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September 6, 2018

September 6, 2018

Dear Friends,
 
“The main thing in life,” someone has said “is keeping the main thing the main thing.”
 
So what’s the main thing? 
 
That’s a good and important question.
 
I became a Christian during the days when a group that called itself the Moral Majority was quite prominent.  After more than a decade of a whole lot of sex, drugs and rock and roll that openly subverted the traditional Judeo Christian ethic, there were a whole lot of people who wanted our culture to enact laws that they hoped would “bring America back to God.”
 
They saw a moral America as the main thing.
 
But new laws and cries for public decency don’t bring people to God.  If they did, the Pharisees would have had a better run than they did.
 
Our era feels a lot like the turbulent 60’s of my childhood.  We live in a polarized nation where civil discourse has been abandoned and have been replaced by slander and malice.  People who hold opposing political views publicly demonize their opponents from the safe barricades that Twitter provides.  Following Jesus’ command to love our enemies is not an effective way to boost your social media profile and win you more followers.
 
The passions that we see regularly expressed for or against elected officials or the “mainstream media” or companies like Nike or who Nick Saban should start at quarterback on Saturday give us a glimpse into what it is people love or value or fear the most.  Meanwhile, the lack of passion we see from Christians for evangelism and discipleship is equally telling.
 
In the midst of the chaos, our job as ambassadors of the Kingdom of Heaven is to remember to keep the main thing the main thing.
 
Job one for all who follow Christ is to make disciples.  To daily repent and believe the gospel ourselves, and then to call others to do the same. 
 
The Son of God’s main mission was to seek and save the lost. 
 
He did not come to influence the next election cycle.  “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” He said.  “My kingdom is not of this world.
 
He did not come to bring an end to poverty and injustice.  “The poor you will have with you always,” He said. 
 
He did not come to make your life easier.  “In this world, you will have tribulation” He promised us.
 
He did not come to call immoral people to get their act together.  He ate and drank with them. And then He called them to deny themselves, pick up their crosses and to follow Him.  His mission was not to get people to clean up their lives.  That was the mission of the Pharisees, and it only made them more self righteous and proud.
 
Jesus’ mission – and the mission of His body in our day – was to tell people about the forgiving and transforming grace of God. 
 
His first public statement recorded in Matthew’s gospel, following his temptation in the wilderness, was this:  “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand (Matt. 4:17). 
 
And his final statement recorded in Matthew’s gospel is what we call today the Great Commission “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
 
There are many important issues facing us in our day.  Political issues.   Social issues.  Human rights issues.  And by God’s grace, we live in a country where our right to speak to the issues and to bring the gospel to bear on them is protected.  It is right and important that we do so.
 
But we ought never forget that these important things are not the main thing.  Your neighbor’s eternal destiny ultimately matters more than the light and momentary afflictions any of us face in this world (keep in mind, the guy who used that phrase was someone who endured police brutality and false imprisonment).
 
“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others… For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised… We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:14-20).
 
That was Paul’s main thing.  It was Jesus’ main thing. 
 
Is it your main thing?
 


I mentioned this on Sunday, but here’s a reminder.  When we wrap up our service this week, we’re planning to head to the land where construction will begin soon on our new church building.  We’ll gather, spend 10-15 minutes in prayer for this new chapter in our life together, and then we can head out for lunch or naps or whatever.
 
I’ll see if I can keep the sermon a little shorter than usual to allow us all a little extra time on Sunday.
 


It's small group time!  Our small groups are starting up and you're invited to check one (or more) out!

Feel free to "shop around" for a few weeks if you'd like.  The groups and their leaders are ready to welcome shoppers (with no obligation to come back a second time).

Here are the specifics about which groups are meeting when and where:

 

 




And speaking of small groups, don't forget to look for an email from your small group leader with details on how your group will be involved with next week's IFO Conversation Club Dinner.


 

 





Last chance for you to download the (corrected) fall calendar:

 

 



And here's some info on one of the upcoming events on our fall calendar - the Women's Fall Stay-treat (men, get ready for about 20 hours of some serious baby sitting so your wife can get away with other women from RCC for a spiritually enriching/recharging event):

 

 

 


 

In addition to signing up for the True Woman '18 event, you can also start signing up this Sunday for the upcoming Women's Bible Study on the Sermon on the Mount.  There will be sign up info in the lobby at church.


This Sunday, we're starting an exciting new study in the Old Testament book of Esther.  

And can I ask you for a couple of favors?

First, do you know what time most visitors arrive at church when they come for the first time?  Usually about 10 minutes before the service is scheduled to start.

Do you know what most visitors see when they arrive at RCC at 9:50 on Sunday morning?  A church with about 30 people - and that includes the greeters and the worship team!  Honestly, it makes a first time visitor a little uncomfortable when that happens/

Could you make an effort to arrive early and to be in the worship center meeting some of these visitors?  

Here's the second favor.  If you do arrive after the service has begun, could you keep any conversation in the lobby at a whisper?  And move into the worship center as quickly as possible?  That will help minimize the distraction for those who are already engaged in worship.

Thanks in advance for your help with this.
 
 
See you in church.
 
 
Soli Deo Gloria!
Pastor Bob

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