Thursday, January 29, 2004

First Bible Study of the College Church at the Gate

We had our first service last night. We had student led music and Bible Study. You could really feel the Holy Spirit's anointing. Noah Oldham led the Bible Study on the Heart of David and Andy Rains led the music. The Holy Spirit used both of them to minister to all of us. It was exceptional. It is so refreshing to see student leaders wanting to take on the responsibility of leading worship. It is evenings like last night that make working with college students so rewarding.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

"Incarnation: The Emerging Church at Christmas"

Can we fully grasp the concept of an Incarnational Savior and what that means while we are living in today's consumeristic society? This article by Ben Pattison in asks some pointed questions that we should all be thinking about after Christmas. Do we truly celebrate the Savior's incarnation in a meaningful and biblical way? Read the article here.

Bible Study Tonight

Tonight we will kick off the College Church at the Gate Wednesday Night Bible Study. We'll be meeting at The Gate, located at 225 N. Monroe, Lebanon, Illinois. Bible Study will start at 8:00 and we will be studying the Heart of David. Sounds pretty inspiring! I can hardly wait to see how our first meeting goes.

A Tuesday Morning Snowstorm

We had a snowstorm pass through yesterday. Matthew and Bethany wer upset because they had to go to school while other school discticts around us had a snow day. Marilyn was out of school for the day becuase she works in another disctict. That really made them mad. It was a beautiful day and the snow didn't cause any problems for the commute.

Monday, January 26, 2004

An Icy Day in Belleville

Well, we had an ice storm blow through yesterday that left an inch of ice on the ground. I put some pictures on the Marshall Family Fotopage located here. Marilyn, Matthew, and Bethany thought it was great because they all had a snow day! I went off to work at 6:30 this morning and was one of the only ones there. We had a fire alarm at 9:00, and rather than stand in the parking lot for a half hour, I packed up my laptop and headed for home. I worked from home today. It was great! We are expecting about 4 inches of snow tonight, so we may have another snow day tomorrow! I hope!

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Sunday Night Alive! Cancelled

Hey Everyone,

We had everything all planned for tonight, but the Lord reminded us that we aren't in control. We are only here for His pleasure. So we will be postponing tonight's first service for the College Church at the Gate in Lebanon and the Metro East Sunday Night Alive! Lord willing we will be picking up where we left on on February 8th at 7:30. Hopefully, you can all come and share the evening as we christen the McKendree ministry, encounter God in praise and worship, and fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the Lord.

We will be starting our Wednesday Night Collegiate Bible Study in Lebanon this week at 8:00 at the College Church at the Gate and we will be having our combined Gateway Community Church/College Church at the Gate Super Bowl Party next Sunday starting at 5:00pm (Go Panthers!). We hope to see you all there.

Take care and God bless you all. Your brother in Christ,

Rick Marshall

Friday, January 23, 2004

More Prep Work

Well, another day has gone by and we are a day closer to the College Church at the Gate being a reality. I spent most of this evening preparing for our first Sunday service this week. The Lord continues to open so many doors that I am really excited to see how he will work to have the St Louis Metro East explode for Christ! Praise the Lord!

Monday, January 19, 2004

Introducing the Marshall Family Fotopage

I added a fotopage today to the links off to the right of this post. It is also located here. I hope it helps you keep up with what is going on in our lives.

Moving Into the Digital Age

Well, after many years feeling like the world has passed us by, today we installed a cable modem. We have finally moved off of dialup and into a new world that will help us better minister to collegiates. Posting to Blogger and particularly posting to the fotopages on our collegiate websites now will be less than an all day event. Thank you Marilyn for finally saying yes to a Cable Modem. Thinking about going to a wireless internet connection next!

Friday, January 16, 2004

A Great Winter Day

Winter hasn't been too bad here in Southern Illinoins this year. Today the weather is warm (currently 46 degrees) and cloudy and we hava only had one snowstorm and a week of really cold weather so far. I went for a work out at the O'Fallon YMCA and ran into Craig Virgin. He was a long distance runner (10K and 5K I think) on the 1980 and 1984 Olympic Teams. He was one of the unfortunate people to be on the 1980 Olympic Team during the Moscow Olympics that we boycotted because of the war in Afghanistan. Kind of a strange turn of events that we are involved there now and now the Russians. But, 911 changed everything.

Anyhow Craig seems like a pretty nice guy and is one of the pillars of the town of Lebanon. He spent quyite a bit of time in Los Angeles for the 1984 Olympics, so we chatted about home for a while. Brought back some great memories.

My workout was pretty good and I need to make a commitment to continue to treat myself right. I have gained too much weight over the last few years and gotten completely out of shape. I need to begin treating my body again like the Temple of God that it is.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

FBC O'Fallon College and Career Update

Hello Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

It has been a great week. The Lord has blessed us with fantastic weather and lots of opportunities to serve Him.

