Rappin’ With Rick

Controversy and Confusion

Last month we had a response to our website that expressed a sincere hope that we would rot in hell. What prompted that hateful and condemnatory comment was that we support Kent Paris and his Nehemiah Ministries.

As you no doubt know, Kent is a former homosexual who repented of his sinful behavior when He accepted Christ as Lord of his life. He then dedicated himself to helping others with similar struggles find victory over enslavement to sin.

His desire to effectively minister to those with gender confusion issues led him to pursue the education needed to do so, and He eventually received a MA in Christian Counseling Ministry from LCU, and established Nehemiah Ministries. He chose not to become licensed with the state of Illinois because he foresaw possible government interference in what a biblically based Christian counselor would be allowed to say.

When I informed Kent of the note we had received, I told him that in light of the number of states that have banned conversion or reparative therapy, and the charge that it often leads to suicide because it promises change that it cannot deliver, it might be helpful for him to share a statement on how his counseling differs from the goals and techniques used in such therapy.

We corresponded at length on the matter, and, in response to our request, the latest issue of his newsletter featured an article entitled “Clarification on Reparative Therapy in Relation to our Mission.” In the article he very clearly states, “I was never trained in ‘Reparative Therapy’, have never practiced it, nor held myself out to be a ‘Reparative Therapist’.” He further notes, “The ultimate goal is NOT ‘heterosexuality’ but repentance from any sin, surrender out of love for Jesus, yielding wholly to Him to follow Him as a disciple.”

His article not only addresses the current controversy over gender related counseling, it also offers insight into the causes of such confusion. I have copies available for those who might desire one.

God Bless, Rick

Admiring His Handiwork

When I said I’d be reading poolside in Florida, the friends we were visiting had to laugh. They know I’m not much of a poolside-sitter. But I did force myself to sit in the sun long enough to read a few pages from the Chronicles of Narnia, just because I said I would.

That’s not to say I didn’t finish The Magicians Nephew, because I did. Since we drove back from Tennessee on Sunday after Josie’s birthday so we could be at Grace’s senior night basketball game, I had time to visit Narnia on a plane to Florida and back. And, I now know why the wardrobe was able to serve as a portal to Narnia for Lucy, Peter, Susan, and Edmund, because the sixth book in the series is actually a prequel, telling how Narnia came to be.

Somehow over the years book number seven disappeared from our bookshelf, but I did find it in our church library, and I’m now reading The Last Battle. I can’t recommend the series highly enough. For adults, even more than for children!

While Marilyn and our friends were sunning themselves poolside, I walked the beach. I do like the sounds of the surf, the birds that waddle along the shoreline and dive into the water, and the seashells. Who isn’t fascinated by the variety of shells that litter the seashore?

I guess I shouldn’t say they “litter” the seashore. They decorate it!

As I walked along, admiring the variety and beauty of the shells, I couldn’t help but think of the fifth day of creation, when God brought forth life on the earth. After saying, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures,” He saw that it was good. And when He said it was “good” I think He was saying more than it was simply adequate. I think He was admiring His handiwork. He was going far beyond what was needed to sustain us; He was preparing a place of beauty for those who would be made in His image to enjoy.

Indeed, the beauty of creation points to the beauty of our Creator, and His appreciation for that which is beautiful. So even if you’re too antsy to sit for hours in the sun, do take to time to smell the roses, and admire the beauty that surrounds us.

God Bless, Rick

Tennessee, Florida… and Narnia

I began reading the Chronicles of Narnia nearly forty years ago, and I hate to admit it, but I haven’t finished them…yet. I bought the set when the kids were little, and still remember them sitting on my lap as we made it through The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I knew they were classics, written by C. S. Lewis for children, but reading them was like trying to watch something on BBC. You know it’s good, but you have to struggle a bit to make sure you’re getting it all. We gave up after barely making it into the second book, and the boxed set languished on a shelf until a month or so ago.

It was a feature article entitled “The Breath of the Lion” in Touchstone that drew me back to Narnia. The author was responding to the charge that Lewis didn’t include the Holy Spirit in his stories. God was there as the Emperor-over-the-Sea, and Jesus is presented as the great Lion Aslan, but where is the Holy Spirit?

