Rappin’ With 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

Manhood is Not Natural

While thinking about Father’s Day, my thoughts went back to an article from Touchstone. I’ve got a feeling that I may have shared the article with some of you already, but even if I have, I think an excerpt bears repeating.

“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.

As her body matures, internally and externally, it sends her and those around her an unmistakable message about what she is and what she’s becoming. It moves her inexorably in that direction with a force as great as it is mysterious. Few girls miss these cues.

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

As George Gilder explains pointedly in Men and Marriage, ‘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. It is out there, beyond himself. He must go find it. He must rouse himself and gather his courage. He must go.

His movement into manhood can only come into being if he has a pilot, a director, to guide him toward that destiny. Doing this is the significant, intentional work of older men around him, starting with his father.”

In a day of societal engendered gender confusion, it’s obvious that fathers, and Christian men in general, have a lot of work to do. So let’s man up, and meet the challenge.

God Bless, Rick

New, Old “New Normal”

After one week with services cancelled due to COVID, we were able to go online with a recorded praise time, sermon, and communion meditation. Thirteen weeks later we were able to begin broadcasting live, with 74 actually in the auditorium. We kept the doors open to facilitate airflow, taped off every other pew, placed communion in the pews and offering trays on tables, and encouraged people to wear masks. In September we were able to open our nurseries and resume Sunday School classes, youth meetings, and Bible studies.

God’s blessing and the faithfulness of His people was evident throughout the time of restrictions. Gratefully most of the restrictions have now been lifted, and we are looking forward to more freedom in worship and fellowship.

On June 6th the blue tape will be gone, and communion will be served. Folding chairs will remain behind the pews for those who would be more comfortable maintaining a little more distance than the pews allow. The communion will be served, but will remain double stacked, as we have become accustomed to finding it. At this time we are not planning to resume passing offering bags, but will keep trays available to receive tithes and offerings as you enter the auditorium.

A fellowship time between worship and Sunday School will also begin on the 6th. Since we will be honoring our graduate that Sunday, more than usual will be on the tables, but we are hoping to at least have coffee and donuts available every Sunday. Dave and Rhonda are trying to find a new source for donuts, and to avoid lines at the Keurigs we hope to find someone to brew coffee before church, as Jack Ruebush did for us for so many years. If you would be willing to be our new barista, please let me know.

I’m delighted that our “new normal” will differ very little from our old.

God Bless, Rick

Mother’s Day

Who would have thought a Mother’s Day column could be lifted out of an article entitled “What Makes Men Men?”, but that’s what I’m doing.

After referring to mothers and fathers as kings and queens, the author states:

“Comparisons of fathers and mothers with kings and queens seem naïve, nostalgic, sentimental, and exaggerated. They make us squirm. There are strong reasons for this reactions, but they are bad ones. How many parents have lost their regal dignity, disbelieve in their authority, and confuse the proper humility of their office with being self-mocking and ironic? We have turned husbands and wives into androgynous ‘spouses,’ fathers and mothers into interchangeable ‘parent figures.’ We approach having a child like acquiring a pool table or wide-screen TV. Would it be fun? Would it be tedious? Would it be worth the expense? Fathers and mothers have need of recovering their sense of regal calling, taking up their ball and scepter, and ruling their dominions with love for their precious subjects.

“May it be needless to say that mothers and fathers must also recover the conviction of their need for each other. They must do this not only for their own sakes, but also for their young. Every child needs both kinds of love. It is not enough to provide an intermediate love that is half motherly and half fatherly. Or an inconsistent love that is motherly at some times, fatherly at others. Even though the two loves resemble each other, they are distinct, and neither can be imitated by anything else. Yes, it may be true heroism when, through no fault of one’s own, a father or a mother raises a child all alone; yet it is better to not be alone. No woman can fully take the place of a father, any more than a man can substitute for a mother.”

I thank God for mothers…and fathers.

God Bless, Rick