Brown has last word(s) on trusting God with your life
Story by Rick Vacek
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau
If only you could have Chris Brown sit alongside you every time you read the Old Testament.
His interpretation Monday of that sometimes confusing portion of Scripture brought to life a story about Moses from the Book of Numbers. The Chapel audience at Grand Canyon University Arena was treated to word pictures so real, it was like learning a new language in a half-hour – Babbel for the Bible.
But, as always, the Senior Pastor of North Coast Church in Vista, California, narrowed his narrative to a series of life lessons that needed no translation. Such as:
“You have a God that will never hijack you. He will never spiritually control you. You have a God that has given you this nasty thing called free will. And if you want to be salvation, you’re allowed to. Good luck with that, but you’re allowed to play God of your life.
“Or you’re allowed to surrender in the midst of fear and certainty and say, ‘God, I want your way, not mine. And to really do that, then I need to walk in Your ways.’”
Brown set the scene with his unique brand of storytelling, dramatically describing what it must have been like for the 12 men Moses sent on a scouting trip to Canaan, the new home God wanted to give them – if only they would accept it. (There’s that free will in action.)
They saw the milk and honey that flowed from the land, and Brown kept that front and center in his listeners’ minds by having them repeat those words several times. But the Israelites also saw danger and declined the offer.
“GCU, listen to me,” he told the students in the audience. “There is a God that realizes how awesome you think you are right now. He does.
“There is a God that realizes you are on this edge right now, you are on this precipice right now of life where so much of life is in front of you – where you’re going to live, where you’re going to work, what you’re going to do, what kind of earnings, who you’re going to marry, what type of home. I mean, all this is in front of you.
“And there is a God that gets that you doubt Him, and He seems to be OK with that. He goes, ‘Look, you’ve got your whole life figured out, and you’re trying to figure out what following God looks like.’ And you have a God that says, ‘Listen, I know that’s scary. I know you’re going to have a lot of doubt with Me. I know you haven’t seen that land yet. So go check it out.’”
Brown, whose connection with GCU was established because he used to be the Teaching Pastor for Jared Ulrich, Worship Manager for GCU’s Office of Spiritual Life, at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California, added that he questions anyone who has never questioned God.
To varying degrees, we all are a modern-day version of Hoshea, whose name meant “salvation.” The fact that Moses changed it to Joshua (“God means salvation”) is yet another subtle biblical lesson that Brown illuminated. He pointed to how much the U.S. has changed in the last 30 years and reminded listeners that they have no idea what’s ahead.
“Do you really want to be salvation? Do you really want to be the answer for your life?” he asked. “And Joshua walks up and says, ‘I’m the answer.’ And Moses goes, ‘No, you’re not. God’s the answer. Get back in line.’
“You’re not the answer. Oh, thank God you’re not the answer.”
Brown made another interesting point: He has never met anyone who chose to walk with God and regretted it years later.
“The longer you dare to walk with God, the further you dare to walk with God,” Brown said, “the more and more, I promise, you’re going to find exactly as He has said.”
But it requires believing Him and not buying the enemy’s lies about controlling your own life. It’s difficult to not follow the crowd, Brown noted, but it’s worth it:
“Let me promise you, GCU, faith isn’t the absence of fear. Faith is simply obedience in the midst of fear. Faith is you standing as a student saying, ‘I don’t know where this goes, and I don’t know what God’s doing, but I’m surrendered.’”
He added a challenge:
“Whatever you want to do, whatever you want to be for the rest of your life, it started yesterday – that what you’re doing right now, right here at GCU, is simply a resume for the rest of your life. …
“Right now … right now … you are living your resume for how God is going to use you for the rest of your life. That doesn’t start once you get a job. That doesn’t start once you get a family and start going to church on your own. That starts today.”
Brown told an amusing story of trying to get his then 2-year-old daughter to eat Jell-O – the byplay of the back-and-forth before he took a chance and put some in her mouth. She loved it, of course. Our attempts to wiggle away from God’s good taste are similarly futile – if we just trust our Creator.
“He knows He’s asking for a lot from you,” Brown said. “Because you’re an American university student, you have a lot to lose. And He knows it takes courage. And He knows you’re going to doubt, and He seems to be OK with that, too.
“But let me promise you, GCU, the Dad who made you knows you like Jell-O. You just don’t know it yet. You just don’t know it yet. And you’ve got to open your hands and trust and in the midst of fear say, ‘It’s yours – my plans, my career, my future.’
“Our Christian church has taught you how to trust God with your eternity. We’ve done a lousy job of getting you to trust God with your temporary. God does not want you to trust Him with your eternity if you can’t trust Him with the next 40 or 50 years here. That’s what He wants.”
Easy to understand, hard to do. But leave it to Chris Brown to make the Bible’s words of wisdom come to life. Like the milk and honey in Canaan, he just flows.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].
To hear the Chapel music by GCU graduates Chandler Jennings and Chandler Kruse and to watch Chris Brown’s talk in its entirety, click here.
Final worship services of semester:
The Gathering (7 p.m. Tuesday, Antelope Gymnasium): Worship Night
The Sanctuary (7 p.m. Thursday, Sunset Auditorium, 31st Avenue and Camelback Road)
Chapel (11 a.m. Monday): Christmas Chapel