Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Moving Hearts Towards the Healer

Last month, I shared with you all in another post how the first step in disciple making often begins with a simple conversation and a simple invite to experience something beautiful. Beauty peaks our interest. Beauty stirs something in our soul that aches to be alive.

Here's what I wrote last month: "Beautiful moments are wonderful conversation starters...a crucial part of being a disciple making disciples is simply being willing to open our mouths and share the beauty of Jesus with another human being." 

Earlier this week, I received this email from a first time guest who came to our Dalton campus.

"My wife and I visited Rock Bridge this past weekend and really enjoyed the service. Honestly my wife never thought I would go in for a contemporary worship style, but a chance meeting made me interested in visiting your church."

The gentleman went on to share how they had just moved to town and he was feeling pretty down about the move. The technician who arrived on the scene to do their internet installation "just happened to be right person at the right time...and he lifted his spirit."  The technician invited this man and his wife to check out Rock Bridge. They took the technician up on his offer, attended a service, and plan to return. 

Wow!  I love this!  Why?  Because it wasn't complicated. This technician was simply willing to open his mouth and share the beauty and joy of Jesus with another human being and the Holy Spirit did the rest!

A few additional thoughts I had this morning.

Chance meetings are never just chance meetings.  The Lord has you where you are right now for a purpose. And, chances are, it's to be a bridge builder like this technician. Every moment in our day is an opportunity to shine His light into a dark situation that needs His love and His joy.

I was reminded again last night how Jesus, in the book of Matthew, taught the first disciples that their job was to "teach, preach, heal". Jesus modeled this to them over and over again by his words and his actions.

Could it be that the first step towards bringing healing and comfort into someone's life as a disciple maker is to bring His light and His captivating joy into a situation?

Because that speaks volumes, that moves hearts towards our Lord and Savior, our great Healer! 

"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

What I tell you in the dark, speak in the light. What you hear in a whisper, proclaim on the housetops." Matthew 10:27

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


The more I allow the Holy Spirit to examine my heart the more I realize that I need a constant re-calibration in the way I view people. 
It is just too easy to treat people wrong.
Here are a few things the Spirit is teaching me.
1) I am much more arrogant than I realize.
This comes out in my expectations of people.  I have a tendency to expect people to treat me in the way that I think I deserve.  I expect people to live up to my spiritual expectations. When they don't fit into my expectations it is too easy for me to get to thoughts like "why can't they get what I am saying?", "What is their deal?".  Notice how much "me" and "I" is in that! DANG!
Check out Phil. 2:1-11, Rom. 12:3
2) I need to be more thankful for the people that are in my life.
There are some amazing people in my life that have loved me for a long time.  They have put up with a lot!  They have been patient, encouraging  and challenging. I am always thankful for them, but I do not express that to them enough.  Recently I talked with a friend who has had a huge impact in my life through his personal investment.  He needs to know how grateful I am for him!  There are also many people whom God is allowing me to walk with and help in their journey.  I do not deserve to have the place in their lives that I have.  They are all gifts of God and they need to hear that from me more!
Check out 1 Thess. 2:19-20, and Phil. 1:3-11
3) I need to verbally praise and encourage people more.
As a leader it is too easy to be more about what people do than who people are.  I can move from one task or thing to next without slowing down and telling people how much I love them and how well they are doing.  That is pretty bad. People need to hear that they are doing "ok", that they are making a difference, that they are loved, that they are appreciated.  They need to hear me, in front of other people, affirm them.
Check out Hebrews 3:13 and Hebrews 10:24, Phil 2:19-30 (Paul is bragging on Timothy)
There is a lot more that He is teaching me.  I really just need more of the Holy Spirit.  I need the kingdom to come in my relationships.
I need to grow to treat people more like Jesus would.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Am I Winning?

We all want to win.  There's no question about it.  When God made Adam and Eve and put them in the garden, He told them to go and "subdue it" and rule over it.  I like to rephrase it this way:  "Make the place better because you're here!"

