Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A message for BridgePoint artists

The following article is submitted by Dave Kline, a musician within BridgePoint. It is a request to the artists within our fellowship to offer their gift to effectively enhance the worship of the wider body, for the glory of God. I wholeheartedly support this endeavor and trust that God has planted such talented artists among us for such a time as this. Please give it your prayerful consideration.

To BridgePoint Artists,

Recently, I have been going through the kind of life-changing experience that one experiences only a few times throughout life. Through a journey of music and theology, that was triggered by two lectures and a Roman Catholic composer, I have been truly inspired and impassioned to collaborate with the artistic community in BridgePoint. I hope that this collaboration would provide a platform and vehicle for a real, integrity filled expression of worship as individuals and a community, serving one another, and providing a more cohesive vision and expression of seeking God as a body.

I strongly believe that through art, God’s truth has the potential to be expressed in a more clear, understandable, and meaningful way that can speak to all types of people in all types of contexts. However, I am also convicted that this art must have integrity, be in line with one’s own convictions, and also be approached in a way that truly seeks to be separated from any notion of self glory. We, as Christian artists, have the serious responsibility of being “artists of the cross”, not “artists of glory”, seeking with our hearts and minds to know God through the gifts that He has given us. This responsibility, I believe, is filled with the potential of a deeper relationship with God, and also a deeper, more God centered relationship with each other. This quote from theologian N.T. Wright speaks of this truthful potential:

“If all theology, all sermons, had to be set to music, our teaching and preaching would not only be more mellifluous; it might also approximate more closely to God’s truth, the truth revealed in and as the Word made flesh, crucified and risen”.

The main section of the Gospel that I have been dwelling on (in the context of this journey that I am currently on) is the Easter story, with an intentional carefulness to give equal attention to the three parts of the story, i.e. good Friday, holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Too often, it seems to me, we give little attention to the two days that precede the resurrection; two days that are completely essential to the gospel story, and also essential to our experience as followers of Jesus. This “skipping over” of good Friday and holy Saturday is very easy to slip into considering the culture we live in. I am specifically thinking of the dominance of a “culture of sentimentality”, that has, in my opinion, “cheapened” much of the art produced not only in the secular world, but also in the world of the church (think Hollywood, or perhaps the “love songs to Jesus” phenomenon). Just as Dietrich Bonhoeffer contrasts “cheap grace” with “costly grace”, we too must consider the idea of “cheap worship” versus “costly worship”. Here, in “costly worship”, there is no room for sentimentality; or in other words, the easy, non-sacrificial worship that only acknowledges a sense of “good feelings”, or “everything is well”, and skips over good Friday and holy Saturday. (This is a very short synopsis and has room for much discussion).

I realize that this discussion (mainly on worship) has many levels, and in reality, like the God we worship, cannot be defined, or even confined to a commentary that I have provided above. This is also in no way an accusation against anything that has been expressed or done at BridgePoint. This is just what God has put on my heart, and I feel a call to share it. I would also like to note that I do believe that the resurrection is the most important part of the Easter story, but, alas, we cannot get to the resurrection without Friday and Saturday.

I would very much like to continue a discussion of how we , as an artistic community, can better serve each other and more truthfully worship our Creator together through the gifts He has given us. I would like to invite all members of BridgePoint who feel that they are artists and have some sort of calling to express their art in the context of worship, to a meeting on Tuesday, March 13, at the Watson’s home at 7:30pm, to have a discussion on how we, as a community, can collaborate in the context of producing an artistic expression of worship and service. This meeting will specifically focus on the two days of Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and on our next corporate meeting, which will also focus on those two days, in preparation for the resurrection day. I encourage everyone to prayerfully consider being a part of this discussion, and also what you can bring to the discussion.

In Christ,

David Kline


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Considering the interests of others ....

"If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete ... in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." [Philip. 2:1-4]

