Author Archives: Richard McGill

About Richard McGill

Hi, my name is Richard McGill and my family and I started attending CCC shortly after moving to the area eighteen years ago. Although eighteen years may sound like a long time it has past by so quickly. My wife, Sharon, and I have seen our four children grow and have twice experienced that bitter sweet day when we have loosened our grasp so that our children, could begin families of their own. Sharon and I have been more than rewarded for our sacrifices in that we again, on occasion, have in our home the squeals of laughter that only comes from innocence and youth. We revel in the titles that have been bestowed by sweet little voices and thrill to hear them say Papa and Memaw. In addition to our two married children we have two that are preparing for their future through education. Jenny is finishing her sophomore year at SIU and Alex will graduate from high school this spring. Throughout the past eighteen years I have been privileged to serve in several capacities at CCC. I have been a small group leader, greeter, usher, in the Easter production, on the worship team and have taught Sunday School. While I am honored to be asked to contribute to this most recent effort, I can’t help but wonder if they’re not still trying to find something that I am good at.

Be an Encourager

Today’s text: Nehemiah 4-6,     Revelation 17

A few days ago I had the opportunity to have most of the employees I supervise together at one place at the same time. I took advantage of the occasion to give them a small gift for Christmas but more importantly to remind them of the value of their commitment. I reminded them that the sacrifice they had made in going beyond what is required does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. I told them of the importance of what they do and how much better we are as an organization because of each one of them. I did this for two reasons. First, because I believe it and secondly because I know that when dealing with the public it doesn’t take long to realize that there are more people willing to complain than those wanting to compliment. We have all had those days when we’ve headed out with a song in our heart and smile on our face only to cross paths with someone who just didn’t care much for music and was determined to make us give up on smiling all together. There are those who seem to be determined to rob us of our joy. After we have had the opportunity to meet a few of those more ‘memorable’ folks it can become difficult to maintain a proper perspective. We can easily lose sight of the significance of our calling and become discouraged in our efforts.

In today’s text we read about Nehemiah and his commitment to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. The task was daunting. The walls lay in ruins. When he went to examine the condition of some of the more distant parts of the wall he found the rubble to be impassable. After investing a significant amount of sweat equity in the project Nehemiah met a few of the more ‘memorable’ neighbors. Almost any project has its Sanballat and most have a Toiah, or a Geshem around just to keep things interesting. Their rhetoric and ridicule soon become a tiresome grind. We all have experienced the venom of those who seem bent on discouragement but like Nehemiah we can not let that distract us from the calling. In his response to the discouragers, Nehemiah lays out a good pattern for us to follow:

  • First he took his situation to the Lord. Bringing our needs before the Lord and seeking his wisdom should be commonplace in our daily walk and even more so in times of distress.
  • Secondly he added to the security of the workers by strengthening their defenses. There is wisdom in quickly addressing obvious deficiencies or making corrections to oversight when and if necessary.
  • Thirdly he addressed the sin and oppression that was ongoing in the form of slavery and charging of usury. We likewise need to rid ourselves of anything that may separate us from the favor of God.
  • Fourthly he resumed with commitment the task for which he had been called. While we may not be able to control the circumstances that we find ourselves in, we can control our response to them. Never lose focus on what is most significant.

As you look around you will find that many are in need of encouragement. They may be dealing with gift return lines, snow covered roads or just grouchy people but we all need to be reminded that we are loved, that we are of importance, and that what we do really does make a difference. Be an encourager.

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Isaiah 41:10 fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Deuteronomy 31:8
It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

Psalm 9:9 The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 55:22 Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Matthew 11:28-29 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 8:6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Mining for Gold

Today’s text: Ezra 5-7, Revelation 11

gold-minersI truly enjoy studying the book of Revelation. As I read the 11th chapter in preparation for this next to my last blog I was reminded of two illustrations that are so true when it comes to the study of eschatology.

The example of the polished needle: I once heard a gentleman talk about examining a highly polished needle with a magnifying glass and found it to be perfect. He then put it under a microscope and found it to be riddled with minute flaws. As he increased the magnification he found an ever increasing number of defects in the needle. He then looked at the wing of a butterfly with a magnifying glass and saw details and patterns not visible with the naked eye. When he placed the wing under the higher magnification he found an ever increasing level of detail and a degree of craftsmanship at the cellular level that is beyond the skill of man to duplicate. Studying the Bible is similar in that the more we dig down into the detail the more beauty we find.

