A Child Was Born

Do you remember the day that changed your life forever? Maybe, it was a big breakthrough at work to launch you into your career. Maybe, it was the day you graduated. Perhaps, it was the day you and your spouse took vows before God and man in matrimony. Possibly, it was even the day you had your first child.

Regardless of what that event was, we all have a day that we look back on in our lives which seems to have been a turning point for us. The days before that vary vastly from the days since all because of the events that took place on that one particular day. I have to imagine that Mary viewed the day she would deliver God’s Son into the world as being that day for her life.

Going to the Big City:

Doctor Luke writes one of the most detailed depictions of Christ’s birth. Chapter two of Luke’s gospel opens up with Caesar ready to get some more tax revenue. We know that at this point Caesar was performing regular censuses and it was time for the Jews. Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, had to go to his fore father’s hometown to ensure his inheritance. Joseph and Mary walked two days to get to their destination of Bethlehem.

We’ve Arrived and So Has He!

Mary knows that she is traveling to the city of David. This city used to be known as a mecca of diverse culture. Bethlehem was a trade center. Once Mary gets there though, it has declined to a very small city. If Mary was telling us that story today, she may say something like, “When I read that prophecy I was thinking something like Seattle or Dallas. I would have settled for Jonesboro. I could not believe it was Paragould! I was expecting this to be the day I went from being a pauper to the palace. Take me to NEA Baptist Hospital! I’m about to deliver the Savior. He needs the newest and the best! I need a huge delivery room for everyone who is going to come and see.” Poor Joseph, can you imagine his response to Mary, “Uhh, Mary, there are no hospitals here.” “Take me to the Hilton!” Mary exclaims. “The king must be born in luxury!” “Uhh, Mary, there aren’t any hotels here. I can see if we can stay in the inn (which meant a hut on someone’s roof),” Joseph murmurs. “You want me to have this baby on the roof of someone’s house??? I’m not doing it,” Mary emphatically cries out. Finally, Joseph must break the worst news of all, “Uhh, Mary, you’re right. They don’t have any room for us because of the census.” You just know there are people peeking out their window, looking at Mary like that girl’s about to pop. I’m not cleaning that up. Nope sorry. We’re all filled up here.

Welcome to Your New Home:

In a last desperate plea, Joseph knocks on some backwoods-country boy’s house. You know this guy is country because he tells Joseph to go out back where they deliver the cows in that old rock cave to have his baby.

Cold, wet, damp, filthy. No Obamacare. Rejected by everyone in town. Jesus was born. He was wrapped in tattered cloths that had made it a long journey. No newborn outfit for the Savior either. Joseph throws more hay into the feeding trough then wraps Jesus in this torn cloth and lays the Son of God down for his first nap. Welcome to the world Son of God!  

Baby Jesus:

Creator of the universe, Savior to the world, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, of his government there will be no end.

Yet Jesus was born the most humbling birth, and lived the most humbling life so that he could relate to you. Jesus is a God who understands. He’s gone through every temptation common to man, yet overcame them all as only God could. You want a friend who can understand where you’re at in life?                                                           .

John 15:15 says, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”

Jesus understands what you are going through, but he knows how to overcome it. He became the victory not just because of his sacrifice on the cross, but because he became man -God in flesh. Because of this he understand how to teach us to obtain victory in every area of life.

What kind of god will you serve?

As for me and my house, we will serve the one true God who understands us.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge

LifeBridge Jonesboro

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Not His People

I don’t go to church because of the hypocrites. I don’t go to church because most of the people who go there say one thing and then do something different the next day. If you were to invite someone to church in the last decade and they were looking for a good excuse not to join you, you likely heard a response just like that. I don’t go to church because of the hypocrites, either. I go because of God. Jesus is the person who invited me to church. Yes, he may have used someone to deliver that message to me, but ultimately Jesus is the one who put on flesh to come and ask me to be a part of his body of believers.

You’ve Almost Got It:
In John chapter four, Jesus takes his followers directly through Samaria, a region they had been taught to avoid their entire lives. Jesus will often direct us as his followers to go right through those situations we desire to avoid and he stays there with us until we’ve conquered our issues. In this passage, we see people who were prepared to meet Jesus, but those who presumed they knew where Jesus was going and took their own path missed what Jesus did along the way (which was meet those who were waiting for him). However, even those who closely followed Jesus messed up when they had an encounter with a woman who desired to be in Jesus’ presence. His disciples scared this woman away by the disgusted looks on their faces.

