Thursday, November 15, 2012

the Race

Here's what I'm seeing:

I'm seeing God throw me into many different schools, with many different children.  I'm being stretched alot.  Learning how to think quick on my feet to teach a lesson and keep their attention.  Oh how I pray for these students and teachers.  I pray for the Lord to allow me to continue to build relationships with them, that will lead to conversations about Him.

I see Trey, who by the Grace of God, is able to share Christ through relationships at work.  One of his co-workers came up to him on Monday and was so excited to tell him that he went to church the day before.  Today he was blessed to get into a very deep conversation with a co-worker, and laid out the entire Gospel with him.  Please be praying for this situation.

I hear about how God is doing amazing things through Darin Pace and the leaders of the Student ministry at Relate, and how it is growing each week.  I hear how the volunteers and students are so excited each week about what God is doing in their lives!!!

I hear how God is using Lori Brown through a Woman's Bible Study that is continuing to change heart's, lives and mindsets.

I see how God is working in the lives of the Hospitality team and how they are learning to live their lives in the form of servants. How they recognize needs, and jump in to serve even before they're asked.

I see how when Relate does an outreach event, we have more volunteers show up than they created positions for.  Too many volunteers? What???  That's AWESOME!!!

We had a Fall Festival a few weeks ago and people from our church have been told by strangers how,
"you must go to Relate, God is doing some amazing things there."

I hear and see how the Lord is using Lee as he leads the worship ministry and how it is touching so many hearts as the church continues to prepare themselves for worship.

Radiance, our City Wide Woman's ministry is growing every month.

Relate will soon begin averaging 200 on Sunday Mornings.

I see how members of the church are all actively serving the Lord through the many diverse ways He leads them and it Blesses My Socks Off!!! There is this precious lady named Melanie.  The Lord pursued her out of a devastating past. Her story has truly challenged me.  Despite how out of her comfort zone it is, she began working in a prison ministry. Yesterday she was blessed to lead an 18yr old girl to Christ!!!!  Woo, that makes me excited!!!

We have a lady at our church Lori Talmage and God has brought friends from her past back into her life and they're always asking her, "Why are you smiling all the time?"

There's a lady who had prayed to mentor young women and the Lord is using her in a mighty way to teach young women how to be Godly wives, mothers and leaders. 

We have Pastor's who will go to a place in town to do their bible study and they will ask on public Facebook and Twitter if anyone would like to join them...Anyone!  I LOVE their hearts!!!

Relate is preparing (and working hard to partner with many other churches in the Region) for a City Wide Christmas worship service called, O.C.D.  It stands for Occupy Christmas Downtown.  It will be held at the Courthouse in Hendersonville, NC, also in Downtown Asheville.  Our volunteers are working tirelessly to prepare for this.

This is just a snippet of what the Lord is doing...Right Now!
GOD is moving radically!

Here's the flip side, the bible refers to the Christian life as "Running a Race."  Sometimes  as you're running and you're making ground, you forget to watch where your stepping. You can get so focused that you don't see the car coming out of left field.

This discourages some runners,which makes sense, but they choose to quit the race entirely.  Some take the hit and lay on the ground wrestling that car or bandaging their wounds for days or even months. Others take the hit - are angry they didn't see it coming but get back up to continue the race.  Yet some, recognize the car and dodge it, only to get hit by a train; but they still get up and run the race with a smile - because, through experience, they now realize they're ticking off Satan.

When you're running the race for Christ, Satan is going to attack you.  Whether it's through Him creating fears, doubts about someones intentions or insecurities. He can attack by placing divisions in leadership.  He will attack through relationships. He will attack through hardships in life.  He will do whatever it takes to take your mind off focus and to take your heart of course. 

