Thursday, October 22, 2009
While I am not here to minimize the threat, and even horrible loss that has been connected to this sickness, I do want to take a minute and see how Jesus handled the issues of sickness in his day.
We are called to be followers of Christ. As children we all played "Follow the Leader", the basketball game "Horse", "Simon Says", or some other game that called for us to follow after someone else and do whatever they did. As followers of Christ we are called to play a similar game, to do what he did and, in his words, even great things.
Leprosy was a big deal in his day. It was contagious and people would walk around the leper colonies to avoid contact. When a leper came around other people they were required to make the statement "unclean, unclean" so people would not get too close. But in Matthew 8 Jesus reached out and touched them, and even crazier, healed them. In fact, not one time in the Bible does Jesus say the word leprosy, he never acknowledged the sickness, just the person.
James 5 says that if you are sick the elders of the church are to "anoint you with oil and the prayer of faith will save the sick". Instead of running away from and avoiding the sick, Jesus and the disciples went after them.
We are going to be devoting this Sunday at The Bridge to this end, saving those who are sick! If you know anyone that is suffering from any sickness bring them with you this week. We are believing God is going to do great and mighty things in the lives of HIS people!
Pass this on to anyone you know that needs prayer and let them know there is still a community of Christ followers that are "following our leader"! Visit us one the web at www.thebridgehotsprings.org for information and directions!
Friday, October 2, 2009
He’s a human being.
"Yep. He worries – like you do. He puts his pants on (or she puts her pants on – or her skirt… or, well, you get the picture) one leg at a time… just like you do. He gets overwhelmed… just like you do.
He feels pressured sometimes. Fifty years ago, he would’ve been a success if he helped people grow close to God. Today, to be a “success” he needs the gift-set of a CEO. He’s supposed to keep attendance and finances on a steadily upward trajectory, speak with a remarkable blend of hipness/diplomacy/skill/humor/passion/anointing, smile constantly, maintain a blog, twitter, network, write a book, regularly convert other Starbucks customers to Jesus, speak at conferences, be covered in at least one national publication… and in his spare time help people grow close to God.
The thing is he’s not a superhero to be revered or an archaic throwback to be derided or a goofball to be avoided. He’s a human being who happens to have been called by God to help you grow spiritually. He’s a leader and a servant; a boss and a busboy; a vision-caster and an empathic listener. Sometimes he leans too far in one direction, sometimes in the other. That’s because he’s human.
But here’s what else I know about your pastor: he prays for you. He works hard to shepherd and feed you. Know why? Because he loves you. He loves you, the passionate Jesus-follower who gives their best to Christ and his body… He loves you, the faithful supporter who’s always at everything… He loves you, the sporadic attendee who assures him “you’re plugged in” when you both know you’ll forget you said that by the time you get to the parking lot… He even loves you, the critic who questions his vision and motives and the direction of the church when he’s not around to defend himself.
His heart, all at once, bubbles over with anticipation and hope for you when you move forward, grasp a little more of God’s grace, and do good for others… and breaks for you when you stumble, suffer, or slack off spiritually. He loves to see you succeed, rejoicing with you in your victories. He hurts to see you fail, weeping with you over your weaknesses. He forgives you. He hopes you’ll forgive him too.
He has nothing to gain in this world by leading and serving you. He’s burned his bridges. All of his “could’ve been’s” have died at the cross of Jesus so he could do this. And you know what? He doesn’t mind at all. If he was asked to run as president, he’d decline… because pastoring you – and doing it well – is more important to him than anything else in the world.
I just thought you’d want to know. Your pastor, whoever he or she may be, is first of all a human being just like you; who just happens to have been called by God to help you grow spiritually.
And he’s glad. I hope you are too."
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
It got me thinking about our gifts and abilities. We are all gifted in so many different ways. But when we put them all together in a team we can accomplish much more than by ourselves. I am learning that in order to do what God has called it takes a great team. This is no one man show. The old school Senior Pastor and everyone else attending will only allow you to go so far, but when you equip and empower a group of people to apply their strengths, your potential is unlimited.
I am so excited about the bridge because God has begun to bring together a great team. We are in the learning phase and are getting to know each other, but as synergy is developed we will be able to apply the individual strengths to the team and watch what God will do.
