Mission-Minded: God’s Purpose & Pleasure in Work

Does God delight in the work you do? Is there purpose even in the mundane tasks? In the following article, Pastor Keith addresses the tension, pitfalls, and redemption that can be found in both the “secular” and ministry-based work place.

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Discovering God’s Purpose and Pleasure in Work:

Does God delight in the work you do? Is there purpose even in the mundane tasks? In the following article, Pastor Keith addresses the tension, pitfalls, and redemption that can be found in both the “secular” and ministry-based work place.

Single-Minded Devotion in all Areas of Life

The workplace is oftentimes an area of the Christian life that is relegated to the role of financial necessity, which never-the-less informs our attitude and approach to the workplace, our co-workers, supervisors, and ultimately the quality of our work. Prior to my role in pastoral ministry, I too was employed within the “secular” workforce, laboring hours a day in what I often thought was the less-than noble task of retail management. And I bet that many of you view the workplace as a thankless necessity unavoidable if you wish to provide for your family, and not necessarily the sacred responsibility of a follower of Christ. However, before humanity was cursed through the fall of Adam, work was instituted by God, insofar as Adam was commanded by God to work and take care of the Garden (Genesis 2:15). As such, we find that every aspect of our lives is important to God, from the mundane tasks of our everyday jobs, to worshipping God with our church family on Sundays, God has a purpose for your work.

The Practical Importance of Work:

Obviously work is an incredibly practical and important endeavor in the life of a Christian. It is the primary means by which one sustains the physical needs of their life by providing income to feed, clothe, house, and recreate. Moreover, it is often the area, outside of our homes, that we spend the most amount of our time, and provides the primary environment of engagement with unbelievers. Therefore the workplace is a mission field for believers, where the gospel must shape our work-ethic, interaction with others, and sub-ordinance to our leaders.1 Finally, each of us are priests, and have a priestly calling to fulfill.

Our Priestly Calling:

The apostle Peter declares that we who are in Christ are a holy priesthood proclaiming praise to God for bringing us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:4-9). Adam too was a priest, he lived in the first tabernacle—the place that God’s presence dwelt—and was called to work, and in essence expand or widen the Garden. And as such, he would be spreading the glory of God into the darkness beyond the Garden through his work.2 In the same way, our priestly calling can be applied to the workplace, and God’s missional call upon our lives to spread the glory of God wherever He places us, and to do so with abounding thankfulness for the grace that He has bestowed upon us. But, Adam failed in this endeavor—he fell asleep at the wheel—and allowed the serpent to come into his workplace, and wreak havoc. In essence, he did not heed the weight of his call as God’s priestly worker. We must learn from Adam’s mistake, and not allow the sin of complacency to seep into our work-ethic.2

Our Fight Against Complacency:

We understand the detriment of Adam’s complacency, and let us not kid ourselves that our complacent attitudes will result in the fall of all of humanity. Rather, in light of this we can understand the weight of our work, the purpose that God has placed on that aspect of our lives, and the pleasure He takes in being made much of in the world. God has called you to be engaged, has called you to be a force, and has called you to spread His glory wherever you are. And this includes every aspect of your life, and even more so at the workplace. Therefore the challenge stands before you, how will you overcome complacency, and understand the weight of your work? How will you remain engaged in the mundane tasks, and the difficult relationships of the workplace? One must only look towards the great price that our Savior paid, and the depth of grace that was poured out on His followers at the Cross, in order to gain insight into His love of the unlovable. Let the message of the gospel inform, and empower you to respond, in order that you will make much of God’s glory within your workplace through not only words, but rather your actions.

Article by Keith Rodriguez

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1Timothy Keller and Katherine Leary Alsdorf, Every Good Endeavor (New York, NY: Dutton, 2012) p. 166

2Benjamin L. Gladd and Matthew S. Harmon, Making All Things New (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2016) p. 154

The Ache of Eden in the Shadowlands of Sin

Blog 1 BookofJoel HD

This week at Redeemer Church we began a study in the book of Joel. In the first chapter we find passages like this:

Weep like a bride dressed in black,
mourning the death of her husband.
For there is no grain or wine
to offer at the Temple of the Lord.
So the priests are in mourning.
The ministers of the Lord are weeping.
The fields are ruined,
the land is stripped bare.
The grain is destroyed,
the grapes have shriveled,
and the olive oil is gone.1

And I am reminded of what sin does to our souls and to our world. Here in this passage I hear the haunting echo of a aching heart longing for the life of Eden. We were meant for Eden, but sin sent a jagged crack through paradise and the shattering of the good and the beautiful continues to send us spiraling toward any device to numb the ache inside. We were meant for unity without strife in relationship, we were meant for the bounty of the Lord’s vast garden, we were meant for adventure and purpose without the futile go-nowhere-harvestless-grind. But what was meant to be is now shadowed by sin.

