The Alt-right, Charlottesville, and The Church

This past weekend I was heavily consumed with serving a family in our congregation. However, as I sat on the couch late Saturday night to see the news and world in an uproar over the events in Charlottesville, my heart was broken and saddened over seeing such anger and hatred.

Here's a few thoughts for our people as we look to how to respond: 

#1 - The events in Charlottesville are utterly demonic and evil at the core. These events are in opposition of the direction and intention of Jesus’ heart and life. 

#2 - There is no place for this among God’s people, nor is there any place for God’s people to stand on the side line of the conversations about racism, bigotry, and/or any kind of white supremacy. 

#3 - God will get glory through this. His truth will be revealed. His beautiful design of men and women of all races and colors and nations - Genesis 1:26 - stands true: that every man, woman and child is born into His image and likeness. 

#4 - We need to have some serious conversations as a faith community and nation, about the issues of race. We need to get more people of opposing sides to sit together and share meals over why they are filled with hate and fears, and see the commonalities.

#5 - The scary realities of white privilege are evident in the Charlottesville Protest. Let's all stop pretending that it doesn't exist and openly talk through it. 

#6 - Racial tension is probably not going away. That's why the church needs to stand on God's truth about race and see that heaven is full of people from every nation. The church doesn't need to ignore race, but celebrate and honor it. 

#7 - The Alt-Right is NOT an evangelical movement. There is no ground that the position taken could defended from a Biblical perspective or a missional mindset.

So, where do we go from here?

Church family, I'm exhorting you to realize these moments of national attention on key issues will come in waves over and over again. I want our church family to not ride the roller coaster of emotions sparked each time something happens in our country. I want us to constantly and consistently pursue a full gospel perspective that will outlive our nation and time. 

I also desire pursuit of a greater image of the kingdom on earth by speaking against racism and injustice towards people, and learning humility from others on how to demonstrate the gospel in word and deed. 

Come Lord Jesus. Come Quickly. 

But as we wait; let us leverage our voice with your Holy Spirt to preach the gospel, and speak against the sin and evil of a generation that desperately needs you. May we not be silent when our opportunities are given. 

A Broken Spirit and Contrite Heart

Psalm 51: 7-12 "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit."


A quick way to stray from a close and intimate relationship with God is to allow sin in your life. Here in Psalms, David is crying out to God to not cast His presence from him.  David realized the value of being in God's presence; he knew the value of a relationship with God. There is nothing more satisfying in life than having God be a part of it. If you read this chapter closely, you can feel David's heart as he pours it out. 

David experienced life from two different points of view. As David strayed from God's law, he saw his sin cost him something. He realized sin will always cost him. It is not always through one “big” sin, but small things that can build up. It started with the lust in David's heart that led him to sin with another woman. For David to realize this and arrive in a place of repentance where he has godly sorrow, he needed to be broken and trust God's way. He needed to surrender and move away from his destructive behavior. Sin for a season can feel great, but eventually it will lead you to a Luke 15 type of situation. You will find your sin leading you to living with the pigs, eating their food, lost and hurting. Sin is deceiving in this way. It may feel good in the beginning, but in the end it leads to destruction. 

2 Corinthians 7: 8-11 "For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while.  As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter."

Psalm 51:16-17 "For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

How do you repent well? Through godly sorrow. Godly sorrow happens when you feel the weight of your sin and acknowledge that you have rebelled against God. Worldly sorrow is feeling bad for getting caught; there's no real remorse. This can lead to a false type of repentance. You can't earn grace on your own or through works. You must repent and ask God for forgiveness with a true sorrow and understanding for your sin.  

Godly repentance leads to increased faith in Him. You begin to believe that Jesus is enough. His grace is enough. This Gospel faith leads you to continual growth.  It puts your heart in sync with God's heart. If your repentance is not biblical, it will fail you. This forced obedience is far from the brokenness God desires. In yourbroken spirit you will find God. As David said in Psalms, God desires and delights in a broken spirit and a contrite heart. 

Examine your life and heart today. Are there things you need to repent of with a true Godly sorrow? Allow God to restore you as you humble yourself and experience this godly sorrow. Repent and allow Him to restore your life. God delights in this pure act of surrender. 

Sunday Gathering Changes

Dear Church Family, 

To begin with, I am so proud of you. I am constantly bragging on you and sharing story after story of God’s grace! I wanted to share with you some minor changes we are making to our gatherings starting this weekend at The District Church. Joshua Wicker and I have been praying and thinking for a while now about the order of our liturgy and gatherings. We’ve decided upon a few changes we are going to make for the next season of life at our church. 

