Author: Stephen Brucker

Amazing Grace

June 9, 2017 Stephen Brucker Branch Notes

For some time I have been meditating on John 8—the woman caught in adultery. I pray that you’d be encouraged, as we realize how amazing the grace of God in Christ is in our lives.

 

There was a common woman in an uncommon world;

waking up one morning in controversy that swirled;

she was set to taste the rubble of her impending doom;

Shameful thoughts covered her heart with utter gloom;

no inn would heed her room,

the undertaker dug her tomb;

and all she could wish was a return to her mother’s womb.

She stood and faced the angry mob,

tears would not form;

though she wanted so desperately to sob.

She was guilty, with nowhere to hide;

the comfort of a night, her identity hid in a man’s side;

in the embrace of a man her body with certainty died.

She knew what she had done, the secret was flung;

then hung and judgment in one accord sung.

Her justice meter went wild,

she was the only one on trial;

yet it was she they brought their laundry list to file.

So she closed her eyes, swallowed her last breath;

gazed toward hell, and awaited her death.

But then a shadow grazed her feet;

stones fell with rhythmic beat;

while she stood face to face to meet;

the end of her life, yet the beginning of another.

The kind Man stood, gazing at her soul;

her heart beat fast, yet judgment not His goal;

reshaping her hole, erasing the litany of her sinful toll.

Her mind began to thirst, the dam in her heart began to burst;

and she fell upon her face, humbled at His embrace.

He could have said anything and she would have followed;

but He would not let her wallow;

there in the sorrow of her impeachable gallows;

a new beginning she needed to swallow.

She’ll never forget His face, the infinite grace;

which challenged a hostile race;

and in a moment, He was gone without a trace.

He spoke five words;

and she, in that moment heard. “Go and sin no more”.

Forgiveness she wouldn’t ignore;

His words she shall ever ben lore.

Restore Corvallis

June 1, 2017 Stephen Brucker Branch Notes

Our mission at the Branch is to be in awe of the gospel, to embody the gospel and then to give our lives away because of the gospel.  There are many ways we give our lives away as the Branch, and in this season, we are excited to partner with the city of Corvallis and invest in Cloverland Park thorugh Restore Corvallis.

This Saturday from 9-12 we will be serving Cloverland Park to restore it thorugh weeding, putting out barkdust and more.

One of the exciting things about this, is not just that we will be working at the park, but also, that we will be working alongside people in the community.

This past week, Andrew Glaspell and others have been passing out flyers and rallying people in the community to come help with this service project. Please be praying for them and for those who come to serve alongside our church.  This is a great bridge to meet new people in the community over the shared value caring for all that God has made.

So if you are available, we’d love to see you at Cloverland Park in Corvallis this Saturday from 9-12, to live out our mission, love our city, and see Christ magnified.

Stumpies

May 4, 2017 Stephen Brucker General

I love going overseas. There is something about the smells, the new sounds, and the new culture that make everything exciting. A few years ago, I was in Turkey and I remember how refreshing it was to try new food and get addicted to chai tea as we looked out at the Aegean sea and took in all the sights.

But more than that, going overseas does something to my soul. It makes me yearn to see the gospel advance. It creates in me a great sense of my own inadequacies and dependence on God. And it fuels my heart in desiring to see God worshipped among each and every people group in the world. I love going overseas. And each year, I love to debrief with those who go on short-term trips at the Branch and hear all that God did in and through their lives.

As such, on Friday, May 12 at 6 pm, the Branch will host its annual Stumpies. The overall purpose is to raise financial support for those going on short-term trips this summer, pray for them, while in the context of laughter and community. If you pay online its $5 or $7 at the door. There will be entertainment and dessert.

Please make it a point on coming. Not only to support 13 members who are going to East Asia and Haiti, but also to connect with one another with laughter and encouragement. There is free childcare and the event will be hosted at Grant Ave. Baptist Church. If you have any questions, please email stephen@thebranchcorvallis.org.

Missional Living Training

April 8, 2017 Stephen Brucker Branch Notes

This week we will be canceling community groups and we will all meet at the Christ Church on Wednesday (April 12) at 6 pm. Why you might ask? To grow in our ability and effectiveness in make Christ known.

