May 1, 2010 _____________________________________________________________________________________
“Pulling Weeds And Pruning Bushes”
Each Spring I am reminded of the work required to have a fruitful garden, pleasing to the eye and the tastebuds. As my fellow gardeners can attest, beautiful flowers and healthy vegetables don’t just happen on their own. In fact if left alone, the beautiful garden you had last year will become a hopeless thicket of vines, grass, scrubs, briers and weeds. On the other hand, if a dedicated gardener gets to work weeding and seeding and feeding, then the results will be much more favorable. The hardest job for me has always been to prune the trees and bushes. I can easily whop off the dead branches, but cutting back perfectly good branches is hard for me and I know I’m not alone.
I read an interesting article the other day on pruning apple trees. It said that the key to properly pruning an apple tree is to look for the main branch growing up out of the tree. That’s called the “leader.” The problem comes when there are other branches wanting to become “leaders.” For good, healthy, fruitful growth there can only be one leader. So branches that are trying to overtake the leader should be pruned even if they look healthy. Also the shoots growing up from the roots, called “suckers” need to be pruned or else they will stunt growth by keeping all the sap from getting into the upper branches.
About a hundred years ago, the British writer, James Allen, wrote a book entitled As a Man Thinketh. In it he says that the thoughts we cultivate in our minds will grow up and show up in our attitudes, actions and words. “A (person’s) mind may be likened to a garden,” he wrote, “which may be intellectually cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.”
Our minds and our lives are like gardens. We’ve got to weed the bad thoughts out of our minds and the bad habits out of our conduct. With God’s help we can cultivate our thoughts, pulling up weeds and planting the fertile seed of His Word. With help from the Holy Spirit, we can rid our lives of bad habits, one by one.
Looking forward to a bountiful, beautiful harvest in our church!
April 1, 2010 _____________________________________________________________________________________ “Cambridge Baptist Church Now Has a New Website!”
Dear Church Family:
Cambridge Baptist Church now has a new website! I’d like to share with you how this came about.
A committee met on Monday, August 3rd with the goal of completely reviewing all aspects of the existing church website. The consensus was that the current website was not performing to the standards demanded for a growing church today. Design of a new website was begun and the committee met throughout the fall to look at the latest design and offer feedback. The resulting website which you see today took essentially three months to construct and is the collaborative effort of the following people who are to be commended for their contributions:
Jeff Layton, leader of the AV Team, original creator of the Cambridge Baptist Church website and email system. His knowledge, expertise, and technical direction were invaluable in reaching this goal. His direct oversight resulted in the integration of the email system designed, created, and maintained by him.
Joyce Layton, who provided particular insight into the design elements, quality content, visual layout and continuous and final editing. She preached “present the best and do it right the first time” leadership.
Paul Layton, monitored all activities with supportive and positive critical suggestions, while keeping the project highly cost effective yielding the highest return on investment.
Vicki Olsen, who was instrumental in providing editorial and content support maximizing the site evaluation from a non-technical user/visitor point of view.
Bill Bangham provided the talents and fruits of his photographic and visual eye expertise. All photo images on the site are contributed by Bill including the content of the Photo Gallery page.
Craig Mattice who provided extensive hours of research and labor in designing the new website with the feedback, comments and suggestions of the primary members of the Team.
As a final note, we now have a Webmaster who, interestingly, is located in Manchester, UK. He will assist us in the routine maintenance and keeping the content current.
Join me in thanking these people for a job well done!
March 26, 2010
“Palm Sunday, Insights into the Emotions of Jesus”
Dear Church Family:
Palm Sunday is always a special Sunday to me as I know it also is for many of you. Not only is it the beginning of what most churches recognize as “Holy Week,” but it is also a day when we gain keen insightinto the emotions Jesus was facing.
What happened on Palm Sunday?
I. There was a Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.
“They brought it (the colt) to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along people spread their cloaks on the road ["while others spread branches they had cut in the fields" (Mark 11:8). "Others cut branches from the trees" (Matt. 21:8).] When He came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices” (Luke 19:35-37).
II. There were Tears Shed over Jerusalem.
As He approached Jerusalem, He wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace” (Luke 19:41,42). After those words, our Lord predicted the fall of that great city.
III. There was a Turning of Tables.
Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” He said to them, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers” (Matt. 21:13).
IV. There was Time Out for Rest.
“And He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where He spent the night“ (Matt. 21:17). “He went out to Bethany with the twelve” (Mark 11:11). Most likely, He spent the time in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper (Mark 14:3). He also was exhausted and needed to be surrounded by family and friends. He knew what the week would hold for Him — the others did not.
What a day! The excitement of a parade.. The pain connected with rejection and ignorance. The righteous indignation over a defiled church. The realization that even the Son of God needs rest and restoration.
I trust that this Easter Season, for you and your family, is filled with the Power, Presence and Peace that only one who knows the Living Lord can experience. Be blessed and be a blessing.
See you Sunday!
