Wednesday, February 21, 2007

About Last Sunday Night

This past Sunday evening I was invited to one of the "Connection Groups" at our church. I want to applaud Matt and Lauren for their leadership in this group. These guys have such amazing hearts for God and such a heart for people. Matt and Lauren really love their neighbors and their group members. They are such great models of friendship, service, community, and Christ.

While I'm throwing out the priase, let throw a little out to the others that were present that evening as well. It was really great getting to hang out you guys and gals from church that I often don't get a chance to see outside of Sunday mornings. I wish I could attend all the groups all the time. There are so many amazing people at our church. Our lives are so different, but we share a common spiritual journey that unites us. Anyway...Andy, Beth, Melany, Travis and Jennifer - I had a great time hanging out. I hope we can do it again soon.

Before I forget...

A friend of mine has shared a couple of cliches/quotes with me recently that I enjoyed. I didn't want to forget them (and if you know me at all, I forget almost everything. I really think I have a handicap that will never be diagnosed).'s what he says:

"I may not be much, but I'm all I think about."


"God is either everything or He is nothing. He can't be somewhere in between."

That second quote is not exact. I may need to get some clarification. But, you get the point.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Pattern for Prayer - Part 4 of 4

As always, "Good morning to ya." Hope your day is going great or went great!

Let's pray again today, "Lord Jesus Christ, speak to me."

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. " 1 Peter 5:6-7

The 4th letter in the ACTS prayer pattern stands for "supplication." This is my least favorite word of the four - adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. My reason for not liking it so much is, "Who uses the word supplication in everyday life?" What does it mean? It basically means, "ask." Supplication means to ask God or request God about certain things in your life. It is what most of think of when we think of prayer. Most people think of prayer as asking God for stuff. And asking is a part of prayer. But only a part. God wants us to bring our requests, our hurts, our problems, our needs, to Him. He wants us to pray for other people. For the sick. For the hurting. For people apart from God. God is there for us. He wants us to "cast all our anxiety on Him" because He cares for us.

I was recently sharing these ACTS of prayer with some teenagers from our church. And I asked them, if God were come in the door, what do you think you would say to Him? One young lady said, "I would probably start asking Him a bunch of questions." She thought she would want Him to answer all the unanswered questions in her life. She was basically saying that she would start asking God for things as soon as He walked in the door. I asked her to think about it her response and she realized that doing so would be a little presumptive. She realized that a more natural and appropriate response to God's presence would not be to being with questions/requests/supplication, but with praise/adoration/confession. God does want us to ask, but as we pray, I think the ACTS prayer is a good pattern to follow. Start with adoration. Begin with praise. Move to confession. Ask for God's forgiveness. Thank Him for his forgiveness. Thank Him for His blessings. And then lay your requests before Him. Sit at his feet and pour out your heart. Talk to Him. Tell Him about your life. And enjoy being in His presence. He enjoys your company.

Take some time today and everyday and pray through the ACTS of prayer.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Day 33 - A Pattern for Prayer - Part 3 of 4

Good morning everyone! Hope you've been having a great week. I must admit, I've been a little anxious this week. I keep praying and asking God to make sense of this anxiety I'm having. I still haven't figured it out yet. Anyway...

Lord Jesus Christ, speak to me.

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. Daniel 6:10-11

The "T" in ACTS stands for thanksgiving. The biblical character Daniel didn't pray any prayers of thanks in his prayer in chapter 9 of Daniel (that's what we've looked at the past two days). But if you go back to chapter 6 (above) you see that Daniel was definitely in the habit of giving thanks. Apparently, he had three special times of the day that he set aside to connect with God and part of that time in prayer was used giving thanks.

We have a ton to be thankful for. I know I do. My wife. My son. My home. My health (I could be a quadriplegic or dead if not for modern medicine and a lot of prayer). Friends. A job. Avery comfortable life. Heat. Electricity. Moe's. Long John Silvers. Okay. I know I'm getting a little petty, but I can and should be thankful for even the small stuff! And God hears and answers my prayers. I am thankful for that too.

Take some time today, like Daniel, and set it aside to pray. Begin with ADORATION. Reflect back to God how wonderful He is. The get honest with God. CONFESS what you've done wrong. Ask His forgiveness. Then take some time to THANK God for the blessings in your life.

Have a great day.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Day 32 - A Pattern for Prayer - Part 2

Lord Jesus Christ, speak to me.

