September 15, 2016
Do verses Done. If we’re honest, most of us would say that the reason God should accept me, or that I’ll go to heaven when I die, is because I’m a good person. We have this mental image of God keeping score of our good deeds and our bad deeds, and as long as we have more marks in the good column than the bad, we are okay with God.
Fortunately, God isn’t about keeping score, and his acceptance of you and me isn’t based on our ability to be “good enough”. If that were the case, none of us would measure up to God’s perfection. When we make knowing God about being good enough, all we’re really doing is pursuing religion. The reality is, God doesn’t want religion from us, he wants relationship with us: “I don’t want your sacrifices- I want your love; I don’t want your offerings—I want you to know me.” (–Hosea 6:6 TLB) So how can we truly know God?
When Jesus Christ came to earth as God, he lived and loved perfectly: Every word spoken, every thought, every act, was right, pure and loving. He was perfect. And through his death on a cross, Christ became the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world. The Bible says: “God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” -2 Corinthians 5:21
Having a relationship with God isn’t about what I must do, but what Christ has already done. Christ has made a way, and the pressure for us to perform or be good enough is off. To know God we simply receive Christ’s forgiveness by faith.
If you have never made a commitment to follow Christ, let me encourage you to take that step today. If it is your desire to know God and his purposes for your life, you can pray a prayer similar to this (Remember, it’s not so much about saying the right words, as having a right heart):
“God, thank you for creating me, and making a way for me to know you. I have made so many mistakes and committed so many sins, but I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins. Please forgive me for the many ways I have sinned against you and others. Lord Jesus, please come into my life that I might live for you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.”
September 2, 2016
I was with a group of guys on Tuesday night, and I heard myself say something that has really stuck with me: “My perspective of God, affects my prayers to God.” Do you ever feel like your prayers become a bit routine or repetitive? Me too. “God protect my kids… bless the church… thanks for the food…” There’s nothing wrong with these prayers, but maybe God want us to see him differently, so that we might pray differently.
In Ephesians 1, Paul is praying that the church will have spiritual eyes to know God’s wisdom, to see that the hope they have in Christ is certain, and to experience the great blessing and power that comes from knowing Christ. (vv.17-19) These are bold and big prayers. He then reminds them that Christ was “raised from the dead and seated him at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything.” (vv.20-22) I believe Paul was praying powerful prayers, because he saw a powerful God. Maybe in order for our prayers to change, our perspective needs to change first. Together let’s seek to know the greatness of God, and may our prayers reflect His greatness.
Enjoy the Journey,
August 26, 2016
One of the most famous passages from the Bible is Psalm 23, which speaks to God being our shepherd. I had a chance to read this passage with some of our Bridges family this week, as they dealt with a difficult loss: “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 staff they comfort me.” (v.4)
We all know what it’s like to walk through darkness and loss. It can be the loss of a loved one, loss of a dream, a relationship, an opportunity… and though none of us can avoid life’s losses, I’m grateful for the promise of God’s presence. Another verse says: “I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God.” (Isaiah 43:1-2) I’m glad that God is personal enough to know my struggle and my name, and that he is powerful enough to put a limit to my loss. Wherever you might be in your journey know that God is there too.
Have a great week!
August 19, 2016
I trust that you’ve been able to catch some of the Olympics these past couple of weeks. I loved seeing Brasil’s collective joy when Thiago Braz da Silva made his winning vault. One of the stranger incidents occurred when the U.S. women’s relay team was given a second chance after dropping the baton in their qualifying heat.
Do you ever wish for a “do over”, a second chance? We all do, because we’ve all had those moments in our journey where we’ve messed up and fallen. The Bible is full of such people, Jonah being one of them. After failing God over and over we’re told: “the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time.” (Jonah 3:1)
Personally, I’m so grateful those 11 words are in the Bible, because it reminds me that God is a God of second chances. There have been plenty of choices, conversations and relationships that I wish I could “do over”, and though none of us can undo the past, God does bring healing, hope and second chances when we look to him. Through the love and forgiveness extended by Christ, we are invited to move on from a life of regret to a life of redemption…a second chance.
Enjoy the Journey,
August 12, 2016
A young 20 something Brazilian recently asked me: “So you’re planning to live forever in Brasil, why would you want to do that?” I found his question a bit humorous, particularly his emphasis on “FOREVER”. In part I responded that at 55 years old, my “forever” isn’t all that long. None of us know the future, but one thing is for certain, time does not stand still, and all of us want to make the most of the life we have.
