Posted by: ronnierich | May 22, 2011

No One Knows!

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Matt. 24:36

It is May 21st when I write this, and I am sitting in a hotel room in Louisville, KY awaiting the rapture of the church. I sure hope I get to go on this flight. But I have a sneaky suspicion that Jesus is not quite ready to come back. On the other hand, as I have said repeatedly, everything here is ready, so He could return at any moment. Therefore, we need always be ready.

But the popularity of this date setting begs the question: “How serious should we take people like this Harold Camping and other date-setters?” Many church members get seriously concerned when people start setting dates. Why? Maybe it is because they are ignorant of the Word; maybe it is because they are not confident in what they have learned; but whatever the reason, God’s Word stands strong against all those who would deny the truth of Scripture, and especially contradict the words of Christ.

Jesus said, “no one knows the [time],” not even the angels or the Son, but only the Father. If that is true then people like Camping and Jack Van Impe, who are saying that they know more than Jesus, are false prophets and heretics. The Old Testament makes it clear that when a person states that they have received a revelation from God and it does not come to pass, then that person is a false prophet and should not be listened to. Camping has already made a prediction of the rapture taking place in 1994. Having been wrong then, we should not listen to him today. Jack Van Impe gave 88 reasons why the rapture would take place in 1988, then changed it to 1989 when it did not occur. So why get concerned about these things?

Take joy in knowing that God will retrieve His own when He is good and ready. In the mean time, we should be waiting, working, watching, and praying for Christ’s soon return.

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Posted by: ronnierich | August 3, 2013

Tulips or Turnips

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“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Luke 12:27

      I had a very brief conversation with someone this week about turnips. I’ll just say up front that I do not like turnips. I don’t know if it is the taste alone or the texture after they’re cooked, but turnips definitely leave a bitter taste in my mouth.

      Tulips, on the other hand, I love. Before the cool air leaves and the hot air kills them off, these small plants emerge from the cold ground. And just at the right time, they set this gorgeous flower that seems to last for days on end. They stand out because they seem to be the only thing blooming in the midst of dormancy.

      I began thinking about turnips and tulips and how the church seems to be made up of both. You see, someone once said that you can’t get blood from turnips, and that’s true. And when you apply that to giving, people who believe themselves to be turnips find giving to be a painful experience. But even worse, the church is left with a bitter taste in its mouth because of the presence of these people. What I mean is that the church hurts because some members don’t have enough faith to trust God for His provisions when we need them to give, serve, and live for the Lord.

      Tulips, on the other hand, are like the people who trust in God for everything. Most of the time, they live in greenery, no blooms, just there. And they are content with that. But then there comes a time in the year when, after a long, hard winter, they push up a bloom that livens up the deadness around them. And during that special time, God uses them to revive hope, encourage living, and incite praise for what God is doing in their lives.

      Some people like turnips. And it’s obvious that some people like to remain turnips. But they are not that good to me, and when applied to our trust in God, they are not that good for the Church.

      Have a blessed week!

Posted by: ronnierich | September 24, 2012

God’s Bath Waters

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”

Psalm 51:10

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I was thinking this morning about washing my vehicles. They have been quite dirty and dusty for a while, and I always have an excuse not cleaning them. When I started thinking about it, I realized that for me, at least, a clean car makes me feel better about it. It may have all sorts of mechanical problems, but at least it is clean.

I think the same is true of many things – a clean house, a clean desk, a clean body, and clean clothes – all of these things make us feel just a bit better about life. So if this is true, why don’t people work to clean their lives up? You would think if little things, like a clean car, would make a person feel better, how much more would a clean heart?

The Psalmist said: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” When David wrote that, he had just been confronted by the prophet about his sinful relationship with Bathsheba. His heart was dirty and his outlook was grim. Yet he knew that a clean heart would be the beginning of a change for the better.

This is God’s grace at work. When we fail, when our lives become cluttered, when the dust of life’s road becomes more visible in our lives then the beauty God created within us, He graciously offers forgiveness through Jesus Christ and a complete cleansing. So when you feel down and dirty, tattered and torn, cluttered and flustered, turn to God who has the bath waters ready.

Posted by: ronnierich | July 24, 2012

Joy Comes In The Morning

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.”

2 Cor. 4:16

I read something on Facebook today that said: “WARNING! Hanging around negative people can be hazardous to your health!” Sometimes, what is meant to be humorous is very true, as well. Negative people can drag others down.

Have you ever known someone who couldn’t find something positive to say about anything or anyone? I realize that this hits very close to home, for some people who know me very well would read this and say: “Yeah! I know someone – YOU!”  It’s amazing that even negative people don’t like to be around other negative people.

I’m not suggesting that there are not bad things happening around us and in us. The shooting in a Colorado movie theatre this past week is proof of that. Plus, our bodies are wearing out, our world is wearing down, and our patience is wearing thin.

