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Monthly Archives: July 2015

2015 VBS – Day Three

Today marked the midpoint in First Central Baptist Church of Chicopee, MA, 2015 VBS. Of course, we had more games, singing, stories, crafts, and science experiments. Through the story of Naaman being healed of leprosy, we learned that God has the power to heal. It was another great day.

 
 

2015 VBS – Day Two

Day Two of First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, 2015 VBS program is in the books. 80+ children have joined us for the week. Today, we enjoyed songs, games, science experiments (we made bubble boosters), and Bible stories (from the story of Elijah and his confrontation with Queen Jezebel, we learned that God has the power to comfort). Robin Dolbow, our Children’s Director, did a fun experiment with dry ice to demonstrate how God comforts us in the midst of our trials. It was a great day.

P.S. Don’t tell the kids, but the adults played with the dry ice afterwards and found out you can shatter a clipboard after freezing it in the dry ice. 😉

 
 

Amanda & Phillip’s wedding video

On June 21, 2015, our daughter, Amanda, married Phillip Sturgeon. Just prior to the ceremony, they showed a 20-minute video where the members of the wedding party and family shared their earliest memories of Amanda & Phillip, funny stories, and words of advice. The video is now available on YouTube. Click on the picture or the link to watch the video.

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Posted by on July 21, 2015 in Family & Friends, Videos, Weddings

 

2015 VBS – Day One

Day one of 2015 VBS at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, is in the books. We had songs (“Our God is Powerful” is the theme song), games (mountain gear relay), Bible stories, science experiments (we learned how to make snow), snacks, and fun (our preschoolers got to play in the igloo). Our theme this year is Everest–Conquering Challenges Through God’s Power. Our Bible Buddy today was Klymer, the Snow Leopard. Today’s theme was “God has the power to provide.” We learned about the story of Elijah and how God provided for him during a drought in Israel. Sammy the Sloth returned from last year’s Weird Animals VBS, though we made sure he had a warm hat. 🙂 Tomorrow promises to be even more fun!

 
 

Build your life according to God’s blueprint

Your blueprint for lifeMichael Kendrick’s book, Your Blueprint for Life: How to Align Your Passion, Gifts, and Calling with Eternity in Mind was not what I was expecting. It was encouraging, but not in the way I thought it would be.

My assumption was that the book would be another volume on how to discover your spiritual gifts and where to invest those gifts in order to have a fruitful life. Instead, the book assumes you already know your gifts, passion, and calling, and offers suggestions on how to align the other aspects of your life so as to enjoy a meaningful life.

In the opening chapters, the author touches on the subjects of spiritual gifts, passion, and calling. He offers a few questions to ask to make sure you have a handle on what your gifts, passion, and calling might be. In the middle chapters, Kendrick emphasizes seeking to honor and glorify God in what we do.

The bulk of the book focuses on “The Big Five”—five aspects of life that will determine whether or not you achieve your calling. The Big Five are spiritual, relational, physical, financial, and career. The author’s point is that if these five areas are out of alignment, they will short-circuit our pursuit of God’s best for our lives.

By providing a strategy to develop and strengthen each of these areas, the author seeks to lay out a “blueprint” for how to build your life. He explains the purpose of the book when he says,

By developing your personal Blueprint for Life, you will also be able to:

  • Identify your gifts and passions to fulfill your calling
  • Develop a spiritual plan for maximum intimacy with Christ
  • Leverage and manage your finances and earthly assets to make a difference now and for eternity
  • Choose and develop a career path to support—rather than take away from—your calling
  • Develop an intentional plan to nurture and support your most important relationships
  • Maximum your physical health to give you the stamina you need to fulfill your calling.

Kendrick is convinced that there is a downside of not having a blueprint for life. If we fail to balance these areas of life, we will sacrifice joy for happiness, full relationship with God for doing things our own way, and trade eternal rewards for temporary amusement.

Putting these principles into action will help one live with a greater sense of intentionality.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.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 July 19, 2015 in Books, Quotes

 

Are you helping Christ or hindering him?

I grew up believing that only Baptists would be in heaven. But not just any Baptists, our kind of Baptists—those who did our do’s and didn’t do our don’ts.

When I went to seminary, my wife and I became members of Northwest Bible Church in Dallas, TX. My mother was concerned because it wasn’t a Baptist church. “What do they believe?” she asked. “Why don’t they have a baptistery?” She relaxed when we pointed out the baptistery was in the floor of the platform in the sanctuary.

In the early 90’s, I became involved in the CoMission, a joint venture of Walk Thru the Bible Ministries, the JESUS Film Project, and ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International), and 70 other churches and mission agencies, to reach the former Soviet Union with the gospel.

It took me a long time to discover that the body of Christ is much bigger than my narrow theological convictions and limited experience. Rather than envy or criticize those who weren’t in my camp, I needed to learn to celebrate what God was doing through other believers, churches, denominations, and organizations.

