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Building Update

Redeemer Building Update

Church family,

So much has happened recently the elders want to make sure everyone has a clear picture of what is happening with the building so you can pray, participate, and give as you feel led by the Lord.

Land: The church membership voted to purchase a 3.5 acre parcel of land in the center of the Spotsylvania Courthouse Village development. This parcel is adjacent to the new white brick Planter’s Bank building facing Courthouse Road. This parcel will accommodate a sanctuary and up to five additional smaller educational buildings. Now that the congregation has voted to purchase the land, Vakos Properties will parcel this piece of land out of the larger acreage according to our site plan. Deacon Travis Elkins will pick up from deacon Benjamin Pennington’s efforts and continue work on the overall site and building plan. Only after a final site plan is approved by the county and the land is officially parceled out, will the land purchase officially take place. It will take some months for this due diligence to occur. During this waiting period the cash for the land purchase will remain set aside in the building fund.

Building: The plan is to build a one-level sanctuary that will seat at least 500 people and up to two smaller educational buildings in the first phase of building. Each educational building will give us eight good sized classrooms. The goal of building in phases is to avoid the prolonged period of fund-raising or a heavy debt load from building one large multi-story building. The goal is to raise enough funds to make sure a mortgage is less than what we currently pay in rent. In this way, we can assure the mortgage cost will not change the focus of ministry. We will know for sure that such a mortgage is within a manageable and modest church budget. Right now, the building and financing situation is a moving target. Both building and financing costs are rising, but the Lord has, and will, provide His church a necessary place to meet. By our estimates we need to raise at least $2,000,000 to seriously look at beginning to build. This may seem like an insurmountable task, but nothing is impossible with God!

The Lord provided $700,000 for land without us even talking about the subject, and the elders believe the Lord will provide again! The Lord will provide through the sacrificial generosity of His people. When you go to the on-line giving portal there is a designated “Building Fund” giving account, or you can designate your gift placed in the offering box next to the welcome desk. 100% of what is given to the building fund will go to building. If you have non-cash gifts (such as stocks) that you feel led to contribute, please see an elder, or our treasurer, for how to accomplish that. We will be patient and wait for the Lord to provide. The focus of Redeemer Bible Church is not going to become building a building. We will remain focused on the disciple-making call of Jesus Christ. When the Lord wants us to have a different building, He will provide in a way that will glorify Himself. The elders believe that as we take this need to our good Heavenly Father, He will move people to give cheerfully, and the need will be met in His perfect time.

May the new church buildings be built with joy, without controversy, without manipulation, through self-sacrifice, partially by the work of our own hands, and all to the glory of God that the lost may come to salvation in Jesus Christ.

New Rental Space: At the last member business meeting we voted to sign a one-year (renewable for two more years) lease on the first floor of the adjacent building. This building will allow Redeemer to double our current educational space. These classrooms will make room for more children’s ministry on Sunday morning, more youth small group space on Wednesday night, and more adult small group meeting space throughout the week. We are very thankful for this answer to prayer! This rental space will be occupied until we can build the new educational buildings.

This space will require some renovation that must be done by the church. We are so grateful that deacon Andrew Mines will be heading up this project. Like our last church renovation project (the grocery store – now the sanctuary) we will do most of this work ourselves to save significant cost. The savings will be put toward the new building. So much joy and relationships come from working together in the church. If you are handy or can paint, please contact Andrew to sign-up for work crew days. We will begin work as early as late July. Our hope is to have the space ready for children’s ministry when school is back in session this fall. This will take diligent work from across the church body. I’m excited to see the Lord provide through His body working together!

Please pray about giving toward the building of a permanent church building. Together the Lord will provide.

In all things may Jesus Christ be glorified,

The Elders of Redeemer Bible Church

Praising God

Praising God, No More Moments of Silence!

Sometimes I feel like I don’t praise God enough. After all, He is the one and only true God. But if I believe that, which I do, then why don’t I speak of Him more and give Him praise for all things in my life.  He brought the world and all its fullness into existence by simply speaking His Words (Gen. 1). He certainly is almighty, sovereign, and worthy of the praises of all creation. I could write a book about the sovereignty and holiness of God, but the Bible already does that. The point is, that we are here for a purpose in this world. We are the creation of God and Him alone. Praising Him and thanking Him in all things should be a natural response to who He is. Praise is important to God, and He is worthy of it.  From His people, it is the testimony of His greatness, goodness, and sovereignty to the people around us. When we praise God great and mighty things happen! People are changed.

 What happens when we praise God? The Bible tells us “You are Holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.” (Psalms 22:3) God inhabits the praises of His people. When we begin praising God He joins us, and His presence is with us, and He becomes more real to us and others. Did you know that God moves into action when we praise Him! This verse actually when translated in Hebrew means “God dwells in the praises of His people.”

