Author: The Branch
Do you know what your future holds?
God’s word gives us glimpses into our past, what is really happening in our present, and what God has in store for us in the future.
I was reminded of one of God’s promises for our future at the Bakar Batu festival our community group (and Vanny) put together up in the Portland area two weekends ago.
For those who aren’t up on Papuan cuisine, Bakar Batu is a traditional Papuan way of cooking for large groups. The participants dig a hole and start an adjacent fire to heat up rocks. You then put the hot rocks, some banana leaves (we used local ferns), whole pigs, and vegetables in the hole, cover it up, and let it cook. All working together we fed about 40 Papuan students, along with 25 Americans and a couple of Chinese students.
As we sung, danced, and ate some rockin’ pork (pun intended) verses like these came to mind:
Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6-7)
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10)
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 5:14)
As we get a glimpse into what the future holds for us in scripture, we are constantly reminded that every nation will be together there celebrating the victory of Jesus. We are also reminded that God’s intention is to carry the good news of the victory of Jesus to every nation. There are people in every tribe and people and language whom God wants for himself; they will indeed be found with the Gospel, and they will indeed be saved.
They will be invited into God’s presence and included in this great celebration, a celebration for all who will make up God’s new kingdom here on the earth. We will be included in a great international celebration, a feast for all those who have accepted the rule, authority, and salvation of Christ and will spend the next billion years and beyond worshipping, celebrating, working, and living on this earth for our good King Jesus.
As I reflect on that moment, singing songs about Jesus (and many others I didn’t understand), dancing together, and eating together, I can’t help but praise God looking forward to and thinking of what John writes:
“And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” (Revelation 16:9)
We may not know a whole lot about the future, but we do know this, we are headed for a great international worship feast. With this on our hearts, how blessed we are to have such an international church! How blessed we are to have those from other cultures joining us in our worship and celebration of Jesus’ victory each Sunday!
This feast in Beaverton was a very special moment. For just a few hours, through many cultures together enjoying the day God had made, through Papuan worship songs and the smells of Bakar Batu, a handful of people in Beaverton, Oregon were teleported into a future moment that God has promised his people.
You, however, do not need to roast a pig to get this taste of the Kingdom. Every time you talk to someone from another country about Jesus, every time you work to the Glory of God with someone from another culture, every time you worship together with someone from another nation, you get a little taste of heaven, you get a small peek through a window into eternity. If you do not have an international friend in Corvallis, I highly suggest it. There are few better ways to taste the Kingdom of God than to celebrate Jesus across a culture.
Do you know what your future holds? You can know it in part. If you want to preview a component of your future, praise Jesus to someone from another nation.
The end of all history and the end of every nation is a person, and His name is Jesus. Let’s celebrate together in expectation of His great international kingdom.
Our God is a God of Restoration.
God’s word promises God’s restoration. From one of the first promises of God after the fall – a son of woman who would crush the evil serpent, to the last sentences of John’s revelation – crying our for Jesus to return for his people, God has promised us that he is restoring this world.
Gods people are the God’s method of restoration. Consider the call of Noah to preserve a remnant of God’s people on the ark while the world was cleansed, or the call of Abraham to start a family, from which every single family on the earth would be blessed. Consider the sending of God’s Son, the one who absorbed every bit of sin and brokenness from all space and all time and secured all this restoration. Consider the sending of His Church, the called people of the restoration, the citizens of the already restored kingdom living now on this unrestored earth.
All this because Jesus took every last ounce of unrestored life in this world into himself, the moment on which the whole story of restoration pivots, to make us cleansed and restored into relationship with God.
This manifesto of restoration is and always has been the rally cry God has written for his chosen people.
This is why the Church speaks of launching into the most broken places in this world. This is why those in the Church uproot themselves and plant in places of brokenness and lostness, places where this message of restoration is not known or represented.
As a force of restoration we move into the most unrestored places in this world. We are called to be salt, drawing near to and eradicating the numerous physical, social, emotional, and spiritual diseases caused by sin. We are called to be light, preaching and living the message of a reconciled relationship with God and others and teaching others how to live a life of restoration. This is the mission of the church: to boldly step into unrestored places, ask of God what restoration with God and with Man would look like in this place, then strive to see this restoration come about. We are God’s restored people on this earth. As God’s restored people we have a purpose to be a restorative force on this earth.
Throughout the world’s history God’s people have been called to this restorative position, and each of us are to seek how we are to give our lives to partner in restoration of the world. This purpose is why our church is always moving towards God’s mission, both locally and globally.
Our local missions grants are intended to enable those in our church to step into restorative work right here in Corvallis, introducing others to Jesus and restoring our city physically, spiritually, and socially.
Our church planting efforts are in preparation to establish more of these restorative communities throughout Oregon and the world.
