Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reformation Week Devotions #2

No Creed But Christ

Christians have often recited the mantra, "no creed but Christ." The intent of such a statement may be well motivated, but the reality is that a creed, confession or catechism is simply a means of communicating biblical truth. Christians throughout history have recognized the need to clarify their understanding of Scripture, to summarize key doctrines in the face of error and to find ways of communicating the faith to their children. It has often been stated that one of the most effective ways of cultivating a biblical and theological reformation is in training children in the truths of the Christian faith. The usage of catechisms is one tool that many parents have used to train their children to learn the doctrines of the Bible. In using a catechism a parent will call out a question and await a response from their student. Historically, catechisms have been used in the church, the school and in the home. The Reformation has been called the golden age of catechisms and confessions.

Certainly all of these man-made documents must be measured by Scripture to see if they are reliable. The Reformation-era catechisms have stood the test of time and the scrutiny of faithful Bible students. They are helpful in passing the faith onward to future generations. As you use catechisms and confessions of faith make sure that you are clear that the Bible is the authority and the catechism or confession is merely a tool.

Get to know some of the key documents of the Reformation such as: The Belgic Confession (1561), The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) and The Canons of Dordt (1610). These three are often referred to as the "Three Forms of Unity." Even later statements such as the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), the First (1644) and Second (1689) London Baptist Confessions of Faith all carry with them the smell of the Reformation and are built upon a solid Reformation foundation.

FAMILY ACTIVITY

Survey a variety of catechisms and discuss differences in their teachings. Make a commitment to commit one to memory and introduce a new question every week on a family bulletin board. A family favorite of ours is the Heidelberg Catechism which will be discussed in tomorrow's lesson.

The material above is from the best-selling book, "Family Worship for the Reformation Season" by Ray Rhodes. Leave a comment with email and we will get back with you if you are interested in purchasing this book.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Family Worship for the Reformation Season

Tuesday, October 27th.

The Morning Star

Scripture Reading: Psalm 19; Mark 1:1-8

As a boy I would often gaze into the sky at night. I was amazed by the beauty of the stars and the vastness of the universe. Just before sunrise the morning star is visible. It is an indicator that a new day is about to begin.

Prior to the Reformation the church was in a dark period. During those days a "morning star" arose on the scene. His name was John Wycliffe. His life and ministry was a "morning star" indicating that the day was about to break and the sun would soon shine. The sun indeed would rise in the characters of Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin and others.

John Wycliffe, from England is called the "morning star of the Reformation." He was a faithful student of the Bible, a powerful preacher and a godly man. He preached against the wickedness of religious leaders and against the corruption that he saw in the church. Wycliffe is most remembered for his work in translating the Bible from Latin into English. Getting the Bible into the language and hands of the common man was one of the significant works of Wycliffe and of the Reformers. What must be remembered is that Wycliffe did not have the benefit of the printing press and so his work was hand copied. Can you imagine how difficult and time consuming it would be to write out the entire Bible by hand?

Wycliffe was often persecuted in his ministry. He died in 1384.

Richard Newton writes, "He was buried in the graveyard connected with his church at Lutterworth. About 44 years after his death, his enemies dug up his bones, burnt them to ashes, and threw the ashes into the Swift. Thomas Fuller quaintly said about the Swift River, that it 'conveyed his ashes into Avon; Avon into Severn; Severn into the narrow seas; they into the main ocean. And thus the askes of Wycliffe are the emblem of his doctrine, which now is dispersed the entire world over."


Above from Family Worship for the Reformation Season" by Ray Rhodes, Jr. To purchase a copy simply comment on this blog with your email address and we will contact you.

Dr. Ligon Duncan writes, Imagine, leading your family in daily worship in the home, reading the Scriptures, singing and praying, but simultaneously introducing them to the history, leading figures and theology of the great sixteenth-century Reformation--all that in a fresh and interesting way, in just about a quarter of an hour each day. 'That would be great,' you say, 'but it would take me hours and days to put that together; I could never do it.' Well, Ray Rhodes has done it for you in Family Worship for the Reformation Season. Use this book with joy. It will inspire, inform and instruct you and your family. The studies are simple but meaty. The Scripture passages are helpfully chosen. And most of the lessons can be completed in fifteen minutes. Employ and be edified.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Helping Your Children During the Sunday Worship Service

I was recently asked by a young married couple how they can help their children to behave during the Sunday worship Service.

