Category Archives: Message Notes

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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The Gospel is Worth Every Effort, For Every Person

“We proclaim Him, warning and teaching EVERYONE with all wisdom, so that we may present EVERYONE mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully in me.”

Colossians 1:28-29 

The Gospel – the news of Jesus’ death, burial, & resurrection that cancels sin & death & brings new life – changes us, so that we can bring change to others. We’re saved – reconciled to God, transformed by His power (Colossians 1:21-22) – to serve by sharing the Gospel (Colossians 1:23). It’s not a habit for most because it takes effort & intentionality. Paul uses the words SUFFERING, STRUGGLE, STRIVING to describe Gospel Servanthood. What makes it worth the Effort?

  1. The Sacrifice & Love of Jesus. The cross tells us that the God of the Universe thought the salvation of others was extremely important to Him. We see that Jesus was willing to go to any length to have a relationship with you & others. He came “to seek & save the lost” & He gave it all, in love, to do it. What’s precious to Him should be precious to us.  
  2. The Cost to Others. If people do not hear & respond to the Gospel, they remain ALIENATED, HOSTILE, SEPARATED FROM GOD (Colossians 1:21). They face all eternity separated from God. Does not making the effort to share the Gospel mean that we are OK with our friends remaining alienated from God & facing eternity unprepared? EVERY PERSON you know, EVERY PERSON you meet will die & face eternity. Hebrews 9:27. Are we concerned for them? 

TBC_FOCUS_FBPostMake the Effort. What will I have to do?

  • Die to Yourself. Drop excuses. Drop fear. Grow in your faith. Make spiritual things a priority over the things of this world. 
  • Learn the Gospel. You can’t share it, if you don’t know it. Get to know the Gospel & figure out how to share it with your network.
  • Pray. Pray for opportunities & boldness to share. Pray for people that you know. Pray for your church’s ministry in the community & to the world. 

Bridge Church is currently studying the book of Colossians in a message series called Focus. Get audio from the series HERE.

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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On Ramps

I live in a growing community where the Interstate – I-12 – basically serves as a service road. That being said, merging onto the Interstate has become quite an adventure over the last few years. We’ve added on ramps & there is a wide diversity of drivers moving about every day. Along with that, there has been some questionable engineering on area bridges & on ramps. All this together means sometimes tying to merge onto or off of the interstate can cause you to get stuck.

Spiritual life is like that as well. Many people today get stuck on or never approach the path to Spiritual Growth. This past Sunday at Bridge Church we drew some parallels to growing spiritually & merging onto the Interstate.

1. Some drivers are just too HESITANT.

They approach the on ramp too slowly, they ride the shoulder. Other drivers are screaming, “ARE YOU GETTING ON OR NOT?”

A lot of people are like this spiritually. They are faithful to church for awhile or every now & then. We like the idea of spiritual growth, but we struggle to make a lasting commitment. Call it being “on the fence.” Jesus called it being LUKEWARM & SICKENING (Revelation 3:16).

2. Some drivers are easily DELAYED.

Something – a crash, debris, etc. – gets in the way.

Spiritually, our past, poor relationships, the opinions of others, sinful habits, lack of discipline, misunderstanding God & His will are some of the things that can get in our way & drastically slow our spiritual development.

3. Some drivers are just plain LAZY.

They avoid the interstate all together, even though its the fastest way, just because its TOO MUCH TROUBLE.

Relationships, commitment, dealing with our selfishness, being challenged to get out of our comfort zone. These are the things that growing spiritually will put you in the middle of. Some people opt out, because it’s not the easiest path.

4. Some drivers are too FEARFUL.

I’ve talked with people in our area, that won’t drive on the Interstate, because they are afraid of WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN.

They might ask me to serve in the nursery. I might be challenged to deal with that pain in the past. I might be disappointed again by a pastor or leader. Commitment is always risky. Jesus commended risk taking & actually sternly warned the fearful who choose the easy path (Matthew 25:14-30).

Where are you on the Path to Spiritual Growth? Are you driving full speed ahead? Are you hesitating? Are you delayed? Does it seem like too much trouble? Are you afraid?

