Preaching the Gospel to Yourself – Part 1

October 3, 2012 Stephen Brucker General 0 Comments
This is part 1 of a 3 part series exploring what it practically means to preach the gospel to yourself.

There has been much talk of late about preaching the gospel to yourself. But what exactly does that mean? It sounds nice, but practically what does it look like?

In order not to reinvent the wheel here is an extended quote from Jerry Bridges in his book The Discipline of Grace in which he address specifically how a person preaches the gospel to themselves.

“To preach the gospel to yourself, then, means that you continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and righteous life. It means that you appropriate, again by faith, the fact that Jesus fully satisfied the law of God, that He is your propitiation, and that God’s holy wrath is no longer directed toward you.

To preach the gospel to yourself means that you take at face value the precious words of Romans 4:7-8: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

It means that you believe on the testimony of God that “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). It means you believe that “Christ redeemed [you] from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for [you], for it is written ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). It means you believe He forgave you all your sins (Colossians 2:13) and now “[presents you] holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22).

Turning to the Old Testament, to preach the gospel to yourself means that you appropriate by faith the words of Isaiah 53:6: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

It means that you dwell upon the promise that God has removed your transgressions from you as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), that He has blotted out your transgressions and remembers your sin no more (Isaiah 43:25). But it means you realize that all these wonderful promises of forgiveness are based upon the atoning death of Jesus Christ.

It is the death of Christ through which He satisfied the justice of God and averted from us the wrath of God that is the basis of all God’s promises of forgiveness. We must be careful that, in preaching the gospel to ourselves, we do not preach a gospel without a cross. We must be careful that we do not rely on the so-called unconditional love of God without realizing that His love can only flow to us as a result of Christ’s atoning death.

It is our prayer that we at The Branch would be a community that continually experiences the power of the gospel in our own lives, as we breath-in-and-out it’s rejuvenating message, which fuels our holiness and produces everlasting joy.

Paralyzed With Gratitude

October 3, 2012 Josh Howeth General 0 Comments

As eight of us stepped out in faith at the end of 2011 and agreed to strive to see a church planted at OSU, we could never have fathomed the year that we have experienced.

We knew that we couldn’t do this alone and have prayed for God to gather a church to join us as we seek to spread His gospel. He has resoundingly answered that prayer as we’ve seen many people brought into our community and living on mission with us. What we didn’t expect is the overwhelming generosity, grace and provision that He has provided to us through the broader Christian community.

What has been an interesting part of our story, and humbling for myself specifically, is that it seems like every avenue I’ve pursued in trying to build church partnerships has ended at a dead end. Yet as that has taken place, instantaneously in the moments of meeting the dead end, we have been t-boned with God’s provision.

As we’ve processed this last year as a team, we can honestly say we don’t know where we would be today if it weren’t solely for God working despite our inadequacies. We’ve worked very hard. We’ve sweat, we’ve cried, we’ve yelled, we’ve laughed. And through it all, He has provided for us.

The big ‘C” Church

We have been overwhelmed by the big ‘C’ Church of God, as every week it seems we get a phone call from a random church telling us how God has laid us on their heart and they want to help. Churches like Fusion Church in Muskogee, OK. Driscoll Baptist Church in Spokane, WA. Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. The Bridge Church in Snohomish, WA. Trinity Baptist in Lebannon, OR. We would not be where we are today without these amazing, generous people.

Or we get a big call from the North American Mission Board out of the blue to help massively with our startup costs. We don’t know where we would be today without God’s provision through NAMB.

The other day, we filled our trailer with a bunch of sound equipment, children’s supplies and various other necessities from our great friends Corvallis Church. We drove away with those items in a trailer that was completely given to us for free by the very generous people of Gresham Bible Church in Gresham, OR. All that we were towing away and what we were towing it in was completely given to us. We wouldn’t be where we are today without these incredible churches.

