FullSizeRender_2

This Sunday our lead pastor Jonathan Matías delivered a short sermon for children! This talk during the worship service was a bite-sized version of the sermon that the adults heard moments later. Play the sermon to your children in the audio player below.

The kids sermon drew on this stellar series of children’s books about Moses by Carine MacKenzie, and went along with our continuing series Exodus: The God Who Redeems. This 4-set collection of children’s books is worth reading to your kids.

Pick up the series (and other stellar children’s books) at WTSbooks.com, our church’s go-to online bookstore.

MosestheChild

MosestheShepherd

MosestheLeaderCarineMacKenzieMosestheTraveler

The Song Of The Sea

May 24th, 2016

Sermon Title:  “The Song Of The Sea”
Sermon Text: Exodus 15
Speaker:  Jonathan Matías, Lead Pastor
Series: Exodus-The God Who Redeems

Click the link below to listen to the audio recording of this sermon.

Sermon Title:  “Growing the Church by Engaging the Culture”
Sermon Text: Acts 17:16-33
Speaker:  Ron Bean, Elder

Motherhood-Interview-Series-OrdinaryHomemaker

My lovely wife Christy Matías was interviewed by Ordinary Homemaker discussing gospel-centered parenting. Perhaps her honest, open discussion about our own parenting strategy, failures and successes will encourage you in your own parenting for God’s glory. You can also access the other interviews from the Ordinary Homemaker series here.

Matias-2

Christy, Jadon, Elijah, and Jonathan (Elijah’s face cannot be shown publicly yet due to adoption agency policy)

“How do you encourage your kids to grow spiritually? 

I love the words of Deuteronomy 11:19, Teach God’s words to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. God calls me to make the most of every opportunity to model and share truth to my kids–though I am comforted to know ultimately it is up to God to turn my child’s heart to know him.

1453976453916

Practically, tools my kids need to know God are similar to what I need for my own growth, just on a different level. In the car, I steer conversations to God and what his Word says. I teach Jadon verses like Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” He said it’s his favorite verse when he sees “shadows and spooky things” in his room at night. Jonathan and I read theologically rich Bible story books like The Biggest Story (DeYoung), The Big Picture Story Bible (Helm), Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan), and missionary biographies by Little Lights. And we love music! Jadon’s favorite albums include Slugs & Bugs–great for memorizing Scripture–and Rain for Roots–theological and meditative songs. We model prayer and encourage Jadon to pray. I love to hear his prayers which are often full of thanks or concern for family and other people we love. We introduce Jadon to Christians at home and abroad and pray for them–we want our kids to know the faith, sacrifice, suffering, and joy that comes with being a Christian.

Our local church family and other believers offer a visual way for our children to see the gospel at work on Sundays and throughout the week. I love telling Jadon about God’s work in our friends’ lives. Like our friend Jen, a former Catholic, who visited our church, experienced love and community, and asked dozens of questions about the Bible. Months later, I was blessed to be with her when she began her walk with Christ and is now one of the most vibrant Christians I know. I believe it’s also important for ours kids to become aware of brokenness in the church–sadness over those we love who experience sickness–and even death–, heartbreak over friends who reject Christ, and the struggles and victories over sin all believers face. We live in a broken world–but God is going to make it all new!

What do you do to keep your marriage strong while raising kids?

Jonathan and I have seen the workings of James 1:2-3 in our nine years of marriage: Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. Weathering life together–in the good and hard times–has brought solidarity and deep joy as a couple. Through the pain of infertility, we came to see God’s lovingkindness in tangible ways. God led us to pursue adoption as a means to grow our family, He provided funds we needed to pay for adoption fees because the generosity of many, He led both Jadon and Elijah’s birth moms to us, and we now have two sons (one who came to us while writing this post) who have filled our hearts with so much joy. This is the path God chose for us–and we would not have it any other way. And while we do not eagerly embrace hardships, we have a little bit more perspective of how those times shape and grow our maturity, strengthen our faith in God’s good plans, and benefit our marriage.

