Q&A Night is back!

I am so excited to host our first Q&A Night of 2021. I am looking forward to spending some time with you exploring different questions you may have about our faith in God and doctrinal teachings in the church. 
We will be meeting on zoom on February 19th at 7PM. Although I am planning on talking about Angels (their origin and purpose), please feel free to send out any questions you may have ahead of time to donaquerez@gmail.com.
I promise you, it will be a fun and uplifting Bible study. Mark your calendar and plan on joining us Friday night, February 19th at 7PM. 
Grace and Peace,Donny Pierre

THE BEST WAY TO LIVE LIFE

When I started to write this article, I had some specific ideas in mind. However, earlier I was reading this book about love, and I came across 1 Corinthians 13 where the writer was exploring the different characteristics of love. I thought to myself: “I have heard enough lessons on 1 Corinthians 13. I have studied that passage of scripture in French, Creole, English and Greek – I have preached on it several times, taught several Bible classes on it, and read it at several weddings and once at a funeral.” So, my “preacher-self” thought, “What could I possibly learn that I already didn’t know.”
            That was a spirit of arrogance in me, because the next few chapters I read humbled me. Sometimes, it is not about learning something new – it is about being reminded of what we already know but fail to put in practice every now and then. Beloved, I felt compelled to keep on reading, and I feel compelled to write about love and encourage you to spend some time with 1 Corinthians 13 – it will edify your soul. Those of you who are familiar with this passage of Scripture, I beg you not to think it is redundant nor allow the spirit of arrogance to stop you from reading it again and again. Because it is always the right time to talk about love – It is always the right time to love – It is always the right time to be reminded of God’s love.

            To fully appreciate Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13, we need to me mindful of the context and the reason why he wrote this letter (1 Corinthians). Paul was instrumental in the establishment of the Corinthian Church (3:5-17), and he genuinely loved that Church. Over time, people started to fight among themselves within the community, as they dealt with many issues that can be divisive (money, marriage, sex, law, judging people, worship, dress code, role of men and women, spiritual gifts, etc.). Paul spent 12 chapters teaching them on these matters, and at the end of chapter 12 he said, “Let me now show you a way of life that is best of all.” Then Paul introduced his audience to the answer to all their problems, LOVE. Paul started by saying “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
            Basically, Paul wanted them to understand – he wants all of us to understand that we are nothing without love. Whatever we do in life means nothing without love. Whatever we may accomplish in life means nothing without love. Whoever we become in life means nothing without love – unconditional, genuine love. Love is the best way to live life, because it is the one thing that can really binds us all together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3: 14). And the reason why love can bind us together in perfect harmony it is because “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, love does not boast, love is not proud. Love does not dishonor others, love is not selfish, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Love never fails.” These are qualities that we all need in life.

Beloved, the best way to live life, the best way to live together, is “LOVE.”  Everything must stem from our love for God and our love for one another.

I love you all,
Donny Pierre

A PRAYER FROM THE APOSTLE PAUL

After much thought and prayer, I simply selected one of my favorite passages of scripture from the Apostle Paul to share with everyone. It is my prayer lately, that we all can grasp how big and how important God’s love is for us and the world. 

EPHESIANS 3: 7 – 21

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

A Message for the New Year

I remember how excited I was to wish people a “Happy New Year” last year (January 1st, 2020). I remember How many people I talked to, how many people I prayed with and prayed for God’s grace and favor to shower upon them for the new year. However, 2020 did not turn out as most of us expected. Some of us lost loved ones – Some of us were impacted financially – Our fellowship and corporate worship were impacted – We lost our means of compassion and love (no hugs, no handshakes, and no smile).
            However, we remain faithful, hopeful, and more united than ever before, because God still blessed us tremendously as a Church. Yes, all of us have not been able to worship in person due to the pandemic but our fellowship remains strong. From meeting on zoom to phone calls, texts, and facetime, we managed to find a way to stay connected. Yes, we have not been able to see each other and be together physically, but the blood of Jesus keeps bringing us closer together as one Church. Yes, Church seems somewhat different right now, but we literally have families (House Church) worshipping together in their own home every Sunday. We have been blessed to have several people visiting with us online and in-person. Many families in the Waterbury community were blessed because of our wonderful generosity as a Church. More importantly, God blessed us with several new additions to the family: Brianna Montoyo, Tricia Bonenfant, Joe Medford, Brai Williams, Juan Montanaz and Mike Zijeski. Continue to pray for God’s work to be done in the Waterbury Church, “that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ” (Col. 4:3).
            Church, we are a resilient Congregation because of the Grace of God that continuously showers upon us. We cannot stop, we will not stop praising the mighty name of Jesus until the day of His return or when we depart from this life. We may not know what the future holds in 2021, but we know who holds the future in His hands. Therefore, I can confidently wish you again a “Happy New Year” because our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and His righteousness. Brothers and sisters let us get to work because we are victorious soldiers of Christ.

