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.

 

Viewing the Son

Viewing the Son

On Monday, August 21, 2017 those within a seventy mile-wide swath of the United States will be treated to a rare and dramatic celestial phenomena – a total solar eclipse.  Perhaps you are late to the game and just now realized that to view the eclipse, you will need special glasses, certified to meet the ISO 12312-2 standard.  To ensure your glasses are safe click here.

But if you do not have safe glasses, you can still view the eclipse by making a pin hole projector.   This is simple and will allow you to watch the eclipse safely without looking directly at the sun. You can find simple instructions here.

Looking directly at the sun is hazardous.  It requires filtration or indirection.  In the same way it is impossible for us to look directly at the nature and plans of God.  If God were to reveal all of Himself or His purposes, our finite minds could not handle it.  Moses once asked to see God’s glory and the Lord created protected circumstances and gave only a glimpse.  God has also given us a protected way to view His nature and His purposes, through the safety and clarity of the Scriptural lens.   The Bible gives us insight into the depths of God’s love for us and His gracious purposes for His children.  All of the Bible reveals the story of redemption, most clearly expressed in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Genesis 22 we have a pin-hole projector into the love of the Father and the obedience of the Son in the story of redemption through a troubling account of Abraham and Isaac.   Like the various parts of a pin-hole projector working together to give a clear image of the eclipse, the rest of Scripture, especially Hebrews 11:17-19 gives us the key to resolving what seems to be a horrific demand of God upon Abraham.

Join us this Lord’s Day, August 20, as we examine the challenging account of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah and gain a glimpse into the redeeming love of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions.

Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.

No Shadow of Turning

No Shadow of Turning

A total solar eclipse is a rare occurrence.  On August 21, 2017, Little Rock will experience a substantial partial eclipse with 89% of the sun obscured by the moon.  You may be planning to travel northward toward St. Louis to view the total eclipse, but as you plan, also be aware of the unusual effects a solar eclipse produces.

  • Before the eclipse reaches totality, shadow bands will form on plain-colored surfaces. The wavy lines of light and dark, lined up in parallel rows, will undulate and move rapidly across the ground.
  • During the partial phase, a minute or more before and after the eclipse — when the sun looks like a crescent moon — the colors in the landscape will appear saturated and contrast is boosted. Shadows cast through leafy trees, sometimes called anti-shadows, will appear to be hundreds of tiny crescent-shaped shadows because the gaps between leaves act like pinhole cameras.
  • During the total eclipse, when it is safe to look at the eclipse with the naked eye, experts say you can expect to see jets and ribbons of light in the corona, the sun’s outer atmosphere, twisting and curling out into the sky.
  • As soon as the Moon entirely covers the Sun and causes the sky to completely blacken, the air will instantly chill — perhaps by as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Animals will become confused and nocturnal animals may awaken and become active.  Bats may fly around thinking it is night.  Birds may go to roost.  Crickets or cicadas may begin to chirp. Mosquitoes may come out to bite during moments when the sky darkens.
  • If the land is flat for miles around your location or you are on a mountain top, you will be able to see the darkest part of the Moon’s shadow (called the umbra) racing across the ground towards you just before totality and away from you afterwards.
  • During totality, brighter stars, such as Sirius, will be visible, as well as four of the five planets which can be seen with the naked eye: Venus, Mercury, Mars and Jupiter

Read here for more effects of the eclipse.

The ancient world depended on the predictability of celestial cycles. A solar eclipse was unexpected and terrifying.  It seemed to confirm the latent fear of darkened pagan hearts and minds that their gods were capricious and angry – unpredictable and bent on judgment and destruction.   Yet we read of the God of the Bible that,

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.  James 1:17

The word translated shadow is an ancient word which means “eclipse.”   The Lord is a God who is constant and kind.   He never changes.  He is as good as His Word.  Consider what the scripture says about God’s promises.

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

For all the promises of God find their Yes in [Christ Jesus]. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.  2 Corinthians 1:20

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  2 Peter 3:9

Join us this Lord’s Day, August 13, as we examine the story of Isaac’s birth in Genesis 21 and consider the trustworthiness of a God who makes and keeps promises.  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions.

Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.

