7.24.2014

Nothing Can Compare!



It is our joy and privilege to introduce you to Vaneetha Rendall, guest speaker for our last Sweet Mercies meeting of the year on August 24th. Some of you may know Vaneetha as Melanie Wasko's dear friend, or you might know her through her popular blog: danceintherain.com. Vaneetha is an accomplished...everything! :) She is a gifted writer whose articles appear on the Desiring God blog, and is a skilled public speaker. We are DELIGHTED to have Vaneetha with us!!

The evening's theme is, "Nothing Can Compare." Scripture tells us that our present sufferings cannot begin to compare with the glory that will be revealed to us. Even while we affirm that truth, we know that the struggles we face are real and that they threaten to destroy our faith if they seem purposeless. In Vaneetha's own life, understanding a fraction of that purpose through various trials has enabled her to draw nearer to God and to see that nothing can compare with the joy of walking with him, even in our darkest days. Vaneetha speaks as one who has seen trouble- the death of an infant son, a husband who abandoned she and two daughters, and the debilitating effects of post-polio syndrome. It will be a blessing to hear testimony about a God who is FAITHFUL to uphold and sustain. Please don't miss being with us!

To whet your appetite and to bless your soul, please read more about/from Vaneetha:

Vaneetha's blog

Desiring God articles

From our lowest emotional points come our most significant growth. Our greatest dependence on God. Our platform of ministry. It is in these low points that God does His deepest work in us.

Can't wait for August 24th!

7.18.2014

Coffee with Jen


Jen talks about God's expectations of us compared to our own.  She loves to drink a cup of green tea in the mornings with a teaspoon of honey. 

I am my worst critic at all times! I am very hard on myself. I feel like I always set myself up for failure because I have this high standard that is unachievable for the way a "Christian" should live. I also try to apply those same standards to my life which causes a lot of disappointment on my part. I am somewhat "OCD" which adds even more pressure to my supposed high standards because I always want my house to look perfect which with kids is impossible!  My husbands always telling me, " it's ok you didn't finish the dishes or have clothes neatly put away in everyone's drawer before bed". My family is afraid I'm going to turn my kids into little OCD children because I require them to do things a certain way and everything must be in its place before they go to bed. I make my daughter get up early for school so that she can make her bed and make sure her room is just so before she leaves for the day.  

I need to adjust my expectations for my life and reading Romans 8:1-4 helps me do that. 

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

God knew I couldn't be perfect.  He loved me so much He gave me a way to spend eternity with Him despite myself. I often have to just take a breath and get a hold of myself and use this chapter as a reminder that I can't do this without His grace. God's grace fully covers me. He expects me to try my best. Some days I feel my best is only 20%, but I know even if it's a bad day he will meet me that other 80%. In verse 38, it speaks of how nothing can separate us from His love. I think of how much I love my children and want them to succeed in everything they do, and to know that our Father wants that even more for us is comforting.

A little about Jen: 
I have been married to my best friend Josh for 10 years.  We have two beautiful children, Keira Marie, age six and Seth Alexander, age two.  My husband is a Firefighter/EMT for the City of Norfolk and I get the awesome opportunity of being a stay at home mom. Being a stay at home mom is something I have wanted since I was a little girl. We prayed for five years for me to be able to stay at home with the kids and last year my dream finally came true.  So for all of the working mom's who share this same dream, continue to believe for it! God can and will provide a way. It is just not always in our timing.

7.17.2014

5 Points, God's Glorious Sovereignty in Salvation: Perseverance of the Saints


The fifth point of the “Five Points of Calvinism” is known as “Perseverance of the Saints”—the teaching that nothing, NOT ONE THING, can separate us from the love of Christ! God will enable and preserve His people to walk in faith to the end of their days. Of all the five points, this is the one that I call to mind most often in my Christian walk because it informs my future and gives me great hope. The other five points instruct my thinking about what God has done for me in the past—which is AMAZING in itself—but, this point contains sweet assurance for the future, as Jesus describes in John 10:27-29:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 

“Perseverance of the Saints” is often misunderstood as teaching that it does not matter what Christians “do,” but that is NOT at all what it means. Paul tells the early church in Philippians 2:12-13:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

This verse is so interesting because it speaks of both our responsibility to obey the Lord and yet, it brings everything ultimately back to God: for it is GOD who works in you. In other words, make every effort to “BE who you ARE” (2 Peter 1:3-10).

