Spring of Living Water

In the fourth chapter of John’s gospel Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well that he would give her water that is such that she would never thirst again.  “The water that I will give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (4:14). 

I grew up in a part of Missouri where springs were all around.  The church I attended as a boy had a spring down the hill from the church house where cold clear water bubbled up from the ground and we freely drank from it.  Jesus said that the water from Jacob’s well never satisfied and people kept coming back over and over.  He used it as a metaphor to express the reality that we are spiritually empty and thirsting for something that only God can fully and completely satisfy.  The grace of God is that through Jesus we are given life giving and soul satisfying water that can never be quenched and are blessed with the sweetness of everlasting refreshment through the Holy Spirit.  The psalmist declared “As a deer pants for water, so my soul longs after you, Oh God.” (42:1). 

I thank the Lord that as the gospel is preached every week in our CPBA churches that people here in the northland can come and drink from the well of Jesus and never thirst again.  

-Dr. Gary Mathes

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The Ultimate Parade

This past week Kansas City threw a parade to celebrate the winner of Super Bowl 57 and NFL World Champions – the KC Chiefs. It was the joyful culmination of all the hard work that the team and coaches had put into this years campaign to be the best among all others. The parade ended with a rally were fans heard speeches and words of celebration from city officials, coaches and players. As a fan I watched it and enjoyed the celebration. I also reflected on how much joy and celebration there will be at the end of the age when the King of kings and Lord of lords returns, defeats every enemy including our ancient foe, Satan. He will rise above all others powers and authorities and culminate what He began before the foundations of the earth were laid – the completion of His kingdom.

While there is some mystery and debate on how it will all play out, the picture we have from the New Testament is that there will be a day when all who call upon Jesus as Lord and Savior, alive or dead, will be raised, transformed and transported in the presence of our Lord and will join with him in a heavenly parade to the New Jerusalem that Jesus has prepared for all who are his. It will come with all the fanfare of trumpets and shouts and praise to our God. And we will join the host of heaven with one voice declaring, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they existed and were created!” That is the ultimate parade and rally I long for and look froward to!

-Dr. Gary Mathes

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What Are You Devoted To?

One of the things that is very obvious in our area – people are devoted fans of the KC Chiefs!  It is exciting days as we approach the Super Bowl this coming Sunday.  Something tells me that many of your folks will being wearing a lot of red as they come to worship.  I’m not afraid to admit that I am a devoted Chiefs fan, but in terms of my supreme devotion I am upmost a committed and passionate follower of Christ.  As such I make it my aim to exceed in my enthusiasm for Jesus more than a football team, and encourage others to do the same.

This past week my thoughts were focused on the early church as Luke describes them in Acts 2:41-47.  He helps us see what is important for us to focus on and be devoted to. “They devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer” (v.42).  When we think about focusing our passion and guarding our heart, this example of the early believers is a good reminder of how to do just that.  Giving our full attention to the teaching of Scripture, making every effort to fulfill the “one another’s” in fellowship with other believers, joyfully spending time to share meals and participate in the Lord’s Supper together, and directing our time and reliance on God through prayer is a recipe for being a devoted disciple and winning church.

So then, what are you devoted to?            

-Dr. Gary Mathes

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Doer or Developer

Are you a Doer or a Developer?

One of the important tasks of leadership is developing others around you. A temptation I have often fallen prey to in my ministry is to take care of things on my own.  It is a “If you want it done right do it yourself” kind of thinking.  However, I began to realize that it creates two deficiencies, One, I’m not leading, I’m simply doing it alone.  I am in the weeds rather than looking above the weeds to see where I need to go and how to get others willing and able to go with me.

a man taking notes in a business meeting

Second, I am denying others the opportunity of being developed to serve and lead, and thus limiting the ability to expand and multiply the ministry potential.  As leaders we can either be doers that diminish the growth of the ministry we lead, or we can be multipliers investing our time in developing others to expand the work and impact.

