Pastor's Notes

        Greetings in the name and power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is my hope and prayer that you are found today to be covered in the blessing and the promise of our Lord. He said, Whosoever will believe in Him will be saved. (John 3:16) Have you done that? Have you come to a place that you have not only believe that there is a Jesus, but that you need Him to save you from the penalty of your sin? I invite you to return to the Home page of this web site, and read again what it means to be "saved." If you are struggling with that, then maybe it would help to read the article by Billy Graham titled Neutrality?

        If you have come to this place, then the Bible firmly teaches that you are a redeemed child of God. Covered in the blood of Jesus, and redeemed by His righteousness. There was nothing that you could have done to be saved, and there is nothing you can do to keep your salvation. Both were, are, and always will be in the will and power of God the Father. You have been chosen by Him for a very special purpose. First and foremost, He desires for you to Worship Him. We Worship God not just on Sunday mornings, or any other day the "church" meets together, but everyday in every act we commit. Perhaps I should say, we have the opportunity to Worship God in every act of every day. But do we?

        This page contains my articles from The Grapevine, a monthly newsletter sent out by Living Branch Community Fellowship. Although it is often very personal and centered on local events here in the Body of Christ, I believe the Father will use them to touch your heart and encourage your walk. May you find all that you need for the Power for Christian living through daily Bible studying, constant prayer, and a Living Faith in God Most High.

 

                                                                                                                                                                In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                 Pastor Steve

 

January 2011             February 2011                March 2011                 April 2011                 May 2011                       June 2011

July 2011                   August 2011                   September 2011            October 2011            November 2011             December 2011

 

January 2012             February 2012                March 2012                 April 2012                 May 2012                       June 2012

July 2012                   August 2012                   September 2012            October 2012            November 2012             December 2012

 

January 2008             February 2008                March 2008                 April 2008                 May 2008                       June 2008

July 2008                   August 2008                   September 2008            October 2008            November 2008             December 2008

 

 

January 2011

January 2011. Can you believe it. I just secured our domain name for the next 9 years, making the name 4Him.com good until 2020! Sometimes time just seems to be an overwhelming part of life. But when I get overwhelmed by the years of my past, or the uncertainty of my future, I find great peace in the fact that God only calls me to live in the moment. Jesus said in Luke 12:22-26
"Therefore I tell you, don't worry about your life, what you will eat; or about the body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they don't sow or reap; they don't have a storeroom or a barn; yet God feeds them. Aren't you worth much more than the birds? 25 Can any of you add a cubit to his height by worrying? 26 If then you're not able to do even a little thing, why worry about the rest?" (HCSB)

So as we enter into a New Year, one that many of used never thought we'd reach, let's live in the moment. Let's give our worries and concerns over to the One who can really use and change them. And let's be thankful for who we are and what we have. My prayer and desire in 2011 is to be a more positive influence for the workers in the field, to be a more complete and humbler teacher for the ones that are in preparation, and a better salesmen for the ones who are yet to join us. May God bless your efforts this year as you strive to please the God of heaven and earth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pastor Steve

 

February 2011

February, el mes de amor. Early European’s believed that birds would choose their mate on February 14th. The Christian tradition of St. Valentine’s Day is really a combination of seven different stories gathered into one. Each story has a priest named Valentine in prison. Some have him healing a jailer’s daughter, others have him in love with her. But in 496 AD, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as a day of honor.

But the greatest love story told isn’t on February 14th, it’s today. Today God loves YOU! He loves you so much that He will never stop sending you gifts and greetings. Long after the stores have set up the next holiday displays, God will be displaying His never ending love for you. His banner will never come down, and His gifts will never cease. So this month, as you send and receive greetings of love, I pray that you will send and receive the greatest gift of all, el regalo de amor, the gift of love.

Now these three remain; faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these IS LOVE.

Greetings in the name and power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus. I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you about what the Lord is doing in and through our Sunday morning Service of Worship. Not all of our experiences are the same, but there is one that we share in common. Pain. Not the pain caused by a bruised knee, but a bruised heart.

Unfortunately, one story we could all tell is of the time that we were hurt by someone we loved or trusted. But fortunately, the story doesn’t have to end there. God is the author of time and space, and He has made it possible for all things to be made new. For the next six weeks, we are going to be looking at many different aspects of The Gift of Forgiveness.

It doesn’t matter if a person has been in church all of their life, or if they have never been in a church, they have been hurt. I want to encourage you to pray for six specific people for the next six weeks. Ask God to use you and His Church to bring healing and wholeness to those lives that have been hurt in their past. Then expect a miracle.

                                                                                                                                                                                See you on Sunday!                                                                                                                                                        Pastor Steve

 

March 2011

March, a season of change. Ash Wednesday, marking the Season of Lent, Daylight Saving Time begins, Saint Patrick's Day, the first day of Spring. There is so much that happens in March its hard to participate in everything. Add on top of that, it's time to fire up the yard sprinklers, gas up the lawn mower, take off the Comforters and pack them away, and the list goes on and on.

But for some, March comes in with little to no change at all. There is still no place to call home. The authorities still chase them out of the parks, river bottom, or overpasses they they try to get a good nights sleep in. The lines are still long at the soup kitchen, and there still isn't anyone who is willing to hire someone without a return address, phone number, and perhaps looks a little bit less un-kept than the last 50 people that came in looking for the same job. Some people can only HOPE that Spring would bring about a change.

It's been quite a while since Christmas, and it's a long time until thanksgiving. So many food banks like ours are finding the generosity of many donors to cool off as the weather warms up. Subsistence funds are running really low, if not completely exhausted already, and yet the need hasn't changed. I want to encourage you to remember the people in need as we move into months of plenty.

Plenty of sunshine, plenty of opportunity, plenty of time, plenty of family and friends. These are foreign ideas and concepts to many that live throughout our neighborhoods. Next Month, Living Branch Community Fellowship will join with Fishes N Loaves, LOVEnglewood, and other area ministries to once again begin feeding people in the park. We will feed them hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, salads, chips, fruit, and a whole list of items to make their days a little more complete.

But more importantly than that, we will also be feeding them words of encouragement, prayers, hope, and the Word of God. So we invite you to come and join with us as we live out loud the teachings of Christ. We invite you if you are in the greater Denver area to come and join with us in person. You can cook, dish up, wash up, pray, teach, sing, we'll even let you Mime if your a natural at it. All we ask is that you do it in Love, and give God all of the glory for the results

If you're not close enough that you can come and help us in person, you can certainly help us in the spiritual realm by lifting us up in prayer. Ask God for good weather in the Denver area on Sunday afternoons (2:00-5:00pm). Ask God to soften and open the hearts of the homeless and hungry, that they will be receptive to the Word of God and the calling of His Spirit on their lives. Ask Him to open their minds and souls to His invitation to come and be one of His children, redeemed by the blood of Christ. And ask Him to provide for us as we GO and make disciples of every language and tribe.

