Spotlight: Downtown Augusta

It is not by accident that Redemption Church is located on Broad Street. Since our beginning we have had a heart to spread the gospel to those who live, work, and play in downtown Augusta. That is why we jumped at the opportunity to have a permanent location in The Doris Building a couple of years ago. We love it here, and we want to be a blessing to this neighborhood very intentionally and in very tangible ways.

There have been a lot of really great developments lately toward continuing to make downtown a fun destination for locals and out of town guests. So this week I thought it would be helpful to share a few ways to stay connected to what is happening, support the businesses and organizations that are making it all happen, and to show up to bless our city.


5 Downtown Augusta Resources:


Downtown Development Authority

Visit the DDA website for a video that highlights some the great places and things that downtown has to offer. While you are there look around the site to become more informed about the direction we are headed.

Support Downtown Augusta

Claire Riche, my wife, operates these Facebook and Instagram accounts that are geared toward encouraging locals to spend time and money downtown. There are a lot of businesses that have planted in downtown because they want to see it thrive, and they hope to serve toward that end. They could use our support. Support Downtown Augusta highlights special events, restaurants, shops, art galleries and much more throughout the week. Follow them for great date ideas, gift ideas, or to even to connect with service opportunities.

Operation Clean City

After a weekend of nightlife there is often a good bit of trash blown through the streets that leaves the area looking less than desirable. Operation Clean City meets regularly, often on Sunday mornings before church services begin, to clean up the mess. This is a great way to meet people in the area and serve the city and our neighbors in a very tangible way. Follow them on Facebook and on Twitter

Downtown Lowdown

This Facebook group allows downtown businesses and stakeholders to post their events and news to the page. It is a great way to hear about all the new developments and events that are taking place.


Westobou is an excellent addition to the downtown scene. They are terrific neighbors and advocates for making our city a truly great place to live and visit. The festival that they put together every year brings amazing talent to our area, but they also have a home office and gallery on Broad Street that you can usually visit during the day to check out their featured artists. Visit their website for more information on the festival and upcoming galleries. They also put together a monthly list of 10 things to do each month that they publish on their Facebook page and Twitter feed.


This is by no means an exhaustive list of resources. However, I am sure that many of these will lead you to connect to other great resources.  If you know of something that is worth taking a look at feel free to leave a comment. Downtown is really a fun place with a wide variety of people. Get out, get involved, get to know people and find a way that you can support and bless downtown Augusta.

How Should I Give?

At Redemption Church we talk a lot about “increasingly submitting ALL areas of life to the empowering presence and Lordship of Jesus Christ,” which is a definition of discipleship that I believe we ripped off from Jeff Vanderstelt. It’s a good definition. The question is, how can we submit ANY area of life to Jesus if we don’t submit our finances to Him?

Money has always been a tough thing for people to submit to Jesus. It was a struggle for people throughout the Bible, and it is still a struggle today. I would say that our culture’s obsession with money and possessions identifies this particular area of life as one of the first that needs to be dealt with as you and I learn to increasingly submit all of life to Jesus. It just seems like it would be tough to skip it and move on to something else in most of our lives.

I believe we have to start talking about all areas of our finances. We have to be asking questions not only about how and where we should give our money, but also of how and where we spend our money, save our money, and invest our money. Maybe we can get into more of those areas in the future. For now, let’s talk about generosity and giving.

Giving has to be the first part of active submission with our finances because, as Randy Alcorn says, “Giving breaks us out of orbit around our possessions. We escape their gravity, entering a new orbit around our treasures in heaven.” As Christians we know that we are suppose to give – many churchgoers feel the obligation to tithe – but I don’t think we talk enough about how giving is a blessing to the life of the giver. It sets us free from a slavery to money and possessions allowing us to savor the freedom of wholly trusting in God, who has given us everything and is in ultimate possession of all things. We won’t likely let Jesus into our spending, saving, and investing until we have experienced His empowering presence and Lordship in our giving.


