Monthly Archives: April 2015


Great Faith

PowerPoint Presentation

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Posted by on April 29, 2015 in Faith, Quotes


Signs of Spring

It seems like winter has finally released its hold and spring has arrived.

God’s creative paint palette and my wife’s green thumb is on display.

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Posted by on April 27, 2015 in Chicopee, Photos, Spring


Holiness is an Inside Job

Now that spring has finally arrived, one of the more pressing questions to deal with is, “How green do you want your lawn to be?” Will you rely on the rain to water your lawn, or will you use a hose, or perhaps install a sprinkler system? Will you feed your lawn to insure a full carpet? Will you spread pesticides to get rid of weeds?

While a healthy lawn adds beauty to the neighborhood, having a healthy soul brings satisfaction to our heart. Which begs the question, “How holy do you want your life to be?” Will you invest time in Bible study and prayer? Will you memorize Scripture? Will you fill your mind with wholesome music, books, and thoughts? Will you examine your motives on a regular basis? Will you make yourself accountable to a close friend?

Mark 7:1-23 Inside Outpaints a contrast between the traditional approach to holiness and a radical approach to holiness. The one looks at the outside and centers on behavior. The other examines the inside and is concerned with motives. The one is satisfied with following manmade traditions while the other wants to know what God revealed in the Scriptures. The one wants new and improved while the other settles for nothing less than transformation. The traditional approach leads to religion while the radical approach results in true holiness.

WhenInside Out it comes to holiness, the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. True holiness comes from the inside out.

Religion tends to focus on surface issues (1-5). The religious leaders of the day were bothered that Jesus’ disciples did not follow the practice of ceremonial washing before eating. To be proper and holy, you had to wash your hands in a prescribed manner. While the washing of hands may not be our issue, we can get hung up on surface issues like style of music, Bible translation, and where we educate our children.

Calvin & Hobbes - loopholes

Religion tends to look for loopholes (6-13). Jesus quotes Isaiah 29:13 to point out the danger of hypocrisy. We may have worship on our lips without it ever penetrating our heart. The religious leaders tried to look religious, but they allowed a custom of the day to negate the Scriptures. Instead of practicing the command to honor parents, they withheld support by piously declaring their money was dedicated to God.

Lest we be too hard on the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, we have our own share of loopholes we employ. We’ll avoid serving or giving by saying, “I’ve done my share. Let someone else take their turn.” We’ll skip church because camping on the weekends or having the kids in soccer is “best for my family.” We will justify an affair by saying that “God wants me to be happy.”

Inside OutIn contrast to outward appearances, holiness is a matter of the heart (14-23). Jesus challenges the thinking of the day by pointing out that one’s diet doesn’t determine God’s approval. Eating a bacon cheeseburger might make you less healthy, but it won’t make you less holy. It’s not the food that goes into the body that determines holiness, but rather what comes out of the heart. Jesus listed six evil actions—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, and wickedness—and six evil attitudes—deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness—that all come out of our hearts.

If we want to be holy, we need a heart transplant. We need God to forgive our sins and change our motives. Rather than settle for outward appearances that produce hypocrisy, we need to develop habits that lead to holiness.

Inside OutHow holy do you want to be?

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on April 26, 2015. It is part of a series in the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


Words have power

CSI: Cyber tackled the subject of cyber bullying last week in “URL, Interrupted” (S1, E7). The tag at the end was one of the characters leaving a video explaining that words have power. It reminded me of Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

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Posted by on April 25, 2015 in Culture, Scripture, TV


I don’t get it

I must admit I am puzzled by current events. With 1,100+ people killed in an earthquake in Nepal, with California suffering a horrific drought, with rising concerns about the violence of ISIS, I don’t understand all the attention being given to Bruce Jenner. I just don’t get it. It hardly seems newsworthy.


Posted by on April 25, 2015 in Culture, News stories


How holy do you want to be?

Inside Out

If you examine your calendar, checkbook, priorities, habits, etc., what does it reveal about your desire for holiness? How holy do you want to be?

Perhaps it is time to make some changes.

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Posted by on April 24, 2015 in Character, Passion, Personal growth


A prayer for compassion

Let my heart be broken

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Posted by on April 23, 2015 in Prayer, Quotes


Interceding for others

For quite some time, I have used the apostle Paul’s prayers in Ephesians and Colossians as a way of praying specifically for my children. They helped shape my prayers for them.