There is an old Navigator tool called the Wheel. You can google it sometime, but overall the tool depicts 4 aspects of the Christian life—Pray, Bible Reading, Community, and Evangelism. Over the years, I’ve shared this illustration for it encompasses four aspects of a healthy Christian’s life. After I finish sharing the Wheel and describe each element in detail, I inevitably ask this question; “which one of these four disciplines is most lacking in your life.” Honestly, I’ve only received one answer—evangelism.

Even the word “evangelism” is hard to say. Furthermore, if you’re anything like me, then you struggle with what I’ll call cowardly lion syndrome, fearing people to the expense of declaring the gospel to them. Which is why training like this is so important.

Though we will not discuss every element of mission during this training, there will be much talk about how to live faithfully in Corvallis, capitalizing on opportunities, and loving our neighbors with the hopes of seeing God work in their lives to the extent that we get to see them transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his beloved Son.

So please make it a priority to come on Wednesday. Childcare is provided. John Winder from the Navigators will lead us in this training, and there will also be a time for Q&A at the end. Invite your friends, or anyone who might be interested in this training. If you have any questions please let me know.

 

Other News:

Community groups will be canceled the week of April 11. As a result, we hope that you can use the time you would have spent in your community group and join us for a training on missional living and evangelism. John Winder, our friend with the Navigators, will be leading us in a time of training as we explore how our lives can more faithfully intersected with non-Christians. Invite your friends or anyone who could benefit from it. We will gather at 6 pm at Christ Church and childcare will be provided.


Now accepting applications for our Branch Internship! We at The Branch are deeply rooted in a strong desire to provide a spiritually enriching and educational environment where you can explore your call, not only into vocational ministry, but also God’s call to be ministers in all areas of life. Our 11-month internship focuses on three different areas: personal ministry, spiritual development, and Branch specific ministries. If you are interested in learning more about the internship or applying for the internship, please contact Davey. Your application is due by April 15th.


Join us for corporate prayer every Sunday afternoon from 3:003:30pm in the Twig’s area at Christ Church (Formerly The River Center) as we intercede for our church and the city. Come for the whole time, or just drop in for a moment.


Join us on Good Friday (April 14th) when we will be gathering together for a night of worship and reflection centered around the crucifixion of our Savior Jesus at our sister church, Hub City’s facility on 2nd and Lyons street in downtown Albany. Childcare will be provided and the service will start at 6pm.


Ladies on Saturday, April 22, we are going to take an in depth look at what it looks like to stand firm in the Lord by taking up the whole armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20. We will meet from 9:30am-12pm at the Branch offices (760 SW Madison Ave) for an incredible time worshiping together in word and spirit! Contact Victoria Renard for more information.


On Saturday May 6th, the men at the Branch are invited to a day of rafting down the Clackamas river, followed by dinner. The cost for the event is $70, which includes rafting and all meals. This is a good event to bring your friends (christian/non-Christians) and enjoy some adventure and fun. Sign up online and if you have any questions email Stephen.


Our Community Forum is for members of The Branch to come together, share a meal, hear about what’s going on in the life of our church and to dream and pray together about the future. Our next forum is on Sunday night, April 30th immediately following the Sunday worship gathering. Please mark your calendars for this very important night together. Every forum is important, but this forum will be extremely important as we will be sharing about various changes and sending opportunities we are going to be encountering this year. Please contact Josh with any questions you might have. (541-224-1476)


The Global Mission Pipeline is simple—it’s a training program to help equip and cement a foreign mission DNA within an individual. Within the program, you’ll read books, walk with a coach, write papers, and be exposed experientially to ministering cross-culturally. If you’d like more information please contact Stephen.


We are asking members of the Branch to apply for Local Mission Grants, which seek to come alongside member’s ministry ideas/endeavors with financial support. If you have questions or would like to talk to someone about Local Mission Grants simply fill out a connect card and drop it in the basket. If you’re interested in leading a new local missions initiative you can find the application online, fill it out and send it to Stephen Brucker.


Branch Brunch is a time to get to know more about our church and ask questions. This class is also a requirement to become a member. Our next Branch Brunch is scheduled for Sunday, April 30th at 10:30 am. If you are interested in attending please email Stephen Brucker.