Daniel 9:4-7: I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: "O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land."Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the men of Judah and people of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you.

The letter "C" in ACTS stands for "confess" or "confession." It makes sense to me that when I am in the presence of greatness, it comes naturally for me to being to express adoration or praise. The same is true with confession. When we are around someone that is better than us in some way, we begin to realize our inadequacies. If I'm playing basketball with Michael Jordan (or Kobe Bryant or my brother (just kidding!)), I will quickly realize that I am outmatched. I don't have the skills. I think the same holds true with connecting with God. As we enter His presence, we adore. It's natural. He's awesome. He's amazing. But at the same time, we become increasing aware of how not awesome we are. We realize that we are not what He is. He is holy, pure, just, righteous. We are not. And we have to confess. We need forgiveness. We need restoration. So as we approach God in prayer, begin with adoration. Follow with confession. Just be honest with God about your screw-ups, your failures. Just admit it. You don't measure up. Confession is good for the soul.

Take some time today in prayer to adore, to worship. Follow that up with a time of confession. Be real with God. Confess. Ask His forgiveness.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Day 31 - A Pattern for Prayer - Part 1 of 4

Lord Jesus Christ, speak to me.

Daniel 9:4-7:
I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: "O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.
"Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the men of Judah and people of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you.

Good Morning. Over the next 4 days I am going to share with you the basics of the most valuable tool I have ever learned as a Christian. It is a pattern of prayer that was shown to me when I was in high school.

All of us have probably experienced at some point in our lives some frustration or embarrassment with prayer. My best friend (Pat) told me of the time when he was called on at church to say the blessing for the entire church prior to the churches fellowship meal. He was a new Christian and only 13 or 14 years old. He had no idea how to pray. He didn’t know what to do. So everyone bowed their heads and closed their eyes. Pat began by saying, “Dear God…” And then there was a really long pause. REALLY long pause. And then he said, “Thank you for the food…” And then there was another long pause. A really long pause. Some more pausing and dead air. And then he said, “Amen.” He was so embarrassed. He wanted to crawl into a corner and shrivel up and die. Fortunately, Pat has grown tremendously in his prayer life and now connects with God without fear or embarrassment. But sadly, there are Christians who live their entire lives who never learn to pray more than simply reciting prayers like the Lord’s Prayer. I don’t want that to happen to you. Learning to connect with God and maintaining that connection is what being a Christ-follower is all about. I hope the four-part prayer pattern we learn over the next 4 days will help you like it has me. It is based on the word, “ACTS.” Each letter stands for a different area to pray through.

“A” stands for adoration. The first thing we should do when we enter the presence of God is adore and worship Him. When you enter the presence of greatness, typically you will become in awe of that greatness. Let’s say Michael Jordan walks in my office right now. I will likely jump up, shake his hand, and begin to say how thrilled I am to meet him and what a big fan I am and how he is the best basketball player I’ve ever seen. That’s adoration. It’s worship. The same, and more so, should be true with us and God. When we enter His presence, our natural response is worship. You will want to reflect back to Him how great He is. You do this by things like, “Lord your great. Lord your awesome. You are so loving and forgiving.”

Will you say a prayer of adoration today? Will you take a few moments/minutes and bow your head and reflect back to God your adoration?

Tomorrow we will look at the “C” in ACTS.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Day 29 - Mr. Postman

Lord Jesus Christ, speak to me.

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

As you know, we mailed a letter to just about everyone in the 27560 zip code this past week. Chances are, those folks will be receiving that letter today or tomorrow. We do mailers like this because we believe that there are people in Morrisville who have lost their connection with God or never felt like they ever had one in the first place. Many people are hurting in different ways and need the healing that only God can give. We pray that folks would read our letter and visit our church. Hopefully, at The Bridge they will find a place where they see lives changed by God. A place with imperfect people, but people who are striving to do their best to love God and love their neighbor as themselves. I'm confident that is what people will find when they visit The Bridge.

With that in mind, look again at the Bible verses above. It talks about being a letter. Yes, we mailed out 8,709 letters. But those letters are so insignificant compared to the letter of our lives. We are Christ letter. We are a letter, mailed from God, to the world. The letter is not sealed. It does not have to be opened. It is a letter on display for all to see. The letter is our life. People can see our lives and read about God's love for them. They can see in us (hopefully) a life changed by God. A life less filled with judgment and filling up with love and grace and mercy. A life that shines and shouts, "LIFE."

