Blog

Rick Writes:

Singular Focus from a Box of Candy

Years ago, when our children were young, we planned a small trip, and before we jumped in the car, I made an executive decision and planned an activity that I thought might get the kids involved memorizing Scripture, if only for a few miles.   After printing some verses on 3×5 index cards and filling a box with candy and a roll of quarters, it was time to move on down the road and let the games begin. Recite a verse and pick a Hershey bar or a quarter from the box.  Then, once you had recited the verse, you earned the bonus question, which if answered correctly, meant another trip to the loaded box. The bonus question? What does the verse mean?

That’s when the unexpected happened.  Our daughter, who must have been around the age of 12, was quick to answer the bonus question, and it didn’t matter what the verse was, her answer was always the same. Whatever the verse, the meaning was the same:  Love God and Serve other People.

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September’s Letter

In Acts chapter 11, the Word of God tells us that after Stephen’s death, persecution against believers in Christ was unleashed. They scattered and some went to Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, where they preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus. Many in Antioch believed in Christ because of the preaching of those courageous believers. News of these things came to the church in Jerusalem and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When Barnabas arrived in Antioch, he immediately saw the grace of God reflected in many saved souls and exhorted all to continue preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Barnabas went to find Paul in Tarsus and brought him to Antioch. Barnabas and Paul spent a year in Antioch, teaching the Word of God to many people and it was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.

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Dear First Baptist Church

Recently, my wife shared this illustration that shows us the importance of sticking together.

Flying in a flock is the key to survival for birds living on the plains, and the best display is the annual migration of the American snow goose. A million and a half birds stop to roost in Mound City, Missouri, and the bald eagles know it. They gather to feast on this delicacy before winter comes, but geese are as big as the eagles and hard for them to catch. 

When geese sense danger, the entire flock takes flight forming what looks to the eagle like a great noisy wall. The confused eagles are not able to penetrate that united wall and harm them. But the eagles are hungry and patiently wait for another chance. 

When the weather turns colder, the geese separate into smaller groups along the shore and marshes. The eagles take advantage of the divided groups by diving over them. The geese scatter in flight and in the chaos injure their flock mates, breaking wings and leaving them vulnerable to the enemy.

I think, in some ways, this story describes the current situation of our church.

The church is the group of people who have believed in Christ for salvation and who come together to worship God and to celebrate biblical ordinances.

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Simple Faith

Where You Can Devote 3 Hours That Will Make The Greatest Impact In Your Life And Our Church
 
Do you ever find yourself getting confused trying to figure out just what God wants from you when you decide to follow Jesus? Have you ever felt overwhelmed or exhausted with Church life? Do you ever feel guilty because you don’t feel like you are doing enough, even when you are doing so much for Jesus?
 
If you answered “yes” to these questions, then chances are you might be making your walk with Jesus more complicated than it needs to be. When Jesus bids us to come to Him, he is not asking for an open ended commitment to leading and building church programs. He is asking us for some-thing far greater: to be fully devoted to Him.
 

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Taking Time to Rest in Jesus

Psalm 16:8-10

I keep my eyes always on the LORD.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my 
heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,nor will you let your faithful one see decay.

Many of us are dreaming of “getting away” like never before as we have been extensively confined to our homes because of Covid-19. We might long for disappearing from daily life and enjoying family actives together as the summer quickly approaches— hikes in the mountains, bike trails, fishing, boating, or even simple walks down the sidewalks of Holyoke.

The problem is that we can intentionally carve out time in our schedules to get away but never actually find rest. Peace can escape us, and often does during the summer season. If you could find peace and rest from your weariness, what would that look like?

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Understanding the Risky Reality of Grace

Romans 11:6, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”

Back in the summer of 2005, Samantha and I were engaged to be married. Our wedding was only months away. While I knew she was the right person for me, there was a part of me that was incredibly nervous. Up remaining on the relationship agenda was one of the most terrifying things for me.


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A Lesson from Obadiah: Why You Don’t Want to Celebrate in the Suffering of Your Enemy

Obad. 15                For the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations.

                 As you have done, it shall be done to you;

                                your deeds shall return on your own head.

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Are You Fully Devoted to Christ?

One of the most tragic events during the Reagan Presidency was the Sunday morning terrorist bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, in which hundreds of Americans were killed or wounded as they slept. Some in our congregation may still recall the terrible scenes as the dazed survivors worked to dig out their trapped brothers from beneath the rubble.

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Mission First

2 Timothy 2:4
4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.”

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Fueling Faith

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” — The Apostle Paul (Romans 1:16).
 
It has already been just over a month since Thanksgiving. Christmas has now come and gone. And here we are starting a new year. During the holidays many of us went places or we had family members who came to visit. No matter where our journeys took us, none of us would have made it down any roads without fuel for our vehicles.
 

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