As we continue our study of the book of Joel over the next few weeks at Redeemer Church, we will be invited into an honest look at the depths of the anguish and ache sin has scarred our lives with.

I personally am tempted to skim the surface in this kind of stuff, to hear it, read it, file it and not pause long enough to let the full weight of the pain of it surface until I actually feel it. But skimming the surface like this won’t do us any good. We have to allow ourselves to feel the full impact of the passage, the full impact of our own depravity, the full impact of our heart’s own unfulfilled desire. We have to be willing to honestly say “this is not the way life is supposed to be”. Because only in acknowledging this ache for Eden placed in our hearts even as we live in the shadowlands of sin can we be awakened to our hunger for the One who can and does and will restore us back to the people we were meant to be. Only in the courage to allow ourselves to feel the stinging black texture of disappointment’s aching abyss can we find the compulsion to turn our hearts and our minds fully toward God with fierce and dedicated devotion. He is our only hope.

We need him.

We must come to this realization. And glory to God, because of the work of Christ who reconciles all things,2 we can approach with boldness3 even as the residue of sin’s disappointment clings to our lives. We must allow for the daily honesty that turns our hearts again to God for our daily portion, and we must have strength to maintain hope that all we long for is on its way. The consummation of the Kingdom is coming, but we must wait with patient endurance, letting the space between what we are and what we long to be push back the horizon’s of our hope,4 trusting that God WILL complete the work he began in us.5

And in this hope we live and move and have our being in Him, beginning, ending, and living each day with the words, “To you, O LORD, I call,” abiding on our lips, sometimes released in a cry of desperation, and ever increasingly in the whispered hum of our every breath.

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Article by Makaila Mobley


  1.  Joel 1:8-10 NLT
  2.  Colossians 1:20
  3.  2 Corinthians 3:12
  4.  “Disturb us Lord” Sir Francis Drake -1577
  5.  Philippians 1:6

A Nation in Crisis

 Pastor Nate Garn and the New Sermon Series

I was recently reading various reactions from friends on Facebook during this political season. As I started to get discouraged about our country I said to myself (out loud) “how gross”! We’ve become a gross, divided, violent, and unstable country. How can we go from a united country 15 short years ago on 9/11 to a country of such instability. We are even to the point of killing our own.

Sadly, we seem to be emulating the habits and practices of Israel. The only major difference is America isn’t the chosen nation of God. How scary to think how he will deal with us when he dealt with Israel so swiftly. In the Old Testament Israel had a constant practice of rebelling against God and pursuing empty gods. This eventually brought on the wrath of God. God used various ways and even enemies to punish his people. This is what we have in the book of Joel.

Sermon Series BookofJoel HD

Introduction to the Book of Joel

For the next three weeks we will be diving into the book of Joel. This seemingly odd choice of ours could not have come at a better time for us in America.

The historical background of this small book is very difficult to pinpoint. We know that Joel’s name means “Yahweh is God”. We also know he was the son of “Pethuel”. Other than that, we don’t know much else. In fact, scholars are divided over when the book even took place. Regardless, the message of the book of Joel is loud and clear.

*God is a wrathful God.

*God desires people to repent.

*God promises to turn his wrath to blessing.

*God promises the “Great day of the Lord”.

*God promises to pour out His Spirit on humanity.

With these common themes in the book of Joel we can find incredible hope. The book begins with wrath and discipline but by the end screams of promise, hope and grace. One portion of Joel in particular gives me great hope.

“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing- grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God.” Joel 2:13-14

Article by Nate Garn

Joel 2 Rend your heart 1

The Youth of Redeemer Church Summer 2016: A Photo Journal of VBS and JR & HS Camp

The youth of Redeemer Church have had a lot going on this summer! But undoubtedly, the highlight of all the activity culminates with Vacation Bible School and Summer Camp.

For the elementary aged kids, VBS is an all-engaging submersion experience held right here at Church. The theme of this year’s VBS was “Cave Quest” and a number of volunteers came together to transform our church halls into an imaginatively stimulating cave exploration experience.

Our Jr. High students loaded up and trekked their way to Thousand Pines for a week-long camp of fun, games, and chapel; while our High School students traveled to Forest Home and threw themselves fully into all the wild, weird, and life-transforming experience of camp.