Ephesians 6:8-10 warns us to equip ourselves with the full armor of God: 
  • We must learn to expect it.
  • Clothe ourselves in the fruit of the Spirit. 
  • Bear one another's burden's. 
  • Cast all our care's, our worries, our FEAR's on Him.  
We must also learn to watch for these attacks in the lives of our friends.  We're running this race together.  Hold each other accountable.  A church can only be as strong as the determination of the leadership, and members, to "seek CHRIST Only and Earnestly".  Filled with determination that we will not be sidelined or watch others become discouraged.  We must build one another up in the Lord!

Pray as the Lord moves this church that every member will be very mindful and watchful for attacks. I pray that we will focus on the truth of what God is doing and not become discouraged with what we're not yet seeing.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

In All Things, Through All Things

"And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together."
Colossians 1:17

That verse, that passage, is so awesome and deep.  I say that because I don't want to feel like I am limiting that verse to what I am about to say - there is so much more depth and meaning to it, but every time I think about what the Lord has providentially brought us into that verse crosses my mind.

He, my Jesus, is before all things and He holds all things together.

We knew God was calling us to Hendersonville, there was no doubt in our hearts and minds about it. The calling was so strong.  However, we had no idea about all of the reasons He was bringing us here.  We thought it began and ended with Relate Church and ministering to the region around Hendersonville. We had no idea what else He had in store and truthfully we still don't know.

We haven't said much about it to anyone outside of our immediate circle because it's a very touchy and heart breaking subject.  When we moved here, we moved in with Trey's grandmother, Mama Dot, with the intention of looking for and finding a home and job in Hendersonville, asap.

However when we moved in it became very apparent, that was our plan but God had something else in store. We have known for the last few years that Mama Dot was struggling with the beginning stages of dementia. We now know that it has progressed significantly and is in Stage 2, she is also struggling with Sundowners Syndrome.  

We have always had a very close relationship with his grandmother.  I praise the Lord that He sent us here to care for her and allow our family, to soak up these few months with her and allow her to remain in her home as long as possible. 

We currently have an hour commute back and forth to Hendersonville but the Lord providentially provided us with a Prius right before we moved from Kentucky. (In all things, through all things - Colossians)

The Lord provided Trey a job through a Temp Agency the first of October.  Through this position the Lord has allowed him to begin a relationship ministry.  The Lord has allowed him to share the gospel so many times, not only are we in Gaffney for his grandmother, but for these Divine Appointments.  His co-workers have begun asking him so many questions and He said the Holy Spirit has been so heavy at times in these conversations. (In All things, Through all things.)

The Lord has allowed me to be a Substitute teacher in Cherokee County Schools.  I have been blessed to minister and pray with several teachers, and blessed with the opportunity to LOVE on these students.
(In All things, Through all things.)

Last week Relate Church had the Fall Festival in Downtown Hendersonville, over 3000 people walked through the doors.The Gospel was presented numerous times!
(In All things, Through all things.)

We have been blessed to be witness of SO many salvations over the last 3 months.  (In All things, Through all things.)

Before we even realize there is a need the Lord providentially provides through your support or me being called in to Sub.  We're living on faith and every time the Lord provides manna.  I am learning not to fear. (In All things, Through all things.)  

Please continue to pray for us and the ministry God has called us to, there is so much going on!  Pray for diligence, endurance and a steadfast heart.  It could be SO easy to become distracted.

Pray that we will NEVER say No when God tells us to Go!

HIS Clay,
Melissa Bradley

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you;  
do not turn from it to the right or to the left, 
that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. 
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” 
Joshua 1:7-9


Friday, November 2, 2012

The Fear of Rejection!

I remember when I was in elementary school and we would play kickball or football every day at recess! There were times when we would have two team captains who would pick teams. I have never been the most athletic person. Even to this day, I have to practice and work very hard just to be decent at any sport. Many times I would be the last one picked, or at least be one of the last one’s picked. I never will forget the rejection that I felt in those moments.

Many of us have faced rejection in some way throughout our lives whether it is a breakup, the loss of a job, or the end of a friendship! Many have even faced being rejected by a parent or a spouse. No matter where the rejection comes from, we all probably agree that it can be a painful experience to endure. The fear of rejection can have a huge effect on how we interact with people and the decisions that we make. I strongly believe that this is one of the main reasons why we as Christians don’t share our faith the way that we should.

