Posted by: Pastor Bob Sugden | February 24, 2014

“Come to the River”

I want to give thanks, honor, and praise to our LORD for the wonderful way in which He blessed our church’s 35th Anniversary celebration, yesterday.  Throughout the morning, I felt His sustaining presence.  There was love, acceptance, and community expressed throughout the event.

Here’s a recap of the celebration:

Saturday evening:  A group of friends spent over 4 hours enjoying each other’s company as we cut out and hung all of the decorations for the potluck fellowship.  What was expected to be a dull chore became a time of relationship building and fun.  Thank you, Jesus!

Sunday, 11:00am:  The family gathered for a time of worship and praise.  We also had a little bit of business that had to be done.

(1) We welcomed four new members to our church family–Craig & Tanya Aris, Charlene Dubay, and Ruth Retynski.  (Unfortunately, Ruth was ill yesterday.  So, we will recognize her welcome next Sunday.)

(2) We took a trip down memory lane–a slide show of the church property.  During the slide show, we heard oral history of much of the things we see each week but never knew why they were a part of our property.  We also learned that throughout the course of this church’s ministry we have connected 775 souls with the message of the Gospel.  What a legacy!

(3) We received greetings from former pastors and their spouses.  We heard from: Maribeth Nelson (widow of the founding pastor Don Nelson); Rev. Larry & Marilyn Hawn; and Louise Runyan (widow of Rev. Jim Runyan).

(4) We elected 5 new board members–Joyce Purnam, Elsie Stormont, Renee’ Sugden, Renae Temperle, and Marlene Wright.  (These ladies will serve from March 2014 – February 2017.)

(5) We elected two delegates to represent our church at the upcoming district assembly–Joyce Putnam and Renee’ Sugden.

(6) We reviewed of our church’s financial statement.  All our bills are paid in full and/or current.  And, we have $800 in the bank.  We ended the year “in the black”!

(7) We heard a touching testimony from Marlene Wright about God’s provision of life-giving water.

(8) We presented a Distinguished Service Award to a very special lady–Beverly Wright.  Thank you, Beverly, for nearly 4 decades of service to our LORD.

(9) Our pastor cast a powerful message of the vision for our church in the coming years.  We will see our congregation grow to be 150 vital, active members.  May we be faithful to God’s call.

(10) We celebrated the goodness of our LORD by singing his praises in a spirited half hour of worship.

(11) We then joined as a family together around the table to fellowship and love on each other.

We literally spent 2-1/2 hours in the sanctuary.  It didn’t seem like it, though.  One of our church members wrote on her Facebook page, “One of two churches I’ve attended, that a 2.5 hr service felt like minutes and still hungry for more.  Such an honor to have been and still are a part of the heart of this church.”  

Another cool aspect of the service was it was inter-generational.  We had people present who ranged in age from under a year to over 70 years.  The young folks heard from the “old” folks how important it is to be faithful to the call of God on your life.  Through thick and thin, in weariness and vitality, one must be faithful to see the end result of God’s calling.  And, as a congregation of Jesus followers, we’re not finished.  Some of us may be reaching the end of our race.  But, the baton will be passed and the Kingdom of God will be advanced in the interior of Alaska.  The message of heart holiness will be broadcast.  And, Jesus Christ will continue to be hailed as King!  Glory to God!!  Hallelujah!!!

I went to bed last night with a deep peace in my heart and praises on my lips that He is well-pleased with our little church.

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Posted by: Pastor Bob Sugden | February 19, 2014

Happy Anniversary, TRNAZ!

On Sunday, Feb 23, 2014, our church will celebrate our 35th anniversary of ministry in Two Rivers.  

Join us as we worship and praise the LORD in song, spoken word and feasting.  Throughout the morning, we will celebrate our partnership with God in stewarding the work He has entrusted into our care.  We will host a pot-luck fellowship immediately after the worship service.  (Bring two dishes to share–an entree and a side, or two sides, or a side and a dessert.)