Home Improvement

Home Improvement

Men are often tempted to view their vocational occupation as separate and distinct from their calling as father, husband and follower of Christ.  But nothing is further from the truth.  Our occupational calling is intimately connected to every other sphere of influence God grants us.  Nowhere is this faux distinction more keenly felt than when a man spends all his energy and influence on the outside world then has nothing left for his wife, family and church.   Are we as faithful in our calling within the home and church as we are in our occupation?  Are we more concerned with what we build for strangers than with what we build for those closest to us.

The story is told of an elderly carpenter was due to retire. He told his employer of his plans to leave the business and start a life of leisure with his wife and extended family. He would miss the money, but the time was right and he was ready to hang up his hammer.

His boss was disappointed as the carpenter had been a loyal and diligent worker for many years, so he was sad to see him go. He asked for one last favor, requesting that the carpenter could build one last house before retiring. The tradesman agreed, but it was soon clear that his heart wasn’t in it. He took shortcuts, used inferior materials and put in a half-hearted effort. In the end the final product was well short of his usual standards, a disappointing way to end his career.

When the job was finished, the employer came to inspect the work.  After taking a look around, he handed the keys to the carpenter and said, “This is your house, it’s my gift to you.” The carpenter was shocked and embarrassed. If only he had known, he would have made sure that everything was perfect. If he had known the consequences, he would have demanded excellence from himself.

Nehemiah did not rebuild the walls of Jerusalem by himself, nor did he enlist the aid of general contractors.  He led families with diverse gifts and callings, each working in their own neighborhood, to rebuild the city of God together.  This is an apt picture of our calling as men to fulfill the Great Commission from the inside out, starting within our own homes.  What are the spiritual challenges this calling creates for you?  Join with other men as we gather this Thursday morning, August 10, 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.

Unbreakable

Unbreakable

Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love,
    but a faithful man who can find?  Proverbs 20:6

Lovers are always looking for a way to declare their unbreakable, steadfast love for one another.  One contemporary trend is for couples to place a padlock on a bridge railing and throw the key into the water, symbolizing an unbreakable, permanent commitment.  These “love-locks” can be seen on the Junction Bridge in downtown Little Rock.  But, the most famous locale for love-locks is the Pont des Arts in Paris.

Lovers have been placing locks there for over a decade to memorialize their unbreakable commitment to one another.   But there is a problem.  Forty-five tons of locks have accumulated on the historic bridge threatening its safety.  With great poetic irony, the City Fathers of Paris have decided to cut off all the locks, utterly destroying the intended symbol.

It is hard to find unbreakable love.   Man’s fickleness and self-concern always get in the way.  Sin seems always to cut away at the love that was declared to be unbreakable.  Yet, the Scripture speaks of a love that is unbreakable.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39

Nothing can separate us from this love, including our own stubborn sin and inconsistency of faith.   The life of Abraham reveals a shining example of this.  The man of faith, who is given so many remarkable promises, fails to trust in God’s Word and His Love, time and time again.  We see this vividly in Genesis 20 as Abraham allows his wife to be taken again into the harem of a petty tyrant.  We might expect God to have had enough, but instead we find quite the opposite.

One commentator right noted.

Abraham did but illustrate what is all too sadly common among the Lord’s people — that which might be termed the inconsistency of faith. How often those who are not afraid to trust God with their souls, are afraid to trust Him with regard to their bodies! How often those who have the full assurance of faith in regard to eternal things, are full of unbelief and fear when it comes to temporal things! And how did God act? Did He lose patience with Abraham, and cast off one so fickle and inconsistent? Manifestly Abraham had dishonored the Lord in acting as he did, in setting such an evil example before [unbelievers]. Yet, behold the grace of Him with whom we have to do. Instead of casting him off, God interposed and delivered Abraham and his wife from the peril which menaced them.    Arthur Pink, Gleanings in Genesis.

Where will you find unbreakable, steadfast love?   Join us this Lord’s Day, August 6, as we examine the sordid story of Abraham and Abimelech in Genesis 20 and consider the unbreakable love God offers us.  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions.

Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.

