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Why I fell

My favorite theologian, Calvin & Hobbes, explained why I fell last week.

  • I didn’t stick the landing
  • I wasn’t wearing my “prepared for anything” helmet and cape (which some good friends gave me years ago.) Seems I need to find and unpack it.) 😉

Thank you Dave and Gary & Tricia for adding humor to my life.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2017 in Calvin and Hobbes

 

Building Renovation update – the vote

The congregation of First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, voted today on our building renovation proposal. (I used an absentee ballot since I’m laid up in the rehab center.) The vote was 92-12 in favor of the proposal. I had been praying that it would be decisive one way or the other. God certainly made it so. Now we move forward.

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2017 in First Central Bible Church

 

Enforced radio silence

While putting up Christmas lights on Monday, I fell off a step ladder and broke my femur. Visit to ER, surgery, recovery has consumed my week. Later today I will be transferred to a rehab center where I will spend the next week. Needless to say, not much blogging.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

No More Hunger – “I am the bread of life”

Someone once said that life is like eating Chinese food. It’s tasty and filling, but 30 minutes later you’re still hungry.

We long for 100% satisfaction guaranteed. We want perfect kids, the perfect computer and entertainment system, the perfect vacation, and a life filled with meaning and significance. Regardless of what we have, it’s never enough. We always want MORE! C. S. Lewis once said, “I cannot find a cup of tea which is big enough or a book that is long enough.”

We long to experience what Jesus promised in John 6:35, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

John 6:35 is the first of seven “I am” statements in the gospel of John where Jesus reveals his nature and purpose. Each statement addresses a particular need we all experience. In the first one, we discover that Jesus is the bread of life who satisfies our deepest longings.

The full account is found in John 6:22-59. In verses 22-34, Jesus’ followers are seeking the next meal. In verses 35-59, Jesus challenges them to be satisfied with the best meal.

The story begins on the day after the feeding of the 5,000 (22). The crowds realize that Jesus slipped away unnoticed. They find him on the other side of the Sea of Galilee teaching in a synagogue in Capernaum (59). Naturally curious, they ask Jesus how he got there (25). Being a master teacher, Jesus doesn’t answer their question directly. Instead, he engages them in a dialogue to help them discover the answer for themselves. He whets their appetite to know more.

Setting the table

Whetting the appetite
When did you get here? (25)

Check your motives (26-27)

What can we do to earn God’s approval? (28)

Trust me, you can’t (29)
Where is the proof? (30-31)

Faith based on miracles is not very strong (32-33)

Feed us now! (34)

 

Now that Jesus has their attention, he reveals that he is the bread of life (35, 48) who satisfies our deepest longings (35, 50-51). Jesus came from heaven (38) and was born in Bethlehem, the house of bread. He satisfies the deepest longings of our hearts—the desire for satisfaction, direction, security, belonging, hope, certainty, and significance. If we come to him, we will never hunger or thirst for anything else (35) and we will live forever (50-51).

To be satisfied by this meal, we must believe (35-40). We must believe that Jesus is who he claimed to be. We must trust that he is sufficient to meet our needs. We must be confident that his promises are true. A disciple is characterized by his/her continuing trust in God.

To be satisfied by this meal, we must receive it (41-58). We must stop resisting and making excuses (41-43). Rather than settle for food for today, we must pursue life for tomorrow (47-50). A full, complete relationship with Jesus is available for those who consume it totally (51-58). Jesus must become a staple of our spiritual diet. Not everyone, however, is ready to make this type of commitment. Even some who followed Jesus found it too difficult and chose to walk away (66).

Rather than settle for substitutes, pursue a relationship with the one who can satisfy the deepest longings of your heart.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on November 5, 2017. It is the first sermon in a series asking the question, “Who is Jesus?” Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

The FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) about the Building Renovation Proposal

As part of our building renovation proposal for First Central Bible Church, we developed a list of the frequently asked questions. Below is a letter we mailed to the congregation answering those questions. Click on the link to download a pdf copy of the letter. You can also download a pdf copy of the PowerPoint presentation and the brochure which gives more details about the project.

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Q: What was the process that brought us to this point?

A: In January 2016, Pastor Mark recommended to the elders that we consider renovating our sanctuary for more effective ministry in the 21st Century. The Elders agreed and asked Dave Guilbert and the Trustees to put a plan together. The Trustees, in turn, suggested forming a small task group that would be representative of our ministries. The elders concurred and appointed Dave Guilbert (Staff & Trustees), Doug McVeigh (Elders & AV), Dave Krok (Youth & Worship), Kevin Kelly (Trustees), and Carol Wheeler (C.E. & Women’s Ministries). The task group was given the charge of bringing back a proposal that the congregation could vote on.

