Grace Church of Fredericksburg, VA – Alpha 2013

We’ve been with Grace Church for a long time, but one of my favorite events has been the Alpha program.  For three Sundays, our church transformed the worship center into a fellowship hall where everyone was asked to invite friends and enjoy breakfast, a short sermon and then a chance to talk to one another about what they had just heard.  It was a great outreach.

Here’s a quick video with some snapshots of the event.

Preparing for Church


Getting Up and Out the Door

It’s a challenge… every weekend.  Every weekend, we look at each other in the morning, count to three and start the motions that get our children out of bed and us in the shower.  Then we have to make sure they brush teeth, have breakfast, put on apparel that shows no belly and covers them up to their necks.  Then to jump in the car, get to church setup whatever task we have that morning and then…wait. Our service starts at 10:00, but we watch as the church body floats in around 10:30. 

On Time

Now, I’ve given up long ago judging people who come in “late” for church.  Ultimately it’s between them and God.  I’m responsible to get my own family up in enough time to get prepared and get to church on time, but what is “on time”?  I’ve taken on some responsibilities that create a need to be there about an hour before church is scheduled to start.  That was me… not everyone.

I feel bad that the worship team starts to play and only a quarter of the people are there at 10:00, but  that’s not the point of this post.   It’s almost expected that “church” people are going to be late.  It’s happened in every church that I’ve ever attended.  For someone who insists on being on time, it’s an enigma. 

Getting Ready for Church or Getting Prepared for Church

I’ve chatted with a number of families over the past two year who have expressed indifference for the Church altogether.  I have to admit that I struggle with the routine of meeting together, but then I remember, that contrary the Americanized Christianity, there are people who are literally dying all over the world, just to be able to meet together.  They have read the Bible and found the many verses like this one in Hebrews…

Hebrews 10: 24 and 25

24and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

25not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

There are men and women being killed in front of their children because of their love for Christ and willingness to make the sacrifice to meet with other believers to share and be supported.  This fact and these scriptures trivializes my lazy desire to stay in bed for an extra hour on Sunday.

It compels me to ask the question “Am I getting ready for church or am I preparing for Church?”  Notice that I capitalized the second occurrence of “Church” in the proceeding question.  I think there is no value going to a building with a bunch of other people on Sunday morning – but to go and meet with other believers to share and to support one another, to meet together and to advance the Kingdom; than  that I am willing to engage in.  The dissenters (also known as heretics) who disregard most of the New Testament in order to indulge in their disregard for the church body are missing the value of a Christ ordained gathering and the magnificent work that has resulted in believers joining together over the years.  Say what you will about the failings of today’s church, I just can’t imagine a world without it.

It’s for this reason that I am starting my Sunday mornings a little earlier, turning on some worship music, concentrating harder on making the preparation to go to church a little less militant in the house.  I want to start preparing my family for being the Church and not going to one.


The Prayer Walk

Yesterday members of our church met together and walked down Main Street in Bowling Green, VA and prayed quietly for our community.  Here are some photos from that walk.

If you’d like to see the individual pictures, you can click HERE.

What’s a “Wannabe” to Do?


I’m a Wannabe

There is no question in my mind, that I love Christ more than anything, except perhaps myself.  I know that it’s not popular to voice this type of confession.  I know that people will judge, but the reality is that I still do things my way.  I don’t WANT to be that way – I’d love to know how to “die to self”.  As passionate as I am for Christ, I have a hard time abiding in his mercy and benevolence.  I desire to be more like him, but simply fail – often. 

I am not comforted by the fact that others have this same struggle.  I have desire to show His love, but fail.  I have a passion for seeing God’s best in people’s lives; but not always the patience to build the trust needed to convey this.  I’m a “Wannabe”….

I want to have the Wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Samson and the passion of David.  I want to show love, as Christ did and to have His humility. 

Getting Over Ones’ Self

I think it’s not only hypocrisy, but an out right lie to think that any of us are where Christ desires us to be.  I laugh when I recently heard someone say  “God has really worked on humbling me, He’s done that to use me for better things.”  Isn’t this presumptive in and of itself?  I use this example, but I think that while judging the “humble guy’s” motivation for bragging about being humble, I was judging his motivation. 

Psalm 69:5

O God, thou knowest my foolishness; And my sins are not hid from thee.

I am foolish. I’ve squandered opportunity to share with my passion with friends and family at times.  I’ve been cynical of how others have related to God and questioned their motivations.  I’ve not always been wrong, but there are many times when I’ve questioned God’s wisdom without simply trusting that His way is best. 

