What We're Reading this Summer

On vacation with time to read?

Here are summer reading titles from Pastor of Discipleship Josh Stringer:
Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance
Outlaws of Time #2: The Song of Glory and Ghost by N.D. Wilson
No Little Women by Aimee Byrd
His Faithfulness Reaches to the Skies by Forrest Zander (College Church author)
Behold the King of Glory by Russ Ramsey

Director of Disability Ministries Julie Clemens lists these books:
No Little People by Francis A. Schaeffer
The Life We Never Expected by Andrew and Rachel Wilson
Silence by Shusako Endo


 

Tributes to Jim Reapsome: A Good and Faithful Servant

College Church members John Maust and Stan Guthrie posted tributes to Jim Reapsome, who joined the cloud of witnesses on June 27. Jim and his wife, Martha, mentored and influenced many of us at College Church.

John's Tribute

In the few days since James W. Reapsome’s passing . . ., I’ve been impressed by how many people have described him as their “mentor.”

He was certainly that to me.

In the early 1980s, when Jim was managing editor at Christianity Today magazine and my boss, he knew about my interest in missions and Latin America and encouraged me to explore and take next steps toward cross-cultural ministry.

“Why don’t you go to Costa Rica and study Spanish for three months, and then you can come back and work with Spanish-speaking writers,” Jim proposed, and then helped make it happen.

This became the first step in a journey that would ultimately lead me years later to Media Associates International (MAI). Jim would even become an MAI Board member and provide continued guidance and encouragement.

Early in his career, Jim planned to go out as a missionary before circumstances prevented him. Then, as a journalist and editor of The Evangelical Missions Quarterly for 33 years, he arguably did more to advance the cause of world missions than any other communicator of his time.

Pastor, author, teacher, beloved husband and father, one-time sportswriter, champion of clear and concise prose, avid golfer and gardener, friend, mentor. Jim was, and did, lots of things. But you always knew that Jesus was his first love and priority.

When it came to faith, Jim always kept things real. He was a godly man, but not a holier-than-thou personality. When he talked or wrote about Jesus, evangelism or world missions, he avoided all the clichés and abstract jargon. He sprinkled his writings with a liberal dose of humor, pithy language and pertinent examples. In the process, he gave you the desire to know God and Scripture better.

Please remember Jim’s beloved wife, Martha, and family in your prayers as they mourn his loss and find comfort that Jim is in his Lord’s presence. And, if you’ve never read any of Jim’s work, I encourage you to do so.

“It’s hard to say good-bye to these men and women who have meant so much to us,” a friend commented about Jim. “May their example continue to spur us on as we run the race.”

Stan's Tribute

My friend and professional mentor, Jim Reapsome, has died at the age of 88. I worked with Jim for about a decade at World Pulse and Evangelical Missions Quarterly. Jim was patient and kind with me. His management style was to throw me into the deep waters and see if I could swim. (I'm still here, so I guess I passed the test.) He hired me from a distance, after I had freelanced for him during grad school.

His "Final Analysis" column on the back page of every Pulse newsletter was required reading in the evangelical missions community. . . I learned much from his down-to-earth, practical, take-no-prisoners style. Jim always remembered that missions was about God and about people. He had little patience for theories and practices that lacked foundation in the real world, but he always made his points with humor and grace.

Besides his pivotal work in missions journalism, Jim played key roles at the Sunday School Times, at Christianity Today, and as a writer of many IVP Bible study guides, often with his beloved, refined, and accomplished wife, Martha. . . . Besides Martha and missions, Jim's other main passions were his children and grandchildren ... and golf.

Jim took an interest in all his employees, inviting us over to his and Martha's home on Washington Street time and again, all the while complaining good-naturedly about the varmints raiding their cornucopian garden.

Jim's was a life lived flat out for the kingdom. I fear that few such men--with warm hearts and a burning passion for the glory of Jesus around the world--are left in our day. May those of us who follow you remember your example.

Well done, Jim. Enjoy your crown. RIP.

Our American Cake by Jim Reapsome

We reprint this piece in anticipation of July 4 and in memory of its author, Jim Reapsome, who died earlier this week. Jim was a long-time member of College Church, award-winning journalist, missiologist, pastor and beloved husband to Martha. May it serve as a sort of swan song from a leader in Christian missions and journalism. Though written many years ago, the truths of our Christian identity still apply.

