It was on my birthday that we decided to attend the Cedar Street Church of Christ in Christian Union located in New Boston Ohio to honor my mother Bettie Jean Brigner Rucker. Many times I am beginning my church visit story before I even walk in the door. Such was the case today! As the minister Gary Heimbach Jr. announced his sermon topic I knew we had once again been guided correctly. His sermon today related to overcoming fear! Outreach Pastor of the church is Frank Stidham.
As a boy I stood on the stage of this church in a Christmas play where I played Joseph in the Seasonal Christmas Pageant. How hard is that? I was once the shy child. In adulthood I took a position with the Ohio State University Cooperative Extension Service and it was then I learned that in order to make a living for my little family there was no more place for that.
On this day in church the memory came flooding back. I had flat out gone blank on my lines as Joseph of Nazareth. It was a dark audience full of visitors but fear gripped me and I forgot my lines, standing there until the curtains closed in my face. Needless to say I was devastated. Though to my brothers and others it was funny though that embarrassment stayed with me much of my life. Overcoming one’s fear is sometimes a life process. What happened here on that day is why a few years ago I accepted a part in a Portsmouth Little Theatre play where I portrayed Judge Brandi! Delivering my lines in multiple performances was my way of overcoming this boyhood transgression. My rote memorization power has never been good so I had to work on it very hard. In each performance I overcame my fear and successfully pulled off my part. It was with great pride and rejuvination. And each time I hoped my mother had been watching as I could feel her smile in my heart.
As a teenager, becoming an adult the first generation of Heimbach was Pastor at Cedar Street Church. Beverly and I were dating and son to the Pastor, a young Gary Heimbach was an associate or youth Pastor. We were in his class at the church. How I remember some things I don’t understand. I remember debating that I believed Native American Indians would go to heaven in their beliefs. I remember Gary saying, if any of you would like to be saved, raise your hand. Well I did so but remembered panacking as he later invited I and others to come forward. In my fear I could not do so.
So right down to the morning of this day, my 65th birthday I had not helped Beverly determine where we would attend church today. After our usual pass through McDonalds our official direction was clear and it was the church my mother brought me too. It was the church where my father was officially saved.
And today at Cedar Street Church of Christ in Christian Union another generation Gary Heimbach took the stage as Pastor and opened the service with his announcement as I previously said, that today’s sermon would cover the topic of fear. I whispered over to Beverly who knew my thought, “can you believe that”?
The church had a piano and an organ, both opening the service with very soft versions of the songs, which states, “the answer is blowing in the wind and I will rejoice”! Long time friend Sharon Heimbach and mother of the now Pastor Gary chaired the piano throughout the service. Regretfully I get the organists name.
Gary Heimbach came forward to lead the opening saying there was good news to share and opening songs were “And can it be and My wonderful Lord”! And can it be went something like this, I love you Lord, and I live my Lord to worship you, oh my soul rejoice!
Pastor Heimbach delivered a rather busy memorial segment and mentioned the recent loss of a very long known friend Leonard Skaggs and others. He requested that members of these families be remembered by the church today, delivering a prayer on their behalf.
Shortly the very talented choir sang, “He lifted me”. Following was the time for the tithes and offerings. Darwin Hyatt was then brought forward to play a few special guitar pieces. One was the story he told of a dream he had where he died and went to heaven. He dreamed he was standing by the Eastern Gate. It came up as to whether his name had been written in the book of life. Well he spoke to a man, perhaps God telling him of all his deeds he had done, all the trophies he had won. I was asked, son have you been set free? Is your name in the book of life? He said to please sir, research the book again, before you make me go. I knew it was too late for prayer. All my sinner friends who wanted to be in were already in the book of life.
Darwin shared another, singing the story of Golgotha, where many had died. There had been criminals, 3 outcasts and then I realized the middle was mine. When I saw my Savior hanging there I was afraid beyond compare. I woke up thanking him for each thing he had done. It continued with I am going to serve him with gladness the rest of my days. I see heaven reaching down to underserving men like me. I see my sins and what they cost, when I see the cross. A beautiful song and a wonderful story!
Gary Heimbach Senior came forward and spoke on several occasions speaking on the preparations for the Homecoming 2017 celebration! A Dr. Stan Toler, a Christian author and Pastor has travelled the world preaching the gospel. He spoke of a group called “The Guardians” who would be singing at Homecoming as part of the “Revive America” concert.
Prayer was common throughout the service, at this time Gary Heimbach Jr. delivered his message. His prayer spoke to the congregation that God would touch our hearts and that none who hear the message would reject it.
The Pastor conferred that paranoia is that fear should be understood as the false evidence of fear.
Pastor Heimbach spoke of the fear even spoke by Moses in Hebrews Chapter 12 verses 18 through 21. Verse 21 so terrifying was the sight (upon coming to the mountain- Sinai) that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling”.
Many times in our lives we are consumed with fear. The Pastor said as a boy he was fearful of diving from a pool diving board at dreamland pool. He learned the process of creeping up the ladder, then to the end of the board and over. I think his reference was overcoming this fear. He pointed also to an early fear of riding a roller coaster. Later he overcame that fear as well. But now as an older adult he has that fear again. I can concur on that one!
Fear can be real and hard to overcome. Even once he took his daughter on a bigfoot hunt for fun, but yet getting into an eerie woods, that fear became real again even though for not much concern there would be a bigfoot to tangle with.
God saved his people from Egypt, delivering his people through and from their fear. At all points, the people and even Moses must have felt the fear even though they were in the care of God.
He also referred to Exodus 19. The Lord had told Moses to ready for the 3rd day. Set limits with your people and tell them that whoever to touches the mountain shall die. I challenge all to read Exodus 19 and even 20 in which the Lord delivered commandments to Moses and his followers. The mountains and the people trembled before Jesus was called to the mountain top to receive those commandments. Even Moses trembled. These were people who had spent 400 years in bondage and slavery. There at the foot of Mount Sinai they stood at the feet of the Lord, exposed in their sins. The Glory and Majesty of God could have destroyed them so they stood in fear. But through this fear they were delivered a message to love their God in their mind, soul and strength as themselves.
But then he quoted Hebrews verse 23, you have come to the mountain of Zion and not the mountain of fear, but of joy. The city of our living Christ!
At Mount Sinai, a people whose lives were in ruin needed a Savior. Such it was from Abel’s pleasing sacrifice to God that the people had arrived at the foot of God. And we now realize that without Jesus we stand at the mountain of fear with no ability to follow the commandments of Christ. If we do not refuse him we come to a mountain where God lives. Jesus Christ reaches to each of you this morning offering eternal life.
There was prayer, an alter call and the beautiful hymn loved by my mother, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus”! Closing prayer!
What a beautiful church, what a beautiful people. Familiar faces and new faces. As we go forward, we see that God blesses our work and gives us direction, if not words.
If you have been seeking a church we would like to invite you to follow our steps and drop in to visit these wonderful people of faith who attend the Church of Christ in Christain Union. After all these many years it was once again our church!
As believers, let us share the good news of Jesus Christ as Savior of the world! Each one, reach one! See ya in church!
Reach Randy Rucker at Ohiorancher5@gmail.com.