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Monthly Archives: June 2019

Who was Melchizedek and why is he so important?

One of the more mysterious characters of Scripture is Melchizedek. He makes a cameo appearance in Genesis 14 and then resurfaces in the book of Hebrews. This Sunday at First Central Bible Church, we will be studying Hebrews 7:1-10 as we ask and answer the question, “Why do I need to know about Melchizedek?”  Here’s a preview of the topic.

 

Don’t be a snowplow parent

As parents, we often want to protect our children from hardship. We want to spare them from pain and difficulty. We don’t want them to go through what we did. However, instead of helping our children, we may be hindering their growth. That is the conclusion of an article in Sports Illustrated entitled, The Rise of the Snowplow Sports Parents.”

The author of the article explains the term, snowplow parenting.

The phenomenon also reflects what’s happening in the rest of society, says psychologist Madeline Levine, an expert on the topic. “It used to be helicopter parenting,” she says. “And now it is snowplow parenting, which is much more active: It means you are doing something to smooth the way for the child. It’s not just that you’re hypervigilant—it’s that you are actually getting rid of those bumps, which robs kids of the necessary experience of learning and failing.”

Towards the end of the article, hockey agent Allain Roy realized he was not doing his son any favors by being overly involved in trying to advance him in sports.

Two years ago, hockey agent Allain Roy was flying home with his teenage son after spending several thousand dollars to take him to a weekend baseball showcase to improve his chances of getting a college scholarship. He started wondering, Is this worth the investment? How much is too much involvement? He started typing out his thoughts into a post for his agency’s blog, writing, “As we rush to fix every little blemish in our kids’ lives and try to influence their way to success, we cause more irreparable damage than we know.”

In contrast to that, I remember a statement I heard some years ago when Carol and I were helping our youngest daughter, Caitlin, get settled into the dorms at Gordon College. During one of the sessions for parents, Dr. Judson & Mrs. Jan Carlberg shared some words of encouragement. Jan Carlberg used the phrase, “Struggle is a holy word.”

As parents, our desire is to smooth out the path for our children. We want to shield them from pain. When a child calls home to say they are not getting along with their college roommate, we want to storm the administration to demand a change. When that same child says they are unhappy after the first week of school and wonder if they made the right decision to go away to college, we want to jump in the car or on a plane and bring them home forthwith. Yet, when we do that, we often stunt our children’s growth because we don’t allow them to struggle.

Jan reminded us that God uses trials as a catalyst to help us grow. As James 1:2-4 says in The Message, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work, so that you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

Struggle is part of God’s strategy to help us and our children grow to maturity. Avoid the temptation to be a helicopter and/or and a snowplow parent. Struggle is a holy word.

 

When did the world change?

“Little changes, like small steps all along the way, bring you to a different place. One day you wake up and things are not the same anymore.”

Stephen R. Lawhead, in Taliesin (The Pendragon Cycle, Book 1)

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2019 in Quotes

 
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How a day off should be spent

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2019 in Calvin and Hobbes

 

An Anchor for the Soul

How many different tools do we use to guarantee our promises? We take oaths, swear on the Bible, and employ the services of a notary public. If we are really serious, we will use a pinky promise or say, “Cross my heart and hope to die.”

When it comes to our salvation, we need to grasp the truth that our salvation is secure because it rests on God’s promises rather than our ability to be faithful.

The previous warning section (5:11-6:12) contains four key instructions. Don’t be immature (5:11-14). Pursue spiritual growth (6:1-3). Don’t fall away (6:4-8). Live out your faith (6:9-12). After reading those instructions, you may be ready to give up and fly the white flag. You may feel like you can never measure up. “My salvation is in trouble,” may be your conclusion. The author of Hebrews counters that viewpoint by explaining that our salvation is secure because of three things: the promise of God, the oath of God, and the hope of God.

The Promise of God (6:13-15). In talking about the things that accompany salvation (6:9), the author encouraged his readers to follow the example of godly people (6:12). He now introduces Abraham as the primary example of a godly man who believed God’s promises.

Rather than appeal to a higher authority, God guaranteed his promise with the statement, “I will …” In Genesis 12-15, God promised Abraham land, blessing, greatness, and countless descendants. In Genesis 22, God asked Abraham to take the son, Isaac, that he waited 25 years for, and to offer him as a sacrifice. Because Abraham obeyed, God promised to bless him greatly and give him more descendants than he could count.

The example of Abraham demonstrates that God’s promises do not depend on our character. They rest on God’s faithfulness.

The Oath of God (6:16-18). When we make a promise, we appeal to a higher authority. We place our hand on the Bible and say, “…so help me God.” While God’s promises do not require an oath, they become even stronger with an oath.

God used two unchangeable elements to demonstrate the trustworthiness of his promise. One is his purpose. God wants to bless us and save us from our sins. The second is his character. God cannot lie. Because of that, we have a safe harbor, a refuge, that we can run to. Our responsibility is to cling tightly to God’s promises.

The Hope of God (6:19-20). This promise, this hope, is a sure and steadfast anchor. It is sure because it won’t bend, twist, or break when it is under strain. It is steadfast because it won’t slip in the storm. Our anchor rests firmly with Jesus in the Holy of Holies in God’s presence in heaven. He is our faithful and eternal high priest.

Hebrews 6:13-20 demonstrates that our salvation is secure. God kept his promise to Abraham. God’s promise rests on his character. God guaranteed our salvation through the ongoing ministry of Jesus. Hold fast to the promises of God.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on June 16, 2019. It is part of an ongoing series in the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

Don’t take the summer off from God

Don’t take the summer off from God is the theme of a letter I recently sent to the congregation of First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA. I encourage you to take it to heart and apply it to the congregation where you worship.

 

Our salvation rests on God’s promises – A preview of Hebrews 6:13-20