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Friday, August 31, 2007

Haven of Rest - CANCELLED

Please note that the monthly Setup and Serve opportunity at the Haven of Rest in Akron is CANCELLED for this month. If you were planning to help with that, please enjoy the holiday weekend instead.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. (Psalm 85:2)

Tonight we will gather at 6:30 for our bi-weekly Bible Study and Prayer Meeting. I hope you will join us. We will spend a few minutes studying what the Bible teaches about the word "forgiven." And then we'll pray for one another. These meetings are simple and unstructured. They are meant to encourage and strengthen us in our walk with God.

Have you considered that word, "forgiven?" The dictionary says it means "to refrain from imposing punishment on an offender or demanding satisfaction for an offense."

There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: "Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers. (from Bits & Pieces, October 15, 1992, p. 13)

All of us need forgiveness, don't we? And all of us need to learn to forgive one another. Join us tonight at 6:30, and let's see what God teaches about this wonderful word!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Busy Week!

Last week, the Lord gave us a wonderfully busy week at Randolph Christian Church, as a flooded basement along with the attendant cleanup activities occupied much of our time. Thanks be to God for all those who so faithfully gave of their time to help with the cleanup. It looks like we will very shortly now have our basement back, in better shape than before the flood. And for that we give thanks.

This week is busy too, so let me remind you of several key events:
  • Tuesday evening - Ladies Bible study at 6:30 - Vi's home
  • Tuesday evening - Men's Timothy Club at 6:30 - Pastor's home
  • Wednesday evening - Midweek prayer meeting - 6:30 at the church
  • Saturday morning - Service day at 10:00 at the Haven of Rest in Akron
There are several opportunities in that list for all of us to fellowship with one another, to study God's Word, to pray for one another, and to serve the Savior by serving those with greater needs than our own. So as you look at that list, may I ask you to do two things?
  1. Consider being part of one or more of these activities. If you haven't before, try it and see if it's for you.
  2. Invite somebody to join you. Some people avoid church services, but may enjoy a less formal Bible study or service opportunity.
What a privilege it is to serve our Lord in a place like this. And as the lazy days of summer wind to a close, and we head into the busy days of autumn, let us all look forward to serving together, faithfully and diligently. Let us throw ourselves into the work at RCC, for we have the wonderful promise of God to sustain us - "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Secret of Success

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments. (Ezra 7:10)

No matter what we set out to do or be in life, success is what we crave. As fathers and mothers, our highest hope is to be successful and finish the course with children that live for God and serve both Him and others. As employees, we strive for success in our jobs. As followers of Jesus Christ, our greatest goal is to hear Him declare our success with those words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Success is the goal. But how to achieve that goal is the question.

I came across this verse in Ezra today, and it tells us the secret. Ezra was a priest and scribe who was used of God in rebuilding Jerusalem, and restoring the worship of God to Jerusalem, after it had lain dormant for years with its people in captivity in another land.

His secret of success consisted of 3 things:
  1. He sought the Word of God (i.e in His personal life, He strove to know and understand God's Word)
  2. He did the Word of God (i.e. in His personal life, He didn't stop with knowing and understanding - he was careful to OBEY what He read.)
  3. He taught the Word of God. (He understood that we are always teaching, if not in word, certainly by example.)
Here is how we will succeed at RCC, by implementing these 3 things. Here is how each of us succeed in raising our children to glorify God - by implementing these 3 things. Here we see that the Word of God is central to our success in everything - SEEK IT, DO IT, TEACH IT.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


A prayer request for you today, as well as a request for help:

We suffered a pretty good flood at the church yesterday - at one time having 4 inches of water in the church basement. Praise God for Trustee Mike's efforts at getting things fixed up. He installed 2 new sump pumps (both had gone out!!), and hopefully we are protected from a similar fate for a while.

But the water remains. Dennis and Linda came and helped last evening with cleanup and using the wet vac on the carpet. Dennis and I will be back at it again this evening slurping water. If any of you have wet vacs and are able to invest a little time this evening, come help us clean up. We'll be at the church at 6:30.

Our Church Needs Failures

The great men and women in the Bible were all a bunch of failures. As a matter of fact, I can't think of a single Biblical personality who accomplished anything for God without falling flat on his or her face at least once.

Don't believe me? Your assignment for the day, then, is to read Hebrews 11 - often referred to as the "Role Call of the Heroes of the Faith." But most of the people cited in this chapter as role models for you and I to emulate, failed at least once in their walk with God. They fell flat on their faces. They screwed up. They choked, sometimes over and over.