Engage Corvallis

March 3, 2017 Stephen Brucker Branch Notes, General

I can remember the first time I spent time in Corvallis. I was struck by this vibrant city, surrounded by rolling mountain peaks. Though the rain is getting a bit old and redundant, I keep reminding myself that spring is coming, alongside budding flowers and beautiful greenery. Corvallis is truly a beautiful city and we are truly lucky to live in a city and region such as this.

And though this city is beautiful and wonderful to live in, it is simultaneously broken. Corvallis is not exempt from the problems that plague most cities—though it does sometimes do a good job of hiding many of its warts. So as we engage this city, being in awe of the gospel, we are continually seeking to think through how to best serve, love, and give our lives because of God’s sacrifice for us.

It is with this in our view that I’d like to remind us all that next week we have the privilege of serving our beautiful community. Monday and Tuesday, March 6th and 7th, we will be engaging our city and Oregon State University students in various ways as a church. We are doing various things from giving away free coffee in the Quad, engaging people through spiritual surveys, playing soccer and sharing a meal with international students, doing church planting demographic research about 3rd spaces in our city and serving single parents in our community.

If you are interested in joining in any of these opportunities, or if you’d like to know more information, please contact Josh Howeth (541-224-1479). We have a mission team that week serving with us from our sister church in Tennessee. Come and serve alongside of us as we engage Corvallis together.

Thanks for your prayers and we’re excited to share the many stories of what God does as we engage our city with gospel enthusiasm.

 

Other News:

We have the opportunity to host a group from Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City! During their time here you can engage by joining us in prayer walking around Oregon State University and Downtown Corvallis on Friday, March 9 at 9:30am. We will also be hosting a worship night on Friday, March 10, at 7:00pm (5643 Oak Creek Drive, Corvallis) focused on desiring and enjoying God! We will get to to hear testimonies of moving from a place of duty to delight in The Lord.  If you have any questions please contact Victoria Renard.


Monday and Tuesday, March 6th and 7th, we will be engaging our city and Oregon State students in various ways as a church. We are doing various things from giving away free coffee in the Quad, engaging people through spiritual surveys, playing soccer and sharing a meal with international students, doing church planting demographic research about 3rd spaces in our city and serving single parents in our community. If you are interested in joining in any of these opportunities, or if you’d like to know more info, please contact Josh (541-224-1476). We have a mission team that week serving with us from our sister church in Tennessee. Come and serve alongside of us as we engage Corvallis together!


On Saturday May 6th, the men at the Branch are invited to a day of rafting down the Clackamas river, followed by dinner. The cost for the event is $70, which includes rafting and all meals. This is a good event to bring your friends (christian/non-Christians) and enjoy some adventure and fun. Sign up online and if you have any questions email Stephen.


Our Community Forum is for members of The Branch to come together, share a meal, hear about what’s going on in the life of our church and to dream and pray together about the future. Our next forum is on Sunday night, April 30th immediately following the Sunday worship gathering. Please mark your calendars for this very important night together. Every forum is important, but this forum will be extremely important as we will be sharing about various changes and sending opportunities we are going to be encountering this year. Please contact Josh with any questions you might have. (541-224-1476)


The Global Mission Pipeline is simple—it’s a training program to help equip and cement a foreign mission DNA within an individual. Within the program, you’ll read books, walk with a coach, write papers, and be exposed experientially to ministering cross-culturally. If you’d like more information please contact Stephen.


This year we are asking members of the Branch to apply for Local Mission Grants, which seek to come alongside member’s ministry ideas/endeavors with financial support. If you have questions or would like to talk to someone about Local Mission Grants simply fill out a connect card and drop it in the basket. If you’re interested in leading a new local missions initiative you can find the application online, fill it out and send it to Stephen Brucker.

Reflections on the Week of Prayer and Fasting

February 3, 2017 Stephen Brucker General

Last week we celebrated our annual week of prayer and fasting at the Branch.

I’ve never been one to rave about food and I’m about as far away from a foodie as a person could get. Maybe it’s because my Mom used to wake me up at 4 in the morning to drink weight-gainer shakes, which I should have sued for false advertisement, tasting more like chalk than the vanilla goodness it promised on the plastic container.