 We should never take credit for what God does in our life or in the world. He alone is worthy of praise, and He dwells in this acknowledgment that is due Him and Him alone. We live not of ourselves, but we live because God has created us and sustains us through His goodness and Grace. (Psalm 100:3) We belong to Him and Him alone. God hates a proud look and a deceitful heart (Prov. 6:16-19), but He is pleased when we acknowledge Him in truth and praise.

I love the passage in Acts 16:25 when the apostle Paul and Silas were arrested and locked up in the dungeon of a prison. Instead of crying and cursing their situation, they began praising God and singing hymns. It was then at the midnight hour the jail shook, and doors were opened. God began to move in the midst of their praise and worship. In that same verse, we also see the words “The prisoners were listening to them.” As a result of their praises during difficult and unbearable times, others heard them, observed them, and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for their own salvation.  

There is no time in this world for “Moments of silence!” It is time for the church to stand up in boldness and acknowledge God in praise and worship. Not just on the good days but also in the midst of our worst circumstances.

On this side of heaven, we will never understand why bad things happen to good people in this world, but we know one thing. God is good, He loves us (John 3:16) and there is a purpose for everything that happens in life. We must remember “The earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1)

I hope that today we will praise God more in all things. Even when life is hard and difficult to understand. Trust God with all your heart and give Him praise! The world is watching the church. The world is listening. No more moments of silence! Let there be boldness through praise and worship from the Church to Jesus the Messiah. The one and only true God. Amen

Rev. Dalton Lilly

Redeemer Bible Church Stafford

Redeemer Bible Church Stafford (Update)

For those who may not be aware, Redeemer Bible Church is planting a church in Stafford.  Praise God!  For all of you who have been walking through this process with us, Pastor Vic asked me to send out a short update to keep you up to speed on our progress. 

Why are we planting a church?

  • The local church is primary in God’s redemptive plan for sharing the gospel and making disciples.  Those involved with this church plant have felt God’s calling and leading to be part of this commission in Stafford.
  • The local church should be local.  For the handful of families that drive from Stafford to Spotsy each Sunday, this church plant represents an opportunity to gather for worship and outreach in our community where we live, work, go to school and do life.  Our aim is to strengthen and compliment, not compete with, the other biblically faithful Christian churches already established in Stafford.       
  • From the beginning, Redeemer Spotsy set out to be a church that plants churches.  Sending out Redeemer Stafford is the first step towards this goal.

How will the church be organized?

  • Unlike other church models, Redeemer Stafford will not be a satellite campus of Redeemer Spotsy but an autonomous cooperating church.  This means that both churches will hold to the same core beliefs with regard to the Bible, theology and church governance/essentials (link to RBC cooperating agreement).  We will also share the same name, Redeemer Bible Church, and continue to seek ministry partnerships together (i.e. orphan care, short term missions).  However, Redeemer Stafford will be led by its own team of elders and ruled by the church members in Stafford. 

Where will the church meet?

  • Since Aug of ’21, North Stafford Baptist Church has expressed a desire to potentially join with Redeemer Stafford.  We have held two combined church services with North Stafford Baptist and are in ongoing conversations with their elders about becoming one church.  Should this happen, we will come together as Redeemer Bible Church of Stafford at their current location (11 Meadowood Drive, Stafford). 

When will weekly Sunday church services begin?

  • Since last October, we have been meeting weekly on Sunday evenings for small-group home Bible studies and once a month for church services at North Stafford Baptist.  
  • Our goal is to begin meeting for weekly Sunday services on August 21st

How can you pray for us?

  • Pray for unity between North Stafford Baptist and Redeemer Stafford.
  • Pray that more people would be called and equipped to fill key leadership roles within the church (elders, deacons, ministry leaders).
  • Pray that in all of this, the families of Redeemer Stafford would be filled with joy and stay focused on our primary mission of exalting God, growing disciples of Christ and making the gospel known through our words and deeds!

You can find more information on our website (redeemerstafford.org) and you are welcome to join us this Sunday from 5:30-7:00pm at 11 Meadowood drive for our monthly worship service and see for yourself what God is doing through Redeemer in Stafford.

On behalf of the elders and families that currently represent Redeemer Bible Church of Stafford, we genuinely want to thank each of you for your steadfast encouragement and prayers on our behalf.  I can say without hesitation that Molly and I have never been a part of a church family that has supported and loved us like you have over the last three years.  Your example has transformed our lives. 

We love you, church.

In Christ,

Pastor Justin

To Mothers: A Call to Prayer

There is no historical figure more familiar to Americans than George Washington. No one will deny his greatness.  The father of our country, he was undoubtedly used by God to win a revolution and establish a new country based on faith, principle, and moral conscience. Old paintings show a poised George Washington, standing erect and resolute, tall and dignified. A most admirable father.

And yet there was a person of little renown who was working behind the scenes in Father George’s life.  It was a mother. It was his mother. What was never painted was her sitting on dampened earth with a bible in her lap, her elbows resting on a large rock, supporting hands with fingers intertwined in prayer.  This was George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington, and this rock is commemorated today right here in Fredericksburg.

