September 24 Sermon is up!

Hi Everyone. If you were unable to make it to The Bridge this past Sunday (because you may or may not have been on a beach in Hawaii), you can still catch Sunday’s sermon, Justice and Generosity. In the parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Jesus teaches us a lot about God and a lot about our human nature too. He tells us that God is always seeking men and women to enter His kingdom to get to work for Him, that He is a God who gives a personal invitation, and that some enter His kingdom early while still others only come at a much later hour.

Regardless of when the worker enters the Kingdom (vineyard), the reward is the same. There is no distinction made by God. To each the same reward is given! Eternal glory for all who believe. This, of course, does not sit well with some who want earnestly for God to show them some particular favor, but God will have none of it. God gives to each what is their due–and to some he gives MORE than their due! God is just and generous. He never gives us less than we rate, but he always finds a way to be generous with us. We should be just and generous too. We should work hard to give people what is theirs, and try to find creative ways to go beyond what is due and to be generous as well!

Have a blessed week. See you Sunday.

September 3 sermon is up!

Hey there everyone! The September 3 sermon is now online, and below is some good news from the Philippines. Please click here for this past Sunday’s sermon, and read below for the great work Peter Cowles is doing! Below are some excerpts and pictures from an E-mail that Rod passed on to me.

From Peter:

DSC_0033.JPGThanks for passing on the Treasure Principle. It is a book that really changed my outlook on things here on earth. I love his other books too and have listened to many of his sermons on YouTube.

We have the basic infrastructure in place as to vehicles, places to store things, drivers, etc. We have three trained pastors on our team who do a lot of the spiritual work.  They also drive and are in the middle of things. What we need to add is an additional team of people but likely would do incrementally.

1. Our first need is to add another general person DSC_0047.JPGwho can help in the office to free up Girlie (our social worker/office manager/compliance manager) so she can get out into the field more days and meet with families.  Girlie is wearing 3 hats and balancing things but is too valuable to be in the office 3 days a week.  Please pray for Gary (our RN) and Girlie as she just experienced a miscarriage at seven weeks.

The cost for a general worker who would be doing bookkeeping and also assisting in other ministries is about 250 a month, with required benefits. We also need to find someone who has a driver’s license and can run errands.  This need is within the next 3-4 months.

2. Our second step would be to add an additional medical person, likely a registered nurse.  The cost of that would be around 350 a month with required benefits.  We also need to find someone with a driver’s license.   This need is seven months or so away but could come faster.  Things appear to be accelerating.

3. DSC_0010Our third step would be to create a field oriented Ex. Director (Filipino).  That is probably 2-3 years away.  We are starting to look at a organization without me at the helm here, so I can do more fundraising in the USA  and to set up things for the future. We raise 2/3 of our funds in the six weeks I am in the USA each year.  I spoke 40 times this round in various settings and in three states and need to spread that out a bit. Our USA board members are also very active and do fundraising now.  I also need to write more grants.  We have been remarkably blessed by grants. We have applied for 20 grants and have received 19 of them, over the past six years.  We just received another one for prosthetic cases for $150 per case. Small grant but can be increased.  We asked for only 12 cases as that is what we can currently handle in the next 12 months, one per month.

We have very few monthly supporters (about 18 of them) , such as you and the Bridge.  God always provides but would be good to have more monthly donors.  Realistically, when we run short, I also kick in extra beyond our regular giving of $1,000 per month. We also support our personal expenses, travel, etc. It is a blessing to know what funds are predicted each month.

I am 63 now and have asked God for seven more solid years here.  Lots of energy still.  DSC_0053Seven years seems a long time away but need to think about it. If I can go until 75 or 80, that would be a blessing.

This is the plan we have been reviewing with our Board in the USA.  We also are prayerfully seeking younger board members to bring along for the future.  Ideally some in their 30’s and 40’s.  We just added one from TN who is 47.  He is our youngest Board member.  If you know of any in CA, looking for some candidates.

Grateful for your prayers and support for what God is doing here. Probably gave you more info than you asked for but wanted to give you the “bigger picture” view of things.

DSC_0049

Oh, the Weeds!

Weeds.pngI pray all is well with The Bridge family and friends! I am excited to share this past Sunday’s sermon, Oh the Weeds! This sermon looks closely at Jesus’ approach to dealing with sin and brokenness in the community.

Jesus asks us to first take a look in the mirror and address our own weaknesses and deficiencies, and reminds us that He is at work in all people all the time. The disciples are eager to uproot “the weeds” in the Lord’s garden, but Jesus desires that all people come to a knowledge of God and spend eternity with Him. By pulling up “weeds,” we may unintentionally pull up some wheat! Jesus reminds us that in every community there will be weeds among the wheat. He will deal with the weeds at the end of time. Our job, in the mean time, is to love–not judge! Wouldn’t we be pleased to discover a transformation of the weeds into wheat by the power and grace of the LORD! Watch the sermon below, and share it with friends.

 

Sunday, July 9 Sermon Uploaded!

