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Monthly Archives: February 2013

“Prof”

Howard Hendricks“Prof” Howard Hendricks went to be with his savior this morning. I was fortunate enough to sit under his teaching while a student at Dallas Theological Seminary, to be mentored by his books and videos, and to hear him speak to the faculty of Walk Thru the Bible. He impacted my life in many ways, but especially in teaching me how to study the Bible and how to teach.

During a WTB faculty conference in 1989, I shared with him how I had recently been fired from my first ministry. (I had not done anything wrong, but neither had I done enough right, and the church opted to make a change.) Following that conversation, “Prof” wrote me a note where he said, “Often the disappointments are part of the Lord’s curriculum to prepare you for an even more determinative ministry. Nothing is ever wasted in the will of God. . . . Your future is as bright as the promises of God.” His words of encouragement kept me going.

Thanks, Prof, for your impact on my life.

DTS has posted a tribute to Prof.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Family & Friends, Mentors

 

Pulling up elephant stakes

Elephant-tetheredHave you ever wondered why a 10-ton elephant is staked down with the same size stake used to anchor a 300 pound baby elephant? It seems strange until you discover two facts: Elephants really do have great memories, but they really aren’t very smart. When they’re babies, their trainers stake them down. They try to tug away from the stake maybe ten thousand times before they realize that they can’t possibly get away. At that point, their “elephant memory” takes over and they remember for the rest of their lives that they can’t get away from the stake.

What is sad for elephants becomes tragic for humans. How often are we anchored in place by misconceptions and false ideas? How often do we tell ourselves we cannot change and thus stop trying? How often do we not try to break a bad habit because we believe that once a (smoker, drug user, angry person, cheater, liar, quitter, etc., etc., etc.), always a . . . . When that happens, our enemy has us right where he wants us.

For those of us who are Christ followers, our savior set us free from the power of sin through his death on the cross. Because Jesus died for us, we have died to sin. Satan wants us to believe sin is still in control, that the chains are strong enough to hold us. But Christ has conquered the enemy and the Holy Spirit gives us the power to pull up our own elephant stakes.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Personal growth, Scripture

 

February Fun Day

This morning, First Central Baptist Church of Chicopee, MA, hosted a February Fun Day. It was a one-day VBS-type program led by Robin Dolbow. The kids enjoyed a Bible story about creation, a creation bingo game, singing, crafts, recreation, and a video. Several parents and youth of the church helped staff the event. As you can see from the pictures, we had a great time.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Chicopee, First Central Bible Church, Fun

 

Ten Reasons Why I Swear

Todj Ondrick of the Ted Ondrick Company LLC gave me a business card he keeps around his office that addresses the subject of profanity. On one side is a tongue-in-cheek look at “Ten reasons why I swear.” On the other side is the biblical opinion of swearing and how to stop. I share it here with his permission.

Ten Reasons Why I Swear

  1. It pleases mother so much.
  2. It is a fine mark of manliness.
  3. It proves I have self-control.
  4. It indicates how clearly my mind operates.
  5. It makes my conversation so pleasing to everybody.
  6. It leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind as to my good breeding.
  7. It impresses people that I have more than ordinary education.
  8. It is an unmistakable sign of culture and refinement.
  9. It makes me a very desirable personality among women and children in a respectable society.
  10. It is my way of honoring God who said, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”

“SWEARING IS JUST A HABIT WITH ME.” Sure, like beating your wife, robbing banks, or poisoning babies. Your favorite excuse is –

“I DON’T MEAN ANYTHING BY IT.” Tell that to the judge next time you’re arrested for speeding! Explain to him, “It’s just a habit with me.” Try coming into work drunk for a month. Remind your boss that “I don’t mean anything by it. It’s just a habit with me.”

YOU CAN’T FOOL GOD! If you can’t kid the judge, if you can’t fool your boss: how do you think you can fool God? – It is written, “Swear not at all” (Matt 5:34). God says, “Be not deceived. God is not mocked.” (Gal. 6:7). “The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (Ex 20:7).

HOW TO QUIT. Pray, right now. Ask God to forgive you for your wickednes. Open your heart to the Son of God. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Ask him to cleanse you, to save your soul, and make you a real Christian. Read your Bible daily and urge others to give their hearts to Christ.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Character, Personal growth, Scripture

 

Soul Surgery

medicine_surgical_theatre-PP-inkoutlineIf you are diagnosed with cancer, you don’t want a doctor who recommends you be tolerant of the disease. You don’t want a doctor who tells you the cancerous cells have a right to exist. No, you want a surgeon who will cut you without shedding a tear; one who will ruthlessly eradicate the cancer in your body; one who will use surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, any and every means possible to promote good health.