The Lord is looking for people who are willing to fail. Can you do that? I'm pretty good at it myself. I'm reminded of a news story I heard years ago. A woman was despairing of life and determined to end it all. She climbed to the top of a multi-storied building, walked through a window and onto a ledge, summoned her courage and stepped off the ledge. However, a strong gust of wind hit her, so that rather than her falling to the ground many floors below, she was pushed back onto the ledge a couple of floors down where she was rescued. She sustained injuries, but was very much alive. Later in the hospital a reporter asked her what could possibly have been so very bad in her life that she would want to end it? The woman responded, "Because I've failed at everything I've ever tried to do."

I think that's hilarious.

Don't think that you need to be an expert to serve God in His church. He is looking for men and women who recognize He has gifted them, and who are willing to try new things. Are you willing to risk failing in serving the Lord? We need Sunday School teachers. Are you willing to risk trying something that you might succeed at and you might not? We need a man or men to help with media ministry - somebody to manage our sound system, and tapes, and other media. Are you willing to try, even if you fail?

Churches suffer when people think they must be an expert at something before they will try it. We need more pioneers! People who will trust God when they feel Him tugging at their heart about a ministry opportunity. David Livingstone was a missionary to Africa. A man wrote to him once saying he would come help if Livingstone could point him to a good road to where he was. Livingstone replied, "If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don't want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all. "

Risk takers - that's what we need. Willingness to fail. Go re-read Hebrews 11 again, and determine to try things - big things, for God.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Best Job In The World!

The last thing I did before calling it a night was to log onto the internet and check the weather for tomorrow. Rats... it was supposed to be isolated thunderstorms - not a good day for riding my motorcycle.

The next morning I logged on and checked it again. Interestingly, it now said that it would be in the high 70's with partly cloudy sky - no rain. "I wonder why they can't get it right from one day to the next?" I thought, as I saddled up the bike and headed into work.

Now it's late afternoon and I'm thinking about my ride home. The skies are looking pretty gray, so I checked the weather again - RAIN!! All afternoon and turning into thunderstorms later this evening!

Weathermen have the best job in the world. They never have to be right. They don't even have to be close. And I'm guessing they get paid pretty well for such complete and total inaccuracy.

Imagine what it would be like if God applied that level of accuracy to those who spoke for Him. A prophet could be right once in a while, and that would be ok. The Bible could be filled with inaccuracies and errors, but that would be ok. We would have no standard of truth because who cares if it's accurate anyway?

But God said true prophets are ALWAYS accurate. One mistake and they are marked as fakes, God said. "If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him." (Deuteronomy 18:22 NIV) And the Bible, because "no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (2 Peter 1:21 NASB), is absolutely trustworthy - no matter what time of the day you decide to look at it. It will always be true.

I'd love to be a weatherman, but I'm sure glad God's standard of accuracy is higher.

What Are Your Qualifications?

The angry voice repeated it over and over - "What are your qualifications?" "What are your qualifications?"

Here was one of the more lovely aspects of ministry - an irate individual giving me a piece of his mind over the phone. And throughout his tirade, that question kept coming - a question which I couldn't help but ponder as his torrent of words poured from the telephone. Just what are my qualifications, anyway? Who am I to give advice or counsel to somebody else?

The fact is, no one of us is qualified to provide advice to another. We are all sinners, aren't we? "For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard." (Romans 3:23 NLT) Jesus gave some potent instruction about this very concept:
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 NIV)
We are all flawed. We are all struggling with sin. We are all in need of help and advice, but none of us are qualified to give it! What a mess we are in!

And that, my friend, is where God's Word comes into the picture. We can't trust the words of men, but we can trust the Word of God. It, and it alone, is our standard. When we base what we do, what we think, what we say, and what we tell others only on what the Bible teaches, we are on solid ground.

That is our goal at RCC. We don't want to share our opinions with you - only God's Word as revealed in the Bible. We have no qualification except that.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Another Flash of Brown

There's nothing quite like the soft rumble your motorcycle makes as you negotiate the curves of a back road - nothing quite like the feel of the cool wind as it rushes past. I was exulting in the experience this morning on my way to work. It was just a beautiful morning to ride.

Suddenly I was arrested by a thought. I had just passed a dangerous stretch of road, and I had not even paid attention to it. I wrote about this deer-infested patch of road in an earlier post. But after having seen deer in that stretch of road several times, this morning I was oblivious and wasn't paying attention as I drove it.

