“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as it fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”–Ephesians 4:29

Words are a strange thing, but words matter deeply. When you listen to a person speak who speaks a language you don’t understand, the words sound like non-sense. This is especially true with non-phonetic languages. To you these sounds have no meaning, but to those who speak the language, each sound has meaning. The sounds have an agreed upon meaning between those who speak the language. The sounds are formed to express words and those words fit together to express matters of the heart. All human beings want to express themselves. Living together requires that we be able to communicate with each other. However, the Bible tells us that our hearts are corrupt (Jeremiah 17:9) and that we cannot openly communicate all that comes to our heart. Some people pride themselves in, “Just telling it like it is!” Christians cannot do this. We must pray for the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts to have self-control.

The words that we say, which are verbal expressions of what is in our mind and heart, have a moral quality. Our words are seldom neutral. Our words either tear down or build up. Our words either honor the Lord or dishonor Him. Our words affect those around us. Our words clearly tell the people around us how we feel about them. Jesus tells us (Matthew 12:35-37) that a person speaks out of the overflow of the heart. A person with a good and godly heart will speak words of blessing and encouragement. A person with a rebellious ungodly heart will speak evil words that destroy and tear down those around them. Jesus goes further to say that at the day of judgment we will be held accountable for every careless word we speak.

Every word matters. Christians, those who have confessed with their mouth that “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:8-10), will go forward by the powerful working of the Holy Spirit with a changed heart. This changed, and changing, heart will overflow with different words. The difference in how a Christian speaks is a big part of what sets them apart from the world. Our different words demonstrate a different heart toward God and others. Authentically different words – same words spoken at work, at home, at church, and with friends – demonstrate an authentic change of heart.

Let’s look first at some examples of bad speech that dishonor God. These words demonstrate a deeper struggle with sin in the heart. First, is using the name of the Lord Jesus as a curse word. All Christians are forbidden to use the name of the Lord in vain (Exodus 20:7). The name of Jesus is a sacred and holy name, chosen for Jesus, and to be used for the sacred purposes of prayer, worship, and thanksgiving. Next, is the common practice of using vulgar, obscene curse words to express your emotions. Every language has different curse words, but every culture agrees that certain words are understood to be obscene and are used for that purpose. Obscene words are used for their force, power, and shock value. But the vulgar nature of these words takes us as Christians away from the sacred, or holy/set apart, place we ought to live in as Christians. When we use these words, we are convicted because they take us into the perversion and anger of the world and away from Jesus as we vent our anger or perversion.

We must be very mindful in this perverse day that our words never joke or speak about sexual matters that are inappropriate. We are directly warned in Scripture against “crude joking” (Ephesians 5:4) and are admonished that the sexuality of the marriage bed is to be held in honor, set apart from common talk (Hebrews 13:4). In our words we must have the self-control to not give vent to our anger, to hold back from a complaining spirit, and not gossip about those around us. You must not whisper about the latest rumor you heard that undercuts the character of a co-worker or neighbor (Proverbs 16:28, 18:8, 26:22). If these ungodly words are a consistent and growing part of your life, you need to examine your heart before God. You need to confess these sins and pray for the Holy Spirit to help you speak in a different and Christ-honoring way.

On the other hand, Paul admonishes the Ephesians to only speak in a good way that builds up those around us and honors the Lord our God. If we know Christ as our Savior and have spent time drawing near to Him today, it will change your heart. When your heart is changed from being near Jesus and being filled with the Holy Spirit – your words will be different than this dying world! By the work of Jesus, you will go about today blessing those around you. Your words will honor Jesus and shine like light in darkness. You will be one who offers wise counsel. One who holds your tongue when you should. One who gives thanks instead of complaining. You will be a person of encouraging good humor. You will speak with honesty but also with compassion.

In these things, the Christian will strive by wisdom and self-control to speak well timed words. We must return blessing for cursing, lead with words filled with grace and love to diffuse angry situations. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Our words are to give grace to those who hear. Grace is undeserved favor. Even when – especially when – others come at us with angry sinful words, we must come back to them with undeserved words of kindness, encouragement, and love. Our words must bear witness to the salvation of Jesus that has changed our heart. Our words must overflow with the eternal life that is ours in Jesus.

Taming our words will be a life-long struggle of sanctification (James 3). May the Lord give us progress everyday for His glory and for the blessing of those around us.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Vic


“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sakes He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” –2 Corinthians 5:17-21

This beautiful passage from Paul, written to the Corinthian church, is about reconciliation. Reconciliation is one of the many ways in which our salvation is described. To be reconciled to another person is have the hostility and offense between the two of you removed, followed by engaging (or re-engaging) in friendship. Reconciliation is taking two warring people separated by offense and bringing them together in earnest friendship. The dividing line of hostility is removed, and peace takes its place.

