Oh, the Weeds!

Weeds.pngI pray all is well with The Bridge family and friends! I am excited to share this past Sunday’s sermon, Oh the Weeds! This sermon looks closely at Jesus’ approach to dealing with sin and brokenness in the community.

Jesus asks us to first take a look in the mirror and address our own weaknesses and deficiencies, and reminds us that He is at work in all people all the time. The disciples are eager to uproot “the weeds” in the Lord’s garden, but Jesus desires that all people come to a knowledge of God and spend eternity with Him. By pulling up “weeds,” we may unintentionally pull up some wheat! Jesus reminds us that in every community there will be weeds among the wheat. He will deal with the weeds at the end of time. Our job, in the mean time, is to love–not judge! Wouldn’t we be pleased to discover a transformation of the weeds into wheat by the power and grace of the LORD! Watch the sermon below, and share it with friends.

 

Sunday, July 9 Sermon Uploaded!

Hello Bridge Faithful!

Below you will find the July 9 sermon, The Weight of Sin. Jesus encourages us neither to think we can do it all alone, nor that we can do nothing. Instead he recommends that we “yoke” ourselves to Him, bind ourselves closely to Him, and together with Him to do more than we ever thought imaginable! He tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden light. This is welcome news for those of us who believe that the weight of the world is always upon our shoulders! The truth is that Jesus came to give us rest, peace, and a life free from worry and anxiety–if we would but allow Him to carry our load with us. Are you experiencing that peace? Sadly, too many–believers and unbelievers alike–are collapsing under the weight. Find liberation in Christ Jesus! Life is too short for the bitterness, angst, and emotional poverty that results in putting out hopes in the hands of the world.

A big “thank you” for this past Sunday off. We had a great time at Sea Cliff Beach, in Aptos, and at the Boardwalk, in Santa Cruz! Our final day was spent deep sea (100ft) fishing. Together, myself, Mark, Luke, and Jill’s brother, dad, and friend, pulled in over 60 Rock Cod. Unfortunately, Luke’s stomach didn’t do so well but he said he had a good time anyway (and we caught his share of fish too!). I think we’ve officially added the fishing trip to the Santa Cruz agenda!

Finally, I’ve received a portion of Peter’s sharing about the great things going on in his ministry to the Philippines, and I’m looking forward to putting it up on the web. Stay tuned for that!

 

Blessings,
Pastor Stephen

 

Celebrating Baptism!

Dear Bridge Family and Friends,

What an exciting past Sunday we had at the Taylor’s home, as both Alyssa and Cesar celebrated their baptisms, renewed their commitment to Christ Jesus, and made a public proclamation of their desire to follow Him!

As both Alyssa and Cesar were baptized when they were young, they felt it important that they renew the baptismal promises made on their behalf by their parents, by personally committing themselves to Jesus. You may or may not be aware that the Covenant Church recognizes the validity of both infant baptism for the forgiveness of sins, as well as adult baptism (often called believer’s baptism).

In the first case, because of the parents’ faith, the child is brought into a saving relationship with Jesus (cf. Matthew 8:5-13) through the sacrament of Baptism, and that child is healed of all stain of sin and made a child of God. Often, as a way to show the personal nature of the relationship once the child is of age, confirmation occurs, whereby the grace of God begun in baptism is brought to completion in confirmation.

Alternately, for the parent who desires to wait on baptism until their child is of age to decide, the covenant church practices infant “dedication,” whereby a child is dedicated to God as a way to show the parent’s commitment to raise that child in the faith. Eventually, when ready, the (then) young adult will seek the waters of the believer’s baptism. This is when an individual, knowing the power of Christ to heal their soul, approaches the throne of grace and accepts Christ Jesus into his/her heart, and is healed. (cf Matthew 8:1-4)

Sacred Scripture is absolutely clear on the importance of baptism (cf. MT 28:19, John 3:5, Acts 2:38, and a many more!), but is not clear when exactly it should occur. Jesus says quite clearly about children, “do not hinder them (Luke 18:16).” Also, it seems that baptism has replaced circumcision for the Christian community (Colossians 2:11-12), and circumcision was done on the 8th day in accordance with the Law of Moses. Peter seems to teach infant baptism (Acts 2:39), and in Acts 16:15 and 16:33, whole households were baptized. Even so, nowhere do we see in Scripture “make sure you baptize infants” given as a command, similarly, no where is it forbidden as a practice. Additionally, we see quite clearly the truth of believer’s baptism, but nowhere does Scripture claim that baptism is ONLY for those who have reached the age of reason.

While some church’s forbid infant baptism, and others encourage it, the Covenant church keeps both infant and believer baptism as options for the faithful. We are not an “either/or,” type of community, but rather a “both/and” type of people. We stand in solidarity with both the present and the past in baptizing infants whose parents believe and desire it for their child, and adult baptism for those that desire it for themselves.

If you, or someone you know is interested in a baptism, a dedication, or a confirmation, please do not hesitate to see me after church. I’d love to help.

