In Person Service Cancelled for February 14, 2021

FeaturedIn Person Service Cancelled for February 14, 2021

Due to the threat of severe winter weather expected in Central Arkansas, beginning midday Sunday, February 14, the Session has cancelled our in-person worship scheduled for 5:00 pm in the Commons at St. Andrews Church.   Please join us via live-stream on Facebook Live @PottsvilleARP or YouTube as we worship with our sister congregation, the Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church at 10:30 am.

Featured

COVID-19 Survival Guide

In the exercise of Christian prudence and in response to calls for social distancing, our elders have decided to limit our corporate gatherings to online only. Below is a quick reference guide of links for you to use as we live life together as a church, online, until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

  1. We will gather each Sunday at 10:30 am via Facebook Live.  This stream will be simulcast to our River City ARP Facebook page.   If there are technical issues or if you are not on facebook, the video will be posted on YouTube for later viewing.
  2. The service will be simple.   We will have a call to worship and response, I will lead us through our confession of sin, assurance of pardon, and confession of faith.  Then we will share a time of teaching.  Our service will conclude with a pastoral prayer, the Lord’s Prayer and then the Benediction.
  3. Each week we will post a full order of service which also includes the lyrics to some of the songs included on the YouTube playlist.   You may listen to these or sing them together in your home gathering.  We will not sing them together via the live stream.
  4. Continue your giving by giving online or for other options go to the Giving link on our website.
  5. Pray for one another and check in with one another via phone, text, email, social media and even cards and letters.
  6. Please contact us if you have questions.   If you have family members or friends who don’t have good internet access or aren’t quite sure how to navigate this brave new world of virtual gathering, please join them or ask them to join you.  

Men’s Bible Study

FeaturedMen’s Bible Study

In 1968, Little Rock native, Charles Portis, published his most famous novel, True Grit, as a weekly serial for the Saturday Evening Post.  The story’s main character, Rooster Cogburn, is a washed up, over-the-hill lawman — a man whose vices had robbed him of every shred respect and responsibility.  No one expected much of Rooster Cogburn.  Nor did he expect much from himself.  But young Mattie Ross recognized that somewhere deep inside of him was a man of ‘True Grit.’

The world today does not expect much from men.  The growing cultural ambiguity over gender has brought confusion to men regarding their unique identity and calling, robbing men of respect and responsibility.  The concept of masculinity has become a vacuum which has sucked up every worldly idea of what makes a man a man.

Men are looking for role models, someone to follow – a narrative to fill the vacuum.    In his book, The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell astutely noted that men are drawn to stories of strong men.  But what he failed to grasp is that it is real men, not mythical ones, whose examples are needed.

Such men are not to be found in legend or in the movies, but in the Bible.  Contrary to the assertions of skeptics, the Bible the most well attested collection of historical stories of great and influential real men.  Men who wrestled with the question, “What does it mean to live and lead like a man?”  Nehemiah was one of these men.  He was a man with ‘true grit.’ The Book of Nehemiah reveals some essential principles for godly manhood, but,

“we do not come to the Bible primarily to study a man’s character or Christian methods, we come to meet God; a message has little value unless it brings us to the feet of our Savior.” Alan Redpath.

Men today are searching for significance — significance in their manhood, their vocation, their role within the family and their world.  Men want to know how to live and lead.  Nehemiah was confronted with these same challenges as he sought to reform the church and state of his day.   His example has much to teach us as men.

Join with other men as we gather Thursday mornings, beginning July 27, from 6:30 – 7:30am at Panera Bread, 10701 Kanis Rd, Little Rock, for fellowship, prayer and discussion of godly manhood from the life of Nehemiah.

 

05/16/2021 | “PPE” | Revelation 11:1-14

05/16/2021 | “PPE” | Revelation 11:1-14

The gospel is sweet, but first it is sour.    The truth sets men free.  But first it makes them mad.   It exposes their condition before applying the remedy.   And to worldly men, this exposure is torment.    They will hate the one who dares expose their condition.   Sharing the gospel is a deadly dangerous business.   But it is a deadly dangerous business that God calls us to take up.   What PPE is there for us against the world’s hate for the truth of the gospel?

In Revelation 11, John sees a second vision.  A vision of the two witnesses.    Witnesses who symbolize boldness and power.   Witnesses who faithfully finish their testimony.   And witnesses who meet abuse and death for their message.   But their suffering is short-lived.  Death is not the last word.   The God who protected them in life, gives them eternal life and calls them home.   And a world so eager to be rid of them, realizes too late the terror of a world without the gospel.  Join us this week as we examine Revelation 11:1-14 and consider God’s protection and care for faithful witnesses.

“PPE,” Revelation 11:1-14

PPE

PPE

Every crisis has its jargon, and COVID has not disappointed.     Social events are ‘superspreaders.’   Breathing, ‘aerosolization.’   Everyone who asks for your temperature and symptom history, suspect you are ‘asymptomatic,’ but positive.   Our great longing is for ‘herd immunity.’   And in the place of batting averages and points per game, we pour over ‘rates of transmission.’   Everyone dies of COVID, but we all know they had ‘comorbidities.’   We are not really sure if we want to ask for an ‘antigen’ or an ‘antibody’ test.   The calculus of ‘quarantine’ is more enigmatic than proving Fermat’s theorem.   We ‘social distance’ in order to avoid the dread ‘second-wave’ lest we have to go into ‘isolation’ because we were ‘contact-traced.’   If only we had ‘PPE,’ maybe we would feel safer.

But how far can my ‘Personal Protective Equipment’ protect me and those I visit?   Let’s face it.  Isolation gowns hardly offer comprehensive coverage.   Though admittedly, the dual effect of a total face shield and N95 mask does protect parishioners from every word I speak.   No doubt, donning glove, gown, mask, and face shield will reduce ‘rates of transmission,’ but is it fool-proof?   Absolutely not.  When it comes to COVID there are no guarantees.   As one hapless interviewee noted, “the virus is just gonna virus.”

We are vulnerable and we know it.   Whether we deny the virus or hunker down, “the virus is just gonna virus.”   As with every other uncertainty and danger in life, we are vulnerable.   We do our best to protect and prepare, but in the end we do well to remember that “the mercy of the world is that you don’t know what’s going to happen.”  Yet, it is often precisely that uncertainty that paralyzes us.   And so, we circle the wagons, shut down, isolate and live in a cryogenic state.   Wise King Solomon once noted, “he who builds a high gate invites destruction.” (Proverbs 17:19)    Fear easily creates paralysis.

We see this in our spiritual lives as well.   Christians have a Great Commission.   We have one job, just one job — to make disciples of the nations.   But fear of rejection, persecution, suffering, privation, and even inconvenience repeatedly derails us.   Judgement from God is raining down on unbelievers all around us.  Friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, and those we see every day are facing the righteous, eternal wrath of a Holy God.   We have walked in their shoes.  We were once in the same danger, but God showed mercy to us.  He sent someone to share the gospel with us — someone who loved us, more than their own safety or comfort.   What about us?  Do we love others more than our own safety and comfort?

Sharing the gospel is frightening.  It is dangerous.  It can even be deadly.   It is sweet, but it is also bitter.    We find this in Revelation 10.  Judgements unfold against those without the seal of the living God.  But judgement alone will never bring men to repentance.  John sees a vision directed to the church.   He is instructed to take a little scroll and to eat it.  Though sweet in the mouth, it is bitter in his stomach.  And in this vision, we have a picture both of the nature of the gospel and our duty to proclaim it.  

Like a lamp on a stand, the church shines the grace of God into a world that knows only the darkness of the fall.   The truth sets men free.  But first it makes them mad.   It exposes their condition before applying the remedy.   And to worldly men, this exposure is torment.    They will never be grateful for this exposure until grace opens their eyes.   They will hate the one who dares expose them.   Sharing the gospel is a deadly, dangerous business.   But it is a deadly, dangerous business that God calls us to take up.   What PPE is there for us against the world’s hatred for the truth of the gospel?

In Revelation 11, John sees a second vision.  A vision of the two witnesses.    Witnesses who symbolize boldness and power.   Witnesses who faithfully finish their testimony.   And witnesses who meet abuse and death for their message.   But their suffering is short-lived.  Death is not the last word.   The God who protected them in life, gives them eternal life and calls them home.   And a world so eager to be rid of them, realizes too late the terror of a world without the gospel.  Join us this week as we examine Revelation 11:1-14 and consider God’s protection and care for faithful witnesses.

We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm, outside on The Pavilion at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship.  Get directions here or contact us for more info.  You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube

Venue for May 16, 2021

Venue for May 16, 2021

WEATHER PERMITTING, we will meet this Sunday, May 16, 2021 from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm for worship and fellowship OUTSIDE on the Pavilion at St. Andrews’ Church.  Click here for directions. Please bring enough chairs for your family plus extra for guests.

In case of inclement weather, we will meet at The Arkansas Dream Center located at 1116 Daisy L Gatson Bates Drive in Little Rock.  Get the latest updates on our venue at our Facebook Page

You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube.

05/09/2021 | “Sweet and Sour” | Revelation 10:1-11

05/09/2021 | “Sweet and Sour” | Revelation 10:1-11

Many of the joys of life depend upon a mixture of extremes — pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, discomfort and comfort.   We even see this in the Bible and the gospel.   Before we can accept God’s mercy, we must accept that we deserve only His condemnation.   The gospel does not make good men better, it saves the unsavable.   It is sweet, but first it is sour.    The truth sets men free, but first it makes them mad.   It wounds, then heals.  It tears, then binds up.   It is sweet in the mouth and bitter in the stomach. 

How willing are you to say hard things to soften hard hearts?   God’s Word can be bitter, but it is also sweet.  Jesus has the keys to Death and Hades and gives these gospel keys us.   But will we use them?  Listen as we examine Revelation 10 and consider our calling to share the gospel boldly.

“Sweet and Sour,” Revelation 10:1-11

Sweet and Sour

Sweet and Sour

Money was scarce when I was ten.   An ‘allowance’ was not a part of my parent’s parenting theory.  They were firmly in the ‘pay-for-performance’ camp.   And there was too little of either – pay or performance.   The few chores my father considered pay-worthy were indexed to his Depression era pay scales.  

If I was going to make any serious coin, I would have to look elsewhere.   But without a mower, my options were limited.   While there were always the odd neighbor jobs – moving gravel piles, feeding dogs, and clearing kudzu.   These were hit-or-miss.   Collecting glass Coke bottles from the roadside for a nickel each was my only reliable source of income.   In those days we were less conscious of the moral duty not to throw trash on the roadsides, so this was surprisingly profitable.

I was careful with what I earned.   A tenth to church, half to savings, and the rest to 7Eleven.   On summer days, neighborhood kids, young and old, would mount their spider-bikes and trek to the 7Eleven up on the highway.   I’m sure our parents assumed there was safety in numbers.  But looking back, I’m not so sure.   But as old-timers are apt to say, “times were different then.”

Topps baseball cards, packs of candy Marlboro cigarettes, and Now-or-Laters were always in the bag.  And righteousness could not be fulfilled without a Cherry Coke Slurpee and its accompanying spoon-straw.   But my go-to item was the giant SweetTart.  Unlike chewy ones sold today, vintage giant SweetTarts were hard and looked like enormous dishwasher tablets.  Only as the tart gave way to the sweet could you even open your eyes.   Eating too many would make your tongue raw for days.   They were intense – the mother of all complex candy flavors.  

But it was that complexity, sweet and sour, that made them so good.   Many of the joys of life depend upon a mixture of extremes.   Our loves often offer both pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, discomfort and comfort.   We even see this in the Bible and the gospel.   Before we can accept God’s mercy, we must accept that we deserve only His condemnation.    The gospel does not make good men better, it saves the unsavable.   The words of the Old Testament prophet, Hosea, are poignant.

Come, let us return to the Lord;
    for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
    he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
    on the third day he will raise us up,
    that we may live before him.

HOSEA 6:1-2

The Bible is both sweet and sour.   Paul described it as “the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)  The Bible speaks sweetly of mercy, but everywhere reminds us that this mercy comes through the bitterness of judgment poured out on Christ.    Those who reject this find that the gospel’s sweet promises bear bitter fruit in unbelief.  

John’s vision in Revelation 10 underscores this.   Judgements unfold against those without the seal of the living God.   The church is excluded, yet still present in the world.   What is her role?   In the interlude between the Sixth and Seventh Trumpets, John sees a vision directed to the church.   He is instructed to take a little scroll and to eat it.  Though sweet in the mouth, it is bitter in his stomach.  And in this vision, we have a picture both of the nature of the gospel and of our duty to proclaim it.  

Acts of God’s judgement are raining down on the unbelieving world.   But judgement alone will never bring men to repentance.   Without the kindness of God in the gospel, they will only be hardened.    Like a lamp on a stand, the church shines the kindness of God into a world that knows only the bitterness of the fall.   The gospel is sweet, but first it is sour.    The truth sets men free, but first it makes them mad.   It exposes their condition before applying the remedy.   It wounds, then heals.  It tears, then binds up.   It is sweet in the mouth and bitter in the stomach.

How willing are we to proclaim this sweet-and-sour gospel?   Every person deserves God’s wrath and curse.  This horror should ignite a sense of urgency.   Those you love, those you serve, those who serve you, who are not sealed through faith in Christ, will fall under horrific judgements.   They will seek for death and not find it.  And when it comes, it will not relieve.   Their only hope is the sweet-and-sour gospel.   How willing are you to say hard things to soften hard hearts?   Leon Morris puts this into perspective.  

“The true preacher of God’s Word will faithfully proclaim the denunciations of the wicked it contains.  But he does not do this with fierce glee.   Telling forth of ‘woes’ will be a bitter experience….  The wickedness of man grieved God at His heart (Genesis 6:6), and the true preacher of God’s Word enters to some degree into this suffering.” 

LEON MORRIS, REVELATION.

God’s Word can be bitter, but it is also sweet.  Jesus has the keys to Death and Hades and gives these gospel keys us.   But will we use them?  Join us this week as we examine Revelation 10 and consider our calling to share the gospel boldly.

Due to a forecast for rain and thundershowers this Sunday evening, May 9, we will meet at The Arkansas Dream Center located at 1116 Daisy L Gatson Bates Drive in Little Rock. 

Join us in person from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm for worship and fellowship. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube.

WEATHER PERMITTING, we will meet next Sunday evening, May 16, OUTSIDE on the Pavilion at St. Andrews’ Church.  Click here for directions. Get the latest updates on our venue at our Facebook Page