Isn't being a Christian Awesome? As we continue to live in such an uncertain time, we as Christians know that God is alive and he is with us and will walk with us every step of the way. Yes, we may be self quarantined and away from each other physically, but spiritually and emotionally we are connected and time and space can not separate us from the Love of God. His presence and the gift of the Holy Spirit are ours and they can not be taken away. Neither life or death neither principalities nor anything else can separate us from the love of God. He is with us in the very minute of things to the very important events of our lives. We have a God that loves and cares for us more than we love and care for ourselves- (and for some of us that is a lot).
As we continue to deal with the loneliness and the issues within our own families, our communities, our state and with the pandemic that is world wide, we really do have a lot going on and a lot to get us down. God knows and understands everything we are going through and everything that we are thinking and feeling. He wants us to know that his love and strength is stronger and bigger than anything that the world has to offer. To be loved that much is mind blowing, but we have it and we get to live in that love every minute of everyday. Not only do we get to live in it but we have been called to experience it so that we can pass it on to others who do not or have not experienced it in their lives. We are God’s vessels of love and grace to those who he has put into our lives. We have opportunity after opportunity to live into our calling. To grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ and as I have said “Jesus will meet us wherever we are and he will constantly make us more like Jesus.”
The body of Christ has been called and ordained to stand up when things are rough and to live the faith that we profess with our heart and soul. Jesus is alive and with us. He is our lord and Savior and he will give us the strength and the wisdom to journey to our promised land. As we continue in the midst of everything we have going on to worship and praise his almighty wisdom and strength. Yes, it is a wonderful time to be a Christian, just like all those faithful Christians, who have gone before us, we will endure to the end, because we know that God is alive and well. He is faithful to his promises and he has called us to be faithful to our promises . May God be blessed in our thoughts, words, and deeds this day and everyday.
May God bless us,
I wanted to write and let you know that we are planning on returning to in-person church services on July 5th, with precautions. Your safety is our highest concern. That being said, we are going to offer three different options of going to church:
Safety Precautions We will have some expectations of you as we return.
May God bless us,
In a TEDx video called “The Transformative Power of Classical Music,” Zander says the job of a conductor is not to talk a lot, but to awaken possibility within the players on an orchestra. He adds, “If their eyes are shining, you know you’re doing it.” (I encourage you to watch the full clip, but this part is at the 16-minute mark if you want to jump ahead.)
In these days of wearing masks and full PPE, our eyes are still there for our family, coworkers, neighbors, and others to see. Our smiles are covered, but our eyes are not. Shining eyes may be one of the most encouraging non-verbal messages we can send to each other. While we are dealing with physical distancing from family and friends, as well as navigating continual change and complex challenges at home and at work, it can be challenging to keep our spirits up. Still, I believe little moments of “shining eyes” are a great gift to ourselves and to each other—even during this global pandemic.
It happens when we exchange words of encouragement with each other after a tough day. It happens when we ask for help, and our leaders and mentors are there for us. And it happens when we reconnect to the passion and purpose we feel when caring for one another and members of our community. That’s how we awaken our own possibilities during times of change as we show people how much they matter, and that God loves them.
As always, thank you for everything you do on behalf of your faith and for the body of Jesus Christ here on earth. Stay strong and know that God’s eyes are smiling on you. You are being smiled upon from me each and everyday. I give thanks to God for you and your beautiful “smiling eyes.”
Please continue your regular tithing. You can send it to the church office or Mary Anderson’s
As I sit down to write this article I am amazed at all the wonderful things that are going on around us. We have some pretty amazing people in our families, our Church, Our Community, and our nation. Yes the virus has changed our routine, but it has also brought out some really genius community connectedness. God is alive and he is working in and around us. My beautiful wife Lisa gave me a text that said –
The devil is speaking to God and he said that he was going to send a virus that was going to change everything about daily life and it would wreak havoc on all aspects of life. It would shut down things and would disrupt even church services. God said “that is ok I will use it to rebuild the family, make people talk to one another and reconnect in ways that they never thought possible. I will show them my love in new ways and will allow my church to worship and serve in new and exciting ways. My love will grow and continue to unite people together. You will see the gates of hell will not prevail– My Love is stronger.”
What an awesome God we have. He will take whatever we have and use it for good. We will get through this. It will not be easy, and it will definitely change us, but it will change us for the better. God always works good out of any situation. He is alive and with us every day of our lives and he is always watching over us. God promises to be with us and give us strength, peace and guidance but he never promised to make it easy or quick. The Israelites went on a forty day Journey to find the promised land and it took them 40 years to find it. (they should of stopped and asked for directions).
Or when Jesus let us think that sin had won and He died on the cross only to be raised from the dead and show us that nothing is stronger than his love. That he will and does bring good out of the things that we have messed up. That he is with us every moment of every day of every year. That he is always protecting us like a loving shepherd who protects his sheep.