Studies show that about ninety-five percent of people who claim to be Christians admit that they have never shared their faith with anybody at all. That is startling considering that we claim to have the greatest gift anyone could ever have. How is it possible that a person could experience the saving power of Jesus Christ and never share it with others? There are of course many who claim to be Christians who are not! Obviously many are not going to share a faith that they don’t have in the first place. I do believe however that there are genuine followers of Jesus who do not share their faith due to this thing called fear of rejection. I know this is something that I battle with every time I share my faith with someone. For those of you who struggle with this, I have good news for you and me! In fact I will let Jesus Himself do the talking!

"He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me." Luke 10:16

Wow, is this saying what I think it is saying? If we tell someone about Jesus and they reject the message, they are not ultimately rejecting us, but are rejecting God! So we don’t have to worry about how they respond as long as we are faithfully presenting the gospel truthfully, lovingly and clearly! This doesn’t mean that when a person rejects Jesus that it will not still hurt. However, we must understand that we are just the messengers. We have to remember that it is not our job to save anybody. We are actually incapable of doing so! Only the power of the Holy Spirit can truly transform a person’s heart! (1 Corinthians 12:3) As long as we are obedient to opportunities that open up to share our faith, God is honored and we win no matter what the response is. Even through the rejection, a seed is planted and the name of Jesus is magnified.

So what does this mean

Share Jesus with everybody! Share boldly, lovingly, humbly, loudly, and leave the results up to God! It’s time to get with the program Christians! People are dying and going to hell while we stand by and keep silent because of self-esteem issues! I don’t know about you all but I refuse to allow this fear rejection to be my excuse any longer! We have the power of the God of the universe at work within us! Let’s do this!!!!

In Christ

Trey Bradley

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Knowing the Peace Speaker

Luke 9:23-25 (ESV)
And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

I'm going to tell on myself here so try not to judge me too harshly. :)

You see these verses? Well, I've heard them my entire life. I mean I've heard them preached on at least 4 times a year. I could recite them from memory. They have been so familiar that when I hear them it is almost like snuggling up to a very familiar security blanket. At least when things were going well, but when life got tough- they were thrown out on the wind as I cried out in a familiar panic.

"Why God, Why? What's happening here? Have you forgotten me? Wasn't I doing right? Did I step outside of Your will? Am I in sin? Or worst of all. "I don't deserve this! Don't I deserve better?" etc. etc.

It's easy to say I fully trust GOD when my life is easy. When I feel like I can handle it on my own, but when it feels like I'm about to go under and I don't see a safety raft anywhere, and I'm forced to fully, completely rely on HIM, I begin to question HIS judgement and HIS Sovereign control.

I remember getting into a debate about a year ago with my 14yr old foster daughter. In her 14yr old logic she was trying with all her might to tell me what she thought was best for her. I won't get into detail here, but I will tell you she was wrong. Not only wrong, her argument was simply illogical. She had no idea what she was talking about.

After I went to bed that night and I remember praying about all that was going on, I felt at the end of my rope with the whole situation...defeated.

As I prayed I felt like I could hear the Lord say..."See? Do you not see it?"

All those times that I sit here in my own little world, shouting at my big GOD, "Where are you?" Have you forgotten me?" "Why did you allow this to happen?"

You see, HE doesn't just have 14yrs on me- HE OWNs time! He created it. HIS wisdom is infinitely wiser than my own. HIS ways are infinitely higher than my own. The things that have just caught me off guard, had been set in motion before the foundations of the earth. He knew that it was going to happen, it didn't catch HIM off guard.

Yet, I have the audacity to sit in my own little Melissa world hollering at the sky trying to explain to HIM what's best for me? When the bible says: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." - James 1:2-4 (ESV)
I now (try to remember to) praise the LORD for the trials HE has entrusted me with. It is only from enduring these trials that my faith has grown.

