Rappin’ With Rick

Good To Be Home

We’ve seen some of the most famous churches in the world, but as I noted on the front page, our favorite church in the whole world is C.C.C. We’ve been to churches where they say the remains of the Magi, Mark, Peter, Michelangelo, and Galileo have been interred, but Chatham is where we live and worship a living God. It’s good to be home.

After deleting a thousand or so pictures, I still have over a thousand on my iPhone. I may bore my immediate family with them all, but I can’t put my church family through it. I will, however, show you some if you ask, and here are a few highlights of our seventeen days in Europe.

In London we saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, cruised the Thames, and ate fish and chips. The Eurostar then took us to Brussels at 180 miles an hour where we met the rest of our 18 member tour group and boarded our wonderfully uncrowded luxury coach.

In Amsterdam we ate dinner on a glass topped boat while cruising the canals and saw the home of Anne Franke. The next day we visited the amazing Cologne Cathedral that took over 600 years to build and cruised the Rhine past umpteen castles. We then traveled through the Austrian Alps to Salzburg where Mozart was born, and in Vienna had dinner and a classical concert at the Opera House.

In Venice we rode through the inner canals in a gondola while being serenaded and watched Venetian glass blowing. In Rome we tossed coins in the Trevi fountain, toured the Colosseum where martyrs died, and spent twenty minutes in awe at the Sistine Chapel. In Florence we saw where both Michelangelo and Leonardo Di Vinci lived, and then had dinner at the villa in the Tuscan hills where Machiavelli was held in exile.

We cruised through the lake to Lucerne Switzerland where we ate cheese fondue, and went to the top of Mount Pilatus. In Paris we saw the Eiffel Tower, cruised the Seine, and I ate snails.

The history of all the wars and rumors of wars that formed Europe made us realize how blessed we are to be living where we do. And like I said, we’re glad to be home.

God Bless, Rick

Time to See Europe

We’ve pretty much seen the country by van, and motorcycle. When the kids were little, Marilyn and I were determined that they would see the country coast to coast, and they did. We may have actually overdone it a bit, especially on our great northwestern trip. We hit ten national parks, and as we entered Yosemite, the crowned jewel, I excitedly asked what the kids thought. I’ll never forget their response: “More rocks and trees!”

After the kids flew the coop, Marilyn and I saw it all again, and more, from the seat of a motorcycle. Marilyn even enjoyed the mountains a lot better from a motorcycle, because she could see the edge of the road and didn’t think we were going over it. Our last big trip was our northeast trip four years ago that included Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec. That was without a doubt Marilyn’s favorite trip, and probably our last. Our last motorcycle trip, that is.

Having seen most of the natural and many of the historical sites our country has to offer, Marilyn started talking about wanting to see the historical sites of Europe. Seeing it on motorcycle sounded good to me, but Marilyn thought a river cruise, like Jonathan and Jeni just back from, sounded better. We thought about it, but it never got off the back burner.

Things changed when a good friend from Fit Club and I were fishing. He had talked about going to London to see the Yankees play for several years. That obviously made no sense to me, but London is in Europe. At least I think it still is. And when he told me he had found a 17 day tour of Europe that would begin in London the same day the Yankees played, I asked for more details.

It didn’t take long to convince Marilyn that a bus, I mean a luxury coach, would be almost as good as a river boat, so by the time you get this we should be on our way. No, we’re not going to the ball game, but Lord willing we will see lots of historical sites in eight different countries.

Mark will be preaching for the next three Sundays, and we’ll see you on the 21st.

God Bless, Rick

Roar!

What do four grandpas talk about at the café after a Thursday night at the range? Obviously they talk about guns, and as soon as the scores are available they congratulate the winner, and make excuses for their jams and misses. Then, after offering sage advice on the problems of the world, they talk about something near and dear to their hearts. They talk about their grandkids. And after having beat my time by two seconds last week, I was glad when Jamie moved us on to grandpa talk.

