When Words Fail

By Lexie Dache, Operations Manager for MBC Tysons Outreach

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.” (James 1:27)

When disaster strikes, no one knows what to say. If the words escape past the lump in your throat, they still seem to lose their meaning. In times of trouble, words become cheap, but simple actions are gold.

In January, the Outreach staff encountered a woman in a crisis. Her young daughter passed away from a brain tumor, and she found herself heartbroken with limited resources and no family around.

There were other people in the church who heard this news, specifically a Multiply group who had expressed interest in serving together. Instead of being at a loss, they uttered the four words that matter most in a time of trouble: “How can we help?”.

They arrived at the Smith Center on the designated Thursday, dressed in black suits with willing hearts. They helped in all kinds of ways, and hours later, when the service and reception had finished and it looked like everything should have been wrapped up, the question was asked, “What else?”.

At that moment I took a step back from the activity to take a mental picture. Tables of school teachers remained circled up, children ran back and forth to the delicious spread of donated food, supporters gathered around the mother and lingered over photos of the beautiful little girl. I watched as my boss delegated and directed this group of adults who had taken off a day of work, devoting their time and energy to honor a woman they did not know and whose troubles they were not willing to keep at a distance.

This is what the body of Christ is about – comforting the afflicted.

Minutes later this Multiply group started packing up plates and dividing into cars. A large food distributor had sent over boxes and boxes of food, and these folks dispersed into the suburbs to deliver the much-needed provisions. They ended up spending the whole day helping as a group, not because they had to, but because that’s what you do when people are hurting and in trouble.

This is what the body of Christ is about—comforting the afflicted, whether that’s quietly sitting with the heartbroken or setting up tablecloths in reception rooms and working behind the scenes. When disaster strikes, actions speak louder than words. When chaos hits, it’s nice to know you’re not alone. I am so proud of this Multiply group for being a silent but beautifully-strong picture of Christ to a woman in need, for modeling Christ’s love in action, for loving with more than words and doing so together.

This kind of love isn’t often found in our world, but this is the kind of love Jesus modeled for us. The wordless service shown on this day caused teachers and educators to say, “Wow, thank you so much for doing this. I’ve never seen something like this before.” You can bet we invited these individuals back to church to experience Jesus with us on a Sunday.  Even if they never come back, we know that they experienced Christ in our building, even though they didn’t attend a formal worship service.

From All Nations…

By Heidi Hobson, MBC Tysons Attendee

Go and make disciples of all nations….  Matthew 28:19a

As a Hispanic, these words sound like music to my ears! I have always imagined Heaven as an amazingly diverse place, with people of all shapes and sizes and colors. Languages, known and unknown, being spoken with joy and voices singing beautiful praises.

My own household is a mini melting pot. Each of us has been born in a different state or country, moved around quite a bit and experienced many different languages, cultures and subcultures. With each new experience, we learn that although we might think we are different, we are the same in so many ways. However, this is not the way most of us think or behave. We all have grown accustomed to seeking others who look like us, speak like us, and act like us – – or even cook like us!

Regardless of our background, ethnicity or history, we all need Jesus, a Savior who loves us and accepts us for who we are. This is why it is so easy for me to accept people from other backgrounds and viewpoints. At the core, we all need the same thing: somewhere to belong.

When I signed up to lead and host a Multiply group, I had no idea what to expect. I was so very excited about it all! With great anticipation, I started the process of getting in touch with the ladies who registered to attend. The names on the list were not that exciting to me. But then, they all came to our home. Such an amazing group! We come from many diverse backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities. We eat different things, in different ways, and speak other languages besides English. In my small group of ladies I can see a glimpse of the colorful tapestry the Lord has created. Despite our differences we all love Jesus and deeply desire to obey Him. The more we share, the more we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and the more we begin to feel a sense of family in Christ. What a gift, what a joy!

Recently, we shared a meal for which each one of us contributed a dish from our own traditional cuisine, and was it ever a feast! We all enjoyed it so much that we planned another one. I consider these types of gatherings to be dress rehearsals for the kind of fellowship and communion we will have once we get to Heaven. It is an incredible reminder to me that I want every single person I love on this earth to know Jesus. I want them all to know this is what we look forward to and they can experience that sense of family in Christ here among the body of believers. They belong!

For two hours every Tuesday night, I experience a little piece of heaven, a beautiful sample of the amazing diversity of God’s people and of His love demonstrated in different sounds, scents and sights. As we work together as a team, encouraging, fine tuning, teaching, loving, and holding each other accountable, we are all broadening our own eternal perspectives and coming to terms with our responsibilities at home and across the globe. I am truly grateful for this particular season at MBC and for the way Multiply points us to the Great Commission. So let’s all go forth, and make disciples!