The plaque that designates Meditation Rock says: “Mary Ball Washington prayed for the safety of her son and country during the dark days of the Revolution.” That very rock, near Kenmore Park, close to her burial site, is the site of her devotions.  Historians testify that she prayed daily and read her bible daily at that very spot.  It’s sacred ground because embedded deep within the layers of that large rock are the tears of a mother who was willing to stand before the great throne of God on behalf of a son in danger and a country under assault. Driven deep into the dirt of that site, are the cries of a mother who knew that only God could transform a farm boy from Stafford, Virginia, and only God could raise a fledgling nation.

Do we not have our own dark revolution?  Are not our own sons and daughters in danger? 

Mothers, it’s time to find your Rock.  It’s time to pray.  We have a revolution at hand.  Satan is seeking to steal the God-ordained identities given to our children at birth.  Entertainment is numbing our children’s minds, so that their minds are undisciplined and too weak to pursue the truths of His Word.  Technology is screaming voices and flashing images on big and small screens, filling their minds with distracting words and philosophies and images that suck their hearts away from the Living God.

But while satan uses the culture to harass our families and sow chaos, we can go to The Rock.  “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2

I have been to Meditation Rock.  It’s open to the public, and it’s still a secluded spot. I have poured out my heart there for the lives of my own children and the future of my country, my tears dripping to the surface of that rock, like the thousands of raindrops fallen through the years that connect the tears of Mary Washington with my own.  Not that I think the Lord hears my prayers more clearly at that rock than my bedroom chair or porch swing.  But it is an act of faith and recognition that like Mary Ball Washington, I am just a mom, and my kids are just people, and that God is not just any god, but El Shaddai, the Great God Almighty.  It is just me, a mom, taking my stand on my knees, offering my Isaac before Him. “For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God?” (Ps. 18:31) For he is the Rock of our salvation. (Ps. 95:1)

Mothers, now is the time to take your stand. Humble yourself before the Living Rock.  Ask for a new revolution, the revolution of revival in the hearts of our families, our churches, the city of Fredericksburg, all of Northern Virginia, and the country. Ask the Lord to send His Holy Spirit to replace our stony hearts with softened, fertile hearts that receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ask for faith; ask for repentance; ask for healing; ask for deliverance, and don’t stop asking.

Take your arrows and strike the ground– not once, nor twice, but many times, just as Johoash was told to do so by Elisha in 2 Kings 13. The arrows were “The Lord’s arrow of victory.” When Johoash half-heartedly struck the ground just three times instead of many, he lost the final victory.  The Lord would give him three strikes against the enemy, but not a total victory because of his lackadaisical faith.

Every day we must strike our arrows to the ground. Every day we must pray, but not an army of prayers battering the walls of the great throne room with force to stir God.  God forbid! It’s not God who must be moved. We must pray prayers that are carried on the soft whispers of His Word, whispering His love and promises for us back to Him. Giving back to Him what He has already given us, aligning our own hearts with His own.  The power of prayer is a heart to heart conversation whispered from One Love to another. It does not lie in loudness, nor passion, nor eloquence. Just as the roaring waves wear down the rocks into a sandy shoreline, so our prayers grind out the purposes of God in our own hearts, the tide of His will softly lapping over our lives and the lives of those we pray for.

Mothers, now is the time. Today is the day of salvation.

A Letter to the Congregation

A statement by the elders of Redeemer Bible Church

In response to allegations of sexual abuse committed by, and suppressed by, its leadership, the Southern Baptist Convention convened a task force to address these concerns. The result was an outside firm, Guidepost Solutions, conducted an independent investigation. We have recently read their Sexual Abuse Task Force report and are deeply grieved, saddened, and angered by what has been brought into focus. The full text of the report can be read here:

REPORT

It is grievous to read about men that were supposed to be protecting and helping young women and boys, instead sexually manipulating, abusing, and assaulting them. This is particularly heinous in that they were abusing their positions as ministers – representatives of God – to overpower these youths. The repeated reports of high-ranking SBC leaders obfuscating, ignoring, belittling, hiding behind politics, and openly attacking those who were trying to shed light on these issues is inexcusable and reprehensible. Much of this is not new news. Many of these leaders have already been disgraced and fired from their positions but reading all the details compiled together in one document is very discouraging.

These revelations force us as a church to examine a number of very important areas. Can we trust our leaders? Are we protecting our children? Can abused people come forward and know they will get the help and compassion they need? Should Redeemer remain a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) affiliated church? We will speak briefly to these questions now and continue to address them together as a church going forward.

