A Dose of Grace in a Simple Question

By Will Pavone, Former Young Adults and Edge Community Pastor @MBCTysons

In our summer preaching series, we’re talking about recapturing a zealous love for the Lord Jesus and how we need to live a life of ongoing repentance from everything that tempts us to stray in our fidelity to Him. One of the steps in the process of repentance is having a “holy resolve” to walk in obedience to Christ. I have found that in my Christian life I need the sanctifying grace that God dispenses in the context of biblical community to overcome the many ways my heart is tempted to sin.

Below is one of the best and most practical tools I’ve ever used in order to grow in my obedience to Christ and my resolve to refrain from sinning. These diagnostic questions help foster deep accountability with our close Christian community. I want to encourage you to work through these in the context of a small group or discipleship relationship. Discipleship is a two way street, so be prepared to answer any of the questions that you choose to use in your group. My suggestion is to work through one of these questions each time you meet. I know you will be blessed, and God will use them for your good and His glory!

Diagnostic Questions:

  • What are some specific things that God is teaching you from His Word right now?
  • How is God’s Word making its way to application in your life?
  • What areas of growth have you identified in your own spiritual life? What’s one area you need to grow in?
  • Where are you finding life right now? (What we mean by “life” is joy, satisfaction, meaning, identity, etc.)
  • What verses are you using to fight the temptation of impurity? (i.e.“fighter verses”)
  • When is the last time you looked at pornography?
  • What’s an area in your life that God wants you to be free of?
  • How are you living on mission this week/month?
  • Is there an unbeliever in your life that you are intentionally engaging with in spiritual conversations?
  • Who have you been intentional to edify (build up) recently? How could you intentionally encourage (spur on) a fellow believer this week?
  • Is there a specific sin area in your life where you are seeing change?
  • How can we celebrate God’s transforming grace in your life this week/month?
  • How are you currently using your finances to glorify God?
  • Are there any upcoming spending decisions that I can speak into or pray for wisdom with you?
  • Is there any person in your life from whom you are withholding forgiveness?
  • When is the last time you practiced the Matthew 18 principle of conflict resolution? Is there anyone in your life you currently need to engage in this way?
  • Do the people you work with know that you are a believer in Christ?

The Most Important Thing

By Rachel Thomas, Director of Discipleship for Women & Ministry Teams @MBCLoudoun

Why should we know Christ? If we have accepted the free gift of grace through Jesus’ death and resurrection, live a good and moral life, read our Bible every now and then on our own, pay attention enough during the sermon to recite facts about the Bible and who Jesus is, then we can pass as a Christian, right?

In Philippians 3:4-6 Paul says, “…If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.”

Paul gives us his “spiritual resume.” He has a pretty impressive one, too! Others saw him as impeccably religious. His righteousness was seen and acknowledged by all the important Jews of his day. He was found blameless! No matter what your involvement in the church—whether you are a discipleship group leader, head of the usher team, a member of the choir or part of a team flying around the world to serve on a mission trip in the slums—that is not what you should be known by. Those are all good things. Those are all important things. In fact, I depend heavily on my volunteers who serve faithfully and sacrificially! But religious activity is not the most important thing.

Paul continues in Philippians 3, “…but whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (vs. 7).

This “loss” is damage or loss like you would file as an insurance claim after some sort of disaster or accident. Isn’t that a crazy picture of how some Christians live their lives today? They invest their good deeds and religious-ness in hopes that one day they can cash in for a return on their investment. Almost sounds like using the sacrifice of God’s Son as fire insurance to get out of hell free, doesn’t it? How sad! Paul counts this type of good behavior as a measurable, verifiable loss. What he once trusted in as religious assets, he now sees as liabilities, which got in the way of truly knowing Christ.

Paul continues in verse 8, “more than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish….” We need to lose ourselves. Our identity in people and positions. Our good deeds. Count it all as if it were in a can going to the curb on trash day, that we may gain Christ. He is enough. All our self-righteous deeds are worthless compared to knowing Christ.

What losses are you currently experiencing as you actively pursue knowing Christ? Do you truly consider knowing Him the most important thing in life? If we view Jesus as our Lord and Master, shouldn’t He have full control of our days? Our schedules? Our titles and identities?

We need to lose ourselves to be found in Christ, as Paul writes in verse 9. We must be so closely intertwined with Him that we cannot be separated. I’m not married, but have been a part of enough weddings that I feel like there should be some sort of “Frequent Bridesmaid” card that when you purchase a dozen dresses, you get one free (or at least half off!). My favorite line of the sacred wedding vows, “forsaking all others and being united forever,” chokes me up every single time. Matthew 19:6 commands, “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” This picture of marriage is a picture of the Gospel. If you are in Christ, God has joined you together with His Son so that you are one. The Father no longer sees just you or your sin, but Christ. There is no separation.

