Saturday, December 24, 2011

December Update 2011

Hi Everyone,
This family and ministry update is long overdue and we'd just like to say "Thanks!" to all of you out there who think about us, ask about us, and pray for us. And thank you to those who have faithfully supported us this past year as we relocated to Raleigh and have gotten established in this community. We are so thankful for you all!

"Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you!" Jude 2

It's been a crazy year for us. Many trials and blessings running along side each other while God continues to carry us through. Our family is growing as we found out in September that Angela is pregnant with our baby number 2! We're super excited about this little one coming into the world, and are privileged that God would entrust another life with us. As we stumble through trying to be good parents we can only pray that God's grace will be upon both of our children and that He would carry them through this life and on into the next. The baby is due in May or June of 2012 and we'll hopefully find out in the next few weeks if it's a boy or a girl.
James just turned 3 in November and is growing fast. He's becoming a wild little boy with a big personality and I think he's got a great sense of humor. He has really brought life to his boring parents and keeps us on our feet. He's learning a lot as Angela home-schools him weekly. He's got a great memory, is very inquisitive and really pays attention to people. That is a huge answer to our prayer that God would make him a young man who loves God and loves people.
Until recently we have remained pretty healthy, but over the past month we all got sick and Angela has fought bronchitis for 2 weeks. God has taken good care of us financially, relationally and spiritually as we have met some wonderful people, made some good friends and Greg has been blessed with a steady job.
Work has proven to be satisfying and a real opportunity to learn a good trade and minister the truth and love of God to those who don't know Him and encourage those who do. This summer was very hot, humid and busy and led me to work a lot of overtime. I am blessed to serve my community with my hands as well as with God's Word. And I am thankful that I can teach James this trade as he gets older if he desires so that he too might be able to know a beneficial skill and serve his community. Heating and air conditioning are luxuries many of us do not want to relinquish, even in times of economic hardship. This trade has remained steady even through the hard times.
We are continuing to pray about adoption for the future as we feel this might be something that God would have us do as a tangible expression of His love for us. Please keep us in prayer about that and that as our family grows, so would our faith. Family has been a real theme this year and God is continuing to show us that genuine spiritual ministry must overflow from a healthy united family. Thank you to those of you who have modeled that for us because we are experiencing the difficulty of managing family, work and ministry opportunities.