If you are reading this and you are trying to do life alone, it's time to rethink some things. We have been challenging The bridge to a 10-10 Challenge, now being renamed as the 3:10 challenge. Spending 10 minutes a day in prayer, praying for 10 minutes for 10 people to be saved and being a part of a small group with 10 people - because you were never designed to live life alone.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
The true test of success in life is whether or not you are truly happy where you are. The Bible says, "the joy of the Lord is our strength". The word joy denotes happiness. I have heard many people preach that joy and happiness are two different things, I don't thank so. I think that when you are fulfilling God's purpose for your life, you can truly say I am happy - right now, where I am! That is truly freeing.
Now, don't get me wrong, in this world you will have trouble, BUT BE OF GOOD CHEER, He has overcome the world. In other words, you can be happy even in the middle of trouble, if you know you are living the life God has purposed for you to live.
I believe that every person has been given the gifts and talents necessary to fulfill the purpose you have been given life to achieve. Like Esther in the Old Testament, you are here for such a time as this. While I do not believe in predestination in the Calvinist tradition, I do believe that God has a purpose, and yes, even a destiny for your life. The key is unlocking that destiny and your potential to be all you were created to be.
So, how do I do that, how do I "get happy"? Well it starts with a relationship with your maker. You have to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ to be able to have him share your propose with you. Then you have to learn to hear his voice, this comes from reading his word and spending time listening in prayer to the Spirit speaking to you.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, determine your purpose, and begin to take the steps necessary to achieve that purpose. Maybe that means going back to school, or getting your finances in shape, of making that very important decision to become a follower of the Christ. Wherever you are today, throw caution to the wind, put up your sails and see where the Spirit blows your life today!
By the way, I will be preaching next week, August 16, in Melbourne, FL at Fusion Church, Sunday at 10:30AM. Pastor Brian Gregory and I would love to see you there, contact me for more information!
Until next time...
Friday, July 31, 2009
I was shocked, confused, bewildered,
As I entered Heaven's door.
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.
But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp--
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.
There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.
Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well.
I nudged Jesus, What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.
And why's everyone so quiet,
So somber - give me a clue.
Hush, child, He said, they're all in shock.
No one thought they'd be seeing you.
I think we all fit in this category from time to time. We all "Think of ourselves a little higher than we ought". But I have learned that God does not look at the outward appearance, but the heart.
At The Bridge we have become a church of mis-fits, just like David's crew in I Samuel 22:1- (The Message) So David got away and escaped to the Cave of Adullam. When his brothers and others associated with his family heard where he was, they came down and joined him. 2 Not only that, but all who were down on their luck came around—losers and vagrants and misfits of all sorts. David became their leader. There were about four hundred in all. At The Bridge we love seeing what God can do in the lives of messed up people.
We just finished a series based on the book, No Perfect People Allowed. Together we learned that God came for the messed up, that you can come as you are! If that describes you, great, you are the reason Jesus came to the Earth - the sick are in need of a physician, not the well...
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Matthew 19:30 (NIV)- But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
In this world we understand that what goes up must come down, but the spiritual world is a kingdom of opposites. It’s a world where the last will be first, where the poor say they are rich and the weak say they are strong. It’s a world where in order to get you have to give, and to increase you must decrease. It’s a world where his strength is made perfect in our weakness. It’s a kingdom that if you want to go up you have to go down. Though you walk through the fire you will not be burned…. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death you will have no fear… In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world! And
Andeverything that goes down is destined to come up. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy’s coming in the morning! The very fact that you are down is an indication that you are on your way back up!
You may be going down right now, but hold on for a minute, cause your on your way back up with more power and energy that you have ever had before.
Pastor James, why do I have to go down in order to go up, that’s a great question, I’m glad you asked it! Newton's first law: law of inertia- Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest… except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by force impressed. In other words, we are will remain just like we are until the pressure to change becomes greater than the desire to stay where we are. Only when we are allowed to fall to the bottom do we then create the pressure to cause change in our lives.
Newton's third law: law of reciprocal actions- For an action there is always an equal and opposite reaction… The pressure that is created in our lives that pushes us down is not just creating pressure, but also momentum. But remember for every action, the pressure pushing us down, there is an equal and opposite reaction, the momentum that will carry us higher than we were to begin with.
