How About Relationship?


     There are so many titles and names aren’t there?  Yes, I know and appreciate the fact that it is important to know our identity.  There is heritage and history and we are always to stand for sound doctrine.  The old statement rings so true:  “If you don’t know what you stand for, you will fall for anything.”  Yet, every once in a while I do stop and ponder over the vastness of the titles, the names, and some of the things that we do cherish and believe.  Yet, it is also interesting to note that if we aren’t careful – they will divide us and cut us off from one another (entirely), if we allow it to.  I try to put myself in the position of those who look at this, have no context or understanding of what it all means in where they are in life, and decide  “I don’t understand” or “It’s too confusing.”  But this is what people, men, women, and children whom we should all be trying to reach and leave an impression on for Jesus Christ, feel and conclude.  Sure, it is absolutely essential that we are authentic and up front about What We Believe and Why We Believe It.  Anything less in dishonesty and synthetic.  However, we must fulfill our God ordained part to seek:  relationship; effectiveness; and authenticity at the core.  We must fulfill our part in the Body of Christ and to do so, we must come to the place where we can work shoulder to shoulder to impact souls. 

     I know people who have been hurt.  One of the most damaging hurts I have ever come across came from a couple I know back in Virginia, who went to an “organic church plant” about 3 years ago.  The first few months were great, as they have shared.  Multiplication happened and things seemed “purposeful.”  The group was growing.  It even resulted in another plant.  From 6 to nearly 40 in less than 6 months, and 2 locations.  When I talked to Caleb in 2007 and on into 2008, some things occurred that should never occur where the Gospel is preached and where God is to be lifted up.  By 2008, the 2 groups of 20 at that time (40 in total), had stopped meeting entirely and there was a falling out.  I know 10 of the 40 people, and all have said in their own words that they “will never do something like that again.” 

     On the other hand, I know that the Church hasn’t been perfect either.  Some worship the Institution; the Office; the Liturgy.  God has been removed in exhange for power; control; social events; and money.  The God of all Creation and worshiping Him is but a memory.  About 12 years ago now, before coming to the Lord when I reached the end of myself, I was hurt by such a people.  A building or a place will never hurt you – only people can do that.  After a few years, God led my wife and I to find a people who would love us and accept us for who we were; with all of our band-aids, bruises, and bumps.  And I sure had some of those.  This was a church body that held dearly to their beliefs and convictions, but loved people (like us) enough to reach; stretch; invest; and bridge a relationship.  It’s like they loved God and people in a way that warmed my heart and spirit, and it was so attractive and desirable.

     There are many places like this:  Healing Lighthouses I call them.  They are places where you are accepted and loved – yet, you are given the truth that no matter how you’ve lived; no matter what bad decisions you’ve made; and irregardless of the sin that has bound you – God loves you enough to NOT leave you there.  These are church bodies that exalt Jesus Christ, lift up His Name, share His hope, and speak of His love and forgiving grace.  It’s not just a few people, or just leadership – it’s a church family that believes it and communicates it.  Priority is given to a vision that distributes hope and shines the Light.  These are places that walk the walk and are available.  They don’t “beat up” others or hide behind titles, movements, or trends.  They stay the course in the midst of challenge, trial, and transition – waving the lantern in the thick of the clouds.  I pray and hope Bridgeway is found to be as such, through and through. 

     You see, it’s all about relationships:  (1) Our relationship with God (first); and (2) Our relationship with each other (second).  The 2 are for sure interwoven, just as Jesus Himself tells us in the Greatest Commandment.  It can’t be separated or removed from the core of the local church, so let’s be sure that we are seekers of these relationships, in Christ, and trust Him to lead us/guide us/direct us.  I believe in the ministry of His Church and I believe it is the local church body that is called to “work out what God has worked in.”  There is no absolutely perfect institution or organization as  long as humanity is involved; no matter how organized, disorganized, liturgical, contemporary, formal, or casual it may be.  But the Church is part of God’s perfect plan to share His Gospel and His saving grace with a lost and dying world:  It’s His chosen way and means.  I love the song that states:  “I’m coming back to the heart of worship…and it’s all about You, all about You, Jesus…”  There is a richness in the story that is behind the song.  But right now, I believe we could make a 2-word change to the song which would capture a Top Priority for the Church today:  “We’re coming back to the heart of relationship…and it’s all about You, all about You, Jesus…”  No, I won’t be singing that so you can relax :-) 

     We have His power in us to do it; and what He authorizes, He energizes.  Relationship is where it’s at…

     Blessings and many prayers, you are loved…



     As I was reading and praying this morning, the Lord led me to contemplate, saturate, and meditate on this whole idea of complacency.  At first, I thought it was the words of Paul that landed me there, then I read an excerpt of Chambers – but through it all, the Spirit was the One guiding and directing.

     Paul reminds us all that we must not “forsake our first love.”  Chambers says, “It is dangerous to become settled and complacent in our present level of experience.”  But it is the Holy Spirit Who brings to remembrance all things past and present.  It is He Who brings others to mind and heart – those who have seemingly become complacent, comfortable, cozy. 

