Rappin’ With Rick

What’s Waiting in My Office

When I read something that I think is significant I want to share it, but don’t always know how. I realize the internet is loaded with options for posting things, but I guess I’m old-school. I just make copies of articles, and make books available. The problem is they most often just sit on the shelf in my office. With that in mind, I want to let you know what’s waiting in my office for those who might be interested.

I found several articles in Touchstone that I thought might be of interest to those concerned about reparations, the history of slavery, and “Race, Religion & Reconciliation.” I also found a book by Voddie Baucham, Fault Lines, the social justice movement and evangelicalisms looming catastrophe, that I found very insightful and frightening. I only have one copy of Voddie’s book, but I’ll be glad to loan it out.

The next book is one that Duane loaned to me, and I bought several copies to make available. Alive: How the Resurrection of Christ Changes Everything is the best defense of belief in the resurrection and how it changes our life that I’ve ever read. Just ask, and a copy will be yours to read…and to share.

The final book is the one we will be studying together on Sunday nights beginning September 19th. When I first read about Living Spiritually in the Material World I have to admit I was skeptical about it. The book cover refers to it as a “Christian self-help book” and it was written by a psychologist. But when I read it, I was blown away.

The author goes beyond psychological approaches to self-help, and focuses on the spiritual guidance that was given by the founders of America’s early colleges to their students. With forty chaplains of Yale recently electing an atheist to be their president, you’ll be amazed to hear, and benefit from, the biblical advice and exhortations that were given by college presidents of the past.

God Bless, Rick

The Solution to Fake Christianity

I’ve recently read two significant articles about the challenges facing the church today. One was published in a quarterly, and the other online. The first is entitled America Follows Israels Departure from God, and the second, Americas New Religion: Fake Christianity.

I referred to the online article in a sermon a couple of weeks ago when I pointed out how many Christians have embraced the belief that the purpose of life is to be happy, and we have no right to pass judgement on anyone if they’re just trying to be happy. The article gave a name to this fake Christianity, calling it Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

The moralistic perspective is that we’re here to be good people and do good. The therapeutic aspect is everything is supposed to be geared to making me feel good about myself. And deism is the idea that God created the world but has no direct involvement in it. The bottom line is that God just wants everyone to be nice, and the purpose of life is to be happy.

The article in Does God Exist? suggests that the problems we face today are the result of doing five things Jeremiah said God’s people were doing in his day. I’m simply going to note them. You can get the details by reading Jeremiah 6:10-19.

—They refuse to listen to the word of God.

—They are obsessed with material things.

—They delude themselves with falsehoods.

—They were not ashamed and could not blush.

—They rejected the only possible solution.

The author concludes: “The politicians and philosophers will not fix what is wrong with our world. The only possible solution is the teaching and example of Jesus Christ taught in our homes and congregations and lived out in the lives of his disciples.” I’m sure we all agree.

God Bless, Rick

Church Work Day – August 14th

I trust you are really excited about the announcement on the front of the church paper! WE ARE HAVING A CHURCH WORK DAY ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 14TH! The long anticipated opportunity to work around the church will begin at 8:00, so there will be no need to sleep in on the 14th! Just come with gloves, shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, or paint brushes.

What is the prime project for the day? We’re going to begin the job of redoing the playground off the nursery!

First order of business will be removing all the gravel—and re-purposing it in the big playground—so it can be replaced with Blue Sky Outdoor Interlocking Tiles. Before the tiles can be installed—on another day—a layer of white rock and lime will have to be hauled in, leveled and compacted. Assisted by Paul Hunley and John Deere of course.

If we find we have too many resting on their shovels while Paul does his thing, we’ll bring out the stain for touching up cedar trim around the church. And we’ll look for anything else that needs to be touched-up or spruced-up. I’m confident we’ll find plenty for everyone to do.

Now, back to the Blue Sky Outdoor Interlocking Tiles. Yes, they are very expensive, and my fiscally conservative nature cringes at the cost. They will, however, not only provide a clean safe surface for our little ones to play on, but will also make it obvious to visitors that we put a high priority on children.

Oh, and one other thing. While I was reviewing our financial picture before the elders’ meeting—which due to your faithful stewardship is very good—I found an unexpected check in the mail. It was from the estate of Joe Carter. He had written us into his will, and the amount of his gift will nearly cover half of the cost of the playground redo.

His son was pleased to hear how we were planning to use the gift from Joe.

God Bless, Rick

Bandages Over Bazaars

When Jesus drove the merchants out of the temple, and declared His house to be a house of prayer and not a robbers’ den, that pretty much ruled out church bazaars for me. The downside of not having bazaars and fund-raisers is the loss of special events that can get church members working together side by side. For us, VBS has served that purpose.

Last year, however, we were unable to host an in-person VBS. We still had volunteers demonstrating how to make crafts and teaching lessons on video, and kids were given bags of materials to use at home, but not only was the excitement of VBS lost, the interaction between generations and the bonds made while working together was lost.

This year we didn’t know what we were going to be able to do. We discussed doing everything out-of-doors to maintain “social distancing”, but jumping and leaping and praising God together is an important part of VBS. And not knowing if it was going to be inside or out meant planning the decorations couldn’t begin as soon as usual.

When the decision was made go ahead with plans for what had become a traditional CCC VBS, I have to admit I encouraged Julie and Nikki to not go to the extremes they usually did when decorating the hallways. Obviously they ignored me. And I’m as delighted as are the kids that they did.

The burns caused by hot glue, and the hours put in by a bevy of volunteers to get the job done, was well worth it.

On second thought, maybe I should take back the part about getting burned since I wasn’t the one with burned fingers.

However, the one with bandaged fingers did say it brought her much joy to decorate the church for VBS. And I’m pretty sure that everyone who had a hand in this year’s VBS found joy in working together to do something for the kids, and for their Lord.

God Bless, Rick

What kind of man is this?

II Chronicles 7:14 has long been a Scripture to reflect upon as we think about the challenges being faced in our nation. “(If) My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

While reading it a couple of weeks ago in my daily Bible reading, I noted something I had overlooked that has bearing on what is considered by some, even in the military, to be the biggest existential threat, i.e. a threat to our very existence, facing us today: climate change.

Of course, at the same time, I was also reading Unsettled? What climate science tells us, what it doesnt, and why it matters by Steven Koonin, a recognized authority on the subject. His book details the shortcomings, biases, and agendas that give us the perception that climate change is a challenge that we must aggressively face, and something that’s under our control.

Before offering some things we can do to ameliorate some of the effects of climate change, he does note that many accept wisdom handed down from on high relative to our behavior and its effect on climate disasters. He wasn’t affirming the validity of such, but as believers we certainly must.

In Genesis 8:22, after using a flood to destroy the world that was, God said He wouldn’t do it again, and promised that seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night would not cease. And II Chronicles 7:13 precedes 7:14. “If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people…”

Without ignoring our charge to care for the environment, may we exclaim as did the disciples after Jesus calmed the storm, “What kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?

God Bless, Rick