To Know Them Is 
To Love Them
       by Pastor Paul Brown

"But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work..." (1 Thess. 5:12-13 - NASB95)

At our recent annual business meeting, we affirmed our elders for the 2017-18 fiscal year. It was a joy for me, once again, to see you affirm truly godly men to lead our church into the future. I know I am one of a rare minority of pastors who have experienced a unified elder board every year of my pastorate. After 27 years I am still enjoying ministry with a godly group of men who love the Lord, love one another, love you, and love their ministries. Praise God!
We have often looked at the responsibility of elders (pray, study God's Word, shepherd, teach, guide, counsel, protect, admonish, lead, discipline, etc.), but today I want to challenge you to consider your role in the lives of these precious men. Hebrews 13:17 exhorts us to, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you." Doing this will make their ministry much more joyful. But I know the elders of this church and they don't just want to be joyful, they want to have a relationship with you.
That's what the passage in 1 Thess. 5:12-13 is all about. It is a challenge to all of us to appreciate our elders and esteem them highly in love. What does that mean? How do we carry out this request of the Apostle Paul?
 Appreciate could literally be translated, "to see, perceive, know, or recognize..." It refers to a personal, relational, complete knowledge of the men who are your overseers. It is often used in the Bible of acknowledging, recognizing their true character, appreciating, and respecting (see 1 Cor. 16:17-18). The implication is we go beyond just knowing their names and the members of their family. We must know them (and their ministry sacrifices) well enough to truly appreciate them and genuinely care about them. Elders WORK HARD! Some are retired (which I'm told is when you really start working hard) and some have fulltime jobs on top of their ministries. They put in long hours to shepherd the flock. They SACRIFICE for you!

Alexander Strauch wrote in his book, "Biblical Eldership," p. 106-107, "Many people say, 'You can't expect men to raise their families, work all day, and provide leadership for the local church.' But that is simply not true. Many people raise families, work, and give hours of time to community service, clubs, or religious institutions. The cults have built up large lay movements that survive almost solely on the volunteer time of its members. We evangelicals are becoming a lazy, soft, pay-for-it-to-be-done group of Christians. It is positively amazing how much people can accomplish when they are motivated to work, when they love something. I've seen people build and remodel houses in their spare time. I've also seen men discipline themselves to gain a phenomenal knowledge of the Scriptures. What joy this brings to God's heart! Furthermore, God's power works through our human limitations and weaknesses. God would not ask men to raise their families, provide their own bread, and lead the household of God if doing so would hurt the church, the men, or their families. And remember the work of eldership is to be shared by a group of men, not done by one person. The real problem, then, is not with men's limited time and energy, but with false ideas about work, Christian living, and especially, Christian ministry."
In addition to appreciating the elders we should esteem them. It is similar to appreciating in the sense of considering, regarding, thinking about, esteeming. But it goes beyond that with the root word "to lead." It calls us to lead our mind through a reasoning process to a conclusion. The more we think about these men and all that they do, the more highly we think of them. To appreciate = to have full knowledge of what they do. To esteem = to dwell on this in your mind until it impacts your heart and causes you to esteem them very highly (beyond all measure; excessively).
How do we do this? In love. When our hearts have been led to appreciate our elders excessively, we will be motivated to perform loving acts of service toward them. Practically speaking, we will thank them, applaud them, encourage them, speak well of them, seek their best, overlook their weaknesses and frailties, invite them out or invite them over for a meal, give them financial support (1 Tim. 5:17), send notes & emails, build friendships, humbly follow them, obey them, value their work, seek their wise counsel, assume the best about their decisions, get involved so they don't have to do everything, and pray for them.
Do you appreciate and esteem your elders? Here are their names: Tom Brukiewa, Eddie Bueno, Ralph Evans, Pat Kearns, Steve Kingery (our newest elder), Randy Leinen, Steve Lively, Cruz Maldonado, Dennis Philpot, Larry Redekopp, Don Rohde, Zach Volker, and Rich Weitzel. Get to know them. Find out about their families, their jobs, and their ministries. Ask them for specific prayer requests. Then find as many ways as you can to bless them excessively. These are truly great men of God and "to know them is to love them."
Worship Through Encouragement
by Pastor Steve Lively

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.' John 7:38 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

This is one of my favorite Scriptures. It reminds us of one of the many benefits we possess as believers in the Savior. Recently I have become aware of one or two practical ways this happens as I read the tiny book of Philemon in the New Testament. A tiny book, yes, but a powerful and liberty-giving message.

