A Friend and Hero

My friend Robb is one of the most industrious and hardworking men I know. He’s also one of the most entertaining, too, but that’s for another post. Back in Omaha Robb somehow balances his life as a police officer, a fireman, a godly husband and father, and a respected deacon in his church.

This morning I awoke to read that on Friday morning Robb saved the life of a 5 year old boy from a burning home.

Here is the article running in today’s Omaha World-Herald:

Fireman’s blind grasp rescues boy

Seconds before flames entered the bedroom, Omaha Fire Capt. Robb Gottsch handed an unconscious 5-year-old boy to the safety of another firefighter. Gottsch, a 16-year-veteran, and Anthony Brummett, a firefighter candidate, passed flames on their way to the boy’s smoke-filled room early Friday.

They couldn’t see ahead of them in the bedroom, but Gottsch reached onto the bottom of a set of bunk beds and felt a leg.

Pulling 5-year-old Shakir Parnell into his arms, Gottsch turned with Brummett to head down and out of the house at 2827 Laurel Ave. The fire had spread, though, and the way out was blocked.

Gottsch heard glass break, and the smoke cleared a bit. Another firefighter, Adam Ostergaard, had knocked out the bedroom window — a way out.

Gottsch passed the boy through the window to Ostergaard. Firefighters shut the bedroom door to keep the flames from rushing in.

“I hope I gave that kid a chance,” Gottsch said Friday.

Shakir and Demarion Station — a 2-year-old who was carried out of the house before firefighters arrived — were taken in critical condition to Creighton University Medical Center.

They were expected to live, fire officials said.

“It was a frantic search,” Gottsch said. “I just wanted to get the boy out of that smoke-filled environment as quickly as possible. If anyone’s thankful, it’s me.

“I was just the one who found him and handed him out the window.”

Shakir was unconscious the entire time, Gottsch said. The fire captain said he saw no obvious burns to the boy’s skin, but that the boy might have had burns in his airway from the smoke. Demarion appeared to have suffered burns, officials said.

Gottsch stayed behind in the house after handing out Shakir; he thought a man who had gone into the house to try to save the boy still was inside. … Gottsch later learned that heavy smoke had prevented the man he was worried about from going upstairs; he was safe. … Gottsch said he and his crew didn’t do anything “spectacular,” just worked as a team.

Nice work brother!

Carson: Making Sense of Suffering

Last month I told you about the D. A. Carson conference at Omaha Bible Church on the topic of suffering. The audio is now online:

  1. Making Sense of Suffering – Part 1
  2. Making Sense of Suffering – Part 2
  3. Making Sense of Suffering – Part 3
  4. Making Sense of Suffering – Part 4 (Gospel Reflections on Trials and Tribulations)

HT: E-Ray through JT

Don Whitney conference in Omaha

Attention friends and readers in the beautiful city of Omaha, NE. Coming up on Saturday, October 20th, Omaha Bible Church will be hosting author and professor Dr. Don Whitney. The one-day conference is titled Sharpening Your Spiritual Focus and the cost is $15 per individual and $25 per family. For more details click here.

Pastors are invited to Whitney’s evening session, Disaster Proofing Your Ministry. Click here for more.

I spent the first seven years of my Christian life at OBC and benefited greatly from the excellent speakers that were brought through. Past speakers include Don Carson, John MacArthur and Kris Lundgaard. If you’re in the area, be sure to check out the Whitney conference. It will be a good one. And bring your friends, too!

Sermon notes: God sings over the justified sinner!

I had the great opportunity to preach on grace tonight here in Omaha. The sermon notes can be downloaded here (The Grand Canyon of God’s Grace, Tony Reinke, 07/15/06 PM). One of the chief texts was Zephaniah 3:14-17:

“14 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! 15 The LORD has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. 16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. 17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing’” (ESV).

On this incredible text, C.H. Spurgeon said:

“I can understand a minister rejoicing over a soul that he has brought to Christ; I can also understand believers rejoicing to see others saved from sin and hell; but what shall I say of the infinitely happy and eternally-blessed God finding, as it were, a new joy in souls redeemed? This is another of those great wonders that cluster around the work of divine grace! … The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear him, imperfect though they be. He sees them as they are to be, and so he rejoices over them, even when they cannot rejoice in themselves. When your face is blurred with tears, your eyes red with weeping, and your heart heavy with sorrow for sin, the great Father is rejoicing over you. The prodigal son wept in his Father’s bosom, but the Father rejoiced over his son. We are questioning, doubting, sorrowing, trembling; and all the while he who sees the end from the beginning knows what will come out of the present disquietude, and therefore rejoices. Let us rise in faith to share the joy of God.” (sermons from 1837, #1990)

Amen, let us prepare to rise and share the joy of God in Sunday morning worship! – Tony

The best church in Omaha, Nebraska

Frequently I am asked to recommend churches in Omaha, NE. And for some reason these questions typically come from people who are simply not going to church at all. So first let me first exhort you on the importance of the local church.