This passage is clear that we do not reconcile ourselves to God, but that God reconciles Himself to us through Christ. This means that when we were enemies to God, rebellious toward His law, without any love in our heart toward Jesus – God reached out to us first. The offenses of sin that we had built up toward God by our pride, selfishness, and ungodliness were all counted against Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God, who lived in perfect righteousness and fellowship with the Father, but for our sakes was counted as sinful (“made Him sin…”). Our sins and trespasses were counted against Jesus, not counted against us. With the offense between us and God removed, God the Father draws us into fellowship with Himself. This is what it means to have peace with God. Through Christ, sinful people can be reconciled to God.

The passage extends to the glorious reality that after being reconciled to God, we are given this ministry of reconciliation. We go into the world as ambassadors for Christ. As those at peace with God, we tell the world, and work to persuade the world (2 Corinthians 5:11, 6:2), that they also can and should seek peace with God. An ambassador is a chosen and empowered representative of a sovereign (monarch or government). We are sent by the King of Kings to proclaim the good news to all people that by grace alone their sins can be forgiven, and their guilt before God removed. Then from this state of forgiveness they are drawn into near friendship and personal relationship with God.

However, this ministry of proclaiming reconciliation begins with unity and peace in the local church. We cannot go into the lost world proclaiming the glorious grace of Jesus and the complete forgiveness of sin, when we ourselves harbor offenses and refuse to forgive others. To be an ambassador of reconciliation and peace, we ourselves must freely forgive and seek personal reconciliation with those around us – but especially those in Christ. We cannot remain at odds with others in the church. We must take the first move to forgive and seek peaceful reconciliation. When we realize that there is division between us and another Christian, we should do everything in our power – motivated by the love of Christ and the love of neighbor – to reconcile with that person. In the common salvation of Jesus our Lord, we will be able to find common ground with that person if we are willing to approach with humility and love.

The constant seeking of such reconciliation brings powerful unity to the church and a deep sense of earnest Christian love. May you each personally be reconciled to God through Jesus, then go out joyfully seeking the salvation of the lost and peace in the church.

In Christ we are new creations,
Pastor Vic

Caring Well Challenge

As you may recall, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Anaheim, CA this past summer as a Messenger representing Redeemer Bible Church. While there were many topics discussed at this event, the main focus was determining how the SBC was going to respond to the findings of the Guidestone Solutions Report detailing years of improper handling of sexual abuse cases by cooperating churches and SBC leadership.

What I will remember as one of the most meaningful moments of my life took place on the second day of the vote when I raised my ballot in support of the recommendations of the Sexual Abuse Task Force. 
Throughout the weekend I had the chance to meet with survivors and those who have been working to make churches a safe place for survivors and a place safe from predators. These experiences caused me to realize that merely raising my hand was an empty gesture without working to implement change on a grassroots level.

Upon my return, I drew up a list of recommendations for our elders which included implementing the Caring Well Challenge here at Redeemer Bible Church––a recommendation with which they unanimously agreed.

To address the issue of abuse in the SBC and its member churches two things need to happen. One, there needs to be a systematic change of policies and procedures. More importantly, we must change the culture that has allowed predators to flourish.

Here are a few staggering statistics from the SBC of Virginia:

  • Child check-in systems are good, but only 4% of cases result in abductions.
  • Background checks are important, but less than 10% of abusers encounter the criminal justice system.
  • Policies are beneficial, but they must be contextualized and take into account how sexual predators commit their crimes.

But prevention is just one part of addressing abuse in the church. We must also meet the needs of survivors. One in four women sitting in our pews and one in six men have been victims of abuse.

For those of you asking how the Gospel fits in with all of this, I will share survivor and advocate, Rachael Denhollander’s words, “Trauma survivors are the unreached people group of our time. We expect missionaries to contextualize their people groups. We must do the same for the one in four and the one in six.”

The gospel calls us to champion the dignity of all people, including the vulnerable in our midst that have experienced abuse.

You will be hearing a lot about the Caring Well Challenge over the next year. At last Sunday’s Business Meeting, I gave a brief presentation explaining the history of the program and what it means for our church going forward.

At the 2018 Southern Baptist Annual Meeting, a motion was made to form a presidential task force to address the issue of abuse. In the fall of 2018, SBC President J.D. Greear, in partnership with the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission (an SBC entity), appointed a Sexual Abuse Advisory Group with the purpose of evaluating needs in this area and addressing opportunities to strengthen and enhance churches’ care for survivors, prevention, and response to abuse. 