As we read the Bible stories and we know “the rest of the story “ as Paul Harvey use to say, it is easy to see what God was doing and how God was leading his people through tough situations. We think that they should have seen God and realized what he was doing, Well as we continue to deal with the virus we need to remind ourselves that God’s got this, he will work good out of it and he is with us. He asks that we pray, share his Love and look out for one another.
Don’t ever doubt God’s love for you, his presence in your daily life, and his gift of the Holy Spirit which is inside of you, calling forth your best and your trust in his goodness. Watch what he will do—He always amazes us. God is so abundantly generous with his Love and Grace.
May God be blessed….always and forevermore.
Rev. Stephen W. Barch
As we continue to navigate our way through the uncharted territory of being confined to our homes and social distancing ourselves away from one another– It is really a time for the church to shine and stay strong. Everyone is getting really anxious and filled with fear and uncertainty. Rightly so, as we have never gone through something like this. It will cause even believing Christians to be scared and worried. Know that God understands. He is with you every step of the way. We listen to story after story on Sunday about people who have gone before us who were scared and going through uncertain times –their faith also was shaken and they were scared. It really brings their story alive for us. It has been easy to listen to the gospel stories and because we know the way they turn out to say that they should have believed more in God and He would have gotten them through the crisis.
Now is our time to put our faith into action. The world is going to be looking at the church to see if we really believe what we preach. Yes, we do believe and know that God is alive and He is with us throughout this whole thing. Yes -the virus is going to affect people that we know and love and it may not be easy to get through this, but know that we stand together and God is amongst us calling us to Pray for his healing Grace. Pray for his presence, Pray for his Love, Pray for an outpouring of his Holy Spirit. Know that God is bigger than the corona virus and He is with us throughout this Pandemic. He wants us to rely on his Saving Grace. The same grace that has gotten us through every other crisis in our life.
It is when we stand together that we see the body of Christ, so I am asking you to call one another and really look out for one another. If you know someone who needs prayer or someone to talk to PLEASE let me know or give them my cell phone number (309) 361-0182.
The virus is one of the problems, but being shut in causes depression, anxiety, and anger issues and so we need to really be there for one another at this time. Believing in the God who loves us and wants us to depend on his Goodness, love and Power.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
With that being said I want to let you know that I am here for you—I may not be in the office, but I am available. If you or someone you know needs anything please call me. Faith and Church are really important at a time like this, so we need to be church for one another.
We are still trying to do our worship service and taping it and getting it posted by Friday for the coming week. I am also trying to post a message on Wednesday as well. These will be on our Facebook page for the church. Please check them out and let me know what you think or things that would make it better. If you do not have Facebook please let us know and we will try to get it to you another way.
Holy Week and Easter Sunday will be here soon, and we are looking into what our options are and we will let you know what we come up with. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. May God bless you with an out pouring of his Holy Spirit and love.
In Christ Love,
Rev. Stephen W. Barch
As we begin our Lenten journey I read an interesting article entitled ~ “Survey says 24 percent of Americans observe Lent”
It got me wondering why we have lost our observance of Lent? Does it not matter in our faith life? What is Lent all about? Why do we need to prepare for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Lent is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends roughly, six weeks later on Holy Saturday ( it excludes Sundays). The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, alms giving , atonement, and self—denial—all things that Jesus did for us.
In Lent many Christians commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penance. Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or reading the Bible. All Lenten practices are done to bring the believer in touch with the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made to take away our sins. It is to change our focus from being satisfied in this life so that we can focus on the life that we are all created for and are citizens of by our very baptisms. Our observance of lent then should be done with the intention of focusing on those things that are going to bring us closer to our calling--becoming more Christ-like. (Yes -these are the very things that we are called to do all year long) but Lent is a season that we come away with Jesus to his desert experience to better focus our calling. Our observance of Lent does make a difference and directly influences our celebration of Easter. I pray that each of you will have a holy Lent.
May we grow together in our Spirituality as we journey through our Lenten
season together. May we all be seriously committed to become like Christ.
In Christ’s love - Rev. Steve
As I start this letter, it is a good time to look at what we are accomplishing as a church body. It is so wonderful being part of such a spirit-filled congregation.
Remembering that we are called to be the body of Christ, it is what we should measure all of our activities against. How are we being the body of Christ to one another and the community that we have been called to serve—Brimfield, Illinois.
We have been given a special gift from God and He needs us to use those gifts to build up the body of Christ on Earth. So yes, our faith is our calling to grow closer to Jesus Christ in the way that we think, act and believe. It starts with a healthy and united congregation. We should be able to agree and disagree respectfully and always be striving to work together to minister to each other and the community around us. People are watching us to see that we believe in the way that we act. Christ is present with us and He wants us to bring our challenges to Him and ask for His help. May we stay connected to one another and realize just how blessed we are.