After meeting several times, the task group felt it wise to bring in a church consultant who specializes in church renovation projects. At the June 2016 semi-annual meeting, the congregation approved the expenditure of funds for this purpose. The consultant met with the team during summer 2016. In addition, Dave Guilbert consulted the City of Chicopee Building Inspector to see if there were other issues in our facility that needed to be addressed.

After receiving recommendations from the consultant and the building inspector, we realized the project needed to become a building renovation rather than merely a sanctuary renovation. The task group also consulted an architect and structural engineer. In addition, the team talked to chair manufacturers, flooring experts, painters, contractors, and other specialists who would be needed for the project.

Over the past 18 months, the team has put in countless man hours researching and talking through a myriad of options. They presented the proposal to the elders who approved it before it was presented to the congregation last week.

Q: What is the purpose of the Development Fund? Can it be used for renovation?

A: In 1995 we put a large addition on our building. Building loans were obtained to fund it. The Building Fund was created to pay off this loan. The mortgage was paid off mid-2001. By a unanimous vote at the 2002 annual meeting, the Building Fund was changed to the Development Fund. In 2012, the Development Fund budget was reduced and people were encouraged to give their tithes and offerings more toward the General Fund and Missions Fund and less toward the Development Fund. In 2013 the Development Fund was removed from the General Fund budget due to budget constraints. It has remained a separate fund set aside for the development of the church facility.

In reading through the annual reports from 2002 – 2016, the following language was found that helped clarify the purpose of the Development Fund. This statement is included in the brochure that was passed out at the proposal meeting.

“The Development Fund was created to ensure that we can meet the future facility and development needs of our growing congregation. It was previously used to raze the United Methodist Church and turn the property into additional parking, renovate our parking lot lighting, and upgrade our exterior cement steps. As we grow, we will continue to have new and varied facility needs. While the fund cannot be used for minor repairs or general maintenance, it can be used to renovate our building to make it more effective for ministry in the coming years.”

Q: What will our seating capacity be? How will it be different?

A: Our current seating capacity is 289 people (Main Floor 197; Balcony 92). Using the proposed church chairs, our seating capacity will be 278 people (Main Floor 186; Balcony 92). If we kept our pews, we would have to shorten them to meet ADA standards (Americans with Disabilities Act) such as wider aisles. The seating capacity with the modified pews would be 241 people (Main Floor 149; Balcony 92).

One reason our current pews are not comfortable is that they were designed for a previous century when people were shorter and smaller. The proposed new chairs come with a book rack for Bibles and hymnals, a communion cup holder, and a pocket for giving envelopes and prayer request cards. The chairs are interlocking in order to form a solid row.

Q: What will happen to the organ pipes, baptistery painting, baptistery, divider wall, and pews?

A: The painting will be hung in the hallway between Gail Grant’s and Jack Gilbert’s offices. Every effort will be made to repurpose the other items. We will donate or give away what we can. We have had some preliminary conversations regarding the pews and discovered that the New England market is saturated with pews. If we are unable to find another user, the items will be disposed of.

Q: What is the timeframe for construction? What happens to worship, Sunday School, and children’s ministries in the interim?

A: The proposed timeframe is that we would do some preliminary work during the winter. Construction would begin the Monday after Easter 2018 and we hope to be finished by fall 2018. Our worship services would be held in the gym during this period of time. The Elders, Christian Education Board, and staff would flesh out the details for our C.E. ministries. While we have had some initial conversations about what we could do, we wanted to wait until after the vote to make detailed plans rather than presume the outcome.

Q: When will the vote be taken? What percentage is required for approval? What if I can’t be at the meeting?

A: The vote will be taken on November 12 following the 11:00 worship service. Paper ballots will be distributed prior to the beginning of the meeting. It will be a simple “Yes” or “No” vote on the entire proposal.

The proposal will be decided by a simple majority. In researching our church constitution, there are only two places where a specific percentage vote is required: (1) a two‑thirds majority is needed to change the constitution; and (2) a three-fourths majority is required to call or dismiss a pastor. All other matters, such as electing officers or approving our annual budget, are decided by simple majority.

Absentee ballots will be available on November 5 in the back of the sanctuary or from the church office from November 6-10. We encourage all to attend the meeting.

If you have any questions, please contact Pastor Mark Wheeler (markwheeler@firstcentral.church), Doug McVeigh (DMcV01@aol.com), or Dave Guilbert (daveguilbert@firstcentral.church).

Thanks for praying.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2017 in First Central Bible Church

 
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The evidence of God’s love

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2017 in Quotes, Tim Challies

 

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.