Rappin’ With Rick

Heritage of Faithfulness

“Heritage of Faithfulness” is the theme of the 125th anniversary of Washington Christian Church in Washington, Kansas. That’s where Marilyn and I began our married life, and our mutual ministry, forty-seven years ago. Our two years there offered us a wonderful time of learning to depend on each other, and a great opportunity to learn what to expect as a preacher and his wife. Together we faced both challenges and victories, and we left with fond memories and good friends. We left Washington as relative newlyweds, went back as parents for the 100th anniversary of the church, and now are going back as grandparents for the 125th.

When I was asked to bring the communion meditation, and told of the theme, I started thinking about the heritage of faithfulness we’ve been privileged to be a part of. Both of us had Christian grandparents, and grew up in Christian homes. Now we have two children, a son and daughter-in-law, and six grandchildren who love the Lord and serve Him faithfully. The fact that we’ve been able to maintain that heritage of faithfulness brings us the greatest joy anyone can know.

It does, however, bring me great sadness when I realize not all Christian parents have the joy we have. Every child has the freedom to choose whether to serve the Lord or not, and Jesus warned us that faith in Him had the potential to divide even families. We have, however, also been told what we must do if we are to have even a chance of maintaining that heritage of faithfulness.

Obviously we bring our children with us to the Lord’s table on the Lord’s Day, and we make certain they receive the spiritual instruction that’s available within the body of believers. But we also make certain His presence is obvious within the home, and do as instructed in Deuteronomy 6. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when your rise up.”

May God give us all the heart to do as commanded, and the grace needed to maintain the heritage of faithfulness.

God Bless,
Rick

Sex Education

The title, Love Thy Body, is intended to get your attention, and the subtitle, Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality, lets you know what the book is about. And while I wondered about the need to spend several months examining a book on sex and sexuality with adults on Sunday nights, it became obvious that there is a local need for biblical insight into why God made us the way He did.

Last Sunday morning the front page of the State Journal Register was headlined,“Health officials are frustrated by rising STD rates.” The article began: “What federal health officials call ‘steep and sustained’ increase in sexually transmitted diseases across the United States the past four years have frustrated experts battling the trends in Springfield, Peoria and other Illinois communities.”

After reminding readers of the physical consequences of STDs, and reviewing the statistical increase of their occurrence, the article noted that the trends in Sangamon County and nationwide are troublesome and probably related to a lack of education. A cooperative effort to provide age-appropriate sex education for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders in Peoria resulted in an increase in adolescents and young adults being tested for STDs, and that was seen as a positive sign.

The article noted that the reality of sexual activity by young people conflicts with conservative or squeamish attitudes when it comes to promoting safe and enjoyable sex lives as people mature. It went on to say that in our society we don’t talk about sex very much, and when young people hear talk about sex it’s lumped in with drugs and alcohol, like it’s a bad thing, which stigmatizes condoms. It further noted that sex is a natural thing, it’s part of us, and that we are sexual beings.

Obviously sex is a natural thing, and we are sexual beings. But any attempt at sex education will fall terribly short if it doesn’t explain why God made us the way He did, and that the only way for sex to be a blessing is to express it as He intended. Only then will anyone be able to truly “Love Thy Body.”

God Bless, Rick

Love Thy Body

In case you found the title shocking, and were wondering how Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality came to be chosen as the book adults will be studying on Sunday nights this year, let me tell you.

Salena, my daughter-in-law, read a review of it and thought it would be a book I’d find interesting, so she gave it to me for Christmas. As soon as I started reading it, I thought I’d found the next book for my Sunday night class, and told the class about it.

The first couple of chapters were eye opening, and I knew it would be a great study. But then I started to second guess myself. I starting thinking that talking about sex and sexuality for a year might be more than any of us would want. I stopped reading, and let the book lie dormant for several months. Then I started reading it again, and by the time I got to the last chapter I was convinced it would be a really good study, but wasn’t sure if we should read all of it in class or simply discuss it.

After I started reading it a second time, I became absolutely convinced the book was extremely important and timely, and that we needed to study it. I still wasn’t sure how to approach it, however, and decided to order a couple of copies for others to review. My timing wasn’t very good, and neither my daughter or granddaughter had time to read it before school started. Grace did, however, assure me that she would read it, but that she wouldn’t take it to school. I guess a beautiful girl carrying around a book entitled Love Thy Body wouldn’t have been the smartest thing to do.

Without their input I went ahead and ordered copies for class, and told my shooting buddies about it. A few days later Jamie texted me that he had bought a copy for his iPad, and found it very insightful. He’s taking notes, and looking forward to the class.

I tell you all this in the hopes that you’re interest has been peaked, and you’ll plan on joining us on Sunday nights beginning Sept. 16th.

God Bless, Rick

Serving with a Whole Heart

After we hosted the Walk Thru the Bible conference years ago, Schar decided she could simplify the hand motions we were taught to help remember the major Bible events in chronological order, and teach them to our kids in Sunday School. She did so, and many of the kids who have gone through her training still use those hand motions when reviewing Bible history. It was to the picturing of Saul with no heart, David with a whole heart, and Solomon with half a heart that I was referring when I sought your prayers for a successful heart ablation.

In a heart ablation, the spots inside your heart that are triggering an erratic heart beat are burnt or frozen. When it was first being done it required open heart surgery, but now it’s done through catheters inserted in your groin and neck. When Anna found out I had parts of my heart frozen, she asked if was now going to be cold-hearted. I assured her that I wouldn’t, and that I trusted that even though parts of my heart had been killed, I would still have a whole heart with which to serve God.

Our ability to serve God with a whole heart, of course, is not dependent upon the condition of our physical heart. And if anyone needs to be assured of that fact, all they need do is look at Schar.

Schar had open heart surgery in 2006 to replace a faulty heart valve with a mechanical one. Then in 2014, after enjoying a traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal with the Carrolls and Wenneborgs, she went into AFib. The doctors tried to correct it with a heart ablation, but couldn’t do all that was needed because of the metal valve in her heart. She then needed another valve replaced through open heart surgery in 2015. When she now goes into AFib she knows it, because it sounds like castanets are in her chest.

I tell you all this to not only assure you of my desire to continue serving with a whole heart, but to honor Schar for doing so. She is not only the author of our children’s curriculum, but constantly revises it while teaching both her class and Wee Worship with a whole heart, and has been doing so for nearly 35 years.

You will get a brief look at the success of her program this Sunday morning when teachers share what they have been teaching, and students who are going into Junior High are promoted.

God Bless, Rick

When God Sings

Scripture is filled with admonitions to praise the Lord with song, and singing is what I think was taking place in Isaiah’s vision of the throne of God. “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of his robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above him, each having six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,” (Isaiah 6:1-3)

It doesn’t actually say they were singing, but we know according to Job 38:7 that at creation the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy. We also find singing in heaven when the Lamb of God was seen standing on Mount Zion. “And I heard a voice from heaven, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder, and the voice which I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne.” (Revelation 14:2-3)

The point of what I’m saying is simply that I generally think of songs being offered to God around His throne. I read something the other day in Zephaniah 3:17, however, that painted for me a new, and very exciting picture of singing and the throne of God. When I read it, it almost gave me goosebumps, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it before.

I proceeded to read it from my NASV, and while it’s a beautiful picture, it didn’t do for me what I read from the NKJV that’s in my chronological Bible.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” is no doubt a more literal translation than, “The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing”, but I really love the picture of God singing from His throne when He sees His people living lives that honor Him.

Let’s keep God singing this week!

God Bless, Rick