Since creation it has been clear that God created everything, and that everything is His. God blessed us with everything that we have in order to steward it toward blessing His creation, and ultimately glorifying God in His creation. Throughout the Old Testament God calls on His people to give their first fruits to Him as an act of trust, obedience, and worship.

The act of giving the first ten percent, tithe, to God before any other spending took place was an act that served to remind a forgetful people of Whose they were, Whose hands they were in, and that God could be trusted. We too are a forgetful people today.

Offering and Beyond

God actually called His people to give even more than the first ten percent. He often called for special offerings. These offerings were given over and above the ten percent tithe. One of my favorite examples is when God called Israel to give an offering while wandering in the wilderness. The offering was to go toward the construction of the Tabernacle, which was going to require some valuable materials. This people, slaves who fled overnight from Egypt, obeyed and gave all kinds of jewels, fine cloth, and other valuables. Where did a bunch of wandering slaves come up with all these goods? Before they fled Egypt, God told them to ask the Egyptian people for their valuables, and fearing the God of Israel the Egyptians granted the request. It just illustrates how God provides everything that He asks us to give.

Tithes and offerings are not all that God wanted His people to give. He also instructed Israel, as they settled and grew crops, to leave the edges of their fields at harvest for the passing sojourner who may need something to eat.

“As for the Rich”

God was always shepherding His people to be givers because God is generous, and His people were called to show the world what God was like.

That’s all Old Testament times, I know. So what does the New Testament look like? In the New Testament it would be hard to put a percentage on what God requires, but He is still shepherding His people to be crazy generous.

In Acts 2:45 we see the early church “selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.” In several of the letters of the New Testament it is evident that the Apostles called the church to give toward advancing the gospel in their cities and in the global mission field.

Paul refers to the example of Jesus in 2 Corinthians 8:9: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”

Paul charges Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:17-19, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.”

If anything, in the New Testament we see the followers of Jesus being called to become even more generous in their giving than the people of the Old Testament. Jesus asked the Rich Young Ruler and others to get rid of everything and follow Him as if submitting all of life to Jesus meant one hundred percent of everything, even one hundred percent of their money and possessions. Certainly, we can’t just sign over the entirety of our paychecks to the church right? Let’s talk guidelines.

Guidelines for Giving

Giving to the Local Church –

At Redemption Church we believe that it is best to give your tithes, your first ten percent, to the local church. Why give to the church first? Because it is the place of Christian community where we are going in together towards equipping and sending the body. We ask all our members to commit to give financially to the local church in this way for that purpose.

Giving Beyond Tithes –

We also encourage you to give an offering beyond your tithe. Tithe would be that first ten percent given to the local church, and an offering would be what you give over and beyond that to special purposes such as specific church projects, supporting global missionaries or other ministry support.

We would also suggest you leave something at the “edge of the field,” so to speak, so that you can be generous towards those in need who come your way unexpectedly. We suggest building some margin into your budget for these occasions. Dave Ramsey, founder of Financial Peace University – a really great course that we usually offer during the summer at Redemption Church –  recommends working toward setting a budget that allows you to give 15 percent of your income away through tithes, offerings, and beyond.

Make a Plan –

Listen, I know that not everybody can do all of this at one time, but what I want to encourage is that you make a plan towards giving as God has called you, and act on it. If you don’t plan to give then you’re unlikely to ever get around to giving. How can you increasingly submit this area of life to the empowering presence and Lordship of Jesus Christ?

I would encourage you to pray through this with your family, with your DNA partners, and with your missional communities. If this is an area that is hard to submit, that is understandable. Please don’t be ashamed to seek counsel with your fellow church members, and leaders. No one wants anybody to feel ashamed or guilty. That is not the kind of giving God desires.

Paul says it well in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

I would encourage you to come up with a giving plan, and start giving immediately. The invitation is not to obligation but to faithful obedience that will lead you to increasingly trust and take joy in Christ.  He is exceedingly rich in riches beyond matters of money, and He can be one hundred percent trusted.