I was reading the Bible this week, and read what Paul said about his life and times: “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” (Acts 20:24 NLT) Talk about having a focused vision! Paul clearly saw that his life was about something more than himself. He understood that there was a spiritual purpose to his life, and he didn’t want to miss it. Such vision and passion allowed Paul to say at the end of his life: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7 NIV)
May we live this week with a clear vision to share the love and grace of God with others.
Enjoy the Journey,
August 5, 2016
So the world has come to Brasil, and I’m praying that the Olympics will be a successful and safe event for my adopted country. You know anyone who visits Bridges, is quickly taken by the nations who gather here each week. Did you know that the many different cultures, colors, and countries, of those attending Bridges regularly come from almost 40 different nations? It is amazing to see how people are so vastly different, and yet so completely one. In part I attribute to the shared needs that all people have regardless of their background: We are created to know God, and so we share a common desire to love God and love people. We are also created for community, and Bridges provides a place where people can share life.
When I was in the States recently I had the opportunity to worship at a church as a guest. It was a good experience for me, and the church was nice enough, but I couldn’t help but notice how very much the same we were- we all looked the same, sounded the same, and acted the same. There was no kissing, no accents, no color. I missed Bridges, and it made me thankful again.
How God is knitting us together is a very sacred and special thing. Enjoy one another and invest in one another.
July 29, 2016
Have you ever asked yourself the question: “What am I doing here?” I think we probably all have. It’s a question that can apply to an emotional or mental state that we find ourselves in. Or maybe it’s a question we are asking about a relationship, or the status of our career, or our finances, or pretty much anything. It’s not a bad question. As I’ve shared in the past, like the “red dot” on a map that says “you are here”, identifying where we are helps us get where we are going.
Have you ever asked the question as it pertains to your existence? Like, “What am I doing here in this life, on this earth?” One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Ephesians 2:10 “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, prepared in advance for us to do.” I’m always blown away by the thought that God had purposes for me, before he created me. In other words, God created you, because he already had purposes that existed for you.
So as you enter into your week, think beyond yourself and your plans, and realize that God has purposes for you. How might He want to use your words, your ears, your relationships, your job…to make a difference?
Enjoy the Journey,
July 22, 2016
It has been a memorable week for me. My daughter settled on December 16th for her wedding date, and while on the phone with her about that, my son Caleb sent a text announcing his engagement. Sharon celebrated a birthday. And I just got off a plane this morning, having traveled back from meetings in Atlanta regarding the church property…I’m glad to be home!
In other words, life just keeps moving. It cannot, nor will not stand still. As I read the Bible, it is easy to see that no one had more demands on his time and his life than Jesus Christ. I think his availability to others was one of the ways he showed his love most greatly. But he also knew that keeping pace with life, meant disengaging with people in order to engage with God. The Bible says Jesus “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16) Is withdrawing a life habit for you?
While life was happening for me this week, I also set aside intentional time to retreat and reflect. I needed it. I find that taking time to pause, allows me to “recalibrate” and center life on Christ. And that always allows me to live and love more like Him.
Have a great week!
June 24, 2016
Do you ever have those times in your journey where you feel like God keeps repeating something to you, until you finally say: “Okay, God, I heard you.” Earlier this week I felt like God was telling me to pursue “paths of righteousness”. Hmmm. Okay. The next morning I wrote in my journal, asking God to help me “move in paths of righteousness”. No sooner had I written these words, when Sharon entered the room and said: the verse for today is “Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity, and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21) Later that morning I had a notification from the Bible app on my phone reminding me that 26 weeks ago I highlighted the verse: “For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O Lord, You surround him with favor as with a shield.” (Psalm 5:12) God had my attention.
Righteousness means: “acting in accord with the Divine…free from guilt or sin.” Through Christ we can know forgiveness, freedom, and righteousness, but only as we remain connected to Him. May we all live and love this week in such a way as to reflect the beauty and righteousness of Jesus Christ.
Enjoy the Journey,
June 22, 2016
I was reading in the Bible this week, and was struck by these words: “Jesus sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” As a follower of Christ, do you see yourself as someone sent to heal? Most of us probably don’t, and yet the world around us hurts so desperately. Through our prayers, forgiveness, gratitude, encouragement, willingness to listen or simple acts of kindness, we can bring healing to another. As we move into our weeks, let’s see ourselves as part of a healing force sent into a world that needs to be cared for.