How do you grow spiritually while busy with your little ones?

Taking meaningful time to be refreshed by the Word with an active kid in tow, and now an infant, has taken creativity on my part. Jadon’s quiet hour is often a peaceful time for Bible reading. Recently, I discovered our local rec center offers $3 childcare for 90 minutes. So I’ve taken advantage of it by working out and using the 30 minutes of cooldown to read my Bible. I love these days!

The busyness of life with a little one often crowds out my thoughts, but I’m often reminded of commands like I Thessalonians 5:16-18, Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. If God could give Paul joy from his prison cell, he can give me joy to care for a sick child and the right words to guide my kids towards truth. And on days when I’m feeling at my wits end, I’ll tell Jadon, “Let’s stop and pray.” When I express my need out loud it helps reset my thinking and keeps me dwelling in the realm of truth.

What are things you do to spend quality time with your child? 

For me, sharing Jadon’s wonder at exploring new things everyday is a highlight of being a mom. We love nature–spotting deer and foxes behind our home, running through the woods, getting muddy in creeks. Last summer, we befriended a praying mantis and rescued a hummingbird. “Mantis” who lived on our back door for three weeks became a dear friend to us. We witnessed him molting, catching and munching on bugs–he even let us hold him! We also found an injured hummingbird which we helped restore back to life through crushed mealworms (I got the pleasant task of crushing them) and sugar water. A local hummingbird rescuer continued to restore the bird to health. These experiences–that literally fell in our laps–have given Jadon a beautiful picture of God’s creation. It’s been nearly a year and Jadon still talks about praying mantises and hummingbirds fondly.

I enjoy thinking up creative ways to keep life interesting and fun in everyday life and for special occasions. Living in the D.C. area, there is no shortage of museums, festivals, or parks to visit. Since Jadon is part Irish, we celebrate his heritage by making a big deal of St. Patrick’s Day–this year, we left a trail of miniature green hats to lead to a special surprise, acted out the story of St. Patrick, and made corned beef and cabbage. Having kids has also given me an excuse to come up with some fun birthday parties on a budget. For Jadon’s second birthday, we turned a tall box into a spaceship (which lasted way beyond the party), had a moon rock hunt (plastic eggs covered in foil), and shared moon pies. He still talks about that day.

What are practical ways you help your child learn to serve others?

A missionary acquaintance of ours says, “Pray. Love people. Tell them about Jesus.” I’ve seen how love goes hand in hand with serving others–in our community, at church, and at home. Jesus modeled this by loving people who were diseased, outcasts, prostitutes, forgotten, and sinners (we all fit in at least one of those categories). So we introduce Jadon and seek to hang out with people of any age, social class, personality type, or ethnic background. We love getting to know people in our community, like the African guy who’s a security officer for D.C. United games or the middle-aged optician at LensCrafters. Or our elderly neighbor who was thrilled, nearly to tears, when Jonathan shoveled out her car after our January snow storm. During that same snow storm, Jadon excitedly passed out chocolate chip cookies to neighbors shoveling out their cars. Not only did he put smiles on their faces but since then we have made good connections with neighbors, most who share beliefs very different from our own.

How do you balance consistent, firm discipline with showing love and grace?

Not too long ago, a seasoned father noticed some of Jadon’s behavioral struggles at church and sat down with Jonathan to share some parental wisdom. I admit, it’s humbling to accept advice from others about parenting. However, because of that conversation, we realized we were not being consistent enough with Jadon in some areas. We now better communicate to Jadon what we required of him and he knows the immediate consequences if he does not obey. We have seen improved behavior changes and Jadon’s attitude is sweeter and more tender. I still find my jaw drop when I find him cheerfully standing at the front door with his shoes on, or when he puts away his toys the moment I ask him. Needless to say, we are grateful for the wise counsel of our friend!
Times of discipline are not fun for anyone but are fitting times to talk about the gospel. We talk to Jadon about Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden and the Serpent who lied to them and still lies to us. How everyone was–and is–broken by sin. Jesus came to earth to model how to live and he never sinned; then he willingly chose to die on the cross to pay for our sin. We sometimes sing songs like “Jesus Is Alive” since it explains the gospel so succinctly:

Who died, but came alive again?
Who came to rescue you and win?
Who came to make all things brand new
Who did it all for love of you?
Who did it all for love of you?

