Friday
Feb052016

This Sunday at Bristol . . . "The Church That Was Satisfied"

In Max Lucado's book, A Love Worth Giving, he tells the story of a young girl who was asked a very hard question (at least that was what she thought) by her father.

Susie’s most treasured possession was a string of fake pearls given to her by her father. She loved these pearls and would wear them often. As her father tucked her into bed one evening after he returned from a lengthy trip, he asked her “Do you love me?” “Yes, daddy. I love you more than anything,” she replied. He paused. “More than the pearls? Would you give me your pearls?” “Oh daddy,” she replied. “I couldn’t do that. I love my pearls!”

But the next day she went to her father and said, “Daddy, I love you more than these pearls. Here you take them.” He said, “I brought you a gift from my trip.” She opened the small flat box and gasped. There was a string of beautiful pearls only this time these pearls were genuine.

How the Lord would have given the real deal to the Church at Laodicea if only they would have asked. But they thought they were okay - in fact, they thought they were in a perfect place - even saying “they needed nothing.” They thought they already had the real thing, but sadly they did not. You can read the story in Revelation 3:14-22.

This first century congregation had been alive and well and then something happened and a slow death ensued and the result was that they had become lukewarm. And where is Jesus in their story? He is standing outside the church, knocking on the door, and wanting to be invited inside.

Do you suppose your Heavenly Father wants to give you something better than you already have? Lukewarmness is never the way to go especially when He offers authentic love and an intimate relationship. His devotion is very real and He will give you the genuine when you surrender the imitation.

This Sunday we continue with our current teaching series, “God’s Blueprint for a Great Church,” as we take a careful look at Jesus’ conversation with the Church at Laodicea. There are important lessons for us to learn and apply to our lives.

I hope to see this Sunday as we study together.

You are loved in the Lord,

Pastor Terry

Friday
Jan292016

This Sunday at Bristol . . . "Remembering Everything But One Thing

Have you ever forgotten anything? If you are human you certainly have.

Here is maybe a better question: Have you ever forgotten something very important? Maybe a doctor’s appointment? Or, picking up your child at school? That is where remembering becomes crucial. Right?

What happens in our everyday lives, happens also in the church - and has dating back to the first century. In Revelation 2 and 3 we read the letters Jesus addressed to the churches in Asia Minor (western Turkey today). One of these letters is written to the congregation at Ephesus.

This church had been a shining star from it’s inception (we read about the start of this church in the Book of Acts). But something happened. Jesus does not tell us when, but He does tell us what.

This congregation is commended by Jesus for being persistent and believing right doctrine. But He also says, in the midst of them working hard and believing right, they had forgotten Him. Can you believe that? They had forgotten Him!

It is not difficult to forget Jesus when you lose your focus. It happened then and it happens now. There may be some reading this post who have allowed other things, maybe good and worthy things, to derail their effort in serving Jesus.

What is the antidote? For this early church, and for us, it means we remember what it was like serving the Lord with great joy and we return to doing that all over again. It is just that simple.

This Sunday we will continue with the current teaching series, “God’s Blueprint for a Great Church,” as we focus on Revelation 2:1-7. Who knows? Maybe something will cause someone to remember and bring them back into a vibrant relationship with Jesus.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we learn and grow spiritually together.

You are truly loved in the Lord,

Pastor Terry

Friday
Jan152016

This Sunday at Bristol . . . "Children Matter"

One thing that is very clear in the Bible is that people were important to Jesus. In fact, that is an understatement.

Looking through the Gospels we find encounters Jesus had with the religious aristocracy, His friends, the disenfranchised, the onlookers and curious, and in every situation you find Jesus always more concerned about the person that He was about their age or social standing. He cared! Simply put, everyone mattered to Him.

One group that He was especially fond of were the children. A quick reading of Matthew 18 shows us the depth of His concern for children. Children were so important that He said (this is a paraphrase), “If you offend one of these little ones, you would be better off tying a millstone around you neck.” They, too, mattered to Him and they therefore they must matter to us.

And they do, so this Sunday at Bristol we are celebrating children. Matt Copeland will be sharing and our children will be honored. Why not join us for this special Sunday?

