Joel Bridges' personal blog

God’s Word

“Can a believer NOT love God?”

“Can a believer NOT love God?” 

Another way to look at the question might be, “Can a fig tree NOT bear fruit?”

The next morning as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.  He noticed a fig tree in full leaf a little way off, so he went over to see if he could find any figs. But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit.  Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!” And the disciples heard him say it.  The next morning as they passed by the fig tree he had cursed, the disciples noticed it had withered from the roots up.  Peter remembered what Jesus had said to the tree on the previous day and exclaimed, “Look, Rabbi! The fig tree you cursed has withered and died!”  Mark 11:12-14, 20
I believe this passage confirms how critical it is for believers to bear fruit, both in season & out of season.  Jesus didn’t find any fruit on the fig tree, so he cursed it, & it wasn’t even fig season.  Does this mean, if we don’t bear fruit, even out of season, then we don’t really love God, & we stand the real possibility of getting cursed?  That sounds harsh, but I think Jesus used harsh examples in order to motivate us.  When the disciples came back & marveled at the withered tree, Jesus replied “Have faith in God”.  Then He goes on to talk about faith moving mountains, so did Jesus curse the fig tree simply to show the disciples the power of faith, or to show them the importance of bearing fruit?  I think it was more than just, ‘Hey, watch what a neat trick you can do with a little faith’…but rather, ‘If you’re not bearing fruit, your entire identity is questionable’.


Angel or Devil?

Two voices are always battling inside my head…

One voice says I should give up my childish dreams of playing music & grow up.  I should abandon my selfish desires, crucify my flesh & allow God to use me however He sees fit.  My aspirations hinder God’s plan for my life.

The other voice says I have been gifted by God to play music & I should use His gift to glorify Him. God planted that dream in my heart & I should pursue it with passion. The joy & fulfillment it brings affirm that God is pleased with my music.

This has been a recurring theme in my life.  When I was 10, I wanted to be Spiderman & fly around Cartersville from building to building.  My mom even made a suit for me.  She encouraged me to dream.  When I graduated high school & it was time to go to University of TN, I decided it was God’s will for me to stay home & play music with my band.  My dad was disappointed, but he encouraged me to follow my dream.  When I was in college, the voices were still battling, telling me I was selfishly following my own desires, & it was time to abandon my silly dreams & live a life of total submission to God’s will.  For a time, I quit listening to secular music completely.  I was convinced that playing music was the wrong path for me. 

Even now, I still hear both voices & they are still at war.  But if I follow my parent’s example when my own daughter wants to follow her dream, it becomes clear what God wants for me.  He is my inspiration, He gave me the gift, & He wants me to dream…

And yet, just like Abraham, I have to be willing to sacrifice the things that are closest to me, if God requires it.  I must offer up my own desires & pleasures, just like Jesus did.

 Oswald Chambers says  “If you select your own spot to be planted, you will prove yourself to be an unproductive, empty pod.  However, if you allow God to plant you, you will “bear much fruit” ( John 15:8  ).
This passage in The Message explains it well, if you substitute “music” for “food” 
   Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.     If you confuse others by making a big issue over what they eat or don’t eat, you’re no longer a companion with them in love, are you? These, remember, are persons for whom Christ died. Would you risk sending them to hell over an item in their diet? Don’t you dare let a piece of God-blessed food become an occasion of soul-poisoning!

    God’s kingdom isn’t a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness’ sake. It’s what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.

    So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault. You’re certainly not going to permit an argument over what is served or not served at supper to wreck God’s work among you, are you? I said it before and I’ll say it again: All food is good, but it can turn bad if you use it badly, if you use it to trip others up and send them sprawling. When you sit down to a meal, your primary concern should not be to feed your own face but to share the life of Jesus. So be sensitive and courteous to the others who are eating. Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love.

   Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.   Romans 14:13-23

Good Friday

A few years ago, I was born on “Good Friday”…but what really makes this Friday “good”…? 

Well, because Jesus made it so. 

My thoughtful wife presented me with an unexpected Easter gift yesterday, after I had finished this post.  It was a t-shirt with a cross & a Bible verse…Hebrews 10:10.  It says “God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.”   She had no idea what I was blogging about, in fact, she bought the shirt a few weeks ago.  I think that’s pretty amazing.

