Pastor’s Blog

by Pastor Todd Bradbury
Miracle by Jean Redmond

God Gave Us a Miracle

Miracle by Jean Redmond

 

I recently visited Jean and Bill Redmond, and I noticed a poem that was hanging on their wall. The poem is about a miracle that occurred in the Redmond family about 15 years ago. The poem is beautiful, and the story behind it is even better. The following is Jean Redmond’s explanation of this story:

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Your Move: four questions to ask when you don’t know what to do

In this four-session small group Bible study, Andy Stanley unpacks four questions that will help you make sound decisions with God’s help.Throughout our lives, we’re confronted with decisions we never anticipated having to make – relational, career, financial, parenting – the list goes on and on. The complicate matters further the timeframe for making a decision is often short and our options limited. But regardless, a decision needs to be made.

So what do you do when it’s your move and you aren’t sure what to do?

Follow Andy as he teaches how every decision and its outcome become a permanent part of your story, what to do when you feel the need to pause before taking action, and how to make more of this life by making sound decisions.

Join us each Wednesday at 6:30pm. The study begins January 6 and will meet each Wednesday through February 3. We will not meet January 20 as that is our Chik-fil-a Spirit Night event.

Sessions include:
1. Really
2. The Story of Your Life
3. Pay Attention to the Tension
4. Passing It On



Lost

He sat on the front steps of Bethel and told me he was lost. The “he” was a young man, 21 years old that stopped by the church on a beautiful fall afternoon. He walked to Bethel from his job near Midlothian. His plan was to walk to Cumberland. You read that   correctly. He was going to walk from Midlothian to Cumberland, but somewhere between Midlothian and Bethel he must have thought twice about the 25 plus mile walk. So he decided to stop by the church to see if he could borrow a phone so that he could call his mother to see if she could come to Bethel and pick him up.
 
As I met with him I discovered that he had a job, but no car. His parents were divorced. He was barely on speaking terms with his mom and wasn’t on speaking terms with his dad. He’d been “couch surfing,” just staying with any friend who could put him up for a night or two here or there, but he said this really needed to stop. With no real home and no car and a job he wasn’t fond of, he lamented over the poor choices he made that led him to being in this condition. He also lamented over some poor choices that were thrust upon him for which he suffered the consequences. So he sat on the steps of Bethel and said several times, “I’m lost. I’m just so lost.” My heart went out to this young man and I felt the Lord leading me to offer him a ride to Cumberland. More importantly, I felt the Lord leading me to share the gospel with him.

I don’t know about you, but I always get nervous or anxious when I am led to share the gospel with someone. You would think that as being a pastor sharing the gospel is something that should be so easy and natural, but I get nervous and anxious. Despite how I felt I believed this was something the Lord really wanted me to do so I offered him a ride to Cumberland. He accepted. When we got in the car he asked me how I came to be a pastor. This was the perfect opportunity for me to share the gospel with him and I did. I told him of how I too was once lost and how Christ came into my life and completely changed me and Christ could do the same for him. We had a great conversation and as I pulled into the driveway of his mom’s Cumberland home, I asked him if I could pray for him. Before we prayed I asked him to please think seriously about opening up his heart to the Lord and his life to Christ. He said he would think about it, but for now he said he just wanted me to pray for God to guide him. So I prayed for Christ to guide this young man. A seed was planted and I don’t know when that seed will bear fruit, but as I drove back from Cumberland, I came to the conclusion that my interaction with this young man was a “divine appointment.” The Lord used this young man to remind me that there are many people who live their day-to-day lives without the Lord.

Honestly, I don’t know how people live without the Lord. Do you? What I’ve thought about since my ride to Cumberland is this: At Christmas we celebrate God sending His son into the world to save the lost. This young man reminded me of my own need for Christ and how Christ is indeed the greatest gift I have ever received. But Christ is a gift that needs to be shared. I don’t know when that young man will accept the Lord, but I felt a genuine sense of joy that I was able to share Christ with him. I believe the Lord is asking each of us not to be afraid to share Christ with others. How often do we take a risk to enter the brokenness of someone’s life and, if we do, how often do we share the good news of Christ? Let me encourage you not to be afraid to share your story with others. Tell them how you were once lost and how Christ found you. Then offer them the greatest gift they’ll ever receive. Ask them to receive Christ into their lives.
We have a saying at Bethel that “I’m blessed to be a blessing.” The greatest blessing you can give anyone is to tell someone about our Lord, our savior, my savior, Jesus Christ. Lord, thank you for sending your son into the world to save us and to love us. Remind us frequently about this truly great news and give us the courage to share this news with people who are lonely, abandoned,   in a word, lost. Help us to share Christ with others this Christmas. Amen. Merry Christmas and may God bless you.