Matthew 8:18-27 is the perfect example of a life in pursuit of Christ

Matt. 8:18-22
Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Another of the disciples said to him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." And Jesus said to him, "Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead."

You see, before this moment Jesus had healed the sick, cast out demons, and had performed all these amazing miracles which had drawn out a crowd, and He quickly gained a false, me centered, devotion from them.

They were coming after Him thinking, "Hey, I won't get sick anymore or have to fight for my food. This man is cool he can do lots of tricks. Yeah, friendship with this guy must come with some good perks!"

Jesus quickly throws cold water on their misguided affections, and says "if you're coming after Me- you might not have a place to live, Do you love me still? Do you love me more than your family, your money...even your own life?"

Oh, decision point. There's more to this than some cool tricks that make me comfortable.

GOD's not after our comfort, He's after His holiness being refined in us.

It requires effort.
I constantly hear,
"Do you trust ME?" "Do you trust ME?"
It's about not living my life according to me and what's easy. It's about saying, "Lord, I'm Yours, period." It's about jumping out in faith, not looking for a human safety net.
Matthew 8:23-27
And when he got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but He was asleep. And they went and woke Him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing." And He said to them, "Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?"
Then He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
And the men marveled, saying, "What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?"

See the guys that stayed in their comfort zone on the shore, the ones that said, "Oh, I'm all in until I am no longer in control." The ones that enjoy seeing their feet planted safely on the ground; they missed it! They COMPLETELY Missed it.
They thought before that they had seen miracles.

The disciples got in the boat and a storm came up. They immediately were afraid for their lives. They thought all was lost. They no longer had "Control" over their situation.

They had no idea they were in the boat with the One Who masters the storms. Ha! HE is the Master of the seas. HE created them. HE has the power to walk on them. With the sound of HIS voice the winds and the storms obeyed, "Peace, Be Still"! That's our GOD! In HIS hands you can have complete confidence to rid yourself of that control! Can I get an AMEN!

When my life's storm's are calm, I don't have to life is in HIS hands! When the storms of my life are turbulent, I don't have to worry, my scary times are times I can learn more about HIM and HIS provision and how HE cares for HIS children who follow HIM, and watch as He says, "Peace, be still."
I've tried to be in control of my life before, the thing is - You can't plan tomorrow you can have as many back up plans as you want, but there are things that you can never prepare for, and it's foolish for us to try.
Why would I want to? I'm a Stay at Home mom, but my life has never been so full of adventure as it has since I learned to relinquish the little bit of control I tried to "lord" over my own life.
Matthew 6:25-27
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Think back and consider your trials. Did they bring you closer to the Lord? Were you following the Lord like you should have been? How much did the worrying help?

You see, there is no trick to being thankful when you and God are on the same page. The trick is to be thankful when you aren't.

Now consider how freeing it is to seek HIM, surrender it and then Nod your head with a ridiculously large smile thanking GOD in advance for HIS provision! Because with Jehovah-Jireh
it's not ours to fret over in the first place, He wants it, it's HIS! Hallelujah!
and that, my friend, is what I call Freedom!

Write it down in a Keepsake Journal- (Deut. 6:1-9) We call it our Family's Road Through Redemption. I don't want my children to doubt GOD with the doubt I've had, or their father has had. My Grandfather always said, "A Wise man learns from the mistakes of others. A Fool has to find out for himself."

I want them to know the areas we've struggled in our faith. I want them to be fully aware of our family's history of sin. When they're 20 years old we want them to not only to be equipped for a career but we also want them to be equipped with the wisdom gleaned from generations of failings and trying to follow GOD.

I don't want them to have to learn by making the same mistakes their parents or grandparents made, just because I was too embarrassed to tell them.

I want to be able to show them, without fear, the areas I began to compromise which lead to falling into sin. The excuses I gave myself to remain in sin and Christ's pursuit of my life that brought me through it. I want to teach them how to recognize GOD's hand at work in all of it and how to be thankful for it!

