Thursday, December 15, 2016

Today's "Average" Family

Today’s families have changed drastically. What that means for First Free is that our strategies and programs need to change to reach them.

Brian Moss, who blogs at Next Level Leadership, gives 10 characteristics of what the ‘average’ unchurched family looks like today. As you read through his list, ask yourself how First Free is doing in reinventing structures, strategies, and programs to reach these families.
1.        They are a blended home. 43% of marriages are remarriages. 65% of those involve children from a prior marriage. Blended families are becoming the norm.
2.       They are spiritually mismatched. Moms generally make the connection to church. Dad is busy ‘enjoying the only day off’ at home.
3.       They are financially strapped. They need to learn to earn, budget, spend, save, and give. Credit is a way of life for them and they cannot absorb even one financial catastrophe.
4.       They are over-calendared. Parents have become the willing slaves of their children’s activities. No time for church.
5.        They are Biblically illiterate. They have no idea what the Bible actually says. To many, the Bible is a book of fables and fairy tales.
6.       They are ethnically diverse. Millennials can’t relate to racial barriers and tensions.
7.        They have a special needs child. 12% of children in kindergarten through 6th grade are identified with a disability. This percentage is rising each year.
8.       One in five have experienced some form of trauma in the home. Abuse, violence, and severe cruelty is common today.
9.       They want to be successful. They want to have a good marriage, good home, be a good parent, and they simply have no idea how to get there.
10.     They are spiritually hungry. They are searching for change. They want truth, meaning, hope, and healing.
As a church, may we be willing to remove every unnecessary encumbrance and unbiblical distraction and be the place of grace that reaches the ones Christ gave his very life for.

Chances are very good that if you invite one of these families to join you for the Christmas Eve service at 2:00, 3:30, or 5:00, they would join you. All of these characteristics scream ‘we need Jesus.’

Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. For many of us Christmas brings about a lot of positive feelings and memories. For others the thought of Christmas brings tension, disappointment, and unnecessary competition. Join us and bring a friend Sunday at 9:15 and 11 am to discover the secret to having a Merry Christmas, no matter what comes your way.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

One humorist took the song Jingle Bells and rewrote the verses to be culturally relevant: “Dashing through the snow, with a high-def. touchscreen display, o’er the fields we go, tweeting and texting all the way! Bells on smartphones ring, making bandwidth bright, what fun it is to stare and cling to a virtual world tonight!”

In other words, silver bells, tinsel, and mistletoe are being replaced with smartphones, tablets, computers, and social media. Our tendency is to pay more attention to screens than people.

May I suggest something to all of us this Christmas season? What I’m about to suggest is going to sound like I’m Ebenezer Scrooge to many, but I hope you will heed what I say.

Go on a diet! Not a food kind of diet but a media diet. Jesus spent time with loved ones; He prayed for and touched the untouchable. I’m not saying Jesus wouldn’t use the technology available today- He would. I am simply saying He wouldn’t be so absorbed in it that He neglected the personal touch.

Here’s what your media diet might look like:
  • Plan ahead for people time. Meet with family and friends without cell phones, computers, iPads, or other electronics. “Quality time” comes from quality time. Play a game, eat together, or wrap gifts together, without all the techno stuff.
  • Plan ahead for tech time. What? Doesn’t this contradict what I just said? Not if you use the technology to be together. Don’t let technology replace your presence. Put on a Christmas movie with others, and actually watch it. Watch a Christmas service online. Google ‘the meaning of Christmas’ to see what it says. You get the idea.
  • Reach out and touch someone. Literally. Allow #4Lincoln to become part of your Christmas living.
  • Talk. Conversations connect people. What we say matters. I said ‘what we say’ not ‘what we text.’ Texting is less personal and you really can’t understand what the person means. You can’t hear the tone of voice or the non-verbal expressions which is 93% of the communication message.
Try the diet and then let me know what you discovered. I look forward to hearing from you.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. How can a person be joyful when faced with trouble, difficulty, fractured relationships, or discouraging circumstances? There is a way! Come Sunday at 9:15 or 11:00 to discover how to be joyful always, and bring a friend with you.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas Advice from the Pastor

Christmas is just around the corner and I’d like to share some pastoral advice to help you experience God’s love during this special season of the year. These are three things I am trying to do personally and I hope we do at First Free.

First, keep it simple. Make sure all your activities focus on Christmas. Small and personal is better than large and impersonal. Talk to each other, help each other, and serve each other. Love and Community are two things we are trying to cultivate through our #4Lincoln campaign.

Simple is powerful. Don’t cram your days full of activities and don’t make everything big and complicated. Keep the holiday simple, so you are free to serve those in need and celebrate with those you love.

