Author: Melissa Bradley

Are You Choosing Peace In Every Circumstance?

When you hear the word peace, what comes to mind? Do you imagine white, sandy beaches with the sound of waves? Do you think about sitting near a tranquil mountain stream? Do you picture tie-dye t-shirts and peace symbol necklaces? The word peace can conjure up many different thoughts and ideas depending upon your perspective or personal preferences. During our most recent services, Shannon taught the Biblical meaning of peace is “a serenity and tranquility that comes from trusting in the wisdom and control of God rather than our own understanding.” I vividly remember experiencing this definition of peace when we were in the midst of becoming approved as foster parents. We decided to enter the world of foster care because of a specific little girl. We wanted to be able to adopt her, if the opportunity ever arose. However, as we went through the approval process, the girl’s biological mother completed the requirements of her case plan and the family was reunified. While on paper this looked good, it was frustrating to know the …

I Have a Confession to Make: Teenagers Scare Me

Teenagers scare me. It’s silly but true. As a preschool pastor and mom to young children, I’ve lived in this preschool/elementary phase for so long  I feel awkward and culturally irrelevant when it comes to engaging with anyone between the ages of 13 and 19. Now, I do remember what it was like to be a teenager and I do understand in a few short years (3 to be exact), I will be raising an adolescent of my own. But… this doesn’t make me anymore confident. Honestly, it wasn’t until earlier this year I began giving much thought to this idea. That’s when I made the connection between my ministry and my feelings. Many of you already know our church is experiencing an amazing period of growth. This is no less true for our preschool ministry. Over the past six months we have averaged nearly 150 preschoolers on a weekly basis! On any given Sunday, there are between 40 to 60 leaders serving in the Treehouse and nearly half of those are student volunteers! That’s …

Where is God in the Mess?

Do you ever feel like everything around you is falling apart? Like everywhere you turn there is a mess? I live with 4 kids so this is pretty much my everyday life. Not only are my house and van a physical mess, but one scroll through my social media newsfeed or a few minutes of the evening news confirm the world around me is in a mess too… a moral and ethical mess very similar to the one the prophet Micah dealt with. Micah was responding to a social and cultural climate that had chosen to place its affections on objects that provided wealth, versus having true affection for the Lord. This created a devastating decline of social justice and morality–the people of God were living in a manner out of alignment with their status as the covenant people of God. – Nicki Koziarz, Prone to Wander Wow, sounds familiar doesn’t it? Whenever I read or hear a particular current event, I’m tempted to think “Where is God in this mess?” But as I read …

Are You Clinging to a Cape or The Cross?

Have you ever prayed and prayed for something and then actually got what you prayed for? I have. And as a result of the answered prayer my life has become much more difficult. I got what I wanted but it really hasn’t looked like I thought it would.  I used to be a great parent… or at least I thought I was before I had kids. As my boys have grown I have learned lots and lots of lessons about being a mom. However, none of those lessons have adequately prepared me for the challenge of being a foster/adoptive mom. I came into this believing I was Supermom. God had granted my prayer and I was going to be the perfect mom for these two kids. I believed my love would be all they needed to overcome any obstacle and they would quickly forget about any part of their past. Yeah… no. That’s not at all how things have transpired. Most of the time now, I show up 10 minutes late in a full sweat, …

Need Reminded About God’s Perfect Love for You?

The song “Reckless Love” is a current favorite at the Bradley house. My six-year-old requests it all the time so we’ve downloaded pretty much every version out there. There aren’t many things sweeter than glancing in the rearview mirror to see him singing at the top of his lungs, eyes closed, head moving empathically to the rhythm. I asked him the other day why he liked that song so much. He said, “I don’t know. I just really like that part where he says ‘there’s no shadow you won’t light up, mountain you won’t climb up, coming after me.’” I then took the opportunity to explain to all four of my kids what those lyrics meant (since they were trapped in car seats and didn’t have a choice anyway). And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[p] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the …

Jesus Has Redemptive Power Over Your Failures

This Sunday as we continue our new series “Nothing is Permanent,” we will be looking at 1 Chronicles 13-15 and 2 Samuel 6:12-15. This is one of my favorite passages in scripture but it is not an easy story to read. King David is preparing to bring the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem. Throughout the Old Testament, the ark represented the very presence of God. So, as you can imagine, this was a big deal! However, in his enthusiasm, David fails to refer back to the proper way to move the ark (see Exodus 25:10-15, Numbers 4:4-6). When David sets forth with an impulsive plan, disaster strikes and the consequences prove fatal for one of his men. David set out to do a good thing for God and the people, but he went about it in the wrong way. Unfortunately, I can relate all too well. I come up with all kinds of great ideas “for God” and in my excitement to bring them to fruition I don’t always spend time seeking the …

Simple Ways to Show Love Does

A few nights ago, my 6-year-old son Sam proudly showed me his “to-do list.” I was struck by the simplicity of it and reminded of the childlike faith Jesus tells us to have in Matthew 18:3. I told Sam how much I liked and agreed with his list and he asked if he could hang it up somewhere “so everyone in our family can see it and remember to do these things.” As a result of our conversation, his list currently hangs on our refrigerator and every time I see it I think about one of the core values of our church family: Love does. Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. – 1 John 3:18 Thanks to the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross, we now can have a relationship with God. We are not required to “do” anything to secure our salvation. It is a free gift that we just accept. In other words, we aren’t saved by our …

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 …