We thought you might enjoy looking through a photo journal chronicling the summer experience of VBS and Camp. So enjoy these snapshots of the precious kiddos we are raising in our church…(some of them very nearly adults now), complete with snippets shared by the leaders of these events.

VBS

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The following interview about VBS is with our very own Lauren Heffner. Enjoy as she shares her experience in her own words:

Tell us about a memorable moment that happened during your week of VBS?

Watching kids in all their team colors dancing and singing during worship was the highlight for me at VBS. They were having so much fun and learning to follow Christ at the same time.

I also loved seeing the leaders’ faces light up with the kids as they laughed at themselves. Some leaders have mentioned to me that they already miss their group. Each of them have such a unique bond!

 

What was something God was teaching you during your time of leading
at VBS?

There were so many people working hard alongside the kids and behind the scenes to make this week happen. I got to see a glimpse, or microcosm, of how the body of Christ functions in unity. Every person who volunteers is gifted with a particular way to minister, and at VBS it was affirming to see these dedicated people scatter into their various positions and make it happen.

In the Kid Vid room, the leader was talking about how we try to move closer to our goals in life but sometimes things happen that sidetrack us from what we have envisioned. A little girl raised her hand and said she wouldn’t worry because God is moving us closer toward His goals – so insightful!! I wish that we, as adults, would remember His sovereignty and be comforted by that too.

What was something you, personally, found encouraging or inspiring
about your experience?

I could not believe how much money was raised by these kids in one week for the kids we sponsor in Kenya! They brought spare change every day and were so excited to bring canned items for our food pantry as well. This made me think about how quickly a little bit of help from many of us can cover a huge need.

Any funny stories from VBS?

Who didn’t love watching Adrienne get a pie in her face?! She and the pastors were great sports about it. That was a hilarious finale to a week of fun and meaningful discipleship.

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And a special thank you to all our VBS volunteers who helped make this event truly memorable for our kids!

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Jr. High Camp

In the words of Zach Martindale, the Jr. High Summer Intern and Camp leader:

I was the only leader in charge of the six Jr. High boys that attended camp at Thousand Pines this year. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in the cabin while the boys ran rampant, drank malts and shakes, and played Ga-Ga Ball. Thankfully, the boys knew when to chill out and gather in for Chapel where we heard our speaker, Chase, talk about the resurrection and how “it changes everything.”
That it does. The resurrection changes the way we do ministry. It changes how we teach the youth of today about Jesus because, without it, we have no ministry. If Jesus did not come back to life and appear to the 500+ eyewitnesses (1 Corinthians 15), then it shows that Jesus had no power over death. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:12-15; “But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection from the dead? If there is no resurrection from the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him in fact if the dead are not raised.”
If I had to make a list of things I learned at camp, it would be this: patience is key, camp Corn Dogs are always undercooked, teenage boys don’t shower, and most important of all, I have, by far, the best group of guys I could ask for during my internship here.

Jr. High Boys

Front Row (left to right): Zach Martindale, Kaleo MartisMiddle Row (left to right): GlenSprowl, Antonio Higeura. Back Row (left to right): Ethan Leeland, Robert Capella, Cameron MatherHigh School Camp

High School Camp

In the words of Brian Riddle, our new youth minister and camp leader for Redeemer’s High School students:

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” –Eph. 2:10

This verse was the main theme of high school camp this year. Those who have been saved by grace through faith are on display to the world as God’s handiwork or masterpiece. He is our maker and what a beautiful craftsman he is! This week was a powerful reminder that God’s work in the world is done predominantly through his people. While he doesn’t need us for anything, he uses us for everything! When you begin to consider that all people reflect some of God’s creativity and we all share a common bond in existing as spiritual beings it changes the way you live. This week at camp we were challenged to view others and ourselves in this light. The proper response then is all out worship of Christ in our everyday lives primarily through loving others in humility and grace. What a great foundation for a new season of youth ministry at Redeemer!

 

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To everyone who has invested in these kids and their leaders this summer through donations, volunteering, and prayer, thank you! Hope you’ve enjoyed this photo journal of Redeemer Church’s Youth Highlights 2016.

Leaning In: Prayer that Brings us Closer to God

Prayer Blog 4 leaning into GodMy Fears in Prayer

When the prospect of joining the prayer team was first presented to me, I had a lot of questions. How was I supposed to engage in spiritual warfare? What if someone came to me for physical healing prayer? What if I prayed for one thing and the exact opposite ended up happening? What if God asked me to do something that I was really, really uncomfortable with?

