Impossible to Put into Words

Until this morning, I had planned on using this column to simply celebrate the baptism of a granddaughter, and to encourage those who have not given serious consideration to being immersed into Christ to do so.

Without a doubt, the only thing that brings more joy to a father than baptizing his own child into Christ is watching that child baptize his child into Christ. The pride and joy I felt watching Matt baptize Josie is impossible to put into words.

Sadly, something I read on the front page of the SJR this morning also brought forth emotions that are impossible to put into words. However, with the standing ovation that was given the governor of New York when he signed into law the right to kill a baby as it is being born, and a pediatrician turned politician who made it clear that he believes a mother and her doctor has the right to end the life of a baby who survives an abortion, it shouldn’t have shocked me.

Still, I was distressed by the headline that read “4 Democratic legislators propose expanding reproductive rights.” And I was angered by the way the killing of babies has been cast as a “reproductive right.”

For years women were deceived into thinking that an abortion was merely the removal of unwanted tissue. After science definitively proved that the unwanted tissue is fully human, the argument for abortion was changed into a question of personhood, and the value that should be placed on humans who are dependent on others. Now, in the name of “reproductive rights” the child is completely ignored.

If you didn’t read the article, this attempt“to ‘modernize’ the state’s abortion law” would repeal Illinois’ current abortion law, would require all insurance policies to pay for abortions, would remove criminal penalties for doctors who perform illegal abortions, would lift the state ban on partial-birth abortions, and would repeal parental notification.

Even though most of you have chosen not to study and discuss on Sunday nights how we’ve gotten to the place where this is acceptable in our society, I pray you’ve given enough thought to this matter to be able to explain to your children how and why this has happened.

God Bless, Rick

Love Thy Body update

I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked by what I heard at our adult study last Sunday night. Apparently the Super Bowl is known for something other than football and funny ads. Local authorities in host cities generally prepare for an increase in sex trafficking when their city is flooded with inebriated males looking for a good time.

I said I shouldn’t have been shocked, because when I was on the Springfield Auxiliary Police force back in the 70s, I actually had a father who had come to town for his daughter’s track meet ask me where he could find a prostitute. Apparently he didn’t notice, or didn’t care, that as the chaplain, there were crosses on my lapels.

On Sunday nights we’ve been trying to understand what’s behind the “Schizoid Sex” epidemic, and last Sunday we finished the so named chapter by high-lighting some passages in our book. I share some with you now.

“Many families hope to protect their children from radical ideas by walling off the secular world—supervising what books they read, what movies they see, what music they listen to. But secular worldviews do not come neatly labeled so we can easily recognize them. The most powerful worldviews are the ones we absorb without knowing it.

“The ideas we have traced from Freud to Foucault constitute the prevailing sexual orthodoxy. It informs the mindset of judges when they rule on sexual issues. It shapes the arguments of legislators when they formulate new laws. It guides the way reporters frame the news. It is the attitude portrayed in TV sitcoms, supermarket tabloids, and magazine articles. It is reflected in the lyrics of popular songs. It permeates virtually the entire entertainment industry.”

To counter this, our author notes, “Young people require more than rules; they need reasons to make sense of the rules.”

In addition to the scientific and practical reasons we’ve been learning about, they need to be reminded that their bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. And Christian men out for a good time need to be reminded what it does to the body of Christ if they join themselves to a harlot. (I Cor. 6:15-20)

After celebrating Josie’s birthday and baptism in Tennessee, Marilyn and I will be driving through Atlanta during the Super Bowl next Sunday on our way to Florida. See you in a couple of weeks.

God Bless, Rick

“The Judgement of God is now available”

While picking up a few things at Walmart before the anticipated blizzard last Friday, I ran into Joyce Evans who was doing the same. As we were chatting, she said she had earlier received a notification on her phone that shook her up a bit. Expecting a notice concerning the blizzard, it said, “The Judgement of God is now available.”

It took her a while to realize it was a notification concerning the availability of last week’s sermon. When you subscribe to our podcast, if you have notifications turned on, you will be notified when a sermon has been made available. I’ve already been notified that I can now get Judged by the Book.

When we were laughing about her experience after church last Sunday, she told me about another experience of judgment she had last week. While she was waiting in a drive-through she had noticed an offensive bumper sticker on the car ahead of her, and was wondering what kind of person would put such on their car. When she went to pay for her order she was told the person in the car ahead of her had already paid for it. Indeed, sometimes our initial judgments are rightfully called into question.