How Has Your Faith Changed You?

How has your faith changed you? That’s a pretty deep question, but it’s a question that I hope you’ll seriously consider, at least for a moment. I could list a number of ways in which my faith has changed me. I first accepted the Lord into my life on Easter Sunday 1976. I was nine years old. I nervously “walked the aisle” and at the end of the aisle stood my grandfather. His name was Graham Lester and he was the pastor of Fine Creek Baptist Church in Powhatan. Back then I knew only a little of what it meant to be a Christian. I wish I could tell you from that point forward the Lord was at the center of my life. In reality, and to my shame, the Lord played only a minor role in my life, unless of course I got into trouble or I found myself in a fix and needed help getting out of a jam. It was during these times of trouble that I’d remember a little thing called prayer and my prayer was usually, “Lord help me!” I confess there wasn’t a whole lot of Christ-like growth for many years, too many years. But over time growth began to happen and it happened precisely because of one of those “Lord help me!” prayers. There was one particular point in my life where I hit bottom and it’s fair to say I was broken. I won’t go into the details of my brokenness because the story is too long for a newsletter article. With nowhere to turn I uttered one of those “Lord help me!” prayers. Only this time there was something different in my asking. For the first time I truly wanted to know what God wanted for my life. God answered that prayer in a way that I knew it was Him and that answer to prayer gave me a desire to learn more about the Lord and to grow closer to him. I tell you that story to tell you this story. Not long ago I was chatting with Brenda Peck. For those of you who don’t know Brenda, Brenda Peckshe’s a life-long member of Bethel and is very active in our Food Pantry and is one of our deacons. We were talking about faith and she recounted how she too prayed a lot of “Lord help me!” prayers along the way. Then she said something that I thought was wonderfully insightful. She said, “My prayer life has gone from ‘Lord, help me!’ to ‘Thank you Lord!’ She said she still prays for the Lord to help her, but these days her prayers begin and end with words of thanksgiving. I began to think about her comments and I think they represent a continuum for what a Christ-like growth looks like. When we first come to faith each of us probably utter a lot of “Lord help me!” prayers. I believe God is anxious to answer those prayers for help, but I think His most earnest desire is that we move towards a prayer life that is   saturated with words of gratitude, graciousness and thanksgiving. The Apostle Paul ended up at this place when he says in Philippians 4, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Instead of asking “How has your faith changed you?” perhaps a better question is “Where are you on the prayer continuum from ‘Help me Lord!’ to ‘Thank you Lord!?’ May I pray one “Lord help me!” prayer for us? Lord, help! Help us to live our lives in such a way that we are continually moving towards living lives of thankfulness, gratitude and graciousness. Create in us a desire for You and You alone oh Lord. Amen. God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving, Todd



Ann Beacham

TGIM: Thank God It’s Monday!

Ann Beacham

TGIM – Thank God It’s Monday! Have you ever heard anyone say those words? Me neither until recently. I recently visited Ann Beacham at Sutherland Place, which is an assisted living facility. For those of you who don’t know Ann, she is a long time member of Bethel. Ann’s husband Lamar passed away last year and, as you can imagine, the last year has been quite an adjustment for her. In my most recent visit with Ann I asked her if she had a good weekend. She said most of the time the weekends are really quiet around Sutherland Place and that there is not much to do because most of the staff is enjoying their weekend. She said, “Around here we say, ‘Thank God it’s Monday’, because on Mondays all of the staff is back and we have all sorts of activities to enjoy during the week.” That statement, “Thank God it’s Monday,” stuck with me. I never heard anyone thanking the Lord for a Monday. For most folks in a 9-5 job, Monday is rarely met with enthusiasm. Most of us are too busy looking forward to Friday to actually stop and thank the Lord for Monday. Ann’s words stuck with me because they made me think about things from a different perspective. While much of the world lives for the weekend, people like Ann look forward to days when their facility is fully staffed with activities to enjoy.

