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Is it Really Possible?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Is it really possible?

I shared a scripture last week, Psalms 30:5 “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” I know it is far fetched to think in the midst of grief and tragedy that JOY, or what we think that word means will immediately come the very next day. If anything, it is nothing like that. However, Joy comes in the morning. But when does morning come?

Nothing I have encountered in life or the past couple weeks has shown me that if I go to bed sad or hurt it will be all better the next day when I wake up. Sometimes the morning brings with it a fresh perspective. Rest gives us patience or reserves we lacked the day before.

But it is not JOY, they are means of coping and processing. JOY is something deeper, something more profound. And it comes with more than a good night’s sleep.

 As a follower of Christ, and having his teachings and example readily available to me, I have discovered if anything the very next day seems harder then the first. But I am more experienced in the field of battle then I was the day prior. And because I choose to rely on God, I am more suited to continue the battle for the hope of JOY that He has promised WILL come.

Circumstances usually do not change overnight. Neither do our lives and hearts. We change over time. We see more over time. We strain our eyes to see in the dark until they burn. We want to give up, but we know that if we keep looking we might see something, anything. And then dawn comes, faintly at first, then with growing light. The chill in the air breaks, our eyes begin to make out what lies ahead. Scripture is filled with examples of people waiting for God to fulfill His promises and to bring His promised JOY.

God promised a son to Abraham. Abraham waited, and waited, and waited. During his waiting, he experienced much grief. Sarah deeply struggled to believe that God would indeed be true to His word. When would the joy pierce the darkness? David was promised the kingship. And then he found himself on the run from Saul. Would God ever break through the bleakness of his life and fulfill His promises?

Proverbs 4:18 “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”

Jesus Endured the Cross

This journey of waiting and enduring for the promise of “Joy in the morning” is made possible only through Jesus, who was well acquainted with grief. As it is written in Isaiah 53:3” He was despised and rejected--a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.” It was Jesus who paved the way for us as He followed His own journey. On that fateful night in the Garden of Gethsemane, He voiced His sorrow, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death.” He cried out to God for help saying, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Trusting in His Father’s will, the Book of Hebrews tells us that “for the JOY that was set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus personified the heart cries of His people at the cross. He calls us to cast all our burdens on Him. Because of Jesus and the gospel, we can come to the “throne of grace in confidence and find the help and grace in our time of need.”  We can come to Jesus with all our emotions and cares and know that he hears us, that he cares for us, that he is at work in us.

Finally the example. Luke 22:42-44 “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Jesus was in agony on this night, to the point of sweating what was like drops of blood falling to the ground. His grief was palatable, His agony was deep. Then in verse 66 it says “When day came.” So the promised JOY was not when the next morning broke. In fact the very next day was worse than the first. This is the day He would be mocked, tortured, and killed. But JOY did come. Not the first morning or even the morning after. But it did come!

Child of God, stay the course. Work through your grief. Wrestle and feel your sorrow all the while trusting in His promises. Because He will come through for you. Remember, God’s delay is NOT His denial. JOY will come in the morning!

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church


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Weeping may tarry for the night...

Psalm 54:6

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;

I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.

The book of Psalms is full of emotion (cries, expressions of grief). King David writes in the middle of pain and fear for his life “I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, Lord, for it is good”. What I love about David, is that he doesn’t ignore his feelings or bury them in the ground; he acknowledges them, but he doesn’t become a slave to them either. David’s problems were terrifying and real but he chooses to express his pain, sorrow and struggles to God rather than letting them dictate his life. Many of the Psalms he wrote ended by focusing on the truth of who God is instead of how he is feeling. Our feelings change but God’s character remains the same.

There’s something incredibly powerful in declaring and singing that God is good and worthy of praise even when our circumstances and feelings are challenging the nature of God’s goodness and love. Worshipping through trials is powerful.

Psalms 30:5

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

It was about 5 weeks ago. I remember telling someone, “I am so tired of being so callused. I just want to feel again.” It was after something very tragic happened. Something most people would absolutely cringe and probably have nightmares over. I have worked in the State and Federal Prison systems for over 18 years and on a Monday, which was no different than any other Monday, A man was killed on my watch. I knew he was as good as dead, and I felt nothing. I did my job, tried to do my part in ensuring he had the chance of “making it” but the blade had hit it’s mark, and the man wielding that weapon had accomplished his mission. Nothing I could have done would have saved him. The assailant was cold and calculated. He waited for the exact time when he knew he could do the most damage, invoking his revenge quickly and efficiently.