Today we are experiencing a dearth of leaders being raised up.  We need to “call out the called” and develop the next generation of leaders.  With the mission before us, will you be a doer or a developer?

-Dr. Gary Mathes

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Breakthrough and Change

At a conference this past fall I heard a speaker say, “Not all change leads to breakthroughs, but all breakthroughs require change.”  This principle applies to many areas of our lives.  At the start of a new year when many are resolute about losing weight and getting healthier, it will not happen unless there is a change in patterns of how they live. If they continue to eat snack foods and recline in their sofa, they will not experience a breakthrough.  This principle applies to churches as well.  I know many churches and leaders want different results but fear or fail to make changes that are needed to see breakthroughs happen.  If we are going to see God’s people fully unleashed to carry out the mission we have been entrusted with, it will take some pattern breaking.

As I have said before that the heart of the gospel is change. It is a call to repent, to change direction and focus on faithfully following Christ as Lord.  As Christians, and collectively as churches, we need to always being willing to change if it means being more faithful to follow Jesus.  And when we do, he does a mighty work in us and our congregations.  So, remember, “Not all changes lead to breakthroughs, but all breakthroughs require change.” –

-Dr. Gary Mathes

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New Year

The New Year is here!  It is always an opportunity to evaluate the previous year and look ahead toward the future.  As I look ahead into 2023 I am excited to be part of a network of churches committed to partnering together for the gospel to reach the northland and the nations.   God did some amazing things through our sister churches in 2022 and even added to our fold via a new church plant and churches petitioning us for membership.  Many of our churches regained their strength that was lost during the pandemic in attendance and offerings.  Although I nor anyone can predict what 2023 will bring I believe through the passionate preaching  of the Word and faithful proclamation of the gospel that God will do great things.  I am praying for you, and cheering for all our churches to be filled with the Spirit and focused on making Jesus famous in our neighborhoods and networks.  May the Lord richly bless each one of our CPBA churches and those who lead in 2023!  

– Dr. Gary Mathes

Merry Christmas

In Matthew’s gospel we read of an angel appearing to Joseph who was upset by the news of Mary’s, his betrothed, pregnancy. The angel informs Joseph that the child Mary is carrying has been conceived by the Holy Spirit and this miracle is the fulfillment of the Word of the Lord to the prophet Isaiah, See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.”  (Matt 1:23). God with us – what an amazing thought.  The transcendent becomes immanent. The Infinite became incarnate.  The Invisible becomes visible.  The Eternal becomes encased in time.  The All-Powerful and Ever-present becomes a weak infant wrapped in swaddling clothes in an obscure little village.   Paul declares in his letter to the Colossians, “”He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God… For God was pleased to have His fullness dwell in him.”  And again; For in him the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily. (Col. 1:15, 19 & 2:9). Immanuel means that in the person of Jesus, God, who created the universe and who stands apart from his creation, who has no beginning and no end, has entered into our three-dimensional physical and time-bound world, is present with us, and has come with a mission to accomplish. A mission Paul describes in his letter to the Galatians. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Gal. 4:4-5).  May you experience the wonder and hope that Immanuel brings as you celebrate Christmas this weekend.  Indeed, it is good news of great joy that is for all people… a Savior was born for you, who is the Christ, the Lord! (Luke 2:10-11).  Merry Christmas! 