"Is there a lesson in that, Lord?" I prayed as I motored on down the road. Then just ahead I saw that familiar flash of brown. But this time it wasn't moving - it was dead along the side of the road. The King had my attention now, so I thought about the experience the rest of the way in to work.

It is so easy to become complacent in the Christian life. Especially when our lives are happy and healthy and problem free. When we hurt, we talk to God about it. When we are sick, we ask for health and seek the Great Physician. When our marriages are broken, or our friends and families are fractured, we run straight to the One Who can fix them.

But when things are calm, when our lives feel safe, when we feel the cool breeze blowing across our faces - that's when we are in danger of letting down our guard and falling flat on our faces. That dead deer was a neon sign to me this morning - you are in most danger when you become complacent. Paul, that great warrior of the faith, put it well, "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Corinthians 10:12 NIV)

Are things going well for you, my friend? At such times, praise God for His goodness, and pray to Him for His protection. We need to pray one for another just as much during the good times as during the bad. Our newly initiated Wednesday Evening Prayer Meetings are based on this principle - we pray for each other, whether we have stated needs or not. We pray hardest for those who are on the mountaintop. We'll meet this Wednesday at 6:30 and do that very thing. Join us.

Friday, August 10, 2007

My Sins Have Overtaken Me

For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. (Psalm 40:12 NIV)

It is absolutely necessary that we understand the concept of sin. You cannot know how to be saved until you understand that you are in need of it - you are lost in sin. Repentance - turning away from our sin and toward God, is a necessary prerequisite for salvation.

And so we talk about sin... we preach about sin... we encourage one another to turn from sin and lead holy lives. Luke 24:46 says that "repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." It is vital that we understand sin, and that we turn from sin to the Lord Jesus Christ.

But for the Christian it is just as vital to accept the forgiveness that comes with that action. When you turn to Christ in repentance, and trust Him for the salvation that He alone can give, you are forgiven... immediately... forever. The writer of Psalms put it like this, "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm 103:12 NIV) Can you measure the distance between the east and the west? It's infinite - and that's just how far God removes your sin from you when you put your trust in Christ.

Go back and re-read the verse at the top of this note. Too many of us are like that Psalmist. We let our sin overwhelm us. We feel guilty and defeated. As we allow the devil to make us feel guilty over and over about sin that's already been forgiven, we "cannot see" and our "heart fails within us." Our eyes, which should be on Christ, become focused on ourselves and our perceived guilt. Our heart, which should be singing for joy over what Jesus has done for us, becomes stifled with guilt. We come to feel that "my sins have overtaken me."

Christian - you are forgiven. Believe it, and rejoice in it.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Insanity or Change?

Albert Einstein said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." He may have been quoting Benjamin Franklin, for I've also seen this quote attributed to old Ben.

One of the truly remarkable things about a church as old as ours is the simple fact that it is still here. Staying power is rare in this world. Faithfulness is a quality that we need far more of. Randolph Christian Church has "stayed by the stuff" and remained faithful to our King for many many years. Those of you who have been here for an extended period can take pride in that faithfulness.

But a church is not a success just because it is still around. A church succeeds only as it reaches people with the life-changing truth of the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. Always, that means we must be open to changing our tactics to reach an ever widening audience.

No army wins battles without changing its tactics. No football team can beat a powerful foe unless the coach knows when to make adjustments, and makes them. No business stays in business if it does not adjust to meet changes in the marketplace. And no church can succeed without also changing when it needs to change.

I know that change is hard for people, but it is necessary, and I challenge you to support it here at RCC. Remember the words of Jesus which I think are so appropriate to our church, "Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old." (Matthew 13:52 NASB) Did you see that? Both the new and the old are needed.

We don't have much trouble with the old here at RCC, but I challenge you all to consider our need for the new. We are not reaching children and families. So we are starting a Sunday School on September 9. We are not praying enough one for another as a church, so we have started a Wednesday night prayer meeting. We are desperately in need of men on our team. We are therefore making changes to make our services less feminine, and more masculine. We will never abandon the good old hymns of the faith, but we are pumping up our music program by adding some of the newer and more contemporary music.

Change is in the air, and it's only just beginning! It's half-time in this football game, and we need to put some points on the board. Let's adjust. Let's change. Let's win!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

If the Lord Wills

A good reminder from Dr. David Jeremiah:

Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." (James 4:15)

Experts are always predicting the future - how many hurricanes will strike this year, what will happen to the stock market, and how the housing market will fare, which teams will end up in the World Series, and which products will be hits on store shelves.