Now, I have seen this time and again. Over the years I have seen men do horrible things to other men. Rape, torture, and homicide. I can not remember the number of times I have done chest compressions on someone, plugged a hole in someone's chest with my fingers, cut someone down from a rope, or even looked at a man's wounds as he tried to act like he wasn’t hurt or scared. Up until this point, I never batted an eye. I never gave it a second thought. I have been assaulted many different ways as well, and my bravado would have me chalk it up to “It comes with the territory.” But on this any given Monday, something hit me. I am not sure what it was. Maybe it was the Lord? Maybe. But something made me stop and think, why doesn’t this bother me? I want this to bother me.

Don’t get me wrong I don’t think I entirely lack empathy. I hurt for my loved ones (Friends & Family) when they hurt but not like I think I should. Not like a normal human-being. Not like a real and true christian. Am I a real and true christian? I love deeply, but I don’t think I love like “normal” people. Maybe everyone feels like that?

Be careful what you wish for is a common saying.

On November 6, 2018 our beloved Dog, Henry was tragically hit by a vehicle. It was tragic to say the least. He was alive when we got him to the vet. He was licking my face. Because of his alertness I was hopeful and encouraged that he may be okay. Maybe some broken bones but okay. This was not the case. He was badly broken and would have no quality of life. Our big boy was not gonna make it. My wife and I had to make the hard decision. I watched my wife as she literally convulsed in grief. I tried desperately to hold it together and to be strong for her.

To spare you the details, Henry died as peaceful as possible as we loved on him. We took him home and gave our children an opportunity to pet him, love on him, and say their goodbyes. In that moment as I held his head so our daughter could kiss his face one last time, I broke. My heart broke. I felt something deep. And I wept. I felt.

The next day was harder than I anticipated. I woke up thinking I heard him sniffing at the foot of my bed as he often did in the mornings. But he was not. I wept again. As I drove into town to run errands, I passed a restaurant and a man was walking with a dog that looked so much like Henry. Matter of fact, same breed (Great Pyrenees), and I wept. I was desperate to hold it together. But I couldn't, and I wept. I turned around and pulled into that parking lot. I parked clear on the other side and got out. I just wanted to watch. I prayed for God to take the pain away. I told Him (God) how stupid I felt for being so emotional about a dog. At that moment some 200 feet away, that dog turned around, and saw me. She immediately started running towards me. I froze. She stopped right at my feet, sat down and pressed her head against my thigh and looked up at me. Yep you guessed it….. I wept.  

I got on the ground and just hugged this dog and she just let me. It’s like she knew. My body heaved as I wept over this animal. The owner was gracious and let me and just asked “are you okay brother?” I apologized and briefly explained how me and my family had just lost Henry. He was very gracious and said “take all the time you need.”

Two weeks ago, my nephew and his fiancée lost their baby boy Roman James. And then, this very evening, November 7, 2018 my wife received a phone call her beloved uncle had passed away. How much more can we take Lord?

The answer? ALOT. If we trust in Him.

Look at Joseph. His brothers tried to kill him and then they sold him into slavery. After being bought and “exported” to Egypt he found a nice job. But being a hardworking, wise and handsome young man caused him more trouble than he ever thought. An ambitious lady put her eyes on him. After declining her “friend requests”, he was “sued” for sexual harassment, and because the lady’s husband was not only the offended partner but also Joseph’s boss, judge, and ruler, poor Joseph ended up getting undeserved punishment in jail.

Look at Job. Tragedy struck and Job lost his wealth. Next, a storm took the lives of all his children. Then, a debilitating disease that left his whole body covered with painful boils came in to finally kill him.

