Author: Melissa Bradley

If You Can’t be Kind, Be Quiet

“If you can’t be kind, be quiet.” This is a phrase I hear myself saying often to my children. I am trying to teach them that their words are important and they should consider their words carefully before using them. I don’t know about you, but this concept is difficult for me to live out, much less my school-aged children. I mean, seriously, how am I supposed to respond in kindness when the precious people in my house are hopping up and down on my last good nerve, a recent post on social media seems like a personal attack, or a good friend hurts my feelings with a careless remark? In those situations, kind words are not how my flesh wants to respond. When my emotions are on edge I tend to react very impulsively, giving little thought to my tone of voice or the words I’m saying. Our current sermon series is entitled Intentional Acts of Kindness, and I think “intentional” is the key word in that phrase. When something is done with intention, …

People Need to Hear Your Testimony of Grace

In John 4 we read about Jesus encountering a Samaritan woman, a woman who had absolutely zero value in the eyes of the world. Not only because she was a woman, but also because she was a Samaritan, a race that the Jewish people considered to be a half-breed. The third strike against her is that she had also had five husbands and was currently living with a man to which she was not married (John 4:17-18). When I look at this woman from a worldly perspective, I can’t help but wonder what could Jesus possibly want with her? Why would a Jewish rabbi willingly go against all cultural, social, and religious norms, risking his reputation, to strike up a conversation with a woman that scripture doesn’t even name? I think the answer is really very simple: He’s Jesus. At its core, this story is a perfect picture of the gospel. Jesus knew this woman’s past. She herself tells the townspeople after leaving Jesus, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could …

Fostering Christ-like Love in the Family

I recently heard Andy Stanley speak at a ministry conference I attended. He asked a question that spoke very deeply to me as a parent. Is there anything that brings you more joy than watching your kids love one another? For me, the answer is a resounding no. Especially after watching my boys accept and love their new foster siblings. Joe and I first began talking to the boys about becoming a foster family in February of last year.  We explained how some children need a family to love them and take care of them. We talked about how they might stay with us for a little while or a long time. We talked about sharing, taking turns, and setting a good example. At the time it was just talk and I worried how they would respond when the time came to put it into action. There were so many variables that we had (and still have) no control over. Were we going to end up scarring them for life? As we prayed and prepared to …

Are You Ready to be a Pastor?

“Are you ready to be a pastor?” That’s the question Corey asked me when I walked into his office 4 years ago to sign my contract. I was officially accepting the role of Preschool Pastor and stepping into the world of vocational ministry. I was so excited to be leading a ministry I had been serving in for the past 6 years. I love working with kids and was looking forward to the opportunity to use my education experience in a church environment. However, I wasn’t expecting that question from Corey and it threw me for a loop. I tried not to let it show on the outside, but those of you who know me know that my face doesn’t lie. “Ummm… no. A pastor? I didn’t graduate from Bible college. I don’t hold a degree from seminary. I don’t know what to say to people at funeral homes. I’m not even really good at memorizing scripture.” Some of that was internal monolog, but other parts I said out loud to him. I kind of …

Do You Despise Waiting? Learn to be Content.

I spend a lot of time waiting. I wait for the coffee to stop dripping every morning. I wait for the washing machine to finish so I can move the clothes to the dryer. I wait for my kids in the pick-up line after school. I wait a lot. Since I spend so much time waiting, you’d think I’d be quite good at it. But the truth is, I’m not. I’m terrible at waiting. The worst part is I can’t just be still while I’m waiting. I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about the process of waiting as our family is currently in a “season” of waiting. Since February, we’ve been waiting to become approved as foster parents. I’m waiting for the state of Georgia to ask me to take temporary custody of someone else’s child. It’s a strange feeling as I’m essentially waiting for the worst day of someone’s life to happen. And as I wait, I am overcome by the desire to “do something.” Surely there’s someone I can call or email …

Three Steps to Faithful Obedience

A few years ago, I read a parenting book entitled “Don’t Make Me Count to Three” by Ginger Hubbard. My boys were entering their toddler years and “NO!” had become their favorite word. I could give them a specific direction and they would literally look straight at me and do the complete opposite. It didn’t take me long to realize that I needed some Biblical advice on handling disobedience. Now, before you click over to Amazon and order your own copy of the book, please don’t believe I’m saying that it cured my sons’ disobedience. It did not. However, it gave me tools that have equipped me to see past the outward behavior of my kids and into the heart issues that are the root of their disobedience. And even more importantly, it’s caused me to take a deeper look at my own tendencies to disobey. This past Sunday, Shannon defined disobedience as unbelief. When we believe what someone is telling us, we obey. When we don’t believe them, we disobey. It doesn’t matter how …

Give Grace As You Have Received It

Have you ever studied the book of Leviticus? Yeah, me neither. At least, not until a few months ago. I have to admit I wasn’t too excited when I realized that was the next book in the reading plan I’ve been following. I even found it funny that the study guide introduced Leviticus with the fun fact that it is one of the least read books in the Bible. It covers an array of topics including personal health, sexual relationships, childbirth, diseases, skin rashes, mold infestations, and even baldness. Sounds riveting, doesn’t it? I remember thinking as I started the study, “How can this possibly relate to my life right now?”  The entire book is literally word after word, page after page of instructions to the Israelites concerning the rules and regulations that God required for a life of holiness. And some of it is just plain gross… blood, guts, discharges… TMI for sure! But seriously, when I look back on studying that overlooked book in the Old Testament, I become overwhelmed thinking about what …

God Can Write His Own Stories

This past Sunday, Shannon spoke about how once you have accepted Christ, you are officially adopted into His family. As a result of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ we become sons and daughters of the Most High God. What an amazing, wonderful, and overwhelming truth to celebrate! So, that awesome news has to mean that the rest of our lives will be smooth sailing, right?! Unfortunately… no. In fact, James 1:2-4 puts it this way: Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. I have been a follower of Christ for over twenty years now and I have always struggled with this verse. Notice that it doesn’t say “if troubles of any kind come your way…,” but when. It even goes on to say that when you do experience trials you should …

Are You Ready For What God Has For You?

A few months ago, the Lord placed our family on a new journey. It was just a typical Sunday morning in September. So typical in fact, that I can’t really remember any other details about that day. Honestly, it was one fleeting moment out of the entire twenty-four hours when the Lord initiated His plan. Have you ever read the story of how the Lord appeared to the prophet Elijah in I Kings 19:11-12? “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. I was standing in the preschool building welcoming children to church just like I have done for …

Parenting For the Good

Recently I noticed a shirt advertised on social media emblazoned with the quote “Mommin’ Ain’t Easy.” The first time I saw it I laughed out loud, because I can totally relate. Being a mom is not easy for a million different reasons. Some of those reasons are funny and others are much more serious. The underlying commonality behind those reasons is that they all must be endured. When you’re a parent, quitting isn’t exactly an option. A few months ago I ran my first half-marathon. It required a lot of mental and physical endurance. I had to endure heat, fatigue, and physical pain. It was hard! However, one of the things that helped the most was to focus on the end. I was going to finish one way or another even though at times it seemed like I may not ever see that finish line. Isn’t parenting like that? We know there’s a goal… a finish line so to speak. But oh my goodness, when you’re trying to convince your toddler that his burrito is not “too …