And of course, if you would like to help us, or support us, feel free to send your tax deductable donations to LBCF/Fishes N Loaves Ministry, 4619 S. Fox St. Englewood, CO  80110.

                                                                                                                                                                           In Christ,                                                                                                                                                                   Pastor Steve

 

April 2011

Have you ever ordered a Supreme Pizza and then wondered what makes it "Supreme after you get it? Or have you ever thought about the Supreme Court’s place in our countries structure? What is its role, what is its authority, and how does it function? What makes a supreme pizza, or the Supreme Court "supreme"? The Bible says in Exodus 15:17_18 that "You (God) will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of Your possession; LORD, You have prepared the place for Your dwelling; Lord, Your hands have established the sanctuary. The LORD will reign forever and ever!"

God Reigns! He reigns supremely! But if that is true, then why do we struggle so much in life? Why do we have such a hard time following Him, and being obedient to His commands? The answer is because we don’t trust Him. We don’t really trust Him with our finances, so we struggle financially. We don’t really trust Him with our children, and we struggle raising them. We don’t really trust Him with our physical bodies, so we struggle with illnesses, growing old, how we look, and how we feel about ourselves.

God Reigns! We say it, we sing it, and we believe it, but we struggle to live like it. For the next few weeks leading up to Resurrection Sunday, we are going to be studying the Supremacy of God on Sunday mornings. I invite you to come and see God as the Supreme Lord He is.  April 16th is Resurrection Sunday. This is by far the greatest day in the history of mankind. It has nothing to due with rabbits, chocolate, or eggs. It has everything to do with sin, payment, and reconciliation.

What makes God Supreme? He does, and He proves it through the love that He continually pours out toward us.

Let me remind you. More people attend "church" on Easter, and Christmas, than any other days in the year. Take this opportunity to reach out and invite your neighbors, co-workers, family, and friends. They are already thinking about going, they just need a suggestion where to go. Use this opportunity to introduce them to the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. And when we stand and sing to the Lord of Life, "He Arose, He Arose, Hallelujah Christ Arose", they won’t be able to feel and know that Christ is Alive.

My prayer for you today, and this month is that you will see God for who He IS, and that He loves YOU supremely. Come, join with us as we celebrate life, and seek to bring God glory, honor, and praise.

                                                                                                                                                                                    In Christ,

                                                                                                                                                                                    Pastor Steve

 

May 2011

What is more than 100%? Have you ever thought about what it takes to give somebody "ALL" of your undivided attention, to commit yourself 100% to a relationship, job or task? When the Bible uses the word "all", does it really mean ALL? I recently came across a cute article that talked about this very subject. Assigning mathematical values to letters, it cast a hint on what God gives and expects to and from us.

If the alphabet, A-Z, were represented respectfully as numbers, 1-26, then the following phrases would have their corresponding values.

K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E = 11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%

H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K  =  8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%

A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E  =  1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

But look how far the L-O-V-E-O-F-G-O-D will take you.  =  12+15+22+5+15+6+7+15+4 = 101%

The Bible uses the word "all" over 4400 times. WOW! That is a lot. From the very beginning in Genesis 1:31 when reviewing "all that He had made, and it was very good", to the very last verse in Revelation 22:21, "The grace of the Lord Jesus, be with all the saints. Amen."

"All" appears to be very important to God. He drives this truth home again and again. "... all who call on Him will be saved." (Romans 10:12-13). " There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope at your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:4_6). And "Though a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered. After He was perfected, He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, and He was declared by God a high priest "in the order of Melchizedek." (Hebrews 5:8_10).

If God were to take your life and service to Him and assign it numerical values, what do you think your life total would be? Have you given your "all" to Him? We sing the song, "All to Jesus, I surrender, all to Him I freely give..." but do we? In Charles Sheldon’s book, "In His Steps", he tells a story of a hungry, homeless man seeking to provide for himself and his daughter. After having visited many in the town for the past three days, he finds himself in church on Sunday morning. When the church begins to sing the invitation hymn, he rises to his feet, approaches the pulpit and said, "There are a good many others like me. I’m not complaining, just stating facts. But I was wondering, as I sat here in church this morning, if what you call following Jesus is the same thing as what He taught. What did He mean when He said, ‘follow me’"

I ask myself that same question often. Am I following Jesus teaching, or my own version of them. As we enter into the summer months let us not fall into a watered down version of "all", but be fully devoted to Him.

                                                                                                                                                                I n Christ,

                                                                                                                                                               Pastor Steve

 

June 2011

Summer is upon us. Even as I write this newsletter, the weatherman is predicting record heat for the next couple of days. But, as the temperature goes up, so do our opportunities to serve the Lord. Unfortunately, statistics show us a different story. Attendance, giving, and participation for many churches decrease during the summer months. Now, I have been in the ministry long enough to know the difference between summer vacations, and summer non-attendance. Where will you be this summer? You can help us prove that people are more powerful than statistics, and help keep us from experiencing a "summer slump." We can GROW this summer.

We have got a good number of summer activities coming up. Many that are going to require a substantial number of workers. Will you be available? First, is the Living Bread of Life’s yard sale on Saturday, June 3rd. Next is our regular scheduled Celebration of Praise (business meeting) on July 9th, followed by our 2nd Annual Block Party on Saturday July 15th. In August we are going to celebrate our 2nd Anniversary by Constituting as a Church. If you have never attended this type of a service, I invite you to come and participate in this once in a life time event for a Church. Pastor David George from Lake Arlington Baptist Church will be here to lead us in this special weekends events. We will have a dinner Friday the 11th, a concert on Saturday the 12th, and our Celebration service on Sunday the 13th. You won’t want to miss this opportunity.

Whether you can be her for one, or for each of these events, let me remind you that the opportunities never stop for those that will allow themselves to be led by the Spirit. We need your help to be the Lighthouse in this community. We need your help by attending every opportunity you possibly can. We need your help by assisting at as many events as you are physically capable. And we need your help by being faithful with your tithes and offerings, even on the weekends you will be gone. God’s work doesn’t stop, and neither should your faithfulness to His call.

We have got a lot to do. Weeds to pull, yards to mow, windows to wash, people to visit, hearts to touch, and the list goes on So let me encourage you to roll up your sleeves and join me in the fields. "The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest ." Matthew 9:37_38

                                                                                                                                                                                In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                                                                                Pastor Steve

 

July 2011

Hola mis amigos. As you read this article, Steven and I are enjoying some time together under the bright Mexican sun.