Decisiveness

Decisiveness

Temptation to indecision is a part of every man’s life.  But nowhere is male indecision more vividly on display than when a man takes his wife on a date.  The Scripture commands us to “dwell with our wives according to knowledge” (1 Peter 3:7).  Yet men often seem oblivious to their wives preferences and needs.  How many dates begin the circular rhythms of the “where-should-we-eat” dance?

Why are men prone to indecisiveness?  Why is it so hard to make a decision?  Certainly the Bible warns against undue haste, failing to count the cost, and even rash oaths, but at the same time men are commanded to be decisive, boldly walking by faith and not by sight.  Perhaps indecision is rooted is apathy toward the options, fear of making a wrong decision, or failure to assess what is most important.  Or perhaps indecision springs from a faith crisis.

Nehemiah was a man faced with many demands for decisive action.  What spiritual disciplines enabled him to resist the temptation to inaction and to be decisive?  Join with other men as we gather this Thursday morning, August 3, 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.

Consistency

Consistency

No matter what your opinion regarding McDonald’s cuisine, you cannot argue with their success.  The key ingredient in Ray Kroc’s recipe for the success of McDonald’s was consistency.  Through innovation and efficiency he sought to give his customers a consistent experience – every time at every location.  While innovation is important, consistency made McDonald’s what it is.

Likewise, the health of any church is tied to its consistency in making diligent use of the ordinary means of grace given to it through biblical worship, faithful teaching, meaningful ministry and authentic community.   The temptation is great to constantly tweek our identity or innovate our ministry in order to “remain relevant.”  But the Lord calls us to hold consistently and tenaciously to the identity and ministry given to us by Christ himself.  Only this will enable us to be a thermostat, rather than a thermometer for our culture.  Consistency and perseverance are essential.  The author of Hebrews reminds of this when he writes.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith… Hebrews 12:1-2

We seek to plant River City Reformed in Little Rock as a church committed to consistency with the identity, calling, and mission Christ established for us.  Pray with us in the following ways as we seek to do so.

  • Thanksgiving for many new contacts with families and individuals during July who are interested in our vision of planting a Reformed Church committed to ordinary means evangelism, confessionally Reformed worship and family-integrated ministry, worship and discipleship.
  • Thanksgiving for the continued growth and development of strategic partnerships with other Reformed church planting pastors and groups in Little Rock.
  • For the growth of our Thursday morning, Men’s Bible Study, Lessons from Nehemiah, that it may be effective in discipleship and outreach.
  • For our families as they exercise their spiritual gifts to engage those in their sphere of influence who are unbelievers, disbelievers or disconnected believers.
  • For Pastor Wheeler’s family following the death of his wife’s mother, Marium Oates, in July after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
  • For Pastor Wheeler’s father-in-law as he continues difficult rehabilitation following a serious car accident in April and for all the care-giving demands this places on Pastor Wheeler’s extended family.
  • For revival in the city of Little Rock which has been gripped this year by a surge of gang-related violence. 

Apathy

Apathy

Scientists announced today that they have discovered a cure for apathy. However, they claim no one has shown the slightest interest in it.      George Carlin

Apathy can be deadly.  Apathy takes us off our guard and makes us vulnerable to accident or attack.  As soon as we overestimate our ability or underestimate our opposition, trouble begins to brew.  The scripture is filled with admonitions against apathy both in regard to physical life and spiritual life.

The giant, Goliath, was apathetic.  He overestimated his ability and underestimated his opposition.  He thought he was facing a mere shepherd boy in David, but he was dead wrong.

The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down…”  1 Samuel 17:44-46

To be apathetic toward God’s word, power and judgment is a deadly business. In Revelation 3, the risen Christ rebuked the Laodicean church, not for gross immorality or doctrinal compromise, but for it’s apathy.

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”  Revelation 3:15-16

Are you apathetic toward God?  Is your spiritual life cold and dry?   Are you unconcerned about the condition of your soul?  This is the sorry picture that confronts us in Genesis 19.  As the men of Sodom stand upon the eve of judgment, their only thought is to gratify their selfish and evil desires.  Even when it is obvious that judgment is upon them, they still plod forward in sin.  Their apathy proved deadly.

Join us this Lord’s Day, July 30, as we examine the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 and consider our own responsiveness to the realities of God’s judgment and discipline in our lives.  We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock.  Click here for directions.

Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.