"As she stood looking at it, wondering why there was a lamp-post in the middle of a wood and wondering what to do next, she heard a pitter patter of feet coming toward her..." (C S Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Do You Have a Bucket List?


Do you have a bucket list?

For those of you who may not know, a bucket list is a list of things you want to do or experience before you "kick the bucket," or die.  Here are some suggestions for your bucket list.  Some of these I have already done, others I am hoping to do some day.

Books
1. Read the entire Bible
2. Read Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan
3. Read Mere Christianity and The Screwtape letters by C. S. Lewis
4. Read a Biography on Martin Luther (prefably Roland Bainton IMHO)
5. Read The Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia

Places
1. Visit a foreign country
2. Visit the Grand Canyon
3. Visit Alaska and Hawaii
4. Visit New York City
5. Live in at least 3 States

Transportation
1. Fly in a helicopter
2. Go on an overnight cruise
3. Ride a horse
4. Ride a motorcycle
5. Ride in an old fashioned train (and eat dinner)

Education
1. Learn an ancient language (Latin, Hebrew, Greek)
2. Learn a spoken foreign language (Spanish, German, Italian)
3. Memorize a meaningful Poem
4. Learn how to cook at least one incredible meal
5. Learn how to ballroom dance, or learn a martial art

Misc.
1. Speak at the funeral of a friend or family member
2. Go on a short-term missions trip
3. Serve on a jury for jury duty
4. Generously help a stranger out
5. Throw an amazing surprise party for your spouse, best friend

That's just a few suggestions.  What are some things you would add to your Bucket List?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Breakfast with my babe at Quincy Market

Nothing like enjoying some coffee in downtown Boston with the love of my life.



Monday, November 18, 2013

Andy Needham Band and Jaime Jam at FBC


I want to thank Andy Needham Band and Jaime Jamgochian for coming to FBC for a fundraising concert for Open Hearts Ministry!

I want to introduce you to Andy Needham Band, a band here in the greater Boston area, starting off as a summer camp praise & worship team and growing into a full-time ministry band with a large and growing influence. One of the things I love about their ministry is a church-base focus. Andy Needham said, “Being in a local church helped ground me in God’s passion for His people, I have always loved worship, but I needed to be reminded that when Jesus left the earth he didn’t start a camp or a band, He started the Church.”

Jaime Jamgochian comes to us from Nashville, TN, but she is a Boston-area native. A well-known Christian artist, with a passion especially for reaching teenager girls, with her Modest is Hottest campaign. She came to know the Lord at the Berklee College of Music, which completely changed her life. In addition to concerts and events, Jaime leads worship at her local church in Nashville, where she also mentors girls. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Power of Vision



A vision is a picture in your mind and heart and even soul of where you want to go.  It drives you relentlessly towards a certain destination.

The difference between not having a vision and having one, is the difference between taking a Sunday afternoon joy ride or going on a one way road trip.

The first is easier, fun, and usually filled with lightheartedness.  Each trip you say, "I hope everyone enjoyed their time, maybe we'll do it again next Sunday."  After the trip you end up at the same place you started, just out of gas.

The second can be at times arduous and tiring.  Each stop you say, "It's a mighty long journey, but we're on our way."  It is filled with adventure and accomplishment, and in the end you find yourself in exciting new territory.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Quotes on Christian Unity

Regarding other people, our problem is that we need them (for ourselves) more than we love them (for the glory of God).  The task God sets for us is to need them less and love them more.   (Ed Welch, When People are Big and God is Small)

Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate.” (Bonhoeffer, Life Together)

There is no doubt that we are all brothers in grief; but we shall never again be brothers in life and fact till we are once more brothers in fun and farce. (G. K. Chesterton)

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow.  So one hundred worshipers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become "unity" conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship. Social religion is perfected when private religion is purified. (AW Tozer)

Eros will have naked bodies; Friendship naked personalities. (C S Lewis, The Four Loves)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Catching My Breath

This July 24, I will have been at FBC as Lead Pastor officially for 2 years (6 months before that as Interim Lead).  It is amazing to think of what the Lord has done at FBC during this two and half years.  I am truly stunned at his grace...

1. We have clarified our vision: Becoming a Jesus Centered Community

2. We have renovated our 1,200 seat sanctuary (roof, plaster, paint, etc.)

3. We have created a new conference room and 2 more offices, renovated 2 existing offices, a kitchen and a bathroom, hallways, a stairway, a new nursery, a new sensory room for special needs children, and combined our facility with a fully functional Newcomb St church facility

4. We have clarified and defined roles of our Deacons and Elders (in short, deacons are given specific ministry categories like event planning, and Elders are responsible for shepherding and managing)

5. We have clarified and defined the role of our prudential committee and we have balanced our budget (no more deficit budgets!)

