In and Out

In the message today, I shared a point that my Dad used to share with me.  I heard it time and time again growing up:  “You get out of something what you put into it.”  I know that wasn’t his original quote – it seems to be one that is out there and appears from time to time in different ways and in different contexts.  But no matter who “coined” it or where it is most often shared – it seems to apply to most every aspect of life.

For me, the topic it seemed to relate to most when I was growing up was sports.  Namely, football and basketball.  As I developed as an athlete and got more competitive at different levels, the element of practice became more and more understandable.  I don’t mind telling you that at one time – I just wanted to play the game.  Get on the field, or on the court for that mattter, and play the game.  Who needs practice – I would utter under my tongue.  Everybody loves to play the game…Does anyone like 2 or 3  hour practice?.  But as growth and development comes in – as you start to study schemes and put a gameplan together – you begin to realize that you have to become a student of the game.  You have to watch film.  You have to know the strengths of your opposition.  You must be prepared to counter and plan what you intend to do as a team.  That isn’t always ideal, and during halftime, we often had to make several key adjustments.  At the same time, as an athlete, I began to see and realize how imperative good practice, conditioning, and planning was.  And more and more, I witnessed how evident it was that the more you put into it, the more you do receive out of it.  Not just individually, but also as a team.  As a unit.  As a group of people working to fulfill a common vision and mission.

In fact, everything in life seems to mirror this in some way:  Work, Family, Education and Schooling, and yes, Church.  If you put  nothing into your career, your family, your education, or your church community – is it even reasonable to suggest that you will gain anything, grow in any way, or be a blessing to others?  It’s really quite unfair to think or believe that can happen.  It won’t.  It can’t.  It’s not part of God’s plan and design.  In Acts 2, vv.42-47 this is outlined and we have an example.  Sure, the early NT Church had issues and challenges – but it overcame them as the Holy Spirit led and as they worshiped God “with glad and sincere hearts” – together.  The Church in Acts 2 put into practice what God willed for them.

Getting intentional can be a hard plunge for some.  It takes investing time and energy, moving some things out of the way to make room for God and others, and contributing to the Mission of the Church.  Here at Bridgeway, we are seeking to go deeper in our connections.  We want everyone to experience more intimate, uplifting, and encouraging community.  In conjunction with this, and with the 30 Day Challenge, we are asking everyone to get plugged in to at least one life group.  Ideally this would be one that meets at least once/month or more frequently so this becomes consistent in everyone’s Jesus-led journey.  Currently, we are looking into adding 1 or 2 more groups that are topical and subject themed, and we hope to have more information in the next few weeks.

Nevertheless, join us each Sunday through this 30 Day Challenge.  Get intentional and be relational.  Seek God in your daily devotional time.  Earnestly seek God in expectancy.  It really is true:  We will get out of it what we put into it.  Let’s invest on the front side.  Let’s be in on what God is doing and what He wants to accomplish.

Psalm 133




According to Merriam-Webster:  “Unless” is first defined as:  “except on the condition that.”  At they give a kid’s definition, used in a practical, understandable phrase.  It is:  “She will fail unless she works harder.”

As a conjunction, the word “unless” is, in our English language, a subordinate conjunction.  That means, it joins an independent clause and a dependent clause.  “She will fail…unless…she works harder.”   Enough about the English grammar lesson.  Let’s quickly look at a segment of Scripture from the lips of Jesus Himself.  To some, it is overlooked and undervalued.  Too others, it seems nominal and precious at best.  After years of studying and digging into it – I continuously find it amazing and foundational.  Pivotal for our relationship with God.

After wondering, pondering, and just plain out asking Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven” – there can be little doubt that the disciples reckoned, or thought, that there names might be mentioned right after Jesus’ Name.  They said “yes” to following Him, traveled where He went, listened and gleaned His messages and teaching, witnessed the miracles, and left some professions behind.  They had commented before, to Jesus, “We have given up everything to follow You.”

Matthew records this in chapter 18.  At that time, Jesus had a child come up to Him and stand with Him.  I can only imagine the scene as Peter, James, John, and the others watched this – wondering what in the world this had to do with anything.  Then Jesus said to them, “I can guarantee this truth: Unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Whoever becomes like this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven”  (vv.3-4).

I imagine deafening silence fell – at least briefly – on that scene.  The Word doesn’t record that – but I can see it very plainly.  One of those “weird” moments where they just wanted to change the subject altogether, but couldn’t.  In a statement with a real example, Jesus spoke truth on what God is seeking in His children:  dependence; humility; innocence; and faith.  This is just a short list, of course, but one that helps identify who we are to be in Christ.

Today, there are many that are “puffed up.”  They reason they are experts and specialists – intellectuals and theologians.  Knowledge can do this (and will do this) if we aren’t careful.  I have written on this before:  “Knowledge puffs up” – so I won’t revisit that here.  On the contrary, the Word tells us that “Love builds up” and that “Love never fails.”  Let’s pursue love.  I am simply reminded that in the grand scheme of God’s design and order and will – we are to be His children, adopted and brought into His family.  Not self-seeking, not full of pride, not thinking more highly of ourselves than we should.  We are dependent on God.  People will show who they are, and in time, their motivation will shine through.  That is trustworthy.

May we be like children – the greatest in His Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven.  That will bring Him glory and honor His Name!