JESUS – THE HOPE OF THE WORLD

Church family,

Thanksgiving is past, and November is almost complete. Black Friday and Cyber Monday came and went.

In the news there are almost hourly stories of anger, hurt, & selfishness. One person accusing another. Words tweeted, posted – lawyers hired. It appears that even though as Americans we’ve tried to convey “we’ve got it all together”, man is really a mess! What we are seeing is the exposure of the reality of our heart. Man is sinful, in desperate need of a Savior. Be reminded though, the one main difference between you and they, is that you have recognized you are “a mess” and have run to the Savior. The only person who can meet our need is Jesus. He is the gospel message.

Since I have been your pastor, I have preached to you an overall message that “the power of God is the gospel.” There is no other solution to our problem of sin. I have preached on how we need to relate/see God, who Jesus says that He is, what life in the Kingdom of God looks like, embracing God’s Word, knowing our identity in Christ, and now finishing the letter to the Galatians – the good news of the gospel is by faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone! Our family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, council members, mayors, and all government leaders all need the message of this gospel!

This Christmas season, pray for and take opportunities to talk about the hope of Christ with others. We aren’t just celebrating the birth of a great man, but a great Savior!

Psalm 115:1-18 (NLT)
1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness. 2 Why let the nations say, “Where is their God?”    3 Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes. 4 Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands. 5 They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see. 6 They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell. 7 They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound. 8 And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them. 9 O Israel, trust the LORD! He is your helper and your shield. 10 O priests, descendants of Aaron, trust the LORD! He is your helper and your shield. 11 All you who fear the LORD, trust the LORD! He is your helper and your shield. 12 The LORD remembers us and will bless us. He will bless the people of Israel and bless the priests, the descendants of Aaron. 13 He will bless those who fear the LORD, both great and lowly. 14 May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. 15 May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth. 16 The heavens belong to the LORD, but he has given the earth to all humanity. 17 The dead cannot sing praises to the LORD, for they have gone into the silence of the grave. 18 But we can praise the LORD both now and forever! Praise the LORD!

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian

LIVE BY THE SPIRIT

Church family,

This week I want to remind you of the message I preached – Live by The Spirit, Galatians 5:16-26. As I shared Sunday morning, our lives as believers and followers of Christ are to be different. Paul points out that truth in Galatians 5. Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we can be free – no longer have to live under the bondage of sin! As I have said before, the gospel of grace, of Jesus Christ, not only saved you but provided purpose for your life! His provision for those who trust Him by faith is salvation, abundant life, and eternal life!

The key question is, how does this freedom and transformation occur in the life of a believer? Answer: through the power of the Holy Spirit! In the Galatians 5 passage, I offered three reminders that will give you direction in living in the power of the Holy Spirit: walk by the Spirit, watch your step, and keep in step. These are true whether you are a child, teenager, millennial, boomer, buster, or boomerang! It all begins with submitting to the Holy Spirit;

>Walk by the Spirit

– follow Jesus around

– say “no” to the flesh and “yes” to the Spirit

– remember, you are in a spiritual battle — your heart is the battlefield

– remember, you are “in Christ” not under the law

>Watch your step

– the works of the flesh – our sinful passions and desires – are obvious; sexual, religious, relational, and indulgences

– the fruit of the Spirit – what the Spirit produces in us as we walk in the Spirit

>Keep in step

– Remember we belong to Christ – He’s our Father

– Sin does not have to dominate our lives

– We have access to the power of the Holy Spirit

Dr. A.B. Simpson comments (Christ in the Bible, vol. 5), Step by step, moment by moment, little by little we dwell in Him and walk in Him. The grace that can keep us for a moment can keep us for a lifetime. The strength that is sufficient for today is pledged for all the days. So let us live in the Spirit; so let us walk in the Spirit; so let us abide in Him who has said, “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5b).

Resolve to live daily by the Spirit! I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. Galatians 2:20b, 21a (NLT)

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian

WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR?

Church family,

As we approach Thanksgiving, the question always asked is “What are you thankful for?”. Perhaps there are a multitude of things you are thankful for. Even though life has its share of disappointments and ‘ups and downs’ we have much to be thankful for.

Personally, I am thankful for the Holy Spirit. Recently, I have been reading and studying a lot on the person of the Holy Spirit. I am specifically thankful that God has provided the Holy Spirit for us as His children.

John 14:16, 17 (NLT) – And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, 
because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

The disciples must have thought “How could this ‘advocate’ be better than having Jesus with us?” Well, the Holy Spirit would be with each of His children and then Jesus said “he… will be in you.” The Spirit of God inside us? It is that Spirit who guides us in truth and empowers us to live our lives in Christ! If we try and do that on our own, we will fail miserably. But if we invite His Spirit in and walk in the Spirit, we can have victory over the flesh!

I am thankful God didn’t just send His Son to die and pay for our sin. I am thankful He also sent the Spirit to enable us to live the life God calls us to!

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian

OUR ULTIMATE PURPOSE

Church family,

If I were to ask you what your purpose in life is, what would you say? I am sure there would be a variety of responses. Responses from happiness, serving others, making disciples, to making a good living would probably be given. While each of these seem admirable, there is a greater purpose in life.

Some might say that focusing on and giving one’s life to God’s mission would be the ultimate purpose in life. Honesty, there is something greater.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21 (ESV)

Communion with God, through Christ.

Christ came for forgiveness of sin, to save us from hell… sure. But for what purpose? To reconcile us to God – restoration of the relationship we had ‘in the garden’ with God, before sin severed the relationship.

In the parable of the prodigal son(s), we see our tendency. Both boys seemed to be focused on what they could get from their father. We often live our lives the same way. We live as though the mission (what we do for God) is more important than God Himself. And we often live the mission in order to get from God.