Can we trust our leaders? This report is damning to upper SBC leadership. Beyond the direct abusers, the Executive Committee (EC) leadership clearly has demonstrated, and continues to demonstrate, an attitude of obfuscation and unwillingness to be held accountable. One of the very disturbing parts of the report is that 123 of the most recent 175 members of the EC were either totally unresponsive or refused to be interviewed by the outside investigation group. This means the super-majority of the EC has still not been held accountable in any way for their actions, which is a serious failure of senior leadership within the SBC. This committee has been led through its most recent years by Johnny Hunt, apparently an abuser and liar himself. Many of us on the Redeemer elder board have been professional investigators for many years and find the report to be credible concerning Hunt’s sexual assault. The fact that Hunt has been leading the SBC EC shows that as a denomination we have not stopped selecting ego-driven, high-profile men from mega-churches to lead us as a denomination instead of choosing devout godly men. There is a clear difference. All of this trickles down to create a crisis of confidence in local church leaders.

Can you trust the elder leadership at Redeemer? The elders at Redeemer are not perfect people, we’re all sinners forgiven by the grace of Jesus. However, we also plainly state that we have nothing to hide. Just like we stated during the crisis of confidence last year with Ravi Zacharias, we are all honorable men who love Jesus Christ, love our wives and children, genuinely love the people of this church and the children of this church. We strive daily to live righteous lives that bless the people of this church instead of hurting or using them. We accomplish this in several biblical ways. First, accountability. No elder is above another. We intentionally do not have a hierarchy in this church. Each of us opens ourselves to ask the hard questions of each other. One of those questions relates to pornography. No man can come onto this elder board, or remain on this elder board, that has any contact with pornography in his life. Those of you who have been with us from the beginning know we are serious about this rule and enforce it. This evil is a root of perversion which grows up to every kind of horrific sexual sin. It is almost certain that this gateway sin played a part in perverting and twisting the heart of every abuser referred to in this report.

The elder leaders of this church are men of integrity. This means we’re the same through and through. We’re the same at home and on the road. We are in this for the love of Christ and for you, His people. None of us receive one dime of compensation for our service to this church. Our motivation is not related to money, fame, or political power. None of us are flashy dressers. None of us have a special designated parking space at the front door of the church or expect you to address us by a special title. None of us come in just as the service starts and scurry off as soon as the service is over. None of us have a security detail or secretary to make sure there is always distance between us and you. We, as an elder board humbly strive for transparency in all we do as we fulfill the responsibilities given to us by God in service to Redeemer.

Sadly, many church cultures revolve around money, ego, political power, and personal isolation. The elders of this congregation strive to be servants of all. We live among you. You come in and out of our homes. We will stay late after any and every service to answer your questions and pray with you. We labor with all our hearts to protect, help, and instruct you – never to help ourselves at your expense or hurt you for our pleasure. We see this as the New Testament model and ask that you pray for us as we strive after these things in humility and Christ-like service.

Second, what are we doing to protect our children? This should not have to be stated, but to be clear, Redeemer has a zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse or grooming of any sort. Each elder and staff member are mandatory reporters by law. This means that sexual abuse of a minor that we hear of in any way must be reported to law enforcement for the crime that it is. In the children’s department we have instituted rigid child protective policies from the beginning of this church (background checks for workers, two workers always present with any child, strict check-in/check-out policies, etc.). We do not deviate from the policies and as a result of this report, we are going to review all areas of ministry for other places we may need to tighten up. But this responsibility extends to all the church.

We must protect our children from this evil world. Every one of us has a duty to always keep a watchful eye out for our kids and youths. If you are concerned about a person or a situation that alarms you as compromising, you must speak to a leader so the issue can be investigated. We cannot afford to let personal embarrassment hold us back from protecting a child from life-altering abuse. If you see something, speak to a ministry leader or elder.

Third, should we continue to cooperate with the SBC? This will certainly be an on-going conversation that the membership will need to weigh in on and the eldership will seriously consider. We believe a few things should be noted at this time. First, the average people (messengers to the SBC) are the ones that demanded this step of outside accountability. This indicates that the “congregational rule” of the SBC is not dead. However, the next step will relate to whether the EC actually changes its ways. Second, the International Mission Board (IMB) and Seminaries remain strong in their mission. 2021 was a record year for the IMB, Southern, and Southeastern – record students, record missionaries sent out, and record giving. When things are going that well, we should expect powerful attacks from the enemy. Third, as we have said many times in new member meetings, we believe in cooperation. The local church should not stand alone. If we go out from the SBC, we will have to find some other group to cooperate with for the sake of gospel mission. That group will also be flawed and struggle with sin.

Fourth, reform is always needed in the life of organizations. We are at a time in SBC life where reform is seriously needed. Will the right reformers step up with the courage, godliness, and leadership to enact the necessary changes? Reform always comes through struggle and sometimes through fracture. We will see. Part of this reform effort will come through messengers going to the Anaheim, CA annual meeting coming up next month. We have openings for members to go, represent, and vote on behalf of Redeemer. If you are interested in going, please contact an elder.

