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

Broken, overflowing, & on fire

Today I found myself sitting in my office, in the middle of my workday, crying tears of joy, thanking & praising God for the gift of His Son…I can remember my former pastor, way back in the day, as he preached he would burst into tears.  They were tears of joy, tears of thankfulness, tears of brokenness.  He was broken, overflowing & on fire.  The love of God bubbled over & out of his personality like a fountain, a river of living water, springing up into everlasting life!  I’ve only known a few people like that in my life, but they inspire me to live my life to the fullest, to the utmost, to the glory of God.  Amen.


Here is a great post from my friend Daniel…

Check it out

January 11 @ The Church at Woodland

Even Adam will be leading worship @ The Church at Woodland in Cartersville, GA on January 11.  TCAW has two services each Sunday.  Service times are 9:45 and 11:30.  For more information on TCAW and to get directions click on the link above.

See you there.

The Delight Song

I am the crest of the new fallen snow

I am the colored leaves in fall

I am the whisper of the windy breeze

I am the swish of silent water

I am the petals of a flower in spring

I am the music of the world

I am the soft cloud in the blue sky

I am the still bright moon

I am the warm golden sun

I am the noise of rain

I am the pitter patter of little feet

I am the artist who paints the earth

The Ocean Blue

Man has looked up at the sky with wonder & amazement for eons.  He’s seen the ocean’s waves crashing on the shore for centuries…it’s nothing new.  But when he sees the world through the eyes of The Spirit, he sees it all from a different perspective.   The Holy Spirit in us confirms the beauty of God’s creation.   The world was created by His Word & upheld by the power of His Word.  We see the ocean blue with new eyes;  God’s handy work, His artistry painted in the skies. 

After my daughter was born, it seems like all the hostility in my life has evaporated.  This new life has brought my entire family into a beautiful place, where we can all focus our love & attention on this little girl, & it causes us to see each other in a different light…the way it should be.

That’s what the Holy Spirit can do in our lives.  He can melt away all the hostility & bitterness, so the walls dissolve & everything comes into brilliant focus.  We find it easy to show our love & give ourselves to each other…the way it should be.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky

Taken from The Love of God

By Frederick Lehman

What is this?

This isn’t struggling to stay afloat

This is catching the top of a wave & riding it all the way to the shore

This isn’t barely making it to heaven by the skin of your teeth

This is living life abundantly, to the fullest

This isn’t sinking lower in the mud

This is taking another step higher on the Rock

Not just surviving, but triumphing

Not a barren desert, but rivers of living water

Not how much you can get away with, but how much you can give

Not boring & cold, but alive & on fire

Not bread & water, but His Word, His body, & His blood

Not getting a buzz or getting high, but getting forgiveness & getting peace



Prayer…can you hear me now?

Have you ever dropped a call on your phone, or had your cable TV go out?  How about internet access?  It’s not always fast or dependable, is it?  Ever found yourself in a remote wilderness, like Waterford Subdivision, & you can’t get a signal to make a call?  That’s really frustrating…

Well, I know a “service provider” with instant access, 24-7, without any service interruption, satisfaction guaranteed.  You don’t need the latest i-phone, or computer…you don’t even need electricity, or gas.  There is no annual fee, no service charge, & no cost to you whatsoever.  The price has already been paid for you. 

Can you hear me now?  Do you really want a high speed connection?  Do you want dependability?  Whether you’re in a remote wilderness or in a crowd of 100,000 people, you will never get an error message or have to reboot, I promise.  You will never be forced to sit on hold or go through an automated menu of mindless options that don’t apply to you.  You will have instantaneous access, not to a customer service rep, but to the PRESIDENT, the CEO, THE MAN.  He will never be too busy, or distracted, or refer your problem to another department…& did I mention it’s all FREE???

He’s waiting to hear from you…

Are You Listening?

“The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of His hands;  day after day they pour forth speech, night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard…their voice goes out into all the earth; their words to the ends of the world”  Psalm 19:1-4 NIV

Have you heard the Lord’s song?  If you take time to quiet yourself & listen, you might hear it…God’s symphony is the most beautiful music you will ever hear.  I paused yesterday at the top of Carter Grove & gazed out over the hills & valleys at all the colors, the morning mist, the sunbeams radiating out of the clouds as if Jesus could appear at any moment riding on a cloud with fire…I sat there & listened to the heavens speak.  They were literally pouring forth speech, shouting “Behold, I am the First & the Last, I am the LIVING ONE.  I was dead, & behold I am alive forevermore”  & I cried “Holy is the Lamb”

“The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning…great is your faithfulness”  Lamentations 3:22  NAS

For the beauty of the earth,
for the glory of the skies,
for the love which from our birth
over and around us lies;
Lord of all, to thee we raise
this our hymn of grateful praise.

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.





The Love of God

The world does not bid you sing, but God does.  Song is the sign of an unburdened heart;  so sing your songs of love unbidden, ever rising higher & higher into a fuller concept of the greatest, grandest fact on the stage of time…God is Love.  But words & emotions pass, precious as their influence may be for the time, so when the duller moments come & the mind comes to require something more certain & sure to consider than the memory of mere emotions & stirring sentiments, consider this revelation…the eternal fact that God is love, not, God is loving.  God & love are synonymous.  Love is not an attribute of God, it IS God…  (Oswald Chambers, The Love of God).