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Monthly Archives: October 2015

Trunk ‘R Treat 2015

On Halloween, our church, First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, hosts Trunk ‘R Treat. It is a wonderful opportunity to bless the community by providing a safe place to dress up and get candy. We decorate the trunks of our cars and give out candy to the kids. This year we also added a bounce house, took family photos, and offered food. With Halloween being on Saturday, we were able to start earlier. We also enjoyed great weather. It was a wonderful activity.

 
 

A comic’s view of Halloween

I find that artists who create our daily comics provide great insight, commentary, and of course, humor, on our daily lives. Bill Watterson (Calvin & Hobbes) and Johnny Hart (B. C.) give a perspective of some truly scary Halloween costumes.

Calvin & Hobbes - Halloween costume

BC - Halloween costume

Johnny Hart also provides a unique twist on Halloween treats. It doesn’t count if it’s not candy.

BC - Halloween candy

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2015 in Calvin and Hobbes, Fun, Holidays

 

What’s a Christian to do about Halloween?

3By dressing up your children in costumes and taking them “trick or treating” in the neighborhood, are you participating in a pagan ritual and compromising your faith? By giving out candy to children that come trick or treating to your house, are you encouraging the occult and demonic? Can a Christ follower use a holiday such as Halloween for redemptive purposes?

31These are difficult questions, but ones which a Christ follower needs to have an answer for. You may have to agree to disagree with those who come to different conclusions. I served on staff of one church where an associate pastor went ballistic because a person used miniature pumpkins as part of a fall decoration on the church piano. In contrast, my wife and I helped our kids pick out Halloween costumes and went trick or treating with them. We did that for several years until I talked the kids into talking mom out for dinner instead of going trick or treating. (My wife’s birthday is on Halloween and it got lost every year because of Halloween parties.)

46Our church hosts “Trunk ‘R Treat” in the church parking lot each year on October 31 as a way of blessing the community. Church members decorate their cars and we pass out candy, gospel tracts, and tooth brushes from a local dentist. This year, we’re including a bounce house and food to encourage people to stick around so we can connect with them and talk.

To help you develop your own convictions on the subject, read Mike McKinley’s blog post, “Should Christians take part in Halloween celebrations?” You may not agree with his perspective, but it will help you to think biblically on the topic.

 
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Are you being transformed by your time in the Scriptures?

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Posted by on October 29, 2015 in Bible Study, Quotes

 

Of princes, presidents, and prime ministers

Tim Challies has written an insightful blog post regarding our tendency to get excited and/or depressed when our party wins/loses an election. In “I went away for just 6 days …” he tells of Canada’s recent election where Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party of Canada were swept into power. Though initially discouraged, Challies says that it was

a sudden and interesting little realization that drew me out of my despair. I found myself pondering the well-known words of Psalm 146:3-4: “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.” Here the psalmist admits our temptation to find hope in men, to put our trust in princes and presidents and prime ministers. We know better. We know the futility of trusting in men. But still we are prone to it. Still we do it.

And it struck me that there are two sides to this temptation. The temptation is not only to put my hope in politicians but to put my despair in them as well. I will be tempted not only to find too much joy in the election of the person I voted for, but also to sink too far into despair in the election of the person I did not. Either way, whether I soar too high or sink too low, I am declaring that I have put my trust in a man more than in God. I have forgotten that, ultimately, it is God who rules over and through earthly rulers.

Regardless as to whether or not our preferred party wins next Tuesday’s election and next year’s Presidential election here in the USA, God still reigns on his throne. A good reminder as we move into and through the next election cycle.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2015 in News stories, Quotes, Scripture, Tim Challies

 

If life was lived like Facebook

A friend posted the following tongue-in-cheek article on Facebook. (Thanks, Lynne.) I got a chuckle out of it.

Facebook friends

It also made me think twice about what I post on Facebook or my blog … or not. 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2015 in Facebook, Fun

 

The Heart of Generosity

Over the past few weeks, we have been studying the topic of generosity, seeking to understand what Scripture says about money and giving. We have examined passages in the Old Testament (Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10-12; 1 Chronicles 29:10-22) and the New Testament (Mark 12:41-44; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15; Matthew 25:14-30).

We have gleaned several principles from our study:

  • It all belongs to God (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)
  • We give back to God what he has given us (1 Chronicles 29:14-16)
  • We worship God with our first and best (Proverbs 3:9-10)
  • Promise—If we give, God will meet our needs (Proverbs 3:9‑10; Malachi 3:10-12; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • Sequence—We give to God first, then God meets our needs (Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10-12; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • Challenge—Give generously and see what God does (Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10-12; 2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • Rather than tithing (giving 10%), the New Testament teaches generosity (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • While tithing may not be a requirement, it is a good guideline, since it was the pattern of godly people before the Law was given (Genesis 14:17-20; 28:10-22)
  • Our giving should be periodic, personal, planned, proportionate, and properly protected (1 Corinthians 16:1-4)
  • Generosity is best determined by what we give when we have little, not when we have much (Mark 12:41-44)
  • We have been blessed in order to be a blessing (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
  • Use all you are and all you have for God’s glory (Matthew 25:14-30)

As we wrap up this series, we will compare and contrast a couple that was not generous and several churches that were generous.

