Sunday Service for May 24 is Available

The service for May 24, 2020 is now available here. You can also view a list of past Sunday services here.

To balance the spiritual needs of church-goers with the physical health risks from gatherings and COVID-19, Riverside Baptist Church is offering online Sunday services. In today’s service, Rev. Tonetta Landis-Aina shares the word of God and discusses the miracle of Jesus feeding the crowds. A bulletin guides you through the service. Through this online resource, you can continue to connect with God and the Riverside community.

Please remember to join the online prayer meeting at 11:00 am after the Sunday service.

Sunday Service for May 17 is Available

The service for May 17, 2020 is now available here. You can also view a list of past Sunday services here.

To balance the spiritual needs of church-goers with the physical health risks from gatherings and COVID-19, Riverside Baptist Church is offering online Sunday services. In today’s service, Rev. Tonetta Landis-Aina shares the word of God and discusses the miracle of Jesus feeding the crowds. A bulletin guides you through the service. Through this online resource, you can continue to connect with God and the Riverside community.

Please remember to join the online prayer meeting at 11:00 am after the Sunday service.

Greater Things Than Jesus

During the Last Supper in the Gospel of John, Jesus tells His disciples what it means to be a Christian. He says, “The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater things than these.” Accordingly, there are three stages of faith:

  1. There’s believing in Jesus;
  2. There’s doing what Jesus did; and
  3. Then there’s this astonishing third element – doing greater things than Jesus. What could that possibly mean, doing greater things than Jesus?

One suggestion I’d like to offer is set forth by the example of Stephen, the first martyr in Christianity, found in Acts chapters and 6 and 7. We see how Stephen turned faith into concrete acts of love. He faced opposition with grace. And he told the story of God. But Stephen did not just stop there. Yes, those three actions are sufficient, but he went even further.

After everything Stephen did, the serving of others, the grace he offered those he met, the kindness he showed those who despised him, he went even further and in the face of a sham trial where he, an innocent man, was about to be executed, Stephen prays, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them,” just as Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

That, my sisters and brothers, is what I believe earns you a standing ovation from the Son of Man, or it at least did for Stephen. The radical love that enables you to see the face of God in your enemies, to see your enemy for who they are capable of being, not for who they are, to have such grace and compassion you can forgive your enemies even as they wrongfully kill you.

I am fortunate to have never faced such adversity as Stephen did. Honestly, if faced with that adversity I don’t think I could respond with the grace and compassion Stephen demonstrated. However, it is my prayer that I will continue to grow in spirt and truth, with the sanctifying love of Christ, and will one day be able to do “greater things than these.”

~ Rev. Nick

Sunday Service for May 10 Now Available

The service for May 10, 2020 is now available here. You can also view a list of past Sunday services here.

To balance the spiritual needs of church-goers with the physical health risks from gatherings and COVID-19, Riverside Baptist Church is offering online Sunday services. By providing a video of Rev. Nick leading the service and a bulletin guiding you through the service, you can continue to connect with God and the Riverside community.

Please remember to join the online prayer meeting at 11:00 am after the Sunday service.

Love Letter

If I adore You out of fear of Hell, burn me in Hell!
If I adore you out of desire for Paradise, Lock me out of Paradise.
But if I adore you for Yourself alone, Do not deny to me Your eternal beauty.

Rabi’a Basri

The Bible in many ways is a love letter from God to us, but we often read it as a long list of do’s and don’ts, and sometimes it is even read as a threat. This is the basis of the psychological critique of religion made popular by Sigmund Freud. Freud said that the faith of Moses rests on a God who’s always asking more than Israel can give. Hence there’s a perpetual cycle of demand and failure, and guilt and sacrifice, demand and failure, and guilt and sacrifice.

Freud may have had a point if religion was indeed a human creation, if our faith was nothing more than fire insurance. The grace of Christ brings joy, or it’s supposed to anyways. We would do well to remember that God desires mercy and not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6).

I don’t believe God wants to make us guilty or even for us to feel guilty. God wishes to give us joy and abundant life (John 10:10). Yes, God gave the Ten Commandments because God wanted to provide Israel with a guide for which to live. Still it is the joy and beauty of God which should conjure our worship and obedience.

