Monthly Archives: March 2016

A New Name for First Central

At our annual meeting, the congregation of First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, approved the proposal to change the name of the church (76% approval). After discussing how to move forward, the elders recommended the following stages in the process:

  • Suggested names were collected during February and March (See list below of suggested names).
  • During April & May, we will use a series of polls to narrow the list to two finalists. Both members and regular attenders will be allowed to participate in the polls. We will use a bulletin insert people will be asked to fill out on the Sunday of the poll.
    • On April 17, we will ask you to narrow the list to the top 12 names we should consider.
    • On May 8, we will ask you to narrow the list to the top 6 names we should consider.
    • On June 5, we will ask you to narrow the list down to two finalists.
  • On June 15, we will vote on a new name for First Central during our Semi-Annual business meeting. Only members will be allowed to vote on the final name.

Please prayerfully consider what God would have us to be called as we seek to fulfill our purpose of Building a Community to Change the World 

Broadway Bible Church

Broadway Bible Fellowship

Broadway Christian Fellowship

Central Chicopee Christ’s Church

Central Community Church

Central Family Christian Church

Chicopee Bible Central

Chicopee Bible Church

Chicopee Bible Fellowship

Chicopee Central Church of God

Chicopee Christ’s Church

Chicopee Church of Hope

Chicopee Church of the Living Word

Chicopee Church of the Open Door

Chicopee Community Church

Chicopee Evangelical Bible Church

Chicopee Evangelical Bible Fellowship

Chicopee Fellowship Church

Christ Central Fellowship

Christ Central Fellowship of Chicopee

Christ Centered Church

Christ First Central

Church of Faith and Grace

City on a Hill Church

Community Church of Christ

Cornerstone Bible Church

Cornerstone Bible Fellowship

Crossroads Bible Church

Crossroads Bible Fellowship

Evangelical Community Church of Christ

Faith Bible Church

Faith Community Church

Faith Evangelical Community Church

Falls Bible Church

The Falls Bible Fellowship

Falls Community Bible Church

Fellowship Community Church

Fellowship Community Believing Church

Fellowship Community Bible Church

First Bible Central

First Bible Community

First Central

First Central Beginnings Church

First Central Belief Church

First Central Believers Church

First Central Bible Church

First Central Bible Fellowship

First Central Brotherhood Church

First Central Church

First Central Community Church

First Central Church of Christ

First Central Fellowship Church

First Central Good News Church

First Central Gospel

First Central Gospel Church

Genesis: A church of new beginnings

Grace Bible Church

Grace Community Bible Church

Heritage Bible Church

Hope Community Church

Impact Community Church

Living Word Church of Chicopee

New Beginnings

New Beginnings Bible Church

New Life Through Faith Church

Redeemed Bible Church

Redeemed Chicopee Bible Church

Redeemer Bible Church

Redeemer Bible Fellowship

Universal Faith Community Church

Victory Bible Church

Word of God Christian Fellowship


Posted by on March 29, 2016 in Church, First Central Bible Church


You can’t ignore the resurrection

What difference does the Resurrection make in the life of the Christian? That’s the question asked in an article in the Wall Street Journal. The Challenge of Easter.” Whether you’re a believer or not, the article points out, you cannot ignore the radical claim of the Resurrection.


Russia 2016 Trip Report

I recently returned from two weeks in Russia where I had the privilege of teaching the book of Romans to pastors and leaders. Read the report below to learn more about what took place. Click on one of the pages to download a pdf copy of the report.

Russia 2016 Trip Report-1 Russia 2016 Trip Report-2 Russia 2016 Trip Report-3 Russia 2016 Trip Report-4 Russia 2016 Trip Report-5 Russia 2016 Trip Report-6 Russia 2016 Trip Report-7 Russia 2016 Trip Report-8

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Posted by on March 28, 2016 in Photos, Russia, Scripture, Theology


The Resurrection: Urban Legend or Center Point of History

Each year, publishes a list of the top 25 urban legends of the year. Facebook made four different entries on the list. (1) Posting a legal notice on your Facebook wall will protect your copyright and privacy status. (2) Mark Zuckerberg is giving away $4.5 million to Facebook users who share a “thank you” message. (6) Facebook will soon start charging users a monthly fee for using their social network. (23) By participating in a Facebook “secret sister” gift exchange, you’ll receive 26 gifts (or books) in exchange for one $10 contribution.

What if attempted to prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ didn’t happen? What if they were successful? Is the resurrection really that important to faith? In 1 Corinthians 15:1-19, the apostle Paul asks the question, “What if the resurrection isn’t true? What have we lost?”

The first part of verse 3 tells us we are not dealing with minor or secondary matters. These are matters of “first importance.” Just as the heart pumps life-giving blood to every part of the body, so the truth of the resurrection gives life to every other area of the good news about salvation.

Even if they miss everything else, Paul wants his readers to understand that there are two key facts about Jesus. Jesus died for our sins and he came back to life.

The first fact is that Christ died (3). The proof of his death is that he was buried (4). The second fact is that Christ came back to life. He rose (4). The proof of his resurrection is that he appeared (5-8). Notice the connection: “Christ died (how do I know?) . . . He was buried.” “He was raised (how do I know?) . . . He appeared.”

But suppose for a moment, as the apostle Paul does, that the critics of the resurrection are right. According to verse 12, some false teachers in Corinth taught that Jesus did not really rise from the dead. The resurrection was just a hoax.

If that is true, then what happened to Jesus? Down through the years, four primary theories have been advanced as to what happened.

The first one is the “Swoon theory.” This theory states that Christ was indeed nailed to the cross. He suffered from shock, loss of blood, and pain, and he swooned away; but he didn’t actually die. In the coolness of the tomb, he revived sufficiently to roll away a two-ton boulder covering the entrance of the tomb and walk out. Not knowing any better, the disciples insisted it was a resurrection from the dead.

Look at the facts. Christ was beaten with a cat-of-nine-tails with 39 heavy strokes. He was nailed to a cross and hung in the sun for 6 hours. A Roman soldier ran a spear through his heart. He was wrapped in yards of graveclothes weighted with pounds of spices. He was placed in an airless tomb for 36 hours. With no medical attention, he revived, undid the graveclothes, rolled away a stone that three women felt incapable of tackling, and walked miles on wounded feet.

Another prominent theory is that the disciples stole the body on Sunday morning. The religious authorities at the time paid the Roman soldiers to tell this lie. Once again, consider the facts. To steal the body, the disciples would have had to get past a guard of probably 16 heavily armed soldiers, who could have been executed if they had been caught asleep on duty.

The other possible explanation is that the disciples went to the wrong tomb. It has been claimed that Jesus’ female disciples went to the ‘wrong’ tomb and mistook it for the actual sepulcher in which Jesus had been placed. Even if this were possible, Joseph of Arimathea, who owned the tomb, would have known where it was.

In each of these theories, the authorities could simply have gone to the proper tomb and produced the body of Jesus if it had still been available.

All of these theories break down at some point. But suppose for the sake of argument that one of them was true. Suppose that the resurrection did not happen. Would that be so bad? We would still have Jesus’ ethical example and moral teachings, his miracles and parables, his good deeds, and his model of sacrifice. If the resurrection is false, what have we really lost?

That is the question that Paul asks in verses 13-19. He bases his argument on the logical consequences of the belief the resurrection is false. He pushes the argument to its logical extreme.

Our Faith is Lost (14, 17). If the Christian message does not include a risen Christ, and we have put our confident trust in Him, then we are leaning on something that will ultimately collapse.

Our Forgiveness is Lost (17). Without a substitute who died in our place, there is no satisfaction for a holy God who demands that sin’s price be paid. If Christ is not risen, forgiveness for sin is an impossibility.

Our Future is Lost (19). If Jesus is not raised from the dead, we only have hope in this life. All the promises of heaven are false. Death should terrify us for there is no hope beyond the grave. If there is nothing beyond today, why bother enduring persecution, suffering, and trials? Why bother trying to live a moral life?

Our Family & Friends who Embraced the Christian Message and then Died are Lost (18). If all of this is a hoax, we still have time to find another way, another hope, another Savior. But our loved ones and friends who have died believing the Christian message about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are hopelessly lost. They do not have a second chance.

Our Integrity is Lost (15). If the apostles, the prophets, and the New Testament writers lied about the heart of the gospel why should they be believed about anything else?

In a court of law, “Exhibit A” of the evidence for the resurrection would be the empty tomb. It was in the interest of both the Roman and Jewish authorities to produce Jesus’ dead body and thus squelch the rumors that he had risen from the tomb. Their failure to do so increases the likelihood that the resurrection actually did take place as described in the Gospels and 1 Corinthians 15.

The second evidence of the resurrection was the post-resurrection appearances by Christ (4-8). In a Jewish court of law, the presence of two or three witnesses was mandatory to prove the veracity of an event. By appearing to five hundred believers at one time, Jesus provided overwhelming proof of being alive. In addition, by appealing to the witnesses still alive, Paul was inviting his readers to check his facts if they had doubt about his words.