In this book, written by the Apostle Paul while he was in a Roman prison, we see the correlation of having "rivers of living water flowing out of" us and how that water can "refresh the hearts of the saints." Paul is appealing to Philemon to forgive one of his slaves, Onesimus, who had run away because he had stolen from his master. He was guilty, fearful, and probably disappointed in himself, as he began to realize how he had violated not only his benevolent employer, but also his good friend. We know of Philemon's kind character because Paul spends v.4-7 to describe his reputation.

Philemon 4-7
4 I thank my God always, making mention of you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; 6 and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake. 7 For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.  (NASB)

Not only was Philemon a good and kind man, but he must have been a mature believer, as he was the leader of, and his house was the meeting place for, the local church there. His family members were also commended by Paul for their mature faith in Christ.

Well, it turns out that while Onesimus was hiding in Rome, somehow (by God's sovereign plan, of course) he met up with Paul and they spent a lot of time together. So much that Paul began to consider him a spiritual son. He treasured Onesimus' friendship and was blessed by how much he had grown in his faith. Now, even though he would have loved for Onesimus to remain with him in Rome, he knew that the right thing to do was to have Onesimus confess his sin to Philemon and restore that relationship, Actually, not to just "shake hands and make up" but Philemon would grant FORGIVENESS  to Onesimus. He said that if Philemon were to do that, it would "refresh my heart in Christ."
Here's what I realized- the way that "rivers of living water" can practically flow out of me is by me seeking ways to "refresh the hearts" of my brothers and sisters in Christ - to find ways to bless them, encourage them and most importantly, to FORGIVE them. Have you ever been stressed out over a strained relationship, avoiding that person because you think they will be angry with you? And then, when you do finally admit face to face that you were wrong and you are sorry, they hug you, say that they love you and that they forgive you? Isn't it like you have been given a glass of ice cold water on a hot day? Don't you feel that a giant weight has been lifted off of your shoulders? This is what it means to refresh someone. Here's a question - Do you want to be the type of person about whom people say "Don't get on their bad side!"? In Christ, we are to have no "bad sides"- bad days occasionally, yes, but not characteristically. We are to love others as Christ does, forgiving 70 x 7 if necessary, just as we have been forgiven in Him. This is what then frees us up to truly experience worship. As the Scripture says, " Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering." Matthew 5:23. Take a moment today to consider if there is someone in your life that you can "give refreshment to" and then do it soon!
Greetings from Bridge Kids
by Xiomara Bueno

We had such a blessed Summer this year in Children's Ministries.

Our 7-week Summer Adventure Program had over 100 kids every week. The children learned about the Greatest Book of All, The Bible.  They had a 7-week Bible Reading Challenge, to read the Gospel of John.  We had a good number of kids complete the challenge and receive a Daily Bread Devotional as their prize.

We had an amazing staff who ministered to the children each week through worship songs, Bible lessons, crafts and games. Our crew leaders were amazing as they walked with the children to their different stations. 

We felt the overwhelming support of our church families. We received donations that enabled us to purchase the Daily Bread devotionals and backpacks. One family donated the Beginners Bible for the little ones and the Jesus DVD for the Elementary kids and we had people who joined in as prayers partners to encourage the children who were doing the Bible Reading Challenge.

We could not have done it without you!  Thank you for you amazing support! (You can see a couple pictures below from our amazing summer!)

