What books are you reading?

“What books are you reading?” That was the question I was asked by a Timothy of the Washington Christian Church while waiting in line for dinner at the 125th anniversary celebration last Sunday. He went on to say he can tell a lot about a ministry by the books the preacher is reading. I didn’t tell him that there are five books currently on the sofa; some having been there a long time, and some just landing there.

The only book I mentioned is the one we are studying on Sunday nights, Love Thy Body. He was intrigued, and we spent our time together discussing it. You know all about that one, so there’s no need to tell you about it again. All I need say is make sure you are here Sunday night at 6:30 as we plunge into chapter one.

The book that has been there the longest is one I bought when we attended the Sheepdog Seminar last year. Several of us went to learn how to keep you safe at church, and the book was written by the primary speaker, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman. It’s entitled On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and Peace. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish it, but it has given me a deep appreciation for those who risk everything to keep us all safe.

Two of the newer books I’ve added to the pile are Pastor Stephen Grant novels by Ray Keating. The review that led me to order them said they recounted the trials and triumphs of a Lutheran pastor who was a Navy SEAL and a CIA operative in a former life. It noted that they always have moral and Christological themes, but didn’t warn me about the “salty” language. Not sure I’ll finish them either.

The newest book is one loaned to me by Duane Carrell. It’s written by Alistair Begg, and is entitled Made for His Pleasure: Ten Benchmarks of a Vital Faith. I’m only half way through it, but absolutely love it. I’m sure I’ll finish it, if I can find where Marilyn has put it after continually running off with it.

Not sure what that selection of books has to say about your preacher, but I do want to pass on the question to you. What are you reading?

God Bless, Rick

Heritage of Faithfulness

“Heritage of Faithfulness” is the theme of the 125th anniversary of Washington Christian Church in Washington, Kansas. That’s where Marilyn and I began our married life, and our mutual ministry, forty-seven years ago. Our two years there offered us a wonderful time of learning to depend on each other, and a great opportunity to learn what to expect as a preacher and his wife. Together we faced both challenges and victories, and we left with fond memories and good friends. We left Washington as relative newlyweds, went back as parents for the 100th anniversary of the church, and now are going back as grandparents for the 125th.

When I was asked to bring the communion meditation, and told of the theme, I started thinking about the heritage of faithfulness we’ve been privileged to be a part of. Both of us had Christian grandparents, and grew up in Christian homes. Now we have two children, a son and daughter-in-law, and six grandchildren who love the Lord and serve Him faithfully. The fact that we’ve been able to maintain that heritage of faithfulness brings us the greatest joy anyone can know.

It does, however, bring me great sadness when I realize not all Christian parents have the joy we have. Every child has the freedom to choose whether to serve the Lord or not, and Jesus warned us that faith in Him had the potential to divide even families. We have, however, also been told what we must do if we are to have even a chance of maintaining that heritage of faithfulness.

Obviously we bring our children with us to the Lord’s table on the Lord’s Day, and we make certain they receive the spiritual instruction that’s available within the body of believers. But we also make certain His presence is obvious within the home, and do as instructed in Deuteronomy 6. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when your rise up.”

May God give us all the heart to do as commanded, and the grace needed to maintain the heritage of faithfulness.

God Bless,

Sex Education

The title, Love Thy Body, is intended to get your attention, and the subtitle, Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality, lets you know what the book is about. And while I wondered about the need to spend several months examining a book on sex and sexuality with adults on Sunday nights, it became obvious that there is a local need for biblical insight into why God made us the way He did.

Last Sunday morning the front page of the State Journal Register was headlined,“Health officials are frustrated by rising STD rates.” The article began: “What federal health officials call ‘steep and sustained’ increase in sexually transmitted diseases across the United States the past four years have frustrated experts battling the trends in Springfield, Peoria and other Illinois communities.”

After reminding readers of the physical consequences of STDs, and reviewing the statistical increase of their occurrence, the article noted that the trends in Sangamon County and nationwide are troublesome and probably related to a lack of education. A cooperative effort to provide age-appropriate sex education for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders in Peoria resulted in an increase in adolescents and young adults being tested for STDs, and that was seen as a positive sign.

The article noted that the reality of sexual activity by young people conflicts with conservative or squeamish attitudes when it comes to promoting safe and enjoyable sex lives as people mature. It went on to say that in our society we don’t talk about sex very much, and when young people hear talk about sex it’s lumped in with drugs and alcohol, like it’s a bad thing, which stigmatizes condoms. It further noted that sex is a natural thing, it’s part of us, and that we are sexual beings.

Obviously sex is a natural thing, and we are sexual beings. But any attempt at sex education will fall terribly short if it doesn’t explain why God made us the way He did, and that the only way for sex to be a blessing is to express it as He intended. Only then will anyone be able to truly “Love Thy Body.”

God Bless, Rick