In every question I brought before I God, he seemed to answer with the verse, “Submit yourselves, therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” 1. At first I thought this answer seemed a little too obvious, elementary even. I found myself sort of saying, “That’s it? I’ve been a Christian for a lot of years, I know which side I’m on. Submit to God, resist the devil. Okay, got it (like in basic Christianity 101).

But the more this verse looped through my mind at the turn of every question I brought before God, I began to see how often I had been getting this basic verse backwards.

For example, on some fundamental level I was resisting God in any area of praying for physical healing. When the idea came up, I pushed back and leaned away. Let someone else deal with physical healing was my thought, its not my calling, not my passion. But in reality what I was doing was taking a faithless approach to a very biblical concept. I was afraid of looking like a freak, afraid of praying for healing and the fallout when healing didn’t come, afraid of putting myself in a position to be disappointed by God, afraid of praying without power and being ineffective when someone else’s quality of life depended on me to come through. I had similar questions and concerns in many other categories of prayer, but God began to show me that by just brushing these things aside and leaving them for someone else to deal with I was letting my fear rule and in doing so, I was resisting God and submitting to the devil.

Leaning In

And so, I began to ask God how I was to change my heart and change my mind in all these areas of uncertainty in prayer, and He gave me these words, “lean in”. Meaning that in all things, everything I was afraid of, confused about, or uncomfortable with, in all things I was to take a posture of leaning in toward God verses leaning back and resisting God. I began to see that areas I couldn’t wrap my mind around created in me an immediate reactionary response of leaning away and God was challenging me, inviting me to press deeper into him, to get closer, to move with him even as I sorted out all that was still unclear to me.

Why We Resist

We resist God for a number of reasons, each I suspect unique to our own personal defense mechanisms that we’ve used to function within the world. For me personally, it so often comes back to self-protection. If I’m not actively living in courageous faithfulness and trusting God in the daily moments, my self-protection can slip into one of at least three lies as I try to relate to God: the lie of the fearful spirit, the lie of the orphan spirit, or the lie of the religious spirit.

The Fearful Spirit

The fearful spirit comes up as a shield…er, barrier between God and I because I am trying to protect myself from disappointment, shame, or confusion.

How many times have I not approached God from the truest, deepest questions of my heart because I was afraid that he wouldn’t show up for me, afraid that he would leave me hanging, to figure it out on my own. Which then I would have to conclude that either he didn’t want to meet me in my area of greatest need or he couldn’t, and both conclusions would leave me reeling in a black hole of panicked faithlessness. So I protected myself from this disappointment, by simply not going there with God. But in doing so, I severely limited, crippled even, the life, freedom, and richness of love I could know with God and all because of a fear that was built on a lie.

If we approach prayer from a fearful spirit, we are faithless, we do not trust God and so we are rendered ineffective within his kingdom. We will have forfeited our own power, but even more alarming than that, we will have allowed ourselves to be robbed of the deep intimacy and adventure we could have known in an active partnership with God. Fortunately, we have a profound truth with which we can combat this lie whenever it creeps into our hearts, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 From here we can take courage, lean into God, and dare to enter into that which scares us.

The Orphan Spirit

Another lie is the lie of the orphan spirit. This lie says, you are on your own. If you want to make something happen, you have to do it. God isn’t going to hold your hand and show you the way. He’s given you the information, now figure it out.

This lie is a tricky one, because all of Christianity is a process of growing up, of maturing in the faith, and the more we mature, the more God will entrust us with within his Kingdom. So no, maybe it isn’t always appropriate for God to hold our hands and walk us through something the way a parent leads a toddler who hasn’t quite got the walking thing down pat just yet. Surely there is a time for that with God, but that time is not supposed to last forever. We hope to grow. We want to know what it is like to run, to dance, to climb mountains within the Kingdom of God, so we have to learn to stand and move on our own, but that does not mean that God has left us to figure it out on our own, he is there training us for each new level of growth, each new phase we enter into as we learn to wield the power and gifting he has entrusted to us.

The lie of the orphan spirit attempts to rob us of our teacher, our mentor, our father. It says, “Sure, there’s eternal hope for you, but on the day-to-day living, you really are on your own. You’re an orphan left to survive the streets alone.” If this were true, that faith in Jesus gets us heaven but nothing else, it would be enough, but the glorious truth is that when Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom and set the new covenant into effect, we were offered both eternity and today with God. Jesus himself says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” 3 This statement directly follows the declaration that the Holy Spirit, our “Helper” will be with us and even dwell within us. And then again in the book of Romans we see Paul declaring that followers of Christ have “…received a spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”4. I have learned that if I approach prayer from an orphan spirit, I will miss just about any direct insight or connection from God because I have made an agreement with the enemy that I really am alone and this too is nothing but a lie.

