A long-time RBC attender, Sandy Varney, was born in a barn while her parents fled from Ukraine during World War II. She would become a refugee in Germany then eventually immigrate to America. Eventually she would marry, practice dentistry and raise a family in Reston. In May of this year, Sandy went to Germany as a translator in a Ukrainian refugee camp. That became a springboard for a later trip into Ukraine where she met relatives, assessed urgent needs and found reliable on-the-ground organizations where the gospel of Jesus Christ would be spread in conjunction with delivering material needs.
As with all war, devastation and destruction leave people without adequate shelter and basic things for life. This is coupled with the mental and emotional trauma many experience. As a congregation, we have not forgotten about the needy and poor of Ukraine. Together, RBC recently supported a large purchase of sleeping bags that protect to -20 degrees. These bags will keep people in some targeted villages from freezing in their bombed-out homes. Generators were also purchased for churches so people can be fed and kept warm.
The generosity of the RBC congregation allows us to extend the love of Jesus to Ukrainians in need. Please continue to pray for an end to hostilities and for many to turn to Jesus Christ. Thank you for being a generous church. Below are some pictures of the villages where this aid was sent.
Your Elders and the leadership of RBC have received much feedback from many of you representing various views on the issue of COVID-19 protocols at RBC. The majority of feedback surrounds the requirements currently in place to attend Sunday worship services. We are grateful for your guidance, trust and willingness to reach out with your thoughts, concerns, encouragement and prayers. In addition to much time spent in prayer and discussion, we have read many articles and listened to many talks and messages sent to us. As we and the pastors consider how best to care for you and fulfill our scriptural duties, we also prayerfully consider how our conduct when we gather may impact our local community, whom we are called to love and care for as an extension of Jesus’ love and care for us. In the case of COVID, it is not easy to know how best to do both. There are rational, but opposing, viewpoints that impact our decisions. There are scriptures we could quote that support various viewpoints. We have soberly considered these and the range of opinions within the larger medical community as well as from government agencies, non-government researchers and healthcare providers. We also heard from many of you, not only through our recent survey, but through many conversations and emails. Thank you for your patience with us. We are very grateful for your comments as well as the respectful and mature manner in which you have addressed us.
Sincerely, each time we remember you, we do so with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. You have endured, with continued generosity and hopefulness, a year of historic challenges to normal fellowship, discipleship activities and collective worship of the LORD Jesus Christ on Sundays. To paraphrase Paul, we give thanks to God for you since your faith in Christ still grows and the love of each of you for one another remains (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4).
After multiple meetings, much prayer, and careful dialogue about all pertinent issues, the Elders are in unanimous agreement that we intend to move to a “dual service” option: one requiring facemasks and social distancing, just as we have in place now at 9:00am, and one more relaxed protocols which alters the facemask and social distancing protocols at 10:45am. This “dual service” option would allow those within our body who hold differing convictions and preferences the option of attending a worship service in which they can better engage without concern or distraction.
While the elders are in agreement that we would like to move to a “dual service,” the question remains of when should this begin. It is not an issue of willingness, but of timing. We have concluded it will not be before 2021.
The natural questions that arise then are When in 2021? and What does it depend upon? While many considerations are factored into the decision, such as biblical principles of shepherding, the number of confirmed positive cases in our area, the ongoing impact on all of you, vaccine availability, etc., at this time there is a particular important factor that rises to the surface: What are the conditions of the two hospitals that serve most of our community and congregants (Reston Hospital Center and INOVA Loudoun Hospital)?
As of last week, the ICUs at both hospitals were at 92% capacity. This is much higher than during previous years at the same time. Reston Hospital’s COVID floor is 100% full with another ward now being used for overflow. All hospitals in the greater Northern VA area are experiencing staffing shortages and struggling to meet demand. Added to this are the negative trends of COVID-19 infections and the traditional increase of seasonal flu affecting the elderly and vulnerable.