It's risky business because no one has the ability to see even five minutes into the future.

The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote, "A wise man's heart discerns both time and judgment, because for every matter there is a time and judgment . . . for he does not know what will happen; so who can tell him when it will occur?" (Ecclesiastes 8:5,7)

Wisdom is the ability to do God's will in God's timing; and though we do not know exactly what the future holds, we can always say, "If the Lord wills . . . ."

Make your plans prayerfully and hold them loosely. And with every prayer request and every plan and project, give it to Him, saying, "Lord, if it be Your will . . . ."

We don't know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Rightly Dividing the Word

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)

Maria Fedorovna, the empress of Russia and wife of Czar Alexander III, was known for her philanthropy. She once saved a prisoner from exile in Siberia by transposing a single comma in a warrant signed by Alexander. The czar had written: “Pardon impossible, to be sent to Siberia.” After Maria’s intervention, the note read: “Pardon, impossible to be sent to Siberia.” The prisoner was eventually released. (from Today in the Word, July 14, 1993)

Accuracy is everything, isn't it? None of us would want to undergo brain surgery from a "close-is-good-enough" surgeon, would we? We would want to believe the guy knew EXACTLY where to make that incision, right? Accuracy is everything.

So with our handling of the Bible. Accuracy is everything. Paul told Timothy to "rightly divide the word of truth." When we apply this principle, we do away with so many misconceptions and perceived problems in the Bible. It interprets itself, if we just "rightly divide the word."

For example, in God's ten commandments, He forbade murder. "Thou shalt not MURDER." (Exodus 20:13) However, God is also the author of capital punishment (Genesis 9:1-6). "See," shout the unbelievers, "that Bible is FULL of inconsistencies like that!" But there is no inconsistency. One verse is directed at individuals. One is directed at governments. Rightly divided, we see that the Bible always forbids murder, but also requires governments to take action in dealing with crime. We get confused when we apply God's teaching about government to us as individuals, or vice versa.

Let's be accurate. Let's rightly divide the word of truth. When we do, we find the Bible is perfect, and contains not a single mistake.

Monday, August 6, 2007

In Battle or in Bed

The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1 NIV)

A captain in the Confederate army once asked General "Stonewall" Jackson how he could remain so calm in the face of the horrors of war. Jackson, a staunch Christian, answered, "Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave."

Jesus modeled that same peace in the midst of danger. When the boat carrying Him and His disciples encountered a tremendous storm at sea, Jesus slept through it! The disciples were astonished at His calm. But He knew what Stonewall knew - The Lord is the stronghold of my life - of whom (or what) shall I be afraid?

Do you have that level of confidence in God? It's there for the asking.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

120 Years Per Inch?

"In the beginning, God..." (Genesis 1:1)

Do you believe that?

I recently toured an underground cavern which was stunningly beautiful. Stalactites of breathtaking beauty and design hung from the ceiling while mirrored from below by stalagmites. Cavern after cavern increasingly revealed the artistic genius of our God. At one point during the tour, the group entered a large cavern containing what appeared to be a church organ at one end. Apparently, years ago, somebody had discoverered that when you tap a stalactite, it produces a sound. Armed with this knowledge, the discoverer went on to create this organ that generates its music from tapping thousands of the stalactites in the cave. Seconds later, "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" was echoing eerily from the flickering depths of the cave. I marvelled and worshipped at the same time. A mighty fortress, indeed! "The earth showeth forth His handiwork."

But what's that you say? Those stalactites and stalagmites were formed over millions of years? Each of those magnificent sculptures was formed at a rate of one inch per every 120 years? It was simply a natural process that occurred during that eons-long period when mankind was evolving from the primordial ooze?

Sorry, I just don't buy that. "In the beginning God." If you accept that one phrase in our Bible, then you have no trouble believing everything else - including the fact the earth is not millions or billions of years old, but only thousands, as the Bible teaches... and including the fact that things like that amazing cavern with its stunning hues and colors and sculptures that put Michelangelo to shame, were all the result of a creative God.

"In the beginning God!" That is the world view that shapes every aspect of our belief system as Christians. And that world view includes the fact that God is God - sovereign and supreme. He can do as He pleases and does not rely on natural processes. He can create all the multiplied trillions of stars in our universe with a simple word, so why would we think He needs 120 years to form an inch of rock?

"In the beginning God." Say it over and over and over to yourself today. If you get hold of that truth it colors everything you see, everything you say, everything you believe.

"In the beginning God."