In this third installment of the "Masterpiece" series, Pastor Nate discusses the two commandments centered specifically around family; honor thy father & mother and do not covet your neighbor's wife. Just as you would seek specialized help to restore a precious piece of art and frame it for all to see upon entering your house, you should treat your family as the same; a masterpiece. More and more couples are deciding to get divorced, even late into life, and many couples with children are deciding to cohabit & forgo marriage altogether. However, God designed marriage as a lasting bond, so much so that he even equated Jesus' love for the church to that of a bridgeroom for his bride. Make your family a masterpiece by showing them the same care you would a precious masterpiece; spare no expense trying to restore it.
In this second week of the "Masterpiece" series, Pastor Nathan Gagne reflects on his own experiences as a father as well as bringing in the experiences of experts in both the fields of children & faith. Famous missionary David Livingstone penned in his memoirs that his greatest regret from his missionary days is losing time with his children. Current experts in children's health state parents should spend at least ten minutes per day with their child. Ten minutes a day may not seem like a lot, but it goes a long way in forging a relationship. Just as God will not know you when the time comes if you have not had a relationship with Him, you may lose out on relationships with grandchildren & future family gatherings if you are not invested in your relationships with your family. Even the greatest works of art, true masterpieces, often took many attempts & countless hours to create. There were revisions & mistakes along the way, but the trick is never giving up.
Pastor Nathan Gagne relates some of our commitments to the struggles in our lives to that of Japanese Lieutenant Hiroo Onoda who refused to believe WWII had ended & continued to wreak havoc in the Philippines jungle until a former superior officer was brought in to order him to surrender. Onoda fought a war which had been over for 30 years due to his unwillingness to believe the papers or those who encountered him. At times, we can be like Onoda; missing out on the truth because we are holding on to our past way of life. Jesus came to earth to surrender himself in order that we could be set free from the wars we fight. We can either choose to accept His word that the war is over and we can walk in freedom, or we can be like Onoda, clinging to our old ways and fighting a war we've already been released from.
In this final installment of the "Influence" series, Pastor Nathan Gagne discusses how a small, seemingly insignificant thing such as a seed can change the world as things were with Norman Borlaug whose drought-resistant seed engineered in the mid-twentieth century is still helping to feed indigent populations in drought-stricken areas worldwide. No matter how small our influence & contribution seems, God can use it to change the world if only we're willing to use it.
In the second week of the "Influence" series, Pastor Nathan Gagne compares the church Jesus calls us to be in Matthew 5, the salt & the light, to the other types of churches we sometimes find; the freeze-dried church (afraid of the world/letting anyone else in), the blender church (conformity is their goal), the anchovy church (attempting to make other churches look bad), etc. Restoration Church is in no way a perfect place, but the goal is to help Just One More person follow Jesus & along with that comes caring for our community & embracing those in all walks of life.
In the first installment of the "Influence" series, Pastor Andrew Zemianek uses the story of Joseph who went from favored son to slave to prisoner to second in command over all Egypt to illustrate the impact of influence in the lives of those around you. Even as Joseph found himself in worse & worse positions, he continued to show his character which influenced others to respect & promote him to areas of authority. The same can be said for us as Christians; we must remember the power our influence has over the eternal decisions of others. Whether or not your friends & family decide to believe in Jesus can have something to do with your attitude toward life & how you interact with others. Just as misery loves company, most people steer clear of things that appear to have a negative impact. If someone goes to church but is the meanest, least cheerful person on the block, they are likely to influence others away rather than toward Jesus. Conversely, if someone goes to church and displays the fruit of the Spirit (peace, joy, gentleness, kindness, self-control, etc.) they are more likely to influence others toward Jesus.
