Wait for It

Wait for It

Click bait! Our feeds are flooded with click bait — shameless attempts to lure us to a sketchy website with the promise of frivolity.  Often baited with interminably uninteresting videos captioned with ‘Wait for it.’  Well, I never make it to ‘it.’  My patience expires at the minute mark. I refuse to endure two minutes of a duck floating on a pond in hopes that an ‘it’ will appear bringing joy and satisfaction.  Wait for it?   I think not.

No one likes to wait.  Waiting for a test result, a customer service agent, or the next season of your latest streaming binge is agonizing. Waiting has always been hard, but the modern world has attempted to train it out of us. Everything must be immediate. Fast food, same day delivery, on-demand entertainment. Waiting is not on the schedule.  Our devices offer us a retreat during our waiting from the virtue of patience or the value of conversation with an actual person.

Modern life waits for no man and no modern man waits for life. The vacuum demands filling. The idle moment screams, ‘don’t just stand there, do something.’ But God often says, ‘don’t just do something, stand there.’  That is solid advice.  ‘Wait!’ is often God’s plan for us.  Twenty-five times the Psalms counsel us to ‘wait upon the Lord.’   And eleven times Isaiah catalogues the benefit of waiting upon the Lord.    And the rest of the Bible takes up the theme.   From Genesis to Revelation, waiting is on the docket.

But what does waiting look like?  And what do we do while we wait?   David Giarrizzo, in his article, Nine Ways We Wait Upon the Lord observes,

When we think of waiting, we often think of passivity. Waiting is practically synonymous with doing nothing.  When the Bible speaks of waiting, it’s an entirely different thing than what we do after we take a number at the motor vehicle department. Biblical waiting is not a passive activity, but is demonstrated by active dependence upon and obedience to God. Thus, waiting upon God is a spiritual discipline that we should seek to practice in our lives.


Learning the spiritual discipline of waiting is critical.   But failing to do so is catastrophic.  In Samuel 13, Saul’s stunning failure to wait for Samuel to offer sacrifices before a battle costs Saul his kingdom.

And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” 

1 SAMUEL 13:13-14

Refusal to wait upon the Lord brings grief.   Saul learned this.  And Moses had to learn this too.   Moses’ birth was remarkable.  God saved him to be Israel’s deliverer.  But at the outset, he fails to wait on God’s calling and instruction.  And in one foolish act, forty years of hopes for Israel’s deliverance go up in smoke.   In Exodus 2 we read.

One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, behold, two Hebrews were struggling together. And he said to the man in the wrong, “Why do you strike your companion?” He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid, and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh and stayed in the land of Midian.  

EXODUS 2:11-15

Moses ran ahead of God’s timing and planning.   He had not learned to wait upon the Lord and it cost him.  And it cost the people of Israel forty more years of suffering and death.   Yet God was not done with Moses.   The gracious truth of Moses’ life is that our failures are not a failure of God’s plan or His plan for us.   Join us as we examine Exodus 2:11-22 and consider the spiritual discipline of waiting on the Lord.

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

Going Undercover

Going Undercover

“Go outside and play!”  That was an important part of my parent’s parenting strategy.  It was not a cop-out – but legitimate instruction.  When they needed privacy for parental conference, or we were too much underfoot for my mother, or when we moped around decrying, “I’m bored,” the Rx was “go outside and play.”  The only ‘screens’ in those days covered our doors and windows.  So outside was the place of adventure, imagination and industry.

And go outside we did.  Building forts in the woods, riding our bikes for miles and miles, gathering the neighborhood gang for baseball, acrobatics on the Boyd’s trampoline, and our favorite game – Spycraft.   Don’t look for it at Game Stop.   Spycraft was a game of our own invention.   It was a simple game.   A hapless neighbor working outside, washing their car, or completing some home improvement project became our target.   We began at the point in our cul-de-sac farthest from our quarry.  And we would work ourselves as close as possible without being observed by anyone.   And in a neighborhood in which watching the neighbors was the unwritten covenant, this was no small challenge. 

Hedges, trees, cars, other yard décor in our neighbors’ yards were carefully navigated.   Features which had their own unique dangers.   The game could go for hours.   It took time, careful movement, stealthy concealment and an indefatigable desire to draw close to our object.   We were surprisingly effective, or so we thought.

Have you ever thought that others are working carefully, tirelessly, intentionally to draw nearer to you? Though their actions are undetectable as we go about our own lives unaware, they are watching, listening, loving us from a distance?   This has been the theme of many great love stories and is a beautiful part of The Great Love Story, the Bible.   While our God is a God who reveals himself through His Word, by His Spirit and most fully in His Son, much of his love and care for us goes undetected.  

