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Momentum i A Publication of Redeemer Bible Church

The Beauty of a Blood-Stained Cross Paid in Full A Lesson in Unbelief


Issue 36 // March & April, 2017


We’re glad you’re here! We are a church with a mission. Our mission is to enjoy, embody, and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ so that unbelievers are persuaded of the gospel, believers are built up in the gospel, and culture is transformed by the gospel – to the glory of God. Because the gospel is at the heart of RBC, we want all that we say and do as a church to honor and reflect Christ. Part of that includes making sure you are able to consistently and clearly know our vision and direction. That’s where Momentum comes in. On the first Sunday of every other month, everyone will receive a copy and be able to stay connected to the pulse of Redeemer. Inside each issue, you will find a letter from the elders, encouraging articles from our members, as well as updates on things like church finances, new members, and upcoming church activities and programs. The gospel is what keeps Redeemer moving forward. It’s our passion, our motivation, our moving force. It’s our momentum.

In this Issue




LETTER FROM THE ELDERS “Welcome to Redeemer!” from Jason Wredberg, on behalf of the elders and deacons.

8 A LESSON IN UNBELIEF We can learn much about our own unbelief and repentance through the lives of both Peter and Judas.

16 PAID IN FULL As those indebted to God because of our sin, we have great reason to rejoice, for Christ has paid our debt!




THE BEAUTY OF A BLOOD-STAINED CROSS “Pondering the meaning of the cross draws us into the self-giving love of God. The cross by itself is not beautiful. The atonement is beautiful because it illuminates the heart of God.”




Remembering the Passion of the Christ through the Visual Arts.

Mike and Helen Wicker are privileged to be mentoring young leaders in Africa.

Jason & Karen Wredberg share their stories of how Jesus rescued them and brought them to Himself.


Communications Department CONTENT DIRECTION Lorie Schnell Bill Walsh Jason Wredberg



EDITING Lorie Schnell Brittney Westin



Letter from the Elders

Dear Redeemer Family, It is with profound gratitude to God that I write this. Lord willing, this will be the first of many elder updates. Six months ago, if you would have asked us what the early days of 2017 would be spent doing, neither Karen nor I would have said, “Packing a truck full of our earthly possessions and moving to Minnesota.” Yet, God has so clearly led us here to Redeemer. Everyone we’ve met thus far has received us warmly, and the elders have been gracious and exceptionally thoughtful throughout our entire process of coming to Redeemer. As we look forward to the coming weeks and months and contemplate becoming part of this faith family, our hearts are filled with excitement and anticipation. We are not naïve enough to think that everything will go perfectly. Undoubtedly, there will be surprises along the way. Relationships are messy and nothing ever goes exactly the way we plan. But amidst life’s ups and downs, as the people of God, Christ’s own possession, we have every reason for joyful hope! Christ died for His church. Actually, let me restate that. Christ died for this church. He has sustained RBC through times of blessing and seasons of difficulty. This is Christ’s church—He holds it together and in this we rejoice. In reality, as we walk together through this next season at Redeemer, our primary aim is not complicated. We must magnify the majesty of the crucified and risen Christ, in the power of the Spirit, for the everlasting glory of God and the joy of all the nations of the earth. As we gather each week, we will open God’s Word and we will hear from God. What we hear, we will obey—not primarily from a sense of duty, but delight. We will regularly experience conviction over sin, yet by the Spirit, we will move from confession to celebration, from hurting to hopeful, and from an awareness of our brokenness to basking in the unending grace and mercy of our Savior.


Join me bothers and sisters in crying out to God for His undeniable work at Redeemer. May He do something in us and through us, for His own name’s sake, that defies any human explanation.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in THIS church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21, ESV) Jason, on behalf of the elders and deacons


Beauty of a BloodStained Cross By Trevin Wax




o theology is genuinely Christian which does not arise from and focus on the cross. – Martin Luther We stepped outside into the soft glow of early morning light. A chill was in the air. Seeing our breath reminded us that summer had faded. Fall was upon us. No more chirping of crickets. No more singing of birds. My son grabbed his backpack for kindergarten and we headed toward the car. Yesterday had been windy. The trees had surrendered their leaves overnight. The leaves now covered the ground in various shades of colors, like a patchwork quilt that brightens a dreary room. Deep red. Luscious green. Bright yellow. Dark brown. And all sorts of shades in-between. The leaves on the driveway were damp from the cool rain, while the ones taking refuge under the trees were old and crispy. No leaf seemed exactly alike.