Supplies from Corvallis Church being loaded into our new trailer donated by Gresham Bible Church

Beyond money and supplies, we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of churches wanting to come alongside us and help us with their people serving us and our great city. Resonate Church in the palouse of Washington and Idaho have been our friends and walked with us since day one. We cannot thank them enough for their support and advice. Last weekend and this coming one they are sending a total of nearly twenty college students to help us with various events, with leading worship and getting the gospel and the word of our launch out to our campus and community. Discovery Pointe Church in Ridgefield, WA is sending down some people for our second weekend service to help with kids, with setting up and tearing down and worship.

We don’t know where we would be today without these incredible people.

The Resonate team down to help us put on the Kye Kye concert

And, since before even day one, we are absolutely overwhelmed by our close friends at Grant Avenue Baptist Church in our hometown of Corvallis. They have empowered us, sent us, and allowed us to utilize them in a bizillion different ways to get us where we are today. Without their monthly and daily support, we would not be where we are today.

Overwhelmed by God’s Grace

Without the help of all of these incredible people of God, we would not be talking about Sunday and our very first service as a church. I am COMPLETELY overwhelmed by God’s grace and provision that He has lavished on us through His people. It has been amazing to experience Him and His provision and to know that we are doing His will, all through others around us.

There are countless others in our town like Doxology, Renew, Grace City and many others, both individuals and churches across this nation that have come alongside us, myself particularly, and if even for a moment brought encouragement to keep on living out this Jesus mission.

Our thank you’s fall short. We talk about being blessed and we are getting a taste of what that actually means. We are paralyzed with gratitude. First towards God because this is all done because He has been working and because this is all for Him. Secondly, towards everyone who has walked alongside us this past year and will continue to do so.

It is incredible to see God’s Kingdom be selfless and to seek our God’s work first. I’m amazed at how many churches and individuals are not concerned with their little kingdom but are only concerned with God’s broader one. We have learned so much, and are inspired to bless others just as we have been blessed. We talk a lot about embodying the Gospel at The Branch. We have been experiencing that everyday through all of these people.

I’m stoked for the years ahead as we get to continue to experience God, His Kingdom and His ways. We are excited to bless others and see more churches planted in our town and elsewhere.

But let us always realize that this isn’t about us. Let us realize that we aren’t called to do this alone. But together we strive to spread the glory of our God all found in the Gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation.

He. Is. Good.

Shop and Make a Difference

October 2, 2012 Josh Armentano General 0 Comments

We are excited to announce that the Hello Somebody watches have arrived! For those of you who don’t know the story behind these watches read this. We have all kinds of colors and will be selling these watches on Sunday nights to raise money and awareness to fight human trafficking.

We have two sizes to choose from and will be selling both for $20. All $20 will go to support International Justice Mission.

The large face watch is 1.5″ wide. We have the following colors for this size: black, white, orange, red, purple, light grey, lime green, yellow, and pink.

The small face watch is 1″ wide. We have the following colors for this size: black, light grey, pink, lime green, and purple.

An Unexpected Gift

September 27, 2012 Josh Armentano General 0 Comments

We received this letter in the mail this week. We were so blessed by it we wanted to share it with The Branch community. Praise God for the tender and willing hearts of the youth and children of Driscoll Baptist Church!

Dear Brothers and Sisters at The Branch,

We first learned of your ministry at Centrifuge this year and our students came home passionate to pray for your ministry in this coming year. We spent the month of August praying specifically for you all. We had two students who spent the month telling our youth about your leadership, the campus, the various ministries you have and even a bit about the area of Corvallis. I have included a prayer reminder that each of our students and adult leaders took to pray for you over the four weeks of August.

Our Vacation Bible School happend to be 2 weeks after we came back from camp and God impressed on our hearts to tell our VBS kids about your ministry and what you all were doing to tell people about Christ and to give our missions offering to your ministry. This year, we broke a record in giving by our students. Through a friendly competition between our boys and girls, totaling about 70 children, we were able to raise $1500.00 for the ministry of The Branch.

