True Freedom

Happy Fourth of July!

The independence of the United States of America is a worthy cause to celebrate. There is much to be grateful for. The Founding Fathers of this nation established a Constitution which protects the “natural rights” of the citizens who live here (inalienable rights – “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”).

On this Fourth of July:

1) I’m thankful that we live in a nation that protects the “rights” that are given to us by God.

2) I’m thankful that we are positioned to live, and enjoy, life for the glory of God and the good of others.

3) I’m thankful that we celebrate freedom, share it with each other, and model it for other nations around the world.

There is no perfect display of democracy on this side of eternity, but as Matt Chandler points out – “Where the ideal is lacking, grace abounds.”

Pray for our nation and our leaders. Scripture reminds us that “there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God (Rom. 13:1).” Regardless of our political ideologies, let’s press into our primary (Kingdom) citizenship and trust the Sovereignty of God.

The independence of our nation is a shadow of the freedom that we have in Christ. Enjoy your freedom, honor God with your freedom, and steward your freedom wisely.

-Pastor Andrew

Pictures of Grace: Baptism Testimonies

This week we had the pleasure of celebrating baptisms during both of our Sunday morning services, and we praise God for the life transformation represented in the pictures of grace testimonies shared below!

If you, or someone you know, would like to be baptized, or has a story of life transformation they want to celebrate with their GCC family, please share it with us by emailing info@gospelcc.org.

Pictures of Grace | Alli Washburn from Gospel Community on Vimeo.

Pictures of Grace | Kaleb Van De Perre from Gospel Community on Vimeo.

Pictures of Grace | Josh Creasy from Gospel Community on Vimeo.

Pursuing Emotional Health

iceburg

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” Proverbs 4:23

In the third part of our journey through a series called Gospel Transformation, we ventured into a conversation on the topic of Emotional Health (If you missed the message, you can catch the audio here). Our aim with this series is not to fully address and equip the saints to walk in full maturity in each of the topics covered each week, starting day 1. Rather, our aim for the series is to clarify for our church family in this vital season, where we believe Jesus has focused our attention in this next chapter of the life of our church.

Here are 2 things to consider before taking any next steps after this past weekend’s look at Emotional Health:

  1. The journey of reflection and inspection of our inner lives, as well as toward self-awareness, is hard work. At times and for almost everyone it will be painful and overwhelming. So we have to embrace gospel-endurance, Spirit-dependance, and keep the long view in mind as we take steps to address the condition of our hearts.
  2. You will have to step into vital relationships, both inside our church family and possibly outside via professional counselors or therapists. We will do the best we can to provide community, resources, and next steps for you, but we have limits. To take the journey toward whole gospel transformation, each one of us will have to take advantage of the opportunities, resources, and relationships available to us.

And remember, it’s okay to not be okay. And by God’s grace through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we don’t have to stay that way. 

So here are some initial resources we would recommend, and ideally in this order:

  1. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero. Scazzero does a wonderful job of helping the reader see the breadth and priority of emotional heath, and what happens when we don’t do the work of tending to our inner lives. You should expect to come away with a better understanding of what Emotional Health is (and isn’t), as well as some broad practical expectations for the journey.
  2. This talk by Gordon MacDonald is helpful in understanding the why and how of paying attention to your inner life. MacDonald’s personal story and the journey he’s been on are compelling and provide key next steps for healthy, godly self-reflection and the discipline of tending to your inner life.
  3. Wholeheartedness by Chuck DeGroat is a helpful tool that exposes the tendencies of the emotionally unhealthy heart and helps to provide ways to correct those tendencies. DeGroat operates from a Christian Therapist’s perspective, so the book delves deep into the science of the brain and one’s view of self, in light of the gospel.
  4. Lastly, when you have come to a place of increasing self-awareness, and have come to grips with your limitations and tendencies, a great practical guide to taking next steps on your lifelong journey of applying the gospel to your heart is Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald.

We have just scratched the surface of the matters of the heart. But the reality is the whole gospel transforms the whole person. Being in Christ means to be continually transformed into the image of Jesus, from one degree to the next (2 Corinthians 3:17-18, 2 Corinthians 5:14-21). So now, we must turn to the difficult but essential work of tending to our inner lives, in the context of healthy community, for the glory of Christ.