The staff of a seminary in Africa threw a big graduation ceremony and party. Government ministers and foreign ambassadors came to the event. One of the American missionary wives baked a chocolate cake. An African who had been to the U.S. tasted her cake and said to her husband, "I tasted something American about it in the very first mouthful."

Write that down as another new slant on cultural sensitivity. Apparently our missionaries even taste American. If our cakes have that unmistakable American taste, what about our gospel, our programs, our way of doing things? No matter how hard we try, we cannot shed our Americanism like a snake sheds its skin.

However, we say that our gospel is transcultural. It's universally applicable. It fits any people, anywhere, any time. Jesus said people everywhere must hear his good news. He did not limit  his mission to one people, language, religion, or culture.

Therefore, Christians continually fight to take America out of their cake. Their fight rages not only in Africa but in the United States, where the gospel makes little sense because of the inroads of popular culture and biblical illiteracy. We cannot assume that anyone knows anything about simple Bible stories, let alone the reason why Jesus came, died, and rose again.

For example, I listened to a sermon that included repeated references to "the old man," without any explanatory comments. I began to think about the multitude of meanings the old man could possibly have in that audience. We have to make sure our biblical and cultural terms really mean something in today's world.

Of course, we cannot remove basic Christian ideas from our language. We cannot risk stripping the gospel of its deep-seated theology about sin, salvation, and judgment. We face the difficult task of taking things that are hard to understand and making them understandable, whether in Africa or the U.S. But before we try to do it in Africa, we should have some success doing it in America.

We can never take America out of our cake, but in our presence and in our proclamation we must bend over backwards to avoid the smell of America. For thing, America smells bad in many parts of the world because of the sensual, materialistic culture we have exported. It's even worse because this bad odor emanates from a country that is part Christendom.

Therefore, as gospel messengers we live so that people can distinguish our lifestyles from what they see and read about. We are sorely tested to follow a different standard, one set by Jesus, not by our culture.

Jesus said that he lives in us so that people will get some idea of who he is and why he came. People want to see Jesus. They may not understand our theology at first, but if they see Jesus in us we will have ample opportunities to tell them why we love and serve him.

When I was a kid, growing up in Hershey, PA, I loved to tour the chocolate factory and watch those giant granite rollers smashing through huge vats of milk chocolate. Back and forth, back and forth, they relentlessly made sure Hersheys was the smoothest chocolate on the market. The presence of tiny bits of granite never inhibited my consumption of Hershey bars.

For sure, some of America will always be in our gospel cakes. That's okay. People will eat them if they taste our integrity, love, understanding, acceptance, and patience. Our job is to see that the taste overrules any foreign elements in our cakes.

From Final Analysis: A Decade of Commentary on the Church and World Missions by Jim Reapsome, published by EMIS a division of the Billy Graham Center. Copyright 1999

What We're Reading this Summer

Pastor Eric Channing is reading . . .
Indwelling Sin in Believers by John Owen
The Pastor and Counseling by Jeremy Pierre & Deepak Reju
The Effective Executive by Peter Druker
Grit by Angela Duckworth

Pastoral Resident John Supica is reading . . .
Here I Stand by Roland Bainton (biography of Martin Luther)
How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament by Jason DeRouchie
How to Understand and Apply the New Testament by Andy Naselli
12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Pastor Tommy Johnston lists these books . . .
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel by Kate Bowler
Fallen: A Theology of Sin by Christopher W. Morgan, Robert A. Peterson
Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Christian Smith, Michael O. Emerson
Covenantal Apologetics by K. Scott Oliphant
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick

And Pastor Zach Fallon is reading . . .
The Case for Psalms by N.T. Wright
The Pastor and Counseling by Jeremy Pierre and Deep Reju
Pursuing Peace by Robert D. Jones
Trained in the Fear of God by Randy Stinson and Timothy Paul Jones
Family Ministry Field Guide by Timothy Paul Jones
The Vine Project by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne (reading with the HYACKs leadership team)
Preaching and Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones (along with HYACKs ministry associates)
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (with his five-year-old son)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (says Zach, "my wife and I are slowly working through the series")

 


 

How Can You Sing a New Song? by Lorraine Triggs

After reading about William Cowper, I wrote this poem.