6. We have called a full-time Administrative Assistant to the Lead Pastor: Kina Forman

7. We have called a Pastor of Systems and Strategy: Pastor Dave Herring

8. We have called a Pastor of Worship and Care: Pastor Mike Sperring

9. We have called a Pastoral Intern: Paul Miller

10. We have increased our director of Open Hearts Ministry to full-time and welcomed him and his wife as members of FBC: Jim and Carol Finley

11. We have merged with Haverhill Community Church, and welcomed their members, kids, and regular attendees!

12. We have watched folks come to know Jesus and grow in their faith, had baptismal services, numerous new members courses, held two leadership retreats, helped dozens out of financial difficulties, established a Facebook page and Twitter page, and seen God mightily answer prayer again and again!

What will the next two years look like?  I can't wait to find out!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

5 Reasons I Hold to Believers Baptism

This old debate has been renewed for me in some conversations lately.  Here a handful of reasons I am a believer's baptist (credobaptist) rather than an infant baptist (paedobaptist).

1. Tradition and church history hold no authority over Scripture - Sure infant baptism has had a long history, but that has no bearing on what the text of Scripture actually says.  

2. There are no examples in Scripture of infant baptisms - yep.  Not a single instance.  

3. Repentance, faith, baptism is the order commended throughout the New Testament.  

4. The connection between circumcision and baptism is very loose.  There is a connection.  They are both signs of God's covenant with His people.  However, Scripture does not make much of this connection.  

5. Baptism represents death, burial, and resurrection - as we are immersed into the waters, we are symbolically buried with Jesus in His death, and as we arise we are symbolically united to Him in His resurrection.

On a more experiential note, nothing is more Spiritually powerful to me than to watch a new Christian talk about how God rescued him or her, voice his or her faith in Jesus and see him or her emerge from the water with a big joyous smile!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Big Church vs. Small Church



Which is better?  Picture this: a small group of believers who gather together faithfully every Sunday and at least once during the week to study, pray, and listen to each other.  They know each other well, they care about each other, they love each other.  Someone gets sick, everyone knows, sends flowers, and drops a phone call.  Someone doesn't show up on a Sunday, someone stops by for a visit to check in.  Someone moves away, their absence is felt deeply.  Someone new joins, their presence is felt immediately.

Now picture this: A large group of believers by the hundreds stream in to gather to worship and praise God.  They are passionate about reaching the community.  With combined resources and numerous outreach programs they are able to influence the community in a powerful way.  Many who would never dare step foot in a small traditional church where they don't fit in, come and feel welcome among a diverse crowd.  There are ministries for every age group from toddlers to teenagers to seniors.  A large staff and facility allow for lots of classes, programs and small groups.

Which is better?  Neither.  What often happens is one model feels superior to the other: "Big churches are compromising the truth," or "Small churches are all dying."  In doing so we can miss the beauty and blessing of each.  Scripture never gives us a numerical command for church size.  That's because God allows for diversity here.  Both play an important role in the Church (capital "C").

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Weight of Preaching



UPDATE (5/6/13): The ebook is now available at Christian Book Distributors

UPDATE: My first book is now available on Amazon.com: The Weight of Preaching: Heralding the Gospel of Grace (Hardcover and Paperback available).  

I am truly humbled and honored that some of my heroes were gracious enough to offer endorsements for it.  To God be the glory.

“Amid shelves full of how-to books about preaching, Rick Harrington’s book stands out in its consideration of the fundamental why and what of preaching. His theme of the preacher as herald is worthy of much meditation, for it casts the preacher’s authority, message, person, and effectiveness under the shadow of the gracious King. It is a refreshing and reinvigorating word to the messengers of the Lord.”

--Joel R. Beeke, President
Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary,
Grand Rapids, Michigan


“Rick Harrington has written an insightful book on preaching that is unified around the theme of the preacher as herald and preaching as heralding.  Intended as a complement to (not a replacement for) homiletical textbooks, this is a welcome addition to our understanding of the theology of preaching.  I heartily recommend it to all who care about the church or about preaching.”

Professor of Religion and Greek
Grove City College
Grove City, PA


“Effective preachers should read at least one new book on preaching every year.  If that is your custom then by all means read "The Weight of Preaching" this year.”

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Denominations: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Are denominations good?  Are they bad?  Are they just plain ugly?

