Rappin’ With Rick

Riding a Murdercycle

Stanley Mirek called it a “murdercycle.” He had been a policeman in Chicago for years before moving to Chatham, and had seen a lot of bad motorcycle accidents. He couldn’t believe I actually rode a “murdercycle” with “Eliminator” emblazoned on the faring. But I did.

That bike was eliminated in a serious accident, but I wasn’t on it at the time. My next bike had to be replaced due to crash in the neighborhood on my way to a Bible study that resulted in a few stitches on my chin, and I broke five ribs on my way to Tennessee on my Harley after someone pulled out in front of me.

So why do I still ride? Especially at my age! I ride because I still enjoy it. I’ve assessed the risks and determined it’s worth it.

There was a time when I didn’t think it was. I had two small kids at home, and the thought of taking an unnecessary risk that might leave them fatherless made me stay off a bike for a number of years. Now that I’m just a grandpa, I feel I’m free to take the risk. But I do moderate the risk. I always wear a helmet.

It’s not a full-face helmet, and I don’t wear all the gear all the time (ATGATT) which is no doubt the safest way to ride, but I do wear a helmet. Those who don’t probably think I’m doing something that’s unnecessary, and those who go ATGATT no doubt think I’m taking unnecessary risks.

I’m not offended if someone expresses concern about my safety, and I may do the same for someone else. But I don’t believe anyone should force someone to do what they do just because they think they should. I think you can see where this is going.

Some of us have determined that the risk in coming to church is too great at this time. Others have decided it’s worth the risk. I don’t feel it’s my place to try to convince anyone one way or another. But I do think we should all continually assess the ever-changing risks, and do what we feel God would have us do.

And as soon as possible, we all do need to be back together in worship.

God Bless, Rick

Why Do All Children Misbehave?

I don’t faithfully listen to podcasts or even radio programs, but when I’m in the car I often listen to whatever’s on, and several weeks ago I heard John Rosemond being interviewed on the Dennis Prager show. He was talking about raising children, and I was intrigued by what I was hearing.

I don’t know why I hadn’t heard of him before, but he’s been writing books, giving talks, and counseling parents for over forty years. Dennis said he is considered by many to be the current authority on child- rearing, so I ordered his book. Yes, another book on raising children.

Even before I was a father I read The Christian Family by Larry Christenson. Over the years we’ve read books and watched videos by James Dobson, Kevin Leman, and Tedd Tripp. I don’t remember everything we learned together, but I’m pretty sure I’ve been reading some things I’ve never read before.

Rosemond opens his book with a shocking statement that I referred to in a sermon a couple of weeks ago.

“If asked ‘Why do children, all children, misbehave?’ most psychologists (of which I am one) would employ one or more of the following words or phrases: unresolved issues, anxiety, stress, conflicting messages, cries for help or attention, trauma, post- traumatic, power struggles, chemical imbalances, and genes. Nope. Some of those may help us understand why a four- year-old refuses to obey his parents, but none of those words explains why all children misbehave, and deliberately so. As it turns out, the explanation is simple: children are bad…and the sooner parents understand and accept this, the better for them and the better also for their children.”

He goes on to note that he’s really not saying anything new. What he’s presenting is basically the common sense point of view that was held by most parents prior to the psychological-parenting revolution that swept America in the 1960s and early 1970s. What he’s trying to do is help parents put common sense back into practice.

While you may not choose to follow all his specific suggestions for handling issues such as lying, defiance, tantrums, or refusing to use the potty, I think you’ll find principles in his book that will help you raise The Well- Behaved Child.

I have several copies in the office if you want one.

God Bless, Rick

Looking Forward While Looking Back

Even if you didn’t stay up to celebrate the passing of 2020, I’m sure we’re all relieved it’s behind us. We may not have all actually shouted “Happy New Year”, but we’re all looking forward to a happier 2021.

To say it’s been a challenging year is a massive understatement. Not only did we endure a stressful political season, but we were all stressed by a virus that invaded our lives. Some were obviously effected more than others, but it certainly touched every one of us. There is no need to document all the hardships, we all know what they were and continue to be. But the promise of Romans 8:28 gives us more hope for the future than an annual cry of “Happy New Year!”

God has promised to bring good out of everything that happens to us, if we love Him and are called according to His purpose. Not only does that give us courage to face the future, it invites us to look back at what God has already done.

When we were mandated to close our doors, we cancelled our services as if it were a snow storm. By the next week, however, we were offering online videos of praise, a sermon, and a communion meditation. And after the mandate was loosened, and thirteen weeks with our doors closed, we opened to in-house worship. We have been able to continue doing so ever since, even adding nurseries, Sunday School classes, youth groups, and Bible studies.

As to be expected, our worship attendance dropped to record lows. But we still averaged seventy-four over the last seven months, averaging eighty- eight during the month of December. And gratefully, our giving continued to exceed our projected needs. A couple of very generous gifts even enabled us to meet special needs on the mission field, and to repave our parking lot.

The greatest blessing to come during the last ten months, no doubt, is the number of new families that have begun worshipping with us. I pray those who have been unable to attend in person will soon be able to return and get to know their new brothers and sisters.

God Bless, Rick

Friends of God

“We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (II Corinthians 5:20)

As we noted a couple of weeks ago, to be reconciled means to be made friendly again. In other words, God wants to be your friend.

That thought really excited my grand- son Carter. After last week’s sermon he could hardly wait to tell me how much he liked the idea of being God’s friend. I hope it excites you as well.

It’s one thing to note that Abraham was called the friend of God, (James 2:23) and that the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. (Exodus 33:11) It’s another thing to actually hear Jesus say, “You are My friends.” (John 15:14)

Are you a friend of God? Do you talk with Him as friend to friend? Do you think of the One who laid down His life for His friends as your friend?

The Apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2 that although Jesus existed in the form of God He emptied Himself to be made in the likeness of men, and that He did so in order to become obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus became a man in order to become our Savior. That’s the good news of great joy that the angel shared with the shepherds. But He also became a man so we could relate to God as friend with friend.

While we may not find that message on Christmas cards, it’s an important part of the good news of great joy. God wants to be your friend. And the Prince of Peace not only wants there to be peace on earth, He begs you to be reconciled to God. He begs you to become friends with your Creator. In fact, He became a man, and died, to make that possible.

While I long to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord”, I want even more than that. When I get to heaven I want to be welcomed as a friend of God. And that’s my Christmas wish for you as well.

God Bless, Rick

The Ministry of IDES

I want to introduce you to a new mission that will appear on our 2021 Financial Projection.

IDES is a Christian relief organization that was begun in 1973 to enable Christian Churches to partner with mission workers around the world in order to meet the physical and spiritual needs of people in the name of Jesus Christ. The primary goal of IDES is to share the gospel by showing that God loves and cares for those in need, whether it is rebuilding homes after a disaster, providing nutritious food to the hungry, helping develop sustainable solutions for water or food supply problems, or serving the sick and injured. Last year IDES disbursed over 4 million dollars in disaster response aid, hunger relief, community development, medical care, and for Bibles and evangelistic materials.

Over the years IDES stepped in to help Asian Christian Mission meet needs that arose from various disasters, and when funds were available, we sought to help meet such needs directly. Sending funds monthly to IDES, however, will enable us to join with other churches to even more effectively meet needs as they arise.

Upon Jesse’s death the board of ACM decided to bring the mission to a close at the end of 2020, and Jesse’s wife, Ati, will continue working in Thailand through another mission. Supporting IDES will therefore not only enable us to meet needs around the world, but to continue meeting needs that might arise where we have ministered for over 40 years through our beloved Jesse.

God Bless, Rick