HIS Clay~

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Diving In

God continues to amaze me with His goodness, provision, and faithfulness! God recently called my wife and me to leave a full-time salary and help with Relate Church, a new church plant in Hendersonville, NC.  We have been blown away with the heart of this church. It has been such an awesome challenge working with leaders who have an unquenchable passion to reach this city, and to branch out in order to reach more cities. The passion is not to grow Relate but to fulfill the Great Commission, if the church grows from outreach, then great, but the heart is to reach the lost, period!  I know that many of you have been praying for Melissa and me since we have begun this journey so I wanted to give you all an update on how things are going so far.

Since we have moved we really haven’t had a chance to catch a breath and have just dove right in head first. Don’t get me wrong, we have loved every minute and are not complaining whatsoever. It’s amazing how we knew this summer that God was saying NOW is the time to trust Him and move. Well now it all makes sense as Relate has tripled in size within the past month. We recently have gone to two Sunday morning services: 9:35am & 11:15am. We have been averaging around 150 counting both services, however, this past Sunday we had 177 in attendance and 12 people received Christ. We are already discussing a third service as our second service has been pretty packed with people sitting on the floor this past Sunday. With our location being the Skyland Theatre in downtown Hendersonville, it has opened doors for us to minister to so many people. The opportunities that I have had to share Jesus with people this past month have been unbelievable. During the Applefestival this year downtown Hendersonville was packed with tourists from all around the southeast. Since we are right in the middle of downtown, we opened up our church to the public offering clean restrooms, free waters, or just a place to get out of the heat. This turned out to be a huge hit because the only restrooms available were on just one side of Main St, and local businesses wouldn’t allow you to use the restroom unless you were purchasing something there. We had around 3,000 people pass through our church that day, and everyone was so appreciative. This opened up opportunities for many conversations about Jesus and the gospel. That evening our band did a concert in the theatre, and rocked out! I was so humbled by the number of Relate volunteers who gave up their entire Saturday to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and actually had fun doing it. I didn’t hear one complaint from anybody all day, and we really just had a blast serving and loving people.

This has just been one example of the heartbeat of Relate Church and our desire to show the love of Christ to the community and ultimately the world. It has certainly been a ride and we are excited with what is to come. This move has certainly not come without its share of challenges and the enemy has been on the attack, but by the grace of God we are pressing on.  Continue to pray for us as we dive in and get our hands dirty. We aren’t here to cruise and be comfortable, but to serve and see Christ glorified. Pray that we will stay focused on the prize and call that God has placed on our lives. We give God all the glory for everything He has done through us and Relate Church. Without Him we are nothing, but through Him we can do anything!

Up Til Now

Here is an exact timeline of our call and move into church planting. This explains how and when everything began and how we ended up where we are now. I actually wanted to post this around the first of August but since moving we haven’t had internet. Thanks for your continued prayers and support.

  • August 2011: God had begun challenging Trey and I in our faith. Changing, challenging and creating a new heart towards ministry. Not sure what He was about to do.
  • November 2011: Began praying about the possibility of church planting. That same week Trey was contacted by Tim pastor of Relate asking if we felt called towards church planting.
  • December 2011: Met with Tim and Lori for the first time. We had a huge pile of questions we were going to ask to find out if their hearts toward ministry matched what God had been doing in our lives. We didn't even have to ask a question, without us saying a word as Tim and Lori poured out their hearts it was ridiculous hearing them expressing their passion and how it aligned with this burden that God had created in our hearts. I have no idea how to express how it matched perfectly with the challenges God had placed in our hearts.
  • February 2012: Visited Relate, we were just going to help and see what it was about. We could not imagine it working out. There were too many details that the Lord could only accomplish Himself. The Sunday we visited there were probably around 20-25 ppl. but the Spirit was thick! When we visited, despite how impossible it seemed, we knew God was moving us there. We began praying some pretty large Sun Stand Still Prayers (Joshua 10:12-14).
  • March 2012: Relate faced a pretty intense trial that could have easily, if given the chance, had the power to crumble the ministry. Not caving to the trial, the leadership sought the Lord and trudged forward.