But even as we are here, and you are there, it is comforting to know that The Son, is ever present, all knowing, and all powerful. Of course, I am taking about the Son of God , Jesus, our Lord and Savior. I trust the Lord spoke to your heart through Ed Mills, His servant. I trust you are asking your God and Father where He is leading you to serve. I am praying that you will receive the confidence to join God right in the middle of His good, and pleasing, and perfect Will (Romans 12:2).

This month we will come together and celebrate all that God has done in the past three months, and look forward to what He is going to do in the days He gives us. Our regular Celebration of Praise meeting is July 9th, right after the morning Service of Worship. You are encouraged to come whether you are a member, regular attendees, or a visiting guest. Lunch will be provided, and the fellowship is great. Then on Saturday, July 15th, we are going to party till we drop. We will hold our Second Annual Block Party on that day from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.

Last year we had over 100 people come join us at our first event. We got to meet neighbors, new friends, and have a lot of fun doing it. So this year, we are aiming for an even bigger event. The posters and printed, and the flyers are ready for you to distribute throughout our neighborhood.  I ask you to prayerfully consider where and when God is asking you to serve. For the next couple of weeks, we will have a sign up sheet passed around in the Service of Worship. Please make sure you sign up to help us in this monumental outreach project.

I know the days are getting warmer, and the streets seem to be getting longer, but He who is in you is able to see you through these task. Nothing says it better than God’s Word. So let me leave you withy these blessings. "Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now, and forever" (Jude 24_25).

"And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we also do for you. May He make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father" (1 Thessalonians 3:12_13).

And as the Lord bid farewell to His Disciples, I do with you. "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you" (John 14:27). I look forward to the growth we will enjoy this summer in the peace of our Lord and Savior.

                                                                                                                                                                        In Christ Jesus,

                                                                           Pastor Steve

August 2011

            Congratulations! You have nearly made it through another summer. But don’t stop yet, we have a few more really big dates before the season ends.

            August 11th -13th is our Second Anniversary Weekend Celebration. I am asking that each and every one of us make a special effort to be at each of this special weekends events.

            Friday, August 11th we will have a catered Diner. This is an evening that we can just get together to fellowship without all of the work. It is an opportunity for the Church to say “Thank You!” for the fantastic work you have taken part in the past two years.

            Saturday, the 12th, we are going to have a Concert night. We already have a number of commitments from members of our own Church family, as well as some from sister fellowships in the community. It will be a great evening of fellowship and worship. Come praise God from whom ALL BLESSINGS flow on this special evening.

            Then on Sunday the 13th, we are going to Constitute as a Church. This is a special time in a Church’s life. We may move a hundred times, but you only Constitute once, and this is it.

            The word constitute comes from a Latin word that means “to set up.” But in many Churches lives, as in ours, it is a celebration of maturity, a recognition of God setting up His Church.

            This is not only an opportunity for us to come together to celebrate, but a great opportunity for us to let our community know who we are, and what we stand for. So, I encourage you to make every effort to attend each of these activities. Invite your friend, your neighbor, your co-worker, and those in your family.

            In this weekends events, they will see the hand of God, and experience the love of Christ. God Himself brings the increase, we are merely called to build upon the foundation which is already laid in Christ Jesus.

            So mark your calendar. Dinner Friday 8/11 @ 6:30, Concert Saturday 8/12 @ 6:00, Bible Study Sunday 8/13 @ 8:30, with the Worship following @ 10:00. There will be no evening meeting on this Sunday evening.

            I hope to see you. May the God of heaven and earth be glorified in ALL that we do.

            “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. LORD, save us! LORD, please grant us success! Blessed is he who comes  in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.”                                     Psalms 118:24-26

                                                                                                                                             In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                     Pastor Steve

 

September 2011

            September 1, 2006. It seems like it was January 1st just last week. But I can’t say where has the year gone, because the Lord has done way too much for us to say the year has flown by.

            Since January God has brought us 22 new Members. We have 5 presently waiting to be baptized, and numerous prospects. Traditionally, we would say that our numbers are up, and that is always a good thing.

            But I would like to challenge you with some other numbers. Numerous surveys teach us that 95% of those that live in the Denver metropolitan area don’t go to church anywhere. That means that there are 2,470,000 people that aren’t singing songs, praying, and being taught the Word of God. But those types of numbers are too big for us to wrap our arms around. So let me give you another set of numbers.

            There are 32,491 people that live in Englewood, the community that God has placed us in. 95% of Englewood is 30,866 people. Now before you say that number is still far to big for us to reach let me share with you another number.

            In June, we passed out over 1200 flyers. Those flyers reach over 3500 people. That is over one/tenth of the cities population. In one directed effort, we reached 1/10th of the city. That means if we were to do that nine more times we could reach every home, and potentially, every person in Englewood. Isn’t that a goal worth reaching toward?

            Jesus said “As for Me, if I am lifted up  from the earth I will draw all people to Myself.” (John 12:32) And then He told us in Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

            So the call is clear. We are called to lift up the name of Jesus, and to start here in our Jerusalem, Englewood.

            So let me share one more number with you. If you will invite 686 people, the 45 of us that worship God here regularly can reach Englewood for Christ. 686 people, you can do it!

            How you ask? By reaching out to 13 people a week for the next 52 weeks. I will soon have a short survey prepared to ask out neighbors. It won’t take three minutes of their time, and we have already learned they will talk to us at their door.

            So I need your help. I need your help to get to know our neighbors, Englewood Ernie, and Englewood Ellen better. I am asking that you will continue to come along side of me as we reach out to those God has placed us in the middle of.

            Please be looking for the sign up sheet. Remember, if we will work together as a T.E.A.M. Together, Everyone, Accomplishes, More.

                                                                                                                                                                                                In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                                                                                                Pastor Steve

October 2011

            Well the summer has come and gone, and God has done some marvelous things. We have enjoyed a continued  growth in attendance and membership. But our work is far from over.

            Just outside our doors are more than 31,000 people who aren’t hearing about the Love of Jesus. We have been learning these past few weeks about the purposes of the Church. Worship, Ministry, Evangelism, Fellowship, and Discipleship. Many of you have filled out interest cards in one or more of these areas. As soon as we finish our leadership training time on Sunday evenings, we will be plugging you into as many of these as possible. Thank you for your response.

            But now that the Majestic days of fall are upon us, we often have a tendency to coast into the holidays. We can’t do this. We will fall behind on accomplishing our goals. We have got to run the race, and fight the good fight. Each week we see people coming and joining with us. These new members need to be plugged into your classes, ministries, and personal lives. If we don’t plug them in, we’ll lose them.

