Pastor’s Corner Blog


11/14/17
Hello All,
Late last Wednesday night my parents flew in from Tennessee to spend the weekend with my family. As I pulled up to the house with them at around 1 AM my car’s headlights gave me an answer to a question I had been asking for months: What has been getting into my trash? The answer was the most obese raccoon you have ever seen. (I found the picture above online, I couldn’t get a picture of the culprit at my house.) I was truly shocked by its size. It reminded me of one of those house cats you sometimes see that can’t walk around without their belly dragging on the floor.
 
In addition to being a nuisance, this raccoon is a great example of what happens when natural instincts collide with the modern world. He is programmed by nature to eat as much as he can scavenge. The world he now finds himself in offers limitless opportunities to gorge on trash. The result of this conflict is not surprising. He has become a warped version of what a raccoon is supposed to be.
 
Modern people have a tendency to be like this raccoon. Instinct compels us to pursue satisfaction in a world where natural barriers have all been removed. We can gorge on all the food we crave, access unlimited entertainment options, seek positive social feedback 24/7 through electronic communication, and work without ceasing to create the illusion of security. Left unchecked instinct does not lead to a healthy well-balanced life in our modern world, it leads to a warped version of what we were intended to be.
 
If we cannot trust our own desires to guide us what can we trust? The answer is to look to God who created us. He is the ultimate source of self-knowledge. Through God, we can understand what we were created for. With this information, we can rise above the instincts that so often mislead in a world without barriers.
 
In Christ,
Brent Fugate

11/6/17

Hello All,

 

This is Ezra Fugate, my youngest son. Sitting in front of him is a plate of pasta with ham and feta cheese. It is delicious. Ezra doesn’t know it is delicious because he refuses to try a bite. Strangely his refusal does not keep him from pleading for help in the plaintive voice only a 2.5-year-old can manage. When I try to help him he closes his mouth and scrunches up his face in the same way I would if I was offered rancid meatloaf. I would like to say this event is an unusual occurrence in the Fugate house. That would be a lie.

 

What Ezra really wants is to wear me down to the point that I give in to his real desire; a piece of Halloween candy. He is not interested in my help, he is interested in getting me to do what he wants. I cannot help Ezra because he does not actually want to be helped in the way he claims.

 

In life, we frequently run into people that want some sort of help. We should certainly be ready and willing to assist those in need. However, we must remember that those who ask for help may not actually want to be helped if it requires effort on their part. There are few situations in which a person can be meaningfully helped if they are not willing to contribute to the solution. If you are dealing with a situation where someone is seeking help but refuses to make a personal effort the best thing to do is love them by setting clear expectations. Otherwise, you are just enabling whatever pattern created their need in the first place.

 

In Christ,

Brent

10/31/17

This week’s Pastor’s Corner was written by my wife, Ann Fugate, on October 30th.

Hello All,

 

I awoke very early Monday morning to the sounds of heavy winds and the eerie quiet of a power outage. Slightly annoyed, but mostly thinking it was nothing other than a brief, minor inconvenience, Brent and I checked on the kids and fell back asleep. Without an alarm clock to wake me up and too lazy to retrieve my phone from downstairs, my children woke me up around 7:30 to announce the school cancellation alert my oldest son had seen on my cell phone. I spent the first half of the day pretty excited about this turn of events. I had been able to sleep in, hadn’t worked out because my gym was closed, had a great excuse to not go to Market Basket since my fridge wouldn’t keep my food cool, and couldn’t do the first of eight million loads of laundry I had piled up in my basement. We were all home just hanging out together in pajamas surrounded by a sea of Legos. It was relaxing and a nice change of pace.

 

About halfway through the day, my attitude started to change. I really wanted tea and almost gas poisoned my family by trying to use Brent’s camping stove to boil water. (Helpful hint: turning the gas up doesn’t light it like a gas stove. It just pumps a lot of toxic gas into your kitchen.) A shower would be nice, I thought, since I looked like a troll doll. My Chobani yogurt was not as cold as I would like. If I am sounding like a spoiled brat, you are picking up on the point exactly.

