Vision & Mission

Belonging

We say around here, “you belong here” and we believe it. Not only is it true to our core, and not only do we state it emphatically, but over and over again, we live this out and we do our very best (with God’s grace) to demonstrate it.

Back in February, God gave us a theme which became a major focal point for us for several weeks. The “Be” Series that you see and hear about from time to time, was built on that very premise, that we are to believe, belong, and become. Note here: each of those concepts begin with “be.” In fact, our Christian journey is about being like Christ, being His hands and feet, being imitators of God, and being our best for His glory. That is what this journey is all about!

Since those 4 or 5 weeks back in early/early Spring, God has shown Himself faithful. So many opportunities for us to “be” together | to be better together. New ministries and outreach formats have been birthed, and many have stated that they are growing in their walk with the Lord. God’s Message has resonated and fruit is being produced through it.

Now, we turn in September to what is and has become a very key month for us here at Bridgeway as we lead into National Back to Church Sunday. It is not designed or intended to be some marketing campaign or branding slogan. Rather, it has become part of who we are and our chief objective in it is to be faithful to God’s will. And it is God’s will that we would expand His Name to others and further the territory for His Kingdom. That is why we participate and why we are a part. We have unsaved family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors who we would love to see brought into the family of God.

These next few weeks, as we lead into Sunday, September 17 and the actual National Back to Church Sunday Celebration, I encourage you (yes, you) to prayerfully seek God’s heart and desire for who it is that you (yes, you again) would invite and follow up with. Don’t pass this by. Don’t dismiss or discount it. Be faithful. Be mature. Pray | Seek | Act

If we each just do this, in obedience, I believe He will bring forth a harvest. It’s His will that none would perish, so we know He will be in on it. That is His heart. So let’s do it. There is no ministry in obscurity and there is no community in isolation. Bridgeway Church offers people of all backgrounds, experiences, and walks of life real opportunities to believe, belong, and become.

Join us throughout September, starting this Sunday. Make it a priority and don’t miss what God is going to do in our midst. I am convinced it is going to be a miraculous, God-ordered season for our local church body. Praying with you.

Porter

Vision & Mission

Our “We” Story

In the past few months, I have dove into a personal project that God put on my heart around the first of this year. It wasn’t such a burden than I felt compelled to jump in immediately, but rather, one that the Lord clearly gave me much discretion on. So back toward the end of June, it came front and center.

Through emails, blogs, articles, social media, brochures, and even introductory ministry tools that  come in quite frequently, I’ve been studying how much of “church” material whether promotional or communicative, is predicated on the account, record, or story of one person or one individual. Additionally, I dug into how many instances “I” “me” “mine” and “myself” appeared. In essence, all the personal, singular pronouns. Through engaging in this for the better part of 9 weeks, so much became obvious and seemed to reiterate what the Lord was saying all along (since the first of the year).

There is no “I” in church, yet, God builds His church on individuals and people and creates a common, unified experience while utilizing different paths to get us to Himself. At the same time, we very much live in a day when people showcase themselves through a variety of means. The culture has this pull, this force, this presence where a constant stream of data, and pictures, and captions, and emoji’s, and videos, and individualized marketing runs rampant. But the question remains: Aren’t we, the Church of Jesus Christ, commanded to be about “we” and what the Lord has done and is doing through “us?”  

The power of His church is found in how God ascends and in how we ought to descend. The Word claims this testimony from John, a disciple and later an apostle for the Kingdom who was an eye-witness to Jesus’ life and ministry: “He must become more and I must become less” (John 3, v.30). That wasn’t just an implication for that day and time, it was a word of truth that we must adopt and continue to pursue today (as challenging as it may be). We must decrease.

Our statement is: “We are better together!” – and that means that we are better as a community and as a team. Let our message be: Help us not to somehow communicate that we are the standard, but that we will get out of the way so that Jesus Christ, the Lord of all, shines ever the more brightly through us. He is our model and He alone is our standard.

Teamwork makes the dream work! Always does.

Blessings…
Porter

Heart & Life

Not That.

As you follow the life, message, and ministry of Jesus, it doesn’t take long to really learn a few things. In fact, it’s kind of right there in your face (over and over and over again).

Let’s broach this in the form of a question. Here it is: How often did Jesus call out the religious people in the NT? I’m not looking for a numerical guess here, so you don’t have to worry about thinking of a # in your mind. Rather, it is best to answer it this way: Jesus called them out ALL…THE…TIME.