Church Hurt:
Wow! Can you imagine the feeling this woman has. She has just met the Savior of the world, but she feels afraid to be in his presence. She has just heard how Jesus can change her life forever, yet his followers don’t appear to have changed completely. She’s in love with Jesus, but had to move away from him because of his followers. In America when we are hurt by Jesus’ followers, we call that “church hurt.” As a pastor, leader, and fellow Christian, may I extend an apology to you for any of the wrongs that may have occurred to you because of church people. Some of it may have been unintentional, some of it may have been ignorant, some of it may have even been in blatant rebellion and disobedience, but all of it was wrong and none of it deserved to happen to you. I am sorry for any hurt that the church has caused you. Don’t go to church because of the hypocrites, go because of Jesus. Just because his followers may still be growing through their flaws, doesn’t mean that God is. Just because we mess up, does not mean that God has hurt you. God would never hurt you. He loves you and he has given it all to be in a relationship with you. I’m sorry for any pain that we may have caused in your life, but please never ever allow that to stop you from having a relationship with the perfect God who will always be all you could ever need.

Getting Beyond It:
The good news for his followers is that Jesus didn’t leave them there to deal with their issues on their own. Jesus sat right there with them and did not continue forward on his journey until he could empower them to overcome their flaws. No matter what Jesus will not leave you in your life. As his people, though, we have been empowered by his Holy Spirit to overcome the issues within our life. We should become more like Jesus today than we’ve ever been in our past because his mercies are new every day. Refuse to contribute to someone’s church hurt. Dare to go through the areas in your life that you’ve wanted to avoid that Jesus may use you to reach those who are prepared to meet him.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge
LifeBridge Jonesboro

Salvation?

In our most recent blog series, we are discussing terms that are frequently used in church, but rarely examined for their meaning. We freely toss around this vocabulary as though we all had to hand copy the definitions from a mysterious “Church Terminology 101” book before we could be allowed to integrate ourselves into church society. We must understand these terms before they can be relevant to our church life and life outside the four walls.

Salvation:
The term salvation, simply put, refers to the initial moment we are introduced to a relationship with Jesus. Here’s what we know about the parameters of salvation: 1. God is pure, holy, and is eternally enthroned in heaven. 2. Man is separated from an eternal relationship with God by sin (failure to measure up to God’s goodness). 3. God loves man anyway. 4. He loves man so much that he sent his son Jesus who died on a cross to take on our sins. 5. All it takes on our part is a faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for this relationship to be restored for eternity.

What This Changes:
At the moment of salvation, we accept Christ as Savior, receive him as Lord, and repent. By accepting Jesus as our savior we acknowledge that our works could by no means earn a way for us to enter heaven. We turn from trusting ourselves and place all of our hope in Jesus’ work on the cross. To receive Jesus as Lord essentially means to allow him to lead us in our lives. We no longer make decisions based on the survival of our flesh, but on what brings him glory. (We turn our minds away from survival mode and are allowed to fulfill all we were created to be.) Finally, repentance means that we fully turn to Jesus. Sin attempts to distract us and draw us away from God’s presence even after we begin a relationship with him. As we grow in our relationship, God reveals to us more and more about the things in our lives that are distractions from him. These things we must lay aside.

Sanctification:
Repentance perfectly transitions into sanctification, the process of our continued relationship with Jesus after that moment of introduction. God never intended just to be introduced to you, but to live in an eternal relationship with you. Jesus called this process of growing more in this relationship “discipleship.” To assist us in our growing process, I urge you to read the Bible, pray, worship, join a local church, and witness. These all assist us in our growth.
Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV).”
As believers we’ve been given a responsibility by Jesus to assist others in growing their relationship with Jesus. We cannot be all we were created to be without creating disciples who create disciples who create disciples….

Pastor Zac Breckenridge
LifeBridge Jonesboro

Spirit: Silent or Silenced

Growing up, I was raised in a church that was really focused on the rules. At the age of 21, I began a real relationship with Jesus while in a new church. This new church believed that the Spirit doesn’t move in the same way today in which he did as recorded in the book of Acts. They held the theological position that we no longer needed to hear from God since we had heard from him and what was heard was now completely recorded in the Bible.

