Rappin’ With Rick

New Year’s Resolutions

It’s time for New Year’s resolutions, and I want to give you a little push to make some you may have already thought about.

The first one is to read the Bible through in 2019. Many have already committed to doing so, and the last remaining Daily Message was quickly snatched up Sunday. If you didn’t get one, you can get an e-version from Amazon, or just start reading Genesis. If reading is hard for you, Jeff has it on CDs, so you can just listen. There was still one on the table as of last Sunday.

The second is to start coming to Wednesday Night Bible Study. We have finished II Thessalonians, and will be beginning the book of James on January 9th at 6:30. We keep adding tables to the ping pong table, so there is always room for more.

The third is to at least attempt to memorize one brief passage of Scripture a week. We’ve done it before through The Hidden Word cards we created years ago, and it’s time to do it again. Every Sunday morning we’ll look at a key passage that carries the theme of a book of the Bible, and cards will be made available for you to take home as aids in memorizing the passage. A brief phrase from each will even be highlighted for those who find memorization difficult, and for children.

The final one is that you begin coming to the adult study on Sunday nights at 6:30. As you are no doubt aware, we began a study of Love Thy Body in September. We have finished the first three chapters that laid the philosophical foundation for the study, and explored in detail how a secular worldview has opened the door to abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia. We will now be looking at how that same worldview has distorted sex.

Last Sunday morning we learned from Romans that God has given over the ungodly and unrighteous to impurity, perversion and depravity. Our Sunday night study will explore how the dishonoring of bodies that Paul spoke of has led to the hookup culture, the acceptance of homosexuality, and the gender confusion we find in the world today.

I don’t have to tell you how important it is that we study the Bible, hide it in our heart, and explore together how to best apply it to the challenges we face. Just let me encourage you to do it.

God Bless, Rick

The Glory of the Unborn

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Obviously we beheld Christ’s glory in His miracles, at the transfiguration, and in the resurrection. But His glory was seen long before that.

While carrying the divinely conceived Son of God, Mary went to visit Elizabeth, who was also carrying a miraculously conceived son. When Mary greeted Elizabeth, the baby leaped in her womb for joy, and she rejoiced because the mother of her Lord had come to visit her.

Do note that Elizabeth’s Lord was still in Mary’s womb at that time, and the unborn child who would become John the Baptist had sensed the glory of the unborn Messiah.

At His birth, angels declared to the shepherds that a Savior had been born to them, and that they would find the baby wrapped in cloths, lying in a manger. The heavenly hosts then proclaimed, “Glory to God in the highest!”

King Herod was afraid the child born in Bethlehem was a threat to his power and glory, and the magi bowed before Him and worshiped.

The glory of Christ was observed while in the womb, as a newborn, and as a child under the age of two. But from what we have been learning on Sunday nights, it’s probably a good thing that Christ wasn’t born today.

In the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, Justice Harry Blackmun stated unequivocally that the unborn baby is not a person. “The word ‘person,’ as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.” He went on to state that if the fetus were recognized as a person, then abortion would necessarily be illegal.

A co-discoverer of the DNA double helix advocated waiting three days after a baby is born before deciding whether it should be allowed to live, and the other declared that “No newborn infant should be declared human until it has passed certain tests regarding its genetic endowment and if it fails these tests, it forfeits the right to life.” And Peter Singer, Bioethics Professor at Princeton, says even “a three-year old is a gray case.”

If Jesus came to earth today, He could be a candidate for abortion, or for what is called by some, “after-birth abortion.” Of course, that is only true if science is ignored, and a secular worldview is embraced.

As Nancy Pearcy notes, “With every advance of science, it becomes more evident that to be pro-life is to be on the side of science and reason. Scientists recently discovered that when a sperm meets an egg, an explosion of tiny sparks erupts from the egg at the exact moment of conception. Scientists have even captured these astonishing fireworks on film. ‘To see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking,’ researchers said. Human life literally begins in a bright flash of light.”

Even though a sperm didn’t meet an egg in Mary’s womb, the glory of Christ was no doubt breathtaking the moment the holy conception took place.

God Bless, Rick

Sleep Squadron

He called to let me know his fourteen year old sparrow hawk had died.

I had met Gary, or as I fondly referred to him, “Little Gary”, over thirty years ago at a falconry exhibition. He apparently had some developmental limitations, but he was fascinated by the hawks. When he asked if he could go hunting with me, I said yes.

Gary joined me in the field many times, and we became friends. I learned that he was employed through Sparc, and had a gift for fixing mechanical and electronic devices. He worked on the church’s VHSs several times, and started coming to church.

Before long he was bringing a friend along on our hunting adventures, and to church. Grant had been severely beaten by his father as a child, and was handicapped because of it. Eventually I had the pleasure of baptizing both Gary and Grant into Christ.

Gary became an usher at CCC, and the official filter changer. He would let me know when the furnace filters needed to be changed, and would spend the better part of a day changing them for me.