Second, be there. Tell your family and friends that you love them by giving them your focused attention. Communicate ‘I value you enough to give you my most precious asset- my time.’ You can always make more money, but you cannot make more time. Schedules that are full and hectic do not communicate focused attention to those we love.

Jesus showed His love to others by being there. He gave people time and focused His attention on them when they needed His help, His comfort, and His protection. Show up in the lives of those you love- that includes your church family.

Third, give with delight. God uses giving as an antidote for materialism. He loves when we give with a cheerful heart (2 Corinthians 9:7). Jesus knew there was more happiness in giving than receiving.

We’ve replaced true, heartfelt, delightful giving with a hollow materialism that keeps us all overspending during the holidays. Instead, we should give from our hearts. As your pastor, I’d like to see you expand your definition of giving beyond the financial. How could you bless others if you also shared your time and talents?

When we learn generosity in giving, it builds our faith as we look to be generous with the world. The essence of Christmas is that we simply and humbly give of ourselves, just as God gave generously and sacrificially to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

There you have it. Three things to make your holiday season a blessed one.


P.S. Don’t let the hectic pace of the season hinder you. Experience the peace, joy, and love that Christmas brings. Invite a friend to join us this Sunday at 9:15 or 11:00 and discover a peace that surpasses our comprehension- yes- especially at Christmas time.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Let's Change Together

read an article this week that hit me between the eyes. It was written by Tim Parsons, an executive Pastor at First Assembly Community Church. I would like to attempt to summarize what he was writing about.
He started by saying change is a function of growth. Churches, organizations, things, people cannot grow unless they change. The reason this hit me between the eyes is: I like consistency. I’m prone to just keep doing the things the same way I’ve been doing. Can’t we grow as a church without change? As much as I wish we could- we cannot.
Why is change so hard for us? Parsons suggests 5 things:
1.        I don’t want to. It may be because we’re obstinate or don’t agree with change. But we cannot grow without a willingness to change.
2.       I don’t see the value. To see the value we have to see the bigger picture of what God wants to accomplish through us.
3.       I’m comfortable. We all know how much hard work is involved in changing anything. To help us break through this resistance to change, we must see ‘there’ is better than ‘here.’ That makes it easier to leave my place of comfort and move to that place.
4.       We’ve tired that before. Sometimes what didn’t work in the past may work now because the culture is constantly changing. Perhaps something was missing back then that is not missing now. It is worth the risk of change to determine if that ‘something’ was missing in the past.
5.        It’s too much work. This is similar to our comfort zones mentioned in number 3. Change does demand us to work harder because change brings with it new systems, new processes, new personalities, and a new focus.
I so desire for us to learn and grow and change together. I want us to do whatever change is necessary to accomplish the mission. The soul of men and women, boys and girls, are at stake. We must see people introduced to Christ and have their lives changed from the inside-out. Their eternities hang in the balance. I can’t be comfortable with where we are. I hope you can’t be comfortable either.

I desire disciples to be fully devoted and obedient to Christ. Growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus is a far better ‘there’ than ‘here.’

I desire to see First Free be a greater light in the community of Lincoln, as a church that would be missed if we weren‘t a part of our city.

These desires of mine cannot be realized without your help in fulfilling our mission. Change is directly tied to our mission and if we don’t change, it means that we will not be fulfilling our mission and could, in a worst-case scenario, become extinct.

Let’s change together!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Presidential Prayer

The day before the Presidential election I received my favorite blog by James Emery White, Pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC. The title of his blog caught my attention: A Presidential Prayer. I would like to pass on some highlights from James Emery White’s prayer. He reminds us that this is how we should pray for our president, regardless if they were our person of choice or not.

To the President:
  • I want you to know that I will be praying for you. Not praying against you or about you, but for you.
  • I will be praying for you from my position as a father and grandfather that you have the foresight to think through what your decisions will mean for future generations.
  • I will be praying as a citizen of the U.S., that you will seek wisdom from God and humbly submit yourself to His leadership as you lead our nation through economic turbulence, domestic divides, and cultural diversities.
  • I will be praying for you as a mentor of the global population, that you will work with other well-intentioned leaders from around the world as we face environmental dangers, wars, rumors of wars, and humanitarian crisis.
  • I will be praying for you as a follower of Christ, that you will encourage faith in God to flourish and never allow deeply held spiritual convictions to become a matter of ridicule, but instead encourage everyone to grant them a respectful hearing, even if they go against the political policy of your party.
  • It is my pledge and my obligation as a follower of Christ to pray for you.