The Good

Denominations help people distinguish theological differences.  If I am looking for a church that holds to Scripture alone as the highest authority, then I certainly want to stick to a protestant denomination.  If I am also looking for one that holds to believer's baptism, then I want to find a free church or a baptist church.  If I want one that is paedo-baptist (infant baptism) I will look to the Presbyterian, Methodist, or Congregationalist.  If I am Reformed, then usually that means Presbyterian or Congregational.  If I want a high-church liturgy, then Anglican or Methodist.  You get the idea.  Denominations mean we are taking theology seriously.  That is a good thing.  To water down the message for the sake of unity is a huge mistake.

The Bad

Denominations can also be bad.  By that I mean evil.  They can be a source of divisiveness and arrogance.  When one denomination begins to think that they are the only real Christians who have a full grasp on all the truth, there is a problem.  I've seen this in all different denominations.  Christ is bigger than any one denomination of Christianity.  Sectarianism and divisiveness are flat out evil.  This falls into the "I follow Paul" or "I follow Apollos" mentality we read about in 1 Corinthians.

The Ugly

Sometimes denominations can just be plain ugly.  People hide away in their denominational traditions and never peek out to see what else is going on in the world.  It is not that people don't think there can be Christians outside of their denominations, it's just that they have no association with them.  They are "American Baptists" or "Southern Baptists" or "Orthodox Presbyterian" or "Evangelical Presbyterian Church."  Think about how this looks to the world.  Instead of making much of our unity in Christ, we turn the church into alphabet soup: ABC, SBC, BGC, EPC, OPC, PCA, UCC, CCCC, PCUSA, UMC, CB, ELCA, IFCA, etc. (yes those are all real denominations).

Can we save the good, and get rid of the bad and the ugly?  Can we do away with the bad and the ugly, and still keep the good?  Only in degrees.  We can get better and better.

How about a more radical idea?  Be inter-denominational.  Be a church that majors on the essentials, is not afraid to talk about and deal with the non-essentials but doesn't divide over them.  Welcome folks to join based on the gospel essentials, but still maintain strong theological differences without dividing over them.  That's what we are trying at First Baptist.  We are a gospel-centered, believer's baptist, complementarian church in practice.  However, we have a good handful of paedo-baptists.  I'm what would be a labelled a five-point Calvinist, but I would be happy to welcome a Arminian into fellowship and debate.  We are covenantal for the most part, yet open to dispensationals at all levels of leadership.  We major on the essentials.

Can this be done?  We're doing it now.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Better Together

 +


What?  Last Sunday we proposed a merger between FBC and HCC!  The official proposal is: "To merge Haverhill Community Church, with all of her staff, members, assets and liabilities with First Baptist Church with all of her staff, members, assets and liabilities into one united church.”  Both congregations will vote on it come this May!

How?  In addition to a united membership, we would welcome their two pastors: Dave Herring as Pastor of Systems and Structure and Mike Sperring as Pastor of Worship and Care.  I would continue on as Pastor of Vision and Preaching.  

Why?  With a combined staff, membership, and resources, we hope God will enable us to reach Haverhill more effectively with the gospel of Christ.  This was an amazing kingdom opportunity, that we just felt like we couldn't pass over.  It was born out of much prayer, conversation, and listening to Scripture.  God is doing something good for His Name here in Haverhill!  Bring it on Lord!




Update:




Wednesday, January 16, 2013

All of the Above

Why are you a Christian?  It seems as if people give one of four answers to that question:

A. Evidence - You were convinced by the evidence for God, particularly the evidence of intelligent design and the evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus

B. Experience - Your personal subjective experiences led you into believing that Christianity is true.

C. Relationships - Someone you know demonstrated Christ-likeness to you and was so influential over your life that you came to faith in Christ yourself.

D. Scripture - You started reading the Bible and you were convinced that it is the Word of God.

Each one standing alone has its weaknesses.  If your faith is based on evidence alone, what happens when some seemingly novel piece of evidence comes along that makes you question your faith?  If it is based on your experiences, what happens when you have some other experiences that seem to point in another direction?  What happens when you begin a relationship with an atheist or a Muslim who seems compelling in his own lifestyle?  What happens when some egg-headed skeptic lays out all of his objections to Scripture that you can't answer?

You might ask, "Well do you have a better answer?"

I think so.  All of the above.  Remember those pesky "all of the above" answers on college exams?  I think that is what we have here.  It is not merely the evidence that convinces me of the Truth of Christianity, it is the evidence plus experience.  It is not merely some amazing Christian men and women who have led me to faith, it is relationships plus the Truth of Scripture.  It's all four.  It's all of the above.

Ultimately, the answer to why I am a Christian is the work of the Holy Spirit.  But the Holy Spirit uses means, whether that be feeling the weight of the evidence, an earth shattering experience, a powerful Christian friendship, or conviction of the Bible.  God makes Christians, and he does it by all of the above!