Category Archives: Bridge Church

THIS IS CHURCH: Obedient Hearts Coming Together

Highlights from Bridge Church’s study on the book of Acts

thisischurch1This Fall, our church has been tracking with the first Christians in the book of Acts. The book of Acts tells the story of how an average sized church of 120 changed the world through the power of God’s spirit and their obedience to Him. You can hear the series here or by subscribing to our podcast on Itunes. Here’s a few highlights from the past 8 weeks: 

  • A church will be Biblical, when the lives of the people in the church are Biblical & their lives line up with the practices & commands of Jesus Christ.
  • THIS IS CHURCH: OBEDIENT HEARTS COMING TOGETHER BACKED BY THE POWER OF GOD.
  • One of the greatest enemies of life on mission is HURRY. What possibilities might life hold if we slowed down rather than stepping on the gas? What dangers might depths of relationships born over long talks with friends save us from? What strength is missing in my life because of lack of time spent sitting quietly with God & His Word? What opportunities to witness to & serve others fly by me as I hurry to the next big thing? Ministry, growth & maturity, depth of relationships happen in the neutral ground & at the intersections of life. Not at 70 miles per hour.
  • The question is not, are you being discipled? but by who or what? Are we being discipled by our screen time & social media, or by Christ & His people?
  • The early church prayed 10 days & preached 5 minutes & 3,000 people came to know Christ. Today we do the opposite & get the opposite result.
  • The confused, scared people in the upper room, became an unstoppable army of witnesses that spread across the world sharing the message of Christ.
  • The Holy Spirit is not a tool for our satisfaction or to puff us up with how great we are or to make us feel better about ourselves. His purpose is to empower us for God’s mission.
  • If you say, I’m not experiencing the Spirit’s power – What mission are you on? Have you stepped out of your comfort zone to tell others about Christ lately? Have you took a risky stand for Christ at work?
  • We are saved to be sent. We’re washed to be witnesses.
  • If I’m believing & looking to be obedient, walking with God. I’ll not lack for opportunity to be a witness.
  • Christianity is not a lone ranger affair. To grow, to be obedient, to be on mission, you must be in relationship with others.
  • The Holy Spirit will change your priority from personal comfort & safety to selflessness & sacrifice.
  • Purpose leads to SELFLESSNESS! We begin to realize that my gifts, my resources, my time is NOT MINE! And it’s NOT ABOUT ME!
  • when God gives you purpose, He also gives you the means to accomplish that purpose. GET THIS: It’s HIS WORK through You!
  • God’s purpose & the needs of others trumps personal comfort & even safety for those who have aligned their lives with God’s purpose.
  • Generosity is not something God wants FROM you, but something God wants FOR you. God doesn’t need your money, He wants your heart.
  • It’s dangerous to focus on what we appear to be, instead of what we actually are.
  • Preoccupation with appearances is a root that will lead to deception, depression, and possibly disaster. Our preoccupation should be on approval from God. On allowing His grace to shape in us a Godly character. On obeying Him carefully & one step at a time.

We’ll return to this series in 2017, and pick up with the life of Paul the Apostle. November will be Bridge On Mission month. We’ll look at our mission to the least, to the nations, to the next generation, and to our neighbors. In December, we’ll look fresh at the Christmas story in a series called Looking for ADVENTure. If you are in West St. Tammany and you don’t have a church you attend, gather and grow with Bridge Church, 10:30am at the Maritime Museum in Madisonville.

The Riches of Relationships

This month, Bridge Church has been in a series called How to Be Rich. We’ve talked about how the Gospel enriches, Generosity enriches, & this weekend, about how RELATIONSHIPS enrich our lives. How do Relationships Make us Rich? Here are 4 Biblical ways:

1. Two are Better than One

Eccl 4:9-10 – Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.

If you’ve ever needed someone than you know the value of relationships. If you’ve ever gone through tragedy, needed to move, or just needed someone to talk to, you know the truth that two are better than one.

Do I have someone in my life that could lift me up when I fall?

Many people wait until they fall, then they start calling. I  “I’ve called everybody & nobody will help me!” If you get involved in a church or group & walk with people, they’ll see you falling & try to help.

The storms of life are never in the forecast, it’s not a matter of IF you’ll need others, it’s WHEN. Get involved. Serve, share, give & be made rich through people that will be there when you need them.

2. Success comes through the Wisdom of Others

Proverbs 15:22 – Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Proverbs 11:14 – Without guidance, people fall, but with many counselors there is deliverance.

Proverbs 24:6 – you should wage war with sound guidance– victory comes with many counselors.