The Religious Spirit

The third lie I have dealt with in my own prayer life is that of the religious spirit, it is similar to the orphan spirit in that the root of it is a faithless self-reliance, but it is different in that this one comes with a touch of pride, which can deceive us into thinking it is strong and secure. The religious spirit attempts to do the God thing, but without inviting God to lead it. This attitude approaches life from a biblical filter that is somehow godless. Like using the Bible as a moral code and general directions for living a good life, but not as the words of God himself.

Consider the difference between the pharisees and the disciples, both groups believed they were living for God. The Pharisees believed they were living “biblically” to a tee, but they missed the heart of God, even when he was literally standing in their midst. Now, remember the exchange between Jesus and his disciples when he asked them, “‘Who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you… For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’”5.

I don’t want to approach prayer from a religious spirit. Just thinking about trying this hard to get it right and totally missing the intimacy and closeness of having God reveal himself to me makes my heart ache. It is not enough to live for God, I must do life with God. I must know him and be known by him, nothing else will satisfy. Without the relationship that grows through communication, prayer would be utterly pointless.

Red-Flagging an Attitude of Resisting God

Perhaps we can red-flag an attitude of resisting God within ourselves by looking at the categories of the Rebellious Heart and the Resigned Heart.

The Rebellious Heart

If we were to attempt to submit from a rebellious heart, we might look like the disgruntled employee with God. Grumbling as we go along with the bosses decisions, but we aren’t going to contribute anything of value to the project, with a rebellious heart feigning submission we might not try and thwart the bosses plans, but we certainly are not going to help the mission gain momentum.

The Resigned Heart

On the other hand if we are submitting to God from a resigned heart, we might be like the disillusioned church-goer, consistently going through the motions, but without any real hope that any of these “religious activities” make any kind of actual difference. We don’t have a bad attitude, necessarily, like those with a rebellious heart, but we have grown stale and stagnant in our apathy.

What Does it Look Like to Lean Into God?

So, practically speaking, what does “leaning in” look like? How can we recognize a submissive heart verses a resisting heart at work within our own souls? Here is the list I’ve complied so far: Leaning in/Submitting to God means:

  1. I enter into a situation with a soft heart.
  2. I search God out, I seek his heart on a matter.
  3. I don’t give up on God when hope is deferred, but I persist on the narrow path with patient endurance.
  4. I don’t retreat when it gets scary, I continue to show up, leaning on God for courage.
  5. I trust God even when I don’t have it figured out.
  6. I cultivate faithfulness toward God in all uncertainties.

Submission & Responding

There is a correlation between submission and responding. The goal of each is unity, movement together, moving forward. It implies a partnership. Think of a couple ballroom dancing, one leads, the other responds. There is a fluidity, a rhythm to the exchange that makes it captivating. The responding of the “submissive” partner happens within the leader’s timing, they are in sync, moving together, moving as one, and yet, there is a clear leader and a follower. Something is required of the follower, she must show up fully. Imagine how differently the dance would look if the follower misunderstood submission as do nothing, go limp and let the leader drag you to where he wants to go…not so captivating anymore.

I think the beauty of the word “Submission” is deeply opposed by a vengeful enemy who seeks to destroy the goodness of life’s most meaningful relationships. And at the top of the list of abundant relational fulfillment is your potential ability to bond, connect, submit, and respond to God. The very idea of submission has been shrouded in a cold and oppressive darkness until the word can no longer sound relational at all.

One of my personal misconceptions about submission that God has exposed recently is thinking that submission means to lay down and disappear, play dead, essentially. This misconception carries with it the idea that the thoughts, actions, and input of the person in the submissive position are not really of interest or value and they are just to go along with whatever their leader decides.

This shows up in our prayers when we take the “God, tell me what to do” approach every time we come before him. Now, there is nothing wrong with seeking God’s will, we want to know his will so that we can live within it, but if our prayers are solely looking for instruction from God rather than drawing close to him and cultivating the relationship, then we are not showing up and standing on your own two feet, we are not bringing our hearts fully into the relationship and it is difficult to relate to a non-person. “Just tell me what do,” is not a relational approach to something, because it is removing the self from the equation. This is not how we get out of God’s way, this is how we become dead weight in the partnership.