I came across a much fuller list of 26 prayer requests in Paul’s epistles that he made on behalf of other people and/or churches. We can pray these requests for our spouses, children, other people, and churches.

Paul prayed that his spiritual children would …

Romans 15:5-6 Learn to live in unity and harmony with others
Romans 15:13 Be filled with joy, peace, and spiritual energy
Ephesians 1:17 Know God personally
Ephesians 1:18 Know what God is calling them to do and be, all that is available to them in God, and how great God’s power can be in them as they believe in him
Ephesians 3:16 Be inwardly strengthened with Spirit-imparted power
Ephesians 3:17 Have faith to be fully open to Christ and make him welcome in their hearts
Ephesians 3:18 Experience an ever-growing realization of every possible dimension of Christ’s extravagant love
Ephesians 3:19 Live full of God
Philippians 1:9 Possess abounding, insightful, discerning, appropriate love
Philippians 1:10 Wisely prioritize the best things
Philippians 1:11 Be filled with righteous fruits
Colossians 1:9 Be filled with a clear knowledge of God’s will
Colossians 1:10 Live worthy of the Lord consciously
Colossians 1:10 Fully please him in everything
Colossians 1:10 Bear fruit in good works
Colossians 1:10 Be filled with a clear knowledge of God
Colossians 1:11 Be invigorated with glorious strength and endurance
Colossians 1:12 Joyfully thank God for all he has made available to them
1 Thessalonians 3:12 Abound in and overflow with love
1 Thessalonians 3:13 Be infused with strength and blameless holiness
1 Thessalonians 5:23 Be made holy and whole inside and out
2 Thessalonians 1:11 Be made fit for what God has called them to be
2 Thessalonians 1:11 Be energized by God to and fulfill their spiritual ideas and efforts
2 Thessalonians 2:17 Experience spiritual encouragement and empowerment in their words and works
Philemon 6 Share their faith and understand just how amazing it is

Adapted from “Following Paul’s example in praying for your flock,” in Pastoral Leadership Is…: How to Shepherd God’s People with Passion and Confidence, by Dave Earley

Please click on the link to download a pdf copy of the list.

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Posted by on April 22, 2015 in Books, Prayer, Quotes, Scripture


Why we complain

Calvin & Hobbes - why we complain

Leave it to a six-year-old to reveal what is in our heart. It’s all about ME!

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Posted by on April 21, 2015 in Calvin and Hobbes


Of Epitaphs & Eulogies

I have attended three funerals and one wake over the past 12 days. Having led three of the four events, I’ve had a unique vantage point to observe what took place. I’ve heard numerous stories in the key of F—family, fishing, friendship, football (Dallas Cowboys variety—How ‘bout those Cowboys!), food, fun, and frivolity. One funeral even included the wave.

By the end of the fourth one, I started wondering what people would say at my funeral. All of my ponderings and musings revolved around two questions, “Did people know that I love Jesus?” and “Did I make a difference?”

  • Did people know that I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength?
  • Did I love other people?
  • Did I point people to Jesus?
  • Did I encourage people to trust God more?
  • Did I strengthen marriages and families?
  • Did I help people to stand for what they believed?
  • Did I equip people to walk with God?
  • Did I infect people with a passion for missions?
  • Did I help people know how to study the Scriptures on their own?
  • Did I challenge people to serve and share their faith?
  • Did I encourage folks to live with a sense of intentionality?
  • Did I nudge people out of their comfort zones in order to trust God more?
  • Did I equip people to serve?
  • Did I leave people with a greater passion for Jesus?
  • Did I encourage people to find their strength in God?
  • Did I push people to take greater risks in serving God?
  • Did I comfort those who were hurting?
  • Did I leave behind more leaders than I inherited?
  • Did I mentor and train young leaders?
  • Did I irritate, in a good way, those who were too comfortable?
  • Did I encourage people to be more generous and giving?
  • Did I leave people with a greater love for the church?
  • Did I whet people’s appetite and make them thirstier for God?
  • Did folks have a greater hunger and thirst for righteousness?
  • Did I cause people to love God more?
  • Did I leave a legacy greater than the heritage I received?

Whatever I want said at my funeral, whatever legacy I want to leave behind, I need to get busy and make sure I am living that way right now.

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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Funerals, Passion, Personal growth