If I were bouncing a ball, the harder I try to push that ball down, the faster and higher is comes back at me. I can push as hard as I want, that ball is still going to respond to the pressure and bounce back to me faster than I push it down. Its like those power balls you get out of the dispenser at Wal-Mart. You can throw them down as hard as you want, but they will keep on bouncing back.
Anybody ever seen one of those things when you were a kid that when you hit it, it lays way over and bounces back up, cause its weighted at the bottom? No matter how hard you hit it, it always bounces right back up. Somebody needs to get a bounce back in their spirit. Somebody needs to look life in the face and say you may hit me and knock me down, but I have to go down in order to come back up.
I may be down now, but I am on my way back up. I may have fallen down one more time, but I have a bounce back in my spirit and I’m on my way back up! Tell ‘em, I’m like George and Wheezy, "Baby, I moving on up…"
There’s a song by the great American Theologian, Rodney Adkins, that says, If you're going through hell, keep on going, don't slow down, if you're scared, don't show it. You might get out before the devil even knows you're there. If you're going through hell, keep on moving, face that fire, walk right through it. You might get out before the devil even knows you're there
It’s time for someone today to make their mind up that you will not quit. I will not give up! I might be down, but everything that goes down, MUST come up!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
As I was reading this my spirit began to jump. God was telling me it is the season of harvest, the season for faith to be increased. He literally issued a challenge to me this morning to ask him anything. I believe there are many of us who have sown in tears, but now is the time to bring in the harvest rejoicing. Now is the time to fill the barns. We have been building bigger barns, expanding the tent posts and expanding our territory, now God is ready to fill them.
Stand in faith, pray in faith, walk in faith, ask in faith, give in faith. Ask for great things from your God. Stop asking for "believable" things, the things you are pretty sure God can do. Meaning the things that if God does not do, you can pull off yourself. Be extravagant, over the top in your faith. Design the ministry God has placed in your heart and ask for the finances, the staff, the facilities, the people, the buses, the sidewalk trucks, the sound systems, the resources to make it a reality.
Ask for the moon! The time has come that we lose our "earthly" thinking. It's time to shoot for the stars, to have faith that propels us to the heavens.
God is challenging us to move beyond this life of doubt cloaked in false humility. Walk in boldness and confidence knowing that he who began a good work in you is able to finish what he started. He is able to do EXCEEDING, ABUNDANTLY ABOVE ALL we can ASK or even IMAGINE!
So dream big dreams, pray big prayers, walk in big faith because if you don't stand on faith you won't have a leg to stand on!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I am learning that this starts with the little things. There is an experiment in the world of theoretical physics called the Butterfly Effect. This theory states that in the perfect situation, and the right environmental conditions that if a butterfly flaps its wings of the coast of Africa it could result in a hurricane in NY. While this theory may be a little far fetched, it proves a very valuable point. Even the littlest things have great consequences.
There was a scientists named Fermi', he invented the ferimeter which measures things as small as 10:16th power (meaning very tiny) He demised that even the smallest things have tremendous effect on the things around us.
So, my point is this, when we walk by faith we automatically look for the big stuff, the walking on water, the healing of the sick, the financial breakthrough. But God is challenging me to look at the everyday decisions that I make in life. Am I making decisions based on faith or fear? Am I pursuing a life that places obedience to the leading of the Spirit of God ahead of personal security? Am I truly walking in faith?
My challenge to you today is look for the little things, the choices, your attitude, your perspective, your conversation. (Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. Whatsoever things are ...pure and lovely...think on these things!) Walk in faith today!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
When you enter this life of following after the Christ you enter into a life no longer guided by the same landmarks as your old life. The old life is measured by tangible things, years, money, possessions, titles. The new life is measured by the things you cannot see, faith, hope, love, grace, mercy, maturity. The old things are visible, tangible, they are perceived by your senses, you can taste, touch, smell, see and hear them. This new thing is visible as to the effects, you can see and hear where happened after the fact.
This new thing is driven by the wind of the spirit. Like a natural wind, it is invisible, yet it can be seen, it is mad of "nothing" yet it can produce something. Our job in life it to learn to ride the wind. To learn to perceive the direction, the speed and the destination of the wind. To put up the sails of our lives and catch the uncatchable, and hold the intagible.
