Sticker Chart

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by Rachel Bartlett

Have you ever used a sticker chart for your kids?  Maybe your family has a chore chart or used a sticker chart when potty training. We have our kids place a sticker on a chart as we cheer and encourage them along. But where is my sticker chart?

Make the meals and snacks; gold star.
Help with school work; gold star.
Clean up snot, dirty diaper, or throw up; platinum star.

Does anyone see what I do? Or even more importantly, does anyone see where I struggle? There are days when we can’t find the strength to do the work. There are days where those gold stars seem out of our reach.

In Genesis 16, we meet Hagar. She was a servant of Abram and Sarai and becomes pregnant with Abram’s son. When mistreated by Sarai, Hagar flees to the desert. Pregnant, tired, and hurt, she meets an angel. This angel proclaims over Hagar that her unborn son “will dwell over against all his kinsman.” Hagar called out to God with the name El Roi, the God of seeing. God saw Hagar when no one else did.

Many years later (Genesis 21), Hagar is forced to flee again from Abraham. With her son by her side, she wandered through the desert. Hagar was thirsty, close to death, and all she could do was cry. She had forgotten the claim she made in that desert years before. God sent another angel to comfort Hagar and a well to nourish. His promise that day was the same as many years before. “Lift up the boy … I will make him a great nation.”

God’s call to us is similar. We are to raise our kids to be a great nation of followers of God. And He sees us along the way. With every victory, every struggle, and everything in between, He Sees. Praise El Roi!

He Graciously Meets Us Where We Are

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by R. Potatoes

It was a crazy busy Friday. I was out running errands when the case worker called, “We have a large sibling set that just came into DFCS custody. I don’t have any details on them but can you take some of them?” The answer is always yes.

Late that night, two completely traumatized little ones were dropped off with nothing but a grocery bag full of dirty clothes (two sizes too small). In a snap, we were thrust back into the stage of blow out diapers, large baby equipment, car seat acrobatics, bottles, tantrums, and very very very sleepless nights. Our extraordinarily tiny home became a revolving door of case workers, lawyers, and therapists. Our calendar was filled with doctors appointments, court dates, family visits, sibling visits, and home studies.

We were absolutely not enough (nor equipped) for what the next several weeks threw at us from every angle, but God was. Those sleepless nights – full of frustration and snide remarks over whose “turn” it was – slowly turned into the quiet time when we’ve prayed some of our most vulnerable prayers. We prayed for the endurance, wisdom, and strength necessary to parent and disciple these little image-bearers. God has met us there, every time!

Foster parenting has a special way of putting a magnifying glass on our fleshly sin: the kind of anger we have to work through towards birth parents and the broken system as a whole, the selfishness in mourning that we will not be around to experience the fruit of the seeds we are planting, the desire for appreciation that never comes, the envy towards people who are not called to this life and don’t have to expose their families to unimaginable brokenness and trauma. We are constantly repenting from these sins that marinate deep in our hearts. He consistently humbles us to our core, and gracefully meets us where we are. 

No matter what season of parenting you are in, God is always there waiting for you to lean into Him. He promises to give us wisdom when we ask, so don’t leave his promises on the table.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James 1:5

Opportunity vs. Sabbath Rest

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by Rachel O’Dell

As I was debating, in my mind, the pros and cons of accepting the invitation to write this parent encouragement for New City Kids, it dawned on me that I ought to blog about the actual stress of weighing the pros and cons of any opportunity (or decision) that we make in life. So this post is very “meta” because, why not?

Every opportunity taken in life is going to involve some added layer of work (if only for a short time) unless we off-load something else before taking up the new task. And of course, new opportunities taken can then lead to other new ventures, (i.e. more work). Someone doesn’t offer us an opportunity to get rich (or advance in our career) while we just sit in a La-Z-Boy watching money enter our bank account. If they do, it’s a scam. 

Work is not inherently bad. We know that God gave work in the Garden, before the Fall. Work done for the Lord is very fulfilling. It’s only when it feels like a Sisyphean task that it seems to drain joy out of us. 

