Advent Devotional Day 4 – Light and Life!

John 1: 1-5 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 

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“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – MLK jr.

Challenge: Pray for an opportunity to shine into someone else’s darkness today. Let His love be a light!

Pastor Duane shares today’s devotional live…


Advent Day 3 – Be Still

Psalm 45:10-11 “He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Be still and know

Facebook Live devotion…


Advent Day 2 – My Hope is in Him

God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him, so why not. He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I’m set for life.7-8 My help and glory are in God—granite-strength and safe-harbor-God—So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be. Psalm 62:5-8 The Message

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Day 2 advent devotional by Pastor Duane.

 


Advent Day 1 – Wait in Hope

Lamentations 3:26 – It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord.

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Listen to Pastor Duane White (The Bridge Church) give our Day 1 devotion.

Challenge: Let’s put our faith in action! Today, express extra patience and graciousness today when you have to wait.


Christmas Advent Devotional Schedule

“Every journey has a beginning and an ending. Along the way, we may face hills to climb, rivers to cross, challenges to engage, but many times we encounter unexpected pleasures. It is the unexpected that becomes the most powerful part of the journey. Opening your heart to the adventure of a journey can release unexpected treasures for you to find along the way.” – Mike Stewart, Journey to Christmas

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Join us this year as we celebrate Advent together.

You can see daily live devotionals from The Bridge Church Facebook page or posted here. Each day has an inspirational quote, scripture reading and challenge to put our faith in action.
Advent comes from the Latin word “Adventus” meaning “coming.” During this busy holiday season, let us prioritize our time to COME TO HIM daily, as he first came to us! This year let the season be a journey into God’s beautiful presence, instead of a holiday of hassle, hustle and hostility. Take your heart on a journey of awe and wonder for how Jesus CAME into the world, how he continues to COME into our hearts, and how he will COME again!

NOTE: Each Sunday before Christmas we will focus on the Advent themes of Hope (week 1), Peace (week 2), Joy (week 3) and Love (week 4). If you’d like to participate at home, each Sunday light a new candle for that week’s theme, until all four candles are lit. This is a great time to bring your family together and refocus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Devotional Schedule:

Based on the book, Journey to Christmas, by Mike Stewart. Available on Amazon

Week 1:

DEC. 1 – Lamentations 3:26 | Challenge: Express extra patience and graciousness today when you have to wait.
DEC. 2 – Psalm 62:5-8 | Challenge: Every time you are tempted to worry today, say out loud, “Lord, I will trust you.”

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT – HOPE
DEC. 3 – Psalm 46:10-11 | Challenge: BE in the moment today. Don’t let distractions keep you from engaging your all in the moment. (Put the phone away and have a conversation with someone.) Make sure nothing distracts you from your Advent time.
DEC. 4 – John 1:1-4 | Challenge: Pray for an opportunity to shine into someone else’s darkness today. Let His love be a light!
DEC. 5 – Matthew 20:28 |  Challenge: Find a way to significantly serve someone like Jesus today.
DEC. 6 – Luke 1:26-28 | Challenge: Look up the prayer of St. Patrick, called “Christ Before Me” and pray it out loud.
DEC. 7 – Luke 1: 30-33 | Challenge: Surrender your will to the Lord and give him the right to totally rule your life.
DEC. 8 – Luke 1: 34-38 | Challenge: Pray for miracles for someone that comes across your path today.
DEC. 9 – Luke 1: 39-45 | Challenge: Write out scriptures of God’s promise to you in an area of struggle. Place them where you can see them throughout the day.

SECOND SUNDAY of ADVENT – PEACE

DEC. 10 – Luke 1: 45-55 | Challenge: Find a NEW song of praise today and share it with someone special.
DEC. 11 – Matthew 22:37 | Challenge: Take time at the top of the hour to tell the Lord how you love him.
DEC. 12 – Matthew 22: 39 | Challenge: Do something special today for a neighbor, co-worker or friend to express God’s love to them.
DEC. 13 – Philippians 4:7 | Challenge: Make peace with someone that you’ve had a strained relationship with. Do something to bless them and see the peace that rebounds into your own heart (no matter if they appreciate it or not).
DEC. 14 – Galatians 4:4-7 | Challenge: Refocus your schedule and calendar to reflect what’s important to God and his kingdom as his child.
DEC. 15 – Luke 2:1-5 | Challenge: What fears do you have for your future?Say a prayer of faith to trust it to his good purpose for you.
DEC. 16 – Luke 2:6-7 | Challenge: Show hospitality to a stranger today.

