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Monthly Archives: February 2016

Are You “ALL IN” For Jesus?

The sports world is replete with examples of total dedication. Players dedicate themselves 24/7 to off-season training. Fans dress up in jerseys, hats, beards, and face paint of their favorite teams. Business owners cease working in order to watch their favorite team play in the World Cup Soccer Tournament.

Why is it that we expect and applaud total dedication when it comes to our sports teams, but we frown on that same level of fanaticism when it comes to worshipping God? Why do we counsel someone to think twice before cashing in a stock dividend to help fund a church building program? Why do we consider someone foolish when they use their vacation time to teach in VBS or go on a short-term ministry trip to another country? Where did we get the idea there is a verse that states, “Follow Jesus, but don’t go overboard about it”?

I find it interesting the Jesus applauded two women who went “all in” in their worship of him. In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus praises the widow who gave her last two cents as she worshipped in the temple. In Mark 14:3-9, Jesus applauded the woman who anointed him with the contents of an expensive jar of rare perfume. The people who observed these events thought their sacrifices were foolish. They felt they should have paced themselves or at least used their resources in more productive ways. Jesus’ own disciples were critical of what they considered to be frivolous expenditures. Yet Jesus lauded these two women and memorialized their gifts and dedication.

If we go all in to celebrate our favorite team, how much more should we go all in to celebrate and worship our Savior?

Let’s be honest. There are always reasons not to worship. There are reasons not to serve. There are reasons not to give. Perhaps you are too busy. Maybe you feel you have nothing to offer. Chances are you cannot afford it. Perhaps you think you’re not mature enough. Maybe the economy has you scared. Chances are headlines of world crises keep you hidden safely inside the four walls of your home.

As Mark 14:1-11 demonstrates, commitment is seldom convenient. The account of the woman who anointed Jesus (3-9) is sandwiched between opposition (1-2) and betrayal (10-11). The religious leaders were tightening their noose around Jesus. It wasn’t safe to be identified as a passionate follower. Yet Mary took a stand and declared her love for her Lord.

In the midst of mounting opposition, an ordinary dinner party became a time of worship (3). Mary (John 12:3) took an alabaster flask of expensive perfume, broke the neck and poured the liquid on Jesus’ head and feet. The spiced perfume was extremely costly, having been imported from India. The flask was possibly a family heirloom, perhaps part of a bridal dowry passed down from mother to daughter.

The dinner guests were indignant at Mary’s sacrifice (4-5). They were embarrassed by the extravagance of the gift. Judas Iscariot was incensed and commented on the wastefulness of the offering and voiced it could have been better spent on ministry to the poor (John 12:4-6).

Not much has changed in 2,000 years. If you give up vacation time to serve at a summer camp, people will tell you that you’re foolish. If you go on a summer ministry trip to Spain, people will say it’s a wasteful boondoggle. If you want to rebuild houses in rural Arkansas, people will criticize you for not addressing needs in your own city. Like Judas, the critics often don’t care about ministry. They just don’t want you to care about ministry. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus, not on the opinions of others.

Rather than be deterred by the critics, we need to keep in mind that Jesus values and celebrates sacrificial commitment (6-9). Jesus commended Mary for her gift (6) because she had her priorities in the right order (7). Her anointing was timely and insightful as it prepared Jesus for his soon death and burial (8). Her gift would not be forgotten but would be celebrated every time the gospel was preached (9).

Don’t look for reasons to avoid commitment. Don’t let criticism keep you from demonstrating your commitment. Like Mary, go “ALL IN” in your devotion to Jesus Christ.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on February 21, 2016. It is part of a series on the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

A matter of perspective

Abraham Lincoln - rose bushes and thorns

Thanks to SonScape for the graphic quote.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2016 in Quotes, SonScape

 

Science Camp – Day Two

Today was Day Two of First Central Baptist Church‘s Science Camp during mid-winter break. Steve & Tammy Richter, along with their daughter, Trista, taught the kids about bacteria. On Tuesday, the kids swabbed various surfaces in the church as well as their own hands. Today, they discovered which one had the most bacteria. The bathroom faucet won hands down! It was another fun, interactive, hands-on learning experience. Thanks Steve & Tammy!

