I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that in our day, for the most part, if you are known as someone who believes the Bible is God’s authoritative, infallible and inerrant word, most cultural leaders will regard you as unenlightened at best and in some circles, as a hatful bigot, regardless of how gentle and kind you might seem to be. Pastor Kevin DeYoung says “the world wants to press us into its mold, and that mold is getting very tight very quickly.”
As a result, many of us have concluded that we’ll stand up for Jesus by doing our best to love our neighbor as ourselves. But we’ll keep quiet about exactly what we believe about God and about the Bible. We may not deny Him as directly as Peter did. But we’ll let our good works do the talking. And we’ll keep our biblical convictions to ourselves.
Now there is a time and a place to speak up about what we believe. Jesus tells us to be shrewd in how we work to advance the Kingdom of God. But it seems to me that most of us have concluded that in this current moment, our best strategy as ambassadors for Christ is to say nothing about Jesus unless someone asks, and even then, keep it as vague as possible.
That may sound like a shrewd approach to take in a culture that is growing increasingly antagonistic when it comes to the Bible. But it’s not the approach the first disciples took. In the midst of a culture where being open about your faith could mean a trip to the Colosseum, they continued to love their neighbor and tell him about Jesus.
What can we learn from their example? In a helpful article on the World News Group website (it’s here, but it may be behind a paywall), Kevin DeYoung says that in the face of cultural hostility to our message, we should be cheerful, be clear and be confident.
He points his readers to 2 Corinthians 4, where Paul says “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.” DeYoung writes “(Here’s) what I mean by cheerful. Not absentminded or oblivious. But joyful, happy, hopeful. We must never revile when reviled. Nor is there ever a time to return unrelenting cynicism for cynicism. After all, people are supposed to ask us for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15), not for the abject sense of utter despair.”
Here’s what clarity should look like. 2 Corinthians 4 goes on to say “We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”
The Word of God is being tampered with in our day. It’s my observation that there are many in our culture today who have taken Romans 12:2 and flipped it on its head. Instead of seeking to be transformed by renewing their minds with God’s Word, there are many today who are trying to renew and transform God’s word so it conforms to the spirit of the age. We should be men and women who confidently stand firm on the clear teaching of God’s word, no matter how out of step it is with modern sensibilities.
And finally, Deyoung says we should be confident. He points to 2 Corinthians 4:6, reminding us that “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” We should not be surprised that men and women in our day reject the gospel. It was true in Paul’s day as well. “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
“Let’s be less anxious and less apoplectic,” DeYoung says. “God still saves. God still changes hearts. God still speaks light into existence where all seems dark… We can pray and plan. We can invest in our church, in our communities, and in our families. We can be involved in politics, media, education, entertainment, or law. We can be good neighbors. We can love. We can worship. There are as many things to do to ‘live not by lies’ as there are ways to be salt and light in the world.”
Have you been busheling your faith? Hiding your light under the lampstand for fear your connection with Jesus will get you cancelled, or worse? Let’s be cheerful. Clear. And confident. Like the first Christians were. Because whatever the consequences of being open about our faith may be, God will be pleased when we point people to Him and the truth of His word.
As I shared Sunday, Karen Houk is home from the hospital and continuing to recoup after a grueling few weeks. She asked me if I would pass this note along to all of you, and I’m delighted to do so:
To my Family in Christ,
Over the past several weeks you have been “devoted to me in brotherly love, not lagging behind in diligence,” and have been “fervent in spirit, serving the Lord…devoted to prayer.” Rom.12:10-12
I want to genuinely thank each of you for your kind notes, texts, cards, emails, food…. and especially… your abundant and overflowing prayers. Your kindness overwhelms me. Your faithfulness to bring me before the Lord on repeated occasions gave me sweet encouragement and hope in the sovereign plan of God through my illness. You prayed and He led.
You prayed again, and He led further. How privileged I have been to experience the strength of God’s working through the prayers of His people! I am extremely grateful and humbled and blessed. Thank you for holding me before Him in prayer and lovingly serving me in my time of weakness. You have poured out active love of Christ upon me.
So very grateful,
Please continue to pray for Karen and Rick in the weeks ahead. And if you haven’t signed up to bring a meal to the Houks, you may still be able to find an open date by clicking here.
YOUTH BAKE SALE!
Thanks to all the volunteers who helped with our Roots Student Ministries D-Now weekend last weekend. And thanks to the expert bakers who provided the Bake Sale goodies last Sunday. Because of your generosity, we raised more than $700 for the upcoming summer missions trip for students (more about that in the weeks ahead).
ARBOR CHRISTIAN ACADEMY ~ DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
|And if for some reason you missed seeing the video report from our friends at Arbor Christian Academy in the Dominican Republic about the Christmas gifts and cards you sent to the students there at Christmas, you can click below to watch it.|
ARE YOU READY…..
Are you ready for a big weekend? The big game? And all the other fun we having going on this weekend?
There’s still time for your to sign up for a few hours of Super Bowling on Saturday night. But the lanes are filling up quickly.
|And then don’t forget to bring a Crock Pot full of soup with you to church on Sunday for our all church Soup-er Bowl lunch!|
LADIES POTLUCK DINNER ~ tHU fEB 16
|There’s more food ahead next week! Ladies, you’re invited to a Women’s Gathering at Jen Gurney’s home next Thursday evening.|
MEN’S BREAKFAST | NEXT SAT FEB 18
|And on Saturday morning, February 18, it’s time for the guys to get together for some food and fellowship. Men, click the link here and let us know you’re planning to attend (it’s free!).|
men’s retreat 2023 | MAR 24-25
|And it’s not too early to sign up now for the Men’s Spring Retreat, March 24-25. There are only 30 slots available. Pastor Jeff Terrell from Ascend Church in Kansas City will be our speaker. We’ll be getting away to the Cross Heirs Retreat Center an hour east of Little Rock.|
rcc MONTHLY FINANCIAL OVERVIEW
Some of you have been asking about our finances. So in an attempt to keep you better informed, we’re going to provide you with a monthly update on our monthly expenses and our monthly giving.
Here’s a note about these numbers. Our church, like just about every church I know, has higher expenses almost every month than our giving. And then in December, thanks to some end of year giving, we typically catch up.
Last year, our giving was $492,000. About one third of that amount ($165,000) was donated in December. So as we put our budget together for 2023, we’re planning to spend no more than we received in donations in 2022.
Also, January includes some non-recurring expenses as we begin the year. In a typical month, our operating expenses are about $36,000.
With that said, here’s the report for January:
|January giving: $32,205|
January operating expenses: $45,430
Giving to RCC Missionaries (6 months): $38,240
In the last few hours before the cross, Jesus found Himself standing in front of a low-level Roman bureaucrat whose main concern was not justice but keeping order in the part of the Roman Empire he had been assigned to oversee. As we’ll see on Sunday, Pontius Pilate didn’t care one way or another about Jesus. In his mind, he had more important matters to attend to than protecting the life of an innocent man.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!