27 September, 2011

Usufruct: A lesson from Jefferson on bearing (spiritual) fruit


The term usufruct is so difficult to define, but as I have come to understand it (or at least, as it is in my head), usufruct is the productivity of a parcel of land.
President Jefferson often was found to defend a citizen's use of private property so long as that citizen does not hinder or lessen the usufruct (fruitfulness) of the land. So, the president's belief was that we as 'landowners' have the right to use the land as we desire so long as our use of it does not injure future users/owners of that land. President Jefferson would at times even go further and say that our responsibility as 'landowners' were not only to prevent lessening the fruitfulness of the land (by overgrazing, over-harvesting, striping the land of resources, or toxify-ing the land by dumping or other means), but to actually increase the productivity...fruit bearing, of the land.  

When I first heard the concepts that President Jefferson pressed about usufruct, I immediately processed them in terms of 'spiritual fruit'. And it is these concepts of spiritual usufruct,  and spiritual fruit that I hope to share with you today...along with encouragement to you that you may be highly productive with the opportunities that God has given you.

So first, a definition:
Fruit, is anything being produced or accrued; it is a product, a result, or an effect. Fruit is the return of labor. Fruit serves as the evidence of one's intentions and claims. 

So often when we hear of fruit in a Christian context we think of the 'Fruit of the Spirit' (Gal. 5:22) which refer to specific qualities that are possessed by a believer. Those qualities being: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. 

It seems so easy to instantly jump to this list of qualities anytime we hear any scripture that speaks of fruit...or the product that we as believers yield. 
For instance:
"You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?"
                                 Matthew 7:16

For us to quickly fast-forward to these 'fruits of the spirit' when we hear of the scriptures is not a bad thing at all, however, to stop there and not progress any further would be amiss. Because as we stated earlier, fruit is anything that is being produced or accrued, anything that is a result of our labor. The labor of Christ in us does not only produce works in our character and within ourself, but also produces effects in those around us. 
The labor of Christ in us also produces disciples! Disciples! The labor that we undergo everyday, the fight that we fight everyday, the race that we run everyday, as a Christian, that laboring, fighting, running, living, has a result of fruit, good fruit! Fruit of the Spirit? YES! Fruit of disciples? YES!

Now that we have made sure that we understand the fruits we produce as Christians, let us apply Jefferson's concept of usufruct to our 'spiritual field'. 
And as such we 'children of God', 'heirs', we have the responsibility to build, plow, fertilize, (DISCIPLE) those around us in a way that not only prevents smaller fruit harvests but actually increases those harvests! Our responsibility as believers and disciples is to build other disciples and increase their harvests.
By not overgrazing, over-harvesting, stripping the land, toxify-ing...
in other words: By love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. 

In all these things enter in prayer.

Bountiful harvests await!

22 September, 2011


טֹוב לִשְׁמֹעַ גַּעֲרַת חָכָם מֵאִישׁ שֹׁמֵעַ שִׁיר כְּסִילִֽים׃

Stet...at the top.

Life right now is so good,
life right now is wonderful...absolutely amazing! 

I feel like I am back to being the ole' me...things have begun returning to normal. God has brought me out of the dessert and into the 'land of milk and honey'!
My prayer times have been the highlights of these past few weeks.
I have been encouraged by my time with the Lord! These sweet times of prayer have overflown into all aspects of my life, including my conversations. These conversations with old friends (Ben, Lacie, Scott, Josh, Kim, Allen, Cole, Allyson, Clayton, Charrissa), new friends (Tieben, Cash, Nick), and complete strangers (John, and others) have been such a blessing! 
These two things alone make 'my life grand' (cue George Strait), but couple them with the opportunities that God has given me recently to invest or help others, and how much time I have had for running, and for travel, and you see why I am in the clouds.

Now that we have all the house keeping and updating portion of the post out of the way, I can inform you that this is not a post about how great I have been. Rather, it is going to be a quick writing about something I have been reminded of recently. It is going to be about a verse in Ecclesiastes, and how that verse is pertinent always...even when you are 'at the top', or you 'have the whole world on a string'.

"It is better for a man to hear the rebuke
of the wise
than to hear the song of fools."
Ecclesiastes 7:5 ESV

Sometimes, when we climb higher and higher, when we are freed from previous struggles, when we are walking in God's guidance, we feel invincible. We feel untouchable by those previous hindrances and hard times, and it can become easy to walk void of concern of those times returning.

