Welcome to Northminster

We are a biblically-based Presbyterian church seeking to experience and share God’s love to transform our homes, community and the world. We hope you will join us.
 

Join us this Sunday!

We have Sunday school for all ages at 9:45, and the worship service is at 11am. We look forward to seeing you! Click here to find out where we are and get in touch. If you are not able to join us in person, we invite you to follow our livestream, which you can find here.

Upcoming Events

November 2022

Tuesday, November 29

12:00 pm – 12:30 pm
Lynchburg Daily Bread Meal Distribution

Wednesday, November 30

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Midweek Prayer Time
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Choir Practice

December 2022

Saturday, December 3

9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Hanging of the Greens

Sunday, December 4

9:45 am – 10:45 am
Adult Sunday School: Adult Sunday School
9:45 am – 10:45 am
Sunday School (children & youth)
11:00 am – 12:15 pm
Online Worship
11:00 am – 12:15 pm
Sunday Worship
6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Youth Group: Sunday Night Live

The Latest from our blogs…

November 2022 Pastor’s Corner — The God Who Sees You

 So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’ for she said, ‘Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.’ 

— Genesis 16:13

The story of Abram, Sarai and Hagar in Genesis 16 isn’t one we talk about very often, and when we do, it’s usually to make the point that we shouldn’t rush God’s plans or the consequences that come when we take matters into our own hands (which are very valid applications of the story).  But if we only focus on that part of the story, we miss something beautiful that happens.

If you don’t remember the story, let me recap briefly:  God has promised the childless Abram and Sarai more descendants than there are stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5-6).  But they are very old (86, in fact – Genesis 16:16) and are getting past childbearing years.  So Sarai gives her servant Hagar to Abram (a culturally acceptable but very bad idea), and she becomes pregnant.  Shockingly, Hagar starts to get a little “uppity” with her mistress (Genesis 16:4).  Sarai starts abusing Hagar, so Hagar runs away, deciding it’s better to risk crossing the Sinai desert in order to go home to Egypt than stay.  Alone, pregnant, with little to no supplies, what must Hagar had been thinking and feeling during those hot days and cold nights?  The story doesn’t tell us. 

But this is what the story does tell us:  Hagar is an Egyptian and not a Hebrew.  She never once prays to God.  As far as we know, she has no faith in the Lord and the thought of appealing to the God of Abram never crosses her mind.  She doesn’t even appeal to the pagan gods of her ancestors.  And yet, “The angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.” (Gen. 16:7)  The angel of the Lord tells her to go back and submit to Sarai, but then promises, basically, that the promises made to Abram for his son (who hasn’t yet been born or conceived) will be given to Hagar’s son’s descendants. Her response to this is the verse at the top of the article. Nothing has changed regarding her circumstances, but Hagar is filled with hope and praise.

Why?  Because now she knows that she has been seen by the Lord.  In the midst of her distress and fear, she realizes that she is not alone.  Where she has feared for her future, she realizes that God has been and will continue to look after her.  Let me emphasize this again: God does nothing to change her situation, in fact He sends her back to Sarai.  And it’s likely that Ishmael didn’t experience the promised blessings himself (Genesis 16:12), but his descendants would be princes!  “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”

Many times we feel the same as Hagar.  Lost in our afflictions, our sufferings, our struggles.  We are sure that God does not see or hear us in our distress, and we wonder if He even cares.  But if God saw Hagar, lost in the wilderness, then God sees you as well.  God is looking after you, even if you don’t see it.  And while your circumstances may not change (I pray they do!), His promises are still true and sure.  He is the God who sees, He is the One who looks after you.  Know that you are not alone or forsaken.  He is with you, even until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

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

Blessings,

Rev. David Garrison


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October 2022 Pastor’s Corner – Answering Before We Even Ask

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7–8)

Last month, I wrote about how frustrating it can be when God doesn’t answer our prayers as quickly as we like.  This month, I’d like to remind us that more often than not, it’s actually the other way around — God is often answering our prayers before we even ask.  I’m writing this on Wednesday morning, as Hurricane Ian is about to make landfall in Florida as an almost category 5 hurricane.  By the time you read this, the storm will no longer exist as a named storm and the damage will be done.  Take a moment with me to go back to just a day or two before the hurricane’s landfall.

