Search This Blog

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry CHRISTmas!! I think it is amazing how quickly this year has gone and as I look back I see a year that was full of Christian challenges. With every day the freedoms we have as followers of the God man are challenged on multiple fronts. As we pray for our leaders to walk with the Lord, I would challenge each of us to get active and quite settling for second best. Commercials ravage our screens with a catholic priest bringing donuts to a Jewish rabbi and a Muslim. The theme, "we have more in common than we realize". I agree!! They are all lost and have missed the boat on salvation. Its time to quite being "politically correct" and stand up for the principals that scripture teaches us that we as "a new creature" should be practicing. Partner with like minded people regardless of their man made denominations, leave the politics behind and serve the King of Kings. No new years resolution, lets just do it. We should filter those who claim to be "one of us", and as scripture teaches, test the spirits. If they claim to be Christian, ask them when they surrendered to Christ and confessed their sins. Inquire when it was that they realized they were hopeless and helpless and could do nothing on their own to change this situation. Discern if they are a slave of the Most High and if not share the gospel with them.
Let me pause here and ask you a life changing question; How many people did you share the gospel with over this last year? I don't say that to condemn you but to open our eyes to the realty that we are more focused on switching fish from one tank to the other. Most church growth is from people switching churches or moving and not from new converts. Why is that?
No more excuses!! This is the year to really serve the Lord with all your heart. After all if your not serving the Lord, your serving the enemy if nothing else by neglect. I would suggest confessing and asking for forgiveness for not putting His Will before ours and then seek the Lords guidance as to "how to be more effective".
Don't let another year go by without using the days wisely, the enemy most certainly is taking advantage of the time that is left and understands the prize. He doesn't want you to ever receive that prize.
May God be with us as we seek to build the kingdom through His Spirit and win souls for Christ.
"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise wins souls", Proverbs 11:30
In it with you,

Monday, December 5, 2011

Lots of Changes.

What a whirlwind of events. We are making progress on updating our blog and are so excited about some of the things coming. For instance we started our own channel on YouTube with our 4E Media face. I'll announce more on this later:-) I have been debating areas of study to begin and will announce that soon as well. As I have been preparing for Christmas it seems almost bitter sweet. It seems as though I read in scripture of the many prophecies and then in the New Testament read about the arrival of the Saviour only to look at the news and observe the greed and materialistic mobs on good Friday. Yes I must admit, I was in line at Wal-Mart waiting for an x-box 360 that Mason had been saving for.This was my first "black Friday" experience and am still somewhat confused that it was at 10pm on Thursday that we were there. Consider it a sudo-experience. Anyway as I am seeing people pushing and shoving and jockeying for the best position you could not spot any Christians, from my angle at least. "How do I know" you might be wandering. You see I have a theory that Christians reflect Christ, although that almost sounds to cliche, I really believe it. Christians have a priority of seeking God and honoring Him with their lives. Though we mess up it is noticeable in a mob setting like this, or at least should be. The reality is statistically speaking most of the crowd would profess to be Christian and yet live like the world. I found it amazing that a young lady by herself in front of us and a middle aged man also in front of us, stood in line by themselves engrossed with their techie phones. All it took is for me to ask where they were from to begin an hour of conversation that not only revealed that these two had lived just miles from each other in a southern state, but they both had common acquaintances. As we neared the pallet that brought us together it was easy to see that the Lord had intended for our paths to cross. Upon leaving the gentleman said that after one and a half years here this is the first conversation they have had of any value of getting to know someone. The young lady quickly agreed and commented that once people found out they weren't from this area they were treated extremely rude. We parted ways with a thankfulness and allegiance that local or not people want to be accepted and belong. This Christmas use every opportunity you can to show who you are in Christ and share it, without hesitation, boldly, that you might be used to change a life. Talk to you soon! I'm going to play x-box.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Leading part 12