I love you all,
Donny Pierre

Do Not Be Afraid

“Do not be afraid” is an extremely popular command in the Bible – it is mentioned well over one hundred times. It is more popular than the command to “love one another.” Maybe, it is because God knows we have such a high propensity for fear: fear of the unknown – fear of change – fear of death – fear of inadequacy – fear of disappointment – fear of disapproval – fear of losing control. The list goes on. The pandemic, the economy and the political climate have exponentially exposed some of our deepest fears. Frankly, how can many of us not be afraid when a lot of things seem uncertain right now.
               In Matthew 8: 23 – 27, Jesus was travelling with his disciples on a boat across the sea of Galilee when a sudden tempest arose. Jesus was asleep while his disciples were freaking out and they were afraid they were going to die. They woke up Jesus, saying “Lord save us, we are perishing.” Several of these men were experienced fishermen (Matt. 4: 18 – 22); so, they were most likely remarkably familiar with rough seas and storms. For these experienced fishermen to be so afraid that they had to wake up Jesus screaming for help, it must have been one awfully bad storm that was beyond their expertise and ability to handle. When Jesus got up, He responded, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith.” Every time I read this story, I cannot help but think: “Duh, do you not see this tempest our here Jesus? Can you not see what is going on?” The disciples had valid, compelling, and immediate reasons to be afraid, and so do many of us today. Many of us are in these dreadful and unforeseen circumstances that are beyond our ability to handle. And just like the disciples on the boat, we might be asking Jesus “Lord, don’t you care that we are perishing?” Lord, don’t you care that I might lose my home? Lord, don’t you care about my kids not being in school? Lord, don’t you care about my “loved one” being terminally ill? Lord, don’t you care that I am so depressed? Lord, don’t you care that I lost this person that I loved so much? Lord, don’t you care ____________________ (feel free to fill in the blank whatever your frustration, pain, worry or fear might be). We should never be afraid to bring our questions, frustration, pain, and fear to God. Read the book of Job and see for yourselves how many questions Job had for God. However, are we ready for the answer. I believe the answer to this question, Lord, don’t you care, would be: “Why are you afraid?”
                Jesus wanted his disciples to lean into their faith instead of their fear. Also, the disciples have seen with their own eyes all the miracles Jesus had done so far. Therefore, the presence of Jesus Christ in the boat with them was all they needed to weather the storm. Brothers and sisters, when you are afraid, put your trust in God (Psalm 56: 3). When you are afraid, remember God is in the boat with you weathering the storm.

PS. Read Psalm 91 and Pray for God’s providence and protection over your home and the Church family,