During the first phase of this process, the SBC Sexual Abuse Advisory Group interviewed hundreds of survivors, advocates, outside experts, and pastors to hear their stories and learn from their viewpoints.
From this, the Advisory Group sought to develop resources and recommendations to equip SBC churches with the tools, strategies, and partnerships to more effectively care for survivors and to prevent abuse before it occurs. It was out of this effort that the Caring Well Challenge was birthed.

The Caring Well Challenge is a unified call to action on the abuse crisis in the Southern Baptist Convention. It provides churches with a simple, adaptable, and attainable pathway to immediately strengthen their efforts to prevent abuse and care for abuse survivors. 

Committing ourselves to being a part of this initiative provides our church an opportunity to link hearts and arms with, and to continue to learn from, other churches as we strive to be vigilant in caring for one another, particularly those who have been or are being abused in our church.

Over the next year, we will be implementing the eight steps of the Caring Well Challenge. The first of which will be building a Caring Well Team that will coordinate this ministry. They will lead our efforts to equip our leaders to care well for the abused and to enhance our policies, procedures, and practices related to abuse. This team will be introduced to the entire church body on The Caring Well Challenge Launch Sunday and will be available as a resource for our members.

I’ll close by sharing the words of Immediate Past SBC President Ed Litton. He began by reading Matthew 9:35, “‘Jesus continued going around to all the towns and villages, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.'”

He continued, “The word for compassion translates to a ‘moving of the intestines.’ Jesus experienced what we would call a ‘punch to the gut’ when he looked upon the crowds. If you see someone who needs something, don’t let your eyes look away. If we are not moved to action we will become indifferent. We need to also see the harvest of those that are burdened and broken down by their past trauma. We need to bring them to the only One who can truly heal their pain.”

I am honored and humbled to be able to serve our church body by coordinating the implementation of the Caring Well Challenge at Redeemer Bible Church and look forward to sharing more details in the weeks and months ahead.

Heather Ablondi–SBC Messenger

Governing Authorities

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution …”
1 Peter 2:13
< This newsletter piece is an extension of the sermon from this past week on 1 Peter 2:13-17. If you missed the sermon, entitled Governing Authorities, the audio is available at RedeemerVA.org under the resource tab or on our podcast channel RBC Spotsy Village – available on apple or Spotify. >

There are two more areas from this past week’s sermon that I want you to consider. First, that God has ordained three basic spheres of authority in the world; government, church, and family. Each is different from the other. Each overlaps with the other – like a Venn diagram – but each is also distinct from the other standing as its own authority. Government is ordained by God for authority in areas of civil organization, law and order (criminal justice), national defense, and taxation. The church has authority in matters of doctrine, morality, local church organization and function. The family has authority in matters of the home related to organization and care of children (care and raising, education, and discipline).

When these function correctly according to God’s design, each informs and strengthens the other, but none takes over the other. When functioning as God intended, the church strengthens the family through informing it of God’s will and through the support of bringing families together in Christian community. The government serves the church and family by maintaining a safe, well ordered, and free society. The family contributes for the common good to the government through individual effort and taxation. The church guides the conscience of government by informing it of what is right and wrong according to God’s will. The government recognizes societal structures created by God such as human dignity, marriage, and religious liberty.

However, when this is not functioning properly, the spheres of authority do not cooperate and collaborate together but compete and destroy each other. Government works to take over the family and become the agent to raise, educate, and institutionalize children. The church gives away its moral authority to government for ultimate right and wrong to be determined by judges or dictators. Or the family loses faith in biblical church structures and attempts to substitute the family for church (i.e. home church). Or the church attempts to rise up and take on the role of government creating an indistinguishable fusion of church and state (a governing church).

In the Bible we see a degree of sovereignty for each of the three spheres. When each exerts a biblical authority and stays within its intended lane, there is a check and balance between the three authorities which produces peace and stability in society. I urge you to consider carefully the biblical role of the government, the local church, and the family – valuing each for the place God has given it.

The second consideration relates to standing up for governmental rights afforded to us by government structures. There is strong biblical precedent for this in Acts 22:22-29. After preaching in Jerusalem to a large crowd of angry Jews, the mob turns on Paul. As the scene descends into a riot, the local Roman tribune arrests Paul and takes him into custody to examine him by flogging. They go so far as tying his hands and feet and stretching him out for flogging when Paul speaks up saying, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” At this lawful appeal, the tribune releases Paul and does not flog him.