This past year has felt like a huge spiritual science project gone bad. We came out to North Carolina in hopes of beginning a home fellowship Bible study and after a year that has not happened. While much of that could certainly be the result of my personal immaturity, lack of leadership and not "laboring" hard enough, we are also growing in understanding where God has and has not gifted each of us. This can be trial and error, and after a year our attempts to some degree have felt like a "successful failure". A "failure" in that what we had hoped would materialize has not, and a "success" in that we have learned much about ourselves, others and God's plan for us through it all. As time goes by we see God's wisdom and plan unfolding rather than our agenda or preconceived ideas. We feel confident that the "traditional church plant" is obviously not what God is calling us to, and we are somewhat back to square one with discovering where His gifting and blessing is and where He is leading us as a family and in ministry. Honestly, this has been a very difficult year, clouded with confusion, discouragement, and disappointment but we thank God for the living hope within that drives us to press on and trust in Him with our future and His will. Having been here a year now we definitely believe that God has called us here and we are exactly where He wants us even though ministry has been hard. With that said, we know for certain that no matter where we are or what we're doing we are absolutely called by God to:
1- Preach the Gospel 2-Make Disciples 3- Equip the Saints
While that might sound very general and not very specific, we have found that those 3 elements of ministry have given us great freedom and flexibility in how, and where and when we minister to others even though it might not take on the appearance of a church plant, regular Bible study or organized outreach. We do long and pray for opportunities that are more consistent and regular in regards to meeting and reaching out.
Through your prayers and support we have been able to preach the Gospel, make disciples and equip the saints in the following ways:
Preaching the Gospel:
Greg has been able to share the Gospel with nearly all his co-workers as well as many customers. We have been able to share the Gospel with the homeless downtown, with college students at the University, with a wide variety of people outside the downtown courthouse, people on the city bus, and even attend some gay pride events and reach out to the gay community with the message of Christ. James and Greg write the gospel on balloons and attach tracts and let them go. We have passed out Gospel videos to people at work and in the neighborhood. Angela has developed friendships with ladies and mom's in the neighborhood and share a variety of spiritual resources with them. When work is not busy Greg's boss gives him a weekday off to go to the university or downtown to minister to people. That has been a huge blessing! Please pray that God would give us more opportunities and boldness to share the Gospel with the lost and even see a positive response from those whose heart's are soft.
Making Disciples:
We have been so blessed to have formed a friendship with a young married couple here with a daughter and watch them grow in their relationship with Christ. Greg works with the husband and is often able to meet up to talk, read through the Word of God, pray, or even just live life together. Angela meets weekly with the wife for Bible study and they are able to grow together in applying God's Word. We are blessed to have a great Christian video library full of spiritual movies, training dvds, teachings, debates, etc. and this is one way we are able to help disciple others at their convenience. We can never underestimate the power of a great video when people do not have or take them time to read a whole book. And finally we are plugged in to a Christian Coffee Shop/Fellowship called "Hope Cafe" that affords us the opportunity to fellowship with other believers, hear God's Word and be part of the local Body of Christ. Hopefully should God develop a home fellowship through our lives it can be an extension of this local community ministry. Please pray that God would bless us with the opportunities to see people not only come to faith in Christ, but also be part of maturing and developing them in their understanding of God's Word, the Church and His will for their lives.
Equipping the Saints:
As I mentioned previously, our Video library has been a great resource to help others grow in a wide variety of areas: Understanding the Scriptures and various doctrines, apologetics, learning about false teaching and cults and damaging cultural trends, as well as church history, American history, and a many other areas beneficial to a follower of Christ. With the financial support given to us we have purchased Bibles to give away downtown, at the colleges and anywhere we go, a variety of tracts and DVDs and CD sermons to give away, and even Bible resources like "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" and Bible Handbooks. Thank you for the finances to accomplish this. Other ministries we're involved in through financial support and prayer are: Rainbow Village, Foster Connect, Gospel for Asia, 4KIDS of South Florida, Hope Cafe, as well as supporting other Christian families and individual ministries. We even print some of our own tracts and brochures that deal with a variety of topics. It's our desire that we would be a place where believers and unbelievers alike could find resources to have or borrow that could answer their questions or train them in certain areas. This is definitely a passion of mine. Our fellowship with other believers in the community has also proven to be outlet for us to encourage and equip others while we ourselves are also encouraged and equipped in many ways. This is the blessing to be experienced within the Christian community as people come together out of a mutual love for Jesus and a desire to pour into others and be poured into themselves. Would you please pray that God would continue to equip us to be equippers so that His people would become more and more confident and assured in the truth and reality of Jesus Christ.

Friends and Neighbors
I might have mentioned this in the past but our immediate neighbors on either side of us are both young adult Christians. We are so blessed by their friendships and occasionally get to have dinner together and fellowship. Also we have developed some sweet friendships with the pastor and other believers who fellowship at Hope Cafe where Holly works. Holly has also been able to establish herself as a faithful employee, receive promotion and more responsibility and encourage those who work at Hope Cafe as well as customers. In June Anthony and Melanie with baby Niah moved about 25 minutes south of us to a town called Fuquay Varina. Anthony has established himself with a company doing electrical work and he and Melanie are plugged into a church and are reaching out to the community through a prison ministry in Raleigh and children's outreach in their neighborhood. This past year we were so blessed to be visited by Vance and Michelle Shepherd from Las Vegas, Wayne and Marleen Champion who now live in South Carolina, the Strebe Family who live in St. Louis as well as our families. Thanks again to those of you who came to visit. I must also mention that we are forever grateful for the solid friendships we developed with those of you in Las Vegas and continue to cultivate through the phone and internet. We are so encouraged by every text, phone call, email and picture you send our way. We know everyone is busy with life and so we don't take it personally if we don't hear from you, but know that we love you tons!!!

