September 24, 2017
September 17, 2017
I’ve been giving some thought recently to what is commonly referred to as the “Faith Chapter” of the Bible, Hebrews 11. In this chapter, we are reminded of the faith-filled acts of a lot of people we are familiar with: Abraham, Moses, and Joseph. And then the chapter concludes by telling of a band of Christ followers known only as “others”. We don’t know their names or their stories, but are given only a glimpse of their faith: “There were others who were tortured…, Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute…They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11:35-38)
What?! Sawn in two, flogging, goatskins, living in holes….! Talk about radical. That is a faith that I am not familiar with. Sometimes my faith can shrink from the mere possibility of being inconvenienced, or embarrassed. But I don’t want us to be made to feel guilty by their faith, I want us to be spurred on by it; challenged to live a life that is radically counter-culture, a life that looks, lives and loves differently for the sake of Jesus Christ. This week let us live out our legacy of being “uncommon others”.
September 10, 2017
Occasionally I am asked by some of you: “Pastor Dave, who is your pastor?” And though I don’t often stop to think about it, the answer is YOU ARE. At Bridges we believe that every member is a minister, and with great regularity you, the Body of Christ, love, serve, challenge, and care for me. Do you think of yourself as a “minister”? I’m not talking about a foreign or diplomatic minister, but as a minister of the Gospel- someone who demonstrates the love of Christ to those around us.
This week we are going to encounter a lot of hurting people, desperate to be loved. On the outside they might portray that everything is okay, but on the inside they wrestle with fear, doubts, emptiness and loss. It’s not that we have our “act” together that allows us to minister to another, it’s that we have an answer in Jesus Christ that allows us to offer hope.
God wants to use you this week to minister to others. It might take the form of an encouraging word, a listening ear, an act of kindness, a generosity of time or resource… Don’t shrink from the opportunity, but rather embrace it. If we will make ourselves available to God, he will not only do a work through us, but in us.
August 20, 2017
There was an afternoon this past week when I just needed to “unplug”, and disengage the world for a couple of hours. I put in my headphones, put on some music, and took a long walk along the lake. I was wrestling with the sadness that had come with the news of thirteen people killed in Spain, and another murdered in the United States. All killed by vehicles driven by hate; one religious, the other racial.
As I walked, I thought about the depths of that kind of hatred. It is nearly incomprehensible. And then I thought of something even more incomprehensible- a love that would sacrifice everything to defeat such hatred. This is the love of Christ- a love abounding in grace, forgiveness, and justice that overcomes evil.
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…I am making everything new!” … “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers…—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” (Revelation 21:4-8)
August 13, 2017
On our recent return to the States, we took advantage of a seven-hour layover in Rio, to visit Sugarloaf Mountain. It was late afternoon by the time we got there, and when we arrived at the peak, we quickly joined an international audience of a couple hundred people to watch an amazing sunset. Countless pictures were taken, but otherwise people were unusually quiet. We all seemed to be mesmerized by the big orange ball that was painting the sky with indescribable color. After several minutes, the silence broke: As the sun dipped below the horizon, this randomly gathered group of global strangers began to applaud. It was pretty cool.
Later I wondered “who” people were applauding- the sun, mother nature, a cosmic connection of some sort? I truly believe it was a spontaneous, innate reaction of human creation doing exactly what they were created to do- worship God. It was as if they had to respond, for we were made to worship God. It’s our ultimate purpose. “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.” (Psalm 47:1)
Life might not look like a breath-taking sunset all the time, but let me encourage you this week to see your family, friends, co-workers, your house, your health, your stuff, the beauty around us…and give God a heartfelt round of applause. He deserves to get it, and we were made to give it.
Enjoy the Journey!
July 9, 2017
Next Sunday I will have the honor of marrying our oldest son Caleb to his new bride Kati. (Please pray for Sharon and I as we travel to the States, and for God’s blessing on our family.) In preparation for the ceremony I’ve been thinking about this passage of Scripture: “Love one another deeply… Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10 CSB) This word “outdo” is truly unique. In the entire Bible, this is the only time the word is used. It has the literal meaning of “taking the lead, and staying ahead”. In other words, if showing honor were a race, God would want us to win…every time.
The world encourages us to get ahead, but usually with the thought of gaining honor instead of giving honor. Can you imagine what a different place the world would be if everyone was trying to outdo the other in showing honor! More importantly, think how different your marriage, your job, your church, your family might look if you were taking the lead, and outdoing others in showing honor.
Loving deeply and showing honor are not easy things to do, but they are certainly worthy things to do. This week let me encourage you to choose three or four of the most prominent people in your life (e.g. a spouse, boss, co-worker…), and determine to take the lead in showing them honor.
July 2, 2017
As I was reading this week from the conclusion of Paul’s letter, I was struck by one of his final instructions: “Let your gentleness be evident to all.” (Philippians 4:5) Seems like of all the qualities Paul could have emphasized, that gentleness isn’t really that important. Then I started thinking about the opposite of gentleness, and how that pervasive “not gentle” is: harshness, critical, unkindness, rudeness, insensitivity, self-promotion, and hatred seem to rule the day.
If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t give a lot of thought to being gentle. Perhaps we identify gentleness with weakness, and therefore think it is something to be avoided. In reality, however, gentleness requires great strength. To choose tenderness, self-control, love, kindness, empathy, understanding- all of the things that define gentleness, demands great courage.
Jesus was described as follows: “He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged…”
(Isaiah 42:2-4) This week might we be a force of gentleness. Our world will notice, and be better for it.
June 18, 2017
I was reminded this week of an interesting verse from the Bible: “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” Ecclesiastes 11:4 (These words were penned by Solomon, who though he was the richest and wisest man on earth, had undertaken a pursuit to discover life’s meaning. It’s a great read.) So what is he getting at? I believe what he is saying is that there will always be a reason not to do what needs to be done. There are never “perfect” conditions.
Often times we fail to do what we know to be the right thing, because the timings not right, the settings not right, our attitudes not right… An endless list of what’s not right will always prevent us from doing what is right. What is the last thing that God has prompted you to do: give, forgive, serve, pray, confess, let go? Have you done it? Let me encourage you to stop waiting on “perfect conditions”, and act. James 4:17 reminds us: “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” (NLT) Pretty strong words.
Have a great week!
June 11, 2017
During the month of June we are reading the book of Philippians together as a church, as we seek to live, love and lead like Christ. Of course it takes more than reading God’s Word to see change take place in our lives, there has to be a responding to God’s Word. Sometimes I use a simple tool called S.P.E.A.K to help me to interact and respond with the Scripture that I am reading:
Sin to Confess: Does what I’m reading convict me of a sin or shortcoming in my life that I need to confess and address?
Promise or Praise: Is the passage I’m reading revealing a promise from God I need to claim, or praise I need to offer?
Example to follow: Is the Bible reading showing me an example that I need to imitate, or an example I need to avoid?
Attitude to adjust: Attitude shapes our actions! As I’m reading the Bible, are there attitudes that I need to embrace (e.g. forgiveness, humility, etc.)
Knowledge to apply: The Bible is a book of profound wisdom, relevant to every facet of our lives. As you read search for what is to be learned.
As you sit down to read God’s Word this week (Philippians 2), begin with a simple prayer: God, would you speak to me, and help me to respond to you.
Enjoy the Journey!
May 14, 2017