But then you cut out food during a fast and you realize how easily your heart and desires can be manipulated.

Last week I realized that I had bacon in the refrigerator.  My mind raced backward so that I could remember just what bacon tasted like, felt like, sounded like against my teeth. With each gurgle of my weakly disciplined stomach my heart worshipped the big pig in the sky. I would have sold a finger (probably my right ring finger, it’s the most expendable) for one greasy piece of non-kosher bacon.

My mind raced toward the end of my fast, ‘only 3 more days left’ I said with repetitious fervor. I day dreamed of the finish line, longed for the end, and gladdened my weak flesh as I meditated on a day.

In the midst of my bacon-induced coma, slobbering more than a St. Bernard, God broke into the void and awakened my mind and eyes to what I was doing and so often do. That is, I put my trust and faith and hope in functional saviors.

When I was in high school I dreamed of college, in college I dreamed of dating that girl (you know the one, the girl who’s hopelessly out of your league but you pray it’s God’s will anyway), when I got the girl it was the perfect job, then the perfect spouse, the perfect career, the perfect house, ad nauseam.

Whenever I was in a bind, hopelessly unsatisfied and discontent, I looked to the future for security and joy, knowing that if only I secured the right job, the world would be a better place, I would be invincibly happy.

But God broke into my fasting story and reminded me that functional saviors are foolish idols at best, which fail to live up to their promises. They talk a big game, but once secured, they leave me wanting more, searching all the more for the next thing which would promise to fill my void.

Yet there is one Savior and this Savior says ‘trust in me, turn your eyes toward me, gazed into my victorious life and there you will find a Savior who rescues, redeems, and provides hope and joy in this rollercoaster journey called life’.

Though I might have worshiped bacon, God turned my affections once more toward him, reminding me of my privileged union with Christ and the joy that flows from a hunger greater than food—a hunger for God himself.

 

Other News:

Branch Brunch is a time to get to know more about our church and ask questions. This class is also a requirement to become a member. Our next Branch Brunch is scheduled for Sunday, February 26th at 10:30 am. If you are interested in attending please email Josh Howeth.


Do you want your prayer life to grow and flourish? Do you want to have a better understanding of prayer and or even how to pray? Join us Thursday mornings from 9:30-10:30 am at 224 NW 26th St, Corvallis (Sigma Phi Epsilon) as we pursue growing in our relationship with God through our prayer lives’. Together we’ll discuss the topics of adoration, petition, intercession, perseverance, listening and warfare. Each week will consist of training, discussion, and implementation. Contact Davey Walker for more information.


There will be a meeting for all Twigs volunteers on Sunday, February 26th at 3:30 pm at The River Center. Families only need to send one representative to the meeting. Contact Christina Law for more information.


This year we are asking members of the Branch to apply for Local Mission Grants, which seek to come alongside member’s ministry ideas/endeavors with financial support. The purpose of Local Mission Grants is to seek and mobilize people at the Branch toward a unified local mission project and goal. If you’re interested in leading a new local missions initiative, fill out the application and send it to Stephen Brucker.


The Global Mission Pipeline is simple—it’s a training program to help equip and cement a foreign mission DNA within an individual. Within the program, you’ll read books, walk with a coach, write papers, and be exposed experientially to ministering cross-culturally. If you’d like more information please contact Stephen Brucker.

Mission’s Weekend

January 5, 2017 Stephen Brucker Branch Notes, General

This Sunday, January 8, is Mission’s Weekend. Every year we take some time out of our usual sermon series and address the topic of missions. This Sunday we are going to talk about God’s heart for the nations as well as hear from a missionary who we’ve partnered with in England. This should be a wonderful time to learn more about God’s wonderful heart for each tribe, tongue, and nation, as well as an opportunity to get to hear some real life stories from the frontline of the mission field.

Moreover, this Sunday we will begin a new ministry at the Branch called the Global Mission Pipeline. The Global Mission Pipeline is simple—it’s a training program to help equip and cement a foreign mission DNA within an individual. Within the program, you’ll read books, walk with a coach, write papers, and be exposed experientially to ministering cross-culturally.