Please know we continue to pray for you all and would love to know if there are ways we can continue to pray for you specifically. We are grateful to partner with you in prayer and help.

Blessings from extended family at Driscoll Baptist Church

God is so good! This is just another reminder of the big “C” church that we are all members of. Join us in praising God for His goodness and love. Thank you Driscoll Baptist Church!

Let’s Pray: Wednesday Prayer Gatherings

September 25, 2012 Josh Howeth General 0 Comments

We’ve all experienced it right? If you haven’t, you most likely will at some point. Going to a prayer meeting because you thought you should and because it’s “what a good Christian does” of course. You went, you made it through, and you left wondering if anything that took place actually mattered. You wondered if it was worth your time and you swore you would never come again. Yet, the next week, you felt obligated to go because it’s what a good follower of Jesus does.

Many people have baggage when it comes to prayer meetings. Most of the time you sit around and pray for what seems like trivial things: Jonny’s scraped knee, safety for someone traveling, job interviews and countless other health related concerns and money situations. It’s not that we shouldn’t pray for these things, but deep down we are really just trying to get through the list and as long as we at least mumble something related to the request we feel like we did our duty and accomplished something.

What Prayer Really Is

Whatever your perception is when it comes to prayer and more specifically praying together in community, we must understand and see it for what it really is.

It is group of people who have been grafted into the family of God, who simply get together and talk to their Father about what is on their heart. Then we get to watch and listen as God speaks into our lives and moves in and around us and answers our prayers.

It is a time where a faith family gets to come together and throw ourselves completely on our God and trust Him and His faithfulness. To cry out for Him to continue to pour out His grace like a flood on our world. To confess our sin to Him and ask the Holy Spirit to bring repentance into our lives.

Prayer gatherings are essential. They can and should be powerful.

A Praying Community

At The Branch, we want to be a community that prays. Not because we think that if we simply pray, we’ll get what we want from God. But because we want to always be a community that rests, fully dependent, upon our God.

So, starting this Wednesday, September 26th, and every Wednesday from there on out, we will gather as a community from 7-7:45 a.m. and do nothing but pray. That’s right…I said A.M.

We will pray strategically for the gospel to spread to the ends of the earth. We will intercede for our campus and our city. We will pray for our church and our leaders. And we will simply share our hearts with one another, lean on one another, and pray for each other. And then, we get the joy of hearing God speak and watching God work.

This is such a fitting time to start this as a church since we are in the middle of our two weeks of prayer and fasting. We hope you will join us this Wednesday at 7am at our office space at Central Park South. Our office is right in the heart of downtown, in the old First Congregational Building, bordering the south of Central Park. We are located in suite 11 at 760 SW Madison.

We hope you’ll come and pray with us, drink some coffee and reconnect before you head off for work or whatever else you have planned that day.

We need this. To simply have a time every week as a community that we do nothing together other than pray. This is such a valuable time. We will cherish it, and hope you will too.

Community Art Project Day 1

September 24, 2012 Josh Armentano Branch Out, Community Art 0 Comments

We rolled out our community art project today to engage and interact with students. It was a huge success! We talked with countless students about the Biblical Justice issue of human trafficking and shared about our new church and our motivation for why we do what we do – our love for Jesus!

We are about 1/3 of the way through, and will be out on campus the rest of this week trying to engage and mobilize students. Pray that God would use our interactions to point people outside themselves and towards Jesus.

We had 70 students sign a postcard which we will be sending to IJM who will send them off to our elected officials to make fighting human trafficking a priority!

The end result after our first day! Praise God!

Community Art Project

September 23, 2012 Josh Armentano Branch Out 0 Comments

On Monday we will be rolling out an opportunity for students to engage in the Biblical Justice issue of human trafficking through a community art project. We want to auction off the piece next year to raise money and awareness for the work International Justice Mission (site) is doing in this area. We hope and pray that through this art project we will begin to cultivate relationships with students and those in our community. By pointing people to look outside themselves and concern themselves with the needs of others, we want to be connecting people with the realties and implications of the gospel and what Jesus has already done for them.

