The day is drawing near

Six weeks ago I told you to be watching for signs that the day is drawing near, and be ready to respond when the call goes out that it’s time. In case you’ve forgotten, I wasn’t talking about the Second Coming. I was talking about the need for volunteers to help us take up the old baseboards and move everything so new carpet could be laid in the hallways, classrooms and fellowship hall. Well, you can relax a bit. Lord willing, the day is still coming, but a couple of things have come up that have pushed the install a couple of months or so into the future.

As I mentioned when last talking about this, your excellent stewardship is making possible some improvements around the church. I just didn’t realize that there were a couple of improvements that had to take precedence.

The first came to our attention when we got a $3,000 water bill! We hadn’t noticed an increase in our water bill during the months of September-November. Nor did we notice they were then normal until the end of April. Apparently a leak had developed in the fall, and the water meter had failed in December. The bills were averaged until the meter was replaced, and it was discovered that we had “used” nearly 400,000 gallons of water! The city determined that the leak was between the meter and our building, and we hired a leak finder, a backhoe operator, and a plumber for a total of $1575 to get it fixed. We are now awaiting the final adjusted water bill that will be around half of the original bill, or another $1500.

The second opportunity to upgrade came when the AC unit for the fellowship hall started squalling. We replaced three units last year, but thought we could get a little more life out of the other two. We did. The north classroom unit only needed a minor repair in January, and a fan motor will hopefully keep the fellowship unit working through VBS. Once the fan noise was gone, however, we did discover that the compressor is also crying out for replacement. A new $5700 AC-furnace will be on its way shortly.

Our balance sheet is getting a tad shorter, but hopefully it will still cover carpeting before fall.​

God Bless,

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend”

By Jussi You-S-See - IMGP2309 sm, CC BY-SA 2.0,

I really don’t like picking ticks off a dog, or my skin! I know that mosquitos are actually the most dangerous of insects, killing a million people a year transmitting deadly diseases, but ticks really creep me out. Mosquitos suck blood and turn red; ticks suck blood and turn into bags of blood with their heads buried in my skin. I really don’t like ticks. And I didn’t think I liked ‘possums.

When I was in the 9th grade I came to Chatham to get a couple of heads from a guy who bought and skinned fur-bearing animals. No, it wasn’t for a Satanic ritual. They were for a biology project.

When I compared the brain size of a raccoon and a ‘possum, I discovered that ‘possums had tiny brains. That, and a couple of bad experiences with ‘possums, sealed the deal. Even though I had seen cute pictures of mama ‘possums with babies hanging from their tails, I thought they were ugly and stupid. They became my least favorite wild mammal. But, as they say, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Today I read an article in the “Dandy Designs” section of Does God Exist?, a periodical that Jonathan Sperry introduced me to several years ago. It’s good, and it’s free. If you want to subscribe, send a request for it to: Does God Exist? PO Box 2704, South Bend, IN 46680-2704.

Back to the article. “Recent studies have shown that opossums protect us from ticks. Opossums are fastidious in their grooming, scratching, licking, and chewing to remove any tick that is in their fur. Recent studies have shown that opossums may kill as many as 4,000 ticks a week, reducing the chance of Lyme disease being spread.”

The article also noted that scientists have recently found a peptide in opossum blood that neutralizes toxins so well that it is like a miracle, and concludes by saying, “God’s design of all life is a miracle, but the lowly opossum may be one of the most under-appreciated of all of God’s creatures.”

The next time one crawls out of our dryer vent I’ll not only thank it for cleaning it out, I’ll apologize for under-appreciating it.

God Bless, Rick

Millennial Musings Part III

The final article pertaining to millennials that I want to highlight was found in the “Strangeness of the Month Club” column in The Restoration Herald. The author quotes from a couple of millennial bloggers who share their desire for the church to stop trying to make church “cool”, but who also reveal an even deeper issue that many millennials find objectionable. We begin with the “cool” factor.

“Bass reverberates through the auditorium floor as a heavily-bearded worship leader pauses to invite the congregation, bathed in the light of two giant screens, to tweet using #JesusLIves. The scent of freshly-brewed coffee wafts in from the lobby, where you can order macchiatos and purchase mugs boasting a sleek church logo. The chairs are comfortable, and the music sounds like something from the top of the charts. At the end of the service, someone will win an iPad.”