Here is how you can give to Redemption Church.

Here is what we have going on in the way of supporting Global Missions

Thoughts Before the 2017 Presidential Inauguration

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America.  Without a doubt, he is unlike any President I have encountered in my lifetime.  In times like these, it is natural to look backwards into our history to see how Presidents from the past have handled times of great transition and division.  At the onset of Abraham Lincoln’s second term as President of the United States in the midst of a Civil War that had not yet come to an end, Lincoln is quoted as ending his inaugural address with these words: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

The election cycle of 2016 was in and of itself a time of division and contention.  While we have certainly not been in a season of conflict like Abraham Lincoln was in when he uttered those words, we must without a doubt acknowledge the division that has bubbled to the surface of our society as a result of this election cycle.  It has been reported that upwards of 80% of people who identify as Evangelical Christians voted for Trump.  We also know that very few Minority Christians voted for Trump, thus exposing that Christians themselves were divided in this election not unlike our nation as a whole.  Based on what I’ve seen and heard, I think many Evangelical voters were hoping to restore some sense of Christian values back into our society inasmuch as President-Elect Trump promised to make America great again.  

I’m incredibly grateful to have been born in the United States of America.  I have been afforded a lifestyle and myriad opportunities that many people in our world will never experience.  We live in a nation that is undoubtedly prosperous, and the freedoms we enjoy are unbelievable when compared to much of the world. In Revelation 7:9-10 (ESV), we find these words:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

With all of that said, we as American Christians sometimes miss this truth: God doesn’t love political nations – He loves people.  When the word “Nation” is used here in Revelation and throughout the New Testament, it’s not referring to a specific political entity.  It is referring to people where they gather with specific cultural and linguistic identities.  

Jesus didn’t die on the cross to save the nation of America: He died on the cross to save the people who live in America.  God doesn’t make covenants with nations any longer.  With the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, God established a new covenant and created a new entity.  The new covenant is made with the people He saves, and the new entity He created was not a nation – it was the Church.  It is time for the Church to embrace the fact that our standing in the world is not based on any power, prestige, or influence we wield in our societies and cultures and states and nations.  Our standing in the world is based on the fact that Jesus died to set apart His people as a called-out group empowered, not to create Christian nations, but to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples.

In this linked article from Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer states the following:

“It is time for us to stop asking how we get our collective foot into our culture, and instead begin to ask God how we can be faithful to Him and our call to show and share the love of Jesus in a broken and hurting world. We need to remember, quoting an old preacher phrase, that “what happens in the church house is far more important than what happens in the White House.”

Jesus is not coming back on a donkey or an elephant. He is coming back on a white horse to bring victory. I, for one, just want to keep showing and sharing the love of Jesus in the midst of a changing culture until that moment comes. Do you?”

While we should be grateful for the freedoms we enjoy and while we should endeavor to be model citizens inasmuch as we do so to glorify our Father in Heaven (1 Cor. 10:31), let us not forget that we live in a deeply divided, deeply fallen, and deeply hurting nation.  As Christians, we hold the answer to division, sin, and pain.  The work ahead of us is incredibly difficult.  Only Jesus can bring the peace and unity that Abraham Lincoln spoke about at his second inauguration.  

Here’s the kicker for me though: it’s the church that has the obligation to steward the Gospel for the well-being of our city and state and nation.  As God’s people were sent into exile in Babylon, the prophet Jeremiah uttered these words to the exiles from Israel in 29:7, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”  The welfare of our city and state and nation will only be found as the Gospel advances and people become part of God’s kingdom.

Church, our nation needs the Gospel.  Church, our nation needs us to proclaim the truth of reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing.  Church, our nation needs Jesus.  Church, let’s get busy with things that will matter for eternity.  America will one day cease to exist, but Jesus and His bride will not.  Let me leave you with this reminder from Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”

Check out this related 3 part series of blog posts: After the 2016 Presidential Election

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection

The artistry that The Gospel According to Matthew was written with continues to amaze me. This book isn’t just some guy’s feeble attempt to record the things that he saw. No, Matthew wasn’t a hack writer. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, and by actually walking with Jesus and learning from His brilliance, Matthew put together a masterpiece that, like any truly great story, instills perspective and sparks insight; always pointing us to the true Christ.