Just a reminder that although I will be leaving my position, my blog site will remain the same. Hope you'll continue to join me as we move on to new subjects, forums and expand the site to include helps, hints and videos on everything from scripture, to crafts, music, and beyond. We hope to launch some of these new elements prior to Christmas but just know its coming. We will continue to have our scripture studies, words of wisdom, as well as adding a daily encouragement or challenge. Great stuff and all on the same site. see ya soon.
Now to finish our our current study on the expectations scripture has for our leaders in the churches.
Paul, now focuses on some areas of significant importance. First he mandates that an overseer must manage his household well. This is not a mandate that a man has wife and kids but more the idea that a man that is married and has kids will manage his home well. This could look many different ways and can be touchy at times but the bottom line is are the kids party animals, wild, wife that spends money at every opportunity, etc. Paul goes on to say that an overseer should not be a new convert, pride and conceit is of the most importance in this area, making sure that he does not fall into the same trap Satan did. Power, even in a church, is an addictive and dangerous drug that must be dealt with head on. The final aspect that Paul brings to light here is the element of a mans reputation in public. As you can see his personal life is of significance but so is his public life. What kind of reputation does this man have and how did he get it. Imagine someone coming into a church and seeing a conniving, cheat that deals viciously with others from the public as a leader. What do you suppose happens to the testimony of Christ at this point? We want to carefully select our leaders to resemble Christ in all aspects and live for the Lord at home and in public. All these qualifications may really be summarized in two questions. Has,will, or is this man doing anything that may bring shame on the Lord or on His bride? Has this man placed his faith in Christ alone and walk by faith with grace and truth?
Once you get the answer to these two questions you will be well on your way to deciding if this person is qualified to lead a church.
One last note on this topic before we head to new ground. As a member of the body, rather nose, foot, or other part, you have a responsibility to inspect and discern a candidate for leaderships readiness and qualifications to serve. I have been in far to many "yes" churches that have rubber stamps and approve whatever comes there way. (I used to coach churches and saw this pattern continually). Do not make the mistake to make it someone else's problem or decision. You are accountable as a member of a local body. By the way this is also why membership is so important. Till next time, play it by the Book.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Leading Part 11

As we draw to a close our study here Paul begins to list some things that an elder should be. He should be gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money, (see 1st Timothy 6:10 for more detail). Of course we understand what gentle is and peaceable here is someone who isn;t prone t brawling, but the term "free from the love of money", is actually one Greek word that means without covetousness. You know the type its referring to. The man who has all the play things that are "necessary" for his job. He has to have the latest and greatest to stay up on his game and not be out done. He is envious of anyone who possess a gadget with newer features or who has bragging rights as to how much they have spent. These are the type of men that should not be governing a church. It is always important that a man be gentle and have no addictions to serve as an overseer to a flock.
Paul now continues on in his instruction to address the overseer in regards to relationships. We'll check this out next time.
In it with ya

Monday, October 3, 2011

Leading part 10

Of all the expectations of a Biblical Elder it is amazing that two areas usually are hit the hardest. We discussed the first one, (marriage/divorce) in previous blogs but today's is the second. We read in 1st Timothy 3:3, "not addicted to wine or pugnacious----". Of course we all bring an understanding to the first section, which I will come back to, but pugnacious is a rare word and in deed is only used two times in scripture. Both in regards to leadership qualities. How interesting that addicted to wine and pugnacious are included together. The Greek word, NASB translates pugnacious, literally translates to "striker". A man given to violence and in specific fighting or abuse. We only need open the local papers to see the result of a night at the bar and the results of drinking to much. Lets turn our attention quickly to the first part of this verse. Not addicted to wine or in several other translations drunkenness, is needlessly more controversial than it need be. Jesus says in Matthew 15:11 that it is not what goes into the mouth but what comes out that defiles the man. This qualification for elder does not say they cannot consume alcohol but that they should use it wisely if they choose to. I know many people who use this section of scripture to say alcohol is evil and Christians should not drink. I will simply say two things Jesus at a wedding turned water to wine, we must reconcile why He would do that. Secondly at the passover we see wine was present. Here is how I would sum it up. First if a person chooses to use alcohol they need to control it not allow the alcohol to control them, moderation is of the utmost importance. Secondly, if a Christian uses alcohol he/she must be willing to give up this freedom for the sake of a weaker Christian. We should never intentionally cause a brother/sister to stumble. How would you feel if you offered a recovering alcoholic a glass of wine not knowing this was their weakness and they have a relapse? Thirdly is if an individual uses alcohol to do so with a clear conscience. If you are doing it and feel guilty you should refrain and discontinue. Fourthly, you should meet the legal requirements. Finally it should never be used to gain advantage over another person. I mean that in a general sense of business, or pleasure.
Back to the verse it is clearly talking about a man who abuses alcohol and even to the point of striking another. Just another example of God's desire for us not to have vices. Addicted to wine is literally consistently drinking and being around alcohol. You can see how this would not only hurt the witness of the individual but also the witness of the church in general.
One final note, Paul tells Timothy to use wine medicinally (1st Tim 5:23) for his ailments but this in no way should be construed as a command for us to drink. I have met proponents on both extremes and I fully believe in keeping the "main thing the main thing" and that is what the Word of God says. This may not always make us happy but there is much danger in making scripture say what it doesn't. I understand the controversy with youth and alcohol and recognize that there is a legal age in which anyone under the age designated should not use. Alcohol is the most abused substance among youth and adults and if used scripture should be honored as discussed above. Hope this was a help and a blessing. Please share your comments and views on this matter as next time we look at what an elder should be,must be, indeed. Till then, I'm in it with ya.
Pastor Mark 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Leading part 9

