Thoughts on life, leadership and the movement called the church by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New Bible Study Resource

The internet has truly changed our culture. The ability to obtain information and connect with other people seems almost limitless, thanks in large part to the web of connectivity provided with a computer and a modem.
Though there are obvious challenges with some inappropriate or unacceptable content widely available online, it's very exciting to note the way that individuals and even church organizations are utilizing the positive opportunities available through technology.
Recently, the folks at LifeChurch launched a site called YouVersion. It's designed to be a combination bible/journal/study guide/community forum - and, wow, is it cool! Type in a bible verse and read it in a variety of diferent versions and commentaries provided by other folks around the video messages that refer specifically to that passage...journal your own thoughts about what you've read...
If you're still searching for a way to dig more deeply into what God is saying to you, and if you like utilizing technology, check out YouVersion (just click here). At the very least, praise God for what's happening for HIS glory!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Upcoming Series

Our next teaching series will focus on families, and so we're wondering:

What are some of your best family memories?

What means the most to you about your family?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Next Step

Following Jesus is an ongoing process. Are you ready to take the Next Step?

PCC offers Next Step as part of our iD program; it's a seven-week course designed for those who have taken PCC 101 and now find themselves ready to look further into what it means to incorporate faith into their lives. Here’s what others said about their Next Step experience:

“I was so excited to see this class was starting! It was
exactly what I needed as a new Christian!”

“Explained a lot of unanswered questions.”

“I learned a lot and enjoyed meeting others from

“Helped me worship God and read the Bible daily.”

Interested in taking the Next Step? Classes begin this Sunday, April 27, 5:15 – 6:45 at Powhatan Elementary School. There are still a few openings in this class. You can sign up here or through the church website.

Questions? Contact for more information.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Brian's message today centered on the impact of our words on other people. It was a riveting message, with powerful scripture flowing throughout.

The base text was Ephesians 4.29-32. Brian taught from the NIV today, but here's that same verse, paraphrased from The Message:

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth.
Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted.
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk.
Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

Brian challenged us today, and we walked out with the words 'tell me something good' ringing in our ears. So - how are you doing? Did the message stick with you today? Did you ask someone about how your words felt to them? Were you compelled to go to someone to help mend a broken relationship?

God speaks to us so that we might be changed, that our lives would be transformed. Today, we were told that our entire community could be changed if we would all commit taking greater care with our words - if we talked to one another in order to build up and encourage.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

God Story #2 - What A Year A Difference Makes

Here is Copeland Lanzillotti's God Story...

April 28th will be one year since God turned my world upside down! This is a copy of a letter I sent to my family last May.

Let me tell you what happened. They say the Lord works in mysterious ways..well, not always. Around the end of February I decided I wanted to get to know my pastor better so I asked him to meet me for lunch. After our meeting I knew that God wanted me to do something. Well, a few weeks went by and things for me seemed to be getting harder personally. I knew that Satan was panicking because he could see me pulling away so he was throwing a lot at me. I decided to get more involved in church and decided I would try to cut out some things that I knew I shouldn't be doing...well, easier said than done.

On Friday the 27th of April I was on my way home from work and decided I needed to have a long talk with God. Basically, what I said was, I have been trying for years to do what I know I am supposed to do and I have prayed a thousand prayers for help and for forgiveness and I can't change my ways. Let me say that I have had some heart to heart talks with God before and always felt better and that I would go forward from that day and really change.....well, it didn't work. Don't get me wrong - some things changed for a while, and I know now he heard me; it just was working in his time, not mine. So anyway, this prayer was mostly the same except I asked for something. Basically I said I need a push, a sign - something. I think in retrospect I was asking for proof.

The next morning I got up and my neighbor called asking if I could give him a hand digging holes for his new horse pen. I jumped on the four wheeler with my son Luke and took off. We had dug all the holes and were down to the last one. We had been using a tractor with an auger on the back and I was guiding the auger with my hands to make sure the holes were straight. This hole was almost finished when BAM - I got shocked. Now, we have all been shocked before and I know what it feels like. This was more like I just got hit by a linebacker at full speed; the power traveled through my right arm across my chest and out my left arm (which was holding a steel digging bar) and back into the ground. I will spare all the details and get to the point: the line was a 14,400 volt primary power line for our power grid. It killed power to about 30 homes, blew a 1-1/2" power cable apart and burnt the bottom of the steel auger....but didn't harm a hair on my head. I have since talked to power company people and doctors who say that this just does not happen. Typically that many amps will stop your heart immediately and the voltage...well, it cooks you. By that I mean you become a welding rod. Long story short - you die and it ain't pretty.