Simple Idea, Great Possibility

The idea is simple, the potential is unlimited. Our hope is to get students to help us paint a 5′ x 4′ canvas. The canvas has The Branch tree outlined in pencil, with a grid of 3″ x 3″ squares. We will ask the community to chose one of the 10 colors we have selected and fill in one of the squares. To keep the Branch tree visible, students who select a square over the tree will be asked to select two colors – one for inside the tree and one for outside.

Preparing the Canvas

Check out Kaley and Chelsea getting things set up!

Hello Somebody Partnership and TEN39

September 15, 2012 Josh Armentano 1039 0 Comments

We are excited to be partnering with Hello Somebody to raise funds and awareness for the International Justice Mission – a Christian non-profit working around the world to combat human trafficking. Hello Somebody is a nonprofit brand that exists to bring positive worldwide change through the love, passion and creativity of common people. One way they are doing this is through selling the Hello Somebody watch. This watch is a cool way that people can be walking advocates for justice in their daily lives. Hello Somebody has graciously allowed us to purchase this watch at a huge discount in order to turn around and sell them to raise money for IJM. We plan to sell these watches on campus and around Corvallis to engage people and mobilize them to take a stand against human trafficking. We will be giving 100% of the money we receive from the sale of each watch to support the amazing work IJM is doing.

Biblical Justice at The Branch

Biblical justice is integral in the life of every follower of Jesus. An estimated 27 million people are currently in the bondages of modern-day slavery. Most of these are women and children. This is a travesty and is one of the more insidious consequences of sin in our world. We cannot stay idle – we cannot remain complacent – the gospel is just too good. So as we have begun to think through what Biblical justice would look like at our church we felt strongly that God was leading us to participate in fighting the injustice of human trafficking. Therefore, we have decided to adopt this cause as our TEN39 Biblical justice campaign for the 2012-2013 school year.

What that means is, throughout the coming year we hope to mobilize our faith community to engage in advocacy, raising money, and actively participating in combating human trafficking around the world. We will do this in a variety of ways from selling the Hello Somebody watches, asking our political representatives to act, putting on a justice week on campus, conducting a community art project, organizing a Biblical justice mission trip, and much more.

I Am

September 8, 2012 Stephen Brucker Poetry 0 Comments

Watch the short film that was inspired by this poem: Heavenly Identity

This poem was written to coincide with our Fall teaching series titled, “Who is this man?”. It was also the inspiration for our first short film which we finished shooting over labor day weekend. We hope and pray that you and many others will be blessed by it.

Popeye said ‘I yam what I yam’
But what did he mean
I mean

Am I time plus matter plus chance
A primordial goo, a universal glue, in a heartless dance

Am I what I do or do not do?

A good boy who cleans his room
Walks in moral purity, disguising ethical hypocrisy, and fancying religious superiority

Am I the clothes I wear, the school I attend
My family heritage or the things I comprehend
All which could go up in a flame
Which begs the question, what would be left of my name

Am I lower-class or upper-class
My favorite sport or my empty flask

Am I a liar a cheat
A clown with big feet.

Am I the collision of decisions
The mixture of personal conditions

Or am I an American, a Democrat, a tree hugger or free thinker
A moralist, a capitalist, a materialist or an individualist

There are endless numbers of ‘I am’ succumbers
Whose identity adapts like freshman newcomers

But what if I am NOT what I think I am
Not as I can
And not where I stand?

What if personal discovery
Doesn’t come from searching me?

What if a Man on transfiguration
Transfers his rights, creating identity from on heights?
What if a Man on the tree
Proclaims that I am free
Setting His identity
On a wretched man like me?

Who am I?
I‘ll tell you who I am
I am who He says I am.