Coming out of the Advent season and Christmas, when we celebrated the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, we now turn our eyes very purposefully toward Jerusalem, the cross, and the resurrection of Christ our King. Matthew’s Gospel leads us well in that direction. Therefore, we will be keeping pace with the story in Matthew as we are led through the seasons of Lent, the Passion of Christ, and Resurrection Sunday.  

In our current series, Revealing Christ, we are taking a closer look at Matthew 15:29 – 17:23, where Peter confessed Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of God,” and Peter, James, and John witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus.  This coming Sunday we will encounter the first of three times when Jesus foretold both His death and resurrection to His disciples, and it is to these three occasions that I’d like to look forward to for a moment.

3 Times Jesus Foretold His Death & Resurrection

We come across the first foretelling in Matthew 16:21 (ESV) where it says:

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. (Matthew 16:21 ESV)

Matthew sets this passage apart by introducing it with the phrase “From that time.” You may remember the use of this phrase earlier in the book when Matthew uses it to emphasize the beginning and direction of Jesus’ ministry, citing His core message; “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17 ESV). Likewise, Matthew uses the phrase here to draw our attention to the direction Jesus’ ministry is now headed.

Just before this passage Jesus asked His disciples who people were saying He was. When Jesus pushed further and asks who the disciples believed He was, Peter answered “You are the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 16:16 ESV).

It was right after that confession that Jesus let the disciples in on the rest of the plan and what it really meant for Him to be the Christ.  This foretelling of His own death and resurrection served to help them see Him as Christ rightly, because to confess Him as Christ and deny Him the cross would be to have misguided expectations.

Peter, of course, rebuked Jesus saying “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22 ESV). It’s a stunning turn of conversation really, and I can totally relate to Peter’s reaction. I can’t help but think of the scene in Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when Susan and Lucy walk with Aslan through the woods in the night, holding his mane and falling in love with him, only to find that they were walking with him to the Stone Table. That place where they later watched from afar as the White Witch and her army tortured and killed him. Of course Peter and the disciples would be devastated by the news that Jesus delivered. Nevertheless, Jesus turned their eyes toward the cross so that they could begin to understand what it truly meant for Him to be who they said they believed He was.

There is good news beyond the death of Jesus, although it seemingly went unnoticed by Peter, and it is that Jesus would be raised from the dead. A cross that killed Jesus and was the end of the story would have rendered Jesus to not be the Christ at all. Whereas, death defeated reveals Him to be the true and better King; the suffering Servant prophesied by Isaiah.

Matthew intentionally tells the rest of the story under the shadow of the cross of Christ, which of course is cast by the light of His glorious resurrection. We not only read the recorded exchange between Jesus and His disciples, but as we read the story our eyes too are turned toward the cross and resurrection. Matthew engages us in the story so that we can make the confession along with Peter, that Jesus is the Christ, as our attention turns toward the acts of Jesus that have made that a reality for us.

A second time, in Matthew 17, Jesus foretold of His own death and resurrection. Certainly, Matthew could have left this out, especially after writing the sort of blanket statement of “From this time on” in the first scene. However, Matthew goes on to tell of two more scenes when Jesus revealed these things to His disciples. These stories act to pull the audience in so that we can feel the momentum building as the story begins to roll more directly towards the cross.

In this second instance, a few of the disciples had actually just witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus and heard the voice of the Father saying “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him” (Matt. 17:5 ESV). This foretelling in its context reveals, at the least, the motivation of Jesus to live and die in total submission to His Father’s will, trusting that His purposes and mission are best. This is accented to some extent by the scene between the transfiguration and this foretelling where Jesus presses in on the disciples “little faith.”

