Rappin’ With Rick

Inspirational Dumpster Calendars

I realize that the word “spiritual” means different things to different people. We’ve all heard or read of someone declaring they are not religious, but are spiritual. They generally mean they have given up on organized religion, and are simply spiritual, whatever that might mean. Now I’ve been forced to re-think the word “inspirational.”

For years we’ve purchased inspirational wall calendars. They generally included a beautiful picture of nature and a Biblical quote. Last year’s calendar included quotes such as, “And blessed be His glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory”, and “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.”

The calendars were beautiful, but the price and the minimum number we had to purchase kept going up. We stopped purchasing pocket calendars years ago because few people use them any more, and I did end up throwing away a number of wall calendars last year, but there still seems to be a place for a beautiful calendar on most walls. And it’s good to have the name of the church and phone numbers readily available.

While trying to justify the cost, I received a welcomed offer in the mail. A company I had not used before had inspirational calendars available for a very good price, and we only had to order 50. I jumped at it.

When they arrived I was really excited, but my excitement died when I read the first quote. It was from Benjamin Franklin! The quote wasn’t horrible, and was even inspirational. “Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” It’s not far from, “Do not be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself,” and “You are the light of the world.”

But then I read another. “If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.” That is horrible! And it’s a far cry from, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and way is broad that leads to destruction.”

Those calendars went into the dumpster, and the company graciously agreed to send us replacements, free of charge, that actually have Scripture on them. I just hope the pictures are good.

God Bless, Rick

A New Season of Study

The lazy days of summer are now behind us. At least they are if you had any. For some reason life doesn’t seem to have the seasonal slow-downs it once had. Even though the kids aren’t in school, activities abound and calendars remain full. In fact, sometimes life is crazier when the kids aren’t in school.

As a church family we have always tried to find a balance between too much and too little. And as the early church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer, we try to offer enough to follow their example year round. It takes a serious weather event to keep us from gathering together on Sunday morning.

We do, however, slow down during the summer months. Our regular Sunday evening activities are put on hold, and our Bible study groups take a break. It gives those leading, as well as those who attend, a chance to enjoy other activities for the summer. It also gives everyone the opportunity to look forward to a new season of study.

As we begin that new season, I want everyone to prayerfully consider taking advantage of what we offer. If you are not currently involved in a Sunday School class, now is a great time to begin. Jeni is offering a new class for ladies that will meet in the library, and both Chris and Jack have excellent adult classes. Chris is currently looking at the Beatitudes, and Jack is finishing up the last book of the Old Testament. Those who wish to discuss the morning sermon, or other topics of concern, are invited to meet with me in the auditorium.

On Sunday nights the adults who aren’t leading in youth activities are encouraged to join me in a study on the life of Joseph. On Wednesday nights all adults are invited to meet at 6:30 to explore what the book of Hebrews has to say about Jesus. And on Thursday nights men are invited to meet together at 7:00 to learn what Paul told the Galatians about living in freedom.

I don’t expect you to be here every time the church doors are open, but I do want you to at least think about coming when they are.

God Bless, Rick

A Couple of Breaks

It’s not April 15th, and there are no elections on the immediate horizon, so why did I preach about God and Country last Sunday morning?

Obviously the answer is that in our study of Romans, we came to the 13th chapter. It’s there that Paul speaks of God’s role in the establishment of civil governments and of our responsibilities to those in authority over us. But what Paul had to say was in response to questions that the believers in Rome were struggling with at the time. So shouldn’t we wait until we are struggling with similar questions before looking at Paul’s instruction on the matter?

True, it would seem more relevant if I preached on this when we were all thinking about taxes and elections. But then again, shouldn’t we know what God expects of us long before we are faced with an immediate decision? It certainly wouldn’t be wise to wait until we were in the heat of an argument to find out what God has to say about murder, or in the heat of passion to consider what He has to say about adultery. It’s vital that we know what God has to say long before we’re called upon to make a decision.

I had written the above on Monday, before leaving for a dental appointment after breaking a tooth on Sunday. The break was welcomed, in writing the article of course, not the tooth, because I wasn’t sure how I was going to finish it. I was, however, giving thought to how our Sunday School program prepares children for life by grounding them in God’s Word. Then this morning I read the following in The Daily Message. It’s from the 119th Psalm, and finishes my article perfectly.

How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word.
I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches.
I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it.
I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it.

God Bless, Rick

Social Media

3,000 year old wisdom from the Book of Proverbs about the use of social media.

“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.”25:11

“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,” 10:11

“Anxiety in the heart of a man weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.”12:25

“There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” 12:18

“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” 10:19

“He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles.”21:23

“The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly.” 15:14

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.” 26:4

“The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.” 15:28

“He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” 17:27

“He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.” 17:9

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” 15:1

“For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.” 26:20

God Bless, Rick

Maintaining Manhood

“Toxic masculinity” seems to be the new way to describe the behavior of males when they do something unacceptable, and the governor of California even said it was the cause of recent mass shootings.

Upon hearing that, I recalled an article I had read in Touchstone entitled “Manhood Is Not Natural.” Some final thoughts in the article include this: “True masculinity is not and cannot ever be toxic. Masculinity is a personal and social virtue. Those who use the word ‘toxic’ are confusing masculine with macho and male pathology.” The thesis of the article can be summarized by the following quotes.

“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.”

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

“His movement into manhood can only come into being if he has a pilot, a director, to guide him toward that destination. Doing this is the significant, intentional work of older men around him, starting with his father. As a behavior and a status, manhood must be learned, earned, demonstrated, and proven by the growing boy over the years. As an identity, manhood must be bestowed by a boy’s father and the community’s larger fraternity of men. His mother can only affirm it. She cannot bequeath it.”

“Manhood is not a status to be achieved, but a reputation to be maintained, for one can lose it at any time. The captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship lost his in an instant. Yes, maleness just happens. Manhood does not and cannot. The first is a biological event. The second is a carefully developed character quality.”

May God help us raise up a generation of real men.

God Bless, Rick