A sinner saved by grace
Ripped away from my idolatrous embrace

I am rinsed by blood
Saved from the flood
Royal by heavenly decree
Chosen by divine mystery
Pardoned as if I always obeyed
Cleared as if I’d always stayed
Dead, killed, delivered, set apart
Regenerate with a new heart
Given a completely new start

I’ve been transferred into a new family
Thanks to the Son who exemplified humility
Being set apart, commissioned with grave responsibility
Proclaiming the gospel to those in need of a new identity

Oh yes I’m still a creature
With all its feature
Vulnerable, dependent and depraved
Ignoring Him most days,
In which I terribly misbehave

But worried I am not
As God the Son on Calvary fought
To justify and adopt
With His own blood he has now bought
And this new vision I now have caught

Though the world may claim my identify
Suggesting their need to clarify me
God has set his affection eternally
Grafting me into the Son’s identity

Christ’s righteousness is transferred to me
When I believed His act on Calvary

I am no longer guilty of sin
Because the Father crushed His own kin

As time passes I understand more fully
That this story, has made me holy

If you’re confused let me simply proclaim
It’s not about you, me, or your self-proclaimed identity
It’s about a person, his work and his fame.

Let us rejoice, for Popeye was in grave error
Our burden is dead, in Christ there is no terror
Because Christ is perfectly our sin bearer
Holy Union, there’s nothing in life more rarer

So Let us swim, basking in God’s glory
Flailing around, as children in the ultimate love story
Breathing in and out his rejuvenating peace
Freedom at last, I am now what I will always be
United to He and blessed with heavenly identity

And That’s a Wrap

September 4, 2012 Josh Armentano General 0 Comments

After 3 days of filming, 19 actors and actresses volunteering their time, and 1 amazing director we have officially wrapped up shooting our first short film! Throughout the course of this project we have been continually brought to a place of worship as we have seen God’s amazing providence at work. The production of this film is truly a testament to what can happen when obedient hearts come together with a united vision to work for the glory of God and the eternal joy of people. Our ambition from the beginning has been to create a film that would engage its audience with a fundamental question we all must ask ourselves – who are we? and where do we find our identity? We hope and pray that this will be achieved through our efforts. In the coming weeks the film will enter into post-production and hopefully be ready to premiere at our launch on October 7th.

Our Amazing Team

We want to say a big thank you to all who helped make this film a reality:

Clayton Walking Eagle, Phillip Abraham, Stephen Brucker, Josh Armentano, David Coulombe, Kaley Lincoln, Laura Walking Eagle, Chelsea Armentano, Josh Howeth, Becca Boddy, Carrie Boddy, Jacob McCarty, Andy Crowe, Kayla Crowe, Lisa Brucker, Sadie Brucker, Mark Lincoln, Marsha Lincoln, Vanlandingham Family, Elizabeth Howeth, Dan Reynolds, Ryan Kinnamen, Jordyn Coon

Production Images

Core Group September Services

September 3, 2012 Josh Howeth General 0 Comments

Can you believe that The Branch is only five weeks away from launch? In some ways it seems like it has taken so long to get to this point, and in many ways it has come very fast. Nevertheless, the next five weeks are very critical in the life of our church and it is super important that we cherish them.

This coming Sunday, September 9th, marks the beginning of four core group worship services that will take place this month. If you are someone who currently calls The Branch your home, or if you are someone that is definitely planning on calling The Branch your home, these four services are very important for you to be a part of.

We will be meeting at La Sells Stewart Center in the Ag. Science room. Twigs will be held for children in the Wells Fargo room. We will begin at 5:30pm and our time together will run no later than 7pm.

What to Expect

During these services there will be a message delivered some weeks by myself and some weeks by Pastor Stephen. We are going to sing praises to God for who He is and in remembrance for all that He has done for us in Jesus. We will also spend a good amount of time in prayer together as a community, take communion together, and there will be an opportunity for us to joyfully give as a church to further His Gospel’s advancement in our city.

