Thursday, May 22, 2014

Running the Race

Running the Race

I was blessed to have had the opportunity to attend the 2014 East Coast Pastors Wives Conference back in April. This year’s theme was “Citizens of Heaven” which is taken from Philippians 3:20 where the Holy Spirit through Paul tells us that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

I was very excited that the theme had been taken from one of Paul’s letters; Paul has always been one of my favorites! We all remember Paul’s life prior to his conversion; you couldn’t find someone that persecuted the church worse than him. The things he did to the body of Christ were horrible. This gives me hope. It means that any of us that think God couldn’t change us, or God couldn’t use or accept us because of what are pasts are like are wrong.  After the conversion on the road to Damascus Paul becomes a new person. Paul doesn’t just get a new name, going from Saul to Paul, but he gets a whole new life. This is how it works when you allow Jesus into your life. You are made new in Christ! Paul is now transformed into this man that has his eyes set on Jesus and Heaven; transformed into a man that not only runs the race, but runs it strong. (1 Corinthians 9:24, 2 Timothy 4:7)

How is your race going? Are you running well?

I ask myself the same questions. We’ve heard it before; we are pilgrims in this world, not settlers. Pitch a tent don’t build a house, this world is not our home. I’m sure we all have things in this life that we hold onto. Maybe it’s something the LORD has told us to let go of and we fight Him, not wanting to submit to His Lordship. We hang onto those things even when we know they are hindering us, why? The writer to the Hebrews tells us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,”

God’s goal is to transform us into the image of His Son, to make us like Jesus. Philippians 1:6 says “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  We are all under construction. The project end date is the day when Christ returns for his church. Don’t be discouraged because you’re not a perfect Christian, whatever that means. Paul wasn’t perfect by a long shot yet he accomplished and endured some pretty incredible things in the name of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. The very same Holy Spirit that lives in you as a child of God! Paul goes on in Philippians 3:12-14 to say “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

We are also given the well-known verses in Philippians 3:7-8 “But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” This is truly challenging. Do I count all things as loss so that I may know Christ? Do you? He then tells us that we are to learn how to be content in whatever situations we are in, whether in abundance or in want, in plenty or in hunger. This can be tough, but if you struggle with the how, Paul gives us that in 4:13 “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.” God isn’t going to lead us to a point where He tells us to let go of something without providing the ability to do so, or to be content with our lot without showing us how.

All these principals require perseverance, require practice, and require work. We must put the time in 
to build these spiritual “muscles”. I’m currently training to run a 5k obstacle course in September. I need to build endurance in order to finish the race. Halfhearted attempts in fits and starts will not prepare me to finish well. I certainly can’t expect to get out on the course that morning without any previous training. I need to prepare to run the race and such is our Christian life, we must put in the work to move forward. Take some time with John 15 to figure out how this happens.

Jean McClure told us that “What you put in now will come out when you need it.” This race requires endurance. The finish line of this race is Heaven, our home. We will experience times when we trip and fall along the way, but pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back in the race. Keep your eyes focused on the author and finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ! Press on keeping in mind the prize we have waiting for us when we get to see Jesus face to face and hear Him say “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

At the last session of the conference we found on our seats a small wooden cross inscribed with “Jerusalem” and a note that read “The Key to Heaven’s Gate” It was a fitting end to a wonderful conference, reminding us to keep our eyes on Jesus and the Cross.

I was challenged by a family member before I left to “be changed and come back so that we can be changed.” I saved that text message as a reminder of the conference and the things I learned.  We’re not meant to live this life alone and isolated. We need Jesus first and foremost, but we also need each other. Like someone training for a race, you make far better progress when you train with others. 

Take Paul’s examples and apply them to your life. Pray that we are changed so that we can go out and turn people to Christ.

With love,

Friday, May 2, 2014

I had a conversation with a friend the other day, the conversation was convicting, encouraging and challenging all at once. Exactly the way it should be! During this conversation we discussed a few things and I would like to address one of the topics that we discussed.

Consistency, Interaction, and Honesty

Kelley and I have been privileged to be involved in a few different small group bible studies as have some of you. My belief is that small groups are not something to be taken lightly. They should be a part of every believer’s Christian walk. Corporate worship in a larger setting, like on a Sunday or a mid-week bible study is essential as well, but they are somewhat different in purpose and intent than a small group study. Consider the model Jesus left us. He had 12. Yes, we are given accounts throughout the gospels where Jesus is dealing with multitudes. He feeds them in Matthew 14, Mark 6, John 6, and Luke 9. He heals them in Luke 6, Matthew 12 and 14, Mark 3 and He teaches them. Probably the greatest teaching He gave is the Sermon on the Mount.