If you think back to your years in school, we can all recall "teachers" that we found totally boring and those who opened a world that we hadn't seen before. What is the difference? For sure one of the characteristics is an enthusiasm to pass on knowledge on a subject that they truly loved. As they would teach that passion would show through. Its kinda like a cold virus, you can't see it with the eye but your bound to catch it. That is our topic of today. The ability for an elder to teach is a characteristic that can be easily abused, misunderstood and all around confusing. This doesn't mean that they know everything, or that when they teach everyone stops what they are doing and rushes over as though in a trance. It doesn't mean that they are gifted in teaching, although some will be for sure.

The Greek term is very simply, instruct through teaching. To instruct someone is to show them the way they should go, through revealing of truth. The intention of teaching/instructing is to bring about action. As a pastor I always try to look at the irreducible minimum and what is the application in my life. Elders are indeed expected to be able to help us on our way through teaching. Regardless if it is one on one or a group, an elder must be able to share the truths of scripture and explain what the relevance is. The Holy Spirit will get hold of a person and bring about change and conviction if need be as the elder is submissive to the Lords instruction in their own lives. For an elder to teach he must be in the Word and have an understanding which is confirmation of an elders calling to overseeing a flock. Many look to the pastors for instruction but Biblically speaking all elders should be ready to teach. Why not spend a moment as you consider these truths to pray for your elders and the ministry they are called to? Pray for a strong walk and wisdom as well as discernment as they fill the office of elder.
In it with you

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

leading part 8

I remember visiting with a leader in a church who explained that they recently had some friends over from Egypt who disputed their faith. They used a different name to pray and this was a point of contention to the couples. They went on to explain that in order to keep the piece and remain "hospitable" they decided to pray in both names and that way they didn't offend their guests. I look at this example and see a gross misunderstanding of what it means to be hospitable. This exact word found here in 1st Timothy is only used 3 times and two of the times are used to describe elders, the third time found in 1st Peter is to all of us. It is important to note that the element of hospitality isn't just opening your home or providing a meal, although these certainly can be, but it is also a heart posture of truly caring for guests. It takes cordial to a new level and brings a warmth and genuine concern for others. It seems that many times Gods blessings that He has bestowed on us are what we use to be hospitable. All that being said let me go back to our opening illustration of the leader praying in a different name. Hospitality has no connection to putting aside our faith to not be offensive. In other words as 2nd Cor. 11:4 warns to be on guard against those preaching another Jesus other than what the Word of God teaches. We can still be hospitable and stand firm in our faith. Hospitality should never be viewed as conflicting with our faith. In deed it is many times an avenue to introduce your guests to Jesus Christ. They may just leave the dinner party with a different Spirit than which they came in.
As a side note, this weeks challenge for the 42 day commitment challenge is focused on celebration. How you doing this week with your celebration in Christ? If you need a daily devo booklet or clarification let me know.
In it with you

