Mark and Peter

I asked Mark to start getting a sermon ready at the beginning of the summer. I didn’t know when I’d be taking off, but wanted him to be ready on short notice. A couple of times I suggested a particular date might be the one, but something always came up, or the weather was too bad to ride, and I didn’t go anywhere.

In addition to that, projects at home and at the church kept us busy, and a vacation just slipped through our fingers. And now summer is over, and Mark hasn’t had a chance to preach. So this Sunday, whether I’m here or not, Mark will be in the pulpit. Plan on hearing a great sermon.

And it is a good time for me to take a break from the pulpit. We finished I Peter last Sunday with a review of his focus on the past, future, and present aspects of grace, and we’re ready to move into his second letter.

I read through II Peter again last week, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s amazing all that is packed into Peter’s letters, even if, as we discovered last Sunday, he didn’t actually pen them. Now don’t panic, I’m not going theologically liberal on you. Peter told us Silvanus, or Silas, actually wrote the letters for him. And, as we also noted, that accounts for the good grammar and literary form of letters from a Galilean fisherman.

Anyway, as I started to say, I didn’t realize until our recent study just how all-encompassing Peter’s letters are. If all we had were the two letters from Peter, we’d have a good understanding of what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross, and how it should impact our lives. I’d never considered telling someone who is just beginning their study of Scriptures to begin with Peter’s letters, but I may very well point them in that direction now.

Again, I don’t know if I’ll be here this Sunday or not. We’re heading to St. Louis on Tuesday to celebrate our 46th anniversary, and I’m hoping to hop on the Harley sometime during the week, or go fishing, or stain the house. Whatever I/we end up doing, I’ll be ready to venture into Peter’s second letter with you on September 10th.

God Bless, Rick

Eclipse Judgement

I really hadn’t planned on going.. I thought 96% would be good enough. Then Nikki told me she had read that not going to where the totality of the eclipse could be seen would be like going the gate of the Grand Canyon, but not going in to see it. That really hit me, because several years ago I gave some friends a lot of grief for driving past the Grand Canyon on their tour of the West.

So yes, Marilyn and I joined in a CCC caravan to see the eclipse. Several others from our church had planned on going to other locations, and while we couldn’t get into the park where Jonathan had made reservations, he did direct us to Chester, the home of the cartoon character who encouraged me to eat spinach. We left at 6:00, thinking the traffic would be bad, but had smooth sailing, and made it to Barb’s Bounty where parking spots had been be made online for $110. Waiting for several hours gave us quality time together.

When the action began, the sky was clear, and the glasses came out. We saw chunks of the sun being covered by the moon until the sky went dark, the cicadas started singing, and the corona around the sun came into full view. It went so far beyond the pinhole view of a partial eclipse I saw as a child that I can’t even put it into words. It was totally awesome!

On the six hour drive home where traffic on Route 4 often came to a complete stop, I heard on the radio that the temperature on the surface of the sun was 11,000 degrees, but the temperature in the corona exceeded several million degrees. Then, when I opened the Chronological Bible for my morning read on Tuesday, the heading was “The Lord’s Refining Furnace.”

The reading from Ezekiel 22 included these words: “As silver, copper, iron, lead and tin are gathered into a furnace to be melted with a fiery blast, so will I gather you in my anger and my wrath and put you inside the city and melt you. I will gather you and I will blow on you with my fiery wrath, and you will be melted inside her… and you will know that I the Lord have poured out my wrath on you.”

I doubt that many who viewed the eclipse thought about the judgment of God, but I found it enlightening to realize that as we enjoy the warmth and life – giving energy that God sends to us from the sun, His judgment is merely hidden from view by His grace. I thank God for that, but I do pray we never forget that some day His wrath will be in plain sight.

May we have eyes to see both His grace and His essential righteous judgement.

God Bless, Rick

Moving Day

This Sunday is going to be a FULL day. We’ll begin with worship, then head to the fellowship hall to say goodbye to the Sanners, and then those considering going to Mexico next summer will meet with Andrew during the remainder of the Sunday School hour. Then, after everyone heads to lunch and a brief nap, all are strenuously encouraged to head back to the church at 3:00 for MOVING DAY!.

No, we’re not going anywhere. We are “simply” moving everything out of the classrooms so carpet can be laid in them and the hallways beginning on Monday. After the rooms are cleared out, we’ll also be tearing out the remaining baseboards. How long will all this take? I have no idea.

If it takes so long that we get tired and hungry, we’ll order in some pizzas. If it goes quicker than that, we’ll call it a day and head home. Whatever it takes, we’ve got to get it done, so we need everyone’s help. And if you’ve got anything that makes moving heavy stuff easier, like a hand cart or burly uncle, please bring it with you.

But wait, that’s not all! Guess what we get to do on the following Saturday? Yep, we get to put everything back in the classrooms for Sunday School the next day. Once again, we’ll need everyone’s help. If we start at 10:00 we should be done before lunch, or perhaps a late lunch.

I trust what happened during the building of the tabernacle will happen this Sunday. “And everyone whose heart moved them, both men and women came.”

God Bless, Rick

The Cost of Being Faithful

As we noted last Sunday morning, David’s heartache was caused by someone with whom he had worshiped, and Peter told us not to be surprised by fiery ordeals that come to us because of our faithfulness to Christ. A prime example of someone who has experienced such heartache and fiery attacks because of his commitment to Christ and the truth of His Word is Kent Paris.

As you know, we support Kent and his Nehemiah Ministries to those who are sexually confused and in need of godly guidance. Kent has been at the forefront of ministry to homosexuals for nearly forty years, and has faced threats, litigation, lies and slander misrepresenting his heart, his person, and his ministry. I found what he shared in his latest newsletter to be even more upsetting than most he has to share.

After hearing him speak at Lincoln Seminary, a co-pastor of an emerging megachurch invited him to hold a seminar for the church leadership. After the four hour seminar, the lead pastor came up to him and said, “Kent, your story is powerful and convincing. I agree with everything you taught here this morning. But I cannot risk having you come up here and speak on Sunday morning, nor to our youth. You see, our sons are the youth leaders and neither they nor most of the youth hold to yours and my view. I cannot risk offending or losing them or any of the youth. Beyond that, we are in a major building program and I cannot risk alienating or upsetting any of our tithing members.”

Kent responded by saying, in part, “By refusing to address the centrally important subject of gender…you are preventing those within your church who are struggling with gender confusion from hearing God’s truth. You are essentially resigning these precious people to deception and likely immoral lifestyle. Silence will bear bad fruit in your young people who are being fed this garbage by our culture and Media daily.”

May God always give us the strength to teach the truth with love and grace, but also in faithfulness to His Word. And may we never let possible consequences keep us from doing so.

God Bless, Rick