Sons of Issachar

In 1 Chronicles 12, it reveals how the tribes of Israel were offering their allegiance to David.  As the number of men and their skills were described, the characteristics that marked the tribe of Issachar were: “They understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” (v.32).   As our nation struggles to face the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is critical that, as church leaders, we pray for wisdom so that we too can understand the times and know what the church should do.  Rather than just trying to survive and function in a virtual world, we need to embrace our calling to demonstrate and communicate the gospel to our broken and fearful world.  We have a tremendous opportunity to show the world the grace, mercy, love and power of our great God.  In these dark times, let our gospel shine! – Dr. Gary Mathes

The Power of the Gospel

Recently, at my church, I enjoyed watching several people give testimony of their faith in Jesus through baptism.  As each shared their story it reminded me of what I truly believe – the gospel is still just as powerful as it has ever been and will always remain as such.  When Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Rom. 1:16), he knew where the ability to truly transform a person comes from.  My prayer is that the gospel will not only be unleashed through its proclamation in each of our pulpits, but that it will also be unleashed in our lives and speech each day.  It’s not in our abilities that lives will be changed, but in the gospel message we are privileged to share so that other may believe and be transformed.  – Dr. Gary Mathes

Midwest Leadership Summit

Last week I attended the Midwest Leadership Conference in Springfield, IL with a few of our pastors. Like many conferences you go to, there are a few key statements you take away. One was, “Growing churches dream dreams, stagnant churches solve problems.” It is a good reminder that focus determines direction. What we set our eyes on determines our destination. If it is inward, often it is problems, if it is outward, more than likely it is a vision to fulfill. When Jesus said, “I will build my church,” he had a dream that he calls us to participate in. It was a dream that no problem, even as big as the gates of Hades, would prevent it from being accomplished. So as faithful followers may we focus on His mission, and help accomplish His purpose, trusting that He will equip and enable us to fulfill His will. Let’s keep our eyes on the author and finisher of our faith! – Dr. Gary Mathes

Throw Out Your Skinny Jeans, But Keep Your Coffee Cup

Recently, I have been reading a lot regarding how churches can reach all generations. It has been my observation that many churches in particular struggling to reach the younger generations.  As a result some churches have attempted to become “cooler’ in their approach hoping it will draw young people to their services, but often times it can come across simply being disingenuous, if not uncomfortable.  The title of an article I came across speaks volumes, “Millennials Don’t Need Hipper Pastors, They Need a Bigger God.”  Simply put, younger people are looking for what is real and authentic and are open to honest dialogue.  They are not drawn to an awkwardly produced version of our faith for the purpose of cultural relevancy. However, they do gravitate towards a faith that is clear, and honestly addresses the candid questions of genuine seekers.  They are drawn to a real faith in a real Jesus.   So, throw out your skinny jeans, but keep your coffee cup, and sit down with and have an authentic gospel conversation with some young folks.  You may be surprised how they will respond.  By the way, they know where the good coffee is.   -Dr. Gary Mathes

Tis The Season

I have to admit that Christmas is one of my most favorite time of the year.  I enjoy the decorations, lights, music, food and the fellowships.  But of course, the most precious part of Christmas is focusing on the reason for the season – the advent of the divine who took on flesh and dwelt among us; the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Indeed, Jesus brings joy to the world because he has fulfilled the eternal plan to redeem his people from their sin.  Thank you CPBA for shining the greatest light in our dark and broken world by sharing the gospel message and reminding our respective communities of the glorious truth of the Christ of Christmas. -Dr. Gary Mathes