Resurrected Faith

Lynn Currie is the first person I baptized into Christ. He was 14 and I was his 19- year-old youth minister. Lynn’s faith was vibrant and enthusiastic. I still remember his response after reading Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand, a book I gave him to read. When he returned it, his reaction shocked me. He said something to the effect, “I wish I could be there. It really costs you something to believe in Christ when facing persecution.”

The trials Lynn faced in life can’t be characterized as persecution, but they were enough to test his faith. In fact, they destroyed it…for a time. But after lying dormant through a life of physical, emotional, and spiritual struggles, the seeds of faith that were planted in his youth came back to life. He is just now putting the finishing touches on a book he is writing entitled I Believe in Santa Claus and I Believe in God.

I’m not going into the Santa Claus bit, but I do want to share with you some of his concluding statements.

“In concluding, I believe there are many reasons to believe in God. I believe that belief in God is plausible and makes as much sense scientifically and philosophically as to not believe. I know, my reasons are debatable and you may disagree. I believe that ultimately, it is a choice and matter of faith, one way or the other.

I ask myself, how can there be a God? My answer is always another question, how can there not be? I believe that an autonomous, intelligent, external (outside and yet inside) of our time something (which I believe is the God of the Bible), is either necessary or at least a possible explanation for the complexities of the material world and existence of the metaphysical realities.

If you haven’t believed in God, I hope you consider reasons to do so. If you believe in God, I hope you consider that His interaction and revelation is given to us in the Bible. And, in the Bible you might find that Jesus is the Son of God, who is God with the Father and the Holy Spirit, in whom I believe and are therefore saved to live with God forever.”

The resurrection of Lynn’s faith gives witness to the presence of a Resurrected Lord who remains active in our lives, even during times of struggle and doubt.

The Lord has Risen! He has Risen Indeed!

God Bless, Rick

No New Normal

It will be a year ago this Sunday that we were forced to cancel our services due to COVID-19. While thinking how to address this momentous anniversary in the life of our church, I happened upon an article that briefly appeared on the News Break feed I was perusing.

“Some people call it the ‘new normal.’ COVID-19 has changed how we all live our lives where even the most basic things we do are now done differently. Looking back on life before the pandemic struck the United States, it can seem almost impossible that people voluntarily sat shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers at a sporting event or shook hands with someone they were meeting for the first time. While vaccines offer hope the world can go back to that way of life, the things people do differently and have been doing for the last year are now habits for most. Habits are not easy to break and some of the ways the pandemic has temporarily changed life in the last year could really become a ‘new normal’ going forward.”

I pray the changes that have been forced upon us will never become the ‘new normal’. The day must return when brothers and sisters can sit shoulder-to-shoulder in church, shake hands, or even hug one another without fear.

Even though all of us haven’t been able to be together, we have been able to average 72 in church since reopening. That’s good news. But even then, most who are coming are hesitant to get too close, and I’m afraid some who have grown accustomed to viewing church at home will find it tempting to maintain that practice when it’s no longer necessary.

We had to celebrate Easter in our homes last year. I pray most will be able to be here this Easter. For as the writer of Hebrews put it: “Let us hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”

God Bless, Rick

Riding a Murdercycle

Stanley Mirek called it a “murdercycle.” He had been a policeman in Chicago for years before moving to Chatham, and had seen a lot of bad motorcycle accidents. He couldn’t believe I actually rode a “murdercycle” with “Eliminator” emblazoned on the faring. But I did.

That bike was eliminated in a serious accident, but I wasn’t on it at the time. My next bike had to be replaced due to crash in the neighborhood on my way to a Bible study that resulted in a few stitches on my chin, and I broke five ribs on my way to Tennessee on my Harley after someone pulled out in front of me.

So why do I still ride? Especially at my age! I ride because I still enjoy it. I’ve assessed the risks and determined it’s worth it.

There was a time when I didn’t think it was. I had two small kids at home, and the thought of taking an unnecessary risk that might leave them fatherless made me stay off a bike for a number of years. Now that I’m just a grandpa, I feel I’m free to take the risk. But I do moderate the risk. I always wear a helmet.

