With Both a Whimper and a Bang by Lois Krogh

While many of you were enjoying neighborhood fireworks or lighting sparklers with your kids over the very long Fourth of July weekend, I was sitting with Brynn, our seven-year-old, 70 pound, Norwegian Elkhound, who just happens to be afraid of fireworks. Terrified really.

At the first sound, she goes into a frightened panic mode. Her tail, that usually is curled with its tip resting on her back, flattens out and drops between her legs. She then begins to pant heavily.

Probably like I would if I were to run down the street chasing after a child’s school bus with forgotten homework in hand. At the next boom, she will bolt. Anywhere. Under anything. Tables, chairs, desks. Places that are really not comfortable for a 70 pound dog. Including my lap. Without warning, she’ll be on my lap. And off at the next bang. Somewhere in there her instinctive warning system ramps up and the barking and whining commence.  

And yes, we’ve tried the “Thunder Blanket," lavender oil and doggy sedatives. What seems to work best is going to the basement with her and turning on the dehumidifier and the TV. I know more than enough about the stars on home improvement shows.   

It has been a long week. Please tell me when we began shooting off fireworks for the whole month of July? The rest of my family has been backpacking this week. I was supposed to be having a quiet time at home to myself. It has been anything but. Brynn doesn't calm down before one or two in the morning; then is awake at 5 a.m. hungry, because she wouldn't eat her dinner because she was afraid. And me? I’ve not really been all that rested either.

It’s almost midnight of the fourth night after the Fourth, and I can tell I won’t be asleep for a while. If only I could reason with this dog. I’ve tried. And failed. She doesn’t realize how good she has it. All her meals provided. A great backyard to run in, lots of people to fuss over her. If only she could trust me.  

Ah. Do you see where this illustration is going? How like Brynn I am. How foolish it is of me not to trust my heavenly Father. Something goes wrong in my world or I feel like I have lost control over something and what do I do? I drop my shoulders and panic. How often have I run from one thing to another trying to solve the problem? How often have I overburdened those around me, making sure everyone knows that something is wrong and they had better help me? I, too, have been guilty of not accepting the help they give. Sometimes I know I hide from a fear by increasing activity and noise around me.  

I am sure it grieves my heavenly Father. I have it so good. I have a great Savior who is a good shepherd and a strong and victorious king. He is wise and loving and powerful. And he has promised to care for me.  

Maybe this week home alone wasn’t about resting or checking things off my to-do list. Maybe it was about being in the middle of an object lesson about the foolishness of fear. Dear Lord, the next time I hear a bang, crackle, sputter or boom, would you give me ears to hear the reassurances of your Word? 

Brynn is under the desk as I write. I think she might have fallen asleep. So while my God holds the universe together, I’m going to get some rest as well. 

Lines for Sandy by Wil Triggs

We trembled as we drove our dying dog Sandy to the emergency vet clinic on Sunday, July 9. We trembled in grief when the vet gently laid her now lifeless body on the examination table--no more wagging tail or huge doggy smile. I wrote these lines for Sandy.

Whatever you thought
I never knew,
but your voice
always made my tail dance.
When I rolled over
on my back,
Your hand was there
to stroke or scratch.
When I would go
out to yard-explore,
You always opened the door
and let me in to lap the water dish.
Morning and night,
you always gave me fowl or fish.
I always wanted more;
I am a dog, after all.
But it was also always enough,
Every moment enough
But never full
Ready for more,
to give and give;
That's what I was
and am made for.
Pant no more.


In the Bright Morning, Shadows by dt.Haase

Our favorite wanderer for wonder, whimsy and wisdom, Dan Haase, reflects on a summer morning.

The garden, like any good fairy tale, reminds us how, at times, beauty is a disguise of the dangerous. The Japanese beetle has taken flight and descended upon the leaves of my garden. It is a troubling thing that destruction should lead to destruction. That in one ecosystem, thousands of miles away, its presence does not trigger any alarms as the natural order keeps it in check, while here it is named a pest. How does one live in a world of such discontinuity? 

forecast - 

clouds block out the sun 

bringing rain 

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.