Knowing Christ is the most important thing in life. We don’t have to lose ourselves for nothing because Christ is everything. He is worth any suffering because He made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

35 X-Ray Questions for the Heart

By Mike Kelsey, Campus Pastor @MBCSilverSpring

These questions, from David Powlison’s book, Seeing with New Eyes (pages 132-40), are very helpful in identifying the “functional gods” that drive your life.

  1. What do you love? Hate?
  2. What do you want, desire, crave, lust, and wish for? What desires do you serve and obey?
  3. What do you seek, aim for, and pursue?
  4. Where do you bank your hopes?
  5. What do you fear? What do you not want? What do you tend to worry about?
  6. What do you feel like doing?
  7. What do you think you need? What are your ‘felt needs’?
  8. What are your plans, agendas, strategies, and intentions designed to accomplish?
  9. What makes you tick? What sun does your planet revolve around? What do you organize your life around?
  10. Where do you find refuge, safety, comfort, escape, pleasure, and security?
  11. What or whom do you trust?
  12. Whose performance matters? On whose shoulders does the well being of your world rest? Who can make it better, make it work, make it safe, make it successful?
  13. Whom must you please? Whose opinion of you counts? From whom do you desire approval and fear rejection? Whose value system do you measure yourself against? In whose eyes are you living? Whose love and approval do you need?
  14. Who are your role models? What kind of person do you think you ought to be or want to be?
  15. On your deathbed, what would sum up your life as worthwhile? What gives your life meaning?
  16. How do you define and weigh success and failure, right or wrong, desirable or undesirable, in any particular situation?
  17. What would make you feel rich, secure, prosperous? What must you get to make life sing?
  18. What would bring you the greatest pleasure, happiness, and delight? The greatest pain or misery?
  19. Whose coming into political power would make everything better?
  20. Whose victory or success would make your life happy? How do you define victory and success?
  21. What do you see as your rights? What do you feel entitled to?
  22. In what situations do you feel pressured or tense? Confident and relaxed? When you are pressured, where do you turn? What do you think about? What are your escapes? What do you escape from?
  23. What do you want to get out of life? What payoff do you seek out of the things you do?
  24. What do you pray for?
  25. What do you think about most often? What preoccupies or obsesses you? In the morning, to what does your mind drift instinctively?
  26. What do you talk about? What is important to you? What attitudes do you communicate?
  27. How do you spend your time? What are your priorities?
  28. What are your characteristic fantasies, either pleasurable or fearful? Daydreams? What do your night dreams revolve around?
  29. What are the functional beliefs that control how you interpret your life and determine how you act?
  30. What are your idols and false gods? In what do you place your trust, or set your hopes? What do you turn to or seek? Where do you take refuge?
  31. How do you live for yourself?
  32. How do you live as a slave of the devil?
  33. How do you implicitly say, “If only…” (to get what you want, avoid what you don’t want, keep what you have)?
  34. What instinctively seems and feels right to you? What are your opinions, the things you feel true?
  35. Where do you find your identity? How do you define who you are?

 

June 2014 KIDstuff in Review

By Caitlin Davis, Kid’s Quest Staff Services Manager

I remember how it felt the first time I jumped into the swimming pool. My Dad was there, arms outstretched, waiting patiently and verbally encouraging me to take that fateful plunge. I felt a rush of air as I ran and cold pins and needles as I hit that cold water. Pennsylvania summers really begged for a heated pool but I didn’t mind, bobbing up and down in the water in my Dad’s arms.

Finding the courage to jump wasn’t hard because of the trust I had for my Dad. He carried me on his shoulders for miles and miles because it was my favorite place to be, he kissed my scraped knee when I tipped my big wheel trike and he always let me use him as my patient with my junior doctor’s kit (his prescribed treatment was usually to share a cookie or ice cream with me, doctor’s orders!). I knew that in any situation I could depend on him to be there and take care of me. He had my trust. These were the thoughts that came to mind as I watched the June KIDstuff show, the last show of the season, which highlighted the virtue of Trust: putting your confidence in someone you can depend on.

The show opened with Mr. Adam finding himself, yet again, in a pickle. He had agreed to coach a summer basketball camp but all he knew about the game was that the ball was red…or was it orange? His co-host, Mr. Brian reminded him that he could trust God for help. Suddenly a young man named Chase passed by doing all sorts of fancy tricks with a basketball. Mr. Adam asked if he’d teach him basketball and Chase replied that he’d do better, he would help him coach the camp! When Mr. Adam trusted God, God came through!