My struggle with exclusivism is not unique. Jesus’ own disciples wrestled with the same difficulty (Mark 9:38-41). On one occasion, the apostle John was bothered that someone outside the twelve disciples was having an effective ministry (38). Considering the disciples were previously unable to cast out a demon (9:14-18), it appears they were jealous of another minister’s success. They weren’t bothered he wasn’t following Jesus, they were upset “he was not following US.”

In the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown that plagued Japan in 2011, a coalition of evangelical churches and mission agencies banded together to bring relief to the stricken areas. One church planter was told not to participate in the relief efforts because the other people on his team were not part of his denomination. When I served in Seattle, our church routinely received calls wanting us to condemn Billy Graham and later Rick Warren for partnering with other churches and denominations in evangelistic crusades.

Rather than commend John for his protective attitude, Jesus rebukes him for his sectarian, cliquish approach (39). He tells him not to set up a road block in the way of those doing ministry. Jesus explains that no one can do a great work for God and then speak evil of him in the next breath. Rather than appoint ourselves as judges of people’s hearts and motives, we should step aside and leave the evaluations up to God.

When it comes to Jesus, we think that we can be “Switzerland.” We can be neutral and rest in a middle ground. Jesus does not allow such nonsense. Verse 40 finds a parallel in Mathew 12:30. We are either for Jesus or against him.

We need to keep in mind who the real enemy is, and it is not other churches or denominations outside of “us.” It really doesn’t matter if you are Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Assemblies, Fellowship, Bible, or Independent. What matters is whether or not you are for Jesus.

Instead of competing with other groups, we should show kindness to those who are serving Christ (41). Whatever aid we give to those who are serving Christ will not be forgotten. It will be rewarded.

The body of Christ is much bigger than our narrow theological convictions and limited experience. Rather than envy or criticize those who aren’t in our camp, we should celebrate what God is doing.

Guidelines for partnering with other believers or churches

  • Determine the task
  • Agree on the essentials of doctrine
  • Give grace on the nonessentials
  • Celebrate the success of others
  • Make sure God gets the glory

In 1265-66, the Mongol Empire spanned Asia from the Black Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Khubilai Khan asked Marco Polo to persuade the Christian church in Rome to send one hundred men to teach Christianity to his court. The Christians were in such disarray fighting among themselves that it was twenty-eight years before a single man—let alone a hundred—reached the great court. Already retired, the emperor said, “It is too late, I have grown old in my idolatry.”

In the battle against evil, we must recognize that whatever particular group we belong to is not the only group of Christians in the world. We can learn from others who worship the same Christ as Lord and Savior but who use different language and emphasize different parts of Scripture from what we do. Without compromising our convictions, we can band together for fellowship and cooperate in mission. Our unity will be a sign of what God’s power can do to drive out evil and chaos infecting our world.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on July 19, 2105. It is part of a series in the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Gillette Castle

This afternoon, we ventured south to East Haddam, CT, to visit the Gillette Castle State Park. The house sits atop a mountain range known as the Seven Sisters. It was built by William Hooker Gillette, noted actor, director, and playwright. He was probably best known for his portrayal on stage of Sherlock Holmes in the early part of the 20th Century. It is a unique home with a beautiful view of the Connecticut River and surrounding countryside. We enjoyed our visit and tour of the house.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2015 in Connecticut, Photos

 
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A leader’s legacy

Leaders legacy

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2015 in Leadership, Quotes, Scripture

 

Adventure awaits at the “coolest” VBS ever!

On Monday, July 20, we begin our Vacation Bible School (VBS) program at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA. This year we are using Group Publishing’s “Everest” where the theme is “Conquering Challenges with God’s Mighty Power.” We will learn about Elijah, Naaman, and Jesus. Our children’s director, Robin Dolbow, is decorating the church to look like a mountain camp. She has even built an igloo out of milk jugs for our preschoolers to explore and experience. It will be a great week of songs, games, stories, and fun.

If you are in our area and want to join us, click on the link for the registration form.

We are asking people to pray during the week of VBS. In the back of our sanctuary is a chart where you can commit to pray for a 15-minute block during the morning when VBS will be meeting. If you’re interested, please sign up.

We believe that God is going to do great things next week.

 
 

Churches & Chaplains partnering to serve

On Tuesday, Carol, Chris Ames, Jack Gilbert, and I participated in Clergy Day at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, MA. The event was hosted by Chaplain Major Matthew Zimmerman, the Chaplain’s Office, and the Public Affairs Office. We were treated to a tour of a C-5 aircraft and got to sit in the captain’s chair (how an aircraft the size of a whale can fly is beyond my ability to understand), visited the base Fire Department (we watched them shoot the fire cannon), saw a C-130 aircraft take off (it’s a dwarf compared to the C-5), and took in the view from the top of the control tower. Over lunch, Chaplain Zimmerman talked about how his office would like to partner with local churches to better serve the spiritual needs of our military. In a culture that often tries to kick the church to the curb, it was encouraging to be invited into a partnership with a government entity and other local churches.

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2015 in Chicopee, Ministry