Jesus noted in John 5, “my Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”   The psalmist notes in Psalm 121 that, “He who watches over you will neither slumber, nor sleep.”  And this reminds us that even as we sleep, the Lord is awake, preparing grace for us in the coming hours and days.  This is the sweet doctrine of Providence.    Our Westminster Shorter Catechism expresses it succinctly and well.

Q. 11. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are his most holy, wise and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions.

Westminster Shorter Catechism

Nothing is out of his control.  No circumstance, no crisis, no sorrow, no past, present or future action.   He is the God who governs all his creatures and their actions – to graciously redeem, restore, and bless his beloved people.  Through providence he works “in all things… for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)   Do you believe this?  Can you rest in the truth that even when you don’t see him drawing near, seeing, hearing, and knowing you and your life, that He is always at work, even to this very day?  

Amram and Jochebed, Moses’ parents, believed in the providence of God.   They lived in trying times, oppressed by slavery and death.  Marriage and family seem ill advised. Yet they trusted in God’s providence rather than fate, or circumstance.   Though their grasp of God was in spiritual infancy, God granted them sufficient faith that his promises could not fail.  Even when God seems unseen he is seen in his providence.  The poet William Cowper would later express the ethos of their faith in his hymn, God Moves In A Mysterious Way.

God moves in a mysterious way
his wonders to perform;
he plants his footsteps in the sea,
and rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
of never-failing skill
he treasures up his bright designs,
and works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
the clouds ye so much dread
are big with mercy, and shall break
in blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
but trust him for his grace;
behind a frowning providence
he hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
unfolding ev’ry hour;
the bud may have a bitter taste,
but sweet will be the flow’r.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
and scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
and he will make it plain.

William Cowper

Exodus 2 unfolds the remarkable providences of God that fulfill his promises to Jacob’s offspring.   Yet he is still undercover.   Sometimes God goes undercover in our lives.  But he is never absent.  The providences that bring about the birth of a deliverer for Hebrew slaves anticipates a greater deliverer whose birth, death and rising again deliver us from sin’s slavery and death.  Join us this week as we examine Exodus 2:1-10 and consider the undercover God and the challenges we face to live by a faith that has ‘confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

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

Under Pressure

Under Pressure

One of creation’s great wonders is water.   The earth and its inhabitants are made of it.   Unlike most matter, water rebels against convention as it moves from liquid to solid.   While most substances become denser when they freeze, water expands.    And in a world teeming with aquatic life, that difference is crucial.  Ice floats.   If it sank, aquatic life would be forced to the surface as lakes, ponds, and rivers froze, depriving plants and creatures of warmth and oxygen.  But in God’s remarkable design, ice floats, insulating and preserving aquatic life.

This past week, however, many discovered that what is a blessing to fish, is not so great for plumbing.   Added to the sounds of children sledding and car wheels spinning, was the groaning of pipes and the rushing of water.   The pipes under our house burst.   Or rather should I say, one pipe burst.   The rupture to a single span of copper pipe was only half an inch long.   Yet the force and volume of the leak was prodigious.  The sound was like the sound of many rushing waters.   The pressure required to get water from lake to tap is immense.  And in a frozen instant, that pressure can bring unbelievable destruction.

And, so it is with the circumstances of our lives.   We live under the pressure of uncertainty.  We try to prepare, to plan, to insulate and anticipate.   Yet we can never get it quite right.  We all think want to know the future.  That is, until we do.   The older you get, the more you realize that prescience is not a panacea.   Foresight, when we get it, frustrates because we rarely have the power to alter or avert what is foreseen.   Foreknowledge without omnipotence easily leads to paralysis.    A pastor once commented that “anxiety comes from an awareness of our finitude.”   Hence, we say “ignorance is bliss.”  Or as Wendell Berry expressed it through Port William resident, Mat Feltner, “The mercy of the world is that you don’t know what’s going to happen.”   But ignorance is only mercy if you know and trust the one who is neither ignorant nor impotent regarding the future.

Jesus’ message to the Church in Smyrna in the Revelation is remarkable.   It contains neither commendation, nor condemnation.   Jesus never says, ‘nevertheless, this I have against you.’   This brief message has but one message, “hold fast!”   No matter what comes, “hold fast!”  The pressures building against Christians in Smyrna were dire and intense.   And worse, they were betrayed by those who ought to have been brothers.    Jesus words are concise and succinct.   “Be faithful unto death.”   How would you like to receive this message?   No matter what happens do not break with your faith.  Do not turn away.   Do not compromise.   Rest in the Faithful One, the first and the last, who died and came to life.

