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Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

In my journaling Bible, I have these scrawled words – written in 2012 - next to Romans 12:11: “this would make a great motto verse”!

But as I read and re-read Romans chapter 12 during the Christmas break, I couldn’t resist the pull of the very next verse: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer (Romans 12:12). Of all the verses I was reading, this little triad of imperatives - like mutually reinforcing points of a triangle - seemed to sum up what it has means for us members of The Bridge Church family to live the gospel-transformed lives that Paul urges in Romans 12:1.

Being joyful in hope is not the same as being happy in circumstances. Now, who wouldn’t want to be happy in their circumstances, right? But joy in hope is something deeper and better and stronger. It’s experiencing something now of the overwhelming wholeness and sweetness that we will one day perfectly know. Jesus-followers have a hope (a sure expectation) of seeing Jesus in all his glory and being like him in that glory (see Romans 5:2), which is what causes joy to spring up – by the Spirit - from deep within us. But we aren’t passive in this. We are urged by Paul to be joyful in our hope. Meditate on what lies in store and let it transform the now. The circumstantial happinesses of life are just pale reflections of what this joy is and what it will one day blossom into.

And joy in hope is what helps us to be patient (steadfast, trusting God, waiting on him) in affliction. Afflictions are as inevitable for Christians as they are for anyone else, but the believer is constantly pointed and projected past the current hardships by thinking much about his or her future prospects. And so suffering is not made easy but is transformed by grace into something which actually reinforces – not reduces - the joy we have because of our assurance of being with Jesus.

And if these truths don’t make us want to be faithful in prayer, what will!? As my joy grows because I am meditating on my hope, my trials are illuminated by heaven’s light and I feel the breeze of heaven, even in tribulations. And all this makes me want to communicate more constantly, talking to and praising my Saviour. In turn those prayers are heard and used by the Lord to strengthen me, sweeten the hard things and fuel the joy that is rooted in heaven’s hope.

What a trio of encouragements! These will be amongst my resolutions for 2020. I wonder if you’ll join me in them?   

Matt Bownds

Download this verse as a phone wallpaper image here.

Matt Bownds, 09/01/2020


Meet Clive  

Tom Roberts, 15/12/2019


Meet Aravind  

Tom Roberts, 07/12/2019


There are loads of great Christian books you could buy for someone this Christmas...

All these books are available from If you buy here, the church will receive a portion of the sale price to use for our ongoing work of sharing the good new of Jesus.

For Adults

Meals have always been important across societies and cultures – a time for friends and families to come together. An important part of relationships, meals are vital to our social health. Or as author Tim Chester puts it, Food connects....

He urges sacrificial giving and loving around the table, helping readers consider how meals can be about serving others and sharing the grace of Christ.

When the smartphone was introduced, many of us quickly adopted it into our lives—too quickly to stop and think about the future costs we were unboxing along with the device. Now blessed with this revolutionary piece of handheld technology, we try to wield it with wisdom, fending off anxieties about how our digital habits impact our spiritual health. Drawing on the insights of numerous thinkers, published studies, and his own research, writer Tony Reinke identifies twelve potent ways our smartphones have changed our lives—for good and ill. Reinke calls us to cultivate healthy habits for smartphone use in the digital age, encouraging us to be grateful for technological advance, develop skills aimed at maximising the blessing that we (and others) can receive through our phones, and grow in the wisdom we need to avoid the many pitfalls that exist with such a powerful tool.
Pastor and New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller writes the follow-up to his hugely successful devotional 'My Rock My Refuge'

Keller is known for his ability to connect a deep understanding of the Bible with contemporary thought and the practical issues we all face. In this inspiring new devotional - consisting of all-new material - Keller offers inspiration for every day of the year, based on the book of Proverbs. Working through the entire book, Keller brings this ancient wisdom to life and shows how to apply it to the realities of our daily lives. Just as 'My Rock My Refuge' taught readers how to pray, so 'The Way of Wisdom' teaches us how to live lives that are rooted in wisdom.