The third prominent piece of evidence for the resurrection was the changed lives of the early followers of Christ. Following His death, the disciples ran for their lives. But something happened after the resurrection. Peter boldly proclaimed Jesus alive, even on threat of death. Thomas the doubter affirmed the risen Jesus as “my Lord and my God.” James became a leader of the Jerusalem church. Paul went from persecuting the church to preaching the gospel.

If you honestly consider the evidence, you must conclude that Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures . . . that He was buried . . . and that He was raised the third day according to the Scriptures . . . and that He appeared.

Our faith is not futile, but well-placed. Our forgiveness is not lost, but complete. Our future is not hopeless, but hope-filled. Our family and friends who have died in Christ are safe in the arms of Jesus. Our integrity is not compromised, but maintained.

We can only conclude one thing, He is not dead. He is risen indeed!

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016. It is part of a collection of messages on Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

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Posted by on March 27, 2016 in Easter & Good Friday, Scripture


Easter Extravaganza at FCBC

Today was our annual Easter Extravaganza at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA. In addition to train rides, we also offered crafts including edible ones, games, food, and a puppet show about the meaning of Easter. It is our way of blessing the community by offering a fun activity for families to do together. It gives us an opportunity to share the joy of the Lord with those who live around us.


Center your life on God


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Posted by on March 25, 2016 in Quotes, Tim Challies


Moscow – Homeward Bound

10 - Moscow-Homeward Bound

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Posted by on March 24, 2016 in Ministry, Missions, Photos, Romans, Russia, Scripture


Elista class

Here are some photos from the class in Elista. It was a great week. Thanks for praying.

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Posted by on March 24, 2016 in Ministry, Missions, Photos, Russia


Eternal security

I discovered that eternal security is an issue in some parts of Russia. John Musgrave said there was an influence of Arminianism that puts an emphasis on individual effort. It was an issue with the Tsibanobalka class as the majority thought you could lose your salvation. One pastor raised both hands when I asked who thought they could lose/not lose their salvation. It was not an issue with the Elista group as only two people held that opinion. John & I discussed the difference between the two groups—the Elista group pointed to Scripture while the Tsibanobalka class asked, “But what about …?” which emphasized personal experience. The answer must always be, “What does Scripture say?”

I have long held to the belief that salvation is secure because it is based on God’s ability to keep his promises, not on my ability to be faithful. But after studying the issue before the trip and preaching the issue several times over the past two weeks, I am even more convinced.

Romans 8 is the key to unlocking the secret to eternal security. In fact, the chapter is bookended with the concept.

Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8:38–39 – For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Those who are in Christ are no longer condemned. Those who are in Christ cannot be separated from God’s love. No condemnation. No separation. The chapter shouts, “SALVATION IS SECURE!”

As I read and contemplated those three verses, the phrase, “in Christ,” jumped off the page. Our salvation is secure because we are in Christ. Eternal security is not determined by my efforts. Salvation is secure because I am related to Jesus Christ.

In Elista, I explained that all of us know someone who claimed to know Christ and then walked away. I spoke about my brother who trusted Christ as a child, went to Bible College, served in ministry, but then dropped out of church for the last three years of his life. I shared about my best friend in college—we went to Bible College together, went to seminary, and participated in each other weddings. But he left his wife, had an affair, got a divorce, and claimed he was never a Christian to begin with. While both situations left me puzzled and heartbroken, I have to trust that God knows their hearts. I believe both were truly saved, but only God knows for certain. As Romans explains, God is a just judge.

I used an illustration and said that life is like a book. We are currently in one chapter of the story of our lives. As we look at other people, perhaps they walked away from God during one chapter of their life. But the final chapter has not been written yet. God may yet draw them back to himself in a later chapter. We can hope and pray that that is the case.

As an aside, I encouraged both classes to do a study of the phrase, “in Christ,” to discover the nature of their identity as a Christian. I shared that that is something I continue to pray for my children, that they will know what it means to be in Christ, that they will understand that they are bought with a price, that they will understand the blessings, power, riches, and resources available to them because they are in Christ. If we truly understand our identity IN CHRIST, we will live differently. We will say “No” to sin, present ourselves to God, stop relying on our own strength, and depend on the power of the Holy Spirit (which is the flow of Paul’s argument in Romans 6-8).


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Posted by on March 24, 2016 in Ministry, Missions, Russia, Scripture, Theology


Wednesday evening in Elista

9 - Wednesday evening in Elista

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Posted by on March 24, 2016 in Ministry, Missions, Photos, Russia, Scripture