This past week I had the opportunity to spend time with 100’s of pastors from the West Coast at the annual Association of Related Churches Conference. It was a great time of connecting with old friends as well as making some new ones. As I was mingling with pastors I began to hear a common theme amongst many of them, that theme was discouragement.

At the end of that same week I was at a San Diego pastors prayer meeting hosted by Pastor Miles McPhearson and the Rock Church. We were broken up into groups of 4-6 and sat around tables so that we could get to know one another and pray for each other. As each pastor went around the table and shared what they needed prayer for that same theme of discouragement came up again.

Hearing all of these stories of discouragement during the week and having been there myself recently I decided to change this past Sunday’s message in our Detox Series to Detoxing from Toxic Discouragement. Making this last minute switch to share  what God’s word says about discouragement proved to be the right direction as tons of people responded at both of our campuses.

You can catch the whole message here later this week, so rather than recapping it with you I will simply share one of the most important things I learned this week about discouragement. Discouragement is literally like a hand that reaches right into your heart and rips out your courage and your confidence. If fact one of the definitions of discouragement is, “To deprive of confidence, courage or hope”.  I believe discouragement is not just something that simply happens to us when we go through a low moment but rather it is a tool that the enemy uses to keep us from becoming all the Christ has intended us to become.

The common denominator for discouragement in all of those I talked to this past week had nothing to do with size of their ministries or even how seeming great their life was. This is what grabbed my attention and proved to me that discouragement truly is a tool of the enemy. Discouragement can happen in the lowest of season of our life or when we are ridding high and everything is going great! The main common denominator in all of those who I talked to is that they were all pursuing the will of God for their life. These people were all walking in obedience to what they believe God had shown them. Some of these people have large ministries, some have medium sized and others had small ones and yet all were discouraged. Discouragement is indeed one of the great tools of the enemy to try and get us from becoming all that we can be.

Knowing this we need to to all we can by God’s grace to fight off discouragement with the encouragement of God’s Word so we can walk forward with great courage into the amazing things that await us. Here are 15 powerful thoughts from God’s word that I believe will help you do just that.

Psalm 34:17-19 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 40:31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 42:16 And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

2 Corinthians 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.

Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 1:6-9 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

I Pray today that you are encouraged and fulfill the all that God has for you!

Many Blessings & Dream Big
Ben Brinkman

A Ring and a Prayer

Several years ago, shortly after my dad passed away, my mom moved to San Diego to help serve at Canvas Church. She wanted to occupy her time with serving God and moving to San Diego seemed like a good fit.

Upon arriving in San Diego she lived with us for the first month, which my daughters absolutely loved! The girls had grandma all to themselves and thought they would show her around town (as much as a 6 and 8 year old can). One of their favorite places that they wanted to take Grandma to was a little place they called “no wave beach” at Mission Bay. It is the bay and therefore had no waves so the name seems logical, right? They really liked this spot not only because it had no waves but because there was a little sand island they could swim out to where they would build sandcastles and play.

I will never forget the day we took the girls and their grandma to no wave beach for the first time. My girls had grandma doing everything with them. She swam with them, kicked on the boogie board and even went out to that little sand island and built sandcastles with them for hours! It was quite a sight to behold, my 74 year old mom building sandcastles with my 2 little daughters!

Our time ended at the beach with smiles and laughter. We loaded everything up and headed for home. As we pulled up to our place to unload everything our smiles and laughter were interrupted with a big gasp as my mom started to cry. I had no clue what was happening, so I just put my hand on her arm and asked her what was wrong. With tears in her eyes she said, “my wedding ring, it’s gone”. I could tell the pain of this was too much for her to bear as it had only been a year since my dad passed away. I looked in the review mirror at my wife and she did not even have to say a word. I could read every thought my wife was thinking as she looked at me, “you better go back and find that ring”!

I dropped my family off and quickly made my way back to no wave beach. As I made the 15 minute drive to the bay I couldn’t help but think to myself, “I am never going to find that ring”. I know, I know, I am a pastor and I should have been faith-filled and calling upon God, believing I would find the ring. My prayer was not faith-filled however. As a matter of fact, my prayer sounded more like this, “God, I am never going to find that ring”. Once I arrived to the bay and looked for about 30 minutes my prayer was confirmed, I did not find the ring!

That drive back home was probably one of the worst drives ever. I thought to myself the whole time, “how am I going to tell my mom”. Once I arrived at home and shared with her the news, she was not surprised as she was certain I would not find it either. As I lay down that night, sad for my mom’s loss, I could only hear one voice that sounded distinctly like my wife’s say, “you are going to go back tomorrow and find that ring”. I could tell it was not open for conversation so I just agreed.

I got up early the next morning and headed out, bringing my daughters little goggles with me since I did not have my own pair. Arriving at the bay (once again) I did not care how silly I looked in those itty bitty goggles, I just really wanted to find my moms wedding ring. I slowly made my way out into the water and thought to myself, “this is ridiculous”! After looking in the water for about 5 minutes I stopped, looked up towards heaven and prayed, “God this is absurd, unless you come and tell me where this ring is I am never going to find it”. With that I heard a little voice inside my head say, “turn right, take 3 big paces and then look down in the water”. I chuckled and thought, “whatever” then did it. I turned, took 3 big paces and then stuck my face down in the water and there was my moms wedding ring about 4 feet under water lying on the sand in the bay! With great excitement I reached down and scooped it up. I could not wait to get home and show my mom!

My mom was standing in the kitchen as I walked in. I went straight over to her and said, “guess what”. She looked at me and saw that I was holding the ring out for her; overwhelmed with joy she nearly fainted in my arms. All of us were in a bit of shock as I retold the story I just shared with you.

