Beginning of Advent

Today begins the season traditionally known amongst Christians as Advent- a celebration of the four weeks leading up to Christmas, and the coming of Christ. Over the next four Sundays we will consider the hope, peace, joy and love that Christ offers to us. Christ coming, and reaching down into our world, changed everything.

For all its modern day trappings, I still love the Christmas season, and I anticipate celebrating Christmas day.  The message of the angels to the shepherds is still true: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11) Christ’s coming was, and still is, good news.

The word advent literally means “coming”, and so I believe the season of Advent should remind us that Christ not only has come, but that he is coming again.  The Bible says when Christ comes again,  “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away… ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” (Revelation 21:4-5)

Can you imagine a world without tears, and without pain? To be honest it is hard to imagine, but this is our hope as followers of Christ- that He will come again and “make all things new”.  Advent: let us be prepared for Christ’s coming.

Have a great week,

Pr. Dave

Praying Together

 

Jesus said: “if two of you on earth agree about something and pray for it, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. This is true because if two or three people come together in my name, I am there with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20) As many of you know, Bridges has been in a conversation for well over a year to try and purchase the property the church has gathered at for almost 40 years. There have been consistent challenges, obstacles and opposition that we have had to confront, and yet we are confident that God is for us.

My sense is that God is calling our church to grow in our love for him and others, and that He is desirous of using Bridges to impact Brasilia and the nations in increasingly significant ways. Worthy pursuits are never easy pursuits, and so I believe God is asking us to enter into a season of concerted corporate prayer, so that we might be prepared for everything He has prepared for us.

For some of us, prayer is such a private and personal thing, that the thought of praying with others scares us to death. But I have consistently found that when I am willing to move beyond my comfort and fears, God meets me in new and powerful ways. Will you be open to praying with others for God’s blessing on Bridges?

Enjoy the Journey,
Pr. Dave

Our Hope is in Christ

It is the morning after the U.S. election as I’m writing, and it has given me reason to pause. Throughout the political process these last several weeks, many people have asked me my thoughts, and it has been hard to articulate.  I’d like to believe that neither presidential candidate was the best my country has to offer, yet I will pray for my country even as you are praying for yours.  The divisiveness, disrespect, and unkindness, has been disappointing to say the least.  And like so many places in our world, hatred needs to be overcome by love, hurt overwhelmed by hope.

Martin Luther King Jr., someone I regard as a heroic leader, once said: “We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins or our civilization.” As global followers of Christ, I hope that this rings true with us. I’m reminded today that our hope is not in governments, kings, or nations, but our hope is in Christ alone.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

The same “glorious opportunity” presents itself to us today and the week before us. The apostle Peter summed it up best: “Above all, love one another deeply.”

(1 Peter 4:8)

Peace to you.

Pr. Dave

Troubled Soul for Greater Purpose

I was reading the Bible earlier this week and was moved by these words: “Now my soul is deeply troubled…” What impressed me more than the words alone, was who spoke them- Jesus Christ.  We can all identify with moments in our lives where our souls are deeply troubled, and I’m comforted by the fact that Jesus shared that same experience. He knows what it is like when our life is filled with chaos, pain, and suffering.  Jesus continued by saying:  “Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name.” -John 12:26-27 NLT

The temptation for me when my soul is deeply troubled is to cry out to God and say “FIX THIS!” or “MAKE THIS GO AWAY”.  Those are legitimate prayers at times, but I’ve come to believe that sometimes God brings us to the place of a troubled soul for a greater purpose. Instead of eliminating the suffering, God asks us to endure it, knowing there is something greater that awaits us.

Maybe your soul is deeply troubled this morning, and you’re having to endure. If so, I hope that you will know the peace and power of God to see you through.

Bless you,

Pastor Dave

Distance x Nearness

Well it has been 3 weeks of separation from Sharon, and I’m ready for this season apart to end. I’ve thought about the saying “distance makes the heart grow fonder”, which in my case is certainly true. But I wonder if the opposite is not equally true, does nearness create a familiarity or casualness that causes us to grow cooler?

Sometimes I think we can become so accustom to God’s faithful presence, provision, and protection, that we take Him and his goodness toward us for granted.  Read these very familiar words slowly; let the meaning of the message sink deeply into your heart, and let them give way to a renewed fondness and appreciation for God.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. –Psalm 23 ESV

Have a great week!