Personally, my main work these days includes home schooling my daughters, driving my children to activities, navigating the challenges of raising an autistic son, serving on the worship team, and completing my time in service as President of the Greater Gwinnett Reentry Alliance. All of this work is very fulfilling! But even so, I long, as I’m sure we all do, for Sabbath rest. I want a nap!

Hebrews 4 speaks of entering God’s rest. We look forward to a day, in the new Earth, when we will be able to glorify God with our work while also benefiting from the Sabbath rest. But for now, we must alternate between the work and the rest. Here are some ideas on how we can do this well:

1. Make sure our work is being done for God’s glory and not just for the next opportunity. 

2. Understand that raising our children to know and love Jesus is our highest work priority. 

3. Do not worry over missed opportunities and what we might have done with our life. 

4. Do not work without rest. And when we rest…

5. Acknowledge that God is our Provider. All the work in the world cannot give us (or our families) a “perfect life”. The perfect life is found only in the life Christ lived on our behalf. 

Rest in his finished work on the cross. 

Faith and Experience

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by Maya Rondy

In 2008, I made a decision to follow Jesus as my Savior and as my Lord. This was a big change for me because before I had always wrongly believed in many gods. In the beginning it wasn’t fun at all; I didn’t understand what the Christian life was supposed to be like. I didn’t know how my own life was to have meaning. The reality was, I wasn’t even sure that I belonged to Jesus.

But Jesus revealed himself to me, convincing me that He is real, and my life completely changed. Day by day, my faith started growing stronger. I read Jeremiah 29:11 and began to have confidence that God has a plan for me and my family. Today, I know the meaning of my life and that I have a future.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 
Jeremiah 29:11

At this time, my family and I are learning to lean on Jesus and not on our own understanding. This involves learning how to be patient and forgive one another. I’m amazed as I see how much we have changed. For example, when my husband sees I am upset about something he will come to me and pray over it. 

As I began to sense God’s calling on my life, I never expected that my husband would be supportive. Yet this turned out to be the best part of my life – he supports me in ministry! Yes, while we were figuring things out there were challenges. But I read in Romans 8 that no one can separate us from the love of Christ. This powerful Word gave me hope and kept me strong as I realized that there was no challenge too big for God.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Romans 8:38–39

By God’s grace we are still together. I see God working in our lives and can’t wait until I hear my husband testify about it as well. For now, we are still walking with Jesus as a family. Our story is not done yet.

The Value of Serving in New City Kids

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by Joe Brand

When I consider the impact of New City Kids in the life of our family, I smile.

We did not have school age children when we came to New City Church. However, our youngest child had several occasions to serve with New City Kids and observe children’s ministry leadership. She came away with a deeper appreciation for how a local church serves families. We were elated to see how well she was equipped and trained and how immensely she enjoyed the process and service.

Like most churches, New City can use additional volunteers in the work of coming alongside parents as they disciple their children.


If you want to have a profound impact on your children,
put them in New City Kids.

If you want to have a profound impact on your own life,
consider serving there yourself.

Equipping Women for Ministry

Megan JohnsonVision, Mission, ValuesLeave a Comment

Knife Fighting the Devil

Megan JohnsonDevotionalLeave a Comment

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"You don’t have to bow to your feelings.”

Sounds pretty simple, right? My emotions have a place, and rightly so, God made us to be feeling creatures, but emotions shouldn’t have the final say about what is true in a situation. God, in his severe mercy, has given me a number of opportunities to practice this lately.

I have been thinking about the analogy of being a racquetball court instead of a sponge. I think somewhere along the way I got this idea from the book, Loving the Little Years, by Rachel Jankovich. For me, being a racquetball court (and not a sponge) means I don’t have to absorb other’s emotions around me and take them all in. When I absorb the emotions of my kids, for instance, I become enslaved to them. Or if I absorb the frustrations of others, I think I must “fix it”. Rather, the wall of the racquetball court feels the hit, the sting even, of the ball, yet it lets it go.