In the same way, the apostle Paul instructs us to perform surgery on our souls. We are to allow the scalpel of the Word of God to cut away and remove the sin in our lives. In Colossians 3:5-11, Paul tells us to exterminate all types of sexual sin (5) and to eliminate all types of social sins (8-9a).

Like a surgeon who removes cancerous cells from a body, like a gardener who pulls weeds from a garden, we are to remove sin from our lives. In verse five, Paul does not say we are to put sin in time out and give it a stern lecture. We are not to make it sit in a corner until it learns to play well with other. He instructs us to be downright intolerant and put sin to death.

Paul progresses backward from the evil act to the underlying motive. Immorality, the evil act, takes place because of impurity. Impurity comes from perverted passion and evil desire, which in turn come from the root sin of greed. Ultimately, they all represent idolatry—a worship of ME rather than God.

DSC_0151DSC_0153Two years ago, I discovered dry rot and insect damage in the deck on the front of my house. I could have filled all the holes with wood putty, slapped on a new coat of paint, and pronounced it good. However, that would have been foolish because the deck would eventually fall down. Instead, I tore down the old deck and rebuilt it from the ground up using new, pressure treated lumber.

To remove the sexual sins from our lives, we may need to unplug our TV. We may want to ask Sports Illustrated not to send us the annual swimsuit edition. Perhaps we need to install filters on our computers to keep us from straying to pornographic websites. Whatever it takes, we are to treat sin the same way we treat a field of dandelions. Dig out the roots and utterly destroy it.

In addition to exterminating sexual sins, we are to eliminate social sins (8-9a). Like taking off a dirty garment, we are to strip off hot tempers (anger, rage), sharp tongues (malice, slander, obscene speech), and deception (lying). This is a challenge in today’s world because we are so accustomed to anger, critical attitudes, lying, and coarse humor, even among Christians. We would be shocked and heartbroken to hear of a church leader who is addicted to pornography, but if they lose their temper in a church business meeting, we call it righteous indignation.

Rather than these social sins, our speech must be kind, pure, and true. Before speaking, we should ask ourselves, “Is it kind? Is it necessary? Is it true?”

Paul gives three reasons why we should perform soul surgery. The first is that there are severe consequences for those who continue to practice these sins (6). While people want to believe that God is only loving and kind, Scripture is clear that God also judges sin, even in Christ followers. In Romans 1:18-32, Paul portrays God’s wrath as his turning sinners over to themselves, allowing them to receive the just consequences of their actions. As C. S. Lewis said in The Great Divorce, “There are two kinds of people in the world—those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘Thy will be done.’”

A second reason for getting rid of sin is that we have a new identity (9b-10). Sin was a part of our old life. But now we have been renewed. We are to build a life that reflects God’s image.

The final reason for putting off the evils of the old way of living is that our renewal is so radical it transforms all human relationships (11). It breaks down racial barriers (Greek or Jew), religious barriers (circumcised or uncircumcised), cultural barriers (barbarian or Scythian), and social barriers (slave or free).

Slide 1Richard J. Ferris, former chairman of Allegis Corporation, said, “Undeniably, some people in this world walk around with chalk on their toes because they stand too close to lines in life that must not be crossed.”

As Christ followers, we are not to have chalk on our toes. Because Christ changed our life, we are to change our lifestyle. We are to ruthlessly eliminate anything that does not reflect the image of Jesus Christ.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on February 17, 2013. It is part of a series on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Winter’s coat

We received a brief dusting of snow overnight that left the branches of the trees with a fresh coat of snow.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2013 in Chicopee, Photos, Winter

 

Don’t squeak your way into trouble

The squeaky wheel gets the grease, or so the American idiom goes. Journalist Vic Gold added his own unique twist when he commented, “The squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the grease. Sometimes it gets replaced.”

The latter statement was certainly true when the brakes on my car started squeaking. No amount of grease would silence the noise. In fact, if I added a liberal amount of grease it would mean I couldn’t stop the car at all. My brake pads and rotors were worn out. They didn’t need grease, they needed to be replaced.

We are taught that if we have a problem, if we don’t like something, all we have to do is complain and do it loudly. By calling attention to the problem, it will be fixed to our satisfaction. After all, we are entitled to have our way.

However, if we keep on squeaking, we can also become known as a crank and a whiner. Rather than receiving attention, we may find ourselves replaced.

I must say I like the American idiom better than the Japanese version. It says, “The stake that sticks up gets hammered down”, or “The nail that stands out gets pounded down.” I would much rather be greased by hammered and pounded.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2013 in Culture, Quotes