Consequently, when we begin the dual service option in 2021, it will be strongly tied to better stability at our local hospitals. We will continue to monitor all factors and metrics at the beginning of every month starting in January, hoping for improved conditions so that we can move forward. We will keep you informed.
Thank you again for the good attitudes you have consistently demonstrated through these remarkably difficult months. You continue to fulfill what the Holy Spirit moved Peter to write in his first letter. “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind” (1 Peter 3:8).
As followers of our Savior LORD Jesus Christ, it is not unity on how to respond to COVID that we have been given. We have a better and deeper unity–the unity of “one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). Thank you for your “eagerness to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Thank you for months of sincere praying since the pandemic began in our region last March. We ask that you continue to pray for our LORD to bring many to salvation because of the present difficulties and to stabilize the circumstances at the hospitals. And also pray for us as we navigate many issues and together continue to know Christ and make him known here in Northern Virginia and around the world.
The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord cause His face to shine on you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His face to you, And give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26
Unity. It seems so out of reach these days. As we the Church continue to navigate these difficult days and push through the process of making challenging decisions in the wake of fear and division running rampant in our society, it’s easy to lose sight of our identity. It’s easy to gloss over the divine blessing that has been bestowed upon us, the Body of Christ, and the charge that we have been given to bless others out of the abundance of favor and good will that has been granted to us as the children of God, even in the hard times.
We must hold fast to the bonds that tie us together as children of the one true God. We must turn our eyes upon Jesus. We must earnestly abide in Christ. We must seek and find our rest in the midst of chaos in the hands of God who holds it all in his perfect will and sovereignty. From there, God will fill us up and send us out to impact the people around us with the love and light of Jesus. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).
Recently, several members of the RBC worship team had the opportunity to participate in a project called “The Blessing DMV,” a collaboration of many churches throughout the DC area coming together as the Body of Christ to pray for God’s peace, unity, blessing and favor over the Church and upon our city. As we sing The Blessing as a church family this weekend, it is our desire that we as the Body of Christ might sincerely appreciate both the gravity and the joy encompassed in these lyrics, pulled straight from scripture…and embrace the unity that they convey. We are ONE BODY. We are ONE CHURCH. We are a city on a hill: a light for all to see and know us by our love for one another and for others.
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. Romans 14:1
All of us are the weaker or stronger brother in different areas. Let’s not be dogmatic where there is no dog, but pursue unity as a fruit of corporate humility.
Gathering looks different these days, but this is no time to put our sovereign Lord on hold or put him on the backburner. Keep Him at the forefront.Continue reading
A couple weeks ago, the leadership of our church sent out an online survey to get feedback from our local body here at RBC. As we move into colder months, the weather impacts our ability to host outdoor ministry activities, so your feedback is very helpful as we consider how best to steward our ministries in this season. Within the next few weeks, you can expect to hear from the elders regarding any adjustments to our COVID requirements for indoor gatherings.
We do want to thank those of you who took time to fill out the survey. We estimate somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of our congregation responded, and we are grateful for your feedback. As communicated when it was released, please note that the questions and responses in the survey are not indicative of any future leadership decisions on these matters. But because the issues at hand are complex and have implications for life and ministry in the body of RBC, it is very helpful to have heard from so many of you. Please continue to pray for our church leadership as we seek the Lord’s wisdom and discernment in faithfully caring for His bride. There are many factors, viewpoints and considerations to navigate, and we take none of it lightly. Yet, we have great hope and freedom, for the Good Shepherd whom we follow patiently reassures us His burden is easy and His yoke is light (Matthew 11:28-30).
For those within our body who are local, consider RBC your church home, and are experiencing significant financial or spiritual hardship in this season, we want to be able to care for you and minister to you. Please reach out to us.
FINANCIAL: If your household is experiencing financial difficulty, please reach out to our Deacon Ministry here. Our deacons are specifically-appointed men and women in our church commissioned to coordinate financial resources and assistance to meet the material needs of our congregation.