Look at David. Even after David had been anointed king and chosen by God, he still had to run for his life.  Some scholars believe he had to run for his life from King Saul between 7 and 10 years. David grew frustrated from his constant running and hiding, having to live in caves and always in hiding, In the last two verses of Psalm 27 David wrote: “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

Look at Paul. We know the Apostle Paul suffered many trials by the hand of man (2 Corinthians 11:23-28). But beyond that he suffered some type of trial by the permission of God. Paul called it a messenger of Satan and begged God to remove this “thorn in the flesh.” Yet, God chose to allow Paul to suffer with this affliction (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). There are many speculations for what this problem was, but we are not told clearly in the text of the Bible. Whether we know the exact nature of the problem there is a lesson to be learned that can apply to each of us. Paul endured this trial which caused him to depend more upon the Lord. He was told by God that the affliction was to show the power of God through a weakened life. When we are weak, sick, in need, persecuted, or distressed for Christ’s sake, then God can show himself strong for our benefit and for His glory.

Now, I have to say it, I am in no way comparing my plight with these great men. But I want to make sure I recognize the examples. The lessons to be learned so to speak. You see in my grief I realize I have a responsibility to use these situations to teach my children, my wife, and my friends what grieving looks like. How to grieve with grace. How to be vulnerable and transparent. How to allow others to hold you up and support you. How to allow God to work and comfort the broken hearted. How to lean on God, and worship Him regardless of our situations.

Writing helps me process all of this. And if you have taken the time to actually read all of this, Thank you. But even if nobody has made it to this sentence, God has used this to help me put things in perspective. This doesn't mean I am not going to still grieve and hurt. Of course I am. Honestly, as bad as it hurts, I am grateful to God I am beginning to feel again. A deeper feeling then I can remember ever feeling before. Hopefully this is the beginning of breaking my heart so I can do more when it comes to caring for others. Adding value to other people's lives.

It's almost poetic and ironic that God would use the tragedy of losing such a big handsome furry dog named Henry, to break my heart open. Now, I do not believe God orchestrated the accident that took Henry from us. But He can and will use it. Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” I believe the loss of Henry helped me to start feeling again. It is helping me become a better vessel at sharing the love and compassion of Christ to a world who so desperately needs it.

Thank you Jesus for giving us Henry. We love you and miss you Henry, and we are blessed to have had you in our lives. Thank you for loving us so well!

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church


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From the Valley to the Heights!

We closed out the book of Habakkuk this past Sunday. This  book is great for humanity because it relates so well. 

We learned that everyone wrestles with God from time to time. Habakkuk’s name means, “to embrace or wrestle.” 

Throughout this series “it seemed” like God was not active or present in Habakkuk’s life so he had to patiently wait on the Lord. Because he waited, listened, and “wrestled” with the Lord, the Lord showed up in a powerful way! He told Habakkuk that the Babylonians would be judged as well. 

Although Habakkuk’s life seemed to ride the emotional roller coaster he ends chapter 3 with a psalm of praise to God. Some have stated that chapter 3 would often be sung in the Temple. 

God takes this man from the valley to the heights! When we wrestle with God, and we continue to walk or live by faith, the Lord is able to help us endure. Our circumstances may not change, but God will change us so that we can honor Him and add value to others! 

Jason Sheffstall - Lead Pastor - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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From Wondering and Watching to Worship!

The message this past Sunday has so far been one of my favorites. "Moving from wondering and watching, to worship." Worship is the believer’s response to God. Worship means “to express by attitude and possibly by position one’s allegiance to and regard for deity --"to prostrate oneself in worship, to bow down and worship, to worship.” 

Habakkuk 3:1-19. We should remember all that God has done (v.1-16). We should accept what God is doing (v.17-18). We should trust what God is going to do (v. 19). These are hard lessons, but when you get it, it is life changing. When you stop focusing on your circumstances and start trusting in Him, you will begin to see his promises fulfilled in your life. Yes, even when the bad things happen.

I encourage you to read the book of Habakkuk. What an example of moving from wondering and watching to worship. Will Rhee reminded me of a wonderful song that pretty much sums it up for me. 

https://youtu.be/kseRKxkq5iY

"I can count a million times People asking me how I Can praise You with all that I've gone through. The question just amazes me. Can circumstances possibly Change who I forever am in You? Maybe since my life was changed Long before these rainy days, It's never really ever crossed my mind. To turn my back on you, oh Lord, My only shelter from the storm. But instead I draw closer through these times. So I pray, Bring me joy, bring me peace, Bring the chance to be free, Bring me anything that brings You glory. And I know there'll be days When this life brings me pain. But if that's what it takes to praise You, Jesus, bring the rain. I am Yours regardless of The clouds that may loom above Because You are much greater than my pain. You who made a way for me By suffering Your destiny. So tell me, what's a little rain? "

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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Has God Ever Seemed Unfair?

