Allison and Paul's Mission

We at Refuge are excited to be supporting Allison and Paul on their mission to spread the gospel and bring an end to human trafficking in Thailand. Here is a quote from their website about what they are doing:


"We want to love God, love people and end slavery.

In 2012, the UN office announced that 2.4 million people across the globe are victims of human trafficking at any one time, and 80 percent of them are being exploited as sexual slaves. $32 billion is being earned every year by criminals running human trafficking networks.

Our motivation for ending human trafficking comes from the Bible’s instructions to “proclaim good news to the poor…bind up the broken hearted… and to proclaim freedom for the captives (Isaiah 61:2).”

We plan to do this by working with Phuket church planters who want to develop disciples and start a ministry in the red light district.  Starting a hair salon will employ and train women with the necessary skills to help get them out of the sex trafficking industry.  

We want to share about the true Freedom we have in Christ, not because we deserve it or earned it, but because Jesus loves us. Women and men getting out of prostitution have a very skewed view of what love is and can only be healed by God’s perfect love.  It’s this truth that motivates us to end human trafficking."



You can go to their blog to read more about what they are doing and how you can support them on their blog: 



Additional Reading - Relationships

Great resources for families, a few books suggested by our Elders. 

The Jesus Storybook Bible -  by Sally Lloyd-Jones

The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the Story beneath all the stories in the Bible. At the center of the Story is a baby, the child upon whom everything will depend. Every story whispers his name. From Noah to Moses to the great King David---every story points to him. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle---the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together. From the Old Testament through the New Testament, as the Story unfolds, children will pick up the clues and piece together the puzzle. A Bible like no other, The Jesus Storybook Bible invites children to join in the greatest of all adventures, to discover for themselves that Jesus is at the center of God's great story of salvation---and at the center of their Story too.

Give Them Grace
-  BY Elyse M. Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson

All of us want to raise good kids. And we want to be good parents. But what exactly do we mean by “good?” And is “being good” really the point?

Mother-daughter team Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson contend that every way we try to make our kids “good” is simply an extension of Old Testament Law—a set of standards that is not only unable to save our children, but also powerless to change them.

No, rules are not the answer. What they need is GRACE.

We must tell our kids of the grace-giving God who freely adopts rebels and transforms them into loving sons and daughters. If this is not the message your children hear, if you are just telling them to “be good,” then the gospel needs to transform your parenting too.

Give Them Grace is a revolutionary perspective on parenting that shows us how to receive the gospel afresh and give grace in abundance, helping our children know the dazzling love of Jesus and respond with heartfelt obedience.

Shepherding A Child's Heart -  BY Tedd Tripp

Written for parents with children of any age, this insightful book provides perspectives and procedures for shepherding your child's heart into the paths of life. Shepherding a Child's Heart gives fresh biblical approaches to child rearing.

adapted by Timothy Keller and Sam Shammas

A joint adult and children's catechism consisting of 52 questions and answers adapted by Timothy Keller and Sam Shammas from the Reformation catechisms.



Additional Reading - Relationships

If you would like to study more on relationships we have a great list of books suggested by our Elders. 

Same Sex Attraction and the Church -  by Ed Shaw

When Christians have same-sex attraction, how should the church respond? Pastor Ed Shaw experiences same-sex attraction, and yet he is committed to Scripture and the church's traditional position of fidelity in heterosexual marriage and celibacy in singleness. In this honest book, he shares his pain in dealing with these issues, but at the same time shows us that obedience to Jesus is ultimately the only way to experience life to the full. He shows that the Bible's teaching seems unreasonable not because of its difficulties, but because of missteps that the church has often taken in its understanding of the Christian life. We have been shaped by the world around us and urgently need to re-examine the values that drive our discipleship. Only by doing this in the light of the Bible can we make sense of its call on the lives of those who are attracted to their own sex.

God, Family, and Marriage - by Andreas Köstenberger

The release of the landmark first edition of God, Marriage, and Family provided an integrated, biblical treatment of God's purposes for the home. Since then, explain authors Andreas Köstenberger and David Jones, the crisis confronting modern households has only intensified, and yet the solution remains the same: obedience to and application of God's Word.

In the second edition of God, Marriage, and Family, Köstenberger and Jones explore the latest controversies, cultural shifts, and teachings within both the church and society and further apply Scripture's timeless principles to contemporary issues. This new edition includes an assessment of the family-integrated church movement; discussion of recent debates on corporal punishment, singleness, homosexuality, and divorce and remarriage; new sections on the theology of sex and the parenting of teens; and updated bibliographies. This book will prove to be a valuable resource for personal and group study, Christian counseling, and marriage and family courses.

The Meaning of Marriage -  by Tim Keller

Based on the acclaimed sermon series by New York Times bestselling author Timothy Keller, this book shows everyone—Christians, skeptics, singles, longtime married couples, and those about to be engaged—the vision of what marriage should be according to the Bible.