(1 Timothy 2:1-2) I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

PS- Do you ever think about the future? What will it look like? Where will you be? Does God really hold the future in His hands? Are you sure? This Sunday at 9:15 and 11:00 we will be talking about Jesus’ coming to earth again. Is it really going to happen? See you Sunday, and bring a friend!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

World Views Pt. 2

Last week I reviewed four basic worldviews that most people are party to, including Christians: Materialism, Hedonism, Individualism, and Collectivism (socialism). Today, I want to focus on a view of the culture, a view of the world, framed by scripture. My goal in this article is to challenge us all to see the world through this lens. God revealed the truth to us, giving us a picture of Himself, humanity, and eternity.
A Biblical worldview usually doesn’t upset anyone when you talk about helping the poor, caring for the sick, telling the truth and being fair, respecting and loving everyone, and taking care of the environment. But there are three aspects of the Biblical worldview that are hated by this world. And most Christ followers clam up because we’re afraid to stand up in the areas that are controversial. These three areas are:

1.        The sanctity of life. God has a purpose for every unborn baby. God planned your life before you were born. Your parents lives before they were born. A Biblical worldview informs us that before God created the universe, He thought of you. There are accidental parents, but there are no accidental babies. There are illegitimate parents, but there are no illegitimate babies. God is bigger than human sin.
 We are to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. The people in our culture least capable to speak up for themselves are the unborn- the 60 million Americans who would be here if they hadn’t been aborted. Every life is precious.
2.       The sanctity of sex. Sex isn’t bad. Sex isn’t dirty. Sex isn’t wrong. Sex is holy. Sex is God’s idea but it was created for marriage. To bond a husband and wife together and to be a model between Christ and the church.
 Hebrews 13:4 “Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery.”
 God’s instructions have never changed. Premarital sex is unacceptable to God. Living together without getting married and the commitment of marriage and the blessing of God is unacceptable. Adultery is unacceptable to God. Pornography and the objectification of a man’s or woman’s body is unacceptable to God. Same sex sex is unacceptable to God. These things have always been unacceptable to God and always will be.
 If you are guilty of any of these sins, the church is for you because we are all forgiven sinners. You can find forgiveness through a relationship with Jesus and healing in the context of a loving and accepting church family.
3.       The sanctity of marriage. The Bible is very clear that marriage is the union of one man and one woman for life. That is God’s intended, original design. Here again maybe you have violated God’s intent. He forgives you and will set you on the right pathway if you allow Him to.

There are many issues in life where people of goodwill disagree. There is no health plan in the Bible so we can disagree on an issue like that. There is no economic recovery plan for a nation, so we can disagree on that. There may be Biblical guidelines to follow in those kinds of issues, and we should strive to do so. But when it comes to the sanctity of life, marriage, and sex- these are non-negotiable. We are called by God to stand up for these things. God’s world is to be our first and final authority; it is the lens by which you view the culture. Will you stand for truth even when it is unpopular and is met with disapproval? John 7:13 states ‘No one had the courage to speak favorably about Jesus in public.’ Will you?

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

PS- Does your current environment and circumstances have its grip on you? How do you overcome living or working in a negative environment? Our environment can be an obstacle that trips us up. The Bible gives some helpful insights of dealing with your environment. Join me and bring a friend as we explore these things related to one’s environment. See you at 9:15 and 11:00 this Sunday!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What is your world view?

We are twelve days away from the presidential election and I want to encourage you to fulfill your civil responsibility and cast an informed vote. By an “informed vote” I mean: Do you know the key issues facing our nation and where each candidate stands on these issues?

I am not telling you who to vote for. I have friends in our church who are democrats and friends who are republicans, and I am for my friends. I want to minister to both sides of the aisle.

I am calling you to adopt a Biblical worldview as you consider your vote. Everyone thinks about the world through a particular lens or filter. This is a ‘worldview.’ Believe it or not, most Christians have a non-Christian worldview.

Today, I want to focus on 4 worldviews.
1.        Materialism. All that matters is the physical, material world. Therefore, what matters most is money and the acquiring of possessions. Economics trumps everything else. But the Bible says ‘a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’ In other words, your valuables don’t determine your value.
2.       Hedonism. The philosophy that whatever feels good must be good. Proverbs 21:17 says ‘the pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied.’ There is more to life than having fun and being comfortable. These are the byproducts of living the purposeful life for which you were created. They are not the goal of life.
3.       Individualism. It’s a ‘me-first’ view. America was built on individualism. But God didn’t create you to live for you. You were made for something far bigger than yourself. Read Philippians 2:4-5. Individualism destroys marriages, relationships, and makes us selfish to the point of making destructive decisions.
4.       Collectivism. Collectivism is also called socialism. This worldview says government is god. It basically says government should control everything.
Jesus explained the limited role of government in Matthew 22:21 when he said ‘Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but give to God what belongs to God.’ I should give my government my respect, my taxes, and obey the law of the land.

