SEPTEMBER 20, 2023

Dear Friends,

Human beings are religious people. It’s not a question of whether you worship a deity or not. It’s only a question of which deity you choose to worship.

Novelist David Foster Wallace made this point in a 2005 commencement address to the graduating class at Kenyon College. Before the phrase “go viral” was applied to online content, his address achieved that status.

Here’s part of what he told his audience as they sat waiting to receive their diplomas.

“In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.”

Foster observed that if we worship something other than a transcendent deity, what you worship will, in his words, “pretty much eat you alive.” I’ll quote him at length here.

“If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth.

“Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you….

“Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear.

“Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out.

“But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.

“They’re the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that’s what you’re doing.

“And the so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self.

“Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation.”

I thought of Wallace’s address to the Class of 2005 this morning when I read an article written by journalist Olivia Reingold about the growing number of young, hip, wealthy Angelenos who are finding comfort for their soul at what’s called the Secular Sabbath, happening regularly at the Voda Spa in West Hollywood. “In a city where religion is dead,” she wrote, “the young search for a higher power – in a sauna with Diplo.”

In the article, Reingold quotes a 37-year-old woman, Julianna King, who regularly participates in the Secular Sabbath gatherings. She grew up attending a Presbyterian Church in the border town of McAllen Texas. But over time, she says says, the word “God” made her bristle.

“I technically went to church,” she says. “But it was just a place I showed up.”

Now, she calls herself a “cafeteria spiritualist” picking and choosing the practices that work for her.

“I want to find God and know God in my own way,” she says. “I don’t want anyone to tell me the quality of God or how to worship or anything, I want all that to be my own experience.”

I think King and her fellow “cafeteria spiritualists” who attend the Secular Sabbath gatherings are on a quest to find something transcendent that they can believe in that leaves them as the ultimate arbiters of their own faith. Instead of looking for a “faith once for all delivered to the saints” that comes from outside of themselves and to which they must adhere, they are on a quest for a religion of their own making and that conforms to their standards.

As we saw on Sunday, this is nothing new. It goes back to the beginning, when the first man and woman fell to the temptation to be like God and to decide good and evil for themselves rather than having to bow their wills to their Creator.

I have to think that somewhere along the line David Foster Wallace read Psalm 115. Psalm 115. In it, the Psalmist makes the observation that we will take on the image and likeness of whatever or whoever we worship (see Psalm 115:8). That’s how worship works.

Take two minutes and read through Psalm 115. As you do, think about your friends, your family members, and anyone you know who doesn’t worship the God who has revealed Himself to us in His word and through His Son. Although they may check the box marked “None” when it comes their religious affiliation, they are not irreligious people. They are worshippers, just like you and me. Pray that God would open their eyes – and our eyes as well – to see more clearly the one true God.

Psalm 115
[1] Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!
[2] Why should the nations say,
“Where is their God?”
[3] Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.
[4] Their idols are silver and gold,
the work of human hands.
[5] They have mouths, but do not speak;
eyes, but do not see.
[6] They have ears, but do not hear;
noses, but do not smell.
[7] They have hands, but do not feel;
feet, but do not walk;
and they do not make a sound in their throat.
[8] Those who make them become like them;
so do all who trust in them.
[9] O Israel, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
[10] O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
[11] You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD!
He is their help and their shield.
[12] The LORD has remembered us; he will bless us;
he will bless the house of Israel;
he will bless the house of Aaron;
[13] he will bless those who fear the LORD,
both the small and the great.
[14] May the LORD give you increase,
you and your children!
[15] May you be blessed by the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!
[16] The heavens are the LORD’s heavens,
but the earth he has given to the children of man.
[17] The dead do not praise the LORD,
nor do any who go down into silence.
[18] But we will bless the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.
Praise the LORD!



I hope you have this Saturday’s car wash on your to do list.

It’s a “pay what you can” event. All proceeds go to cover youth scholarships for past and upcoming outreach events.



Young adults. NxtGen is NxtWeek (see what I did there?).
 



The kickoff time for the Southwest Classic game between Arkansas and Texas A&M has been announced. It’s an 11:00 am start on Saturday, September 30.

You’re going to watch the game anyway, right? Why not watch it together? On the big screens in the worship center? With some of Kendall White’s legendary pulled pork and other fixings out in the parking lot at half time, along with cornhole and other activities?

Football. Food. Fellowship. Sounds perfect to me. Plan on it.


And then on Tuesday, October 3, our First Tuesday Men’s Group will huddle up as we continue to go through the Stepping Up video series. Dinner at 6:15. The session starts at 7:00.




The October Roots Game Night happens October 6!




Registration is open now for the Fall Women’s Retreat. And it’s just five weeks away!

Don’t miss the retreat –, the food, the Bible teaching, the fellowship – it’s a highlight for every woman who attended.



We have something very special happening at church on October 15.

When we built our church building back in 2019, we included a feature we’ve never been able to use. Under the platform in the worship center is a baptistry. There are steps that lead down from the platform into the water. Obviously, our plan was to be able to baptize new believers in our worship center as part of a Sunday worship service.

But the baptismal has had a variety of issues, including a defective water pump. Getting parts to fix it has been a challenge.

Thanks to the diligence of our deacons, the issues have been fixed. And on Sunday, October 15, we plan to baptize our baptismal. We’ll have our first baptism celebration during our morning worship service that day.


And because we like to celebrate new life, we’ll follow the service with an all church potluck lunch!


Let me say a word about baptism.

God has given us this ordinance as a church to be a sign and seal of His work in a person’s life. When a person comes to faith in Christ, it is God’s will that the person publicly profess his or her faith by being baptized. Baptism doesn’t save a person. But it does demonstrate the first steps in what will be a lifelong journey of obedience as a follower of Jesus.

If you have not been baptized since you became a Christian, I want to urge you to take that step of obedience and be baptized on October 15. Parents, if you have a son or daughter who has made a profession of faith and who can articulate the gospel, let’s talk about having your child baptized.

And if you are an adult who was baptized as a child prior to your profession of faith, and you’re interested in discussing whether you should be baptized again, we’d love to talk to you about that decision. With due respect to our brothers and sisters who follow the practice of what’s called paedo-baptism (baptizing infants), based on my understanding of what the scriptures teach, I think God wants us to demonstrate our obedience to Him by choosing to submit to baptism following our profession of faith. I’d be happy to discuss this with you more one on one if you have questions.

Here’s the bottom line. If you’re interested in being baptized on October 15, please contact Pastor Matt at mattgurney77@gmail.com. We’ll need to set up a time to meet with you prior to October 15. We’d love to, as a congregation, celebrate with you as you publicly declare your allegiance to Jesus by being baptized that day!


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There’s a lot happening at Redeemer this fall! You can pick up a printed copy of our fall calendar at the info desk at church on Sunday. Or download an print your own. Just click here to access it.



It seems like every week we’re hearing about pastors and church members who are moving away from “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” and following their own agenda and their own passions. Jude warns us to be on guard against false teachers who stealthily creep into local churches and end up ultimately denying Christ. We’ll look carefully at how to recognize a false teacher when we look again this week at the Epistle of Jude.



See you in church.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob


PS – If you haven’t yet learned the new song we’re singing at church this month, here’s the link again. Check it out and come ready to sing!






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