Monthly Archives: March 2014

Snow fooling?

last snow before spring

Considering we woke up to snow and slush this morning, today’s BC comic is spot on.

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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Fun, Spring, Winter


Family Matters

Slide 1The New Testament uses several metaphors to describe the church. The four most common are a fellowship, a flock, the body, and a family. As a fellowship, we focus on the things that promote unity rather than division. The flock is led by shepherd elders who feed, lead, guard, care, and model godliness for the flock. As the body of Christ, we focus on ministry, not maintenance. The family of God operates on the basis of relationships, not rules.

As Paul writes 1 Timothy 5:1-16, he digs deeper into the family concept. He emphasizes four key ideas in the passage—respect, compassion, responsibility, and credibility. When confronting people about sin, we are to demonstrate respect, and treat people like we would a member of our family (1-2). Godly widows are to be treated with compassion. They deserve financial help from their families and honor from the church (3-10, 16). Younger widows are to live in a responsible manner. They should seek to remarry and invest in their families (11-15). These practices demonstrate whether our Christianity is real and enhance the credibility of our faith (8, 14).

Slide 1To understand Paul’s instructions in verses 1-2, keep in mind the sinful society in which Timothy found himself. Some in Ephesus abandoned the truth (1:5-6; 2:8), even to the point of shipwrecking their faith (1:19). Some women abandoned their proper role and were trying to usurp authority (2:9-15). There were people in leadership positions who weren’t qualified to lead (3:1-13). False teachers were spreading demonic false doctrines (4:1-5; 6:3-5). Still others were living impure lives (5:6-7; 11-13).

If I were in Timothy’s position, I would want to lash out and verbally assault the congregation. I might be tempted to go Iron Man and blast the false teachers into the next county. Rather than rebuke in a harsh manner, Paul says we are to treat people just we would a family member. We should encourage those older than us, respect those younger than us, and maintain pure relationships.

To my chagrin, I have to admit I haven’t always done that. One year after my father died of cancer, I told my mom to stop moping around and move on because that’s what dad would have wanted her to do. My words may have been true, but they were as blunt as a club. Three years later, I had the privilege of performing the wedding ceremony for my mother and future stepfather. I gently encouraged both of them to stop relying on their children and start depending on each other. Again, my words were true, but this time they were more palatable because they were seasoned with grace.

In verses 3-16, Paul describes three types of widows—godly widows who should be supported by their families; godly widows who should be supported by the church; and young widows who should support themselves or remarry and be supported by their husbands.

Following the pattern of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 6:1-6), the church in Ephesus developed a widow’s list. The problem was that they apparently stocked the list with any and every widow possible.

Slide 1While Paul supports the concept of a widow’s list and that it might include financial support (3), he also indicates those on the list should be involved in a ministry of service and prayer (5). In addition, there are specific requirements the women had to meet before qualifying for the list. The widows had to be truly alone in the world (5). They were godly rather than self-indulgent (5-6). They were to be over 60 years old (9), faithful to their late husband (9), and have a reputation for good works and service (10).

Based on these qualifications, my late mother would not have qualified. While she was godly, devoted to prayer, over 60, and involved in serving the church, she wasn’t alone. She still had a son, me, and I was responsible to make sure she was cared for. Since I lived 1200 miles away, that meant phone calls to her, her pastor, her doctors, and her friends, as well as periodic visits. My wife and I talked to her about medical care, insurance, financial investments, and numerous other issues.

When a son or daughter chooses to act in a responsible manner and care for a widowed parent, we repay our parents for their investment in our lives (4b), we please God (4c), we demonstrate our faith is real (8), and we relieve the church of the burden (16) so they can focus on the godly widows who are truly alone in the world.

Slide 1Next, Paul turns his attention to younger widows (11-15). Paul gives two reasons why the church should not financially support a younger widow. The first is that it might lead to a broken promise (11-12). After the death of her husband, a grief-stricken widow might pledge herself to follow Christ alone and never remarry. A few years later an eligible man comes along and her heart is drawn towards him and remarriage. Or a desperate widow might be tempted to marry a non-Christian. In either case, she has broken her vow and abandoned her faith.

Financial support might also enable a younger widow to lead an unproductive and sinful lifestyle (13, 15). Rather than invest in her family or ministry, her free time might lead to hanging out with friends, sharing the latest gossip, or frittering away the hours on Facebook and Pinterest. To avoid that from happening, Paul counsels a younger widow to make her family a priority, either through remarriage or investing in her children (14).