 

I tell you this not because I’m proud of my attitude or because my normal Monday morning plans are fascinating to read about. I had been reading about Puerto Rico’s plight since Hurricane Maria hit about 6 weeks ago. I knew about 70% of the island was still out of power and had thought in a passing manner how inconvenient that sounded and was sorry to hear of the people who had died. However, it’s so easy to hear things like that and move on promptly because it doesn’t feel personal or real. Even just one day without power changed my perspective. I in no way claim to understand how it feels to be without resources such as electricity for weeks on end. I am writing this from a warm, well lit location that was available to me. Our bellies are full and we have many places we can safely go to have our needs met until the power comes back on. I’m only pointing out that I usually only gain perspective, empathy, compassion as I go through some form, however mild, of suffering myself. I pray that as my power comes back on and I move through this week unscathed by this inconvenience, that my heart and attitude can remain changed. That I will pray for people all over the world who are legitimately suffering. That I will offer my resources to people in need. That I will be grateful, and teach my children to be grateful, for the many, many blessings I live blissfully unaware of and take for granted each day. That the world will know we are Christians by our love for hurting, needy people. After all, that’s where God meets us: in the midst of our brokenness and suffering. And I am so very grateful.

 

In Christ,

Ann

P.S. Thank you to the ladies of the Women’s Ministry Team for organizing the Pie Day coming up on Saturday and the other events they organize throughout the year.

10/25/17

Hello All,
Most Wednesdays and Fridays I take my dog Pogo for playtime with other dogs at Seacoast Canine’s farm in Byfield. To say this is the highlight of his week is an understatement. Pretty much every morning when I try to leave the house he wants to go with me. On days when Pogo suspects that he is heading to playtime he grows crazy-eyed. Interacting with other dogs is more than a fun outing for him, it is a deeply ingrained need. As we drive closer to the farm Pogo’s excitement grows. By the time we pull up he can barely contain himself.
 
Pogo has a need for community that I cannot fill. He is restored by being in the presence of other dogs like himself. When he doesn’t get this opportunity he grows tepid and morose. This is not to say that everything is perfect when Pogo hangs out with other dogs. Sometimes there are arguments. I don’t speak dog, but I imagine if I did I’d hear the other dogs telling Pogo to chill out a bit. He gets a bit overzealous at times. Despite these issues by the end of the day when I pick him up, he is content.
 
Like Pogo I need to regularly spend time in community with other Christians that see the world in a similar way. For Christians, community is a necessary habit. It is a source of restoration that God has set up. Without this regular practice, our spiritual life will be inhibited. This doesn’t mean community is always easy. There are going to be issues. What it does mean is that participating in Christian community is a worthwhile practice for our own well-being. The upsides of community far outweigh the downsides whether you are a dog or a follower of Christ.
 
 
In Christ,
Brent Fugate
 
P.S. Thank-you to the choir and praise band for the fantastic job you all do leading worship.

10/17/17

Hello All,

Yesterday morning(Monday) I woke up feeling terrible. Overnight a minor sore throat had turned into a sore throat with fever, chills, and exhaustion. I went back to bed hoping to sleep it off. By 3 PM none of the symptoms had abated and the fever was worse. After some encouragement from my wife, Ann, I decided to head over to the Minute Clinic at the CVS in Amesbury. Once there I waited for 1.5 hours to see a competent and kind nurse practitioner. She took a health history, assessed me, and swabbed my throat to check for Strep. Unfortunately, the conclusion the nurse practitioner arrived at was not what I wanted to hear. She informed me that I probably had a severe cold virus that is making the rounds.

I was disappointed. I wanted an antibiotic that I would take daily for the next week.I wanted an easy answer. Instead, I continue to struggle with symptoms as my immune system makes slow progress.

Often we treat spiritual problems like physical disease, searching for a sort of spiritual antibiotic. Just as the only cure to my cold is allowing my immune system to work, so the only cure to my spiritual disease is giving God’s Spirit time to bring about healing. There are things I can do to manage spiritual symptoms, but for ultimate healing, I am reliant on God working in my life.

In Christ,

Brent

10/10/17

Hello All,

Last weekend I led a 4-day canoe excursion in northwest Maine. Those who went were challenged spiritually and physically in a wilderness environment. Over the course of the trip, we paddled approximately 35 miles and carried our canoes and gear another 8 miles over portage trails. There were waterfalls that had to be avoided and rain storms that could not be.

The most dangerous part of the trip was not due to any of the obvious challenges. The rapids, weather, and portage trails were all problematic but they were also obvious. Between the map and my own eyes, I could see these challenges coming. Sometimes I pushed through them other times I avoided them altogether. The more dangerous obstacles were just below the surface of the river.