The example of a South African gold mine: A number of years ago a farmer was clearing some debris from a field. He inadvertently scraped his burden against an outcropping of rock and happen to notice what appeared to be gold within the rock. As he chipped away at the rock he saw that there was more gold. Over the next few years he gradually chipped away finding more and more treasure. One day he decided to form a partnership with his son and grandsons and start a real mining operation. Over the next several years they drilled, blasted and hauled load after load of rock looking for gold. They always found enough to stay in business but never enough to make a very comfortable living for their families. One day they had made repairs to their refining process and wanted to test their work. Instead of waiting for some of the good ore to be brought up out of the mine they loaded up some rock from the spoil pile. Imagine their shock when they discovered what they had been dumping as scraped contained almost as much gold as the good ore. They learned by experience that there is more than one type of ore. They spent the next several years recovering the ore from the spoil as well as find enough ore in the mine to make them all very wealthy.

As we continually study the Bible we become increasingly more adept at recognizing where the treasure is found. At first we can only glean those nuggets that are in plain sight. When we have attained a better understating of scripture as a whole we find greater rewards that we would have previously passed over. As we become more seasoned and more mature in the discipline of study our magnification level increases and we find a whole new level to appreciate and enjoy. Don’t take my word for it. Remain disciplined, remain consistent to your study and see what treasures you may find.

Having Ears to Hear

Today’s text: Zechariah 13-14      Revelation 3-4

In the early 19th century John Paton announced his intent to take his wife and child to an island in the South Pacific called Vanuatu. Paton was aware that just 19 years prior, missionaries, John Williams and James Harris had been one shore only a few minutes when they were clubbed to death and later eaten by cannibals. Paton was confident that God had called him to the people of Vanuatu. He looked to the leadership of his church for support and encouragement but their response could be summarized in the words of one elder, Mr. Dickson, who exclaimed, “You will be eaten by cannibals!” Paton’s response was bold, “Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer.” Paton’s faith was even more sorely tried when in less than four months after his arrival he dug, with his own hands, a grave for his wife and infant son. When thinking back on that day he wrote, “Stunned by that dreadful loss, in entering upon this field of labor to which the Lord had Himself so evidently led me, my reason seemed for a time almost to give way. . . . But for Jesus, and the fellowship he vouchsafed to me there, I must have gone mad and died beside the lonely grave!” Four years Paton toiled with little fruit to show for his sacrifice. Finally, one day he and his handful of converts found themselves surrounded by hostile natives intent on killing them. Paton and the others fled but were soon overtaken. Paton records the event in his own words, “They encircled us in a deadly ring and one kept urging another to strike the first blow or fire the first shot. My heart rose up to the Lord Jesus. I saw Him watching all the scene. My peace came back to me like a wave from God. I realized that I was immortal till my Master’s work with me was done. The assurance came to me as if a voice out of Heaven had spoken, that not a musket would be fired to wound us, not a club prevail to strike us, not a spear leave the hand in which it was held vibrating to be thrown, not an arrow leave the bow . . . without the permission of Jesus Christ, who is all power on heaven and earth. He rules all nature, animate and inanimate, and restrains even the Savage of the South Seas.”

Many of us can relate to the words of Paton because we have experienced moments of truth. Moments when standing for the gospel cost something. Perhaps we have not had to stare into the face of death as Paton did but we have had to stand knowing that doing so would cost us our job, or a friendship or would result in having to endure hardship, ridicule or jeering from our peers. Such was the case with the church at Philadelphia. They had elected to stand steadfast despite present and persistent persecution that threatened their very existence.

So how do we find the courage to hold on? In the encouragement that Jesus brings to Philadelphia he reminds them of several points:

  • He reminds them of who He is, “the holy one the true one, who has the key of David.”
  • He reminds them of who they are before him, “I know your works.” “You have kept my word.”
  • He reminds them of their passion, “Hold fast to what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.”

Lets look at it one more time so that he who has an ear, may hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. 8 “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie- behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:7-13

Defining Love

Today’s text: Ezra 1-2, 1 John 4

In today’s passage John mentions love 27 times. John repeats the command of Jesus that we “Love one another.” He also makes the pronouncement that, “God is love” what a pronouncement that is. God has lavished his love on us because God is love, and because that love is so generously poured out upon us we have and are required to give that love to others. Even though there will be times when we feel unappreciated or taken for granted we still can pass along the very thing that defines us as one of his. Where God dwells love abounds. When we share or lavish on others that which has been given to us we become a reflection of our source. Simply by receiving his love we become so filled, so saturated, that is spills out to others. John encourages us to not just let it spill but to open up and let it flow onto others.