So since that day God has changed me. I have been able to put away the things I have struggled with. I still struggle with some things but this time I am winning daily instead of falling down every hour or minute of the day; now I stumble sometimes often through the day sometimes only once or twice a day and sometimes I fall right on my face but the point is with God I have beaten these demons and they have left me! Sure, I see them around and sometimes they get a grip on me but when I feel that grip tighten instead of me "tapping out" and giving in, Jesus steps in and I am able to pick that evil up and slam it flat on the ground... and walk away! I know I will always have this fight but it gets easier and easier by the day.

I will tell you all and anyone who gives me a chance that GOD IS REAL.
He is and has been always there and is in my corner 1,000 % and He is in your corner too, but... you have to throw the towel in and admit defeat before He will step in and show you how to win. He is my rock and my stronghold, and nothing - I mean nothing - can stand in his way. If you read this and feel that funny feeling in your stomach and up your spine, that's Him.... and if you could see the look on the devil's face as you read this, it's the same look he had when Jesus stood up and walked out of that tomb. I believe it would be a look of fear and anguish because he knows that he has lost again. I want to stand in front of God's throne on judgment day and look down the line and see your smiling face because you and I know that we are getting ready to go home.

Today is April 17th 2008: This letter was written almost a year ago today. Wow - what a year a difference in my faith has made, what a year God has made! Has it been all fuzzy and happy? Not even close, but joyful and eye opening - absolutely!!!! Have the demons left me alone? Well, not exactly. You see, the enemy spends all the years that he has control over you and weaves a web. Through God's mercy and his strength I am still climbing through that web. The longer we stay away from God, the more ammo we give the enemy. And he will use it when we least expect it but I will say that with God that ammo has a bite....a painfull bite... but it is only temporary. He will run out and I will still be here protected by God and fully healed! I still have a lifetime of learning but one thing is sure - God will restore the broken years to us. AMEN!

Psalms 86:13 For great is thy mercy toward me, for thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

God Story #1

Brandee Shafer emailed me in response to our request for your 'God Stories' and answered prayers. Here is her story:

Let me tell you a story! Jimmy (my husband) went to Atlanta for training at the tail end of February. I had keys to our new house and wanted to move as much as possible while he was gone. I had these visions of his returning and being unbelievably proud of me, absolutely stunned at what I'd accomplished.

I loaded the back of my truck the afternoon Jim flew south, and my son Cade and I drove over to the new house. But I couldn't get the door unlocked! My keys wouldn't turn the deadbolt! I tried to get in until my fingers were red and sore. I punched Jim's number into my cell phone, but he was still on the plane. I tried my friend David's number, but he didn't answer. I called my ex-husband; he was cooking chicken and said he'd try to help in a little while. I called my friend Rachel. She said, "I'll send Scott (her husband) over."

Now, Scott is a manly man. He's one of those guys who works outside all the time, and I believed him when he looked at me and said, "I'll get you in. No problem." But, 45 minutes later, the door was still locked tight. He shook his head and said, "I don't think you're getting in this house without a different key. I thought sure if I pulled or pushed the door a certain way, I'd be able to get you in, but I can't. If Jim calls with a trick, I'll be more than happy to come back over and try again."

I called Alice the realtor. She offered to drive out, but I assured her that--if she didn't have a trick for unlocking the door--she would just be wasting gas. I called my ex-husband and told him not to rush through his dinner; I promised him that, if Scott couldn't get in the house with my keys, no one could. Defeated, Cade and I drove back to the old house and waited for Jim to call.

It started to get dark, and I was afraid the items in the back of my truck would get wet. I looked at Cade and said, "Honey, let's go back over to the new house and put this stuff in the shed. Mommy doesn't want it to get wet, and I don't see the sense of bringing it back into the old house."

Parked in the circular driveway at the new house, I said, "Cade, before we carry this stuff into the shed, Mommy is going to try to unlock the door one more time. But, before I do, let's pray." Cade agreed and bowed his little head, and I prayed aloud that God would help us get into the house. I climbed the porch steps and put my key into the lock. I leaned into the door (no harder than I had fifty times earlier that day), swung open.

Just like that, the door was open!

Cade jumped up and down and said, "I knew it, Mommy! I knew God would open the door if we asked for His help!"

And I thought...what a merciful, splendid Father to take time out of His busy day to open a door for my little boy and me! Then I thought, how wonderful: for the rest of my life, I will be able to look at Cade and say, "But son, we know God is capable of opening doors that men can't open."


Monday, April 14, 2008

Take The Challenge

In Sunday's message, Brian challenged us to commit to 30 days of consecutive prayer. Are you in?