Monthly Schedule Changes

Baptism: 1st Sunday of every month

We have more non-Christians attending our gatherings now than we’ve had in the past! We praise God for this, and are eager for more of our friends and family to meet Jesus. People often ask when the next Baptism opportunity is, and as a staff we’ve decided to make it available on the first Sunday of every month if we have people who need to get baptized! 

Communion: 3rd Sunday of every month

Our hope in this shift to monthly communion is not to make it a lesser focus, but to actually make a greater display and declaration of the Gospel in our church family. We believe we are able to better organize and facilitate communion this way. Joshua and I will be able to plan the music, sermon, and teaching around communion each month. We will also be able to give more time to explain communion, read scriptures about communion, and better serve our church as we explain who communion is for and why we partake. 

Giving GEnerously and Gladly

If you didn’t know, almost 80% of our monthly tithes are given during the week either online or mailed to the church. We’ve realized that many of you have missed opportunities to give each week during our gathering because you don’t carry cash or a checkbook. We are adding a giving station in our lobby so you will have an opportunity to give online on Sundays. Each week, at the close of our gatherings, we will invite you to respond through giving at the new stations. There will also be literature available about our generosity efforts and monthly financial updates. 

Sunday Gathering Liturgy - What to Expect

    •    Adoration and Worship in song

    •    Sermon: Explaining and applying the Gospel through preaching

    •    Response Time: Gospel invitations

    •    Absolution and worship in song 

    •    Celebration and Benediction

I am truly grateful and honored that I get to be a pastor at The District Church! I love you dearly and write with great expectation of what Jesus is going to do in our city and world through you!!

— PBB

The Majesty of Our God

The works of God are different than anything man has experienced on earth. When we have relationship with Him, we see this majesty differently. God chose to make Himself known in an unpretentious way.  He could have come to earth in a spectacle, but He chose to come in a humble way (Philippians 2:8).  He chose man to love more than anything, and to use them on this earth to shame the wicked and bring glory to Himself.  

Psalm 8:1-2 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.

Even babies and infants have a place in His kingdom and plan.  Our God is so great that He doesn't need the strongest warrior to win battles or the wisest scholar to bring truth. He just needs the innocence of His creation to confound the earth.  Do not look past children to offer substance in life.  Children often bring clarity and simple truths that help make sense of our overly complicated lives.  

Psalm 8:3-9 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Man is the pinnacle of God's creation. When we ponder His great works, His majesty and honor due to Him, it can be hard to comprehend that He would be mindful of us as the Psalms describe.  Be encouraged today as you read the Psalms. God's desire is to have communion with you. In light of God's majesty we bear the image of God by excercising dominion. And this is an important calling. But, we fail every day. And we need a better King who rules perfectly over everything.(1 Cor. 1:26-21).  

We cannot lead by our own strength, though. Sin cannot have dominion over us.  We can know and understand God's majesty, but we must let it rule over us. If you submit to God as creator and ruler of your life, you can have victory over sin and victory over Satan's power. Lay down your own will today. Allow God to rule and reign and let His majesty take over your life and family today.  

No Condemnation in Christ Jesus

As we've gone through The Gospel Gap series, we've seen a lot of ways that we fall short of allowing the gospel to permeate every area of our lives. Whether through guilt, shame, fear, or condemnation, we have to struggle against our own flesh to submit to the truth and power of God's sanctifying grace. We've covered guilt, shame, and fear comprehensively, so let's take a look at condemnation in John 8.

First, what is condemnation? In modern times, we usually use it to indicate a general sense of disapproval or condescension toward oneself or another. However, in John 8, it's used differently. Here we see it mean, as Strong's concordance puts it: "to give judgment against, to judge worthy of punishment." 

Why does having the precise definition important? Well, it definitely changes a lot of the implications of the gospel! Take, for example, Romans 8:1, which tells us:

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

If we take that definition, and plug it into that verse, we get something like this:

"For those who are in Christ Jesus, they are no longer judged worthy of punishment."

This is good news indeed! We are no longer considered worthy of punishment when we are in Christ, but instead considered heirs with Him! So why do we heap punishments onto ourselves for our own actions? Why do we decide that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was not sufficient to atone for our sins? 

As Pastor Boyd shared in his message about condemnation, we are not greater than God, and we do not sit above Him as a higher judge. Pointing ourselves to these truths is essential for accepting our new identity and living in the freedom that only the gospel can provide.

