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Monday, November 15, 2010

Riesel Rustler Article for 11.18.10

We’ve come now to the last week before the Advent season. That means that there are only a few weeks to complete your Christmas shopping, and less time than that to plan your holiday parties. Here at the doorstep of the new church year we celebrate the Lordship of Christ in our songs and sermons. This is the perfect time to consider just how we “live and move and have our being” in Christ.
It’s hard to talk of Jesus Christ as the King in our democratic system; our very roots are defined by rebellion against a foreign king in England. Singing songs about Jesus Christ being King of Kings and Lord of Lords is easy, but actually living with Him as King and Lord is something else entirely.
Jesus is not the president. He is not the governor, nor is he like any earthly king to which we might compare him. To celebrate Jesus as the Lord means to honor him in a personal and intimate way that is completely alien to our relationships to our political leaders. Jesus Christ is indeed King, even if that means little to us in the 21st century. Our Lord is the one on whom our spirit’s rest; he is the one whose Word informs our decisions and personal tastes. Jesus is the type of king who is owed our allegiance and honor not because of the army supporting him or because of his wealth and lands. Rather, we owe Jesus our heart-felt allegiance because of his victory over death, the great enemy of us all.
We’re about to enter into the season of shepherds, angels, and Jesus’ miraculous birth; before we make him out to be too soft and tender, let’s remember him as King and Lord of all creation.
Join us this week for worship at 11:00am as we celebrate Christ Jesus as King!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rustler Article for 11.11.10

Although it may be too early to do so, I’m quickly getting into the holiday spirit. Not necessarily the Christmas spirit, but I’m definitely ready for Advent to begin. I the weeks from Sunday, November 28th through Sunday, December 19th churches all around the world will be preparing their hearts and homes for the coming of the Christ-child. We’ll talk about how Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love form the relationship that God has with men and women.
Beginning on November 28th our church will combine all of our various Sunday School classes into one large group where we’ll talk about the meaning of Christmas and celebrate the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love of God in our hearts. We’ll make Advent Wreathes and decorate Nativities as families, too! We’d love to have you and your family participate in this great season of expectation with us.
What has really gotten me excited about Advent is God’s word to the people of Israel who are suffering under the weight of the Exile in Babylon. Isaiah reminds the people that when God’s new work is revealed the old things will be remembered no more. So glorious is the coming of Jesus Christ that old glory, old shame, and even old suffering are remembered no more. We could use a serious dose of such hope in these days.
Come and join our community of faith for Sunday School and worship this week at 10:00 and 11:00am. We also host Sunday Night Bible Study in the Gospels at 6:00pm, and Bible 101 on Wednesday nights at 7:00. Everyone is welcome at any and all of our activities!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rustler article for October 28th, 2010

A radio station in Waco is having a pledge drive this week to raise money in support of their programming and operational budgets. They interrupt the normal programming (which I listen to every morning and evening on my commute) to beg, plead, guilt, and cajole the listeners to give money in support of their station.
While the interruptions can be quite annoying, the arguments the hosts and guests make in varied attempts to convince me of my obligation to give to their cause got me thinking. Is the church any different than a not-for-profit radio station when it asks for support in the various ways that it does? Does the church not plead, beg and cajole members to open their pocketbooks in the same way?
I see a lot of myself in the arguments the folks on the radio make. They are trying to maintain an organization that is funded entirely by the people who are willing to commit to the mission of that radio station. The church, on the other hand, is more than a radio station and provides more than news. The church is the community of Christ-followers who have committed their lives to the service, study, and worship of God. We believe that contributing to the church is more than “putting our money where our mouth is;” we believe in returning a portion of God’s blessing to us to our Lord so that the Gospel may be proclaimed in our community and around the world.
Yes, we do fundraisers. Yes, the church is an organization that depends on the faithful giving of its members. But what is more, the church is a place to develop that thankful spirit that should abide in all believers for the gift of Jesus Christ.
Be sure to join us this Sunday morning at 11:00am for worship!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rustler Article for October 21, 2010

