A new year is symbolic in many ways. It is commonly a time when we look back and reflect on the past year, while also looking ahead in anticipation at the year to come. We make resolutions and set goals; it is a time to refocus, renew, recalibrate. The new year is often bittersweet mixture of shame and thankfulness, regret and hope. Our reflections and anticipations during this time will often set the tone for the months ahead.
There’s something about “newness” that attracts us – whether in regard to a new year, a new job, a new car, a new gadget, a new relationship, etc. With a new thing, there’s always some level of fresh hope (and probably an undercurrent of “THIS will be the thing that really satisfies me!”) But it always goes the same way, doesn’t it? The “new” wears off – the new thing eventually just becomes the thing, and so we move on to the next new thing.
As I have been thinking through that process in my own life, I have been reminded of the centrality of the Gospel. Most of us are likely familiar with these words from Luke 2:10-11: And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Those verses provide a two-line summary of the Gospel:
1.) The Gospel is good news for the joy of all people.
2.) The Lord – the Creator God of the universe – is the Christ who comes to Earth to save.
While there is much more you can say about the Gospel than this, there is not less. The Gospel is beautiful in its simplicity, majestic in its depth, and completely unique in its purpose. There is no greater truth than the Gospel. God was kind to remind me of the centrality of the Gospel in the form of a question that has tugged at the corners of my heart and mind for the last couple of weeks – Has the “newness” of the Gospel worn off for you?
I find it common within most churches to think of the Gospel as only for non-believers, or to consider the Gospel “kindergarten Christianity.” I often fight in my own heart and mind to keep from considering the Gospel as remedial, something to move past so I can get on to something more interesting. Early in my own process of coming to know Jesus as Savior, I saw the Gospel as something new and beautiful and exiting – but there are plenty of times now when I catch myself treating it as though it were something primarily for other people.
Paul writes in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” This is a verse we tend to think of in terms of evangelism, and rightly so. We must not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus in terms of sharing it with those who do not know its great truths. However, this verse is just as applicable for Christ-followers. We must not be ashamed of the Gospel in our own daily lives.
What does it look like to be ashamed of the Gospel in such a manner? I can think of at least two ways:
- By treating it in thought and action as though it were no longer something we need. The Gospel is not something we come to terms with once, then move on to something greater, deeper, or more useful.
- By failing to consciously apply the Gospel to our lives every single day. We should daily preach to ourselves the Gospel with the goal of aligning our lives with Christ, to whom the Gospel takes us. The trajectory of our lives should be constant, joyful struggle to align our lives with His by working out the practical applications of the Gospel in every area of thought and action.
Reflecting on Gospel-centrality in a right way will always lead us to the person and work of Jesus. Christ is the whole point of the Gospel – without Him, there is no Gospel. Jesus is the good news that came to earth; God as a baby who grew into a man, lived a life we should have lived (but could not), died a death we should have died (but could not) to a penalty we should have paid (but could not). To those that believe that as good news, it is the power of God for salvation by grace through faith in Jesus. This is not a message that gets old.
Has the “newness” of the Gospel worn off for you? Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us that the mercies of God are new every day, and I can think of no clearer portrait of the mercies of God that the Gospel. May God grant us the grace to see our need for the Gospel every day and the strength to preach it to ourselves daily. May He keep us from the foolishness of thinking we can ever get past the Gospel. May our daily appropriation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ be a constant reminder that this is not a message that ever gets old.
Reston Bible Church desires to see solid, biblical, growing churches planted around the world. We define “missions” as a ministry outside the continental United States or a state-side ministry which supports ministries outside the continental United States. We support approximately 220 cross-cultural and national missionaries, many of whom have been raised at RBC. In this short series, Bill Hurley, Director of Missions at RBC, answers frequently-asked questions regarding our missions program.
HOW IS THE RBC MISSIONS PROGRAM FUNDED?
The Council of Elders at RBC have made Global Missions a budget line item to which they give $128,000.00 per month. Most all of this is committed and given to missionaries in monthly support. RBC currently supports 220 families around the globe. In addition to that budget figure, the program receives all monies designated to specific missionaries and all monies designated to missions in general. The designated gifts are given to the specific designated ministry. The monies given to missions in general are used by the Missions Committee to give to one-time needs of the missionaries RBC support. In the fiscal year August 1, 2009 to August 31, 2010, the Missions Committee was able to give out $50,194.00 in one-time gifts to meet specific needs of our missionaries.
The Local Missions budget is also a line item in the budget and most of the budget ($6750.00 per month) is given out each month in monthly support to the 15 various local ministries RBC supports.
WHAT IS THE MISSIONS COMMITTEE?
RBC has two separate missions committees, the Local Missions committee and the Global Missions committee. The Local Missions Committee oversees those we support who have a ministry within the 48 continental States. These include campus ministries, YoungLife, Sanctity of Life, prison ministry, etc. This committee consists of four people.
The Global Missions Committee administers those we support outside the 48 continental States. Some of the people we support are located within the 48 states, but their ministry is global. This committee consists of 15 people currently.
I do not recruit committee members. In order to serve in this ministry, the person needs to be led by the Lord. The process to join is simple – they let me know they are interested, I meet with them and I make a recommendation to the Elders and they make the final decision. Both committees, for the most part, operate by a simple majority. On a few very important issues, such as taking on a new missionary, the decision must be unanimous. I chair both committees.
From the book Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest by Ed Welch:
Edward T. Welch investigates the roots of fear in the human soul and the ramifications of living in the grips of anxiety, worry, and dread. Welch encourages readers to discover for themselves that the Bible is full of beautiful words of comfort for fearful people (and that every single person is afraid of something). Within the framework of thirty topical meditations, Welch offers sound biblical theology and moment-by-moment, thoughtful encouragement for life-saving rescue in the midst of the heart and mind battlefield of rampant panic-stricken responses.
This comprehensive primer on the topic of fear, worry, and the rest of God will have readers retreating to scripture for invariable constancy, stalwart care, and robust comfort, instead of as Welch terms it hitting the default switch by responding with characteristic human independence, control, and self-protectiveness. Running Scared affirms that, through Scripture, God speaks directly to our fears:
- On money and possessions
- On people and their judgments
- On death, pain, and punishment
Welch’s lively text provides convincing evidences that humanity’s struggle against active and dormant fears are countless. The good news is that God provides both the remedy and the cure for this malady in the person of Jesus Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit, and through powerful, life-altering promises in Scripture. Far more than merely another psychology self-help guide, Running Scared serves as a biblical roadmap to a life of serenity and security.
From a review of Running Scared by author & blogger Tim Challies:
For someone who does not consider himself much of a worrier, I was surprised to find that this book offered me a lot to think about; it offered me a challenge to see where (not if) I worry. And as it offered the biblical diagnosis, it offered also the biblical cure. It showed me that worry, though usually a hidden sin and perhaps even a sin that most often seems harmless, is a sin that impacts my life and serves to distance me from the God who says time and time again, “Do not be afraid. Peace be with you. The Lord give you peace.” It showed me most clearly of all that the way I feel about fear and worry is a sure indication of what I believe about God.
Read Challies’ complete review here.
Running Scared is available in the RBC Bookstore as a staff-recommended resource for Christ-centered growth.
Please also consider joining us for our annual RE:NEW conference, featuring Dr. Welch. Click here for conference information.
Jon Foreman wrote a song based on Psalm 23 called The House of God, Forever. Great song. His lyrics echo the final verse of the Psalm – “I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” It also reminds me of Psalm 84, which begins like this – “How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD … Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.”
Whether you get really excited about Christmas, really depressed, or somewhere in the middle, I think our reaction is tied in some way to this idea of being in the house of God, being in the presence of the Divine. Our reaction to Christmas is somehow linked to our innate longing to experience relationship with the God we were created to worship.
Maybe you’re a person who gets really excited about Christmas – you love the aspect of family gatherings, of giving gifts, of special traditions. My guess is the reason we love these things so much is that in a broken world, these are glimpses that point you toward something that is hardwired into the human heart – a longing to be in the house of God, where all is right.
Maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum – Christmas for whatever reason drains you, makes you depressed, highlights a very personal sense of loneliness. it’s the flip side of the same coin – it points you to the fact that things are not as they should be; there is an unfulfilled longing to be in the house of God, where all is right.
Regardless of where you fall on that spectrum, let me say this: we are made for something more than what we experience here on Earth. In every heart is a yearning to be in the house of God – to be united in relationship with our Creator. But in every heart is a tension, a disconnect, some level of frustration because we all know that things are not quite as they should be. There is something about Christmas that highlights this in some way for each of us.
The familiar icon of a manger scene reminds us that many people celebrate Christmas as a birthday – the birth of Jesus Christ. Birthdays are special days not because of the day itself, but what that day represents. Your birthday, for example, is not just about a number on a calendar. A birthday represents more than just a day, a moment; it celebrates more than just an event, an occurrence. Birthdays are special because they represent an individual life; a birthday means something because it celebrates a person.
This is true for each of us, and infinitely and gloriously true of Jesus. December 25 is a date that holds no lasting value apart from the Person that it celebrates – Jesus. As we experience the longing to be in the house of God and deal with the tension/disconnect that things are not as they ought to be – it is Christ who is the key to fulfilling that basic longing. It is Jesus and Jesus alone who bridges that gap between us and God.
So Christmas is not at its core a celebration of a day or a season or a tradition. It is a celebration of a Person: the Person of Jesus Christ, who alone opens the doors to the house of God for us. You and I simply do not have the ability to overcome the gap between our own brokenness and the God we were meant to worship. There could never be enough we could ever become or do or say or give or feel that would make things right between us and a perfect God. This is why Jesus came, and why we celebrate Him above all else. There is no one like Him. He opens the doors to the house of God for us.
Christmas is a time that we celebrate something that is true all year long – that God came to earth, born as a humble baby, grew into a man, lived a life we could never live, died a death we could never die to pay a penalty we could never pay. Those who would believe that and trust Him by faith will be able to live and love and worship in the house of God forever, where all is right.
Christmas is not just about a day, an event, a singular occurrence. It is about a Person – Jesus Christ. Lord. Savior. Friend. He is both imminent and exalted – Emmanuel – God With Us. This Christmas and in all the days beyond, may we celebrate more than a day, a season, a tradition. May we celebrate the Person of Jesus Christ. There is no one like Him.
The RBC Annual Report is a document designed to give you information about our major ministries, how to contact ministry leaders, and how the finances of our church are handled.
This has been an amazing year at Reston Bible Church. In addition to our ongoing ministries here and around the world, God has blessed us with a new campus with which to carry out our mission of “Knowing Christ and Making Him Known.” We have many reasons to be thankful and to rejoice in God our Savior.
This annual report is designed to give you information about:
- The major ministries of RBC where you may serve our church body and the community or learn and grow in your relationship with Christ.
- How the finances of RBC are handled
- How you can contact our ministry leaders
The staff and elders of our church family are thankful to God for the new campus He has provided. We’ve seen a 25% growth in attendance since we opened and you have responded by increasing your volunteer hours and caring for our guests in extraordinary ways. Thanks be to God! He has given us new families to care for and with which to share the Gospel.
The church pastors and staff are very happy to be together in the same building for the first time in many years. It has been so helpful to both internal and external communication and has contributed to better collaboration than we’ve ever seen. The new campus has also created opportunities to reach out to a new set of neighbors. It is a joy to see new people joining us each week for worship and service. I look forward to coming to work each day as it is a privilege to serve the Lord at RBC alongside our other pastors and elders. I love these men and respect their walks with God. We want to thank you for your generous giving which makes it possible for us to devote our energies to the preaching of God’s Word and the care of the flock He has entrusted to us.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 instructs us in this way: “…there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” May God use the different gifts he has given to each of us for the common good, the good of our church family, our community, and the world. If there is any way that we can be of help to you as you walk with Christ, please allow us the joy of serving you for God’s glory.
Executive Pastor, Elder
This year’s First Fruits took place on Saturday, November 20. First Fruits is a service project that has rallied the RBC church body for over 20 years. It is a unique serving opportunity for families, shepherd groups, and individuals to come together and make a difference in the lives and families of others in our area who are in need of help and encouragement.
You may have heard the numbers in church. By God’s grace we had over 400 volunteers spread over 27 teams, doing more than 120 jobs (including some random acts of kindness), that raised $31,500 for families having a tough time financially in our area – 59 families in particular were blessed this past weekend. The numbers are truly amazing. But, First Fruits is about so much more than the numbers.
The body of Christ was in motion like I haven’t seen before at RBC — working together, getting out of the salt shaker, and encouraging families in our area. I love how each year First Fruits brings together people that start out as strangers or acquaintances early in the morning and end as friends in the evening. This year was a particular blessing because Pastor Salvador Medina and 10 members of his congregation (from the Spanish Church that also worships at RBC) joined in and helped out during the day. They also played a key role with team visits to 3 of the Spanish-speaking only families in the evening. There is one body, but many parts (1 Cor 12:12-28) and it was neat to see this in action on Saturday — how, by working together, we were able to do more than any part could have done separately, even overcoming language and culture barriers and planting seeds that we hope and pray will yet bear fruit. It will be exciting to see how the Lord will use the relationships started at First Fruits both within the body and within the community to advance His Kingdom. The Medinas have already invited several of the families to come to church.
I also loved seeing our teens getting out of the salt shaker. This happened throughout the day, and there are many stories. One captured it well for me. In particular, one Sr. High teen shared how she and some friends went to the neighbor’s house of the job they were working on to help the woman take care of her yard. They discovered that her husband had died 2 years ago and and she was diagnosed with breast cancer soon after. They were able to minister and pray with her in ways they could not have imagined when they started the day.
First Fruits also burst the bubble that insulates us from the world right around us. One teen shared how their team visited a family of 4 living in a motel because they did not have a home. The size of their room for living, eating, sleeping, she relayed, was no bigger than her bedroom at home. She had no idea that people lived like this in Northern Virginia. “This has changed me,” she said,”I see how spoiled I have been, and I know how much I have to be thankful for.”
All of us were touched by the individual stories of the 59 families served through First Fruits. Here are a few snapshots:
- A family of 12 living in a 3-bedroom trailer with another family. Two RBC regular attenders are a big brother and a big sister to 2 of the children in the family.
- Nineteen families attend local Sterling public schools that serve some of the most economically disadvantaged in the area. All the children in these families are on the free lunch program. The father/husband of one of these families died 2 weeks ago leaving his wife and 5 children behind. The Women’s Ministry is already continuing with one of the schools a partnership started through First Fruits and we hope to continue to partner with some of the others through Backpack Buddies and tutoring.
- At least 6 families have been, are, or may soon be homeless.
- One family just moved into their own apartment after being in a shelter for the past year.
- At least 8 families (includes RBC attenders) are struggling with unemployment and being underemployed.
- Twenty or more are single parents
- Four are widows
- Many do not yet know the Lord.
The First Fruit gifts brought tears, smiles, hope, and prayers of thanksgiving. Please join us in praying for these families and thanking the Lord for the amazing team captains and co-captains that led the army of 400 workers who blessed so many. May God alone receive all the glory.
Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
Back in October, the RBC Youth Ministry hosted “Minute to Win It” over the span of two evenings – one geared for junior-highers, the other for senior high students. This event, based off the popular game show, was a big hit with the teens and their invited friends. The game show host was Erik Palmer, who fit his role well. Besides 12 challenging 60-second games, those who attended were treated to pizza, raffle prizes, cash prizes, and powerful testimonies by fellow teens.
As on the TV show, each challenge was created using household items. Everyone had an opportunity to get on stage and win. Over $500 in prizes were given away. Contestants were chosen by raffle, at random, or based on their creative costumes. Do you think you might have had a chance of winning? Try stacking five Red Delicious apples on top of each other in one minute!
On Friday night, junior-highers got to hear Mason Nalle share his story of going through three open-heart surgeries before the age of 17. Amy Stegeman then shared on Sunday night to the senior highers how she tragically lost several of her siblings and a friend by the time she reached 8th grade. A minute is all it takes for someone to lose their life. Following the testimonies, a pastor shared of God’s love and sacrifice and invited the attendees to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Several students indicated that they accepted Christ as their Savior that night. Praise our God! Knowing Christ and making Him known to teens is what this youth ministry is all about. Pray for the staff as we follow up with them, and other teens that have expressed interest in knowing more.
Oh, and we’re pretty sure Guy Fieri would be proud. 😉
(I have to give credit to Aaron McAndrew for helping me write this blog post. Thanks Aaron! Aaron is a Junior at Briar Woods High School who loves writing. He also is an editor for his school newspaper.)
The remarkable story of Joseph and his forgiveness is the foreshadowing of Christ and His forgiveness. It reveals to us the very nature of forgiving the deepest offenses. This type of forgiveness is supernatural and requires the greatest application of gospel truth. The test of a person’s character is their ability to forgive. Here are five questions designed to stimulate our thinking on the subject of forgiving.
1. Do you believe you could forgive the way Joseph forgave his brothers? Keep in mind the depth of pain his brothers inflicted on him: the pit of injustice where he was left to die, Potipher’s house where he was falsely accused, the prison where he was forgotten.
2. Are you having trouble letting go of hurts far less severe than Joseph’s? Why such an account of this man’s story if not to encourage us in our own journey of being misunderstood?
3. Do you believe God’s grace is sufficient? The apostle Paul says that it is when he addresses this issue in 2 Corinthians 12 with these words, which are from Christ himself: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
4. Are you rejecting His grace? We are reminded by the writer of Hebrews not to reject God’s grace lest a root of bitterness springs up and defiles many.
5. Are you a conduit of the very grace that saved you? Can you get over getting even with the father who never said “I love you”? What about the coach that played favorites or the boss that gave the promotion to the wrong person?
The problem with getting even is that it hurts us more than the one we wish to get back at. It shows that we do not believe that vengeance belongs to God and God alone. Getting even is not good for our health. It has been said that bitterness is drinking poison in hopes that someone else will die. Getting even shows that we don’t see the bigger picture as Joseph did when he uttered his famous words “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
Let’s get over getting even and let God right every wrong.
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How many times in life have you been told that you are making a big deal out of something that is very small? We often refer to this as “making a mountain out of a mole hill.” But is it not possible that we are just as guilty of making mole hills out of mountains? How often do we say “It’s no big deal” when in fact it is a very big deal? Consider these words from scripture:
“I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” (Psalm 101:3)
If we took this mountain seriously, what would we have to remove from our TV diet? Are these little mole hills punctuated throughout the landscape of God’s word, or are they monstrous mountain ranges strategically placed for our protection? To say it’s no big deal what I read or what I watch is to say that Jesus was making a mountain out of a mole hill. I don’t think we want to go there.
What about the poor? The scriptures are replete about caring for the poor, yet it seems to have fallen into the mole hill category. What did our Savior say about materialism?
“A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke12:15, NIV)
I realize the list could go on and on, and I am well aware that a form of legalism looms when we see these as performance issues so that God will love us more. Mountains are in the Bible as a gift from God so that we may live life to the fullest, which is in direct opposition to earning His love. The church in our western society has fallen prey to calling holiness legalism. I don’t write this from the standpoint of pastor-to-flock, but from my own personal battle of having seen mountains become mole hills. I guess you could say I have been taking inventory to see if I am truly growing in grace and not legalism.
Would you be willing to see if your life is measuring up to His teachings? You will be glad you did, for I prefer mountains to mole hills any day.
A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor. ~Proverbs 22:9
The Food Pantry workers were overwhelmed by the generosity of the members of our church who brought in groceries on October 3rd. There were so many large bags of food that it took three people four trips each to bring all of it back to the pantry. These trips included the use of carts and baskets on wheels.
God’s love and abundance really showed up through the giving of His people to those of us who are in need. So far there are 20 to 30 families who directly benefit by this food pantry every week. By offering them food, we have an opportunity to share the Gospel and the love of God with these people. Lives are being changed. Glory to God.
Remember when Bill Maher, the political satirist and comedian, accused former Vice President Dick Cheney of lying? Coinciding with his attack on Cheney’s character was Tiger Woods’ confession of adultery. Both Maher and Woods are atheists. All atheists believe that we are nothing more than chemicals wrapped in skin. We do what we do based on chemical reactions driven by random electrical stimuli.
So if I understand these men correctly, the human race is made up of six and half billion bags of fertilizer. My question is this: If one bag of fertilizer thinks that lying is wrong, what right does that bag have to impose its moral standards on another bag that can’t help but lie because its chemical makeup dictates that it do so? And why would another bag publicly confess to having numerous affairs with other bags? Is not such a confession implying that it is wrong to behave in such a manner?
And are there not other “God-denying” bags that think killing and stealing is wrong? Seven out of the Ten Commandments have to do with moral values. Tiger, Bill, and like-minded bags seem to be pushing their moral values on the rest of us sad sacks. Strangely, when we try to return the favor with the same set of values we are called self-righteous, right winged fanatics. Do I detect a double-standard in which one set of bags has the right to inflict its moral standard on all other bags? Since Christian bags hold to the same value as atheistic bags , why are we marginalized and seen as judgmental?
Well, I must bring this to a close because the chemicals in this bag tell me that it is time to fertilize my lawn. As an aside, here is a helpful hint to have a great-looking lawn. Always buy the fertilizer with the highest moral standards – unless your chemical makeup tells you otherwise. The standards are written on the sides of each bag. The highest standards guarantee a thick, green, weedless lawn and that is the kind of lawn I like. So do atheists.
The retreat this year with John Lynch was fantastic! It was such a clear declaration of God’s Grace and presented in such a living and dramatic fashion. Trusting God for who He says I am is the only way to live this life. On my worst day, I am “Christ in Dave” and clothed in His righteousness all because He led me to Himself.
My desire is to see all the men at RBC – or everyone for that matter – live from these truths. What a wonderful fellowship we would have. Knowing the Truth sets me free, and free to really love others from the strength of God’s grace on and through me.
Many thanks to all those who prepared for and ran the 2010 RBC Men’s Retreat. It was fabulous!
The older I get, the more aware I become that life is all about Jesus Christ and not about me. The older I get, the sharper my focus on eternity becomes. The older I get, the more I see life as it really is. We should all grow wiser with age because the Scriptures tell us to do so “Teach us to number our days that we may apply our heart unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). This prayer by the Psalmist should be ours as well. He sees every day as a learning experience and does not want to lose one moment of instruction from the guiding eye of Jehovah.
Instruction is all around us, but we must be wise and understanding students. We must be attentive to the details for nothing happens without a sovereign purpose, from the falling of the sparrow to the devastation of a hurricane. The sons of Adam see everything as fate, good luck, bad luck, happenstance, coincidence, or “that’s just life.” How sad not to be able to properly interpret what is being written or said. But is this not the nature of those who are blind and deaf to spiritual maters?
As sons of God, we must not fall into such a narrow way of thinking, trapped by human reason, which in essence is atheistic at worst and agnostic at best. Remember that it is all about Him. We are not central to the purposes of God. His glory is central. This is what I am learning, the older I get.
“Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”