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The Best Fellowship

The best fellowship does not come during a church greeting time, potluck dinner, coffee & donuts in the fellowship hall session, dinners for six, or any other social gathering. The best fellowship comes as you serve alongside someone. The richest fellowship comes as you serve together and say, “Look what God did!” The best fellowship comes as you work side by side during a mission trip. Rather than being an end goal, the best fellowship is a byproduct that you experience as you labor together in the cause of Christ.

Over the past month, we’ve experienced intergenerational fellowship within our children’s ministry. Last month during our Awana Camp, we had a college student nurse working alongside two experienced RNs. We had a mom and a dad leading cabins alongside teenagers. Our worship team was composed of young parents, high school, and college students. During Camp KidConnect last week, we had teenagers and college students serving alongside retirees. At the end of the week, a businessman who took the week off work to serve giving a hug to his middle school co-crew leader. Our “pie fellowship” (whipped cream pie in the face) lineup included teens, college students, moms, dad, grandfathers, and a 62-year-old pastor.

The best fellowship comes as you pray together, serve together, worship together, and proclaim together, “Look what God did through us!” As church leaders, we need to get people out of the pew, out of the potluck line, out of the classroom, out of the coffee klatch, and onto a ministry team. It is there they will discover what true fellowship looks and feels like.

And with that, I will step off my soapbox. 😉

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

The Plague of a Hard Heart

The comic strip Prickly City poses some questions many of us struggle with.

These questions most definitely lie behind the events described in Exodus 7-10, the first nine of the 10 Plagues.

As you read through the Bible, you discover four eras of great miracles—Moses & Joshua, Elijah & Elisha, Jesus & the Apostles, and the two witnesses in Revelation 11. The first and the fourth eras were heavy in judgments on the earth. Following each of these wrath-storms, God ushered in a new era of peace and a deeper relationship with himself.

The most pressing “Why?” question surrounding the plagues is, “Why were the plagues necessary?”

God predicted the plagues (Exodus 3:19-20). Rather than being an afterthought or reactionary move, the plagues were part of God’s plan and strategy explained to Moses at the burning bush.

Pharaoh’s nature required the plagues (Exodus 5:2). Pharaoh was stubborn and hard hearted. He had to be convinced and learn the hard way to submit to God’s plan.

The plagues were judgments on the gods of the Egyptians (Exodus 12:12). Each one of the plagues was aimed at a god or goddess worshipped by the Egyptians. Together, the plagues demonstrated that Yahweh was the only God worthy to be worshipped.

The plagues affected all the Egyptians. The whole nation suffered as a result of Pharaoh’s callus, obstinate response to the Lord.

The plagues were designed to redeem Israel from slavery so that they could serve and worship God (Exodus 7:16; 8:1, 20; 9:1, 13; 10:3, 7-8, 11, 24, 26).

The plagues were designed to convince both Israel and the Egyptians of God’s presence (Exodus 6:10-12; 7:4-5; 10:2).

God’s grace is evident in the plagues. The plagues occurred over a period of 9-10 months. The first one occurred in July/August when the Nile rises. The seventh plague occurred in January when barley ripens and flax blossoms. The prevailing east winds in March or April brought the eighth plagues. The tenth plague occurred in April. The long period of time, with intervals in between gave the Egyptians more than enough time to repent.

Here are several principles to keep in mind as you consider the 10 plagues: (1) When God judges, he is thorough. (2) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (3) Don’t reject God’s warnings. (4) When God blesses, he holds nothing back. (5) God protects his people, even in difficult times.

God demonstrates his power so that people might know him and worship him.

This is the synopsis of a message delivered at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on July 23, 2017. It is part of a series on the life of Moses. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Camp KidConnect 2017 – Wrapup slideshow

Here’s a brief snapshot of what took place this week at Camp KidConnect 2017, the summer children’s ministry of First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA. It was a wonderful time where God was at work through the games, songs, Bible lessons, crafts, missionary stories, and making friends.

 
 

Camp KidConnect 2017 – Day 5 – Whipped Cream Edition

Camp KidConnect 2017 is the summer children’s ministry of First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA. Each day during the week, the kids gave an offering which was placed in “Johnny-Tithe”, our offering bot. This years’ offering is going to the Springfield Pregnancy Care Center. (Since the first days Bible lesson was “God made you” and the emphasis during the week was that God made us for a purpose, it was a natural tie-in.) The kids (and their families) were extremely generous–$540 was raised for the ministry. (The reveal says $535, but someone gave another $5 afterwards to up the total to $540.)

At the beginning of the week, the kids were told that for every $20 raised, one leader would get a pie in the face. As you can see, we had no shortage of leaders who were good sports and willing to take one for the kids.

 
 

Camp KidConnect 2017 – Day 5 Spotlight Slideshow

Today’s Spotlight Slideshow from Camp KidConnect 2017 featured our preschoolers. Needless to say, the cuteness factor was off the charts.

 
 

Camp KidConnect 2017 – Day 5

Today was the closing day for Camp KidConnect 2017, the summer children’s ministry of First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA. It was another wonderful day of fun, games, songs, Bible lessons, crafts, and missionary stories. Several parents said their kids wished it would continue. One mom said her kids wished it was every day all year round. I’m not sure our leaders would be up for that, but it was an encouraging affirmation to hear. Here are the highlights from the days activities.

 
 

Camp KidConnect 2017 – Day 4 Spotlight Slideshow

The Spotlight Slideshow retells the days Bible story with the kids as the star of the show. Today’s lesson was the most important one of all–how Jesus died on the cross for our sins and came back to life on the third day.