If forgiveness is the currency of the Kingdom of God, which I believe it is, then the ministry of every believer in their proclamation of the Gospel every day is to practice the forgiveness of the world. Forgiving the world is not excusing the world’s bad behavior, nor is it tolerating unjust action; rather to forgive the world is to boldly identify the fallen nature of our society and to lovingly engage that same culture regardless of its hostility toward the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To forgive the world is to love the world.
It is crucial to note Jesus’ instructions to his disciples shortly before the crucifixion: he plainly tells them that the world will hate them because the world hates Jesus Christ. We must realize that Jesus went into the world and sent his followers into the world in spite of the world’s antagonism and outright hostility toward God’s Kingdom. We are disciples sent into a world that cannot help itself but to be unmistakably evil. We are thrust with a confrontational Gospel that challenges and defies every power structure man has ever known. Forgiving the world for these things and for the depressing, hateful, exhausting lives it makes some of us lead is the beginning of the Gospel. Without forgiving the world we cannot preach, cannot teach, and cannot worship.
This Sunday we’ll host a church-wide brisket cook-off! Several people have volunteered to cook the meat for us to help us decide who the best brisketeer is at FBC Riesel! Come and share a meal with us and fellowship with a church that emphasizes community in all that we do. The meal will be immediately following Sunday School at 10:00am and worship at 11:00am. We’ll see you there!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I have found that forgiveness is the currency of the Kingdom of God. It is through the act of forgiveness that God enters into a relationship with his people in the action of the cross. It is through the forgiveness of sins great and small that men and women are brought to faith in Christ Jesus. It is the act of forgiveness that the church moves and has her being in the community as well as the Kingdom.
We would do well to remember that it is forgiveness that brokers our faith and God’s grace. We would also do well to remember that we will not be the church until we can practice forgiveness.
We must let God’s forgiveness affect us in three ways. First, we must allow God’s forgiveness of our sins to help us forgive ourselves for what we have done. If we really believe that God has removed our guilt “as far as the east is from the west” then we must internalize that reality into our self-image. What I mean is that we must learn the value of forgiveness in our own hearts to truly appreciate the value of forgiveness among our brothers and sisters.
We’ve all done things that need to be forgiven. We often proclaim, albeit timidly, that God has forgiven us and that our sins are covered by the blood of Christ. But underneath I detect a current of residual guilt. We are not truly forgiven until we allow ourselves to be forgiven. We are not completely healed until we allow our hurts to be seen and bandaged by the grace of God.
The hardest lesson for the church to learn is that its members must ACCEPT that they are forgiven. Next week: on forgiving the church.

We have several new opportunities for fellowship and worship this fall. Our monthly men’s breakfast begins this Saturday at 8:00am in our fellowship hall; we’re hosting a brisket cook-off on October 24th after morning worship; our children’s ministry is visiting the local nursing home and learning about missions monthly; we’re offering Bible 101 on Wednesday nights to teach adult-level biblical knowledge and basics with the Scriptures. There’s so much going on at FBC Riesel that I can’t put it all in one paragraph! Come and join us this Sunday or Wednesday; we have something for everyone in your family!

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Sunday, September 12 @ 10am
Learn all about the NEW Sunday School classes available for children, youth, and adults!


New and Current Sunday School Classes

Babies - In their early months, babies develop trust based on the care they receive. This development of trust is crucial to their later ability to trust in God. Although there is not a curriculum for the babies class, we provide excellent care for babies’ needs in our nursery.

Toddlers and 2’s - Children will learn the foundational themes of their developing faith. Simple concepts such as “God made me” will be taught through age appropriate, fun and creative activities.

3’s to Kindergarteners - Children will learn Bible truths in a way that's keeps their interest, and helps them understand how much God loves them.

 New hands-on tools will help children learn through all their senses, meeting and interacting with the God who made them.

1st-3rd Graders and 4th-6th Graders - With a new hands-on curriculum, children will get involved, learning as they explore and engage with their senses. These lessons will help draw kids into God's Word and closer to Jesus.

Youth and College This class explores one book of the Bible at a time, covering the entire Bible over a 6 year period. Students will gain a thorough knowledge of Scripture, aiding them as they follow Jesus.

John 3:16 This adult Sunday School class will be a discussion-based class covering Max Lucado’s John 3:16. Participants will read a chapter of the book between each class session.
John 3:16 will run from October 3 to November 21. Participants may consider attending the Exploring the Bible class until October 3.

Children and Prayer This adult Sunday School class will focus on developing children and families’ faith at home. Participants will occasionally read provided material between sessions.

Exploring the Bible This will be a continuation of the current adult Sunday school class. Participants may study a provided lesson between sessions. The class covers topical issues related to the Bible.

Lydian Class and Senior Adult Men These classes offer a more mature perspective for those seeking a topical study of the Scripture. Participants may study a provided lesson between sessions.
God is good. He is goodness in himself, but more than that he is good to us. A profound part of the Gospel is that God, unsatisfied with just being complete within the three persons of the Trinity, decided to extend his loving, good nature to a creation of people whom he wanted to commune with forever. In spite of sin, in spite of ignorance, in spite of blatant rejection of the good and the holy on our part God had has persisted in his goodness to us.
God is good. This has been a trying year for us in many ways as a church. We, like most families and institutions, have struggled financially. We’ve also, perhaps as a consequence of our uncertainty and disgust with the economy around us, struggled spiritually. It is the witness of Scripture that God provides for his people in times of great uncertainty and trial; God will meet and exceed our needs when we remain faithful to the work he has called us to.
God is good. Last Sunday we had an impromptu revival. Our financial situation was dire, and was matched by a spiritual uncertainty and apathy in the direction of our church. However, God’s Spirit moved in such a way that hearts were changed, tears were shed, and we left with a sense of hope and an expectation of God’s blessing on us in days to come.
God is good. Next Sunday will be very special for our church. We’ll celebrate the accomplishments of our children and youth in all that they have done this summer from camps to VBS. We’ll celebrate with two new brothers in Christ who have come to be baptized. We will celebrate the presence of our newest members who have come in recent days. We will celebrate the sacrifice Christ made for us in the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Most of all, we will celebrate the good God who continues to bless us with life, finances, and the grace to lead us in using both.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fathers’ Day throws into sharp relief a growing trend that I’ve noticed in the church, namely, that we’re seeing a decline in men’s attendance in every activity and service we offer. Many church leaders and authors have communicated their theories about this trend, citing correlations among marriage, children, job security, and even the rise of sports in our culture as taking men away from the pews. I wonder why church is increasingly unattractive to my own gender, more especially to my own social demographic. Is church just not manly enough?
I understand that there are great things to take men, as well as every other family member away from the church and her activities. However, I find that there are equally (if not more so!) compelling reasons to be involved. When men are thrust into the complicated and demanding role of the husband and the father, where shall they turn to learn how to be the best at both? Where else is authentic manhood demonstrated if not in the life of Christ and his disciples?
I think that men, especially fathers, have gotten a bum rap in our society. Consider all the bungling, idiotic father-figures on television; their stupidity and incompetence has become some sort of expectation for all fathers, and men for that matter, to be barely sentient and unable to care for themselves. This is hardly the image of manhood as given to us by God, where fathers are strong, intelligent, and courageous. It’s sad that as the men of America have slid into a stereotype and caricature of their real selves, so has the church.
I’d invite everyone, fathers, mothers and us in between, to worship God with us this Sunday. Let’s push back against what manhood and womanhood are being cast as by this world and find what we’re supposed to be through Christ Jesus. Let’s prove that there are indeed real men in Riesel. Let’s make this Fathers’ Day about our Heavenly Father.