Notice, there was no rebuttal this time, only distress, and as Matthew’s story transitions immediately to a new scene after this passage we should feel the weight of the necessary pause at the end of this passage in Matthew 17:22-23 (ESV):

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed.

Lastly, the drama of this ultimate of redemption stories is heightened with the third occasion of Jesus’ foretelling of His death and resurrection. It is found in Matthew 20:17-19 (ESV) and reads:

And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”

Jesus and His disciples have left Galilee and hit the road toward Jerusalem. So far, concerning these foretellings, there hadn’t been a real timeline put forth or much in the way of details. Jesus hadn’t told them the when or where of His death and resurrection, just that it was coming, that it was necessary, and that He was devoted to the mission. Here, Jesus let them in on the where and roughly the when. The time for these events would be near when they reached their destination, Jerusalem, to which they were already on their way.

To add fuel to the fire, Jesus also revealed other details. In part, this demonstration of His foreknowledge says mounds about His divinity, and Matthew is certainly illustrating that for his audience. However, Jesus wasn’t just showboating His God skills here, He was giving His disciples insight into the reality that was about to take place. Not only would Jesus be betrayed and killed, but it would be ugly, and there would be beating, blood, and a crucifixion.

To be honest, I don’t know how you keep your feet moving toward Jerusalem at the hearing of such shocking news. No half-hearted belief would do. You’d have to truly believe that Jesus is who He said He is, that His is the only way to true life, and that it is absolutely worth pushing through the mess to get enjoy the beauty.

Moving Forward Together

When we reach this third passage at Redemption Church, as we make our way through Matthew, we will be beginning to observe Lent together. We don’t usually do a lot in the way of observing Lent here, but as Advent is to Christmas so Lent is to the Passion of Christ and Resurrection Sunday. It is a time of preparation, and we will be encouraging us all to walk through that season with some intentionality; knowing that at the end of the road there is a bloody cross and our Saviour, who rose from the grave and is God with us.

It is my hope that as we spend a few weeks between Christmas and Lent, these few passages will help draw our gaze intently toward the cross and the resurrection of Jesus. As we see Jesus more clearly as the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior, may we see that for any of that to be true He had to go the way of the cross.

As we seek Christ together we will surely hear His call for us to follow Him, to submit everything, to take up our cross and come and die. May we prepare ourselves on purpose then to answer the call for His glory and our joy as we find that there is plentiful grace and redemption for us all as we lean into the brokenness and mess that lies before us.

Spotlight: Reflections on 2016 and into 2017

I am thankful for 2016. I’m not sure I’ve said that enough, but a lot of truly great things happened around Redemption Church last year. There have been salvations, baptisms, new members, new missional communities, new ministries, and new leaders who have stepped forward. We sent a team to Sojourn Uganda on a mission trip, and we’ve had two successful fundraisers to help support their ministry. The Doris Building has hosted several events which is opening doors for us bless and engage more with the downtown community. Certainly, a very lengthy post about all that we have been able to celebrate this year could be written, but the most remarkable parts of 2016 at Redemption Church are best highlighted by the prayers that we prayed together.

Over the course of the year we paused during our Sunday services to pray together that God would use us to see the gospel advance in Augusta, GA. We prayed some specific prayers about how we would like to see God work in us and through us.

We prayed:

  • That God would bring salvation to 100 people through our ministry
  • That God would lead us into diversity
  • That God would raise up leaders
  • That God would use our missional communities as a place for discipleship
  • That God would replicate our missional communities to create opportunities to lead people to Jesus who lead people to Jesus

In 2016 we saw salvation, we became a little more diverse, we saw new leaders step up, we saw missional communities press into discipleship and replicate. God has answered our prayers tangibly. Although almost none of it looked like we would have expected, I am more convinced than ever that we can ask our Father for anything our hearts desire, and the good news is that He will use our request to shape us for His glory and our joy.