Sun Stand Still Prayers Included:

    • More Leadership help.
    • How and when the Lord would move us.
    • We had children staying in our home at the time and we had prepared that it would be long term.
    • Where would we live?
    • At the beginning of this I had been babysitting for a family who was dependent on me. In December I had begun praying for the Lord to provide a new full time babysitter for that family, but I didn't know what was going to happen in our future so I was unable to tell them about it.
    • We began praying for significant church growth, and Hands and Feet to help disciple the growth that was already happening.
    • Praying for encouragement for Tim and Lori.
    • We began praying for hands and feet that would step in and fill in the gaps at Calvary, so the Youth Ministry would have a smooth transition.


  • May-June 2012: Tim was contacted by Pastor Chris Pace, pastor of Ascend Church. The Lord had brought Relate to mind repeatedly so Tim and Chris met and realized that the passion and the burden that God had placed on each of their hearts aligned perfectly. Better than perfectly, the areas that one lacked was the other one's strength and vice versa. After much prayer they decided to merge the churches.
  • July 22, 2012: Proposed the merge to the churches officially on August 5. Also, planning to add an additional morning worship service on August 12 and had a 100% approval!!!
  • July 29, 2012: Relate had 104 visiting during the worship service - Before the merge. Also, more children than they could have possibly anticipated.
  • August 1, 2012: Relate was offered an additional room to help with the children’s ministry from an adjacent restaurant!!! Praise the Lord, also Free of cost!
  • August 5, 2012: On the Sunday of the merge Relate reached well over maximum capacity (150 in attendance) and made good use of the new children’s area!!! (: Praise the LORD!
  • August 12, 2012: Our family's first Sunday to serve at Relate! We split into 2 morning worship services.

Since the Sun Stand Still Prayers beginning in March - God has blessed Relate with seven pastors, including Trey being the new missions/outreach pastor and an amazing leadership team. So to say GOD is at work at Relate Church would be an understatement.

We are DOWN with reaching this TOWN!!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Disease of Cultural Christianity

Some may think I am being melodramatic using the word disease, but I think it fits perfectly. Being sick is one thing, but having a disease is something on a whole other level. A disease is something that cannot be cured quickly and is a longer process that may require surgery or even a transplant. Sometimes it will even lead to death. This is how I see Cultural Christianity today. Cultural Christianity is basically where one’s faith is defined on however the culture is around them. The dangers of this are staggering, and many are not even aware of the strangle hold that it has on them.

I can’t speak for anyone in other cultures, but here in southeast America it is a disease that has infected most of us. The reason I am so outspoken on this is because it has infected me and is probably the biggest hindrance to me following Jesus like I see in the Scriptures. When I read the Scriptures, particularly the book of Acts, I see where the early Christians were these people who were willing to give up everything to follow Christ. They were willing to lose their families, their comfort, and face persecutions in ways that we as free people could never comprehend. They were willing to lose it all for the sake of their beautiful savior they had surrendered their lives to. Their hope was in Christ alone and they only desired to see Him glorified and disciples made. The modern day church really has no idea what persecution is, and we don’t look even remotely like the early church. The problem is most have grown up in the Cultural Christianity mindset where they go to church on Sunday, they don’t drink, they don’t gamble, they pay their tithe when they can and they think they are ok. God is important but can and is replaced consistently by sports, hobbies, careers, jobs, or anything really. Ninety-five percent of Christians admit to never having shared their faith with anybody. This is considered being a normal Christian. Someone abandoning everything for the sake of Christ is considered extreme or a Jesus freak when actually that mindset in the early church was just normal. What was normal with the early believers is now considered extreme. Cultural Christians get really uncomfortable when they are around believers who are truly pursuing God with their lives. The scary thing about this is the fact that Matthew 7 tells us that narrow is the way of salvation and few people find it. The broad road is the road that many will find and it leads to destruction. I believe that Cultural Christianity is the primary reason that many are unknowingly on that broad road and my challenge to anyone reading this is to examine yourselves and seek after Christ.