The Value of Humility, Self-control and Grace

Today’s text: Ezekiel 33-34      1 Peter 5

The art of letter writing, that is putting pen to paper, has almost been replaced by putting a finger, or thumb, to the keyboard. Before we had the ability to ‘cut, paste or insert’ there was a certain style to communicating with the written word. Writers would generally mention their key points early in the body of the letter. Whatever space that remained was where the focus was shifted to the more succinct thoughts and questions such as: “How is your Aunt Betty?” “Tell your family that I said hello.” As we ran out of space we would often use smaller letters and if even more space was required it was not too unusual to write up the margins. The 5th chapter of 1st Peter reminds me of that style. Short concise truths and personal thoughts lead us to the end of this small, simple but timeless epistle. Originally written as encouragement and instruction to scattered believers living in a hostile world some 2000 years ago, its wisdom is just as insightful as if it were authored today.

While there are several great points in this chapter the three that spoke the most vividly to me were, humility, self-control and grace. We clothe ourselves with humility when we submit ourselves under God’s mighty hand and surrender our cares and anxiety to his charge. Humility reaches fruition when we realize that neither our own wisdom nor our strength is sufficient and entrust our future wholly into his safekeeping.

Self-control speaks to discipline, restraint and clearness of mind. While we do have the privilege of casting our cares on him this doesn’t imply that we are to live carefree, rather we are to live purposefully, alertly and steadfastly in the faith.

Because we are so prone to stumbling we need to ever be mindful of the grace that restores us, strengthens us and keeps firm and steadfast in the faith.

I love how Peter puts it, “I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.”

Soldiers, Athletes and Farmers

Today’s text: Ezekiel 16-17        2 Timothy 2

In today’s text we find Paul offering encouragement from within a prison. Paul was an intelligent man and I am certain by this time he knew what lay before him. Despite his own hardships, “despite his present sufferings” he took advantage of this opportunity to encourage Timothy. He reminds him to “Guard the truth” (2 Tim 1:14) or as some translations put to “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you.” The early church was no stranger to persecution at the hands of the Jews but a storm was looming on the horizon. Soon persecution would test the character of every Christian like it had never been tested before. Paul reminds Timothy to “remain strong” in the difficult days that lay ahead and charged him to “fulfill” his ministry. Although this epistle is addressed to Timothy, I believe that the charge to “guard the truth” is a mantel lain across shoulders of all who would bear the title of Christian. In the first few verses of chapter 2 Paul outlines three ways to accomplish that end.

1) Be strong!

2 Timothy 2:1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Paul reminds Timothy that as a leader at Ephesus his actions set an example for others. Paul is not referring to a strength that is Timothy’s alone but a strength that all can find who trust the grace of Christ. Having professed a faith in Jesus, others look to us to see if our actions harmonize with our faith. Although we draw our strength from Christ, it is our legs that must be placed into action. We must first exert the effort to stand and He will sustain us in our need. We must remain mindful of what things we lean upon for support. The hymnist put it well, “On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.”

2) Equip others!

2 Timothy 2:2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

An old Jewish proverb says, “Tears shared are sorrows divided and laughter shared is joy multiplied.” You’ve heard it said that, “Many hands make light the work.” Paul is saying train and equip others to stand in the faith. By training others to carry the gospel Timothy’s reach in fulfilling the ministry is greatly enhanced. Surrounding ourselves with others who share the common goal can provide much encouragement and prayerful support in times of challenge.

3) Be mindful of the message within the metaphors.

Paul points Timothy’s attention to the dedication of a soldier, the discipline of an athlete and the diligence of a farmer. Although there are many facets to each of the metaphors they each resonate on one common cord, commitment. Soldier, athlete or farmer all requires consistency and commitment in their efforts to achieve success.  We also must serve with commitment if we are to be successful and “fulfill” our mission.

Defending the Faith

Today’s text: Daniel 11 – 12    1 Timothy 1
According to legend, the above ad was placed in a London newspaper in August 1914 by Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. As the legend goes, literally thousands of men responded to the ad. I have often thought that the ad, with just a little tweaking, could be used in recruiting help in ministry. The journey can be hazardous indeed, the wages are small, and the elements can be truly harsh. Many who have labored in ministry can recall those long months when it at least felt like being in complete darkness. So why would anyone accept such a calling? In part the possible honor and recognition are a plus, but most serve because of love. Those whose hearts are stirred by the things of God, those who are drawn to study God’s Word, those who delight in prayer, those who are so thankful for the grace and mercy they have received that they feel they must do what ever they can to steer others away from the perils of sin and the horrors of hell. Those are the type that accept the duty and remain committed to the task so long as God gives them breath. In today’s text we find Paul addressing Timothy who was one that was straining under such a call.
Timothy was of mixed decent, his Father was Greek and his Mother a Jew. Paul had left him in charge at Ephesus. The teaching of false doctrines that promoted controversies rather than God’s work was a challenge that Timothy continually labored against. This epistle was written to instruct, empower and encourage Timothy in his labor. Paul recognized that all ministry should be based in sound doctrine. Like Timothy, our task is to reach the lost, encourage the faithful and defend the Faith by rightfully dividing the Word of Truth.