This is an important lesson to all Christians blessed to live in a society under the rule of law. In most democratic societies there are religious liberty rights. In the United States we are blessed with the first amendment which reads in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …” This first liberty enshrines in American law the liberty to freely establish churches and practice our Christianity. This means we have the right to live out what we believe in the public square, and we should act on this right. Christianity is not just something to be lived within the walls of the church, or within our homes. We have the legal public right to religious liberty.

Similar to Paul, when we are leaned on or threatened for simply living out our Christian belief and morals, we should press our legal religious liberties. In this, we should be very careful that our attitude is Christ-like and that what we are doing is not based on tradition, but on Scripture. But if, like Paul, our attitude is above reproach and our actions are according to what God requires of us, we can stand up for our religious liberty rights with courage and a clean conscience. I believe it’s important here that we clearly use the language of the first amendment to those that would silence and undermine the Christian church, “Is it lawful for you to forbid the free practice of my religion? This is not my personal opinion. This is required by my religion as a Christian. I choose to live and act this way because I am a Christian.” As Christians we should strive to be a people of peace, but there is clear precedent that when we feel threatened, we are permitted to appeal to the protection of available civil laws.

I hope these considerations are helpful to you.
May the Lord Jesus give us wisdom for navigating these days,
Pastor Vic

Unreached People Groups

A Call to Prioritize Unreached People Groups

[Romans 10:14-15 ESV] 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

[Romans 15:20 ESV] 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation.

As of today, approximately 7-10% of the world’s population professes to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. Approximately 33% of the world’s population are non-evangelical Christians. “Non-evangelical” Christians profess to believe in Jesus but reject or do not follow the core teachings of Jesus. This leaves approximately 57% of the world’s population who do not believe in Jesus (Remaining Missions Task).

As evangelical Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. The only way to be saved from the wrath of God is by God’s grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus said that those who don’t believe “are condemned already.” (John 3:18) Because humanity is lost without faith in Jesus, we devote our time, prayers, and resources to reach the lost around us and abroad. We send ministers to Bible college to equip the saints to bring the good news of salvation to his or her families, workplaces, neighbors, or any other situation that would call us to “give a defense for the hope that is within us.” (1 Peter 3:15) This is great news for the unbelievers who have access to the gospel through the witness of the local church. However, there are more unbelievers today in places where there is no possibility of meeting a Christian, than the population of North America, South America, Central America, Western Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East combined. (Frontier Peoples Overview)

Imagine being an unbeliever and having no believing Christians in your city. Now imagine that among your whole nation, there are no Christians that speak your language. Now imagine being that person who lives his or her life without hearing the good news and dies in his or her sins without the saving hope of Jesus Christ. This is the reality for unreached people groups (UPGs) all over the world. “An unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group without outside assistance.” (Unreached Peoples Overview)

Furthermore, this is the reality for one in four human beings on the planet today. India alone holds 1.3 billion souls who have no access to the gospel. There are approximately 1.8 billion Muslims who have no access to the gospel. These are not people who have churches down the road, in the next town over, or the next city over. These are people who don’t have any person who knows Jesus Christ anywhere near them who speaks their language or understands their culture.

Therefore, we need to send missionaries where they’re needed most. There are many missionaries throughout the world today. For the purpose of this article, I will define missionary as someone who has the gift of teaching or evangelism who is sharing the gospel with people of a different language or culture than his or her own. As of today, for every missionary that the church sends to the unreached of the world, she sends 30 missionaries to places who have a Christian witness. (Remaining Mission Task) If we are going to accomplish the Great Commission, we must establish the unreached people of the world in our hearts.

Although this may seem like an impossible task, nothing is impossible with God. The wisdom of man or fleshly strength alone cannot accomplish this task. God has already established His church in places previously thought impossible by man with far less technology and resources than those that are in our grasps today. We are seeing this reality today as the global south (the countries south of the equator) are sending out more missionaries than America. (Sutter, 2021) These brothers and sisters live in abject poverty yet are answering the call to travel sea and land to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, let’s go where the gospel has never gone. Pray that the Lord would open the doors for believers to go into all the world. Pray that God would raise up a generation of missionaries who would recover the original calling of a missionary: “the call to die.”1 Pray that God would prepare the way by His spirit for the obedient missionaries from all over the world who will pioneer the gospel among UPGs. Pray for current cross-cultural missionaries who are serving in locations that are geographically convenient to reach UPGs, that they would equip the indigenous churches to send out missionaries to places that westerners have no access to.