“What happened to all these leaves?” my son asks me. “Why aren’t they on the trees anymore?” “The leaves are dead,” I tell him. A puzzled look crosses his face. Dead? But they’re so beautiful. How could they be dead? When beholding beauty and color, one rarely thinks of death. Yet, these leaves are not signs of life. Their beauty is their death. This canvas on which the Creator splashes his autumn colors is actually a glorious display of death. It is a paradox woven deep into the fabric of creation. Yes, death is an enemy of God’s good creation. An intrusion. One of the results of our destructive choice to rebel against God. We humans cut ourselves off from the source of life, and death has been inextricably tied to our existence ever since. And yet, there is one death so beautiful, so glorious, that despite its horror and brutality, we are transfixed by its splendor. To the outsider, it must seem odd that Christians commemorate and celebrate the death of their Founder. Our songs tell of blood, death, and sacrifice (often to upbeat and happy tunes). Gruesome lyrics. Beautiful truth. While outsiders find the blood-stained cross repulsive, Christians are compelled by what it represents. We contemplate Christ’s crucifixion. We reflect upon his death. We celebrate his glory. The paradox of death and beauty is at the heart of Christianity. THE BRUTAL BEAUTY OF CHRIST’S CRUCIFIXION Crucifixion – the brutal method of execution devised by the Romans – has become the symbol of Christian faith. Surely there is nothing appealing about dying on a cross: • Severe flogging. Victims covered in blood. • Long, iron spikes driven into the wrists. Pounded into the feet. • Nakedness. Exposed to the elements. Ashamed before the bystanders. • Convulsions. Every little movement tearing at the hands and feet. • Desperate gasps for air, as suffocation and exhaustion slowly snuff out the life of the victim.

The Romans introduced crucifixion as a public spectacle, an ugly form of brutality that sent a powerful message to anyone who dared challenge the Roman government. This is what can happen to you, the cross said. Most people could not stomach the brutality of crucifixion. Roman citizens could be beheaded, but never crucified. The Roman philosopher Cicero believed crucifixion ought never be mentioned in polite company. Jewish people interpreted crucifixion as a sign of God’s curse. Signs of death. Ugly. Stark. Brutal. But one crucifixion is beautiful. In the midst of this vicious death, we peer into the very heart of God. On this windblown, stony hill outside Jerusalem – dotted by three crosses – we see God in his brilliant, unexpected glory. Like the autumn leaves that drape the earth in color, one cross shines in beauty. Martin Lloyd-Jones once said: “You will never know God as Father except by Jesus Christ, and in particular, by his death upon the cross… Look there, gaze, meditate, survey the wondrous cross. And then you will see something of him.” Pondering the meaning of the cross draws us into the self-giving love of God. The cross by itself is not beautiful. The atonement is beautiful because it illuminates the heart of God. What Christ accomplished on the cross is so massive, and the window into the heart of God is so big that no one explanation or description of the atonement can tell the whole story. Because the atonement is at the heart of who God is and what he has done for us, we can never fully exhaust the riches that flow from this event. TREVIN WAX is the Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. Used with permission from The Gospel Coalition.



A Lesson in

Unbelief By Andrew Briggs

The Denial of Peter by Carl Heinrich Bloch. Denmark, circa 1873 8



It was in the Garden of Gethsemane that we see the culmination of one of Jesus’ disciple’s unbelief in who Jesus was. It was also the beginning of unbelief in another of Jesus’ disciples. Judas was the one who betrayed Jesus to the Chief Priests, and Peter, ready to go to war in the garden for Him, would, just hours later, deny ever knowing Him. They both repented of their unbelief, but both had vastly different hearts in their repentance. In order to understand why they struggled with unbelief, we need to go back to the beginning of Jesus’ relationship with His disciples. Peter and his brother Andrew were Jesus’ first choice for his disciples. In Matthew 4:18 they were fishing and Jesus called to Peter and Andrew and told them that he would make them fishers of men. Immediately, they dropped their nets and followed Jesus. It was in that action of immediately dropping their nets that we see Peter’s zeal for Jesus and his excitement to follow Him. Regarding Judas, there isn’t much written in the Gospels about him other than his role as the betrayer of Jesus to the Chief Priests. I can only imagine the absolute rush it was for the twelve disciples to witness Christ’s miracles and hear his revolutionary teaching! They witnessed Jesus walk on water, calm the seas, heal countless people, feed the 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish, and raise Lazarus from the dead. Jesus even gave his disciples authority to cast out unclean spirits, and to heal every disease and every affliction. These disciples were in the Savior of the world’s inner circle. What an incredible privilege that must have been! However, in Matthew 16 we see that the disciples clearly don’t understand what Christ has come to earth to do. In verse 13, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answer him, “People say that you are John the Baptist or Elijah or one of the Prophets.” Then Jesus asks them, “Who do you say that I am?” In verse 16 Peter says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