Remember today that you are Christ's letter. Your life has been addressed by God to those that you will interact with today. They will read your life today, and see God's message to them. Shine the light of God into someone's life today.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Day 28 - Department of Redundancy Department

Lord Jesus Christ, speak to me.

So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. 2 Peter 1:12-15

Does anyone remember what the "Day 1" devotional was about? How about the first sermon I did this year on the "State of the Church?" It had to do with the vision of The Bridge? Well, since no one can seem to remember, let me do as St. Peter did above and remind you of a few things! It is so easy to forget, so easy to get sidetracked.

The vision of our church in a nutshell is to be "outwardly-focused"" such that we are always striving to reach outside of the church walls and connect with people who are apart from God and help them get reconnected with God. One scripture verse that we use along with our vision statement is Colossians 4:2-6. In it, we find 3 bits of wisdom in being outwardly-focused:

1) Talk to God about your community. In another word, pray. Pray for Morrisville, your neighborhood, your neighbor. Pray that their hearts would be open to responding to God's call on their lives. God is knocking on the door of their hearts, pray that they would open them.

2)Don't waste your opportunities. God gives us everyday as an opportunity to shine His light into people's lives through our lives. We don't live next door to people so we can ignore them! They are our neighbors! Be neighborly! Invite them over! Watch a ball game together. Babysit their kids. Take them some muffins. Help them with their car. Cut their grass. Serve them. Love them. Invite them into your life. And by all means possible, show them the difference that God makes in a life.

3)Talk to not-yet-Christ followers. Colossians 4 tells us to be "full of grace" and to have our conversations "seasoned with salt." We can't do this without engaging in conversation. This point goes hand-in-hand with the #2 above. Connect with people. Talk to them. Don' ignore them. Build friendship. Open up your life. Don't allow your social life to only be with family or friends from church. Build friendships at work, in the neighborhood, wherever. And as you converse with them, be salty. Taste good. That is the life of God pouring out of your life such that when we connect with people, they will want to know what makes our lives taste so good. And the saltiness is the life of God in us.

How is your outward focus going? Next Sunday, we will have newcomers at church. We want them to feel welcome. The only way we can do this is to be outwardly-focused. We come prepared for guests. We come prepared to meet the needs of others, not our own. Before next Sunday, pray for our community, look for opportunities to build relationships, converse and shine the light of God into the lives of those around you.

Friday, February 09, 2007

JFK, CS Lewis, Aldous Huxley - All Died the Same Day

I'm in this trend of reading books that have something to do with the topic of heaven. Just got this book yesterday from a friend. It's short, so I'm almost done with it. The book is a very curious imaginary dialogue between three prominent men who all died on the same day. Ultimately it is an apologetic (defense) for orthodox Christian faith. It's a fascinating and somewhat difficult read. If you're into debate, you'll love this book.

Day 26 - Perfect and Being Perfected

Lord Jesus Christ, speak to me.

For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. Hebrews 10:14

There is another big, five dollar word in our Scripture verse today – the word “sanctified.” To be sanctified is to be made holy, or perfected. And what is cool about the verse above is that it says that He, meaning Jesus, has perfected those who are being sanctified (made holy, perfected). How can we be “perfect” and continue to be made perfect at the same time? It would seem that you would have to be one or another. But it is true! If you are a Christ-follower, you have been perfected and at the same time are being perfected? How is this? Pardon my theological hat, but there are two part to this “sanctification” thing. It’s called positional sanctification and progressive sanctification. Positionally, God views as being totally perfect because of what Jesus did for us. Through faith in Christ, we have been perfected – we no longer have the stain of sin on our life. Jesus has removed that through His death and resurrection and has given us His righteousness. But, if you’re a Christ-follower, you’ll easily note that the reality in your own life is that you are not living perfectly. That is where progressive sanctification comes in. God views you as perfect (in Christ), and then He sets on a journey of being made perfect. Our lives should be moving towards holiness – that we are beginning to live more perfect lives. We are in the process of being sanctified.

So, just as we are justified (see earlier devotion), we are also sanctified. God views us as perfect and holy. And even though we can’t live perfectly, we strive to live lives of obedience to God that reflects a progressive holiness. We may not be perfect, but we are striving to move in that direction!

