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Monthly Archives: May 2018

Fearful and wonderful

Psalm 139:14 makes a significant statement about the wonder of our human bodies.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

As I continue to recover from a broken leg/hip, I can attest to the truth of this verse. I am amazed at how God designed our bodies to knit themselves back together after an injury or surgery. Medical science certainly plays a helpful hand, but how bones can regrow together and become stronger and how a wound can close itself up is a testament to a sovereign, creative God.

After six and a half months, I am now starting to fly solo. I’ve been using the cane outside and walking without it inside. This week, I left it at home and decided to go without. My muscles still complain and are sore, but they are getting stronger. I’ve been able to mow the lawn, which takes me just under two hours. I’m able to walk longer and farther. I still tend to limp a bit, but my gait is improving.

My recovery causes me to praise God for his creative genius and to give thanks for answered prayer. My soul knows the truth of what God has done!

 
 

My dinosaur is my service animal

Pretty funny video with the characters from Jurassic World parodying people who claim various animals as “service animals.” I found the video to be very timely after seeing a service dog wearing a diaper sitting in business class on my recent flight from Amsterdam to Boston.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2018 in Fun, Videos

 

Rockport Rush Hour

On Monday, Carol and I headed for the North Shore to have lunch in Rockport at the Blue Lobster Grille. It was a beautiful day.

 

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2018 in Massachusetts, Photos

 

evandalism

Sunday evening, we gathered in the sanctuary of First Central Bible Church for a pre-dedication worship event. Each person was given a Sharpie marker and permission to write on the floors. As Jack coined the phrase, we gave folks permission to do “evandalism.” We wrote verses related to our ministry and the names of people we want to see come to Christ through our ministry. During the latter phase of our renovation, all the wood will be covered with carpet. In one sense, we embedded the spiritual DNA into the floor of our sanctuary. After sharing the verses and names, we closed with a time of prayer for the different ministries and people we hoped to reach with the gospel. It was a significant time of worship.

 
 

The Nature & Purpose of the Church

If one wanted to build a stone fence, one would begin by gathering loose stones. After organizing them into size, color, and shape, one would then place them into position and cement them together into the fence. By themselves, the stones are at best useless and at worse, a danger to someone who might trip over them.

The same can be said of Christ followers. By themselves, they don’t amount to much. In addition, they can be in danger of being led astray. It is only when they unite together in a local church can the individual and the corporate body be built up.

After describing the nature of our salvation (1 Peter 1:1-12) and the impact it has on our daily lives (1:13-2:3), the apostle Peter now explains how salvation makes us part of the church (2:4-12). He first describes the nature and purpose of the church (2:4-10) before talking about the mission of the church (2:11-12). As Peter explains in 2:4-10, the church is a worshipping community built on a solid foundation with a unique identity and a significant purpose.

The church is a worshipping community (2:4-5). In chapter 1, Peter talked about coming to Christ for salvation. Now, he speaks of the habit of coming to Christ for fellowship and deeper communion. The one we seek is not a monument or dead principle, but is the living, resurrected, life-giving one. Though rejected and cast aside, he is the cornerstone of the spiritual temple God is building. As we come to him, we become part of that house. In fact, we serve as believer priests, both to represent God to the world and to offer spiritual sacrifices, including our bodies (Romans 12:1-2), our praise (Hebrews 13:15), good works (Hebrews 13:16), money & material things (Philippians 4:18), and people we win to Christ (Romans 15:16).

…built on a solid foundation (2:6-8). Peter quotes from two Old Testament passages to describe the role Christ plays in the house of God. Jesus is the cornerstone, the one who supports, strengthens, and lines up the rest of the building. Jesus is the capstone, the pinnacle of the building. From beginning to end, the church is built on Christ. The one who trusts in Jesus will never be ashamed, but those who reject Christ will stumble over because of their disobedience.

…with a unique identity (2:9a, 10). Peter introduces five key terms to describe our new identity. Christ followers are a chosen race. We enjoy a privileged status because of God’s grace. We are a royal priesthood. We enjoy unlimited access to God and we are set apart to serve him. Believers are a holy nation. We are set apart and called to moral purity. We are a people for God’s own possession. We are highly valued and the object of God’s special care. Christ followers are also a people who received mercy. We have been given a gift we did not deserve.