The disciple Peter also shared a story of trust as he was called from his life as a fisherman to follow Jesus. He learned to trust Jesus by seeing all that Jesus did – he brought a little girl back to life, he called to Peter and Peter walked on water, and he came back to life and was raised to Heaven. When Peter put his trust in Jesus, his whole life changed.

The audience participated in a game called “Fix The Scene” where they had to pick out the things that didn’t belong in Bible stories about trusting God. For example, the disciples definitely weren’t wearing sunglasses when Jesus asked them to put their nets out for a huge catch of fish!

In the Clubhouse, the gang prepared for a team walk-a-thon. Not just any walk-a-thon…a super hero walk-a-thon where the prize was a stack of autographed Justice Hero comics. Each member came up with their own superhero persona: Gordo was “The Human Towel,” capable of using his invisibility, bullet-proof and ever-expanding towels to rescue and defend the helpless; Sam was “Mega-Planter,” dedicated to planting the seeds that will grow into life-giving trees and plants for all; Vinny was the “Skateboard Kid,” thwarting criminals and saving the downtrodden with his awesome tricks and stunt moves; and Cammie was “Sweet Justice,” a super pastry chef who can make delicious chocolate fudge brownies without any calories or fat. Together they made…THE  PHENOMENAL FOUR! It seemed like they had the team competition in the bag until they realized that Vinny wasn’t allowed to bring his skateboard. Vinny confided in Grandpa Henry that without his skateboard he would not only be a mediocre super hero, but he also wouldn’t be able to finish the walk-a-thon. Grandpa Henry told Vinny to put his trust in God to help him finish the walk-a-thon. With God’s help, Vinny persevered and made it to the finish line to help his team to victory!

It was a great closing show for our Clubhouse super heroes and the rest of the KIDstuff cast as they learned about putting their confidence in someone they can depend on. Just like my earthly father when he caught me during my first plunge into the swimming pool, we can trust our Heavenly Father because He cares for us.

Getting to the Heart, Part 3

By Mike Kelsey, Campus Pastor @MBCSilverSpring

The Heart Is An Idol Factory

We were created to worship and therefore even when we are not actively engaged in “religious” activities, worship is still at work in our hearts. This is where the biblical teaching of idolatry becomes very important. For most of us, the word idolatry conjures up images of statues and shrines. And this is certainly an external form of idolatry. But Scripture also addresses internal idolatry, which happens when we make anything in life more important and necessary than God and His will. The elders of Israel were rebuked for setting up “idols in their hearts” (Ezek. 14:1-8), and the apostle Paul diagnoses coveting and greed as idolatry (Col. 3:5). The ancient prophet Habakkuk gives a helpful illustration of this kind of internal idolatry when he describes the Babylonians as worshipping their military power (Hab. 1:11, 16). In other words, they relied on and reveled in their military power the way we should rely on God alone.

Questions Related to Idolatry:

  • What controls your life?
  • What do you live for? What do you really live for?
  • What is most important to you?
  • What do you rely on for security, significance and satisfaction?

Our idols are our functional lords (because they control us and we obey their requirements) and our functional saviors (because we depend on them to give us “life”).

Why Knowing This Helps

  1. We are able to pursue change from the inside out. People tend to only focus on behaviors or attitudes and therefore often feel helpless under the pressure of circumstances. Understanding the heart helps us understand why we respond the way we do and drives us to God for His transforming grace.
  2. Confession goes deeper. Instead of just confessing our bad behavior, we start to confess what is most offensive to God, which is our idolatry. From there, our repentance is much more comprehensive and effective.
  3. The grace of God promised in the Gospel becomes more glorious to us as we understand how dysfunctional our hearts really are. This Gospel promises us:
    1. God the Father, who loves us and has eternally provided for us.
    2. God the Son, who has redeemed us and given us His perfect righteousness.
    3. God the Spirit, who transforms and empowers us to live as children of God.

———

Don’t miss @MikeKelsey‘s first and second posts from this series!

What is a Disciple? – Part II

By Rachel Thomas, Director of Discipleship for Women & Ministry Teams @MBCLoudoun

A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ who lives in biblical community
and is committed to becoming like Him by obeying Him, serving Him and sharing Him
.”
– McLean Bible Church definition of a disciple

The next installment of our discipleship definition break-down is “who lives in biblical community….” I’ve heard of “biblical community” my whole life, as I grew up in the church. I would say that I even experienced it at times, but really didn’t understand the implications of TRUE biblical community until I went to college.