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Leading part Seven

As we continue through our study our next characteristic of an overseer is "respectable". Interestingly enough the term in Greek is actually rooted in the same word we translate world. (Kosmos) The actual Greek word that we translate to respectable is kos-mee-os and emphasises order. Similar to the creation account found in Genesis, it indicates an orderly and modest person. Two qualities that are appealing to those who do not know Christ as their savior. Chaos and vanity are to be rejected according to our orderly Father and likewise make a great character for our church overseers. Most of us have been in or are in a situation where we have experienced a person at church, work, or family that is hit and miss when it comes to accomplishing daily tasks. They seem to hang on to the here and now and have little concern of the future. Their random chaotic behavior forces others to wait on them for meetings, reveal areas of being unprepared and have difficulty remembering where and whens of life. Not the qualities we need in our Church's leadership. In First Timothy 4:7 Paul writes to "discipline yourself for the purpose of Godliness" and this should be our quest as we are ambassadors for Christ. Continue on in your journey being orderly in all you do. Best of luck and feel free to post your comments on ways that will help us become more "respectable" for the Lord.
Keep'n it in the Word.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Leading part 6

I know its been awhile but here is the next in our series in regards to leadership. Last time we looked at "temperate" and this time we will be looking at the term "prudent". Another characteristic of an overseer. I will first point out that this term is translated a number of ways depending on the Bible you use. For instance the NASB uses prudent, while the NIV and ESV use the term "self controlled", and the KJV uses "sober". The actual Greek term is sophron. The idea here is to be sound of mind, discreet, moderate as to opinion or passion, sober. As a kid I was told that God gave me two ears and one mouth for a reason and here it is. The need to listen twice as much as talking. Everyone has their opinion and passion, but a prudent person will be one who will listen and be of sound mind, only speaking as the Lord leads. As we look at the characteristics we may develop an image of a 110 lb weakling, waiting to be walked all over. However if you have ever been in a place where you needed to restrain your tongue you can appreciate how difficult it can be to not just blurt out your thoughts, leaving the hearer battered and bruised. Jesus displays the proper way to be prudent in the events of Mark chapter 11, when Jesus drives the money changers from the temple. He spoke truth as the Lord Himself rebuking the improper behavior of these men. We see it in verse 17, "He began to teach and say to them". Wow, always an opportunity to instruct someone in the way which he/she should go, and with a heart to help and crush. We could all use a hand when it comes to this area.
Keep it in the WORD!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Leading part 5

Today's "characteristic" of an overseer is "temperate". This is a word found 3 times in the Bible and two of those times are used to address a characteristic of older men and in specific here an overseer. The remaining one time is used of women in 1st Timothy 3:11. I guess no matter our gender this is an important character to have. The true meaning of this word is to be sober. This is a person who is not only level headed but doesn't respond hurriedly and excitedly. A term that comes to mind is even-keeled. As the emotions go up and the stakes get higher, a temperate man will keep his calm and keep the main thing, the main thing. A sober person would be right thinking and not so easily persuaded by the addictive qualities of wine or pornography. I think of any time we receive "sobering" news. We sit and quietly contemplate, and consider, things we have been told or observed and thoughtfully consider action. This to is a valuable standard the Lord has set for His overseers. Keeping the main thing, the main thing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

leading part 4

Its been a while since our last update as I was traveling and am excited to continue our trek on church leadership and the Bible. Our "qualification" that we will look at today is probably the most misunderstood, and misused, not to mention misfocused of all the qualifications. The NASB puts it this way, "the husband of one wife". In today's society this has come to be challenged on every front and tends to lead the way in many churches to disqualify men from serving that have been divorced. As we look at this, understand this is not an exhaustive study that will address in detail all the rabbit trails this can take, but we will uncover the true meaning of this text.
First thing to remember that this is a listing of qualifications for a Christian man who is called to the office of Elder. Each of these characteristics bear equal importance. To put undue importance on any "one" character at the expense of another one is inappropriate. For instance one of the qualifications we have not looked at yet is "temperate". Most men have a temper of some sort and yet you rarely hear an elder candidate being questioned about his temper. He will however be asked if hes divorced in many instances. So lets look directly at the phrase. First thing I will point out is that according to 2nd Corinthians 5:17, those who are in Christ are "new creatures", the old things have passed away. Now either scripture is fully true and God inspired or none of it is. A man who sinned, whatever sin it may be, is now a new creature. That is the term born again. All that to say that if a man is divorced, his spiritual condition at the time is of the utmost importance. Next the Greek itself and the wording used offer no support that Paul is here discussing divorce. Paul plainly discusses divorce in 1st Cor. 7 so if that was his intention he would most likely have plainly stated that. It was not uncommon in this era to have multiple wives and especially a man with power. The Greek is; "an ayr hice goo nay". to study this out fully we would see that the terminology refers to multiple and would be accurately rendered a one woman kind of man. By this it would be safe to conclude that multiple wives, pornography, or anything such as this would disqualify the man from leadership. I also want to point out that because one of the qualifications is husband of one wife or as another qualification states that his children are under control, doesn't indicate that a man must be married or that they must have children. Paul states that it is better to be married than burn with passion and indicates a celibate life is the best way but most are not called to a life of celibacy. I hope this has been helpful and we'll look at a different qualification next time. Remember the Word is the Way.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Leading part 3

