Author Archives: Pastor Mark

Christmas Eve and 12/28/14

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    Merry Christmas everyone::If someone hadn’t written a song titled “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” I would have, because I believe it to be so.

    I can’t wait for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service tomorrow night! We have a couple of special surprises.

    Better get there early, grab the last bit of Christie’s Christmas Tea for the season and grab a seat. We’ll start promptly at 5PM and be done pretty close to 6PM so you can still do your family traditions.

    If you would like to bring a plate of cookies to share, that’d be fun. Spread some Christmas cheer!

    Lastly, our final service of 2014 will be a “Looking Back” service where we can look at what the Lord has done in our lives. I know that Father has worked in your lives and in your favor on lots of ways. It is time to share them with others to help boost their faith and yours. Remember, we overcome him (the devil) by our words of testimony concerning Fathers’ work on our behalf. And also, faith comes by hearing. My life is enriched and my faith is built when I hear how you have trusted in Father.

    At that service, let’s put some things in the Ebenezer Box as reminders of how He has worked in our lives. Maybe you have a picture or a short story we can put in the box for future reminders. If you have an object to put in the box, let’s be thoughtful about the size for future use.

    Then let’s look forward and fight in prayer for our families, church family, and town with 21Days of Prayer, Fasting, and B90X!

    I love the Advent conspiracy! Pastor Mark.

But God

Are there two words that mean more than these two in our vocabulary?

They are like a wrecking ball, a 2×4 upside the noggin, or a tsunami about to hit shore.  Or conversely it can be the touch of a loving hand at just the right time, a gentle word that turns away wrath, an ordinance specialist dismantling a highly explosive bomb, a heralded arrival of Father’s Glory, or a soothing balm.  They both show a side of things often forgotten.  They reveal a nature outside our own.  They highlight a sovereign, loving Father whose ways are far above our ways.

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Cor 1:27 NIV

Indeed he was ill, and almost died. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow. Phil 2:27 NIV

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  Eph 2:4 NASB

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.  Gal 4:7 NIV

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 1 Cor 3:6 NASB

 

 

Blessed to be a blessing

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Sometimes when a thing is over used it becomes less significant.
Sometimes when a saying is repeated too often it becomes pithy.

I have thought the latter about the saying above.  There was a time when it was reiterated so often that it lost its punch.  ”you are blessed to be a blessing.”  I didn’t resent it, but it did become diluted to the point of it meaning less.

The reality of it is still true.  When Continue reading

Two criminals with Jesus

In our travels through the book of Luke, we have made it to the Easter season 2014 at the same time we read and preach the last moments of Jesus life on the cross.

This past Sunday was Luke Part 123 in a series of sermons taking us all the way through the book of Luke.  This has taken five years, yet has been met with interludes along the way like Christmas, Easter, B90X, and other short book or series studies.

I don’t think this is by accident that we meet right now with a intersection of these ideas.

The thought I had this morning related both to the sermon last Sunday and the group of men I have the privilege of meeting with every Wednesday morning.  I don’t even begin to think that I have the all-inclusive, final answer to every section of scripture which I preach.  For this past Sunday, the Holy Spirit lead me to share some particular ideas relating to the four verses surrounding the two thieves crucified at the same time as Jesus.

The cool thing which happened this morning at coffee was how much more there is to the story than meets the eye.  Nearly all six of us which spoke up about it, had a little different take, inflection, or depth to the story than the others.  Granted we all had the same foundational view.  However, each of us brought a different light, perspective, or world-view to the passageScreen Shot 2014-04-09 at 9.05.26 AM.  It was mighty.

One of the things our time together this morning reminded me was how alive and living the Word of God is.  Taking the time to meditate on it can bring to light all sorts of things.  Rather than me thinking I have to have all the answers for everyone each and every Sunday, some ideas are spread around like the sower and his seed in Matt. 13, and those seeds fall on different kinds of hearts and lives and grow (or don’t grow) in all sorts of ways.

This was a really rich time for me.  Thank you Jim, Chris, Rick, Vince, Nathan, and Bill for sharing your hearts and thoughts on the Living Word of God.

B90X- Alter fire in Leviticus

I can remember the last thing the best man said at my wedding to Christie and I in his toast.  His name was Jeff.  He was a pretty lanky and thin fellow, as we all were back then.  And in typical Wildwood fashion, why do something once when you can do it twice as aggressive and with gusto, he raise not one, but two glasses of champagne.  Then said, “Keep the faith.”

That was approaching 32 years ago.  Little did I know how poignant his concluding words would be.

Faith must be kindled, stoked, maintained, perpetuated, supported, watered, fertilized, sustained, conserved, preserved, protected, upheld, and prolonged.

And most of all it must be kept.  It cannot be ignored, neglected, disregarded, abandoned, shirked, deserted, disclaimed, disowned, or disavowed.

I love reading the Bible.  I love reading the Bible in 90 days.  I love how the discipline of reading cover to cover forces me to read through material I normally would not.  I love how some ideas, words, or scenes of what may be happening in the text, come to life.

Last night I was reading through Leviticus.  First, I want to say that folks who disparage Leviticus and call it a sleeping aid, should stop that.  It is one of God’s words and needs to be treated thoughtfully and with care.

Three verses or ideas popped out at me:

brazen alter fireLeviticus 6:9 “Give Aaron and his sons this command: ‘These are the regulations for the burnt offering: The burnt offering is to remain on the altar hearth throughout the night, till morning, and the fire must be kept burning on the altar.”

Leviticus 6:12 “The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it.”

Leviticus 6:13 “The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.”

If I understand this correctly, for nearly 40 years or more, the fire of the brazen alter was never extinguished or went out naturally.  Wow.  That required vigilance.  That required much help and attention.

Where did all that wood come from in the desert?  Did that mean someone had to carry ashes on their head from one camp location to another?  Who was responsible to find, fell, chop, split, haul, and maintain a wood pile for the alter?  What kind of wood was it typically? Did it burn hot and clean like scrub oak or messy like pine?  I digress.

The point Father was trying to make to me last night was that this fire could not be ignored.  It had to be kept and maintained.  Much like out faith, it can’t just go on cruise control, one will eventually run out of gas.

As my friend Jeff said, “Keep the faith.”  And not just with one glass, but with two, both hands raised, with gusto, with emphasis, and forever.