            Jesus said that “Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day.  For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”                                                                (John 6:37-40 HCSB)

            And this is our charge: That we don’t lose any that He has brought to us. Are you up to it? Not only are we responsible for the 19 new members since August 13th, we are responsible to reach out to the 31,000 that live here in Englewood. Beyond that border lies the 2.4 million in the Denver metropolitan area.

            To be the Church that God has called us to be, we need to accept the commands given to us in the Great Commandment, “Love the Lord  with all you are and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39) and the Great Commission, “Go, make disciples of all people groups, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them everything I have told you.” (Matthew 28:18-20).

            In obedience top these commands, we will find the power, boldness, and desire to fulfill Acts 1:8. There, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be God’s witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

            Praise be to God the Father. Thank you for serving Him in and through Living Branch Community Fellowship. Go gett’m

                                                                                                                                                                                                In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                                                                                                Pastor Steve

 

November 2011

 

            John the Apostle wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.

            Life was in Him, and that life was the Light of men. That Light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5) It brings me great confidence to know that my Lord and Savior IS, and has AlWAYS been. There is nothing that catches Him off guard, or unprepared. My Lord and Savior has never had to have gone to plan B, because plan A failed to work.

            Praise God that He is ALL powerful, ALL present, and ALL knowing! Praise God that He knew us before we were created, before the beginning of time. Praise God that He not only knew us, but He knows all of the situations we will find ourselves in. And, Praise God, that He has already   provided for us the means to live with, or through life’s circumstances.

            The Bible says that He will not let us be tempted beyond that which we can see His provision of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). The Bible says that if we will be faithful to seek first the kingdom of God, the reign of Christ in our lives, that all of our other needs will be met (Matthew 6:33). These aren’t just cute little Bible phrases that we use to encourage each other. These are Biblical Principles and promises given to us from God Himself.

            What are you struggling with? How are you learning to give those struggles to God and to trust HIM to provide the means to meet them or the way to escape them?   Too often we stand against the enemy in our own strength. It’s no wonder that we feel so beat-up so often. It is not our place to take the challenges of this life on by ourselves. God has provided for us His strength, His wisdom, and His protection. Let’s try using IT for a change.

            There are many indicators in a Church family in how it’s doing. Attendance, participation, fellowship, and one on one ministry are just a few. Another is the Church’s finances. God has blessed us richly, not just in money, but in a place to meet, in a staff that can work for very little, and in people who are willing to shoulder a large part of the Church’s responsibilities.

            I want to encourage you to trust God with your finances. Our giving has decreased while our numbers have increased. It will be real hard to keep that up for very long. So please be faithful in your tithes and offerings to the Lord.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                                                                                                Pastor Steve

 

December 2011

Merry Christmas! I don’t know if there are two words that have such a wide range of meaning as those two do. They can mean anything from a seasonal holiday greeting, to being a prayer that one would come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. This year I have become much more reflective in the things that I say, and the reason that I say them. Maybe its because I’m getting older, or maybe its because I am becoming more sensitive about the things I say.

So I wish you from the bottom of my heart a MERRY CHRISTMAS. I contemplate what those words have meant to the millions that have lived before us. Tertullian, a 3rd century Church leader selected December 25th as the birth date of Jesus our Lord and Savior. It is recorded as a holiday as early as 220 A.D. and formally added to the Roman calendar in 350A.D. So what is so big about this day?

The “Big Deal” is that the Lord of lords and King of kings stepped out of His place in a perfect heaven to come and live among mankind, His prize creation. He left behind all that He had for one reason, you! The splendor of Christmas is held in the best known scripture in the Bible, John 3:16. Here the Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-17 NASU).

God gave us Jesus. Remembered at this point in His story as the little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. Can you see Him there? What was that first Christmas like for Mary and Joseph? What was it like for the shepherds who were told of the Saviors birth? What was it like for the wise men who traveled so far to worship the new born King? This we know, it was awesome! The awe started a long time ago for Joseph and Mary. They must have been in awe that God would have even chosen them to play a part in His Kingdom plan. The shepherds were so moved that they left the fields, their places of work, and went to see the Lord. Then, they went to tell the others what they had seen and heard. The wise men traveled great distances to worship the King. They brought treasures of great worth to offer to Him as their gift.

As the parents of adult children with children, our Christmas’s have dramatically changed. We are no longer consumed by hiding gifts and keeping secrets. I wonder if the awe of Christmas will find it place in our hearts? What will Christmas bring to you this year? For many it will bring over extended credit limits and bills that will take all year to pay off. For some it will bring stressful family get-togethers where the tension could be cut with a knife.

For some it will mean meaningless gift exchanges in boring office parties with people they don’t even like. And the one things these all have in common; They are done in the name of Christmas. This year I am going to pray that God will bring us to a screeching haut with the divine awe of Christmas. My prayer is that we will see all that this season brings us. Isaiah 9:6 says “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor , Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

May this Christmas bring you all that the Father has intended from the beginning  of time. May you find peace and joy, happiness and purpose. May you find your significance in the arms of the bay who was, and is, and is to come. May this Christmas cause you to stand and stare into the heavens in awe that the King of kings chose you to play a role in His story.

                                                                                                                                            Merry Christmas! May it be the beginning of a brand new life for you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                                                                                                Pastor Steve

 

January 2007

Catch a breath. Okay, let's pick up with February!

 

 

February 2007

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus. May you find yourself not only protected in His care, but full of His compassion and mercy.

2007 has come in a way that has caused us to sit up and take notice. Actually, it has come in a way that has caused us to get out and shovel, and shovel, and shovel. We have already received nearly our annual snow fall in just the first month of the season. While the main streets are managed well, our residential streets are more than a challenge, they are nearly un-drivable. But the key word here is “nearly.”

We Need You! Last week I suggested we come up with an acrostic to say that we will come and pick you up. While IWPYU looks like a good Native American word, it’s difficult to pronounce. But here is the meaning, I Will Pick You Up! Those of us that are able to drive in our present conditions need to be contacting the others and telling them “I will pick you up.” Will you help us with that? While the weather has kept us inside, the Spirit has been moving mightily in our Bible study and Worship gatherings. We need you because you are an important part of the body, and we can’t fully function without you.

            We need you because God has individually gifted you with talents, gifts, insight, and experiences that He is planning to use in the Body to teach and encourage others. We need you because you need us. Together we will not only better deal with all of the snow piled up on our streets, but with the challenges and opportunities of our days. America is loosing the family structure that has made us a great nation, the family structure that God has designed us to live in. Our present situation gives us a great many opportunities to demonstrate God’s love for others. We have had a surge in the number of families coming to the Living Bread of Life food bank ministry. And the Lord is providing.