“ Both Judas and Peter battled unbelief in who Jesus was and who He said He was.” Then just a few verses later Jesus tells his disciples for the first time that he must go to Jerusalem. There he will be killed and raised again on the third day. After hearing this Peter takes Jesus aside and rebukes Him saying, “This will never happen to you!” Peter was clearly taught something different about the coming Messiah. We have to believe the other eleven were thinking the same as Peter: “Jesus isn’t going to die! He’s going to defeat the Romans, free the Israelites, and establish His Kingdom!” They were confused and Jesus tries several times to help them understand that he must die. In Matthew 17:12, Jesus tells them again that he will die and be raised on the third day. Matthew says that this causes the disciples great distress. They simply had a different belief as to how the Messiah was going to go about saving His people. As the time is drawing near for Jesus to enter Jerusalem, He tells his disciples again that He must die and rise again on the third day. The disciples were still in disbelief, and I imagine Judas’ unbelief began to multiply. He had imagined being in the inner circle of the Messiah where he would have a place of authority in the Kingdom that he believed Jesus was coming to establish. And so, as Jesus enters Jerusalem and condemns the Pharisees, Sadducees, Chief Priests, and elders, they have finally had enough and plot to kill Jesus. And Judas, with his unbelief complete, agrees to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Peter, on the other hand, still refuses to accept that Jesus will die. He still believes that Jesus will defeat the Romans and free the Israelites. At the Last Supper, after they had eaten together and had partaken in the first communion, Jesus tells his disciples that they will all fall away. Peter says in Matthew 26:33, “though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus says to Peter, “Truly I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter is having none of it and says, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you” (Matt. 26:33-35).



The Taking of Christ by Caravaggio. Italy, circa 1602

That brings us back to the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas has just kissed Jesus, signifying to the chief priests and elders that Jesus is the one they want. As one of the crowd comes to take Jesus, Peter is ready to go to war. He pulls out his sword and strikes a man, cutting off his ear. Jesus tells Peter to put away the sword and heals the man’s ear. At this time, Jesus is led away to Caiaphas’ house and all his disciples flee except for Peter. Matthew 26:58 tells us that Peter followed at a distance to see what was going to happen to Jesus. Peter is able to hear Jesus being questioned by Caiaphas and wonders why Jesus chooses not to defend himself. Peter’s confusion has finally given way to unbelief. As Peter leaves Caiaphas’ house, he encounters three different groups of people who say he was with Jesus, and Peter adamantly denies knowing Jesus all three times. As the third denial leaves his mouth, a rooster crows and Peter weeps. Peter has just done what Christ said he would do and what Peter said would never come to pass. Just hours before, Peter was willing to die with Jesus and now he was unwilling to claim he ever knew Jesus. Peter was devastated by his lack of faith in who Christ was! Both Judas and Peter battled unbelief in who Jesus was and who He said He was. They had come to the table with an idea of what the Messiah was supposed to look like and what the Messiah was supposed to do. Both were unable to accept the reality of what Christ was going to do and what the Messiah was actually sent to do on behalf of sinners. We learn so much from Judas and Peter. First in their sin of unbelief and second in their repentance. In their unbelief we learn that we need to trust that Jesus



is who He says He is and that He is everything that He says He is. We need to know that He is all that we need and all that truly brings us happiness. There are countless ways that our unbelief will manifest itself as we journey through life and we will constantly need to repent for that unbelief. This is where we can learn from Judas and Peter as well. Matthew 27:3-5 tells us that Judas went to the chief priests and told them that he had sinned by betraying innocent blood and threw down the thirty pieces of silver and went out and hanged himself. Judas was sorry for what he had done. He was sorry for his unbelief. But his repentance was ungodly. He believed that the only way he could repent of his sin was to take his own life. Even in his repentance he was playing God and revealing to us that he still did not believe that Jesus was who He said He was. He did not believe that he could be forgiven. He did not believe that Jesus could heal his soul. Peter on the other hand displayed true repentance. As soon as he heard the rooster crow, he wept. His belief was back! It was in that moment that he trusted Jesus even though he didn’t understand and even though he didn’t like what was happening. He grieved his denial of Jesus but didn’t wallow in his grief. Peter is the rock on which Christ built his church (Matt. 16:18)! Peter’s sin did not define him. His repentance and belief in Jesus is what defined him. Judas gave us an example of how not to act when we recognize we have sinned. However, Peter gives us a beautiful portrait of recognizing our sin, grieving over our sin, and knowing we are forgiven– pressing on daily, free to make much of our Savior who died for us! // RBC



Beginning MARCH 5th



The Gospel of John has a clear aim: “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” While the thrust of John’s gospel record is evangelistic, there is much for the new Christian as well as the seasoned follower of Christ. No child of God has too much knowledge of Christ or too deep a belief in Him. Charles Spurgeon warns us,

MARCH 5TH Introducing the Gospel of John – Who is Jesus?

He who does not long to know more of Christ, knows nothing of Him yet. Whoever hath sipped this wine will thirst for more, for although Christ doth satisfy, yet it is such a satisfaction that the appetite is not cloyed, but whetted. Rest not then content without an increasing acquaintance with Jesus. Seek to know more of Him in His divine nature, in His human relationship, in His finished work, in His death, in His resurrection, in His present glorious intercession, and in His future royal advent. Abide hard by the Cross, and search the mystery of His wounds. An increase of love to Jesus, and a more perfect apprehension of His love to us is one of the best tests of growth in grace. The Gospel of John pushes us deeper and farther into Christ. As we see and savor Jesus, we will find sweet and satisfying rest in Him.