All of this has made me nutzy, and struck with guilt at my own arrogance.  I’ve not always been able to maintain my status as a “Wannabe”.  Luckily we find this verse in 1st John:

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Using Power for Good and not Evil

I love picking on the goofiness of the church and even with the prelude of the preceding paragraph, I can tell you that not all satire or snarky remarks about the Church are about God.  Hardly any of them are.  The Church has so lost the heart of God in pursuit of melding with the culture to the point that I find…..well, stupid. 

The culture today is running, not walking, away from “Church” we’re not what we were intended to be.  I find it hard, at times, to separate my cynical side; from my “Wannabe” side.  when I see a TV evangelist with the corny “Christianese” lines and swinging his jacket over his head, while asking for money – I just laugh and think THAT’s what the world thinks of us all. 

I want the church to be so much more, but where is the line?  At what point does recognition of the church’s failings just become judgment?

Jesus Wants the Rose!

I’ve referenced Matt Chandler here before.  He’s certainly my favorite preacher.  His relevant and timely message of grace and one of the most moving I’ve ever heard.  He gives me hope that there are churches out there that still area a church and do not just “play” church.



You can subscribe to the messages at Village Church HERE.

The Unreliable Church


Revelations 3:15-16 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other. So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of mouth.

What Happened to Committment 

I’ve often thought about the letters to the Churches in the New Testament and if a letter were to be written today, what would it look like? I think it would address the lack of committment to the Church.  I have been getting increasingly unsettled as I hear professed Christians spreading diatribe in regards to socialism.  I’m not a fan of socialism, but I understand that there are needs out there that simply aren’t being met by the church.  With the election of President Obama there seems to be an onslaught of people who feel that as a Christian they simply must speak against welfare and socialism.  Fine, whatever….but remember, the church was appointed to care for these people.  The nature of life is to fill voids.  If a non-believer doesn’t have God to worship, they will worship other things; money, celebrties, music etc…  If God’s people will not fulfil their mandate, the need does not cease to exist.

James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world

What are you, as the Body of Christ, doing to help the widows, orphans, single mothers, homeless and the hungry.  I don’t agree with many of the President’s policies or social views, but an angry church raging against the world, is exactly what the world expects of the us.  Anger from the Church toward the world is rarely useful as a tool of change.  (read Matthew 22: 17 and 21)  Look at the Bible, with virtually no exception (I can think of only one) Christ’s rebukes and challenges come against the religious Church leaders and not the Romans.

Oh sure, we’re happy to go to the other side of the world for a few days to pray with and deliver supplies to children of other countries; but what are you doing here at your local church?  I’ve recently spoke to a pastor from a church, not my own, who shared my lament of  the Church, as promises are made and not kept.  Our primary observations have been that those younger Baby Boomers, Gen X and Y are the least dedicated to their commitments and promises.  Look around, and you’ll see that the older generations and those who attend more traditional churches are almost always more involved and more dedicated to their Church Body.

The Body is Wounded

The Body is hurting and its hurting because we’re dependant on one another and those parts performing their calling and contributing to the church.  Unfortunately the church of the past generation, bleeding into the upcoming generation, is so accustomed to being entertained and served, that we’ve lost the ability to be dedicated to anyone that doesn’t feed that indulgence.  Don’t believe me?  Look around at most any Evangelical church and notice that the number of people who arrive “on time”.  I’m not being legalistic, I’m talking about pure disrespect for everyone else.  In most cases this is symptom of someone who places their leisure above respecting those who are there to serve.  Most of these people would never be late for work.  How about those that agree to lead a ministry and then acutely resign, because it becomes challenging?  Or those who leave a church after committing to it, because they haven’t made any “friends”.  Friendship and dedication require action and effort.  Being engaged takes time.  A church takes engagement, relationship, effort and dedication.  Christians cannot put their own entertainment, comfort and laziness ahead of God and then expect to met their destiny or calling!

Are you a Symptom or a Cure?

I’ll be the first to admit.  I’ve become a victim of frustration and indifference at times with the American Church.  A church that can met freely without threat of government action, and is the least passionate about being part of the Body.  There are far too many distractions, but they are hardly to blame.  You, as a believer, have every ability to stand up and say, here I am – use me! 

Isaiah 6: 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”  And I said, “Here am I.  Send ME!”