But Paul said: “…We do not lose heart… [for] the inward man is being renewed day by day.” That means, no matter what we face, whether trials of life, or persecutions for our faith, or even just the consequences of sin in our world, don’t give up; don’t lose hope; remember that God has saved us from sin and to completion. So have a positive outlook. As the Psalmist said (30:5): “…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Posted by: ronnierich | May 26, 2012

Paid To Be Christian

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

Mt. 28:19

This week I attended an evangelistic tent revival put on in Live Oak by a plethora of churches in our area. The intent was to win souls for Jesus, pure and simple. One of those nights, a plea was put out for those in attendance to invite others and an offer was made with that plea – $100 to the person who brought the most people with them, and $50 for second place.

Now I remember as a kid, we would have “incentives” for bringing the most visitors to church during revival or VBS. But I never remember being offered a crisp one-hundred dollar bill. It seemed over-board to me. In fact, I was immediately offended.

However, it does beg the question: Why do we have to incentivize Christians to bring others to Jesus? Jesus commanded us to “make disciples of all nations.” He didn’t put on a contest; He never promised a prize; He simply expected it of all of us.

It’s sad when churches have to pay people to be Christian. But that is exactly what it is – for to be obedient to Jesus is to be Christian. Maybe we should try less paying and more praying; less incentivizing and more evangelizing; less negotiation and more promulgation. It’s simply time for the Church to get serious about being the Church again.

Posted by: ronnierich | May 19, 2012

Island Hideaway

 

 

“God’s my island hideaway, keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.”

Ps 32:7  (The Message)

 

 

While on vacation, Deanna and I enjoyed a couple days in Freeport, on Grand Bahamas Island. It was a time of rest and relaxation when our cell phones were off, the internet was slow, and our cares and concerns about life back home could be put on hold. This, for us, was our island hideaway.

The idea of a place where you can hide away means different things to different people. For some, their vacation theme is “What happens on the island stays on the island.” To them it is a place where they can let their hair down, do what they want, and no one will know. For others, they look at vacations with a “no problem” perspective. They seek a place where they can escape the reality of life and just relax. Still for others, their out for the “Disney” vacation. They’re looking for a place of make believe where problems don’t exist.  But one thing we all share is the occasional need for a vacation – for whatever reason.

David spoke about places of refuge throughout the Psalms, safe places where he could find solitude with God. In the 32nd Psalm, one such place he called his “island hideaway” (The Message). His desire was that for however long he had, he could retreat from the storms of life into the safety of God’s presence. It was a time meant for refreshment, renewal, and restoration. But after it was over, he had to return to the battlefield of life.

Deanna and I were very tempted to stay on our island. But the reality is that our place is on the frontlines of battle. We, like every other Christian living today, are needed back home. So for whatever reason you need to get away, always remember to come back, because the battle still rages.

Posted by: ronnierich | May 1, 2012

Crazy Heifers

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven”.

Matt.7:21

This week I went cow-trapping. No! Not cow-tipping, cow-trapping. You see, my father owns this crazy heifer who is scared to death of human beings. We have been trying to trap her in the corral when she goes in for water. We have set up an infrared camera, motion detectors, and prepared an elaborate pull-rope to shut her in when she is there. The only problem is that she is as sly as a fox. When we are watching, even behind buildings, she knows and she stays away.
Have you even known a person like that when it comes to church and/or salvation? You know, the brother who has avoided God his entire life, or the neighbour who is always there, except when you go to invite him/her to church. As a pastor, I try always to be prepared to present the gospel whenever God leads, but there have been times I have planned “the trap”, so to speak, when so-and-so was supposed to be at church, only to realize that he/she skipped town on that Sunday.
It is frustrating, especially as a Christian who desires all to come to know Jesus before it is everlasting too late, to know someone who needs to be saved, yet figures a way out of having to deal with it – like avoiding an insurance salesman. I’m sure Jesus knew some people who He wanted to be saved, yet cleverly devised ways of getting out of it. He called Herod a “fox.” This was the same fox that had John the Baptist beheaded.
However, we must remember that those who choose to avoid making a decision for Christ have, in essence, made their decision to reject Him. For as Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven”.
Have a blessed week and don’t think it is very easy to out-wit a crazy heifer.

Posted by: ronnierich | April 21, 2012

Inspired by God!

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
1 Tim 3:16-17

Today, I was presented a question about a passage of Scripture. It was about a saying of Jesus that some have tried to skew to fit their own beliefs, or used as evidence that Jesus is not God and Scripture is not inspired.

The passage was a simple one, one that scholars have not misunderstood – it was about “hating ones father, mother, wife, children, and friends.” Jesus said that unless you hate these people, you cannot be His disciple. Interpreting what He was trying to say is not difficult when one takes into account the context of His teaching, and all that He taught throughout the Gospels. The interpretation is found further in the text when Jesus said whoever does not forsake all that he has cannot be His disciple.