Anyway, if you read further in chapter 10, you’ll see God was not pleased with animal sacrifices, since the blood of bulls & goats could not take away sins.  So He provided a body to sacrifice, His son Jesus.  Thankfully, Jesus was obedient unto death, so by giving up His life, He forever made perfect those who are being made holy.  God promises never to remember our sins again, & we have become the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

That’s pretty good…

Reading the Bible Through

Are you keeping up with reading the Bible through this year?

I’ve gotten behind a couple of times, but I’ve managed to get caught up & it’s really made a difference in my life.  The Message is much easier to read, especially the OT, plus it’s nice to read old familiar passages in a new light.  It’s amazing how I find the Bible applies to so many things in my life…it makes things come together in a supernatural way!   And it’s a great detergent…it removes the toughest stains.

Jesus said, “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life”  John 6:63 NIV

Invite God’s Word to breathe life into you…

Why all the detail?

Have you ever noticed how specific God’s word can be?  If you have any doubts, read the Old Testament.  I’ve been reading in Exodus where God instructed Moses how to make the tabernacle, the altar, the ark of the covenant, the priestly garments, etc…the detail is amazing.  Why?  Was it really necessary to use ruby, topaz, beryl, turquoise, sapphire, emerald, jacinth, agate, amethyst, chrysolite, onyx, & jasper in the priest’s breastpiece?  Why did God command the stones be placed on the priest’s shoulders AND on his chest?  Why does it matter?

Why did God create the earth, the sky, the stars, the oceans, the animals, the plants, & all of humanity with such intimate detail, down to the smallest cell?  Why did he bother to color the leaves in fall, or the sun gold, or one person light, & another one dark?  Why does it matter?

My wife had a great answer…because WE matter.  God cares for us right down to the smallest detail.  Nothing slips past Him.  No part of our lives goes unnoticed.  He made us each particular individuals with our own unique perspective, experience, & conscience.  Just like the priest was commanded to carry those precious stones on his shoulders & on his chest, God not only upholds us on his shoulders, through the power of His word, but He also holds us on His chest, next to His heart.  Regardless of what others may say about us, we are of the utmost value to Him, because He made us.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.

Is Your Bucket Full?

Bad thoughts crop up like little wildfires.

We all have a bucket called self-control.

God’s Word is the water that fills the bucket.

The best way to avoid a fire is to keep the combustibles watered down.

The best way to control a fire is to douse it quickly & liberally with water, before it has a chance to spread.

Is your bucket full?   or empty?

How deep are your reserves?

The Garden

I was reading the Bible tonight in James. As I read this passage I thought of you guys and wanted to pass this verse along to you as well as the idea that went along with it. This is out of the Message,

In simple humility, let our gardner, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.

I love this verse and how it reads in the Message – the wording of this is a beautiful picture of how God wants His love to appear in our hearts and through our lives. We are His… we are his garden. He is the Master Gardener and we are his garden. As I thought about you guys, you are the fruit if His garden. You are writing music and expressing God’s love and Message through the lyrics He gives. What God is producing are seeds that He will use in others lives.

 Now lets turn back to the Book of Genesis…
 Genesis 2:4b-5, “When the Lord God made the heavens and the earth, there were no plants or grain growing on the earth, for the Lord God had not sent any rain. And no one was there to cultivate the soil.”
God created Adam in order to cultivate the soil. This was an earthly soil. Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it.” God has raised each of you (Even Adam) to cultivate soil that is found in the souls of man. This cultivation will occur as an overflow of how God works in your lives.

The book of James in Chapter 1 deals a lot with faith and standing through trials that come our way. “You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced out into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” God desires for us to live by faith. To seek Him out with everything that we are made of. James says to ask God boldly, believingly, without a second thought. I like the Message when it says we are not to be “people who worry their prayers”.  Live your lives with an attitude of faith and that built on prayer. It is out of your life of faith, prayer, and devotion to God’s Word that He will speak. And when He speaks, “Act on what you hear.”
I look forward to seeing what God does with you!!!
This is an email sent to Joel, Dean, and Brad while they were practicing at Brad’s house January 19, 2008.