Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Last week I told you of my delight in fall weather. But for some, Autumn’s icy winds, cold rains, and lowering skies, frankly make them feel depressed, like some forlorn, wistful character paralyzed by fear and past regrets, dressed in somber black and staring blankly out the rain streaked upper-story window of a neglected Victorian mansion.
Not merely found in fiction, this forlorn character, familiar to watchers of British adaptations of 19th century novels, can be all too real, and much closer to us geographically than we are prone to imagine, than those found in such novels and dramas. Living can seem like a prison from within the four walls of a retirement home or a nursing care facility, not because of anything wrong with the facility, but because removal from one’s home, whether for health reasons or otherwise, constitutes a major sense of loss for many who experience this kind of life change. Even in spring or summer, to such, each day can resemble the grey bleakness of a cold autumn day. The result can be boredom, depression, or hopelessness.
This Sunday at 2pm I want to invite you to join me at the Sheridan Health Care facility at 803 S. Hamilton Rd. in Sheridan for time of visiting and outreach to the residents and workers there. Once per quarter Christ Covenant spends time visiting Sheridan Health Care, sharing the love of Jesus Christ to those who live and work there. Our presence can lift the spirits, bring joy to the hearts, and smiles to the faces of those who can feel lonely, neglected, and downcast.
When I was in my mid-20s and attending Grace OPC in Columbus, OH, then Pastor Larry Wilson challenged me to get involved at the Windsong Village retirement home nursing care facility where the church held outreach worship services once per month. Soon I was hooked, and led that ministry for the next ten years. It taught me compassion and patience with the frail, confused, and hurting. It also taught me to “expect the unexpected”! I learned how to deal graciously and creatively with those undergoing the infirmities of aging, and to see that the Gospel is about giving a cup of cold water in the name of Christ, or a warm hug, or a kind word, all in the Name of our Savior – particularly to those least able to help themselves or to give back in return.
Isaiah 35:3 says, “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to the fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear!” We are called alongside the weak and suffering and fearful to comfort them, both physically with our presence and with our words of encouragement. Join with Anlle and me this Sunday to do just this in the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Anlle and I will be eating lunch at the church after the service and we’d like you to join us. We’ll be bringing some food to share – but it would be helpful to get an RSVP so we know how much to bring. If you want, bring something to eat, but we want this to be informal because we want you to COME and join us with the outreach at the Sheridan Health Care facility. Please let us know if you will be joining us for lunch. Afterward, we’ll head straight over to Sheridan Health Care, arriving at around 2pm (service starts at 2:15pm). And if you can’t come with us, please pray for our outreach. This is a great opportunity to plug in and serve!
Here are a few things to be aware of in our corporate life as a congregation.
1. Pastor Tim and Pastor Emeritus Mark will be heading to presbytery this Thursday and returning hopefully not too late! on Saturday. This meeting of the Presbytery of Ohio is in Grove City, PA, about a 7 hour drive from here. Please pray for safe travels, and that the presbytery would be used by God to advance His kingdom.
2. This Sunday, October 20: outreach at Sheridan Health Care, 2:15pm. If you didn’t read the opening article, go back and read it! 🙂
3. Over the past few years we have participated in providing Christmas food boxes and Angel Tree gifts for our community through MAMA’s Cupboard. Please keep this on your radar and look for details on how you can participate in the near future.
October 18-19 – Meeting of Presbytery of Ohio, Grove City, PA
October 20 – Lord’s Day Worship, 10:15am
October 20 – Service at Sheridan Health Care, 803 S. Hamilton, Sheridan, 2:15pm
October 27 – Lord’s Day Worship, 10:15am
October 27 – Neighborhood Fellowship, 2:45pm
Meditations from Pastor Tim
Be careful of the invitations you accept, and the voices you listen to.
What prompts this thought is an invitation I received today on Facebook to “like” a podcast by someone with whom I share a common former employer. So, being a cautious but inquisitive Calvinist, decided I would listen to his podcast on “Predestination.” My first thought when I saw the title was, “Oh wow, I didn’t know that guy was a Calvinist.” Now, if I hadn’t gone a step further I might have just “liked” his page because I knew him. But after listening for about 30 seconds it was obvious he was trying to debunk the Biblical doctrine of Predestination (I say trying because it can’t be debunked, because it is the biblical teaching, and he didn’t rise above presenting the least charitable caricatures of Predestination, to the point where what he presented was a mangled deformation, unrecognizable to and not believed by, any true Calvinist; and which evoked from him and his broadcasting partner the most hackneyed, knee-jerk and commonplace reactions to straw-man arguments, things like, “In the traditional Calvinist view that God chooses some for salvation in Christ and leaves others to perish in their sin, Where is God’s love? Where is the motive for evangelism? What could possibly be God’s rationale for choosing some and not others?”)
When someone uses the Bible to try to debunk the Bible, red flags need to go up. In this digital age, it is easy to dispatch with discernment in the rush to jump on a bandwagon, to gain the approval of, or to flatter someone you know by liking something they want you to like, even if you ought to be DIS-liking it. As a pastor, I need to be very sure before I recommend this teaching or that teaching to you, the members of CCOPC. But you too need to be discerning in the voices you listen to. I have no doubt that my former co-worker and his friend thought they were doing a service to the kingdom by exposing a doctrine they felt would cause Christians to lose motivation for sharing their faith.
But they were desperately wrong in how they attempted to interpret Scripture. God chose us, individual sinners, in love, and in Christ Jesus, from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). He also commands the Church to go into the world and preach the Gospel, to make disciples of all nations, teaching and baptizing as we go (Matthew 28:19-20). We are in Christ because God sovereignly predestined us to be in Christ through faith. We evangelize because our Lord calls us to do so. The predestined demonstrate in time their very status as elect by believing, by coming to faith in Christ. He has mysteriously bound up the accomplishment of His plan of predestinarian salvation with the evangelistic labors of His people. Because we KNOW He still has “many people in this city” (Acts 18:9) – that is enough for us. We believe in predestination and evangelism; in fact, the former provides GREAT motivation for the latter!
Beware of those who use the Bible to debunk the Bible, even if they seem to be sincere evangelicals. Be careful of the voices you allow to speak into your life. Where we don’t understand Scripture, let’s not declare Scripture to be irrational. Remember that God’s ways and thoughts are higher than our ways and thoughts. God is never irrational, but He is supra-rational – above human ability to understand and reason. We may not understand why God doesn’t just “snap His cosmic fingers” and bring all of the predestined to faith in an instant. But we don’t need to understand, because we also clearly understand that our Lord teaches us to obey His commands, one of the greatest of which is to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…” Rather, let us marvel and wonder at His love and condescension, that He partners with redeemed sinners to help Him in bringing in what remains of the as yet unconverted but nevertheless predestined elect!
Praise the Lord that God predestined you in Christ Jesus to salvation. Now go tell someone about how they can know that same salvation, for God still has “many people in this city.”
See you Sunday!
In Christ’s Service,