Category Archives: Devotional

What Does it Look Like to Walk by Faith?

Hebrews 11 is called the Faith Hall of Fame, describing some of the great heroes of Old Testament faith and their walk with God. I love these 8 descriptors of their lives, picked out of Hebrews 11. They answer the question, “what does walking by faith look like?”

  • “he went out, not knowing where he was going” – 8
  • “He considered God to be able” – 19
  • “they didn’t fear the King’s edict” – 23
  • “chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the short-lived pleasure of sin” – 25
  • “his attention was on the reward” – 26
  • “he persevered as one who sees Him who is invisible” – 27
  • “as though they were on dry land” – 29
  • “gained strength after being weak” – 34

This chapter and these descriptors remind me that the Christian life is about trusting God above anything else, believing in God when it seems irrational to do so, and placing hope not in today’s reward but the one to come.

These descriptors shaped into Questions for Reflection:

  1. Am I willing to take risk and be made uncomfortable because of what I believe about God?
  2. Do I believe God is able to do the impossible?
  3. Does the edicts and opinions of this world have more sway over me than God’s desires?
  4. Am I living for short term pleasure and comfort or for God’s best reward for faithfulness?
  5. Do I really believe the greater reward for the life of faith is to come? or am I expecting my reward today?
  6. Can I persevere though I can’t see the end? though I can’t hear God’s audible voice?
  7. Am I experiencing God’s power to do the impossible sometimes?
  8. Is my faith and belief in God’s power enough to give me strength when I’m weak?

What Do You See?

How we see people is a good test of our heart for God and the Gospel. Do we see people as objects of His love and opportunities for us to show His love? Do we see their spiritual needs? Do we see potential or problems?

Gregg Matte in Unstoppable Gospel: Living Out the World-Changing Vision of Jesus’ First Followers, his great book on the book of Acts, gives three categories of people in our everyday lives and how we see them:

1. SCENERY. Passersby. Shoppers ahead of us in line. People in our way. People who are scenery are not really seen as souls in need of Christ.

2. MACHINERY. People that are necessary to us. Clerks, waitresses, attendants. We may see them as just nuts and bolts. The focus is on what we need from them, not who they are or what they need from us.

3. MINISTRY. No person should be just scenery or machinery. People are God’s creation whom He desires a relationship with. Every interactions should be seen as divinely appointed opportunities to minister to them and deliver the gospel to their thirsty souls.

How big are these categories in your life? How will you see the people you intersect with today?

What if you just WENT FOR IT?

  • What if you didn’t hesitate?
  • What if you lived with no regrets?
  • What if you quit putting it off?
  • What if you quit goofing off?
  • What if you just WENT FOR IT?
  • What if you forgot the odds and the limits and all the reason why you can’t?
  • What’s the biggest obstacle between you and IT, i.e. what you know you should be doing?
  • What’s keeping you from putting everything into life?
  • What would IT be?
  • What if you quit worrying about what might happen?
  • What if you quit worrying about what others might think?
  • What if you believed IT was possible?

So lets:

  • Make that call.
  • Fill out that application.
  • Set that appointment.
  • Join that group.
  • Download that plan.
  • Quit that addiction.
  • Change the attitude.
  • Turn off that TV.
  • Write that email.

JUST GO FOR IT!

“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men” Colossians 3:23. 

EVERYDAY

Leadership Axiom: It’s not what you do today, it’s what you do everyday that makes a difference. And what we do everyday, over and over again shapes us more than we know. What’s on your list of EVERYDAY priorities?

1. Hit my knees in prayer.

Prayer is a profession of our faith & dependence upon God. Nothing more important than the relationship born on our knees as believers.

2. Connect with a truth from God’s word.

God speaks to us through His word. Why would I refuse to hear from God? Opening the Bible must be a daily practice.

3. Kiss my wife.

Not a difficult discipline. I never want to take for granted the incredible gift God has given me in my beautiful, virtuous wife. And thankfully, one of her love languages is physical touch, so win-win.

4. Share the Gospel with someone.

Billy Graham said it takes 20 conversations before someone gives their lives to Christ. I want to be faithful to move people along toward that life changing decisions.

5. Spend eye to eye, face to face time with my kids.

Kids spell love T.I.M.E. I want to let them know they’re at the top of my priorities. Eye to eye, face to face moments have to be fought for with the flurry of distractions we face. But it’s worth it! Always want to ask, “Did they see my eyes today?”

6. One another a member of my church.

At least 44 “one another” verses in the New Testament – serve, pray, encourage, love, honor, etc., etc. Practicing the one another’s keeps us focused on the needs of others & helps people & our church grow. Great list HERE.

7. Encourage a church planter.

Having planted three churches I know the loneliness, the discouragement, the isolation that planters can face. I also know the fuel that a little bit of encouragement can add to a leaders life. I want to be a daily encourager of those on the front lines through church planting.

8. Read at least one chapter of a book.

Harry Truman said, “All leaders are readers.” Reading is a discipline that must be prioritized. My goal is to read at least one chapter of a book everyday. With 365 days in a year, that means I’ll probably read around 30 books every year. That’s a good goal & a lot of learning.