THIRD SUNDAY of ADVENT – JOY
DEC. 17 – Luke 2:8-9 | Challenge: Say a simple prayer of availability and see opportunities God places before you in small ways that may be significant to someone.
DEC. 18 – Luke 2:10-12 | Challenge: Share the “good news” today about Jesus love.
DEC. 19 – Luke 2:13-14 | Challenge: Take inventory of your thoughts today. Are they peaceful or anxious? Banish thoughts that aren’t peaceful or don’t give glory to God. (Philippians 4:8)
DEC. 20 – Luke 2:15-16 | Challenge: Is there something you know you need to obey the Lord in before the year ends? Do it now. Give him your YES.
DEC. 21 – Luke 2:17-18 | Challenge: Speak positive words of love and encouragement. Notice people who need some life-giving words today.
DEC. 22 – Luke 2:19 | Challenge: Store up God’s treasures in your heart today. God for a walk, look around and notice God’s big and small blessings in your life.
DEC. 23 – Luke 2:20 | Challenge: Fill your day with praise today–start to finish! Take 5 minute PRAISE PAUSES through the day and praise him for his goodness!

FOURTH SUNDAY of ADVENT – LOVE
DEC. 24 – Isaiah 11:1-2 | Challenge: Sing “Silent Night” and let God’s spirit rest upon you in a special moment. (Look up all the verses and sing them. You can also read the special story of how it was written here.)
DEC. 25 – John 3:16-17 | Challenge: What is your gift to Jesus? Pray about something special he would really love you to give him for 2018. Write it down and present it to him. (This is a great thing to do with your kids before or after opening presents.)


Magic is everywhere.

Mercy Gathers Broken Pieces

All these pieces, Broken and scattered, In mercy gathered, Mended and whole (Broken Vessels, Hillsong)

We awoke in the middle of the night startled by a loud crash. My husband and I raced out of our bedroom to find the source of the intruding noise. Suddenly…the realization hit me with the same alarming shock. Could it be my beloved china plates I had just hung in the dining room? I rushed to confirm if the incident was true, and yes; bone china shards pummeled the hardwood floor and scattered into a million broken pieces.

Have you ever stood and surveyed broken pieces of your life? How could this have happened? How could something so treasured and seasoned with hope suddenly slip from our fingers and fly in slow motion into a heap of fractured fragments? 

I knew how it happened and I was to blame. It’s one thing when accidents randomly happen with no finger to point, but all evidence convicted me as the culprit.

For years I had admired the china plate walls at La Madeline’s french cafe. Delicate china in all shapes, sizes, colors and patterns were arranged into a beautiful wall of art. I dreamed one day I would have a dining room where I could do the same thing and filed the idea in my card catalog of design options. I collected different pieces anticipating the day, and finally the time came to decorate my dining room wall in our new house. I arranged and rearranged the plates on the floor striving for the correct abstract pattern, until finally I had it right and it was time to recreate it on the wall.

It was all going well, until I realized I didn’t have a plate holder big enough for the large blue and white Mikasa plate. Should I WAIT and patiently save and shop for the right one…OR should I Pinterest a DYI idea to make one myself? I had to finish the wall that night, right? I had waited long enough! I had to see it finished NOW–even at the risk of my delicate plate.

My plate hanging DYI solution (as you can imagine) involved my faithful friend, the hot glue gun, along with gorilla tape and a metal key ring. It really LOOKED like a clever idea on Pinterest! Something in my gut told me to wait. This plate is worth too much to risk it. It looked beautiful for almost a week.

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Until it all came crashing down… 

I left the wreckage of the china pieces there for a few days until I could summon the grace to deal with it. I knew the big blue plate was the cause, but I was more disappointed about the small Royal Albert Rose Cameo vintage tea saucer that was my favorite.

Honestly, I left the pieces there in floor because it was symbolic of greater brokenness inside me.  Summer was not generous to us. It brought many emotional surprises that chipped a few pieces off my heart. Circumstances caught me by surprise and slipped through my fingertips in every effort to save them. Sometimes things get dropped, hearts break and best laid plans are forever altered.

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Days passed and I was reminded of my disappointed dishes and I knew I better sweep it up before the sharp-edged slivers injured someone. I’m reminded of a Maya Angelou quote that went something like, “In my pains, I don’t have to be one.” Lord, help me quarantine disappointment and hurt from spreading to others.

