Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fifty-six Years Ago Today

What were you doing 56 years ago today? 

Back then, it was a -19-degree day in January and the day John F. Kennedy was inaugurated President of these United States. He gave a clarion call: 

“Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.” 

Powerful words, and necessary, if we were to move forward as a nation and change the course of history under his leadership.

It was a special day for me because it was the day of my birth. I remember none of the happenings of the day (obviously) but I've always liked that I was born on the day J.F.K. was sworn into office.

As we stand on the threshold of a new day for America, I reiterate the message of Kennedy to you as a firefighter in Corinth and a citizen of the greatest nation on earth: 

“Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.” 

Once you ask the question, whatever answer you get back, will you ask God to help you and then just go and do it? Then we really can "Make American Great Again!".

Carpe Diem!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Catch the Raspings and Parings of Existence

“On the floor of the gold-working room, in the United States Mint at Philadelphia, there is a wooden lattice-work which is taken up when the floor is swept, and the fine particles of gold-dust, thousands of dollars’ yearly, are thus saved. So every successful man has a kind of network to catch the raspings and parings of existence, those leavings of days and wee bits of hours’ which most people sweep into the waste of life. He who hoards and turns to account all odd minutes, half hours, unexpected holidays, gaps ‘between times,’ and chasms of waiting for unpunctual persons, achieves results which astonish those who have not mastered this most valuable secret.” –Orison Swett Marden, Pushing to the Front, 1894

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Jonathan David

Angels Names Association
October 8, 2016 Memorial Service Speech

My name is Dean Brown and I serve as Lead Pastor of Vantage Pointe Church in Queensbury, NY. I also serve 39 Wesleyan Churches in Eastern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island as District Secretary. I am, too, Chaplain for the Corinth Fire Department. While all of this might seem to provide fodder for a handsome resume, behind all of the titles and uniforms is a human being whose life has been touched, as has yours, by too-soon separation from a child.

His name was Jonathan David. His young mother eagerly anticipated his arrival to her world. She sang to him the songs of Zion, rocked him to rest as often as she could, and whispered to him her silly stories that surely made him grin in utero. Like every mother who caresses the child of her love, she knew he would make her so happy one day and his face touching hers would make the world seem a much safer place for them both.

But one morning pangs of dread wrapped around her heart like a tangled fishnet upon the tail of a restless sea mammal and she knew her body was being dragged under a merciless wave of rejection and nothing she could do, or pray, or wish could stop the insistent trajectory of loss that was tearing her baby boy from her frame.

She would have parroted the words of John Green’s, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, where it was said, “I'm so proud of you that it makes me proud of me. I hope you know that.”

But now certain pride turned its back on her and hope took the last train to a faraway place where she could neither go nor leave at will. Her womb and her will were emptied and what remained would need to be carried silently, secretively, surreptitiously, almost covertly because she knew, like those she’d observed before, that no one would understand and ignorant souls would toll to her, “Come on. Move on. There’s nothing to be done now.”  

I met this woman on a -19-degree day in January, the day John F. Kennedy was inaugurated President of these United States. She heard his clarion call: “Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.” And turned the phrase - by affirming: “Ask not what your family can do for you-ask what you can do for your family” and she did it. And she committed. And she sacrificed everything to be certain that had Jonathan David lived, he would have been proud to call her, “Momma”.

How did I know this woman? She was my maternal grandmother. And I, I took the place of Jonathan, and received the warmth of her embrace, and learned the songs of Zion, and grinned at her silly stories and felt the heat of her face against mine and knew more than once that the world was a safer place because she was in it with me.
I leave with you her hopeful determinations so as not to let HIS life be swept away. And may they be for you instructive and encouraging:

  • ·      Nan could not forget her boy, JD, and never let us forget him, either
  • ·      Nan reserved a garden in her heart where she could slip away to be with him whenever the need arose
  • ·      Nan carried on, had another child and invested in both her children – and their children – with a ferocity of love and care and faith that was staggering to behold, comforting to experience and transformative for generations to come
  • ·     *Her loss became the world’s gain and the same can be true for you, too

Thank you, Nan, for showing us the way around the hurt by living through it. The first flower will be for you!

Friday, February 19, 2016

John 1: 1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,[a] and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Final Moments of Beulah Camp

Remembering Beulah Camp tonight as a result of finding this on the internet. Anyone remember singing this old hymn before we launched out into the world and back into our ministries?

Before I die I hope to be in attendance for another service on the hill.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Bible and Prayer. Me?

Plain and simple: we're fooling ourselves if we think we can live "Christianly" apart from regular intake of God's Word and purposeful prayer. Funnily, we go about singing the words of Cinderella and try to apply them to our faith walk:

In my own little corner in my own little chair
I can be whatever I want to be.
On the wings of my fancy I can fly anywhere
And the world will open it's arms to me.

That may be true in a Broadway musical but not in the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ. In our own little corner, in our favourite easy chair, we'd best strive for being what Jesus wants us to be. Then the kingdom will open to us and the world will be damned to our affection. Then we can fly on wings of faith that lift us into His presence where their is fullness of joy!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Infinite Stakes

Infinite Stakes
By Dean Brown

On Sept. 15, 1940, while visiting the RAF’s No. 11 Group in Uxbridge, England, Prime Minister Winston Churchill stood in silence as his air force came under assault by 250 German Luftwaffe planes. As his pilots returned to refuel and rearm, and the gravity of the situation began to weigh in on Churchill, he asked an Air Vice-Marshal standing nearby, “What reserves have we?” The answer he received was grim: “There are none.” Reflecting on that moment in his book, The Second World War, Churchill recalled, “The odds were great; our margins, small; the stakes, infinite.”

Churchill’s descriptive phrase could be applied to local church ministry today. Satan and his comrades are aligned against the outposts manned by pastors and their people. Faulty thinking reflective of a secularized worldview permeates many corners of the Western church and leaves people confused and rudderless. A fresh foe, terrorism, attacks our sensibilities each morning and whispers fear throughout the day. We wonder, “Where can we turn for help and hope?”

Jesus opens our eyes to reality as He interacts with Simon Peter in Matthew 16: 17-18 (Msg.):

“God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.”

When the odds are great and our margins are small, remember, church leader:

1. The help and hope we long for comes from one source - the Eternal God - and cannot be found in the shifting values of a decaying world.

2. Ultimate Truth is found in a Person and not a philosophy.

3. A proper understanding of who we are, and to Whom we belong, is critical if we are to overcome the real enemy.

4.  Our eternal success is guaranteed because Jesus’ church is so expansive with energy that nothing of hell can defeat it.

Because the stakes are infinite, and the odds and margins of these days are restrictive, let’s learn from the examples set in September 1940 in the skies over southern England: keep flying, keep refueling and keep rearming because the victory is ours if we walk with God and do not quit.