SPIRITUAL: If you are experiencing significant spiritual burden or you feel your walk with the Lord is suffering and you would like to speak with someone, please let us know by emailing us or calling the church offices at 703-404-5010. We would love to connect you to a pastor, elder or counselor here at RBC.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:9-10
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. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-11
We live in a fractured world filled with violence and hatred. The last place these evil traits should manifest themselves is the church, but sadly the world often has more influence on the church than the church has on the world.
During the presidential campaign in 2016, many family relationships were strained and many friendships were broken, even among Christians. People became enraged that those close to them were thinking about voting for him—or that they were not voting for him—or that they were going to vote for her.
Four years later, a lot of folks still have brooding resentment over how votes were cast in that election. Yet here we are again, facing a similar situation in an even more tense social environment. A divided nation is preparing to make a decision that is going to bring heated anger to half the populace, however the election goes. The pot is boiling over, people are taking sides and launching assaults online and in the streets. We in the church are not immune. Many followers of Christ, whomever they are voting for, feel vindicated in their wrath because they are certain that Scripture is on their side. And many of us seem to have traded our hope in the gospel of Jesus for hope in the gospel of politics.
Am I saying that we should not exercise our right to vote? Of course not. Are there social and moral issues at stake in this election (and every election)? Yes, most assuredly. But we have to keep things in perspective, and humility and love must be at the helm if we are to navigate these turbulent waters.
Abandoning the gospel for politics is a horrible idea. Here are just a few reasons why.
- We lose sight of the fact that the human heart is depraved. No national leader or political party is immune from the fallenness of humanity. One party or president may do a better job than another, but at the end of the day—or at the end of the century—life remains pretty much as it has through the course of human history, and the human heart is still “deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jeremiah 17:9).
The gospel tells us that we are in a helpless state and that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But in His great mercy, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
- We see our party as “the power of God that brings salvation,” which is only true of the gospel itself (Romans 1:16). It is tempting to believe that if our guy gets elected, then he will fix all of the problems in society and bring prosperity, safety, and peace to all. That’s not going to happen, and that’s not what government was designed to do. It simply does not have the power to bring lasting change.
On the other hand, the gospel is powerful enough to take dead men and make them alive “because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
- We forget which kingdom demands our total allegiance. While we are called to obey our governmental authorities, our ultimate allegiance does not belong to a political leader, a party, or even a nation. Jesus said in John 18 that His kingdom is “not of this world.” The kingdom of God is greater than any earthly kingdom, and it operates on a completely different value system. The kingdoms of earth say, “Blessed are the rich and powerful”; the kingdom of heaven says, “Blessed are you who are poor” (Luke 6:20).
- We allow our heavenly citizenship to be eclipsed by our earthly citizenship. When that happens, we can find ourselves sucked into the political vortex and filled with anger, vitriol, hatred for the other side. We become consumed with what happens here and now and forget that we are only on earth for a short time. This is not the way of Christ. The gospel says that we are but “sojourners and exiles” (1 Peter 2:11) and that “our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
- We focus on the temporal instead of the eternal. Politics, campaigns, and cultural issues are all significant parts of our lives on earth, but they won’t last forever. Scripture reminds us that life is but a vapor, “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). The gospel, however, will be relevant for all of eternity. So we must not lose sight of what matters the most—namely, our relationship with Christ and telling others about Him.
- We underestimate the sovereignty of the God who raises up kings and brings them down (Daniel 2:21). We can be tempted to think that “we the people” determine the fate of the nation when we go to the ballot box. Yet God is ultimately the one who calls our leaders and grants them authority to govern. So should we even bother to vote? By all means, yes, for the same reason we pray even though God has marked out the future. There is great mystery and tension in between the sovereignty of God and the moral responsibility of man. But Scripture is clear that God is the one who “makes nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges nations, and disperses them” (Job 12:23).
