Rappin’ With Rick

Hopeful Perseverance

It’s a Strange New World indeed, and we’re going to try to understand how it became so strange on Sunday nights, beginning September 18th at 6:30.

I’m not sure how I discovered the writings of Carl Trueman, but you never know where you’ll find a literary gem. I found another one on the ski slopes of Colorado in July.

Marilyn and Linda were exploring the gift shops and Wendell and I were sitting in the shade watching kids ride bikes down the ski trails. An elderly lady in sunglasses was sitting near us, and since I couldn’t make eye contact, I thought I’d just say something. I asked if she was waiting for her grandchildren, and that opened the gate to a delightful conversation.

Before long her grandchildren and their parents joined us, and it didn’t take long for us feel like old friends. When they started to leave she handed me a note and said she too was a Christian, and that she had written a book of poetry that was available on Amazon. I’m really not into poetry, but before she was out of sight I had ordered a copy. I wasn’t sure why, until I got it and started reading.

The book is MY JOURNEY THROUGH IT ALL Hopeful Perseverance. It’s a collection of poems and thoughts that Ann Roberts wrote throughout the course of her life, focusing on how her faith kept her on course.

When I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. It touched me deeply, and before long I started thinking of others who might benefit from poems such as Change in Life that begins:

This life we had was beautiful.
Then one day something came.
That changed our lives forever.
Dementia was its name.

I gave Lucy a copy, and she said she “miraculously” went right to that poem. She now uses it in her daily devotions. I can’t promise it will be miraculous for you, but I do have a couple of copies if you want one.

God Bless, Rick

Strange New World

The Preacher wrote in Ecclesiastes, “Be warned: the writing of books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.” That warning might seem irrelevant in a day of Twitter and sound bites, but some things demand a deeper look, and books fill that role. Only one book is essential, but if we would be salt and light in a dark world we should be willing to put on our thinking caps and risk being wearied a bit.

I’m guessing that’s not the best way to encourage you to join me in a study of a book that Kevin Lasley said would be required reading if he were still teaching in the university. But don’t worry, that’s not what I’m about to do. Instead, I’m going to try to convince you to join me in a shorter more accessible version of that book.

When I read The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self I had to keep a pencil in hand. I don’t think I’ve ever done as much underlining in a book. Calling it “perhaps the most significant analysis and evaluation of Western culture written by a Protestant during the last fifty years” is probably true. The problem I had was understanding the background of everything he was saying, and knowing how to share it. Now that problem’s been solved.

Carl Trueman accepted the challenge to turn a 400 page scholarly book into a book of less than 200 pages that everyone could read and understand. His new book is entitled Strange New World and is subtitled “How thinkers and activists redefined identity and sparked the sexual revolution.”

He introduced the first book by stating, “The origins of this book lie in my curiosity about how and why a particular statement has come to be regarded as coherent and meaningful: ‘I am a woman trapped in a man’s body.’”

How we got there and how we should respond is something we should all be concerned about. Let me know if I should order you a book.

God Bless, Rick

A New World

This world is not my home,
I’m just a-passing through.
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue.

We’ve sung the hymn, but do we live as if we really believe it? That’s a question that Alistair Begg addresses in a wonderful little book entitled Brave by Faith, and subtitled “God-sized Confidence in a Post-Christian World.” He introduces the book with the above words of the hymn, and then gets right to the point.

“The fact of the matter is that it has always been true that we are strangers in and to this world. It has just been clouded, obscured by the size and influence and legal protection of the church in most of the Western world. But this world is not actually our home. We’re not supposed to be treating this life the way other people treat it, as if this is the be-all and end-all of everything, or as if as Christians we can have a comfortable, respectable, prosperous life here and look forward to even more of those things in eternity.

“Secularism pushes back again and again against what the Bible says about sexual ethics, about salvation, about education, about the role and reach of the state, or about matters of public welfare. Public opinion has turned against Christians.

“Suddenly, as a minority group within an increasingly secularized nation, we are finding out how it feels to be outsiders. And we don’t like it. We’re not used to it. And it’s easy to become bewildered, angry, defensive, or defeated.

“So the question is, what does it look like to live as a Christian in a society that does not like what Christians believe, what we say, and how we live? How are you going to live in this new world?”

Alistair takes us to the book of Daniel to find the answer. And, as we noted on Wednesday nights, Daniel and his friends were cast into a pagan culture, given pagan identities, and educated in pagan schools, but remained faithful by depending on God, and by trusting in His providence.

We can do nothing less today.

God Bless, Rick

Taking Time for Children

If you haven’t read “Communion Through the Eyes of Children” on the inside, please stop here and read it before continuing.

Isn’t that beautiful! The future doesn’t seem so bleak when the children of our church tell what Jesus has done for them, and share their knowledge of His Word. And it certainly makes everything we do for children well worth it.

When they are in the nursery they not only find adults and teens who love them, they also learn of Jesus’ love for them. When they drag home their bags of homework from Sunday School we know those bags contain the truth that will guide them throughout their lives. When they are in Wee Worship and Junior Worship we trust they are developing habits of worship that will be with them for all eternity. When they study God’s Word and discuss topics that have a bearing on their faith and witness we are equipping them for what lies ahead. When they stand in awe of all that has been done to make their time in VBS monumental, we pray their faith is being built on a solid foundation.

I am so glad that our church family includes people of all ages, and that we do try to meet the spiritual needs of all. Far too many churches ignore segments of their church that aren’t thought to be relative to current goals and programs.

When Arvin was here to bring us up to date on the work of Oblong Children’s Christian Home, he told me he has a very hard time getting into churches these days. Many have done away with Sunday School and don’t have time for reports about work with children.

I trust we’ll never get so busy doing “important” things that we won’t have time for children. And I ask you to pray for our up-coming VBS, and for other activities that are being planned for the summer months. We may not be doing much on Sunday nights right now, but we certainly have not forgotten the children.

God Bless, Rick

Revealed in His Creation

“There is none so blind as he who will not see.” As I admitted in my Easter Sunday sermon, I assumed that quote was in the Bible, but it’s not. That’s not, however, to deny the truth of it.

On Sunday mornings we’ve been looking at the blindness of the disciples and those who witnessed the miracles of Jesus. They just did not want to believe what He was telling them, and showing them. They didn’t want to take their eyes off their own perceived needs, and give up their thoughts about the way things ought to be. And they are not the only ones who are blind to the signs God left behind, and continues to manifest.

On Sunday nights we’ve been looking at the evidence in creation that points to a Creator, and the evidence within us that makes it obvious we have a spiritual nature. The Apostle Paul even went so far as to state that the invisible attributes of God, His eternal power, and His divine nature can be clearly seen in creation, and that which is known about God is evident within us. As a result he said we are without excuse for not honoring Him as God, and giving thanks.

When we left the church last Sunday night I commented to Marilyn about the beautiful sunset. She said it was even more beautiful before I came out, and that I had missed a double rainbow. That’s something I hate to miss, because when God set the bow in the heavens He did so remind us, and even Himself, of His promises. Indeed, even in a dark and sin-stained world, beauty and hope break through if we have eyes to see it.

As we move from April showers to May flowers, may we do what Jesus said we ought to do. “Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. But if God so arrays the grass of the field…will He not much more do so for you, O men of little faith?” Open our eyes Lord!

God Bless, Rick