JANUARY 18, 2023

Dear Friends,

It would be an understatement to say that Peter was an impulsive fellow. He was certainly passionate. At times, that passion drove him to grab a sword and go for the jugular. At other times, his passion led to a bold, Spirit filled and Spirit led declaration of the deity of Jesus.

I’ve been reviewing the life of Peter this week as I’m preparing to speak this Sunday on his well-documented, humiliating denial of Jesus. And something that happened earlier in Jesus’ ministry jumped out at me in my studies.

It happened right after Peter had responded to Jesus’ “who do you say that I am?” question. Jesus responded to Peter’s confident pronouncement with words of honor: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah.” But what happened next has to rank as one of Peter’s top blunders.

From that time, Matthew tells us, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. The disciples clearly didn’t understand what Jesus was saying. This prophecy didn’t jibe with their expectation of what a Messiah would do.

Maybe that’s what led Peter into his folly. Matthew says that when Peter heard this, he took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him.

Let that sink in for a minute. The same man who just boldly declared “you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” now feels it is incumbent upon him to take Jesus aside and correct Him. One of the lessons I learned from my dad, who served in World War II and in the Korean War was that when a superior officer gives an order, the only proper response is to execute it. Rebuking your superior was not a prudent option in the Army.

As I thought about Peter’s response to Jesus, I wondered how many times I have been guilty of rebuking God. Certainly I haven’t been so bold as to publicly declare my opposition to God’s plan for my life, for our church or for our world. And I’d like to think that most of the time when I’ve found myself confused by how God’s providence is playing out in my life I have responded more like Mary than like Peter. I’d like to think that while I’ve asked God “how can this be?” on many occasions, in the end I’ve settled on “may it be done unto me according to your will.”

But I know there have been times when, in my heart, I’ve been guilty of a rebuke. Times when I’ve encountered what William Cowper called the “frowning providence” of God and thought to myself “this can’t be right.” Though I would never say it out loud, in times of fear or distress my own heart has at times wondered “does God know what He’s doing here?” And God, who searches hearts, knows when I am second guessing His wisdom.

It’s not a sin to wonder what God is up to. It’s not wrong to ask “how can this be?” But as Peter’s example shows us, to take God aside and rebuke Him when His plan doesn’t line up with what you have in mind – that’s just foolish. Or worse than foolish. It’s demonic. Just as flesh and blood did not reveal to Peter the true identity of Jesus, so his active opposition to the plan of God for the redemption of His people also came from outside of Peter. “Get behind me, Satan” Jesus declared. “You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind of the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matthew 16:23).

When we are confronted with and confused by God’s plan for our lives or for our world, we should remember the words of the hymnwriter. Instead of taking Jesus aside and rebuking Him, as Peter did, our response should be to:

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.

I shared with you on Sunday about Karen Houk’s hospitalization as doctors are trying to diagnose her health issues. Please continue to be fervent in prayer for her. Ask God to strengthen her, heal whatever is going on in her body, give her rest, work through the doctors and the other health professionals, and bring her home from the hospital healthy and vibrant as soon as possible.

Rick sent me a note today that said that generally, Karen feels better today than she did seven days ago. “It is good that Karen‘s illness is prompting many to pray and humble themselves before our sovereign God” he wrote. “Please remind them of Oswald Chambers quote ‘the meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God not of the answer.’ May all our prayers be richly full of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and then supplication.”

Amen. And may we fully trust in the kind providence of God even in the midst of her suffering as we cry out to Him to heal Karen.

“Please remind them of Oswald Chambers quote ‘the meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God not of the answer.’ May all our prayers be richly full of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and then supplication.”

The Women’s Spring Bible Study is about to get underway. The four-week study on Jonah is set to kick off next Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon.

In March, the focus shifts from Jonah to Habakkuk. The study of Habakkuk begins on March 6 and is open to everyone, whether you’ve been part of the earlier Jonah study or not. And the final study this spring, in the book of Malachi begins on April 10.

You can sign up on line for any of the three studies by clicking here and then picking the study you’re interested in attending. Remember, there are two meeting times each week – one on Monday night at 7:00 and the other on Tuesday afternoons at 1:00.

Men, there’s a lot happening this spring.

First, the Thursday lunchtime Men’s Bible Study begins next week. You can click here to register.

Next, the First Tuesday men’s gathering is all lined up for February 7.


Our next Men’s Breakfast will take place on Saturday, February 18 at the church.

And our Spring Men’s Retreat is scheduled for Friday and Saturday, March 24-25 at Cross Heirs Retreat Center, with our guest speaker, Jeff Terrell.

Family ‘super’ bowl-ING

We don’t know yet who will square off in the Super Bowl on February 12. But we know already it’s going to be a big weekend for us at Redeemer.

First, on Saturday afternoon, February 11, we’ll be getting together for a couple of hours of super bowling!

SOUP-er bowl sunday

And then on Sunday, February 12, right after church, it’s our SOUP-er Bowl Sunday. Bring a crock pot of soup (A-T) or a finger food dessert (U-Z) and we’ll all stick around after church for a meal together.

d-now 2023

Our students have a big event happening in two weeks. It’s the D-Now weekend, and it’s going to be a blast.

step mentoring program

Some of you are familiar with the STEP Mentoring program that has been going on in Little Rock for more than two decades now. Over the years, hundreds of volunteers have invested in the lives of children who live at what used to be known as Eastgate Terrace – now the Homes at Pine Crossing – for after school mentoring and relationship building.

Our friends at STEP have let us know that they have a need right now for women who could serve as mentors. The neighborhood across the street from STEP has been filling up and many new girls are signing up for mentoring. STEP has five elementary-aged girls, two middle school girls, and two high school girls who have completed all of the paperwork and are just waiting for a mentor. STEP Mentoring sessions are an hour and a half a week on either Mondays from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. (elementary), Tuesdays from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. (middle school), or Wednesdays from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. (high school) during the school year.

If you’re interested in being a STEP mentor or finding out more about the program, log onto their website or contact Mary Carol Pederson at marycarol@stepministries.org.

kendall white –

As I shared on Sunday, we are asking God to confirm for us His calling for Kendall White to join our leadership team as an elder at Redeemer. The elders have met with Kendall and Laura and believe God has set Kendall apart for this role at our church.

In accordance with our by-laws, we are asking any members at Redeemer who would have a concern about Kendall serving to first approach him to address that concern, and then to bring it to the elders if the concerns continue.

If you have concerns, please reach out to Kendall in the next 10 days. If no concerns are raised, our plan is to install him in his new role on Sunday, January 29.

Just as Jesus said, when push came to shove on the night of His arrest, before the cock had crowed three times, Peter, who had been ready to fight a cohort of Roman soldiers just a few hours earlier, now denied that he even knew Jesus. As we turn again to John 18 this week, we’ll see why this episode in Peter’s life is a reason for great hope for all of us.

See you in church.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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