And in a clear majority of the time, it was for 2 predominate issues:

  1. Selfishness, and
  2. Self righteousness.

Go ahead and look. Read. Study. Dig deep into the Gospel records. Google it. He takes the leaders of the law and the Pharisees to task. He points out their motives, but most critically, he dissects their hearts. You see, Jesus makes the point that no one has to point out their “faithful acts” or do things “where everyone can see.” Some of that is unavoidable, at times, in our modern culture and day – but He goes on to establish that “God knows!” 

The 2 items mentioned above: selfishness | self righteousness are the current trend in our day, and they have unfortunately infiltrated the church. It is our responsibility to ensure that we adhere to the heart of our Lord. If we “need” other people knowing about what we do, or how we pray, or what we give, in order to fill validated, then we need to re-evaluate. Jesus makes it clear: “God knows!” and that’s all that matters.

Let’s not fall into the trap the leaders of the law and the Pharisees did. Let’s allow God to elevate us to newer heights, where the Spirit of God can lead us into all truth. This is what truly matters.

Heart & Life

Got Kids? Read This!

From time to time, I get inquiries and questions from parents. Not the average day in and day out things, I am referring to deeper, more introspective, faith-centered questions. This past week during a phone conversation, for example, I was asked: “I don’t know what’s going on with ________ (their child).” They went on, “I’ve done everything I know to do and things are not improving.”

So let’s start with these two things right off the bat:  (1) Yes, I did ask for permission (names redacted) to share this; and (2) It is a question that is much more frequent than I can possibly communicate here. In fact, it comes in all the time in different ways. Some are more subtle than others, some are in chats and talks, but most noticeably – it is in face to face conversations. Lastly here, it comes from parents of who’s children are from 5 or 6 years old all the way up to 20 somethings.

In being a parent and raising a few myself, I can relate to the “seasonal” challenges that we all face. Children grow. They experience life. They deal with peer pressure. Their bodies and minds expand and change. They are developing personalities. This is all part of the God-ordered cycle of living. For any parent (no matter who it is) to say, “I’ve had no issues.” “There are no challenges.” “They’ve been absolutely perfect” – is all a facade and I would submit, a cover-up. Sure, there are some who just present limited challenges and follow instructions better, but in time, a season will come.

But for here, let’s just go on the premise that you or someone you know is having more consistent dire situations arising. Your child is rebelling. They are getting into trouble at school, at home, and maybe in social situations. They don’t listen. They act out. They are stealing and lying. And it is elevating the thermostat in the home.

Here is what I typically ask on the very front-end, to the parents:

  •  Are you praying about this regularly, every day, both in your own devotional time and with your family? Quite plainly: Are you taking this to God first and seeking His will and wisdom?
  • Next level: Are you surrounding yourself with people, in the church, who can be an encouraging, positive, Christlike influence on you and your family? Meaning: Are you making a solid effort to honor God’s desire that you are a part of a community who can love and support you (the church)? It’s more than showing up when its convenient or fits your schedule. It’s actually giving priority to being a part of something bigger than yourself.
  • And lastly: How are things in the home affecting this whole situation? Is there a lot of fighting, arguing, name calling, and disrespectful behaviors happening? You must know that in so much of life, a child will reflect the atmosphere they are exposed to: for good or for bad. What can be done, now…today, to change that atmosphere for the better? 

You see, to talk about our children – we must first examine ourselves.  We can’t dishonor and ignore God and then expect Him to be an active, welcoming part in forming and fashioning our children. He wants access. He desires our seeking. He so longs to be an active part in each of HIS children’s lives. And ultimately, we are all His children first.

I am hoping this helps you. It has helped me. The old saying: “It takes a village to raise a child” actually holds a lot of merit in my view. There is much truth in it. Allow the church, the family of faith, be a support beacon for you and your family. Bring your children to church and communicate that it’s a priority for you and your family. Trust God and pray frequently for your kids – as much as humanly possible. I assure you, if you stay the course, you will see incredible results. It’s just Who our God is! 

Be a vehicle through which, “future generations are told about the Lord.”

In prayer and with great hope, for all of us parents!

Porter

Free 4 All

Get Them Here!

get-them-to-him

 

 

 

I really like this picture. Out of the many I have gathered over the years, this one just speaks of urgency. In case you’re not aware of if you are looking past it – the picture depicts more than just a hole in the roof or a massive construction issue. To me, what is demonstrates beyond anything else is the concern, desire, and love that friends had for their friend.