Do You Know What You Believe?

By Brian Walters, MBC Loudoun Director of Discipleship

One of the strongest contributing factors to disunity in the church throughout the centuries has been inconsistency in how people interpret the Word of God. Not only does this contribute to disunity in the church, but it also hinders our witness to the lost world because people don’t know what or whom to believe.

The first reason there is disagreement about interpretation is because a variety of methods are used to analyze Scripture, resulting in different interpretations of the Bible. Throughout history, theologians have established principles of interpretation, or hermeneutics, which help with proper exegesis. Exegesis means examination of a text to discover the author’s intended meaning in the original context. The ultimate goal is to understand what God wants to communicate to us.

There are four main hermeneutics styles:

  • Allegorical – Words are not taken literally, but in a symbolic sense.
  • Literal/Plain/Normal – Words are taken in a normal sense, like our everyday language.
  • Semi-allegorical/Semi-literal – Words are taken literally, except in the case of prophecy, which is interpreted allegorically.
  • Theological interpretation – Words are taken semi-allegorically, but the interpreter may also interpret symbolically those things that don’t fit into his theology.

So which method should be used? In all but the literal or plain method,  the normal meaning of the words may be deemed irrelevant and be replaced with whatever meaning the interpreter gives to symbols or whatever meaning suits his theological viewpoint. Such methods are dangerous because they can lead to contradictory interpretations. Thus, the literal or plain hermeneutic is recommended.

Here are two guidelines when interpreting Scripture using the normal hermeneutic:

  • Interpret Scripture with Scripture – The meaning of a passage must harmonize with other passages in the Bible. If you interpret a text to mean something that contradicts the rest of what Scripture says, then your interpretation is most likely incorrect.
  • Context is King – The meaning of a passage must be determined in proper context by reading the surrounding passages. This extends to the theme of the chapter, to the whole book, or even to the entirety of Scripture. Note: there are other types of context (e.g. historical, cultural, etc.) to take into account as well.

This is only a brief summary of hermeneutics. There are entire theology courses and books dedicated to this topic. Living by the Book, by Howard & William Hendricks, is one of the best books on the art and science of reading the Bible.

A second reason why there is disagreement on the interpretation of Scripture is because many are not knowledgeable about God’s Word for themselves. When people don’t know what the Bible says, they believe whatever they are taught and then teach others the same, which may propagate false interpretations.

If we are honest, we must admit that what is taught is not always biblical. How can you know what is biblical if you are not studying God’s Word yourself? There is no substitute for being in the Word, and if we are not, we can be led astray by slick talkers (Rom. 16:17-18) and misled by popular trends (Eph. 4:13-15). Remember that Satan disguises himself to trick us (2 Cor. 11:14), and he would like nothing better than for us to have an incorrect view of Scripture. Satan is always looking for an opportunity to pounce (1 Peter 5:8), so protect yourself by arming yourself with knowledge of the Word (Eph. 6:17).

Thirdly, there is disagreement on Scripture interpretation when man puts society’s culture and values in authority instead of the Word of God. As Christ followers, we can’t pick and choose what is true in the Bible as it suits our purpose. It is all true and God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16). God tells us not to conform to this world (Rom. 12:2) or love the things of the world more than Him (1 John 2:15-16). It may not be easy to live out His Word, but we must never sacrifice its truth for what the world deems appropriate.

Finally, keep in mind that there may always be disagreement about Scripture interpretation. God uses truth as a dividing tool to identify genuine teaching, which ultimately unifies the body of Christ (1 Cor. 11:18-19). Again, this is why there is simply no substitute for studying the Bible yourself using literal hermeneutic principles to determine the most accurate interpretation and to judge whether what others are teaching is true. A whole lot of disagreement would disappear if everyone practiced a proper exposition of Scripture.

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Confessions of a Gay Christian – Some Thoughts

By Mike Kelsey, MBC Silver Spring Pastor

I just read an article published in Relevant Magazine and I think it’s an important article for Christians to read because it articulates a very painful struggle for some of the people in our churches. Here are several applications I took from it and I think Christians, especially Christian men, need to consider:

1.”Gay jokes” are unwise, insensitive, and unacceptable. If you struggle with this, I’d encourage you to study and meditate on Ephesians 4:29, James 3:9-12, and Matthew 12:33-37

2. Christians tempted with same-sex attraction need the Church to be a community marked by humility, compassion, and truth. Humility = I’m not better than you. Compassion = I am drawn to you in love not repelled by you in disgust. Truth = Love is not synonymous with unbiblical compromise.