For Kids


Encourage your little ones to learn and grow with God with Everything a Child Should Know About God from bestselling author Kenneth N. Taylor. Designed for parents to read aloud to children, this book features whimsical illustrations throughout, each chapter has a brief explanation and a related question to pose to children. Dr. Taylor explains in child-friendly language the essential Bible truths you want your child to know.

This revised edition has a Bible reference on each page to help you show your children where these doctrines can be found in the Bible. 

It’s never too early to introduce the next generation to some of the heroes of faith. In this book children will meet 52 christian men and women (one for each week of the year) from all walks of life who wanted to live for their friend Jesus. There are missionaries, martyrs, writers, reformers, politicians and poets. Their stories are exciting and inspiring and will show children that any of Jesus’ friends can do remarkable things for him - even them!

A true story about God's design for people - we are all made in his image so we are all the same.... but we are also all different! We look different, speak different and play different - but we are all valuable. That's because, in the beginning, God had the very good idea of making us that way. This is the story of his idea - and how you can be a part of it!

Fun, interactive Bible devotions for the whole family to enjoy!

Devotional dippers are a great way to get your whole family to open up the Bible together. Each stick includes a theme, a Bible reference for you to read, a question to discuss together and a prayer point to encourage you to speak to God

For Teenagers

Hanging in There is a book about God, you, the Bible, prayer, church, relationships, sex, feelings, doubts, love and, above all, ‘hanging in there’ as a Christian. If you’re new to the Christian Faith or a long–serving Christian who could use a bit of encouragement, this book is for you. 

A Sneaking Suspicion is a book about things that matter... things that are important but which we don’t often talk about.

John Dickson writes:
‘For me, what began as a sneaking suspicion has blown into a huge reality. Like most Aussies, I had a hunch there was something more to life than beer and footie. I also had a hunch that the ‘something more’ could be found by looking into Jesus. When I decided to go with my hunch, I discovered more than I ever bargained for.’

For Parents

Sometimes parents wish there was a guaranteed formula for raising good kids—a certain list of rules to follow to ensure they’d have obedient children. But if moms and dads view their role through the lens of God’s grace, they will see that the gospel must first shape how they parent before they can effectively shape their children. In this book, Paul David Tripp unfolds a more biblical perspective on parenting than merely adhering to a list of rules. He lays out fourteen gospel–centered principles that will radically change the way parents think about what it means to raise up a child, informing everything they do as a parent.

The most important conversations you will have with your kids will be in the context of everyday life. 
In ‘Everyday Talk’, author John Younts explains how to use ordinary conversations to talk to your kids about God and his world. You’ll be delighted by his clear, practical insight and biblical wisdom.

Buy this book and read it. But don’t stop there, put it into practice. Your children will thank you!


Book descriptions from 

Tom Roberts, 02/12/2019


Meet Gaynor  


Listening to the news, we could be forgiven for thinking that bad news far outweighs good news.

Regular reports of deceit makes it hard to know who to trust. The stories of those hurt by conflict and greed lead us to despair. Headlines of disease and death cause us to fear. When one lie is uncovered, another is revealed. When one war ceases, conflict strikes up somewhere else. When one disease is dealt with, another comes to light. The content is bad news. The coverage is relentless. The feelings are difficult to escape

At the same time, we know that all this bad news isn’t a true reflection of our day-to-day lives. We wanted to hear some of the things that you would call ‘good news’ and the things that give you ‘great joy’ so we asked you! The responses came together to look like this...

  • There is good news every time someone says ‘I do!’
  • There is good news with every safe arrival and every baby’s first cry.  
  • There is good news when we achieve goals, targets and challenges that we’ve worked hard for.
  • There is good news when opportunities come our way.  
  • There is good news when the treatment is successful and the all clear is given.
  • There is good news when we get to experience new places, new things and new cultures. 
  • There is good news when a loved one says that they are proud of us.?
  • We find joy when something we do or say puts a smile on the face of another.
  • We find joy when the busyness is paused and all is calm and quiet.  
  • We find joy in the things we love to do, watch and listen to.
  • We find joy in the process of creating something and in the creativity of others.  
  • We find joy in the natural world, the beauty of a mountain top, the expanse of the ocean, the fluttering of butterflies and the buzzing of bees!
  • We find joy in our families, the closeness of relationships and the delight of watching children grow, learn, develop and succeed.

