Joel Bridges' personal blog


Natural vs Mechanical

Have you ever seen someone who is “rhythmically challenged” try to dance?  It’s usually awkward or downright comical.  Some of my guitar students try to imitate & manufacture rhythm mechanically, but some have natural rhythm that just flows out of them.  When a worship leader is mechanical, or tries to imitate someone, or follow a formula, it doesn’t work.  But when they step aside & allow the Spirit of God to flow out of them, it’s a beautiful thing.


JMT’s thoughts on Lent

Free to be me

Sun Feb 26, 2011  WRC West Paulding…morning services

Steve V & Brad C played acoustics, Jon on drums, Jason on keys, Derrick B & Jody D on guitar: The Time Has Come, Your Love Never Fails, Inside Out.  When Roye & I arrived @ 7 am, Derrick said we were replacing a song with one I had never heard  before, but any jitters I might’ve had disappeared when I inserted my ear buds.  The mix coming from the Avioms was CD quality.  I felt like a caveman experiencing some strange new enlightenment.  The bass guitar & kick drum were so thick & tight, I almost cried.  When we played Inside Out, the keyboard swelled, the drums & bass came in like a heart beat pounding in my chest, it sounded like Hillsong was playing.  The JBL line arrays hung above the stage.  4 OAP double-18 cabs lined the floor.  And if that wasn’t close enough to heaven, the volunteers were like angels swooping in to assist your every need.  When Brad needed help with his acoustic guitar, they were there to patch his cables, change his battery, wisp the hair out of his eyes, every possible act of service & assistance was eagerly administered.  Surely this must be what heaven is like.   

Then, we came back Sun night & it was beautiful.  I was exhausted from the night before.  I only got 2 hours of sleep.  I told Roye if it was God’s will for us to be there, He would make a way.  Well, He parted the Red Sea & made a way for Kathy & Abbie to come.  At every turn, in the morning & again that night…the sound, the spirit, the comfort level, the message, the people, & the look in Abbie’s eyes, it felt like God was confirming Himself.
Oak Leaf does not allow children in the adult services, so this was Abbie’s first official adult worship service.  I wish I had taken photos or video, because it was a perfect example on how to worship.  She was clapping, singing, lifting her hands & having an amazing experience in front of her grateful parents. 

Worship Like a Child

As I was driving down the road, I popped in an old CD & started to sing along.  I noticed Abbie in the backseat, singing right along with me, not knowing a single word.  She had never heard the song before, but she could tell I was excited about it, so she was happy to join in for the pure enjoyment.  Her words were unintelligible & her pitch wasn’t exactly right, but in her father’s eyes, it was beautiful.  It made me so proud to see her singing from her heart, just to make me happy. 

As a part-time worship leader, I’m always looking for ways to encourage people to join in worship.  Sometimes we may not know a song, or prefer something different, but it’s still possible to enjoy the music & join in worship.  If I’m excited about the song & I’m singing from my heart, it doesn’t matter if I don’t know the words or the melody, it will be beautiful in my Father’s eyes… & it will be contagious.

Integrating Worship

Integrate:  “to bring together or incorporate (parts) into a  whole”

Before my daughter was born 20 months ago, I was in the best shape of my life, because exercise was an integral part of my lifestyle.  But since she was born, exercise has become scarce…an isolated event on special occasions. 

What’s  the best way to stay in good physical condition?  to integrate exercise into your daily routine  

What’s the best way to stay in good spiritual condition?  to integrate worship & prayer into your daily routine

Has worship & prayer become an isolated event reserved for special occasions in your life?  If you’re always waiting for the right time & place & the right feelings before you act, you may never start.  Before you know it, you’re flabby & out of shape.  The only way to get back into shape is to integrate exercise into your life, so it’s not some formal thing set apart for special times & perfect conditions.  In the same way, when we start to infuse worship & prayer into our daily routine & allow it to touch every area of our lives…that’s when we lose the flab & start to grow spiritually.

The other day, I strapped Abbie into the jogging stroller & went for a run at the park.  We stopped &  watched 8 or 10 deer cross the path in front of us.  I watched her eyes light up as she saw these magical creatures for the first time in her life.  We paused again when we finished our run & listened to the birds singing, felt the breeze blowing & soaked up the brilliant blue sky as the sun was setting.  I felt like God was saying, “Hey, I’m trying  to get your attention”.   So we praised God & worshipped Him together.  How wonderful it would be to develop that type of relationship with my daughter…to integrate worship into our lives in such a natural way, appreciating the wonder of God’s creation– together.

“If we are children of God, we have a tremendous treasure in nature and will realize that it is holy and sacred. We will see God reaching out to us in every wind that blows, every sunrise and sunset, every cloud in the sky, every flower that blooms, and every leaf that fades, if we will only begin to use our blinded thinking to visualize it.”    Oswald Chambers

Last Night at the HOR

Last night was the culmination of a lot of things for me personally, but I’ll save that for another post.  For this post, I’d like to focus on the energy & excitement I felt in that room…

I know our faith should not be based on feelings, but what a great feeling!!!  When we experience those mountain tops & goose bumps & chills & excitement, I think we should thank God that He gives them to us.  It won’t be like that most of the time.  We have to learn how to live in the valley, but it sure is nice when God takes us up to the mountain top & gives us a glimpse.

Oak Leaf Church had a prayer service last night at the House of Rock, getting ready for our Redemption offering this Sunday.  It was one of those moments for me.  It seemed like God was ready to do something special in that place & everyone could sense it.  From the very start, I could see expectation in  people’s eyes.  I could see joy & excitement on faces of those who were there, & those who will come later.  The music was almost effortless, & I say that because it didn’t really feel like I was playing.  I felt like I was observing.  I felt like I was witnessing something new, something being born, something we have been praying for…

I was witnessing the redemption of a building.

Truly Life

“…so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life  1 Timothy 6:19-b

So there is a life that is only ethereal, only smoke & mirrors, only a cheap imitation of what Jesus can provide for us.  This life may seem right & good & it may provide some temporary pleasure, but it’s only a fake, it’s only fleeting, & it’s only counterfeit.  The devil wants us to to be satisfied with a cheap imitation.  He makes us think we’re actually living “the life” when we’re actually living a lie. 

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death”  Proverbs 14:12  NIV

“I am come that they may have life, & that they might have it more abundantly”  John 10:10  KJV

I was living that life.  I had convinced myself that I was living “the life”, but if I’m honest, I was on a path to death & destruction.  It may have shimmered or shined, but it quickly faded & turned into nothing.  And I would probably still be on that road, if God hadn’t reached down & pulled me up.  He had a plan for me.  His love would not fail.  That which He started, He would see to the finish.  He wouldn’t give up on me, even though I gave up on Him…

The goodness of God brings me to my knees

revealing His love, His plan for me

The grace that abounds, so full & so free

the blood that He shed, all for love, all for me

I can’t comprehend a love so divine

to take on my sin, my shame & my pride

What more can I give?   What idols must fall?

I give Him my life, I surrender it all

by Even Adam