Pastor’s Blog

by Pastor Todd Bradbury

The Lord’s been good to me

One of the most majestic places in Virginia is Crabtree Falls.  This waterfall is a spectacular sight to see, but it also has a dark side.  Since the 1980s over 30 people have lost their lives as they’ve ventured off the path and fell because of the slippery moss and rocks.  There is a wonderful lady in our church who knows the anguish of losing a loved one at Crabtree Falls. Dolly Smith lost her daughter Tammy Hess on August 9, 1988.  Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only painful loss Dolly has experienced.

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Proclaim Freedom for the Prisoners

 
This month I’d like to share three names with you. The first name is Thomas; actually that’s not his real name. I need to protect his real name because Thomas is a heroine addict, and he’s incarcerated at Richmond City Jail. Thomas was a barber by trade, but his addiction sent his life spiraling out of control as heroine and depression consumed his life. At one point he was even dealing heroine out of his barber shop. He was caught and arrested and now he calls the Richmond City Jail home.

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The Mission has a Church

One of the things we’ve been talking a lot about is being a missional church. In fact, one of our Bethel Mileposts is “The Mission has a Church.” What does it mean to be a missional church? Missional thinker Alan Hirsch offers this definition of the missional church:

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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.