Modern culture would have you believe that everyone has a soul mate; that romance is the most important part of a successful marriage; that your spouse is there to help you realize your potential; that marriage does not mean forever, but merely for now; and that starting over after a divorce is the best solution to seemingly intractable marriage issues. But these modern-day assumptions are wrong. Timothy Keller, with insights from Kathy, his wife of thirty-seven years, shows marriage to be a glorious relationship that is also misunderstood and mysterious. The Meaning of Marriage offers instruction on how to have a successful marriage, and is essential reading for anyone who wants to know God and love more deeply in this life.

Why the church should neither cave nor panic about the decision on gay marriage

This post was originally published on The Washington Post.

This opinion piece is by Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.

As I write this, the Supreme Court has handed down what will be the “Roe v. Wade” of marriage, redefining marriage in all 50 states. This is a sober moment, and I am a conscientious dissenter from this ruling. The Court now has disregarded thousands of years of definition of the most foundational unit of society, and the cultural changes here will be broad and deep. So how should the church respond?

First of all, the church should not panic. The Supreme Court can do many things, but the Supreme Court cannot get Jesus back in that tomb. Jesus of Nazareth is still alive. He is still calling the universe toward his kingdom.

Moreover, while this decision will, I believe, ultimately hurt many people and families and civilization itself, the gospel doesn’t need “family values” to flourish. In fact, the church often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. That was the case in Ephesus and Philippi and Corinth and Rome, which held to marriage views out of step with the Scriptures.

The church will need in the years ahead to articulate what we believe about marriage; we cannot assume that people agree with us, or even understand us. Let’s not simply talk about marriage in terms of values or culture or human flourishing. Let’s talk about marriage the way Jesus and the apostles taught us to — as bound up with the gospel itself, a picture of the union of Christ and his church (Eph. 5:32).

As we do so, we must not just articulate our views of marriage, we must embody a gospel marriage culture. We have done a poor job of that in the past. Too many of our marriages have been ravaged by divorce.

Too often we’ve neglected church discipline in the cases of those who have unrepentantly destroyed their marriages. We must repent of our failings and picture to the world what marriage is meant to be, and keep the light lit to the old paths.

This gives the church an opportunity to do what Jesus called us to do with our marriages in the first place: to serve as a light in a dark place. Permanent, stable marriages with families with both a mother and a father may well make us seem freakish in 21st-century culture.

We should not fear that. We believe stranger things than that. We believe a previously dead man is alive, and will show up in the Eastern skies on a horse. We believe that the gospel can forgive sinners like us and make us sons and daughters. Let’s embrace the sort of freakishness that saves.

Let’s also recognize that if we’re right about marriage, and I believe we are, many people will be disappointed in getting what they want. Many of our neighbors believe that a redefined concept of marriage will simply expand the institution (and, let’s be honest, many will want it to keep on expanding). This will not do so, because sexual complementarity is not ancillary to marriage. The church must prepare for the refugees from the sexual revolution.

We must prepare for those, like the sexually wayward Woman at the Well of Samaria, who will be thirsting for water of which they don’t even know.

There are two sorts of churches that will not be able to reach the sexual revolution’s refugees. A church that has given up on the truth of the Scriptures, including on marriage and sexuality, and has nothing to say to a fallen world. And a church that screams with outrage at those who disagree will have nothing to say to those who are looking for a new birth.

We must stand with conviction and with kindness, with truth and with grace. We must hold to our views and love those who hate us for them. We must not only speak Christian truths; we must speak with a Christian accent. We must say what Jesus has revealed, and we must say those things the way Jesus does — with mercy and with an invitation to new life.

Some Christians will be tempted to anger, lashing out at the world around us with a narrative of decline. That temptation is wrong. God decided when we would be born, and when we would be born again. We have the Spirit and the gospel. To think that we deserve to live in different times is to tell God that we deserve a better mission field than the one he has given us. Let’s joyfully march to Zion.

The witness to marriage will be, like the pro-life movement, a long-term strategy that is multi-pronged. This is no time for fear or outrage or politicizing. We see that we are strangers and exiles in American culture. We are on the wrong side of history, just like we started. We should have been all along.

Let’s seek the kingdom. Let’s stand with the gospel. Let’s fear our God. But let’s not fear our mission field.

Summer of Psalms

 The Psalms by and large are brutally honest to the complexities of life. The righteous man does not always do or think the right thing. The righteous does not always win or prosper the way that he should. The wicked are not miserable, they aren’t wicked in every way, and usually do not receive their justice. 

The Psalms are complex in the same way that life on this planet is complex. We can join the Psalmist as he contemplates the path of wisdom and the path of folly. We can sympathize with him when he cries out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me" or as he prays, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” He has high highs and low lows. He has great moments of faith and deep pits of doubt and depression.