In this standalone message, Pastor Nathan Gagne reiterates Restoration Church's vision for 2017; Grow. Pastor Nate highlights some of the ways the church grew in the past year; locations, attendance, giving, salvations, baptisms. The vision for 2018 is revealed in a sweet surprise; whoopie pies for all, one for each person in service & one to give to a friend. In this way, Pastor Nate gave everyone in service the opportunity to help influence someone toward Jesus in a simple, quirky, memorable way. Who doesn't love whoopie pies? Who doesn't find it easier to approach someone when they're not empty-handed? There is nothing special about the whoopie pie itself, or the time or place it's given, but there could be something special about the moment; it could be the moment someone decides to consider Jesus.
In the final installment of the "This Year Will Be Different" series, Pastor Nathan Gagne reiterates King Solomon's warning against a 4th people group, the scoffers. A scoffer is a person whose general aim is to distract from, discredit or demean a teaching, thought-process or ideal. Pastor Nate still vividly remembers his own encounter as a 7 year-old with scoffers in a church service. The scoffer's main danger is the influence they can have over those without a strong focus. Although Pastor Nate continued to follow God following this encounter, there might have been others drawn off by the boisterous shouts of those scoffers. He reiterates another point with a more recent story of two brothers at a recent summer camp. The older brother refused to participate & went as far as openly mocking the services and his younger brother followed suit. Pastor Nate was shocked to hear from their grandfather that the younger brother often talked with him in curiosity about God. However, due to the scoffing influence in his life, his actions did not reflect the true desires of his heart. Throughout this series, Pastor Nate has reiterated that "you must allow your character to influence your circumstances" instead of the other way around. This is the downfall of others where the scoffer is concerned but could be his uplifting if others being using their character to change the circumstances.
In the third installment of the "This Year Will Be Different" series, Pastor Nathan Gagne reads from Proverbs regarding King Solomon's warnings about the seductress. Contrary to popular belief, God does not spurn sexual desire but created it as an integral part of a healthy marriage relationship. Where we get ourselves into trouble is when we pursue images, accounts and experiences outside of what God intended.
In this second installment of the "This Year Will Be Different" series, Pastor Nathan Gagne continues to read from the book of Proverbs in which King Solomon (often considered one of the wisest men ever to have lived) warns against four types of people. Last week Pastor Nate examined passages regarding the foolish, this week he examines those regarding the sluggard (a biblical word for lazy person). Solomon warned that those who do not work do not eat & that laziness often leads to poverty. Additionally, throughout other parts of the bible, there are illustrations given of those who do nothing with what they are given who in turn are not trusted with as much again. Those who exhibit the character traits of the sluggard inherit the characteristic circumstances; little is entrusted to them, they often lack what they need, they often go hungry/without. Learning to change your character takes a lot of work, but allowing your character to impact your circumstances rather than the other way around will be beneficial in the long-run.
In this first week of the "This Year Will Be Different" series, Pastor Nathan Gagne examines the writings of Solomon in the book of Proverbs. In Proverbs chapter 9, Solomon compares the virtues wisdom & folly; one leading to added years of life, one to an expedited death. Following up on the "Stories" series, Pastor Nate shares from his own life in that this year, the wisdom he is practicing is to scale back on travel, being more strategic about work engagements, so he may spend more time with his family. It's important to acknowledge what steps you hope to take in this new year & whether they reflect wisdom or folly.
In this final week of the "Stories" series, Pastor John Sorice speaks about some of the things that shook up his life in 2017 & how God is directing him into 2018. After being called to step down from two of his ministries and losing his daughter to her long-term battle with cancer, he found himself a bit listless coming into the end of this year. However, God shared with him to continue loving in mercy, walking humbly with God, serving others, praying for a humble heart & praising God no matter what the circumstances are. It is far easier to become bitter when your life seems not to pan out as you planned, but if you relinquish yourself to God's plan, you'll grow in ways you never thought possible.
In this Christmas Eve service, Pastor Nathan Gagne brings us the eighth week of the "Stories" series; sharing about his experiences with a New England tradition, Yankee Swap (White Elephant in other parts of the country). In this game, each participant brings a gift & draws a number; each participant picks in order of their number & can trade for any other unwrapped gift after they've chosen a gift to unwrap. The person with the #1 is in the best position, because although they get to open first, they get to trade last once everything has been unwrapped. Pastor Nate equates Jesus' sacrifice on the cross to the best Yankee Swap, because He traded His sinless, perfect life for our blame-filled, imperfect lives.