            But the Bible says in Galatians 6:10 “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” We need you. We need you to help us do good things for others. Although it may be cold, the sun is out, we have regained our parking, and the Spirit is willing. What about you?

            I hope to see you Sunday, 8:30 or 9:00 am for Bible study, and 10:00 am for our Service of Worship. The Lord will be there, will you?

                                                                                                                                                                                                In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                                                                                                Pastor Steve

       

March 2007

             The other day I was looking out into my front yard. Shortly after the Christmas storm, I placed a yardstick in the snow and kept track of how many inches were still there. Of course, the New Year’s storm added to it, and the rest is history. The record was 63 days of snow. I wondered if we would set a new record. Then last week, the much anticipated thaw came. There were days that we lost better than six inches of snow. What a difference a day makes.

            Looking over the past 38 years, I have tried to measure the depth of my Christian life. And I must admit, there are times that I walked long and deep with God, and there are times that I walked in the shallow act of religiosity, simply going through the motions. But then God spoke. First, He spoke to my heart, and asked me to look at where I was at, and what I was doing.  Then, He asked me to look at His Church and to see where we were headed. And then He spoke His promise to me. “My son, if you will trust Me, I will bring not only the change that you need, but I will prepare My Bride for My coming.”

I sometimes quiver at His promises. But He helped me to understand the truth of His promise. It is first to me. It’s personal, and individual. God wants to change you! He doesn’t want you to stand in a crowd of people He is going to conform. He wants to lead by the hand. He wants to show you how He wants you to be transformed. And He shows us what He wants us to look like. He wants us to look like His Son and our Savior, Jesus. I trust that He is carrying out that miraculous work in your life as we have been studying His word. We’ve got two weeks left in this study on CHANGE. The Power of Faith, and The Power of Fellowship.

I hope and pray that you will make a commitment to both of these lessons. I promise you they have the Power to Change your life. Not because of anything I, or we can do, but because they are His words for His children.

                                                                                                                                                                                 I Hope to See You Sunday,

                                            Pastor Steve

 

 

April 2007

It’s easy to look at the cross and conclude that it is probably the single most act of human injustice ever carried out. And it was. The murder of Jesus was a selfish evil act carried out by men that had one thing in mind, furthering their own agenda. But that’s not the whole story. The murder of Jesus was also the greatest act of love and justice ever carried out. Yes, Love and justice. You see, the crucifixion of Jesus was all done in the full accord of God’s plan.

In Peter’s sermon recorded  in Acts 2:23 , he proclaimed that the death of Jesus was in “the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God.” The death of Jesus has secured the salvation of untold millions of people and has provided God’s perfect plan of redemption to be made possible. Jesus was not a mere victim of selfish evil men, but “The Plan” before the heavens and earth were ever created. Christ died willingly. He died to become the substitutionary atonement for your sins and for mine, even of those whose beat Him and nailed Him to the cross. 

His life, both in living, and in dying became the greatest sacrifice ever given. In His willingness to go to a cross He didn’t deserve to die on, for you and for me, He has demonstrated the purest act of love ever witnessed by mankind. My prayer for you in this Easter, Resurrection Season, is that you will not only claim the gift of that love, but that you will desire to live in it’s fullness.

 I praise God for the growing number of worshippers that we are seeing on Sunday morning. But we need to do a better job to get them from standing in the sanctuary, to kneeling in the classroom. Our communities are teaming with people hungry and searching for answers too deep for human psychology. The emptiness in their hearts haven’t been filled by relationships, jobs, houses, or money. And yet, they keep searching. More of our neighbors, friends and co-workers will go to Church on Easter morning than any other day of the year. Let God use you to invite them to come with you. Send them a postcard, drop them a letter, give them a call. Offer to pick them up, take them out to lunch, whatever it takes. God’s Word promises that if we will share the Good News of Jesus with them, that it will not come back without results. (Isaiah 55:11)

The worst thing we could ever say to someone about Jesus is                    . (nothing)

            So be a part of the Miracle that God began so many years ago on a hill outside of Jerusalem. Bring a friend with you and watch as God continues His story played out in the lives of those we love.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      He is Alive, Praise God, Jesus is Alive!!!

                                                        Pastor Steve

 

May 2007

Peace and greetings to you in the mighty and glorious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus. May you find Him today to be all that you need, and all that you desire.

The ministry is my life. A pastor friend and mentor recently helped me to see that I live and breath “church.” Every waken moment, and some while I am asleep is spent thinking about and sometimes agonizing over “church” stuff. Some of this agony is because I continue to see the Church, world-wide, lacking spiritual purpose and missional vitality. And I believe there are others in the Church who, in terms of their church experience, want to script a story different from the one they have been a part of in their past.

But what does that mean? First, it means that we have to take a step back and evaluate what the Church has done, and to closely examine what it is doing. What is the purpose of the Church and how are we structured, and striving to fulfill those purposes? Secondly, we need to ask the tough questions. I believe for the last generation or two we have been asking the wrong questions. Based on our up-bring, culture, and church life experiences we have been asking the same questions for years, questions that are no longer effective in the mission or the purpose of the church.

So what are “tough questions” then? Let me answer that by giving you some comparisons. First, I’ll tell you what I believe the wrong question is, followed by the tough question.

 Wrong:  How do we “do church” better?                        Tough:   How do we “BE Christ” better?

            Wrong:  How do we grow this church?                            Tough:   How do we serve this community?

            Wrong:  How do develop ministries for the church?          Tough:   How do we develop missionaries to the culture?

            Wrong:  How do we plan for the future we see?               Tough:   How do we prepare for the future God sees?

            Wrong:  How do we develop leaders for church work?     Tough:  How do we develop leaders for the Christian movement?

     I believe our task is to move from churchanity to Christianity. This tough task will challenge the way we think not only about the Church, but about ourselves. I invite you to come and be a part of the quest for the tough answers on Sunday morning at 10:00 am in our morning Service of Worship. We’ll save you a seat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                                                                   Pastor Steve

 

June 2007

 Now is the Time!

Now is the time to demonstrate your love for Jesus. Now is the time for you to answer the call. Now is the time for you to take the next step in your spiritual development and growth. Now is the time for you to live by faith! For nearly two years we have lived in the grace of God and the generosity of the Colorado-Nebraska District of Wesleyan Churches. For nearly two years we have enjoyed the growth and freedom that our present location and arrangement has given us. But now is the time!

Now is the time for us to step forward in faith that this is the place, the corner, and the time that God has called us to serve Him in. Now is the time for us to put our money where our mouth is. The Wesleyan Conference has contacted us and has asked us to purchase these buildings from them for the price of $300,000. And they would like for us to close on or about August 15th. In order for this to happen, two things are going to have to happen. First, God’s people are going to have to seek His will in their lives. Those of us that claim to be God’s children need to get on our knees before the Father, and ask Him what He would have us do.

