I got gutted the other morning and I didn’t even see it coming. I got a great night sleep. Woke up early and was ready to attack the day. I opened the fridge and found some left over birthday cake to eat while I worked through my morning reading. I started pounding through the cake but was keenly aware that it tasted a little funny. It wasn’t even five minutes later that my stomach was in an all out revolt. I will save you the details of the next few moments but will mention that I was on my knees seeing the cake all over again. The entire experience was exhausting but within the hour I was upright and in great shape. It isn’t rocket science – I ate some expired food and my stomach said “No way! You get that junk out of here.”
As I thought about this today I had this deep longing for this to be my natural response to sin in my life. You see my struggle with sin is rarely if ever a mad dash towards that which is wrong or overt evil but rather a subtle shift from truth, embellishment, or perceived minor deviation from what is right. It is as I start to notice something tastes a little funny but I keep going. I take it in and I don’t think there is going to be any side effects and it doesn’t get exposed until it is way too late.
I wish I was allergic to sin. I wish every time I started to nibble at something that is counter to what God has for me that my body and mind would react the same way it does to expired food. That my body would go on high alert and say – no more – get this out of my system.
Romans 6:12 says, “Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires.”
Hey bridge Church, 10 things I want to share with you today…
#1 CELEBRATE with me that this past Sunday 32 people came forward and to receive Jesus! That is 32 people who are rock solid in where they stand with Jesus and their lives are forever changed!
#2 AWAKE CONFERENCE is just a few days away. We are so pumped to offer a regional conference for other student ministries. We are CALLING OUT students to live out the life God has created them for. We have a few students who would like to come and we want to be sure money isn’t the reason why they miss out. If you want to sponsor a student for $35 contact thebridge office.
#3 HOME SHOW CHAOS is happening this Sunday. There are a few things you should be aware of for this Sunday and no I’m not going to plug that it’s my birthday. Here is what you need to know:
Bridge Kids rooms will be in different locations – 1st – 5th grade will be in the Studio / Nursery in conference room 1 / 3 & 4 year old room in conference room 2 / Pre K & K room in conference room 3
There will be NO BASE CAMP this week. It pains us not to have this as an option but space won’t allow us to do this well.
If you are on a serve team we are asking that you consider parking at the beach.
#4 SAVED PEOPLE SERVE PEOPLE and you have a chance to serve people who were greatly impacted by tornadoes from last year. We are sending a team to Washington, IL on March 14 & 15. We have 5 spots left. If you would like to know more or would like to sign up contact thebridge office.
#5 LOVE RULES our NEW SERIES kicks off this Sunday! FOUND PEOPLE FIND PEOPLE – Bring someone!
#6 OWNERSHIP has moved to May. I am so excited for you to hear what this is all about. We are working hard on making this the most awesome it can be and you have to trust me it will be worth the wait!
#7 TERLOW UPDATES can be found at their blog here.
#8 GROWTH GROUPS are where lives get changed. As WE JOURNEY TOGETHER in smaller communities God changes our hearts. If you are currently not in a group but want to get plugged in contact thebridge office.
#9 THIRD SERVICE is coming! Starting April 6th we will be offering a 6pm Sunday evening service at the Bridge View Center. As we get ready to launch this additional service time we are looking for people who would be willing to commit to serving on a team to help make it happen. If you think that could be you let us know. If you are not currently serving, but want to stop by guest services and fill out a TEST DRIVE card.
#10 EVANGELISM SEMINAR is going to happen again on March 30. We had over 60 people attend our first seminar and we want to equip you to share your faith and position you to invite people to join us on Sundays! To sign up stop by Guest Services.
BONUS – This past Sunday we had our largest non Easter attendance ever with over 900 people. One could easily think we are about numbers or growing bigger. Let me be clear – WE ARE - because every number is someone’s life. It’s their story. For example this week I received the following from someone who recently started attending thebridge, “I just wanted to drop you a note and say thank you. I felt like you were talking to me to the point that I teared up a couple different times. I’ve always grown up in church I know what it’s about I’ve just over time put my faith on the back shelf. I just wanted to thank you for encouraging me today.” FAITH IS MOVING FORWARD and what God is doing in our midst is unbelievable.
As I reflect on all of that has happened since he entered our life, all that he his, and all that he will be I am quite overwhelmed. There are so many stories and quotes. He is a leader and influencer. There are people at thebridge because of Toby. He is passionate about football and he loves to read. I love that he can’t get enough of the Old Testament.
Recently I asked him who his favorite person in the Bible was. He responded by sharing that it was Sampson.
Now I get it. Sampson is strong. He has the biggest muscles in the Bible. He tore a lion apart and tied foxes up by their tails. But there was a part of me that was a little taken back, maybe even uncomfortable. Sampson did not have a great track record with the ladies. He got himself into some trouble with them and eventually one women led to his downfall.
This led me on a search. There has to be more to the story of Sampson. I digested all I could on the book of Judges. I started a group with a few others guys to study it. I asked God to reveal a greater depth of understanding on Sampson. After a month long investigation I came away with such a greater appreciation of who Sampson was and how his life points to Jesus. Although I learned a lot from different avenues by far the most helpful resource for me in this quest was Tim Keller’s book Judges For You.
Sampson & Jesus
Both were foretold about by an angel.
Both were set apart from birth.
Both sought to bring deliverance (Sampson fell short / Jesus succeeded)
Both were betrayed by someone close to them.
Both were handed over to others.
Both were tortured and mocked.
Both were asked to perform.
Both cried out to God just prior to death.
Both died with outstretched arms.
Both appeared struck down but ended up crushing the enemy.
This isn’t the first time nor will it be the last that my son challenges me to and inspires me to grow closer to Jesus. As a proud father typing on the computer I can’t articulate the immense love I have for Toby and his sisters. I would do anything for them and the whole time I am sitting here the Spirit of God is speaking to me – “Marty, I love you even more than this. I have known your story before birth and have set you apart. I have a plan and a purpose for you. I stretched out my arms and gave my life so that you might know me.”
I believe the same is true for you. May you know this day the unmatched love of the Father, grace of the Son, and presence of the Spirit in your life.
Sophie has changed everything! I don’t know if it is because she is our fourth or because she is who she is but I would have it no other way. You won’t find a girl more excited to see you, smile at you, and hug you. She has the ability to entertain an individual and the crowd. From dancing to singing, from wrestling to swimming, from running to swinging – she is all in!
Maybe the most dramatic way that we have observed her “all in” is when she chooses to assume the role of Ariel from the little Mermaid. She steps into character and she doesn’t look back. All attempts to communicate with Sophie will fail but if you address her as Ariel she is a princess ready and willing to hear what you have to say. At first this drove me crazy. I stubbornly would refuse to call her Ariel causing her much distress and agitation. I justified my stance by believing this is not good for her identity.
Recently though God has prompted a new way of looking at it for me. He has been reminding me that it is a childlike faith that he is looking for. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 it says, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
My daughter has been showing me what it means to become a new person! She will not bow to the old identity. The old is gone the new has come. Far to often I am slumping back into the old. I am not embracing the new. Yet if I belong to Jesus it all changes. It doesn’t matter if I am dancing, singing, wrestling, swimming, running, swinging or any other activity – I can be ALL IN as a completely new me!
My hope for you is that you see yourself not as you were but as who Jesus has set you free to be. I pray that you can be ALL IN on the new you.