I suppose it’s human nature to “look forward,” to anticipate, to dream, to hope; these are all good, God given emotions. But I sometimes wonder if we don’t spend too much time “looking forward” and not enough time immersed in the present? Unfortunately, I’ve had to repent from spending too much time thinking about the future and “looking forward.” When we allow our minds to live in the future we rob ourselves of the gift of THIS day,  THIS moment. One of the things God continues to impress upon me is that there is grace, and gift, and life, and blessing in each moment. Frederick Buechner says something similar,

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and   gladness:  touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

Indeed, all moments are key moments. Life is Grace. Thank you, Ann Beacham, for reminding me to thank God for Mondays, and Tuesdays, and Wednesdays…you get the picture. Thank you Lord for THIS day, thank you Lord for ALL days, for life, for grace, for blessings and to be alive on your good, green earth and to participate in your Kingdom. Let us proclaim Psalm 118:24, “THIS is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in IT.”

Amen



Cindy Luck

Introducing Cindy Luck, Parrish/Faith Community Nurse

Cindy Luck

This month I want to introduce Cindy Luck, our new Parrish Nurse. Cindy and her daughter Megan have been attending Bethel since May of 2013, and they recently made it “official” and joined our fellowship. Seven or eight months ago, I sat down with Cindy to get to know her a bit better. Cindy is married to Mike, her husband of 30 years, and they have two daughters, Kristen and Megan, who are both in college. Cindy enjoys spending time with her family and her cats and dogs.   She works for The Richmond Christian School, and her hobbies are spending time at the beach, crafts, cooking, reading, and concerts. I asked her what she was passionate about and if there is a particular ministry that is of particular interest to her. She said, “I’ve always wanted to be a Parrish Nurse.” I thought to myself, “Have I got a deal for you!” That conversation planted the seeds that will bear fruit beginning this month. I’m excited to announce that Cindy’s ministry as our Parrish Nurse will begin on September 20th. She will see patients on the third   Sunday of every month. Cindy has recently completed a course in Parrish/Faith Community Nursing (PN/FCN) through Eastern Mennonite University. Let’s let Cindy tell you about the program in her own words:

“I first checked into the PN program years ago, and at that time it involved an out of town course that I couldn’t fit into my schedule. When the opportunity became available this year, I began my journey with FCN/PR nursing through Eastern Mennonite University. FCN offers a variety of services to the congregation and surrounding community.

Faith community nurses are licensed, registered nurses who practice holistic health for self, individuals and the community using nursing knowledge combined with spiritual care.

They function as either paid or unpaid members of the pastoral team in a variety of religious faiths, cultures, and countries. The focus of their work is on the intentional care of the spirit, assisting the members of the faith community to maintain and/or regain wholeness in body, mind, and spirit.

The PN/FCN program at Bethel will be a ministry of prayer, compassion, listening, and trying to guide an individual, family, and our community in living healthier lives. Bethel is blessed with having several nurses in our congregation that will join me in this new adventure and I want to thank them in advance for their dedication and willingness to help with the program.

Bethel’s PN/FCN program will begin on September 20th with blood pressure screenings. I’ll be available on the 3rd Sunday of each month beginning at 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and again immediately following the worship service until noon. I’m excited about the program and if you have ideas or would like for us to have a class on a desired topic please let me know.

Bethel is part of the Christian Ambassador program in Chesterfield County which offers programs, social events, and community resources available throughout the County. We have several booklets available if you’d like to learn more about the county’s programs.”

I’m really excited about this new ministry. Please join me in thanking and praying for Cindy and for the other nurses who’ll make this program a vital part of Bethel’s on-going ministry to our church family and our community. The Lord is doing great things at Bethel and it’s because of people like Cindy Luck who are willing to develop and use the skills and passions that the Lord has given them. May God bless each of you and may God continue to bless Bethel Baptist Church.