We need the advice & wisdom that others have to offer. We need a circle of friends to bounce our crazy ideas off of. Our hearts are deceptive (Jeremiah 17:9). Inside our minds & hearts everything can sound perfectly normal & rational. But when it has to pass through our lips for others to hear, the lights come on. And then they can share other ways of understanding the situation or their facial expressions may tell you all you need to know.

Who do you have in your life that you can call & say: “I want to run something by you. Tell me if I’m crazy. Tell me if this sounds dumb. What would you do in this situation?”

Who do you have in your life right now that you are bouncing your hearts opinions off of? Who can tell you that you’re crazy & you not get offended?

We could avoid a lot of foolish actions, just by having a circle of friends that we’re regularly talking to about what’s going on in our lives. Other people’s advice & opinions can make us rich.

Deeper than that may be a circle that we’re accountable to:

3. Relationships EXPOSE US. Our Hearts Need Exposure

Our hearts are deceptive (Jeremiah 17:9) & there’s nothing like relationships to draw our sin & deception out & expose it for what it is. Deeper than just advice & counsel, we need people in our lives that can say to us – YOU’RE WRONG! You need to repent! And let me pray for you right now!

James 5:16 says, “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”

These relationships are most often built over time, slowly walking with one another, getting to know one another’s weaknesses & triggers & developing trust so that friction doesn’t cause division but healing.

Do you have these kinds of relationships in your life right now? If so, THAN YOU ARE A RICH RICH PERSON!

Now, this is also the reason many people RUN from relationships. So this is the BEST & WORST thing about relationships. They EXPOSE US.  It’s why only about 2% of the population are involved in a small group right now. Our hearts FEAR exposure. It’s unnatural for us to expose ourselves & trust others. Committing to these kind of relationships force us to deal with our fear, resentments, & sin in a healthy way.

Great poverty of spirit may come at times because of relationships – as I have to acknowledge that I’m weak & wrong – but RICH wisdom & life change will be the reward.

4. Jesus Promises His Presence to those who pursue relationships in His name

Matthew 18:20 –  “where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there among them.”

The least common denominator in Christianity is small groups of people gathered around an open Bible. Gathered around God’s will & His Word.

Who wouldn’t want this? To be have others who will be there for us. Great counselors & advisors. People that help us keep our hearts clean. AND THE PROMISE THAT GOD HIMSELF IS PRESENT! That’s the riches of relationships.

Unless we’re proud, satisfied by our sin, comforted by our resentments, fearful of the change that God might bring. At that point, the wisdom of others & presence of God will be the last thing we desire in our lives.

The riches of relationships START with HUMILITY. Admitting our need of God. Admitting our need of others.

This is UNNATURAL, what I’ve described this morning. It is! It’s SUPERNATURAL. This is the kind of relationships that a relationship with Christ empowers us to have.

Praying that you find the Riches of Relationships.Where do I start?

  • Humble yourself & admit your need. All good things in the Christian life start with humility.
  • Join a Small Group Bible Study at a local church.
  • Ask someone you trust to mentor & hold you accountable.

Get the audio from this & other messages from Bridge Church HERE. Join us Sunday’s at 10:30am at the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum in Madisonville.

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Swells: Lessons from the Psalms on Surviving Life’s Ups and Downs

swellsBridge Church tackled the book of Psalms in our summer series called Swells. We covered 8 major themes in Psalms including: Worship, the Word of God, Dealing with Difficult People, Dealing with Discouragement. Get the audio from this series HERE or by subscribing to our Podcast on Itunes. Here are a few highlights:

  • Two truths that stand out in the Psalms: God is bigger than anything I face & God is with me no matter where I am or what I’m going through.
  • Psalms reminds us that it’s OK to have lows in life. It’s actually NOT a sin to be discouraged or depressed. The very best of folks in this life, do. It IS a sin to go to the wrong place to heal discouragement & depression.
  • Our faith in God, not the surface waves of life ultimately define us.
  • There are only three kinds of people in life. People who are in the midst of a storm. People who just came out of a storm. People who are about to go through a storm.
  • there is POWER in the Word of God. We’re not just reading a good self-help book, we’re connecting with the Living God, through the means he chose to reveal himself to us.
  • When waves come, you need resources. And the earth’s resources will not be enough! You need strength inside. Strength from heaven.
  • John Bunyan said it well: “This Book (the Bible) will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this Book.”
  • D.L. Moody said, “The only way to keep a broken vessel full is by keeping the faucet turned on.” Keeping the faucet of God’s Word running repeatedly through your mind will clear out the garbage and keep you pure.
  • It’s OK to FEEL FRUSTRATED & FEARFUL. As long as you take those frustrations to the right place. We often think – “I shouldn’t have these feelings.” But feelings are a part of the journey toward experiencing God. We don’t waller in our feelings. That’s called sulking & doesn’t accomplish much. David kept moving, took his feelings to God, & expected God to do something about it.
  • If you’ve ever realized how badly you needed grace, you’re more likely to extend it to others.
  • People & our feelings will let us down. But God will be a shelter.
  • We can’t always say that bad things happen in our life are the consequences of sin, but sometimes they are. You will know. Sometimes bad things happen b/c we live in a bad world. Sometimes bad things happen b/c of other people’s bad decisions. Sometimes it’s just the natural outworkings of foolish decision making. Sometimes it may be discipline from God. God disciplines those he loves.
  • There’s great freedom in living a life of integrity & character, powered by God’s son.
  • Becoming a Christian is not an insurance policy from bad things. It IS an insurance policy against purposeless, meaningless life. We can be assured, that even the bad things that we can’t figure out are a part of God’s plan. And we can cry out to God for deliverance & be assured of His presence & that He will answer us.
  • Results of Trusting God should be greater courage, greater confidence, victory over fear, risk taking for God’s kingdom & for the sake of lost people!
  • Some of us never experience God’s protection, b/c we’re so focused on providing for our own safety & comfort. We learn to trust God outside of our comfort zone. “God doesn’t give you more that you can handle.” No! God always gives you more than you can handle, so that you can learn to trust him.
  • There’s never a place that worship should not break out in our hearts & minds. We should always be in awe of him. We should always be coming back to the truth – HE IS WITH ME! HE IS BIGGER THAN THIS!

Dealing with Difficult People

“God, knock the teeth out of their mouths.” Psalm 58:6

My first time, to preach on what is called the Imprecatory Psalms this weekend at Bridge Church. Imprecatory Psalms are those that invoke judgment, calamity, or curses, upon one’s enemies or those perceived as the enemies of God. They offer us an opportunity to see how people after God’s own heart deal with difficult relationships.

How do we deal with Difficult Relationships? How did David handle difficult relationships? 

1. Take your frustration to God. Psalm 58:6, Psalm 69:19-24, Psalm 109:1-9, Psalm 55:1-8, 12-14, 22. It’s OK  to feel frustration. Take it to God. Don’t allow your feelings to be your refuge. Only God can be our refuge.

2. Trust God to do what is best. Psalm 11:4-7, Psalm 52:1-5, Psalm 144:5-8. Don’t take vengeance. David actually extended grace to his enemies. Why? He knew his need of grace as a fallible leader & father. Be quick to extend grace. You’ll need some one day yourself. 

3. Allow difficult relationships to remind you of your need of God. Psalm 57:1-3, Psalm 62:5-8, Psalm 71:12-15. David allowed his enemies to drive him to deeper trust in & dependence upon God. 

People & our feelings will let us down. God alone can be our refuge.

Join Bridge Church this Summer as we study through Psalms in a series called Swells. 10:30am at the Maritime Museum in Madisonville.

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Fruitfulness = Character and Capacity

“the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world–just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it”

Colossians 1:6

Fruitfulness is the result of the gospel’s work in people & the church. Jesus desires fruitfulness from his people (John 15:16). How do you define fruitfulness? Two words come to mind: Character and Capacity.

1. Character – Jesus’ work in our lives is inside out. From within he hones & shapes our character to bear the fruits of godliness. Galatians 5:22-23 lists some of these – “love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, self-control.”

2. Capacity – This speaks to our desire & ability to bring others into the kingdom. When we cut open a fruit or vegetable, we’re reminded that God placed the ability to make more into every living thing. Every living thing is a package of seeds designed to produce more. Our capacity may be different based upon our personal giftedness, soil conditions around us, & our own obedience, but Jesus’ work in us, should produce in us a desire & ability to share the Gospel with others.

Fruitful Christians grow in character & capacity. Show Jesus by the fruit of a godly life & share Jesus with others to grow the kingdom.

Bridge Church is currently studying the New Testament book of Colossians in a series called Focus. We meet on Sunday mornings, 10:30am at the Maritime Museum in Madisonville. Join us this Sunday as we talk about expanding our personal capacity for fruitfulness.

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Do I HAVE TO go to church? No, I GET TO go to church!!!

Church is sometimes billed as boring, out of step with real life, or something in the way of so many other awesome opportunities that come our way on the weekend. The question we sometime ask as kids, but that can stay with us into adulthood, “Church? Do I HAAVVVVEE to?”