Yes, there are many times when Christ was with many. But almost as a rule when in these situations Jesus would turn to the crowd and challenge them in a way that would whittle that crowd down real quick. Jesus has such an occasion in Luke 14 where Jesus says to the crowd If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Imagine being in the crowd and hearing this! I imagine that this thinned the herd rather quickly, separating the fans from the followers. There were times where He would get in a boat and cross over to the other side to be alone with the 12. The point being that Jesus had his most intimate human fellowship with a small group of people.  

I believe we should use this as an example. Studies have shown that the average person has about 125-150 friends or acquaintances and in that context there are subsets of “friends”. For the sake of space and time I’m not going to break it all down, but at the top of this friend pyramid you will find primarily family, people you have weekly interchanges with, followed by people you have monthly interchanges with. All the groups need tending, all need maintenance, all need care or like an untended plant- they will die. The point being is that we are able to be more connected to people when we function in a smaller group. I am not advocating that you or I dispatch with weekly corporate worship and church attendance, we’re instructed to do so, but we also must supplement these things with a small group dynamic. Jesus knew this. He designed humans and our inbred need for community which cannot be satisfied in large group setting. Inherent in the triune nature of our LORD is community, fellowship and intimacy. He was well aware of the need for intimate relationships. Unfortunately the world and pop-culture have co-opted the words intimate and community for far too long. We think of intimacy and we typically think of sexual encounters. We think of community and more often than not that conjures up images of hippies sitting around a fire singing a collection of Bob Dylan tunes while wearing hemp clothing. Neither of these pictures are what Christ had in mind when he created these ideas. He gave us the model so that we should follow suit.

How do we have effective small group ministry?

Consistency: We strongly believe that one key ingredient to a flourishing small group is consistency. Jesus tells a man in Matthew 8 to “let the dead bury their dead”. Is Jesus saying that this guy can’t bury his father? No, He is telling this man to take a look at his priorities. Are you…am I, truly invested in following Jesus? Do we want to really put the effort in where it is required? Does this mean that life doesn't happen and we neglect a sick family member or a job in favor going to bible study? I don’t think so, but is there always something interfering with your commitments? If you desire to make meaningful connections with other brothers and sisters in Christ you must remain consistent. If someone only attended class once every week would anyone be surprised when they didn't get the material? I don’t think so.

Interaction: Jesus interacted with the people He ministered to on both the large and small scale. He got very close with those He healed; remember the spit in the eye healing, that’s close! He engaged people on the streets, in the temple and on the hillsides. He questioned people and got them to think and to respond. What does this accomplish? A couple things, first it cultivates an environment in which people are free to be part of the conversation. As people begin to interact and get involved in the process it encourages others to do the same. Second the idea of interacting almost forces you to stretch yourself and step out of that proverbial comfort zone we are all so well acquainted with. Anyone who has spent any time in a gym or a PE class knows that growth does not come without stretching and some discomfort, but both of these things produce great results if utilized properly.

Honesty: Honesty in any facet of life is necessary but in the realm of the small group it is typically only a by-product of practicing the first two pieces.  No one expects someone to come into a group and open up and share their life with people they don’t know immediately.  Some people are quicker to open up and let others into their struggles and joys, while others take time. Neither is wrong, they are simply different. And just because someone projects in a certain way may not mean that they are being genuine. Be sensible and use discernment, but be open to reality that the things you have experienced have been allowed for a very specific reason, and that is almost always for the benefit of others and for your spiritual growth.

There are many other pieces to the puzzle of small groups. Maybe we’ll write about some others later down the road but for now these are the main topics. Consistency, interaction and honesty. If we all applied ourselves, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to these things in our small groups we would be amazed at what we see the LORD do. Obviously this has been written with The Bridge in mind. Please pray for The Bridge. Please consider these things and use this post as an instrument by which to measure yourself. As Paul encouraged us in 2 Corinthians 13, examine yourselves!

Please be consistent in your walk with Christ. Please interact with Him on a regular basis. Please, over all, be honest with yourself about the state of your union with Christ. 

Grace & Peace
Chris & Kelley

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's all about people.