(Chorus)
So sing and dance and leap and run
His name is Jesus, little one.

(Rain for Roots: Big Stories For Little Ones)

a0049938062_16

What are lessons you learning about God through raising your children?

Being a mom has been isolating for me at times–I’ve heard this from both working and stay-at-home moms so I know I’m not alone (no pun intended). But, as I care for my son, I have tangibly seen God cares about me in the menial–those sleepless nights, times of family sickness, and endless loads of laundry. As a mom, I better understand the tender love of our Heavenly Father that he showers both on my children, and on me! Isaiah 40:11 pictures this so well: He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. One way God has shown this special care for me is by providing meaningful and rich friendships at just the right times. Our church and community is transient because of the nature of our community (lots of military and government workers) so keeping friends around for longer than 2-3 years is rare. It hurts when people leave. But God has kindly given new friendships: a friend who shares my love of chai and fellowship and doesn’t mind hours of interrupted fellowship at the playground, adoptive mamas who have walked with me during the highs and lows of adopting, and more recently, moms who have embraced me and prayed with me at a community Bible study group.

What is one of your favorite books on motherhood/parenting and why?

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full by Gloria Furman is a theologically rich book which honestly portrays challenges of juggling family life and staying connected to Christ.

9781433538889

What is the biggest piece of advice/encouragement you would give to young mom?

Being a mom has helped me to see how much wisdom I need and how much I lack! So my advice is to ask God for wisdom–about everything–this is as much a note to myself as to anyone else. Our generous God promises to give abundant wisdom when we ask. I am learning I need God’s wisdom to know how to reach my son’s wild stallion heart. Wisdom to guard my mouth and speak a kind response after a long day. Wisdom to say, or not say something about about a controversial parenting issue on social media. Wisdom to know when to stop cleaning up the house or watching TV and go to bed. God made us. He created marriage and motherhood and he does not expect us to go it alone.

About Christy:

I grew up in Greenville, South Carolina with parents who modeled to me God’s compassion towards all kinds of people, a quality I saw in Jonathan when we met at our church. Jonathan and I got to know each other well when we spent hours planning a mission trip to Colorado together and realized we not only worked well together but had similar life goals. We were happily married in 2007 and six months later we moved to Alexandria, Virginia to help start Grace Church of Alexandria where Jonathan is still lead pastor. In 2012, we welcomed our first son, Jadon, to our home by adoption–he’s never met a stranger, is a chatterbox, and becomes a different superhero every day. As I was writing this post, our second son, Elijah was born, also by adoption–he has a full head of jet black hair and we think we’re close to helping him realize the difference between day and night. Besides spending most of my time with our sons, I own a small pet sitting business and occasionally work on freelance graphic design projects. Things I enjoy most include drinking chai, trying new recipes, keeping our home organized, gardening, and exploring new places with my family.

You can check out Christy’s adoption blog here.

You can access the rest of the series here.  Be sure to like Ordinary Homemaker on Facebook so you don’t miss any of the interviews in the series.

And if you enjoyed this interview, take a minute to *share* it with other friends who would enjoy it, too!”

The Exodus Event

May 11th, 2016

Sermon Title:  “The Exodus Event”
Sermon Text: Exodus 13-14
Speaker:  Jonathan Matías, Lead Pastor
Series: Exodus-The God Who Redeems

Click the link below to listen to the audio recording of this sermon.