If you want to minister to widows or widowers in a more practical way, you might consider these ideas:

  • Help widows and widowers work through the stages of grief.
  • Help them navigate the maze of government entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.
  • Help them learn how to manage their retirement plans.
  • Don’t forget their children or siblings. Pay attention to other family members as well.
  • Offer a listening ear.

Slide 1As Paul explains, family matters. Treat all with respect. Treat widows with compassion. Help them live responsibly. Recognize the world is watching which means our credibility is at stake.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on March 30, 2014. It is part of a series on 1 Timothy. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


Explore the Scriptures with creativity and fun

Today I had the privilege of teaching a Walk Thru the Bible Old Testament Live Event at the Bread of Life Assembly of God Church in Westminster, MA. The folks were enthusiastic about learning the Scriptures in a creative manner.



I Commit Myself to Being a Strategic Dad

Tonight was the Dad’s Commitment Ceremony of our Raising a Modern-Day Knight course at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA. We started out with a dinner of burgers and hot dogs. During our commitment ceremony, each dad committed himself to his son, his fellow dads, and to God to be a “Strategic Dad.” As each man grasped the sword, he pledged himself with these words,

“I, ____________, before God, commit myself to raise you _________, to be a modern-day knight. I promise to love you, impart God’s wisdom to you, spend time with you, have fun with you, and be the strategic dad you need me to be. I promise to lead you, into the masculinity of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. So help me, God. Amen.”

Afterwards, we celebrated with Robin Warner’s castle cake.

It was a very significant milestone in the life each family.

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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in First Central Bible Church, Men, Photos


The Cross

3-27 The cross - Lawson

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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Quotes, Tim Challies


Beneficial trials

“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.” C. S. Lewis

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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Quotes, Theology


Bibles & Cell phones

Bible-and-coffeeI wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phones?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we flipped through it several times a day?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

iphone 2What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?

What if we gave it to kids as gifts?

What if we used it as we traveled?

What if we used it in case of an emergency?

What if we upgraded it to get the latest version?

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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Bible Study, Culture


Reversing a decision; Restoring convictions

After facing heavy backlash for their original decision, “World Vision Reverses Decision To Hire Christians in Same-Sex Marriages.” Their letter of announcement opened with this paragraph.

Today, the World Vision U.S. board publicly reversed its recent decision to change our employment conduct policy. The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.

Good for them. Their letter shows humility and brokenness. But you have to wonder what they were thinking when they made the decision in the first place. Did they think the evangelical community would not object? Now the question is, will they hold to this conviction once the gay community starts pushing back for reversing the decision. I’m guessing the story isn’t over yet.



Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Culture, News stories


What to do with World Vision?

Now that World Vision has decided to allow employees to engage in same sex marriages, how should Christians respond? Should we continue to support the organization financially? Should we cancel our support and move it to Compassion International or Food for the Hungry? What is a thinking Christian to do? These are the questions addressed in Matthew Lee Anderson’s thoughtful post, “On whether Christians should keep supporting World Vision.” He examines the issues from several angles and proposes some solutions. Thanks go to Tim Challies for posting the links. Well worth reading and considering prayerfully.

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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Culture, News stories


When the pursuit of unity might lead to compromise

“World Vision: Why We’re Hiring Gay Christians in Same-Sex Marriages”

World Vision’s American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman.

Abstinence outside of marriage remains a rule. But a policy change announced Monday [March 24] will now permit gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be employed at one of America’s largest Christian Charities.

Click on the link above to read the five page article in Christianity Today.

“Franklin Graham Statement on World Vision”

“I was shocked today to hear of World Vision’s decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages. The Bible is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Click on the link above to read the full statement

“On World Vision and the Gospel”

World Vision, an evangelical relief organization, announced today that they would now hire persons who are in same-sex marriages. The organization said, further, that this was no capitulation, just a recognition that some groups supporting World Vision have differing views on sex and marriage.

This is no surprise, on one level. The constellation of parachurch evangelical ministries founded after World War II have been running headlong, with some notable exceptions, toward the very mainline liberalism to which they were founded as alternatives. Some think if we can just barter away Christian orthodoxy fast enough we can catch the wave of that Presbyterian Church (USA) church growth boom.

But here’s what’s at stake. This isn’t, as the World Vision statement (incredibly!) puts it, the equivalent of a big tent on baptism, church polity, and so forth.

Click on the link above to read the full explanation from Russell D. Moore

WOW! On a personal level, I find World Vision’s announcement surprising, shocking, and saddening. I wonder what my friends who work there think of the decision. Time will tell what impact this decision will have on their ministry and on the Christian community at large.

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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Culture, News stories