While we paddled there would often be an obscured rock under the moving water. Sometimes hours would pass with no threats followed by one of these rocks suddenly scraping along the bottom of the canoe threatening to tip us, our food, clothing, and gear into the current. The best way to overcome these challenges was to avoid them all together. To do so required vigilance. More often than not there was some indication the danger existed: Other rocks sticking above the water, a ripple in the current, or a slight change in the color of the water.

Our life also contains obstacles that are not obvious as we move through it. Their existence should not be a surprise to us. They are part of the journey. We would do well to keep an eye out for any signs. While barriers lurk out of sight they are not invisible. Part of maturing in our Christian journey is growing in awareness of these obstacles and avoiding them.

In Christ,

Brent

P.S. Thank-you to Paul Moskevitz for proactively helping people who need jobs find them.

10/4/17

Hello All,

   I went to the chiropractor today for the first time in a couple of years. My back which had been a significant problem in the past was not doing awful, but it isn’t 100% either. The problem area was in between my shoulder blades. No matter what I did I just couldn’t seem to get the muscles stretched and the vertebrae properly aligned. A visit to my chiropractor had me properly adjusted and feeling good within minutes.

  In the same way, a chiropractor is necessary for fixing faulty physical alignment so God is necessary when our spiritual alignment is faulty. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking we can fix ourselves as our condition worsens, eventually it becomes obvious we cannot. We need God to make an adjustment.

   Proactive treatment of back problems prevents them from growing worse. Proactive treatment of spiritual problems does the same. If you sense today that your spiritual status is problematic there is no better time to turn to God. Sometimes you cannot fix yourself.

 

In Christ,

Brent

 

P.S. Thank-you to Mark Scharlach for the work he does on the front lawn area.

9/27/17

Hello All,

I recently purchased a new mountain bike that I ride a couple times a week on the singletrack trails that wind through Willowdale State Park. Every time I go I experience success and failure. The failures are normally the result of two factors: lack of skill and lack of faith. Today I want to focus on the latter.

 

The bike I purchased is a nice entry level mountain bike. It was specifically designed to overcome the type of obstacles that are found on the trails I ride. Oftentimes when confronted with one of these obstacles I’m tentative in my approach, I lack faith in the bike. This leads to a tenuous approach that results in failure. My doubt becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 

Similar failures abound in my personal life. My doubt in God leads to failure. The problem is not that the obstacles I face are too big for God. The problem is my own half-hearted approach. To overcome the obstacles that arise I need to trust God is sufficient for the task at hand.

 

In Christ,

Brent

 

P.S. Thank-you to Doug Dawes for all the work he does on the Mission’s Committee at BPC.

9/19/17

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Hello All,
A few weeks back I was playing racquetball at Latitude Sports Club in Salisbury. My opponent hit a shot that arced high towards the back wall. I jumped to hit it. When I came down my foot and ankle twisted under me at an awkward angle. After collapsing to the floor I laid there hoping my ankle was only sprained. Within a few minutes, I was able to hobble around. By that evening my ankle was incredibly swollen, but not in need of serious medical intervention. A couple of days later it was black and blue. It is now mostly healed.

The shot I sprained my ankle returning was unexceptional. I have returned similar volleys a thousand times. The difference this time was the way I jumped placed all my weight and momentum on my ankle at an awkward angle. My injury resulted because my whole body was dependent on one part that was put in a vulnerable position.

In 1 Corinthians 12 the apostle Paul describes the church as a body, with each person in the church filling a unique and important role. Oftentimes churches depend too heavily on a particular person or group of people. This dependence results in injuries. Sometimes these injuries are acute like my sprained ankle, other times they are chronic.

To prevent injuries churches need everyone to fill their role so that no single person carries too much of the burden. The solution is not for the church to sit around and take it easy. God has given the church a job today. Avoiding that task altogether only results in a spiritual obesity within churches. If the individuals that make up the church as a whole each perform their role, the overall community will be healthy.

Here at Byfield, we have many people serving in a variety of roles. We also have opportunities to help out with missions, media, and other areas. If you are looking to be a more active participant in church, the body of Christ, send me an email at brent.fugate@gmail.com.

In Christ,
Brent

P.S. Thank-you to Robin Hudson for leading the Children’s Choir. I know my kids really enjoy it.