Leave a comment here to share and encourage one another. Do you have a story of answered prayer? Let us know!

The journals available at the resource table are great tools to jump start a commitment to prayer. If you don't want to wait until next Sunday, contact the church office to pick up your journal during the week.

Prayer changes things.

God changes lives.

Can't wait to see what He will do!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Youth Fundraising

PCC youth go on a summer mission trip every year, and this summer will undoubtedly provide another week of awesome experiences with God and with others. This year, the Senior High Youth will participate in a World Changers project in Cherokee, North Carolina; all youth have an opportunity to attend a Passways Youth Camp in July. Both are certain to be life-changing experiences. If you are a teen or a parent of a teen who might like more information about either trip, I hope you'll investigate the opportunity to participate!

As a church, we are doing our best to support the youth and their adult sponsors in this endeavor. Because the camps are not inexpensive, several fundraising opportunities are available - and, in spite of the rain, today's activities proved to be profitable and fun!

Several people gathered at Brusters here in Powhatan for a combination car wash/ice cream sale. Cars were washed and ice cream was eaten, and a good time was had by all!

The next opportunity for a car wash/ice cream combo will be at the end of this month. Mark your calendars for April 26th! There are other ways you can participate as well; this year, we have set up special fundraising accounts for all of the students. You can make a donation to the general fund, and it will be equally dispersed to all participants - or you can make a special donation to a specific individual. We will also establish a general scholarship fund. This is a great way to support and encourage PCC youth as they invest their time and resources to make a difference in the world, in the name of Jesus.

Interested? Contact Angie Frame or the church office...

AND - you can get your car washed and eat some ice cream! Chauncey and Chris Starkey - two happy customers!

These ice cream dippers look confident!

These ones? not so much.....

Every time a waffle cone doesn't come out quite right, somebody gets to eat it....yum!

Can I wash your car? Can I? Please?

We thought the CARS were supposed to get washed....

Jackie does a great job getting things organized!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

How much should I let my teenager explore faith questions?

How much freedom should I give my teen to explore faith questions?
by Angie Frame

This is one of my primary goals as a youth pastor. While this makes most parents nervous, it really excites me! When junior high students come into our ministry from churched backgrounds, they come with their parents’ faith. When students exit our ministry into young adulthood, I hope they’ve begun the process of making their faith their own. I aim to provide safe environments for students to question and explore their beliefs, so that when they enter the adult world, they will be at least somewhat prepared.

Young adulthood is when many of us figure out who we are. We are confronted with a variety of lifestyles, choices, ideas, and beliefs, especially on college campuses. We have the freedom to become who we want to be, often apart from the daily presence of our families or home churches. If we have learned in adolescence that it’s okay to examine our faith, then we can better traverse the freedoms and choices of adulthood. We can stand more securely when we are confronted with new questions and challenges.

It’s no accident that this process often happens in youth ministry. Until at least age 11, we are developmentally incapable of the cognitive (brain) processes required for making our faith our own. Beginning as early as age 11, our brains can work differently—they can explore hypothetical situations; they can see multiple sides to an issue; they can imagine ideal circumstances.

If you’re a parent of a teen, then you might recognize some of the signs that your teenager is moving into the stage of cognitive development called “formal operations”:
The person can evaluate a person’s behavior verses their stated principles.
The person can imagine ideal parents, families, schools, and churches, so they become critical of the real parents, families, schools, and churches in their lives.
The person can imagine ideal circumstances and becomes interested in political and social causes.
The person recognizes that others have different beliefs and ideas from their own.
The person analyzes their own beliefs, ideas, and attitudes.

I said above that our brains can begin working differently as early as age 11. However, some people live their entire lives without ever growing into this stage of development. Some people cannot see other sides of issues. Some do not let themselves question their beliefs, and thus hinder their own brain development. Some cannot engage in healthy dialogue with people who hold different beliefs.

So, whether we’re 11 or 45, how can we move into the highest level of brain development known as “formal operations”?
We can dialogue with people whose beliefs are vastly or slightly different from ours.
We can take the opposing side in an argument or play “devil’s advocate” in a conversation.
We can present two sides of an issue without revealing our own prejudice.
We can listen to preachers and read authors with whom we disagree.
*This growth can only happen through interaction with others. Small groups, whether for youth or adults, are ideal settings for these interactions!

Parents, model this kind of thinking about your faith with your kids once they reach age 11. When they are exposed to different beliefs, whether nuances of Christianity or different religions, engage your kids in conversation, being careful not to mandate that they agree with you. Allow them to examine their faith now, while you still have the influence of a daily, tangible presence in their lives.

*This information about cognitive development comes from Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget.