As we continue into 2011, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on some of what we saw God do here at Reston Bible Church in 2010. I do pray this will be an encouragement to you, and while we don’t want to focus too much on numbers, it can be helpful to quantify some of what we have observed in 2010.
- From January-July 2010, at the old campus, we received completed Visitor Cards from 145 guests.
- From August- December 2010, as we’ve been in the new facility, we have received completed Visitor Cards from over 300 guests.
- Since August 2010, at least 100 of the guests who have completed Visitor Cards have become regular attendees and involved in ministry at RBC.
- We have had 50 guests from our new surrounding neighborhood since we moved into this facility in August.
- Since August, we have added 333 regularly-attending adults to our database.
- Since the beginning of 2010, we have 100 new volunteers on the Host Team (almost 200% more volunteers than we had 12 months ago).
- Since August 2010, we have added 2 areas of service under the umbrella of the Host Team – the Parking Team and Coffee Ministry.
- Since August, our Welcome Desk Attendants give information to an average of 14 guests each weekend.
- In the old building, our Greeters were greeting and Ushers passing out bulletins to an average of 1650 people each weekend.
- In the new building, our Greeters have been greeting and Ushers passing out bulletins to an average of 2042 people each weekend.
- Our Coffee Attendants serve an average of 27 gallons of coffee each weekend – about 400 cups.
- Our Parking Attendants manage traffic for about 1050 vehicles each weekend – this is just our traffic alone (not including traffic for other businesses off Oakbrook Ct.)!
- During the transition of buildings, we have had volunteers serving more frequently. Some Ushers serve for up to 3-4 months straight to assist with the flow of people. We have two Parking Attendants who serve almost every week (and in all kinds of weather)!
- Our Children’s Ministry has jumped 31% in attendance since moving into our new facility – from an average of 231 children to 303 children each weekend. Our AWANA ministry has seen significant growth as well.
- Our Junior High Ministry has increased 69% since our move in August – from an average of 49 to 83 students attending each weekend.
- Our Senior High Ministry has increased 26% since the move in August – from an average of 75 to 95 students attending each weekend.
- Ladies Bible Studies have increased about 72% in the past year in attendance.
2010 was a dynamic year, and we are thankful for the blessing of seeing God work in significant ways. It is a joy to be a part of what God is doing here at Reston Bible Church!
The RBC leadership is thankful for the many who were able to attend last weekend’s RE:NEW conference with Ed Welch. As a help to you were (and were not) able to attend, here is a list of most of the Scriptures Dr. Welch referenced in his sessions. The beauty and power of the Word of God cannot be overstated, so great is the power of committing Scripture to memory. We pray you will commit these to memory; they are vital tools in our battles with fear, worry, and anxiety.
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you.” (Genesis 26:24)
“Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you where ever you; he will never leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God” (Isaiah 41:10).
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 43:1)
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (Isaiah 49:14-16)
“Peace be with you.” (John 20:19, 21)
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
“I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper (alongside of one), to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth. …He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans.” (John 14:16ff.)
The Lord is near; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:5-7)
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:32-34)
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)
HOW DOES THE COMMITTEE OPERATE?
The Missions Committee meets monthly and operates mostly by consensus and discussion. The committee does not use the Roberts Rules of Order (a widely-used set of procedures for deliberative assemblies). The Missions Director develops the agenda and the Financial Secretary, Ray Baldwin, presents the financial report at each meeting. Typically, we have at least one and as many as four missionaries attend each meeting to give a report on their ministry. Only those missionaries who happen to be in our area when a meeting is scheduled attends the meeting to give a report. We typically do not bring in a missionary just to attend a meeting. Periodically, we have an actual vote on an issue. There are three issues that must be decided by an unanimous vote; taking on a new missionary, stopping the support of a missionary and making a change to the Missions Policy. These three decisions must go to the RBC Council of Elders for final approval.
WHAT IS THE RBC MISSIONS INTERNSHIP PROGRAM?
RBC has had the privilege of sending out numerous people from our congregation over the years to be full-time missionaries. In order for RBC to be the “sending church” for a missionary, that family or individual must attend RBC and go through the RBC Internship Program. This program is designed to help one get from a desire to be a full time missionary to actually getting on the foreign mission field. It is customized to tailor each applicant’s individual place in their walk with the Lord and their desired type of service, such as church planting or support work. The Missions Committee and the Council of Elders must approve all those who enter the Internship Program. Entering the program does not bind the person or the committee to any final decision and it does not guarantee future financial support. Upon successful completion of the Internship Program, the Council of Elders must give their final approval on the person becoming a full-time missionary. Each intern is assigned a personal counselor that walks through the program with them individually, makes periodic reports to the Missions Committee and holds the intern accountable for completion.
HOW DOES THE COMMITTEE TAKE ON NEW MISSIONARIES?
This is by far the most difficult decision that the Missions Committee makes. When finances are available to take on new missionaries, the Missions Committee reviews a list of missionaries who have expressed interest in being considered for support by RBC. The list is prayerfully reviewed, and the Committee prayerfully picks from the list a family or two (or however many is possible to come for an in person interview with the committee.) Prior to the interview, the missionary must complete RBC’s Service Application. This application is reviewed by all the Committee members prior to the interview. After the in-person interview, the Committee prays for one month to decide whether to support the missionary. Once the committee makes their decision, and if it is a positive one, the Committee’s recommendation for support goes to the Council of Elders for final approval.
DOES THE COMMITTEE TARGET CERTAIN PARTS OF THE WORLD OR CERTAIN TYPES OF MINISTRY?
Although church planting has always been our highest priority, the answer to the question is no. We trust the Lord to lead us to the ministries and parts of the world He desires RBC to become involved with. Our desire is to “Know Christ and Make Him Known” but after much discussion and experimenting, that is as tight as a box we desire to put ourselves in.
WITH THAT AS YOUR STRATEGY, WHERE DO YOU SUPPORT MISSIONARIES AND WHAT TYPE OF MINISTRIES?
We support people in every region of the world. The ministries we support include: church planters, evangelists, Bible teachers, missionary children teachers, home and field office administration, computer operators, language translators, tribal workers, pilots, mechanics, member care providers and orphan ministry.
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.
– – –
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.