If I am a sponge with my kids, it means that when they are happy, I am happy. When they are mad, I am mad. When they are scared, I am scared. We can logically see how this is not helpful when we take a step back. Thankfully, God is not like this with us – taking on our emotions, being changed by them, and responding in kind. Yes, He weeps with those who weep and clearly and vividly displays emotion! Yet, He is not controlled by other’s emotions or his own.

Most of us can identify with being trapped in the endless cycle of FEEL – ACT – FEEL – ACT. We are reminded in 1 Peter 5:7 to cast all our anxieties on Jesus because He cares for us. I imagine throwing emotion onto Jesus, knowing He can handle it, and asking Him to lead me in the truth, then bowing in submission to that truth, not bowing to my ever-changing emotion.

In his phenomenal book, A Loving Life, Paul Miller says this about Naomi as we see her at the beginning of the book of Ruth:

“Naomi neither suppresses her feelings nor is trapped by them. She didn’t have to act on her feelings. She felt anguish, yet she was free from the tyranny of her feelings … if we follow (our feelings) we become trapped by them.”

Naomi is dealing with great pain and anguish – and most of her anguish comes because she trusts that God is Sovereign and good, but she can’t see it in her circumstance.

There is something liberating about not being trapped in our feelings; being able to feel and lament and love deeply – yes! – but not having to act on every emotion that rears its head up. Satan may prowl around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour – whether through internal suppressed emotion, or explosive words, or anything else, but the truth is: Jesus IS the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Jesus is the Lion. While Satan prowls like a lion, his power is limited by the power of the true Lion – the eternal King.

As I was driving to pick up my kids from school this week, I was in the midst of “knife fighting with the devil” as my husband lovingly says, internally fighting between my flesh-driven instincts and thoughts (the barbarians roaming the streets of my mind), OR looking up to Jesus, attempting to sing and proclaim THE truth louder than the thoughts in my mind, and this worship song by Phil Wickham came on leading me to worship and to the truth of freedom in Christ:

Out of the silence, the roaring Lion declared
The grave has NO claim on me!
Hallelujah! Praise the one who set me free.
Hallelujah! Death has lost it’s grip on me.
You have broken every chain!
Jesus Christ – my Living Hope.”

This King has delivered us from the tyranny of ourselves if we belong to Him. We are not held hostage by emotions, or our past, or our sin. We are filled with and empowered by the Spirit to kick out the lies, for me, it’s the fake conversations I’m having with others in my mind, particularly if I’ve been hurt or am angry. We can replace these with the truth.

The Lord has delivered me from myself; the Lord IS delivering me from myself. All I have to do fall into dependence on and look up instead of down, planning my response in my own strength by staring intently at the circumstance.

Submitting to the Lord and leaning into him instead of our natural flesh-driven responses, having to wait and trust, can lead us into sweet moments of worship. Even the sins of others, or choices of others, are allowed by God to impact me because it drives me to Him in dependence which becomes a sweet opportunity for growth and sanctification.

This is soul work. This is good work. And it’s also a knife fight with the devil.

A Liturgy for a Time of Widespread Suffering

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A Liturgy for a Time of Widespread Suffering

A beautiful, liturgical prayer from the folks at Rabbit Room. 

Christ Our King,

Our world is overtaken by unexpected
calamity, and by a host of attending fears,
worries, and insecurities.

We witness suffering, confusion, and
hardship multiplied around us, and we find
ourselves swept up in these same anxieties and
troubles, dismayed by so many uncertainties.

Now we turn to you, O God,
in this season of our common distress.

Be merciful, O Christ, to those who suffer,
to those who worry, to those who grieve, to
those who are threatened or harmed in any
way by this upheaval. Let your holy compassions
be active throughout the world even now—
tending the afflicted, comforting the
brokenhearted, and bringing hope to
many who are hopeless.