Isn't that what we all want?  To know our life is making things better and that someone, somewhere is glad we showed up?

But what exactly is better?  What's the best way to do this?  Is there a simple way to make sure my life is spent the right way?

Jesus said there is, and demonstrated it to us.

Serve Others.

When Jesus' disciples got into a dispute over rank and position and "greatness" right before His crucifixion He pulls them together and made it clear:

Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then He took a child, had him stand among them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one little child such as this in My name welcomes Me. And whoever welcomes Me does not welcome Me, but Him who sent Me.”  (Mark 9:35-37)

Servant of ALL.  What does that mean?

It means that our goal each day becomes not how much I can achieve, but how much can I bless?

  • At work: how can I bless my boss, my co-workers, my customers?
  • At home: how can I bless my spouse, my children, my parents, my family, my neighbors?
  • Everywhere else:  Am I daily looking to be a blessing no matter where I go, to anyone and everyone I encounter?
And it specifically means the least and lowest around us, the ones that often get overlooked.  Jesus brought the child into their midst to punctuate that.  In their culture children were considered very lowly and should not be bothering anyone.  But Jesus cherished them and esteemed them as a critical target for serving, very high on His list!

Do you see how easy it is to score some wins?  Because people are everywhere, the wins are everywhere! 

Lets knock out some wins for Jesus today, bringing JOY to His heart!  Let's be the servants of ALL!

By Alfred Turley

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

One Day Closer to Death... A Prayer

A beautiful prayer from Sam Smith - Rock Bridge Chatsworth Campus Pastor


From the Journal of Sam Smith - May 17, 2017

Good morning Jesus.  I am working on my following You.  I am trying to stop listening to that voice in my head that speaks negatives and leads me to distrust.  I am trying to speak Biblical truth to myself - instead of listening to that voice.  

Jesus thank You for setting Your face toward Jerusalem and traveling toward Your death for me.  I cannot imagine that every step You took, You knew You were one step closer to death.

Wait!  Wait!!  Every step I take I am also one step closer to death!  Reality set in yesterday when at the DMV I asked the lady when I would have to get my next drivers license.  She said 8 years.  I will be 63.  

Lord Jesus these next 8 years, these next 8 months, these next 8 days, these next 8 minuets, these next 8 seconds: I want to follow You in making a difference for Your Kingdom to come!  I cannot and will not do it alone.  Jesus I need You more today than ever.

I love You Jesus!


May we all count the moments today, and live each one in the reality that we are one step closer to death...  And to eternal life!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Learning to Remain in Him - Obedience

By Alfred Turley

In a previous post a few weeks ago, I started a discussion of the importance of remaining in Christ, and specifically made this point:  We have Jesus Christ, and incredible access to our Heavenly Father.  We have the Holy Spirit living inside of us.  But...  Does He have us?  (You can read the original post here.)

In seeking to remain in Him, I can truly say that the single biggest obstacle to us enjoying God and remaining in Him is obedience.  In John 14:23-24 Jesus says this:

If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.  The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.

Now obviously we know that God loves us, even if we don't obey Him.  But in this passage, we are seeing a manifestation of that love in a more active sense.

Why is receiving God's love conditional on obedience?

We can never experience the love of another person unless we align ourselves to receive it.  We have to respond to love and love back.  Think of marriage.  God tells us that the deepest love two humans can know is through his design for marriage, surrounded in commitment, and mutual love and respect (It's a two-way street).  But it means I have to follow His plan, and do what He says and basically follow the instruction manual from the designer.  Any other way won't release the full package He intended.

Obedience aligns us to receive God's love.

God knows what we need and what our hearts thirst for.  And He has made it clear in His word and especially through Jesus' life that obedience to Him actually should yield a light and easy yolk in our hearts (Matthew 11:30) and overall a life of spiritual abundance (John 10:10).  If we want God's best, we need to make obedience a priority!

There are few testing questions I ask myself to help see where I might be out of alignment with God and standing in disobedience.  These questions can help us know what might be in the way, and what we need to deal with to experience God's best in our lives!