Don’t get me wrong, the mission of Christ is important – to make disciples. It is a great thing, but not the ultimate thing. Let me share,

Philippians 3:7-11 (ESV) But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

John 15:5 (ESV) I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Pursue God to know God. Abide in Him (relationship). Only then will the things you do be fruitful. This is the ultimate priority and purpose of your life.

In HIS hands,

Pastor Brian

REFLECTIONS ON THE MESSAGE OF FAITH AND ITS ONGOING WORK

Church family,

As Christians celebrate and reflect on the 500th Anniversary of Reformation, I want you to take a look at these C&MA resources/articles pertaining to the importance of that event.

Solus ChristusSola ScripturaSola GratiaSoli Deo GloriaSola Fide

Also, you will find the final article, The Story of the Reformation – Simpson on Luther.

Let me encourage you to participate in our upcoming International Workers’ Conference beginning this Sunday! Sunday morning Andy Brake will be sharing with us in the morning service. Following the service, we will have a potluck lunch in the gym. There are also additional times to connect with the Brakes during the week:

Monday, ladies ‘Minute to Win It!’ with Lora (7-8 pm)

Tuesdayeveryone ‘Indonesian Game Night’ with Andy and Lora (6:30-8 pm)

Wednesdaymen ‘Putt at PAC’ with Andy (6:30-8)

Saturdayladies ‘Brunch with Lora’ at BG Alliance (9:30)

Sundayeveryone, Lora will share in the morning worship service and with the youth at 5:00 pm.

Take time to come and get to know those we support through the Great Commission Fund and hear how God is working in Indonesia.

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian

WHO’S LEADING?

Church family,

As I was reading today, the author quoted from Richard Halverson, the former chaplain of the United States Senate:

In the beginning the church was a fellowship of men and women centered on the living Christ. Then the church moved to Greece, where it became a philosophy. Then it moved to Rome, where it became an institution. Next, it moved to Europe, where it became a culture. And, finally, it moved to America, where it became an enterprise.

For clarification, I looked up the word “enterprise”. It means “a business or company”.

As the church moved to different cultures throughout history, you can see how the values of the culture, or what the culture exalted, effected how the church was seen or established. The church of America has become reflective of what our culture exalts.

Over my years of ministry, this subtle well-intentioned objective for the church has driven many in the establishment and ministry of the church. Man knows how to build ‘an enterprise’. Often the issue is the church can be out in front of the Holy Spirit’s leading and empowerment. The Holy Spirit gets mentioned as “part of the ministry’s success” but in reality, He is left out of leading the way. Strategy, proven methods, and proper training become the leading force in building a “successful ministry”.

Acts 1:8 (NLT) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The church is a spiritual organism. It only functions effectively as its people are committed and surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s will and as the Spirit empowers and leads. Take a look at the beginnings of the church in Acts. The believers only responded as the Spirit so directed and empowered. In that, God did mighty things!

This is my heart for ministry at PAC – Holy Spirit empowered and lead ministry… counter-cultural. I want Him to lead us and then we use our willingness and gifts to follow.

In HIS hands,

Pastor Brian

CHRIST IN US!

Church family,

Galatians 2:20 (NLT) My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 

As we continue to study the book of Galatians, we come to chapter 2. Paul writes this verse – verse 20. I would imagine that most, if not all of us, would resonate with what Paul is saying. Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Is this true for you? Are we living daily by trusting Christ who lives in us? Are we aware of what that means? His strength to live in His purposes each day! In and of ourselves we are not able to endeavor “kingdom” things. But because Christ lives in us, we have the one ‘in us’ who can work in and through us to do kingdom things! The question is, do we trust Him?

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian

LOOKING BACK, PRAY AHEAD

Church family,

Recently, we have had opportunities to minister, to help reach to others with the love of Jesus. In August, we were asked to ‘step to the plate’ and provide backpacks with school supplies for children in our area. Thank you for the 43 backpacks you provided!

In the past 3 months, we have helped collect food for TNC and its food pantry ministry.  Thank you! Some of you also went and played a part in working on buildings that will be used for ministry in the TNC neighborhood. Thank you!

Because of recent hurricanes, you were provided an opportunity to give to the relief support of the C&MA ministry, CAMA, as it works ‘on site’ in devastated locations in Texas and now Florida.

A couple of weeks ago, Wes Blood came and told us about local opportunities to connect with and minister to students at the University of Toledo.

Sunday, we will introduce and ‘kick-off’ our 2017 Operation Christmas Child effort. Choose to be a part of this great ministry to children around the world! Boxes go places we may never go and give gifts to children we may never meet. This tool is being used to share the gospel with children all over the world!

Ministry opportunities abound… giving to the Great Commission Fund, the worldwide mission effort of the C&MA. The monthly opportunity to give to the Perrysburg Food Bank.

You may not have thought of this, but pray for our school teachers who are on the front lines of society’s troubles & challenges. They are called to be light to future generations each and every day. Pray for Andrea, Carmela, Kim, Jen, and Shelly. Talk with them personally to know how you can pray for them.

Why do I bring these reminders and challenges to you today? We have a tendency to forget. We have a tendency to get busy with our business. Remember, man’s biggest sin issue – selfishness. Can I challenge you to ask the Lord to give you each day, eyes that see others? Eyes that see ministry opportunities, no matter how large or small. Eyes that see ‘divine appointments’ presented to each of us, by His hand.

My heart’s desire is that we become a people so connected to God (in relationship) that His Spirit works through us to use us for His purposes each and every day. In this we will see the fruit of our obedience and His work through us to not only change our lives, but to change the lives of others for eternity!

I love you PAC people!

Walking with you,

Pastor Brian