How can you sing a new song

when the old one is stuck in your head?

When lyrics of disappointment mark your soul like grooves on an old LP. 

How can you sing a new song

when you have no idea of how to mute the old one

that replays fears and insecurities?

How can you sing a new song

when your heart is off key?

How can you sing a new song?

When you join with angels and saints and creatures

and sing

Worthy is the One

Worthy is the Lamb

That's how you sing a new song.

 

In The Beginning by Alyssa Carlburg

In song, Aslan bade the Land of Narnia give birth

To creatures and wonders beyond the mind's girth.

Each person and beast was given place in the realm

To fight against Evil with the Lion at the helm.

And after giving their lives to achieve victory,

They found true Life in Aslan's own Country.

 

Middle Earth, too, was crafted in melody and song

By Eru Ilúvatar and his angelic throng. 

And though Melkor sought to subdue it with his dark trill,

Eru only used these notes to realize his own mighty will.

Great wisdom and power were given to the Elves,

But to Men, Eru gave the gift of eternity with himself.

 

Our own Earth was called into being by God's voice,

And whether or not to listen is our greatest choice.

Aslan and Eru are mere shadows of our King,

Who will neither withhold or deny us any good thing.

His love and everlasting Kingdom will meet every desire

As we worship our Triune Lord in the Heavenly choir.

 

With their myths, Lewis and Tolkien show us the way

To see God's majesty and beauty in our lives each day.

For in their worlds, our minds are inspired by joy and calamity,

But these are mere stories, and how much greater is our reality!

Like Aslan and Eru, Christ's voice leads us along,

And it is our joy to respond in worship, and in song.

 

Digging by Cheryce Berg

Cheryce first posted this on her blog, Hope and Be:Longing, which she describes as "stories of hope, belonging and longing."

I’m out back behind the shed, sitting on a pile of dirt. I did a snake check before I sat, not that there ever are snakes but there was one, once, in my garage, and if I were him this back corner of the yard is where I’d take a morning nap. And I don’t want to be the one to wake him up.

I’m between a tipped over wheelbarrow, two lime green kayaks, a log pile half un-covered, a pale garden hose, an empty trailer, and a cracked black tarp. I’m feeling out of sorts back here, thinking I might organize it differently, or at all. If you even can organize that place behind the shed, maybe freshen it up a bit.

I’m not a gardener and I don’t pretend to be, which is obvious if you take a peek at what I’m doing. Repotting sideways pale plants from my kitchen windowsill who are dying a slow death because they were trying to survive while tipped over in their too-big pots with barely enough dirt covering their roots to be modest. And if they weren’t cacti to start with they’d be long gone.

But I’m not mired by the dirt and disorder and dying cacti because the morning June sun shines brightly on my face as I dig with my spade, and I pause to look up and pray.

I’m thirsty for prayer, to focus the eyes of my heart away from the dirt and up to the light. My heart carries the news of more than one friend who is facing her own pile of dirt behind the shed, filled with scraps and weeds and things tipped over. Messy, broken, lonely pain in so many lives—it all gets poured out before the Lord Jesus as I sit here in the dirt.

I pray for the mamas whose hearts are breaking, whose children are aching and chasing after the wind. I pray for the wives whose tears go unseen, whose weariness runs deep. I pray for the lonely who wish they were wives or mamas and aren’t.

I pray for these friends who may have lost sight of hope, that the sun would break through and shine on them, too, out back on their own piles of dirt. That they, too, would feel the morning breeze, the breath of their Creator, on their cheeks and look up instead of down at the mess and mire underneath them.

I trudge back inside, carrying my newly repotted cacti who gaze up at me, hopeful. And I dig some more, this time at my kitchen table and into the Psalms, to find words of hope now to revive my friends.

I read Psalm 18:19, “He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.” And in the same Psalm, verse 28, “For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.”

And I dig out this hope and repot it in my words, that I might use it to encourage my friends when I have the chance. I glance out the window again at the shed and the sun, and notice I can’t see the pile of dirt from here at my kitchen table while digging up hope in the Psalms.

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