Has God ever seemed unfair to you? Has there been times when it has felt as if God was not present? Habakkuk felt this way! He had a dialogue with God about his silence and his unfairness. So far, we have learned that the southern kingdom of Judah was in a bad way! They were rebellious, ungodly and disobedient to the Lord. Therefore, God was raising up a group of people called the Chaldeans (the Babylonians). They were a wicked, ungodly, and impetuous people. They did not care who you were or even where you came from. To them, they were doing their best conquer the known world. 

Today, there is a lot of wickedness that abounds, but yet, God is still on His throne. When it seems that God is not present or that He acting unfair, TRUST THE PROCESS! God is working a work in our lives that if He told us every detail about it, it would blow our minds. 

I pray for you to have a great week! Remember, the Lord loves you and He walks with you every step of the way!

Jason Sheffstall - Lead Pastor - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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Continue to Add Value to Others!

John 1:4
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Yes, if you have paid attention, the verse above is the same as last week. Why? Well because these few words continue to shout aloud in my soul. This has been a resounding anthem if you will; in my life the past several weeks. Adding value to other people. As I sat on a beach in Jamaica this past week on a much needed vacation between naps and great food, I was also reading a book. In this book one of the excerpts said this, "His favor (Jesus) is upon you so you can be apart of His plan of distributing favor to others".  

You see, when you add value to others, you leave a legacy. Like the disciples, the apostle Paul, and so many of the early church of Jesus Christ. They left us a road map and inspiration. Albert Pike wrote, "What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal". 

Continue to ask yourself this week, "how can I add value to those around me"? Jesus is calling all of us to do this very thing. Mark 12:30-31 "Love your neighbor as yourself". Step out of your comfort zone this week. Reach out and help someone in need. This is one of the truest forms of worship to our king. 


Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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The Just Shall Live By Faith!!

Dear Friend,
 

This past Sunday, we began a new series in the book of Habakkuk. 

Habakkuk is a prophet from the old testament. He had a dialogue with God about the injustices and the violence of people. 

He wondered why God seemed unfair and unjust in his dealings with the southern kingdom of Judah. His basic question was, “God, why won’t you do something?”

God responds by saying, “If I told you what I’m about to do you wouldn’t even believe it.”

What was God about to do? Well, I’m glad you asked. He was about to raise up the Babylonians (A nation that was way more wicked than Judah) to judge Israel. 

The thing that we are reminded of in this book is that when it doesn’t seem right or fair we can remember that God is at work no matter how we feel or what we think about the situation.

In Habakkuk 2:4, he reminds us that the just shall live by faith.  My prayer, is to do the same.

May God bless you!
Pastor Jason Sheffstall

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Be the Light!

John 1:4
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

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I am discovering more and more just how God can use YOUR story to add value to others lives. He can and will use your story to encourage, strengthen, and inspire others when you live a life fully devoted to him. My wife and I are currently on a much needed vacation. Our prayer even before we left was that God would use us to add value to other peoples lives while he added rest to ours. Man, has he given us opportunity after opportunity. 

We have been blessed, so therefore we worship Him for it. And as a result, it draws people. People want to know why we are the way we are and there is the doorway. The opportunity to share the Gospel and His goodness. To share how we do not just praise Him for when things are good. But how because we stand firm and praise Him when things are not so good, He rewards His children. He gives us hope. He gives us rest. 

I look forward to sharing these stories with all of you soon, but they are still being written with those people we have been given the opportunity to encourage, strengthen, and inspire with the gospel. So stay tuned in and ask God to use your story to add value to those people you come in contact with every single day!

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - Stonebridge Baptist Church

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What a great weekend! I am so thankful to our Praise and Worship Team for leading us in worship on Saturday night! We had a great turn out and people really seemed to enjoy themselves. 