9/13/17

Hello All,
Early next month I am leading a multi-day canoe trip on the Moose River in Maine for the purpose of discipling men under 30.(If you know any guys that would like to go have them contact me.) The trip begins with a paddle across Attean Pond followed by a 1.25 mile portage up to Holeb Pond. From there we will follow the Moose River back down to Attean Pond. In total, we will paddle over 30 miles. The most challenging part of the trip will probably be the 1.25 mile portage. For those of you that don’t know a portage is when you carry all your supplies and canoe overland to another body of water. On this particular trip, doing so will probably require multiple trips carrying heavy loads.
To make the portage easier I wanted to make a canoe cart to carry the canoe. After thinking about it for a couple of weeks I realized the old bike trailer that I use to tow my kids around was the perfect thing to modify for this purpose. Last Friday, I stripped the trailer down, leaving only a basic frame that the canoe could be carried on.
 
Halfway through the stripping down process, I realized something scary. The bolt that holds on the left wheel of the trailer had fallen off at some point! I had been pulling my children around on a trailer that lacked a secure wheel for who knows how long. I would never have realized this if I hadn’t repurposed the trailer to meet the challenge of towing a canoe.
 
Life is often this way. We don’t realize a particular problem exists in us until we face a new challenge that highlights it. If you are ever wondering why God allowed a trial to arise in your life consider the possibility that God is using the obstacle to reveal an issue that needs to be dealt with. Otherwise, you’ll continue to rely on a false sense of security that hides a deep flaw. New trials are often a means God uses to show us how we need to change for our own good.
 
In Christ,
Brent
 
P.S. Thank-you to Don Hudson for leading the Council meeting last night, and acting as Clerk leading up to the meeting. If you have administrative skills and are not presently serving BPC could use a volunteer in this role.
 

9/5/17

Hello All,
On Monday Ann and I took our kids to the beach at Salisbury Reservation. It felt like a perfect beach day. The weather was warm with a slight breeze. The waves were higher than normal, breaking in a regular pattern. Since Monday was Labor Day the crowds were more than usual but less than what we had expected. Upon arrival, Ann and I got comfortable in our beach chairs as the 3 older boys built a series of sand battlements intended to resist the rising tide.
    Ezra, our 2.5-year-old son, played in the area where the waves break up onto the beach(the picture above is actually from earlier this Summer). When the waves receded he would get down close to the water. As soon as the next wave came in he would race up the beach as fast as his toddler legs would carry him in an attempt to outrun the water. For the most part, the water never came above his knees. After this went on for a bit he became bolder. I was forced to go stand closer to the water to ensure he didn’t get swept away. My presence did not make him more careful. In fact, he grew even more adventurous. Ezra realized that I would be there to protect him if the water got too high for him.
Sometimes Christians wonder where God is. Often the answer is that we have not exhibited enough boldness to make his presence felt. God is most noticeable when we enter the turbulent waters of our world on a mission to glorify God. If we want to experience God we should live boldly for Christ. What would this look like for you?

In Christ,
Brent

P.S. Thank-you to all the members and attendees of BPC that regularly support the church through giving their time and finances.

8/30/17

Hello All,
This week the Houston area has been pummeled with feet of rain from Hurricane Harvey. Our hearts and prayers truly go out to those who have lost life and property in this storm. It has been fantastic to see Christian churches in the Houston area work to help victims. A tragedy like this is never desirable, but they often do draw neighbors communities and whole countries together. I would love to see if there is any way Byfield could help with the year’s long recovery effort from Harvey.
While I was looking at news coverage of the storm on Tuesday I began to consider the failures of the prosperity gospel in the face of this sort of tragedy. Ironically Houston has the largest church in the United States, a church built on teaching prosperity theology. For those of you that don’t know, the prosperity gospel teaches that God wants you to be happy, healthy, and wealthy. The implication is that if you are not those things this reflects some lack of faith on your part. This sort of teaching capitalizes on a christianized version of the American Dream. It preys on the worldly hopes and biblical illiteracy of its hearers. The prosperity gospel is always a paper thin theological deception, but it’s not every day that a hurricane comes along to prove how ridiculous it is.
Bad theology is wrong not just because it is not biblical, but because it doesn’t reflect reality. Given time the failures of bad theology will come to light through the circumstances of this world. The reason it matters what we believe is that eventually those beliefs will be tested. We should care what others believe as well. The reason for caring about other’s beliefs is not so we can be right, that is itself bad theology. Instead, our caring should be the result of a Christlike desire to speak truth into their life. For me, the ongoing tragedy of Harvey highlights that theology matters. This is true all the time but becomes particularly apparent when the rain falls. For Christian’s the loving thing to do is not to celebrate other’s downfall, but to lovingly build them up through our speech and actions.