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2016 in First Central Bible Church, Photos

 

Science Camp – 2/16/16

This afternoon, First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, hosted a Science Camp for the students involved in our tutoring ministry. Steve & Tammy Richter led a workshop on cell biology. It featured a lecture, Bible lesson, and lab filled with a variety of hands on learning experiences. It was a great, fun, interesting afternoon. We continue on Thursday.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2016 in First Central Bible Church, Photos

 

The Christians’ Three-Fold Enemy

The Christian’s Three-Fold Enemy

Problem

Solution

The World (1 John 2:15-17)

Lust of the flesh

Lust of the eyes

Pride of life

Flee

(1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22)

The Flesh

(Romans 7:18-24)

Deny

(Romans 6:12-13; 8:13)

The Devil

(1 Peter 5:8)

Resist

(1 Peter 5:9)

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

Taken from “Notes on Romans, 2016 Edition,” Dr. Thomas L. Constable, www.soniclight.com

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2016 in Quotes, Romans

 

BRRRRRRRISK!

IMG_2775

Time to get ready for church so we can warm up with God’s people.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Are You Ready For Jesus’ Return?

Many of us, when we know we are going to the dentist in a few days, suddenly start brushing and flossing our neglected teeth and gums, hoping that we will somehow trick the dentist into thinking that we have been faithfully taking care of them. But the dentist can always spot the mouth that has been neglected. As one dentist said, “Be true to your teeth, and they’ll never be false to you.”

Many people take the same approach to the return of Christ. We go through our lives thinking we have plenty of time and that we can deal with spiritual things later. Sadly, we often ignore the consequences until it is too late. One day we will all stand before God to give an account of our lives. We should live each day in light of that reality. Since Jesus will return at any moment, we need to be ready and prepared to meet him.

In Mark 13, Jesus answers his disciples’ questions about the second coming. His reply is both prophetic and pastoral. Rather than helping the disciples set dates, however, Jesus encourages them to stand firm. After warning his disciples not to be distracted by false saviors and false signs (5-8) and not to be discouraged by persecution (9-13), he tells them to watch for the abomination of desolation (14-23) and the return of the Son of Man (24-27). Jesus closes his teaching with two parables that emphasize we need to be ready for his return because it could happen at any time. (28-37).

In the parable of the fig tree (28-32), Jesus explains that he could return at any time. He challenges the disciples that if they can anticipate the change of seasons based on the activity of nature, they should also be able to anticipate the return of Jesus based on the signs already visible.

We can take great comfort in knowing that while life is uncertain, Jesus’ words are very certain. Life can go sideways. People fail. Plans fail. But Jesus never fails. His promises about life and his return can be trusted.

Only God knows when Jesus will return. At the appropriate time, God the Father will signal the trumpeter to sound the call. Jesus will return in power and glory to bring justice, deal with evil, and gather his own to himself.

While the parable of the fig tree teaches that Jesus can return at any time, the parable of the doorkeeper (33-37) emphasizes that since we don’t know when he will return, we need to be ready to meet him when he comes back.

Jesus compares himself to a man who goes away on a long journey and leaves his servants with work to be done. While we wait for his return, we need to be busy doing the work he has assigned to us. We cannot afford to go to sleep on the job.

The sad fact is that many people have fallen asleep today. Like the townspeople in the story of the boy who cried, “Wolf!” we have heard so many predictions as to when Christ will return that we no longer pay attention. We are caught up in social media, playing games, pursuing retirement, criticizing politicians, busyness of life, watching sports, collecting possessions, feeding addictions, and focusing on family that we no longer have time or interest to pursue spiritual things. We have forgotten that Christ called us to follow him and to make disciples.

The time is later than we think. Since Jesus will return at any moment, we need to be ready and prepared to meet him.

Are you ready? Are you alert? Do you know him as your savior? Are you busy serving Jesus? Do you look forward to his coming?

As you think about the return of Jesus, keep in mind three facts: (1) Each one of us must be watchful, vigilant, and alert; (2) We will be held accountable for how we live our lives; and (3) There will be both joy and judgment when Christ returns.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on February 14, 2016. It is part of a series in the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.