My point of this is that overall the church doesn’t look like the true church of Jesus Christ and we are all guilty. The only way we can impact this culture is to shake off the chains of Cultural Christianity. Let’s pray for God to do some open heart surgery and remove this disease that keeps us from being used to expand the kingdom. I am sure some reading this are thinking that I am being too dramatic, and that line of thinking is proof that this disease has affected you. There is simply too much at stake. People are dying and spending eternity away from God; people are hurting and need to hear the good news. Ultimately the glory of God is at stake! If you think I am being dramatic then tell that to the one who suffered on a cruel, bloodstained cross for you. I would say that the salvation of His people is a pretty big deal. The question is who is going to tell them? I say you and I go and tell them! Who is with me?

In His Grip,

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Give Me Faith

I'm easily discouraged. I'm in ministry so this is a horrible trait to have, but I am.  You can say something to me off the cuff - not thinking anything of it but I am so easily discouraged that it has the power to take me out of the game for a good while.

I don't want to be that person.  I've been praying about it for a long time now-asking God:
  • How did Daniel have the faith that would take him into the Lions Den. Knowing that you had the power to deliver him, but even if You didn't he was going to follow You.
  • How did Shadrach, Meshach and Abindego have the faith to follow you into the furnace?
  • How did the Apostles continue Your work while faced with so much discouragement?
    • I've been reading their story, seeing their faith and also seeing the times that I would take a huge hit of discouragment, many that would possess the power to take me completely out of the game.
Ok Follow: On the day of Pentecost while all of the apostles were together there came a sound of a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. (Acts 2) and the Holy Spirit fell upon them and they began speaking in different languages.  Others in the town heard the wind and they all came out to see what had happened. People from all over the region, who spoke in many different languages and when they heard the disciples speak they noticed that they could all clearly understand what they were saying.  Some were amazed yet others were mocking them claiming they were drunk. (vs. 12-13)

-See I would think Wow, God's doing something huge - but then I would have easily been discouraged by the drunk comments. I would have probably stalled out crying and praying because I have this stupid need for EVERYONE - not just some, but everyone to like me. (don't judge me, I know it's dumb, I'm working on it.)  (; 
But Peter stood his ground. (vs14-47) and thousands were saved.

- Acts 3, they healed a lame beggar, many continued to be saved Acts 4 - Now the government is upset with them and they're thrown in Jail - see discouragement. Jail would discourage me, but not them and many more were saved.

See, the apostles did amazing things for God, yet they also faced discouragment, however they did not allow it to side track them....  I've been praying, "LORD, how do I follow you consistently without giving in to the constant discouragement you face in ministry.  How do I continue to run this race without stalling out?
  • You can't be bold without facing rejection. 
  • You can't follow God without losing friends.
  • You can't run this race and please others.
  • It's choose GOD or choose the world and I desperately want to choose God with every fiber of my being!
Lord, give me Faith to Trust YOU and Your Word over the opinions or views of others.  I'm so far from being there, "How do I get there?"

And like a light bulb today - it clicked.

The apostles didn't always have that faith.  Over and over again in the gospels you see Jesus calling them out saying, "You of little Faith, how long until you believe me." Every time they hit a storm at sea, they ran low on food, someone died - you see them stalling out, discouraged, questioning Jesus.  The Apostles didn't get great faith over night.  It came by having a consistant, intimate relationship with the Almighty God. It came from the years they walked closely with Jesus. 

I even get discouraged because sometimes I still tell God No'.  I sense Him wanting me to speak to someone and I'm too scared or I sense Him asking me to do something outside of my comfort zone and I say No', whether it's by my questioning if it was really Him or for whatever reason, I still struggle with saying No'.