March 1, 2010
“The Greatest Need in the Church Today“
“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” 1John 2:20 (NIV)
The greatest need in the church today is to take to heart 1 John 2:20. That is to say that the greatest need, and one of deepest importance for the church today, is for the continual manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit. Notice I didn’t say the greatest need is for a theological theory about the Holy Spirit, or just an intellectual understanding of the Holy Spirit, but I maintain the greatest need for the church today is to embrace the power of the Holy Spirit. That has to do with experience not words.
Beginning this month and continuing into the Sunday after Easter, we will begin thinking about and studying what the Bible has to say about the Holy Spirit for the believer and for the church. John was writing to the church and warning them of false teachers and he reminded them that they had received “an anointing.” They had received it, not that they would be anointed by the Holy Spirit; they already had the anointing! Had they forgotten that? Had they ignored that fact? Were they succumbing to the ways and words of the false teachers because they had ignored the Holy Spirit?
Here, my friends, is a direct warning for the church today; an alarm for you and I of Cambridge Baptist Church. Is the anointing of the Holy Spirit present in our lives? Are we seeing the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit in our midst? How would we know? What are the distinguishing marks of the movement of the Spirit? Are we moving under the power of the Spirit or struggling ahead solely on our own power? If so, we are not being filled with the power that God has given to us.
And so, for the next several weeks we will be looking at the Holy Spirit; how He was promised; how He came to the church, and how we all can have a Spirit-filled life. Please pray for me as I prepare these messages, but, more importantly, pray for our church and for your own experience that we will regain the filling of this wonderful presence of God in our lives.
February 1, 2010
From The Pastor’s Desk:
“Even With Tears”
Have you ever been moved to tears for the lost people you know? The apostle Paul was. Listen to Philippians 3:17-19:
“17Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. 18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.” (NIV)
Paul was very concerned that the Philippians understand the threat of false teachers. He said, “I have often told you before and now…present tense…I say again even with tears.” By the way, that’s the only time in the New Testament when Paul actually says he is presently crying. In Romans he talked about having sorrow and continuous heaviness of heart over the lostness of Israel. And in Acts 20, he said, “I warned you night and day with tears.” But this is the only time he says, “As I write I cry, I weep.”
His heart is broken. He grieved over the lostness of people. He grieved over the encroachment of false teachers that disrupted the church and brought a reproach on the name of Christ and led people astray. And here he is literally weeping as he recognizes that they will infiltrate Philippi and they will try to wreak havoc in the church. He is heartbroken. He says, “I now tell you even weeping.” This is a passionate man. This is a tender-hearted man. This is a man with rich feelings. He loved genuinely. He ached over the lost.
You say, “Why is he weeping? What’s he crying about?” Well, we don’t know, it doesn’t really specifically say but we can certainly surmise. He could have been weeping because these enemies of the cross were lost, for he did have sorrow over lost people (see Romans 9). He could have been weeping because he could see the terrible impact that they would have on the weak in the church. In Acts 20:31, Paul writes, “and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” Those were tears for the church because it could be so easily led astray by false teachers.
So whether it was the damnation of the enemies or whether it was the destructive impact of their effort, it caused him to weep. He loved the church. He loved the Philippians because he loved the Christ of the church and the Christ of the Philippians. And he could see these enemies trying to seduce them and it broke his heart. After all, the Philippian church was the first church in Europe, a sort of beachhead for another world to reach. And it was so important that they stay pure and not get messed up.
Beloved, I need to tell you from the bottom of my heart, that I see the church in America today on the threshold of being deceived by a myriad of the enemies of the cross. And I see a church that is no longer moved to tears for the lost. My prayer for myself and for you, the church at Cambridge, is that we all would be moved to tears for the lost and for the enemies of the cross of Christ. Destruction awaits them and we may be the only ones who care enough to warn them.
Praying for revival,
November 1, 2009
From The Pastor’s Desk:
“Making the Contributions in Life“
As a young family living in Burlington, Vermont, we attended a Methodist Church which had a very clever Stewardship Committee. Like a lot of churches, we struggled with getting enough contributions by the members to cover expenses. We struggled with getting enough nursery workers and Sunday School teachers. We seemed to always have an abundance of people to come out for church social functions but only a handful would attend business meetings.
One year, the Stewardship Committee came up with the clever idea of having buttons made up with only one word printed on them: TUIT. When a person made a commitment to support the church financially (we filled out pledge/commitment cards), or to teach a Sunday School class, or to serve in the nursery or on a committee, they were given a button and asked to wear it to church. When other people saw the button and asked what it stood for, the wearer would explain, It‘s a round tuit. When it comes to serving the Lord in the church, I‘m finally getting a round tuit‘. Everyone got the point, and pretty soon practically the whole church was wearing a button. We saw an increase in giving and also many of the unfilled positions on committees and tasks in the church were staffed.
1 Peter 4:10 says, Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God‘s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
Too often we rely on someone else to do the job in the church we are equipped to do and should be doing. We expect someone else to sing in the holiday choir, or to serve in the nursery, or to chair a team or committee, or to support the church financially. But in doing so, we‘re missing out on the tremendous joy there is in worshipping and working together in the Body of Christ.
Don‘t you think it‘s time to get a round tuit?
There are three kinds of people in the world: those who don‘t know what‘s happening, those who watch what‘s happening, and those who make things happen. Nicholas Murray Butler, former president Columbia University