Persecution comes in all different shapes, sizes, and intensities.  We do not get to pick our cross.  We are only instructed to pick it up and carry it.   Paul wrote to Timothy, “all who live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  (2 Timothy 3:12)   Perhaps that is not what you signed up for when you gave your life to Christ.  But there it is.   We may seek compromise to avoid it.  Or seek mere relief rather than peace.   But consider the words of Ralph Erskine.  ”Some may bless themselves they were never assaulted by the devil and yet they are but sleeping, as it were, in the devil’s cradle and he is rocking them.”

What is your response to persecution?  To the intense pressure that comes with taking up a cross and following Christ?   Where will you seek rest?  In the promises of the Faithful one or the devil’s cradle?  Join us this week as we continue our survey Revelation as we examine the message to the Church in Smyrna in Revelation 2:8-11 and its encouragement to persevere in the face of extreme pressure.

We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm at The Arkansas DreamCenter at 1116 Daisy L Gatson Bates Drive 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.

Will You Hold the Ropes?

Will You Hold the Ropes?

You may have heard of William Carey, the “father of modern missions”; but perhaps you have never heard of his good friend Andrew Fuller.  Before leaving for India, Carey famously told Fuller, “I will go down into the pit, if you will hold the ropes.”

Fuller held the ropes by traveling all over the British Isles, raising funds and preaching missions-related sermons. The missionaries in India and other early fields could concentrate on their ministry in the field because they knew Fuller was holding the ropes for them.

William Carey was courageous and faithful to his call, but he would not have been able to go to India and establish his mission work if not for all those “holding the ropes.” Church planting pastors and the seedling churches they plant, like those early missionaries, depend on you to “hold the ropes.”

Are you willing to hold the ropes for your ARP Church plants?

  • Will you give of your substance?
  • Will you pray for your church planting pastors and their congregations?
  • Will you write, visit, and call them to encourage them?
  • Will you move to their city and be a part of what they are doing?

Will you hold the ropes?  We would ask you to partner with us at River City Reformed Church in Little Rock and join us as a “rope holder.”  You can find out more at https://rivercityarp.org/partner-with-us-financially/.  We would also encourage you to consider holding the ropes for our other ARP church plants.  You can find more info and links to give at https://outreachnorthamerica.org/directory/.

Saying Grace

Saying Grace

Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl perennially vie with one another as the “Black Friday” of the grocery world. All week my sorties to the local Kroger have evoked the imagery of a slow drain – where too much water is being pushed through too little pipe. Say what you like, “the meal” is the heart of an American thanksgiving. But is that really a problem?

In Scripture, thanksgiving is often accompanied by a feast. All of God’s mighty acts of redemption are pictured in the feasts of Israel. Jesus’ first sign, the turning of water into wine in Cana, was central to a protracted wedding feast. The only miracle recorded in all four gospels, apart from the resurrection, was the feeding of five thousand families on a Galilean hillside. We don’t know all Jesus taught them that day, but we know how he fed them. So much of Jesus’ ministry was centered around meals that the Pharisees accused him of being a glutton and a wine-bibber. The great Passover meal was the annual celebration of thanksgiving and remembrance for God’s mighty deliverance. And the Passover pointed to the greater deliverance through the blood of the Lamb of God – a deliverance pictured in the Last Supper. Thanksgiving is well celebrated “at table.”

For Christians, there is no greater illustration of this than the Lord’s Supper, called in Scripture and in the lingo of the Church, “the eucharist” – a Greek word for ‘thanksgiving.’ One theologian has rightly noted that how we approach every table in our lives should be instructed by our approach to that table. A table which reminds us that God is merciful, kind, gracious, holy and just and like Mephibosheth, we who are unworthy to come, are worthily able to come through the worthiness of another. This table is the great thanksgiving meal which celebrates the incomparable and incomprehensible goodness of God toward ruined sinners. This table celebrates our adoption as God’s children by faith in the finished work of the Only Begotten Son. This table teaches us to celebrate the goodness of God, not merely our feelings about ourselves. This table teaches us how to come to our family thanksgiving tables today.

Enjoy the meal. Enjoy the day. Celebrate the goodness of God. Celebrate with thankfulness that He joyfully calls us to be His. Celebrate the gifts he has given, even though a great many of them seemed hardly like gifts at the time. Celebrate His mercies which are new every morning and His faithfulness which is great. Celebrate the families He has given you along with the opportunities for self-sacrifice and sanctification that come with them. Give Thanks. The word eucharisto, which we translate thanksgiving means, quite literally, ‘good grace.’ Our thanksgiving may be celebrated in many ways, alone or with others, by a variety of activities, with certain foods that are required to “fulfill all righteousness.” But let all your thanksgiving “say grace,” declaring what scripture teaches us to proclaim whether in joy, sorrow, in peace and in conflict.

For the Lord is good;
His steadfast love endures forever,
and His faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:6