Athanasius said, "Most of the Bible speaks to us, while the Psalms speak for us." In them we find: delight, fear, anger, joy, grief, depression, gladness, loneliness, love, and loss. While the Psalms allow us to express our raw emotions they simultaneously seek to shape them into righteous ones. In the Psalms, we can approach God with brutal honesty, seeking to be rooted in truth and ready to submit to him. 

My prayer is that as we read and study the Psalms together this summer, we will actually find the Psalms not just speaking to us, but speaking for us. Expressing for us what we could not put into words or prayers ourselves. 

Join us this summer on Sundays.


Nearness and Likeness

This post in an excerpt from C.S. Lewis' book, "The Four Loves", which was mentioned in the Sunday service entitled, "A Virtuous Life – The Path."

We must distinguish two things which might both possibly be called “nearness to God.” One is likeness to God. God has impressed some sort of likeness to Himself, I suppose, in all that He has made. Space and time, in their own fashion, mirror His greatness; all life, His fecundity; animal life, His activity. Man has a more important likeness than these by being rational.   Angels, we believe have likenesses which Man lacks: immortality and intuitive knowledge. In that way all men, whether good or bad, all angels including those that fell, are more like God than the animals are. Their natures are in this sense “nearer” to the Divine Nature.  But, secondly, there is what we may call nearness of approach.  If this is what we mean, the states in which a man is “nearest” to God are those in which he is most surely and swiftly approaching his final union with God, vision of God and enjoyment of God. And as soon as we distinguish nearness-by-likeness and nearness-of-approach, we see that they do not necessarily coincide. They may or may not.

Perhaps an analogy may help.  Let us suppose that we are doing a mountain walk to the village which is our home. At mid-day we come to the top of a cliff where we are, in space, very near it because it is just below us. We could drop a stone into it.  But as we are no cragsmen we can’t get down. We must go a long way round; five miles, maybe. At many points during that detour we shall, statically, be farther from the village than we were when we sat above the cliff. But only statically. In terms of progress we shall be far “nearer” our baths and teas.

Since God is blessed, omnipotent, sovereign and creative, there is obviously a sense in which happiness, strength, freedom and fertility (whether of mind or body), wherever they appear in human life, constitute likenesses, and in that way promiximities, to God.  But no one supposes that the possession of these gifts has any necessary connection with our sanctification. No kind riches is a passport to the Kingdom of Heaven.

At the cliff’s top we are near the village, but however long we sit there we shall never be any nearer to our bath and our tea. So here; the likeness, and in that sense, nearness, to Himself which God has conferred upon certain creatures and certain states of those creatures is something finished, built in. What is near Him by likeness is never, by that fact alone, going to be any nearer. But nearness of approach is, by definition, increasing nearness. And whereas the likeness is given to us – and can be received with or without thanks, can be used or abused – the approach, however initiated and supported by Grace, is something we must do. Creatures are made in their varying ways images of God without their own collaboration or even consent. It is not so that they become sons of God. And the likeness they receive by sonship is not that of images or portraits.  It is in one way more than likeness, for it is union or unity with God in will; but this is consistent with all the differences we have been considering. Hence, as a better writer has said, our imitation of God in this life–that is, our willed imitation as distinct from any of the likenesses which He has impressed upon our nature or states — must be an imitation of God incarnate: our model is the Jesus, not only of Calvary, but of the workshop, the roads, the crowds, the clamorous demands and surly oppositions, the lack of all peace and privacy, the interruptions. For this, so strangely unlike anything we can attribute to the Divine life in itself, is apparently not only like, but is, the Divine life operating under human conditions.

Make A Habit Of Having No Habits

This post is an excerpt from the book, "My Utmost For His Highest," by Oswald Chambers. To  hear similar topics discussed join us for our current Sunday series, "A Virtuous Life".

"For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." – 2 Peter 1:8

When we first begin to form a habit, we are fully aware of it. There are times when we are aware of becoming virtuous and godly, but this awareness should only be a stage we quickly pass through as we grow spiritually. If we stop at this stage, we will develop a sense of spiritual pride. The right thing to do with godly habits is to immerse them in the life of the Lord until they become such a spontaneous expression of our lives that we are no longer aware of them. Our spiritual life continually causes us to focus our attention inwardly for the determined purpose of self-examination, because each of us has some qualities we have not yet added to our lives.

Your god may be your little Christian habit—the habit of prayer or Bible reading at certain times of your day. Watch how your Father will upset your schedule if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes. We say, “I can’t do that right now; this is my time alone with God.” No, this is your time alone with your habit. There is a quality that is still lacking in you. Identify your shortcoming and then look for opportunities to work into your life that missing quality.

