SEPTEMBER 27, 2023

Dear Friends,

On a Tuesday in mid-December of 2020, I was in a recording session in our old FamilyLife studios here in Little Rock. It was our practice before each recording session to have lunch with our guests, to help them relax and talk about the upcoming programs we would be recording. We all left the recording session that day feeling good about the programs we had produced.

On Friday, one of the people who had been in the session with us that day called me and said “I’m not feeling great. I’m wondering if I have COVID. I’m going to go get tested.” The next day I heard from two others who had been in the recording session who were also feeling crummy. As it turned out, the guest we had interviewed that day tested positive for COVID that same week.

By Christmas, everyone who had been in the recording session had tested positive for COVID, including one person who wound up in the hospital for more than two months and who was near death.

Everyone got sick.

Except me.

Since that time, most people I know have had COVID once or twice. Those of us who have never been diagnosed with the virus are outliers.

Three nights ago, on Sunday, I went to bed with a sore throat. Monday, I started to have a stuffy nose. I’ve had that kind of head cold before. I started taking zinc lozenges to fight the infection and took Dayquil for my symptoms.

Monday night, I had a headache. And I got the chills. I thought “this feels like more than a run of the mill head cold.” So the next morning, we pulled out one of our supply of COVID tests. Sure enough, the virus had broken past my immune system. Three and a half years after the first outbreaks were reported in the US, COVID finally got me.

I’m doing fine. Thanks for asking. Getting rest. Taking Paxlovid. The doctor expects before the weekend arrives, I’ll be symptom free and not contagious. Assuming I test negative later this week, I’m planning to be at the men’s tailgate event on Saturday and in church on Sunday.

I’ll admit it. I’ve taken a certain amount of pride in the past few years thinking that somehow maybe I was bullet proof when it comes to COVID. Pride in my superior genes. My immunosuppression system is stronger than your immunosuppression system. So take that.

But you know what the Bible says about pride going before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). And my experience with COVID this week has had me thinking about my spiritual immune system. I wonder if there are particular sins to which I think I’m somehow immune.

I’ve never forgotten hearing Gordon MacDonald tell a story about his spiritual immune system. Gordon was a pastor in New England in the early 1980’s when he wrote a book that became a best selling called Ordering Your Private World.

As he tells the story, one day he had an associate pastor ask him a provocative question: “Gordon, if Satan was going to attack and destroy your ministry, how would he go about it? Where are you vulnerable?” Gordon says he pause and reflected for a minute before telling his friend “That’s a great question. I’m going to think about that.” Then he added “It wouldn’t be my marriage. That’s solid.”

You know where this is going. A year later, Gordon resigned from the ministry after confessing to an extra-marital affair.

I’m happy to report to you that Gordon’s marriage survived his horrific sin. After confessing and repenting, he went through a process of restoration in his local church. He and Gail have been married now for more than five decades.

Are there any common sins that you see other people wrestle with, but where you think you’re bullet proof? Sins where you would say “that’s not really a problem for me?”

My advice is that you stay vigilant. Keep your guard up. Satan, the roaring lion, is looking for any opening he can find for attack. His craft and power are great. He is armed with cruel hate. Your only defense is the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10 ff). Be strong in the Lord.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with the humble is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)

I’m really excited about our upcoming baptism service on Sunday, October 15. I hope you are too. I love hearing stories of redemption and new life. And being able to baptize folks in our worship center for the first time is something for all of us to celebrate.

I’m one of those people who was baptized twice. When I was a baby, my parents had me baptized at the church they were attending in Minnesota. In college, after I came to faith and began reading the Bible, I became convinced that what the Bible teaches about baptism is that it is given to us by God to be a public declaration of the work He has done in our lives.

Here’s my question for you. Have you been baptized since you committed your life to Jesus? If not, let’s talk about you joining with others in our church on October 15 who are taking this important step of faith and obedience.

Baptism is an outward declaration of an inward transformation. In our step of obedience, God confers grace. It serves as a sign and seal of His covenant relationship with His children. You can read more about the importance and significance of baptism by clicking here.

If you’d like to be baptized, we need to hear from you in the next 10 days so we can set up an interview time and order your tee shirt (yes, you get a tee shirt).

And keep in mind, we celebrate baptisms at Redeemer with a party. We’ll be hosting a potluck Chili Supper after the baptisms are done.

It’s going to be a great morning together!

Men. Two items for your calendar this week.

First, the game. Arkansas takes on Texas A&M in the Southwest Classic at 11:00 AM on Saturday morning. And we’re going to get together to enjoy the game (well, hopefully we’ll enjoy the game), some BBQ, some cornhole and some fellowship.

Football. Food. Fellowship. Sounds perfect to me. Be there.

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 next Roots Game Night happens October 6!

The deadline to register for the Fall Women’s Retreat is approaching. If you’re planning to go, now is the time to click the link and reserve your spot!

If you’ve been to past retreats, you know what a highlight this is. If you’ve never been, it’s a great opportunity for you to get to know and connect with other women from Redeemer while you spend time together in God’s word.

If you haven’t yet picked up a printed copy of our fall calendar at the info desk at church, plan to grab one on Sunday. Or you can click here to download and print your own.

As we continue our study of what the book of Jude has to say to us about the danger of false teachers in the church, I want to pass along a recommended resource.

I shared with you recently that back in 2006, I attended the first Together For The Gospel conference in Louisville KY. One of the highlights of that conference was the presentation of a statement drafted by the organizers of the event outlining their common, core theological convictions in a series of affirmations and denials. They declared the theological truths they endorsed (the affirmations) and the errors they rejected (the denials).

I review this statement from time to time. I think it’s worth your time to look it over and think carefully about each of the issues being addressed and how they impact the church at large.

You’ll find the T4G statement here.

This Sunday we’ll look at the serious and sober warnings for false teachers and for those who follow them found in Jude. As we’ve already seen, Jude says these false teachers are “designated for condemnation.” There are examples throughout redemptive history of how God judges severely both the teachers and their followers. As we’ll see this Sunday, it’s critical that we stay alert, carefully considering everything we hear about God and His ways, comparing it with the plumb line of scripture.

See you in church.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

PS. In September, we learned a great new hymn called All My Boast Is In Jesus. This next month, we’re learning a new hymn that reminds of of what the Heidelberg Catechism says about where we find hope and comfort in life:

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

The new hymn is called I Am Not My Own Click below and start to learn it so you can sing along!

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