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.

 

Cardiopathy

Cardiopathy

Most of us are concerned about the condition of our heart.   Every trip to the doctor involves a check of our ‘vital signs.’  Vital signs which assess either a direct metric of our heart’s performance or some downstream effect, such as our blood oxygen level.  No matter what medical concerns brought us in, our health care providers want to know our heart is working well.   Nothing in the machinery of our anatomy reflects the frailty of life like our heart.  Only one heartbeat separates life and death, the here-and-now from eternity.

Despite our modern debates, the presence of a heartbeat is still the core criteria for distinguishing life from death.   A sound heart is so fundamental to being alive, that our language enshrines the ‘heart’ as the center of our being.  It represents our will, our desires, our affections, our deepest thoughts.  We use the heart to describe our physical, emotional, and spiritual condition.  And so, the thought of having heart problems brings existential crisis.   The clinical term is cardiopathy which refers to any disease or disorder of the heart.  

The thought of cardiopathy creates anxiety and imminent concern for our mortality.   Especially, cardiopathies with few effective treatments.  I recently read about “stiff heart syndrome.” Stiff heart syndrome is a condition in which the heart muscle thickens due to chronic high blood pressure. It is a warning sign of developing congestive heart failure. When the heart muscle can no longer efficiently pump blood, it can lead to fluid build-up in the lungs and limbs and cause shortness of breath.   The heart quite literally becomes hard.  

Degeneration and death come from a slow, progressive process of heart hardening.   The good news is that it can often be prevented through diet and lifestyle choices.  But once you have it, it is not easily treated.  Any time a life-giving organ turns to stone we should be concerned.  But are we as concerned for the hardness of our hearts, spiritually – a condition far more deadly, with eternal consequences?   

The Bible shows us the devastation of a spiritually stiff heart through the example of the Pharaoh in the book of Exodus.  The plagues, or mighty acts, God used to deliver his people from the oppression of Pharaoh were a judgement against both the people and the gods of Egypt.   And they were connected to Pharaoh’s hard and hardening heart.   From the start, the Lord declared that only the death of the firstborn would bring deliverance, but He graciously brings the progressive destruction of the plagues to reveal His glory, that the Hebrews and the Egyptians might “know the Lord.”  

But Pharaoh persisted in unbelief. And it brought disaster to his nation and his family.   He is a prime example of the destruction produced by a spiritually stiff heart.  And a warning to us.   The author of Hebrews warns.

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” For who were those who heard and yet rebelled?

HEBREWS 3:12-15

How many times have you heard the free offer of God’s grace and yet rebelled?   Is your heart hard or hardening?   Take heart! There is good news.   Hard-heartedness need not be the last word.   The Bible promises, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” And “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” There is a cure for spiritual stiff heart syndrome.   Join us this Lord’s Day to hear more as we examine Exodus 7:14-25 and consider the consequences and cure of a hard heart.

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

Prayer Meeting and Fellowship Lunch this Lord’s Day at 11 AM

Prayer Meeting and Fellowship Lunch this Lord’s Day at 11 AM

We will gather for prayer meeting this Lord’s Day at 11 AM at the Phillips’ home, and we will conclude our time with a fellowship lunch. Please consider bringing a dish to share. If you have family or friends in town for the holiday weekend, please consider bringing them to prayer meeting and to our regular worship service at 5 PM.

If you need directions to the Philipps’ home, contact us. For more reading on prayer, consider picking up the book Persistent Prayer by Guy Richard from our resource table.

Lesson Learned

Lesson Learned

First it was a Nigerian widow who wanted to contribute $43,000,000.00 to our church.   Then a friend who was stranded in France without money or passport.   Next, the IRS called in from Puerto Rico to tell me that criminal proceedings were beginning in response to back taxes.   Rachel and Veronica kept my phone hot inquiring about my lapsed car warranty and unpaid student loans – neither of which I ever had.   And now representatives of Norton Security with atrocious spelling and even more unbelievable names are emailing me from clearly fraudulent domains to thank me for my $827 renewal of virus protection software I haven’t used since Win95.  