My heart jumped as I fully laid my eyes on the pieces. I couldn’t believe what I saw! There in the middle of the brokenness, mercy had gathered my rose saucer. “Lord, I can’t believe you did that!” I cried.

Even in my failure, a pillow of mercy caught my heart.

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I’m reminded how King David tried to collect his broken pieces after “Hurricane Bathsheba”. First he tried to hide them, then he tried to blame others, finally the prophet made him look at them for what they were. Broken human attempts to fix it. 

Psalm 51 portrays King David’s heart break with the prayer, “Have mercy on me O God, according to your unfailing love.”  MERCY. Mercy begins gathering. David repents for his contribution to the broken situation and beautiful mercy and grace appear with a broom. The humbled king gathers his broken pieces of grief, failure and disappointment–ugly and rejected as they appear–and offers it up to the Lord. Here, his altered future BECOMES an ALTAR of presence! 

A broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise.” Our brokenness is God’s landing pad for His presence, right there in the middle of the mess! God has promised to be close to the brokenhearted. No matter if our stupid choices broke it or someone else’s. 

“Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.” Psalm 51: 16-17 MSG 

As I type this, Hurricane Harvey has thrown a heavy hammer breaking homes, families and lives into unrecognizable pieces. I have friends outside of Houston who were evacuated from their homes today. They wait and pray for a miracle to hold back the river’s crest and turn back the water’s rage to save their homes. What will be saved? What will be broken? Lord, let your mercy begin gathering broken pieces in Houston.

I’m reminded of an old gospel song…

Pick Up The Broken Pieces And Bring Them To The Lord
Pick Up The Broken Pieces Trust In His Holy Word 
He Will Put You Back Together And Make Your Life Complete 
Just Place The Broken Pieces At The Saviors Feet.

You May Feel That There’s No Hope 
Broken Hearts Just Cannot Mend 
Tho Your Torn In Many Pieces 
Christ Can Make You Whole Again. 
Storms Of Doubt Blow All Directions But Don’t Be Afraid. 
God Can Make All Corrections He Made A Body Out Of Clay.

I hung my “mercy” tea saucer back on the wall, thankful for what mercy saved. But for now I’m going to keep a space where the broken blue one was. It can’t be put back together, but I’m trusting for his GRACE to provide another one. In HIS time, not mine. I’m going to cherish the empty space right now as a sign of FAITH for what’s to come. I’m willing to be empty handed to seek what’s in His hand. “Empty handed but not forsaken.”  

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No matter what has caused your broken pieces, there is mercy and grace for your tomorrow. God may choose to mend and repair the pieces, or He may ask you to wait and believe for new provision. Either way, as we give the painful pieces to the Father, mercy gathers and graces provides healing for a hopeful tomorrow. Charles Dickens wrote in the classic novel, Great Expectations, “I have been bent and broken, but I HOPE into a better shape.” 

Mercy gathers and grace provides healing for a hopeful tomorrow. 

Jesus came for broken hearts, will you let him come to yours?

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted. Luke 4:18 

 

 

 

 


Grace is enough

It’s OK to Not Be Enough

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of motivational gurus harping their mantra that “you are enough” or “you are good enough”. I’ve been scratching my head thinking, “Really?”

How could any of us be “enough”? Or good enough? Who says what enough is any way? The contrasting standard would determine what “enough” was or how much had been obtained or not. Who gets to determine that standard? Should it vary from age to age? Education? Life Experience? Shouldn’t there be a point where we “know better” and live it? How can humans ever be enough?

Even the best of us get divorced, make mistakes, miscommunicate, misunderstand. I think it’s a condition…of being human. Earthen pots in constant need of a sustaining source.

Enough: occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs, or expectations (Merriam-Webster’s)

I’m not enough. (Unless you’re thinking about “enough” in usage where a man can’t take anymore of his wife’s nagging and finally screams, “Enough!” I might have been that. Sigh and smile.)

I need more than me.

I need someone to hug me from time to time. I need someone to talk to. I need someone to pray for me and discuss things with me. I need friends. I need community.

I need a savior.

In me I wasn’t enough. I failed. I made mistakes. I didn’t have the correct information to make the best choice and caused land slides (literally, in my back yard-lol).

I am not enough — and it’s okay.

God never intended me to be enough.

The creator actually made us to NEED. I need oxygen, I need food. I need coffee 😃 . We are not created “all sufficient” and all knowing—so trying to live that way is futile…and exhausts all JOY because it’s quarantined from the source of joy!

Jesus came for imperfect people because the Father loved us in our need. 