– Dr. Gary Mathes

GIFT at Christmas

Tis the season that most churches see an increase in attendance.  It has been my observation that often churches will welcome and encourage their guests to let them know who they are and offer a gift as an incentive.  In the “passing on what I have learned department,” let me share another GIFT you can give your guests.  First, give them the gift of a warm Greeting.  Meeting guests at the door or even in the parking lot lets them know you were anticipating their coming and glad they did.   Second, give them the gift of Introducing them to others.  Helping them connect with other people takes their experience of your church from being merely friendly to making friendships.  Third, give them the gift of Follow up.  Taking the initiative to follow up with a contact by e-mail, card or text lets them know you are thinking of them beyond Sunday morning and truly desire their return. Finally, give them the gift of a Thank you.  This can be in the form of a simple thank you gift as they leave your building or a follow up gift card in the mail.  But communicating how you appreciate the step they took to come to your church sends a positive and winsome signal that you care and hope they will come again.   This GIFT idea may seem small, but I can tell you it goes a long way. – Dr. Gary Mathes


I recently took the plunge and signed up with Ancestry DNA.  Growing up I was led to believe that in some way I am related to Johnny Appleseed and Williams Bradford on the Mayflower. I also had family members trace our roots back to Scotland on my father’s side and Germany on my mother’s side.  I hope to see if any of that is true or not. So far, I have traced back 5 generations to a David Mathes from Warren, Tennessee.   As we approach the celebration of Jesus’ birth it is interesting how the gospel writers approach his beginnings.  Mark jumps in with the beginning of Jesus’ ministry with no mention of heritage.  Luke gives us the angle’s announcement to Mary and the Bethlehem journey. John takes us back to the very beginning of beginnings – the time before Creation.  It is Matthew who begins his gospel with Jesus’ earthly linage going back 42 generations to Abraham. (To be fair Luke includes it too, going back to Adam).  It has been a rare occasion that you hear all the “begets” in sermonic form this time of year, although it does happen.  Roots matter.  Heritage is important.  And for the gospel writers, led by the Holy Spirit, it was important to the Lord to make sure that Jesus’ heritage is on display for the world to see.  His linage back to King David was of great significance since God had promised David that his kingly linage would never end.  Matthew includes notable non-Jewish women Rahab and Ruth, as well as those with unethical choices like Tamar and Bathsheba.   Humanly speaking, Jesus’s heritage was filled with sinners, but he was without sin.  The wonder of the incarnation is that His divine and holy heritage was not corrupted, but due to the miraculous virgin conception he remained perfect while being born into an imperfect world with an imperfect human heritage. Being truly God and truly man he is able to identify with our weakness and provide the way to be made righteous and able to stand in His grace before a holy God.  I am thankful for my heritage.  I am more thankful for the One who came and redeems us of all our past and provides us a new heritage in God’s family. – Dr. Gary Mathes


As we come once again to the Thanksgiving holiday, I am reminded of what the apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the believers in Thessalonica, “Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (5:18). It is important to notice that Paul doesn’t say be thankful for everything, but in everything.  That is the secret!  Paul is not telling us to be happy when we are sad, or to even put on a façade of contentment when we are disappointed.   What he saying is don’t forget everything you have and have been blessed with in life just because you lack, or are disappointed, or going through a season of suffering.  He is not saying be thankful for the painful or unpleasant experience you are presently going through, but in the midst of it, be thankful.  Being thankful requires us having a long view of life that stretches to both past and future.  Paul is calling on us to be thankful for what you do have and remember God is good and has a plan for your life.  In essence, being thankful is about trust. This is what we see with the Pilgrims who came to America in 1620.   Escaping persecution, they left their homeland and took a huge risk making a hard voyage on a little ship and failed to reach their original destination.  They ended up in a strange land facing a bitter winter where they experienced the grief of losing half their congregation.  They faced the fear of hostile natives.  But because of their faith and the providence of God, they celebrated one year later a 3-day feast giving thanks to God.  One of their members, Edward Winslow, described the feast they enjoyed and shared with the natives.  He concludes And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”  In the midst of hardship and grief, they demonstrated thankfulness and faith.  May we learn the lesson they exemplified.  Thanksgiving – it is therapy for our soul and honoring to our God.

1 Oh come, let us sing to the Lord;

    let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

    let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

3 For the Lord is a great God,

    and a great King above all gods.             – Psalm 95:1-3 

– Dr. Gary Mathes