Lastly, we are called to fight the good fight of faith. It’s called a fight because it is a fight – between good and evil (1 Timothy 6:12). That fight will rage on until Jesus returns. We must do our part to struggle against evil and actively pour into others the pure love of Jesus Christ. We should not expect this to be easy and the total depravity of human beings should not shock us. This news just before the tragedy of yet another school shooting is heart breaking but take heart our Lord Jesus has overcome the violence and perversion of this world (John 16:33). Our citizenship and hope are in heaven, from which we await our salvation.

The devotion in this week’s newsletter is a call to prayer. It is written by one of the women of our church who wishes to remain anonymous. It is so needed at this time. Mothers, will you commit to pray for your children with the intensity that is called for? Your prayers will be heard by God and will be used to shape and protect your children. I would ask you to pray in a similar way for the church. Pray that we would be a true light in darkness. A people of compassion and healing to the wounded. A true people in the midst of near chaos. A people of hope in the midst of tremendous struggle. A people of peace in the midst of violence. A people of integrity in the midst of deception and perversion.

May we shine like lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Philippians 2:15),

The elders of Redeemer Bible Church

Nick Bultinck

Victor Carpenter

Clay Hicks

Mike Patterson

Michael Shively

Rodney Swann

Eric Wright

Alexander

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”

Proverbs 16:9

Today Mark Alexander is retiring after many years as a Special Agent for the FBI. He and Kimberly are not pursuing the typical American retirement gig. He’s not doubling down on the skills he has built up over a successful career to make more money as a government contractor. He and Kimberly are not planning to check out on a permanent vacation for the next 20 years. They are not following a path they planned to be on even five years ago. When Mark retires this week, he and Kimberly will be using their retirement to minister to our youth. They are the only people I know over the age of fifty that are devoting their lives to seeing the next generation come to salvation in Jesus Christ.

Mark and Kimberly raised their hands to lead youth ministry at Redeemer when Redeemer was only a hope in our hearts. They turned down the chance to be moved by the bureau to their favorite place, Charleston, SC, where they had always planned to retire. They choose to remain here with the hope of seeing Jesus bring young people to Himself one at a time. It was after that intentional act of obedient sacrifice that the youth ministry at Redeemer began to dramatically expand. There is always a price to pay for following Jesus. There are always very real ways that we must die to ourselves and give up our plans for the plans Jesus has for us. If we let the Lord direct our steps, He will take us to places not valued by the world, but places of joy, hope, and of eternal value.

We have many adults in our church that have decided to take seminary classes on nights and weekends out of a passion to know more about the Bible and the work of Jesus in the world. I have never been in a church with more people actively enrolled in seminary at the same time. As far as I know, Justin Woodruff was the first. That journey of seeking Christ has led him and Molly to plant a church. He didn’t start out planning to be a pastor, just a passion to know Jesus. I believe the first at Redeemer to make the decisive step to not pursue more money or entertainment in retirement, but to instead pursue ministry was Rodney and Andrea Swann. I’ll never forget the day Rodney came over to my house and said he planned to quit his retirement job so he could commit much more time to leading men’s ministry and organizing mission trips from the church. He did it. He quit his job, and on his Army retirement he and Andrea have whole heartedly poured themselves into ministry. Today a mission team will go out as the first of three missionary efforts this summer because of Rodney’s efforts.

Mark and Kimberly didn’t start out with a plan to lead youth ministry in retirement, they just wanted to be faithful before God with what they felt led to do. Rodney and Andrea didn’t see themselves in the place of ministry they are now five years ago. Again, they just wanted to be faithful and fruitful before God, and they followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I pray these couples are the first of a many. I’m praying for a new culture of thought toward retirement at Redeemer. We live in an area where more people than most places will have the opportunity to retire at an age where they have many more years of productive living. I’m praying for Christians at Redeemer to see the work of ministry as the life-giving opportunity it is, not a drag that takes away from what they really want to do. I’m praying for our retired people to not talk about ministry, or just encourage others to do ministry, but to sacrificially be directly involved where they know God is calling them. I’m praying that we’ll see people go the mission field with the IMB. That we’ll see people get counseling degrees and join Diane in forming up a biblical counseling center here at Redeemer. That we’ll see people go into Christian education to teach the next generation from a distinctly Christian worldview. I’m praying for people to come into other needed staff positions at Redeemer. For people to plant churches, serve as elders, lead women’s ministry, serve as deacons, and teach with devotion year after year in the children’ ministry.

I pray that the Lord will give us a radically different view of retirement than non-Christian America. That instead of cooling in our devotion to Christ and becoming more self-centered, we would accelerate in our passion for the Lord and become more Christ-centered. Give your future to the Lord. Pray about where the Lord would have you go and pray that you will have the faith to take the steps to follow Jesus where He leads.