Posted by: Pastor Bob Sugden | February 19, 2014

HALLELUJAH!!!

I just met with a person who lives in Two Rivers and cares about our church.  They asked me about the financial health of our church.  I told them we were doing well.  But, due to unforeseen circumstances, we were ending our fiscal year in the red.


This person then asked for specifics.  After I told them the specific needs, they told me they wanted to help.  So, they will be going to Fairbanks Fuel today to pay off our heating fuel debt.  The debt is more than $3,800!!!


God is very good.


Can I get an AMEN?

Posted by: Pastor Bob Sugden | January 31, 2014

Last Sunday’s Sermon

A number of you have given me positive feedback about last Sunday’s sermon.  Some asked if it were possible to have copies of my sermon notes. Normally, I don’t preach from a manuscript. However, I have taken the time to transcribe my sermon from last week. It is now available in PDF format on our website.  You can access it by clicking on the “Listen to Our Services” tab.  Then, click on the image of the old time radio. When the sermon archive page opens, click on the sermon entitled “The Promise of the Holy Spirit”.  Above the title of the sermon, you will see six icons. Click on the left-most icon. (This one is titled “PDF”.)  The transcript will automatically open in a new window. If you have any questions, please contact me.

Posted by: Pastor Bob Sugden | March 12, 2012

I’m squinting! The sun is so bright today!!!

This has been an interesting winter. We’ve had deeply cold temps. We’ve had more snow this year than in any of the previous years of my tenure. It has been a long, cold, dark winter! But, today, the sun is shining brightly. I can feel its heat penetrating the window and through the sleeve of my shirt. It’s a good day!

It’s interesting how light/warmth and darkness/cold affect me. I like sitting in a brightly lit area. I like soaking in the warmth of the sun. On the other hand, I hate dark, cold places. In bright light and warm temps, I’m “up”. Put me in a cold, dark place and I get depressed. I don’t think I’m weird. As a matter of fact, in this regard, I think I’m right if the middle of ‘normal’.

As I reflect on all of this, I am reminded of Jesus’ teaching in Luke 11:34-36–“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” One of the commentaries I use regularly says, “When a person’s eyes (like lamps) react properly to light, she can function normally. Being receptive to Jesus’ teachings would show that they were full of light (vv. 34 , 36 ) and were benefiting from His teachings.”

Father, today, may I respond correctly to the Truth in Your Word. As I reflect on the Truth may it permeate my whole being in such a way that all darkness is dispelled. May I begin to glow with your holiness. May my light so shine that people around me see it and glorify You!

Soli Gloria Deo!

 

Posted by: Pastor Bob Sugden | August 3, 2011

Today is 25:40 Sunday

What is 25:40 Sunday?

When there are 5 Sundays in a month, we call the 5th Sunday “25:40 Sunday”. In the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 25 and Verse 40), Jesus told his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me”. (This was in response to their question, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?”)

On the 5th Sunday, we choose to worship the LORD out in our community by being the hands and feet of Jesus. We show the love of God to our neighbors by ministering to their physical needs. If you’d like to join us, we’d love to have you!

This past Sunday (July 31) was our very first 25:40 Sunday.

WOW! What a huge success!!! But that’s not how it looked when the day started. As I was preparing for the day, I wasn’t sure how things would work out. When I got up (very early) on Sunday, the weather looked terrible. We had planned work that would require us to be outside all morning. We had planned to hold a short worship service at the beginning of the morning (also outside). We had planned to work at two locations–Maggie Ross’ home and the Purdy home. The work at the Purdy home couldn’t be done because of the weather. Most of the work at Maggie’s was lawn work. Also not good when the grass is wet.