MARCH 12TH John 3:1-21 – Jesus and the Religious Leader MARCH 19TH John 4:1-26 – Jesus and the Thirsty Woman MARCH 26TH John 6 – Jesus and the Hungry Crowd APRIL 2ND John 9 – Jesus and the Blind Man APRIL 9TH John 11 – Jesus and His Dead Friend APRIL 16TH (Easter) John 12-20 – Jesus, the Victorious Christ



The Mocking of Christ by Gerrit van Honthorst. Holland, circa 1617 12



Mocking of Christ

Remembering the Passion of Christ through the Visual Arts

By Sara Briggs

e We read about the Passion of the Christ in scripture and form our own mental picture of the humiliation and physical suffering of our Savior. But sometimes visual references can impact us just as strongly as the written word. You may recall the English idiom, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” As I was sorting through different paintings and other imagery for our Christmas issue of Momentum, I came across this painting by Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656). The humble and submissive countenance found on our Savior’s face struck me. Rarely am I so taken with a work of art. Immediately, I wanted to know and understand more of what the artist intended to portray. I thought I would share a little of what I found in my search.



To set the stage, let’s first look at the account from Matthew’s gospel:

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor's headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27:27-31) As we see in this 17th century painting, the soldiers ironically mock what Jesus truly is: the Messiah King.1 We can also find reference to other biblical undertones illustrated by Honthorst. 1. “THEY STRIPPED HIM” We see Christ is stripped of his clothing. But for some reason, Honthorst chooses not to include the scarlet robe in this painting. I’m not exactly sure why. But perhaps he wanted to emphasize Christ’s nakedness and the vulnerability and embarrassment that accompanies that state. 2. THE CROWN OF THORNS We see a Roman soldier pushing the crown of thorns onto Christ’s head. Honthorst shows Christ submitting to this dreadful act. Thorns are often a symbol of the curse. They did not exist before the fall. The Lord says



to Adam in Genesis 3:17-18, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you.” Symbolically, the thorns are woven into a circular “crown” to be placed on Jesus’ head in order to mock the idea that he called himself a king (Matt. 27:11). 3. THE REED “[They] put a reed in his right hand.” In John MacArthur’s Bible commentary, he writes, “To imitate a scepter they purposely chose something flimsy-looking.”2 The man opposite Christ taunts him with a reed meant to represent a royal scepter such as a king might possess. 4. THE CHIAROSCURO What is “chiaroscuro”? It means, “the treatment of light and shade in drawing and painting.” Honthorst uses chiaroscuro in this painting to draw attention to different elements. The small amounts of light we see reflected on the mocker’s faces naturally draws our eye to the center of the painting where we see Christ, the main subject, fully illuminated. In sharp contrast to Christ, the mockers are cast mostly in shadow. We see one man in the background shading his face from the light of the torch. This brings to mind the passage found in John 3:19, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” 5. LESS IS MORE (WHEN IT COMES TO GORE) Honthorst does not distract us with excessive blood or goriness that would most likely have been

the case in this scene. Instead, he chooses to focus on Christ’s solemn, submissive demeanor. Everything we need to know about who Jesus is we see beautifully illustrated on his face. This is what drew me most to this piece. Jesus humbly accepts this evil and submits to the will of the authorities. More importantly, he is submitting to the will of the Father. Just the night before, Jesus pled to the Father saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). And in his third and final prayer he submits to his destiny, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done” (Matt. 26:42). As I was reading different commentaries on this painting, one art historian’s perspective stands out. “The Jesus that Honthorst presents the viewer with does not have blood pouring down His body to evoke our sympathy for His state, and there is nothing about Him that suggests might or divinity. This Jesus humbly accepts the evils of man. Can the true Christ possibly be this weak?”3 Weak?! On the contrary! Being a member of the triune God, Christ understood his role. He understood he needed to take on this most difficult task; the task of a substitutionary death in order to fulfill the prophecy set in place before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:45). This task required more strength of faith than we can imagine. It was anything but weak. My initial reaction to this painting was, “How dare you treat my Savior in this way!” A wave of emotion swept through me and was followed with thoughts of anger, sorrow, grief and then…heartache. Heartache for

Christ’s suffering, but also heartache for my own condition. It was then I remembered, I treated Him in this way. I put him on the cross. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter because of my sin. I do not know if Honthorst was a believer in Christ; nevertheless, I am grateful for his illustration of one of Christ’s most vulnerable yet steadfast moments. It is a sober reminder of what our Savior endured on our behalf. // RBC John A. Coleman, “Jesus the Prisoner: A Lenten reflection on The Mocking of Christ,” America: The Jesuit Review, March 30, 2009, http://www.americamagazine. org/issue/692/article/jesus-prisoner 1