Dr. Bruce Ware gives practical, doable tips for reading the Bible in 2016 in his article “Advice For Another Year of Bible Reading.” His article at DesiringGod.org is worth reading and putting into practice.

Through his writings and teachings, Dr. Ware has inspired me to gaze at the beauty of God and soak in God’s Word. His 5 tips are well worth pondering–

  1. Commit yourself to consistent Bible reading.
  2. Engage in both fast-paced and slow-paced reading.
  3. Notice the who as much, or more than, the what as you read.
  4. Seek informed minds and stirred affections.
  5. Commit yourself to hear and heed, understand and obey, what you encounter in the Bible.

Read his post at DesiringGod.org

The Festival of Passover

May 1st, 2016

Sermon Title:  “The Festival of Passover”
Sermon Text: Exodus 12-13
Speaker:  Jonathan Matías, Lead Pastor
Series: Exodus-The God Who Redeems

  1. The First Passover
  2. The Annual Passover Festival
  3. Jesus’s Crucifixion at Passover
  4. Communion Re-Enactment of Passover
  5. Passover in the Kingdom to Come

Click the link below to listen to the audio recording of this sermon.

who-we-are

On Sunday May 8, 2016, you are invited to Grace Church of Alexandria hear from a courageous Christian and graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) who is leading the Ugandan church to care for orphans, specifically those with HIV/AIDS.

9:30 am Behind The Scenes Tour
Dr. Ben Tumuheirew, founder of Juna Amagara–will give a behind-the-scenes tour of the village for orphans in his hometown at 9:30 am during Adult Bible Class. Kids are welcome for this special presentation about God’s heart for fatherless children!

10:30 am–Interview on God’s Heart for the Fatherless
During Grace Church’s 10:30 am worship service, we’ll conduct a live interview of Dr. Ben Tumuheirwe before the sermon. We’ll hear from Dr. Ben on how American believers (like us!) can support and pray for churches worldwide that are caring for orphans in their own neighborhoods.

Dr. Ben will be with GCA Friday evening May 6 through Monday Morning May 9. If you’d like to invite him over for a meal, or meet up with him to learn more, please see Lead Pastor Jonathan Matías.

Orphan Care: A Pillar of Grace Church
Grace Church of Alexandria takes seriously the command of God that “true religion before God the Father is this…to visit widows and orphans in their affliction” (James 1:27). To this end, regularly we hold conversations about the plight of the fatherless and how individual Christians can impact the life of an orphan…through fostering, adoption, sponsoring, helping at an orphanage, and more.

Our Sovereign Savior

April 24th, 2016

Sermon Title:  “Our Sovereign Savior”
Sermon Text: Exodus 6-10
Speaker:  Jonathan Matías, Lead Pastor
Series: Exodus-The God Who Redeems

Through the Plagues of Egypt, God displays his sovereignty over our personal stories, the human heart, and the cosmos.

Click the link below to listen to the audio recording of this sermon.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 1.33.53 PM

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 12.12.21 PM

Join us this Sunday at 9:30 am for a special one-time session Worship is Not a Spectator Sport on why and how we gather and worship as a congregation.

If you come to Grace Church’s worship services, this is for you! (hint: that’s all of us)
If you wonder why GCA does worship services the way we do, this is for you!
If you wonder why Grace Church has women lead worship, read Scripture, serve communion, this is for you!
If you serve up front in any capacity at GCA, this is for you!
When a church meets for worship, the congregation are not to be spectators but participants. We talk to God as we pray, we praise God as we sing, and we listen to God as the Word of God is preached.
When a church meets to worship, the leaders are not performing for an audience. They invite you to pray and sing with them as the church participates in corporate worship and the preacher proclaims a message from God for all the church, including himself.
This conversation with Pastor of Insight Ron Bean will give you a window into the intentionality of gathered worship at Grace Church of Alexandria.
footer