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Monthly Archives: October 2017

Trunk ‘R Treat 2017

Trunk ‘R Treat is First Central Bible Church‘s annual community outreach on Halloween. We provide a safe, fun environment where families can come for candy, hot chocolate, hot cider, and games. This year we added four stations where we told the gospel story from creation to fall to redemption to restoration. It was a very good evening with lots of families in attendance. Thanks to all who made it a success.

 
 

Honest lessons about life and business

Book Review: Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff, by Chip Gaines

If you are a fan of the HGTV reality show, Fixer Upper, you will enjoy reading Chip Gaines book, Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff. Chip shares honest and humorous stories about his successes and failures in life and business.

The book is divided into three parts. In Part 1: A Time to Learn, Chip shares about his background. He tells stories about growing up, playing baseball, juggling three businesses in college, and lessons he and his wife, Joanna learned in the early years of their dating and marriage. In Part 2: A Time to Grow, he tells stories about how they got started in retail, remodeling houses, and fell into reality TV. He also explains how the town of Waco, Texas, helped shape his identity and approach to life. in Part 3: A Time to Build, Chip talks about where they are headed in the future, including why they are ending their popular TV show after the current season. He challenges his readers to pursue their own dreams and how he does that with his employees.

Rather than being a book about business principles, it is more about life lessons and how to invest in and take a chance on yourself. The book is entertaining and encouraging.

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 October 31, 2017 in Books, TV

 

Taking anonymous criticism to a new low

I’ve received a variety of anonymous notes criticizing me over the years. The package that arrived in today’s mail with $.42 due for postage takes the cake!

I guess I’m doing something right when the enemy uses others to try to discourage me.

Definitely an odd sense of timing that this arrives at the end of “Pastor Appreciation Month.” Pardon my sarcasm.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2017 in Criticism

 

Count Your Days to Make Your Days Count

How many days do you have left on planet earth? 50 years? 10 years? 6 months? 25 days? How will you use your time? How will you invest your days for the kingdom of God?

Moses was no stranger to conducting funerals. Over the course of 40 years of wilderness wanderings, he buried 1.2 million people. It comes out to one funeral every 17 minutes; over 82 funerals each day for 40 years.

Spending time with death gives you a unique perspective about life. In Psalm 90, which was written by Moses, he encourages us to count your days to make your days count. He communicates this theme in three movements.

Man is immortal, but God is eternal (1-6). If we want to characterize someone as old, we say they are older than the hills. Moses pictures the oldest object he can imagine, the mountains, and recognizes that God is older still. He has no beginning or end (2). Throughout the generations, people have found him to be a welcoming presence (1).

While our soul may be immortal, our lives are relatively short (4-6). We came from dirt and will return to that form. Even if we live as long as Methuselah who reached 969 years, our lives are a blip on the timeline of eternity. We are like a page on a calendar, a 3-4 hour night watch, a puddle after a rainstorm, or a short dream. Like the grass, we are here today and tomorrow in the compost heap.

Life is short because of sin (7-11). As sinful people, we live under the wrath of God (7, 9, 11). Our days are brief and filled with pain and sorrow. While we may put on a mask and hide from each other, God knows the secret sins of our hearts (8). Life on earth is brief, even for God’s best (10).

Because sin mars our lives, we need help to enjoy any kind of significance or success. Consequently, Moses begs, “God, help me count my days to make my days count” (12-17).

Moses asks God for four things:

  • “Give me wisdom” (12). Moses asks God for a sense of perspective about the shortness of life.
  • “Give me mercy” (13). Moses recognizes he desperately needs God’s help.
  • “Give me joy” (14-15). Enduring a dark night of the soul, Moses longs for joy just as a night watchman looks for the sunrise.
  • “Give me success” (16-17). Moses asks for sense of success and significance.

The movie, Papillon (1973), starred Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. It told the story of two prisoners in the French penal system who were sentenced to Devil’s Island. Throughout the movie, Steve McQueen’s character proclaims his innocence. Towards the end of the film, there is a dream sequence where stands before a judge. The judge declares him guilty and McQueen continues to proclaim his innocence. The judge states, “I accuse you of a wasted life.” McQueen drops his head and says, “Guilty. Guilty.”

Each of us should ask God the question, “What do you want to do with my life? Where should I invest my time?”

Count your days to make your days count.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on October 29, 2017. It is the final message in a series of sermons on the life of Moses. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Replace our sorrow with joy

Psalm 90:15 – Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.

I was teaching a two-week course in the Bryansk Bible Institute in February 1997. The school met in a large Baptist Church in Bryansk, Russia, about 250 miles southwest of Moscow. In between class sessions, I wandered through the church to look at the facility. I noticed this verse from Psalm 90 painted on the front wall of the sanctuary. Curious about the significance, I asked for the backstory.

The church was heavily persecuted during the Communist era. At one point, the church was closed and used as a storage warehouse. The congregation petitioned the local officials to allow them to reopen the church. The local officials said, “No.” The people petitioned the officials in Moscow, who said, “Yes.”

The congregation cleared out the church and began meeting again for worship. The local KGB officials decided to close the church permanently. On a fateful evening, the congregation gathered inside the church for worship. The KGB officials gathered outside the church and threatened the people inside. The local community heard what was taking place and came and formed a ring around the KGB officials. What followed was a time of antiphonal praise as the people inside the church sang one verse of a hymn and the community outside the building sang the next verse.

Eventually, the KGB officials had enough and called for the local fire department to bring their fire engines to disperse the crowd with water cannons. They then brought in bulldozers and hooked chains to the church walls and tore the building to the ground.

A few days later, word came from Moscow to leave the church alone. As the people tell the story, within one month, all the KGB officials had died from unnatural causes. The church saw it as the judgment of God.

For some time, the church met in homes. In the mid-90’s, they received official approval to rebuild the church. I saw a video of the dedication ceremony in 1996 where they carried the Bible from the old house church to the new facility and the congregation and community paraded behind with shouts of joy.

They painted Psalm 90:15 on the front wall of the church, asking God to replace their years of sorrow with years of joy.

After hearing the backstory, all I could say was, “Wow! Praise God!”

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Psalms, Russia, Scripture

 
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Keep the sea out of the ship

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2017 in Church, Quotes, Tim Challies

 

Squirrel!

I believe I’ve attended some meetings like this. I know I’ve preached a sermon or three that ended abruptly due to a squirrel showing up. 😉

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Non-Sequitur