Then, on Sunday, we celebrated together by roasting a Pig. We had approximately 160 people that attended the Pig Roast at Dorsey's Knob Pavilion. Special thanks to Dan Ousley for smokin' the Pig and for the amazing background music of Steve Mathess and Joe Hehnly. A good time was had by all! Oh, and by the way, Double J won the Cornhole Tournament. Who is Double J? Well, that would be none other than "Yours Truly" and Jason Turak. =)

This month (October) opened up (for me) with a little fender bender. I pulled out onto Earl Core Road on Monday night and rammed a '98 Chevy S10 pickup truck. Thankfully, everyone was okay, but my pride was hurt. Honestly, I was a little bummed, but it gave me an opportunity to share Jesus and invite three young men to our church (two from the vehicle and the young police officer). This may be one of the most expensive witnessing opportunities that I have ever had in my life. =) I'd like to thank several of our StoneBridgers for stopping by the wreck to make sure that I was okay. In a matter of seconds, I had four people stop to make sure that I was alright. It reminded me of the support and love that I have from our community. It also reminded me that Jesus never lets us go at it alone, even in the midst of our trials. 


I love you all!

Jason Sheffstall - Lead Pastor - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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He is our Father!

We had a night totally focused on worshiping our God this past Saturday. I was totally blown away by how God moved in individuals. Standing on stage as I looked into the crowd of people, I was overwhelmed watching people worship. Even more so, as I scanned the room, I witnessed my youngest son, all of 10 years old completely focused on worship. His eyes closed, his arms stretched out, singing his face off. I have never seen him do that before. And in an instant, I was overcome with emotion. Thankfulness, gratitude, humility, & joy. My boy, worshipping the true and living God with reckless abandon. 

My thoughts quickly went to how God must feel when he sees his children worship Him in truth. I think I caught a glimpse of it. I think I felt just a little bit of what He must experience when the people He gave His life for, give Him the praise and adoration He so deserves. If you're a parent, you must know what it is like when your child looks at you with admiring eyes and gives you tender and loving embraces. Well I really think that is exactly what God feels when we give Him our all in worship and by how we live our lives devoted to Him.   

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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Cross the Street

Something Pastor Russell Knight said a couple weeks ago when he was with us, has stuck with me. A very simple phrase, command, or mandate. It was not deeply profound or said eloquently with big words. It was not particularly moving or something that necessarily hit you in the gut when he said it. It was just very simple.

He shared a very simple story about this one phrase. Reaching out to another person when you see a need. Moving out of your comfort zone in order to add value to another person’s life. Often, too often in this life, we tend to look inwardly and not outwardly. We get busy, run down, burned out, & grow tired. We tend to focus on what others are not giving us instead of focusing on what we can give to other people.

“Cross the Street”. That was the phrase. So this week I want you to ask yourself, “How can I cross the street this week”? Crossing the street to add value to other people, your family, and your church draws all of us to a place of thanksgiving and humility. It’s not just about doing good, but it’s about who you are doing good for. Crossing the street, draws me to a place of worship to a God who has counted me worthy enough to do good things despite all the wrong I have done in my past. To be a worker in His ministry. Adding value to others with the Gospel adds value to mine.

I end with this. It’s the last line of one of our favorite songs here at StoneBridge. “Bear your cross (cross the street) as you wait for the crown. Tell the world of the treasure you found”.

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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What do you do, when you don't know what to do?

Dear Friend,

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO?

 So, what DO you do when you don't know what to do? This is a question that so many people have asked since the beginning of Adam and Eve's fall. When Adam chose to disobey God, he realized that he was naked and his eyes were open to his spiritual state. 

So, what did he do next? 

HE MADE IT UP AS HE WENT ALONG.

He immediately found leaves to cover his nakedness and decided that he and Eve would hide from the Lord as He made His way through The Garden of Eden. 

One of the problems with making it up as you go along, is that it often lends to trouble. When we "fake it until we make it"; we usually realize (before too long) that this mentality usually doesn't work out too well for us. 

So, what should we do? 

WE SHOULD SPEND TIME IN PRAYER TO THE LORD

Prayer is vital to knowing what we should or shouldn't do. Not only should we spend time talking to the Lord, but we should spend time in talking to wise counselors. Don't talk to people who will tell you what you want to hear, talk with people who will give you the genuine "skinny" on whatever it is you are trying to find the answer to. Then, you should patiently wait on the Lord to reveal Himself to you through the circumstances around you. When you start to see a pattern of things happening (most of the time you'll never be 100% about the decisions) you start to move toward your answer. 
 

THERE COMES A TIME WHEN YOU HAVE TO MAKE A DECISION

Once you make the decision you may find out that you made the wrong decision. If this happens, don't cry over spilled milk, simply move forward to make the situation as positive as you possibly can. If you are walking in faith, the Lord will see you through and HE WILL FINISH HIS perfect work in you!