Honestly, some of those prayers were hard to pray at first. It felt really odd to ask God to reach 100 people through our church of about the same number. In the back of my mind there was always a measure of unbelief. As we pushed forward, each time I prayed for 100 people to be saved I had to begin wrapping a prayer around it for my heart’s unbelief. Eventually, as we were faithful to pray together week in and week out, we saw people come to know Jesus. We didn’t reach 100 people, but as we’ve prayed I’ve seen the heart of Redemption Church grow more eager to spread the gospel.

As we prayed to be used by God to see His kingdom advance in our city, and as we have been making our way through the Gospel of Matthew, we have started talking a lot more about what it means to be a disciple. We defined disciple as “one who is increasingly submitting all of life to the empowering presence and Lordship of Jesus Christ.” We started talking more about what it means to submit “all of life” to Jesus in this way. How do we submit our singleness or marriage to Christ? How do we submit our work to Christ? How do we submit our homes to Christ? How do we submit our finances to Christ?

As we have been praying those prayers and asking those questions together on Sundays, in missional communities, and in DNA’s, there is evidence that God is shaping our hearts to follow hard after Jesus and to lead others to Him. Because of that, I’ve never started a year at Redemption Church with the excitement that I have as we begin 2017. I hope you’re excited too and will engage with us in three challenges.

3 things for 2017:

  1. We must continue to pray together. We must pray for salvation, diversity, leaders, missional communities, and DNA’s. As we pray this year, I believe, our hands will get a little dirtier as we devote ourselves to the gospel, community, and mission.  See, I’ve come to realize that there is no way around messy in the ministry of reconciliation to which we have been called; it was this ministry that took Jesus to the cross. It’s messy, but is a indescribably beautiful.
  2. We must radically dedicate ourselves to “increasingly submitting all of life to the empowering presence and Lordship of Jesus Christ.” This can be a dirty work because we all have mess that needs dealing with, and it isn’t always fun to let others help bring the gospel to bear in our lives; it can hurt. However, it’s a good work because as we learn by God’s grace to lean into the mess of each other’s brokenness with the gospel we will experience the beauty of redemption.
  3. We must radically dedicate ourselves to identifying and reaching outsiders with the love of Jesus. Truly, to take the gospel to people that nobody else is reaching we have to go to people that nobody else is going to. We have to be a church that goes to the would-be outsiders and brings the gospel to bear on the brokenness and injustices of this world; it’s a work that can get messy. This too may put us at odds with each other, but I remain convinced that when we lean into the tension, the conflict, the mess, and look to Jesus, we will see the beauty of redemption at work and see the gospel advance in ways we haven’t imagined.


After the 2016 Presidential Election (Part 3): Two Kingdoms

American Flag

Members of the Electoral College have cast their ballots, and it is official, Donald Trump will be President of the United States for the next four years. Some are pleased with the outcome, some are indifferent, and others are devastated.

If you paid attention at all to this election cycle, you know that what Ben wrote in part 2 of this series is so true, “No matter the candidate or year, election season is often a cause for anxiety.” As a former U.S. History teacher, I spent time studying elections and campaigns, and found that in each political season powerful and effective rhetoric is employed to convince the public of one position or another. The goal of political rhetoric is simple, vote “X”.  This is how politics work. The process is much more sophisticated but often looks something like this:


Person or party “X” is wrong- either dangerously or ignorantly so


There is one hope to maintain stability, security or integrity- person or party “Y”


You must save _______ by voting for person or party “Y”


Get others on board to save the world- encourage social pressure and shaming


Because, fear, hope, and social pressure are dynamically powerful motivators, I want to begin by inviting you to consider the following questions:

  • Who or what do you fear?
  • Where do you place your hope?
  • How does this affect the condition your heart?
  • How does this shape the way you interact with others?

Some Relevant History

The 1970s facilitated a surge in evangelical involvement in American politics. This particular surge was primarily a response to a transitioning national and cultural identity- away from what some believed to be “Christian” to one marked by secular humanism. Throughout this transition, many prominent evangelicals shared a deep conviction that the United States was falling further and further from its “Christian” identity and the proper response was to mount a counterattack to “take America back for God.” This resulted in an array of party alignments, agendas, and affiliations for many evangelicals.