One simple way to point yourself to these truths is to spend time with other believers who can point you back to them. If you haven't joined a missional community yet, check out all of the ones we have available, and get involved!

Overcoming Fear

"For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”" - Romans 8:13-15

Fear of things in this world is not a characteristic of the Holy Spirit, nor does it have any place in God's plan for us.  Fear can come from many sources. In John 8, the woman caught in adultery experienced fear as she faced the accusations of the Pharisees and Scribes. They were demanding a death by stoning. Fear of what was to come regarding her sin was surely on her mind. Even though this fear was brought on by her own doing, Jesus came to offer a way out.  She would not be set free, though, without reconciling her own disobedience and leaving behind her previous life.  

If you are dealing with fear and you want to overcome it, then you must look past the fear to its source.  Many times, fear exists from our own immorality and wrongdoing. In Genesis, we see Adam and Eve go through this. 

"But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”" - Genesis 3:9-10

Adam was afraid shortly after he disobeyed God. His fear existed because he chose to trust in his own way.  We must find the origin of our fear and deal with it on the deepest level.  God shows His mercy towards us, even in our own wickedness. He offered a way out for both Adam and the woman caught in adultery. God's desire is not to punish us for our sin, but to save us from ourselves and set us free from sin and fear.  Just like these examples in Scripture, we must trust God, go, and sin no more.  Scripture shows us that God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7). God wants us to confess everything to Him, because He wants to help us overcome whatever is holding us back from a true, complete relationship with Him.  

Sin is not the only author of fear.  Past failures and worries can inhabit our mind and linger.  Our path to overcoming fear begins with a true surrendering to Jesus and walking with Him daily.  The adulterous woman went forward with faith in Jesus.  She did not remain a slave to her old ways. Fear is not uncommon to experience, but if it becomes common place and all too familiar to every day life, then that might be a symptom of a lack of trust in Jesus. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Phil 4:13). Remember it's not by your power or might, but by your trust and obedience in Jesus that will set you free from fear.  

Take action after reading this.  Get involved in church or a Missional Community where you can walk through these fears and anxieties with other people.  We cannot do it alone.  Walking daily with God, committed to Christ will build up your faith and give you peace when difficulty comes.  Decide what is at the core of your fear. Is it your own sin? Then deal with it.  Lay it at the cross. Is it other mental battles that you need to overcome? Pray, read the Bible, and confess your difficulties to someone in relationship with Christ. Begin that journey to true freedom.  

Jesus and Our Guilt

During The Gospel Gap, Pastor Boyd helped us see another gap in our understandings of the gospel: our guilt. One important thing is understanding the difference between guilt as a status and guilty feelings we all experience. Outside of Christ, we all stand guilty before God. That is a declaration of status. However, everyone deals with guilty feelings of some sort. And as a Christian, you need to know what to do with those guilty feelings. And the answer to that is not to fabricate guilt-less feelings. The answer is to face your guilt as it is, understand yourself as a sinner, and then find peace and hope by running to Jesus and believing that he has carried all your guilt. In this, Jesus provides incredible joy. 

 

In John 8, the woman caught in adultery faced a real sentence of guilt. If we return to the law, we notice that the Pharisees' accusation of the woman and their understanding of the law was, in a strict sense, spot on. The text says that she had been caught in adultery. If you were an Israelite in the time of Moses, here's the sentence for someone caught in adultery: "If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death" (Leviticus 20:10). Of course, the Pharisees weren't bringing the woman before Jesus out of a sense of the holiness of God, but to "trap" Jesus (v. 6). 

 

One of the reasons Jesus came was to fulfill the law by taking the guilt that the law brought. The law shows how holy God is and how far we fall short. Paul writes, "Everyone who does not continue doing everything written in the book of the law is cursed" (Galatians 3:10). You and I both know that as soon as we try to keep the law perfectly, we recognize how unable we are. And then comes the guilt of our sin. Over and over, we miss the mark of obeying God completely and wrestle with the guilt that overcomes us. 

 

The woman caught in adultery was sitting under this guilt. But, included in the truth that Jesus came to fulfill the law is the understanding that all the law was kept by him. When he asks the Pharisees, "The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her" (v. 7), he was drawing a hard line between himself and everyone else. The only person that would be truly righteous in picking up the stones and heaving them in judgment was Jesus himself. In keeping the law, he shows himself to be the perfect Savior of the world. And, here, instead of judging her guilt, Jesus forgives the woman. And he would complete this task by taking her sin on his cross for her and rising again.