The local church is God’s plan for the message of the Gospel to go forth into culture and its the place God has chosen for the growth of Christians. There is no way around the importance of the local church (read Ephesians 4:11-16). A faithful local church protects Christians, equips Christians and grows Christians together as the body of Christ. Any search for a local church must begin by understanding the importance of the local church. There are no substitutes.

On to the church I recommend in Omaha:

Omaha Bible Church, a place my wife and I served for over seven years. They are a church centered around the expositional preaching of the Bible with an emphasis on the New Testament and especially the Pauline texts. The preaching style is very similar to expositor John MacArthur. I doubt any preacher in Omaha more clearly defines the biblical gospel than Sr. pastor, Patrick Abendroth. They have a well developed children’s ministry and nursery. Services are held on Sunday morning and evening and there are a number of activities throughout the week. Authors are frequently invited to speak (D.A. Carson, James White, John MacArthur, etc). Affiliations: The Master’s Seminary and John MacArthur. If you like the style and content of MacArthur you will like Omaha Bible Church.

An open letter of our future and Sovereign Grace Ministries

June 30, 2006

Hello friends and family,

Having a calling into pastoral ministry is a great blessing. It means meeting people that are likeminded from all over the country, and having the great honor of opening the Bible to others. It also means prioritizing the ministry over personal ambitions, and pursuing a God who pulls people from their comforts. For the past several years, our family has lived under the tremendous blessing of being drawn towards pastoral ministry in the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

About two years ago, we began pursuing the training options that would fit us for the tasks ahead. We looked at many options in our home city of Omaha, considered four separate seminaries from the West coast to the East coast, and finally explored other church-based ministries. After several years of emails, travel, conversations and prayer we have concluded that the best training suitable for our family is with Sovereign Grace Ministries based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. We have begun building a relationship with them and have gained tremendous wisdom in meeting with many of their leaders at the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville this past April. After more emails, prayer, wisdom from national leaders and travel, we intend to begin our journey within Sovereign Grace Ministries at Sovereign Grace Fellowship, a wonderful church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We have spent time with the pastors there and our hearts have been knit together in the Gospel. We are excited about the direction of their church and its successful leadership training.

Today our home will officially be for sale in Omaha. Having been in this terrific city for most of our lives, we will be leaving family whom we love, a business we have developed, a church family that we love, the home we built ourselves and many friends we will miss dearly.

In amazing ways, the provisions of God have been especially tangible in the past 6 months. We fully trust that God will continue to provide. Our sovereign God is in control of all our situations and especially promises blessing when we are willing to hand over family, homes and lands for the Gospel (Luke 18:28-30). We have seen, as God works in our lives, that gain comes through loss. We would appreciate your prayers that our home would sell, that we would have joy in this process, and that God would provide a job in Minneapolis as a writer.

While we are seeking pastoral training, the light burdens we are called to bear and the faith in God’s provisions are no different than the burdens and faith expected in the lives of each Christian.

We are grateful for the investments so many of you have made in our lives in Omaha. We are thankful also for your patience as we have come to these conclusions. We look forward to the coming weeks and months as we step out in faith to a future we cannot yet see.

The following quote from A.W. Tozer has been especially powerful in this time of our lives:

Pseudo faith always arranges a way out to serve in case God fails. Real faith knows only one way and gladly allows itself to be stripped of any second way or makeshift substitutes. For true faith, it is either God or total collapse. And not since Adam first stood up on earth has God failed a single man or woman who trusted Him.

The man of pseudo faith will fight for his verbal creed but refuse flatly to allow himself to get into a predicament where his future must depend upon that creed being true. He always provides himself with secondary ways of escape so he will have a way out if the roof caves in.

The faith of Paul or Luther was a revolutionizing thing. It upset the whole life of the individual and made him into another person altogether. It laid hold on the life and brought it under obedience to Christ. It took up its cross and followed along after Jesus with no intention of going back. It said goodbye to its old friends as certainly as Elijah when he stepped into the fiery chariot and went away in the whirlwind. It had a finality about it … It realigned all life’s actions and brought them into accord with the will of God.

What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now, as they must do at the last day. For each of us the time is surely coming when we shall have nothing but God! Health and wealth and friends and hiding places will all be swept away and we shall have only God. To the man of pseudo faith that is a terrifying thought, but to real faith it is one of the most comforting thoughts the heart can entertain.

It would be a tragedy indeed to come to the place where we have no other but God and find that we had not really been trusting God during the days or our earthly sojourn. It would be better to invite God now to remove every false trust, to disengage our hearts from all secret hiding places and to bring us out into the open where we can discover for ourselves whether we actually trust Him. This is a harsh cure for our troubles, it is a sure one! Gentler cures may be too weak to do the work. And time is running out on us.

In the name of our loving, faithful and sovereign God who justifies His enemies and then takes pleasure in His children (Ps. 149:4),

Tony and K. Reinke
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P.S. We are aware that God’s sovereignty can override our own plans and wishes. Commenting on Proverbs 16:9, Charles Bridges writes, “As rational agents we think, consult, act freely. As dependent agents, the Lord exercises His own power in permitting, overruling, or furthering our acts. Thus man proposes; God disposes.” We are all too aware that God can sometimes dispose what we have proposed !