3. Christian men shouldn’t be afraid of gay men. (I’m sure this applies to women also but seems to be predominant among men).

4. Parents, we MUST teach, emphasize, and model passion for the Gospel and not just the “rules” of Christianity. D.A. Carson says, and I agree, that people don’t usually remember what you teach; they remember what you’re passionate about.

5. Parents, we should create an environment where our children can doubt, ask questions, and seek truth. They will do that with or without your guidance.

6. Pastors, we can’t just preach against homosexuality in the abstract, we must disciple people dealing with it.

7. Pastors, we need to equip the men in our churches to put off the homophobia of secular masculine culture, and put on the grace- and truth-filled character of Jesus.

Christians who stay faithful to the biblical view of sexuality will be increasingly treated with disgust, “moral” indignation, and hostility. And yet, out of love for people and faith in God, we cannot cave in to societal pressure (2 Timothy 3; 1 Peter 4:12-19).

Quite frankly, this is a hard one for me because many racists made the same argument for upholding New World slavery and, later, Jim Crow segregation. Bigotry has often been defended by appeals to purity. However, we must hold fast to truth, knowing that biblical truth, truth inspired by the Holy Spirit, is always accompanied by humility not self-righteousness, service not oppression. The wisdom of God has a distinctly humble quality to it (James 3:17). So while we will be treated like bigots, our lives must prove that to be a false accusation (1 Peter 2:12).

Working for the Lord

By Joy Lippard, MBC Tysons Worship Leader 

Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. Psalm 33:3

Music is powerful in our culture. Often times, without realizing it, people form opinions of what they believe and how they live based on what they learn from the lyrics in popular songs! The same is true of songs in the church. People learn their theology from music. For a Christian songwriter, that means a responsibility to write truthful and doctrinally sound lyrics. Whether I’m writing a congregational worship song or a song about life or love, I use the Bible as my guide for writing solid and truthful lyrics.

We can glorify God in whatever we do.

Writing songs that are lyrically creative, fresh, engaging and biblically correct is a craft that has to be skillfully developed. I’ve heard it said that the art of songwriting is “re-writing.” Songwriting, contrary to most people’s assumptions, is hard work! Yes, song ideas are often a product of my emotions and feelings, but I also have to engage my mind and skills to craft those melodic and lyrical ideas into an art form (song) that is enjoyable and relatable for others.

I think this principle applies to people in different art forms and even in the workplace. We may have natural giftings that come easily to us, by God’s grace, but to develop excellence in our field/art we have to work hard! We can glorify God in whatever we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Our field of expertise is an opportunity to demonstrate the excellent, beautiful and awesome God we serve.

God is the ultimate Creator and hard worker. In the beginning He looked at all He had made and said it was good (Genesis 1:31). I believe we should look at our creative endeavors and our work as ways to exemplify our Father in Heaven who makes good things! We should also make sure to consult the Bible as our guide in whatever we undertake. Our field of expertise is an opportunity to demonstrate the excellent, beautiful and awesome God we serve.

Listen to Joy’s new song “Liar, Liar” on iTunes.

Lent, Fasting and Me

By AnnieLaurie Walters, MBC Loudoun Attendee

Growing up as a Southern Baptist in West Tennessee, I never really knew much about observing Lent. I scarcely recall seeing anyone with ash on their forehead until I moved to Washington, DC and began working on Capitol Hill. At St. Joseph’s on the Hill (located directly across from Hart Senate Office Building), Ash Wednesday could possibly be a bigger day than Christmas and Easter Sunday combined!

My first Ash Wednesday on the Hill, I was so fascinated by all the people around me who, apparently, observed Lent. I actually felt I was in the minority because I didn’t have the cross of ash swiped across my brow. I even had a few folks ask me, “Aren’t you religious? Don’t you observe Lent?” My deep Southern roots didn’t quite prepare me for questions like that! This naturally led to some investigating and educating on my part, to learn more about Ash Wednesday, Lent and what it all had to do with Easter.

In my investigating, I began to understand that many of my friends, of all denominations and even non-denominational, observed Lent as a way to practice self-denial and focus on eternal things leading up to Holy Week and Easter. In my religious tradition, the teaching on fasting was as scarce as fasting itself. So over the years, I continued researching this important, yet sometimes neglected, Christian discipline. I’ve since practiced fasting a few times, specifically in relationship to my participation in mission trips.