In Christ,
Brent

P. S. Thank-you to Nancy Cumming for being our first “Frontline Testimony” and for her leadership in other areas.

8/23/17

 

 

Hello All,

   On Tuesday night the Boston Celtics traded players and draft picks for Kyrie Irving, a player on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Many of you are already thinking that you don’t care. Stick with me for a minute. A basketball team’s success is certainly dependent on players and strategy, but you can’t overstate the importance of a team’s culture. Over the past couple of years, the Celtics have had a strong culture with success as a result. Adding an All-Star player like Kyrie changes the existing culture. It will be interesting to watch the Celtics this year to observe the culture that develops over the course of the season.

You may not care about basketball, but you should care about culture. Families have a culture, as do workplaces and churches. Like the Celtics Byfield Parish is in the midst of a period of cultural change related to Pastor Boylan stepping into a different role and me taking over as Senior Pastor(although I am no Kyrie and Pastor Boylan doesn’t resemble Isaiah Thomas). Even if I tried to mimic Pastor Boylan in every way, it would still feel different to the individuals that make up Byfield Parish. At times like this congregants feel a mix of excitement for the future, longing for the past, and uncertainty about the present. As BPC goes through this period of cultural change we should do two things as a church: 1) Look to God in prayer as the ultimate source of the culture we want to have as a church. 2) Be patient with each other.

My hope is that both Byfield and the Celtics will build on a winning past by developing a culture in the present that leads to victory in the future. For the Celtics that means an NBA championship in 2018, for us that means standing before God and hearing, “well done my good and faithful servant.”(Matthew 25:23)

 

In Christ,

Brent Fugate

 

P.S. Thank-you to all those that lead small groups at BPC. These settings are incredibly important for ongoing discipleship and community building.  

8/16/17

Hello All,

   Last week I shared an article in Byfield’s Facebook Group from The Atlantic about the impact technology is having on young people in our culture. As a parent of 4 young boys, I think a lot about the role technology will play in their lives. Daily life in 2017 highlights the tremendous benefits and terrifying downsides of technology. It saves lives but also ruins marriages. We can talk to friends across the world for free on video but rarely interact with our neighbors.

      Christians must recognize that modern technologies are not neutral tools. Tremendous good and bad can be accomplished with any tool; smartphones, social media, apps and other technologies are no exception. As with any tool, you must be wise in your use. This is no less true of a smartphone than it is of a chainsaw.

     Most people still reading this are probably adults. In the back of your mind you’re probably thinking, ‘Yep, these kids really need to get off their phones.’ While that is certainly true, I find adults are often just as bad if not worse. We need to think about how we use these incredibly powerful tools that we walk around with in our pockets. If you do not you will end up hurting yourself and others.

 

In Christ,

Brent

P.S. Thank-you to Sharon Trudell for all she does.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTEy-bWaamY

8/8/17

 

Hello All,

   Last Sunday I was spending some vacation time in Tennessee with my family. After attending the early church service my family headed for a local lake with four of Ann’s brothers and 11 of our nieces and nephews! After spending some time tubing and knee boarding we went cliff jumping. My second son, Levi, bravely jumped off the 20+ foot cliff. Unfortunately his form wasn’t great. When he hit the water he was looking down with his arms and legs were splayed out. For those of you who have never been cliff jumping this is not the ideal way to hit the water.

   I share this story because it struck me as a good analogy for how Christians often live out their  faith. Even when we take a leap of faith in our life we are often like Levi. We may jump, but we don’t trust. We feel the need to protect ourselves. Not fully trusting is counterproductive. The result or our lack of faith are worse outcomes. You can’t live the Christian life halfway. If you’re going to make the leap you better be all in.

  On a different note I am really excited about Byfield Parish Church right now. As I have enjoyed time with family I have found myself thinking a lot about the opportunities we have as a community to reach our neighbors. One of the ways we can impact our area is by creating a welcoming environment on Sunday mornings. With this in mind a Welcome Team is forming this Summer that will be led by Jane Spellman. I look forward to seeing how this team makes us more effective in our efforts to love everyone that comes through our doors beginning in September. If you would like to participate reach out to Jane for more info.

 

In Christ,

Brent

 

P.S. THank-you to the Deacons at Byfield for all the do.