This Pipeline is for anyone who wants to learn more about foreign missions in the context of the local church. So if you are considering moving overseas as a missionary, this Pipeline is for you. If you desire to learn more about foreign missions in general, this Pipeline is for you. And if you feel called by God to be a missionary overseas and want to partner with the Branch in ministry, then this Pipeline is for you.

Finally, following the service you are all invited to some hands on missions training regarding ministry in cross-culture settings in the fellowship hall. Pizza will be provided for dinner for all who attend.

 

Other News:

Each year we spend some intentional time praying for and thinking about God’s heart for all the nations of the world. On Sunday January 8, During our Global Missions Weekend, we have the opportunity to hear from one of our partner missionaries, alongside some hands-on ministry training after the service at the Branch office with dinner. Please RSVP for the training at Stephen@thebranchcorvallis.org.


This year we are asking members of the Branch to apply for Local Mission Grants, which seek to come alongside member’s ministry ideas/endeavors with financial support. The purpose of Local Mission Grants is to seek and mobilize people at the Branch toward a unified local mission project and goal. Applications can be found online.  If you’re interested in leading a new local missions initiative, please read application, fill it out and send to Stephen@thebranchcorvallis.org.


Our week of prayer and fasting will conclude with 3rd Meal following the service Jan. 29. Please bring a dish featuring either a Soup, Salad, or Sandwich. This will be a great time to reflect about your week and share your prayers with each other.


Please join us January 22-29 as we spend a week in prayer and fasting as a community. Elements of Prayer and Fasting Week include a fasting booklet, Wednesday night prayer/worship at Odd Fellows Hall (223 SW 2nd St, Corvallis OR, 97333) with Doxology at 6 pm (childcare provided) and a drop-in prayer time at the auditorium in our office building (760 SW Madison, Corvallis OR 97333) from 9am-5 pm on Saturday 28th.


Register today to save your spot for the upcoming Branch’s Women’s Retreat on February 3-5. Ladies you don’t want to miss this weekend filled with worship, friendship, relaxation and fun! We only have space for 26 ladies to participate in this incredible cabin getaway. The $80 registration can be paid online, with cash, or check.


Branch Brunch is a great place to ask questions and hear about the purpose and values of our faith community. Our next Branch Brunch will be held on Sunday, January 22nd at 10:30 am. This Brunch is necessary if you are interested in becoming a member. If you are interested in attending contact Josh Howeth to RSVP.

What is Christmas?

December 22, 2016 Stephen Brucker Branch Notes

My kids keep asking about Christmas. I’m not sure they understand the gravity of the incarnation of God in Christ. Honestly, I’m not sure I do either. So for those who are prone to get swept away in the commercialization of Christians, this poem is for you.

So what is Christmas?

Is it about family, about reunions, turkey thighs and relational highs, and prolonged goodbyes? Is it about values, festivals, rituals rooted in the past, chucked, and cast, forgotten at last? Is it about red bows and tinseled rows, polka dots, and unending knots?  Is it about giving, about living, about love, or Sleigh bells above? Is it about trees and holly leaves, chestnuts roasting, and mistletoe boasting? Is it a lie, a hoax, that many folks, try to coax, there little eager hypes into obedient types? Is it magic, filled with Santa Clause, and Rudolf paws, naughty and nice, as we hide our vice?  Or is it warm fuzzy feelings, nostalgic winter healings, traditional pew kneelings, or white elephant stealings?

Truthfully, the Christmas season is about a Son, about Angels who were stunned, singing glory to God—peace on earth, for the virgin has given birth. And what humility fashioned that boy, lying in a manger with not one toy, conceived immaculately, God and man incarnate mystery. And people did come, for he was a king and so distant royalty did sing, as they worshipped and knelt, their hearts did melt, as they touched and felt, and gifts they dealt. For this son would not grow old, in his youth he was quite bold, for a few silver pieces he would be sold, though no person could hold, his life was his to fold, for he was God in perfect mold. And though at Christmas he is but a child, on Calvary’s hill a verdict was filed, and the sins of the world did accumulate and pile, as he crushed the cursed wild, drinking the poisonous vile.