I’ve included some helpful documents that might in a better way than I have explained here, provide clarity and authority to the Evangelical Covenant Church’s teaching.

Baptism-in-the-ECC-1

Policy-on-Baptism-churches

Blessings,

Pastor Steve

Getting Caught Up!

Hello Believers! As the title clearly indicates, I am finally getting caught up on publishing June sermons! My internet at home is painfully slow, and it takes days (quite literally) to upload a sermon from my iPad, to my Dropbox, and then to YouTube. By God’s grace, however (and the virtue of patience), two Sunday sermons are now complete and the links are below! The first is “Trinity Sunday,” and the second is “A Child of God.” I hope you enjoy watching them, are edified by them, and are willing to both comment and share your thoughts or how the Spirit inspired and moved you by what you heard.

Blessings,
Pastor Steve

June 11 Sermon – Trinity Sunday

June 25 Sermon – A Child of God

The Spirit Gives Gifts!

Hello Bridge Families! This past Sunday’s sermon is uploaded! CLICK HERE to view and share!

This past Sunday the Church celebrated Pentecost, the arrival of the promised Advocate, who would empower the Apostles then and in every generation to fulfill Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations! The Spirit not only creates a hope in us for an eternal future with God, but also gives us the gifts for a real transformation now, right here, as we live out our days on earth.

The truth is that each of us is given the 7 gifts of the Holy Spirit promised by the prophet Isaiah (11:2-3) of wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength, knowledge, fear of the Lord, and a delight in doing God’s will, at baptism when we are filled with the same Holy Spirit that filled the Apostles at Pentecost! (Acts 2:1-21) Those gifts of the Spirit make us “other Christs” to the hungry, thirsty, broken, depressed, and “thrown away” people of our day and age in just the same way that Christ was present to heal the disenfranchised of His day. We, no less than Him, are called to bring the Good News that there is a better way, forgiveness of sins, and salvation for all who call on the name of the Lord!

Everyone of us who make up the body of Christ is given some special grace and gift to build up the body of Christ–that Christ might be more present in every generation through the building up of the Body. (1 COR 12:3-13) The Kingdom of God is indeed growing and expanding and everyone of us is essential to its growth. Use your gifts and make Christ present to someone in need today. Jesus promised that if we come to Him thirsty, if we believe in Him and drink deeply of His Spirit, then “rivers of living water will flow out from within” us. (John 7:37-39). We become the living water and bring refreshment to the souls of all we encounter. Only then, having drank deeply of Christ and become a blessing to others, will we fulfill His commandment to love God and neighbor, and to spread the Good News to all nations.

Have a blessed week and use your gifts!

Jesus Ascended…be patient!

I’m excited to say that this past Sunday’s sermon is now uploaded! Things tend to take a bit longer when I’m trying to upload video from home. Now that the school year is over, I edit and upload without the luxury of school district WiFi which is considerably faster than my residential version. All that to say…thank you for being patient! CLICK HERE for the video. A short summary follows.

Incidentally, patience was the focus on this past Sunday’s message. Jesus knows that he is going away and the disciples want to know, “Are we there yet?!” Jesus’ answer to their impatience is two-fold. First he tells them that the time the Father has set for the restoration of Israel is the Father’s business and not for them to know or worry about. In other words, we don’t need to know everything the Father knows, that would make us a know-it-all (also the temptation that drew our First Parents into sin), but instead we must strive to be “trust-at-all-times” kind of people. We should let God be God and TRUST that God’s plan is indeed unfolding in our lives and that the whole of creation is journeying toward a deeper knowledge of Him as the Kingdom grows like a mustard seed!

Secondly, Jesus tells his disciples that since they’re not driving the car, they should sit back, enjoy the ride, and not worry about when they’re going to get there. Wisely, Jesus knows our impatience and gives us something to do in anticipation of His return. He tells His disciples that he’s going to send the Holy Spirit and with the power of that Spirit they will tell everyone about Him! That’s our job. That’s it: Receive the Spirit and Spread the Good News!

According to Ephesians 1:15, we will be filled with wisdom and understanding, our hearts will be flooded with light, we must strive to understand God’s power, and then tell people everywhere about the forgiveness of sins and salvation through Christ Jesus, the Lord and Savior. Simple right? We don’t have to know everything, we have to be faithful, trustworthy, courageous, and willing to share what Jesus has done for us, and what He can do for others.

 

Blessings,

Pastor Steve

Happy Mother’s Day!

Hey there Bridge family! What a wonderful service this past Sunday! Thank you to Deb and Justyn for the great job leading worship! Good stuff. My sermon recognized that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (JN 14:6), and our mothers are the first heralds of that truth to their children. Just as babies crave milk, so too do our souls crave spiritual milk. Thank you to all those moms revealing to us in the way that they sacrifice, speak the truth, and give life, the goodness of our loving Savior, Jesus Christ.

I have the Mother’s Day sermon all uploaded and ready to share! If you missed it, want it to share with others, or just want to see it again, click here. See you next Sunday!

Pastor Steve