To get young children through our relatively lengthly service can be difficult.. A typical sermon may last up to an hour. This does present parents of young children with some challenges. That being said here are a few ideas:

1. Rest. Young and old alike will be able to participate in the worship services with more vigor if they come rested. If your church meets on Sunday mornings then go to bed earlier on Saturday night and get a full night of sleep. Our congregation meets on Sunday evenings. Therefore we encourage Sunday afternoon naps.
2. Routine: I think that it is important to lead your family regularly in family worship. That means that on most days you find some time to sit down with your family and read the Bible and pray together. You might also consider singing Christian songs. In family worship the objective is "time exposure to God." We want our family to know who God is and to respond biblically to Him. Family worship also helps to cultivate congregational worship. From a week of worshiping God your family will be more prepared to worship Him with the congregation on Sunday. Family worship times also helps to prepare your children to sit through the Sunday worship service. A lady in our church suggested placing a blanket on the floor for family worship times. Allow your young children to have the space of the blanket to sit and move around on during family worship times. Take the blanket to church on Sunday and place it near your feet in front of your pew (chair). Allow your child that space but no more. They will grow accustomed to their boundaries during worship time. Eventually your goal is to have them sit with you.
3. Rely. Rely upon the help of other parents who have brought their children up in the worship services of the church. They will often have good counsel to offer you and can give you assistance during the service itself. Rely on God to help you. Pray for your church, your children and for God's help in leading your family to worship God.
4. Relax. Though we should not let our children disrupt the worship services we should also not get all uptight if they make a few noises. Be sensitive to those around you but do not allow yourself to be filled with anxiety. That being said it is important to be sensitive to other people during the worship services. I remember preaching for a Bible conference at a church a few years ago. A visitor to the church allowed their baby to scream for extended periods during each service. Afterwards they would apologize but they "knew I understood because they were trying to teach their baby to sit through worship services." Well, I do appreciate the desire to have one's child sit through the service but I did not appreciate 15 minutes of screaming during each service. It was very difficult for folks to hear and for me to preach. So relax but be sensitive.

Those are just a few initial thoughts. Please feel free to add your suggestions.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nourished in the Word Ministries
The Teaching and Writing Ministry of Ray Rhodes, Jr.


September 10, 2009


Dear Friends,

I am writing to thank you for your prayers and support of our ministry. I also want to give you an update and share some prayer requests with you.

Thank you for praying for us. In 2 Corinthians 1:11, Paul teaches that prayer is one way that we help one another. A sovereign God uses prayer to assist His people. Thank you for interceding on our behalf and helping us in this way. Thank you also for your financial support.

Ministry Update

Teaching

August 1st: Nourished in the Word (NITW) and Grace Community Church (GCC) hosted a student conference Are You for Real? This conference was designed to help young people to examine themselves in regards to salvation. The conference was well attended.

August 14th-15th: Mount Zion Baptist Church, Canton, GA men’s retreat. I taught on the subject, Our Identity in Christ. The Lord seemed to encourage the men in attendance. The Lord has given us an almost 20 year relationship with Mount Zion which has included multiple preaching/teaching opportunities. Pastor Doug Mulkey recently celebrated his 20th anniversary there.

August 23rd: NITW was instrumental in the planting of GCC, and now is a ministry of GCC. We celebrated the fourth anniversary of GCC with a special service that included a pre-service dinner, special guests and a worship service. We are encouraged to see the relationship between GCC and NITW continue to be strong and the mutual help that both ministries bring to one another.

August 29th: We took a group of students to the Do Hard Things youth conference in Birmingham, Alabama. Great conference!

August 30th-September 2nd: I was on the road these days to Arcadia, Louisiana and Alabama Baptist Church (ABC). While at ABC I had the opportunity to speak five times on the topics, The Holiness of God, The Blessedness of Forgiveness, The Comfort of God, The Remedy for Foolishness, and Biblical Revival. We saw the Lord answer very specific prayers for ABC.

September 6th: I spoke at Grace Bible Church (GBC) in Canton, GA on the subject, Worship Matters from Malachi. GBC is a growing church in our area.

September 11-13th: Emmanuel Baptist Church in Woodstock, GA hosted a marriage retreat. I had opportunity for about eight hours of teaching. We considered the topics, The Visionary Marriage, How a Godly Wife Can Encourage Her Husband, The Loving Husband, The Remedy for a Faithless Heart and Family Worship.

September 13th PM: I have just begun a series from Malachi at GCC. When I am not traveling I am engaged in a regular teaching ministry at GCC. We are excited about a number of ministries at GCC. The Lord is adding to our number. Our college ministry is strong. It is exciting to see a number of college students from North Georgia College attending our services, college Bible study and monthly home fellowship.

September 20th: This Sunday we will celebrate Homecoming Services with Broad River Baptist Church in Baldwin, GA. Pastor Steve Loeffler will be formally ordained to ministry.

Writing

We are pleased to announce that my new book, Family Worship For The Thanksgiving Season is scheduled for a late September release.