This “point” also magnifies God’s faithfulness, power, and continued compassion for His people. Let these promises steep in your heart:

-God’s covenant of peace will not be removed from you (Isaiah 54:10)

-God will put the fear of Himself in your heart so you will not turn from Him (Jeremiah 32:40)

-It is the will of God the Father that Jesus lose none of His own (John 6:39)

-there is an unbreakable chain that begins with your predestination and ends with your glorification (Romans 8:29-30)

-NOTHING can separate you from the love of God….even your own wandering…. (Romans 8:38-39)

-Jesus will sustain you to the end (1 Corinthians 1:8-9)

-the work that God began in you will be brought to completion (Philippians 1:6)

-you are being guarded through faith by God’s power (1 Peter 1:5)

-God will keep you from stumbling in order to present you blameless (Jude 2:24)

As I reflect on this particular point, I am blown away by God’s love for me!!! I can think back to times that I have wandered away, and I KNOW that Jesus—my very GOOD Shepherd—took it on Himself to come and find me, to call me by name and remind me of my first Love. What a wonderful PROMISE this is for the future and what wonderful HOPE for those who have wandered away. If a person is truly a Christian, Jesus will go after him/her just as He has gone after me!!! Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah!!!!

God’s love for you extends from before the foundation of the world and into all eternity! Your salvation begins and ends in Him…what better assurance is there!?!?

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Romans 11:36).

Soli Deo gloria!!!




A little about Debbie:

Debbie is a secretary/receptionist at Redeemer Church. She and her husband, Isaiah, live with their two dogs just a stone's throw away from the church, but somehow they still end up at least 5 minutes late on Sunday mornings. Debbie loves to sing, read, tutor math, encourage people, and listen to her husband tell stories. One day, she and Isaiah want to live on the family farm in North Carolina with a big garden, lots of kids, and the laundry hanging out on the line.

7.04.2014

Sunset Party on the Deck!


Please join us for a party!! On Saturday, July 19 at 6:30pm we'll be enjoying wonderful food and fellowship, along with a wonderful view, at a party on Linda Benson's deck in Virginia Beach. There will be music and refreshments and an opportunity to relax and enjoy one another's company. We would love to have you!! Bring a friend!

Linda's address:
1420 N. Woodhouse Rd.
Virginia Beach, VA 23454

To help with directions, click on the map below.

Map

If you are able to come, please consider grabbing a friend and carpooling! That will help us with parking.

Hope to see you there!!

7.03.2014

5 Points, God's Glorious Sovereignty in Salvation: Unconditional Election


The fourth “point” of the “Five Points of Calvinism” is the doctrine known as Unconditional Election. The doctrine of God’s sovereign election means that God chose specific individuals to be his children before the foundation of the world. The unconditional part means that God chose us according to his own purposes, not because of anything we have done.

The doctrine of election can be a difficult concept for people because it doesn’t seem fair that God would choose some people and not others. But, it must be important to God that we understand it because it is all over the Bible:

Deuteronomy 7:6- For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
John 15:16- You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.

Romans 8:29-30- For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Ephesians 1:4- …he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

Colossians 3:12- Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

1 Peter 2:9- But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Our natural sense of entitlement leads us to believe that God must have chosen us because we are somehow more righteous than those who are not chosen; BUT this is NOT what the Bible says. God tells us that God chose us before the foundation of the world:

-because of his GREAT love for us (Deuteronomy 7:8; Ephesians 2:4)

-because it pleased Him (1 Samuel 12: 22)

-so that his purpose of election might continue (Romans 9:11)

-to give us an underserved GIFT (Ephesians 2:8-9)

-so that no one can boast (1 Corinthians 1:29)

The thought that God has the prerogative to do whatever He chooses is terrifying…until we call to mind the character of God: He is righteous, He is just, He is loving, He is merciful, He is kind, He is faithful, He is good!!! God’s sovereign election flows out of His perfect attributes.

Even though the joint ideas God’s prerogative and his unconditional choice are hard for us to wrap our minds around, they are not so foreign to us as we might imagine. Why does your earthly father love you? Is it because you were such a good baby when you were little? Is it because you made really good grades in school? Is it because you are talented and responsible? OF COURSE NOT!!! Our earthly fathers love us simply because we are their children….there is NO OTHER REASON! Why does it surprise us that our Heavenly Father’s love is any different? God’s love for us stems from His love for us!!! This circular reasoning is maddening because we all want to take at least a little credit for our relationship with God, but the truth is, you have never done anything to warrant, secure, or maintain God’s love for you. God loves you because He loves you. Period.

There is actually great JOY in this truth: when we understand that our election is all of God (not by our merits), we will burst with praise and worship before our merciful God. God receives all the glory!!! Paul tells us in Romans 8:38 that “from him and through him and to him are all things.” ALL THINGS…even the details of your salvation are to the praise of God’s glorious grace! There is also plenty of room for HOPE for the lost: we know that we did nothing to warrant God’s loving choice, so this should encourage us to pray boldly for the salvation of our loved ones and preach boldly….even to the worst sinners.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

What kind of emotions does the thought of being chosen by God—not because of anything that you have done—stir in your heart?


A little about Debbie:

Debbie is a secretary/receptionist at Redeemer Church. She and her husband, Isaiah, live with their two dogs just a stone's throw away from the church, but somehow they still end up at least 5 minutes late on Sunday mornings. Debbie loves to sing, read, tutor math, encourage people, and listen to her husband tell stories. One day, she and Isaiah want to live on the family farm in North Carolina with a big garden, lots of kids, and the laundry hanging out on the line.