Lord Jesus help us to be faithful and fruitful,

Pastor Vic

Moses

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.” –Exodus 34:29

              I love this verse. Moses went up on Mount Sinai and spent a long time in the direct presence of the Lord. When he came down, He was so affected by the glory of God that his face literally shone with light! This occasion has something to teach us all. When we spend time with Jesus, it should affect us. I believe that the affect will be visible to others. When we spend intentional devoted time with Jesus something of the glory of heaven will truly change our hearts. In John 8 Jesus declares that He is the light of the world and that all who follow Him will not walk in darkness but have the light of life. In Matthew 5 Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world, and that we should let our light shine so people will give glory to God. What is happening here is that we draw near to the glorious light of Jesus Christ and are affected by His glory. We go out from our time with Christ to let His light shine through us into a dark world.

              The key element is spending time with Lord focused on prayerfully studying the Bible. It is by reading the Bible that we hear God’s word. When Jesus prayed for future believers – you and me – He prayed that we would be sanctified (set apart in holiness) by the word of God (John 17:17). As we daily set aside time to draw near to the Lord, and ask the Holy Spirit to give us faith to believe what we read in the Bible, our right knowledge of God grows. As our understanding and experience of God grows, our belief and character are transformed. As we seek after God in the Bible and prayer, like Moses, something of heaven will transform our souls. Something of the real indwelling Holy Spirit will affect us, sanctify us, and make us more like Jesus.

              As we pursue time alone with Jesus in the Bible, the Holy Spirit will use these times to bear spiritual fruit in our lives. We will find that being with Jesus will cause us to be more loving, more gentle, and more self-controlled. The more we are intentionally alone with God and then intentionally together with other believers in the church, the more we will partake in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). The more we have the mind of Christ. The more we are transformed by the renewing of our mind, not conformed to the lusts of this world.

              It’s impossible for an inward transformation of this type to not have outward visible manifestation. It will show first in love. The first fruit of the Holy Spirit is love. If we are affected and shaped by the Holy Spirit, we will be a people who love each other. If we are being sanctified by Scripture the result will be that we are a people filled with the love of Christ Jesus. Jesus prays in John 17:26, “I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” Jesus recognizes the love between the Father and the Son and prays that Christians might love one another in the same way.

Paul writes about Moses’ encounter with God in 2 Corinthians 3. Paul compares the veil Moses put over his face to shield others from the glory of God radiating from Him, to those that cannot comprehend the glory of God because it is veiled to them. But not so with those who have believed in Jesus as Savior and draw near to Him. 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is Spirit.” We, like Moses have the chance to stand before the Lord without a veil of division. We daily can come to the throne of grace upon which our glorious Savior is seated. We can understand who God is as He reveals Himself in Scripture. By this we are transformed and taken from death to life, from bondage to glory, then from one degree of glory to another.

This week may you take hold of each day and make time to draw near to Jesus, and in being near to Jesus may you be changed. May the glory of Jesus shine from your countenance and the fruit of the Holy Spirit be evident in your life.

Draw near to us oh Lord,

Pastor Vic

Abortion

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made … Your eyes saw my unformed substance; In your book were written, everyone of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.” –Psalm 139:13, 14a, 16

I assume by now most of you have heard that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s written draft opinion concerning Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has been intentionally leaked to the press. Alito’s opinion is a brilliant legal argument that outlines in great detail how abortion is not, and never has been, a constitutional right. The opinion powerfully argues against the arbitrary nature of deciding when a child becomes a child during the gestation period. Alito instead defines any conceived child as a child that has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This draft opinion was leaked to the press after a straw vote was taken inside the court, back in February, and the Alito draft won a majority 5-4 vote. This is groundbreaking history that Christians nationwide have been praying for, and lobbying toward, my entire life. Never in the history of the Supreme Court has an opinion been leaked. This opinion was certainly leaked with premeditation and malice to stir up abortion advocates to take action in hopes of dissuading one of the supporting judges before the case can be finalized. If this opinion does indeed pass 5-4, it will be the end of nationwide abortion on demand. Abortion will be returned to the states to be legislated there. If the opinion is accepted, abortion would immediately be illegal in thirteen states and greatly limited in at least ten more. If you have not heard the facts on what is happening, I encourage you listen to “The World and Everything In It” podcast from May 3 and 4.

I ask that we all pray for the end of abortion. Many of you have been faithfully seeking this end for many years, without losing hope. Pray that these brave justices – Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Coney-Barrett, and Thomas – will not waiver in their accurate originalist interpretation of the constitution or in their Christian moral resolve. It is possible to see change in our time. Do not lose heart or give up hope!

As Christians we are called to be a holy people, a people set apart from the world in the way we live (1 Peter 1:15-16). We are primarily set apart by our worship and moral character. We worship one triune God and we live according to His good and eternally unchanging moral commands. As the moral landscape around us changes so rapidly and with a militant nature, we must give no ground. We must carefully discern convictional and cultural issues from basic moral fundamentals of right and wrong, life and death, good and evil.

Abortion is one of these issues. No matter how an abortion advocate might spin language, killing an unborn child remains the killing of an unborn child. This is classed with other basic unchanging moral commands related to biblical sexuality and gender, honoring your father and mother, speaking truth in love (not lying), caring for the poor and needy, private property (not stealing), and living a content non-materialistic life (not coveting what you do not have). These things are the basis of the ethic of Jesus.