I have been here before...I have found myself within the oasis beyond the dry sandy dunes more than once. And I did not properly guard myself against past temptations, struggles, and sin. I felt fixed and spent my time praising God for the deliverance and gifts (a good thing to always do), BUT, I failed to spend much time asking for continued perseverance and strength. I failed to ask for a continued refinement. I failed to seek a continued change in my heart and life.
In these failures, I lost some of the humility that brought me to the true realization that God changed me, and that it was not me changing myself. With the loss of this understanding, I began to try to fix my oneself again...to only find that I had slipped back into the same places I was before, and now with a gilt, and a shame that pushed me all the further into the dessert.

So, this time. These glorious days of refreshment, have been filled with praise, (oh have they been filled with praise), but equally so they have been filled with prayers for continuation, for strength, for refining fire, for wise rebuke, for a sincere and humble spirit, for a contrite heart.
And how God loves to answer prayers!
He sent me rebuke for a wise source, a strong sister. She shared with me concerns that she has had for sometime. These concerns were concerns that I too have had, but had thought I had been doing well within. Turns out I may not have been doing so well...so in this time of being so high...so strong...so victorious, God has given me a spot that I know I can not fix. He has given me an area that I know only He can change! And how humbling it is that He brings it to me now!

It is so good to find rebuke from wise friends who desire my refinement as a christian man, as apposed to words of flattery from all the world.

                                                                    So, thanks...
                                                                    Thank you for the helping hand,

06 July, 2011



I always struggle with memorizing verses. 

In honest I actually have a difficult time remembering much of anything I am suppose to. All those algebraic and english concepts discovered in grade school and refreshed throughout the years of college are now gone...

Even with this issue every so often, motivation from my depth comes to build my desire to memorize verses and quote scripture. And each time I have some form of success for a few weeks or a month. Then I begin to once again fall off the wagon and begin down the path of forgetting what was so carefully recited and marked as knowledge to be remembered. First I drop a few words here and there, then begin to struggle with chapter and verse...running a scripture from John with the location of a chapter and verse from Romans...and so on and so forth. From there I begin to become demoralized in my goal and slowly slip back to a state of remembering only bit and pieces here and there...

THEN. In the thick of a moment, right in the heart of trouble, as soon as a hard time comes knocking...so comes this verse remembered.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."
                                                                                                        Proverbs 3:5-6

I recall the first time I set out to memorize this verse. DWC (Dallas Winter Conference for all of you not in the know) 2005, James Camden and I sat in the hotel lobby at an early morning hour, after a night filled with worship and fellowship, games and conversations. Here, in one of the few hours that the majority of CRU's (Campus Crusade for Christ's) college students slept, we exchanged thoughts, confessed to each other regrets and sins, and spoke of dreams and hopes. It was then, that James handed me a paper. A paper with this verse on it. He was working on memorizing it, and had ask me to hold him accountable.

Since that morning, many more rotations has our world made on its axis. James is now married and I a groomsman for his wedding. I have gone to Alaska with CRU and returned...and James and I both to Italy for short while... Yes. Much has happened in our lives since then, much has changed. But through it all this verse stays.

When things get tough, God reminds me of something I worked so hard to remember. God speaks to me through this and other scriptures memorized. Even when moments before I could not recall the faintest of any...
That's how it works.

We read.
We pray.
We memorize.
He works on us.
He changes our hearts.
He reminds us...
He speaks to us...

Thank you.
i will trust in You, even in the times i feel lost. i know You are here. i know You are my Shepard. You lead me to safe places. You protect me.
i love You.

28 June, 2011


At least once every season of every year I find myself unravelled and unravelling all the more. I become unfocused and unmotivated. I stay up late. I workout little. I trudge through the day. I eat poorly. I leave tasks unfinished. I am slow to start new things.

When I see that I have once again begun to travel down this road, I always wonder why. It's funny that I ask myself that because I already know the answer. My stated priority is not being matched with action.

SEE: I am Mr. Priority.
I always have been. Even as a grade schooler I remember saying things like, "#1 is God, #2 is Country, #3 Family/Friends." Years later in college, I found that in my younger years I had only said, "this is my priority"...and that my actions showed otherwise.
I said what I wanted to be true of me even though it was not. In those early years I did not know God, and my family and friends were far more important to me than Him or my country.

I came to understand that saying things does not make them true, but our actions can be used as a truer gauge of sincerity. Being honest with myself and others has always been one of upmost importance to me, and when being honest with myself I find I am most likely to grow.

Today, I am still Mr. Priority; make a difference, eat healthy, reach out, early to bed, early to rise, be positive, workout often...the list goes on.
But, the most important difference between the young me and the me today is that, my time with God is not just a priority...it is beyond a priority. God, His character, and His direction for me, is not just an object to be seen but rather the lens that I must see all objects through.
God has become the drive of my days, He is the caster of my days and the molder of my heart.

When I start down this season of perpetual unravelling, I know why.
It is because I am making my Lord a priority, but not living as though He is my only priority.  When Christ is not my everything, then I amount to absolutely nothing.
HE is my LIFELINE, He is my everything!

20 June, 2011

171 Days

Today marks six months twenty days since we all began down the path of 2011 resolutions...eleven days till the half way point. So...how is your resolution holding up? Still holding onto those extra pounds? Chances are you have not done as well as you would like. If you are like the rest of us your resolutions have fallen and likely not to be revived until day one of 2012.

It does not have to be this way! I hope that your reading this will be your first step toward revamping your motivation.

Every January we have hundreds of resolutions set and every year they sound like this, "stop smoking, get fit, lose weight, enjoy life more, quit drinking, become organized, learn something new, get out of debt, spend more time with friends and family, help people more, ect...", and chances are if your 2011 resolution is among these, that was your 2010, 2009, and 2008 resolution too. So let's change this. Let's finish what we started.

Here are some resources and facts to help you jump your ambitions back up:
  • Watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution
  • Get active, and go for the BIG resolutions...like competing in a triathlon
  • If you are average in your diet then you drink a soda a day (at least) and it you do, then you consume approximately 91,000 calories in the course of the year from that beverage alone
  • According to the CDC, 12% of adult Americans have heart disease
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America and growing each year
  • 77% of families owe debt

Take these next few days to thank about setting a six month resolution to make your life better...

19 June, 2011


My favorite photo of you is from several years back.
It's a photo that was taken at the old baseball and softball complex in Shattuck. You and I are both dressed in gold and black, the front of your shirt said coach and the back of mine said Jennings. That year we placed first (i think) in the t-ball tournament and you were announcing each player as they came to accept their individual trophy. I was last out of the team to come forward, and that was when the photo was snapped. Me going forward, too far away from the line of teammates for them to be frozen alongside us. There in that photo sat three; me reaching to shake John the pharmacist's hand, John with one hand outstretched and one holding that gold flaked plastic ballplayer, and you. You are pointing at me with your hand, and upon your face was a smile.
I remember that your were announcing my name, but to me when I see this photo I always hear, "I am proud of you". 

Anyone who knows me well, knows you are my best friend, and I thank you for making me who I am. 

I also owe a tremendous thanks to the other influential folks in my life. Thank you Mom, Clay, Grandparents, and friends. 
I owe ALL thanks to God my Father.

17 June, 2011

It's Friday!

Hello all,

Yes it has been ages since I posted last. And yes, it is tougher to regain traction starting a blog back up...even more so than starting the blog to begin with. However there is good news. I am back and back for good!
Let me tell you what is new in my world:
  • I am working on finishing up my masters degree here at SWOSU in parks and recreation management
  • May 2012 I plan to begin working on a master's of divinity/theology
  • along with the MDiv, I plan to begin down the path of becoming a military chaplain
  • my BIG goal of 2011 is to become 100 percent debt free
  • I have now completed seven marathons!!! (lucky number seven)
  • you can now follow me on twitter
I am so excited to be back, and you can expect to here from me on a regular base! I am still the same ole' OklahomaBrad, and I hope you return to following me regularly.

It's Friday, have a little fun....grow a stache...
or buy and paste if you can't!

22 March, 2011

Lets ease back in...


It has been, a very long time.
If you are reading this, you agree...

I appologize for the months of hibernation that this blog has entered. I hope that this entry serves as an entry of awakening. That with this publish, I will again share with you wisdom and thought, this is the hope.

"o Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens...

...when i look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?"
                                                                Psalm 8

O Lord,
what am i, who am i...
fully unworthy
of your grace, 
fully justified
of your wrath...
 you have sent your Son to die
to die for ME?

O Lord,
you have saved me,
boughten me you have...

God, help me                       you everyday.
to serve

God, help me                    others everyday.
to love

God, help me die this day to self, that i may live this day for you...