John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, Updated Edition. (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006) 2

Amy M. Martin, “Brief Thoughts on the Passion of Christ through Honthorst’s Eyes,” Caravaggista, April 4, 2015, http:// n - t h e - p a s s i o n - o f- c h r i s t- t h r o u g h honthorsts-eyes/ 3



Paid in Full By Mike Flom


Our spiritual condition before salvation is described many ways in the Bible. For example, we are described as once being spiritually dead, enemies of God, lost, slaves of sin, children of wrath, etc. We could add to that list, debtors – debtors to God. In Col. 2: 13b-14, Paul says that God forgave us our sins “by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.” That means before we were saved, we were debtors to God because of our sin, having violated His law. Our sin debt to God is also seen by comparing the two versions of the model prayer the Lord gave us in Matthew 6 and Luke 11. In one version we are to pray, “forgive us our debts” (Matt.6:12), and in the other, “forgive us our sins” (Luke 11:4). So our debt to God is indeed our sin. THE MAGNITUDE OF OUR DEBT But just how big is our debt to God? One way to answer this question involves the penalty of our sin. If even one sin earns us eternal death, separation from God for all



eternity (James 2:10, Rom. 6:23), it is hard to argue that our sin debt to God is finite. Behind this argument is the fact that our God is holy and infinite. If we were to egregiously violate a civil law against a human government official, like a president for example, we may be sentenced to prison for a long but finite time period. The higher the authority figure, the longer the sentence. But when we sin against the infinite sovereign Most High God, we deserve an infinite sentence – eternal death, being under His wrath forever (Rom. 5:9). This analogy suggests our debt is infinite. Another way to see the magnitude of our sin debt to God comes from the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. In verse 24 we see that the unforgiving servant (who can easily represent us) owed the king (God) 10,000 talents. According to some commentators, one talent was equivalent to about 20 years of wages of a common laborer at that time. Thus, the unforgiving servant owed the king 200,000 years of his wages! Other commentators say that 10,000 talents in common parlance at that time meant an infinite number. By either reckoning, the implication of this parable is that we, like

the servant, owe God an unpayable debt. Even though Jesus used this parable to make a different point, it does suggest that our debt is so enormous we cannot hope to pay it. CHRIST, OUR SUBSTITUTE So if we cannot pay our sin debt to God, who can? No ordinary man can because all have sinned and are themselves debtors to God (Rom 3: 23). Only the sinless Christ can, and He mercifully did on the cross! Look at Col. 2:13-14 again: “And you...God made alive together with him (Christ), having forgiving us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing to the cross.” So, God forgave our debt by cancelling our IOU, our record of sin that should have been nailed to our cross. Notice that God did not just throw away our sin record. He nailed it to Christ’s cross, imputing our sin debt to Him. Why? Because God is just and someone had to pay our debt. Only the sinless Christ, dying on the cross as our substitute, could pay our debt in full because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins [debts]” (Heb. 9:22). In fact, when Christ uttered His last words on the cross, “It is finished” (“tetelestai” in Greek; John 19:30), He was also saying, “Paid in full.” We know this because “tetelestai” has been found on papyri of that time, which were tax receipts having the meaning “Paid in full.” Jesus’ sacrifice was so complete, it paid for all our sins – those before we were saved, all sins since, and all sins we will ever commit. His one sacrifice provides ongoing forgiveness for our daily sins (I John 1: 9). The most common NT Greek word for forgiveness means “to send away,” so God sent away our sins forever by transferring them to Christ who paid for them completely on the cross. This is pictured for us in the yearly OT atonement ceremony of Leviticus 16 where the high priest laid his hands on the live goat, confessed all the sins of Israel, and put them on the live goat. Then, he sent the goat with all the people’s sins into the wilderness, never to return (verses 20-22). Similarly, God placed all our sins on Christ on the cross, cancelled our debt, and sent our sins away from us “as far as east is from the west” (Ps. 103: 12) and “into the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:19). But there is more. Not only did God mercifully cancel our sin debt through Christ, but He has graciously

“Not only did God mercifully cancel our sin debt through Christ, but He has graciously ‘ blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places’!” “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3)! Apart from Christ, we were infinite debtors; in Christ we are now infinitely blessed. How great is our God! Now, how does this gospel truth of our cancelled debt pertain to our daily lives? One application has to do with forgiving others. Consider the rest of the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18 mentioned above. Jesus’ point is: How can we who have been forgiven by God so enormous a debt, not forgive the tiny debt of those who sin against us (verses 32-33)? I know that when I am offended in the future, I am going to try to remember God’s abundant mercy to me in forgiving my gigantic debt and realize how minuscule my offender’s sin debt is to me, and readily show him mercy. Also, we should do what the unforgiving servant is not recorded as having done after receiving a pardon: give thanks and praise to God for His great mercy in forgiving our debt. As Paul often broke out in praise when writing about gospel truth, so too we should well up with praise to God and Christ as we meditate on the huge debt God blotted out for us through Christ. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits who forgives all your iniquity” (Ps. 103: 2-3).// RBC



