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!
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!
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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!
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
A little poetry to encourage you today.
Everywhere I look mercy enthrones,
grace overthrows disaster and
love distracts my soul.
As Christian walked long ago,
toward the Celestial City,
so too I walk,
smelling its distant shore,
it’s thrilling kingdom and
it’s alluring pleasures.
Failure is certain, but
failure be damned
in the presence of the Holy One.
Men throw insults,
thoughts momentarily distract,
yet when I gaze upon the Man,
the Man who marred my soul,
bypassed my heart and
enlivened my mind
I care little for the entailments
of this world.
What story has found me,
what life I enjoy.
I know I love imperfect, but
certain I am that I love today
more than yesterday.
The nectar of life,
the fulfillment of dreams
has come to completion
in the ultimate love story
the ultimate drama
and the ultimate fairy tale.
This is too good to be true
Yet good to be true.
October 7th is quickly approaching and we couldn’t be more excited. We have been busy this summer meeting together, praying together, and laying the foundation for what our church will look like come Fall. There are so many things that go into planting a new church! Each member of our team has a to-do list that only seems to grow, and in the midst of all the excitement and busyness we can easily fall victim to the trappings of the hurried, noisy life. As in every area of life, we find the perfect example of how to manage and balance the complexities and busyness of life and ministry in the life of Christ.
The Life and Ministry of Jesus
If you’ve ever sat down and read through the entire gospel of Mark in one sitting, you will notice that by the end you might be breathing heavy. The pacing of this gospel is unbelievable. You will find the word “immediately” repeated over and over to describe how Jesus and his disciples went from one encounter to another. This pattern starts early on in the first chapter where we find Jesus teaching in the Synagogue on the Sabbath and then after he is done immediately leaving and entering the house of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was ill and we read that immediately they told Jesus and he promptly heals her. When evening came the whole village shows up at their door with all the sick and those who were demon possessed. Jesus heals many and casts out many demons, and apparently labors long into the night. At some point he goes to slept, because we read in verse 35:
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he [Jesus] departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
The Act of Seperation
This is astounding to me. Here we have Jesus who taught all day in the synagogue, then ministered to the physical and spiritual needs of the entire village long into the night, yet he still felt the need to get up early in the morning, while it was still dark to meet with God. How many hours of sleep could he have gotten? Possibly 3 or 4? Now some of us might be tempted to say, “He was God in human flesh, it was easier for him”. But know this, when Jesus entered into our world and walked among us as a man, he was indeed fully God, but he was also fully man. He took on the limitations of a body when he became a man and that included the realities of fatigue and exhaustion.
What strikes me most and has helped me to begin to remedy the pitfall of the hurried life is what comes next. In verse 36 we read:
And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.”
Did you catch it? The disciples seek out Jesus and the first thing they say is “Everyone is looking for you.” Why were they looking for him? Because there were people who were still in need! There was still work to be done, still people to minister to, still a to-do list that demanded his attention, yet Christ saw it absolutely necessary to put those demands aside and spend time alone with God in prayer. There is a tyranny of the busy life that many of us are held captive to. That tyranny acts like a weed in the garden of your life to suck up all your time, energy, and resources until there is nothing left. Christ understood that and it compelled him to step away from the busyness of ministry to be renewed and strengthened by God.
Recovering from the Hurried Life
Many of us are running in a continually state of emotional, physical, and spiritual exhaustion. Please hear this and take it to heart: God is giving you permission today to set aside the to-do list for a moment and spend time alone with Him. He wants to renew you and fill you with his spirit. He wants to reveal things to you and warm your heart with love for Christ. All these things are absolutely necessary. You cannot truly live without them.
If you are anything like me, and think there is always one more thing you need to get done, you will find that this will be the most productive time of your entire day. Please join the conversation and share some words with The Branch community in the comments section!
I received this in my email box yesterday:
Did you know 1/3 of all abortions in Oregon are currently being funded by taxpayers through the Oregon Health Plan? This amounts to about $1.5 million in public funds being spent on about 3,500 abortions every year. Or to put it another way, 9 abortions TODAY will be paid for with your state tax dollars.
I’m inviting you to be part of this Oregon 2012 grassroots movement to send this email to 1 million Oregonians within the next 10 days. With your help we will meet our goal of gathering at least 150,000 signatures by the July 2 final deadline to place Initiative #25 on the November ballot.
The defense of the unborn is a top social issue for us here at The Branch. This is a great and easy way we can lend our voice of opposition for the killing of the unborn. This grassroots effort is being put on by the folks at Oregon2012.org.
What You can Do
Share this post with all your social networks using the share buttons on the right sidebar, then download and print the petition, fill it out, and mail it to: P.O. Box 1620, Corvallis OR 97339