Wednesday afternoons will never be the same

On Monday, I lost one of the more encouraging people in my life. Jackie Tisdale was a godly woman who loved Jesus and was not shy in talking about him. Some time that day, she stepped out of this life and into the presence of her Savior. Her departure was sudden and unexpected. She was so very much alive when I chatted with her on Saturday at our Senior Saints luncheon and on Sunday when she was at her post at the Welcome Desk at church.

On February 3, I preached a sermon on “The Three Chairs” which looks at how faith is not always passed on from one generation to the next. Each one of us needs to be a “first chair” follower and to have a firsthand experience of God rather than second hand knowledge. At the conclusion, I challenged the congregation to recommit themselves to following Christ. Jackie told me she recommitted herself to staying in the first chair.

On Wednesday afternoons, Jackie attended our Seniors Alive program. She would always stop by my office to say “Hello” and to chat. On the first Wednesday of the month, she would come into my office, lay hands on me, and pray for me. (Some people say they pray for you, and some people PRAY for you.)

A few weeks ago, Jackie told me that she never had a relationship like this with a pastor. After a previous pastor fell morally, she realized she needed to pray for her pastor. So she decided to adopt my wife and me and to diligently pray for us.

Wednesday afternoons will never be the same. I will miss her presence, her laughter, her joy, her love for Jesus, and her prayer support.

Thank you, Jesus, for Jackie and her godly encouragement. I look forward to seeing her again in heaven.


Posted by on February 20, 2019 in Encouragement, First Central Bible Church, Prayer


Encourage One Another

Last week I received one of the most encouraging notes I have ever received. It came from someone whom I’ve never met, but who apparently has been aware of my ministry for some time. The writer mentioned an article I wrote and published in the late 90’s that they found helpful and were going to share with some folks in their network. The person talked about some work I had done twenty years that was still bearing fruit. The individual thanked me for my ministry and said my labor was not in vain. It was so encouraging.

It prompted me to think of the instruction in Hebrews to “encourage one another.”

Hebrews 3:13—But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

 Hebrews 10:24–25—And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Since I was invited to speak to our senior saints monthly luncheon, I decided to share my experience and encourage them to take on the role being encouragers. I gave them a copy of the chart below that is adapted from Walk Thru the Bible’s 7 Laws of the Learner: The Law of Expectation.

Consider—We need to be students of each other, intently analyzing and paying attention to each other’s needs. Since the goal or end result of encouragement is to either challenge the individual to greater service or to prevent them from being deceived and disillusioned, we need to know which direction they need to go in. This process of considering or examining another person takes place internally. It is private and the other person should not know that you are doing it. In addition, it should be done constantly.

Encourage/Exhort—After we consider the group or individual, we can then begin to encourage them. It is important that we form an accurate appraisal of their need so that we can tailor our encouragement/exhortation to best fit their circumstance. Perhaps they merely need comfort and consolation, or a listening ear, a hug, or perhaps a soft, gentle voice telling them we understand and hurt with them or encouraging them to go on. Maybe they need someone to exhort, challenge, and contend with them until they come to repentance. This needs to be done on a daily basis. It is to be the habitual practice of our lives. Rather than being private and internal like examination, encouragement is to be spoken publicly and done externally. It can take the form of a one-on-one conversation or meeting, or a card or letter sent in the mail.

Stir Up—Like a jockey going to the whip to encourage his mount on to victory in the Kentucky Derby, this part of the process takes place privately or internally in the other person as they become excited, stirred up, or spurred on. Rather than assume that “one size fits all,” I need to tailor my encouragement to the individual’s needs, personality, and circumstance. Once again, that entails doing an accurate job of considering the person, of being a student of them and their needs.

Goal—The positive goal suggested in Hebrews 10:24 is the growth of love and good deeds. The negative goal listed in Hebrews 3:13 is the prevention of a callused heart.

In a world of negative, cynical, complaining people, become an encourager. In light of the fact that Jesus Christ is coming back soon, encourage one another. Let it become your daily habit.


The Supremacy of Christ

If you were going to paint a portrait of Jesus Christ, what would you paint? Would you go for a traditional head and shoulders portrait? Would you paint an action scene and have him rescue Peter from the Sea of Galilee or perhaps have him feeding the 5,000? Would you have Jesus performing a miracle or teaching the multitudes?

I believe the writer of the book of Hebrews faced a similar question as he began his book. Rather than limit himself to one simple portrait, he uses seven phrases in 1:2-3 to describe who Jesus is. Some of them look to what Jesus did in the past, some point out what Jesus is doing in the present, and some look at what will take place in the future. The theme is the supremacy of Christ as God’s final word.

Hebrews 1:2–3 – but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Jesus is the Heir (2). This phrase probably alludes to Psalm 2:8 and explains that as the Son, Jesus will inherit all things. Nothing material or spiritual is excluded from the inheritance. This title anticipates his future reign. While the appointment has been made, it won’t be consummated until the end of the age.