From this passage in Philippians, Paul urges the community to pursue an attitude of unity and humility. Part of the practical expression of this would be for them to be not preoccupied with their own needs and desires, but to look first and foremost to the needs of those around them. There is a personal dimension to our experience of God's grace in Christ, through the Spirit - we enter into the covenant community one by one, through faith. But then we discover a corporate identity, we become a part of the family of God, where we belong to one another. As such, our entering into the fullness of life Jesus came to bring, happens as we re-orientate our life around the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Paul's words simply reflect the teaching of our Lord Jesus who said, "whoever wants to be first must be slave of all" [Mark 10:44]. In fact, it is not just a reflection of Jesus' teaching but of his very life which is what Paul is going to come on to in the exalted words of Philip. 2:5-11, which remind us of the humility and servant heart of Jesus - the primary virtues of the kingdom of God.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his excellent essay on how Christians should live together, gives us seven principles for eradicating selfish ambition from Christian communities. Christians, he says, should;
  1. Hold their tongues, refusing to speak uncharitably about a Christian brother (or sister)
  2. Cultivate the humility that comes from understanding that they, like Paul, are the greatest sinners and can only live in God's sight by his grace
  3. Listen "long and patiently" so that they will understand their fellow Christians' needs
  4. Refuse to consider their time and calling so valuable that they cannot be interrupted to help with unexpected needs, no matter how small or menial
  5. Bear the burden of their brothers and sisters in the Lord, both by preserving their freedom and by forgiving their sinful abuse of that freedom
  6. Declare God's word to their fellow believers when they need to hear it
  7. Understand that Christian authority is characterized by service and does not call attention to the person who performs the service
These would be wonderful principles to reflect upon during this season of Lent, typically a time for self-examination and repentance. I love how Eugene Peterson puts v4 in The Message, "Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand." Here's a simple, yet powerful suggestion as to how we might put this into practice here at BridgePoint. This Sunday it will be our corporate gathering but this also applies to our home church gatherings - first of all commit to attending, we do so to serve (love) God and (love) one another, not primarily for what we might get out of it.

But secondly come with a desire and expectation that God will use you to minister (serve) to someone in a very particular way. Come with a listening attitude and heart, asking the Holy Spirit to guide you. Perhaps there will be an opportunity to pray for someone, to speak words of comfort or affirmation, to encourage, to offer practical help, to invite along to dinner or to your home church. This can happen at any time, even when we're just sitting around eating brunch. I encourage you to take a risk and extend yourself, and lend a helping hand.

Lord, give us eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to respond, in Jesus' name. Amen.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah;

"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You." [Psalm 63:1-3]

These verses were, I think, read at our last corporate gathering. To David, nothing else matters but the knowledge of God - something he sums up in the phrase, "your lovingkindness (or "steadfast love" - NRSV) is better than life". When we have this, surely we are ready to face anything.

There will be times in life for us all, when it feels like a wilderness, a dry desert. When nobody or nothing seems there for you, even God. Or maybe when everything seems to be against you, when life seems empty, pointless, not worth the struggle, just too hard. We are left alone and nothing else matters but the lovingkindness of God. We have access to God the Father, he is there for us and nothing can snatch his steadfast love from us.

As well as giving us strength when we are weak, this experienced reality is also our greatest witness, the key to mission and the communication of the gospel to those around us. There was a time when some in Judah would experience a renewal of God's lovingkindness and it was said, "Thus says the Lord of hosts, 'In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, "Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you." ' " [Zech. 8:23]. People need to see reality, the reality of God and his steadfast love in us.

But how do we know this reality, how do we experience this love and have this assurance for ourselves? We must know that it is both possible and available to us all. That the Christian life is not just about dry head knowledge of God and his acts, but that through our Lord Jesus, he touches, he empowers, he overwhelms us with the experience of his love and his presence. That is the normal Christian experience, and it is made available to all his children. No longer just the select few, but to all - young/old, male/female, Jew/Gentile, slave/free. Our Father wants us to have this deep assurance of his love for us.

This is the great gift of God to us, there is no question about that. But just because it is a gift does not mean that we do nothing. We are to ask, to pursue, to diligently seek after this gift, this reality. We see that David wastes no time, early he seeks after God. This has become a holy preoccupation, even when he awakes through the night - he mediates upon God. He remembers his works, his faithfulness, his memories of encountering God in the sanctuary and his heart sings of this reality, his soul clings to the Lord. Yes, there are those who oppose him, but he trusts in the sovereignty and justice of his God.

Have you known this love, has Jesus become your passionate preoccupation? I encourage you, as his word invites, to ask, to knock, to seek, to open wide your mouth that God might fill you with the unsearchable riches of Christ, with his very self. This is our need, this is our inheritance. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and much in our culture is made of human love, which is but a reflection (and a pale one at times), of our Father's perfect and steadfast love for us. Let us use this coming season of Lent to pursue the presence of God personally and corporately. I encourage the ladies to take the oppportunity to gather on Wednesday evenings for this very purpose. But men also, let us not be satisfied with an informed mind, but ask for a ravished heart, for the adventure of knowing, loving, and serving Christ.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Why we Gather

The following article was sent to me this week by Thomas. It seemed to pick up on much of what we have been talking about recently and may help some of us as we seek to press in to the Lord's purpose for us at BridgePoint. Please be free to add your comments;


Some Thoughts on Gathering Together

by Chip Brogden

"Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, 'Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away." (Acts 13:1-3).

