Love Thy Body

In case you found the title shocking, and were wondering how Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality came to be chosen as the book adults will be studying on Sunday nights this year, let me tell you.

Salena, my daughter-in-law, read a review of it and thought it would be a book I’d find interesting, so she gave it to me for Christmas. As soon as I started reading it, I thought I’d found the next book for my Sunday night class, and told the class about it.

The first couple of chapters were eye opening, and I knew it would be a great study. But then I started to second guess myself. I starting thinking that talking about sex and sexuality for a year might be more than any of us would want. I stopped reading, and let the book lie dormant for several months. Then I started reading it again, and by the time I got to the last chapter I was convinced it would be a really good study, but wasn’t sure if we should read all of it in class or simply discuss it.

After I started reading it a second time, I became absolutely convinced the book was extremely important and timely, and that we needed to study it. I still wasn’t sure how to approach it, however, and decided to order a couple of copies for others to review. My timing wasn’t very good, and neither my daughter or granddaughter had time to read it before school started. Grace did, however, assure me that she would read it, but that she wouldn’t take it to school. I guess a beautiful girl carrying around a book entitled Love Thy Body wouldn’t have been the smartest thing to do.

Without their input I went ahead and ordered copies for class, and told my shooting buddies about it. A few days later Jamie texted me that he had bought a copy for his iPad, and found it very insightful. He’s taking notes, and looking forward to the class.

I tell you all this in the hopes that you’re interest has been peaked, and you’ll plan on joining us on Sunday nights beginning Sept. 16th.

God Bless, Rick

Serving with a Whole Heart

After we hosted the Walk Thru the Bible conference years ago, Schar decided she could simplify the hand motions we were taught to help remember the major Bible events in chronological order, and teach them to our kids in Sunday School. She did so, and many of the kids who have gone through her training still use those hand motions when reviewing Bible history. It was to the picturing of Saul with no heart, David with a whole heart, and Solomon with half a heart that I was referring when I sought your prayers for a successful heart ablation.

In a heart ablation, the spots inside your heart that are triggering an erratic heart beat are burnt or frozen. When it was first being done it required open heart surgery, but now it’s done through catheters inserted in your groin and neck. When Anna found out I had parts of my heart frozen, she asked if was now going to be cold-hearted. I assured her that I wouldn’t, and that I trusted that even though parts of my heart had been killed, I would still have a whole heart with which to serve God.

Our ability to serve God with a whole heart, of course, is not dependent upon the condition of our physical heart. And if anyone needs to be assured of that fact, all they need do is look at Schar.

Schar had open heart surgery in 2006 to replace a faulty heart valve with a mechanical one. Then in 2014, after enjoying a traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal with the Carrolls and Wenneborgs, she went into AFib. The doctors tried to correct it with a heart ablation, but couldn’t do all that was needed because of the metal valve in her heart. She then needed another valve replaced through open heart surgery in 2015. When she now goes into AFib she knows it, because it sounds like castanets are in her chest.

I tell you all this to not only assure you of my desire to continue serving with a whole heart, but to honor Schar for doing so. She is not only the author of our children’s curriculum, but constantly revises it while teaching both her class and Wee Worship with a whole heart, and has been doing so for nearly 35 years.

You will get a brief look at the success of her program this Sunday morning when teachers share what they have been teaching, and students who are going into Junior High are promoted.

God Bless, Rick

When God Sings

Scripture is filled with admonitions to praise the Lord with song, and singing is what I think was taking place in Isaiah’s vision of the throne of God. “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of his robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above him, each having six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,” (Isaiah 6:1-3)

It doesn’t actually say they were singing, but we know according to Job 38:7 that at creation the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy. We also find singing in heaven when the Lamb of God was seen standing on Mount Zion. “And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne.” (Revelation 14:2-3)

The point of what I’m saying is simply that I generally think of songs being offered to God around His throne. I read something the other day in Zephaniah 3:17, however, that painted for me a new, and very exciting picture of singing and the throne of God. When I read it, it almost gave me goosebumps, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it before.

I proceeded to read it from my NASV, and while it’s a beautiful picture, it didn’t do for me what I read from the NKJV that’s in my chronological Bible.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” is no doubt a more literal translation than, “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing”, but I really love the picture of God singing from His throne when He sees His people living lives that honor Him.

Let’s keep God singing this week!

God Bless, Rick

Prophetic Confidence

We know what God has said about the future is true, because everything He said was going to take place in the past has proven to be true. Last week we learned of an interesting prophecy Isaiah revealed on the streets for three years, and this week we’re going to look at some amazing prophecies God gave to him about two individuals. We are very familiar with the first one.

Every Christmas we revisit Isaiah 7:14.“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” And during the Easter season we’re reminded that in Isaiah 53 we were told what Jesus was going to do for us long before He did it. “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.”

Between the 7th and 53rd chapters we find some prophecies about another individual that some find even harder to believe than the prophecies about our Lord. The 44th chapter closes with these words: “It is I who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd! And he will perform all My desire.’ And he declares of Jerusalem, ‘She will be built,’ and of the temple, ‘Your foundation will be laid.’” And in the 45th chapter we read, “I have also called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor though you have not known Me.”

Not only did Cyrus not know God, God called him by name 150 years before he sat on the throne of Persia. The record of him fulfilling all God said he would do is found in the closing verses of II Chronicles and Ezra.“Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus.”

Jeremiah had revealed that the children of Israel would be allowed to return to Israel after 70 years of captivity, and the Jewish historian Josephus stated that the captives (Daniel was among them and may have been the primary spokesman) showed Cyrus the prophecies which contained his name and described his role in fulfilling the plans of God.

Our confidence in the future is rock solid, because as God told Isaiah, “Behold, the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things; before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.”

God Bless, Rick