Our day wants to claim Jesus while rejecting His ethic, but this will not do. You cannot claim to privately love Jesus, while publicly advocating for the killing of the unborn. You cannot claim to personally love Jesus, while advocating that biblical sexual ethics are outdated and backward. You cannot claim the name of Christ and have a covetous materialist heart that loves the things of this world. We are not schizophrenic. We cannot live divided lives. Each of us are one person. Taking two positions to appease the passionately ungodly world, is hypocrisy. To withdraw in silence taking no position on the major battle ground moral issues of our time is cowardice.

By choosing to walk by faith and live according to the ethic of Jesus we follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We should expect to be opposed and even persecuted for these stances. We should expect to share in the sufferings of Christ (1 Peter 4:12-19). But when we live for Christ with holiness, love, and grace this separation influences the world. This is what we are seeing with Alito’s opinion. His courageous Christian faith, supported by millions of Christians across America is influencing the greatest nation on earth.

Let’s live winsome and holy lives for Jesus. Let’s be salt and light in our community. Let’s set a boldly different example and not be ashamed. In all things, let us point our friends and neighbors to Jesus our Savior – He who has forgiven our sins and given us a new direction for life.

Pray for the end of abortion,

Pastor Vic

Communion of Saints

“So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.” Acts 9:31

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, The Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord; who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. He descended into hell. The third day he arose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, The holy catholic church, The communion of saints …

              The Apostle’s Creed at this point turns from right belief about God to our relationship with God. We find that our relationship is not singular but communal in the church. It is certainly true that the gate to salvation is narrow, and each person must come individually by faith, but as Christians our faith is not designed to be lived out in isolation. We are designed by God, and intended by God’s purpose, to relate to one another in the local church. Let’s work to define the terms in this section of the Creed. Most of the words used in this section are misunderstood by our culture.

              Church: Most people associate the word “church” with a building, not with a group of people. The Bible teaches that the church is made up of all those who are redeemed by Jesus Christ. An important analogy is attached to this group of people called the church. Those who come to salvation in Jesus are called “the body of Christ.” In this analogy of how we should understand our relationship to Jesus and to each other, Jesus is the head (of authority) and we individually are interworking parts of the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). Like the parts of a body, we are each given different roles through the gifts and purposes of God. As we each engage with other Christians, we begin to understand how much we need them, how much they need us, and how together we strengthen each other’s lives through Christ. There ultimately is one church, because there is one head – Jesus Christ. There is one gospel, but there are many local gatherings of Christians meeting in every type of building imaginable. This is the local church. I believe in the local church.

              Holy: The church must be holy. To be holy means to be set apart from something else. The church must be set apart from the world by what we believe about the world (our worldview) and our ethics (how we conduct ourselves morally). We live differently from the world, because of our faith in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13-16). A basic part of the call of Christ in salvation is the call to turn away in repentance from the way of the world. But we are not called to cut against the grain of this fallen world alone. In the church we come alongside an entire community of people that are following the ways of Jesus. In the church we find people of different ages, races, and economic status, all sinners forgiven by Jesus, but all pressing to live a set apart life in Christ.

              Catholic: This is the most misunderstood word in the Apostle’s Creed. Catholic as written so long ago means universal. The statement “holy catholic church” speaks to the singular body of Christ, set apart from the world in holiness. However, today, the word catholic is immediately associated with the Roman Catholic church. The Roman catholic church is just that, the formation of the Christian church under ancient Roman government. This development began as a part of the Christian church becoming the official state religion under Emperor Constantine. This strong connection between church and state continued for hundreds of years into the Middle Ages, all the way into the decline of the Roman Empire through decadence. The Roman Catholic church declined in holiness and biblical faithfulness along with the decline of the Roman state. Though we differ significantly from Roman Catholics in biblical Christian doctrine, we still believe in one catholic church.

              Communion of Saints: Again, the meaning of this phrase has been significantly affected by the Roman Catholic understanding of “saints.” The word “saint” is often used in the New Testament to refer simply to faithful and godly Christians. Saint means “holy one.” As stated above, all Christians are to live lives that are holy – set apart in godliness to the Lord. All Christians are saints. This is very different from the Roman Catholic understanding of saints being a small group of super-Christians that reach a status of veneration. Instead, as we choose to join the local church, we become a part of the communion of saints. Communion is where you sit down with people and enjoy their company, share a meal, and live together. It’s a word that speaks to personal relationship and real meaningful interaction. I believe this is found most truly and fully in the local church. The communion of the saints should be so important to us, that we really cannot tell the story of our lives without that story including how our lives have been blessed and shaped by the local church.