 

Ultimately, this is what you and I need: freedom from guilt. And this doesn't always mean freedom from guilty feelings. It means freedom from the status of "guilty." And that only comes through repentance and faith in the finished work of Jesus. 

 

And so, here's an action step for this week: join a Missional Community. I trust this will be a place you will see the cross of Christ, and it's meaning for you, more clearly. Many people there are laying their guilt at the cross. Go and join them! 

Summer Psalms

Church Family! 

I’m really looking forward to our Summer Series through the book of Psalms. A while, back I asked on Facebook what were some of our people’s favorite Psalms. We complied a list of the top 9 and decided to preach through those verses! 

I love the book of Psalms because it is filled with poetic writing, an emotionally raw tone, and brings us back to the character of God’s heart. We often don’t give the Psalms enough credit for the rawness of emotions in them. 

The first two weeks of our series, we have two dear friends of mine coming to the pulpit to preach! First up we’ll have Pastor Brandon Watts from Epiphany Church in NYC, and then Pastor Chris Elrod from Impact Church. These are two friends I love and respect. I’m excited for you to hear from them! 

Also, we’ve put together a church wide reading plan through the book of Psalms! One of our goals is to help put more Bible reading plans into the hands of our church. We are going to start on Sunday, July 2nd with a 60 day reading plan! We’d love for you to join us in reading and sharing on social media each day one verse and/or something God showed you through reading; you can share on social media using the hashtag:

#summerpsalmstdc

I love you church family! 

Excited to see what Jesus teaches us through this series. 

Laurel Starling

06-18-17-child dedication-24.jpg

Next Tuesday, on June 27th, Laurel Starling, will undergo a major surgery on her skull. This surgery will lend to a year of healing for her as she begins helmet therapy.

Her parents, Andy and Peggy Starling, were the very first church members to join the planting stage of our church. They have been some of the most faithful and committed people to the mission and vision of The District Church. Countless lives have been impacted by their selfless service and ministry. It has been said over and over again, but there truly is no family like the Starling family. Although she does not know it yet, 3-month-old Laurel is blessed to be raised by parents who love Jesus and have trusted Him with His plans for her life.

Through this next season of their lives of changes to their family, we are asking our church family to cover them in your prayers and love. We are praying they’d rest in God’s Sovereignty and Grace. That they’d see the glory of God shown through this time. We are praying for God’s grace over the neurosurgeon and doctors.  

Many of you have asked how to support the Starling Family. Over the next week, we’ll collect a love offering for the Starling family. You can give directly online by selecting “Generosity for Starling Family" to help them with medical expenses. 

We love the Starling Family deeply; please pray about extending generosity to their family to help alleviate the major financial burden during this season!  

Shame In Light of The Gospel

Last Sunday, Pastor Boyd unpacked some truths of how the gospel impacts our shame. The truth is, while our shame would be completely justifiable before we were redeemed - we now have been given a new identity in Christ.

It's important that we define the differences between guilt and shame. Guilt, which Pastor Boyd discussed from the pulpit as well, is the feeling or notion that you have done something wrong. This is what happens when you fail to meet a standard either you or someone else set.

Shame, however, is the feeling that there is something wrong about you. At its core, it is an identity issue. Knowing this is key to understanding how the gospel will help us defeat it. As we fight back against shame, the greatest weapon we have in our arsenal is our new identity in Jesus.

One of my favorite passages that talks about our new identity is 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.

This verse is an excellent summary of who we are. It starts off telling us that we are a chosen race. Just like God chose the nation of Israel in the past, He has chosen us to be his people and his representatives on earth.

Next, we are described as a royal priesthood. We are given access to the sacred presence of God through prayer and praise. We are now counted among the few of ancient times who were allowed in His presence.

Finally, we are told that we are a holy nation. God took special care to ensure that the nation of Israel was set apart from those around them. Just as with them, he has worked in our hearts to set us apart from the world. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit and the blood of Christ, we are distinct from those around us.

The latter part of the verse is also an indication of how we can begin to embrace our new identity: by proclaiming the excellencies of God, specifically as the one who pulled us out of darkness into marvelous light. Our new identity shines forth when we put our focus on God as the one who gives us our identity, instead of ourselves.

Such a declaration of God's goodness is also an opportunity for sharing the gospel, which is our primary mission. Take some time this week to share with an unbelieving friend how excellent God is, and what He has done for you!