Jesus is the Creator (2). The typical Greek word for world is “kosmos” from which we get our English word cosmos. However, the writer uses the word “aionas” which means “the ages.” Not only did Christ create the world, but he created time, space, energy, and matter. Christ created the whole universe and everything that makes it function.

The three titles in verse 2—Son, heir, and creator—point out that Jesus is co-equal and co-eternal with the Father. They speak to his relationship with the Father from eternity past to eternity future.

Jesus is the Radiator (3). The moon reflects light; the sun radiates light because it is the source of light. Jesus does not simply reflect the Father’s glory. He radiates glory because he is part of it! Christ reflects the Father’s glory because he shares the same divine nature as the Father, yet he is distinct from the Father in his person.

Jesus is the Representor (3). If you examine a coin, you see the image or likeness of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. When you examine Jesus, you don’t merely see a general likeness of God, you see an exact duplicate of the Father.  Jesus revealed the Father to the world because he was fully God in human form.

Jesus is the Sustainer (3). The phrase, “he upholds the universe,” makes us think of the Greek god Atlas holding up the world. Whereas Atlas held a dead weight, Jesus carries the universe forward to its designed goal. It demonstrates what Jesus is doing right now. It gives us great confidence to know that the world will not fall into utter chaos and that God’s plans will triumph.

Jesus is the Priest (3). Whereas the priest in the Old Testament offered a sacrifice to make atonement for the sins of the people, Jesus was the sacrifice and died in our place. Through his death on the cross, Jesus removed our sins, provided for our forgiveness, and cleansed us from the stain of sin.

Jesus is the Ruler (3). In the Old Testament, the priest never sat down because his work was never finished. There was always another sacrifice to offer. In contrast, Jesus completed his work as High Priest and sat down at God’s right hand. The is the position of honor, authority, and power. Sitting down connotes a position of dignity, settled continuance, and rest.

Jesus Christ is the heir, creator, radiator, representor, sustainer, priest, and ruler. Jesus reigns supreme as God’s full and final word. Today we proclaim him as Lord and bow before him.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on February 17, 2019. It is part of a series of sermons on the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


Restoring biblical values

Book Review: The Theft of America’s Soul: Blowing the Lid off the Lies that are Destroying our Country, by Phil Robertson with Seth Haines

Is it possible to turn back the tide in America from depravity to moral virtue? Is it possible to rebuild values into our culture? While the answer is “Yes,” it won’t come through government programs or education. It will only happen as Christians share the gospel and people are changed one heart at a time.

This is the theme of Phil Robertson’s latest book, The Theft of America’s Soul: Blowing the Lid off the Lies that are Destroying our Country. The book alternates between personal testimony and biblical preaching. Phil is a professional hunter and the founder and CEO of Duck Commander as well as the patriarch of the Duck Dynasty television show. In the book, he shares his stories, insights, and biblical truth in an entertaining, challenging, and convicting manner.

The book explains ten ideas or lies that have taken root in our culture.

(1) God is dead; (2) there is no Devil; (3) truth is relative; (4) God did not create life; (5) sex is for self-gratification; (6) virtue is outdated; (7) laws can be ignored or changed if they are inconvenient; (8) unity is not possible; (9) church participation and day-to-day life should be kept separate; and (10) Christians should shut their traps.

As Phil goes on to explain,

… we can return to God if we recognize those lies and live into these these truths of the Almighty: (1) the God of the Bible is not dead and he never will be; (2) the Devil of the bible is real and he is our enemy; (3) there is absolute truth and it comes from God; (4) God is the Author of life and he wants to fulfill it; (5) God created sexuality for his purposes and our good; (6) God’s standard for all time is the standard of virtue; (7) law and order come from the Word of God; (8) unity flows from a God-centered culture; (9) the church is God’s presence in the day-to-day world, keeping the world from becoming hell on earth; and (10) God’s people are his prophetic voice in the world.

Throughout the book, Phil’s love for Jesus and passion for evangelism bubble to the surface. I appreciate that he lives out his faith and uses his unique platform in business and entertainment for the gospel.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on February 16, 2019 in Books, Culture, Quotes


Preview of Sunday’s sermon on Hebrews 1:2-3 – The Supremacy of Christ

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Posted by on February 15, 2019 in First Central Bible Church, Hebrews, Videos


A place to leave your worries

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Posted by on February 14, 2019 in Quotes, Tim Challies


Compliments for preaching

After preaching on Sunday, one person commented, “You take deep things and make them understandable.” I take that as a high compliment and a fulfillment of what my mentors used to tell me about preaching–“Keep the cookies on the lowest shelf.”

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Posted by on February 13, 2019 in Preaching, Quotes