Thank God today for your perfection, and respond to that gift by striving to live a life that pleases Him and brings Him joy.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Day 25 - Guest Blogger - Kevin B.

Today I'd like to direct you to a devotional on another website. The website is by a young man named Kevin Bui. If I remember correctly, Kevin will turn 18 in March. He's a senior in high school. He's recently started his own webpage to share what God has put on his heart. As I usually am with Kevin, I was more than impressed! Thanks for the inspiration Kevin!

So, click on the link below, and then scroll down and read his thoughts entitled, "Us vs. Jesus???" You'll also enjoy the music Kevin has on his page, so turn up the volume on your computer when you're done with your devotional time!

Have a great day!

Lord Jesus Christ, speak to me...

Great Quote

"There are those who believe that a new modernity demands new morality. What they fail to consider is the harsh reality that there is no such thing as a new morality. There is only one morality. All else is immorality. There is only true Christian ethics over against which stands the whole of paganism. If we are to fulfill our great destiny as a people, then we must return to the old morality, the sole morality." - Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Day 24 - Justified

Lord Jesus Christ, speak to me.

That having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:7

I’m rereading a book I’ve read many times. It is a great book on what it means to be a Christ-follower. It’s called “The Fight” by an author named John White. In the first few pages, he brings up the concept of “justification.” And if you’re anything like me, you’re thinking, “Wow. Big word.” But what a great word. Justification is the concept that when God looks at us, he can now view us as if we have never sinned and will never sin. He can do that because we are justified. We are justified because the righteousness, the perfection, of Jesus has been giving to us – if we have become Christ-followers. If we have put our faith in Jesus. I’m not perfect. I sin all the time. And I could worry about how God views me. But, because of His grace, and Jesus’ sacrificial death, I now have Christ living in me, and His righteousness. I don’t have to fear God’s judgment.
Back in Old Testament days, a priest would enter into the holiest section of the temple to present a sacrifice once a year, on the alter of the are of the covenant. The ark of the covenant contained, among other things, the 10 commandments. If God were to look down a the ark, he would see these 10 commandments, and would have to look in judgment at his people as commandment breakers. But when the priest came in, he poured the blood of the sacrifices animal over the alter. Then, when God saw the ark, he would see the blood covering the commandments. The penalty had been paid. There was no need for judgment.
As Christ-followers, God looks at us and sees the blood of His Son’s sacrifice covering us. We are justified. We no longer stand condemned. God views us as perfectly righteous. We are free form sin. Live in that freedom. Not to serve yourself, but to serve the Living God who justifies you by His Son.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Day 23 - Entanglements

Lord Jesus Christ, speak to me.

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 2 Timothy 2:4

I’m going to be short and sweet today. Two things about the verse above jump out at me, and the two are connected. First, the idea of being “entangled” in the affairs of the world. And second, that our goal in life should be “that we may please him.” As Christ-followers, we are freed to live to an audience of one! We don’t have to live to please ourselves or anybody else. We live to please God. He has enlisted us. He has called us. He is our audience. As we engage in life, we can do so with an eye for HIS approval. The temptation will be for us to entangle ourselves in the affairs of this world – things that demand our attention and attempt to take us from our singular focus of pleasing God. We would do well to take a couple of minutes today for self-examination. Ask yourself, “Is there some ‘affairs of this world’ that are distracting me from pleasing God?” Are there some things that I need to take the time to untangle myself from in order that I might better focus my attention on pleasing God? These things that entangle us are not necessarily bad things. Sometimes they are bad or sinful. But a lot of times, they are simply good or neutral things that are the enemy of doing what is best – pleasing God.

Take a few minutes this morning to examine your life. If you come up with something that is entangling you, consider how you can correct that. and then, if you’re really bold, post a comment to this blog about what is entangling you so others can either pray for you or be encouraged to guard against being entangled by that as well.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Day 22 - Claiming the Promises

Lord Jesus Christ, speak to me.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

I shared this morning that there are over 7,000 promises in the Bible. Promises from God to us that we can put our faith in. The promise above is probably my favorite. God is saying, “Trust me. Put all your eggs in this basket. You can’t do it on your own. You’re only human. You don’t have perfect knowledge. I do. Your own understanding is incomplete. If you will trust me in whatever you do, I will make the way for you.” What a promise! Honestly, does it get any better than that? How can you lose with a promise like that? Who wouldn’t want a promise like this?