It’s not a full-face helmet, and I don’t wear all the gear all the time (ATGATT) which is no doubt the safest way to ride, but I do wear a helmet. Those who don’t probably think I’m doing something that’s unnecessary, and those who go ATGATT no doubt think I’m taking unnecessary risks.

I’m not offended if someone expresses concern about my safety, and I may do the same for someone else. But I don’t believe anyone should force someone to do what they do just because they think they should. I think you can see where this is going.

Some of us have determined that the risk in coming to church is too great at this time. Others have decided it’s worth the risk. I don’t feel it’s my place to try to convince anyone one way or another. But I do think we should all continually assess the ever-changing risks, and do what we feel God would have us do.

And as soon as possible, we all do need to be back together in worship.

God Bless, Rick

Why Do All Children Misbehave?

I don’t faithfully listen to podcasts or even radio programs, but when I’m in the car I often listen to whatever’s on, and several weeks ago I heard John Rosemond being interviewed on the Dennis Prager show. He was talking about raising children, and I was intrigued by what I was hearing.

I don’t know why I hadn’t heard of him before, but he’s been writing books, giving talks, and counseling parents for over forty years. Dennis said he is considered by many to be the current authority on child- rearing, so I ordered his book. Yes, another book on raising children.

Even before I was a father I read The Christian Family by Larry Christenson. Over the years we’ve read books and watched videos by James Dobson, Kevin Leman, and Tedd Tripp. I don’t remember everything we learned together, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been reading some things I’ve never read before.

Rosemond opens his book with a shocking statement that I referred to in a sermon a couple of weeks ago.

“If asked ‘Why do children, all children, misbehave?’ most psychologists (of which I am one) would employ one or more of the following words or phrases: unresolved issues, anxiety, stress, conflicting messages, cries for help or attention, trauma, post- traumatic, power struggles, chemical imbalances, and genes. Nope. Some of those may help us understand why a four- year-old refuses to obey his parents, but none of those words explains why all children misbehave, and deliberately so. As it turns out, the explanation is simple: children are bad…and the sooner parents understand and accept this, the better for them and the better also for their children.”

He goes on to note that he’s really not saying anything new. What he’s presenting is basically the common sense point of view that was held by most parents prior to the psychological-parenting revolution that swept America in the 1960s and early 1970s. What he’s trying to do is help parents put common sense back into practice.

While you may not choose to follow all his specific suggestions for handling issues such as lying, defiance, tantrums, or refusing to use the potty, I think you’ll find principles in his book that will help you raise The Well- Behaved Child.

I have several copies in the office if you want one.

God Bless, Rick

Looking Forward While Looking Back

Even if you didn’t stay up to celebrate the passing of 2020, I’m sure we’re all relieved it’s behind us. We may not have all actually shouted “Happy New Year”, but we’re all looking forward to a happier 2021.

To say it’s been a challenging year is a massive understatement. Not only did we endure a stressful political season, but we were all stressed by a virus that invaded our lives. Some were obviously effected more than others, but it certainly touched every one of us. There is no need to document all the hardships, we all know what they were and continue to be. But the promise of Romans 8:28 gives us more hope for the future than an annual cry of “Happy New Year!”

God has promised to bring good out of everything that happens to us, if we love Him and are called according to His purpose. Not only does that give us courage to face the future, it invites us to look back at what God has already done.

When we were mandated to close our doors, we cancelled our services as if it were a snow storm. By the next week, however, we were offering online videos of praise, a sermon, and a communion meditation. And after the mandate was loosened, and thirteen weeks with our doors closed, we opened to in-house worship. We have been able to continue doing so ever since, even adding nurseries, Sunday School classes, youth groups, and Bible studies.

As to be expected, our worship attendance dropped to record lows. But we still averaged seventy-four over the last seven months, averaging eighty- eight during the month of December. And gratefully, our giving continued to exceed our projected needs. A couple of very generous gifts even enabled us to meet special needs on the mission field, and to repave our parking lot.

The greatest blessing to come during the last ten months, no doubt, is the number of new families that have begun worshipping with us. I pray those who have been unable to attend in person will soon be able to return and get to know their new brothers and sisters.

God Bless, Rick