But I have never engaged in a fast lasting longer than a day at most (sundown to sundown). I have wanted to. I have prayed about it. But I never did it. At one point I thought I should be “led” to fast, and while the Bible does not expressly command Christians to fast, I am not sure that we should wait on specific “leading” to do what appears to be a beneficial thing for all Christians. Fasting and prayer went hand-in-hand for Jesus, and if my goal, as His disciple, is to follow His ways, then perhaps I need to examine why fasting isn’t already a normal part of my walk with the Lord, rather than wonder “if” I should.

I recently read a book about identifying areas of excess, in life and made simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. The book discussed fasting each month to “deny oneself” in different areas of perceived excess including: media, shopping, food, waste, and more.

In the process of reading this book, I decided to do a fast of my own. I prayerfully decided to refrain from engaging in all forms of social media for Lent. “Social media” meaning all of it: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and writing on my personal blog.

This is not an original concept. I am one in a very long line of people who have taken a social media “break” so I know I am in good company here. But for me, I am at a point where I want to go deeper in my walk with the Lord. When I asked Him to search my heart — specifically relative to areas of excess in my life — He was crystal clear with me that the most significant area of excess in my life right now is time spent on social media. I recently had this thought, that one day when I stand before the Lord, He may look at me and say, “Really AnnieLaurie? Really?? You spent THAT MUCH TIME on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.” at the expense of other things that have much more value — especially “in real life” relationships and experiences?

I am definitely not arguing that social media is “bad” or something from which we should refrain. In fact, I believe that social media is an amazingly powerful tool with potential to accomplish much good if used in healthy and appropriate ways. There is no question that social media is now a standard for how the world communicates. But just like so many other good things in life, if left unchecked, social media can easily become an idol, taking the place of God in our lives.

In the short time that I’ve been unplugged from my personal social network, it has become shamefully apparent that, in many areas of life, I turn to Facebook before I turn to the Lord. My first day offline I found myself instinctively going to check Facebook more times than I care to admit! I am realizing how easy it is to become “addicted” to the world of social media, allowing these interactions to insufficiently meet needs that can only be met by the Lord. The scary part is that I never would have realized it if I hadn’t taken this self-imposed break, giving up social media for Lent.

When this time of fasting is complete and I return to social media, my prayer is that I will return with clear boundaries in place to ensure that I keep God first and turn to Him to meet my needs rather than relying on my social network. I am infinitely thankful that the Lord led me to do this during Lent. This is the perfect time for reflection, confession and repentance as Eater approaches; giving me even more time to focus on the most important relationship I have: my relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Avoiding Faulty Conclusions

By Will Pavone, MBC Tysons Young Adults and Edge Community Pastor

There are two ways to enslave oneself in the Christian life. The first way is by embracing legalism and the second is by embracing license. Legalism makes performance (or lack thereof) the basis of acceptance before God. License abuses the grace of God by sinning recklessly, rationalizing that salvation can’t be lost and presumptuously assuming God’s forgiveness. Legalism and license are two opposite extremes yet both are destructive to one’s faith and distort the true Gospel of grace. About halfway through chapter 5 of Galatians, Paul shifts from talking primarily about the futile trap of legalism to warning about the foolish lapse of license. The Apostle writes: 

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Paul gives us this warning because it is very possible for people in Christian circles to start with a correct premise and arrive at a faulty conclusion. The correct premise is that as believers in Jesus, God accepts us on the basis of Christ’s work and not our own. There is nothing we can do that would change our status as adopted, beloved children of God. That premise is right in keeping with the nature of the Gospel and the radical freedom that Paul is talking about in the letter to the Galatians. Now, the danger is in taking that correct premise and arriving at the faulty conclusion that because of the radical freedom and grace of the Gospel we can therefore live any way we want; or more specifically, we can “sin” anyway that we want. There are literally hundreds of verses in the New Testament that shatter that conclusion. We are not free “to” sin, we are free “from” sin and “unto” Christ.

Christian, we are not our own. We were bought with a price. If we truly grasp the Gospel, we can’t possibly arrive at a conclusion that so greatly distorts grace. The plan of salvation is faith in Christ plus nothing. As believers in Jesus, we are called to live in that freedom and to make it our motivation for pursuing a life of Spirit-empowered obedience, not as an excuse to pursue the values, desires and deeds that characterized our life before Christ saved us. I pray that the Spirit would bear much fruit in our church family as we memorize this great verse together during the month of March!

Download our wallpaper for your phone, tablet and computer to help as you memorize!