If we really understood God’s view of church & His purpose for it, we would change it from a HAVE TO, to a GET TO. Here’s some of the things  we GET TO experience through connecting with a church, that make it worth it.

1. I GET TO experience God at work.

Whenever believers get together, Jesus promised to show up as well  (Matthew 18:20). And He promised His power would be active through the work of the church (Matthew 16:18). In Christian relationships, we see him at work in the lives of others as we hear & see God working in their lives. We also experience God at work using us as we step out & use our gifts in ministry in the church.

2. I GET TO pool my resources together with others for God’s purposes.

From the very beginning we see churches demonstrating radical generosity to meet each others needs & the needs of the world (Acts 2:41-47). Paul, who started many of the first churches in the Asia Minor, taught the churches to set aside money on the first day of the week to be given for God’s purposes (1 Corinthians 16:2). He taught that giving was to be done regularly, sacrificially, & cheerfully (2 Corinthians 8-9). Giving is not just about meeting the needs of the church. It is an act of worship, reflecting back to God how great He is worth to us, & declaring that our faith is in Him. But I do get excited about giving to my church as I think about how my giving, pooled with others, will make a great difference in our world.

Pooling my resources is also, not just about money, but gifts & abilities. In church, we pool our God given spiritual gifts, passion, abilities, & experiences for the good of each other & the world. The kingdom & church grows by each one contributing their part (Ephesians 4:16).

3. I GET TO die to my sin & selfishness.

Christian relationships are to be marked by selflessness & sacrifice (John 13:34-35; Matthew 20:28; Philippians 2:3-4). In relationships, I’m always seeing how selfish I am. Seeing my selfishness & the selfishness of others, is actually a great opportunity for growth! Some of us see it & change. Some of us see it & vow not to change. Some of us see it, & unfortunately run away. Yep. Relationships at church can be hard. People can be difficult. Differing personalities, beliefs, upbringings, preferences can collide & create sparks. But I’ve learned that if I embrace the sparks & not runaway when I’m confronted with sin & selfishness in me & others, then we are all sharpened & changed & transformed into what God desires for me to be.

Lane, do you mean, God wanted relationships to be hard. Proverbs 27:17 says it like this, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Iron sharpening iron is a messy process. But necessary for a tool or blade to be at its greatest strength. Same is true for us in regard to relationships. We will be at our greatest strength when we are sharpened by relationships with others. Relationships where I can humble give & receive love & correction & encouragement & teaching, etc., etc.

These are three things I GET TO DO as I commit to a church. There are more. Like I didn’t even mention the coffee & donuts. If you’re not a part of a church, let me encourage you to jump in. Commit to a relationship with God. Commit to relationships with imperfect people you’ll find there. Commit to change as your confronted with sin & selfishness. You won’t regret it.

You can join my church if your in West St. Tammany Parish. We meet each Sunday, 10:30am at the Maritime Museum in Madisonville. We’re finishing a series on relationships this Sunday called Let the Sparks Fly. Come early for coffee!

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Outcome Didn’t Matter, Faithfulness Did

Throughout the scriptures, we see God calling his followers to live a life of sentness. Stability, social comfort, relational control, safety, success, respect, or clarity were not expected. People had to go purely out of obedience, a personal sense of calling, in faith, and simply because they loved God. Outcome didn’t matter; faithfulness did.

~ TK Primer

Making our 3rd trek with a small group through the Tangible Kingdom Primer. Great guide to living a sent life.

 

How to Be Satisfied By Church

If you ask people about their church today, you might get a “BUT.”

  • “The music is great, BUT…”
  • “The pastor’s teaching is good, but…”
  • “I like my Sunday School, class, BUT…”

A lot of dissatisfaction out there about church. A product of our consumer culture I guess. We’re taught to critique anything we buy & we know we have other choices if we’re not satisfied. Unfortunately, that’s what church has become, simply another service vying for our time & attention & in our culture, we have choices!

Well, I’m not trying to sell you anything, but I believe that you can be SATISFIED by YOUR CHURCH or any Biblically sound church with some attitude changes. Here’s three Biblical attitudes that will bring much satisfaction to your life at church:

1. “My church is incomplete without me.”

See yourself as a part of the whole body, & the church as incomplete without you. See Ephesians 4:7 & 1 Corinthians 12:8-12.

he has given each one of us a special gift[a] through the generosity of Christ.

And 1 Corinthians 12:12

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

2. “I’m a player, not a spectator.”

Be a player, not a spectator. We’re actually all playing for an audience of one. Our leaders are there, not to entertain us, but to EQUIP US FOR THE WORK OF THE MINISTRY. See Ephesians 4:11-12

Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church

3. “What can I give today?”