Jacob Foster-ministry intern

Remaining Mission Task (joshuaproject.net)
why-still-unreached.pdf (joshuaproject.net)
frontier-peoples-overview.pdf (joshuaproject.net) (Unreached Peoples Overview, n.d.) https://joshuaproject.net/assets/media/handouts/unreached-peoples-overview.pdf
1 Call to Missions: A Death Sentence – BMW (biblicalministries.org)

Marriage-Healthy Habits

“This is my beloved and this is my friend…” –Song of Solomon 1:16b

(This is part 5 of a newsletter series on Fundamentals of a Healthy Marriage. If you have missed previous parts they are available at RedeemerVA.org under resources / church blog.)

Happy and enduring marriages do not come about by accident or the happenstance of two “perfect people” finding each other. Every marriage consists of two sinners taking a step of faith to obey God by pledging themselves to a lifelong relationship in obedience to God’s command and according to His design. We have discussed the fundamentals of love, service, forgiveness, and healthy communication. This week we’ll examine healthy habits of marriage. Happy and enduring marriages have certain healthy habits engrained into the relationship. These habits are Christ-honoring and friendship-oriented. Every happy marriage is at its base a growing Christ-centered friendship – two people who enjoy being together and sharing the experiences of life. These habits are basic, but they will cut through the daily craziness and produce life-giving Christ-honoring friendship year after year.

Date Night: It’s essential to date your spouse. So much time, money, planning, and thoughtfulness is put into dating before marriage, and often this falls off soon after marriage. Dating your spouse is an essential part of building your friendship with them. Dating your spouse involves regular, creative planning and investment in your friendship. Dating builds memories and happy shared experiences. Dating gives unhurried time to talk over good food, enjoy a concert, or explore a fun place. Couples that date each other enjoy each other.

I encourage you to strive to date each other weekly. If your busy life is like mine, striving for a once-a-week date will result in twice a month. If you strive for twice a month, you’ll end up with once a month, which is not enough time together. These times don’t have to be expensive, but should be conversation-oriented and not part of your normal daily routine: dinner out, coffee shop, walk in the park, ice cream, etc. You can spend time getting busy calendars straightened out, getting on the same page about life goals, talking about the spiritual growth of your children, planning a future trip, or working out disagreements that need substantial conversation. I encourage you to silence your phones and give your spouse your undivided attention.

Weekly Church: Attending church together each week with your spouse brings you together with them to worship and opens your heart to hear from the Lord. As you come to church together week after week, the Lord will bring spiritual formation to your lives together. You will learn together, worship together, pray together, be convicted together, make friends together, and grow together. Clearing the calendar for church each week also opens the door for other Sunday traditions and habits that are joyful, friendship-building, and Christ-honoring. Keeping the sabbath holy involves intentionally choosing to rest and focus on Jesus one day in seven. This intentionally quiet day allows for family meals, naps, walks, reading, and memories.

Extended Time Alone: It’s essential that at least once or twice per year every married couple carve out extended time alone for just the couple – no kids or other family. This can come in many different forms, but every form says, “I love you, want to spend time with you, and I’m willing to invest time and money in our marriage and friendship.” In varying degrees, this can be just a night away together in a different town or a special trip away for a few days. I strongly suggest that every few years you go to a marriage conference. Marriage conferences are best to help tune-up your marriage, rather than waiting until there is a major problem looking for a quick fix. For special anniversaries, work to get away and make the time as special as possible. Life will always work against you but fight to celebrate the special relationship of your marriage.

Self-care and personal growth: The above three healthy habits relate to the couple together. This last habit relates to the marriage partners as individuals. Marriages that happily endure through the years are made up of two individuals who never stop growing as individuals. Human beings have an incredible ability to continue growing in mental and spiritual capacity throughout their lives. A big part of the joy of friendship is discovering new things about another person and supporting another person as they pursue meaningful pursuits. When two people stop growing and stop pursuing meaningful personal goals, the marriage will stagnate. This personal growth relates to self-care and personal growth goals. When people first meet, there is an emphasis on self-care and putting a good foot forward. Early in the relationship personal goals bring people together in joint life-pursuit. These ends must endure after decades of marriage.

Both husband and wife must continue to care about their personal appearance and growing as an individual. Sometimes these personal healthy habits can get lost in caring for children, aging parents, or the pressure of work and providing for a family. If these things lose focus in your marriage, refer back to date night! Personal goals in these areas are an important subject to talk about in a mutually supportive and encouraging way. When it comes to the friendship of marriage you are each helping the other to grow as a healthy person and achieve the goals the other longs for.