 

Biblically:

In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul wrote one of the most crucial chapters in the Bible about living life in the Spirit. Paul encouraged the church to be led by the Spirit over the flesh. He instructed them that being led by the Spirit brings life and peace while being controlled by the survival of our flesh produces death. Paul says to reflect on the power that comes from the Holy Spirit living inside the heart of man. He concludes that the gifts of the Spirit are beneficial to our growth in becoming more like Christ and our purpose in reconciling others in their relationship to God.

 

Logically:

Philosophically, I submit to you that the follow statement is true if the two points afterward are valid: If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then the Holy Spirit must be as well. 1. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both one God. 2. Hebrews 13:8 says Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. Therefore, Holy Spirit is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

 

Historically:

Historically, most people believe that the Holy Spirit was silent from the book of Acts until Azusa Street in 1906. These people assert that once the Bible was finished there was no need to hear from the Holy Spirit or experience the gifts. However, even after the gifts of the Spirit were ruled as heretical by the Roman Catholic Church, there are several recorded instances of individuals, churches, and denominations who experienced the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Although the world attempted to hide the Holy Spirit, he could not be silenced. Then in 1906, in the “Land of the Free” on Azusa Street, Los Angeles, CA, the world could no longer keep the Spirit hidden.

 

Where We Stand:

The entire Bible is a story of God’s love for his prized creation, humanity. From beginning to the end the Bible teaches us that God is constantly pursuing a relationship with each and every individual even when we are running from him or fighting against him. How could we ever believe the lie that this God, who died to live within us, would turn his back on humanity and silence himself once that relationship was finally established? The Holy Spirit living inside of man is the closest we’ll ever experience on earth to living with God in heaven. The God who is constantly pursuing you, would not abandon this. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

If you have never been baptized by the Holy Spirit, I encourage you today to allow the Holy Spirit the freedom he needs to move in your life. We can contain God within our hearts just as easily as we can within the four walls of the church. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to well up inside of you and overflow into all areas of your life, not just to restore you but to restore those around you to an unhindered relationship to God as well.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge

LifeBridge Jonesboro

Not Your Daddy

They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” (John 8:19 ESV)

The biggest issue in the modern church is not idol god worship; it’s idle God worship. We all have a different perspective on what it means to be a father. Often times, we believe early on that everyone’s dad is like our dad. However, that simply isn’t true. Jesus’ primary mission while on earth was to reveal who is God the Father.

 

Idol Father:

Idol god worship refers to those who worship a false “god” that can do nothing as though it can do everything. Idols get their power by humans giving their authority to demons. The enemy’s goal in idol god worship is to keep you active and give you power outside of the church.

 

Idle Father:

Idle God worship refers to those who worship the true God who can do everything as though he can do nothing. Idle God worship occurs when humans follow the rules of man above the Law and love of God. The enemy’s goal in idle God worship is to keep you inactive, ineffective, unfruitful, and powerless within the church.

 

God the Father:

The way we worship the one true God who can do everything as though he can do everything is by recognizing who that God really is. Acknowledging the attributes and characteristics of God the Father will help us to see who he is in relation to us. God’s attributes are his permanent intrinsic qualities. God is spirit, personal, characterized by life, infinite, and constant (to name a few). God’s character develops based on the revelation of himself to humanity. Morally, God is holy, righteous, and pure. His integrity is genuine and faithful. His love is benevolent, graceful, merciful, and persistent. He is merciful because he doesn’t give us what we deserve, but is graceful because he gives us what we don’t deserve.

 

Who is Your Father?

Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” From the moment we accept Jesus as Savior, we receive the Holy Spirit within our hearts. The Spirit is who empowers us to have a right understanding and relationship with God the Father.

Who is your Father? If you haven’t had a full relationship with God the Father, turn to Jesus today and allow the Holy Spirit to empower you in this area.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge

LifeBridge Jonesboro

There’s More to the Name

Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it (John 14:13-14).”

Praying in Jesus name means so much more than a hashtag at the end of our prayers. Jesus is much more than a closing thought in our ‘Dear Santa’ letter to God. In order to truly receive what Jesus promises in these verses, we must understand what he means by praying in his name.

 

Character:

First, praying in Jesus’ name means to pray within his character. When we approach a person (Father God) in the name of someone else (Jesus), we approach the person within the character of the one whose name is being used. To pray in Jesus’ name means first and foremost to pray with his nature, desires, and purpose. Praying in Jesus’ name means praying as a child of God.