But who is ‘Caesar’ in a democracy? It’s the people, the voters. The power in America is not to reside with the judicial, legislative, or the executive branches. It is to reside with the people who elect politicians.

As Christians, we need to know the Bible teaches a difference between God and government. A Biblical worldview rebukes any belief that God and country are equally important. So what is the Biblical worldview? Tune in next week as I attempt to answer that question and give three areas that are hated by this world.


Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott
PS- I have struggled with fear, anxiety, and depression throughout most of my adult life. Come this Sunday as I will share my journey using the life of a man just like us named Elijah. Bring a friend with you who might be struggling with fear, anxiety, and depression. See you at 9:15 and 11:00 this Sunday.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Are You Hiding?

After Adam and Eve rebelled and disobeyed God, the first thing they did was to cover themselves and hide from the Lord (Genesis 3:7-8). Since then we all hide and cover up the real us. We live behind a veil of secrecy. We pretend to know more than we know. We act like we are better than we are. We present to others only the presentable parts of our lives.

It’s in our nature to cover, deny, and fake it with the hope that we might eventually succeed. We conceal our struggles. We cover our inadequacies behind a mask of perfection. We are too proud to admit our defects, too egotistical to acknowledge our shortcomings, and too afraid of rejection. Besides the pride and fear, sadly, we sometimes hide because we find sordid and bizarre pleasure within the shadows. As a result our love of self and our delight in the hiding becomes the fruit of putting our needs and our desires above the needs of others and a desire for God.

Is there any value in living a humble and transparent life? Yes, there is. Transparency is humbling but comforting because you find that you are not alone in the struggle. For the record, being transparent with others doesn’t hinder your relationships, it enhances them. Transparency is challenging but as you confess your sins and struggles, great things happen and God begins to heal your soul (Psalm 51:17). Transparency is where your freedom is found. Walking in the light is liberating (1 John 1:5).

If transparency is good (and it is) and if we fail at it (and we do), then why hide? Why do we waste so much energy on pretending to be something we are not? Why do we attempt to cover up our physical, emotional, and spiritual illnesses?

Are you hiding? Are you covering up? If so, may I suggest “Stop it.” The more we know who we are in Christ and the deeper we understand His unquenchable love for us, the freer we are to admit to one another how puny we are and how great God is. The only way to become the man or woman God wants you to become is to stop hiding, be authentic, and be transparent. It’s worth it.

Mark "The Bru" Brunott
P.S. Bad habits are hard to break- and they’re even harder when we don’t even realize we’ve created a habit out of something. Join us this Sunday at 9:15 or 11:00 as we learn about the danger of one habit that causes us to sin every time: procrastination. Come learn how to beat procrastination before it beats you!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

How to Grow the Chruch

Jesus wants His church to grow. This is seen in Scripture over and over again.
  • “I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
  • “Go therefore into all the world and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:19).
  • “You shall be my witnesses when the Holy Spirit comes upon you in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the remotest parts of the world” (Acts 1:8).
  • “[God our Savior] wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
The first church in Acts 2 demonstrated God’s desire for numerical and spiritual growth. It provides a platform of growth manifested by the Grace of God to the church of all ages. This pattern includes: growing up into spiritual maturity and coming to know God more intimately. This maturity is developed through teaching the Bible and prayer (Acts 2:42).

Growing together in maturity of relationships marked by committed love and practical sharing includes sharing of material goods (Acts 2:44, 46). We want everybody at First Free in a Life Group to experience this type of growth and sharing.

Growing in service to the larger community at First Free means we must grow in compassionate and costly service to the needs of the world. That is why we desire to be ‘outward focused’ to the community of Lincoln.

Growing larger in number occurs as more people respond to the reality of the coming of the Kingdom of God. Acts 2:47 says ‘and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’

That is why we are always encouraging you to invite your unchurched friends. Every empty seat at First Free represents a person that God wants us to reach with the Gospel. This Sunday, October 16, is ‘Invite a Friend Day.’ While we should invite people every Sunday to come with us to church, we like to emphasize this invitation on certain Sundays throughout the year.

Cindy and I are inviting four friends. We hope they can all come, but they felt honored even to be asked. God wants to use you to be part of building His church. It’s not too late even for this week to invite someone to sit with you and hear the message God has for them. Pray for those who will be invited that the Spirit of God would show them their need of a Savior.