As a starting point for our discussion let us consider this question: why are we here? The simple answer to that question is this: we are here today because for the last two years we have been burdened by the Lord to see a local expression of the Body of Christ, a practical expression of what we have taught for many years. That is to say, we teach many things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, God's Eternal Purpose, the Church that Jesus is building, loving one another, Body ministry, etc. We still teach and believe these things and have walked in them individually and with little groups here and there, but we have lacked the means to see these things lived out in an intentional fellowship of believers.

We have a purpose, an intention, a reason for gathering together that goes beyond food, fellowship, and socializing. These you can get at any fast-food restaurant. Part of our frustration with "house churching" as a movement is that in many cases we saw people gathered together just for the sake of a meeting, but nothing of any spiritual import ever took place. It met a need, but it did not meet the Lord's need.

Today marks the beginning of a process in which we are gathering together, beneath the Headship of Christ, not just to have a "meeting" (may God deliver us from mere meetings!) but to explore just Who He is, and who we are in Him, and what all that means in the context of loving God and loving one another.

In Acts 13 we have a good example of what it means to be the Church. I think we see in the Book of Acts two kinds of churches. Of course there is only one Church, but there are seven kinds of churches represented in the Book of Revelation, and there are two kinds of churches I see represented in the Book of Acts. Both of these churches belonged to Jesus, but both these churches had their own peculiar way of looking at things.

First you have the Church in Jerusalem. Now we know that everything had its beginning in Jerusalem. There in Jerusalem was the Temple, and the priesthood, and the Law, and that whole religious system known as Judaism. The early Church was simply a sect within that religious system. They still considered themselves Jews, and Jesus was their Jewish Messiah. They preached Jesus to the Jews only - those outside of Israel were not included. Isn't that amazing?

But Jesus said to go into all the world. Things were very comfortable there in Jerusalem, and the early Christians were not so inclined to go. It took persecution to scatter them, and even then, they only shared Jesus with the Jews. Then something wonderful happened. Some Jewish believers left Jerusalem, came to Antioch, and preached Jesus to the Gentiles. Lo and behold, those Gentiles believed, and all of a sudden, you have non-Jewish believers in Jesus. Christianity at that point ceased to be a Jewish phenomenon; it became a universal thing. In fact, the Bible says it was at Antioch - not Jerusalem - that the disciples were first called Christians.

So on the one hand you have the Church in Jerusalem, and on the other hand you have the Church in Antioch. They are one body in Christ of course, but two very different fellowships with two very different ways of going about things. And this set them up for conflict. Before long, some Christians from Jerusalem came to Antioch and said, "Unless you are circumcised according to the Law of Moses you cannot be saved!" (cf. Acts 15:1). Now today we do not argue about circumcision. We argue over water baptism, or tongues, or denominations, or doctrine, or theology. The point is those Christians in Jerusalem represent the Organized Religion of their day - laws, rules, regulations, traditions, and history. According to James, there were many thousands of disciples in Jerusalem who believed on the Lord Jesus but were zealous for the Law of Moses (cf. Acts 21:20).

Antioch represented something new, different, fresh and free; something utterly non-religious and outside of Organized Religion. Antioch represented Spirit and Truth, and it was probably easier for them to grasp it because they did not have a physical Temple, a visible priesthood, or a list of commandments to keep. They heard Paul teach that they themselves are the Temple of God, and that He has made us all kings and priests of His Kingdom, and that the law of Love is all the law they needed. Whereas the Church in Jerusalem was very slow to preach Jesus to anyone but the Jews, the Church in Antioch helped launch the missionary journeys of Paul, which led to a rapid multiplication of disciples and churches all across Asia Minor.

Which fellowship would you rather be associated with: Jerusalem, or Antioch? For me, Jerusalem represents our brothers and sisters in denominational churches, whereas Antioch represents those who are following the simplicity of Christ outside of Sunday-morning religion. I was recently interviewed by Agape Press for an article about the house church movement. They asked a lot of questions and I felt it important to emphasize that whether we worship God in a church building or in a home fellowship, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. I was pleased to see that is what they quoted me on. Antioch could not have existed apart from Jerusalem, and Jerusalem could not have existed apart from Antioch. The moment we begin to think of ourselves as "superior" we are becoming Pharisees. We should be willing, rather, to humbly explain the way of God more accurately to those who have not yet entered into the fullness of Christ.