 

Authority:

Second, we must speak from the authority given to Jesus. Kenneth Hagin once said, “The value of authority comes from the force behind it.” When a police officer tells someone to stop in the name of the law, the individual does not stop because of the man or his vocal range but because of the authority that is backing his statement. Praying in Jesus’ name means praying with blessing of God.

 

Representative:

Third, we pray as a representative of Jesus. As a representative of Jesus, it is pivotal that we honor the one we represent. Jesus surrendered his will to that of the Father and allowed the Spirit to guide him over the flesh he was living in. (See last week’s blog for more thought on this.) Praying in Jesus’ name means to be a tangible example of Jesus’ life.

 

The Prayer:

Praying in Jesus’ name means praying to God as his child would. It means owning what we have been given and representing the one we are speaking in the name of, who is Jesus. Praying in Jesus name has nothing to do with those three words, but everything to do with a relationship to the one who has that name. There is so much power in the name of Jesus, but it is worthless to us if we do not know the one behind the name.

I encourage you this week as you pray to make the decision to pray within the character of Jesus, under the authority of Jesus, and as a representative of Jesus. It’s when we ask God from this position that there would be no reason for our prayers to be denied. Praying in Jesus’ name opens you up to receive anything you ask for in prayer.

 

Pastor Zac Breckenridge

LifeBridge Jonesboro

How Can I Decide?

On average, adults make approximately 35,000 choices a day. This number is actually the number of decisions we intentionally make, which means it does not include choices made on a subconscious level. With all of these choices to be made, how can we ensure that we are making the correct choice each and every time?

Spirit:

In Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth, he presents three areas that influence our thinking. The first area, and the highest level of influence, is from the spirit. Paul teaches that the spirit level influences all other areas of decision making. He says to be lead by the Holy Spirit (God’s Spirit) and not the spirits of the world.

Soul:

Secondly, Paul says that our soul is the next area of influence. Our mind, will, and emotions comprise this soul level. Within the soul, our mind should come first, followed by will, then emotions. We should be able to make a decision in our mind whether we want to or feel like it. Paul encourages us that this level can be aligned by having the mind of Christ.

Flesh:

The last area in which we should ever make decisions is in that of the flesh. We should never be controlled by our flesh in the sense of making decisions based solely upon our survival. When we make decisions based on the flesh, the lowest level of thinking, we refuse to trust God on even his most basic promise of providing for us physically. Other passages of Scripture refer to this as crucifying our flesh on a daily basis, which simply means putting flesh on the lowest level of influence in your decision making.

Spirit > Soul > Flesh:

Our decisions should therefore be made by the Holy Spirit with the mind of Christ and by flesh that is “crucified”. When our flesh attempts to rise above our soul, we must renew our mind and make the choice to be lead by our logic and reasoning. When our soul attempts to rise above our spirit, we must put our soul in place by building up our spirit.
The good news is what we read in Romans 10:9, which says, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” In the original language, the word we translate as saved contains within its meaning deliverance, rescuing, and healing. If we make a poor decision, no matter what area of influence this decision is made from, the salvation of Jesus gives us the authority and capability to realign our decision making faculties along with providing the forgiveness for the poor decision. I encourage you today to take hold of the full salvation found in Jesus Christ and make decisions based first upon his Spirit.


Pastor Zac Breckenridge
LifeBridge Jonesboro

I NEED YOU

I:

Purpose is one of the most sought after words in the English language. Lack of purpose will lead quickly to anxiety, depression, and even isolation. Obtaining purpose, on the other hand, causes life to feel fulfilled. As soon as a person, place, or thing enters into our lives, we immediately begin to search for its purpose, often even on a subconscious level. I would dare to say that purpose is the core behind most decisions that we make on a daily basis.

NEED:

In the fourth chapter of Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, he encourages the church not only to find but also to fulfill their purpose. On a local church level, we must embrace differences. We are all created uniquely and with a different role and purpose, but all of our purposes should function together to fulfill one ultimate purpose: reconciling people in their relationship with God.

YOU:

The greatest issue among churches, and humanity, in modern times is that we group ourselves with individuals like ourselves. Let me give a brief illustration of a card game. Let’s say that God deals the church a hand of five cards. We must shift our perspective and quit throwing away this in search of more of that, which is like you. A royal flush is worth a whole lot more and is much more powerful than four of a kind.
The Point:

Our purpose is to minister to other individuals that we might assist them in reconciling themselves to God. We will all do this differently because we are unique and were created to do this in our own way. However, our ways should flow together and work together to fulfill this purpose. As we fulfill the purpose of our lives individually, it fulfills the purpose of the church, both locally and at large.