Trust God. Stop carrying the burden of running your life. No matter how successful you think you’ve been based on your own understanding and effort, acknowledging God will only improve things.

Read God’s word. Discover His promises. Put faith in them. See how God transforms your life.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Day 20 - Guest Devotional Blogger - Matt Windley

Lord Jesus Christ, speak to me.

"May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations." Psalm 67:1-2

I like to think of myself as a fairly unselfish person. If I enjoy something I typically want to share it. For example, have you ever heard of the bag of chips called Munchies? I discovered them my junior year of college and I became addicted. It's basically like Chex Mix on steroids. You've got doritos, cheetos, sun chips, and pretzels all in one bag!! I would seriously down whole bags of munchies on sitting. I loved them that much. So, naturally, I shared them with people. I told people about munchies. I let people try my munchies. I even used Munchies in sermons! I told people about them because I was passionate about them.

Our vision for The Bridge is to be an outwardly focused church. When we accept Christ's plan for our life and become a Christian we don't simply vaporize or beam up into heaven. We're left here and Psalm 67 tells us why: to make God known among the nations! I love Munchies. They taste great, but how much greater is God! He is the creator of the universe! He's the author of all things! He's our Redeemer and our Friend! It should be our passion to share God with the nations.

This morning, reflect on two thoughts?
1. How can you share your passion for God with others today?
2. People don't share about something they aren't passionate about. Are you sharing? Is God worth enough to you to share?

Day 19 - Tito Chavez - Part 2

Lord Jesus Christ, speak to me.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice…” 1 Peter 1:3-6a

Tito’s funeral really got me thinking on Wednesday. Typically, most funeral’s contain some sort of eulogy where some friend or family member talks about the deceased and shares stories they remember from their lives. Tito’s funeral was no exception. In this case, Pastor Greg spent several minutes sharing stories of his interactions with Tito, stories of his son Blake’s friendship with Tito, and stories that the family had shared about Tito. One of the funnier moments was the time that Tito asked Pastor Greg, “Does it hurt to have to preach so long?” Tito and his brother made me laugh pretty hard once too. I was in the habit of always asking them how to say English words in Spanish. One day I said, “Come se dice en espanol, ‘pastor?’” They gave me a puzzling look and said in plain English and Spanish, “pastor.”

But, back to the more “devotional” thought. The passage above from 1 Peter says, “Praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In the original greek language, the word translated praise comes from the Greek word, “eulogetos,” which, of course, is where we get our English word, “eulogy.” To eulogize someone is to praise their life. Tito’s funeral was a great praise and celebration of his life. Like I said yesterday, I wish Tito could have been there to hear it (though I’m hoping that God allowed Tito to hear it from heaven!). My point it this – everyday, and particularly on Sundays at church, should be a eulogy. Each day should be a day for us to eulogy God the Father, Son and Spirit - to celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus died. And rose again. Our worship services, in a sense, are weekly funerals for Jesus. They are a chance to eulogize our God and Savior. What would you say at Jesus’ funeral? How would you remember the life of Jesus? However you answer that question, take the opportunity today and tomorrow and then on Sunday to celebrate the life of Jesus. Worship him. Eulogize him. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…Thanks Tito.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Day 18 - Tito Chavez

Lord Jesus Christ, speak to me.

Romans 16:1-16

Yesterday I went to the funeral of Tito Chavez. He was 14 years old. In eighth grade. Tito collapsed while playing with friends on Saturday, and emergency services were unable to revive him. The funeral was great celebration of Tito’s life and an outpouring of affection for him from so many who’s lives Tito had impacted. As I sat and listened to this celebration of his life, I so wished Tito could have been there to hear it. Tito brought a lot of joy to people. I can’t imagine that he had any enemies. But I wished he could hear how much people loved him and how people viewed his life. And in made me think, why do we have to wait for a funeral to celebrate someone’s life? And, of course, we don’t have to. Instead of waiting for a funeral, why not celebrate life today? Who’s life has touched you? Can you go to them today, or call them, or email them, to express your love and appreciation for the gift that their life has been to you??? The scripture link above takes you to Romans 16 where the apostle Paul took time to encourage and thank people in his letter. God has blessed us with a lot of great people who love us, model Christ to us, encourage us, etc. Let’s take some time to celebrate them in life. Thanks Tito.