Author Archives: Pastor Mark

“What I must do today.”

A good reminder of what is truly urgent.  Nice post from Tom Rainer today from his blog.  Original found here.

I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35, HCSB)

I have incredible vision to see the faults of others. I can tell you quickly what’s wrong with someone who is close to me or someone who is a critic of me.

My problem is that I don’t look in the mirror enough. I don’t see the plank in my own eyes because I’m so busy seeing the splinters in others’ eyes.

My plan for this year is to read the four Gospels repeatedly. Today I read John 13. Today God broke my heart.

The text above is so clear. The primary way that others will know of my faith is how I treat fellow believers. The love I demonstrate to others will be the test of my witness to the world.

I have a long way to go.

May I share with you what God said to me through these two verses? I have enumerated them into five “I must” statements.

  1. I must demonstrate love to all Christians. The “one another” passage is clear. There is no exception clause. There are no qualifying descriptors that allow any believer to be exempt from my demonstration of love.
  2. I must demonstrate love even to those who do not show love to me. This statement is a corollary of the first. It’s easy to love those who always have my back, who are some of my closest friends, and who would never say a critical word about me. But I must love the unloving, the critical, and the hurtful as well.
  3. I must ask God to work on me before I seek to examine the faults in others. If I truly follow this command, I need work first in my own life. I must repent of my sometimes loveless attitude toward others. I cannot demonstrate real love toward some people in my own power. But God can work through me. He reminds to love others as He first loves me. And He loved me so much that He died for me.
  4. I must demonstrate love to my family. Sometimes my actions or lack of actions communicate lack of love to those closest to me. Sometimes my priorities tell my family members that I really don’t love them as I should.
  5. I must realize that one of my most potentially powerful acts of evangelism is to show love to other believers. I asked my barber once what he thought of Christians. He said without malice that he knew what we were against, but he didn’t know what we were for. That stung. I often lament the woeful state of evangelism among believers and churches. And then I realize with conviction how many times I have likely hurt the cause of evangelism with my own lack of love toward other believers. The world is watching me. And though it pains me to admit it, what the world has seen in me is not often a pretty sight. I know I have at times been a hindrance to the Great Commission.

It is amazing to see the power of God’s Word. And it is amazing to see the power of God’s Word convicting my own life.

I came away from my Bible study today with a message from God to me. It was a clear and convicting word.

This one thing I must do.

I must love others.

Letter to Christian Singles on Valentines Day

“We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.” Johann Wolfgang Goethe

“The way to love anything is to realize it might be lost.” G.K. Chesterton

One has to be sensitive on Mother’s Day not to say “Happy Mother’s Day” to the wrong person.  One has to be sensitive on Father’s Day not to say “Happy Father’s Day” to the wrong person.  Now there is a strain of concern on Valentine’s Day that one might offend a single person.

I ran across an encouraging article about singleness, Christianity, and the world of marriage.   On a day when the Facebook newsfeed is plastered with pictures of roses, messages from every woman on the planet saying ‘I have the most amazing husband in the world,’ and commercialism out the wazoo, I can see how it might be tenuous to be single if one wants to be married.

So as a way to relieve the strain and to be comforted by some soothing words, I pass on the following article:

“An Open Letter to Christian Singles, or, How to Say “Happy Valentine’s Day Without Sounding Sarcastic”

Simple, yet poignant.

Something I ran across yesterday here-  a pretty good representation of what our spiritual life is like.  I hope I am not a pastor who says life if perfectly easy, formulaic, and cut-and-dry.

Ever feel like you are meandering aimlessly?  I think about the verse in Psalm 119:105 that says  ”Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for m path.”  In my Bible next to this verse, I have written, “Not a search light for the future.”

Our spiritual journey may not be a straight point A to point B.  Maybe the feeling of meandering is purposeful or maybe we have to be circuitous in our journey in order to meet new people or minister to old friends.

Everyday ask Father for divine appointments that will bring a living water to someone.  Maybe in the meandering great love and ministry can take place. Keep your spiritual eyes and ears open.   Remember Jehoshaphat’s prayer, “we do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (2 Chr 20:12)  (That reference kind of looks like today’s date- 2/14/2012.  Random, I know.)

THE PROCESS OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH: A VISUAL

Life from different sources.

I heard someone once say, “You can find truth at various levels in the most inconspicuous places.” After all, a broken clock is right twice a day.  Using the filter of absolute truth and a little perceptiveness, one can be blessed by life-giving words that bless the heart and challenge the mind.

Such was the case this morning.  Whole Living magazine finds its way into our home every month. In the March edition there is a one page encouragement on thoughts towards whole living.  The ten items read like proverbs.  They so captivated my attention I thought I’d share them with  you.

10 Thoughts on Whole Living

1. When you need to find your way, check your roots.
2. Your body knows how to heal itself; just give it the right tools.
3. Beauty is a mosaic, not a mind-set.
4. Wouldn’t it be boring if the journey threw no curves?
5. Make eating more sensory: think about experiencing texture and aroma as well as taste.
6. Flaws build character, not shortcomings.
7. Collect and curate simplicities that lift your spirits.
8. Challenge your brain the way you do your body.
9. If you can’t stay, smile as you walk by.
10. Amuse and enrich your palate with varied, colorful foods.

Whole Living, March 2012, p. 87,  Jacqueline Gentilesco

B90X2012 “Loud and clear”

Just because I can, does that mean I should?  In the good ol’ US&A, we have this thing called Free Speech.  Our founding fathers thought it best that ideas and opinions ought not be censored.

I think I understand the ideas and arguments to free speech,  when it is OK to yell “Fire” and when not to.

The prudence of when to speak and what to say when doing so requires wisdom. As we journey through the Bible in rapid form, today we hit a preponderance of scriptures in Proverbs dealing with words, speech, our tongue, cursing, lying, and  the like.  We are drilled with the differing types of uses of both the good and the bad.

The author of proverbs does bring a plethora of sayings about the words which fill our airwaves, however, the sayings are not about words which come out of vacuousness.  Solomon is reaching beyond the airwaves and into the viscera. Past our esophageal airway and into our heart.  Words are really nothing in and of themselves.  They have an origin.   That origin is the wellspring of life, our splangkna, our guts, our heart.  The Hebrews often equate the emotions of our guts with the kidney.

“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction” (Prov 16:23, NIV).

“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction” (Prov 16:21, NIV).

Without being majorly redundant, the source and style of words a person uses is rooted in the heart. How perfunctory of us when we quote Jesus when he said, “But the things that come out of a person’s heart come from his heart” (Matt 15:18, NIV).  It seems so oft quoted, it kind of has become trite.

Bottom line, what are the intentions of my heart?  Rather than just read the words of the proverbial sayings mechanically, every time I read a verse pertaining to speech and words, I thought about intentions.  These sayings ought to inspire us to examine the intentions of our hearts.

We should take those occasions when we are inclined to speak harshly as opportunities to reflect on our motives for speaking and to ask whose interests we have at heart.  We may find that our motives are more complicated than we imagined, that we want what is right but all too often seek what benefits us at the expense of others.  A heart that weighs its answers will also remember that little with love is better than meat with hatred (Prov 15:17, 28).