Welcome back as we look into what scripture says in regard to the church and its leadership. Last release we discussed the gender issue and today we will look at the second of several "qualifications", must be above reproach. This at first glance seems to be saying that everyone must like him and that if they don't he is disqualified from overseeing. Once again we must look at the context and the wording that is used. Although the NASB uses the words, "above reproach", it is a singular word in Greek, an-ep-eel-ape-tos. The idea is that the overseer will be blameless or unrebukeable. Now we all know that we as humans fight our fleshly desires to blast the horn at the person that cuts us off, or to badmouth the boss to a coworker when we get passed by on that big promotion. As we'll see by looking at the qualifications yet to come that a man in his own strength cannot fulfill the qualifications without err, if we could we would be deity. A man that never has a wrong thought or action only has one name and that is Jesus. Therefore what must this mean to be blameless? A man must walk with integrity on a daily basis, taking the high road in all he does. The emphasis here isn't how perfectly he walks it but that he is consistently walking in integrity. I know of men, leaders in churches, who lack the integrity and bring upon the local body the shame and concern associated with his daily walk and practices. Sure we will upset people and honestly the more integrity you have the more people will probably be upset with you. This is not the overseers option but the command to walk with integrity and give no one a reason to blame you, as it reflects on the body of Christ. This man must be upright and forthright in his business dealings, family life and recreation. A life that is lived out for the glory of God.
Now these things are crucial for overseers but should be the desire of every believer alive. How are you doing today?
The Word is the Way!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Leading part two

On my last report we briefly looked at 1 Peter 5 and noted that there are some "called" to a position of shepherding. After rambling about my sheep as a kid and discussing the challenges of shepherding I think it only proper that we see what it takes to become a shepherd. As was also mentioned previously scripture has much to say about these topics and this is not meant to be an exhaustive study but rather a quick overview and challenge. Two main portions of scripture thought to be the most extensive in regards to leadership are found in 1 Timothy chapter 3 and Titus chapter one. We'll look at 1st Timothy chapter three first. Two initial observations that as we proceed I would like to point out.
First, there are two positions referred to here, (we'll discuss pastors later). There are those who aspire to become overseers or in the Greek, Ep-is-kop-ay, and the second office is that of deacon, or in the Greek, Dee-ak-on-os. We will see that the functions are very different in the life of the church and the qualifications very similar. The bottom line is God has set expectations in place of who is "qualified".
Secondly, I will suggest that we allow scripture to do the talking. We all come with an opinion, preferences, and history and I encourage us to leave it at the door as we come into this text. We will begin to look sequentially at the "qualifications. As we jump into the text it is always good to look at the surrounding "context" in order to get a full picture. Paul has been addressing the women in verses 9-15 in the second chapter and ten goes into the third chapter with the phrase, ---"if any man aspires to the office of overseer".
This is important to note as the word for man here is "tis" in the Greek and not "Anthropos". This is significant because the former is specific to gender where as the latter is human kind. We see the same idea in the 8th verse of chapter 3. "Deacons likewise must be men of -----". Once again an alternate word for anthropos is used. This certainly is not to discredit women but is only referencing a two groups whose specific role is to lead and serve. I will also mention that in Romans 16 verse 1 Phoebe is mentioned as a "deaconess" in some versions and is from the same word as "deacon". When translating Greek, many of the words have multiple meanings and in this case although the same word is used in Greek, the context indicates a more accurate translation to English would be servant,(as in the NASB), whereas in 1Tim v 8 Deacon is accurate. With that we are set to move into even muddier waters as we look at the next qualifier, "above reproach" when we continue looking at overseers next time. until then keep it in the Word.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Leading part one