Jason Sheffstall - Lead Pastor - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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FELLOWSHIP

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1 John 1:3-4

We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy..

Definition of Fellowship: The quality or state of being comradely meaningful communication for building trust and fellowship. The whole point of fellowship with others is to build each-other up. To support one another, and to give of your self for the betterment of your fellow man/ woman.

I would be able to talk to you for hours about this, because fellowship is what helped bring me out of the darkness. God used the fellowship of others to affirm and demonstrate the power of His word in my life. Fellowship is what talked me off the ledge in times when I felt there was no hope. And fellowship is what persuaded me, through the example of those I fellowshipped with; how to worship and praise the true and living God with not just song, but through everyday living. 

Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron,
    so a friend sharpens a friend."  No man or woman is an island. If they try to be, well then they are lonely and probably failing at most everything. I was given a shirt as a gift last Christmas. I know it was just a joke or a funny "ha ha" kind of gift. But I have been unable to wear it. Because it says, "I use to be a people person, but people ruined it" The reason I have not been able to wear it, is because its not true and on the contrary my fellowship with other PEOPLE, the right people, have not only added value to my life, but propelled me to live a life unlike I have ever lived before. A life where Christ is the center.

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptisit Church

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Count Your Blessings

Dear Friend,


Have you ever stopped and counted your blessings? Well, if not, let me encourage you to do so! Our God is always at work; even when it may seem like He is not. 

He is faithful when we are faithless! He is dependable when it seems all hope is lost! Please don’t allow the circumstances around you to dictate your character. Step up to the plate and be ready for the curve ball that you may face and remember that God will help you step “toward the ball” instead of away from it! 

Remember that you are loved and appreciated no matter what trial or difficultly you may be facing!

May God strengthen you as you serve Him! 

Sincerely,
Jason Sheffstall - Lead Pastor - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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The Weapons of our Warfare

Ephesians 6:12

Our war is not with flesh and blood but with the rulers, the principalities, and with the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

A.W. Tozer said, “Many Christians view this world as a playground rather than a battleground.” The less we engage in the battle against Satan and his kingdom, the less we experience real victory. And if we never experience the thrilling victories of being on God’s side of the war (the winning side!), there’s not nearly as much to praise Him for. This is one underlying cause of the lethargic worship you see in many churches – not much victory is being experienced. Maybe mostly defeat, or just plain apathy (which is defeat by default – a forfeit). When there’s so little victory, there’s little cause for celebration. And certainly not much cause for enthusiasm!
 

We often don’t “get the Psalms” because we often choose not to live on the front lines of the spiritual war like David and Moses did. We therefore miss out on the exhilarating highs and dejecting lows of the battle as it rages on. The Psalms are set in a culture rife with opposition and dangerous enemies, where opting out of the battle wasn’t an option (no police officers, no court systems…even these would be laughably insufficient remedies for the ruthlessly implacable armies overrunning the region). If we want our worship to be a God-glorifying feast of celebration, we need to enlist in the battle (2 Timothy 2:4), accept its risks, and let our praise arise out of the thrill of Yahweh’s endless string of victories, just as it does in the Psalms.

From the Psalms Project Blog - Shane Heilman

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God Continues to Grow Us for His Work!

One of the things you will hear us say around StoneBridge is “We love kids!” We believe ministering to children (and their parents) is one of the most important things we do! We have so many volunteers that work faithfully to provide a safe, fun, learning environment for our children every week in KidsBridge. Thank you to all of you!
 

We are so excited to announce the newest member of the StoneBridge staff, Roy Schneider. Roy is coming on board part-time as our Children’s Ministry Coordinator. Roy, Nikki, and their 4 children have been attending StoneBridge for several months and recently joined our membership. Roy is a full time Bible teacher at Trinity Christian School. We praise God for bringing people to our church at the right time for His purposes!

 

Roy family.jpg

I Corinthians 12:18 “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.”
 
Matthew 19:14 “But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
 
Ben Smith - Executive Pastor - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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Resolved to Worship

Mark 14:3
 While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head.