Never forget that you are loved in the Lord.

Pastor Terry

Saturday
Jan092016

This Sunday at Bristol . . . "Where Do We Want to Go?"

Or maybe a better title would be, “Where Does The Lord Want Us To Go?” After all the direction He has for us is always best - just ask Abraham, Moses, Joshua, or Paul.

This Sunday we begin a new sermon series titled, “The Blueprint of a Great Church,” and we will be looking at an Old Testament passage, Nehemiah 3.

Nehemiah was the cupbearer for the King of Persia living in exile from Israel, as were many other Jews. He heard from some friends who had just returned from Jerusalem that the City of David was in shambles. The wall had been knocked down and the gates had been destroyed (this happened during the siege of Nebuchadnezzar). This broke his heart, but that brokenness led to him to Jerusalem to begin the task of city restoration.

Nehemiah was a great leader. Where he learned his skills, I do not know. When you read the first half of the Book of Nehemiah, you discover over twenty leadership principles of Nehemiah. Such as: He established a reasonable and attainable goal; He had a sense of mission; He was willing to get involved; He prayed at crucial times; He displayed God's confidence in facing obstacles. And he used these skills to finish the work of restoring the city.

Nehemiah 3 is a play-by-play description, a “How-To Guide,” to complete the work the Lord has given. In this third chapter, you discover plenty of names you cannot pronounce and people that you will never read about again. But these were motivated by Nehemiah and together they completed the assignment in fifty-two days. Imagine that! In fifty two days the walls were restored and the gates were rebuilt. Jerusalem was once again a fortified city.

How did they do it? That is the gist of the message this Sunday. One of the lessons I learn from Nehemiah AND the people is that, “we really do need each other.” For the church to do what needs to be done (read Matthew 28:19-20 for a refresher) we will need each other. Nehemiah could not have completed the restoration on his own. He had to have a volunteer army who would make his dream, their dream.

I am excited about his new teaching series. I hope you plan to join me and others this Sunday at Bristol.

Never forget that you are loved in the Lord.

Pastor Terry

Friday
Jan012016

This Sunday at Bristol . . . "A Great Way to Live"

When we read the words of Jesus, we do not have to read very long until we come to one of those “AHA” moments - you know when Jesus says something very profound and you need to sit up and take notice.

We have begun a new year and I thought it would be fitting to share several of Jesus’ most powerful statements that will provide for you a great foundation for 2016 as you follow what He says.

Here are a few:

  • When you are overwhelmed, Jesus says, “Take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
  • When you need to be reminded of your task as one of His followers, Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” (Matthew 9:37), “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14), and “You will be my witnesses.” (Acts 1:8)
  • When you need assurance regarding your past and are sometimes haunted by how you lived, Jesus says, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9:2), “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6), and “If the Son has set you free you are free indeed.” (John 8:36)
  • When you are too timid to ask something of the Lord, Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will. Knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)
  • When you are tempted to become anxious and worrisome, Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink . . .” (Matthew 6:25) 
  • When you are facing a difficult situation, Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) 
  • When you think you do not need the Lord, Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
  • When you need to serve (which is all the time), Jesus says, “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11)
  • When you are afraid, Jesus says, “Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)
  • When you are faced with an impossible situation (at least it appears that way to you), Jesus says, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) 
  • When it comes to living for Him, Jesus says, “If you love me you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)
  • When you think about your eternity, Jesus says, “I am coming soon.” (Revelation 22:7) and “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:3)

I could go on and on with other words from Jesus, but you have plenty to consider (twelve, in fact, one for each month of the year). The Son of God - who is God - said these words. He spoke each one of them. And each one reveals truth and life to us. Every word Jesus said has life-changing value.

Do you think that if we really understood the magnitude of the words of Jesus and truly believed them that they would change the way we lived our life? Perhaps the confidence we have? The assurance in which we find hope? Maybe the big question is, “Which of these statements of Jesus do you need to apply to your life today and all the days of this new year?”

I hope to see you this Sunday - the first Sunday of this new year - as we worship the One who has words to transform our lives.

You are love in the Lord,

Pastor Terry