Monthly Archives: November 2013

Family traditions – Christmas trees

One of our family traditions is cutting our own Christmas tree. For many years, we frequented the Carnation Tree Farm for our tree. Since moving to MA, we needed a new farm. We think we have found one in the Justamere Tree Farm in Worthington, MA.

This afternoon, Carol and I went over the river (frozen)








and through the woods in search of just the right tree.


We think we bagged a good one. The price was reasonable and the delivery service to the car can’t be beaten.








Time to break out the decorations.



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Posted by on November 30, 2013 in Christmas, Family & Friends, Photos


A Providential weekend

Carol and I spent the weekend in Providence, RI. We enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner at the Hotel Providence, toured the mansions of Newport (the Breakers, Marble House, and the Elms), visited the Beavertail Lighthouse in Jamestown, RI, and enjoyed a presentation of The Phantom of the Opera by the National Touring Company at the Providence Performing Arts Center. It was a good weekend away.

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Posted by on November 30, 2013 in Fun, Photos, Rhode Island, Thanksgiving Day


Tradition of giving thanks

First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, has a tradition of gathering at Szot Park at 7AM on Thanksgiving Day for a Bonfire and Praise service. While the wind was whipping and temps were cold, it was a good time of praising our savior and giving thanks.


Give Thanks!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;

Psalm 136:1–3

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Posted by on November 28, 2013 in Scripture, Thanksgiving Day


Stay off the Rocks

On September 17, 2013, the MS Costa Concordia was winched upright. It was a marvel of engineering to refloat the sunken ocean liner. The ship will be floated away in spring 2014 to an Italian dock to be scrapped.

On January 13, 2012, at about 9:45pm, Captain Francesco Schettino commanded the vessel in the Tyrrhenian Sea just off the island of Giglio, on the western coast of Italy. The captain deviated from the ship’s computer-programmed course, claiming he was familiar with the local seabed. He turned off the alarm system for the ship’s computer navigation system and was navigating by sight.

The vessel struck a rock which tore a 160 foot gash on the port side of her hull. The engine room was immediately flooded, causing the ship to lose power to her propulsion and electrical systems. With water flooding in and the ship listing, the ship drifted back to Giglio Island, where she grounded just 550 yards north of the village of Giglio Porto, resting on her starboard side in shallow waters.

Despite the gradual sinking of the ship, its complete loss of power, and its proximity to shore in calm seas, the captain waited over an hour before issuing the command to abandon ship. Although international maritime law requires all passengers to be evacuated within 30 minutes of an order to abandon ship, the evacuation of Costa Concordia took over six hours and not all passengers were evacuated. 32 passengers died in the disaster.

Captain Schettino is currently on trial for manslaughter and causing the loss of the ship. He was dubbed “Captain Coward” when he abandoned the ship, jumped into a lifeboat, and refused commands from the coastguard to return to the ship to coordinate rescue efforts.

Perhaps you don’t wrestle with bringing a cruise ship safely into harbor. Maybe rising debt has caused your financial ship to run aground. Perhaps you and your spouse have drifted apart and you are more roommates than happily married. Maybe stress has prompted you to seek refuge in alcohol or drugs and as a result, you have a hole in your life. Have any or all of these scenarios caused you to neglect or doubt your relationship with God?

In 1 Timothy 1:18-20, the apostle Paul tells his protégé Timothy to anchor his life with sound doctrine if he wants to avoid crashing on the rocky shore. We need to take these lessons to heart if we want to avoid a reef tearing a hole in our lives as well.

Paul resumes the introduction he began in verses 3-7. Timothy was to stop false teachers from leading people astray. They misunderstood the purpose of the law (8-11) and the nature of the gospel (12-17). Rather than run aground of myths, Timothy was to anchor his life in sound doctrine.

In order to fight the good fight, we need to anchor our lives in truth and obedience. We need faith and a good conscience. Knowing the truth is not enough. We need to put it into practice. A good conscience is the rudder that keeps us on the path of truth and off the rocky shores.

As Paul explains, not everyone follows this advice. Some reject this truth and suffer shipwreck. Paul lists two primary examples, Hymenaeus, who taught the resurrection had already happened (2 Timothy 2:17), and Alexander, who caused Paul a great deal of headache (2 Timothy 4:14). Their opposition to Paul and the truth demonstrate that ministry involves combat. We are in a spiritual battle.

In 1995, the Chief of Naval Operations told the following story about a radio conversation between a US naval ship and the Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland.

Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a Collision.

Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid a collision.

Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course.

Canadians: No. I say again, you divert YOUR course.

Americans: This is the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States’ Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers and numerous support vessels. I demand that YOU change your course 15 degrees north, that’s one five degrees north, or countermeasures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.

Canadians: This is a lighthouse. Your call.

Perhaps the lighthouse of God’s Word is signaling you to make a midcourse correction in your life. To avoid shipwreck on a rocky shore, we need to anchor our lives in sound doctrine. We need to make a commitment to study the Scriptures in order to grow in our understanding of God and his word. In addition, we need to follow our conscience and obey what we learn. We need to make a commitment to believe God’s promises and obey his commands.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on November 24, 2013. It is part of a series on 1 Timothy. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


More fearful than wonderful

This week I heard news about a friend who attempted suicide. As I grieved for the individual and the family members, I was reminded of a conversation I had some time ago at a pastor’s conference. One of the pastors was sharing about an individual in his church who suffered from deep depression. After several years of struggle, the man took his own life. Afterwards, his wife commented to the pastor. “I know that Psalm 139:14 says we are fearfully and wonderfully made, but when the mind breaks, it is sometimes more fearful than wonderful.” A sobering truth indeed, and one more reason to pray for others.