Mark Brunott
P.S. Do you have some things in your past that prevent you from moving forward? Are there any habits in your life you would like to discard because they’re unhealthy? Is there an unhealthy emotion that raises its ugly head to discourage you? We all have obstacles that trip us up. Invite a friend and join us for Friends Day and discover how to overcome those obstacles that trip us up. See you at 9:15 or 11:00!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Invite a Friend - 2

With ‘Invite a Friend’ day approaching October 16th, I wanted to challenge you as I am challenging myself to invite a friend or two to church.  Last week, Freshly Bru’d gave some specific things to say in terms of how to invite a friend.  This week I want to focus on ‘why’ we should invite a friend.

First, we want our guests to connect with a Biblical community to witness how we worship God together, serve one another and love one another.  The church is the bride of Christ.  It is not to be messed with, minimized, put down, ignored, underrated or negated.

We ought to love the church as Christ loves the church.  We know that there are so many things that the church can do, and Biblical community is one that it does best.  Church is a hub for spiritual discovery and growth and we want guests to engage in that.

Second, we understand that guests will get the invitation to follow Jesus through the sermon and our general community environment.  We all want our friends to hear about God’s love through Jesus and experience that.  Can you imagine heaven seeing one of your unchurched friends there because it all began with your invitation?  Wow!

Third, we believe what we have at First Free will meet their deepest needs, help them grow, rest, learn, gain passion and strengthen their life direction.

I once heard a pastor say, “I have never seen an empty seat get saved.”  I happen to believe he is right.  We ought to invite people with the intention of them hearing the gospel.  Every filled seat represents a person reached.  Every empty chair represents a person yet to be reached.

If I had it my way, every time we open our doors we would be at max capacity.  This Sunday you will receive 3 personal invitations to use to invite your friends.  Use them.  Cindy and I have at least three we’ve already invited.  I hope everyone will be challenged to do the same.

Mark "The Bru" Brunott
P.S. One of the greatest curve balls that we will experience in life is ‘death.’ We all have lost loved ones.  We all know what it means to grieve.  This Sunday morning at 9:15 and 11:00 we will examine how to grieve and discover hope in the process.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Invite a Friend!

If you are anything like me, you wholeheartedly want to see everyone you know sitting in the chair next to you on Sunday morning.  You know how exciting it would be to sit next to your dad, coworker, friend or the employee you see every day in your activities.

You are sold on the mission God has given to the church of introducing people to a personal relationship with Jesus.  God probably has brought somebody to your mind in reading this Freshly Bru’d.

While you can and should invite your friends, any Sunday, at First Free we pick a couple of days out of the year to emphasize an ‘Invite a Friend Sunday.’  Our next invite a friend Sunday is October 16th.  A series begins that day on “Overcoming Obstacles That Trip Us Up.”

However, you may recognize a fear rising up in you when extending the invitation.  Perhaps you have thoughts like ‘Will they think I’m weird for inviting them?’ or ‘I know they probably won’t come anyway,’ or ‘I don’t know what to say.’

Let me give you a couple of suggestions to help you overcome these fears.  Let me share with you how you can naturally invite someone to church in a way that does not feel forced or unnatural.

First, categorize the relationships you have and then adjust your invitation to be appropriate within the context of each relationship.  You wouldn’t invite a family member to church the same way you would a casual acquaintance.

Here are examples of an invitation for different types of relationships for those who are close to you: “Hey, Steve, I’ve told you about how my church has been impacting me positively in my life.  Why don’t you come this Sunday with me and we’ll grab lunch after?” or “Sara, you know how I told you I have been kind of depressed since my dad died.  We are doing a message series and I think you would like it.  It’s about overcoming obstacles in life that trip us up.  I think this series will not only help me but you as well.  Why don’t you come and we will go to brunch afterwards?”

Those who are not close to you (co-workers, daycare workers, lawn care service people, etc.): “Bob, you do such a great job on our lawn and I’m not sure if you have any plans for this Sunday, but I have been attending a really cool, relevant church and I’d like to ask you to come and check it out.”

Those you do not know (people you sit next to at a restaurant, or your waitress, or at Starbucks, etc.), “So, I am curious. Do you attend a church? If you are looking for a relevant place, I’d like to invite you to church on Sunday.”

Don’t let this year pass you by without rising to the challenge of impacting the spiritual lives of the people God has placed in your life.  Imagine the day when someone you know, that you invited, is worshipping God as they stand next to you.


Pastor Mark "The Bru"

P.S. Have you ever felt like life was spinning out of control? Have you struggled with knowing how to maintain control? What if there was a way to be prepared to walk through life no matter what came your way? Join us this Sunday at 9:15 am or 11:00 am to discover the way to maintain control when you’re tempted to lose control.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Did you know that you have influence? Every one of us influences someone. And God expects us to be good stewards of that influence for His Kingdom and for His Glory.

