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What were we arguing about?

If you have been married for any length of time, you know there comes a point when you and your spouse have an argument. You disagree over an issue, perception, event, or slight. As the argument continues, you begin to move away from the original topic and start piling on other matters. Pretty soon, you look at each other and wonder, what were we arguing about to begin with?

The NFL National Anthem protest feels like one of those arguments, especially now that the White House has weighed in on the matter.

Long ago in ancient times, or so it feels even though it was only last season, Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers chose to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem as a way of protesting inequality between the races. (That is perhaps an overly simplified summary of a very complex issue.) The conversation then shifted to whether kneeling was disrespectful to the flag and to the military. Then it moved to solidarity among teammates. A report came out last week that Colin Kaepernick has supposedly reversed course and said he will stand during the anthem if he can get his job back. Then Vice President Pence left yesterday’s Colts-49ers game because several 49ers knelt during the anthem. A 49ers official said it was a P.R. stunt and at least one sportswriter was bothered because it upstaged the Colts retiring Peyton Manning’s jersey. Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys said anyone who kneels will no long play for the Cowboys. People are up in arms over the loss of free speech.

It appears the argument subtly shifted from inequality or injustice to free speech and the right to protest. The original issue has been lost amidst the rhetoric. Since the various sides cannot agree on what they are arguing about, no wonder we can’t solve the problem.

What were we arguing about?

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2017 in News stories, NFL

 

Don’t Be a Striking Failure

A woman once came to evangelist Billy Sunday and tried to rationalize her angry outbursts. “There’s nothing wrong with losing my temper,” she said. “I blow up, and then it’s all over.” “So does a shotgun,” Sunday replied, “and look at the damage it leaves behind!”

When you read through the books of Exodus and Numbers, you discover that Moses had a lifetime problem with anger. At the age of 40, he killed a man (Exodus 2:11-12; Acts 7:22-24). At the age of 80, he stormed out of Pharaoh’s presence in hot anger (Exodus 11:8). A few months later, he got fed up with the people of Israel and broke the tablets of the law in an act of uncontrolled fury (Exodus 32:15-19). At the age of 120, he lashed out at the nation of Israel and struck a rock in anger. This last event reveals that unresolved anger erodes character, dishonors God, and leaves lasting and painful consequences (Numbers 20:2-13).

After 40 years of leading the nation of Israel, the constant quarrels and complaints wore Moses down (Numbers 20:1-5). The people complained about the food (too boring), the water (not enough), the travels (too long), and the hardships (too many funerals). Someone once said that listening to complaints is like being stung to death by a mosquito.

Somewhere along the line, Moses stopped listening to God. He sought God’s counsel (5). God’s glory appears (6) and the Lord gives Moses three specific instructions: take your staff, gather the people, and speak to the rock (7-8). Initially, it appears that Moses is going to obey (9). However, after being in God’s presence, seeing his glory, and hearing God’s instructions, Moses deliberately disobeys God’s commands.

Moses becomes resentful and judgmental (10a). He lashes out verbally at the people—“You rebels!” He sets himself up as judge and condemns them.

Moses becomes proud (10b). “Shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” He acts and speaks like he will perform the miracle all by himself.

Moses disobeyed God’s command (11). Instead of speaking to the rock as God instructed, Moses lashes out at the rock and strikes it twice. Even though Moses lost control, God in his grace provides water for the people.

Moses’ disobedience revealed a lack of trust (12a). When you know God’s will and instructions and deliberately move in another direction, you are telling God, “I do not believe your plan is best.” It is unbelief and a lack of faith.

Moses’ actions dishonored God (12b). Through his actions, Moses stole the glory from God and took it for himself. He elevated himself rather than treating God as holy.

Though anger can be forgiven, it may leave lasting and painful consequences (12c). Because of his actions, God tells Moses he will no longer lead the people into the Promised Land. While it sounds like a harsh punishment for one act, it is really the culmination of a lifetime of uncontrolled anger. It also demonstrates that leaders are held to a higher standard.

It is not enough to merely control your anger. You must strengthen your character by committing yourself to obey God at every stage.

“Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on October 8, 2017. It is part of a series of sermons on the life of Moses. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

FCBC Building Renovation Proposal

First Central Bible Church is considering how to upgrade our facility for ministry in the 21st Century. Below is a letter mailed out to the congregation explaining the proposed process and when they can learn more about the details. Click on the letter to download a copy of the pdf file.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2017 in First Central Bible Church, Ministry

 

Hope that sustains

Book Review: All Things New: Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything you Love, by John Eldredge

When we experience seasons of loss—loss of a dream, death of a loved one, friends moving away, becoming empty nesters after a child’s graduation or wedding—we have to deal with times of grief. We also need to find a hope that will sustain us and help us move forward.

What if someone told you that everything you’ve lost will be restored to you, but in even better shape than before? What if someone said that all the things you loved will be renewed?

This is the premise of John Eldredge’s latest offering, All Things New: Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything you Love. The title and theme come from Revelation 21:5 where Jesus says, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Eldredge’s point is that Jesus is not making new things, but regenerating the old ones into new and better condition. If we believe that God is going to restore our lives and everything we love any day now, this hope will give us an anchor which will not only sustain us, but help us to look forward to the future with hope.

All Things New is a very encouraging book. As with John Eldredge’s previous books, it is real, honest, gritty, emotional, and uplifting. He draws illustrations from personal experience, movies, literature, and daily life. While not intended to be a book of theology, it will give you a new perspective on eternity and cause you to rethink your view of heaven.

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 5, 2017 in Books, Heaven

 

The joy of fall

And so it begins 😉

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in Fall, Fun

 

Living with Intentionality

Book Review: Choosing a Life That Matters: 7 Decisions You’ll Never Regret, by Dennis Rainey

Would you like to live a life with purpose and significance? Do you desire to leave a lasting legacy? Rather than pursuing success and possessions, the key is found in making the right choices about key areas of life.

Author Dennis Rainey has written a short, but powerful book outlining 7 key decisions that will result in a life of significance and purpose. Each one of the decisions focuses on how we view God. We are to seek God, not sin; fear God, not men; love God, not the world; believe God, not the deceiver; obey God, not your feelings; worship God, not comfort; and serve God, not self.

The book contains seven short chapters on each of the 7 decisions. Rather than merely talk about theory, the author also includes a Life Skills section in each chapter that gives practical ideas on how to implement and put the decision into practice.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Bethany House through the Bethany House Blogger Review Program http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/bethanyhouse/bookreviewers. 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 October 4, 2017 in Books, Personal growth

 

In the aftermath of Las Vegas

3 Ways to Pray for Las Vegas: It’s a Powerful (Not Political) Act for Christians” – article by Ed Stetzer

“An Act of Pure Evil” — Searching for Meaning in Las Vegas – article by Al Mohler

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2017 in News stories