The work we hoped to accomplish at Maggie’s was:

  • Cut back the willows from the entrance to her driveway
  • Level and seal her house (The foundation of the addition to her home had rotted and collapsed causing the addition to separate from the rest of the house. Last winter, it snowed in her pantry!)
  • Cut down dead trees and split the logs into usable firewood.
  • Rotate and stack her firewood

When I arrived, I and a few others immediately began setting up shelters to give the folks a chance to get out of the rain for breaks. Maggie had a 12’x15′ tarp that we were able to string over her “grotto”. I also borrowed my wife’s 10’x10′ EasyUp canopy. We got the tarp and canopy up and were ready as the first folks arrived. Whew!

Around 10:15am we started the worship service. I had planned to sing, to pray, and then to have a short devotional. Because of my anxiety over the weather and all the work that needed to be done, I panicked and gave up on the singing and praying. I quickly led the folks through the devotional (based on Mark 6:35-44 and Matthew 25:31-40). I really wish I hadn’t panicked. We should have spent time focused on our LORD and what He means to us. Next time, we will spend time in true worship and prayer.

As I said, the day was a complete success. We had 33 people participate. (Our average attendance on a Sunday is 40.) That’s excellent considering we have never tried this before and I wasn’t sure how the people would respond. We even had two people come earlier in the week to work because they couldn’t be there on Sunday! And, the feedback I have received has been excellent. I’ve only had one person object to holding the event on Sunday. Everyone else has said they loved it and want to continue doing this in the future. We even had volunteers from the community come and help out.

Our next 25:40 Sunday will be Oct 30, 2011. Please be in prayer that God would show us where He wants us to minister in our community next. And, may He receive all the glory!

Here are a few pictures of our first 25:40 Sunday:

Posted by: Pastor Bob Sugden | March 1, 2011

Bring on the Blessings?

This morning I received an email from someone who was reflecting on his recent devotional study of the book of Malachi. One of his comments struck me powerfully. He wrote, “Could it be that the level of blessing (we receive) is directly connected to our honoring God with the very best in our lives?”. The email writer’s thought seems to identify a connection between God’s blessing on me and my honoring of God with my “stuff”. It appears that if I give the best of my stuff to God then I should be able to expect good stuff from God. Is that really how it works?

As a father, have there been times when I wanted to bless my child, but withheld the blessing because I didn’t feel my child was giving me all the love she could? If my child dishonored me, did I ever withhold blessings from her? What are blessings anyway? Sure. I have withheld material gifts from my child because she was acting inappropriately. But, are material things truly blessings? When I read the scriptures, I read of fathers placing their hands on the heads of their children and blessing them. In those cases, material goods weren’t being bestowed. No, in those situations the father was imparting to the child a blessing (or curse) using words of affirmation.

Also, in the cases where I withheld material “blessings” from my child because her behavior didn’t meet with my approval wasn’t that more of a disciplinary measure? Almost a bribery kind of thing (I.e. “If you clean your room by 5:00pm, I will let you go and hang out with your friends.”)? Is that how God relates to us? Really?

I think the blessings we receive from God are nothing more than acts of unconditional love from Him. At times, He may choose to “bless” us with material stuff or spiritual gifts or good health or (you fill in the blank), but those “blessings” usually are given because He has a purpose for them being in our lives not because we’ve been a good kid. In other words, He wants us to do something for the kingdom so He equips us for the task. But, I don’t think that’s what a blessing is. I think a true blessing from God is given out of His heart of love for us. It is not something we earn through giving Him our best.

So, how do I get a blessing? Simply by being in right relationship with God. I can’t do anything to earn a blessing. I can’t force Him to bless me by giving Him something. That’s bribery. All I can do is remain in relationship with Him. It will be His decision if I am to receive His blessing.

But, isn’t being in a right relationship with God blessing enough? Anything else is just icing on the cake.

Posted by: Pastor Bob Sugden | November 5, 2010

Growth–in me and in my assignment

“God seldom allows a pastor to outgrow his assignment.” ~G. B. Williamson (This quote came to me as part of a Soul Care email.)