- We set aside humility and love, and pick up pride and anger. We can hold so tightly to our own views on a candidate or an issue that we lash out against those who see things differently. Believe it or not, it is possible to disagree with someone without hating them. The gospel calls us to “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). Since we are in Jesus’ kingdom, we need to refrain from vitriolic rhetoric and dialogue, “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
- We view our candidate as a messiah. Most followers of Christ would not actually believe that a presidential hopeful is the Messiah, but it can sure seem that way sometimes. We can act as though we are electing someone who will lead our nation into an age of glory and righteousness. But no mere human could ever attain such heights.
The gospel says that the true Messiah has already come. “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true. And we are in Him who is true by being in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).
And it says that He is coming again. “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10).
- We forget who the ruler of this present evil age is. If it seems like politics can be filled with lies and vitriol, there is a reason for that. Jesus refers to Satan as the “prince of this world” (John 14:30), and he is a master of division and deception. There is actually “no truth in him,” Jesus says, “for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). No wonder the Internet and airwaves are filled with political ads that slander and defame.
The Scriptures tell us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). Christians must be careful not to partake in such divisive and vicious assaults, for in so doing, we employ the worldly tactics of our enemy.
- We want a “fixer” rather than a Redeemer. We look to our political leaders to provide perfect solutions for the problems of our day, but even the most effective politician can only put Band-Aids on societal wounds. A fixer provides temporary solutions to temporary issues. A redeemer, on the other hand, lays down his very life to bring complete restoration. Jesus did not come to “fix” us; rather, He “gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own” (Titus 2:14). Because of this great redemption, “you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” (Romans 6:18).
At the end of the day, my greatest concern is not so much whom you vote for, important as that is, but rather that you keep a proper perspective on the purpose and limits of politics, and the power and glory of the gospel. Do not abandon the gospel for politics. Rather, let us be humble and loving toward others, even those with whom we adamantly disagree, because “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). We must not allow temporal struggles to distract us from our eternal joy, “so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). We must trust in the sovereign power and will of Almighty God, remembering that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Do not exchange the infinite beauty of the gospel for temporary political fixes. If you find yourself placing more hope in politics than in the gospel, know that you will find no rest there. Instead, regardless of the outcome of this and future elections, rest in the promise and hope that the gospel brings. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
In this video, I have distilled my life’s passion to see the church become a compelling unifying force without compromising sound doctrine. If the church remains divided. the world will remain hostile. The church must be a compelling unifying force to change the course of this world.
The pastors and elders of RBC are prayerfully considering how and when to begin gathering together again as a church body.
You can help us in this process by using the form below to let us know your thoughts about our eventual return to worship services in the building.
The survey questions do not represent “the finalized plan” for meeting again on Sunday mornings. We are still considering the best and wisest course of action that is tied to our live streaming capability being installed and tested. We are thankful for your feedback—please pray along with us as we seeks the Lord’s wisdom.
The survey is now closed. Thank you for your participation!
Plagues, famines and pestilences are regularly mentioned in the Scriptures. Along with widespread pandemics, such as we are facing today, there is a tendency to assume that all events of mass destruction–including hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis, etc.–are signs of the end of days. Keep in mind that these disasters have been around for thousands of years, and almost every generation sees these things and says the Lord must be returning soon. Yet, “concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36). We ought not draw conclusions where Scripture does not, but we are to be ready and expectant, as this keeps us focused on Jesus and sharpens our eternal perspective (Matthew 24:42-44).
Such considerations usually lead to the age old debate as to whether the Lord allows these disasters or sends them. No matter where you stand on this issue, what is clear is that He is sovereign and we are to rest in Him (Psalm 115:3, Colossians 1:15-20, Matthew 11:28). I recently posted a video about three storms that are found in the Bible. Each storm has a different purpose and theme, some of which are clear and others, not so much. Those who are in Christ Jesus need not fear. Rather, “keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed” (Acts 27:22).
For further reading and consideration, you can download an article below from Joel Rosenberg of The Joshua Fund. His article includes a survey of instances of plague and pestilence found in the Scriptures and how we might respond today.
-pastor mikeClick here to Download the Article