Over the next few weeks I will be posting various blogs that touch on a variety of subjects from:
Biblical Interpretation, Apologetics, End Times issues and the Rapture, Mormonism, Islam, Same-Sex Marriage, the role of good works in the life of the believer, Authority and Submission, etc. While my understanding of all of these subjects continues to develop as I study and learn more, I hope these blogs will provide some thoughtful insight to these issues and encourage you to not be convinced or satisfied with "shallow or surfacey" answers to deep theological and cultural issues. The Biblical Christian worldview is completely able to address all of life's difficulties as well as meet the challenges of an ever changing culture and world. Please feel free to email me with any concerns or questions you might have about any blog or to dialogue about anything relevant at Oh yea, we'll also add blogs with pictures of James and the family for those of you who don't really like reading the "religious stuff." You can also email Angela at

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all! And may the political and economic climate of our day not cloud out the Perfect leadership of our Lord Jesus Christ and His unending treasures for those who know Him.

Greg, Angela, James and baby Stephens

Our little gift from God.

This is North Carolina State University campus "brickyard" where they allow us to open air preach and pass out tracts and DVDs to students. You can easily draw a crowd to listen to the Gospel in this area where the students eat their lunch outside.

This is a picture of downtown Raleigh during a city event. Downtown here is nothing like Las Vegas, but it is a great place to reach out to all different kinds of people. The courthouse is also located on this street and has proven to be a great place to pass out tracts and talk with people.This is Moore Square, a park downtown where we hand out lunches to the homeless community and share Christ. There are many different Christian ministries that reach out to those in need here.

For Christmas this year we gave out almost 100 "180 Movie" DVDs to homes in our neighborhood. This 33 minute video is a powerful pro-life video and Gospel presentation. It also has 2 audio sermons that share the full Gospel and challenge people to be genuine followers of Christ.

James on his new bike he got for his 3rd Birthday. Yes, we finally got him a helmet moms.

James at "Monkey Joes" his favorite place to play.

These are some pictures Holly took of James.

Greg's mom, Hope, came to visit and we all went to the beach for a day to hang out.

The Strebe's came to visit and got Collin and James matching jammies.

Greg, James, Angela, Jason, Collin, Nancy and Preston in the stroller at the state fair.

James, waiting for rain.

This summer we went to the beach for the weekend as a family.

Wayne and Marleen Champion came to visit us for Thanksgiving. We love you guys!

Jungle gym James

James and his Jeep.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Call to Anguish-David Wilkerson

I would encourage you to listen to the entire sermon on youtube.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Have you been hijacked?

Have you been hijacked?
You say, "What do you mean?"
Well, when a plane is hijacked, everyone presents their ticket, boards the flight, is seated and then heading to their desired destination. However, sometime during the flight, someone stands up and takes control, and ultimately changes the direction and destination of the original flight plan. An intruder, someone who crept in unrecognized by security and the other passengers, and they've now taken over.
The outcome of hijackings are seldom good.
Have you been hijacked? I'm talking to you dear Christian.
You say, "What do you mean?"
I mean. You started out well. You presented your ticket, your faith to God in Christ, and you boarded the flight of eternal life, redemption, forgiveness, adoption, empowering, discipleship and commissioning. You sat down under the Word of God. You took off into God's plan for your life. You embraced His call upon you to center your life on sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and making disciples of the world. And it was going great!.......until about mid-flight. Then a major distraction stood up, unseen, unnoticed by you, but perhaps other passengers were feeling a little suspicious. Well, this intruder, or perhaps a few smaller intruders stood up and took control of the flight. They changed the direction, the focus, the destination to make disciples and you've veered way of coarse. Perhaps it was a lure into enjoying more of the riches and the promotions this world has to offer. Perhaps it was beginning to enjoy the pleasures of compromise and then the enticements of sin. Or maybe you were overcome with apathy, laziness and a lost zeal that ultimately cost you your time in the Word and in prayer, and you haven't been able to make it up. What was it that so deceitfully hijacked you away from serving God so completely, so surrendered, so sacrificially that now you over analyze any opportunity to serve your King and you've talked yourself out of it before you even pray? What was it that stole your heart away? Or who was it that stole you?
Hijackings seldom end good.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Vance and Michelle visit in June

We were so blessed to have some great friends from Vegas visit for a few days this past week. They're taking a vacation from Raleigh, to Nashville, to Atlanta and spent a couple days with us to kick it off. About 4 pots of coffee, some pizza and spaghetti, the Word of God and some sweet Christian fellowship and prayer left us refreshed and encouraged. It's been over 7 months since we hung out with them and we picked up just as if it was yesterday.
Praise God for the Body of Christ and genuine Christian fellowship.
A verse that come to mind is Philemon 7:
"For we have great joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you..."

We love you guys! Thanks for the visit.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

May 2011 Pics of James

Goat's Milk Farm/petting zoo

James still wants to be held like a baby after a nice warm shower

Mother's Day with his cool mom t-shirt

He thinks he's cool

Splish splash!
Our "poor-boys North Carolina backyard water park"

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hamster Wheel Christianity

Man there's a lot of noise and activity going on behind those four walls. So much energy and time spent in there. That little guy is so busy! He never comes out. You reach in and try to take him out of that cage and he bites you. He's just not used to being out. Poor little guy doesn't know how to socialize outside of his cage. If you get him out and put him down he'll run off into a corner all by himself. He gets scared being outside of the cage. Oh, well, pick him up, put him back in the cage where he's comfortable and feels safe, where he can run in his little hamster wheel and spend lots of time and energy going nowhere. But isn't he so cute?

Dear friends, the "church building" is to be a place to be fed the Word of God, equipped for ministry, worship with other believers, discipled, counselled, trained and empowered to be an effective witness for the Lord Jesus Christ outside of the church building, in your home, workplace, school and community. Yet so many church buildings have become a Christian Commune, a closed community, a week long retreat center, and a cage for saints.

I have a challenge for you, ask yourself these questions:

Do you live at the church building, work all week at the church building, volunteer constantly at the church building, go to school at the church building, socialize primarily at the church building and have community only at the church building? Is your weekly schedule full of church events, functions, classes or socials that only take place in a church building? Do you find yourself retreating to church building events in order to regain strength to live for the Lord? Do you find that participating in functions at the church property make you feel like you're fulfilling your spiritual responsibilities and that because you attend church events you must be growing spiritually? If the church building vanished today would your spiritual life fall apart? Do you find yourself hardly ever around unbelievers, and when you are around them you tactfully avoid them, or casually avoid conversations about Jesus? Do you never schedule appointments or coffee or meals or gatherings to intentionally be around unbelievers? When you think about the word "Church" do think about a building or property?

Perhaps you've answered "yes" to a few, some or all of these questions. Then you could be a committed member of "Hamster Wheel Christianity."

In Hamster Wheel Christianity there are a lot of activities, events, and gatherings all week long behind the four walls of the Church Building. Believers are very busy doing what they think they're supposed to do, but as the weeks and months and years go by there is not a lot of eternally significant fruit from all their labors. By this I mean that they're not necessarily becoming more and more like Jesus Christ in their hearts, and few are actually making disciples of the lost neighborhoods, communities, cities and nations around them. If you take them out of their comfortable church schedule or building and put them in the world around unbelievers for an extended amount of time they cower and crumble under the pressure, and rather than winning the lost to Jesus, they whine about how sinful people are and run back into their church building so they can feel godly and spiritual again among the godly and spiritual.

If I were the devil I think I would do exactly what's being done today. Could Satan's strategy be to get as many Christians as possible to commit to as many church functions as possible, located at as many church buildings as possible so as to place as much of the Body of Christ behind bars in a pious prison, playing church and convinced they're actually fulfilling Christ's Great Commission of evangelizing the lost and making disciples of all nations, while the world outside the Christian prison goes to hell untouched by the saints playing church?

It's a sad truth that today when Christians and non-Christians think about the word "Church" that they think about a building, not believers. I was talking to an unbeliever about Christ the other day and like so many others he implied that I should be preaching and talking about God "at the church" where people want to hear it, not out here in the real world. We live in a time in Church History where "Church" is a building not believers, and serving God is an optional career choice, where God's Word and the Gospel should only be preached behind the four walls of a church building, going to "church" is just a personal preference on Sunday, like a hobby, some people play golf, some people build model trains, others ride motorcycles, and some "go to church." What a sad concept of what it means to be part of God's Family.

As followers of Christ we should want to redeem the concept of the "Church" from all the worldly ideas, all the traditional baggage, and all the Hamster Wheel Christianity distortions. The "Church" is nothing less than God's own redeemed Children, Reborn People who have God inside of them, the Body of Christ, the eternal wife and Bride of Jesus Christ, a people who will live forever enjoying God together. This is no hobby.This is heaven's people living on earth. Not a bunch of hamsters in a cage, busy running in a wheel that's going nowhere.

It's OK for animals to get used to cages, for a bird to be comfortable in a birdcage, or a dog in a kennel, or a fish in a tank, or even a hamster in a cage. But a Christian should never be comfortable just going to a church building, week after week, year after year. God's Children were not saved to be shut up, cooped up, locked up or leashed. We are not to be trained by the devil to stay in a cage, even if it looks like a nice building with a cross on the front and lots of fun things to do inside, that is not to be our home. God has saved us to send us out, not shut us in.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..." Matthew 28:19

"Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:8

Update May 2011

Hi Everyone,
We're finally updating you all on what's been going on with us. I know there are a few of you who have asked us to update our blog for a while now. I'm sorry this update is so late, I've been wrestling with what to write, but I finally decided to just post this and leave it at that. Because I've procrastinated it makes it that much harder to clarify what's worth writing. I will try to post more regular updates following this one. We hope you are all doing well and enjoying the Lord and one another. We love and appreciate you all and thank you so much for your prayers, encouragement and support.

I wrote a lot of this down a while back and over the past few months God has allowed me to be humbled and see that I really don't "have it all together" like I thought. It's crazy how walking with God is a process of being built up and broken down at the same time. I've also been reminded that God cares more about who we are on the inside than what we do for Him on the outside. With that said, "church planting" begins with plowing up the church planter.

Well, it's been 7 months since we moved to North Carolina last October, and God has completely taken care of us and established us in a new community and our roots are digging in deeper. It's crazy how the closing of one chapter begins the opening of another. We never really know where or how God is going to lead us but He does. I want to encourage anyone considering taking a step of faith to a new city, state or country that God will absolutely provide for you as you seek Him. Allow the assurance of His faithfulness to overcome your fears! I really believe God leaves a trail of His faithfulness throughout our past to encourage us to continue to trust Him for the future. Today Raleigh, North Carolina is currently our home on earth, but our citizenship will always be in heaven! We look forward to what God has in store for us here in Raleigh and how we might know and serve Him better.

Moving to a new community for us began with a basic framework of: 1-finding a job 2-finding a place to live 3-forming new friendships 4-adjusting to the new environment 5-and reaching out to people for Christ! Believe it or not God has absolutely orchestrated all of this for us. We're thankful for that! It hasn't been a smooth ride without it's bumps and holes, but we feel like we're moving forward in becoming part of this community.
Here is how God has currently established us in this community:
1-Greg is working for a great Heating and Air Conditioning Company.
2-We're renting a house in Garner, about a mile from Greg's work and just 10 minutes south of downtown Raleigh.
3-Holly moved in to stay with us last December, and she is working at a local Christian coffee shop just down the street.
4-And the Kinzer family moved in and have been staying with us since January. Anthony has a great job with an electrical company here in Raleigh.
5-We're all learning how to live, love and sacrifice together.
6-We've been learning the Raleigh, Garner areas of North Carolina and it is beautiful here.
7-We're experiencing the culture and community through everyday life activities and are looking for locations to minister, preach and share the Gospel.

Ministry takes place primarily through interpersonal relationships with those around us. We hope to grow those relationships as God directs. Here is a basic look at our weekly ministry.
1-Individually working to maintain a strong walk with God, marriage, family and friendships
2-Sunday Nights we have Dinner, Bible Study and fellowship at our home around 6pm.
3-Tuesday Night after the kids are asleep we have prayer at the house
4-Wednesday nights we attend a Small Group Bible study at Hope Cafe just up the street where Holly works. We've made some great friendships there.
5-We have various "family meetings" and fellowship times throughout the week. God has been doing a deep work in all of our hearts here at the house, learning how to better communicate, not misunderstand one another, and how to practice genuine love and care for each other.
6-We've reached out to our neighborhood a little and the community in downtown Raleigh.
7-Individually we're sharing Christ in our daily and weekly encounters with people in town.
8-Discipleship relationships are forming with a friend and his family from Greg's work. This has been a highlight for me personally. We all stumble and struggle through our own discipleship and yet God in His mercy still uses us to disciple others.

1-We have moved here to "live out" our faith intentionally as they did in the Bible. You only get one chance to live an authentic Christian life of pursuing Christ, pursuing others with the Gospel and making disciples. We believe every Christian is called by God to actually live out and not just "believe" what is in the Bible. This is a life of experiencing God, not just believing in Him. We thank God that He so powerfully used Calvary Chapel Spring Valley to prepare us for wanting to prove God's Word and live like they lived in the Bible.
2-This kind of life is totally different than the world's way of living, and often even different than what we experience in the "modern American church." This kind of life should be convicting, contagious and challenging. We absolutely need God's grace and mercy every step of the way. Unfortunately the greatest opposition to living sold out for Christ is not the mocking world but critical, complacent Christians. God help us to pull others up rather than be pulled down. It is so easy to become complacent and just wait for God to set me on fire for Him. As time passes I realize that the powerful Christian life is not "automatic" but an intense battle of the will to sacrifice good things and extra time to simplify my life and spend time with God. It seems that the devil, the flesh, the world, and even good godly Christian activities violently attack our personal time with God in prayer, and His word. I am convinced that those who God uses the most to change this world are those who by God's grace have disciplined themselves to put God first consistently. May God help us all as the days get deceptively darker.
3-Coming out here has given me time to re-evaluate "church and ministry" and I'm praying God will lay a simpler model for us that intentionally focuses on Gospel preaching and discipleship relationships. We want God and people to be and remain the priorities. We want God to show us how to successfully do this. It has been refreshing to be able to freely examine various ministry models and philosophies. We live in a day and age where just about every kind and style of ministry has been attempted. The "Google Age" is both informative and potentially distracting.
4-As we've looked into the various Biblical mandates and models for ministry we have considered a more family integrated pattern of discipleship, ministry and worship. We are not sure how all this will work itself out practically but we're small enough to try different things. In light of our current culture today we can all see the obvious need for stronger godly families, more unity in the home, and parent instigated discipleship with their children. The modern drive for more individual independence it seems has invaded the family unit and church and the parents and kids have so personalized their own lives that there is little motivation for family or quality personal relationships in the home. We all battle to make home, marriage and family a priority while living in a self-focused culture.
5-I'm sure we'd all agree that personal discipleship relationships are essential and effective for accomplishing what the Lord has called us to do. And so our focus is one soul, one marriage, one family at a time. It has been awesome to see God answer prayers in this direction. I've been reminded that God does want us passionately praying for our unsaved co-workers, friends and family and He wants us ready to be used by Him to be an answer to those prayers. It's easy to lose heart, but if we keep it simple and focus on just a few, we can see God work regarding specifics. We're all new creations in Christ and therefore missionaries and ambassadors of the Gospel and Kingdom of God to those we meet each day.
6-We are convinced and believe the parents are to be the primary source of discipleship for their kids, and that fathers who live for Christ and faithfully train their families to live for Christ will help eliminate the current almost 80% fall away rate we see happening in youth ministries by the time a child graduates. These statistics force us to re-evaluate how to disciple kids and youth. We pray God gives a word of wisdom to His Church at large on how to do this effectively.
7-A return to biblical evangelism rather than embracing the many and diverse methods of evangelism today. By "biblical" I mean presenting the "Gospel" to the lost rather than simply talking about God or church or the faith. By "many and diverse" I mean replacing the saving message of the Gospel with "religious God talk." Certainly we must be discerning, and sensitive, and great listeners but we must be willing to share God's Gospel Message. Are we inviting people to church or to Christ? Are we ashamed of Christ but not ashamed of our churches so much that we'd rather invite people to a church building in hopes that the pastor or speaker will boldly share the Gospel? Every believer is called by God to know the Gospel and share it. We should communicate "repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." By "biblical" I mean being faithful to declare the message of Christ and the Cross and trusting God with the results. I see a need for training believers to effectively share the Gospel and quit making excuses. The schools, universities and ever increasing books by skeptics and atheists are equipping their followers to know how to oppose God, the Bible and our faith. We must rise to the occasion for in every generation the Church has had its critics and opposition, and by God's power has met the challenges. We need God's strength for boldness to overcome the fears we all face when seeking to break the silence and share Christ with a loved one, neighbor or coworker. It's intense! There is great opposition to the Gospel, and it is increasing by the day. But He that is in us is greater! And He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.
8-Home Churches? What are your thoughts about home churches? I've really been thinking a lot about house churches. As with anything there are pros and cons. I find it interesting that for the first 200-300 years of the Christian Church the Gospel was preached throughout the known world and disciples we're successfully made without the assistance of a physical local "Church Building." The believers met in homes, had fellowship and went out into their communities to reach people for Christ and work with their hands in trades beneficial to their communities. Consider the revival and expansion of the church in China today. They are forbidden to build large buildings and the community of believers is exploding home by home. We've started a small a home Bible study on Sunday nights as our place of group worship, teaching and fellowship. It's been small and simple and we just give it to God to do with it what He wants. In mentioning house churches I want to say that I'm not opposed to church buildings because I recognize that God calls different people to different ministries. The Church of God is designed to be different and diverse. I praise God for the many large churches that are passionately and successfully reaching the lost and making disciples and using their large facilities for the Kingdom of God. I also recognize we are 2000 years down the road of church history and the expansion of God's Church and Kingdom through technology, buildings and millions of gifted believers. And so the applications and methods of ministry we see today naturally will look very different from what we see in the Bible. But the Message is still the same. May God give each of us discernment as to what modern methods to employ and what modern methods actually destroy. And may we be ever mindful that the "relevant ministry methods" of today become the "rituals and traditions" of tomorrow. God certainly uses all kinds of methods and means to accomplish His plans and purposes, but our ultimate loyalties should be fastened to our Master and His Message, not our methods of ministries.
We long to see the empowering of each individual disciple and their families, to see "Christ fully formed" in each person, and so a return to simple, intentional Gospel preaching and discipleship relationships we believe will accomplish this within our circles of influence. But may God lead each one of us to find our niche in the global Body of Christ and serve Him with all He gives!