As I mentioned in my last update, Scripture has a lot to say in regards to church leadership and structure. For instance First Peter chapter 5, addresses the very fact that some are called to act as shepherds, proving to be examples to the flock. I must say that having had sheep as a kid I truly understand the cost that is involved in being a shepherd. The midnight noises that sheep make when a predator is around, or the constant baaahhhhing that tells of the next need. But ultimately sheep need three things. Security, safety and slop. A sheep will not lay down as the the psalmist says in Psalm 23, unless it is free of the worry of attack, both from within and without. Unity must be kept among the flock or many other issues will arise. Safety from outside attacks is just as important. It is interesting to think back to the first century church and that is the very challenge they faced. Attacks from outside and inside. Paul continually sent letters of encouragement and caution to some of these churches and encouraged them to take a stance against the heretical teachers and be warned of those looking to get in and devour those tender little ewes. Sheep, not being the smartest animal on the Ark also must be cautious when they lay down. If they get off balance they cannot use their feet to get right side up and will die as they suffocate themselves, or fry in the heat. These sheep need to know they will be fed and not poison. An element of trust must be present as well. Miss gadabout was a sheep who a farmer was pleased with and the two had a great relationship until she began to eat the grass on the "other side of the fence". Miss gadabout had eaten the entire perimeter of her pasture and so searched for a way out and eventually found it. The patient shepherd continually put her back in the pasture and began to notice that she was also teaching the other sheep to escape. Miss gadabout had to become lamb chops or risk losing the entire flock. The question for today is, "are you a miss/mr gadabout? Always looking for the bigger better deal. living contently until someone comes along with the latest craze. We all wander to a certain extent and yet God in His wisdom provided a design to deal with this. In my next post we'll expand on some of these things and explain what it has to do with the church, our leadership, and us. Until the next time.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Leading for a change!?

So what exactly does it mean to lead for a change? Its one of those double meanings. One side seems somewhat negative and the other side seems to be referring to an end result. Only we can influence what side of the coin comes up. I was once told by a wise guy, not necessarily a wise man if you catch my drift, that when it comes to leadership it means to lead or get out of the way. As a manager for many years that seemed like a good thing to do and seemed to work, the problem was where and how to lead those entrusted into my care. To nurture and help them to discover was not a quality I really excelled at.
When it comes to church there are many different ideas floating around as to what leadership looks like, how it should respond and who exactly is leading? These range from the pastor makes all the decisions and does everything to the pastor should have no say he gets paid to do what we pay him for. I love these discussions as you can see the heart and the self motives in many of these interactions. Scripture fortunately has plenty to say in regards to this subject, and considering God is a God of order, has a clearly laid out plan for leadership. Let me first clarify that when I refer to leadership I am referring to the term most of America would consider pastors, elders, deacons, trustees or whatever you want to call them, but those who have come forward to answer a call to lead in a church setting. This is not to be confused with the many commands that we are all ministers of the gospel and are expected to share our faith and create disciples. We each are responsible to continue our growth and although people help us it ultimately comes down to what are we doing to grow personally.
Join me over the next few weeks as we look at what scripture has to say in regards to the church and its leadership. You will be amazed and challenged, and in many cases confirm what you may have already thought or known. Catch ya soon.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

investment in your family

The past several months I have met with a group of people in a forum called "family matters". Kind of a double meaning. Of course the obvious that our families are of a significant importance to us is the foundation, but the subtle meaning of looking into the matters that families deal with day in and day out is less obvious but of substantial importance to our relationships under the same roof. I am bummed that tonight is our last night but we will be having the Dickinson police here to discuss the trends in the school and the issues that we as parents, aunts and uncles, gma's and gpa's may not be up to date on. Having a police presence on campus was always for inner city schools growing up so it is a harsh reality that schools across the nation have been locked down and enforcement brought in. Have you ever asked yourselves why that is, or even how exactly our kids experience at school differs from ours and what impact does that have on our families. Well its not to late to join us this evening at 6:30pm and we will allow a time of q and a for things that may not have been covered. Hope to see you tonight and thanks to the couples that week in and week out joined me in discussing these things.
Equipping the saints

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sundays Comin

What a wonderful sight to see! As our Good Friday service started the chairs we're filled. From several churches, brought together to remember the sacrifice of our savior. My brothers and sisters worshipping and praising God with all our might. The body using their gifts to help lead us in our evening. Thank you Jesus, may we leave changed. You died for us, I want to live for you!! Thank you for family to celebrate with and for placing them in my life. We have so much to be thankful for and yet if you took it all today, I will still have you Lord. Although we all took part in nailing Jesus to the cross, this is not the end because Sundays Coming. Happy Easter my friends.
See ya at the tomb on Sunday

