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August 31, 2015 / The Vine Community Church

Romans 8:26-30 – Sermon, Sunday, August 30, 2015

August 27, 2015 / The Vine Community Church

Livin’ La Vida Loca

So, it is my turn for the blog this week, aaaaand I had absolutely no idea what to write about!

You see, usually as it is approaching, I have a general idea of what God wants me to share based on what He is teaching me, speaking to me and/or doing in my life.

Not happening.

There are times I am so busy and being pulled in so many different directions I am just not sure what to do or say. This life is crazy. It is hard. It stretches us, pushes us and occasionally hides us under its weight of responsibilities.

I don’t have it all together.

I don’t know all the answers.

I struggle.

My desire is:

  1. To challenge you!
    Give yourself permission to NOT have it all together.
  1. To encourage you!
    Jesus does have it all together.
    Jesus does have all the answers.
    He did struggle but now sits in victory.

So, do not cling to your limited abilities but cling to Him who is limitless! He has got this, this whole, busy, crazy, beautiful life!


“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27


August 24, 2015 / The Vine Community Church

Joy in Suffering – Sermon, Sunday, August 23, 2015

August 21, 2015 / The Vine Community Church

What You Talkin’ ‘Bout Willis?

Ephesians 4:29 (AMP) reads: “Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.”
How many times have we said something rude or mean behind someone’s back? How many times have we said something rude or mean to someone’s face? How many times have we said something as a joke but intended harm? How many times have we talked bad about our waiter or waitress? The president? Our parents? Our spouse? The people of the middle east? Our friends? Our children’s teachers/coaches? Our church? People we go to church with? The random guy or girl in the store?
We’ve all done it. Sometimes we’ve said things with the greatest of intentions but our choice of words did more harm than good. A lot of times, we speak negatively just because. (“How was your trip?” “It went well, but.…”) We very rarely have ANYTHING GOOD to say. And worse, we encourage the negativity within our Christian circles! (Take a look at Facebook)
But what would happen if we were to strictly apply the instructions of that verse to our everyday lives? How much would our conversations change? How much would our relationships change? How many people would we encourage rather than tear down? How much would our witness to others change? And it doesn’t stop there.
How do you speak to and about yourself? Proverbs 18:21(ESV) says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
We walk around wondering why we have bad days all the time or why we’re in pain or why we have no joy or peace in our lives. That’s because we SPEAK DEATH over OURSELVES! We’re harder on ourselves than we are on others! “I can’t”, “I’m not good enough”, “I won’t ever be able to”…you get the picture.
If we applied Ephesians 4:29 to ourselves, how would your outlook on life change? How would you see yourself? What types of things would you stop or start saying to yourself? What would change this week if you spoke positively?
Your words have the power to build yourself and others up. They also have the power to kill you and others. We have to choose our words wisely. Especially when it comes to our own minds. We have to stop settling for “mediocrity” because everyone else is doing it.
Take the time to listen to how people talk about things. Listen to the words that come out of your own mouth. Start measuring the words you say and hear against Ephesians 4:29. I guarantee you’ll be blown away by how much DEATH is being spoken everywhere. Change it friends. Change it today. Make it a point to speak positively and write down what has changed in a week. I dare you to call God out on His word. You definitely won’t win the bet, but your life will improve (and improve greatly) through Him. It’s a win-win. Take the opportunity!
Speak life today! To yourself and everyone you run into!

Be blessed friends!

– Rafer Jr.
“Love Jesus, Love People, Love Life”
August 18, 2015 / The Vine Community Church

Heirs with Christ – Sermon, Sunday, August 16, 2015

August 13, 2015 / The Vine Community Church

7 Things You Should Stop Criticizing in Any Church

Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. James 5:9

One of the hardest things to overcome, if you ask me, is a critical spirit. I come from a place where I was taught to be critical. I remember someone in authority over me saying. “Throw an idea in the middle and everyone try to shoot it down. If it lives, it’s a good idea.”

When I moved away from that place, I realized that in every church, bible study, theatre, comedy club, etc. that I went to, I was so critical of everything! I had to make a conscious effort to not be critical and I’m still not perfect but I’m worlds away from where I was. If you are a critical person, I encourage you to change that. Here are 7 places to start in church.


We all have different genres of music we like. And, different worship leaders and churches work better in different styles but it’s all worship. You may not like that David Crowder song the band did this weekend but that could be someone else in the sanctuary’s favorite song. You may prefer the guitar to the banjo but that doesn’t mean bluegrass can be just as worshipful. We all have songs we like and don’t like but that shouldn’t stop us from worshipping God.


“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” John 4:23

“The music was off today.”

“The band is just not anointed.”

“I just don’t like his or her voice.”

“I just couldn’t get into worship.”

Believe it or not, worship has little to do with the band on stage and everything to do with your heart. We are called to worship. We were placed on Earth to make God’s name great. How dare we say that we can’t worship because of x-y-z? We have to ignore those things that “bother” us and worship God for who he is, in spirit and in truth.


Whether it’s dead air between songs, a video starting late, the passing of communion taking too long, etc., we have a tendency to get annoyed and impatient in those moments. People and technology run all the logistics of church and people and technology are not perfect. Instead of getting frustrated, take those moments to pray for the staff and volunteers who are involved. They are probably just as frustrated, if not more so, as you are.


“so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11

“I just didn’t get anything out of that message.”

Wow. The Bible, God’s word, was preached and you got nothing out of it? Maybe the speaker wasn’t entertaining or maybe you didn’t like his style of preaching or maybe he preached for a long time. Maybe you weren’t receptive or maybe your heart wasn’t ready or maybe you were sidetracked or distracted. If you didn’t get anything out of God’s word, then you should probably check yourself.

Other church attenders

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2

We’re all guilty of this one. The church is not a cruise ship, it’s not a hotel and it’s not a place of entertainment. It is a hospital, a place where broken people can come and be healed and put back together. Some days you come in as a patient needing care and some days, you come to work. Instead of putting someone down, have a conversation with them and see what you can do to help.

Children’s Ministry

“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.” Matthew 18:5

Let me start out by saying that sometimes there are things that need to be addressed. But, a big majority of negative comments made to children’s directors stem from the fact that mom or dad can’t turn off the “parent button.” Before you complain, ask yourself, is this a safety issue? Is my child’s welfare at risk? Or is this just a complaint, something the dept. does, i.e. curriculum, which I personally think they should change?

Staff Members

“But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless?”” 1 Samuel 26:9

David was CALLED by God & believe it or not, so was Saul. David knew the importance of God’s calling and never laid a hand on Saul even though Saul was trying to kill him!

Each staff member at any church has been given that position through the authority of the church and the authority of God. You may not like someone on staff or how they do things. They may even be defiling the Lord’s house just as Eli’s sons Phinehas and Hophni were but God has always said that he will take care of it. Who are you to put your hand (or your mouth) against the Lord’s anointed?

– Whitney

Sledz- copy

August 10, 2015 / The Vine Community Church

Esther – Sermon, Sunday, August 9, 2015

Guest Speaker – Sean Martinez


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