Then secondly, we are going to have to obey. We are going to have to listen to His answer, and then in faith obey His command. I’m not a big preacher on tithing. I can’t really tell you why that is. But this I can tell you. It is God’s command to EVERY believer. Whether you make ten dollars, or a hundred thousand, the command is the same. God requires 10% of everything you make to be given to His kingdom for His glory and to support His work.

            One thing Jamie and I have learned over the years is that we cannot out give God, and that He will never ask us to give more than we can afford. Yes, He has stretched us to our limits. Yes He has led us to give sacrificially at times. But more importantly, YES He has always proven Himself faithful in everything He has ever commanded us to do. To put it bluntly, our tithes and offerings to spending ratios simply will not qualify us for a loan to purchase these buildings.

But God is capable of doing anything He wants. And I believe that will include stirring your heart to seek His will. Even as I write these words there are institutions that loan money specifically to Churches looking at our P&Ls, laboring over how they may be able to help us continue to serve God right here on the corner of Fox & Tufts in Englewood, Colorado. But please hear this. God’s will is not controlled by the ability of financial institutions to loan us money. God’s will, and His ability to carry on His work here in our community rest in our hearts, and in our hands.

In the ninth chapter of Matthew we read the story of two blind men that had heard about Jesus and followed after Him, seeking His mercy and grace. Having cried out, “Have mercy on us , Son of David!” Jesus turns and asked them this question: “Do you believe I can do this?” “Yes Lord!” they answered. Today, as we look at our future, truly unable to see beyond this very moment we need to hear the Master ask us, “Do you believe I can do this?” Do you?

If your answer is “Yes Lord!” then we need to ask Him what He wants US to do. For some of us, it will to simply be obedient in our tithes. We will need to trust Him that He will enable us to live on the 90% that he entrust us with. For others, He is going to ask us to give our extra coat so that others can have the opportunity to learn of a Savior, a God who loves them and cares for them. One of the things Church lending institutions will look at is the pledges that those in the congregation will make to meet the financial; needs requested. I’m going to ask you to start praying about that now.

Now is the time for you to seek God’s everlasting promise of meeting your needs, s well as the needs of His Church. Now is the time for you to step out in Faith and make a pledge to God, knowing that He will never let you down. Now is the Day of Salvation for thousands in Englewood as we exercise our faith in a loving and merciful God and answer His question, “Do you believe I can do this?” with a resounding “Yes Lord Yes!”

                                                                                                                                                                                              I’ll see you Sunday,

                                                                                                                                                                                                             Pastor Steve

 

 

July 2007

            The Summer of 2007. How will it be remembered? For some, it will be remembered as the tie they watched the space shuttle and the Space Station float across the clear summer sky. But for others, it will be remembered by the huge tree that came crashing through their homes. Yes, the Summer of 2007 has come roaring in. We have set more records this year already than have in years past, and the summer has just begun. And here at Living Branch it couldn’t be truer.

            We have had the privilege to share our hearts and time with the youth choir from Spring Baptist Church in Spring, Texas as they came to help us put on our Vacation Bible School. During this time of Bible study and games, as well at our block party, we had eight people, six children and two adults pray to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Praise the Lord Summer arrived with a bang!

            But the fact that VBS is over doesn’t mean the work is over, the real work has just begun. Jesus said that we are to GO and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, TEACHING them everything He has taught us. So now that we have made eight new disciples we need to continue serving God by being faithful to the rest of His command. We need to partner with these new believers, helping them to grow and develop into Disciples that will go and make disciples.

             In order to do that, we are going to need everybody to pitch in. We need people from every class to step forward as a contact person in that class. You can do that by sending out cards  yourself, or encouraging others to do it with you.

We need people to partner with us on our Tuesday Night Visitation program. It’s not nearly as intimidating as you think!

We need people to help us teach our children about Jesus in Bible study and in our new and forming Children’s Church.

We need people that will hang out in the backyard following our Sunday morning Service of Worship just getting to know our Food Bank Families and friends, investing their life in the lives of others.

What we really need is YOU! We need YOU to help us fill the many needs we have as a body of Christ, a lighthouse in this community. How has God equipped you to fill one of these needs?

Give me a call, I am willing to walk with you side by side until you are comfortable in anything God is leading you to do.

May you find Him to be EVERYTHING that you need!

                                                                                                                                                                                            In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                                                                                            Pastor Steve

August 2007

Are You Ready?!! Saturday August 11th we are going to have our 3rd Annual Block Party. This single event has been one of the best tools we have used to make ourselves known in our community. So on Saturday the 11th we are once again going to gather together to play games, fill up water balloons, eat hotdogs, snow cones, and watermelon, all in the name of evangelism.

So if you think you struggle in that area, let me promise you, you won’t. All we ask of you is to come on  down and serve those in our community with a hot dog,  snow cone, or just a kind word as you man a bouncing castle or refreshment stand. Just like the cost of this day, it is a pressure FREE day. You can do it, and you’ll be glad that you did. This coming Sunday you will have one more opportunity to sign up on the volunteer list, so make sure you make it to the Fellowship, and sign up for some FREE fun! On a more serious note, there is one area we need to do a better job at, and that is in the area of following up on those the Lord brings us.

During our Vacation Bible School week we had 8 people, 6 children and 2 adults pray to receive Christ. Have you followed up on those assigned to you or your Bible study class? Last year we had over 250 friends, neighbors, and family members come visit at our Block Party.  This year we are expecting even more. We will need your help in following up on those that express and interest in our ministries. Food Bank, SAM’s, Youth, Music, Bible Studies, whatever the ministry is, we are going to need YOU to help us reach THEM.

            There is nothing better than to see someone you have shared your life with open up an receive the fullness of God’s Spirit and grace. So I’ll plan on seeing you this coming Sunday, and on Saturday, August 11th as we throw the Party of the Summer right here at Living Branch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                     In Christ Jesus, 

                                                                                                                                                            Pastor Steve

 

September 2007

What a Summer 2007 has been! Back in the July newsletter I asked what type of summer we would have, and the Lord answered with an astounding “A Fantastic One!” So now what? What will we now do with the new building we own, and the people that are coming and worshipping with us?

Our answer must be, “Grow and Develop.” We must now set our eyes on new goals and plans to be used by God in bigger and better ways. Physical growth is only the beginning of what Go has called us to do. We must look for ways to grow spiritually and develop the ministries that God has called us together to perform.

There are five ways I will lead us to do this. First is the opportunities offered in our CLASS times. CLASS stands for Christian Living And Service Sessions. There are four of these classes in all. The first is Discovering the Family. This class introduces new members and visitors to who we are, what we stand for, and how we operate. It is a required class for all new members.