We pass through seasons when everything is joy.  Sometimes sparks of joy penetrate the humdrum of day to day life and give us hope to keep going.  Occasionally joy shimmers even as we navigate the darkest and hardest of life’s paths. These shimmers, sparks and seasons leave a taste and a hunger for more.  We order our lives in such a way that we might find, for ourselves, more joy. We desire more joy because when it shimmers, sparks or spans out before us we feel most content, most satisfied, most loved and most hopeful.

A few thousand years ago on a hillside in Bethlehem an angel proclaimed ‘great joy’ to a group of shepherds.  This ‘great joy’ was heralded with unexpected emphasis as the night skies opened and the light of the heavens burst through, penetrating the darkness and filling these poor shepherds with fear.  One angel became a multitude of angels singing songs of deafening praise to the God of ‘great joy’. It wasn’t a shimmer or a spark but a glorious arrival of eternal joy gifted, not just for these shepherds, but for all people. 

We wanted to hear the news that you thought would cause great joy for all people today.  The responses came together to say....

  • Peace.  The end of war and conflict.  
  • Unity.  The bringing together of people, nations and governments.
  • Reassurance.  The comfort in knowing that... “...everything is OK”.
  • Health.  The end of disease, hunger and sickness.  
  • Trust.  The formation of a new kind of leadership – leadership that is good and strong and trustworthy.
  • A Clean Slate.  The confidence that my mistakes and failures no longer define me.

The Bible tells us that this kind of universal joy can only be found in Jesus Christ.  The shimmers, sparks, and seasons of joy that we experience every day are God-given joys that increase our hunger for a greater joy that can only be found in Him.  This joy is not temporary or situational but lasting and deep. The source of this joy is the God who is unchanging and trustworthy. Jesus is the bringer of peace and unity, whose death and resurrection perfectly removes every trace of our mistakes and failures.  He is the one who will, for all those who know Him and trust Him, give strength in every fear, peace in every grief and friendship in all kinds of suffering. That’s the good news that brings great joy, and it really is, for all people.

Let me introduce you to Hayley. She heard the good news about Jesus from her friend.  Take a listen to her ‘Good News Story’ and look out for a new story every week in the run up to Christmas.  Why not come to find out more and celebrate with us this at The Bridge Church this Christmas time?

Click here to find out what’s happening in the church and in the community over the coming weeks.  We hope to see you soon!

Steve Smith

Tom Roberts, 22/11/2019


Autumn Sermon Series

2 Current Sermon Series

This autumn we’re returning to the Gospel of Mark, to re-join Jesus on the road. We’re going to follow the Lord and his disciples as they near the end of the first ‘act’ of the Gospel; the second act is coming very soon. Jesus and the disciples will leave Galilee and turn towards Jerusalem. And in this next phase we’ll start to learn more about the cross that is coming, and so see more of the depths of the Saviour’s love. We hope you’ll join us on the next leg of the journey!      

Matt Bownds

Matt Bownds, 09/09/2019


Review: Psalms Vol 2 by Shane & Shane 

I was driving to work recently and a song came up on my Amazon playlist simply entitled 'Psalm 46'.  The lyrics were strong and powerful, lifted from the bible and interpreted wonderfully in song.  The song reminded me that God has promised to defend and deliver His people - that He actively fights for us if we have trusted in Jesus and belong to His family by faith.  Whatever situation I find myself in I can be confident that God is with me, leading me and that there is no better or safer place to be found but in Him.  As I finished my commute I read through the Psalm and some context around it...  

