Archives For The Red Brick Church

Nehemiah 12:43 reads, “And they offered great sacrifices that day and rejoiced, for God has made them rejoice with great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. And the joy or Jerusalem was heard far away.” We are having one of those kinds of weekends — for reasons I explain below — and I am really looking forward to Sunday. You can read here more here.

For our church family: (1) Be there – preferably at 9:00AM. (2) Baptism at 10:00. (3) Second service at 10:30. (4) Enjoy being just a little crowded this weekend!

 

“Greatful for Your Preaching”

Chris —  October 17, 2014 — 1 Comment

2014_10_17_11_25_03One of the best parts of being a pastor is having a front row seat as parents teach their children about the preaching of the Word of God. This morning my friend, Jaxen (the blond little boy pictured below with his older brother) , gave me an illustrated note to tell me that he is grateful for my preaching of the Holy Word.

There is so much about the note that I appreciate:

  • Jaxson is thankful for his pastor and recognizes that pastors are a gift from God (Ephesians 4:11-13).
  • Jaxson has a high view of the word of God. He refers to the Bible as God’s “holy” Word.
  • Jaxson knows that it is important to take the time to thank people.
  • Jaxon (see illustration)  thinks I am skinny.

Thank God for Christian homes.

Yes – – we know the traditional spelling of “grateful” at the Red Brick Church. We just prefer “greatful” to communicate the extent of our gratitude.

2014-04-26 18.24.36

44214_10151240441653265_683763825_n[3]Scripture gives us very specific information about when Jesus will return. Pastors are privileged to remind their flocks of this truth.

I called on one of our older folks today. It is the nicest day of the year in Stillman Valley, and she lives an October football field away from church, so I walked. My friend is going through radiation and chemotherapy so she barely had the strength to let me in. But we soon got comfortably situated. She had to turn off a favorite Andy Griffith episode but she was pleased to see me just the same.

We visited for a bit and then I began to read Scripture and talk about different passages. We spent a lot of time in Revelation 22. We tried to picture the New Earth which was made easier by the fact that it is such a beautiful Fall day and the leaves on the maple tree in her front yard are just beginning to catch on fire.

One of the parts of Scripture we enjoyed the most was being reminded that in Revelation 22 Christ repeatedly says “when” he is coming back. You can read the answer for yourself:

    [22:1] Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb [2] through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. [3] No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. [4] They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. [5] And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
    [6] And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”
    [7] “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”
    [8] I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me, [9] but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
    [10] And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. [11] Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy.”
    [12] “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. [13] I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”
    [14] Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. [15] Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
    [16] “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
    [17] The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
    [18] I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, [19] and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
    [20] He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
    [21] The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Question: When is Jesus coming back?

Answer: Soon!

I told my friend that “soon” is one of my favorite words.

We talked about how anxious we were as kids waiting for Christmas. We thought it would never get there. But Christmas came soon enough.

She shared with me that the worst part of cancer is not being able to get out. She is confined to her home. She doesn’t feel like eating and she doesn’t suppose that she will get a lot of Trick or Treaters this year. Though my little girl knocked on her door last year. Of course, we talked about her granddaughter who went off to college.

We weren’t done in Scripture yet when we finished Revelation 22. We reviewed John 14, I started Psalm 23 and she quoted it to me, and we finished by talking about the story of Namaan  from 2 Kings 5. I knelt down and we prayed together. As her pastor, I was able to tell her with great confidence and sincerity that our congregation loves her. She responded, “I love you too.”

I am thankful that during my sabbatical I leave our pulpit in the capable hands of men like Mike Wittmer, Bob Bixby, and Jeremy Scott.  I remind our flock that we need to hear the Word preached, even to our dying day.

A quote from Calvin:

But St. Paul tells us that so long as we are in this world, we must continue to profit in God’s school, and have our ears beaten daily with his Word, that we may on the one hand be checked, and on the other hand be strengthened and set forward more and more. . . Therefore God’s vouchsafing to have his Word preached to us even to our dying day, serve to make our faith firm and steadfast. John Calvin[1]


[1] John Calvin, Sermons on the Epistle to the Ephesians, Rev. translation. ed. (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1973), 377.

imageBrauns highlights for 2010 (D.V.!).  We are thankful for your prayers.

  • Okay, the move to Switzerland is temporary.  Our church is giving me a sabbatical this summer (not to be confused with vacation – – see a Matt Schmucker article on sabbatical here).  As a part of the sabbatical, our church has been awarded a Lilly grant which means that we will be spending 5 weeks in the Lauterbrunnen Valley in Switzerland (as seen in this picture).
  • I am writing a book with Moody the goal of which is to motivate equip churches looking for a pastor to call a pastor in a Word-centered way.  This was the subject of my doctoral thesis.  Can anything be more strategic for local churches than to call a pastor in a Word-centered way.  You can read a portion of my doctoral thesis here – – but, remember this is written in an academic way, whereas my book will be written for people in local churches.
  • The Romans Project continues on Sunday mornings, but in the Fall, I will preach a new topical (but expository) series: Direction for the Journey: Confidently Stepping Forward in Life.  These are such uncertain, confused times.  Believers so often struggle to know what to believing about God’s will.  This series will show people how to confidently step forward in a Christ-centered way.
  • One of my most significant goals for the next 5 years is to see God continue to develop men in our church as leaders.  This week I am meeting three times with men.  I am focused on this goal.
  • Our oldest daughter turns 16 this year . . . Since we brought her home from the hospital yesterday, this is an adjustment for me.
  • I will be preaching mostly to the Bricks, but also:
    • At a special conference on forgiveness in the Milwaukee area on March 20.
    • At a double ordination service at Morningstar church March 28.  I have never preached at a double wedding, let alone a double ordination.
    • As a keynote speaker at the Peacemakers National Conference, September 16-18, near Washington D.C.  (Here for the Peacemakers blog).

If you’re looking for the world’s greatest Sunday School teachers, they are teaching my little girl’s class at The Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley, IL.

My six year old, Mary Beth – who loves to get mail –- received this postcard today.  When she sees it (provided I remember to get it home) she will positively beam.

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Can any of us imagine the difference it makes in eternity, when we as church family share God’s word in loving and thoughtful ways with our children?

Do you remember Sunday School teachers who encouraged you?

Those of you from our church will be encouraged to know that you can read more about the orphanage project that Jeff Dodge described in church Sunday here.

I think Jeff did a great job identifying the central challenge of the parable of the Good Samaritan: (my words) True-Christlike love takes action.  We must move beyond head knowledge and cross the road and tend to the wounds of those who are hurting.

Again, for our church family – – will you help point others to this link? 

 See also: Ipods or Africa?

Eugene Peterson wrote in Under the Unpredictable Plant that pastoral visits are:

. . . occasions for original research on the stories being shaped in their lives by the living Christ.  I go to these appointments with the same diligence and curiousity that I bring to a page of Isaiah’s oracles, a tangled argument in St. Paul . . .

 I love doing the original research of studying the lives of our people.  Exegeting the stories of our small town is one of my greatest joys.  I wrote the following newsletter article after a visit last week.

Continue Reading…

The seminary I attended for a Masters of Divinity asked me to write an update . . . that’s a tough thing to do.  What does one choose?  You can see my answer on the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary web page