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.

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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.

 

10/10/2021 | “Final Judgement” | Revelation 20:11-15

10/10/2021 | “Final Judgement” | Revelation 20:11-15

Rock and roll ballads rarely offer helpful counsel for life’s existential angst.  But they do put their finger insightfully on the pulse of the angst itself.   Creed’s, My Own Prison, is a poignant example.  While its theology is askew, the songs’ message is clear.   Without God’s grace, men are self-condemned in a prison of their own sinful making.  The Bible is clear about our condition apart from God’s grace.  Men try to ignore it, deceive themselves about it, and rail against it, but the they cannot escape their own prison.   Judgment is coming.   God has not hidden this truth.   Throughout the Scriptures the inevitability of God’s judgment is proclaimed with clarity and certainty.   The final judgement is never expressed in conditional language.   Join us this Lord’s Day as we examine Revelation 20:11-15, commonly called the Great White Throne Judgement, and consider what will make the difference between eternal life and death at the final judgement.

10/03/2021 | “Coronation Day” | Revelation 20:4-10

10/03/2021 | “Coronation Day” | Revelation 20:4-10

Surely no one was surprised by Brexit?   Like a young couple crafting a prenup in their first premarital counseling session, Brexit was an inevitable outcome.   The tenuous EU marriage between Britain and the Continent could never last.   Despite its pretense as a representative democracy, Britain is forever committed to its Crown.  But, as Americans, we mistrust any idea of the monarchy.   So, it is hard for us to fully appreciate the implications of Christ as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.   Scripture passages that speak of The Kingdom and of Christ and the saints ruling and reigning resonate only lightly with us.  

Yet, the comfort of Revelation 20 depends upon rightly understanding the reigning of the saints.   To miss the meaning of this powerful image is to miss some of the richest gospel comfort offered in Scripture.  Join us as we examine Revelation 20:4-10 and find simple, yet profound comfort from one of the Scripture’s most enigmatic passages. Listen to “Coronation Day” from Revelation 20:4-10.

Disclaimers

Disclaimers

What’s the catch? Our mothers always warned us, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” The cunning of the salesman is to promote the benefits and overcome the objections. Unfortunately, ‘the catch’ often gets lost in a sea of euphemism. And so, to bridge the gap between the sunshine of the salesman and the rainy day of reality, we have disclaimers.

Everything comes with disclaimers. The fine print. The low-toned, rapid-fire voice at the end of the commercial offering a hurried, but dire warning. Asterisks and double-daggers qualify every statement, so as to evade charges of false advertising. The dictionary defines a disclaimer as, “a statement, document, or assertion that disclaims responsibility, affiliation, etc.; disavowal; denial.” To disclaim is the opposite of claiming. The salesman claims, the legal department disclaims. Offers are made, then qualified, modified, mortified. The sales pitch promotes benefit without borders, then the disclaimer draws a very small map of possibilities.

Disclaimers makes us jaded to every remarkable promise, suspicious of every offer. Yet, I suppose this is nothing new in the history of the world. From the beginning, the Great Deceiver, deceived our forefather Adam to believe that it was God who was deceiving him. Satan added disclaimers and man doubted. Ever since, man has doubted. God offers man more than he can imagine. The offer requires only faith, yet man can only doubt. Satan suggests disclaimers. Surely God is up to no good. Surely it is a trap to defraud and destroy. And so, in our fallenness we trust the Deceiver, and view the Trustworthy One with suspicion.

But God gives something else. He gives faith as a gift. God in his mercy, gives us the faith to trust that his offer comes without disclaimers. Nothing in our doing or undoing undoes God’s offer of eternal life. And to remind us of this, He brings the great story of redemption to a close in Revelation 21 with a vision of all His promises kept. Everything He offered is given. Nothing is withheld. There are no caveats, no conditions, no last-minute substitutions – no disclaimers.

What was true regarding the people of Israel entering the promised land, is also true all who will experience the new heavens and the new earth.

Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.

Joshua 21:45

Have you trusted these promises? Have you accepted God’s offer? Have you believed that eternal life in Christ appears too good to be true, but really is? Or has the Deceiver kept you looking for a disclaimer, a loophole, a conviction that God’s promise comes with asterisks and double-daggers and will come to nothing? Join us this Lord’s Day as we examine Revelation 21:1-8 and consider the offer that appears too good to be true, but really is.

We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons 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

Final Judgement

Final Judgement

Rock and roll ballads rarely offer helpful counsel for life’s existential angst.  But they do put their finger insightfully on the pulse of the angst itself.   The bards of rock know well their condition and articulate it with great intensity.   Examples are copious, but some lyrics are more poignant than others. 

Creed’s title track, My Own Prison, has always grieved me.   It’s clarity regarding the ultimate existential crisis, but unwillingness to accept its acknowledged solution underscores the inability of man, unaided by the effectual calling of the Spirit, to find peace. 

Court is in session, a verdict is in
No appeal on the docket today just my own sin
The walls cold and pale, the cage made of steel
Screams fill the room, alone I drop and kneel

Silence now the sound, my breath the only motion around
Demons cluttering around, my face showing no emotion
Shackled by my sentence, expecting no return
Here there is no penance, my skin begins to burn

I hear a thunder in the distance, see a vision of a cross
I feel the pain that was given on that sad day of loss
A lion roars in the darkness, only he holds the key
A light to free me from my burden and grant me life eternally

I cry out to God, seeking only His decision
Gabriel stand and confirms, I’ve created my own prison.

While its theology is askew, the songs’ message is clear.   Without God’s grace, men are self-condemned in a prison of their own sinful making.  The Bible is clear about our condition apart from God’s grace.  Men try to ignore it, deceive themselves about it, and rail against it, but the they cannot escape their own prison.    Though many mock Christianity and scoff at the Bible, all men sense the truth of what Paul wrote in Acts 17:31 and dread it.

[God] has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.

Judgment is coming.   God has not hidden this truth.   Throughout the Scriptures the inevitability of God’s judgment is proclaimed with clarity and certainty.   The final judgement is never expressed in conditional language.   As the author of Hebrews wrote.

It is appointed for man to die once and then comes the judgement.

HEBREWS 9:27

All men will face it.  Great and small, righteous and wicked, believers and unbelievers.  Yet not all men will be condemned.    In a moment of remarkable literal clarity, Revelation 20:11-15 speaks of the final judgment – of its certainty, scope, basis, and sentence.   But like every word of judgement in Scripture, this picture of the final judgement includes a word of grace.   

Among the books of men’s deeds is found another book, the Book of Life of the Lamb Who Was Slain.   This book does not contain men’s works, but their names – the names of those who have trusted Jesus’ works, not their own.   For these men and women, boys and girls, justice has been satisfied.    The one on the throne executing judgement has, himself, endured judgement in their place.  

What about you?  Which book determines your eternal destiny on the day of judgement?   Will you hear, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” or “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”  Join us this Lord’s Day as we examine Revelation 20:11-15, commonly called the Great White Throne Judgement, and consider what makes the difference between eternal life and death at the final judgement.

We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons 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

Coronation Day

Coronation Day

Surely no one was surprised by Brexit?   Like a young couple crafting a prenup in their first premarital counseling session, Brexit was an inevitable outcome.    As my ASDA House coworker explained in 2001 when I asked about Britain adopting the Euro, “they won’t let us put the Queen on it!”   I knew then that the tenuous EU marriage between Britain and the Continent could never last.   Despite its pretense as a representative democracy, Britain is forever committed to its Crown.

The pageantry, the history, and the utter fascination of being a people ruled by the reign of a Sovereign King or Queen is absolutely repugnant to the American consciousness, however.  Though we began as loyal subjects of the Crown, the abuses our forefathers suffered at its hands have been forever enshrined in our foundational document, The Declaration of Independence.   Every year on the Fourth of July we read.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States….  In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Declaration of Independence

The Declaration’s list of grievances is ingrained on our national identity.  We impute George III’s guilt to every idea of monarchy.   While good for self-governance, our anti-monarchal bias negatively affects our hermeneutics.  It is hard for us to fully appreciate the implications of Christ as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.   Scripture passages that speak of The Kingdom and of Christ and the saints ruling and reigning resonate only lightly with us.   Yet, many sweet promises given to believers in the Bible are related to the rule and reign of the saints over the world.

The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him; 2 Timothy 2:11-12

Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! 1 Corinthians 6:2-3

“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Luke 22:28-30

And especially in Revelation we read.

The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, Revelation 2:26

The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.  Revelation 3:21

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”   Revelation 5:10-11

And most notoriously,

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed.  Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years. 

Revelation 20:4-6

Unfortunately, the sweetness of these promises is often obscured by the violence this last passage has suffered at the hands of eisogetes.   At precisely this point, many otherwise sound interpreters abandon the principle of ‘interpreting less clear passages from more clear passages.’   And the questions this text presents are legion?  Where are these thrones?  Over whom will the saints reign?  And who are these saints?  Are they martyrs only?  Or a select few that experience a proto-resurrection?  

Many hearers give up on this passage because of the divisiveness of teachers and preachers.  But the enigmata of Revelation 20 is its ultimate irony.   Like all of Revelation, this passage is not given to obscure, but reveal.  Not to distress, but comfort.  Not to divide, but to unify.   In An Eschatology of Victory, Marcellus Kik notes that accessing the comfort of Revelation 20 depends upon rightly understanding three simple, yet profound images: the binding of the devil, the reigning of the saints, and the two deaths and resurrections.   To miss the meaning of these powerful images is to miss some of the richest gospel comfort offered in Scripture.  Join us as we examine Revelation 20:4-10 and find simple, yet profound comfort from one of the Scripture’s most enigmatic passages.

We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons 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