His interest in falconry kept building, and he began asking if I would sponsor him as an apprentice falconer. I was afraid he couldn’t handle a Redtail, but said he might be able to fly a Kestrel, if he could pass the federal test and state inspection. After several attempts he passed the exam, and was authorized to catch a Kestrel. When he called, he told me Jack, his last bird, had died in perfect feather at fourteen.

I hadn’t seen Gary for a long time. He stopped coming to church regularly because worship made him very emotional, and he was uncomfortable crying in church. Then he fell asleep one Sunday, and started snoring loudly. He was so embarrassed that he said he could never return.

I assured him it was no big deal. That I had told others I’d rather have them fall asleep in church than stay in bed at home, and that before I started standing behind the pulpit I had often fallen asleep sitting in a pew. I even told him about Eutychus falling asleep, and falling out of the window while the Apostle Paul was preaching. It didn’t matter. He said he could never return.

Falling asleep can be problematic, and even embarrassing. I know. In fact, I’m going for a second sleep study tonight to see if I need to join the squadron who wear flight masks during the night.

God Bless, Rick

A Persistent Podcast Patron

She really wanted to get ahold of us. She left a message on the church phone, and on Mark’s and my cell phone. The call came from North Carolina, and when Mark couldn’t understand what she was saying, he deleted it, thinking it was a telemarketer. I was at home, and at first thought the same thing. But I listened long enough to hear her mention Chatham Christian Church and my name, so I listened again carefully.

She gave her name, and said she had been listening to the podcasts from our church, and was pretty impressed. She went on to say she was an Israeli Christian, a Reformed Jewish lady believing in God like Abram, and got Jesus fourteen beautiful years ago. She said she now has a relationship with God through Jesus, believes in Him and loves Him.

She said if I could call her she would appreciate it, and of course I did. She was thrilled to hear from me, and had some very complimentary things to say about my sermons. I would tell you what she said but Marilyn won’t let me repeat them, thinking they will give me a big head.

We had a delightful time talking together, and I discovered her name was Edna, the same as my mom’s, so our connection deepened. She told me a bit more about her history and her family. Sadly she said her parents died without knowing Jesus, and her daughter doesn’t like to talk about Him much. She, on the other hand loves to talk about Him, and wondered if would be alright if she told others about our podcasts. She said she listens to one every day during her personal study time, and was even then downloading three of them.

The fact that someone in North Carolina had found our website and was listening to sermons from CCC blew me away. I may be preaching most of the sermons, but turning them into podcasts that are heard through the internet is something that is done by a team of techies headed by Chris Luzio. Their efforts in getting the word out is apparently bearing fruit, and I am so grateful for our shared ministry.

It probably comes as no surprise, but I had to ask Chris how to even get podcasts on a smart phone. In case you don’t know either, all you have to do is go to the App Store and download any podcast app, and then type in Chatham Christian Church.

I had to laugh when I found it and under Best of the Podcast was listed “But I say…Adultery”and “Balaam and His Donkey.” I laughed even harder when under You Might Also Like it suggested Joel Osteen’s podcast.

God Bless, Rick

Preaching Until Our Last Breath

Since we last visited via this column I have turned 71, and we have celebrated Thanksgiving. I mention them together because I am very thankful I’m on the other side of my 70th year.

When I entered into my 70’s I was the picture of health…for a 70 year old. I wasn’t on any medication, and didn’t think I would need any. In fact, I had foolishly thrown away my Medicare Rx card. Then the dominoes started to tumble.

My PSA took a jump, and it was discovered that I had prostate cancer. As it was being addressed, it was discovered that I had Afib. Going from healthy to having cancer and a heart condition was disconcerting to say the least.

By the grace of God both conditions were apparently successfully treated. I don’t have to see my oncologist or my cardiologist for a year. And the $500 a month medication that was reduced to $50 when I got a new Rx card is no longer needed. I’m back to self-prescribed baby aspirin and fish oil. As I said, I am very thankful.

It would appear that health issues and age may have given some the idea that retirement might be on the horizon for me. Several have asked me about the possibility, and I’ve been encouraged by their response to assurances that I haven’t even had a glimpse of that distant horizon. And I had to laugh when someone left a book on my desk about how to avoid burnout in ministry. I took that as a sign they hoped I wouldn’t burn out any time soon. Let me assure you that I have no plans to do so.

In fact, those who know me well have probably noticed that burnout has never been an issue for me. I’ve always tried to maintain a healthy balance between ministry, family, and personal time. I long ago gave up the “I’d rather burn out than rust out” mantra. I just want to keep going until I exchange a worn-out temporal body for an eternal one.

Jesse, our missionary in Thailand, and I share the same goal. After he sent me a note assuring me of his thoughts and prayers concerning my health, and I told him I was doing well, and assured him of my prayers on behalf of his many health issues, he responded with, “Praise God! We will preach Christ until our last breath.”

That is indeed my hope and prayer.

God Bless, Rick