Secondly is the Developing Spiritual Maturity class. It deals with the five essentials of Christian development. 

The third class is Dedicating to Ministry Class. This class is required of all people who are or would desire to lead in a ministry here at Living Branch. It helps us learn not only how to DO Christian Living, but to demonstrate to others what we know.

And then the fourth class is Doing the Missions. A class that will equip and empower those who God has called to step outside the wall s of this fellowship and launch new Missions work.

That’s just the first step. The other four include Commitment cards, Covenants, Small Groups, and Campaigns. We use commitment cards to help you respond to the call God is laying on your heart. You’ll see more of these in the future. The Covenants are used at the end of each CLASS and for membership. They speak to the importance of our decision and the commitment that we are making to the Body.

Small groups need to be the backbone of our fellowship. It is in these small groups that you will receive the greatest care and  ability to care. And finally, we will continue to use campaigns to emphasize what the Lord is calling us to do. Prayer, Forgiveness, Growth. God has brought us a great summer. Let us be faithful in ALL that He is doing!

                                                                                                                                                                                        In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                                                                                        Pastor Steve

 

October 2007

Fall is in the air and for us here in Colorado that means it time to get ready for the change of the seasons. Growing up in Phoenix the only changes we had to make was to go from a T-shirt to maybe long sleeves. But here, it’s a different story. Now that we own these buildings we need to get to work on the many projects that we have been putting off. Heaters need repair, roofs need to be redone, walls need to be moved, and windows need to be treated.

So I am asking for your help. Soon we will pass around a clip-board for you to sign up for a specific project, or just come and be a general laborer in our much needed work days. So be looking for it, and be ready! But one thing doesn’t change with the seasons, and that is the need our neighbors have to SEE and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ!

In purchasing these buildings we have planted ourselves here on this corner. The Word of God says “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence indeed is the LORD. He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn't fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8 HCSB)

As we look once again with amazement at the Glory of the Lord displayed through the changing of the seasons how will we prepare for our next season? We CAN know exactly what, when and how to prepare for the next step in the will of God. We are given this promise in Romans 12:1-2 where the Word of the Lord says; “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”   (HCSB)

I want to encourage you to seek the Lord’s meaning in what “presenting your bodies as a living sacrifice” means for you. I will be praying with you. I KNOW that as we seek to know God, He will use us to make Himself known. Live your life today as if He is at work with you, driving down the street with you in your car, are sitting next to you in your living room, because He is! I am excited about our tomorrows because of all the Lord is doing in our Todays. I hope to see you Sunday.

                                                                                                                                                        In Christ Jesus,

 

                                                                                                                           Pastor Steve

 

November 2007

Encouragability. Yeah, it’s a real word, because it’s a real ministry. Remember when you were learning to ride a bike, dive off the high dive, or run for touch down. There was someone there cheering you on. They were your encouragability partner. There is the same need in your life now as we continue to run the race. Paul encouraged the Fellowship of Believers in Corinth by saying “Run in such a way that you may win”(1 Cor. 9:24)).

To do that we need people along the sidelines of life cheering us on. I have been teaching  for quite some time now that you would benefit greatly from having an accountability partner. With the poor results to this idea, I have tried to listen to why people aren’t  partnering up with some one else in an accountability relationship. I wasn’t really surprised by what I heard but have become more aware of what people think of these types of relationships. So I was inspired to redirect our thinking into a new relationship, an Encouragability Partner.

Let me see if I can relate a little closer to your heart in this new idea. I want you to think about what a accountability partner is, and what the relationship brings. Then read this next couple of paragraphs and see if you can abandon those ideas and adopt those that I am proposing. In an accountability relationship someone is in your face, an encouragability partner is in your corner. An accountability partner lives and operates by rules, an encouragability partner is motivated by the relationship. Accountability relationships are intense, encouragability relationships are intentional. Accountability partner discussions may be pointed while encouragability partner conversations are personal. Accountability relationships are conducted in private while encouragabilty relationships are lived out in public.

Accountability relationships are often about list. Encouragability relationships are about Life! Accountability often sounds like teaching, encouragability can grow by touching. Accountability relationships are often filled with tension while encouragability can develop a togetherness. While accountability seems to bring in a sense of instruction encouragability can change a life through simple encouragement. 

Semantics? It doesn’t have to be. It’s not about words we use, it’s about lives we touch, and those we allow to touch and influence our own. Let us join together with others in the great race of life for the Glory of God. Let us “…encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin's deception. For we have become companions of the Messiah if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start.” Hebrews 3:13-15

 

                                                                                                                                                                                            In Christ Jesus,          

                                                                                                                                                        Pastor Steve

 

December 2007

Merry Christmas! What a season. But for many, these two words simply represent a busier season that makes even more demands of their time, money, and resources. This year I would like for you to look at the Christmas season like none before. Instead of going to yet another company party, why don’t you go and keep a relative or friend company. Instead of spending three weeks salary on presents that will soon be put in a drawer or closet with the others, why don’t you utilize the resources God has given you to start a Church in India, Africa, or right here in the United States where your gift will continue to grow the Kingdom.

Instead of worrying how you are going to get all of those people around a table for Christmas Dinner, why not find a family that unless you take them one, aren’t going to have a Christmas diner? Hear me now. I’m not trying to be some kind of a Religious Scrouge, I’m trying to refocus our hearts and minds on the purpose of Christmas. In the right time, God came and gave to us the Promised One. What will we do with His example? What will we do with His gift?

The Christmas season for far too many people isn’t a time of Joy, Peace, and Good Will. But a season of stress, frustration, and unmet expectations. Let’s take the lead this year and bring Christmas back to it’s purpose, a time to remember and appreciate the Gift of Life, Jesus, the Messiah, the Promised One. Let’s take the lead in going to others like God came to us. Let’s take the lead in giving of ourselves, knowing that many will not acknowledge nor appreciate the gift. Let’s take the lead in making the journey from our busy lives to the quiet manger side, where we too can take a knee and worship the King.

                                                                                                                                                                                 In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                                            Pastor Steve

 

 

January 2008

Happy New Year! In the last few weeks we have heard and said these words a thousand times: “Merry Christmas and Happy New year.” But what makes a Happy New Year?  For some it is fond and favorable memories of years past. For others it is the hope and fulfillment of dreams to come. And for most, it is a combination of the two.

But what will make a happy new year at Living Branch? Last year certainly has a great number of fond memories. We baptized 12 people, saw numbers of others come and join the Church through transfers of letters and statements of faith. We saw marriages mended, hearts healed, and lives changed for the glory of God! But we still see a great need for healing in many more lives. So we can easily look into 2008 as a year of challenges as we step out, making ourselves transparent and vulnerable, meeting the needs of others that God brings our way.