Regardless, more and more people are leaving "Jerusalem" and coming over to "Antioch", and this represents something very significant in what the Lord is doing today. How can we maintain the Antioch flavor and maintain a good relationship with Jerusalem without falling back into religiosity? And is there a way for us to define what it means to be a New Testament fellowship along the order of Antioch, rather than Jerusalem? There are, I believe, three practices that define the Church in Antioch as described for us here in Acts 13. They are: Reaching Up, Reaching In, and Reaching Out. Let us look at each one individually.


"As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said..." (Acts 13:2a).

This fellowship exists, first and foremost, to meet the Lord's Need, not man's need. If you have read or listened to our teachings on the subject of ministering to the Lord then you know what I am talking about; if not, I encourage you to do so. It is absolutely critical. We have to get the order right, and in Antioch, before they ministered to one another, they ministered to the Lord. They reached up before they reached in.

This represents a departure from the way we are used to thinking about "church". When people come together the expectation is that they are there to receive something. Why else does a person come to a fellowship, but to receive fellowship? While this is one part of gathering together, it is not the only part, and it is not the most important part. The most important part of gathering together is ministering to the Lord as one Body.

Someone asks, is that singing songs? Singing is part of it, but not all of it. Is it prayer? Prayer is part of it, but not all of it. We can sing and pray for ourselves or we can sing and pray unto the Lord. There is a big difference, and we cannot teach people the difference, we have to show them the difference.

Ministering to the Lord begins with a heart-attitude that recognizes one supreme truth: the Church exists for Jesus. Indeed, "All things were created by Him and for Him" and "He is the Head of all things in the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all." The sheep belong to the Great Shepherd; the House of God belongs to God; the Body of Christ belongs to Christ; the Harvest belongs to the Lord of the Harvest. And so, the Church that Jesus is building does not belong to us, it belongs to Jesus. This puts things in a different perspective.

In the weeks leading up to opening our home for fellowship, a brother who sought the mind of the Lord with us concluded, "This is important to the Lord." What does that mean? It means that regardless of what we want, or what we think, a fellowship along the lines I have just described is important to the Lord, important to His Kingdom. This brother was able to set aside his own personal preference and desire for fellowship and perceive that this gathering together is primarily for Jesus' sake, not our own sake. It is not done on a whim, or just for the fun of it, or for what we hope to get out of it, or just because we want to get something going. That is a dead, carnal thing. But having a Bethany place, a place where the Lord Jesus is recognized in His preeminence, is important - and rare. That makes it all the more important to Him.

And so, ministering to the Lord - meeting His Need - is something we value so highly that we put it first and foremost, just as the believers in Antioch did.


"And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them..." (Acts 13:3a).

When we have ministered to the Lord then we can hear from Him and be led of His Spirit. When we have reached up to Him then we can reach in to one another. When His Need is met then we can turn to meeting the needs of one another. Even though they were already praying and fasting before the Holy Ghost spoke, they prayed and fasted before laying hands on them. The first praying and fasting was for reaching up, but the second praying and fasting was for reaching in.

A personal touch is needed. Jesus did give speeches from the pinnacle of the Temple; He laid hands on the sick and took the little children into his arms. The believers in Antioch laid hands on Paul and Barnabas, and this demonstrated a oneness that mere words cannot communicate.

I would suggest that the simplest way to understand Body Life is to look at it as living in the Family of God. I Timothy 5:1, 2 says to treat the older men as fathers, the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters - in all purity. In the end it really doesn't matter who we think we are, what we think we're called to do, or what title or position we have or do not have. If we will just love one another as dear family members it will solve all the problems and answer all the questions about leadership, authority, who's in charge, who are the elders, what about women, what about the children, etc.

The Church is where we learn how to be a family. We can call one another "brother" and "sister" but do we really have a sense about what this means? Someone has said you can choose your friends but you are stuck with your relatives. God has not called us to be "friends" with one another, but family. Friends are fickle. So many times when people cannot get along, or there is the first hint of disagreement, they are ready to break fellowship and leave. Instead, we need to learn how to love one another, honor one another, esteem others as better than ourselves, submit to one another in love, pray for one another, protect one another, and help one another as family.

Of course, if your earthly family is dysfunctional, you don't know what a real family is, and the Church should be the one place you can go to learn it. Sadly, we fall short of the mark, so it is something we have to get serious about. In his book, Trust: The One Thing That Makes Or Breaks A Leader, Les Csorba writes, "Americans are not as shallow and self-centered as it appears, but they do not often have a community that they can look toward that actually embodies the rhetoric that flows from its mouth." That statement applies to Christians in every country, not just in America.

