Thursday, April 27, 2017


Forgiveness is everything. Seriously, everything. Especially when you realize how much you and I need it. I have lived about 23,500 days. Let’s say I only sin five times a day (it’s probably more like 30 times a day, but I can’t add up that many.) That means I have missed the mark of God’s perfection about 117,000 times in my life.
Missing the mark of God’s perfection is called sin. The Bible tells us we are all sinners. That is why we all need a Savior. Any time I miss the mark of perfection that qualifies as a sin in God’s eyes.
  • I think something that God never would think. Sin.
  • I look at something that God would never look at. Sin
  • I say something God would never say. Sin.
  • I don’t do or say something God would do or say. Sin.
  • I look at a person in a way God would never view a person. Sin.
  • I pretend to be something I’m not. Sin.
  • I react in fear rather than respond in faith. Sin.
  • I act selfishly. Sin.
  • I lie. Sin.
  • I treat my wife, children, grandchildren, family, or friends in an uncaring or thoughtless way. Sin.
Wow. Maybe I sin over 100 times a day. Four or five a day would be a good day.
Now, this sounds negative, doesn’t it? You might even be thinking, ‘I don’t like this blog. I should quit reading.’ Wait! Keep reading.
The good news is our sin(s) isn’t a secret to God, and it has never stopped Him from loving you and me. He sees everything you and I do. “Nothing in all of creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes.” (Hebrews 4:13)
Mind blowing to think He loves me, forgives me, no matter what. Why? Because of me? 
It’s because of Jesus- who is perfect and became the substitute for my sin when he died on the cross and was raised from the dead.
Now, because of Jesus’ work on the cross, my heavenly Father says…
  • He’s broken, but I can work with that since I’m bigger than his defects.
  • He’s failed me, but he’s forgiven because of my Son.
  • He’s not perfect (yet), but he’s still in progress, and I’ll never give up on him.
  • He’s a mess sometimes, but he’s my mess and my child and the apple of my eye.
I’m His. Period. End of story.

My fellowship with God can be hindered if I don’t confess my sin. That is why every day I spend time confessing my sin. (Read 1 John 1:9.) My union with God through Christ and His work is sealed. I’m personally forgiven because of Jesus. My communion, however, can be diminished if I don’t confess my sin.

Don’t’ you find it a joy knowing that nothing you do can separate you from God and His love? No thing, sin, imperfection, or person- not even myself- can separate us from God’s love! We’ll never earn it or be worthy of it, and we’ll never stop needing it.

The wonder of the cross is the mystery of God’s mercy and grace poured out on you and me every day.

Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. I want to leave a positive mark on this world when I leave it. I believe you do too. How do you leave a legacy that lives on after you die? Come this Sunday and discover as we continue our series on Adventure: How to Make Life Thrilling Again.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Keeping the Momentum

Did you know 85% of churches are plateaued or declining? Churches that were once flourishing aren’t now. The question is why? How does a church lose its momentum? How can we keep this from happening at First Free?

Here are 5 things that cause the church to lose momentum. Would you take the time to evaluate these things relative to First Free? If you’re willing to share, I would enjoy hearing your findings.
1.        The vision is unclear. Slowly and quietly, a church forgets why it is doing what it is doing. Can you state First Free’s vision and mission? Do you know why we do what we do? Do you know why we do it the way we do it? If not, ask someone who knows.
2.       Gravitational pull takes over. The gravitational pull in churches is always inward. A church will tend to design its services, ministries, and programs for those who currently attend rather than for those that aren’t yet convinced. Does First Free struggle with gravitational pull? Do we think more of the insiders or more of the people we are trying to reach?
3.       Energy and enthusiasm decrease. When we forget why we do what we do, we eventually lose our passion. Do we spur each other on to love and good deeds? How would you measure First Free's passion for the lost people?
4.       Two front doors are neglected. Today, people check out a church on the website before attending the service. Is our web presence desirable for someone searching? Does it convey a positive, hopeful, first impression? The second front door is the service itself. To maximize the hopes that more people might give Jesus and the church one more shot, is our service conducive to the people we want to reach?
5.        The leader stops growing. A congregation never grows beyond the growth of its leader. The number one mistake pastors make is isolation. Praise God the church allows me a coach to help me continue growing.

Pastor Mark "The Bru" Brunott
P.S. Don’t forget it’s Invite a Friend Day at First Free this Sunday! Any friend you bring will identify with and appreciate our new series: Adventure: Making Life Thrilling Again. See you at 9:15 and 11:00 for the start of an adventure!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Letting Go of Lonliness

Last week I spoke with several people who had one thing in common: loneliness. Each person had their own reason for the loneliness. Loneliness can result from the death of a spouse, feeling like you have no friends, or comparing yourself to other people who don’t appear to be lonely.

Sometimes loneliness has to do with the season of the year. Holidays, while enjoyable for so many, are a time of painful memories, depression, and loneliness to others. At times we choose to isolate ourselves from others, or we may face loneliness through no fault of our own. Whatever the reason, at some time or another we all will experience some level of loneliness.

So, how do you deal with it or better yet- how do you let go of it? Here are some suggestions:
1.        Utilize your time well. Make the most of what you’ve got. Think of creative ways to take advantage of the situation. Be a good steward of the time you spend alone. ‘When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.’ We tend to become discouraged and bored if we don’t use time in a purposeful way.
2.       Minimize the hurt. Don’t ignore it, but don’t rehearse it either. Deal with your hurt in bold and honest ways and shift your focus to helping and serving others.
3.       Recognize God’s presence. There is no place that you are that God is not. (Read Psalm 139.) Jesus said, ‘I am with you always. I will never leave you or forsake you.’ God’s presence is with you in the loneliness.
4.       Emphasize the needs of others. Focus outwardly. Get your eyes off yourself. Love is the antidote to loneliness. Serving and helping others has a way of putting everything in perspective. Consider joining First Free’s Day of Service on April 29th; for more information and to sign-up visit:  
Mark "The Bru" Brunott

P.S. Do you feel like you’ve done something that can’t be forgiven? Does your past have a hold on you? Have you thought, ‘How can I forgive myself?’ If you have ever struggled with these questions, you won’t want to miss this week’s sermon “Finished!” Join me and bring a friend at 9:15 or 11:00 am on Sunday to experience God’s unconditional love and forgiveness.