He had taken the girls to Scoop Du Jour earlier in the week, and when Kiayla saw a sign advertising our VBS, she excitedly exclaimed, “That’s my church!” Jamie thought that was great, and so did I.

Years ago I attended a seminar on church promotion, and the presenter shared something I found very interesting. He said when General Motors advertises for Chevys their goal isn’t to get more people to buy a Chevy. Their primary goal is to keep those who have already bought one excited about their purchase. They want people to respond by thinking, if not actually saying, “That’s my car!” That obviously has a bearing on advertising for a church.

Few people are going to decide to go to a particular church because they see a billboard, even one that really catches their attention. But if they hear someone exclaim, “That’s my church!”, they might. A personal endorsement, or in the case of a church an invitation, is obviously the best form of advertising.

When you came to church last Sunday, I trust you were overwhelmed by the way the building had been transformed into an African savannah for ROAR!, our VBS. Untold hours, and a considerable amount of money, was invested to make our VBS into one that will really impact the lives of our kids, and kids of the community.

Even if you didn’t have any children or grandchildren at VBS, I trust you are excited about what our church is doing. I hope that you, like Kiayla, are loudly exclaiming, “That’s my church!”

God Bless, Rick

Monster Mose and the Nightlight

My good friend George, who was in town last week, told me about a poem he wrote and illustrated years ago to help his son handle fears at night. I thought you, and your (grand)kids, might enjoy it.

Well, the lights went out without a peep, and they both snuggled under the covers deep.
The floor was dark and as cold as frost. Mose wanted up, whatever the cost.
As mommy tucked David and Mose into bed, she sang a lullaby.
But David had a bad dream, and he turned and tossed. Poor Mose landed in a heap.
Monster Mose had sleepy in one eye, he stretched and he yawned, and he let out a sigh.
She smiled and whispered it was time to sleep. And God heard the prayers they said.
They both hugged Mommy, and she kissed each head. They mumbled and grumbled they’d rather play instead.
But David didn’t hear him though he yelled and he tugged. Poor Mose knew that he was lost.
So he looked straight up, and—Oh! What a sight! Just outside the window stars were shining bright.
Mose began to cry, he was in such a fright. He needed to be hugged.
And the moon above the treetops was the world’s nightlight. And a thought came to Mose that brought him such delight—
The end zzzzzzz

Good Enough for Joseph

Romans 8:28 is a verse that gives us assurance and comfort. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” It’s been at the heart of our Sunday morning studies for the past couple of weeks, and I’ve tried to make it clear that not everything that happens to us is God’s will for us. The promise is that He can take anything that happens to us in a fallen world, and make something good out of it; if we love Him, and are seeking to live out His purposes in our life. Having hopefully made that clear, I hope I haven’t given you the idea that God’s activity in our life is limited to a clean-up operation.

Duane gave me another book by his second favorite preacher, Alistair Begg, several months ago. It’s on the life of Joseph, and it ended up at the bottom of the stack because I know the story. Or so I thought.

When I finally started reading The Hand of God, I not only realized how much of the story I had overlooked, but I was reminded again that God doesn’t just make good come out of the bad things that happen to us. He providentially, and even directly, causes some things to happen to us. Both good and bad.

Alistair began his first chapter by noting: “The story of Joseph is a tale of jealousy, deceit, slavery, misrepresentation, injustice, lust, rivalry, and forgiveness. It pits brother against brother. We encounter imprisonment and deep trials that do not produce self-pity, and prosperity that does not bring the accompanying pride.

“Joseph’s life encompasses all of this and more—and in it all, the overarching theme is that of the sovereign hand of God manifesting itself in His providential care over His dearly loved children and bringing about all that He has purposed in the affairs of time.”

I don’t think we can discern what God actually caused to happen to Joseph, or what He simply allowed. But it didn’t matter to Joseph. For as he told his brothers: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”

If that’s good enough for Joseph, it’s good enough for me.

God Bless, Rick