These times of worship will be very casual, and in many ways they will feel like a very large small group, or better yet, a larger family gathering.

A Time to Prepare

These next five weeks are a time for us to prepare. Not only to prepare for events, service projects, getting the word out about our launch and our first Sunday gathering as a church. But even more importantly, time for us to listen. Time for us to pepare our hearts to hear the voice of God. To come to a sobering realization that all of our efforts apart from Him are worthless in terms of building His Kingdom and bringing Him glory.

You guys, we desperately need God to move. We want Him to start a revival on our campus and in our city. This will not come from anyone’s personality, great websites, wonderful flyers, smiling faces, good music or any event that can possibly be put on. This only comes when His people have a complete dependance on Him and have a pure desire to cry out for Jesus to receive the full glory that is due to Him.

A Time to Pray and Fast

So, starting September 17th and ending on September 30th, we are going to enter into two weeks of guided prayer and fasting as a community. This is not a time for us to prove to God how serious we are, to bribe Him in any way or to make sure He answers our prayers.

It is a time for us to cut out some noisy things in our lives, or to deny ourselves in such ways that we create more space to hear the voice of God. I firmly believe this can be such an enriching time for us as a church, and I believe it is very needed for the life of our church.

My hope is that during these next four Sundays, we are so moved by God and His Gospel, that we move forward as a church with such confidence in His power and His compassion for OSU, Corvallis and the world. That we are sobered up and come to a deep realization for our desperate need of Him. That we realize He is the only one who can give life. That in and of ourselves we can produce no fruit for His glory. That is why I love our name so much. It is such a great and constant reminder.

So, if The Branch is your family, or you know that you want it to be, please come this Sunday as we worship together.

And may the next five weeks be such a formative time for us as we approach October 7th.

Prayer Guide for 2012-2013

August 24, 2012 Josh Armentano Prayer Guide 0 Comments

Each year we want to produce a guide for specific ways people can pray for our church and the work we are doing. This guide will go out to our church partner, as well as be a guide to be used in the church community for people to know how to guide their prayers within the church life. We are printing up several copies of this guide and those will be available in the next week or so. We encourage everyone who feels led to partner with us or be part of our community to utilize this guide as we intercede and ask God to move in our church, campus, and city.

Download Prayer Guide

A Short Film

August 22, 2012 Josh Armentano General 0 Comments

We are excited to be working with director Clay Walking Eagle web site on a short film which will explore the topic of identity. This is such an important issue in today’s culture both inside and outside the church. When we think of our identity we often define ourselves by our skills and talents, physical abilities, careers, popularity, and a whole host of other external and internal influences. Through this short film we hope to make the case that these things are fickle and ever changing – completely unsuited to be the sources by which we define our self-worth, value, and ultimately our joy. It is our hope to engage the audience with the question, “Where do you find your identity?”, and leave them examining their own hearts and hopefully pointing them to Jesus.

To explore this topic in a deeper, more profound way, we decided to leverage the power of the arts. In this film we hope to combine the emotionally persuasive power of the spoken word with the appeal and intrigue of visual story telling. God has given us a great vision for this film and we pray that many lives are touched and changed because of it.

We Need Your Help

We need help from within The Branch community to make this short firm a reality! We are looking for people to play extras in the various scenes that we will shoot around Corvallis. These extras would need to be available to help on Sunday, September 2 from Noon till around 5.

If you are down to help, let us know in the comments section below or by emailing josh.armentano@thebranchcorvallis.org.

A New Space

August 22, 2012 Josh Armentano General 0 Comments

We are excited to announce we have signed a lease to rent a space centrally located two blocks from OSU and a short distance from downtown Corvallis!

Pictures

Location

Located strategically two blocks from OSU and a few blocks away from downtown Corvallis. We feel this space will allow us to embed our church in the heart of our city where we can most effectively branch out for ministry.

760 SW Madison Ave, Corvallis