Thursday, July 12, 2012

Judgment Day

“Judge not, that you be not be judged.”  (Matthew 7: 1)
Outside the Golden Rule, this is a saying that can be seared into our lives and the way we live.  This is:  don’t judge others.  Or, better said:  “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”  (Matthew 7:5)
Our world has become one of – who are we to judge?  Even more, the thought of being judged by God is very unpopular, if believed at all.  We want a God of love and who will love us, not a judging God or a God of judgement.  We hear people say – “I like the God of the New Testament, but the God of anger and wrath in the Old Testament….I can’t understand.”  A God who judges isn’t what we want to hear or believe.  It’s not a God who comes across as feel good or seeker-friendly.  It’s not a God our culture would celebrate.
Yet it is very much part of who God is.  And it is what Jesus will do, when He comes again.
But isn’t Jesus about love?  Yes.  Isn’t Jesus about grace?  Yes.  How can we wrap our arms around God – Jesus Christ – who will come to judge us, every one of us?
Perhaps we need a judgment day.  Perhaps the world needs a judgment day.  And if we fully realize that all of us will stand before God to be judged of our lives, will we not take our actions, choices, and words much more seriously?  I hope so.
At Bellwether, we continue going through the Apostles’ Creed.  This Sunday we look at a statement which can be challenging and controversial – “From thence He (Jesus) Shall Come to Judge the Living and the Dead.”  The Scripture basis will be John 12: 37-50 and the message is “Judgment Day.”  We will see why we need, must have a judgment day.
The Bible states clearly we will all be judged.  When Jesus returns, He will judge the living and the dead.  Does this future judgment affect our present lives?  It should.  May it be a part of the Gospel which leads us all to living more Godly lives and giving our lives to Christ in full surrender.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Yes, not a feel good title.  
However, three realities in our lives are:  suffering, death, and hell.  
Life has many blessings and joys, yet there is suffering and tribulation.  Our suffering can be trite compared to much of the world.  When there are homes in Honduras with walls made of bedsheets and mountainsides, this for a family of 6-10, that is suffering.  When tribes in Africa drink out of "water wells" which look like sewers, that is suffering.  When millions of people live in slums of India, that is suffering.  Pain and injustice is all over our world.  And we suffer too - physically and emotionally.  
Then there is death.  All of us are moving closer and closer to that reality.  It frightens us.  The uncertainty, the finality of death.  
Then there is another reality many do not believe in and others dare not speak of.  The reality of hell.  Eternity in hell.  Is it real?  Yes.  Scripture is clear.  What is it?  A place where there is eternal suffering, separation, and isolation - from God.
Fantastic.  Uplifting.  Inspiring.  Such facts make our day that much brighter. 
However, there is Good News.  That is, we have a person, a Savior, who underwent the greatest suffering imaginable, facing death itself, who literally died, and experienced hell - for us.  For you.  Jesus Christ, on the cross.  He loved us so much, He gave Himself as a sacrifice for all of us - to experience suffering, death, and hell - so we would not have to for eternity.  Do we hear that?  Do we know that?  Our Savior did this, went through death itself, so we could overcome it.

That is good news.  That should make our days, and our lives, better and brighter.  
Sunday we continue going through the Apostles' Creed.  This week we look at the part which states:  "(Jesus) suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.  He descended into hell."  This should be a fascinating look at exactly:  why Jesus went to the cross, what happened on the cross, and how this changes us.  Our Scripture will be John 19:  25-30 and the sermon title is "Paid in Full".
We hope you can be with us for worship at Bellwether - 10: 30am, Sunday morning, at the Jackson Academy Performing Arts Center. 
More so, we hope you know - Jesus Christ has suffered, died, and faced hell itself, so we could have a fountain of life for eternity in heaven.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How to Believe!

Just believe!
You may have had that told to you at some point.  You may have said that to someone out of frustration, someone whom you have hoped and prayed would come to know Christ.  And for whatever reason, they simply just can’t believe.
Beliefs are a big thing.  In one sense, a belief is an opinion.  We believe our country is headed in the wrong or the right direction, we believe ours sports teams will win this year, and we believe our children will grow up to do no wrong.
Yet we also believe in things and people.  We believe in a car we bought.  We believe in a doctor that might could heal us.  We believe in our spouse.  We believe in the church we attend.  We believe in our leaders.  Believing in something or someone is much more powerful than simple opinions.
So, what do we believe in, for our salvation?  Is it Jesus Christ?  Or is it our families, status, careers, or our good living?
We want people to come to faith, to come to believe in Jesus Christ, for their salvation.  This entails realizing nothing in this world  can save us and we place our faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection.  The bottom line is:  He came to sae us.  He came to save you.  He is the only thing we should believe in for our salvation – on this earth, and for our eternal lives.
But this is tough.  Temptation is all around.  Temptation to believe in everything else.  Other temptations that tell us – “why should you believe in Jesus? After all He’s put you through!”  Why believe when you go through a divorce, when you, or a loved one, get cancer, when loved ones die.  Why believe in Jesus?
We are going through the Apostles’ Creed over the coming months at Bellwether.  The first two words of the Creed states:  ”I Believe.”  Sunday, being Pentecost, we rewind to the beginning of the Apostles’ Creed to see how we can truly believe.  Believe in the words of the Creed.  Believe in the Living Word of Jesus Christ.  The message will be “I believe” and the Scripture focus will be John 20: 1-18.  
We hope you can be with us.  It will be a special Sunday.  Why?
We will celebrate Pentecostthe day the Holy Spirit came down the Church was born.  
We will have a Baptism service before our worship service.  It will be at 9:30am outside the Performing Arts Center at Jackson.  We are baptizing Austin Fowkles Barbour, Jr. and will be celebrating with his family.  
We will honor Jeff Nesbit, who after serving Bellwether will be leaving to be the Teaching Pastor at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church.  We will pray over he and Whitney as they take this next step in continuing their ministry for Jesus Christ.   
We hope you can be with us Sunday and we hope you will truly believe in the Risen Christ, His Holy Spirit, and His Church.
Acts 1: 8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Our Heroes

We love heroes.  They inspire us.  We want, and try, to be like them.  

Many of us have our fictional heroes.  Those heroes from comic books we can love so much - Avengers, Batman, or Wolverine.  Or the great heroes of film move us - Rick in "Casablanca," Scarlett in "Gone with the Wind," and of course, Indiana Jones, Jason Bourne, or even James Bond.  They save the world, and get the girl.  Heroic. 

Then, there are the real heroes.  Our real life heroes.  The Greatest Generation who pushed through the Depression and truly did save the world in WWII.  Parents, who for many of us gave up so much to raise us, nurture us, get us through school, and pick us up when we fell down - from a bike, a break-up, or a job loss.  

This weekend we should all honor some of our true heroes - our Mothers.  They literally carried us, spent sleepless nights nursing us, cooked for us, cleaned up our messes, and worked to grow us up to be men and women.  Happy Mother's Day indeed to all of them - true heroes in our lives.  

So, please, thank your mother and tell her how much you love her.

Then, there is the greatest Hero of all time, for all eternity.  He is the Hero who is both Savior and Redeemer.  Unfortunately, many people look to other heroes, in fiction, history, and life for inspiration.  Only One Hero will fully inspire, transform, and change our lives.  Jesus Christ.  

In today's world where everyone can be their own hero through facebook, tweets, and blogs, we need to proclaim and point people to the greatest Hero, the only Hero who will last - Jesus.  

Sunday, we continue the Apostles' Creed series at Bellwether with "who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary."  Our Scripture will be from Galatians 4: 4-7 and the title of the message is "The Greatest Story."  We hope you can be with us for worship, to honor all our Mothers, and to give witness to the greatest story and Hero our world will every know - Jesus Christ.  

Happy Mother's Day.  Jesus is your greatest Hero.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Greatest Question of our Lives

Is not where we will go to college, what career we will choose, or who we will marry.
The greatest question of our lives, is the same question Jesus asked His disciples over 2000 years ago:  “Who you you say that I am?”  Matthew 16: 15
So, who do we say He is?  Prophet?  Teacher?  Moral Leader?  Great man?  Personal Savior?  King of Kings?  Lord of all Creation?
C.S. Lewis once famously wrote that Jesus could not simply be a “good man, prophet, teacher, or leader.”  Why?  Because He said some pretty crazy stuff.  What did He say?
He said He was the Son of God.  Luke 2: 49
He said He could forgive sins.  Mark 2: 10
He said His words  would last forever.  Matthew 24: 35
He said He was the Son of Man who would return in power.  Mark 14: 61-62 & Daniel 7: 13-14
He allowed Himself to be worshipped.  Mark 14: 33
Jesus was either who He said He was, or He was a lunatic or something even worse.
Thus, for all of us, the greatest question is:  who is Jesus?
At Bellwether, we have begun a 12 week series on the Apostles’ Creed, focusing on each statement of belief in the Creed.  This week, we look at “And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.”  Thus, for us, is Jesus Lord?  Lord of our lives?  Lord of all creation?
The truth is – He is.  We only hope He is for you.
Our Scripture this Sunday is Ephesians 2: 1-7.  We hope you have a great weekend, and hope to see you at church this Sunday, where we will worship Jesus for who He is:  Lord of all.  Make Him Lord of your life.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What do you Believe?

Beliefs are dangerous.  Beliefs start wars, make history, and change the course of nations.  Democracy, Communism, Nazism, Socialism, all began with simple beliefs.  They grew to causes, good and evil, that people were willing to die for.  Beliefs do that to a person.

Beliefs are passionate.  When people "believe in" a candidate for President, they can become passionate about that person.  When people "believe in" a sports team, they will cheer, scream, and even start fights with opposing fans.  

Beliefs are personal.  "Don't tell me what to believe - that's my right!"  People say this.  Beliefs are what make a person who they are.

So, what do you believe? 

Is it a cause, a philosophy, a way of life, a person, an agenda, a family, or a Savior?  
Do you believe in Christ?  Really?  

Sunday, we begin a journey that will take us through the coming summer as we look at the essential beliefs of a Christ follower.  These beliefs are best articulated in a statement, or creed, many of us know very well - the Apostles' Creed.  Many of us grew up reciting it in church. Yet do we truly believe it?  Do we view the Apostles' Creed as tradition or truth?  We will dig deep into the Creed, the Scripture to support it, and our own lives to see, truly, what we believe.  

We hope you will join us this Sunday, as we begin with "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth."  Our Scripture focus will be Ephesians 2: 8-9, Ephesians 1: 2-7, 17-23, and Isaiah 45: 5-12. 

We hope to see you Sunday.  And, we hope you will invite someone who needs to truly believe in Jesus Christ, and to know why they should believe in Him.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter, Prodigals, and Permanent Place

What a great Easter weekend!  We hope you were blessed by our Maundy Thursday, Good Friday Tenebrae, and Easter Sunday services!  We were honored to be part of 8 baptisms on Easter morning!  Praise God for His New Life in Christ!  

Our Easter service blew the roof off!  It was so powerful to all celebrate our Risen Lord - and that He is indeed Lord of all!  We hope and pray you know this today - because 4 days later - He is still Risen and He is still Lord!  
Thank you for helping, serving, praying, and being part of all our Easter weekend services.  May every Easter we celebrate at Bellwether be so uplifting.  

Now, for this Sunday, the Sunday after Easter, don't take a break or a breather!  We want to keep proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that He and only He brings salvation to us. 

We are doing a "stand alone" message on the classic parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15.  This is a powerful story of how the Gospel can save - both the younger brother and the elder brother.  Please try to be with us and invite someone!  Why?  Because they will hear the Good, Life-Saving news of Jesus Christ proclaimed!  

Finally, thank you for all you do and have done for Bellwether Church - in service, prayer, worship, and love.  We made a big announcement Easter morning that we are setting a goal of being IN a permanent facility by the end of 2013.  I would love to see us have our FIRST service in a new permanent home Christmas Eve 2013!  I know God can do this and I believe by stepping out if faith, we can do it too!  Thus, as pastor, I ask for you to pray as you never have for God to guide and direct His Church over the next 20 months.  That He would show us precisely where we need to be, and He would keep raising the leaders here to help make that happen.  Please know - we will be open and transparent about every possibility we are looking into, and we will be sharing more in the weeks and months ahead on Sunday mornings.  

This will be an exciting time as His Church, Bellwether, takes the next step in our life together.  We want you to be part of it and we want you to grow as a leader for Christ here.  That is why we exist:  to raise leaders (our way of saying make disciples) of Jesus Christ for the furthering of His Kingdom. 

We look forward to seeing what God will do as we are faithful to Him.  
Hope to see you Sunday and God bless you!