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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Frightened!...Now What?

One day when I was reading my Bible and spending time with the Lord I came across a passage that has become very familiar to me over the last few years. It’s a passage that God used to help shape my outlook and perspective on how to handle overwhelming and sometimes alarming news when it breaks down my door and comes crashing in.

The passage I’m referring to is found in 2 Chronicles 20 and it’s a great example of how King Jehoshaphat handled the news that not one, not two but three enemy armies were on their way to make war on Him.

When was the last time you got earth shattering, soul rocking news that blindsided you in a way that you didn’t know what to do? Was it last month, last week or even this morning? Well, a careful look at the action steps that Jehoshaphat applied will give us some insights into how I believe God wants us to handle alarming news when it comes our way.

Notice what Jehoshaphat had to deal with and what he did first…

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Anything Broken? - Remembering 9/11

Well, here we go again, another year, another surreal remembrance of the the day that I will never forget.

It’s been several years since I first posted this article, it is also one of the first ones I wrote in the Lesson Learned series as well. I’ve written a bunch more since then, so I thought I’d post it again as a glimpse into one of the most amazing ministry times in my life that came through the most incredibly tragic times of my life and the lives of the families I worked with.

Here it is…”Anything Broken?” Remembering 9/11…

This morning (9/11/07) was kind of surreal for me, as I join the rest of the world in remembering the 6th anniversary of 9/11. It really hit me kind of hard as I recalled what happened that fateful day, and how I found out…I was sitting in my office getting ready for one of the four bands that we had booked to do a concert on 9/14 to arrive.

We were hosting a huge concert that upcoming Friday with Five Iron Frenzy and Relient K head lining the show.

I was up to my neck in details that needed to be finalized before they arrived. We were the first stop on their fall tour and made a deal with them to give them all access to our facilities for 3 days to set up their lights, sound, and staging, and there was a ton of stuff my team and I had to do to make that happen.

As I was getting my plan together, the phone rang, it was my wife. She said in a panic filled voice “A plane just ran into the World Trade Center!” I said “what did you say?” and she repeated it.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Watching over you

I came across this entry from a couple of years ago...I'm so thankful that no matter what God is watching over us...

Just sitting at the desk in my office listening to the rain outside, and enjoying the peaceful sounds that it brings.

The kids are fast asleep, my wife just came in and said goodnight all is good in the Carl household.

As I'm sitting here, listening and reflecting I came across a song that God used to speak volumes into my life 10 years ago. It has always amazed me how God mixes things up when He tries to get my attention...many times over the years He has used the lyrics of a song to just nail me head on with a truth He has wanted to give me and tonight was one of those nights all over again.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bulls-Eye

It’s interesting to me as I reflect on the phrase "God has an unlimited stockpile at His disposal", the word repertoire keeps jumping into my mind because that’s exactly how Jesus went about His ministry when He was here on earth.

He was creative, thoughtful, precise, and in many situations whether in his dealings or healings He utilized the perfect tool at the perfect time from His "Unlimited Stockpile" also known as His repertoire, and in each and every encounter He hit the bulls-eye.

When He healed a blind guy, he used spit and dirt to make a mud pie, when He could have just snapped His fingers, clapped His hands or just thought it.

When Jairus asked him to come to his house to heal his daughter, he stopped along the way to heal a woman with a blood disease first. That little detour was just enough of a delay (from Jairus’ perspective) that his daughter died, and Jesus was “too late” to heal her.

 It’s amazing to me though, that even though Jairus’ assumption was “in order for my daughter to be healed, Jesus must physically come to my house and heal her”, Jesus knew that in His repertoire a little stop on the way to heal someone else was no problem for Him.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Caveat


I was reading an article recently by a veteran Youth Pastor that I really look up to and it reminded me of the first time I took my youth group to Adventure Camp in West Virginia.

 It was a miracle that we were even allowed to go in the first place especially after the parents meeting I had in order to explain and convince them that it was going to be all right to take their kids rafting, rappelling, and Mountain Biking for a week in the New River Gorge of WV.

I think it was probably the “Assumption of Risk” form that they had to sign that made them a little edgy. The form said “All of the activities at Adventure Camp have an element of risk involved. You are assuming the risk for your child…If they get hurt or die you are releasing the camp, and won’t sue!”


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Nominal?


I remember having a conversation with a guy wearing Boston Red Sox hat, and immediately assuming that He was not only a fan but the same kind of Fan I know to be true about all the Red Sox fans that I know and love from my time living in RS Nation.

When I think of these people words like passionate, die hard, true blue and loyal come to mind, so as I walked up to greet him and engage in a little back and forth banter, to say the least I was a little surprised at what he said.

Those who know me well, know that among other things I am a passionate, die hard, true blue and loyal New York Yankee fan, and I was brought up in such a way that no matter what, you stayed true to your team. Believe me that was hard to do when it came to football (Bills fan) but I did my best.