As we move into Fall, we begin our Bible Explorers program f or children 3 years of age through 5th grade. The program runs from August 2017 through May 2018.  The cost for the year is $35/1st child, $25/2nd child and $10 for each additional child.

For more information, please call the church office, (818) 776-1500, or visit our Bible Explorers page in our website Bible Explorers

Greetings from Bridge Youth! 

In August, we were wrapping up Summer and preparing for the Fall semester. We had our last beach trip which was the most well attended one all summer.
The last few Wednesdays we've been helping to prepare the students for the semester by going through a short series. We've talked about how to maintain spiritual disciplines and how to share your faith. 
We're excited to jump into our new series this Fall for Sundays and Wednesdays. And we started off this semester with our Fall Kick-off on Aug 30th. There was food, fun, and fellowship and it was great!
Please continue to pray for us, here are some specific ways:
  • That we would gain 1-2 more youth staff volunteers this semester (particularly females)
  • That we would begin to see more new students join our group through outreach events and personal invitations from students.
  • That God would cause spiritual growth among students and leaders.
  • That God would continue to provide strength and wisdom to us as leaders as we continue on in ministry.

Ambassador Bible Fellowship...
Ready to Launch!
by Pastor Thomas Herringshaw

"And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles." (Acts 14:27, ESV)

When Barnabas and Paul returned from their first missionary journey, they reported back to the church at Antioch which had commissioned them to go and spread the gospel in Asia Minor. It is with great joy that I am writing to our TBBF family to declare all that God has done at Ambassador Bible Fellowship here in Meridian, ID.

It is amazing to think back and reflect upon all that God has done in the last 18 months, and especially in the last 11 months that we have been here in Idaho. Since our arrival on October 5, 2016 we have seen God's providential hand at work in so many ways! Our goal when we arrived last Fall was to meet people and gather enough for a mid-week Bible study that would start in January 2017. God jumpstarted that time table by introducing us to three families the day after we arrived. Those three families helped us to unload our two moving trucks and became the first families in our core group as we began to have fellowship nights and social events through the end of the year.

January of this year brought frigid temperatures and large storms that resulted in the most severe winter for this area in the last 125 years. During those weeks, we praised God for His faithful provision of a house, not only to keep us warm but also to host a Sunday morning Bible study and a mid-week small group. While there were some Sundays that we had only 15 people, the Lord slowly added to our number throughout the Winter and Spring months so that we had 44 people on Easter Sunday (April 16). Two days after that, Lincoln Wells Herringshaw was born (that's one way to grow the church!).

As Summer approached we were not sure how we would be able to mainta in the momentum we had built up in the Spring. We knew many of our people would be traveling throughout the Summer months and that was a big concern, yet once again God had other plans. We had 18 visitors in July and in the last week of that month, God opened an opportunity for us to begin meeting at Cole Valley Christian School in downtown Meridian. The visitors have continued to come in August as we have already had 19 visitors this month as we prepare for our launch in just a couple of weeks.

With only a little bit of time left before the launch, there is still much to do, but at the top of our to-do list is, "Praise God for all that He has done to build Ambassador Bible Fellowship!" We now have a core group of 60+ people with many others who will be visiting us for the Launch Service on September 17th. This is not a testimony to our own cleverness or winsomeness, but rather it clearly evidences the Lordship of Christ over His church. He is the one who promised to build His church (Matt. 16:18), and He has been the one to gather His people and knit them together in love to become a church that will represent Him in our community.

We dearly miss our brothers and sisters in Christ at The Bridge Bible Fellowship and Christ Bible Church. We are so thankful for your prayers and we know that God has worked here in Idaho because you have been praying in California! Please continue to pray for God to be glorified in the ministry of Ambassador, at the launch service and beyond as we strive to minister here until the Lord calls us home or Christ returns!

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."
 (2 Cor. 13:14)

© 2016 The Bridge Bible Fellowship
18644 Sherman Way, Reseda, CA 91335
phone: 818.776.1500 | fax: 818.881.0327