Ananias & Sapphira

Acts 5:1-11

Churches in Macedonia

2 Corinthians 8:1-5

Influenced by Satan (3)

Inspired by grace (1)

Lived in great affluence (1)

Lived in great affliction (2)

Gave out of their surplus (2)

Gave out of their poverty (2)

Told self-centered lies (3)

Gave with a sense of joy (2)

Kept as much as possible (3)

Gave as much as possible (3)

Reactive—caught up with the emotion of the crowd      (4:32-5:1)

Proactive—they initiated the gift (3)

Felt an obligation to give (4:32-5:1)

Begged for the privilege to give (4)

Concerned for the opinion of others (4)

Concerned for the needs of others (4)

Met expectations

Exceeded expectations (5)

Gave their money (2)

Gave themselves (5)

Appearance of worship (2)

Authentic worship (5)

Revealed a phony faith (2-4)

Confirmed a real faith (5)

Condemned (5, 10)

Commended (1)

A frightening example to avoid (5, 11)

An encouraging example to follow (1)

God doesn’t want our time, talents, and/or treasures. God wants our heart. When he has that, we willingly give him everything else. The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.

Excel in the grace of giving (2 Corinthians 8:7)

This is the synopsis of a sermon preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on October 25, 2015. It is the final sermon in a series on Generosity. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

 
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What are you relying on?

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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in Prayer, Quotes

 

Pirate Night at Awana – 10/21/15

Avast, ye hearties! It be Pirate Night in Awana at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA. The hall be filled with cute little ‘uns dressed in their pirate gear. The games were led by Captain Ron & First Mate Lindsey. They had the T&T group swab the deck, pushing a cannon ball (black balloon) with a broom, and fish for sharks (throw a bean bag through the shark’s mouth). The Sparks even walked the plank. It be a rousing, fun-filled extravaganza. Aarrrr!

 

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Awana, First Central Bible Church, Photos

 

Preaching engages the whole person

In a chapter entitled, “The Sermon and the Preaching” in his book, Preaching & Preachers, Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones makes the case that the best preaching engages the total person.

A young philosopher went one day to Epictetus to ask him for advice. The reply Epictetus gave him is very good advice also for preachers. He said, “The philosopher’s lecture room is a surgery. When you go away you ought to have felt not pleasure but pain, for when you come in something is wrong with you. One man has put his shoulder out, another has an abscess, another a headache. Am I the surgeon then to sit down and give you a string of fine sentences that you may praise me and then go away—the man with the dislocated arm, the man with the abscess, the man with the headache—just as you came? Is it for this that young men come away from home and leave their parents and their kinsmen and their property to say, ‘Bravo to you for your fine moral conclusions’? Is this what Socrates did or Zeno or Cleanthes?”

That is most important for the preacher. Epictetus says that this is true even of the philosopher for he is not discussing abstract problems and questions. Even philosophy should be concerned with me, with living themes and with problems and with conditions. That is the situation, he says; these people come because there is something wrong with them. One man, metaphorically, has put his should out, another has an abscess, another a headache. That is true; and it is always true of every congregation. These people do not come just as minds or as intellects, they come as total persons in the midst of life, with all its attendant circumstances and its problems, and its difficulties and its trials; and the business of the preacher is not only to remember that but to preach accordingly. He is dealing with living persons, people who are in need and in trouble, sometimes not consciously; and he is to make them aware of that, and to deal with it. It is this living transaction.

Or take an excellent statement by the same Epictetus: “Tell me,” he says in a challenge to the philosophy—and an equally good challenge to the preacher—“Tell me, who after hearing your lecture or discourse became anxious about or reflected upon himself?” That is the test. If people can listen to us without becoming anxious about themselves or reflecting on themselves we have not been preaching. “Or who,” asks Epictetus, “as he went out of the room said, ‘The philosopher put his finger upon my faults. I must not behave in that way again”?

That is an excellent statement of my view of preaching; that is what preaching is meant to do. It addresses us in such a manner as to bring us under judgment; and it deals with us in such a way that we feel our whole life is involved, and we go out saying, “I can never go back and live just as I did before. This has done something to me, it has made a difference to me. I am a different person as the result of listening to his.” Epictetus adds that if you do not do this, the utmost praise you get is when one man says to another, “That was a beautiful passage about Xerxes.” And the others, “No, I like that best about the Battle of Thermopylae.” In that case, you see, nothing has been done to them at all, but they were just sitting in a detached manner and estimating and judging the speaker. One liked this quotation, the other liked that historical allusion. It had been an entertainment—very interesting, very attractive, very stimulating perhaps for the intellect. But it had done nothing to them, and they went out just praising this or that aspect of the preacher’s performance.

To me that is not what preaching is meant to be. Preaching is that which deals with the total person, the hearer becomes involved and knows that he has been dealt with and addressed by God through this preacher. Something has taken place in him and in his experience, and it is going to affect the whole of his life.

While I agree with Lloyd-Jones, I also recognize this is a high standard to live up to. But that is what preachers are called to do—deal with the total person.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Books, Preaching, Quotes