You may think ‘I don’t have influence in somebody’s life.’ If you are a parent, employer, employee, friend, neighbor, classmate, teacher, student, peer, child, spouse, human being… you have influence.

What you do with the influence you currently have will determine whether or not your influence grows more. You influence people every day through a smile or frown, with your conversation, and with your silence. You can influence with email, text, and a host of other actions.

In order to understand what influence is, it’s helpful to understand what influence is not. Influence is not necessarily authority, fame, or wealth. You can have these things and not have influence for the kingdom of God.

When God gives you influence, it isn’t for the purpose of making you rich or famous, especially for your own pleasure. He gives us influence because He wants people to help other people. It’s about others. And the blessings of your influence are not for you to consume, but for you to share.

The question God will ask every human being in His judgement is ‘What did you do with my Son, Jesus?’ God will ask everyone who is a member of His family, ‘What did you do with the time, resources, talents, gifts, and influence that I gave you?’

Are you influencing for God’s glory? Are you influencing people in your family, at work, in the neighborhood, in the classroom, or at play? Are you influencing children and youth in the church? Are you influencing the fatherless, the isolated, the poor, and the oppressed?

We are all called to be influences for God’s kingdom and for God’s glory!

Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. Do you ever feel like you’re drifting away from God? Are you mad at God for allowing something to happen in your life that you can’t understand? Do you feel like giving up the faith and you would be living a better life without God? If you can identify with these feelings, I want to encourage you to be at church this Sunday at 9:15 or 11:00.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Life Groups: The Place for Authenticity

Life Groups start this coming week! Whether you’re returning to your group or trying a new one, get the most out of your Life Group by doing life together. One of the key ingredients to doing life together effectively is authenticity.

The truth of the matter is we often fake the real us because we are scared to uncover what is really in us. We pretend to know more than we know. We act like we are better than we are. We share only the presentable parts of our lives and feign a perfection that we do not possess. We cover and deny our sin with the hope that we might actually succeed spiritually. We conceal our struggles. We cover our inadequacies behind a mask of perfection.

It would be better for you and your Life Group to admit:
  • I am broken, but I also am being transformed into the image of Christ.
  • I am weak, but He is strong. His power never fails.
  • I am not perfect, but I am loved. Nothing can change His unfailing love towards me.
  • I limp and stumble, but God never gives up on me.
We are in this journey together. We need each other. We are to stimulate, urge, and encourage others to love and do good deeds. You can’t do that well if you are not transparent.

Everyone struggles with pride, fear of rejection, and “What would others think if they knew the real me?” Life Group is the safe place where I can be the real me, and I don’t need to fear those doing life with me.

Why do we insist on pretending to be something we are not? Why do we waste so much energy on propping up a false image of ourselves? It’s okay to be authentic. It is good to be honest. It’s always best to be real.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. When life throws you a curveball how do you respond? What is the most important question I can ask myself when I encounter a curveball? Join us this Sunday at 9:15 and 11:00 as we continue learning how to find hope when life throws curveballs.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dark Days and Stormy Nights

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand we live in troubling times. Prices are rising while incomes are falling. We’re hearing endless reports of senseless violence, natural catastrophes, and uncertainty in what the future holds. It doesn’t matter which news feed you prefer, the world sees little hope for the future.
But we can be encouraged because God is never caught off-guard or surprised. The Psalmist declares “He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord Himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade (Psalm 121:3-5).”
God knows the future. He knows that in life you will be faced by dark days and sleepless nights. He has promised to walk beside us during those dark days and sleepless nights. He will give you the ability to keep going despite the setbacks you experience in life when we trust in Him.
As Christ followers we need to understand we may not be given the explanation for the dark days and sleepless nights, but we have been given His promises. Promises like:
  • The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever (Psalm 121:8).
  • I will never fail you. I will never abandon you (Hebrews 13:5b).
  • The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me (Psalm 118:6)?
  • And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them (Romans 8:28).
Trust in God and trust in His unfailing promises. They will carry you through the dark days and sleepless nights with a joyful spirit, free from bitterness and complaining. Remember whatever happens today: job loss, economic disaster, natural disasters, relationship struggles, rebellious children, health issues, etc. God is at work. He is in control; yes even in the viciousness of the presidential race. God doesn’t sleep so you can. He is light and in Him is no darkness.
Do you believe God’s promises and the Psalmist’s words? "I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on Him. I have put my hope in His word (Psalm 130:5)."

Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. Have you ever felt like throwing in the towel because life has thrown you a curve ball? Are you discouraged about the way life is going for you? If you answered yes to these questions, you will not want to miss Sunday at 9:15 and 11:00 as we begin a new series: Finding Hope When Life Throws You a Curve ball.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

What is a Life Group?