Slide4At the time of writing Judah was under siege by the Assyrian army.  Surrounded on every side by brutal enemies intent to kill, destroy and overtake Gods people.  There was nothing that the King or their armies could do in their own strength but they prayed to God and trusted Him (2 Kings 18-19).  God defended His people miraculously and, overnight, struck down the enormous 185,000 strong Assyrian army (2 Kings 19:35).  Imagine the terror, awe and wonder the next morning when God's people wake a scene of desolation and strewn carcasses that signified a seemingly impossible victory, freedom and deliverance by the hand of God.  In this context the words of Psalm 46 ring out...

Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth.  He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.  He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the shields with fire.  He says, "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."  The Lord Almighty is with us; The God of Jacob is our fortress.

I have since immersed myself in the album Psalms Vol. 2 by Shane and Shane and have been encouraged, comforted and challenged by the songs of victory, songs of desperation, songs of deliverance, songs of repentance, songs of praise, songs of contentment, songs of wonder, of rest and reassurance in our Mighty God.  I have found myself committing to memory words from the Psalms and understanding them with a deeper connection.  I'd thoroughly recommend downloading or purchasing the album - especially as we spend a few weeks in Psalms together on Sunday mornings throughout the summer.  Why not take a look?

Steve Smith

Steve Smith, 09/08/2019


Join us for our short summer series in the Psalms, the prayer-book and song-book of the church.

Be challenged and uplifted and stirred by the songs that Jesus both inspired and sang, and that have kept and nourished the people of God through the centuries.  

Aug 04     Psalm 139 - Matt Bownds       
Aug 11     Psalm 96 - Steff Ellis
Aug 18     Psalm 4 - Graeme Hunter
Aug 25     Psalm 66 - Dave Gobbett

Don't forget, if you miss a sermon, you can catch up here.

Matt Bownds, 29/07/2019


Book Review: Sing! by Keith and Kristyn Getty 

54fb4c86797d7535b4bc752692eb7aRecently we thought about how we should ‘Be Worshippers’, and one of the things that we do when we worship together is sing! It’s a crucial part of our corporate worship, and so it is important to consider why and what we sing. This book is a useful tool to help us find out what the Bible says about singing and help us use song as a means of glorifying God and encouraging one another both on a Sunday morning and throughout the week.

This book aims to protect us from simply ‘going through the motions’ when we sing; instead it strives to help us to engage our hearts and minds when we sing. It challenges our view that singing is something for ‘me’ to enjoy and shows us how Biblical singing can declare God’s greatness, strengthen the church and be a witness to the world.

The book starts by giving three reasons why we should sing. It talks about how we are created to sing. God has designed us to be able to sing and to enjoy the beauty and creativity of music. Secondly, we are commanded throughout the Bible to sing. In the same way as we are told to pray and read our Bibles, we are commanded to sing because it is good for us, as we point each other to Jesus. The third reason is that we are compelled to sing because of what Jesus has done for us. Of all the people on earth – haven’t we got the greatest reason to sing?! 

The second half of the book goes into more detail about how singing can have a positive impact on different areas of our lives – our personal spiritual lives, our families, our fellow believers, and non-believers. Singing gospel truths continually lifts our eyes to Jesus and reminds us of our unity to Christ and community with one another. God can use our singing as a witness, to engage  the hearts of those who don’t yet know Him.

Admittedly I am someone who enjoys singing anyway, but this book has had a big impact on me. I have been challenged to keep teaching my children songs filled with gospel truth that will stay with them for years to come. Singing together in church on a Sunday brings me greater joy as I am reminded of the gospel and that we are a family. I have been prompted to pray that as we sing, others will wonder at the hope we have as Christians and will want that hope for themselves.

Some of you may love singing; others of you less so. Either way I would encourage you to read this book because understanding what the Bible says about singing will help you love God more. As the book says:

“We do not worship the created art of singing; we worship Him. Don’t sing primarily because you love singing or keep quiet because you do not. Sing because you love Him who made you, and formed you and enables you to sing”.

Whatever you sound like, we have a great God who is worthy of our praise and loves to hear us sing.

Sarah Roberts

Sarah Roberts, 25/07/2019


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Matt Bownds