In the early 1980’s, three well respected professors of U.S. history, Mark Noll, George Marsden, and Nathaniel Hatch, sought to help evangelicals sift through some of the political rhetoric and arrive at a more accurate view of the past. They explore the following questions:

  • How Christian is America’s past?
  • Was early Christian America a distinct source of Christian values?
  • What was the mix of Christian principles and baptized ideology in Puritan New England, the legacy of the Great Awakening, and the American Revolution?
  • How much Christian action is required to make a whole society Christian?
  • Is the “Christian nation” concept harmful or helpful to effective Christian action in society?

Convinced that a proper view of the past, a) helps us rightly view the present, and b) leads us to effective Christian action in society, Noll and his colleagues published their their research and conclusions in, The Search for Christian America.

In short (sorry for the spoiler, but well worth the read), Noll, Hatch, and Marsden explain that although America has had a generally religious past and it’s history has been liberally sprinkled with genuine Christian influence, the facts of history show that early America does not deserve to be considered uniquely, distinctly, or even predominantly Christian. Furthermore, careful examination of Christian teaching on government, the state, and the nature of culture actually reveals that the idea of a ‘Christian nation’ is very ambiguous concept which is usually harmful to effective Christian action in society.”

If you are interested exploring this topic more, but don’t want to read an entire book, check out this interview with Mark Noll (my apologies ahead of time for the cheesy intro music).

Why does this matter?

First, the aforementioned mentality or sentiment has carried over and shaped the landscape of American evangelical involvement in politics in the 21st century.  Noll explains that, “proper perspective profoundly affects the way we approach the public arena,” and “allows Christians to more clearly speak the gospel in evangelism and to put it to work in social concern.”

Second, for many evangelicals it is difficult to differentiate between the Kingdom of God and the American kingdom. And even when find ourselves able to differentiate, it is even more difficult to know how to operate first as citizens of the Kingdom of God and second as citizens of our country.

Two Kingdoms

As followers of Jesus it must be clear to us that, “the kingdom Jesus came to establish is ‘not from this world’ (John  18:36).” It is fundamentally distinct from any kingdom of the world.

Our understanding of the proper relationship of the church to society can be clarified by one of the greatest of the church fathers, Saint Augustine. Augustine lived in the fourth and fifth centuries after Christ in the era just after Christians had just gained access to political power in the Roman empire. Augustine thought that Christians should loyally perform their duties to the powers that be and thank God for any blessings that came from their country, but they should not have illusions about the nature of human governments. Ultimately every human government belongs to what Augustine called the “city of the world,” in which self-interest rules.

Augustine explained  that all human governments are resolved to defend things of material and worldly value, and they will unhesitatingly destroy (in some form or fashion) anyone or anything that challenges their authority. Only in the City of God, says Augustine, or in the church, can we find a community that is dedicated not to defending self-interest, but rather to the love of God.


When we die with Christ and are raised again with him, we give up our ultimately allegiances to the principalities and powers of this world-even to the relatively good powers that benefit us. Although we are to be good citizens who value the civil order God has provided, our ultimate allegiance is to a higher power.

In his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul wrote, “I am afraid that… your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor 11:3). Many of us, myself included, have wrestled this political season with having our eyes, hearts, and minds led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Political participation is a privilege, but with it comes a tremendous temptation to be drawn into and consumed by powerful rhetoric and propaganda. Our political ideologies can become to us our hope – that which saves and delivers us from our fear- taking the place of God.

We must realize that a gulf lies between the church and any human government no matter how admirable or how relatively good it may be. “Despite some overlaps, the church’s goals are never going to be nearly coextensive with the goals of the civilizations of the world. We should work for the relatively better.” We have important obligations to do whatever we can to help our neighbors-promoting just laws, good order, peace, education and opportunity. Nonetheless we should recognize that as we work for the relatively better in the “city of the world”, our successes will be relative.