This is the source of great frustration for most. For sometimes the wind seems to be clear, it is blowing NNW at 50 miles/hour. Other times is seem to be still, and yet other times it seems to be spinning widly in circles. These are the times that we have to know who is in control of the wind. Jesus is the master of the uncontrolable, as the Disciples said, "Even the wind and the waves obey him".
In the middle of the hurricane, tornado, stillness or breeze you are in right now, take you hands off the controls and allow the master to steer the ship. You may not be able to navigate this storm, you may not be able to make the boat move, you may be going in a direction that is oppostie what you thought, allow Jesus to speak to the wind in you life today.
Stop right now and say Jesus, I give you control of my life. Now take a deep breath and watch the effects of the wind, for the steps of a righteous man and woman are ordered after the Lord. He said he knows the plan he has for you, a plan to bless you and give you a future and a purpose! Speak to the wind today Jesus!
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Verse 15- Jesus says I am glad I was not there when he died, so that you can believe. There are some things in our lives that have died. Important things, things that meant a lot to us. Our dreams, our passions, our direction. These things have died on purpose. I need to say that again. God has ALLOWED some things to die in our lives, so that we may believe.
We all have things that have died, we have buried them, walked away and stopped allowing ourselves to think what might have been. But then out of no where Jesus shows up and says that thing is not dead, it's just asleep and I am here to wake it back up in you. But many times our response is, "Jesus its been dead for a long time, now it just stinks". Jesus is saying to you today, "I am the resurrection and the life, he that is in me, thought he were dead, yet shall he live".
Today, you have some things that are dead, that stink, in your life; your finances, your dreams, your relationships. It is that very fact that attracts Jesus to your house. The reason that thing died is so He can walk in and restore your faith. What an amazing dichotomy, he let it die so that your faith can live!
So I ask you today, what's that smell? Something stinks!
Somebody needs to walk in their house today and declare "Something stinks!" (then apologize to your husband). Shake off the spirit of heaviness and fear, Jesus is on his way. He has been waiting for it to get good and ripe, so you would believe again.
Just a thought...
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Had we not gone through the struggles we did pastoring our first church, The Sanctuary, we would never have joined the staff at New Life Christian Centre. Had we not joined that staff we would never have received the experience and training to see the amazing growth and momentum we are enjoying at The Bridge - Hot Springs today. It is easy to curse the darkness, but remember if it were not for the darkness you would never enjoy the light.
Two things I learned in the darkness that have kept me until daybreak:
1. Never let go of His hand. There is an old song, "When you can't see his face, trust his heart". I say, "When you can't see His face, hold on for dear life!" When Peter started to sink, Jesus reached out for him, or probably more accurate, Jesus reached out and Peter grabbed Him. The best place to be when you are sinking is holding on to the Rock.
2. Learn all you can. When it's darkest it seems like your other senses step up to compensate for the loss of sight, especially your hearing. When you are in the dark, listen carefully. John Maxwell says when you fall, pick something up while your down there. Don't be too quick to jump back up. Learn all you can. Listen to the Spirit, to mentors, to friends. The more you learn while you are there the better your chances are of not being there again.
Lastly, know you are not alone. Even though it is dark and you cannot see anyone around you, know there are many others in the dark with you. One commonality we all have is that we all find ourselves in the dark from time to time...
Monday, April 20, 2009
John Maxwell says that the way to grow an organization is to grow the people, and the way to grow the people is to grow yourself. As a staff we are committed to starting at home. We are growing ourselves first.
God has given us a vision for The Bridge - Hot Springs, a Five Digit Vision, but that will only happen as we prepare ourselves for the moving of the Spirit. Louie Giglio said, on a Catalyst Podcast, that his job, as the leader of Passion, was to "keep the sails up". He said there are two ways to move a boat, you can paddle yourself to death or you can put up the sails. Putting up the sales is both easier and faster. The Bible says that no man can see the wind, and no one knows where it comes from or where it's going, but we can see the effects of it. In other words, if we can keep the sails up on the boat, we may not know the future, but we can be assured that the Wind will carry us there.