8/3/17

Hey All,

Last week was the final Summer barbeque at the YMCA camp in Rowley. Ann, the kids, and I had a great time as usual. When we got back in the car Ann shared a funny story. While she was getting food a woman from the church came up to her and introduced herself.  After exchanging pleasantries the woman asked who Ann had come with. While the woman had seen Ann on Sundays she didn’t recognize her in a non-Sunday environment. Ann awkwardly said that she came with her husband, the pastor. Both the woman and Ann had a good laugh.

I share this story to highlight the behavior of the lady. This is exactly what we should all be doing. We are often so worried about looking silly or not knowing what to say that we do nothing. The woman who initiated a conversation with Ann deserves credit for going out on a limb. We all need to be a little more willing to go out on a limb sometime to build the church.

In Christ,

Brent

P.S. Thank you to the finance committee. The work you do is behind the scenes, but without it the BPC wouldn’t exist.

 

 

7/26/17

Hello All,

THis Summer my wife, Ann, and I have been on a bit of a puzzle kick. Over the weekend she pulled out a puzzle she had recently purchased from Amazon. It was 500 pieces. The image it portrayed was of an old town sitting on a canal. We enjoyed working on it for about the first 376 pieces. At that point, we had filled in all the buildings and water. What remained of the puzzle was the sky. The sky seemed impossible to piece together. There was no rhyme or reason to it;  just a blue and white mess. For a couple of days, the puzzle sat on our table. We would pass by intermittently and try to fit a piece here or there. Periodically we would get lucky and find a match. The puzzle became the bane of our existence, a problem that we had no desire to deal with.

Eventually, we came up with a plan. We divided the pieces on the basis of shape. We then went through and tried each piece of a particular shape in a single spot where that shape might fit. By systematically approaching the problem we were able to finish the puzzle.

This story could be an analogy for many things in our life: Work, family, friendships, etc. For me, it is an analogy for faith. There are times when faith goes from being an enjoyable exercise that feels like it is getting somewhere to a confused mess with no apparent direction forward.  At times like this, the conviction that carries us forward is the belief that our Creator has an ultimate picture in mind that we cannot see in the midst of the struggle. To complete that image we must continue to be faithful in spite of the progress that seems elusive.

In Christ,

Brent

P.S. THank-you to Bob Libert, Nathan Hunter, John Horne, Cedric Miner, and Peter Grifoni for their work on Sunday mornings with the media team. You guys do incredibly important work.

 

 

7/19/17

Hello All,
Some weeks are crazier than others. For me, this week is a crazy one. Family responsibilities, work, and Summer fun all add up to a pretty hectic life. These all sound a bit like first-world problems I know. During these chaotic times, it is easy to quit the routines that keep us grounded. Working out, cleaning the house, reading to the kids, and spending quiet time with God all take a back seat to the demands of the moment.
The first thing that falls off is often time with God. Unlike our homes, nobody can see the spiritual junk that builds up. There is not a Summer reading program managed by the local library that keeps us on schedule in our faith. We don’t notice the lack of spiritual endurance that ensues in the same way we do when we quit working out. The challenge for me this week is prioritizing time with God in the midst of the mess. It may sound like one more thing to do, but spending time with God is actually a routine that thrive instead of just survive.
I want to thank all the volunteers for Vacation Bible School at Byfield this week. I think we have around 70 kids which is awesome. It is great to see the joy and excitement these little ones bring to everything they do.

In Christ,
Brent

 

 

7/11/17

Hello All,
Last Saturday I hiked Mt. Tripyramid in the White Mountains with two friends and my dog Pogo. It was a fantastic day for hiking. The route up was interesting, to say the least. After a relatively gentle incline for the first few miles, the trail hits a rockslide that rises over 1200 hundred feet in a ½ mile. Climbing this was not easy for me, but I knew it would end. Pogo, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure. He didn’t know how long it would last or why we were climbing in the first place. About 100 feet shy of the top he tried to give up. I had to use the leash he was on to encourage him through the last bit.
The trials we face in our lives are similar to the situation Pogo found himself in. We don’t know how long they will last or why we are going through them. Sometimes God’s prompting is enough to get us through, others times we need a bit more of a yank. God is not arbitrary in the trials he allows us to face. He has a purpose in mind.
This week at BPC we start a sermon series that will carry us through the Summer called “Summer Stories.” We are going to look at some of the lesser known narratives of the Old Testament. I am really pumped to see how God works in my life and the church through these stories. Millenia separates us from the characters in these stories and yet the trials we face are remarkably similar to the trials they faced.
 