The author begins by noting that while the Holy Spirit’s presence and enormous power is evident throughout the Bible, he speaks only five times and remains in the background. He then makes it very clear that the Holy Spirit is alive and well in Narnia.

“He strengthens, he gives courage, he brings new life, he protects, and he motivates toward right performance. In his breath, he imparts the essence of himself to his followers, placing within them the only power that can enable them to become more like him.” While drawing his article to a close he notes, “Thus, a fantasy story shows us the truth. Narnia reveals to us the kind of God we have— not only who is transcendent and powerful, but one who is also intimate and personal.”

Reading such led me back to the wardrobe, and then to a railway station, a picture in the bedroom, and an unlocked door. I’m not sure how I’m going to get to Narnia next, but I’m planning to get there while sitting poolside in Florida.

I’ll see you in two weeks when Marilyn and I return from a trip to Tennessee, Florida… and Narnia.

God Bless, Rick

Leading in the Church

It’s Monday afternoon, and we’ve just concluded the first meeting of our newly expanded church leadership team. As you know, Casey and Jonathan were recently affirmed, along with Paul and Chris, as elders of Chatham Christian Church. They, along with Mark and myself, will be meeting together regularly to hopefully discern the will of God for our church family in 2020. To introduce Casey and Jonathan to the eldership, we decided to meet for breakfast before spending the morning together in study and discussion.

We began our time together with a brief look at our congregational history and the basic expectations and responsibilities of elders. We then looked a recent article from Christianity Today that exposed the danger in viewing leadership in the church as it is viewed in the corporate world, and encouraged the church to “put the pastoral dimension of all Christian leadership in the driver’s seat and let the CEO dimension sit in the back.” The article noted the tendency to “talk the talk of servant leadership but walk the walk of ‘Gentile rulers’ who ‘lord it over’ others.”

We then read a sermon on leadership that was presented at a pastor’s conference I attended in California back in 1979. It’s a message that we have reviewed several times over the years at elder’s retreats and extended meetings. It’s also a message that may have helped the four “dynamic, gifted, movers and shakers” that were listed in the CT article avoid the mistakes that led to their downfall.

The thrust of the message is simply that leaders in the kingdom must lead by serving others, and not by trying to lord it over anyone. The stick figure diagram of servant leadership was compared to the typical pyramid structure of leadership on the printed copy of the sermon. If you want to read the entire sermon it can be found at chathamchristian.org under “About Us.”

God Bless, Rick

My Grace is Sufficient

Never underestimate the influence of a granddaughter!

The Hunleys had gone out to eat for Anna’s birthday on Saturday night, and hadn’t planned on going out to eat again on Sunday. That meant Grandma and I could go to MCL! But then, while bemoaning the fact that we would have to eat alone, Grace mentioned she needed to go to town for a few things. As long as we would change the location of dinner, she would be happy to go with us. We were glad to exchange our Jack Benny Roast Beef for time alone with Grace.

After dinner we went shopping. I’m not sure how she planned on shopping without any money, but we were glad to pay for a few things. I just didn’t realize how much it would end up costing me.

In the midst of engaging dinner conversation, Grace started talking about going back to Mexico to build another house. Then she asked the $500 times two question: “Why aren’t you going Grandpa?”

My immediate response was that I had been on ten mission trips to Jamaica, and that I was now too old to go. She reminded me that Judy was older when she went, and continued to counter my every reason not to go. She even assured me that sleeping on the floor of a church was comfortable with an air mattress, and that I’d be so tired I’d go right to sleep anyway. I eventually said I’d think about it, and the more I thought about it, the more my reasons for not going vanished.

Two years ago I really didn’t feel that I had the strength to go. My lack of endurance had been made evident on a family trip to Disney World, and I thought it was just because I was getting older. Now, however, I know at least some of it was because of Afib. Since that has been successfully addressed, I’m in better shape now than I was then. And I didn’t take the CPAP with me to Europe, so I guess another week without it won’t hurt.

When the Apostle Paul complained about physical limitations he was told, “My grace is sufficient.” It looks like my Grace is sufficient as well.

Marilyn and I are now planning to join the crew going to Mexico to build a house in June. If you want to make it easier for an old preacher, there is still room for more workers.

God Bless, Rick