Praise Christ, we have not been left alone in the journey.

Texts for further reading:

Deuteronomy 6:4-6 (and Luke 10:27)
Ecclesiastes 3:9-11
Psalm 13
Psalm 63
Psalm 139
Matthew 11:29
1 Corinthians 13:1-8
2 Corinthians 3:17-8
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
2 Corinthians 5:14-21
Ephesians 3:14-21

Reyes of Sunshine: Multiplication in Mexico

Reyes Family

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

God’s TIMING is perfect!

When God orchestrated for me to come to the United States in 2005, I was and still am amazed at His timing and sovereignty. From the beginning, I could see that it was God’s will for my life to come to the States and get trained in youth ministry. From getting a passport to a plane ticket, everything fell into place in record time for me to arrive in America. (The Mexican government isn’t exactly known for their efficiency and speedy paperwork processes.) Because of God’s timing, I came to school for the fall semester instead of the spring semester, as I had expected to. I met my beautiful wife, Erika, that first week!

I came to know the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior when I was 17 years old. I attended a different church than the one I had been going to, and I heard for the first time that Jesus died for my sins, rose again, and I could experience new life in Christ by simply accepting His free gift of salvation! Since day that, I have been a recipient of His love and faithfulness in my life. What a privilege it is to be a Christ-follower.

I have experienced the needs of Mexican youth firsthand. As a believing teenager, God placed a burden on my heart for the people of my country. So, I left my affluent job to enter the ministry. My goal has always been to get trained in youth ministry and to go back to Mexico. I transferred from Rio Grande Bible Institute to Liberty University, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Youth Ministry in 2011.

The last 12 years haven’t always been easy. It took time for me to adapt to a new culture and to learn English. Going long periods of time without seeing my family in Mexico (and not eating tacos!) was difficult at times. But it has all been worth it! I know God has called me and it is His will that I seek to follow – no matter the cost.

Did you know? 

  • Over 95% of the formally trained youth workers in the world are here in the U.S. ministering to 3% of the world’s young people!
  • In the U.S. there is 1 formally trained youth leader for every 600 youth….
  • In the rest of the world, there is one formally trained youth leader for every 600,000 youth.
  • There are 2.3 billion youth who have not heard the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Currently, there are 20 million 14 year olds in Mexico. Do the math, and you can see the great need to reach the youth for Christ!

Our mission board is called Youth Ministry International (YMI). The focus of our ministry consists of training various leaders from the church in youth ministry so they then can return to their local church and reach out to the young people in their community with the Good News of the Gospel – a much needed message for today’s youth in Mexico!

From its inception, YMI has been a response to the needs of the local church all over the world. The goal is to equip youth workers worldwide with the biblical principles that are necessary in developing a biblically sound & culturally relevant strategy for reaching the youth of the nations.

Our prayer is to equip the churches of Latin America with the tools they need to fulfill God’s calling on their lives.

The heartbeat of YMI captures the very essence of why we’re moving to Mexico City. I am a national going back to train other nationals! The strategy is multiplication – training youth workers!

We will be working in Mexico City and in the different states within Mexico. I will have the opportunity to travel to various Latin American countries and teach youth ministry classes and seminars. Classes will be offered in a modular format, offering youth leaders from all over the region the chance to receive the training without having to travel outside their country to get formal Bible training. The goal is to reproduce youth leaders who implement the training they’ve received in their local church body, and who will begin to formally train other individuals in youth ministry.

Erika and I are very excited and grateful for how God has opened doors for our family to make the permanent move to Mexico this summer. We praise God for our time in Lynchburg and for the wonderful relationships we share with so many of you. We will especially miss Gospel Community Church and our Gospel Community group.

Dios les bendiga ~ God bless you!

Pray for Rain: Famine 2017

There are 20 million people in danger of starvation this summer.

Let that sink in.

The media has been widely quiet on the issue, but you can get more details on how drought, famine, and war in Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia leave 20 million on the brink in this article from the Washington Post.

As the church, what can we do?

PRAY and lead others to pray!
Pray for peace.  In many cases violence is the key hurdle restricting distribution of food and water.
Pray for rain!  There are millions of people who have no other hope.
 

ADVOCATE stay informed and spread the word in your circle of influence.

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