Does anyone really fall for this?  After all my spam filters have gotten so good that I never see most of this until my monthly spam purge.  Even my smart phone is smart enough to change Rachel and Veronica’s names to “Spam Risk” or “Telemarketer.” And yet, they are unmoved.  Confidence men or ‘conmen’ in the vernacular, continue with courage undaunted.  Someone will always fall for their spiel.   If not you, then the next mark.   It is a numbers game fueled by the certainty that some people never learn.   Or as P. T. Barnum was reputed to have said, “there’s a sucker born every minute.”

Pop psychologist Maria Konnikova examined this remarkable idea in her 2016 book, The Confidence Game: Why We Fall for It…Every Time.   She asks and attempts to answer age-old questions.

While cheats and swindlers may be a dime a dozen, true conmen—the Bernie Madoffs, the Jim Bakkers, the Lance Armstrongs—are elegant, outsized personalities, artists of persuasion and exploiters of trust. How do they do it? Why are they successful? And what keeps us falling for it, over and over again?

In her attempt to answer these questions, Konnikova brings readers into the world of the con, examining the relationship between artist and victim. The Confidence Game asks not only why we believe con artists, but also examines the very act of believing and how our sense of truth can be manipulated by those around us.  No matter what you think of her conclusions, she puts her finger on difficulty of learning our lessons from a bad experience.  We like to say, “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” But how careful are we really to learn our lesson?  

We know Santayana’s maxim that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  We see this play out every day.   But do we learn our lessons?   And while this is important in regard to our relational, vocational, financial, and parental choices, it is of eternal importance in regard to our faith.   Faith grows as we exercise it.  And that exercise, not unlike physical exercise often comes in painful and trying circumstances.  The agency of sanctification is always refinement in the crucible of tribulation, suffering, need, or uncertainty. 

Faith grows when we lean into it, putting our weight upon the object of our faith.  The biblical word ‘faith’ carries with it the idea of standing on something to see that it will hold up and not give way.  The temporal things of this world and indeed your own skill, personality, talents, or circumstances cannot bear the weight of adversity in this life – but God can.  The Bible describes him as one who holds all things together, who carries us, who carries our sorrows and afflictions, and upon whom we can cast our cares.   He alone is the trustworthy object of our faith.   But how well have we learned this lesson?

Moses struggled to learn this.   His expectations of how God would work contradicted what God had revealed to him.   He did what he was asked.  He went to Pharaoh but his actions only made life more bitter for the Hebrew people.   Pharaoh’s heart grew harder with every exchange.  And his resolve grew greater with every refusal.   What kind of deliverance was this?  Moses was disappointed with his circumstance, himself, and most of all with God.  

But Moses was still placing his faith in himself and not in God’s promises and God’s power.   At the end of Exodus 6, God tells Moses to return to Pharaoh.  Moses complains, “what’s the use, I am a man of faltering speech.” But he goes anyway.   This time, however, he is careful to do exactly what God told him – no going off script, making apologies for God, or trying to smooth out what God said to make it more acceptable the unbelieving king.  

Moses learned a lesson.   Our faith in not in our faith, but in the object of our faith – God’s promises and power.   Join us this Lord’s Day as we examine Exodus 6:28-7:13 and consider some of the lessons learned by Moses about God’s promises and power and character – lessons we need to learn.

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

04/03/2022 | “Condemned He Stood” | Luke 23:1-25

04/03/2022 | “Condemned He Stood” | Luke 23:1-25

What we see in that scene is the innocent condemned in the place of the guilty.  Is this not what Jesus has done for His people?  The Spotless Lamb was condemned so that His people might go free.  The old hymn, “Man of Sorrows, What A Name!” by Philip Bliss uses the phrase, “In my place condemned He stood.”  Christ stood condemned instead of His people.  Though we deserved the judgment of God, Christ Himself took it upon Himself at the Cross. Because Christ has accomplished all this on behalf of His people, we may go free.