Yesterday, I was driving up the 29N Bypass to pick my daughter up from school, and I saw at least a dozen utility trucks heading south.  As you know, Rt. 29 isn’t really a major N/S artery in Virginia – that’s I-81 and I-95.  It struck me that if there were that many trucks passing our neck of the woods, how many more are on the interstates, also heading south?

Hundreds of thousands of people have evacuated Florida, which given the size and scope of this storm is a very wise decision.  But thousands will stay behind for a wide variety of reasons.  Given what Ian did to Cuba, and what Puerto Rico experienced last week, we need to be praying for God’s mercy and protection for those in the path of this storm.  This is going to be bad.  

But this is what I saw yesterday:  God was already answering those prayers.  He was already moving into place the people and  resources folks along the Gulf Coast are going to need to recover from this storm.  God was already in the process of answering prayers that had already been lifted up, and anticipating the prayers that were yet to come.  Thousands upon thousands were fleeing the storm, while hundreds were heading toward it.  Utility companies from around the country and disaster relief organizations were marshaling their resources and coming together, ready to spring to action the moment the storm passes.  

Our God is an awesome, and a very, very good, God.  I’m reminded of Psalm 18.  I don’t have the space to quote it here, so I encourage you to go read it.  As you do, keep this in mind:  When the storms of life (both literal and metaphorical) threaten God’s children and we cry out to Him, He springs to action on a storm of his own.  Amen, and amen again.

Blessings,

Rev. David Garrison


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September 2022 Pastor’s Corner – Left On ‘Read’

 “O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.

 Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing;
heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled.

 My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O LORD—how long?” (Psa. 6:1–3)

If you are looking for a way to annoy a teenager (and really, who isn’t?  It’s so much fun!), one of the best ways is to read a text they send you and not respond to it.  This might be a trick that only works on iPhones, but here’s the basic idea.  iPhones can send a status update for texts sent to other iPhones, letting the sender know when the message was delivered and read (you can see an example in the picture, look below the text bubble that says “on”).  It absolutely drives my daughter crazy when I read her text messages and don’t reply promptly.  It upsets her because she knows I’ve received her message, and I’ve even read it, but I haven’t yet answered her.  The first time she called me out on it, she exclaimed, “Dad, you left me on ‘read’!” I had no idea what she meant until she explained it to me.  While that time was accidental, I now do it all the time, just to annoy her.

The thing is, though, I always respond to her messages, but I don’t always do so via text.  I might wait until the next time I see her.  I might choose to respond with actions instead of words.  I might respond to the text message with an email or a phone call.  Sometimes, I’ll respond through her mother or brother.  I don’t actually do this to annoy her (most of the time), but because I think those might be better or more efficient ways to respond in the moment.

This has been on my mind lately, because I think there are a lot of times when it feels like God has left us on ‘read.’ We pray, but we don’t hear an answer… or maybe the better way to say it is that we don’t receive an answer from Him in the way we would prefer.  If my daughter texts me, she would like a text message back.  Promptly.  Sometimes, God answers our prayers in very different ways from what we might prefer or desire.  Sometimes, He answers our prayers weeks, months, sometimes even years after we lift them up to Him.  We know God hears our prayers, the Psalms remind us of that all the time (see Psalm 3:4, 4:3 17:6, 55:17, and 116:1), but it seems like God leaves us on ‘read’ when He doesn’t answer our prayers when or how we would like.

But God does, in fact, always hear our prayers.  And He always answers them.  Our task is to trust in Him and wait patiently for His answer.  His timing is always perfect, and His methods are precisely what we need.  The question is, when God seemingly leaves us on ‘read,’ will we continue to trust in Him?