Consider Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, he was seeking God’s will and ready to submit to it, but not from a place of empty resignation, rather he came before his Father as a full man with a full heart. He offered himself fully, requesting his unveiled desire. Do you see how there is no resisting in Jesus’ posture toward God, he isn’t dead weight because he has not deadened his heart to a place of resignation and he is not rebellious because he trusts God and he leans into his Father in all things, submitting fully from a full heart. Only from there could he agree fully to the will of his Father and commit to what needed to be done. He kept no pockets of resentment or resignation stored away to corrode his heart as he walked Via Delarosa to Golgotha. No, he was all in, in full agreement with God. His heart was present in his submission. If his heart had not been present, the submission would have seemed like a wall between him and his God, but with a present heart, the submission bonded them together in a joint mission of one heart and mind.6

Imagine This:

There is a sense of “getting under” authority that is present in submission, but not in a lay down so I can walk over the top of you kind of way, rather in a lean in, your head here, under my head, on my shoulder, fitting with me, putting yourself in a position to be loved and protected kind of way.

Imagine with me for a second that you are in a brand new relationship, you are young and have no idea how this whole dating thing is supposed to work. You are eager to be close to one another, but fairly stiff and and awkward as you wade into this wild new territory. As the girl, you are sitting next to your new guy, enjoying his nearness despite your apprehension when suddenly he puts his arm around you. You stiffen up out of fear and uncertainty and its horribly uncomfortable, his arm feels huge behind your neck and you sit like a log beside him, balancing with anxious energy so you that in your stiffness you aren’t tipped forward and sent falling off your seat. You begin to fidget, trying to figure out how this is supposed to work, when by either accident or some stroke of intuitive genius you lean in. You lower yourself a little so that your head moves into place just below his head, resting somewhere between his shoulder and his chest. You fit here in a way you did not when you resisted. You begin to feel his heartbeat and you know something of him that you didn’t before. Ah, yes, this is good. Your rigid discomfort finally relaxes within his arms and you begin to feel as though you could stay right here forever.

I’ve found “leaning in” to God to feel something like that. God calls me into something new, something scary, something that I have no category for, I don’t have answers for, I haven’t got it figured out yet, and if I resist, remain stiff, hard hearted, distrusting, retreating out of fear, this new thing becomes the most uncomfortable thing in the world and everything within me wants to go back to before when I sat comfortably next to God, but not directly engaged in something with him. But when I decide to trust, to risk, to hope in the character of God and lean into him, my head on his heart, awakened by what stirs and moves him, aware of his movement and responding to his lead, then, even though I might not have anything anymore figured out, all that doesn’t matter as much anymore because I just want to be here, close to my God, held within his arms, listening to the sound of his heart.

That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

By Makaila Mobley


  1. James 1:7
  2. 2 Timothy 1:7
  3. John 14:18
  4. Romans 8:15
  5. Matthew 16:15-17
  6. Matthew 26:36-46
  7. James 4: 6-8

Celebration Stories: Mike Pike & Missy Foltz

The Church is alive and God is on the move. Lives are being changed right here in the midst of the everyday and the ordinary. Eternities are being altered and hearts and minds are being restored. Watch these videos of Mike Pike’s and Missy Foltz’s stories and celebrate the work of God with us!

Mike Pike Testimonial from Redeemer Church on Vimeo.

Missy Foltz testimonial from Redeemer Church on Vimeo.

Both the Pike family and Missy Foltz are all in–bringing all of themselves into the church and impacting our community simply by being them and loving Jesus as they live fully alive, engaged and responding to God’s active restoration within them. In fact, Missy recently was a Kindergarten leader for Redeemer’s VBS. It was clear to all that she brought her whole heart into everything she did as a leader being abundantly enthusiastic, committed and loving. She gave her students a truly unforgettable experience.

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Discipleship at Home: Leading Your Family in Everyday Life

By: Keith RodriguezBlog 2 Discipleship at Home

There is a tension in parenting. How do you invest in your children, maintain a good work-family balance, and raise up kids who will grow into powerful witnesses for Christ? And these are just a few of the inherent issues presented to Christian families in the 21st-century. Consider on top of that the many interests of both ourselves and our children vying for our daily attention: sports, dance, school, church, entertainment, the list goes on and on. In the midst of all this busyness how do we take the time to disciple and train up our family?

What if we are missing teachable moments?

First things first! In case you were not aware, all of our lives are filled with teachable moments, and this is even more important in the presence of our children. Our children are watching each moment, each action, and are logging information, learning and growing, both positively and negatively.