You see this is not merely a tall tale, a mere fable in the night, but a story with tension and fight, a story about a Hero who gave up his right, giving the blind back their sight, as the darkness flees by way of the light. Christmas is about sinners saved, because of the Son who obeyed. It’s about guilt pardoned and peace instilled—it’s about hope fulfilled because the Son was killed. It’s about our longings finding their home, the ultimate stanza in our cluttered poem, and the ending to our needless roam. Christmas is good news, and not something we should abuse, for this season is not about us, can we just give up our narcissistic fuss. For this season is about Immanuel—for God came, remembering this our ultimate aim, children of this story we claim, generation to generation we proclaim, in hopes that strangers would one day reclaim…

The message of Christmas is this: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost, and as such we give him our utmost.

Christmas is a season filled with joy, but ultimately because it points to the Divine boy, who was born to die, and died to be reborn.

Merry Christmas,

Stephen

 

Other News:

Advent is the season before Christmas culminating in the celebration of Christ’s birth. Yet, sometimes the meaning and power of Christmas gets lost in the shuffle. Therefore, this Advent we at the Branch are going to seek to spend less on Christmas, so that we can give more away. All donations given to the Branch for Advent Conspiracy are going toward a non-profit serving our Foster Care system in Linn-Benton.


Join us for a 5PM joint Christmas Eve gathering with Hub City and Doxology. We will be celebrating the birth of our Savior at Hub City’s building at 121 SE Lyon St. in downtown Albany. Childcare will be provided.


We will not be having our regular Sunday service on December, 25th. Take this time to enjoy your family and friends on Christmas Day. We will see everyone again on January 1st.


Ladies! Save the date for the Branch’s Women’s Retreat on February 3-5, 2017. The cost is $80 and you can pay online, with cash or check. Stay tuned for more information!

Thanksgiving

November 23, 2016 Stephen Brucker Branch Notes

 

This week is Thanksgiving.

We’re told to be thankful, many times sharing our blessings around a table, while stuffing our mouths with turkey and mash potatoes. I’ve been thinking lately about my responses I’ve historically given. I’ve spoken of good health, of my wife/children, and even lately about ministry. Those are definitely things I’m thankful for, but should I be thankful for something deeper and more profound?

My daughter came home from school with a paper hat she explained made her a pilgrim. At first I thought I might correct her. But then I realized that she was right. All Christians are pilgrims. We’re all on a spiritual journey toward it’s fulfillment in Christ. And on that journey God grants us with all sorts of things to be thankful for. Some are earthly and others spiritual, but all of them find their source in God sending his Son to save sinners, transforming them daily into His imagine.

This year I think as we go around the table, mouth full of turkey, I’ll share that I’m thankful that God has made me a pilgrim, all because of the Gospel.

I hope you all have a wonderful thanksgiving, filled with laughter, joy, stomach-aches, and thankful hearts at the God who loved us so much he sent his Son as a substitute for sinners.

 

Other News:

Ladies, join us on Saturday, December 3rd from 2-4pm at the Branch office (760 SW Madison Ave, Suite 11) for an afternoon of Tea & Treats. This will be a great opportunity to relax, meet other women in all stages of life at The Branch and lift each other up in prayer. Contact Victoria Renard if you plan to attend, or if you have any questions.


Advent is the season before Christmas culminating in the celebration of Christ’s birth. Yet, sometimes the meaning and power of Christmas gets lost in the shuffle. Therefore, this Advent we at the Branch are going to seek to spend less on Christmas, so that we can give more away. All donations given to the Branch for Advent Conspiracy are going toward a non-profit serving our Foster Care system in Linn-Benton. Type “Advent” in the Other field when giving online or include a note with your offering if using the baskets on Sunday. Contact Stephen Brucker for more information.


Our Twigs program will be performing for us on Sunday, December 11th at the beginning of our normal Sunday service. Come ready to hear our amazing kids sing Christmas songs to celebrate Jesus’ birth.


This summer we’ll be sending two mission teams overseas (East Asia & Haiti) You can find an application online or grab an one at the Connect Table on Sunday. The cost will be around $3,000 and the deadline to apply is December 19th. Contact Stephen for more information.


In addition to our Sunday offering baskets, The Branch offers safe and secure online giving. Use this tool to give to international missions, support one of our interns, give your one-time tithe or even set-up a recurring tithe. Use our website or download our App on iTunes or Google Play.


Don’t forget! All of our sermons are available right here on the blog and on iTunes.