Pastor Zac Breckenridge
LifeBridge Jonesboro

Defining Your Story

Life Stages:

Wouldn’t life be perfect if we could grow in wisdom throughout the years without gaining wrinkles and grey hair to show for it? We all want to make the best decisions throughout our life. As we grow older and experience more of the stages of life, wisdom often accompanies us.

The Bible teaches us that Christians go through spiritual life stages as well. Similar to our physical lives, each stage of life for a believer is accompanied by growth and wisdom. The five life stages for a believer are as follows:

 

Life Stage 1:

For all humanity, we have all found ourselves at one point where we are alive, but not truly living. Physically we are alive, but spiritually we have separated ourselves from God. The good news is that in the moment that we turn to Jesus and begin a relationship with him, we are made alive spiritually and reconciled with God.

 

Life Stage 2:

As a new believer, you physically have the same body, but spiritually you have been born again. This is the most crucial stage of life for everyone, because you could never have someone who is fully mature or developed if they are never born. However, just as an infant is defenseless to the world around them, we can be fairly vulnerable as a new believer. Therefore, we must choose to grow.

 

Life Stage 3:

This stage represents the transformation taking place in your life spiritually. The first act of obedience for a believer is baptism. This is where we make a public profession of our belief in Jesus Christ through water baptism.

 

Life Stage 4:

Next, we must find ways to get ourselves connected to our new family. As we surround ourselves by more mature Christians, we can be taught how to grow and live more like Christ on a daily basis.

 

Life Stage 5:

Finally, at some point in our spiritual life we must turn from being taught to teaching others. We never fully leave the fourth stage. Actually, the fifth stage of life should coincide with the previous life stage or at least overlap in some manner. All believers are instructed by Jesus to assist others in reconciling their relationship with God. As we grow in this stage of life, we realize at some point we are now fully developed and mature believers.

 

How to Grow Up:

I wonder if sometimes as Christians we want to get to a point where we are fully mature, but aren’t sure what to do to get to the point. First, we must acknowledge the stage of life that we are in. Second, we must constantly be looking forward to growth. Third, we must never forget where we’ve come from. What I mean is that we cannot forget the foundations of our faith and the stages of life we have gone through. When we focus only on where we are now, that is when we find ourselves in a place where we could easily find ourselves “back-slidden” because our foundation and supports have eroded away.

Ask the Holy Spirit to grow you spiritually and to minister through you to reach other people and reconcile them to God. The Holy Spirit lives within the hearts of believers and the way to true maturity is to allow him to flow through you to accomplish the role of reaching others.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge

LifeBridge Jonesboro

You Are Included

Cultured and Common:

Did you know that Jesus loves those that are cultured? He also loves those who believe they are just “common folk.” In the second chapter of the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul tells us that Jesus came for both those who identified themselves as people of God and those who identified themselves as people not chosen by God. Could you imagine looking at God and saying that you don’t believe that he chose you?  Either way, Paul tells us that Jesus came for people regardless of their cultural alliance or religious practice. (Ephesians 2:19)

 

Hippies and Hipsters:

Was Jesus a Hippie? I don’t believe so, but he sure does love them. He also loves Hipsters and all those in between. In that same chapter, Paul tells us that the church is a place for all generations. Actually, the work of one generation should boost the efforts of the generations to follow. The church was actually designed as a place for the elderly to be revered and the young to be empowered. (Ephesians 2:20-21)

 

Brothers and Bullies:

He couldn’t love the enemies though…. Actually, he does. Not only does Paul tell us that Jesus came to bring together all cultures and generations, he even tells us that Jesus came not only for those who are his people, but even those who hate them. I love the way Paul words it: whether you feel as though you are so far away from God that you’re not worthy to be with him until you “clean up” or if you try to sit in his presence every day, Jesus came for you. (Ephesians 2:17)

 

Friends:

Jesus came for us all. Young, old; brother, enemy; red, yellow, black, white; we are all precious in his sight. Jesus goes so far as to call us friends in John 15:15. Just think about that statement. We are friends of God. Jesus is for anyone and everyone. Yet it is crucial that we begin a relationship with him while on earth. Jesus makes it clear that he is the only way into heaven, but that opportunity is available for everyone.

We must make that opportunity available for everyone we encounter.

Pastor Zac Breckenridge

LifeBridge Jonesboro