I love you all
Grace and Peace
Donny Pierre

BE THANKFUL LIKE A CHILD

My wife and I have been attempting to teach our 3-year-old how to pray. I believe Andre is far ahead in his overall cognitive development, but his vocabulary is somewhat limited when it comes to verbally expressing all his thoughts and desires. Therefore, his prayers are short and sweet. He would usually interlace his fingers, bow his head, sometimes close his eyes, and whisper a few words of gratitude. I can hear both innocence and shyness in his voice, but when I listen attentively, I can also hear brevity. Yeah, that is my son and I am a proud dad, but the short content of his prayers always amazes me.
            We intentionally seek not to put words in his mouth, but we want him to freely express himself by verbalizing whatever his thoughts could be. Andre always expresses nothing but gratitude: gratitude for his parents, his brother, his godparents, grandparents, friends, the ability to play and so on. I know this prayer may sound typical for a 3-year-old, but I cannot help but think how the words spoken in his prayers stem from the content of his little heart – a heart filled with joy, contentment, and gratitude. I am reminded of how Jesus taught his disciples to have a child-like attitude if they want to inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1-5). I want to encourage all of you, despite the pandemic, politics, and whatever hardship you may have been going through, to develop a joyful, content, and grateful heart.
            Paul reminded us that God’s will for us is to be grateful in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:16-18). It is also worth noting there are clinical studies proving that gratitude and kindness can help increase positive emotions and reduce anxiety while fostering a peaceful environment. Being thankful is not only a biblical mandate for disciple of Christ, but it also helps improve our health and overall quality of life. This thanksgiving season, which is going to be unlike previous thanksgivings due to the pandemic, let us improve our relationships and fellowship by showing genuine, child-like gratitude for each other.

I thank God every time I think of all of you (Phil 1:3)
God bless you, and I Love you all
Donny Pierre

YOUR SOUL WILL LIVE ON

In the last 3 months, I have spoken at 5 different funeral services. Each service was different from the other, but the pain and the tears were all the same. Families and friends mourning and attempting to comfort each other over the loss of their loved ones. Although we are all aware of the inevitability of death, it is never easy losing someone you love and care about – no matter when, no matter where, and no matter how that person departs this world. However, most people believe their loved ones are in a “Better Place” after death. People use the term “R.I.P” (rest in peace or power) quite often as they celebrate the life of someone they have lost and mourn their departure from this world. That belief is filled with hope as it empowers people to grieve better, knowing that their deceased loved ones are at peace and in a better place.
            Even among non-believers, there is a fundamental belief that death is not final. Although there maybe sharp disagreements regarding what lies beyond death, phrases like “They are in a better place,” or “Rest in Peace” denotes the idea of some type of belief in the afterlife – a life beyond this metaphysical one, and that is because the soul will live on. We are more than just flesh and blood. In the Bible, Job asked this poignant question: “If someone dies, will they live again?” (Job 14:14). A question that science and logical human reasoning cannot answer. Please, allow me to offer a brief biblical perspective. According to scripture, death happens when the soul departs from the body (Genesis 35:18). The soul is the very essence of man, it is the breath of life that God places inside of us as living beings (Genesis 2:7). When all biological function that sustains human organism permanently cease, the soul returns to its creator (Ecclesiastes 12: 6-7). Everyone understands the human body is nothing but dust and eventually will turn to dust after death, whether through cremation or burial. However, the soul lives on because no one and nothing can destroy it except for God who created it (Matthew 10:28).
            Now, one must ask: “Where does the soul live on?” It saddens me to say, not everyone who dies will be in a “Better Place” or “Resting in Peace.” The soul will live on either in Heaven or in hell. In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus talked about two men who died and were buried but their souls lived on in two different places. One of them was not resting in peace, he was in torments and in agony. Jesus sacrificially offers himself as the only way to know for sure that our soul will rest in peace (John 14:6, Matthew 11: 28-29). Your soul will live on, but where?

HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER SOMETHING IS GOD’S WILL FOR YOU

A couple of weeks, I preached a lesson on “The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ on the Mountaintop.” In that story, we learned how important it is to set aside prayer time and prayer partners who can keep us accountable and encouraged. Jesus often withdrew from the busyness of life with some of his closest friends (Peter, James and John) to pray and express his anguish and how overwhelmed he was (Matt 26: 37 – 38, Luke 9:28). Through prayer and Scripture reading, we get to discover God’s will and purpose for our lives. Jesus always knew God’s will for His life, yet He still took the time to pray asking for the strength to accept God’s will (Luke 22: 40 – 43). Besides prayer, which should always be first and foremost, how can disciples of Christ determine whether something is God’s will for their lives?
          A few people reached out to me asking to share with them the list of 7 questions I presented during that lesson – 7 questions to help us determine whether something/someone is God’s will for our lives. There are many voices out there, including our own sometimes, that may adversely influence the choices we make and how we live our lives. I believe the following questions can help us better determine God’s will for our lives:

  1. Does this promote or hinder my joy in Christ Jesus?
  2. Paul taught us in Philippians 4: 6 – 7 that God’s will for our lives is to be joyful. Therefore, I do not believe that our creator would want us to do something or be part of anything that robs us of our joy of salvation in Christ Jesus
  3. Does it encourage me to be holy or immoral?
  4. The Bible is clear about the importance of holiness in the life of a believer (1 Thess 4:13, Heb. 12:4), and God would never want you involved with immoral things that can compromise your holiness.
  5. Is it going to help me be more grateful and content?
  6. This life can push us to want more and more and never be grateful and content with how blessed we currently are. It is God’s will for us to live grateful and content lives (1 Thess 5:18)
  7. Will it keep me humble or make me more prideful?
  8. Humility is a virtue that God desires for all believers to foster and exhibit in their spiritual journey (Phil 2:3, Ja 4:6). God would not want us to be in a position/situation that makes us arrogant and prideful
  9. Does it help me convey the love of God to my neighbors?
  10. All believers are called to love God and their neighbors. Love must always be at the center of all we do because love is how the world knows we are of God (1 John 4, 1 Cor. 13, john 13: 35)
  11. Does it help me focus on serving others or only myself?
  12. God’s will for us is not to be selfish, but to use our talents and blessings to serve others and the Church (Gal 5:13, Mark 10:45, Matt 25: 14 – 46)
  13. Does it promote or hinder my salvation in Christ Jesus?
  14. God’s ultimate desire for all of us is to be saved. He would never want us involved with anything that could potentially compromise the salvific work of Jesus Christ.
    (1 Timothy 2: 3 – 4, Matt 18:9)

PRACTICAL CHRISTIAN TEACHINGS ROMANS 12: 9 – 21

Romans 12 contains some of the most practical teachings among all of Paul’s letters. The apostle Paul made an urgent plea to his Christian audience: a) to present their bodies as a living sacrifice to God (v. 1 – 2), b) to serve one another in the Church body (v. 3 – 8), and c) to actively love people without hypocrisy (v. 9 – 21). So far, we have talked about the first and second segment of the chapter, today I’d like for us to consider a very important aspect of our Christian lives: Love – pure and undefiled love.
            Love is at the center of everything godly. As a matter of fact, when Jesus was asked; “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” He responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 34 – 40). Paul echoed Jesus’ teachings on love in the thirteenth chapter of Romans: “For he who loves another has fulfilled the law of Christ… love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13: 8, 10). John made it clear that “God is love, and he who does not love does not know God because God is love (1 John 4). In the Old Testament, we learn that God chose the nation of Israel not because they were more numerous than the other nations but because He loved them (Deuteronomy 7:7). Jesus taught his disciples that the world will know who they are ‘If they love one another” (John 13: 34-35). Many are the verses in the Bible that talk about the important and imperative of love in the life of a believer. However, I believe Romans 12: 9 – 21 offers us a deeper and more practical teaching on love other than the teachings of Jesus Christ himself.
            Paul started the pericope with these words: “Let love be without hypocrisy.” Why did Paul have to encourage disciples of Christ to love one another without hypocrisy? Shouldn’t that be expected of the Lord’s Church? Shouldn’t love always be true, pure, and undefiled in the Lord’s Church? (These questions are rhetorical). Love should never have any agendas. Love should always be patient, kind, hopeful, non-provoking, truthful, and real (1 Corinthian 13: 4 – 8). However, many of us may struggle to absolutely love one another as we are supposed to according to Scripture. That is why I said we need to “actively love people.” In 1 John 3: 18, the beloved apostle exhorted his fellow believers to not only love with our words but also with our actions: love must be active, it must come from the heart. Paul explained further what it means to love without hypocrisy. The “Roman” author says that when you love someone you need to be kind to that person and be willing to value their interests as your own. Also, love seeks to be at peace with everyone, as long as it depends on you (verse 18) and it does not seek revenge. Love does not hold any grudges, nor does it keep a record of wrongdoings to remind people of later in a relationship. It is possible for a disciple of Christ to not have a peaceful relationship with everyone where kindness and love are not reciprocated, but you must strive to keep no ill-will for any human being. When you love someone, you need to bless them with your words. The word “bless,” in this context, means to speak well of them and to actively wish them well even when it is not welcomed. If there is anything you can say or do to contribute to their overall well-being and success in life you ought to do it, because that is what love does. These two word “Love Does” are the title of a book written by Bob Goff, and I would strongly recommend it to any disciple of Christ who is striving to understand how love must be actively present in their life, just as much as God must be actively present in their life. After all, God is love (1 John 4), and if God is living in you, love cannot help but be actively present in your day to day interaction with other people around you. Love does not act because of what it is expecting in return, love simply acts.

