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Monthly Archives: August 2018

Renovation – Before & After

Now that the building renovation is 95% complete at First Central Bible Church, it’s time to compare the Before & After look. Part of our purpose was to make the sanctuary lighter, brighter, and to open up the stage.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2018 in First Central Bible Church, Photos

 

Better late than …

I came across this photo a few days ago, but couldn’t find time to post it until today. The display was at The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene, NH.

Thank you, Jack Gilbert, for bringing this to my attention.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2018 in Fun

 

This Sunday

This Sunday, September 2, we will celebrate Communion in our newly renovated sanctuary. On September 9, we will hold a special service to rededicate our facility. Praise God for what he has done at First Central Bible Church!

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2018 in First Central Bible Church, Photos

 
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J. I. Packer on God’s Sovereignty

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2018 in Quotes, Theology, Tim Challies

 

Ordinary People Can Make an Impact

Book Review: Choosing the Extraordinary Life: God’s 7 Secrets for Success and Significance, by Dr. Robert Jeffress

Can an ordinary person make an impact? Can an ordinary person influence another person or even a nation? Using the example of the prophet Elijah, pastor and author Dr. Robert Jeffress makes a strong case for answering “Yes” to both questions.

In his latest offering, Choosing the Extraordinary Life: God’s 7 Secrets for Success and Significance, Dr. Jeffress explains that too many of us settle for a listless life of mundane routine. While we long to discover a greater purpose for our lives, many of us don’t know if it is possible or where to look.

In the book, the author guides the reader through a study of the life of the prophet Elijah in the book of 1 Kings. He gleans seven principles from his life that if employed, will result in a life marked by significance, satisfaction, and success. The seven principles are (1) Discover your unique purpose; (2) Determine to influence your culture; (3) Wait on God’s timing; (4) Burn the ships; (5) Unleash the power of prayer; (6) Learn how to handle bad days; and (7) Live life with the end in view.

The author combines an exposition of 1 Kings with other passages of Scripture to flesh out his principles. He illustrates the ideas with current events, historical examples, and stories from his own life and ministry. Of the seven secrets, I think four of them come directly out of Elijah’s life and ministry, while the other three are loosely based on Elijah. That is not meant to diminish their impact, but rather to say I think the author stretched the point to make them fit his outline. Each chapter includes a number of practical suggestions as to how to implement the principles in one’s own life. The book is very encouraging and helpful.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2018 in Books, Scripture

 

The Connection Between the Gospel and Discipleship

Book Review: Eternity is Now in Session: A Radical Rediscovery of What Jesus Really Taught About Salvation, Eternity, and Getting to the Good Place, by John Ortberg

“Salvation isn’t about getting you into heaven; it’s about getting heaven into you.” This is one of the statements made by pastor and author John Ortberg in his latest offering, Eternity is Now in Session: A Radical Rediscovery of What Jesus Really Taught About Salvation, Eternity, and Getting to the Good Place.

As the quote implies, Ortberg wants people to see that salvation is about more than just going to heaven. He explains in the acknowledgements,

I fondly hope this little book can help stimulate a fresh conversation about the glorious nature of salvation. I hope it can help people inside the church and out to see the indissoluble connection between the gospel Jesus preached and the discipleship he offered and to encourage people to “sell all they have in great joy” in order to follow him.

The book is divided into two parts. Part 1 focuses on “Rethinking Salvation.” Far too often, we emphasize the importance of believing in Jesus in order to get to heaven. It is sort of the minimum entrance requirements. The author wants us to understand that salvation also involves a daily relationship with Christ. Part 2 describes “Walking with Jesus.” It provides insight into the nature of discipleship. It begins with seeing God everywhere, leaving baggage behind, forming a new mental map, and abiding with Christ.

The book is a typical Ortberg book. The author incorporates truth with humor, teaching what Scripture says and illustrating it with philosophers, movies, history, quotes from Dallas Willard, and personal stories. While perhaps not one of his best books, it will challenge the reader to reexamine what they believe about salvation and encourage them to experience a growing relationship with Christ today rather simply waiting until they arrive at heaven’s door.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network http://tyndaleblognetwork.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 August 27, 2018 in Books, Discipleship, Heaven, Quotes

 

Join the Resistance

A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to fighting an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign nation through either the use of physical force, or nonviolence. During WWII, there were resistance movements in France, Serbia, Italy, and other countries. The resistance movement has been popularized in the most recent Star Wars movies.

As the apostle Peter closes his first letter (1 Peter 5:5-14), he encourages his readers to join the resistance. He encourages us to resist pride and to resist the enemy. We resist pride by placing ourselves under God’s authority. We resist the enemy by standing firm our faith. When we place ourselves under God’s caring authority, we can stand firm against the enemy.

Resist pride by placing yourself under God’s caring authority (5-7). Peter begins verse five with the word, “likewise.” In doing so, he links his current instruction with his previous one. In verses 1-4, he focused on church leaders. Now, he is focusing on church members. Just as elders submit to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus, so church members should submit to their leaders.

Just in case we think we are exempt from this command, Peter instructs all people to clothe themselves with the garments of humility. There’s a good chance he is thinking of when Christ put on the apron of a servant and washed the feet of the disciples. Peter strongly believes that humility is an essential part of one’s wardrobe.

By putting on humility, we resist our natural tendency towards pride. Peter quotes from the psalms when he says that God stands against the proud but take delight in the humble. By acting with humility, we place ourselves under the authority of our leaders and especially under God’s authority. And we wait for him to promote us.

Another way we demonstrate humility is by giving our cares and concerns to God. When Peter says, “casting all our cares on him,” we tend to think of a fisherman. We cast our cares, and if we don’t catch what we want, we reel it back in. However, when Peter says, “casting,” he means “to abandon.” We give our cares to God and leave them there, knowing that he is a caring God.

Hudson Taylor said, “Let us give up our work, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into [God’s] hand; and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about.”

Resist the enemy by standing firm in your faith (8-11). When it comes to Satan, we tend to go to one of two extremes. We either laugh about him or we ignore him completely. We are either overly concerned and consumed or we deny his existence and power. In contrast, Peter wants us to be alert and aware.

Peter uses several key words to help us recognize our enemy for who he is. “Your” means he is a personal enemy. “Adversary” reminds us he is our opponent. “Devil” is a word that means “slanderer,” who is one of his chief strategies. “Prowls around” tells us that he is seeking prey. “Roaring lion” warns us that he is ravenously hungry. “Devour” tells us that he is focused on our complete annihilation.

We are to resist the devil by standing firm our faith. This speaks of our confidence in God and his word. It points out the need for a solid foundation of sound doctrine.

When suffering comes, we tend to feel isolated and alone. However, Peter explains that believers all over the world and going through the same trials. He also points out that suffering is brief, but glory is eternal. Peter also encourages us that the God who called us will give us strength. He will restore—mending and repairing; confirm—making solid; strengthen—fill with strength; and establish—set on a firm foundation. Since nothing is wasted in God’s will, he will use our suffering to help grow and shape our character.

Peter closes this section with a doxology of praise. The one who planned and promised is the one who has the power to make it happen.

Stand firm in the grace of God (12-14). Peter ends his letter with the encouragement to stand firm in the grace of God. He explains the letter had a two-fold purpose—to encourage and to tell of God’s grace.

Join the Resistance. Resist pride. Resist the enemy. When we place ourselves under God’s caring authority, we can stand firm against the enemy.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on August 26, 2018. It is the final message in a series of sermons on 1 Peter. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.