Divine Therapy

We took a break from our study of Living Spiritually in the Material World last Sunday night to look at an article from Touchstone that addressed the need to make certain our thoughts and songs about God include an adequate picture of His glory and majesty. We had spent a couple of weeks being reminded how important it is to keep God in the forefront of our mind, and the chapter we’ll be going to this Sunday is on how God speaks to us, but it’s very important that our picture of God is accurate.

In a culture that focuses on individual needs, and views the purpose of life as having our felt needs met and feeling good, it’s tempting for churches to begin focusing more on what God can do for us than on who He is.

Religious freedom allows us the freedom to worship, but it also means we have the freedom of religious choice. And when religious choice is available, there’s a tendency for churches to become little more than spiritual boutiques that present themselves as the answer to needs and desires. And there is a tendency to sing songs that focus more on what God does for us than who He is.

The author was especially critical of a popular religious song that makes it possible to view God as nothing more than a therapist, a reassuring friend, or even a boyfriend who is always there and who never says no. While that may be true, it’s obviously not wrong to think of God as our friend.

In fact, we sang What a Friend We Have in Jesus on our hymn singing Sunday. That wasn’t, however, the only hymn we sang. Carol informed me that we actually sang 22 hymns, and Duane made sure we sang the hymn he always asks for, Holy, Holy, Holy!

Abraham was known as a friend of God, and by His grace we can all be. But we must never forget that our friend is more than a friend. He is the Lord God Almighty!

God Bless, Rick

Missions Giving

It has long been the goal of our elders to send around 25% of the offerings we receive to missions and other benevolent or ministry related organizations. When we make our annual projection of financial needs and planned giving to others, we try to plan accordingly.

This past year, however, the amount we had planned to send to Andrew Sexton for his work with Casas Por Cristo was not utilized because he resigned his position. When we asked Dave to let us know the current percent of giving that was going to others, he informed us that it is just over 17%, and that even after adding the James Project we would probably end the year at 20%. To bring our percentage closer to where we want to be, the decision was made last week to send special offerings to a couple of our missions for relief work.

As you know, Haiti was recently struck by a devastating earthquake that killed thousands and left more than a million homeless. Fortunately, Haitian Christian Ministries, which we have supported for several years and is in the northern part of Haiti, was not directly impacted by the earthquake. They are, however, sending resources and teams to help those in the south. To assist them in ministering to those who are in even more need than they are, we have sent HCM $5,000.

We also recently learned that Ati Yangmi is distributing much needed food and supplies to villages that have been shut down due to covid restrictions. She has also been working with Jesse’s daughter and husband to set up water filtration systems in villages that must boil or buy the water they need. For $300 they can provide clean drinking water for 200-300 people. Fifteen villages that are ministered to by graduates of LBI have requested such systems, and we are sending $5,000 to meet needs and to help make that possible.

God is obviously blessing us so we can bless others.

God Bless, Rick

What’s Waiting in My Office

When I read something that I think is significant I want to share it, but don’t always know how. I realize the internet is loaded with options for posting things, but I guess I’m old-school. I just make copies of articles, and make books available. The problem is they most often just sit on the shelf in my office. With that in mind, I want to let you know what’s waiting in my office for those who might be interested.

I found several articles in Touchstone that I thought might be of interest to those concerned about reparations, the history of slavery, and “Race, Religion & Reconciliation.” I also found a book by Voddie Baucham, Fault Lines, the social justice movement and evangelicalisms looming catastrophe, that I found very insightful and frightening. I only have one copy of Voddie’s book, but I’ll be glad to loan it out.

The next book is one that Duane loaned to me, and I bought several copies to make available. Alive: How the Resurrection of Christ Changes Everything is the best defense of belief in the resurrection and how it changes our life that I’ve ever read. Just ask, and a copy will be yours to read…and to share.

The final book is the one we will be studying together on Sunday nights beginning September 19th. When I first read about Living Spiritually in the Material World I have to admit I was skeptical about it. The book cover refers to it as a “Christian self-help book” and it was written by a psychologist. But when I read it, I was blown away.

The author goes beyond psychological approaches to self-help, and focuses on the spiritual guidance that was given by the founders of America’s early colleges to their students. With forty chaplains of Yale recently electing an atheist to be their president, you’ll be amazed to hear, and benefit from, the biblical advice and exhortations that were given by college presidents of the past.

God Bless, Rick

The Solution to Fake Christianity

I’ve recently read two significant articles about the challenges facing the church today. One was published in a quarterly, and the other online. The first is entitled America Follows Israels Departure from God, and the second, Americas New Religion: Fake Christianity.

I referred to the online article in a sermon a couple of weeks ago when I pointed out how many Christians have embraced the belief that the purpose of life is to be happy, and we have no right to pass judgement on anyone if they’re just trying to be happy. The article gave a name to this fake Christianity, calling it Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

The moralistic perspective is that we’re here to be good people and do good. The therapeutic aspect is everything is supposed to be geared to making me feel good about myself. And deism is the idea that God created the world but has no direct involvement in it. The bottom line is that God just wants everyone to be nice, and the purpose of life is to be happy.

The article in Does God Exist? suggests that the problems we face today are the result of doing five things Jeremiah said God’s people were doing in his day. I’m simply going to note them. You can get the details by reading Jeremiah 6:10-19.

—They refuse to listen to the word of God.

—They are obsessed with material things.

—They delude themselves with falsehoods.

—They were not ashamed and could not blush.

—They rejected the only possible solution.

The author concludes: “The politicians and philosophers will not fix what is wrong with our world. The only possible solution is the teaching and example of Jesus Christ taught in our homes and congregations and lived out in the lives of his disciples.” I’m sure we all agree.

God Bless, Rick

Church Work Day – August 14th

I trust you are really excited about the announcement on the front of the church paper! WE ARE HAVING A CHURCH WORK DAY ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 14TH! The long anticipated opportunity to work around the church will begin at 8:00, so there will be no need to sleep in on the 14th! Just come with gloves, shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, or paint brushes.

What is the prime project for the day? We’re going to begin the job of redoing the playground off the nursery!

First order of business will be removing all the gravel—and re-purposing it in the big playground—so it can be replaced with Blue Sky Outdoor Interlocking Tiles. Before the tiles can be installed—on another day—a layer of white rock and lime will have to be hauled in, leveled and compacted. Assisted by Paul Hunley and John Deere of course.

If we find we have too many resting on their shovels while Paul does his thing, we’ll bring out the stain for touching up cedar trim around the church. And we’ll look for anything else that needs to be touched-up or spruced-up. I’m confident we’ll find plenty for everyone to do.

Now, back to the Blue Sky Outdoor Interlocking Tiles. Yes, they are very expensive, and my fiscally conservative nature cringes at the cost. They will, however, not only provide a clean safe surface for our little ones to play on, but will also make it obvious to visitors that we put a high priority on children.

Oh, and one other thing. While I was reviewing our financial picture before the elders’ meeting—which due to your faithful stewardship is very good—I found an unexpected check in the mail. It was from the estate of Joe Carter. He had written us into his will, and the amount of his gift will nearly cover half of the cost of the playground redo.

His son was pleased to hear how we were planning to use the gift from Joe.

God Bless, Rick