Chip Ingram implies that we should be raising children whom we want to act like ourselves as they grow and mature.1

Yes, this is correct, they will likely emulate the behavior that you exhibit, and as such, you must ensure that you are living in a way that creates teachable moments and conveys Christ-like behavior.

Jeff Vanderstelt calls this missional living, and states,“I define missional living as being continually-sent disciple-makers who live everyday with gospel intentionality so we might both show and tell others what worship of Jesus looks like in the everyday stuff of life.”2

Do you approach your life as a disciple-making endeavor, especially in front of your kids? When you have a conflict with your spouse, do you teach your children how a Christ-centered couple disagrees and reconciles? How a godly family lives in light of grace when others fall short? How godly people enjoy the freedom to appreciate God’s good creation, and blessings?

Are you setting aside purposeful time dedicated to your family’s spiritual growth?

“Fathers (or parents), do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 NIV

Aside from teachable moments, Christian parents are commanded to bring their children up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.” Deut. 6:6-7a

You must introduce a method of intentional discipleship, Bible study, and prayer within your child’s life! Intentional means that it must be consistent, and well thought out. Personally, I recommend a few resources—along with the Bible—to aid in the discipleship of your children:

The Ology by Marty Machowski
Long Story Short by Marty Machowski
Old Story New by Marty Machowski

What if I fall short?

The key within all of this is to have a plan, both deliberately utilizing teachable moments within everyday life, and maintaining thoughtful devotion and study with your kids. I would suggest at least three times per week of purposeful study, and prayer with your children. If you aim to incorporate this everyday, that is awesome, but do not become disheartened and give-up when life becomes too busy and you fail to accomplish your goal. Instead aim for what is practical in your life, and for your family’s needs, with the minimum of three days per week in mind.

Finally, this time creates great opportunities for your kids to discuss the challenges that they are facing in life, to ask questions about God, and to learn how to pray. And don’t be intimidated; your kids are eager to hear what you have to say about God, and with the resources listed above, there is great opportunity for growth, both within our children and within ourselves. Lastly, your church family is here for you, if you need further suggestions or coaching on how to disciple your family, reach out to a pastor or your community group leader.


1Chip Ingram, Effective Parenting in a Defective World (Suwanee, GA: Living on the Edge, 2012) p. 8
2Jeff Vanderstelt, Making Disciples in the Everyday Stuff of Life, Desiring God, 4/29/2015, accessed 6/15/2016, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/making-disciples-in-the-everyday-stuff-of-life, para. 1

Redeemer 101: Gospel-Centered

NEW gospel-centered core value series part article 1

By Chris Gillespie

This series of articles titled “Redeemer 101” is designed to help those who call Redeemer Church “home” better understand who we are as a church and why we do what we do the way we do it. Also, it will be a helpful guide for those searching for a new church home to decide whether or not Redeemer is the right church for them.

As we begin this series I am going to focus on the Core Values that permeate every aspect of the ministry of Redeemer Church. Our Core Values are: Gospel-Centered, Spirit-Empowered, and Mission-Minded. In this article I will briefly describe what we mean by being a “Gospel-Centered” church.

What The Gospel Is

If we are to understand Gospel-Centered ministry we must first make sure we understand what the Gospel is. This is not some side or secondary issue. According to the Apostle Paul it is the foundation for everything else we believe as Christians. He said it this way in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4,

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved….For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (NIV)

Good News, Not Good Advice

First, we see that the Gospel is something to be proclaimed.

Paul said, “the gospel I preached to you”. The word “gospel” means “good news”, and “preach” means to “announce, herald, or proclaim”. In other words, the Gospel is “good news” that is to be announced. It is not “advice” to be debated, but rather it is news to be proclaimed and either received or rejected. D.A. Carson explains it this way, “Because the gospel is news, good news…it is to be announced; that is what one does with news….the core message is not a code of ethics to be debated, still less a list of aphorisms to be admired and pondered, and certainly not a systematic theology to be outlined and schematized. Though it properly grounds ethics, aphorisms, and systematics, it is none of these three: it is news, good news, and therefore must be publicly announced.”1

Our Rescue

Second, we see that the Gospel is good news announcing that we can be saved.

Paul said that it’s “by this gospel you are saved”. You might be asking, “Saved from what?”, well, the short answer is God’s wrath. In 1 Thessalonians 1:10 we are told to “wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” We also see in Romans 1:18-32 that the greatest problem of humanity is that due to our sinful rebellion against God we are separated from God and under his wrath.