The only time I wasn’t all “out there and mouthy” about my team was when I actually lived inside Red Sox nation for several years and kept my little secret to myself, but that's a whole other story in and of  itself.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

Great Potential

Great Potential from Brent Carl on Vimeo.

On saturday June 11th, the most incredible people on the planet are going to converge on the 3rd floor of the North Wing at Union Church to begin the process of preparing a space that has Great Potential to the Kingdom of God.

This video is a little "why behind the what" to encourage the work party that what they will be doing today will have eternal ramifications!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Just like...me

“One day I hope and pray you have a kid just like you, then you’ll see what it’s like to have to deal with everything you put me through.”

Have you ever heard that one? That’s a line that I’m pretty sure every kid has heard at one time or another growing up.

It’s a line that is filled with frustration usually in heat of the moment when you did something to really tick off your mom or dad, and is usually a statement that is followed up later with an apology of some sort.

I remember many times when that line could’ve been used on me and my brother as we were growing up.
I could go on and on with stories of how I’ve messed up over the years, stories of how I’ve put my wants ahead of others.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Free & Forgiven...Regardless

“The gospel encourages me to rest in my righteous standing with God, a standing which Christ Himself has accomplished and always maintains for me. I never have to do a moment’s labor to gain or maintain my justified status before God!

Freed from the burden of such a task, I now can put my energies into enjoying God, pursuing holiness, and ministering God’s amazing grace to others. The gospel also reminds me that my righteous standing with God always holds firm regardless of my performance, because my standing is based solely on the work of Jesus and not mine.

On my worst days of sin and failure, the gospel encourages me with God’s unrelenting grace toward me. On my best days of victory and usefulness, the gospel keeps me relating to God solely on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness and not mine.”

Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer for Christians 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Stand Out

Have you ever stood out? You know you were visiting a foreign place, whether it is a country, city, new school, new church, new job or whatever. What feelings did you have? What thoughts were going through your mind? Were you scared or excited?

I know when I was in Kenya, I was all of the above and more. That was new territory for me, and man did I stand out. I mean everywhere I went I felt the eyes of people who had just as many questions for me as I had for them. Eyes that were at times piercing, and at other times wondering…who is this guy, what’s he all about, where’s he from?

It’s interesting how we make observations and assumptions about people before we even know them, and many times our observations turn into judgment statements before those judgments have been tested.

I know I often find myself doing that with people from time to time, and that’s why on this particular trip to Kenya, I was so moved by the overwhelming welcome and encouragement from a group of people who knew nothing about me, except that I was a Giant Mazoongu (white dude in Swahili).

Saturday, March 26, 2016

God...Expressed

8-10 Watch out for people who try to dazzle you with big words and intellectual double-talk. They want to drag you off into endless arguments that never amount to anything. 

They spread their ideas through the empty traditions of human beings and the empty superstitions of spirit beings. 

But that’s not the way of Christ. Everything of God gets expressed in him, so you can see and hear him clearly. You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him. When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too. His power extends over everything. 11-15 Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It’s not a matter of observing an initiation rite or keeping a long list of laws. No, you’re already in—insiders—not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

On Track or Sidetracked?

Today I was thinking about how many times in life our assumptions, traditions and even things we've grown up believing can sidetrack us from embracing the truths of why Jesus came to this earth.

 I know for me there have been times in my life where I said the right things, did the right actions, prayed the right prayers and went to the right church service but my heart was far from what my actions were conveying.

 One of the things that Jesus came to do was replace rules with relationship, and if I'm honest sometimes keeping the rules is much easier than being in relationship.

 With rules it's straightforward and cut & dry. With relationship though, true sacrifice and devotion for my Savior who is my number one priority is what I want to bring because of what He did for me. Not in a robotic "must repay to earn Savior's love" kind of way but in a "He did that for me? No Way! Wow! You gotta be kidding me! How could I not worship Him and live my life for Him?" Kind of way.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

True and Better

A hundred-twenty years the friend Of God! Heart flaming to the end. And in the crystal eyes a fire From what he'd seen of God's Desire. 

An unabated strength of soul Had kept his mind and body whole. O, how he longed to lift his rod Once more and watch the arm of God Slice Jordan like a liquid snake And make the serpent's tail a lake And lead the tribes dry through the slice Back to the promised paradise!

Could God appoint a man to guide His people while the warriors died, To stand and suffer their distrust, And when for golden calves they lust. To intercede with God and spare For them annihilation there?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Man Up...

I've been thinking a lot about persecution these days, especially persecution that comes from sharing the gospel with people. 

Well actually I've been thinking more about the lack of persecution that many people face because they just fly under the radar and keep the "mystery of the gospel" exactly that...a mystery.

The more I think about the gospel the more I realize that because of Christ the mystery has been revealed and as Paul put it, "Christ in us the hope of glory" is the mystery. Hmm, once a mystery is revealed it's no longer a mystery is it? 