     If I haven’t said it or shared it lately – let me do so now:  God is seeking to get our attention.  He is seeking those who will follow Him in truth and in spirit.  While so many direct their sails in every direction, hoping that abundance, prosperity, home, and pleasure will bring stability; while others seek political and societal answers – God remains, waiting for His people to “seek after His own heart.” 

     Don’t know why this has invaded me today – but it has.  I believe God wants to use it in my life, maybe yours, perhaps tonight at our Grow & Connect time.  I am going to keep saturating and praying – and I invite you to join me.  Let’s seek His own heart and yield to His ways!

“The journey is the destination…”

Pastor Porter

The Lord, My Shepherd!

     Today, in some personal, alone time with the Lord, I was led to the 23rd Psalm.  I believe the Lord’s lead to this treasure has had something to do with Ms. Dot Willis’ passing yesterday.  Surely she had a grand Homecoming in Heaven.

     But as I was reading the passage, I was reminded of the Greatness of our Good Shepherd.  I am probably as guilty as anyone else, in that it is usually in the passing of someone that we rely so much on Psalm 23.  In fact, it is often the most widely read at memorial services and burials.  But day by day, do we truly believe, realize, and confess that God is our Shepherd?  Do we allow Him to direct and guide without reservation?  Is our cry, “not my will, but Yours be done, today.” 

     What a joy when God has the helm of our life.  He can make sense of it all, and even if we don’t understand, He promises the peace that passes understanding.  He remains and He is near.  Right now, in your life, is He your Good Shepherd?  I know that He desires to be – for all of us.  Right now, let’s pray for a yielding to the Holy Spirit, that we might know intimately the Good Shepherd of souls.


The Mission

     Nothing about the Mission is easy.  It is not meant, intended, or promised to be.  It is not words alone – it is both fueled and energized by action; by action that is motivated by love.

     Look at the word usage, especially the verbs:  “to go…to make…to baptize…to teach (others) to obey…”  As Jesus speaks these words He is addressing those who believed, those who had received, those who had remained.  The Spirit of God had not yet been poured out yet – Pentecost was to come and come in a mighty way.  But Jesus had told them that “they would receive power” at that appointed time.  Until then, the action verbs of the Great Commission would remain somewhat obscure.  Interestingly, Jesus ushers these words as His final instructions to the community – to the church that He would empower, equip, launch, and charge.

     Yesterday we examined the kairos (the times) that we find ourselves in.  Amazing how each generation, each people have faced a husteros kairos (a challenging time) in one way or another – down through the centuries.  Look at the historical accounts.  Yet, in the midst of it all, the Mission  has not changed for the Church.  It has remained and it will remain until His glorious return.  We have hope and promise in the second part of the Mission Statement Jesus gives us, in this:  “And I will be with you always, even until the end of the age.”  For those who believe, receive, and remain – we know that we do not toil, or work, or serve in vain, for the Lord has built the house. 

     In our lives today, now more than ever – we need to hit the streets, we need to share the hope, we need to bridge the relationships – all for Him.  We need to be a people after God’s own heart, not just in words but principally, in action.  The kairos demand it because people are perishing; just as it says in Proverbs:  “Without vision, the people perish.”  He is worthy of our very best!


Pastor Porter

The Way

     The Way

     Tracks are one of the tools we use to follow and locate positioning, and they can come in many forms.  Interestingly, do you know what the primary term for identifying the followers of Jesus was?  Do you know the most widely used word for the early church?  They were simply called, ‘The Way.’

     The NT Book of Acts uses this phrase 6 times (9:2; 19:9,23; 22:4; 24:14, 22).  Compare these 6 occasions where the name, Christian, is used only once (11:26).  Not saying both aren’t important and part of our identity in Christ – just bringing up a reality.  So, what can we learn and glean from this title:  ‘The Way.’  What can speak to us now, in the present tense, in our lives?

     Today, we have a separation between what a person says they believe and the way they live their lives.  For example, do you know anyone who says they believe in Jesus, but do not follow His example, His teachings?  For most it has become the norm to speak of having “faith in God” without doing the “works of God.”  But we must take heed:  We do not find this separation between faith and works in the Word of God or in the life of Christ and the early NT church.  Rather than separation, there is integration.  Pick up and read James 2:18-19, 26.

     Paul writes in Galatians 5, v.6:  “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”  Love is connected to faith.  It doesn’t mean we become a doormat – it doesn’t mean we relinquish accountability.  Acts of love are motivated by faith and oneness in Christ, that is, if they are authentic.  The true followers of Christ shine – and the true followers of Christ (The Way) will be easily identifiable by the fruit their lives produce (read John 13:35).  In the Book of Acts, the early church is identified by the way they lived and not just by what they believed.  Same is true today.  What good is it to talk all the talk, post all the blogs, do all the daily publications if you aren’t in the lab, on the roads, with the people, living the life?

     Let’s live the way Jesus lived! 

     Pastor Porter