In my personal experience, I have never known a couple that practiced these habits that did not have a healthy marriage. Conversely, every couple I know that neglects these habits has a weak and struggling marriage. I urge you to pursue these habits. Pursue friendship with your spouse. Pursue intimacy with your spouse. Build healthy habits into your relationship that will build up a bank of good memories and strength in your marriage that can be drawn upon during darker days of hardship.

May the Lord bless the marriages in our church and help us love each other as we ought to,
Pastor Vic

Bible Reading in the New Year

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”–Psalm 119:105

Looking back at 2022 I encourage you to consider the goodness of the Lord in answered prayers. A significant part of contentment and giving thanks relates to perspective. Perspective often relates to considering the past and what the Lord has brought us through. One of the major problems with hard-hearted unbelieving Israel in the Old Testament related to how quickly they forgot the past work of the Lord. Let us not be this way. A great point of reflection and topic of conversation at the end of a year relates to thinking back over the year, and how the Lord has answered prayer or directed your life in some good, yet unforeseen, way. We quickly forget the Lord’s work in the past. This New Year’s Eve, think back and recount the goodness of the Lord in 2022. Do this with family and friends and give glory to God!

Looking forward to 2023 I encourage you to first set spiritual goals for the new year. Each year the tyranny of the urgent presses in. The agenda of this treadmill is set by the pressing priorities of an unbelieving world. The greatest commandment of the Lord is to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. To obey this command, we must make time for the Lord. We will make time for what has the first place in our affections. The urgency of daily pursuits will sap ALL your time if you don’t proactively cultivate a love for Christ in the soul.

Though there are many valuable and important spiritual disciplines in the Christian life, none is more foundational than Bible study. Bible study leads into prayer, actions of obedience, evangelism, life in the local church, and worship, but all of these will quickly become debased without Bible study. The Scriptures are both living and fixed.

They are living in that they are the inspired Word of the Lord ministered to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. The living nature of Scripture meets us where we are and is used by the Holy Spirit to change us. We are first changed by learning the good news of salvation by grace. We stop trying to earn favor with God, and instead receive salvation by faith giving thanks for the mercy of Jesus. We are changed by learning who God is, then seeing ourselves in light of His holiness and glory. We are changed by understanding what the moral will of God is. The Bible reveals to us how we ought to live in the new ways of Jesus.

The Bible is also fixed in that it does not change. In this way it’s like a north star of constant direction in the swirl of pressing cultural change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The goal of Christianity is not to keep relevant to cultural shift, but to stand firm in unchanging Christ-like character.
Do you read the Bible constantly? Have you ever read all the way through the Bible? Do you have a plan for reading the Bible? The Bible is a book. Books have direction, plot, and cannot be properly understood by opening them at random and reading a few sentences. This is the danger of typical devotional books. They essentially open to a random place in the Bible, read one verse, give you a few thoughts, and close the book. I would strongly argue that you could do this “verse picking” for your whole life and never come to a clear understanding of who God is because you have never really read the Bible.

Many people are intimidated by the Bible, find the Bible boring, or get bogged down in less devotional sections. A few points of direction for 2023.

One, go to RedeemerVA.org and navigate to the resources tab, then to the Bible reading plans page. Choose a plan and print it out. By having a plan you will make systematic progress. The goal here is not to check a box or keep to a strict timetable, but to make systematic and accountable progress in daily and prayerfully reading God’s Word.

Second, always stop and pray before you read the Bible. Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate the Scriptures. May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see wonderful things in the Bible that you have never see before. This will focus and prepare the posture of your heart to receive a word from the Lord.

Third, don’t get bogged down in the tough and less devotional places. When you hit the genealogies, the counting of tribes, and lists of woes read enough to see what is there, but keep turning the pages to get to the next narrative section. Later in your spiritual growth you will begin to see why these sections are present, but often these “dry” parts keep people from reading many very important and powerful Old Testament books

Fourth, read a paper Bible when possible. Mark your Bible. Underline parts that are meaningful to you. When you come across places that you don’t understand or offend you, write a question mark in the margin in pencil. As you grow in your understanding of The Lord Jesus many of those marks will be erased, but many will also remain for the ways of the Lord are higher than our ways. Do not expect to master the mind of God on your first pass through the Bible.