In Christ,
Pastor Brent
 
P.S. Thank-you for the hard work all the VBS volunteers are putting in. This is a tremendous opportunity for our church to impact the lives of children.

 

7/6/17

Hello All,
I hope everyone had a fantastic July 4th. If you are anything like me celebrating a holiday on a Tuesday threw off your whole week. Minda Fowler, the secretary here at Byfield, just walked into my office to ask if I had the Pastor’s Corner for this week’s email. I had totally forgotten. I am reminded that while it is nice to have break-up the routine of a normal week it is also disruptive in problematic ways.
Here in New England, the whole Summer feels a bit disruptive. As I enjoy the beautiful days and nights it is easy to let the routines that benefit my life slip. I find this to be especially true of my relationship with God. Daily time with God can easily be forgotten about amidst all the fun. The challenge for myself and each of you is for this to be a time where the joys of Summer provide fertile ground for our daily pursuit of God to flourish. If you are reading this on Facebook comment below on what resources you use in your devotional life.

In Christ,
Brent

P.S. Thank-you to Chuck Davis for working the grill at last night’s Summer bar-b-que.

 

6/28/17

Hello All,
One of the great things about being a pastor is getting to meet with people. Over the past couple of months, I have gotten to know many of you better. I look forward to deepening those relationships and getting to know others that I have only had limited interactions with so far. When I hear about the lives of the people that attend this church I am consistently surprised to hear how God has worked. Oftentimes when you walk into a church it seems like everybody is pretty much the same. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each person has had their unique joys and tragedies. For me, there’s comfort in knowing that we are all different yet all the same in Christ whatever our stories might be.
This week is the second Dessert at the Fugate’s. Sign-ups have been great. We are now full through August. It is also the second to last week of our “Journey to Joy” sermon series through Philippians. For me this book has flown by, hopefully, you feel the same. This Summer we will be moving through some of the less well-known stories of the Old Testament. Sometimes these narratives feel more like a rated R movie than anything that should be in the Bible. It is awesome to see that just as God was at work in the joys and tragedies that occurred 3,000 years ago he is at work in our own lives.

In Christ,
Brent

 

6/21/17

Hello All,
I am reminded this week that there are many things that other people are better at than me. I say this not with sadness but joy. A few weeks back I asked Nathan Hunter to film a series of short testimonies for the church that will be shown during the offertory once a month called “Frontline Testimonies”. In my mind it was a pretty simple request; a quick 5-minute interview that Nathan would film and edit slightly. On Sunday after church, the first testimonies were recorded. Nathan had set up lights, multiple cameras, and sound. It was way beyond my vision. You know what? His videos will be better, much better than mine would have been.
Creating video content is a way Nathan has been gifted that I have not. He has no desire(I don’t think) to preach a sermon and I have no desire to edit a video. We both have roles to play. The reason this is a cause for joy is that it reflect how the church, Christ’s body, is supposed to work. Every person is uniquely gifted is some way. God doesn’t make junk. For some, this means creating a welcoming environment at the Senior Luncheon. Others are gifted to organize or sing. The Byfield church community will thrive in proportion to the level of engagement of those who attend. The question for you to ask yourself is how you can serve the bride of Christ.
 In Christ,
Brent
P.S. Thank-you to Bob Libert for all his work with sound and media. Thank-you to all those that make the Senior Luncheon happen, this is a great ministry of Byfield Parish Church.

 

6/15/17

Hello All,

    The shooting in Washington D.C. earlier this week and my own sermon prep remind me to consider a biblical truth: Words Matter. God spoke the world into existence through words, John describes Jesus as the Word. Each day we are all exposed to thousands of spoken and written words. The words we listen to shape us. They affect the way we live our lives. Much of what we hear on commercials, talk radio, from our friends, and elsewhere contradicts God’s words spoken through Scripture and the Holy Spirit.

Just as we are shaped through what we hear the words we speak shape others. They also shape us. We need to be aware of the impact our words are having. Not just what we mean, but how those words are understood by others. The person you speak to more than any other is yourself, you are constantly talking to yourself. What you say affects how you live.  Your words should be salt and light to others and to yourself.

In Christ,

Pastor Brent

P.S. Thank-you to all those that work with the Byfield’s youth and children. It was great to see God at work last Sunday.

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