I attended a Bible college in Chicago where we literally lived communally. We girls lived on the same floor (two to three in a room), shared a communal bathroom, walked to classes together day after day, ate in the dining hall for every meal and explored the streets and neighborhoods of the Windy City. But it wasn’t just that we “did life together” and spent almost every waking moment together that made us a community. You can experience togetherness anywhere.

The difference-making biblical community happened between classes and late at night when we prayed together, during chapel under the teaching of our godly professors and local pastors, and as we studied the Bible together, asking difficult theological questions and wrestling with interpretation of Scripture. We were there to support one another when someone got a call from home saying that a grandparent passed away or a brother overdosed (again) and when another pleaded with the Lord to come through miraculously for money to pay the upcoming semester’s bill. We rejoiced in engagements, lost family members who came to know the Lord and anonymous donations covering those school bills. We also had hard conversations—speaking the truth in love, pointing out areas of sin that we couldn’t see in ourselves, but others could.

Worship is something the early church did to build their biblical community.

Authentic biblical community is a mark of a real disciple of Jesus Christ. And all disciples should be in genuine biblical community with other disciples. Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Dallas, Texas, names four aspects of biblical community: love, consistency, worship and authenticity.

In Lon’s Bible Survey Series, we learned that the book of 1 John is all about love for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It starts with love. As Francis Chan wrote in his book Multiply, “It’s not about what you know—or think you know—it’s about love…. Making disciples isn’t about gathering pupils to listen to your teaching. The real focus is not on teaching people at all—the focus is on loving them…it’s all about being faithful to God’s call to love the people around you. It’s about loving those people enough to help them see their need to love and obey God.”

Consistency develops over time. Sunday after Sunday. Group meeting after group meeting. Biblical community takes time. You can’t rush it, but you need to be consistent. Look for ways to be consistent by going to the same service, sitting in the same area and trying to get to know the same people at church week after week.

Worship is something the early church did to build their biblical community. We sing a few songs at our weekend services, but worship can continue outside of the church as well. In fact, it should mark the lifestyle of every believer.

Authenticity made my college experience such a rich time of biblical community because I had to put aside my façade when these women saw me morning after morning stumbling out of my room with sleep in my eyes and bed-head. How real are you around those who think they know you best? Do they see the dark areas of your heart that you want to release to the Lord but keep stuffing down because you’re afraid of what others will think? In the context of a loving, consistent and worshipful environment, authentic living is the best way to experience true biblical community. Be real.

Authentic biblical community is a mark of a real disciple of Jesus Christ.

The truth is that we were created to live in community and in relationships with one another. God even said, “It is not good for man to live alone” (Genesis 2:18). One of Jesus’ last prayers was that all believers would be unified as He, the Father and the Holy Spirit are one (John 17:21-22). This is what God intends for the Church, as seen in Acts 2 after Christ ascended and the Spirit came upon believers (vv. 42-47). Seek out love, consistency, worship and authenticity to enhance your biblical community within McLean Bible Church as we strive to be disciples and disciplemakers!

June 2014 Kid’s Quest Baptisms

By Romney Short, Kid’s Quest

On Saturday, June 7, Kid’s Quest hosted a beautiful outdoor baptism to celebrate a milestone moment in the spiritual journeys of six wonderful boys and girls. David Sheets served as baptizing pastor and made each child’s moment special while praising God for his unique work in each of their lives. The ceremony concluded with a charge to all who had played a role in the faith training of these kids, to continue their good efforts and to remember that baptism symbolizes a beginning, not an end, to becoming a fully devoted disciple of Christ. Following the ceremony everyone enjoyed a reception to celebrate this happy moment in these kids’ lives.

To view more pictures from the baptism service, click here. To learn more about leading your child to Christ or children’s baptism, visit mbctysons.org/StartingZone.

Prayer for the Muslim World

By Donna Stites, MBC Tysons Attendee

“Prayer is not a preparation for work, it is the work. Prayer is not preparation for the battle, it is the battle.”
- Oswald Chambers

The greatest blessing in my life is the fact that I have been saved from a life of sin and misery and adopted as a daughter of the King of the Universe! Talk about an awesome thought! Those of us who have been born again by the Spirit have the privilege of praying for those still lost in their sin. And there is no larger group of people living without the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ than Muslims who comprise almost a quarter of the world’s population.

I love Oswald Chambers’ quote. It reminds me that the most important thing I can do in bringing others to Jesus is to pray. The Holy Spirit must do the work of changing hearts. The Spirit breaks down strongholds and does a work in the heavenly realms that we do not understand. And I get to be a part of this work by praying.