I am not apologizing for sounding angry….I am angry!  I am agnry at myself and at the others in church who profess to be part of the Body, but are luke-warm and only participate in the Body when it feds their narcissistic need for enlightened self interest and entertainment.  It’s as if Christians feel this is a country club, where those with similar beliefs gather for cocktails on Sunday mornings.  The Church’s of other lands, can sit for an entire day and listen to His word, they will pray for hours until the Lord has moved in miraculous way and here we sit in America and take no action that doesn’t “benefit” us and doesn’t meet our schedule.

“For Such A Time As This”

I’ve yet to meet a believer that hasn’t said “I just want God to use me”, but I often question if they really mean it.  

Esther 4:14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews (Christians) will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish.  And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?

I think we are all given this option:  you can choose to use your life to serve Christ or you can be silent.  If you’re given the gift of music; sing.  If you’re given the gift to teaching; teach.  If you can pray, do so and to serve, be a servant!  Do it, do it well, do it for your Savior, do it for the Body.  The time is now, and where you may feel that leading worship, child care, sound or accounting may not be a grand enough calling the Word says this:

Matthew 25:26 & 27 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where i have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

I’ve found that many people volunteer or offer to participant and ministries, but after a short time, or when it’s no longer convenient they fade away.

Matthew 5:37 But let you r statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil

I know that this is a difficult post and that today’s Christian desires to be challenged, not at all.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard on Christian or another tell me that they finished a book or scripture because it was too condemning or didn’t match the God of Love that they worshipped.  I happen to think that if something doesn’t challenge me or push me to be better than it was a waste of time for me to read.  The mere fact that the Son of God came and died for YOU, should make you uneasy, pressured and challenged.  Love such as that is incomprehensible for us!




In need of a Body


The Question

Recently I was asked, “Does the Bible actually say that I people have to go to church?”

My Answer

There are numerous edicts to participate in the “Body” of Christ. I’ve never stumbled on one New Testament scripture that commanded us to attend church.  However, we can see by reading the Word that we are to participate in the Body.  As I’ve said before, you cannot take one solitary scripture and make a theology based on it.

1 John 1:7 (New Living Translation) 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (New Living Translation) One Body with Many Parts 12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles,[a] some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.[b] 14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. 27 All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. 28 Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: first are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages. 29 Are we all apostles? Are we all prophets? Are we all teachers? Do we all have the power to do miracles? 30 Do we all have the gift of healing? Do we all have the ability to speak in unknown languages? Do we all have the ability to interpret unknown languages? Of course not! 31 So you should earnestly desire the most helpful gifts. But now let me show you a way of life that is best of all.

“Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them”

Those of just some of many that come to mind. Christianity in a bubble (as in just you and Christ in your living room by yourself) isn’t benefiting the Body.  That isn’t to say that we shuoldn’t strive for and take advantage of quiet time.

 We are commanded to live by Christ’s example. You can see that in the New Testament there are MANY references to Him attending the Sabbath. He healed on it, prayed on it and was experiencing face offs with those religious Pharisees on the Sabbath. Well, He couldn’t exactly face off with them, if He wasn’t in the church on the Saturday mornings when the Pharisees were.  (note that the church met on Saturdays until yeasr after Christ’s death, at which point they move the services to Sundays, as reportedly Christ rose form the dead on the first day of the week, which would be Sunday.)

I’ve struggled with this question in the past. Each time that I see someone who is trying to living out their Christianity in their living room, I’ve found that its because they were challenged by church leadership. Church leadership is VERY much a requirement in the scriptures and being submitted to a church is VERY much a requirement. There is typically a certain level of  rebellion against God that is a common thread in the believers that refuse to go to a church. I don’t necessarily believe that non-church goers are not Christians, but I do believe the Bible is clear that it’s we are to be engaged with the Body of Believers. Iron sharpens iron….

Lastly, I also feel that its a level of laziness for those who haven’t fervently prayed and sought out God’s desire in which church they are to attend. Going to a church where one feels “comfortable” or able to “blend in” isn’t finding the fullness of the Body.

If you aren’t challenged by God’s word and His Being than you simply aren’t reaching the fullness of of His relationship. Biblically every revelation, every Word from God, every encounter is suppose to be edified by another believer – it’s the only way to truly know that we’re in God’s will.

I am fairly self reliant, but I don’t depend on just mine or my wife’s confirmation that my beliefs or actions are right. I need someone who also hears from God to confirm it.