Rappin’ With Rick

Relationship in the Church

We were encouraged by the Apostle Paul last Sunday to think of, and treat one another, as family. I noted that some have bought into that idea more than others, and through involvement in church functions and activities have actually found some of their closest relationships developing within the church. The key, of course, is involvement with others.

Coming together regularly on Sunday mornings is obviously a good thing, and there is a beautiful sense of community when we worship together. Deep friendships, however, usually require more than a shared pew, and we therefore offer additional opportunities to study, play, work, and eat together. Those who take advantage of such often find something unexpected taking place. I know it did in Mexico.

When I asked Anna, my 13 year old granddaughter, what her favorite thing was about the trip to Mexico, she said it was the bonding that took place. When I asked her who she bonded with, she said everyone. When I pressed her further, she specifically mentioned Kirk, Andrew, Tate, and Judy Marlow.

In case you missed Kirk’s meditation last week, he noted the language barrier that existed while working in Mexico. He went on to explain that it took him three days to understand what the teens were saying. Apparently they ended up connecting pretty well. He also mentioned the age spread in the group, and that was created by Anna and Judy. Again, something unexpectedly beautiful can take place when we spend time together. We can actually come to know, and grow to love one another, as family.

In view of that, it’s been suggested that it’s time to resurrect Dinner-8. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s a simple program where four couples are encouraged to have pot-lucks in one another’s homes. We haven’t done it in several years, and I’ve made some revisions to the program that lessen the time commitment. Details can be found inside, and I’m hopeful that many, especially those newer to our family, will sign up.

God Bless, Rick

Nine Rules from Chris Pratt, Generation Award Winner

Last Sunday we noted that millennials are much less involved in church than are baby boomers. Where to draw the lines between generations is a bit fluid, but it does appear that I’m on the upper limit of baby boomers, having been born in 1947 after Dad returned from WW II. And that may account for my living under a rock, as my son-in-law recently noted.

Nikki and the girls had showed me a video that made me laugh, and gave me hope. The one speaking looked young, and after reading about the challenge of reaching millennials with the gospel, I assumed he was one. Wikipedia informed me, however, that he had been born in 1979 instead of in the 80’s. So while he may not actually be from the generation that is 35% anti-church, he is definitely an unexpected voice of hope. And until last week, to me, an unknown voice.

If you, like me, haven’t seen the Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World movies, you may not know that Chris Pratt is the hottest actor in Hollywood. He was recently given MTV’s Generation Award, and when accepting it he had some hilarious, and unexpectedly positive things to say. He began by stating, “I’m going to cut to the chase, and I am going to speak to you, the next generation. I accept the responsibility as you your elder. So, listen up.”

He then listed nine rules for life which were practical, instructive, and even silly; like how to go to the bathroom without stinking up the place. Four of them, however, blew me away.

  • Rule 2: “You have a soul. Be careful with it.”
  • Rule 6: “God is real. God loves you, God wants the best for you. Believe that, I do.”
  • Rule 8: “Learn to pray. It’s easy and it is so good for your soul.”
  • Rule 9: “Nobody is perfect, People will tell you that you are perfect just the way that you are, you are not! You are imperfect. You always will be, but there is a powerful force that designed you that way, and if you accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift. Like the freedom that we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else’s blood. Do not forget that. Don’t take that for granted.”

Even if he’s not your elder, listen up!

God Bless, Rick

Building a Home

“I can’t believe it. I just found out that I won’t be able to use my $0.39 refill cup from Taco Bell in Mexico! I guess I’ll just have to drink the water. Not!” That’s from a “Rappin’ With Rick” that I wrote 26 years ago.

I went on to say, “Do pray for us. This is a new adventure for Chatham Christian Church. If this goes well, maybe we’ll head for Jamaica in a year or two. Theo would love to have us.” It did go well, and as I wrote upon our return, “You just had to be there. How can hot sweaty work, mattresses on the floor, dirt and scorpions add up to a great time? They can’t! But smiling faces, laughing children, and a sense that you are doing exactly what God wants you to do does.”

