Rappin’ With Rick

Manhood is Not Natural

While thinking about Father’s Day, my thoughts went back to an article from Touchstone. I’ve got a feeling that I may have shared the article with some of you already, but even if I have, I think an excerpt bears repeating.

“Womanhood is a natural phenomenon. A female’s biological make-up usually ensures that she will grow into a healthy woman. Leave her to herself, and she is much more likely than her male peers to move into mature adulthood. It’s why the phrases ‘Woman up,’ ‘Be a woman,’ or ‘Make a woman out of her’ don’t exist.

As her body matures, internally and externally, it sends her and those around her an unmistakable message about what she is and what she’s becoming. It moves her inexorably in that direction with a force as great as it is mysterious. Few girls miss these cues.

The opposite is true of manhood. Manhood is not natural. It must be socially constructed.

As George Gilder explains pointedly in Men and Marriage, ‘Unlike a woman, a man has no civilized role or agenda inscribed in his body.’ The boy has no onboard GPS directing him toward his future. His manhood does not exist within himself, as womanhood does in a girl. It is out there, beyond himself. He must go find it. He must rouse himself and gather his courage. He must go.

His movement into manhood can only come into being if he has a pilot, a director, to guide him toward that destiny. Doing this is the significant, intentional work of older men around him, starting with his father.”

In a day of societal engendered gender confusion, it’s obvious that fathers, and Christian men in general, have a lot of work to do. So let’s man up, and meet the challenge.

God Bless, Rick

New, Old “New Normal”

After one week with services cancelled due to COVID, we were able to go online with a recorded praise time, sermon, and communion meditation. Thirteen weeks later we were able to begin broadcasting live, with 74 actually in the auditorium. We kept the doors open to facilitate airflow, taped off every other pew, placed communion in the pews and offering trays on tables, and encouraged people to wear masks. In September we were able to open our nurseries and resume Sunday School classes, youth meetings, and Bible studies.

God’s blessing and the faithfulness of His people was evident throughout the time of restrictions. Gratefully most of the restrictions have now been lifted, and we are looking forward to more freedom in worship and fellowship.

On June 6th the blue tape will be gone, and communion will be served. Folding chairs will remain behind the pews for those who would be more comfortable maintaining a little more distance than the pews allow. The communion will be served, but will remain double stacked, as we have become accustomed to finding it. At this time we are not planning to resume passing offering bags, but will keep trays available to receive tithes and offerings as you enter the auditorium.

A fellowship time between worship and Sunday School will also begin on the 6th. Since we will be honoring our graduate that Sunday, more than usual will be on the tables, but we are hoping to at least have coffee and donuts available every Sunday. Dave and Rhonda are trying to find a new source for donuts, and to avoid lines at the Keurigs we hope to find someone to brew coffee before church, as Jack Ruebush did for us for so many years. If you would be willing to be our new barista, please let me know.

I’m delighted that our “new normal” will differ very little from our old.

God Bless, Rick

Mother’s Day

Who would have thought a Mother’s Day column could be lifted out of an article entitled “What Makes Men Men?”, but that’s what I’m doing.

After referring to mothers and fathers as kings and queens, the author states:

“Comparisons of fathers and mothers with kings and queens seem naïve, nostalgic, sentimental, and exaggerated. They make us squirm. There are strong reasons for this reactions, but they are bad ones. How many parents have lost their regal dignity, disbelieve in their authority, and confuse the proper humility of their office with being self-mocking and ironic? We have turned husbands and wives into androgynous ‘spouses,’ fathers and mothers into interchangeable ‘parent figures.’ We approach having a child like acquiring a pool table or wide-screen TV. Would it be fun? Would it be tedious? Would it be worth the expense? Fathers and mothers have need of recovering their sense of regal calling, taking up their ball and scepter, and ruling their dominions with love for their precious subjects.

“May it be needless to say that mothers and fathers must also recover the conviction of their need for each other. They must do this not only for their own sakes, but also for their young. Every child needs both kinds of love. It is not enough to provide an intermediate love that is half motherly and half fatherly. Or an inconsistent love that is motherly at some times, fatherly at others. Even though the two loves resemble each other, they are distinct, and neither can be imitated by anything else. Yes, it may be true heroism when, through no fault of one’s own, a father or a mother raises a child all alone; yet it is better to not be alone. No woman can fully take the place of a father, any more than a man can substitute for a mother.”

I thank God for mothers…and fathers.

God Bless, Rick

An Overflowing Cup

I’ve often said that the greatest joy a father can know is that which comes from his children sharing his faith in Christ. Sadly, not all fathers have that joy. And as Genesis makes clear, even children living in Eden with a perfect Father can rebel and choose a life of disobedience. I was reminded of that this week while reading of a highly respected preacher whose son has gone viral on TikTok denouncing his father’s faith.

Gratefully, I have that joy. And now that joy has reached new heights! Not only do I have the additional joy of five grandchildren who share the faith of their grandmother and grandfather, our oldest granddaughter has shared her faith in a the most beautiful way possible. She baptized her best friend into Christ.

As seen on the front page, Grace recently baptized Nicole Weaver at a special service at the campus house at ISU. Grace and Nicole have been friends since 8th grade, and are now room- mates. Nicole occasionally came with Grace to our worship services, and often came to youth meetings and activities. Since going to ISU, both have become very involved with Encounter, the campus ministry.

Due to covid restrictions large campus gatherings are not allowed, but small groups and special events still provide numerous opportunities for fellowship, ministry, and study with an amazing family of students, interns, and adult leaders. Many of the students also get involved in local churches, and Grace and Nicole are teaching a small class of elementary grade children.

I really believe it’s ok for a grandpa to be proud, and I couldn’t be prouder of Grace. And the joy I feel over Nicole’s decision for Christ can only be exceeded by that of her best friend who had the privilege of baptizing her into Christ.

As Mom used to say about the joy her family gave her, “My cup is overflowing.”

God Bless, Rick

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