Our global missions pipeline can help those wanting to learn about God’s restorative purpose as it is explained through all of the Bible, to understand their own calling in God’s plan of restoration, to gain skills to explain the Gospel to others across cultures, and to find ways to be a part of a team who are also working to this same end.
Finally, our short-term trips overseas are intended to give a taste of the restorative work God is doing all over the world and give inspiration in how to be involved in this global task.
There are endless ways to be involved in God’s global task of restoration. Many of these opportunities exist right now in our church in Corvallis.
Restoration is a task which all of God’s people since the beginning of history have been called into, a task we are enabled for by the power of God’s creating and restorative spirit, and ultimately a task which God himself in Jesus gave his life for, rising again to be the firstborn of all the restored creation.
Would you pray into, consider, and let the Holy spirit reorient you toward God’s task of restoration? How does God want to move you towards preaching, sacrificing, serving, and striving for the restoration of the world?
Join us for corporate prayer every Sunday afternoon from 3:00–3:30pm 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.
We are going to be cancelling all Community Groups the week of April 11th with the hopes of gathering together as an entire church to think more intentionally about the way we spend our time and how we can be a more faithful sharer and embodier of the gospel in our community. John Winder, our friend with the Navigators, will be leading us in this missional living training as we explore how our lives can more faithfully intersect with non-christians. We will gather together at 6pm, location is TBD, and childcare will be provided.
Join us on Good Friday 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 Josh Howeth.
On November 23rd, the day before Thanksgiving, at Varsity House, we will be hosting our 4th annual International Thanksgiving Dinner. We host this event every year as a church; we gather food, volunteers, and decorations to throw a huge thanksgiving celebration for international students.
Students from all over the world come and experience an American tradition which they have likely never been a part of before. They get to feel the hospitality of the family of God and receive the love and friendship of Jesus through us, His own people. This meal has been a landmark experience for me in the church, and has defined a season of thanksgiving, generosity, and community in my life year after year.
These students come from nations where the Gospel is rarely spoken of. Many come from Saudi Arabia or China, most likely grew up in families where Jesus was not worshipped, and often have never had a conversation with a follower of Jesus. They come from communities without christians, and thus are without Christ. These are some the unreached people from the nations Jesus spoke of when he said “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matt 24:14)
Have you ever considered your role in Christ’s call to preach the gospel to every nation? Does it seem daunting, overwhelming, out of reach? Here is an opportunity to bring the Gospel to the unreached people of the world, no plane ticket needed, no new language to learn. The nations are at your doorstep, and they want to have a meal with you. Will you join the dinner party?
– Ways to Serve –
- Volunteer for setup / tear down / serving at the meal. We are always in need of people to come a couple hours early to help put up decorations, make food, and arrange chairs and tables. We invite you to act as a server during the meal, bringing out food and keeping tables loaded with thanksgiving dishes. Tear down has been a great experience every year; so we also invite you to stay after the meal to help clean floors, wash dishes, and dance the night away (dancing optional).
- Volunteer to spread the word to international students. We gather in teams of 2-6 in the weeks prior to the meal to hand out invitations, meet international students, and put up flyers. Send Sarah or I an email for details and come help spread the word!
- Volunteer to cook a component of the thanksgiving meal. Whether you can cook a turkey, buy a pack of rolls, or mash potatoes, we are in need of volunteers who can contribute to the meal and help make the dinner itself a delicious success. Contact Sarah for what foods are needed and sign up to bring a dish for a traditional thanksgiving dinner.
- Come, make a friend, and share the Gospel! Come to the dinner, sit at a table, meet the international students around you, and share with those you meet the hope you have in Jesus. All are welcome to the event!
– Ways to Pray –
- Pray for provision in food, volunteers, and seats. It is always hard to know how many will show up to the dinner. Last year we had nearly 200 come to the meal, so please pray that we will have enough servers, food, and table settings to accommodate the number of people God brings to us that evening.
- Pray for Gospel centered conversations and friendships. Each year the dinner tables are filled with gospel conversations, and friendships often blossom from these long talks over a meal. Pray that many international students come to faith in Christ and into a meaningful relationship with a follower of Jesus.
Can’t wait to have dinner with you all!
The Members’ Forum on November 20th from 6:30-7:30 pm is for members of the Branch to come together and hear about where we’ve been and where we are headed, make decisions as a church, welcome new members, and share a meal together. Childcare is also provided for our families. If you are a member, this is a very important time for us to spend together, we hope you will make being there a priority.
Hey ladies! Join us December 3rd, from 2-4 pm for an afternoon of fun, 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.
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.
Even though you might be home for the holidays enjoying Grandma’s pumpkin pie, you don’t have to miss a sermon. All of our sermons are available right here on the blog and on iTunes.
A teaching from 1 Samuel 5 by David Walker.