“The church declares that the solutions offered by the nations of the world are always transitory solutions, themselves in need of reform. Such sobriety about the world should not lead to political cynicism or dissolution. It should however, reinforce the ultimate Christian truth that our final hope rest only on the grace of Christ” (Noll).

The failure of many Christians in the political realm has not been political engagement, rather, a failure to recognize and pronounce Christ and His Kingdom as supreme and independent.

The Truth We All Need

A political party, candidate, or ideology cannot satisfy the longings of our hearts or fully resolve the brokenness that surrounds us. It would serve us well  to evaluate the position of our hearts towards the kingdoms of this world, the little kingdoms we make in our individual lives, and the better, true Kingdom that is ultimately demanding of our affections and the only way to true flourishing.

Let me encourage you to spend some time with the following questions. If the Spirit leads, repent (turn from your idolatry, and turn to Jesus) and rejoice in the good news of the Gospel!

  • Who or what do you fear?
  • Where do you place your hope?
  • How is Jesus and His Kingdom better?
  • If you believed this, how would this it affect the condition your heart and reshape the way you interact with others?

Don’t forget what Reggie wrote in the first post;

“One day, America and all her Presidents will just be a footnote in History – a kingdom that lasted for just a moment in time.  When that day comes, Jesus will still be reigning supreme.  One day, King Jesus will return, and the only Great King that has ever existed will rule this earth with the kind of glory that earthly kings can only dream of possessing.  Church, let me remind you of what King David said in Psalm 20:7 (ESV): ‘Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.’  Church – don’t put your hope in earthly kings. Likewise, don’t despair over earthly kings. Instead – remember your true king!”


Spotlight: Redemption Women Gears Up for Another Year

One of the most exciting new developments in the life of Redemption Church last year was the launch of our women’s ministry, Redemption Women.

Redemption Women hosts monthly gatherings—usually each third Thursday at the Doris Building—to offer ladies an opportunity for deeper church-wide fellowship and discipleship.

“Women need each other. I believe God wired us to need all kinds of relationships, and female friendships are one of them,” said Holly Love, founder and co-leader. “There’s a feeling you get when you’ve had fellowship with others that’s hard to explain. It’s like a little bit of your soul got filled up.”

When you ask today’s busy, tired, and overworked women the one area of life they wish they could improve, the most common answer is their involvement at church. Research by Barna Group indicates that a majority of Christian women crave deeper relationships and more emotional support among their congregations.

“It’s really important for Christian women of all ages and stages of life to be able to come together and be encouraged by one another,” said Claire Riche, who also co-leads the ministry alongside Holly, Tiffany Snow, and Kelly Skelley. “I have loved seeing this group of women as diverse as we are come together as one unified body.”

Holly felt God calling her to launch the ministry not long after moving from San Antonio to Augusta. Interest from fellow women and her co-leaders led her to begin planning meetings over the summer and official gatherings starting in September.

Each Redemption Women gathering includes a meal or snack, a short presentation or discussion, and an activity. The group has brainstormed ideas to highlight and serve the range of interests among them, and so far has swapped recipes for favorite soups, tried their hands at seasonal crafts, and started an inaugural Christmas Tea.

This month’s event, scheduled for January 19 at 7 p.m., will be a pajama party and coloring night. (Women at Redemption can chat with one of the leaders or click to join our Facebook Group for updates on all Redemption Women happenings.)

The co-leaders recognize the stereotypical downfalls of women’s ministry—that it could turn cliquish or exclusive—and are actively working to infuse a sense of openness and togetherness. In an earlier blog post, Holly introduced the four major principles guiding Redemption Women: inclusiveness, fellowship, teaching, and outreach.

Titus 2 encourages women to raise up one other in the Lord. “They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women” (Titus 2:3-4).

“My biggest hope for Redemption Women is that it provides a safe and welcoming place for women of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences to come together and experience the warmth of each other’s company and the love of God,” said Holly.