              Al Mohler writes, “The church, unlike anything on earth, will be the only institution to transcend the ages.” I affirm the Apostle’s Creed and believe passionately in the local church as God’s plan for reaching the nations with the gospel. If you, like many, have been frustrated with the local church, I urge you to lean in and play the unique part God would have you to play. If you believe in Jesus as your Savior, you have a unique part to play in the church. Without you there and serving, the church is partially incomplete. There is no substitute for the church!

May Jesus be glorified, and the congregation blessed through all that happens at Redeemer,

Pastor Vic

< This is part eleven in a series of articles on the Apostles’ Creed. To learn more about the Apostles’ Creed read: “The Apostles’ Creed: Discovering Authentic Christianity in an Age of Counterfeits” by Albert Mohler. >

Foundations

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” –Acts 2:46-47

This past Easter Sunday was such a joyful and amazing morning! The 9:30 service was something I have never experienced in my life – a church service with every single seat full and many people standing in the back for the entire service. A service of worship full of the Holy Spirit and joy! We live in a day characterized by isolation, depression, much strife, evil, and increasing secularization. It’s an answer to prayer, and a show of God’s favor toward us, that people continue to stream into Redeemer seeking a church that revolves around New Testament principles.

I feel it’s important to review for those who are new to the church, and for those who have been with us from the beginning, what are the foundations of Redeemer Bible Church.

First, Redeemer is committed to expository preaching and teaching of the Bible. This means preaching that goes systematically through the Bible chapter by chapter, the way it was inspired and written, to help give the clearest possible understanding of what the Bible is communicating. This is not easy. The Bible is full of difficult, confrontational, and mysterious passages; however, we should expect exactly that from a holy, righteous, and sovereign God.

The elders of Redeemer are committed to not thematically selecting scriptures that suit beliefs we already hold, but allowing the church to be shaped by what we find in scripture as we face it straight on. Most churches today selectively and intentionally skip theologically and morally difficult passages. These passages are purposely skipped and excluded for so long that it warps the spiritual growth of Christians in that church. However, the hard things of the Bible are in fact what distinguishes us from the world. The hard things of the Bible press us the most toward holiness, self-sacrifice, humility, and the missionary calling. We believe that God is blessing the preaching of His word.

Second, Redeemer is committed to congregational singing. Congregational singing, as a part of the local church, means that the whole church is singing together. It means that all the church – every man, woman, youth, and child – are lifting their voices to sing praise to the risen Jesus.

Our musical worship leaders do certain things, intentionally, to foster congregational singing. The volume of music is turned down low enough, so that every person can hear themselves and others sing. High volume discourages individual singing.

We turn the lights up and raise the window curtains. It the past, Christian sanctuaries were intentionally full of light because our God is a God of light! Today, many churches intentionally darken their places of worship to make them more like performance concert halls. They do that because that is exactly what is happening – the musical worship of such churches is mainly a few talented people performing for the church. The spotlight is literally on them. At Redeemer the musical worship leaders are using their musical gifts to lead us all to worship. God is our audience and we want every Christian in the church to join in honoring God with their voice.

We sing biblically true and substantially meaningful music arranged to be sung by the common person. This is how all church music used to be. Today, there is a resurgence of such music, and we believe God blesses His people when they worship in Spirit and truth.

Third, Redeemer is committed to meaningful membership. Redeemer believes that the meeting of the local church is just that – the meeting of the local church. The Sunday morning gathered worship service is primarily a meeting of people that believe in Jesus as Savior and want to worship Jesus, grow in discipleship and obedience to God’s will.

Unbelievers are invited into this joyful and Christ-honoring setting. They are influenced by the love, hope, and joy of Christian people and are drawn to Christ Jesus, but the service is not for them and is not oriented toward them. The worship is oriented toward Almighty God and an unbeliever cannot worship God.

The teaching of the Bible is directed to disciple and grow the believer, but always presents the gospel so that the unbeliever might know how to put their faith in Jesus.

Meaningful membership brings Christians together in a local setting and in a relationship where they are committed to each other by a church covenant (available on the website under membership). Redeemer is committed to the discipleship of Christians (making disciples) in the local church, and continually seeking the lost that they might be added to the church for the glory of Jesus.

These three foundations are undergirded and surrounded by prayer and Christian love. We are continually praying for the Holy Spirit to be at work in Redeemer and through us out into our community. We pray for the Holy Spirit to be at work in such a way that only God can be glorified because the work cannot be attributed to people’s natural talent.

At Redeemer, we want this church to demonstrate to the world that Jesus Christ lives and is working to glorify Himself in the local church today in our area. We pray for Christian love to overflow from every conversation, every service, every act of hospitality, every widow and orphan cared for, and even in every stand for truth taken in opposition to sin. We pray that the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus Christ by how we love one another (John 13:35-36).

From the beginning we have been on a ten-year plan. The elders at Redeemer believe that the hurried world often overestimates what can be accomplished in one year, but underestimates what can be accomplished in ten years. We’re two and a half years into seeking the Lord in these ways, and look where we are! May the Lord direct our steps and guide our path for His glory!

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pastor Vic