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. — Psalm 40:1–3 

Blessings,

Rev. David Garrison


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August 2022 Pastor’s Corner – The Fifth Gospel

 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)

This picture is taken from inside the chapel of the Dominus Flevit (Latin for “The Lord wept”).  According to Luke, as Jesus came over the Mount of Olives on Palm Sunday and saw the city of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount before him, he wept over it.  The chapel is in the shape of a teardrop, and is one of the only catholic chapels to be oriented west-east (most are east-west).  It’s amazing how well the architecture of the place carries the emotive weight of the location.

If anything becomes clear when visiting the Holy Land, it’s how precious this particular place is to the Lord.  While “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1), God has chosen this particular portion of land on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean Sea and made it holy unto Him, and given it to the people He has chosen for Himself.  We know that God has worked purposefully and intentionally throughout history, but you see that when you visit these incredible places we’ve read so much about in our Bibles.  Faith comes alive in a visceral way.

As I mentioned in my sermon on July 17 after I returned, “What becomes abundantly clear as you tour the Promised Land is how much the land itself proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ, hence why it has earned the name, ‘The Fifth Gospel.’”  As another pastor friend of mine has said, after visiting the Holy Land, you’ll never read your Bible the same again.  It really is as transformative an experience as they say.

I hope to pass along as much of my experiences and the things I learned in the weeks and months to come, but mostly I want to encourage you to make plans to visit the Holy Land at least once in your life.  My friend, Cameron Smith (who took that picture) is planning a trip for February, and I’m working on putting one together for next July.  I promise you, it’s worth every penny it costs to go.  This land has a special place in God’s heart, and it should in ours as well, even as we wait eagerly for the new heavens and new earth to come down with Christ when He returns.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:1–4)

Blessings,

Rev. David Garrison


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July 2022 Pastor’s Corner – Pilgrimage

For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his dwelling place:
“This is my resting place forever;
here I will dwell, for I have desired it.”
— Psalm 132:13–14
 
A faithful Hebrew was expected to make the trek to the temple in Jerusalem three times a year for the Festivals of Passover (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavuot) and Tabernacles (Succoth). In Islam, one of the pillars is Pilgrimage, in which a faithful Muslim is expected to travel to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. In both cases, these pilgrimages are a necessary part of the sanctification of the Hebrew or Muslim. However, there is no such expectation or requirement in Christianity. Have you ever wondered why?
 
The short answer, which you can probably guess, is because of Jesus. The longer answer is this:
For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (Heb. 9:24–26)
 
In other words, because of Jesus, we no longer need to make sacrifices and pilgrimages to an earthly, geographically bound and physically located temple. We are the temple of God (1 Peter 2:4-5), and Jesus offered the last and final sacrifice through his death on the cross (see above, and Hebrews 10:12-14). We don’t have to make a pilgrimage because our salvation is through faith in Christ alone, not through any work or effort on our part (Ephesians 2:8-10).
 
However, that doesn’t mean that going on pilgrimage isn’t worthwhile for the Christian. Doing so can’t and won’t affect your salvation, but it could well be of great benefit to your spiritual walk with the Lord. Just like reading a book about a place is different from actually visiting it, when we actually go and walk in the same places that Jesus and the disciples walked, when we stand where King David stood, when we see what Moses and Joshua saw, it can transform our understanding of Scripture.
 
To be honest, I don’t know how transformative it can be. Many have told me that it’s invaluable. But by the time you read this, I’ll be doing that very thing. Thanks to your generous provision of study leave funds and time, I’ll spend ten days in Israel, visiting many of the places you see in the map above. I look forward to sharing with you what I’ve seen, experienced and learned. And who knows? Maybe you’ll have an opportunity to take a pilgrimage to Israel yourself Not because it’s necessary to save your soul, but to help you grow in fulness, grace and truth. Keep me in your prayers while I’m gone (from June 27-July 6), and I look forward to seeing you when I get back.
 
Blessings,
Rev. David Garrison

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