August 24, 2017

Dear Friends, 

British pastor Sam Allberry tweeted something this week that reminded me of how most of us (me included) are not taking full advantage of what is perhaps our greatest opportunity to engage people who are far from God with the gospel. 

The mostly ignored secret weapon when it comes to being on mission with Jesus is the weapon of hospitality.

A few years ago, when I read Rosaria Butterfield’s memoir The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, where she details her journey from a lesbian professor of Queer Studies at Syracuse University who was far from God to believing the gospel message and surrendering to Jesus, I was struck by what was the instrumental means of her conversion.  It was the gracious hospitality shown her by a Presbyterian pastor and his wife who invited someone they had never me to be a guest in their home for dinner.  

As she describes the experience, Rosaria confesses that she arrived as an adversary, and after several subsequent dinners, she found herself drawn to Jesus. 

Alexander Strauch says “hospitality is love in action.  Hospitality is the flesh and muscle and bones of love.”

And Tim Chester reminds us how much of Jesus ministry took place around a dinner table.  “Jesus didn’t run projects, establish ministries or put on events,” Chester says.  “He ate meals.”  The Son of Man may have had no home of His own and no place to lay His head, but he knew the power that comes from a welcoming heart.

And in the end, that’s where the root of hospitality is found.  It’s not in our homes.  It’s in our hearts. 

In our day, we talk about restaurants and hotels being part of the “hospitality industry,” which my daughter Amy has observed is, if we are thinking biblically, a contradiction in terms.  Biblically, Amy writes, “hospitality is not about throwing parties for your friends or making money off of strangers.  Instead, hospitality is a posture of the heart.  Hospitality means being emotionally, physically, spiritually open to strangers – and being open for unexpected blessings in return.”

Which brings me back to the tweet from Sam Allberry.

There are two corrections we need to make in how we think if we’re going to embrace a biblical understanding of hospitality.  The first correction is this.  We have to quit thinking that our homes are about our privacy.  As long as that’s our primary thought about where we live, we will never embrace hospitality as we ought.

And second, we must recognize that real hospitality is not about performance.  It’s about caring.  About loving others. 

The writer of Hebrews has famously encouraged us to “Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:1-2

In the midst of the busyness of daily life, is there a way you extend hospitality this week?  Is there someone who is far from God and far from church that you can invite into your home for a meal?

 It is not a coincidence that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin root word.  Opening your home may be the greatest act of spiritual care you can offer someone.

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It’s time for Redeemer Small Groups to reform and reconnect!  Here’s the info about this fall:

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If you’re interested in having one or more of your children dedicated to the Lord as part of our upcoming dedication ceremony on September 10, now is the time to contact Cathy Crowell and let her know.  Her email is cvcrowell.rcc@gmail.com

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Three big announcements for ladies at RCC.

First, there is a kick-off women’s dinner this coming Monday, August 28th at 6:30pm at the Dietrich home. The address is 6 Stable Run Court, in West Little Rock. 

It’ll be a great night of fun and fellowship. Please let Maria Goff know if you would be willing to bring a salad or a dessert!  Send her an email at mrs.mlgoff@gmail.com  and say “I’d love to help out!”

Then on Monday, September 11, the Women’s Bible Study is back.  This fall, the study will be a Precept study of the book of Exodus.  The study happens at church on Monday nights, from 7:00 – 8:30 and will go 11 weeks, ending on the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Contact Terry Morledge (mhmfamily@att.net) to get your workbook ordered. Or text her at 501-517-1566. Cost is $12.  And click here if you’d like to get a sneak peek inside the first chapter of the Exodus workbook.

And finally, don’t forget the upcoming first ever RCC women’s retreat.  It’s all set for the weekend of October 6-8.

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Find out more at https://www.tannenbaumlodge.com/

You can reserve your spot today by emailing Laura White (laurawhite811@gmail.com) or Jen Gurney (jengiles1@yahoo.com) and letting them know you’re in.  Cost is $100.  Don’t let the cost keep you from coming!  We have some scholarship funds available.

Do Laura and Jen a favor.  If you’re planning to come, send an email this week so they can get an idea of how many women there will be.  Your spot is reserved once you’ve turned in your money.

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And just in case the men are feeling left out… 

Starting on Thursday morning, Sept. 7, Matt Gurney and John Dietrich are inviting any men interested to join them for 12 weeks of ID – Intentional Discipleship. 

From 6:00 – 7:15 am each Thursday, guys will be meeting at the Dietrich home at 6 Stable Run Ct. for a time that will include the following:

-T-truth-we will always study the Word to see what is says about our issue or topic

E-equipping

A-accountability

M-mission

S-supplication or prayer

Together as men, we’ll be exploring how Jesus made disciples, and what we can learn from His example.  We’ll explore the key elements of spiritual growth and transformation, and talk about how to live life on mission in a way that is reproducible. 

Contact Matt (mattgurney77@gmail.com) or John (jdandmd2@mac.com) if you have any questions.  Or look for a sign up sheet at church and let us know if you’d like to be part of the group!

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We’re still looking for a few folks who would like to have an eternal impact on a child’s life.

The Toddler Sunday school class needs you.  If you are a member of RCC and you enjoy working with young children (3-5 year-olds), and if you’re looking for an opportunity to serve, this is it!

The commitment is only eight Sundays a year – once every 6 weeks. Curriculum and teaching materials are provided, and there is almost no advanced preparation necessary (maybe a tiny bit.  But almost none  J  ).

If you are interested, or would like more information, please contact Merrilee Dietrich (690-2275, or merrileebdietrich@gmail.com).

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Is God’s law a good thing or a bad thing?  As Christians, should we love God’s law?  Or are we free from it?

That’s what Paul addresses in the middle of Romans 7.  And that’s what we’ll explore together this Sunday.

  

See you in church!

  

Soli Deo Gloria!

Bob Lepine

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