This Week at Bristol . . . Water Baptism, An Act of Obedience

This Sunday we will take a short look at water baptism and then later in the day baptize two young men of our congregation.
Our official church position states this about baptism, We believe that baptism by water is the symbol of one's union by faith with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection, and constitutes the public confession of these spiritual realities to the world and is the answer of a good conscience toward God. Baptism is therefore to be administered by immersion to those who have been born again by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and who give evidence of the genuineness of their salvation.”
The saying goes like this, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Water baptism is mentioned in the Bible using pictures. Did you know that? For instance:

- 1 Peter 3:20-21 - Starting a New Life
- 1 Corinthians 10:1 - Leaving Bondage into Freedom
- Colossians 2:11-13 - Refusing to Obey the Sinful Nature
- Romans 6:1-12 - Complete surrender
These four pictures summarize baptism - starting with a new life and ending with complete surrender to the Lord. Does this summarize your life?
Did you also know that there are no undocumented conversions in the early Church that were not followed by water baptism? Baptism was a high priority for the new believers then and should be today!
Please join us this Sunday for a great time of worship followed by a time of fellowship and water baptisms. It is going to be a great day!
You are deeply loved!
Pastor Terry



This Week at Bristol . . . "Samson, Watch Out for the Fatal Flaws"

This week we conclude our current short series, “Being Real in an Unreal World,” as we study the unfortunate life of Samson. Thus far we have studied Hannah, Ruth, Gideon, and Job and learned that the Lord can and will use ordinary people in extraordinary ways.
If only Samson had been more careful regarding the way he chose to live he likely would have lived longer and judged Israel more than twenty years. The Lord would have used Samson in even more extraordinary ways had he devoted himself to God.
Samson had two glaring weaknesses - romance and revenge (a lethal combination). Judges 13-16 tell us of three romances of Samson and how each one ended in disaster that led to revenge. He was bold before men, but weak before women.
Samson is the classic example of a person who is undisciplined and lacks self-control. He was strong (physically) on the outside, but weak on the inside. His name means “sunny” yet his life ended in darkness when the Philistines blinded him.
This Sunday we will examine three fatal flaws that led to his downfall and death. Each flaw could have been overcome. How tragic - this man had such great potential, but lost it all.
I hope to see you Sunday as we study together the life of Samson and lift lessons from his life.
You are truly loved!
Pastor Terry



This Week at Bristol . . . "A Portrait of an Awesome Father"

When we think of the Old Testament character, Job, we often think of how unfair life can be. After all we are here for such a brief time, it only seems fair that life should be a “bowl of cherries” and not filled with misery, loneliness, and suffering.
Job lived at a very early time in recored history. Some believe in the time of the patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (2100 to 1900 BC). Scholars believe that Job is likely the oldest book in the Bible.
The first chapter of Job, in particular, tells us that this man was great at business that led to his extreme wealth (in fact, the wealthiest man of his time). We are told he had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 donkeys. And a large number of servants.
Plus he was happily married, and the father of ten children - three daughters and seven sons. When you read this first chapter, you come away with a more complete picture of the life he lived because we get a larger picture than just a man who had one back experience happening after another.
He was a man who truly cared for his children economically and spiritually - plus I think he was a really great father. There are three great lessons found in Job 1 where we learn from him what it means to be a great father - That will be our focus this Sunday - Father’s Day.
Job lived thousands of years ago, but the lessons we learn from him we can relate to today.
I hope you will join me this Father’s Day. It is going to be a great morning starting with our “Donuts with Dad” Fellowship. Plan to arrive at 9:45 and meet others in the lower level. This will be a fun way to honor our fathers. Then we will enjoy a worship time together.
Never forget that you are loved,
Pastor Terry



This Week at Bristol . . . "Happy Birthday"

Everyone who attends worship this Sunday has one thing in common (probably several things), but one thing in particular - a birthday.
Regardless of your age, everyone has a birthday and most people love to celebrate their birthday. There is something special about the cake, ice cream, and presents (who could forget the presents?), and friends. One day we look forward to during the calendar year is our birthday - even though you are getting older by the year.
This Sunday at Bristol we will talk about a very special birthday that I would guess no one ever talks about - maybe no one ever thought it existed. I am talking about the birthday of the Church (that is CHURCH with a capital C).
The seventh Sunday following Easter is called “Pentecost Sunday” because this is the day the Church was born. We read about this in Acts 2.
Some of the last words Jesus said to His disciples were for them to remain in Jerusalem after He returned to heaven because a special gift would be given. They did as Jesus said and, as He promised, the Holy Spirit came.
But what really happened on the Day of Pentecost - the day the Church was born? Dr. Luke, the writer of the Book of Acts, says that those early disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and the outcome was that they became bold witnesses for their Lord. In fact such bold witnesses that 3,000 people gave their lives to Christ in one gathering!
The Holy Spirit fills us just as He did those first centuries followers. And just as He fills us, we then are empowered to do what Jesus said needed to be done (Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8).
The world changed after the Day of Pentecost, that special visitation of the Holy Spirit, and the world would never be the same again. Jesus said that we are to be “salt” and “light” - we are to be change agents - in a world that needs to be changed.
I do hope you will come this Sunday as we learn more about this special day called the Day of Pentecost.
You are deeply loved.
Pastor Terry



This Week at Bristol . . . "Ruth - A Love Story for Today"

Charles Swindoll states that the Book of Ruth was written from Naomi’s perspective (most scholars believe that Samuel actually penned this short Old Testament book). Every event in the story relates back to her - the death of her husband, the deaths of her two sons, her daughters-in-law, her return to Bethlehem, her God, her close relative, her land to sell, and her future generations.
Naomi has been compared to a female Job. Like the biblical Job, she lost everything - home, husband, sons and even more than Job, her livelihood. Widows had no standing in ancient Israel.
Ruth embodied loyal love (the theme of the Book of Ruth). Her moving vow of loyalty is found in Ruth 1:16-17. The Book of Ruth reveals how encompassing is God’s grace - He accepted Ruth, even though she was from a despised people - the Moabites - into His chosen people and honored her with a role in continuing the family line into which King David, and later His Son, Jesus, would be born (check out the geneology in Matthew 1).
What is the big idea of the story? I think it is this: Obedience in everyday life pleases God and obedience is all over the pages of this love story. For example, Ruth’s sacrifice and hard work to provide for Naomi reflected God’s love. Boaz’s loyalty to his relatives reflected God’s faithfulness. Naomi’s plan for Ruth’s future reflected selfless love.
The Book of Ruth showed the Israelites the blessings that obedience to their loving and faithful God could bring. Even with their cycle of obedience, disobedience again and again, God still responds to His people in love.
How do I apply the truths from this Old Testament story that came along at a time of irresponsible living in Israel’s history? The Lord faithfully calls His people back to a greater responsibility and faithfulness to Him (remember this is the time of the judges - read Judges 21:25) regardless of the the time in history in which we live. This call applies just as clearly to us today.
Like the characters in the Book of Ruth, we are called to respond to that divine grace with faithful obedience in spite of the godless culture in which we live. We belong to a loving, faithful, and powerful God who has never failed to care and provide for His children - not then and certainly not now!
This week we will lift lessons contained in these four chapters. Come and grow with others and myself as we gather together this Sunday!
You are truly loved!
Pastor Terry