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When did the world change?

“Little changes, like small steps all along the way, bring you to a different place. One day you wake up and things are not the same anymore.”

Stephen R. Lawhead, in Taliesin (The Pendragon Cycle, Book 1)

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2019 in Quotes

 
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How a day off should be spent

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2019 in Calvin and Hobbes

 

An Anchor for the Soul

How many different tools do we use to guarantee our promises? We take oaths, swear on the Bible, and employ the services of a notary public. If we are really serious, we will use a pinky promise or say, “Cross my heart and hope to die.”

When it comes to our salvation, we need to grasp the truth that our salvation is secure because it rests on God’s promises rather than our ability to be faithful.

The previous warning section (5:11-6:12) contains four key instructions. Don’t be immature (5:11-14). Pursue spiritual growth (6:1-3). Don’t fall away (6:4-8). Live out your faith (6:9-12). After reading those instructions, you may be ready to give up and fly the white flag. You may feel like you can never measure up. “My salvation is in trouble,” may be your conclusion. The author of Hebrews counters that viewpoint by explaining that our salvation is secure because of three things: the promise of God, the oath of God, and the hope of God.

The Promise of God (6:13-15). In talking about the things that accompany salvation (6:9), the author encouraged his readers to follow the example of godly people (6:12). He now introduces Abraham as the primary example of a godly man who believed God’s promises.

Rather than appeal to a higher authority, God guaranteed his promise with the statement, “I will …” In Genesis 12-15, God promised Abraham land, blessing, greatness, and countless descendants. In Genesis 22, God asked Abraham to take the son, Isaac, that he waited 25 years for, and to offer him as a sacrifice. Because Abraham obeyed, God promised to bless him greatly and give him more descendants than he could count.

The example of Abraham demonstrates that God’s promises do not depend on our character. They rest on God’s faithfulness.

The Oath of God (6:16-18). When we make a promise, we appeal to a higher authority. We place our hand on the Bible and say, “…so help me God.” While God’s promises do not require an oath, they become even stronger with an oath.

God used two unchangeable elements to demonstrate the trustworthiness of his promise. One is his purpose. God wants to bless us and save us from our sins. The second is his character. God cannot lie. Because of that, we have a safe harbor, a refuge, that we can run to. Our responsibility is to cling tightly to God’s promises.

The Hope of God (6:19-20). This promise, this hope, is a sure and steadfast anchor. It is sure because it won’t bend, twist, or break when it is under strain. It is steadfast because it won’t slip in the storm. Our anchor rests firmly with Jesus in the Holy of Holies in God’s presence in heaven. He is our faithful and eternal high priest.

Hebrews 6:13-20 demonstrates that our salvation is secure. God kept his promise to Abraham. God’s promise rests on his character. God guaranteed our salvation through the ongoing ministry of Jesus. Hold fast to the promises of God.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on June 16, 2019. It is part of an ongoing series in the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Don’t take the summer off from God

Don’t take the summer off from God is the theme of a letter I recently sent to the congregation of First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA. I encourage you to take it to heart and apply it to the congregation where you worship.

 

Our salvation rests on God’s promises – A preview of Hebrews 6:13-20

 

Money, Money, Money

In an essay entitled, “How Am I Going to Make it Financially?” in the book, Faithful Endurance: The Joy of Shepherding People for a Lifetime, edited by Collin Hansen & Jeff Robinson Sr, pastor Brandon Shields makes some insightful comments about money.

Financial anxiety is an ancient problem. In Matthew 6:19-34, Jesus identifies our compulsively anxious relationship to money as one of the barriers that hinders our ability to experience the good life of the kingdom: “You cannot serve God and money. Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life” (Matt. 6:24-25). Jesus invites us to see that money is not some commodity we make to secure goods and services—it’s a primal power that can also make us insecure.

Money functions like a narrator or storyteller—it excavates the hidden motivations, values, myths, and longings that unconsciously drive our patterns of feeling, thinking, and behaving. In other words, how we relate to money reveals more that our financial principles; it uncovers our true ambitions. Money shines a bright light into our inner world, illuminating a complex ecosystem of spiritual and emotional narratives: fear, guilt, shame, joy, godly desire, selfish ambition, security, comfort, scarcity, abundance, and a legion of others.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2019 in Books, Finances, Quotes

 

Does a Pastor have to Fit a Certain Profile?

Some years ago, I came across a writer who insisted that all successful pastors matched a certain profile. Much of it related to personality and leadership style. It left me with the feeling that I didn’t measure up. I wondered why God called me to a task but did not equip me with the gifts, personality, and leadership style needed to be successful.

I greatly appreciated the statement made by Pastor Scott Patty in his essay, “My Church Has Outgrown My Gifts” in the book, Faithful Endurance: The Joy of Shepherding People for a Lifetime, edited by Collin Hansen & Jeff Robinson Sr.

We often assume that to be effective in ministry, we must have a certain personality type or work with a specific leadership style. But is that really true? Does God make all pastors alike in personality and leadership style? Jesus didn’t choose apostles who were all alike. Church history doesn’t show one ideal pastoral type that was most effective. We need wisdom to see that God calls and equips different kinds of pastors with various leadership styles because there are many types of people in the world and in the church. People respond differently to different pastors. Particular situations call for unique pastors. Knowing this reality will help us get our expectations under control and may lead us to see that we really don’t have a problem after all. We can lead our congregation as we are because we may be exactly what our congregation needs.

I find great encouragement in his words.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2019 in Books, Ministry, Personal growth, Quotes