After noting that this kind of church came about because church attendance plummeted among young adults, the blogger continued, “In response, many churches have sought to lure millennials back by focusing on style points: cooler bands, hipper worship, edgier programming, impressive technology.” She added, “When I left church at age 29, full of doubt and disillusionment, I wasn’t looking for a better- produced Christianity. I was looking for a more authentic Christianity.” Another blogger added, “I want a service that is not sensational, flashy, or particularly ‘relevant.’ I can be entertained anywhere. At church, I do not want to be entertained. I do not want to be the target of anyone’s marketing. I want to be asked to participate in the life an ancient-future community.”

In spite of the fact that we do brew coffee, give away mugs with our logo on them, have two “screens”, and sometimes have a heavily-bearded guitarist on the praise team, I trust we hear what’s being said about trying to be too cool. We do, however, have to draw the line on giving up the “judgmental and exclusive” attitude that many millennials find to be the primary reason they left the church. They really don’t like the fact that we label as sin behaviors and lifestyles they find acceptable.

Sorry, but there’s nothing we can do about that.

God Bless, Rick

Millennial Musings Part II

The second article on millennials that I found thought provoking is “Ten reasons millennials are backing away from God and Christianity.” It was on

The author begins by noting that millennials are the least outwardly religious American generation, where one in four are unaffiliated with any religion. He also notes that of youth raised in “Christian” homes, three-fourths will jettison that faith, at least for a time, after high school.

According to research, the ten reasons they are leaving are:
1. Millennials are eclectic on all fronts, and there is little or no “brand loyalty” in most areas of life.

2. The breakdown of the family has left them without an understanding of the heavenly Father.
3. Militant secularism has taught them that “true” truth claims are divorced from any supernatural context and impose no moral obligation on human behavior.

4. They have had almost no exposure to adults who know what they believe, why they believe it, and are committed to living it out.

5. The church is assumed to be irrelevant and there is no cultural guilt for leaving.
6. Objective moral truth and ethical norms are unknown or rejected.

7. Claiming to have answers about life is viewed as “impolite.”
8. Pop-level atheists have made atheism cool.

9. Tolerance is the new god, and it has become impossible to rationally critique any belief or behavior without a backlash of criticism.

10. The cultural trend toward rejection of God resonates strongly with the desire for autonomy felt in young adulthood.

The author concludes by saying, “Finally, is it really any wonder that kids raised in the churches of the 21st century America aren’t often stirred to lifelong commitment? Most churches are so occupied with “marketing” themselves to prospective attendees that they wouldn’t dream of risking their “brand” by speaking tough-as- nails truth.”

Let’s make certain that we never stop taking the risk.

God Bless, Rick

Millennial Musings Part I

I recently found three interesting articles about millennials and their relationship with the church. The first one focuses on young believers who live under Communist regimes, the second on American millennials who are backing away from God, and the third is based on a blog by a millennial who says, “Want millennials back in the pews? Stop trying to make church ‘cool’”.

While there isn’t complete agreement on who is a millennial, most would suggest they are those who were born between the early 80s and late 90s or early 2000s. That would make them young adults in their late teens to late 30s. Obviously it’s a demographic we need to be concerned about, so I’m going to highlight thoughts from each article in the next few columns.

The article from Christianity Today noted that there is a growing spiritual hunger in millennials who live where the Communist regime proved unable to deliver on its grand promises of utopian equality, and that these young people are choosing the narrow road of Christianity rather than the broad road of conformity and compromise.

After then noting that revolution is in the air around the globe, and that class struggles are driving millennials who are rightfully concerned about their future, the author contrasted the difference between changes brought about by revolution and revelation. She also warned that many young people are attracted to the ideas of historical Marxist revolutionaries, despite the philosophy’s historic tendency toward violence to achieve and maintain control.

Jesus came to bring change, and His teachings are truly revolutionary, but Christian millennials in Communist countries realize that revolution alone leads to tyranny and dehumanizes the opponent. Under revolution alone, power is merely shifted from one set of hands to another, and it’s only when revolution is empowered by Christ’s transformative power that it can produce something better.

I pray that American millennials will learn from their peers who have witnessed the failure of totalitarian socialism, and that we can set before them an accurate picture of revolutionary Christianity.

God Bless, Rick