April 7, 2021

Dear Friends,

You’ve heard me quote Pastor Tim Keller many times over the years. His book The Prodigal God is one of the Top 10 most influential books in my life. When I’m studying a passage and preparing my sermons, I always ask “has Tim Keller ever preached on this passage?” (I have transcripts of all the sermons he preached between 1997 and 2011). Thanks to him, I have a better understanding of the gospel today.

Tim was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the summer of 2020. According to Johns Hopkins, the combined five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer—the percentage of all patients who are living five years after diagnosis—is very low. Just 5 to 10 percent. In February, Tim shared that as a result of his chemotherapy, combined with the prayers of so many, there has been a significant decrease in the size and number of tumors.

In the midst of the COVID pandemic and his cancer diagnosis, Tim has released his latest book, called Hope In Times Of Fear: The Resurrection And The Meaning Of Easter. He and his wife Kathy are fully aware that the odds are, Tim’s time here is short. But his hope is not in his chemotherapy treatments or the work of his doctors. His hope is in the resurrection of Jesus.

In a recent interview, Dr. Russell Moore asked Tim what he would share with a young Christian who is nervous about the future. His response, which you can see here, sums up what it took me 45 minutes to try to say this past Sunday:
Click the picture to hear Pastor Tim Keller talk about how we deal with fear and anxiety about the future.

“What would you say to a young Christian who’s nervous about the future?” @DrMoore asks @TimKellerNYC.

I love his answer. pic.twitter.com/smj391CuAx

— Matt Smethurst (@MattSmethurst) April 5, 2021

“Christians,” Tim says, “see hard things as indeed hard and not to be sought. But we have been armed with this great truth, namely that when received with faith in God, hard things lead to the best things.”

Life is hard. Suffering is real. But don’t forget. We do not loose heart, no matter what we’re facing. “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

On another note, you may be aware that one of the reasons some Christians are choosing not to receive any of the current COVID-19 vaccines is because of the use of embryonic stem cells in the development of the vaccines.

In early January, Dr. John Piper said he could not in good conscience receive any of the current vaccines. Two weeks later, Piper recommended this article from Randy Alcorn, saying that he and his wife Noel had read the article out loud to each other as they continue to process the vaccine information.

Let me say that I have ethical concerns about the medical use of stem cells from aborted babies. And with that in mind, I think it’s right for Christians to do two things as we think about whether to get vaccinated with any of the currently available treatments:

1) Make a prayerful, informed decision. Read the concerns expressed by John Piper. Read Randy Alcorn’s comprehensive look at the issue. Read the thoughts of other Christian thinkers, like this piece from Dr. Russell Moore about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or this from the Gospel Coalition website.

2) Be careful not to pass judgment on others who make a different choice than the one you make. Romans 14 warns us not to quarrel over opinions (Romans 14:1). “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).

Let’s continue to pray for the pandemic to ebb, by whatever means God uses. Let’s pray for those who live in states where the numbers are trending upward again. And let’s pray for one another that God will keep us unified in the gospel as we love one another in Christ.

Ladies – we have a big evening planned for you later this month.

The gathering will be a great evening of singing, conversation, testimonies and food. It’s always a special time when the women are able to gather for an event like this. If you’re new to Redeemer, this is a great way to get to meet folks and begin to engage. I hope you’ll make it a priority to be there – and pray for nice weather that evening.

Because there will be food involved, we’ll plan on having you RSVP for this event. I don’t have a link for you yet – look for one here next week on in a subsequent email.

The women’s Gathering is the first of a number of upcoming events at Redeemer. We expect to have a complete calendar available for you very soon.

For now, keep these dates in mind.

Saturday, May 22 – A float trip on the Buffalo River for students – and for anyone else who is looking for a great way to enjoy the great Arkansas outdoors.

Wednesday nights in June – Parking lot picnics for everyone, with special activities for kids each week.

Saturday, July 10 – a full day at Magic Springs Amusement and Water Park in Hot Springs, capped off that evening with a concert from Rend Collective.

Save these dates, and keep praying that the COVID trends make all these activities possible for us.

Last call for this Saturday morning’s new members get together. There’s still time to be there. Email Pastor Matt if you’re interested. His email address is mattgurney77@gmail.com.

It’s maybe the biggest stumbling block for anyone who thinks seriously about God. If God is all wise, all powerful and all loving, why does he allow evil to exist – and to flourish? We won’t solve the dilemma on Sunday. But we will consider it as we talk about the man in John 9 who was born blind.

See you (in person or on line) Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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