It's all about people. Right? Isn't that why Jesus came, born of a virgin, died and rose again? I believe it was. It's all about people. 

I had the privilege of attending a graduation ceremony today for WorkExpress graduates. I won't get to detailed regarding WorkExpress, (what it is) but next to the LORD directing my steps into Father Bills and MainSpring, it was WorkExpress that intrigued me, that excited me. It is a social program with the express intent of equipping those that society deems "undesirable" with the skills to turn their lives around. It is impressive, it is innovative, and it is, as far as I can tell something that scripture mandates we do as Christians. I could spend the rest of this post detailing scripture after scripture from both the old and new testaments about why this is so, maybe soon, but not tonight.

I will give you this one: 

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them,‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,6 you did it to me.’-Matthew 25:31-40

and one more:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.-James 1:27

It is amazing to me that there are those in the Christian community that would try and say that engaging people in this context is something that some are called to and not others. Wrong. There is no option given in scripture regarding that directive. You either do it, or you don't. Does it mean you're not "saved" if you don't volunteer at a shelter or pass out winter coats to men and women living in the woods of Plymouth? No, I wouldn't say that. I would say that if you or I don't in some way shape or form help those that are less fortunate, those that have been cast aside by the vast majority of the population, we need to check ourselves. Check to see if you're really in the Spirit, check to see if you're truly abiding in the True Vine. If you are, you should be producing those spiritual fruits that are evidence of the new birth.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm not saying that everyone needs to work in this environment as a full time job. I am fortunate enough to have been blessed by the LORD to get to do this full time and collect a pay check for it. You may not "be called" to do what my co-workers and I do, but you have been "called" to do something. Pray about what it is specifically and do it!

As the grads received their certificates today it was impressed upon me like never before the reason Christ has told us to go to the people like the widows and orphans, like the prisoners and the poor and it is all about image.

Imago Dei- the image of God. We are all created in the image of God and because of this we have worth and significance. Our worth and significance is not wrapped up in our accomplishments, our families, our status, our education or anything else, it is tied solely to Christ. This is why we serve others, because they bear the image of our LORD, the greatest servant of all. The one who came not be served, but to serve. The one that wrapped a towel around his waist and washed the filthy feet of his motley crew of disciples. The one that willingly laid down his life for you and me and the poor, the homeless, the addict, the prostitute, the homosexual, the heterosexual, get the idea. We're worth something because Christ created us in His image and then died for us when we were His enemies, not because we deserved it, but because that is His nature then and now, and this is why we must serve others.

"But worth, value, and beauty is not determined by some innate quality
But by the length for which the owner would go to possess them
And broken and ugly things just like us are stamped Excellent"-propaganda

Grace and Peace,
Chris and Kelley

Monday, October 21, 2013

from death comes life.


I've always been a fan of Matt Maher's "Christ is Risen". We sang it yesterday in church, and as we did the painting you see above came to mind. I purchased this piece from an artist on the left coast named Chase Tafoya. I've been impressed with his work for a few years now and presented with an opportunity to buy an original piece, I bought. 

As I sang the chorus of Maher's song, which is taken from 1 corinthians 15:55, it hit me how perfectly the painting represents the biblical principal of life from death. While we were never programmed to taste death in the physical, we are all born spiritually dead. Psalm 51:5Romans 5:12Ephesians 2:1 all speak to this truth. 

When Paul penned these words he was explaining the resurrection of the body from death to the Corinthian church, a church known well for their debauchery. Read the letters to the Corinthians and see for yourself the things that were going on, yet Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:2 that he desires to present this sinful church to Christ as a "pure virgin". 

How does that happen? 

It's actually quite simple. Death, and from death comes life. The Corinthian church would have to "put to death the deeds of the flesh", and just like the Corinthian church we are to do the very same thing. We are called explicitly to "deny ourselves, take up our cross" and follow Jesus. Take up your cross an instrument of death, that in the economy of God, brings life, and follow Him.

We are sinful people. We need a savior. Period. People tend to think that they're inherently "good". People would like to think that in the end there is some sort of cosmic scale that measures the good and bad done in life, hoping that the good outweighs the bad, and that whatever higher being there is would accept them based on their merits. This is not how it works. There is a God in Heaven who is righteous and just and loves unconditionally, and because He is all these things He must judge sin. 