We have a very busy couple of weeks coming up. Here’s what we have planned:

Friday and Saturday January 16 and 17

Metamorphosis is the Illinois Baptist State Association’s first ever Collegiate Women’s Conference. It is being held close by at Winstanley Baptist Church in Fairview Heights. If you haven’t signed up yet, but still would like to attend there will be tickets available at the door. Cost for the conference is $25. This should be an awesome time if you can make it. The guest speaker is Dawn Phillips and the music will be led by Jami Smith. Check out the latest information at the Metamorphosis website.

Sunday January 18

Sunday Morning Bible Study at 9:45 and 11:00 in the Youth Lounge. This week we will be studying the sanctity of life. This will be a very discussion oriented week, so please come ready to share with each of us as we use this time to learn together.

Wednesday January 21

Ricky Vaught is leading us through the book of Romans. We have almost completed the book and will be starting in on Chapter 16. Ricky has been doing a great job of helping lead the discussion on how the book of Romans has so many applications to our every day lives. As we finish up Romans be thinking on where you want us to go next.

January 25

Sunday Morning Bible Study at 9:45 and 11:00 in the Youth Lounge.

Metro East College and Career Sunday Night Alive! at 7:30 in the new McKendree College BCM building located at 225 N. Monroe, Lebanon, Illinois. It is about 2 blocks east of the McKendree campus. We will be kicking off the new ministry at McKendree, sharing worship with the praise band Decrease, and hearing a special message. The food and the experience are all free, so please come and help us celebrate what God has done over the last couple of months to open the doors for this ministry to even exist.

February 1

Superbowl Party at 5:00 at the McKendree BCM building at the address above. Gateway Community Baptist Church will be sharing the building with the McKendree BCM and wants to get to know us with a combined Superbowl Party! Everyone is welcome! More information to follow.

February 7

The Elms will be in concert in Carlinville (about a 1 hour drive north of O'Fallon). The Elms are a Christian Band that are incredible. They are not too well known her in the mid-west, but have a huge following in the UK and on the east coast. Tickets are $6 ahead of time or $8 at the door. Please see me if you need a ticket. For those who would like to go we can caravan up to Carlinville.

We sure have a lot going on. Life is pretty busy right now, so please remember to slow down and take time to be alone with the Lord for a sabbath to refresh your yearnings to serve Him.

Take a chance and live for the Lord every day. Your brother in Christ,

Rick Marshall

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Losing Faith in Church

Below is a great commentary on worship I found today on from It is called "losing faith in church".

Jordon says:

On Sunday, as I was behind the pulpit, church stopped making sense to me. It wasn't the sermon, I was reading some announcements but I felt that I should not be up there. The service opened amazingly but here I was, grinding it to a halt making mention of some church administration. It stunk. Not only that, the worship service seemed to sputter a bit. The worship leaders were good, there was a lot of people there but I was dreading going up to talk after that.

When I did go up, I looked out and people looked disengaged. Before the service, Wendy had gotten some Coke, Diet Coke, and Ginger Ale from the upstairs for after the service. I could see it on the back counter. I am not sure why but I just asked everyone to get up, chat with someone and go and get a pop of a coffee (we seemed to have neglected the tea drinkers). Everyone got up and almost everyone in the church went and got a pop or a coffee. I was expecting the feedback to be really negative after church and in this mornings church board meeting but everyone sat down and we had about 30 seconds of pop cans opening (if we could time them, I think you could almost get a hand bell choir sounding thing going) and the whole demeaner of the place changed. Body language changed, people were sitting up, the kids were quieter and the entire mood of the entire church changed.

It hit me while I was taking the icy trip home that by tightly integrating the sermon in with participartory worship and adding the announcements in, no matter how creative... we were stopping some natural flows in how we interact and worship with God in church. The artificial break between worship and teaching allowed people to change gears a bit mentally and I thought engage a little more with my sermon.

The discussion with the Board was interesting. I talked about some pretty radical changes in worship for our rural church. I talked about how the medium is the message and the wineskin and how our wineskin is 100 years old. Or as Eugene Peterson says, a cracked wine bottle. No matter how well you care for a heavily used medium or wine bottle, you are going to get the occasional nick in it and it may be cracked.

I think we get caught up doing church services instead of worship. We get stuck in our medium and it becomes our message. We say that the Amish don't use technology, of course they do. 1860's technology. They were doing okay and they got stuck in the 1860's. A friend of mine said his church was doing great but they got bogged down in the early 1990's. Most evangelical churches bogged down in the 1950's and now that medium is becoming a message. I heard a leader of an evangelical denomination use what God had done in the past as a reason for why they should survive in the future (I was hoping for some vision). All I could think was that this was the denomination that was trying to reach Bob Dole.

The other thing I talked about on Sunday was Leonard Sweet's images statement of the "Swinger"

There is a new theory among physicists about how the swing works. Previous theories revolved around the principle of "parametric instability," which pivoted the action of swinging at the middle of the arc, and the rocking forward into a higher center of gravity. Physicist William Case, while watching how children actually swing, has now posited a new principle which physicists call "driven harmonic oscillator." The key to the swing is not in the middle of the arc, but at each end of the arc, where and when the swingers at the same time lean back and throw their feet forward.