Yes, it was in 1992 that twenty-two of us headed to Chamacuero, Mexico on our first mission trip. And we did make it to Jamaica, several times. We took our teens, took local college students, went as families, and led a number of trips for LCC’s Week of Evangelism. But it’s that first trip that really sticks in your mind.

I’ll never forget Marilyn’s culture shock when we arrived at a dusty little village in the middle of nowhere, where the streets, and the floors in most houses, were dirt. The scorpions in the outhouse didn’t make us feel welcome, but the people surely did. And who can forget the women shaving their legs while sitting on rocks in the middle of the river, and the goats that were crossing at the same time upstream!

Our primary task was to demolish a crumbling building so a new community center could be built. We also held a VBS under the trees in the middle of town, and managed to get a pump working that pumped water to the pecan orchards, and unfortunately flooded back yards in town.

Nikki and Matt were teenagers at the time, and now my two teenage granddaughters are heading to Mexico with their middle-aged mom. I can’t wait to hear all about their trip. I trust they, and the rest of our team, will have memories that will last a lifetime. And the joy of building a home for a family, instead of tearing down a building, will surely exceed what we experienced.

God Bless, Rick

Shipwrecked: Jesus Rescues

Being “Shipwrecked” last week was a great adventure, and I’m actually going to miss ducking my head while walking through the hallway and carefully making my way across the rickety bridge into the auditorium. I don’t know when we’ve had a better VBS. Transforming our building into an island was well worth the effort, and being shipwrecked with fifty kids every night was a lot of fun.

I didn’t get a first-hand experience in the class, crafts, snacks and games, but I really enjoyed the opening and closing each night. The music was great, the enthusiasm was contagious, and the skits by Mark and Casey were hilarious. There can be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Jesus loves kids, and so do we.

Every night the kids were introduced to a character that impressed on them the fact that Jesus rescues, and I looked forward to the videos as much as they did. Just to give you an idea of what they learned, let me introduce you to Hope, Beacon, Rae, and Guac.

Hope is a Jaguar, and she is a solitary animal. Like Jaguars, kids can sometimes feel like they are alone, even when they don’t want to be. But in times of loneliness, Jesus rescues, because He’s always there.

Beacon is a Toucan. One third of him is beak, and you’d think his beak would be a burden. But while it is big, God made it light in weight. By the same token, when we feel burdened down with worries, Jesus rescues, and helps carry our burdens.

Rae is a Manta Ray. The word “manta” means blanket, and while Manta Rays can be 30 feet across, they glide effortlessly through the ocean. Like them, we too can go with the flow even when it’s not smooth sailing because Jesus rescues, and will keep us wrapped up in the blanket of His love.

Guac is an Iguana. They can be seven feet long, but half of them is tail. They use their tail for defense, but if they get caught by it, they can detach it. It does cost them something, but giving it up keeps them safe. If we get caught up in trials and sorrows, Jesus can rescue because He gave up something very valuable for us. He gave up His life to save us.

Just a few good lessons from VBS.

God Bless, Rick

A Penchant for Proverbs

A good friend from FitClub and his wife are reading through the Chronological Bible with us this year, and last week he said, “Boy, some of the proverbs are really off the wall.” That got me thinking about which proverbs might be thought of as “off the wall” and which should be put on the wall.

Some of the “off the wall” proverbs might be, “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion”, “The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, and will not even bring it back to his mouth”, “The leech has two daughters, ‘Give,’ ‘Give“, “The eye that mocks a father, and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out, and the young eagles will eat it”, and “Where no oxen are, the manger is clean.” The more you think about them, however, the more sense they all make. And I’m actually looking forward to a messy manger this week as our barn is filled with youthful oxen.

A quick read through Proverbs gives you more than enough to cover your fridge, or even your walls. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger”, “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down”, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm”, “A man of many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise”, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life”, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding”, and “The glory of young men is their strength, and the honor of old men is their gray hair.” The last one belongs on my bathroom mirror.

My friend also asked if everyone who took a free Bible from me was keeping up with their reading this year. If you are, the Proverbs I’ve shared are simply a reminder of what you read last week. If not, it’s time to catch up.

God Bless, Rick