This year, through this 10-10 vision we are putting up the sails. We are saying to God, we cannot go where you are taking us without you. I challenge you, leaders, pastors, staff, saints, put up the sails. When the wind is blowing hold on for a great ride, when it's not, stop and fish! Whatever you do, DO NOT TOUCH THE OARS!!!
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
I live on Spring Street. The same Spring Street in Hot Springs, AR that my parents lived on in 1972 when I was born. I know, I know, what’s remarkable about that? Lots of people live in the same town that they were born, right? Lots of people live in the same town their whole lives. What’s remarkable is that I left. Well, more accurately my parents left 28 years ago. They moved 1,200 miles away to Maryland. I was raised there. I grew up there. There was my home – not this place of southern remote quaintness that I don’t quite get. What I get is right outside of Philly- Delaware bluntness.
You see, I was never coming back here. Graduated from college, got married, moved to Florida 3 years later, had 3 babies, co-pastoring a church, living it out. I was never going to live in Arkansas! Are you kidding me? Then, the bottom fell out and too many events happened to dive into here. God opened a nothing-short-of-miraculous door and - voila! Here I am living on the same street on which I was born. My life has been a great big circle passing from mid-south to north-east to south-east back to mid-south - one big, ironic circle.
Since this, I’ve started noticing circles everywhere. No, not the geometric shape, but circles of life (My apologies to the Lion King.) We originate with God, in the unknown cosmos of eternity and galaxy and infiniteness, and are born into these little fragile, earth bodies. From our first breaths, we want to GO! We learn to roll, scoot, crawl, walk and then RUN. We go to school then go to college then go out on our own then go to work, all under the illusion that we are really going anywhere at all. We all work so hard to try to forget that the finish line is right back at the starting point - with God, in the unknown cosmos of eternity and galaxy and infiniteness. Life is a circle. Some circles are large. Other circles are way too short, like my cousin Frog’s and my friend Annette’s. They both passed this year - both from cancer - both in their 30’s - both circles way too short.
So, what’s the point? The point is to get rid of the illusion - to get our heads out of the sand. If the end is the beginning, then run in your circle with that full realization. Enjoy every minute of it. Squeeze every ounce of life and joy and love out of it. Live your dreams. Seize the day. But always, always remember your Maker. Live so that when that finish line comes into view it doesn’t frighten you. Be prepared for that day. That day will come, your circle will be complete, and you’ll be back where you started from.
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
As a country, we are facing the greatest recession/depression we have ever known, according the news, worse than even the Great Depression. The foreclosure rate has skyrocketed, unemployment is rising daily, the Stock Market has plummeted and is showing no sign of recovery, and people are feeling the credit squeeze. But in the middle of all of that I feel an anticipation, an excitement, that this is the greatest hour for the church.
We are seeing the greatest need ever in the world, and we have the greatest answer! As we approach this season of great joy and celebration of the Resurrection let us not forget that we too have been resurrected, from death to life.
I am going to be challenging the Bridge this Easter Sunday, our 1 Year Anniversary, to pursue everything God has promised. Chase the dreams, hold fast to the faith, for we have a hope that is greater than this world.
II Cor. 4:8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
We have been placed in challenging times so we may manifest, or show the life of Jesus in us! Wow! The purpose for everything you are going through is so you can show the world who Jesus is IN you!
So hold on, lift up your head, it ain't over 'till God says it's over!
Thursday, March 26, 2009
We are standing at another precipice in life today, a cross roads of sorts. The church is growing to the point that we need someone to be dedicated to it, but I am not in a position to be able to leave my job in Little Rock, so we decided it was time for Deidre to take the plunge.
That brought, as you might guess, some trepidition and fear with it. Leaving the comfort zone of a job to launch out into a dream. I was reading an awesome book today, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, good book. It is based on II Samuel 23:23. It simply says that one of David's mighty men chased a lion into a pit and killed it. Two verses later, he becomes the head of David's security, the chief bodyguard.
It is time for us to become a generation of lion chasers. To stop settling for what is and start chasing what can be. Yea you might get scratched up alittle, but in the end you cannot win if you do not at least try.
So for my first blog, two things, if you can dream it, try it! And read the book it rocks!