This is what’s recorded in Luke’s Gospel: “One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the Law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee, and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up to the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.'” (Luke 5, vv.17-20).

I think of what these men did, that day, and the incredible faith they showed. When one way seemed to be shut down, they got innovative. It’s almost as if they would not be denied on behalf of their friend. And the result: God was glorified through this man, this sinner, being saved. Yes He was healed (read on in chapter 5), but most importantly: he who was once lost, was found.

I wonder if we would go to such lengths for our friends? Do we show the same resolve, the same fortitude, the same passion? Will we do what is necessary to get them to encounter Jesus for themselves? We should be – continuously.

Don’t give up friends. Do whatever it takes in love. Father, give us all we will need, today, to reach out to others with the Good News. Help us to have the determination and courage that will be necessary so that no one misses out on the life changing transformation that has been made available through Your Son and that is provided today by Your Holy Spirit. May we be a people that take this mission passionately and seriously. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

-Porter

Heart & Life

What Will it Say?

Earlier today, we celebrated the life of Mary E. Mason, who passed away this past Saturday (on New Year’s Eve) at the age of 92. It was a hopeful, Spirit-filled service as we honored her impact, her life, her legacy. We remain in steadfast prayer for the Mason/McKeithan Family in this time, but we are grateful that they have and live in the promise that one day, they will see Mary again.

In these past 2 years, we have celebrated many godly people who have “gone on before us.” In view of the ministry side of it, these are seasons that we as people and as church bodies go through. As I was driving today to Atlantic for the graveside service, the faces and the memories of those who have passed (with a connection in my life) seemed to saturate my heart. It was as if I could see their face and recall some of the wonderful memories they have left and the deep teaching they have passed on.

From immediate family to church family to dearly loved friends: At some point, if the Lord allows us to live long enough, we will all experience it sooner or later.

But at some point, it will be us. That is, one day, it will be you or I. That is just a reality that some don’t have a problem with, but others try to delay and avoid at all costs. On my return home back from Atlantic, this was on my heart and mind. Not in some weird or confusing way, but in a way that really is about helping people understand: This life we have here, on earth, in these bodies that do wear-down and will give out, is not the final chapter. And I say: Thank God!

A few years ago, the commercial asked: “What do you want on your tombstone?” In case the ads aren’t around anymore or if you haven’t seen them (and I don’t know the answer to either), it was a commercial for Tombstone Pizza. Yet, it goes beyond a simple iconic motto to sell pizzas. It’s a question that has deep ramifications for us all.

Unless the Lord comes back while we are still alive here on planet earth, there will come a day when others will plan and have a service for us. Yes, they will give testimonies and share stories about who we were, what we did, where our hope was placed, and what kind of impact we had (on them). The question is: Will they be able to give witness about our faith? Will they be able to speak about our relationship with God and with others? Will they be able to say we inspired them?

It’s reality. Don’t put off til tomorrow what can/should be done today. So what is it you want on your tombstone? Is it being written even now? Do you want a course correction so that it can be changed? The Good News is: God provides us with everything we need! All we have to do is be willing.

I am so grateful and thankful that in the many life and memorial services I have been involved in, in a variety of different ways. That what I have been able to say and share has flowed precisely from the life and memory that the person actually left. No manufacturing of words, no partial realities, no creative descriptions needed. Just the life lived, the Heaven gained, and the lives touched.

Blessings and joy…

Porter

Free 4 All

He’s Near

Christmas is about being near. Sure, it’s about a lot of other things too, but it is certainly about being near. To what? – you may ask. To God! – I would answer. The Advent Season is surrounded by God’s “nearness” to His creation; so much so that He Himself stepped out, came down, and became one of us.

A good question to ask during Christmas is this: What am I near to? We might all answer that in a different way. But the point is: Asking the question is a great way to really identify what we have put as the priority in our lives. What’s near to us is generally what is most important to us. That is a common trait that we share as humans. Our tendency is to be closest to what we have made most essential in our lives.

More than games and gifts, more than red and white, more than celebrations and get togethers – we are meant to be nearest to the Lord Jesus Christ. Now some will try and find anything to fill the vacuum and the void with other things. We’ve most likely all done that before, a time or two. But nothing will ever satisfy us until we come to the end of that pursuit and realize that it’s only He Who can bring that joy and peace to our lives.

He’s near. He’s here. He has never left us. If you need some assistance or help in coming to accept His amazing gift, please don’t hesitate in contacting me. This can be [and will be] the very best Christmas of your life. No need to delay or put off: For He is near!