That's my image statement. As a historian of Christianity, I want the church to lean back–not just back to the 50s, but all the way back through 2000 years of history, all the way back until we're, in the words of that Sunday School song, "Leaning, Leaning, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." But at the same time and I do mean simultaneously, we must use that energy and power that comes from "learning to lean" to kick forward into the future and Carpe Manana.

I may remember the pop cans opening but all the feedback I got from the weekend all had to do with Len's metaphor. I think I must have used it before but this time the Holy Spirit had it and kind of drove it home. It was kind of cool. The board was still talking about it today.

A lot of good things came out of Board meeting today... the church is going to make soda available and we liked our "intermission"... we all have a growing dislike for our photocopier and it is time to call in the mob to make a "hit" on outdated office equipment, the Board also lead with a servant's heart on some issues in our community, we are looking forward to our town wide ALPHA blitz... and we are cooking up some sacred cows and expecting some excellent hamburgers.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

The Raiders of the Lost Ark Syndrome

What do you think about when you hear someone say that God really blessed them when they won the lottery, the Superbowl, or anything else that takes a total effort to achieve. It always brings me back to the first Raiders of the Lost Ark movie. In that movie the Germans thought that if they could only find the ark that God would bless them and they would win WWII. Ever since I first saw the movie I kept thinking about, "If God would bless them if they had the Ark, does that mean that we would be cursed if we didn't have it." That type of thinking scares me a little bit because I don't believe that God works that way. As Americans we believe we have a special place in God's eyes because we live in such a great country. I call this "God has really blessed me" mentality the Raiders of the Lost Ark Syndrome. Sometimes though that doesn't quite live up to what God's word says. Here's a great thought provoking post on the subject from David Bernstein.
McKendree Ministry Update

Well, I had a great weekend this last weekend. We had a wonderful time in Sunday morning Bible study. We studied Proverbs Chapter 1 and found some great ways that it applies to our lives.

I have been losing a lot of sleep because the building we inherited for our ministry to McKendree College needed quite a bit of work and I didn’t know how it would all get done. I work full-time at Scott Air Force Base and also serve as the volunteer Director of Collegiate Ministries at FBC O'Fallon. We started about 2 years ago and have grown to around 45 students. I have felt God's call to start a ministry at McKendree for a couple of years, but the timing wasn't right and frankly there was a good campus ministry already going that was being run by the McKendree Chaplain. Last year I asked some of my McKendree students if they thought McKendree needed anything like a Baptist Collegiate Ministry and until this semester they always said no. In fact, my student leaders were also leading the McKendree Campus ministry. So, I just waited and prayed.

Well, at the beginning of the Fall semester everything came apart for the McKendree Campus ministry. The Chaplain started teaching things that my student leaders didn't agree with, such as, everyone creates their own path to heaven (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jehovah's Wintess), it doesn't necessarily have to be through Christianity. Kind of a strange belief for a Methodist Minister who claims to be a Christian. My student leaders finally confronted him and asked him if he believed the Bible was the inspired word of God and whether or not he believed John 14:6, and he could never give them a direct answer. His answer was that his definition of "the way" isn't the same as my student leaders' definition of it. He also told them they weren't tolerant enough of other people's beliefs and that the Campus ministry was open to people to practice all faiths whether or not they led through Christ. My student leaders decided they couldn't work with a Campus Chaplain who doesn't believe that Christ is the only way to the Father and that it was time to sever their relationship with the McKendree Campus Ministry. They came to me to try to start a BCM to minister to students on campus and in Lebanon. I went to my church leadership the next day and asked if there was any kind of support they could give us and a big grin came on their faces. They said a small Baptist church had just folded in Lebanon and our church had inherited their building 2 blocks away from the McKendree Campus the day before and they felt the Lord wanted us to start a McKendree ministry there. FBC O'Fallon has come completely on line. God's timing and providence are awesome.

The McKendree Chaplain in the meanwhile has been very unprofessional and angry. He pretty much told us we aren't wanted on campus (He has several issues including lots of unresolved anger towards my student leaders) and has fought us the whole way. What really bugs him is that our student ministry will meet off campus and he basically can't do anything about it. We haven't even had our first meeting as a student ministry yet. We are waiting until the semseter starts in a week or so to do any ministry (all my students are spread to the four corners of Illinois right now).

Needless to say, the church building we inherited is a godsend. It is just exactly what we needed. It is within walking distance of campus, has a worship center that seats about 100 people, and is free. You can't beat that. But, it is in desperate need of some tender loving care.

Last Wednesday I was contacted by a new Baptist church plant in Lebanon that will co-use the facility for their temporary church. They have already started doing the major construction on the building and it is looking awesome!

I am sleeping a little better now because the Lord has worked it all out, but there is still alot to get finished in a short amount of time. I know the Lord will continue to work wonders because He is the God of wonders! Praise the Lord.