9. Exercise.

Better rest, greater stamina, longer life. Lots of benefits to exercise. 20-30 minutes everyday is a must.

10. Watch the sunset.

I’m fortunate to live in a place with incredible sunsets. Never want to take that for granted. If it’s at all possible, I’ll fight for time gazing at the artistry of our Father revealing Himself to us through color & clouds.

What would you add to this list of EVERYDAY activities?

img_6314

Sunset at the Madisonville Lighthouse.

It’s What We do

Love these attitudes toward affliction for the Christ follower that Paul lays out in 2 Corinthians 4-5:

“We do not give up…”

2 Corinthians 4:16. I might would give up, if this life was the end of the story. But much more awaits the faithful. This is only the first mile.

“We do not focus on what is seen…”

2 Corinthians 4:18. My faith in God is not determined by what I see.

“we walk by faith…”

2 Corinthians 5:7. Whatever happens, I know that God is not finished yet. My faith is in Him, not in comfort.

“we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him.”

2 Corinthians 5:9. Making self happy is never the goal of the Christian life. Our purpose & pleasure is tied up in His glory & His pleasure.

So…

  • I will not give up.
  • I will not focus on what I see around me.
  • I will put my faith in God.
  • I will purpose to please God.

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.

howtoberich_2-1

Church = Relevant Biblical Community

  • RELEVANT- Speaking the local language & to the local needs
  • BIBLICAL – Impacting souls through the message about Jesus Christ
  • COMMUNITY – Connecting real people to God & others through Jesus Christ.

missional-church-21A local church speaks God’s Word in the local language & to local needs in a way that impacts souls & connects real people to God & each other through Jesus Christ.

Church Planting 101

by the Apostle Paul

In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, the Apostle Paul gives five keys to church planting filed under Church Planting 101:

  1. Church Planting = “announcing the testimony of God” to others (vs. 1)

  2. Church Planting DOES NOT include impressing people with human wisdom or persuasiveness (vs. 1)

  3. To plant a church forget everything EXCEPT “Jesus Christ & Him crucified” (vs. 2). Love the Message Paraphrase – “first Jesus & who he is; then Jesus & what he did”

  4. If you’re planting a church expect to feel inadequate, afraid, very afraid (vs. 3)

  5. To plant a church, don’t rely on your ability but on God’s Spirit & power. (vs. 4-5)

Keep these five close by for greater fruitfulness & lesser frustration in church planting.

design

Our Reactions = Rats in the Cellar

What do my REACTIONS say about me? and about what’s in my heart? A lot! I love C.S. Lewis’ notes on our reactions being like rats in the cellar.

what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is… what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth. If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding.

what we are matters even more that what we do… what we do matters chiefly as evidence of what we are.

C.S. Lewis, from Mere Christianity

My reactions to insults, interruptions, corrections, questions from people I have hidden angst against. My snapping at my spouse or kids or coworkers. These reveal what’s really in my heart. I can excuse it, call it an exception, blame it on my ancestors, but ultimately its pointing to something that’s amiss in my life. Christ’s work in our hearts produces “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). These do not always automatically appear in our lives. They’re born out of being convicted of our sin and going to God for help.

Ask: What are my reactions saying about what I am? Ask Jesus, to reveal and replace for his glory.

Lewis finished this thought with a reminder of our need for God:

the change which I most need to undergo is a change that my own direct, voluntary effort cannot bring about… After the first few steps in the Christian life we realise that everything which really needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God.

CSLewis

When It Comes to Character, Make No Exceptions

“David had lived an exemplary life before God all his days… (EXCEPT for that time with Uriah the Hittite)”

1 Kings 15:5 MSG.

David with Uriah’s wife. Pic from the History Channel’s Bible Miniseries. 

An “EXCEPT” in relation to your character could change the course of history for your family. David made an exception in his mission, by not going out to battle with his armies (2 Samuel 11:1). He made an exception in his obedience to God, by sleeping with another man’s wife, then having that man (Uriah the Hittite) killed to protect his own image (2 Samuel 11-12). The result was death, brokenness, & pain for David’s family, along with the curse of division & war in David’s family line forever (2 Samuel 12:10). Make no mistake, the “EXCEPT” in parentheses in David’s life was devastating. And it would be devastating for you & I as well. Make no exceptions in your relation to your character & put no parenthetical “EXCEPT” next to your testimony & family name.

  • What exceptions are you making, considering, or imagining for yourself? (“I don’t have to go to church” ; “It will never happen to me” ; “It’s just this once” “No one will ever find out”) In relationships, spiritual disciplines, habits & beliefs?
  • If there is already an “EXCEPT” in your life, have you repented & allowed God to bring healing? (see Psalm 32 & 51) And how have you moved past the temptation to make sin common & OK in your life?
  • Ask God to help you put a period instead of parenthesis on your testimony forever.

Join Bridge Church this Summer, 10:30am at the Maritime Museum in Madisonville, as we study the Old Testament book of Psalms in a series called Swells. We’ll look at how David & others learned to ride the ups & downs of life, like sin, discouragement, problem people, & more.

swells

%d bloggers like this: