Plan Your Visit About Us Learn More What We Believe Leadership Strategic Partners Individual Partners Ministries Sermons Small Groups Harvest Kids Harvest Students Info eBulletins Newsletters Events Community Blog Give Blog Blog Posts Bible Reading Plan Seasons: Epiphany Rich Shipe | December 29, 2018 We are continuing our one year reading plan through Seasons. You can download the whole pdf here.Below is the introduction to the Epiphany section:If you’re not very familiar with the Church Calendar, you’ve probably never heard of this particular season. It’s often overlooked, and aspects of it, for better or worse, tend to get lumped into the traditional celebration of Christmas. But, even though it might seem obscure and confusing on the surface, Epiphany proves an essential part of the gospel—the story of Jesus. Epiphany, which literally means “to show” or “make known,” is about Jesus Christ being revealed as both the divine Son of God and as Savior to the whole world. There are three specific stories within the Scriptures that mark the season of Epiphany. First, though typically connected to the Christmas narrative, the journey of the Magi reminds us that Christ came not just for the Jews but also for the Gentiles, showing God’s heart for the nations and the continued fulfillment of His promise to Abraham. The two other events that mark Epiphany are the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist and the miracle at the wedding feast in Cana. Both events, in their own way, reveal the divinity of Jesus Christ. Focused on the coming of Jesus as the Son of God and the hope of the nations, Epiphany marks a time of celebration, rededication and declaration. It is a season for us to affirm the truth that Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity, the Word who became flesh to dwell among us, who was sent from the Father by the Spirit to reconcile people of all tribes, tongues and nations back to the Father by the Spirit. And, as we affirm the manifestation of Jesus Christ, we are called to renew our faith in Him and to proclaim the good news that Jesus came to save sinners—both Jews and Gentiles. Some even say Epiphany serves as a sort of break between the coming of Christ and the passion of Christ, a season to rest in the promises of God fulfilled. At the beginning of every year, our culture becomes obsessed with New Year’s resolutions and aspirations for the future—if we only looked a certain way or did a certain thing. And as Christians, we often find ourselves caught up in this false story—a story of narcissism, materialism and romanticism—that says we can be better and feel better if we just try harder. But Epiphany offers a counter-story, a different way of starting the new year: By entering the story of Jesus, remembering and rejoicing in the manifestation of Christ as Lord and Savior of the world, we are then compelled to renew our union with Christ and to manifest Christ through the way we live our lives. End of year giving details Rich Shipe | December 22, 2018 All gifts to Harvest Ashburn must be received OR post-marked by December 31, 2018 to count as 2018 giving. The 2018 tax giving statements will be given to you by the end of January 2019.I encourage you to submit your giving to God and to not miss the opportunity to worship him through your giving. We personally automate our giving through the online giving tool at our website so it is easy for me to let it become a mechanical ritual. It is consistent but it can become out of sight and out of mind. I try to remind myself to stop and reconsider it and praise God for his faithful provision.Giving is another amazing way that we have seen him work both in our personal giving over the years (The Shipe family) and in our church. Our family had a period of time in our life when our income was seriously reduced but God directed us to give more than we were giving in the past. We trusted him and he provided! He faithfully provides for the work he calls us to do!It is not about amounts. God does not need our money. It is about trust and following his leading. Remember to prayerfully seek his direction in your giving. Follow his lead and you will see him work!Important truth #1: He already owns it all. He doesn't need it.Psalm 24:1 (ESV) The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.Important truth #2: Giving is a great anecdote to the chocking sin of putting our trust in money.Matthew 6:21 (ESV) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Important truth #3: Give as God directs you personally and he will provide to you everything you need to fulfill his mission for you.2 Corinthians 9:7–8 (ESV) Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.You are loved!Rich Shiperich@harvest.bibleHarvest Bible Chapel AshburnP.O. Box 4801Ashburn, VA 20148 Response to WORLD Magazine article Rich Shipe | December 21, 2018 Dear Harvest Ashburn,An investigative story by Julie Roys was recently published by WORLD Magazine regarding James MacDonald and his church in Chicago, Harvest Bible Chapel (HBCC). The story gives accounts of past conflicts at their church including issues with the management of Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF), the former planting ministry of HBCC. It reports alleged stories of leadership that was harsh and lacked transparency in several areas including financial decisions. It deals with some of the reasons behind the closing of HBF. Additionally, HBCC preemptively sued Julie Roys for defamation before the article was published, leading to additional revelations during the discovery process for the court case. All of this is extremely sad, and it grieves me deeply for the name and cause of Christ.However, Christ is on the throne. Man is man and we all sin and we all struggle with temptation. While these situations are sad, at some level we should not be surprised. The New Testament churches struggled with sin and quite frankly