God "desires that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance", to be aware of their need for the redemptive work of Christ on the cross and to receive the free gift of salvation through grace by faith! This is the good news of the gospel. Jesus loves you, there is no way to escape this fact. He sent his only Son to die for you, so that you might live.

From death comes life.

When I first saw Chase painting this piece it immediately resonated with me. I don't know what Chase's motivation or inspiration for this piece was, but to me it spoke volumes about the scriptural principle of life and death. I hope as you read this you will consider the reality of sin, judgement, redemption, life, love and death. It is appointed for man to die, then the judgement, . We will all meet God one day, whether you meet Him in your own righteousness, of which apart from Christ you do not have, or clothed in the righteousness of His Son, is up to you.

Grace and Peace

Monday, September 30, 2013

Begin with love.

The Bridge has officially begun . We have met for our very first, of what we pray to be many, gatherings. We hope you all were blessed as we were. Kelley and I are looking ahead to our next meeting which will be held Saturday October 12th at the church at 6:30. Like we spoke about Saturday we will be starting in with Greg Lauries "Essentials Volume 1". If you haven't yet ordered yourself a copy please do so as soon as possible. If for some reason you are unable to order a copy please see either Kelley or myself and we will try and figure something out. I'll post some links to the books again at the bottom of the page. Also we would like to buy tickets by the end of the week for the Friday 11/15 Hillsong United show in Boston. If you are interested in going please contact either of us in person, text, or email at

Like we spoke about Saturday we want you all to be involved in this group, we want you all, as Ryan put it, to be active participants as opposed to passive. Engage one another, challenge one another, pray for each one another.

Christ has told us very plainly in Matthew 22:36-40 that out of the whole of the Law the greatest commandment is to love. To love the LORD with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. John 13:35 tells us that people will know we are Christians by our love for one another. Throughout the whole of scripture those who followed Christ never referred to themselves as Christians and only three times in scripture is the word actually used and twice it is used by others in characterization of the followers of Christ. (Acts 11:26 and 26:28)This is important because it proves out exactly what Christ spoke in John 13. They will know us by our love. 

Our life in Christ should look like something. If you are born of the Spirit of God as believers we should exemplify that birth, we should be bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). If we were born as a kangaroo we would exemplify the characteristics of the pouch-ed marsupial.

Holiness. We are to be holy because He is holy (1 Peter 1:13-16 & Leviticus 20:26). This isn't some self righteous call to legalism, rather it is a challenge to repudiate the beck and call of this world and its trappings. The call of God for holiness isn't an issue of being separated from things so much as it is being separated unto Christ. Think back to your first boyfriend or girlfriend. Got it, good. Now think about how long it took you to essentially neglect all you other friends and loved ones to spend tie with this particular person. It wasn't that you were distancing yourself from your brother and best friends, but you were so immersed in who this love interest was that that was all consuming. This is the idea of our call to holiness. Not separated from, separated unto.

Don't waste your time with the temporal things of this earth. Invest in things eternal: the Word of God and the souls of people, these are what truly matter. By doing this you will display the love of Christ and naturally be fulfill our directive as followers of Christ.

Grace and Peace,
Chris & Kelley

Harvest Ministries Essentials bundle

Essentials Volume 1

Essentials Bible study

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hello and Welcome to The Bridge

Hey everybody,

First things first, this group is to serve two purposes. To know Christ and make Him known. Simple. Our first meeting will be September 28th, 6:30 at the church. 

We figured a blog would be the easiest way to keep everyone updated to the goings-on of The Bridge. Yes, that is currently what we are calling it unless someone comes up with a better name. 

We will be posting schedules, questions, thoughts, updates, book reviews and recommendations, music and the like from time to time. Subscribe to it so you are all alerted when something gets posted. 

This first post is simply informative. Please pass this along to those that you think may benefit from this group. Keep it to those that have graduated high school and are not over 30ish.

One of the things we will be going over in the group is basic Christian Theology, or the essentials if you will. I picked up "Essentials" by Greg Laurie, so far so good. We're going to try and tear through a good portion of it before the 28th. Along with the book he has put together a study guide which looks pretty good. We've posted links below to each of them. Pick them up if you can before the 28th. 

I know Kelley and I are really looking forward too this and we have been praying for all of you. We are trusting God to build this group as He sees fit. Please be praying for us, for the group- The Bridge (I think I like that.)

Grace and Peace,
Chris and Kelley

Essentials by Greg Laurie

Essentials Bible Study by Greg Laurie