God wants you to grow! And He’s provided all that you need to grow, starting with a relationship with Him through Jesus’ death & resurrection. He’s promised his presence & power for those that get on board with this journey. There’s no need to hesitate. You can do this! This year!

Join Bridge Church in Madisonville as we tackle this topic this month in a series we’re calling On Ramps to Spiritual Growth. Sundays, 10:30am at the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum, 133 Mabel Drive.

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Signs of Hope in the Christmas Story

It was Kate McAllister who called Christmas “the season of perpetual hope.” But as we look around at our world, it seems to be getting worse & worse. The Christmas story as told in the Gospels offers us many signs of hope that we can rest in.

1) Prophecy Fulfilled. Some estimate that over 300 Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled by the coming of Jesus Christ. These prophecies gave hope to generations of followers of YHWH. And today they testify to us of how trustworthy God’s word is. The preciseness & detail arranged by God could not possibly be just happenstance. From being born in Bethlehem to a virgin (who was not from Bethlehem) to fleeing to Egypt to escape King Herod’s wrath. We can look at prophecy fulfilled & say GOD’S WORD IS TRUE. Micah 5:2, Isaiah 7:14, Genesis 22:18, Numbers: 24:17, Hosea 11:1, Jeremiah 31:15, Mathew 2:16.

2) He used ordinary people who dared to believe. As you read through the Christmas story, & really all of the New Testament, & get to know its characters, you’ll be struck by their ordinariness. Elizabeth & Zachariah – aging priest & barren wife. Mary & Joseph – young & poor village dwellers. Shepherds in the fields – like modern day janitors. No one probably ever even ask their names. The only thing spectacular about them was that they dared to believe God & get caught up in this miraculous story of God’s rescue of the world by sending his son. If he used them, he can use you & I.

3) He made a way for everyone. His was no a temporary intervention. His solution to the needs of the world went right to the heart, to the greatest enemy of humanity – sin & death. Real & lasting change is possible for EVERYONE through Christ. In his Arrival Jesus touched every socioeconomic sphere – the wealthy wise men, the poor shepherd, the old – Anna & Simeon, the young – Mary & Joseph, the powerful – Herod. In his ministry he touched every type of person – the rich – zaccheus, the sinful woman at the well, the diseased lepers, the religious Nicodemus, the destitute – woman caught in adultery. Today the gospel has universal appeal & changes everyone it touches no matter who or what or where you are. 

How can I Experience & Give Hope? You can be a sign of hope to the world if you will: 

  • Believe God’s Word is True. 
  • Believe that God can Use Me.
  • Believe that God has provided the way for everyone. 

These truths lived out will lead to the adventure of lifetime.

Taken from Give Hope, part 1 of Bridge Church’s Christmas Message Series. Get the audio HERE. Gather with Bridge Church Sunday’s at 10:30am at the Maritime Museum in Madisonville.

ADVENTure

Our God is Able #sermonnotes

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Last Sunday, Bridge Church started a new series called Our God is Able. We’ll be looking at how we should view God’s power & the difference that view should make in our everyday life. Here’s a few questions from the intro message to help challenge your thinking about our God who is “able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us” Ephesians 3:20.

>> If we serve an all powerful, ever loving God, who can do absolutely anything, why are we as Christians, often time powerless, fearful, hesitant, & uncertain?
>> “My God is Able!” Now, what would my life look like, if I really believed that?
>> Do I believe that God can overcome death & hell, but will struggle to help me with everyday life issues?
>> Do I believe that God can raise the dead, but helping me deal with that difficult situation is too tough a case for him?
>> Is something or someone in my life right now bigger in my minds eye than God & his power?
>> Can you’re life be easily explained apart from God’s hand & his work?
>> Do you have a category in your faith that makes room for God absolutely blowing your mind?

Get the first message in the series Our God is Able HERE or on Itunes. Join Bridge Church this Sunday for part 2 & a special Orphan Sunday emphasis. 10:30am at the Maritime Museum in Madisonville.

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