This brings up a wonderful point, one that should be made from time to time to all congregations, no matter what level of Christian maturity they are: If Scripture is God-breathed, and God is perfect, than Scripture is inerrant. If it is inerrant, than passages that seem to contradict other passages are misinterpreted or misunderstood. All Scripture jives with Scripture!

This particular passage has been incontrovertible over the years. The only ones who want to make it a controversy are Satan and weak-minded people used by Satan. So trust the Word. It is our ONLY source of salvation!

Posted by: ronnierich | April 4, 2012

Hollow Easter Bunnies

“Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
Luke 24:5b

Over the past couple of weeks, I have heard a particular radio commercial for a local church talk about hollow Easter bunnies. The idea intrigued me so I decided to add my thoughts to the subject.

Easter is about eggs, new life, Spring, and flowers – to the world, that is. For the Christian, it is about the resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Yet going to the store, you quickly notice that the resurrection is not very marketable, for the only things available are hollow eggs, candy, and these large chocolate bunnies.

I remember my first chocolate bunny. I thought I was in heaven. This behemoth of chocolate was all mine. Wondering what to break off first, I started with the ears. But when I snapped off the first ear, I noticed that the bunny resembled more of a piggy bank than decadent chunk of chocolate. It was a huge let-down for me, as I was looking forward to spending days enjoying my reward.

It reminds me of the story of the resurrection in Luke’s Gospel. The ladies headed to the tomb where Jesus lay, but all they found were two angels, whose question still resounds today – “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” We celebrate Easter by dressing up our yards and homes with bright colors and flowers; we buy our kids candy and make up pretty baskets; and we go and buy hollow eggs and hollow bunnies, all to celebrate the new life that the season brings. Yet, in all of this, we do not find life. We might as well be walking through a grave yard.

The real life we celebrate is not in the eggs or the bunnies. We celebrate the living Lord, who exists above all of the hype of Easter. We bask in the fullness of His love – a love for which He suffered, died, and rose again to our benefit. So the next time you reach up on the shelf to purchase a large chocolate Easter bunny, remember that they are hollow and empty inside. Only Jesus can fill your life with, well, life!

Posted by: ronnierich | March 16, 2012

Dirty Windows=Dirty Souls

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”
Jeremiah 17:9

Whenever I am in the car, I like clean windows. To me, there is nothing more frustrating than looking through handprints, a foggy windshield or dog-slobber. The fact is, when I look through a dirty car window, my vision of the world outside is affected.

Someone once said: “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” Though there is a lot of debate about who first made the statement, the observation is astute in that our vision of the world around us is discoloured by dirty soul windows (aka. our sinful nature).

Jeremiah said, “The heart is…desperately wicked.” When we attempt to look through dirty windows or sinful hearts, we see creation differently than God intended us to. Men see the beauty of a woman as something after which to lust; people see the flowing streams as something to control, the wild beasts are trophies to mount; nations see the world as something to conquer.

It is true that God has given man creation to dominate and bring into subjection. But He has also given us creation as a thing of beauty – something to behold that reveals Himself to us. Our sin nature affects that vision and Jesus came to clean our soul’s windows.

So as you see the new leaves and flowers blooming, as you hear the sound of the baby birds chirping, as you look into the eyes of your loved ones, look for God and remember Jesus! For it is through Jesus alone that the windows of your soul will be cleaned.

Posted by: ronnierich | March 11, 2012

God’s Pruning Shears

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

John 15:2

Late winter is the time for pruning, especially for those who grow fruit trees. My pear trees did not get pruned this year because of procrastination. Now they have a lot of bent branches from last year, which inevitably will lead to broken ones this year, as the weight of the fruit overloads them, as well as some thorny ones growing from the base of the tree. Pruning not only helps to correct problems brought on by last year’s growing season, it also encourages new growth for more fruitful branches.

Jesus gave the disciples a lesson in horticulture when He likened them to fruit trees and God to the orchard keeper. He said that “every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, [God] takes away.” I see these as the wiry, thorny branches that spring up from below the graft stock. They never make anything worth eating and they come from the tree before it was remade with the graft. They represent unfruitful areas of our lives and are likely things that benefit us primarily, rather than theKingdomofGodor others.

Jesus went on to say that even “the branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” Often times we attack ministry like a bull-dog, ready to take on hell with a butter knife. We get damaged from successful ministry, and like those bent branches on my trees, they will eventually break with the burden of more fruit. God knows our vulnerabilities and He lovingly prunes back our ability to go, that we may learn and grow. So that when we do go, much more fruit will be produced.

Just as winter is the time of year for pruning, spring is the time for producing. Take time to review your life for fruitless branches, and be ready for God’s pruning shears that prepare you for His harvest.

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