Prayer Requests

I would very much appreciate your prayers. Would you consider praying for our family and ministry regularly? Here are a few prayer requests:

1. That God will be honored through NITW.
2. That we will be committed to true instruction and godly living and will be a blessing to the people of God (Malachi 2:6). Therefore, pray that I will have ample time for study, will make the most of that time and that I will be faithful in the application of that study.
3. Pray for the churches that I mentioned in my update.
4. Pray that I will be a godly husband and father. Lori and I have been given a weeklong minister’s retreat in North West, GA. Pray that time will be used to strengthen our marriage and refresh our hearts and minds. Pray that our children will love the Lord.
5. Pray for open doors of preaching opportunity. One of the great joys of our ministry is being able to minister in churches. We presently have numerous openings in our schedule.
6. Pray for our finances. We are in need of monthly donations to our ministry as well as occasional and one-time gifts. This need is immediate and significant.
7. For a volunteer to put together and manage our web-sites both www.nourishedintheword.org and www.booksthatnourish.com
8. For a godly board of directors who can give administrative leadership and support the vision of NITW.
9. For churches and families to host a Discover Nourished in the Word gathering.


When you invest your prayers and financial support to Nourished in the Word Ministries you are supporting a work that is seeking to preserve the integrity of the faith to “the generations to come.” We are increasingly concerned about the next generation (Psalm 78). At NITW we are working hard to remember the faithfulness of God in the past, entrust His truth to the present generation and through them seek to reach future generations.

Nourished in the Word Ministries exists to promote the glory of God through teaching, writing, and God-centered resources.

One of the ways that we do that is through itinerant teaching on a variety of themes and subjects. I am available to teach for retreats, conferences, and any other setting. See my recent activities above for some of the topics on which I have been preaching.

I would be happy to share the details of our vision with you. Please feel free to contact me with your questions.

Testimony

"What a complete joy it is to offer my blessing and recommendation of Ray Rhodes', newest book, Family Worship for the Thanksgiving Season. Ray has given us a doxological feast of 31 creative lessons, which offer the fruit of both an informed mind and enflamed heart. The beauty of Ray's writing may only be surpassed by the beauty of his family--the precious community in which our brother has invested so much of his heart and cultivated his tremendous love for the gospel and God's people. Not only your Thanksgiving season, but your entire year will be enriched by highly accessible and Biblically faithful reflections."
Scotty Smith, Pastor for Preaching, Teaching and Worship Christ Community Church, Franklin TN, Author of Unveiled Hope, with Michael Card; Speechless, with Steven Curtis Chapman; Objects of His Affection; The Reign of Grace; and Restoring Broken Things, with Steven Curtis Chapman

Thank you for your love and support of our work. Our mailing address is: Nourished in the Word Ministries, P.O. Box 6736, Gainesville, GA 30504. Visit Lori on the web at www.nitw4ladies.blogspot.com and from there check out my daughter’s blogs. Contact me at ray@nourishedintheword.org or 678-697-4495

Ray Rhodes


Recent Anniversaries

June marked 20 years in the ministry for Ray.
Ray and Lori celebrated their 22nd wedding anniversary in August.
Grace Community Church, 4th anniversary in August.
Nourished in the Word Ministries, 7th anniversary in October.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Christians and Government

Are Christians to be known as those who resist the leaders of government? In Geneva, under Calvin's influence, no such resistance was promoted.

From the Geneva Confession (perhaps authored by John Calvin though we are not sure) we read:
"We hold the supremacy and dominion as much of kings and princes as of other magistrates and superiors, to be a holy thing and a good ordinance of God. And since they in performing their office serve God and follow a Christian vocation, whether in defending the afflicted and innocent, or in correcting and punishing the malice of the perverse, we on our part also ought to bear then honor and reverence, to render obedience and subjection, to execute their commands, to bear the burdens they impose on us, so far as we are able without offense to God. In sum, we ought to esteem them as vicars and lieutenants of God whom one cannot resist without resisting God Himself and their office as a sacred commission from God which has been given them so that they may rule and govern us. Hence we hold that all Christians are bound to pray to God for the prosperity of the superiors and lords of the country where they live, to obey the statutes and ordinances which do not contravene the commandments of God, to promote the good, the tranquility, and the public utility, endeavoring to sustain the honor of superiours and the tranquility of the people, without contriving or attempting anything to inspire trouble or dissension. And on the other hand, we declare that all those who conduct themselves unfaithfully towards their superiors, and do not have a proper affection for the public good of the country where they live, demonstrate their infidelity towards God." Translated by James T. Dennison, Jr. from "Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries IN English Translation, Vol 1." Published by Reformation Heritage.

Though our context is different from that of John Calvin living in Geneva the confession nevertheless reflects Scriptural principles of how a Christian is to respond to those in authority (Romans 13).

Friday, November 07, 2008

The Commander



President Bush is a man of great kindness.

Read and watch

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,447625,00.html

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122584386627599251.html

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Future Commander



Where was God during the election? Was He caught off guard?

God was not wringing his hands in despair as Senator Obama became the President-Elect. The election of Senator Obama was the will of God (Romans 13).

Though we might debate the dimensions of God's will we should make no mistake that God has spoken.

Will you trust God? Will you obey God and therefore pray for President-Elect Obama?