As you know our congregational meeting has been changed, so our year is getting a late start, but we have some wonderful things planned for this year, and they can only happen when everyone is doing their part and helping out where and when they can. I am asking that if you have time to offer, please see Ginny or myself or the person in charge of the committee that you want to be involved. I really want to get this year off to a good start and continue to grow together physically, spiritually and emotionally. That being said—I am always here if you ever need or want to talk about things going on or things that we can be doing. Please never hesitate to call me anytime or come into the office on a Tuesday afternoon to see me. You are all my extended family and I love you and want to grow together. Thank you for your example of Faith, hope, and Love.
May God bless you.
Rev. Stephen W. Barch
Happy New Year!! What an exciting time of year. Everyone is in the Christmas spirit and they are more generous and friendlier than other times of the year. It is also that time of year that everyone seems to make New Years resolutions. (Well maybe you have made one and broke it by now) . So many of us are going to lose weight, exercise more, get out of debt, stick to a budget, stop smoking, save for the future, or spend more time with the family. No matter what the resolution is we set our heart on it and start off really good and then we lose heart. It made me think –Is there a Christian new year resolution list and what would it look like:
1. Pray More: He said to me, “This is the word of the Lord.. Mot by might nor by Power, but by my spirit says the Lord (Zechariah 4:6)
2. Invest in my spiritual gifts Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
3. Care for myself spiritually Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for with Christ Jesus took hold of me (Philippians 3:12)
4. Make the tough decisions I know are best. And now, compelled by the Spirit, I a going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the lord Jesus has given me.—The task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace and Love.
5. Confront the patterns of sin in our lives Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance that race marked out for us. ( Hebrews 12:1).
6. Do the hard work to build community:If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you, if he listens to you, you have won your brother over (Matthew 18:15)
7. Quit comparing myself to other Christians, other leaders and other churches Turning his head, Peter noticed the disciple Jesus loved following right behind. When Peter noticed him he asked Jesus , “Master, what’s going to happen to him?” Jesus answered “If I want him to live until I come again, what’s that to you? You follow me.” (John 21: 20-21)
8. Prioritize my family A Christian must be well—thought of—committed to his life. Attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s Church? (1 Timothy 3: 2-5)
9. Be more open to change See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up: do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19)
10. Stayed focused on the vision They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe of the many wonders and miraculous signs that were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common, selling their possessions and goods, they gave to everyone as he had need. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2: 42-47 niv)
May we honor God by committing to one or more of these resolutions for the year 2020 and beyond.
May God bless us all.
Rev. Steve Barch
Advent -- the season when we await the coming of Christ. It’s more than just waiting for Christmas to arrive, it’s a time to really look at the practices of our daily lives and see how we can better prepare our hearts for the coming of our Lord and King--Jesus Christ.
Advent is a season of both the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas and the return of Jesus at the second coming. The term is a version of the Latin word meaning “coming”. The Latin word adventus is the translation of the Greek word Parousia, commonly used to refer to the second coming of the Christ. For Christians , the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from three different perspectives.: in the flesh in Bethlehem, in our hearts daily, and in glory at the end of time. “ The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the messiah and to be alert for his Second Coming.
The new church liturgical year is the time to really assess the way that we have taken Jesus Christ seriously and allowed him to come into our hearts in a new way. Have we let Jesus really take the center of our hearts and lives? To make this year different than all the previous ones, we should be doing something different than we have in the past. To set aside more time for prayer, to give up a bad habit, to really watch our tongue with the gossip. Each little thing that we do– allows Jesus to have more room in our lives. It opens our heart and mind to his presence. Jesus wants nothing less than our hearts. He wants us to be completely devoted to living out our baptismal calling--to be his disciples of today.
Yes Advent is an important time, it is preparing for the birth of our Lord and Savior. What would it be like if we did nothing and just let Christ into our hearts. We would be ashamed of the fact that we didn't prepare, that we didn't give him the place of honor in our lives, that we didn't treat him as the king that he is.
May this advent season draw us closer to the one who has called us, the one who has given
everything for us, the one that wants to live in our hearts everyday.
May you be blessed this advent season!!
In Christ’ Love,
This fall we have been looking at Taking Jesus Seriously –Growing in our Discipleship, a favorite interest of mine. Our journey is nearing the end of the church Year and we have walked with Jesus to Jerusalem. We need to take time to see how we are taking Jesus Seriously and are we doing what He wants us to do. Here is a recap of our Journey so far:
We will continue this sermon series for the rest of this month and then we will start the new church Year on December 1st with our Journey to Bethlehem. I really hope and pray that as we have made this journey together, it has helped us
to step back and look at how seriously we take Jesus in our daily lives, and that God is calling us to grow in our faith life.
Faith is a wonderful gift from God but it is meant to change us throughout our life. Our faith is always growing as we invite others in. Faith calls us outside of ourselves by allowing us to serve others, Just Like Jesus. May this sermon series and our worship really feed our faith life and help us to become more like Jesus.
May The Lord Bless and Keep You,
Rev. Stephen W. Barch