I too had an uncomfortable judgmental experience last week. Marilyn and I had both read about a highly acclaimed string quartet that was going to be playing on Saturday night. We had unexpectedly enjoyed a violin concert we had been given unwanted tickets to years ago, and decided we might enjoy this as well. The paper indicated that they had performed at the Vatican and before President Obama, and compared them to The Piano Guys, whom we love.

After a steak dinner, we arrived as soon as the box office was open, and snagged two tickets in the next to last row, spending far more than I am accustomed to spending. Anticipating the concert, I eagerly read through the program only to discover something that disturbed me. Their list of credits in the paper had not included the fact that they had performed with gay men’s choruses on both coasts, and had opened at Pride Toronto.

I have to admit they are very talented, and their concert was enjoyable. But thinking that by my attendance and financial support I may have endorsed a life-style that is judged by God as an abomination put a cloud over an otherwise really good date night with my wife.

God Bless, Rick

Snow, Safety, and Sanforization

I certainly didn’t expect 12 inches of snow on Saturday when last week I encouraged you to make the decision to come to church every Sunday, and not just decide on Sunday mornings whether to come or not. Obviously there are times when prudence calls for a decision not to come on a Sunday. I certainly wouldn’t want you to throw caution to the wind and put yourself or your family in danger by coming to church if the weather is such that you wouldn’t go to work if it were a Monday. There is a time to just stay home, and thank God for a safe place to be.

And let me assure you that if the parking lot hadn’t been cleared, and we thought it wasn’t safe for you to come, we would have added the name of our church to the list of cancellations, and I would have found someone who knows how to post it on Facebook.

As it was, however, I was certainly delighted by the 78 hearty souls who ventured out last Sunday. And in spite of the fact that I forgot prayer time, left many scratching their heads and sent Jeni to the internet in the middle of my sermon searching for the meaning of “sanforized”,and we got the wrong words on the wall for the second verse of the communion hymn, we had a great time in worship on a snowy Sunday morning. And Dixie actually thought my “You can be circumcised, baptized, and sanforized, and still not get into heaven” comment was funny.

Attendance on Sunday night was also less than usual, but it may not have been entirely the snow’s fault. I announced on Sunday morning that we would be looking at an article from Touchstone on how to talk with your kids about the birds and bees in my adult class. Obviously those without kids or grandkids had a good reason to stay home on a cold Sunday night. If you do have them, however, and weren’t here, I’ve got copies of the article in my office.

As you know, I often find good articles inTouchstone, and I’ve included another one I found while on the elliptical at FitClub last week inside. Be sure to check out the observation that was included in the Quodlibet (Whatever) department.

God Bless, Rick

When do you decide?

It’s 6:45, and the alarm just went off… for the second time. Do I get up, or not? I really don’t want to, but I get up anyway.

I make my way to the coffee pot, after a detour in the bathroom. The coffee’s ready, because I programed it to start last night. I go out for the paper, and sit down to read.

I don’t have time to read it all, because I ignored the first alarm. If I’m going to work, I better get ready. I decide I ought to go, so I head for the shower. Somebody else has to get the kids up.

They don’t want to get up either. They had a busy weekend, and got to bed late last night. Yeh, it’s a school day, but they need their sleep.

Oh well, I guess they should go. And the bus will be here in fifteen minutes. Brush your teeth, pull on some clothes, eat a Pop Tart, and out the door you go.

What’s wrong with the above pictures? I imagine everything sounds pretty normal for a Monday morning, except for the “If I’m going to work”, the “I decide I ought to go”, and the “ I guess they should go”, parts.

Truth be told, the decision to go to work and to school was made a long time ago. We really don’t have a choice to make when the alarm goes off…the second time. We have to get up. And the kids have to catch the bus, or we’ll be late for work.

Now it’s a Sunday, and the routine is similar, except for some of the details. And the fact that I really am going to decide whether to go or not. After all, I don’t have to go to church. Or do I?

Tina and I were talking last week about church attendance, and she mentioned that shortly before she and Mark were married he told her, “We’re not to be like those who decide on Sunday whether to go to church or not. We’re deciding now to go to church on Sundays.” Perhaps he had read in Hebrews 10:25 that we’re not to forsake our assembling together, as is the habit of some.

So what’s your habit on Sunday morning? When do you decide to assemble together with your church family? Do you wait for the alarm, or have you already decided?

God Bless, RickE