Forgiveness:  Is there anyone I need to forgive?  Jesus says in Matthew 18:21 that not forgiving others when we have been forgiven of so much is absolutely unacceptable to Him and to our Heavenly Father.  It is an immediate block to receiving from God when we stubbornly hold on to offense.  In a previous post I stated that when we surrender our lives to Jesus, we surrender the right to be offended.

Fear:  Where do I need to trust God and quit being afraid?  Fear is a terribly blinding path of disobedience that leads us down self-protective, destructive roads.  Fear is the opposite of receiving God's love.  John 4:18 says that God's perfect love casts out all fear.  Fear is choosing to see a lie instead of a truth.  While this is my biggest enemy, and is not at all an easy thing to rid myself of, if I want more of God I have to battle fear and get to faith and trust.

Rebellion:  Am I just refusing to give God control?  This is a very serious block to our relationship with God when we just say "NO" to Him.  Maybe saying "YES" has a cost to it we just don't want to pay, usually out of fear.  But whatever it is, when we know what He wants and we just say "No God", it's a guarantee that we will grow distant with Him and bad things are going to happen.

Self-Centeredness:  Does my world just revolve around my needs?  God loves us tremendously.  But it's not about us, it's about Him.  We must start thinking of living with the needs of others in our focus.  Especially the heart of God.  Receiving His love means loving Him back.  Jesus said in Matthew 23:11 that "the greatest among you will be your servant."  That is definitely someone thinking of others, and not living with themselves at the center.

Are we positioning ourselves today to remain in Christ and receive His love and goodness through obedience?  Let's ask ourselves these questions, and get back on the path of obedience and the path of "Remaining in Christ!"

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Putting Up with The Stink

There's a question that regularly comes to my mind:  What should a true disciple of Jesus look like? And... do I look like that?

I want my life to bring good "publicity" to Jesus.  Those who follow Him should have lives that say to the world, "Hey, this Jesus really is a treasure worth pursuing!"  People should see a difference in us, right?  But if our lives don't look any more hopeful, any more joyful, any "happier", then what's the point?

I came across these verses this week from Ephesians 4:1-3:
Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.

What Got my attention was that there was a footnote to "accepting" that read "or tolerating".  I also looked in a Greek Bible I happen to have, and the Greek word means "to put up with, bear with, forebear, endure, suffer".

Well...  that just feels a bit different to me than just accepting.  Accepting is being in relationship with someone that I just don't necessarily understand or like.  Someone that makes me a bit uncomfortable.  But that's not enough is it?  Because bearing with and even suffering with someone is a whole new level.  This is the person that actually hurts me, actually makes me miserable.  They STINK.  And this passage suggests fighting for the relationship.  Ouch!

Today as a follower of Jesus I am grateful...  grateful for those who have persevered with me and my own stink, my own insecurities and fears and arrogance and self-centeredness.  I am grateful for the people throughout the years who have suffered with me and from me and endured it out of love and obedience.  I have whined and complained.  I have hurt people.  I have been very difficult.

Haven't we all?  So how can I live this out?  There's no question this level of love gets the attention of the world.  It gets my attention!

Here's how we live this:  we realize that the One who loves us most went even further than tolerating us.  He fought for us and saved us.  And He lived this verse out so immensely that He suffered for our sins on a cross.  My sin cost Him dearly.  Our sin cost Him.

I heard this recently:  When we decide to follow Jesus and surrender our lives to Him, we surrender the right to be offended.  We have done more to Him than will ever be done to us, and since we are forgiven, we must forgive.  He has carried us, tolerated us, put up with us and our stench, and fought to stay in relationship with us.  We must do the same!

Today, those of us who want to see our King glorified and honored, join with me!  Let's make sure we stay away from offense.  Let's love lavishly, forgive quickly, and bear with one another in love, even to the point of suffering.  Even in the stink!

He is worthy of our obedience, and the world needs to see the fruit of His lavish love at work!