up. As I write, I think my blog now houses over 400 posts, and someone like Alan’s is probably far higher. This means that there is likely a post out there for you today. The Holy Spirit can direct people to the very thing they need, and that may be years down the road. On days when I post and get only a few views, I take comfort in knowing that the words will remain available for anyone to find in the future when they perhaps need it most.

Finally, we cannot reach everyone. There will be people who I will never meet or interact with, and so have little hope of sharing the Gospel with them. Yet, the same is true for me in that there will be people I meet that you will not. Only together can we all fulfil God’s purpose and reach all those who need to hear. Whether you see yourself as a big or small cog in the giant machine that is God’s Kingdom, know that you are an important cog. There may be many “small” parts in my computer, but if I start removing them, it won’t be long before the machine fails altogether!

I remember someone saying once that it is our job to give God glory in our little corner of the world. We all have our own corner, and our own opportunity to share our faith. We can encourage our brothers and sisters, and we can share our faith with those yet to hear. Let each of us just help everyone move one step closer to God today.

Have a great weekend!

Passion For His Word

I share this post from a dear friend and brother, and echoed his thoughts on the importance of God’s word.

Rhythm of The Lake, Photo courtesy of Nathan Berry,Image Copyright 2022 TakeN Photography. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on …

Passion For His Word