This perfume was not cheap, this was an extremely expensive bottle which could have been sold for a massive amount of cash. Some of the disciples of Jesus saw this as a waste because the money from the perfume could have gone to help the poor.  However, the sacrifice was received by Jesus. Jesus welcomed the woman’s worship of Him in that moment and even commended her in front of those looking on.

Genuine worship of Jesus is never a waste. In fact, when we hold back and don’t give to Jesus true worship, the Lord is not impressed. 

“I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.” (Amos 5:21–23)

Could you imagine the Lord looking at your worship and saying something like this? That is quite sobering. Probably one of the most recognized worshipers of the Scripture is King David. He would strip down into nothing but his linen ephod and dance before the Lord. He did that even with his wife mocking him. On one occasion, David said he would not offer something to the Lord that didn’t cost him something. That is a picture of true worship. True worship always costs you something. Think about your worship…are you giving your best?

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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Resolve!

Dear Friend,
 

We begin a new series this Sunday entitled Resolved. I’m really excited about preaching through this series. 

This series will help us become more determined to fulfill our goals and achieve the purposes that God has set before us as a church!

The topics for the month of August are:  1.) Resolved to have a positive attitude in all situations. 2.) Resolved to keep score in the game of life. 3.) Resolved to develop the art and science of friendship. 4.) Resolved to develop the art and science of conflict resolution.

Please pray for your pastors as we preach God’s Word! May you have a blessed week!

Jason Sheffstall - Lead Pastor - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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He Gives Power to the Faint.

Isaiah 40:28
 “Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.” 

The truth is, life is tiring.  It is difficult.  And sometimes we find ourselves utterly exhausted. I have found myself here. The past couple of months have been exhausting for me. As we travel along, the demands of our time and energy steadily increase and before we know it, we can feel like we are walking along life’s highway utterly depleted.  This road often leads to the feeling of being “defeated.” 

Yet, in the midst of all of our weariness, I am convinced that God has more for us than mere survival. Weariness is an opportunity to worship the everlasting God. Next time you are weary and fainthearted, remember this simple thought and let it help you turn your weariness into worship:  God never feels this way.  Let that thought sink in and amaze you.

God doesn’t grow tired and he never faints.  He is never exhausted and nothing can deplete His energy.  He is infinite in his power and wisdom. Aren’t you grateful that God is not like us?  We can worship Him for his power! Unlike God, we are not self-existent and we are not self-sufficient.  We are dependent creatures, and we depend on his strength.  The good news is that the infinite, self-existent, all-powerful God gives strength to the weary:

“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength” (Isaiah 40:29).

What a promise!  Weary mom, there is strength for you in the power of your All-mighty God.  Weak and worn-out husband, God can make you strong.  Faint-hearted and fatigued believer, let your exhaustion be an occasion for exulting in the energy of God.  Turn your weariness into worship and find your strength in Him this week and always.

“Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:30-31).

Are you weary?  God never is.  Wait upon the LORD.  Renew your strength. Turn your weariness into worship and fly like eagles out among the stars.

Dan Ousley - Worship Leader - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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Our Days are but a breath

Dear Friend,

"I waste away; I will not live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are but a breath." (‭Job‬ ‭7‬:‭16‬ NASB)

As Job lie on his mat (bed) wasting away, three friends came to “comfort him”.  For one full week, they mourned with Job and remained silent before him. This first full week (having his friends present) was probably a week of encouragement for him. He had lost everything. His children had died, his livestock was gone, his land was ruined and his wife had chastised him for retaining his integrity and steadfast love for the Lord!  Now, his three friends (after a full week of silence) finally unload on Job. They remind him that God “doesn’t punish” the innocent; he had surely fallen into iniquity and wasn’t willing to repent. Therefore, God was punishing him.

This was the furthest thing from the truth! Job was enduring the attacks of Satan; and God had allowed it! Sometimes we think we are doing others a good thing by offering our opinions to our friends when they are going through some difficult trial or hardship, but many times we do more harm than good.  This was the case for Job and his friends. Job’s response says it all. All people are wasting away. Sin has a hold on our mortal bodies. None of us will make it out of here alive. This is why we need Jesus so desperately! 

Our days are but a breath! Therefore, let us remain steadfast in our love for God and our love for others! May we understand that we are here for only a short time, so let us run with endurance the race that is set before us!

Jason Sheffstall - Lead Pastor - StoneBridge Baptist Church

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