I love you all,

Donny Pierre

Practial Christian Teachings – Romans 12:3-8

In Romans 12, Paul provides some much-needed practical Christian teachings. The entire chapter can be divided in divided into three segments: a) Being a living sacrifice to God (v 1-2), b) Being of service in the body of Christ (v 3-8), c) How to actively love people without hypocrisy (v 9-21). Last week, we talked about the first segment, today we are going to focus on “Being of service in the body of Christ.”
           In the church today, we often talk about our service to God as our form of corporate worship on Sunday morning. We say things like, “I am going to service,” “How was Sunday morning Service.” To serve God is more than just Sunday morning corporate worship at the building. We also serve God in the way we serve one another as an interdependent community. In verse 3, Paul points out the first requirement to serve God and the body of Christ is humility. Paul says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you should, but rather with sober judgment.” The apostle was addressing the people in the Church who considered themselves better than others because of their wealth or power, because of their talent or education… those who probably feel superior to other members in the Church because they have been Christians longer, or they have a greater knowledge of the Bible… (David Roper, Commentary on Romans). It is important for disciples of Christ to be humble and adapt a Christ-like approach in their service to one another. Jesus himself was able to serve us because he emptied himself and “Made Himself of no reputation by taking the form of a servant” (Phil 2:7). He made Himself of “no reputation” when He washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17). We cannot properly serve one another if we do not value our fellow believers above ourselves and fail to look out for their interests (Phil 2: 3-4). Paul wants us to highly regard the collective interest of the Church body and focus less on self, and that requires humility.
           We are individual members of the same Church body, and each one of us has a talent/gift that we can use to serve one another. In the following verses (6-8), Paul points out a few gifts the Church in Rome could use to serve one another: prophecy, serving, giving, teaching, leading. Beside humility, I think it is important to determine and develop your spiritual gift(s) to serve one another in the Church body. In verse 6, Paul says “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” So, what is your spiritual gift(s) and how are you using it to serve God and the Church body. Whatever your gifts are, you have a responsibility effectively use them to minister to the Church body in order to glorify God (1 Peter 4:11). Peter said in his epistle, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). Now, it is important not to think of spiritual gifts only as some supernatural/divine ability to do specific things in the Church body. Paul clearly pointed out some very practical and yet important things we can do to serve one another. Do you have the gift of teaching? Then you need to do it diligently. Do you have the gift of giving? So, give generously. Do you have the gift of encouraging others? You should do so with all your heart. Do you have the gift of hospitality? Then, be hospitable without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9). Maybe you have the gift of visiting others, caring for the sick, feeding the hungry at the soup kitchen, and so on. Do not ever limit what it is God can do in you and through you, because each one of us has a unique gift that can benefit the Church body. 
           To determine and develop our spiritual gifts, I think it is important to focus on the desires that God places in our heart, which He can confirm through other faithful believers around us. In Phil 2: 13, Paul says “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” God can also use our professional skills/abilities coupled with our life experiences to develop our spiritual gifts and serve one another. In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul was writing about an unfortunate event he experienced in his life, and he believed that God brought him out of it so that he can use that experience to minister to others (2 Cor 1: 3-6). Whatever your spiritual gifts are, let us use them to serve God and the Church body. 

God bless you,
             Donny Pierre