So, with that in mind I'm just doing some prayerful reflection on the correlation between sharing the gospel and being persecuted for it and not sharing the gospel and missing out on my purpose at least and participating in some grand "keep it hidden and just fit in" scheme at most.

When I think about all that Jesus went through for me to be able to have a relationship restoration with God words like "Excruciating pain", and "Unbearable grief" come to mind and it's interesting that when Paul gives a little Recap of what he incurred for the gospel He uses the equivalent of our word "stresses" to describe them, not anywhere close to what Jesus's suffering involved. That really got my attention and made me think about my perspective on things especially when I realize what my Savior went through for me.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

unbelievably numb

A couple of years ago we did a four week series at my church on the book of Malachi, and to say the least it was an interesting series. 

Malachi means “my message” and as we worked through it we were realizing that the message that Malachi delivers is a blatantly harsh message to an unbelievably numb group of people who really should have known better.

God responds to their “garbage giving attitude” with a declaration that He wants their very best not left-overs and worse than second best that they’ve been bringing. Then, in Malachi 2, we were introduced to a group of leaders that definitely exhibited conduct unbecoming to their profession. 

And, they did it with an air of flippant invincibility. They exhibited some fatal flaws that lead to their spiritual decline and the one that starts off the whole slide is that fact that they dishonored God’s holiness. Malachi 2:2  says…



Amplify

It’s hard to believe but for over 25 years God has used me to have a part in helping students and adults decipher the confusing messages that they get pummeled with on a daily basis, and I can honestly say it’s been a blast.

I didn’t say it’s been easy, but it has been fulfilling, to see God use students and adults joining together to impact a generation for Him!

As I was thinking about some of the best moments in ministry, moments that are etched in my brain as the kinds of things that really made an impact on me and were used of God to change the lives of many people as well, my mind goes to a late night jam session on September 13th, 2001.

I’ve written an article called “Anything Broken?” about the events surrounding the fateful week, that we hosted a huge concert with Five Iron Frenzy and Relient K three days after the terror attacks on the World Trade Center.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tweak the Talk


What happens when you’re the coach and the first half is over, you’re in the locker room and your team is not only losing, you’re getting destroyed?

What happens when you have to deliver the speech that will hopefully reset the course for the second half, but you know deep down in your gut that your team doesn’t have a chance, what do you do then? Have you ever been in a similar place?

Well, I know I have and I remember an illustration of what makes a good speech an effective one…Truthfulness!

We were playing a team that was ranked #3 in the country according to USA Today. All five of their starters had already committed to division one programs after graduation. Their center was 7 foot 3, their forwards were both 6 foot 8, their shooting guard was 6 foot 6 and their 6 foot 4 point guard was already one of the best in the country and was heading off to UCLA. 

These guys were good, they knew it, we knew it and so did everyone else.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

No Excuse

One time when I was reading my Bible, I found myself in Exodus chapter 3 right as Moses was about to come face to face with a bush that was on fire, but was not being consumed.

He didn’t know what to do with that, he didn't have a context to put that one in, this was new territory for the original man “formerly known as Prince.” I’m sure he was over-whelmed with questions about what he was seeing, and what he was about to hear…from the bush!

Have you ever been in a situation that is new ground for you? I know I have, and many times when I face situations that are brand new, I tend to find myself doing exactly what Moses did when the bush spoke to him, and gave him his marching orders.

Now we know that it was the voice of God that spoke to him and not tree beard’s cousin in a lost Lord of the Rings episode or something. It was God’s presence visibly and audibly presenting himself to His servant, with specific orders in the next steps of His plan, and Moses replies with the “E” word, EXCUSES.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

If only...


Several years ago every week I would go to jail...for about 2 hours and at the end of my time there they would let me go...thankfully!

The Monroe County Jail is where I would go and while I was in the big house I would meet with a group of guys for a Bible study.

The guys I met with resided on what is called “Three Plaza North”, and had been placed in this particular facility, and on this particular floor for a reason…they were hardened criminals, who have done society wrong in some way shape or form. Drugs, murder, arson, robbery, you name it, some of them had done it!

When I initially spoke with the Chaplain, I was interested in going in each week to minister to the "juvies", you know the teens and young adults who have started down the path of making poor choices, but are still hopefully young enough to make some positive changes before they go from “Two Plaza North” up the elevator one floor to where the guys I worked with were housed.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Identity

Recently a tiny little phrase caught my attention, and helped me to realize all over again the simple truth that God is HUGE and I'm not even blip on the radar screen yet He desires a relationship with me.

Who am I that He would create me, save me, have a plan for me, bless me, not destroy me? I don't get it, I never have and I never will, that's what makes God and His plan so _______________...I can't think of a word to insert here, because "amazing", "awesome", "incredible", "super fantastic" and any other describing words just seem to fall way short, and I'm left with this shrinking question in my mind..."Who am I?"

The Psalmist actually added some depth to the question as well when He said "When I consider the works of your hands, the sun, the moon, the stars. What is man that you are mindful of him?"