What is a Life Group? A Life Group is an intentional gathering of people who agree to share life together, meeting on a regular basis for the purpose of fulfilling God’s mission for the church and for making Disciples of Christ.
What do you do in a Life Group? You do many things in a Life Group, here are 4 reoccurring points:
1.       Come together with others in love for encouragement and spiritual growth accountability. Groups are a place where people can find help with their spiritual needs.
2.      Pray and care for each other. (Read Hebrews 10:24-25)
3.      Study God’s Word. Each week a group of writers meets together and comes up with a Bible Study guide based on the Sunday sermon. This enables us to dig deeper into the subject of the sermon and keep everybody in the church on the same page of what we are learning.
4.      Reach out to the world around us, which is a vital part of serving Christ and the mission of the church. A Life Group encourages every believer to do something to contribute to the broader ministry and mission of the church. Serving makes for a wonderful marriage between groups and the centralized church- both on and off the campus. People in Life Groups grow in appreciation for each other when they serve the community as an entire group.
How do you get involved in a Life Group? The best way to learn about the Life Group ministry is to sign up for the introductory to Life Group session beginning on September 11th. To get your name on the list, visit our website at this link: 
What if I don’t like a particular Life Group? Don’t give up. Sometimes it takes up to 3 attempts before you find the group suited for you. Remember you need the spiritual growth accountability for your journey. Finding the right Life Group will be worth it.

It is not possible for church staff and pastors to personally minister to everyone. Healthy Life Groups help us to equip one another to bear the burden of ministry. Please sign-up for a Life Group today and become a part of a community that is growing together.

Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. We hear about missionaries in other countries “building cultural bridges” to share Christ. How do we build those bridges in our own backyard? Join me this week at 9:15 and 11:00 as we explore how we can create a culture of invitation.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

It's Life Group Time!

It’s that time of the year when I’m get excited about meeting with my Life Group friends. It’s so hard to coordinate regular meetings in the summer, so I haven’t seen my Life Group friends for a couple of months. I miss them. I love the accountability we provide for each other in the group. I love the spiritual direction that is discovered when we meet. I love the laughter and fun the group shares in together. I love the prayer support we give to each other. Doing life together is truly a blessed endeavor.
When Jesus was talking to his disciples on one occasion he told them ‘I have come that you might have life, and have life to the fullest.’ (John 10:10) If that was one of Jesus’ goal while he was on earth, I think that should be a goal for the church.
Most people aren’t necessarily living life to the fullest. Oh, they have full lives. They’re traveling from one place to another, one event to another, one accomplishment to another, and even one relationship to another. Most people schedules are full, but that is a far cry from living life to the fullest.
Living life to the fullest starts with Jesus. You cannot have a full life without him. Salvation is the starting point to a life fulfilled but it’s not the end. May I suggest to you, even challenge you to discover that being in a Life Group helps you experience the ‘fullness of life’ Jesus was talking about.
I believe this because everyone wants to know they’re not alone. We were created for relationship. But our world has created so many factors that are causing us to be more alone. Pastor Rick Warren mentions four major causes in his blog:
  • Urbanization- the majority of us live in the city and we don’t even know our neighbor’s name.
  • Specialization- we increasingly separate people into different boxes- further isolating ourselves.
  • Family Breakdown- in just a few generations, we’ve gone from the extended family, to the nuclear family, to the single parent family.
  • Materialism- things have become more important than people.
A Life Group can provide the support you and I need. I want to be with a group of people who encourage me, support me, love me, challenge me spiritually, are devoted to me, lovingly correct me when I get off course, laugh at my silly jokes, pray for me, and honestly accept me for who I am.
Do you have that kind of support in your life? Do you have someone who spurs you on spiritually? God designed the church to be a family. (Ephesians 2:19) Don’t go through another season in your life without the support you need and can find in a Life Group.
The next Life Group session begins September 11th. Make an effort today to be an active participant in one. Register online at

Pastor Mark 
"The  Bru"

P.S. Understanding today’s culture is challenging. Knowing what God would have us do in today’s culture it the goal. Join me this week at 9:15 and 11:00 as we explore understanding the culture today and living life in light of that understanding.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


I’m back. What a vacation! It was relaxing, refreshing, and replenishing. There were times when I would go out on my pontoon and see eagles in abundance, loons, deer on the shore, pelicans, seagulls, ducks, Canadian geese. Sometimes I would turn off the motor of the boat and sit in the calm water and read, reflect and experience peace.