Don’t focus on what you can “get out of it.” It’s not what you “get out of it” but what you give to others that makes you & the church grow AND (watch this) determines if you GET SOMETHING out of it or not. See Ephesians 4:16.

He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work

In the Old Testament book of Exodus – chapter 18, Moses found himself leading a very large group of dissatisfied people. They had many needs & they looked to Moses to meet them all. Moses’ father-in-law came to town & gave Moses a different plan. Empower the people to use their gifts & abilities to solve the problems of the community. And I love what he told Moses about this plan in Exodus 18:23.

“If you do this, and God so directs you, you will be able to endure, and also all these people will be able to go home SATISFIED.”

When we all come together TO GIVE of what God’s given us, take OWNERSHIP of the mission, & drop the “but’s” no matter where you are, we’ll get the most out of our experience in & with the body of Christ.

Learn more about Getting something out of church by grabbing the audio for last weeks message at Bridge Church in Madisonville where we talked about the On Ramp of Ministry & Mission as a vital component of our Spiritual Growth.

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On Ramps to Spiritual Growth: Building Catalytic Relationships

BCNS_ORamp_SlideGod wants you to grow in 2016. Bridge Church is tackling some of the best On Ramps to Spiritual Growth & Transformation this month. First was the on ramp of Understanding the Gospel & God’s Will. Second, was the On Ramp of Personal Devotional Habits. This week, we covered the On Ramp of Building Catalytic Relationships. Check out the talk given by Evan McGinty at yesterday’s Bridge gathering HERE or on Itunes. Here’s a few big ideas from the message:

  • A catalyst is something that increases the rate of change. Relationships serve as great catalyst for personal & spiritual growth.
  • God desires for us to have relationships with wise people with lots of God-experiences – “Those who walk with the wise become wise” Proverbs 13:20.
  • Wise people have a lot of experience with God that their eager to share. They’re not afraid to challenge you & they make you more like Christ.
  • Walking is SLOW & INTENTIONAL. Walking takes time. God commends long term relationships, not just a quick fix.
  • Reading books pale in comparison to walking slowly through life with friends. Following people on Facebook is no comparison to engaging relationships. Walking side by side with people in relationships is far better than following them from afar.
  • Walking with the wise requires:
    1. Exchanging pride for humility. Pride is the #1 enemy of catalytic relationships.
    2. Exposing your weaknesses. Relationships sharpen us, which means we expose the dull edges to others so that they can help us knock them off.
    3. Making time for slow walking in committed relationships. Is there room in my life for walking with & getting to know people deeply?
    4. Taking risk & putting yourself out there. Relationships are risk & reward. Risk difficult conversations. Risk being vulnerable about your weakness. Reward – personal & spiritual growth.

When people have grown spiritually & matured, they can usually look back & say, “_____ helped me grow spiritually.” They point to deep relationships with people that took time, challenged them, & helped them grow closer to God.

Do you have these kind of relationships in your life? Are you looking to be catalytic in the lives of others?

Join Bridge Church next week for the final On Ramp. 10:30am at the Maritime Museum in Madisonville.

On Ramp to Spiritual Growth: Understand God’s Will

God wants you to grow! And He’s provided everything necessary for you to grow! However, there are obstacles. Just like merging onto a freeway, many times we’re hesitant, things get in the way, we’re lazy, or fearful. One of the on ramps for me personally, was when began to understand what God is doing in the world. What is God’s will? is a frequently asked question. When I saw that God’s will was not difficult or hard to understand, my desire for spiritual growth increased. Here are three words that have helped me understand God’s will:

1. Relationship – The God of the Universe wants a relationship with you. And He went to great lengths to make that a possibility. Jesus showed his desire to have a relationship with us by giving His very life. See John 3:16. The growing Christian will see their life through the lens of this relationship God through Christ.

2. Identity – Christianity is not about what you do, it’s about who you are. Or really, WHOSE you are. God shapes our identity through our relationship with Him. As we relate to Him & draw closer to Him, we become identified with his character & his mission in the world.

3. Eternity – God made us for more than this life. Eternal life starts when we place our faith & trust in Christ, not when we die. One meaning of the word eternal is TIMELESS. Salvation makes us timeless. And this reminds us that God has more in mind for us than just the 60-80 years that we may live on this earth. We’re made for eternity. We are also saved & sent to help others understand & get ready to face eternity.

What helps you understand God’s will?

This month Bridge Church in Madisonville is talking about On Ramps to Spiritual Growth & Transformation. Join us Sunday’s, 10:30am at the Maritime Museum in Madisonville.

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