May the Lord open His word to you in 2023,
Pastor Vic

Christmas 2022

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and called Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Luke 1:30-33

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like the son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”
Daniel 7:13-14
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder,
and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forever more. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this.”
Isaiah 9:6-7
Merry Christmas to you all! This is a special year in that Christmas morning falls on a Sunday morning! A special time to gather and worship Jesus our Lord. Let us be reminded that Christmas is about the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the inauguration of the coming of the Kingdom of God. These are important Christian realities that we need to understand. Incarnation means “in flesh.” At Christmas we don’t celebrate the beginning of Jesus Christ, but Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humbling Himself and being born as a baby. The prophet Isaiah proclaims this coming of Jesus with the name Immanuel, meaning “God with us.” Jesus Christ is the eternally existing second person of the trinity. He does not begin with His divine conception in Mary. By His mercy, great love, and according to the determined will of God the Father, Jesus is born in flesh to live amongst us and begin His Kingdom that will never end.

The Christmas season is accompanied in America by wonderful family gatherings, feasting, lights, and gift-giving, but we must strive to keep our focus on Jesus. As Christians, we must press to keep our focus on the glorious salvation by grace alone that Jesus accomplished for us on the cross. Jesus must never be reduced to one of the pantheons of Christmas season characters, but ever be exalted in our hearts as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We must see the Immanuel – God with us – as the fulfillment of the promise of God to send His Son as the Savior of the world. It is Jesus who has begun a work that will never end.

People often struggle with the sin, death, brokenness, and corruption of this world. It is through the salvation of Jesus that people are being saved out of this world. It is through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that new birth comes to our hearts, and we are made new passing from death to life. It is this salvation that began to be accomplished when Jesus was born into this world. This salvation was announced by angels at its beginning and at its completion. A salvation that proclaims Jesus as King. He who was born into complete humility is now exalted in glory! His name is great and the work He has begun with His first coming, He will certainly complete in His second coming.

This Christmas exalt Jesus to the first and highest place in in your heart. He is a merciful Savior and a mighty King. He is a Wonderful Counselor, and He is coming on the clouds to call His people to Himself. Make this a practical reality by leading in prayer at family gatherings, read scripture at family gatherings, and be a spiritual leader by piling the family in the car and joining others to worship Jesus our Savior on this Christmas morning!

May joy, peace, and hope overflow in your home this Christmas,
Pastor Vic

Lottie Moon

Lottie Moon Christmas Offering

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19

As Christmas is fast approaching it is time to remember the sacrificial mission work of one of Southern Baptist’s early female missionaries. She was a pioneer in many ways but most important was her love for our Savior and the people she was called to minister. Lottie Moon was passionate about people knowing Christ. She didn’t hesitate to speak her mind. If you have been around Baptist churches, you have heard the name, but maybe you don’t know the story behind the name. This is a summary of Lottie Moon’s beginnings in Albemarle, Virginia, and her missionary work.

She was born Charlotte Digges “Lottie” Moon in 1840 to a family of affluent tobacco farmers in Albemarle County, Virginia. In December 1858 she dedicated her life to Christ and was baptized at First Baptist Church, Charlottesville, Virginia.

Lottie attended Albemarle Female Institute, the female counterpart to the University of Virginia. In 1861, she was one of the first women in the South to receive a master’s degree. She stayed close to home during the Civil War but eventually taught school in Kentucky, Georgia, and Virginia.

Edmonia Moon, Lottie’s sister, was appointed to Tengchow, China, in 1872. The following year, Lottie was appointed and joined her sister there. Lottie served 39 years as a missionary, mostly in China’s Shantung province. She taught in a girls’ school and often made trips into China’s interior to share the good news with women and girls.

When she set sail for China, Lottie was 32 years old. She had turned down a marriage proposal and left her job, home and family to follow God’s lead. Her path wasn’t typical for an educated woman from a wealthy Southern family. God had gripped her with the Chinese peoples’ need for a Savior.

For 39 years Lottie labored, chiefly in Tengchow and P’ingtu. People feared and rejected her, but she refused to leave. The aroma of fresh-baked cookies drew people to her house. She adopted traditional Chinese dress, and she learned China’s language and customs. Lottie didn’t just serve the people of China; she identified with them. Many eventually accepted her. And some accepted her Savior.

Lottie wrote letters home detailing China’s hunger for truth and the struggle of so few missionaries taking the gospel to the 472 million Chinese in her day. She also shared the urgent need for more workers and for Southern Baptists to support them through prayer and giving.

She once wrote home to the Foreign Mission Board, “Please say to the [new] missionaries they are coming to a life of hardship, responsibility, and constant self-denial.” Disease, turmoil, and lack of co-workers threatened to undo Lottie’s work. But she gave herself completely to God, helping lay the foundation of what would become the modern Chinese church, one of the fastest-growing Christian movements in the world.