…with a significant purpose (2:9b). As Christ followers, we have been called out of darkness into the light. We have the privilege and burden of proclaiming God’s glory to an unbelieving world still lost in the darkness.

As a community of believers built on Christ, we are to declare his praise to a needy world.

This the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on May 20, 2018. It is part of a series of sermons on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Scoffing or Submitting

In 1881, the wild western town of Cranberry Gulch, California needed a teacher for its one-room school. The last three teachers had not been able to deal with the rowdy students. One lay in the graveyard, another lost his eye, and the third left before noon on his first day.

A slender-built man named Harry Floto applied for the job. The person doing the hiring doubted that he would fare much better than the others, but there wasn’t a flood of applicants, so he got the job. Word spread and the students were relishing how they would get rid of this new victim.

The first day he showed up carrying a traveling bag. One 18-year-old tough joked that he came prepared to take off when he found out that they were too much for him. Ignoring them, Floto went inside. The students followed, curious to see what he’d do next. He opened his bag, took out a belt, and buckled it around his waist. Next, he put three Colt revolvers there, and a Bowie knife. While the students watched, Floto tacked a white card to the wall opposite his desk. Crossing the room, he drew a revolver from his belt and fired six bullets into a spot the size of a silver dollar.

While the pop-eyed students stared, the schoolmaster walked half way across the room, Bowie knife in hand, wheeled, and threw it so that it stuck, quivering, in the center of the card. Leaving it there as a reminder, Floto took two more knives from his bag and stuck them in his belt. He then reloaded his smoking revolver.

He then ordered the 18-year-old to ring the bell to signal the start of class; he did so without a word. After the students were all seated, Floto cocked a revolver and announced, “We will arrange the classes.” Then he heard a whisper behind him. Whirling, Floto drew his gun and roared, “No whispering allowed in here!”

“I’ll not do so any more,” the boy said. “See that you don’t,” Floto barked. “I never give a second warning.”

Within a month, Floto put away his weapons and his pupils learned to love as well as to respect him. He stayed for two years. (Reported in The San Francisco Chronicle, 1881.)

Just as those students learned to respect the authority of that teacher, so we need to respect the absolute authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is God’s King, and we dare not scoff at Him or His Word that tells us how we should live. There is an entire movement in the evangelical camp devoted to promoting the nonsense that it is possible to accept Jesus as Savior, and yet not live under His lordship. I hope that you see that to question Jesus’ authority in any way is a most risky thing to do! He is King; we must submit to Him, even on the thought level.

Cited by Steven J. Cole – https://bible.org/book/export/html/22292

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2018 in Jesus, Quotes

 

A new perspective on Esther

Book Review: Faith Among the Faithless: Learning from Esther How to Live in a World Gone Mad, by Mike Cosper

Can Christianity survive a secular age? Can Christians live without compromise in an increasingly hostile society? And what if they’ve already given in to that society’s vision and values? Could the answers to these modern day dilemmas be found in an Old Testament book that was written almost 500 years before Christ?

Author Mike Cosper has written a provocative new book on the story of Esther. Rather than a commentary, he explores the book in terms of its historical and cultural setting and what it says to our situations today. He provides a fresh look on an old story.

I am talking about Esther, but not the Esther you may think you know. I’m talking about the real Esther—the biblical and historical Esther—whose life was a whirlwind of spiritual compromise and spiritual awakening, and whose story is full of power, sex, and violence.

This is the Esther whose great moment is marked not by a show of force, but by vulnerability. The climax of her story comes when, after weakening her body with three days and nights of fasting, she walks a path that could most likely end in her death, in hopes of saving God’s people.

Esther’s story reveals a way forward in a culture where people of faith find themselves at the margins of society. She neither clutches for power nor seeks self-protection. Instead, she faces reality, embrace weakness, and finds faith, hope, and help from a world unseen.

Her story is also an invitation to those whose faith, convictions, and morality are less than they wish they were.

While I have studied and taught the story of Esther on several occasions over the years, I was challenged and intrigued by the author’s insights that I had not considered before.

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 May 18, 2018 in Bible Study, Books, Culture, Quotes