Graduates of the Emerging Leader's Initiative (ELI)

Update from the Wickers PA-MO-JA! The auditorium was rocking. The place was electric. The sound was deafening as over 2,500 young African Christians worshipped the Lord and responded to God’s call upon their lives. The word "Pamoja" is derived from the Swahili word meaning “togetherness”. Pamoja Africa is a movement that builds a network



of Africans who are engaged in connecting with each other through business, political, social and religious platforms to make a difference for the Lord. Mike had an exciting time at Cru’s Pamoja Africa, where he was part of a team equipping 2,649 student and professional leaders from 30 countries who desire to spearhead transformation in Africa. Mike had an opportunity to teach and spend time in workshops with delegates who work in the marketplace. At the Pamoja Conference: • 211 people indicated commitment to serve full-time with our ministry • 81 indicated commitment to serve with other ministries

We also had a day of witnessing. We are celebrating the great things that God did: • 600 people indicated decisions for Christ • 188 people recommitted their lives to Christ • 143 people wanted to join Bible study groups • 327 people wanted to join a church • 1,116 Christians were challenged to share Christ with others During Pamoja, Mike led the commencement ceremony for 20 young African leaders who graduated from the 3-year Emerging Leader's Initiative (ELI) program (pictured above).

Global Partners Highlight Mike and Helen are privileged to be mentoring these young leaders in Africa. Radical Islam is spreading in Africa through Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Shabab in Kenya. We need biblically trained missionaries and itinerant evangelists to serve on the frontlines and spread the gospel of Christ in Muslim-dominated areas. The following quotes are from six ELI students from Nigeria: ZCHAT OKOMOHWO (West Africa prayer leader - pictured at right): “I have learned to be better aware of myself, gifts, strengths, weaknesses and my preferred style of learning and how to apply it to my family and the leadership team of West Africa in order to maximize our leading of the countries. Just the simple addition of fortnightly calls to the country prayer leaders has been so appreciated by them.” RONALD LONGVWAM (student ministry team leader, Central Nigeria): “ELI has helped me develop my mission: ‘To faithfully live the purpose of God for my life by helping others fulfill Gods purpose for their lives.’ I am putting this into action. This call moves me from passivity to action; it ignites me with purpose and empowers me to live differently wherever I find myself. I am using my gifts and talents to serve God through others.” ADANTSI RICHARD (HR area leader): “As a wife and mother, ELI affords me a developmental opportunity

while modeling godly self-discipline and hard work to my young children. I have changed my outlook on life and ministry responsibilities, learning that my availability is key in my involvement while God equips me. ELI has helped me break-through my lack of confidence, fear of failure and lack of dependence on God.” FUNKE AKINPE (student ministry team leader, Southwest Nigeria): “My character and my spiritual life need to develop alongside each other. We were challenged to start journaling our life's story and journey with the Lord. The lessons are applicable to my real life experiences and have been useful in my work as a campus team leader.”

refocusing and challenging me to become a lifelong learner by clearly communicating what we stand for as a mission organization and where we are heading.”

MOSES PWANSHAK (Jesus Film national leader): “ELI has completely changed the way I see leadership. Now I have the understanding that leadership is stewardship of God’s creation, agenda and resources. I have decided to be a source of transformation & encouragement to those around me. I desire to plan my ministry and use God resources more strategically for maximum impact in Africa.”

Please pray 2 Timothy 2:15 in the lives of these young leaders who we are mentoring. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Thank you for your partnership and prayer support. We are honored to be molding, multiplying and mobilizing godly disciples in Africa and the world.

ESTHER OCHEPO (student ministry staff): “I have discovered my personality, gifts, skills, leadership timeline and the purposes of God for my life. I have learned to live and lead from finding significance in being His child rather than doing His work. ELI is realigning,

Zchat Okomohwo with Helen Wicker

Love and Prayers, Mike and Helen Wicker Cru Missionaries Join the Wicker’s monthly Call to Prayer Team by emailing Helen at:



Highlights from the Gospel Life Blog More encouraging blog posts can be found at:

Finding by Losing “


ell, Lord, at least I know that you would never call me to live in Minnesota.” I remember praying these words while in grad school as Carolyn (my wife) and I were starting to discuss where we would settle down after graduation. Seven years earlier, I had left my beloved West Virginia, seeking adventure in the Great American Midwest, never dreaming that I was leaving the Mountain State for good. While at Wheaton College, I met the Minnesota Girl of my dreams, and was surprised to discover that she didn’t want to settle down in a log