As believers, let’s commit to praying for the Muslim world and ask the Holy Spirit to move in a mighty way, opening hearts to the truth of the Gospel. Let’s ask Jesus to reveal himself through dreams and visions as He has done across the globe. Let’s ask the Father to provide Bibles, Christian radio and television broadcasts, and all the resources necessary to bring the Good News to the Muslim world. And let’s pray that the Christian Church in Muslim majority countries would grow strong and be faithful in proclaiming the Gospel despite the terrible persecution that exists there.

Please download an eBook of the 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World prayer guide here.

Don’t miss the opportunity to be used by God in a mighty way!


Join Donna and others to pray for the world at MBC Tysons (3rd floor, West wing):
Prayer for Unreached People Groups – 1st Sunday of every month from 10:10-10:40am
Prayer for the Persecuted Church – 3rd Sunday of every month from 10:10-10:40am

Discipleship, Our Way of Life

By Dave & Karen Howard, MBC Arlington Attendees

Our decision to attend MBC Arlington was a lengthy, sometimes bewildering process. We had been members at MBC Tysons for several years and were serving in Marriage Mentors and City Impact. However, when we moved to Crystal City as empty nesters in 2011, it became more difficult to be involved in events at the Tysons campus outside of the worship services. We loved MBC but felt called by God to plant ourselves in Arlington; unfortunately for us, the only MBC ministry in Arlington at that time (Frontline) was for those in their 20s & 30s! We did a search and visited some other churches in Arlington, yet our quandary was that our heart was for MBC and also to serve closer to our new home; it just didn’t seem possible to do both.

Then God revealed what He was doing. In early 2013, Lon Solomon (MBC’s Senior Pastor) announced a new focus on discipleship and the opening of all campuses of MBC to be multigenerational, including MBC Arlington! We saw that God had been preparing us for this new direction and we attended MBC Arlington one Monday night to check it out. Immediately we felt at home there and set up a meeting with campus pastor Nate Keeler that week. Nate told us that the church did not have much to offer in the way of services targeted to our generation, but could use some mentor couples to help the church grow. This perfectly lined up with what we felt the Lord had called us to do and we assured Nate that we did not come to be served, but to serve in any way the Lord directs.

Soon we were asked to lead the first small group for couples. Over the years of our marriage we have often been involved as a couple in discipling others in various ways, especially in helping young couples with preparing for and establishing their marriage on a strong footing; this is why we had been drawn to serve as Marriage Mentors while we attended the Tysons campus. Intentional discipleship has always been the main focus of our ministries together as a couple and even when we have served individually. So this role fits right in with what God has been doing in our lives!
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Since transferring to MBC Arlington we have been welcomed by the leadership team and by so many others in the church family. We enjoy the fellowship with both singles and couples in the church—our friendships and relationships within the church are a great joy. We love facilitating our small group and seeing the growth among the couples involved, and they give so much back to us by inviting us to walk with them on their journey. Just as we have seen over and over during the many years of our marriage, each couple in our group is uniquely gifted and blessed, with their own strengths and struggles. As we journey together with them, God blesses us and He ministers to all of our marriages. Involvement with other small group and ministry leaders in the church is also a blessing—iron sharpening iron as we work to smooth out the rough spots in each other, sharpening and polishing the strong areas for the Lord.

Discipleship is intended to be a way of life for every Christian. It is the natural process of growing and maturing together. Discipleship is sometimes thought of as a specific process to be accomplished in a small group or in a personal one-on-one relationship between two believers. However, just as with parenting, we have found that discipleship is not a certain set of actions or a course of study but rather the right word boldly and lovingly spoken, seasoned with grace; an offer of a listening ear and praying heart; the willingness to speak out and hold others accountable in love; learning from each other as we pass through trials and joys; and drawing strength and encouragement from seeing our brothers and sisters walk faithfully through life. Discipling occurs in and through us as we honestly live our lives for God in context with those around us. And we believe that life lived this way makes the Father’s heart sing.

 

Have the Time of Your Life This Summer

By Romney Short, Kid’s Quest

On June 14-15, Kid’s Quest shared a fun moment on stage with the Tysons Worship team as they presented a parody song to tell others how they can have the time of their life serving in Kid’s Quest this summer. Check out the video here!

Spiritual growth doesn’t take a vacation. We keep Kid’s Quest summer programming going strong to encourage kids to continue growing in their knowledge of who Jesus is and learning skills to equip them to be fully devoted disciples of Him. But many of our regular Kid’s Quest volunteers also need to take a break to rest and renew their passion for serving our kids. Would you join us this summer by serving in a class? We have opportunities to serve with all age groups.

To learn more, go to mbctysons.org/kqvolunteer or contact us at kqserve@mcleanbible.org or 703-639-2000 x1012.