Use even these hardships to woo our hearts MORE

Building Update May 2020

Ryan JohnsonChurch NewsLeave a Comment

I visited the construction site of our new facility this week to provide an update on our progress. I also shared briefly some thoughts about our plans to reopen in-person worship and what you can do to help us prepare to do that well.

The Lord’s Table – Online

Brandon DeanChurch News, TheologyLeave a Comment

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The Lord's Table

Perhaps the most heart wrenching aspect of not being together in person is that we do not take the Lord's Table together every week. It's not ideal for us to partake of the sacrament online, but as it is one of the means of grace we do not want to neglect it. Therefore, we have decided to have a time for the Lord's Table next Sunday, May 24, 2020.

We are aware that some feel a conviction not to take the Lord's Supper until we can truly be in communion together face-to-face. We completely understand and support your decision not to partake. We suggest simply using the time to pray. 

If you will be joining together with us for The Lord's Table, here's all you need to know to be prepared:

The ELEMENTS

THE BREAD | The Scripture tells us that Jesus broke bread when he instituted the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Most likely he had a loaf of unleavened bread. Any loaf of bread will do, or you can use crackers (especially if you are avoiding gluten.)

THE WINE | Jesus instituted the sacrament using wine. Many people prefer to use grape juice instead, but any drink made from grapes would be sufficient.

Although we refer to them as the body and blood of Jesus Christ, the bread and wine do not actually change. Nevertheless, something very real and very profound occurs spiritually. When we take communion, the Holy Spirit is present. He communicates Jesus to us and makes us present with Him in Heaven. However, physically Jesus remains at the right hand of the Father and does not come and “hide” within the bread and the wine.

Before the worship gathering:

  1. Set aside a small portion of bread for each person who will be partaking. This should be the size of one bite.
  2. Set aside a small portion of drink in any kind of glass for each person who will be participating. Just one swallow’s amount is sufficient.
  3. The preparation of the elements should be done with the reverence and honor due to the sacrament, but there is no special blessing or ritual necessary.

After the worship gathering, if you have bread or wine left over, you can dispose of them as you normally would. Again, they remain simply bread and wine.

PREPARING OURSELVES SPIRITUALLY

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

1 Corinthians 11:27-28
Whenever we know we will be coming to the Lord’s Table, it is very important that we have prepared and examined ourselves spiritually. The sacrament is intended as a means of grace for those who believe, but Scripture warns us that we bring judgement upon ourselves if we partake in an unworthy manner.

Sin does not make us unworthy to take the Table. Indeed, only those who know they are sinners saved by grace, are worthy. The Heidelberg Catechism says that “those who are displeased with themselves because of their sins” are welcome at the Lord’s Supper.

We examine ourselves by acknowledging and repenting of our sins, and determining to seek reconciliation with others when possible, and relying upon our Savior Jesus for forgiveness.

If you find that you are unwilling to repent, it would not be wise to partake of the Sacrament. Instead you should pray and ask God to help you to truly hate your sin and to give you the resolve to recommit yourself to obedience.

WHO SHOULD PARTAKE?

In your household, only those who are believers in Jesus Christ and who have been examined by the elders of the Church and found to have a credible profession of faith should partake of the sacrament. This means that if you have not-yet-believers staying with you, they should not take communion. If you have young children who have not yet been baptized and have not yet made a profession of faith, they should not take communion.

Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ, and has examined themselves and can partake in a worthy manner, should take communion.

Those who are unable to participate are encouraged to spend the moment in contemplative prayer, perhaps asking God to reveal Himself to them in a new way.

HOW WILL THIS WORK?

Pastor Ryan will walk us through this time of communion, explaining each of the elements and then giving you a moment to eat and drink each of them. We recommend placing the elements in a spot where everyone can reach them, and then allowing each person to serve themselves as Ryan leads.

We look forward to the coming day when we will be able to enjoy this moment of communion face to face. Until then, know we are praying for you to experience the grace of God in other ways as He is always with us.