The Christian life is not a list of rules and regulations telling us, “Don’t do this,” and, “You must do that.” Being Christian invites us into the presence of God, into a life and relationship with God and God’s people, a life and relationship predicated upon mercy and love.

~ Rev. Nick

Sunday Service for May 3 Now Available

The service for May 3, 2020 is now available here. You can also view from a list of past Sunday services here.

To balance the spiritual needs of church-goers with the physical health risks from gatherings and COVID-19, Riverside Baptist Church is offering online Sunday services. By providing a video of Rev. Nick leading the service and a bulletin guiding you through the service, you can continue to connect with God and the Riverside community.

Please remember to join the online prayer meeting at 11:00 am after the Sunday service.

Hospitality

People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did. But they will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

The Emmaus Road story we read this past Sunday is as much about hospitality, if not more, than any other theme found in Luke 24.

The New Testament writers routinely implored the practice of hospitality. Paul in his letter to the Romans states, “practice hospitality.” In Hebrews we read, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” In 1 Peter the author goes even further, “Practice hospitality without complaining.” In 1 Timothy and Titus it says that leaders of the church must be people who are “lovers of hospitality.” The entire letter of 3 John is focused around a “thank you” for a church’s hospitality. All of these instances, not to mention the numerous stories of hospitality in the Old Testament, give clear direction for church to practice hospitality. And of course, we have in Matthew 25 where Jesus himself said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

Hospitality and love for one another is at the heart for the Bible; it is after all entwined within the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:29). Hospitality is a deep and well-developed biblical concept and there is extraordinary continuity between the Easter story of the Emmaus Road and many other stories of throughout the scriptures.

Hospitality and love of one another allows us to participate in God’s love of all. Hospitality gives hope. That is one of the most beautiful aspects of Riverside, her hospitality for all of God’s children. We may have difficulty recognizing the Risen Jesus during these troublesome days, but I encourage you to continue to practice hospitality and love for one another. May our love for one another be part of our hope and celebration of the risen Jesus.

Rev. Nick

Sunday Service for April 26 is Now Available

The service for April 26, 2020 is now available here. You can also view from a list of past Sunday services here.

To balance the spiritual needs of church-goers with the physical health risks from gatherings and COVID-19, Riverside Baptist Church is offering online Sunday services. By providing a video of Rev. Nick leading the service and a bulletin guiding you through the service, you can continue to connect with God and the Riverside community.

Doubt and Faith

The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote that doubt comes into the world through faith, doubt is not the antithesis or antidote of faith, it is a companion along the way. Only those who have belief can doubt. Only one with faith can doubt and, in some cases, doubt is precisely faithful where certainty is unfaithful.

Some of our doubts, like the disciple Thomas’s, grow out of our believing the promises of a good and loving God and seeing the tension and disconnect between that aspect of God and what we experience in the world. Just this past week I was asked, “Where is God’s goodness and sovereignty during this pandemic?”

Since the start of our virtual services we’ve been beginning each service with a reading from the Psalms. This was intentional. The Psalms often encapsulate a type of questioning/doubting prayer in the form of lament. Not all the Psalms are lament, but many we have read in the weeks leading up to Easter have been. The Psalm Jesus quotes while on the cross, Psalm 22, is a lament. The lament Psalms articulate a paradox that it is sometimes more faithful to doubt when it seems like God’s goodness has been veiled by the tragedy of life.

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?

Our fathers trusted in You;
They trusted, and You delivered them.

Psalm 22:1, 4

It’s not that we don’t believe, it’s that it seems we can’t believe; and at those moments God shows up, like Jesus to His disciples, and God says “yes” to our doubts and fears. And Like Jesus did for Thomas, God meets us where we are and in doing so affirms that sometimes even our doubt is faithful, because it’s predicated on a trust that God is better than this, a belief that God is greater than any pandemic or crisis in our lives.

This is the Easter story, that the risen Jesus still bearing His wounds meets us at our fears and doubts; death is not the final answer, life through the risen Jesus is.

~ Rev. Nick