I believe none of this would have been possible without that brief prayer I prayed to God. It was in that moment of desperation and crying out to Him that I was able to find this little treasure hidden at the bottom of the bay. I was reminded that day of something I had begun to take for granted: there is power in prayer!

At Canvas Church we believe so much in the power of prayer and that God shows us things in the moments of complete focus on Him that we designate two special times a year to have our whole church to pray together. One of those times starts this Sunday August 23rd and I would love for you to join us. We will be spending 21 days in focused prayer for our church, city, nation and world. I believe that as we dive into this time together that we are going to help uncover some hidden treasures in peoples lives just like I was able to do with my mom’s ring.

If you would like to join us you can learn more about it by clicking here.

Whether you join us for these 21 days or not I want to encourage you to look to God today in prayer and bring to him whatever your challenge is. I know that God will hear your prayer and I know that it will produce something amazing in your life.

Blessings & Dream Big,

Ben Brinkman

Lost Wonder

Last Friday I had some friends in town with their 3 kids. It had been a long time since my wife and I had seen them so it was great to catch up. When they were planning their trip to visit us here in San Diego I discovered they had never been to Sea World. Katie and I thought it would be fun to bless them with tickets, so we did just that.

My daughters are a lot like me when it comes to taking people to places we have been but our guests have not. We want to take them to all of the ones we like and talk about how awesome it is. One of the things we like best about Sea World is Blue Horizons. We told our guests a little about the show. We told them about the Dolphin’s and Pilot whales, the birds, actors, acrobats, high divers, bubbles, shooting water and the flags and…. If you have seen the show you know what I am talking about. I had them all sitting on the edge of their seat when the show started; to my surprise thought it was not Blue Horizons. The show was called Dolphin Day’s (or something like that) and all it had were some dolphin trainers talking about the dolphins as the dolphins did flips in the air. There was also the occasional guy surfing a dolphin… Yippee, No big deal.

As I watched Dolphin Day’s I found myself completely disappointed because, where were all of the added extras? Where were the divers and acrobats and music and… As I was talking with my wife and kids about how lame this show was I looked at my friends. To my surprise they were still sitting on the edge of their seats in complete awe of what they were seeing. They were even standing at one point trying to get pictures and videos. I noticed that they were in complete awe. It was at this moment I realized, I had lost the wonder. I had been so over stimulated with all of the extras that I lost the wonder of how magical it is that people can train wild dolphins to crazy flips in the air.  Somewhere along the way I was not the only one that lost this wonder, thus they added the acrobats, divers, etc.

The next day as I was processing how self absorbed and over entertained I had become I read in my reading plan Psalm 51:12, “Restore the joy of Your salvation to me, and give me a willing spirit”. King David writes these words after the prophet Nathan confronted him because of his sin of adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11 & 2 Samuel 12). David had taken his eyes off of God given role and the grace extended to him and began to fill his life with extras. In Psalm 51:12 you can hear the cry of David’s heart, Lord take me back to the basics, take me back to where it all started, take me back to the wonder of knowing you and where your salvation was enough.

As I meditated on this verse and thought about my recent trip to Sea World I realized that the wonder of God’s amazing grace was lost in me. I had lost the wonder of just knowing him and knowing that He loves me. I had begun to fill my life with extras. Better worship services, more lights, more powerful preaching, more conferences, more connections and networking, more, more, more. I was becoming rigged and religious. The wonder of just being his son and him being my heavenly father was lost… momentarily. I am happy to say that thanks to David’s cry in Psalm 51 and maybe a few dolphins flipping in the air I was able to find that wonder all over again.

What about you? Is the wonder lost in you also? If so you can get it back.

Amanda Cook may have said it best in her song entitled “Wonder“. She sings throughout the song,  “may we never loose our wonder”. I never want to come to that place again; I never want to lose my wonder for God and who He is in my life.

Blessings & Dream Big
Ben Brinkman

For the Sunday morning sermon click here.

Change, Don’t Quit!

Galatians 6:9, “So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.”

This morning I swam 1200 yards. That is 12 football fields or 3600 feet. For some of you that are more avid swimmers that might not seem like a lot but for me it was a great accomplishment. My goal is to get it to 1 mile by the end of summer.

I did not just wake up head out to the pool and decide to swim these 1200 yards…. No it was something I have been working on for over 2 weeks. I remember just last week doing 600 yards and thinking that I had accomplished something pretty cool. On one particular day as I was trying to get to 900 yards I remember reeling so exhausted and thought there was no way I was going to make it. My arms and shoulders were killing me and I was just running out of breath. Right as I was about to quit I had a thought. “Don’t Stop Swimming! Just change the stroke you are using”.

Swimming has many different strokes and I do not have to continue to use this one through the whole thing (Yes I know… big lightbulb moment). It was not like I was swimming some particular race in the Olympics or something. Rather than quitting I decided to switch up my storks for a bit so that I could catch my breath and rest some of the muscles I was using. Making this little CHANGE allowed me to hit my goal and to not have to QUIT.

I feel like sometimes we want to throw in the towel and quit in some area of our life that we do not feel like we are advancing in. Have you felt that before? Really all we need to do is make a small changes and you will hit your goal. Here is the thing, I Did not get out of the pool and run, no I kept swimming (because when I was going somewhere I was swimming). You do not need to stop what you are doing, you do not need to quit you just need to make a CHANGE and push yourself and you will reach the goal.

For you it might be a perspective change, it might just mean a simple change in the way you are doing a particular job or task. Maybe it is in the way in which you are communicating or the way you are receiving communication. I do not know what it is for you but take a minute and look at the area you feel like quitting and discover that you just need to make a small change and keep on swimming.

Blessings & Dream Big
Ben Brinkman