A teaching on Acts 20:13-38 by Stephen Brucker.
A teaching on Acts 19 by Stephen Brucker.
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.
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.
The majority of the time we use the word “worship” we are using it correctly but also too simplistically. Typically, the word “worship” is confined to songs that proclaim praises and truths about God. And by no means are worship songs an inaccurate idea of worship, but worship is so much more than simply singing. Over the last 5 weeks we have been focusing on expanding our understanding of worship from a midday series we have called Worship 101. As our series is coming to a close (we have only one week left), I have been encouraged to see how my own view of worship as well as others has expanded.
Over the last 5 weeks we have studied how worship is more reflective of the life of a follower of Jesus than it is a “worship service.” We have engaged in discovering how we worship God through scripture, prayer, liturgy (how we order a service), song, and our gifting. Next week, we tackle the topic of worship through unity and church discipline. I have loved each week as it truly has challenged my mindset on worship. I have been struck with the question, Is my view of worship too simplistic and thus stunting my relationship with God? Have I put worship into a box far too small?
If you have followed Jesus for any significant length of time, you have probably been told something along the lines of “All of life is worship.” We read verses like Romans 12:1 that state, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Through these last 5 weeks, I have truly begun to see the truth and beauty of that statement. As I read scripture, I praise God as I engage with his narrative of love, sacrifice, redemption, and restoration. As I pray to the Lord, I worship him for who is he and what he has done, is doing, and will do. As I gather with the church, I worship the Lord through the preaching of the Word and proclamation of his character and deeds through song. As I use the gifts God has given me or see the gifts God has given others, I praise him for his body and how he has intricately and uniquely made every one of us to proclaim his image and character. As I receive discipline or discipline others, I worship God for his restorative nature and desire for unity. When we truly see the greatness and grandeur of God, worship is the response.
God is calling us to live a worship filled life. Worship is not an event but an action. A.W. Tozer says, “We must never rest until everything inside us worships God.” I urge you brothers and sisters, take that statement to heart. Are we resting? Or we are actively giving ourselves to worship the Lord in all that do?
Revelation 4:8 – “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and it so come.’”
I’ve always loved the quote by Jim Elliot that says, “Wherever you are, be all there.” I love this not because I’m good at living it out, but because I’m not.
I’ve always struggled with discontentment. My heart and mind is always advancing to the next big thing. It’s energizing. I fantasize about what the next year or season will look like in my life. I long for change, only for the good, or when it benefits me in some way of course.
Yet the problem with this way of thinking is it causes me to live in the future not the present. I miss out on the many rich blessings and opportunities that the Lord has given me here and now. Ones that won’t be there next week, next year, or when I’m fifty. I lose sight of why God has placed me in this season of my life. I’m distracted by things I hope will happen. Things that are not promised to me. Things that may not even happen or be part of God’s plan. I don’t know about you but that scares me. I would hate to miss out on how the Lord desires to use me because I’m simply not paying attention.
Right now, I’m fighting against discontentment. There will always be a season in life when you want the next big thing to happen – whether that’s to move out of our parent’s house, graduate from college, get a new job, get married, or start a family. I’m not saying you shouldn’t plan or be excited about the future. I’m simply saying it shouldn’t consume your thoughts so much that it stops you from “being all there” here and now – where God has placed you. Be patient. Allow Him to use you. Bear much fruit in the specific season He’s placed you in.
We live in a world that moves at break-neck speed. So, it can be a challenge to learn to stop, reflect, and a be filled with a heart of gratitude for all that God is doing and has done.
I’m so thrilled that on May 21st we get to do just that.
On Sunday, May 21st, we are going to stop and celebrate the powerful and gracious movement of God. We will be gathering and baptizing six people whose lives have been radically changed by the love of God for us in Jesus. Nights like this are so important for us as a church, because God invites us to celebrate and listen to the stories of how Jesus has rescued people and is continuing to rescue people in this world.
Following our time of witnessing these testimonies of God’s grace, we will be sharing a meal together and celebrating new life. And so I pray you will make it a priority to join us that Sunday and be infused with encouragement as we get to see in a very practical way that God is not silent and inactive, but is very much on the move in this world.