Pr. Dave

Reading the Bible

I was meeting with a friend last week, who is seeking God, and rather new to the Bible. As we talked, I told him that I believe all of the Bible is inspired by God, but not all of it is necessarily inspiring. Not most of the time, but sometimes, I will read the Bible, and when I’m finished wonder, “what was that all about?”.  Other times, my mind can be so distracted that I don’t even recall what I just read. Yet God’s Word is a critical part of my growth as a person and as Christ followers. Through the Bible, God wants to have a conversation with us, that helps us see more clearly who he is, and who he desires us to be.

Last week I shared an article with you that I wrote on how to Read the Bible with Purpose. (If you didn’t receive a copy, send as your email and we will forward it to you.) In it I share a simple tool that helps me interact with God’s Word. When I finish reading I ask these simple questions about the passage to help me hear what God wants to SPEAK to me: Is there…

 

Sin to confess?

Promise or Praise to embrace?

Examples to learn from?

Attitudes to adjust?

Knowledge to apply?

 

I hope we will all be intentional this week to learn, love, and live God’s Word.

Enjoy the Journey,

Pr. Dave

 

It’s Not Your Battle

I’m grateful that God has brought us through another week, and I’m expectant as I look forward to the week that is ahead. I was dealing with a particular struggle this past week, and I turned to a story in the Bible for direction and comfort. In the story a prayer is prayed: “God we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 2:12) You ever feel like there is so much coming against you, and you just don’t have the answers, resources, or strength to fight it? I’ve been there. Reality is we all have been there.  It’s God’s response to the prayer that I need to hear: “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s” (2 Chronicles 2:15)

There are times where I so desperately need to hear God say, “I got this.” But before I can hear God’s voice, I need to hear my own. I need to get to that place of honesty with God where I’m able to say: “God I can’t handle this, I don’t know what to do, and I’ve got nothing left but to keep my sight on you.”  God wants to fight our battles and see us through, but we also need to be willing to let him do so. I don’t know what “great horde” you might be facing: a wayward child, a health crisis, an unraveling marriage, career struggles, an unmet longing…, but I believe God desires us to humbly confess our need, and to keep our eyes on him.

Praying for you!

Pr. Dave

 

“Stressing” your Heart

Do you ever get to those places in your life where you think “Enough is enough!” and you vow to make some changes? I’ve recently gotten to that place with my health and fitness, and am trying to create some positive life change. So I went to a heart doctor last week, and he ordered a stress test. (When it was over I asked him if the church was killing me, and he answered “not yet” ) The results were good, but I found it interesting that my heart had to be “stressed” in order to determine its health.

I think it is important for us to remember, that often times our responses in difficult times are a window into our heart, and an indicator of the wellness of our soul. Jesus said: “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” –Luke 6:45

If you’re heart is being “stressed” right now, I pray that you will know God’s love and peace, and that through him good will come out of your life.

A Paz!
Pr. Dave

Don’t Settle for Less

We’re all familiar with the idea that sometimes “less is more”, and I believe that can be true in many different contexts. Yet when it comes to God, I can’t think of any time or situation where I would want less of him, or his purposes, and believe that could be a good thing.  I continue reading through the book of Exodus, and one of things I’m intrigued by was how Pharaoh kept trying to get Moses to settle for less: “Okay, the people may go, but they can’t go far…”. “Okay, the men can go, but not the women and children.” “Okay, you all can go, but you can’t take the livestock.” I’m glad that Moses never settled for less than ALL that God wanted for his people.

So often in life our enemy, Satan, tempts us with the idea of settling for less. Most of us don’t wake up in the morning thinking “how can I blatantly disobey God today”, but if we can be tempted to compromise just a little, well, less will be less. Jesus said: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) This word “full” literally means “over-flowing”.  When it comes to knowing and experiencing Christ, more is always more!

Have a great week!

Pr. Dave

Embrace God’s Calling

I started reading through the book of Exodus this week, and I had to smile at Moses initial unwillingness to accept God’s invitation to lead. First he questions God’s identity (who are you…?), then he questions his own identity (who am I?), then he questions his ability (I’m not a good speaker…), then he questions the people (what if they don’t follow…?) Finally Moses says to God “can you please just find someone else?” (Exodus 3&4) It’s amazing that God continued to pursue Moses in spite of all of his excuses and whining. It is also amazing that Moses would become one of the most influential and significant leaders of all time.

The thing is, God doesn’t see us for who we are, rather he sees us for who we can become.  As a result, He will always challenge and invite us to something beyond ourselves.  Is there something in your life that you feel God has been asking you to do, but you’ve been unwilling? Maybe you’ve been making excuses, questioning your ability, or you’re at a place of just telling God “you’ve got the wrong person”.  Let me encourage you to reconsider. Instead of resisting God’s callings, try embracing God’s callings.

Enjoy the Journey,

Pr. Dave

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