What is the greatest commandment? Jesus said there are two. They are basically these: Love God and Love One Another. And when you quote the whole passage you find this is a radical love that calls for us to give everything we have - all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Love is more important than doctrine. In the middle of all that teaching on "how to have church" in I Corinthians 12 and 14 is the great love chapter of I Corinthians 13 - "the more excellent way", and without that, everything else profits nothing. What you teach and what you believe is important, but it is not the most important thing.

In our experience, dealing with wounded people all over the world, I can say this much: people join a church with their head, but they leave it with their heart. What does that mean? It means when they are looking for a church, or fellowship, or group to be a part of, they think the most important thing is to get a doctrinal statement, or a mission statement, or a list of things the group believes. If there is agreement there they are encouraged to have found "like-minded" believers and so they begin attending. They have made an intellectual decision based on doctrine.

But when they leave the group, for the most part, it is not because someone changed their doctrinal position, or because they suddenly disagreed with Point #238 in their "Statement of Fundamental Truths." Why did they leave? Because they were wounded by a lack of love, a lack of grace, a lack of caring, a lack of mercy, a lack of thoughtfulness. They needed love but they got legalism; they needed relationship but they got religion. In the end their leaving has very little to do with why they joined to begin with. They join with their head but they leave with their heart.

Jesus said the world will know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another. In the same manner, the world will know we are not His disciples by the lack of love we have for one another. Honestly, not everyone is interested in that kind of a relationship. It is easier to slip into the pews of a mega-church and just be anonymous and private. In a home fellowship there is no luxury of anonymity - this is a micro-church, not a mega-church! Here we are, getting to know one another, with all our strengths and weaknesses, bearing one another's burdens. A lot of people will think they have enough burdens without having to take on everyone else's burdens! But that's what being a family and reaching in is all about.


"So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed..." (Acts 13:4a).

If we are ministering to the Lord, and ministering to one another, we are increasing in love. This naturally leads us to Reach Out. The believers in Antioch were not a self-contained group huddled together behind closed doors in hopes of keeping the world at a safe distance. They literally changed the world and altered the course of history because they saw the value of Reaching Out, and they understood that the Holy Spirit might, at any time, call some of their own fellowship to leave for parts unknown and establish other fellowships.

It took persecution to get the Church in Jerusalem to go forth, but the Church in Antioch sent them forth by the Holy Spirit. Suffering forced them to take action in Jerusalem, but love compelled them to act in Antioch. What a difference! There is a sending forth by the Holy Spirit. There is a time when we will leave this place and go back to our homes, our businesses, our jobs, our schools, our neighborhoods. The Christian life is not sitting around on your behind in a meeting, but going forth in the power of God to bear the Testimony of Jesus to those around us.

What does this mean? It could mean many things - witnessing, helping, giving, inviting others, opening your home, planting other fellowships, joining together with other believers for mutual edification and comfort. Antioch did all these things. The point is they were not closed off to the world, isolated from the rest of the Churches. They received brothers and sisters, and they sent brothers and sisters. They supported Paul in his apostolic ventures. They sent money to the Church in Jerusalem. Reaching out was a way of life with them.

I know that the tendency in small groups like this is to say, "Oh, the fellowship, the teaching, everything is so wonderful. Let's keep it the way it is, we don't want anyone to come in and spoil it!" And so we close ourselves off from others and stop reaching out. Pretty soon the group becomes stagnant, and dry, and dead. What if Antioch had taken that position? What if they refused to let Paul and Barnabas leave, or failed to support them when they went? History might have been different. Thank God they knew how to reach out!


The Book of Acts records the good and the not-so-good. The majority of the letters in the New Testament were written because of some need, or problem, or question, or argument that arose. So a New Testament fellowship is not a perfect fellowship. In the New Testament they struggled, they argued, they debated; they experienced successes and they experienced suffering; they experienced spiritual growth and they experienced some who fell away.

If we dare to enter into relationship with others as a New Testament fellowship we will, no doubt, experience the same joys and the same sorrows that the New Testament church experienced. That isn't so hard to understand when you think about what the Body of Christ really is not a group of spiritually perfect people, but a fellowship of men and women who have believed on the Lord Jesus and are discovering what it means to love God, love one another, and love the world around them - Reaching Up, Reaching In, and Reaching Out. It is the love, after all, that really proves we are who we say we are.

I am your brother,

Chip Brogden