Malachi 4:2 says “But for you who fear My name, the Son of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture” (NLT). That sounds like a pretty good promise to hang next year on, “you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture” In a Christmas letter from the Billy Graham Association, Billy talks about his recently departed wife of 64 years. He said, “Years ago, Ruth noticed a highway sign and told us she wanted that sign as her epitaph. If you visit her burial place today in Charlotte, you will find the words etched on her marker stone: ‘End of Construction. Thanks for the patience.’”

            What a beautiful statement about a glorious life that always strove to please God. But for us here at Living Branch, we have just entered the construction zone. Let us set out this year to be used by God in great and miraculous ways for His Glory. Let us set out this year to bring even more into the glorious fellowship of the Body of Christ. Let us set out this year to find new and exciting ways to impact our community for their improvement and for God’s glory.

The late Calvin Thielman, a longtime pastor in Montreat NC has said, “The longer you live, the more like yourself you become.” This year let us set out to become more of what we are, The Body and Bride of Christ.  May you find all that you need and hope for in the blessed and glorious presence of Christ Jesus, the Lord and King.  

                                                                                                                                      In Christ Jesus,

                                                                           Pastor Steve

 

February 2008

The Branch That Bears Fruit

    Bearing fruit as a Christian is the result of a rich personal relationship with Jesus in which we seek to know Him better in our daily walk and serve Him more faithfully in our daily lives. It’s a rewarding and satisfying path to becoming more and more Christ-like, which in turn leads to more grace, more peace, more love. Do you seek more joy in your walk with Jesus? Do you long for more overcoming power in your daily life? Do you need a greater sense of satisfaction in what you do for Him? Then, perhaps what you really need is to commit to a specific area of service.

    Here at Living Branch there are needs in several areas that could use your God-given gifts. My hope for you is that you will come to know the joy and fulfillment that comes from using your gifts in support of the body. Not only does it please God to use your gift, but it solidifies your walk with Him and strengthens your relationships with others in the body here at Living Branch.  

                                                                                                                                                           In His Steps,

                                                                                                                                                           Charlie

                                                                                                                                         (Charlie Bishop is the Worship Leader at Living Branch)

 

March 2008

UPLIFTED BY YOUR WORSHIP

 Psalm 149:1 states “Sing unto the Lord a new song, and His praise in the congregation of saints.”

     One of the greatest joys of my ministry is looking out into the congregation when we are singing our praises to the Lord and seeing you worship in song. I see Paul singing in full voice, eyes closed, one hand raised to the Lord; I see Shirley in the back sometimes dancing (don’t get in her way); There’s Sally standing with her hands raised along with the Williams family in the front row shouting their praise.  I see Barb worshiping more quietly with eyes closed and hands upright, and many others just like her; And then there’s Pastor Steve trying to play the tambourine, worshiping with a great big smile on his face.

      I want to say thank you to all of you for blessing me with your witness of worship.

                                                                                                                                                         In His Steps,

                                                                                                                                                          Charlie

 

April 2008

    In 2 Chronicles 24:4-7 we can   read the story of the young King Joash. This passage says, “Joash took it to heart to renovate the LORD's temple. So he gathered the priests and Levites and said, ‘Go out to the cities of Judah and collect money from all Israel to repair the temple of your God as needed year by year, and do it quickly.’ However, the Levites did not  hurry.  So the king called Jehoiada the high priest and said, 'Why haven't you required the Levites to bring from Judah and Jerusalem the tax imposed by the LORD's servant Moses and the assembly of Israel for the tent of the testimony?'”

    The Church, the House of God is  in great need of repair all over the world.  I’m talking about a repair of the heart,  not just the buildings and grounds. All around us churches are closing their doors and it has nothing to do with neither the economy nor the “neighborhood.” It has everything to do with the heart of those in that fellowship. Here at Living Branch our needs are great. We are in desperate need of Bible study leaders, teachers, nursery workers, a food bank team leader, a Church treasurer, a building and grounds   team leader, and an outreach team leader.

    In addition to that, we have been asking each adult Bible study class to enlist an Apprentice, an Inreach ~ Outreach person, and a Care Ring leader. These positions aren’t just something for somebody to fill, but are vital needs in the healthy development of the Body. If we will look around we can see areas in the Church that have stagnated or have reached a plateau. For the most part, it’s due to the lack of leadership.

    God calls every believer to fulfill his or her responsibility in the Body. The Word of God says in Ephesians 5:29-30, “…no one ever hates his own flesh, but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of His body.” What does the future of the Church look like? It looks exactly like your involvement in it. It can be as healthy and as vibrant as you are willing to make it. It can and will be there for you, your children, and your neighbors as you step forward and fulfill your purposes in it.

    It’s not an old cliché for us to say, “We can’t do it without you.” Please pray about your role. Then call Charlie or me and see how God will open the gate of His blessing in your life.

                                                                                                                                  In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                                  Pastor Steve

 

May 2008

Today as I look out the window it’s hard to believe I’m watching it snow. After all, it is the 1st of May  isn’t it? But then I’m reminded of all of the wildfires our state is struggling with, the devastation of our forest by the Pine Beetle, and the dry grass in my front yard.

I’m so thankful that God  doesn’t leave the weather up to us. But there is a whether that He does;  Whether we will humble and joyfully serve Him. Regardless of what it looks like outside, Summer and all of it’s activities are nearly upon us. We have a lot on the calendar and need your help to make the kind of impact in our community that God has called us to be. We’ll start off this Sunday night with a BBQ in the front yard at 5:00pm. Then next Sunday morning  we are going to DO Church at Belleview Park, right behind Pirates Cove starting at 10:30 am.

            Yes, we know it’s Mother’s   Day, that’s why we’re going. Yes, it may be different than any other way you have ever celebrated Mother’s  Day before, but it promises to be a great time for not only honoring our Mothers, but for Glorifying our God. Our neighbors need to see the Church outside of our own walls. They need to see us with our hair down,  laughing, and our children running around and playing.

            95% of our neighbors and coworkers have already decided the Church has nothing to offer them. We are going to have to take INTENTIONAL steps to show them we are NOT the bunch of “stuffed shirts” they think we are. So don’t be a stuffed shirt. Come  and help us show our community that we love them as they watch us love each other.

          Remember, it was Jesus that said  "I give you a new commandment: love one another . Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."  (John 13:34-35)  So the greatest thing we can be known by is not our music, the clothes we wear, or even a doctrine we teach. It is by the Love that we have for one another..   Come, let us Love One Another!

                                                                                                                                     In Christ Jesus,

                                                                                                                                     Pastor Steve

 

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008