so do all of us. While we might be tempted to thoughts of looking down on others in judgement, this only reminds us of our individual need to go to the cross regularly, and be so thankful for the forgiveness we have received through Christ. Remember 1 John 1:8-9 which so clearly communicates our need for regular reflection and acknowledgement that without Christ and his work, we are lost. We must not lose sight of this in our own lives and remember there are many around us that need to hear and know the love of Christ. Yes, sin is messy, but God is loving, merciful, and gracious – he is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.Because of our association with HBCC in name and brand and past relationship, I feel like I should speak to some of what was reported.Here are several important points for Harvest Ashburn:We are no longer partnered with Harvest Bible Chapel Chicago (HBCC). HBF was dissolved in the summer of 2017 because James MacDonald abruptly ended it. As a result of that dissolution, we do not have an official relationship or partnership with HBCC. Our church has not sent any money to HBF or HBCC.Many of the churches of the old HBF, including our church, came together to form a new partnership called the Great Commission Collective. Its purpose is the same as the old HBF–to work together in planting like-minded churches. I’ve been encouraged by the leadership and how they have conducted themselves. They have learned from some of the lessons of HBF and have put strong safeguards in the constitution and bylaws. For example, their rules dictate that they have a rotating board of directors. I have zero reservations about the GCC and am excited about what they are doing. We are committed to giving 2% of our congregational giving to the GCC for administrative support and then another 3% directly to church planting causes. How the 3% portion will be spent is completely up to the discretion of our local leadership and will be sent directly to that particular plant.We are committed to being an elder-led autonomous church. Simply put this means two things: First, we will follow the Bible’s approach to local elder leadership. As the pastor, I will be one of a team and will not have total control. This approach gives real accountability to me and the other leaders and also provides greater wisdom for decisions. Second, there will not be outside groups or individuals that will have authority over our church. All of our partnerships are currently and will continue to be voluntary; we can end those partnership at any time for any reason. It is similar to the partnership between our church and the individuals that attend our church. You partner with us as a congregant and commit to work side by side with one another for the cause of Christ. We are on track to install our own local elders in 2019. Our current acting elders are Johnny Tatum (my planting coach) and Jerry Lingenfelter with Harvest Lancaster.I am committed to being financially accountable and to have systems in place to protect from even the appearance of wrongdoing. The Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia provides us with some important financial help and accountability. They handle all of our accounting functions. They oversee our budget, payroll processing, accounts payable, and bank account. They provide monthly budget reports and help us set our annual budget. I do not have check signing authority. All expenditures are accounted for with receipts and are coded to the budget.Hopefully I’ve answered the major questions here, but if you have any further questions I am happy to answer them. I’m not trying to hide anything. We want to establish a culture of openness and transparency at our church. If there is some action for us to take to further separate ourselves from the Harvest brand, we will prayerfully consider it.Above all, I hope that you will pray over all of this. Jesus has been so faithful in his promise to build his church. We’ve seen it in our church! I know he will continue to protect his bride! He loves us and because of that, is continually pruning and refining us for greater fruit for his glory. Pray for healing and repentance and for the Good News to not be hindered.In Christ and His Love!Pastor Rich Shipe Advent Calendars Rich Shipe | November 21, 2018 As I mentioned this past Sunday, here are the pdf version of the two Advent resources.Advent: The Christmas JourneyDecember 1 through 25Includes ornaments for coloring and cutoutUse with the Jesus Storybook BibleDownload pdf fileIdeal for families with younger kids. Read the Bible passage and/or the assigned pages from the Jesus Storybook Bible while the kids color the ornament for that day.Seasons: Enter the Story of JesusThis is a full year personal devotional tool that follows the traditional church calendar.December 2, 2018 through December 1, 2019Includes some ideas for family devotionals each weekDownload the pdf file Are the Holy Spirit’s displays of power in Acts normal? Should we expect it today? Rich Shipe | October 26, 2018 Jesus said in Acts 1:8 that the disciples would “receive power when the Holy Spirit” came upon them. They certainly did receive power! In chapter two the Holy Spirit arrives with a bang, and after Peter presents the Gospel, 3000 people believe and are saved. From then on we see several amazing events recorded.Should those displays of God’s power be considered normal for today? Are we missing something if this is not a part of our normal experience? Some would say we should see these things today, and that there is something wrong with us or our faith if we do not. Now I do believe that God can work this way today and does perform miracles, but I do not believe it should be considered normal.The displays of the Holy Spirit’s power in Acts are incredible. But just because they are recorded in Acts does not mean we can conclude that they should be normal for today. Here are three reasons why:Descriptive is not prescriptive. Narrative sections of the Bible should not be presumed to be prescriptive of how we should live. It is a logical leap to assume that because it is described, it is meant to be imitated. All scripture is profitable for us (2 Tim 3:16); there are life-changing applications to be drawn from descriptive sections of the Bible.Highlights ≠ normal. I remember as a kid watching football highlights on TV and thinking, “Why don’t they throw it deep to the endzone on every play?” Of course God is capable of miracles and awesome displays of power today. But we can’t make the mistake of assuming those displays should be normal, everyday occurrences. Even the incredible displays of power in Acts are rare for Acts. This is true throughout the Bible. There are about 20 miracles recorded in Acts and the book covers about a 30 year period. So less than one miracle per year on average is recorded. Yes, other miracles are referenced as happening, but I think the point still stands that they are uncommon.And even if you look at the detail you’ll see that sometimes miracles did not happen in a situation where they happened before. For example, Paul and Silas were miraculously rescued from prison in Acts 16, but then later in Acts, Paul spends years in prison. With further study I think we find that God was just as involved and engaged in both situations. But it is wrong to assume that because it happened once, it should then happen again.Fast and dramatic is not the only kind of miracle. It would be great if thousands of people flocked to hear us preach, and then in one message, 3000 people came to faith like we see in Acts 2. That was quick growth of their numbers and dramatic displays of power. But it is wrong to say that the more steady movement of God in the hearts of people is not also a miracle. When someone moves from darkness to light there is a celebration that happens in heaven! That is not boring! When the Spirit works on a Christian to enable them to resist temptation and instead do what is right, we see a great work of God. We would love to see God work dramatically and quickly, but we should not minimize the incredible work that God does faithfully over time and in our hearts. Lament Psalms Rich Shipe | September 18, 2018 I want to share some additional things I've learned about the lament Psalms to go with what I preached on last week. Let me know if you have any questions or additional thoughts!Lots of Laments in the BibleAs I mentioned in the sermon this past Sunday, the Psalms can be categorized and put into various buckets. Here is a visual representation of all 150 Psalms in their various categories. The categories are just labels that theologians use so it isn't always perfect. And some theologians have slightly different categories.As you can see the largest category is the Laments. What can we learn from that detail? God has a lot to say to us about the hard times of life. (And don't forget that laments are in other parts of the Bible too. Most of Job is a lament and there is an entire book called Lamentations.)I find it encouraging that even if Christians aren't always super open to that kind of honesty in trial, God is very open and real about hardship! Christian radio may be limited to "positive hits" but God knows that life isn't always "positive and uplifting."Lament PatternFor the most part, the laments follow the below pattern or outline. There are some exceptions, but as you read a lament it can be helpful to look for this pattern in the lament.Introductory Cry — “O, my God!” See the opening of Psalm 22 for the classic example of, "My God, my God..." The lament is vertically oriented. The cry is toward God, not at someone else.Lament proper — Three pronouns (I am hurting, You don’t care, They are winning). This the expression of the problem. Psalm 22:2: "I cry by day, but you do not answer and by night, but I find no rest." Psalm 13:1–2: "How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?" The Psalmist just lays it all out. No filtering or cleaning up, just raw and real. This is how he feels.Confession of truth — “No one cares about this as much as you” “You love me." Here is the Psalmist lays down some truth that he knows. It may not fit perfectly with what he feels or is experiencing but he's putting it down to remind himself of those bigger truths. Psalm 4:3: "But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him."Petition — “Hear me!” “Save me!” “Punish them!” This is the part where the lament makes the request. What do you hope will happen? How do you want God to work? Just ask. Psalm 6:4: "Turn, O LORD, deliver my life; save me for the sake of your steadfast love."Motivation — Why God should answer. This is an interesting one. The Psalmist will often give God reasons for why it is in God's best interest for Him to answer. I remember praying many times that God would send people to help build our core team in the early days of our plant so that people would not doubt that you are at work in church planting. Sometimes it might seem a little simplistic, but it does orient us and our needs in line with God's glory and what he wants. Here is a great example of that in Psalm 6:5. Right after asking God to save his life, the Psalmist gives God a reason to save his life: "For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who will give you praise?" In other words, "If I'm dead I won't be able to praise you."Vow of praise — I will praise you for what you will do. It is saying, "God, I am ready to credit you for what you will do in my life." Psalm 13:6 (ESV) — 6 I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.Write your own lamentAs you read laments in the Bible you can look for that pattern. But you can also use that pattern to write your own lament. I've done it a few times in my life and have found it to be extremely helpful in processing through pain and suffering.