In the seventh week of the "Stories" series, Pastor Nathan Gagne reads from Matthew 17 in which Jesus tells Simon Peter he will find a coin in the mouth of the first fish he pulls from the Sea of Galilee to give to the tax collector. Pastor Nate uses this story along with one from his own life about financial struggles during the winter following the birth of his first son to illustrate Jesus' knowledge of things beyond our understanding & seemingly unorthodox methods for blessing use. When we find we are lacking for things in our lives, it is usually a problem of obedience on our part rather than resources on God's.
In the sixth installment of the "Stories" series, Pastor Nathan Gagne shares from his family's story of almost losing their wife & mother due to postpartum complications following the birth of the fourth son whom God had spoken to Pastor Nate to have. He relates this life interruption to the story of Jesus' immaculate conception. Mary was confused as to why God would have this plan for her, especially a plan which would cause much social turmoil for an unmarried woman of that time & culture, however she was confident that God's plan was greater than hers. It was due to this faith that she was able to watch her son be crucified three decades later as the culmination of the plan that started with her. Faith is believing that although it may not seem it in the moment, His plans are greater than our own.
In the fifth week of the "Stories" series, Pastor Andrew Zemianek shares a photo of the actor playing Jesus in the musical "Jesus Christ, Superstar". The lyrics of one of the feature songs from the show begs the question, "Do you think you're what they say you are?". Although the musical isn't an accurate depiction of Jesus' life, this line can be seen in the book of Matthew in which Jesus asks the disciples who they think He is? Although they knew Him to be the son of man, He swore them to secrecy at that time, knowing that He would need to go to the cross humiliated & brought low in order to take away the sins of the world. Jesus would like us to question who we think He is because in allowing ourselves to question, we open ourselves up for Him to reveal Himself to us.
In the fourth week of the "Stories" series, Pastor Andrew Zemianek puts a spotlight on the main reason behind the story of the woman at the well. Jesus' offer of living water was so appealing to her because she was tired of coming to the well by herself due to her reputation which caused her to be cast out by the others in her community. Through this story, Jesus shows not only His knowledge of our pasts, which He could not have were He not the true son of God, but His willingness to associate with us in spite of them. Jesus not only gave her hope, but He gave her a testimony to bring to the rest of her community. This story exemplifies the true heart of Jesus which is to give us hope & a future; dwelling in your past only keeps you from helping to influence someone else's future.
In the third week of the "Stories" series, Pastor Nathan Gagne speaks about the origin of baptism. Even Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist as a show of His faith & dedication to living for His father. Baptism is a step taken to outwardly acknowledge & profess Jesus as one's Lord & Savior; it's a commitment to try to live by example for those who might not know His love & forgiveness. Although it may seem like a far off biblical principle, baptism is still practiced today throughout the world. This point was accentuated by the sharing of testimonies of those being baptized at the conclusion of this (live) message.
In the second week of the "Stories" series, Pastor Nathan Gagne shares from Luke 8 in which Jesus calms the raging storm. The disciples knew Jesus' miracles but they didn't realize the true depth of His power. Jesus responded by asking them where their faith was. Part of the reason Jesus does miracles isn't simply to help the blind or lame, but to show us that walking with Him opens up more possibilities than we can imagine.
In the first week of the "Stories" series, Pastor Nathan Gagne begins sharing the stories of Jesus as many have an image of Jesus without any context. We have all likely seen countless pictures of Jesus, but do they tell us about His character? Through the stories in the bible recounting Jesus' life, we begin to see the content of His character. Jesus turns no one away & is friend to the friendless; exemplified by the passage in Luke 7 in which He admonishes the Pharises for believing a prostitute's sins are worse than theirs. None of us are guiltless, but Jesus allows us to come, no matter our sin or reputation.