Stop Standing on the Sidelines

An Interview with Angel Turbeville, MBC Bethesda Director of Small Groups, and Helen Lee, MBC Bethesda Attendee

In the fall, I had the joy of co-leading a Friday night Multiply women’s group for MBC Bethesda. As our group started meeting, it was a joy to see the diversity, both ethnically and spiritually. Spiritually, some women had been faithful believers for years and some women were fairly new in their faith. One woman in particular, Helen, was a brand new Christian. I asked her to share her experience so that others might be encouraged to join a Multiply group. We learn and are challenged by each other’s views, questions, and varying levels of experience. The discussions in our Friday night group were so very rich because of the perspective that Helen brought to our group. It would have been incomplete without her! I pray that others, regardless of how new they may be in their faith, will consider the value of joining one of these groups.


Below are some thoughts from Helen prompted by my questions:

Q. Describe your Multiply group experience. Was this group experience what you expected when you signed up? If not, how was it different?

A. I am new to Christianity and did not know if I should even sign up for a Multiply group. I was actually looking for a Christianity 201 class and/or Bible study group. I asked a MBC member who had befriended me about what was best for me. She encouraged me to join Multiply. I have to say that it was more than I expected. I loved the group of women who attended and loved hearing about their journey with Christ. It was such a great sharing experience. It showed me the importance of fellowship and how rewarding it can be. I especially am thankful for the supportive environment and accepting nature that made me feel comfortable in sharing.

Q. How has Multiply helped you grow in your faith?

A. Because Multiply was such a positive experience, I continue to be excited about my journey with Christ and continue my friendships with the women in this group. I have learned and experienced the power of prayer and am totally amazed by it.

I have learned and experienced the power of prayer and am totally amazed by it.

Q. As a result of this study, what is your understanding of what it truly means to be a disciple? How has it changed your view of what it means to live out discipleship in the church?

A. Because I am so new to Christianity, I am not so well versed in the Scriptures that I can recite chapters and verses. But discipleship can take many forms on many different levels. I have learned that I can share my journey of how God has brought much comfort to me and has answered my prayers. I think the act of sharing what God has given me is discipleship. I hope that my story will stimulate thought in others who are non-believers.

I hope that my story will stimulate thought in others who are non-believers.

I have much to learn and to improve upon and foremost is to not be a hypocrite. As a non-believer, hypocrisy kept me away from organized religion so showing others that you truly try to follow the Word of God through your spirit and actions is so important.

Q. If you could sit down with every person in this congregation not already involved in a group, what would you say to them regarding the value of joining a Multiply group?

A. You can stand on the sidelines or you can test the waters. There is so much to be gained from joining a Multiply group but you have to experience it to know for sure. While Multiply has so far taught us a basic foundation of discipleship, it also provides an opportunity for spiritual sharing, support, friendships and prayer.

What about you? How has Multiply helped you grow in your faith? Share your story with us!

The Global Church: Part 3 – Unity is Like Cake

By Julie Stoll, former Director of MBC Missions

Yes, cake! A baker takes strikingly different ingredients, mixes them in a certain order, and when heat is applied over time, you get a chemical change. A new entity exists. Not just a bunch of ingredients thrown together to make a mixed salad where all the individual characteristics of the vegetables can be separated again. No. A cake is an organically changed, new composition. One can’t recognize the original ingredients anymore, yet each ingredient is absolutely essential to the new creation. Unity is like cake! This new thing is beautiful to behold, tastes heavenly, and actually will draw people to the table. Few are not attracted to a fresh cake. That, my friend, is unity. When you see true unity, you recognize it as rare and desirable.

A highly diverse, multiethnic group or nation is usually characterized by conflict and disunity. Our own government representatives haven’t been a model of agreement. The United Nations isn’t always so united. Peace hasn’t exactly broken out worldwide. Peoples are in constant disunity—within families, communities and on national and international levels. Why? Because true unity is supernatural and is ultimately based on forgiveness and reconciliation. Only our great Triune God can unify. He alone is the master baker.

He is demonstrating this to the world as the Global Body of Christ emerges as a model of multiethnic unity. When empowered by the Holy Spirit, we, His body, are able to demonstrate His attributes and operate in true brotherly love. We are mandated to put on the perfect bond of unity, which is His love (Colossians 3:14). It cements His living stones (1 Peter 2:5) together, even though many of us are from distant quarries. Our love and unity becomes our main witness of God’s character and power. That is how people will see that we are His disciples, by our love … and our unity becomes our witness to a fragmented world.

So, as we talk about multiplying and evangelistic outreach, how intentional are we in pursuing multiethnic unity as an evangelistic tool to draw a desperately divided community? Can others see us as one united local church, indeed one Global Body, participating in God’s great commission to disciple all nations? Have we lost ourselves yet in abandoned surrender to become His cake?

“I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity, to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” John 17:23­­­­

Julie is speaking at a breakout session at the MBC Women’s Conference in March. Sign up for the conference and breakout session while a few spots remain.