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Posted by on November 23, 2013 in Personal growth, Prayer, Quotes, Scripture


The selfie generation

Blogger Tim Challies has an insightful post on the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year–Selfie. For those not familiar with the term, “A selfie is a photograph of yourself taken with a mobile phone or other handheld device, and uploaded to social media—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any of the others.” Adweek recently did a rather creative article where they reimagined famous newspaper photos as selfies.

As Challies explains,

When we combine mobility with cameras and social media, we have not only the ability, but also the desire, to be constantly in one another’s view. We carry our phones and use social media and snap selfies not for others, but for ourselves. No one really wants to see your face superimposed in front of the Statue of Liberty; you want people to see you there! We feel this great desire to keep ourselves in other people’s consciousness. But even as we constantly elevate ourselves into one another’s gaze, we want to make sure we control what they see of us. The selfie is the inevitable result of a world of customization, a world of self, a world of carefully crafting an online identity in which we are sovereign, in which we are our own gatekeepers.

The selfie isn’t bad. It just is. It’s a fact of life in this digital world. But amidst the selfie’s ubiquity, don’t miss what it tells us about ourselves and about the way we present ourselves to the world. The selfie is not a photo of your face as much as it is a snapshot of your heart.

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Posted by on November 20, 2013 in Culture, News stories


Young adult thriller with thought provoking lessons

Nightmare CityBook Review: Nightmare City, by Andrew Klavan

Nightmare City is a well written, intriguing novel aimed at young adults. It starts out with the feel of a horror story. Tom Harding is a reporter for his high school newspaper. When he wakes up one morning and discovers the entire city is encased in fog, he doesn’t know what is going on. Soon, he is pursued by faceless, malevolent creatures trying to kill him. The voice of his brother who was killed six months before starts warning him of danger. His terrified girlfriend tells him to seek the answers at a burned out monastery. Needless to say, life cannot get any more bizarre.

Without giving away any of the plot details, Tom sets out to uncover the truth of the fog and the malevolent creatures.

Klavan has crafted an enjoyable tale, one that pulls you in and does not let go until you have read the last page. Along the way, he weaves biblical principles into the story without coming across as preachy or heavy handed. One of the key lessons is that God desires for each of us to “play the bigger game,” that is to be the person he created us to be. God wants us to truly live. Live in joy. Even live in sorrow. But truly live. That is the mission he has given each of us.

The author includes a reading group guide with nine thought provoking questions at the end of the book. It would help a teacher, parent, or youth leader help student discuss and understand the key lessons in the story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com http://BookSneeze®.com 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 November 18, 2013 in Books


Resource for men’s ministry

How God Makes MenBook Review: How God Makes Men: Ten epic stories; Ten proven principles; One huge promise for your life, by Patrick Morley

If you are looking for a resource to use in a men’s Bible study, this is one to consider.

In his latest book, How God Makes Men, author Patrick Morley examines ten of the most well known men in the Bible. He attempts to show how God shaped each one into the man God wants them to become. By focusing on the timeless principles of Scripture illustrated in the lives of these men, Morley’s goal is to help men reach past the shallow cultural Christianity so prevalent today and get their manhood back to a more biblical Christianity.

The author demonstrates how God makes men by:

  • Showing us how we can believe him anyway in the face of what seem like impossible circumstances (Abraham).
  • Orchestrating even the toughest circumstances of our lives for a greater good (Joseph).
  • Taking us through a humbling process that fundamentally changes the way we think (Moses).
  • Turning our weakness into strength in such a striking way that only he can get the glory (Gideon).
  • Doing whatever it takes to correct and restore us when we go astray (David).
  • Making it impossible for us to find lasting happiness in any pursuit apart from him (Solomon).
  • Turning what breaks our hearts into a passionate calling to help redeem some broken part of his world (Nehemiah).
  • Allowing us to gain through suffering what can be gained no other way (Job).
  • A process of calling, equipping, and sending us so we can call, equip, and send others (Peter).
  • Forging us into humble servants who are increasingly surrendered to the lordship of Jesus (Paul).

Rather than a Bible study, each chapter tells the story of the biblical character. The book is filled with numerous examples from Scripture and the author’s life and ministry. They include personal successes and failures which demonstrate the real nature of the principle as well as practical ideas how it can be implemented in daily life. Each chapter has three questions for discussion at the end.

Since the book is designed for use in small groups, it would have been more helpful if there were more questions for discussion. There are only three pages at the end of the book giving ideas on how to implement the book in small groups. A small group leader will have to work hard to figure out how to engage his group members.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on November 18, 2013 in Books, Men, Ministry


Dealing with temptation

“Everything” is a powerful sketch by Lifehouse that portrays the challenges of living the Christian life in the midst of temptations.


Posted by on November 16, 2013 in Videos