Hello Bridge Faithful!

Below you will find the July 9 sermon, The Weight of Sin. Jesus encourages us neither to think we can do it all alone, nor that we can do nothing. Instead he recommends that we “yoke” ourselves to Him, bind ourselves closely to Him, and together with Him to do more than we ever thought imaginable! He tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden light. This is welcome news for those of us who believe that the weight of the world is always upon our shoulders! The truth is that Jesus came to give us rest, peace, and a life free from worry and anxiety–if we would but allow Him to carry our load with us. Are you experiencing that peace? Sadly, too many–believers and unbelievers alike–are collapsing under the weight. Find liberation in Christ Jesus! Life is too short for the bitterness, angst, and emotional poverty that results in putting out hopes in the hands of the world.

A big “thank you” for this past Sunday off. We had a great time at Sea Cliff Beach, in Aptos, and at the Boardwalk, in Santa Cruz! Our final day was spent deep sea (100ft) fishing. Together, myself, Mark, Luke, and Jill’s brother, dad, and friend, pulled in over 60 Rock Cod. Unfortunately, Luke’s stomach didn’t do so well but he said he had a good time anyway (and we caught his share of fish too!). I think we’ve officially added the fishing trip to the Santa Cruz agenda!

Finally, I’ve received a portion of Peter’s sharing about the great things going on in his ministry to the Philippines, and I’m looking forward to putting it up on the web. Stay tuned for that!

 

Blessings,
Pastor Stephen

 

Celebrating Baptism!

Dear Bridge Family and Friends,

What an exciting past Sunday we had at the Taylor’s home, as both Alyssa and Cesar celebrated their baptisms, renewed their commitment to Christ Jesus, and made a public proclamation of their desire to follow Him!

As both Alyssa and Cesar were baptized when they were young, they felt it important that they renew the baptismal promises made on their behalf by their parents, by personally committing themselves to Jesus. You may or may not be aware that the Covenant Church recognizes the validity of both infant baptism for the forgiveness of sins, as well as adult baptism (often called believer’s baptism).

In the first case, because of the parents’ faith, the child is brought into a saving relationship with Jesus (cf. Matthew 8:5-13) through the sacrament of Baptism, and that child is healed of all stain of sin and made a child of God. Often, as a way to show the personal nature of the relationship once the child is of age, confirmation occurs, whereby the grace of God begun in baptism is brought to completion in confirmation.

Alternately, for the parent who desires to wait on baptism until their child is of age to decide, the covenant church practices infant “dedication,” whereby a child is dedicated to God as a way to show the parent’s commitment to raise that child in the faith. Eventually, when ready, the (then) young adult will seek the waters of the believer’s baptism. This is when an individual, knowing the power of Christ to heal their soul, approaches the throne of grace and accepts Christ Jesus into his/her heart, and is healed. (cf Matthew 8:1-4)

Sacred Scripture is absolutely clear on the importance of baptism (cf. MT 28:19, John 3:5, Acts 2:38, and a many more!), but is not clear when exactly it should occur. Jesus says quite clearly about children, “do not hinder them (Luke 18:16).” Also, it seems that baptism has replaced circumcision for the Christian community (Colossians 2:11-12), and circumcision was done on the 8th day in accordance with the Law of Moses. Peter seems to teach infant baptism (Acts 2:39), and in Acts 16:15 and 16:33, whole households were baptized. Even so, nowhere do we see in Scripture “make sure you baptize infants” given as a command, similarly, no where is it forbidden as a practice. Additionally, we see quite clearly the truth of believer’s baptism, but nowhere does Scripture claim that baptism is ONLY for those who have reached the age of reason.

While some church’s forbid infant baptism, and others encourage it, the Covenant church keeps both infant and believer baptism as options for the faithful. We are not an “either/or,” type of community, but rather a “both/and” type of people. We stand in solidarity with both the present and the past in baptizing infants whose parents believe and desire it for their child, and adult baptism for those that desire it for themselves.

If you, or someone you know is interested in a baptism, a dedication, or a confirmation, please do not hesitate to see me after church. I’d love to help.

I’ve included some helpful documents that might in a better way than I have explained here, provide clarity and authority to the Evangelical Covenant Church’s teaching.

Baptism-in-the-ECC-1

Policy-on-Baptism-churches

Blessings,

Pastor Steve

Getting Caught Up!

Hello Believers! As the title clearly indicates, I am finally getting caught up on publishing June sermons! My internet at home is painfully slow, and it takes days (quite literally) to upload a sermon from my iPad, to my Dropbox, and then to YouTube. By God’s grace, however (and the virtue of patience), two Sunday sermons are now complete and the links are below! The first is “Trinity Sunday,” and the second is “A Child of God.” I hope you enjoy watching them, are edified by them, and are willing to both comment and share your thoughts or how the Spirit inspired and moved you by what you heard.

Blessings,
Pastor Steve

June 11 Sermon – Trinity Sunday

June 25 Sermon – A Child of God