MARCH 13, 2024

Dear Friends,

It’s not often that a network sit-com includes the classical teleological argument for the existence of God.

But that’s what happened back on October 4, 2018. The CBS television network aired an episode of Young Sheldon titled A Crisis of Faith and Octopus Aliens. This particular episode found young Sheldon’s mother Mary wrestling with faith and doubt after a friend’s child dies. Sheldon sees his mom is troubled. He’s concerned.

Those of you who have been following along with the McCheyne Bible Reading Plan this year have just wrapped up 40+ days of reading through the book of Job. Most scholars believe that Job is the oldest book in our Bible, pre-dating the writing of the Pentateuch. It certainly tackles one of humankind’s oldest and most difficult questions: If God knows all things, is all powerful and is all loving, why does He allow suffering? And where is God when bad things happen?

Those questions are at the heart of the book of Job. Job and his “friends” spend more than three dozen chapters wrestling with them. Their dialogue, mixed together with centuries of additional pondering and speculation, has not landed the plane. I think it’s safe to say we won’t get a satisfactory answer to the question in this lifetime. As the old gospel song says “we’ll understand it all by and by.”

The problem of human suffering has shipwrecked the faith of many professing believers in God. A few decades ago, a group of theologians proposed that God must not really be omniscient nor all powerful. He doesn’t know the future, they said, and there are events that happen in our world that He is unable to prevent. Others have concluded that perhaps the all-powerful God isn’t as benevolent as we have imagined Him to be. Sadly, there are many who face the issue and simply give up on the idea of God altogether.

In the TV show Young Sheldon, it seems that’s where Mary is headed. Until her son reminds her that looking at the universe and concluding that there is no Ultimate Designer is illogical.

It’s essentially the same argument God makes in answering God’s questions about his suffering.

First, He reminds Job of how limited his human wisdom and understanding is. “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2).

Next, He points Job to His power and authority over all of creation. “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?” (Job 38:12).

Finally, He challenges Job to consider his own limited wisdom, perspective and understanding of the events in the world. “Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?” (Job 40:8).

At the end of the day, here is God’s answer to the question of why there is suffering in our world:

“I’m God. You’re not.

“I have a plan. I know what I’m doing. You don’t. And you wouldn’t be able to understand it all even if I tried to explain it to you.

“Instead of sinking under the weight of your confusion and your doubts, you need to learn how to rest in the truth that is inescapable. I exist. I’m in control. And I love you.

“You’re just going to have to trust me.”

When your soul is troubled by events in your life or in our world that bring pain and make no sense to you, here’s what you do. You sing this:

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
in every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

For those of you who missed our Business Meeting on Sunday, I want to give you a quick update on one item we addressed.

If you’ve been at church on a Wednesday evening, you know that we are using every inch of space we have for our Awana program and other activities. We’ve also had a growing number of guests who have been checking Redeemer out.

We think it might be time for us to start investigating what would be involved in expanding our facility.

That doesn’t mean we’re ready to commit to a building program. It means we think it would be smart for us to take a first step – to start now exploring what adding space would mean for us. How could the space be best utilized? How long would it take to build? And what would it cost?

As I explained on Sunday, we’re thinking our next steps would involve a student ministry building with open space for a variety of uses, with additional classroom and office space. That would also involve expanding our parking lot. And it might ultimately lead to expansion of our current worship center.

Here’s a very preliminary look at what we’re thinking we might need.

Let me zoom in on this for you.

We’re considering spending $15,000 to do an initial study with WDD Architects to begin the process. As I said this weekend, that’s money we don’t have in our budget.

We’d like to ask you to join with us and pray for God’s guidance and His provision for this project. Pray that we will act in wisdom and in faith. And pray that God will provide the funds we need for this first phase of the project, and ultimately, once it’s clear we should move ahead, for the cost of the project itself.

If you have any questions about what we’re proposing, please contact me and let’s get together. Or feel free to talk with any of the elders.

And if you’d like to give toward this effort, click here to make an online gift, and use the pull down menu to indicate you’d like your money to go to the building project. Or better yet, write a personal check and add the word “building” in the memo line.

Easter is now a little more than two weeks away. Here’s a reminder of what’s happening that weekend.

Have you been praying about people you can invite to join you for one of our Easter weekend services or activities? Who could you bring with you to our Good Friday service? Or on Sunday morning? Or who do you know who has little children who you could invite to be part of our Saturday Resurrection Rally?
One easy way to invite folks is by giving them a copy of my new Easter book as a gift.
The books, along with invitation cards, will be available at church again this Sunday. You can get two books for a total of $5. It’s a great gospel giveaway, and a great way to open the door for a gospel conversation with your friends.

Let’s make the most of the Easter season by sharing the best news ever with our friends who don’t go to church or don’t know Jesus!

As you know, there are a lot of people heading our way next month to see the darkness when it happens. The Eclipse of 2024 is right around the corner.

Monday, April 8, the whole city will be shutting down midday for an astrological phenomenon that doesn’t happen very often. Kids will be out of school. Some businesses will be giving folks the day off. And people from all over the country will be coming to Arkansas to be in the path of the eclipse.

And we’ll be gathering that day in our playground area for our first (and only) Redeemer Total Eclipse of the Sun viewing event. Bring the kids, bring your neighbors, and come enjoy a grilled hot dog a bag of chips and some bottled water. We’ll also provide you with the special glasses you’ll need to view the eclipse safely.
To make sure we have glasses available for you that day, we need some idea of how many of you are interested in bringing the family and getting together for the eclipse.

Click here and let us know if you’ll be joining us. The deadline to sign up (and get glasses) is still a few weeks away. We need to know if you’re planning to come no later than March 23.

Eclipses are always more fun when you experience them with friends, right?

Friday, April 12 is the night we’re hosing our Date Night Dinner for couples. We’ll be serving a gourmet meal of Beef Tenderloin, served with potatoes and veggies. We’ll have some date night fun activities. And we’ll take some time to think about the best practices that help couples cultivate strong, healthy marriages.

This event is limited to 40 couples. And already, we have half the seats reserved. To take part in this special date night event, click here to register. The cost is $40 per couple.

And here’s great news! Bring a couple with you as your guests – folks who don’t attend Redeemer currently – and the cost for them is half price! Only $20 per couple!

Ladies. Get ready for a special weekend Stay-treat!

Think “retreat”, BUT you don’t have to pack a bag or spend the night away from home!

Come join other women in a sweet time of fellowship, food, and feasting on God’s Word. We are asking God to strengthen our relationship with Him and our relationships with one another as we study and discuss Titus 2.

Once again, dinner will be served. The cost to cover food and materials for the Stay-treat is $40. Register now by clicking here.

Thanks to those who have put together a meal train to help provide meals of Taylor Edwards while her husband is deployed. If you haven’t signed up to bring a meal to Taylor and the kids, click here to hop on the train!

Back in the first century, when someone became a Christian, they soon realized that following Jesus would mean stepping away from the pagan practices taking place in the culture around them. This Sunday, we’ll look at the message Jesus had for the church in Thyatira – a church that had begun to tolerate sinful pagan practices as part of the church community. Jesus had a strong message for the members of this church, as we’ll see this weekend.

See you in church.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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