Yep, a few weeks ago we had some tornadoes in North Carolina and one of them was right up the street from us just about 2-3 miles away. The Raleigh area had 3 tornadoes in one day around the same time. We're all ok and it's been a true blessing to see how God's people, as well as others have risen to the occasion to network and serve those affected. Please pray for those who lost loved ones and homes, and pray that God's invisible Kingdom would be built up as the physical rebuilding takes place in the community.

Some of you have donated to the ministry here over the past 7 months and we are so thankful for your generosity. Currently we have opened a "ministry account" with our bank, Sun Trust, and we are just depositing your financial support into that account as we seek God for His direction on how to spend those resources. We have used a little of the money to buy lunches for the homeless, Bibles, DVDs and other "give-away" items for evangelism and ministry. If anyone would like to know exactly how much is in the account and specifically what we have purchased with the resources I would be glad to tell you, just contact me personally. And please keep us in prayer as we seek God's direction in how to facilitate the finances.

Thanks again to all of you who think of us, pray for us, call, text or email. It's a real blessing to know we have friends and family out there who actually care about us and want to know what's going on out here "literally" in our neck of the woods. And for the rest of you we never hear from anymore, don't worry, we know, you're busy, we won't take it personally. We love you all!

Greg, Angela and James

"I beg you therefore, my brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." -Romans 12:1-2

Mommy and James at a park near the house

James and our neighbor's dog, Bella

Grammy Sheryl's big blue chair

Feeding the goose at the pond by the house

Jimmy jammin!

Worship band practices our latest song, "Out of Tune."

Baby Niah and James perform their duet, "Just duet!"

Don't make me turn this car around...

Toddler Executive

Tool time

Huh? what?

Free cool guy stare with a knuckle sandwich

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Family of Friends!

Well, we are so privileged to have a house full of friends who have become like family. The Kinzer family arrived January 8th, 2011 and are staying with us until they get on their feet and get settled in the community with work and a place to live. God radically spoke to their hearts this past year through the Word and prayer and the people of God and confirmed their calling to come to North Carolina and serve the Lord Jesus Christ. Calvary Chapel Spring Valley in Las Vegas sent them out as part of the "church plant team" here in Raleigh and God has raised up many to pray for them and us as we all seek God's will for this community and our own personal lives. They are great friends and wonderful servants of Christ!
There are 7 of us here now, which is a perfect number for starting a church! There's Greg, Angela and baby James. There's Anthony, Melanie and baby Niah. And of coarse there's Holly, who we all call Yaya! This is the family of friends God has sent here to serve Him as we love one another and the people in this community with the love of God! What a blessing. Our common bond is Jesus Christ and our common calling is the Kingdom of God!
God's Word, the Bible, clearly communicates that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are a family, "The Family of God." We are not a group of like-minded religious people, we are not a club or business, or students who learn from the same teacher, or buddies who share similar interests or hobbies, or groupies of the same band. We are a family, an eternal family that will be together forever along with all believers who have called upon the Name of the LORD throughout the history of time. And because we are more than friends, but brothers and sisters who have been born again by the Holy Spirit, with God as our Father, we care for one another as brothers and sisters should care for one another, deeply.
Please pray for us as we live together and serve God together.

Our prayer requests would be:
1-God's Love and Unity in our home
2-God's Kingdom to expand through each of our lives
3-Work and relationships in the community

We want to thank everyone who has joined us in this adventure either through your love and prayers, phone calls, texts, emails, financial support, etc. Thank you soooo much! We have totally experienced God's love through the Body of Christ during this transition, ministry and merging of lives. The Lord has built a small church family in our home and we pray our lives together will be an honest reflection of what Jesus said would mark His true followers: Love and Unity. We understand that we do not build His Church. He does it! As we love and follow Him, the overflow of that relationship is the building up of His Church! And we believe God is going to expand His Kingdom one precious soul at a time.

We love you all!
The Stephens Family

You can check out our friends here:
The Kinzer Family at:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I'm a Tree Hugger!

It's true, I'm a tree hugger.
But I only hug one particular Tree.
I cling to that old rugged Cross of Christ.
The True Tree of Life, Eternal Life!
And the True Tree of the Knowledge of Good and evil.

You see, it was on that One Tree that God displayed His greatest act of Love toward mankind, when Jesus willingly gave His life for us, dying on the cross for all the evil that we have ever committed, and then through His resurrection, and faith in His resurrection He gives to us freely the goodness of God, making us new.

The Bible says, "For He (God the Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:21

Through the death of Jesus we have been freed from ever having to keep any religious law to be right with God. Everyone who does not have Christ in them is under the curse of God's Righteous Law. God's Law, the 10 Commandments condemns us as liars, as thieves, as blasphemers for using God's Name in vain, as idolaters for not loving God supreme, as murderers for having hatred in our hearts, and as adulterers for being full of sinful lust. The punishment for sin is death. Jesus died in our place, received our curse, and took our punishment on the cross so that God can now forgive us having received Christ's payment for our sin.

The Bible says, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), so that the blessings of Abraham might come upon all those who are not Jews in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Galatians 3:13-14

Jesus Christ rose from the dead as evidence that He paid our penalty and truly is God's Righteous Son and Savior. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a historical fact, not a religious fable. Jesus Christ is alive and able to give eternal life, spiritual strength and forgiveness of sin to anyone who comes to God with faith in that Tree, that old rugged cross of Christ, and His resurrection.

The Bible says, "The God of our Fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance...and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit who God has given to those who obey Him." Acts 5:30-32

The Cross of Jesus Christ is the Tree of Life, because it is through that cross that God brings us into peace with Himself. Through that Tree we obtain peace with God and receive the peace of God! And before we can be at peace with God, our sins must be taken care of. So God, who is the source of all life, came and gave His own life for our sin, so that we can have true spiritual life and peace with Him forever. Jesus Christ was the invisible God becoming visible and dying for our sin. God was in Christ saving us from from the judgment our sin deserves. And it is the blood of God in Jesus Christ that paid for our sin, purchased our redemption, and purifies our souls!

The Bible says, "For it pleased the Father that in Him (Jesus) all the fullness of God should dwell, and by Jesus to reconcile all things to Himself (the Father) by Him (the Son), whether it be things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." Colossians 1:19-20

The Apostle Paul, in speaking to early church leaders, reminded them that God's people were bought and paid for by the blood of God when he said, "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Acts 20:28

And the last book of the Bible praises God and Jesus when it says, "...To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood..." Revelation 1:5

And so you see that it was on that "Tree" that God changes our eternities!
It was on that Cross that Jesus, the Carpenter that once held nails and wood, was being held by nails and wood.
It was on that Cross that God hung as a man, dying in my place, for my sins.
And I will never go to hell because of what He did for me on that Tree!

Therefore, "I'm a Tree-Hugger!"
Because Christ was willing to hug that bloody tree for me, I will gladly hug that tree for Him!
I will cling to that Old Rugged Cross and hug that Holy Tree forever!

And I echo what Paul wrote in Galatians 6:14 "...God forbid that I should boast in anything except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

Thank you Jesus!