Relentless Pursuit

Relentless Pursuit

Deputy Marshall, Bass Reeves set the standard for relentless pursuit.  Born to slave parents in 1838 in Crawford County Arkansas, Reeves would become the first black U.S. Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi and one of the greatest frontier heroes in our nation’s history.

Appointed by the infamous Judge Isaac Parker because of his significant knowledge of the area and ability to speak several tribal languages, Bass Reeves earned his place in history as one of the most effective lawmen in Indian Territory, bringing in more than 3,000 outlaws during his 35 years of service.

Though Reeves could not read or write it did not diminish his effectiveness in apprehending fugitives. He memorized every warrant and never failed to produce the right one. Reeves earned a reputation for his courage, success and ingenuity. He was a master of disguises and often utilized aliases.  A meticulous dresser, he was known for his trademark hat and two Colt pistols, butt forward for a fast draw.  Ambidextrous, he rarely missed his mark.  He was so renowned for his relentless pursuit, that noted female outlaw, Belle Starr turned herself in at Fort Smith when she heard Reeves had a warrant for her arrest.

But despite his reputation, Reeve’s tenacity and effectiveness is as nothing compared to the Lord’s relentless pursuit of those He calls.   In spite of Jacob’s trickery and his grasping self-concern and self-conceit, the Lord pursued him as he fled from the wrath of his brother Esau.  In this pursuit, the Lord revealed Himself and His promises.  In running for his life as a fugitive, Jacob found life through the relentless pursuit of God.

Join us this Lord’s Day, October 1, as we examine the story of Jacob’s flight from home in Genesis 28 and consider how God relentlessly pursues us, even when we are not pursuing Him.  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.

Uneclipsed

Uneclipsed

Our family traveled to the “path of totality” on August 21 to view the eclipse.  Despite many hardships in getting there, it was well worth the trip.  The dramatic veiling of the sun and the incredible witness to the order and beauty God has woven into creation was a sight to behold.  The words of David in Psalm 19:1 are beyond apt, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork.”  Yet, many gazed up at this manifestation of God’s glory and saw nothing of Him.  For this reason the Lord has called us to share the gospel and to plant new churches.

Even more amazing than the eclipse, however, is that the Lord causes the sun to shine, “uneclipsed,” day after day and year after year, to provide light and life.  Through this we are reminded that He is unchanging and faithful to all He has promised.  His glory and his promised gifts, though sometimes unseen, are never eclipsed.  For,

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.

One of these promised gifts is that the Lord will build His Church.  Pray with us in the following ways as we seek to see this promise unfold through River City Reformed Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.

  • Thanksgiving for answers to specific prayer in the lives of our core group members regarding job opportunities, health and healing, and direction.
  • Thanksgiving for new families who joined us during August and 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.
  • For Pastor Wheeler’s father-in-law as he continues difficult rehabilitation at home following a serious car accident and stroke.
  • For the continued growth of our Men’s Bible Study, Lessons from Nehemiah, which we pray will be effective in discipleship and outreach to men in our city.
  • Pray for wisdom and discernment as we begin to plan the transition from Bible Study to Worship in our Lord’s Day gatherings.
  • Pray for our families as they exercise their spiritual gifts to engage those in their sphere of influence who are unbelievers, disbelievers or disconnected believers.

Free to Love

Free to Love

The Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, legalizing same-sex marriage, was truly a watershed opinion.   While western civilization, especially Greco-Roman culture, accepted same-sex behavior in various degrees, it was never viewed as normative for marital relationships.   The modern mantra elevating this idea to the status of legal right is simply, “who are you to tell me whom I should love?” Any idea that intimate relationships are governed by something other than our own feelings is obnoxious to our culture.

While this question, “who are you to tell me whom I should love,” has been the thesis of many tragic love stories, is its essential assumption to be trusted?  Are there ideas or other relationships outside our feelings that should drive love relationships?   We are immediately confronted with this question in the biblical story of Isaac and Rebekah.

Isaac is the long awaited son of promise, born miraculously to Abraham and Sarah.  He is the one through whom the promise of descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore is to come, yet the advance of middle-age finds him still single and unmarried.   Sarah has died and Abraham is extremely old.   So Abraham engages his servant to find a wife for Isaac and places him under specific binding constraints.

In our modernity, we are tempted disdain Abraham’s actions as artifacts of an antiquarian, chauvinistic, patriarchal culture, but are they?  Or are there timeless truths for us in the love story of Isaac and Rebekah?   Join us this Lord’s Day, September 3, as we examine Genesis 24 and consider the role of faith in our most intimate relationships.  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.

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. 

Proclaim Liberty

Proclaim Liberty

Despite the fashionable clamor to cleanse our nation’s historical iconography of any vestige of a Christian Worldview, the task of erasing scripture from our national monuments is monumental.  For example, the Liberty Bell at Independence National Park in Philadelphia draws its name from its inscription,”Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof. (Leviticus 25:10)”

As you gather with friends and family this Fourth of July weekend, take time to follow this admonition.  Proclaim liberty to the captives – proclaim a freedom which is beyond political choice and personal freedom.  Remembering the scriptures;

“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:36

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  Galatians 5:1

Be intentional about practicing hospitality this weekend and over the holiday with those the Lord has placed in your sphere of influence.  Proclaim freedom in Christ to unbelievers, disbelievers and believers alike.

River City Reformed will not meet this Lord’s Day, July 2, but will meet next Lord’s Day, July 9, 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. We look forward to seeing you then.