This separation began in Genesis 3 when our first parents, Adam and Eve, willfully chose to rebel against God and this rebellion severed humanity’s relationship with its Creator. Since then every human being has been born a “sinner” by nature and choice, and has turned away from God’s “good life” and chosen to define the “good life” for themselves, which is the ultimate rebellion against the Author of Life. The Gospel is the “good news” that God has done something to repair this relationship and remove God’s wrath from human beings.

Tim Keller explains the issue this way, “The world is out of joint, and we need to be rescued….The reason for all the misery – all the effects of the curse – is that we are not reconciled to God.”2

Our Restoration

Third, we are told that the Gospel is the good news about what Jesus has done to restore our relationship with God.

The Apostle Paul described the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15 by saying, “Christ died for our sins…was buried…and was raised the third day.” So, the Gospel is not about us, however, it is for us. The Gospel is the “good news” that Jesus has done for us what we could have never done for ourselves…made the way for us to be reconciled to God. This is beautifully and succinctly explained in 2 Corinthians 5:18, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ.”

What The Gospel Does

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16a

Now that we have discussed What The Gospel Is, we must now briefly discuss What The Gospel Does. This gets at the heart of why we believe that Gospel-Centered ministry is worth giving our lives to. The Gospel is not a static set of beliefs, but rather it is “the power of God” (Romans 1:16).

But, what does this “power” do? Well, as we continue to read Romans 1:16 we see, “it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”

The Gospel as “the power of God” does two things:

The Gospel Saves

Paul clearly states in Romans 1:16 that the Gospel is “the power of God that brings salvation”.

Since I have already explained why we need to be saved I won’t restate that again. What does need to be said at this point is that salvation doesn’t come through our religion, good deeds, morality, or any other human effort. This belief is what separates the Christian faith from all of the world religions.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”

These verses teach that salvation is by God’s grace through faith freely given as a gift from God. However, it is given to those who believe. Notice it says, “through faith.” This message must be believed and received in order to be applied to our spiritual account.

The Gospel Sanctifies

The Gospel is not only the power to save it is also the power to sanctify. According to Wayne Grudem, sanctification is “A progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and more like Christ in our actual lives.”The Gospel has the power to make us more like Jesus!

One of the ways we express this truth around Redeemer is, “The Gospel is for Christians too.” I believe this needs to be said because often the Gospel is only thought of as the power to make people who are not Christians into Christians. This is a wonderful truth, but it is short sighted. The Gospel does more than make people Christians, it is also the power to make them act like Christians!

We see this incredible truth in the opening lines of the letter to the Church in Colossae. After expressing his joy of hearing about the faith of these Christians, the Apostle Paul says this about what the gospel, “In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the world – just as it has been among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.”

Did you catch that? Paul said, “the gospel is bearing fruit…among you”. The Gospel had been “bearing fruit” within the life of the church, and the daily lives of the people were more and more reflecting the character and nature of Jesus.

The Gospel & Sushi: An Illustration

You might be wondering how that actually works. Let me illustrate it this way…with Sushi.

There was a time in my life when I despised the thought of eating Sushi. The idea of putting raw fish into my mouth and chewing would create a gag reflex in me every time I would hear people talking about it. That was until….I actually ate some.

Initially the texture felt a little strange in my mouth as I was chewing, but it didn’t take long for me to get the hang of it. A few days later I found myself actually craving it. What I discovered was…the more I ate Sushi…the more I grew to love it…to the point now that I actually crave it pretty consistently in my life.

The Gospel is like that in the life of the believer. Initially it’s a bit foreign to our “work hard, nothing’s for free” world, but the longer you chew on the beauty of the “Good News” you soon come to realize there is nothing that satisfies more than Jesus. Then you find yourself loving Jesus more, and wanting to know him more. All of a sudden your life is changing…almost out of habit. Rather than our transformation coming from purely hard work and effort, transformation begins to take place in our life the deeper the Gospel goes into our heart. The more we grow to love Jesus and want to know him, the more we will see our lives line up with the kind of life he is calling us to live in the world.

This is why we focus so much on the Person and Work of Jesus, which is The Gospel. It’s only through a deeper love for and understanding of Jesus and what He has done for us that we are transformed into his image.

Why would we focus on anything else?


  1. D.A. Carson, “What is the Gospel? –Revisited,” in For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper, ed. Sam Storms and Justin Taylor (Wheaton, Ill: Crosway, 2010), p.158.
  2.  Timothy Keller, Center Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), pg.29.
  3. Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), p.746.