I want to thank the church for allowing my family and me this privilege of getting away. A special thanks to the staff team who didn’t miss a beat in my absence. A special thanks to Nat Crawford for using his preaching gift.
I thought a lot about peace in my serene setting in Northern Minnesota. Many people long for peace, and even though a few minutes of silence may sooth our minds, the Bible teaches that real lasting peace comes from Jesus. Jesus said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
These verses remind me that Jesus brings peace with our Heavenly Father: ‘Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Romans 5:1). Without Christ, we are enemies of God because of our sin. Jesus’ sacrifice reconciled us to God and ends hostility that existed between us.
Not only does Jesus bring peace with God but He brings peace in our relationships. For He Himself is our peace, just as He made both Jews and Gentiles one (Ephesians 2:13-14), Jesus is able to remove the barriers, the walls that exist in our relationships.
Not only does Jesus bring peace with God and peace in relationships, He brings peace in anxious moments. The Bible says ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:6-7).
Having peace with God does not ensure problem-free living. However it does steady us during difficult times. Anxious about going to school, the political scene, finances, your job, your health, the future? Jesus told His followers ‘In the world you will have tribulations. But He also said, ‘In me you will have peace.’ Christ, the true peace of God, can fill our hearts (Colossians 3:15).
Do you have peace with God? Have you placed your trust in His death and resurrection? How are you in your relationships? Do you need to confess a wrong you have committed to a friend, neighbor, or coworker? What are you anxious about? Place the worry, fear and anxious thoughts into His strong and powerful arms.

P.S. Do you understand today’s culture? What makes people think and act the way they do? How do we communicate in today’s culture which has become so secular it gives very little, if any, thought about God and His truth? Join us this Sunday at 9:15 and 11:00 as we begin to know our times and what God would have us do.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Let's talk about worship

When we talk about worship, we are talking about something only believers can do. Worship is from believers to God. We magnify God’s name in worship by expressing our love and commitment to Him.
Worship is expressing our love to God for who He is, what He’s said, and what He’s doing. We express our love to God by praying, obeying, trusting, singing, giving, testifying, listening, responding to His word, and thanking. God, not us, is the focus of our worship. Unbelievers simply cannot do this.
God’s presence must be sensed in the worship experience. When unbelievers watch genuine worship, it becomes a powerful witness (Read Acts 2). There is an intimate connection between worship and evangelism. The goal of evangelism is to produce worshipers of God (John 4:23). Worship should provide the motivation for evangelism (Isaiah 6:1-8).
We must be willing to adjust our worship practices when unbelievers are present. Making a service ‘comfortable’ for the unchurched doesn’t mean changing your theology. It means changing the environment: how you greet, style of music, what Bible translation you preach from, and the kind of announcements you make.
The message must be understandable to unbelievers, but not watered down (Acts 2:11). A clear message, coupled with genuine worship, will not only welcome the unchurched people, it will open their hearts to the power of the gospel.
As we worship, let’s worship with heart, soul, mind, and emotion, so that we may show others the presence of the living God.


P.S. Are you worried about something? Do you fret about the economy, terrorism, job, health, family, relationship, presidential election, or the question: What happens to you after you die? If so, you will not want to miss this week’s worship experience at 9:15 and 11:00. Bring a friend with you and discover hope instead of worry.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Can We Learn From Each Other?

In an article I read this week, blogger, author, speaker, and pastor Kurt Bubna shares observations for the young (under 30) and the not so young (over 50) and what we can learn from each other.
The advice he gives to the young is…
  • Live in the present. Months turn into decades before you know it. ‘Bucket Lists’ are common among the elderly primarily because they wait too long to take risks and make every moment count.
  • Plan for the future. Don’t live your life without a view to the future. Be present today, but live prepared for the future because it will be here sooner than you think.
  • Stop throwing boomers (51-69 year olds) under the bus. The seniors in your life have learned a lot of lessons, some the hard way, so glean from their knowledge. Listen more and ask for their wisdom.
The advice he gives to the older is…
  • Stop living in the past. Engage in life now. Take some new risks. Be active. You aren’t dead yet.
  • Accept your limitations. You will never run a four minute mile, your memory may be fuzzy at times, and your body begins to sag. So what? Little stays the same over the years so don’t waste precious time worrying about the inevitable.
  • Stop throwing millennials (18-34) under the bus. They may seem cocky to you, but can teach you a thing or two about compassion and selfless service to those in need. Listen to them and ask for their advice about compassion, selfless service, and causes to live for.
The bottom line is we need each other. That is one of the intents of the church: to be multi-generational, working, and serving together to reach our world with the Gospel Message. Proverbs 20:29 says ‘The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old.’


P.S. Do I need to turn in someone who is in the States illegally? Who is responsible to secure our country’s borders? Is this protection Biblical? Has my view on immigration been shaped by the Bible?
You won’t want to miss this Sunday, July 10th at 9:15 and 11:00 as we explore these questions! Bring a friend and join us!