At first glance, I saw this as a negative statement. I read it as a statement which spoke of God hindering His servant from growth. But as I have reflected further, I see a very positive concept. As the pastor grows, God will cause growth to take place in the assignment. This is a very interesting thought. It makes me think of two verses of Scripture: Matthew 25:29 & Luke 12:48.

Matthew 25:29 reads, “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” In this passage Jesus teaches that the servant who is found to be faithful will be entrusted with even more responsibility. Further, He gives a warning that His servants need to be faithful stewards over that which He has entrusted to them. Because if the servant isn’t a faithful steward, there is a danger that the ministry he has been given will be taken from him.

In the Luke passage, the second half of the verse states, “…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” I see that as saying I need to give 150% in my ministry to Two Rivers. In so doing, I will be proven to be a faithful steward who can be trusted. But, even more than that, by my faithful 150% work I can expect God to grow the ministry here.

Father God, help me today, and tomorrow, and next week to prove myself a faithful steward. Show me the areas that need improvement and give me ideas on how to make those improvements. Amen!

Posted by: Pastor Bob Sugden | October 29, 2010

Deep thoughts as the snow deepens…

Psalms 86:11-13 (HCSB)–11 Teach me Your way, Yahweh, and I will live by Your truth. Give me an undivided mind to fear Your name. 12 I will praise You with all my heart, Lord my God, and will honor Your name forever. 13 For Your faithful love for me is great, and You deliver my life from the depths of Sheol.

Wow, this passage has truly gripped my soul this morning. Verse 11 especially speaks to me. “Teach me Your way…”  What is God’s way for me to live by His truth? I believe it must be connected to the idea in the last sentence in verse 11–“Give me an undivided mind to fear your name.”

I have served the Lord for over 35 years. (That’s more than 1/2 of my life.)  Do I not already know God’s way to walk in truth? Let me recount the way I already know:

(1) The greatest commandment is to love God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength.

(2) I cannot come to God except through the blood of Christ.

(3) I cannot serve two masters. Either I will hate one and love the other or I will do the reverse.  I cannot love both at the same time; it is not acceptable to God.  He will not share His place in my life with anyone or anything else.

(4) God has declared that I am His child.

(5) God has gifted me with His  ever-dweIling Holy Spirit.

(6) God’s Holy Spirit will guide me into all truth.

(7) God’s Holy Spirit has sanctified me wholly.

Verses 12&13 say exactly what my heart is feeling–I will love and serve the Lord  forever!  The chief reason for this is in response to what He’s done for me. He has faithfully loved me. And He has  rescued my soul from spending an eternity in death!!!  I join the psalmist in what he felt, ”give me an undivided heart” that I may fear and serve the Lord. 

This idea of an undivided heart is not the result of an action on my part. An undivided heart can only result from God’s work. Only God’s Holy Spirit sanctifies. And that is exactly what  I’ve been talking about. An undivided heart- one that is totally set on the things of God- is the result of entire sanctification. Now, the question must be asked, “am I living the truth that I know?”  What evidence can I point to that shows I am  living out God’s truth?

Father, as I go about today’s activities please show me the evidence that proves that I am living in the Truth. If there is any part of my life that doesn’t measure up to Your standards please show me. Stop me in my tracks and make me painfully aware of the truth.  And then, help me to lean on You as I make the changes to bring my life back in line with Your truth.

Posted by: Pastor Bob Sugden | June 30, 2010

Of the Best Laid Plans…Addendum

Well, I finished the planter box.  The rain (drizzle) continued throughout the day.  The serendipitous part of the experience was that I didn’t have to contend with mosquitos buzzing around me while I worked.  What a blessing!

God knew best what I needed to get the job done.  What appeared to me to be an obstacle in the path was actually my Heavenly Father’s means of providing a blessing while I worked.  If I had chosen to not work on the planter box, I never would have realized how He was reaching out to me in love.  Thanks, Dad!!!!

Oh, what fools we mortals be.

Soli Gloria Deo!!!!

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