By Josh Buttram cabin on a secluded mountain (with our 7 dogs) – who wouldn’t want that??? I decided that, if we didn’t end up living in the Appalachians, at least we needed to live within a day’s drive – it was a non-negotiable. Although I really liked Minnesota, it was just too far away. I couldn’t face the possibility of raising our children far removed from my beloved family. The idea seemed a whole lot like dying. But then a verse grabbed ahold of me and just wouldn’t let go. Jesus said, “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life

for my sake will find it” (Matthew 6:25). I gradually realized that, since Christ died for me, He could ask me to do anything. If I tried to hold on to my dreams, I would lose everything. I decided to trust Christ and follow His lead to Minnesota. Now, thirteen years later, I love the life that God has given me here. Still, Jesus keeps calling me to die to desires that seem like needs. Dying is never easy, and in many situations, there’s still no happy ending in sight. But He will be faithful to His promise, and as we lose our lives, we will find life in Him. // RBC

Highlights from the Gospel Life Blog

An Invitation to Brokenness


he Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18). It seems like everywhere I turn I am struck with an awareness of brokenness. There are broken marriages, broken families, broken people, broken churches, broken situations, and a broken world. I see the depths and brokenness of my own heart, those struggling around me, and I wonder, “Is this really necessary?” Is brokenness the way to Jesus? Is it the only way? Webster's dictionary defines brokenness as “reduced to fragments, violently separated into parts, shattered, disrupted, crushed sorrowful.” I don’t know about you, but those words resonate to the deepest recesses of my heart. They speak my language. They demonstrate the hurt. They put words to the pieces that are so shattered. But, my heart can’t linger there too long in the

By Rebekah Zepeda brokenness. I am reminded of Jesus and how he was broken and crushed for me on the cross. His body was beaten and scarred. He was torn from his Father. Their relationship was ruptured. Jesus experienced this kind of brokenness on the cross for me. He was forsaken by his Father in order to save me—to save those who are broken—shattered—those who are crushed in spirit. To embrace our own brokenness is in fact to embrace the very heart of Jesus. Brokenness is the way to Jesus. Jesus was not afraid of broken people, He did not tell them to go away and get over it. This is actually the very reason why He came. He came for the broken. He wants the broken. He invites us to come; to see; to look; to live; to rest; to be healed; to believe. Our brokenness is an invitation to come to Jesus Himself. Bring your brokenness to the one who was broken for you. Jesus was broken so we could be healed. Jesus came to die so we can live. The

broken pieces are part of your story, but your brokenness doesn't define you. Your identity is not wrapped up in your brokenness. Your identity is reconstructed in Jesus. It’s made new. He gives you a new name. No longer are you “broken.” Now you are “healed.” No longer are you “rejected.” You are “my beloved child.” No longer are you “unloved.” You are “loved.” No longer are you “guilty.” You are “not guilty.” No longer are you “sinner.” You are “forgiven.” No longer are you “unrighteous.” You are “righteous”. So, is brokenness the only way to Jesus? Yes. It’s the only way to true freedom, joy, and redemption. It's okay to not have it all together and to admit you are broken. Jesus can work with “broken.” Jesus invites all of us to come to him in our brokenness. Let Him recreate you. Let him be near you. Let him comfort you. Let him heal you. Let him bind up the broken pieces of your heart. // RBC



How I Met Jesus

Jason & Karen Wredberg JASON WREDBERG By God’s grace, I was raised in a Christian home where I heard the Gospel thousands of times. As far back as I can remember, my father led our family in nightly devotions and prayed for God to save his four sons by His grace. Even so, it was not until the summer following my freshman year of college, while working at a Christian camp, that Christ captured my heart. One night as I was on my way to the chapel service, I was overcome with the sheer weight of my sin; I fell to the ground and wept. It was there, in the hallway outside the gym, that I turned in repentance and faith to Christ. For the first time I understood my guilt and knew I had no hope outside of God’s mercy offered to me in Christ. It hit me all at once— the wages of my sin was death and it was my sin that Christ bore upon Himself. The scales were lifted and new life was sovereignly wrought in my heart. After I returned home from camp, I followed the Lord in believer’s baptism. Since that time, I have experienced God’s sanctifying grace as I have committed myself to study His word, commune with Him in prayer, fellowship with His body, and enjoy His good gifts. I began to pursue vocational ministry about a year after coming home from camp and the more I spent time in God’s Word, the more I wanted to know