It’s okay to not be enough, because that’s how he created us — to need others, to need beauty, to need kindness, to need a second chance…to need HIM, because He IS enough. He is the only sufficient one and He gracefully extends “His enough” to me.

Freedom comes (along with a big sigh of relief and a ton of pressure off our shoulders) when we stop expecting other people to be “enough” for us, or demand the exhausting “enough” from our ourselves. Our father can route the reservoirs of resource to us when we turn our expectancy towards His grace in our weakness and mistakes.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

His GRACE is ENOUGH!

We often quote Philippians 4:19, “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” In the verses right before this Paul is thanking the church in Philippi for sending things to bless him. Here’s how it reads in the Message paraphrase…

And now I have it all—and keep getting more! The gifts you sent with Epaphroditus were more than enough, like a sweet-smelling sacrifice roasting on the altar, filling the air with fragrance, pleasing God no end. You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes. Philippians 4:19 Message (emphasis added)

We see the beauty of how God meets our needs through others or straight to us. It all comes from Him.

Solo is good for cups, but not people.

We are made for partnership. The only thing that wasn’t “good” in the garden, was for man to be alone. We are not enough; we need connection.

Okay, I’m going to yell it…ENOUGH!

It’s time to stop the perfectionist, trying to measure up, exhausting people pleasing (the “people” is usually me) trap. Breathe.

You’re not enough and it’s ok, because The Father is MORE THAN ENOUGH for you! (That’s Huper!)

Receive your confidence back from your mistakes. Your failure is not fatal. There is an eternity to regain, regroup and relive.

I may not be enough…

but it’s ok because my Father is called, I Am.


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Are Your Roots Showing?

I prize and protect my hair appointments to ensure my “roots” are NOT showing. These “holy hair days” have priority in my calendar and are scheduled months in advance. They are sacred.

I have legit blonde moments, but honestly I’m not a natural blonde. (I know you’re shocked and surprised.) I’m not quite sure what color my hair really is now, but every six weeks my roots emerge with a mishmash color of dishwater blonde, dark brown and…um yes, grey. Ew, HURRY and cover it up!

Today I took a walk in Northern Ireland where we’re staying near the village of Cullybackey.

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The views of the rushing river are intoxicating.

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I felt God’s presence cleansing my soul as I watched the water wash over the rocks.

Life dumps lots of messes. If only there were SOUL MAIDS who rushed in after us and tidied up the disarray of stressful lives.

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Maybe this is the call for a Sabbath.

Could it be the reason Jesus snuck away for solace with the Father? To let the water of heaven wash over the residue EARTH leaves behind…on the soul.

“Learn character from trees – values from ROOTS and change from leaves.” – T. Hameed

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As I walked down the river path, I noticed some extraordinary roots supporting a huge tree. I laughed at my attempts to cover my roots, but this wooden beauty displayed them majestically.

Roots reach down to find the refreshing.

Nothing lives long without the root. Good or bad.

Root: 1.) the part of a plant which attaches it to the ground or to a support, typically underground, conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant 2:) the basic cause, source, or origin of something

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Could it actually be our GOAL to let our roots show?

Roots need time and attention…and more time. Roots thrive on faithfulness, with a daily agility that does not ascribe adulation. Fruits get attention. Fruits are displayed in bowls and prepared in puddings. (Okay, I’m in UK – Americans go with me. :) )

The Holy Spirit’s work in us flowers into great fruit.

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Meekness. Faithfulness. Self-Control. (Gal.5:22-13)

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BUT…the ROOT determines the fruit!

Some people say LOVE is the fruit that manifests into the other characteristics. I can see that, but LOVE is the ROOT as well. Ephesians 3:17 expresses that thought as we are “rooted and grounded” in the LOVE of Christ.

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As I ponder my heart ROOTS today, I’m thankful for those who showed Christ’s love to me…those who helped plant seeds of God’s word in me, who encouraged me, who believed in me, who corrected me, who grounded me in truth.

Lord, let my ROOTS show, and help me ROOT and establish a new generation in faith.

 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17 -19


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Join me for 100 days of praise!

For the next 100 days I’m overseeing an exciting project at 100daysofpraise.com. The Bridge Church is celebrating 100 years of PRAISING God from it’s location on Fishtrap Road. One hundred years ago that land was gifted to a group of pioneering believers who started a vibrant faith community in Denton, Texas. It’s our turn to carry on that legacy into the NEXT 100 years! Follow the daily blogs and join in with #100daysofpraise!

Click here for a sample blog from this week – Are you a Praiser or a Pouter?

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