Lottie frequently sent letters back home detailing Chinese culture, missionary life, and the physical and spiritual needs of the Chinese people. Additionally, she challenged Southern Baptists to go to China or give so that others could go. By 1888, Southern Baptist women had organized and helped collect $3,315 to send workers needed in China. Lottie Moon died at 72 — ill and in declining health after decades of ministering to her beloved Chinese.

In 1918, Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) named the annual Christmas offering for international missions after the woman who had urged them to start it.

Today’s China is a world of rapid change. It’s home to 1.4 billion individuals – one-fifth of the world’s population. Village dwellers flock to trendy megacities with exploding populations. It’s very different from the vast farmland Lottie Moon entered in the 1800s. But one thing hasn’t changed: China’s need for a Savior.

Her legacy lives on. And today, when gifts aren’t growing as quickly as the number of workers God is calling to the field, her call for sacrificial giving rings with more urgency than ever.


“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:6
(This is part 4 in a series on foundations of a healthy marriage.)

Healthy communication is absolutely foundational to every strong marriage. If you cannot communicate with your spouse in a healthy way, frustrations turn into anger and conflict is created instead of resolved. Communication is partly verbal and partly non-verbal. As a husband or wife, what your words say need to match up with the non-verbal expression of your face and actions of your life. As Christians we are commanded to be gracious in our speech. This carries over from the fruits of the Holy Spirit of kindness and gentleness. When our communication tends toward harshness and anger something is wrong.
Below are ten basic practical steps to maintaining healthy and gracious communication in your marriage:

  1. Respect your spouse and treat them with kindness. You speak in a careful and self-controlled way to people that you respect. You speak with kindness toward people that you love. You should both respect and love your spouse, resulting in the type of communication listed below.
  2. Really listen: When you really listen to someone you pay attention and want to hear what they have to say. Really listening considers the merit in what the other person has to say. This means not interrupting the other person because what you have to say is more important. This means you are not formulating a counter-response while they are talking. You can’t listen and jump to a conclusion before the other person has finished their thought. Listening is related to patience and friendship. Interruption and retaliation are related to competition and adversaries.
  3. Assume the best: Many occasions arise each week where something happens, and we only know part of the story. In every such situation with your spouse you must assume the best. You must begin by trusting your spouse and assuming that there is a good explanation for whatever you don’t know about the situation. Love is hopeful in all things (1 Cor 13:7). The opposite is to assume the worst of your spouse. This is the attitude of distrust we develop with our enemies.
  4. Don’t bring up past forgiven sins: If your spouse has asked for forgiveness and you have granted forgiveness, it should not be brought up against them again. You must ask God for the self-control to not drag your spouse back into the mud they just got free of. In an ungodly way, it can feel satisfying to strengthen your position by undercutting your spouse, but none of this is of Christ. We seek to reconcile with our spouse, not defeat them in a battle of words and accusations.
  5. Don’t undercut or barb: To undercut or barb is to make negative and hurtful comments that imply what you want without clear communication. These side comments are not made to be helpful, but to insult and “remind” a person of their problems. Instead, if you have a struggle or grievance with your spouse, speak and listen in a kind way that has the opportunity to lead to reconciliation and peace.
  6. Do not raise your voice: “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” James 1:20. When you raise your voice with your spouse, anger has come upon you. Yelling at your spouse may make you feel self-vindicated in the moment, but nothing of the Lord will come from it. You should never yell at your spouse. The non-verbal of raising your voice overwhelms anything true or helpful you may say. It’s literally lost in the noise.
  7. Try to have good timing: Work to bring up difficult subjects at a time conducive to resolution. It’s not wise to bring up difficult subjects when your spouse is dead tired, holding a crying child, just in the door from work, late for an appointment, or for whatever reason is not in a place to have an unhurried conversation that could resolve the issue.
  8. Avoid “always / never” in conflict resolution: Overstatements do not help resolve conflict. Overstatements work to categorize the entire person as a problem. Instead, work to isolate specific instances of struggle or sin, so the offending person can ask forgiveness and work to correct a specific problem.
  9. Stop texting when the communication turns negative: It is impossible to resolve conflict by text. When communication turns negative, you must talk by phone or in person as soon as possible. Both spouses need to reach agreement on this before the angry texts start flying. One spouse or the other must identify that the communication has taken a negative turn, and state that they need to call or meet.
  10. Seek resolution: Never give up on each other. Seek resolution and reconciliation because of love and your marriage vows. Apathy and division are not acceptable in Christian marriage. Work the problems out with healthy communication and prayer.

I encourage you to put these basic principles in a place where you will be reminded of them often, then pray for self-control and love to abide by them.

Lord, help us to speak with grace and kindness,
Pastor Vic