Him and make Him known. I began receiving opportunities to preach and with that the desire for pastoral ministry grew. I wanted to invest my life in people—in shepherding and caring for them—not because I was perfect or had arrived, but because I believed there was hope in Christ for every person, in any situation. Along the way I received the affirmation and encouragement of elders, something I found both humbling and motivating. It was not simply my desire to preach that increased through these years, it was also my desire to know God more intimately on a personal level. Spending time with God alone, meditating on His Word and talking with Him in prayer became the fuel for serving His church. KAREN WREDBERG God gave me loving parents who valued the local church. As I listened to sound teaching, God convicted me of my sin and I called out with childlike faith for Jesus to save me. He did, and with His Spirit and Word guiding me, He graciously kept me from a life of pain and poor choices. After my conversion, I followed the Lord in believer’s baptism and since that time God has brought me to a much deeper knowledge of what Jesus did for me in salvation. I now better understand the magnitude of my sinfulness—that I was God’s enemy on a path to

eternity without Him. He loved me when I was completely unlovable. By pursuing me and redeeming me, He changed the course of my life forever and brought me into His family. I understand the completeness of His payment. Although I am sometimes tempted to think I can earn favor with God, I know He gives his love and forgiveness freely, no strings attached. I know I am His forever; nothing can separate me from His love. I see how often I fail and how long-suffering God is to forgive me each time. I am filled with gratitude when I think of perfect Jesus taking my place and removing the debt of my sin. I lean on Him every day, acknowledging that any strength I have comes from Him. I need His help to properly love and serve my family. I’m so thankful for the godly people God has brought into my life, especially my husband. Through him I’ve learned so much more about the gospel and what it means to be a Christ-follower. It is my desire to be used each day to show the love of God to my husband and children. I long to love others with the same love God has shown to me. // RBC

Affinity Groups DORCAS DAMES The Dorcas Dames are named after a disciple named Tabitha (Dorcas in Greek) who was a well-known and well-loved seamstress in the Bible (read Acts 9:36-42 for her story). If you enjoy sewing, we would love to have you join us in making baby quilts that will be donated. It doesn't matter if you're a beginner or a fanatic quilter, just plan on having lots of fun!

QUILTING GROUP DATES: Fridays, March 17 and April 21 TIME: 9am - 3pm LOCATION: Ministries Building WHAT TO BRING: Your lunch and sewing machine. For more information, contact Jean Bradford at

INVITE your friends and family!




April 29th

9:00-11:30 AM Fellowship Hall

Breakfast POTLUCK

with Ireland Mission Update

Come for breakfast and hear a report on the Ireland Missions Trip! Everyone is welcome to attend!


APRIL 14th 7 PM Childcare provided for 0-4 years.

RSVP by Wednesday, April 26 to Pat York: 612.508.4408 or email yorkp711

h i l l tI o p p e r s

Hosted by the RBC

5th Saturday Breakfast





SUNDAY // 5th

FRIDAY // 17th

SUNDAY // 2nd

TUESDAY // 18th

9a | Sunday School K-12th 10:30a | Gathered Worship

9a-3p | Dorcas Dames

9a | Sunday School* *No Redemption Youth 10:30a | Gathered Worship

9:30a | Women's B Study 6:45p | Women's B Study

5p | Family Gathering

TUESDAY // 7th 9:30a | Women's B Study 6:45p | Women's B Study

WEDNESDAY // 8th 6:45p | Redemption Youth 7-8p | Gathered Prayer

SUNDAY // 19th 9a | Sunday School K-12th 10:30a | Gathered Worship *LT

TUESDAY // 21st 9:30a | Women's B Study 6:45p | Women's B Study


6p | Family Gathering


TUESDAY // 4th

6:45p | Redemption Youth 7-8p | Gathered Prayer

9:30a | Women's B Study 6:45p | Women's B Study

WEDNESDAY // 5th 7-8p | Gathered Prayer

SUNDAY // 12th

7-8p | Gathered Prayer

SUNDAY // 9th

9a | Sunday School K-12th 10:30a | Gathered Worship

SUNDAY // 26th

9a | Sunday School K-12th 10:30a | Gathered Worship

TUESDAY // 14th

9a | Sunday School K-12th 10:30a | Gathered Worship

TUESDAY // 11th

9:30a | Women's B Study 6:45p | Women's B Study


9:30a | Women's B Study 6:45p | Women's B Study

WEDNESDAY // 15th 6:45p | Redemption Youth 7-8p | Gathered Prayer

7-8p | Gathered Prayer

WEDNESDAY // 12th 6:45p | Redemption Youth 7-8p | Gathered Prayer

*LT (includes the Lord's Table)

FRIDAY // 14th

FRIDAY // 21st 9a-3p | Dorcas Dames

SATURDAY // 22nd 9a | Church Clean-up Day

SUNDAY // 23rd 9a | Sunday School K-12th 10:30a | Gathered Worship *LT

TUESDAY // 25th 9:30a | Women's B Study 6:45p | Women's B Study

WEDNESDAY // 26th 7-8p | Gathered Prayer

7p | Good Friday *LT

SUNDAY // 30th

SUNDAY // 16th

9a | Sunday School K-12th 10:30a | Gathered Worship

EASTER 10:30a | Gathered Worship


WEDNESDAY // MAY 3rd 6:45p | Redemption Youth 7-8p | Gathered Prayer


Momentum | March & April 2017  

Experience the Movement of Gospel Life at Redeemer.

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