Love means that there are no visible habits—that your habits are so immersed in the Lord that you practice them without realizing it. If you are consciously aware of your own holiness, you place limitations on yourself from doing certain things— things God is not restricting you from at all. This means there is a missing quality that needs to be added to your life. The only supernatural life is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was at home with God anywhere. Is there someplace where you are not at home with God? Then allow God to work through whatever that particular circumstance may be until you increase in Him, adding His qualities. Your life will then become the simple life of a child.

No Library Can Contain

This post is an excerpt from the sermon, "The Epilogue (You Follow Me)" given by Char Brodersen on April 26, 2015.

I love the way John ends his gospel. After telling us to follow Jesus he ends on a crescendo–the greatness of Jesus. John closes with these words:

"Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Now here is a funny thing. We moderns, we believe Jesus did many things. Many wonderful things that are not all recorded in John's gospel account. John in this passage is often considered to be exaggerating because there is no way he could have anticipate the volumes of learning, works of art, and literature from all the centuries to follow. John could not account for the volumes of the world–or did he?

Listen to this by D.A. Carson:

"Remember, the Jesus to whom John bears witness is not only the obedient Son and the risen Lord, he is the incarnate Word, the one through him the universe was crafted and is sustained. If all his deeds were described, the world would be a very small and inadequate library indeed.

How beautiful. Indeed, no library can contain his glory or can fathom the depths of the great, incarnate Son of God. John's claim from beginning to end has been that Jesus is absolutely ultimate. It is unfathomable that the world will never be fully able to comprehend the glory of all that he has said and done. 

What an honor it is to be a follower of Jesus. We know and believe Jesus to be the eternal God who became human. We believe Jesus is it. We believe he is the most important figure in all of world history, time, and eternity. For us then, the most important thing in all the world is to follow Jesus, and by following, we have life in his name.

John's last words would tell us to keep our eyes on Jesus. Look to Jesus the author, perfecter, and finisher of your faith.

A Virtuous Life

Performing Our Best

There are many people in the world who have natural or what we often call "raw talent." Much of our modern media is obsessed with finding such raw talent. Through avenues such as SportsCenter, YouTube, The Voice, Master Chef, and even Dancing with the Stars. America is weekly searching and taking in some of the greatest raw talent this side of the globe.

These sensations are the role models for the current generation, but what of their character? Should we praise them in such high regard on performance alone? Do we even care about their character?

If we are honest, culturally and personally we really aren't concerned with virtue, character or discipline. The sweet delight of outward performance is intoxicating. True character and virtue that is attractive and inspiring is gone. As Christians how should we be thinking about virtue versus performance? Is virtue an outdated form of piety left over from the Puritans? Does character mean nothing anymore?

Human Wholeness

The New Testament just like the Old Testament is filled with exhortations to character. If we think rules and regulations are simply Old Testament and have been covered by the "Grace of God” then we've truly misunderstood the whole point of the power and beauty of the resurrection. A misunderstanding that is changing our daily lives.

Listen to this:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Bible tells us that character, virtue, discipline is very important. In fact, Peter's language makes it vital to the Christian life. These bible verses tell us that those who trust in Christ are headed for the glory and excellence of Jesus Christ. We are headed for human wholeness. The New Testament makes it clear that this work has already begun. It began the moment you placed your trust in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ and were subsequently filled with the power and presence of his Holy Spirit.

Putting on the New Behavior of Life 

Now the fun part begins. We are now on a life long journey of “working out our salvation.” Working to what we will be one day when we see Jesus Christ face to face. We are becoming new creations day-by-day. Putting off the old ways of thinking, speaking, and living we are putting on the new behavior of life in the Holy Spirit.

N. T. Wright calls this Resurrection life:

"The new life of strenuous ethical obedience, enabled by the Holy Spirit, to which the believer is committed.” I believe, in these dark times, that the Church needs to hear this call of the Holy Spirit and return to the true calling of the new covenant–to live out the life of Jesus. To be parables of Jesus. You are the light of the world! You are the salt of the earth. But if that light grows dim and if that salt loses it savor what is it good for? It is by our good deeds, by our character, that mission is made possible. Co-workers, employees, and employers, neighbors, friends, family are to see the virtuous life of the Spirit in us and as they do we can give an answer for the reason for the “living hope that is at work in our lives, with meekness and fear. Each follower of Jesus Christ is called to this: to reflect God’s own character back to himself–worship. And simultaneously to reflect God’s character out into the world–mission. We are called to a life of virtue. Christian, begin to become what you will be by God’s grace.

A Virtuous Life

Beginning Sunday, May 3 we will look into these things. Join us as we unpack Bible passages that speak of "a virtuous life." A virtuous life that is pleasing to God and a delight to the world.



Download Desktop Wallpapers