Peter, despite His Great Love for Christ still denied Him 3 times!!!  Christ asked the discples to stay up and pray the night before He was taken to the cross. Something that simple but they didn't have the faith to see that little step of obedience as important.

No, I do not yet have the Faith of a Mustard Seed. (Matt. 17:20-21) But I'm not going to quit pursuing Him until I do.

Give me Faith!

HIS clay~

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

3 Weeks

I think it all hit me Monday. This whole process has been such a new experience to me. I mean, we've had to walk by faith before but not through circumstances where we knew this little.  I've had to come to a place where I "do" trust God and I fear Him more than I fear my lack of control over my own, and even my family's, security.  When I'm spending time with the Lord - it all makes perfect sense, and it's as if we have no other option but to follow.  When I have not been able to spend time with God-is when I get scared, and the thoughts race.  The one prevailing thought is, "Have you lost your mind?"

On Monday I had a sick baby girl and I wasn't feeling too hot myself. I was looking through the house over things I needed to get rid of and beginning to pack and it all fell on me like a ton of bricks - I had 3 weeks. 3 Weeks!!! That was it. In 3 weeks everything I knew, everything I had grown accustomed to, all of the friendships I had made here, our home etc., security, even our independence was going to be turned upside down.

This is not me complaining, please do not take it that way. I am super excited about what's about to happen next and I know I cannot allow myself to focus on the uncertainties - they are not mine to worry with, the Lord will provide.  However, it does not matter how much I "Know that", when you've committed to walk by faith and not by sight; sometimes your eyes get to feeling a little neglected and there are moments that the fear sets in.

I have often joked about being a Bible Chaser. Being a stay at home mommy of 2 little ones leaves me chasing after moments where I can sit and dive into God's word. Even if I get up at the magical hour of 5:30am somehow my children sense that mommy is up and they're ready for breakfast. Seriously - Every Time! (:  As soon as I sit it's an open invitation for, "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy", and even if they don't run in asking questions or needing this and that I still have the mommy twitch where I can't focus because I am just waiting to be interrupted, which is wonderful and I LOVE it, however, it does leave me chasing after free moments.

Through all of this I've realized it takes me 2 days. 2 Days, thats it!!!  2 days of not being able to spend adequate time with God in His word before my faith is running on fumes and I am surrounded by a cloud of fear. I can't tell you what all the fear is, it isn't one particular thing, it's a buffet of everything.  Even though I don't really appreciate it at the time, Trey has begun calling me out on it recognizing when I haven't spent time with God. 

I can come up with excuses, truthfully, it is intensely hard somedays to find adequate time with the Lord, but there is no substitute. We have been called to run the race however we cannot run the race if we are directionless when it comes to finding the track. We have each individually been invited to have a deep, love relationship with the God of our creation-there is NO substitute for that.  Once you've experienced that nothing else that you try to pour your life into, trying to fill that need, can substitute for it. And anything that has the power to interfere with it is seen as a threat, not a temptation.  It's not hard core, it's as essential as breathing, and if a man goes 2 days without breathing - He's a dead man.

Why do you think it is so hard to find time, or to make time to be with the Lord? Because Satan knows as long as he can keep you in captivity, he can keep you from realizing that "You're not breathing". You will believe his lies, and you will be incapable of experiencing God, let alone, be able to be used by God. 

If he can keep you from experiencing the joy of your salvation, his job at discouraging you is rendered DONE.

My faith has no authority if my relationship with Christ is "Piggy Backing" off someone else's.  You can be encouraged through your pastor, friend, spouse etc. but hearing it from them is no substitute for your relationship with Christ. 
If, as your next door neighbor, I am "Piggy Backing" off your Wi-Fi it would be a lie for me to tell someone I have my own Wi-Fi.  It's not yours its someone else's.  God calls His children to have a deep love relationship with Him that is real and personal.   You cannot walk by faith until you start walking, not "Piggy Back Riding."  (:

If you're dealing with fear, I'm sharing the following message because it ROCKS!


HIS clay~
Melissa Bradley