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Leading the Way

As I've been preparing the message for the "Good Friday" service , my mind has been running a mile a minute with thoughts, applications, and parallels. The one that hit me this morning is how much we have in common with Peter, James and John. These three of course were in Jesus' inner circle. We see in Mark 14:32-42, that these three were to keep watch as Jesus prayed to the Father. Three times Jesus returns to find them sleeping. The first time Jesus singles out Peter and says to him that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. (MK 14:38) Now its not certain if Peter is singled out because a few verses earlier Peter was willing to die for Jesus, and now can't even stay awake, or was giving extra attention to a man that we know Satan had asked to sift like wheat. Either way we see three men totally committed to Christ and yet weak in their flesh. Very similar to many of us. We confess Christ and try to live for Him but usually find ourselves in prayer asking God for forgiveness and strength. I have never heard a sermon preached on this point or even this perspective mentioned in Christian circles. Do not be discouraged as their is a great encouragement as we can tell from later writings. These men did stand strong and indeed were used in mighty ways. I believe the reality of Jesus' return is a fog for many. After all how do we compare to Peter who having Jesus with him physically, could still deny Him on several occasions? What does it mean to "live for Christ" to you? Does it mean sacrifice, patience, love, peace, unity, or what? The disciples believed they lived for Jesus and yet argued who would be greatest in heaven. Does this describe you in any way. Why not pause right now and ask the Lord to reveal your areas of weakness that you might be strengthened to serve Him all the more that when our days are ended you might hear, "well done good and faithful servant". In it with ya.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

part 5 of The "Right Means"

Looking out for the interests of others, is our final point for this week. We have looked at five points of having the right means for spiritual unity. Today's could be phrased another way as well. As Napoleon Dynamite said in the show, "I got your back". It is imperative that we look out for one another in many ways including the interests of others. If we are truly united in Spirit and Fellowship, how could we not be actively looking out for others interests? Sure if its not a Godly thing we wouldn't want to encourage it but how important can it be to actually speak into their lives. There is always two sides to a coin and this coins sides are a positive and a negative.On the positive to help encourage, be involved and any way we can shepherd the interests of others. On the negative, which really is a positive, just doesn't feel like it, we need to help our brothers and sisters when the interest moves off God and onto self as we've discussed. Here is the conclusion. We are told to be of one mind, literally one-souled in the Greek, to have the same love, fellowship in the Spirit, actively seeking to maintain the Unity of the Spirit, so are you doing that? That is a difficult question to answer but my prayer is after this week you can clearly see the Spirit that calls you, "home", is the same Spirit that calls us all as believers, "home". How is it that we can have so many difficulties if we share the same Spirit? I give you a one word answer, "flesh". Our flesh has not yet been mastered and will need to be increasingly monitored and corrected as the world cries out to us, try this, buy that, behave freely. My challenge for you today is two-fold. First try praying each morning the little prayer of Psalm 5:3, In the morning, O Lord, you will hear my voice, In the morning I will order my prayer to you and eagerly watch. This is a great little memory verse and a great encouragement. As you pray, expect results and then watch God work. The second part is to study out on your own Philippians 2:1-4 and see what God has to say to you specifically. Then do it:-) I look forward to hearing what God is doing in your life and would love to hear back. Keeping the Word in sight.

Day 4 of The "Right Means"

Yesterdays point was to regard one another as more important, and today's is very closely related. In fact it is almost just like phrasing it a different way. Today's point is, "Do not merely look at your own interests." Paul's point here is primarily, thought not exclusively, to personal interest, serving the Lord. Many churches have division and quarrels concerning church programs and policies that may be equally Biblical. The problem occurs when we promote our own interests at the expense of others. One of my largest struggles as a pastor has been how to encourage someone in their passionate ministry when it does not align with the direction of the church. A tender time when someone feels that God Himself is leading them to this ministry and this particular area, and yet plans to go a different route are being discussed. How easily we can become offended and outright belligerent when we are told not now. How dare someone tell me I can't do this. Many times we develop the attitude that we will just take our ideas and go across the street to the next church. The sad part is two-fold. First that their has been no reconciliation between those where disunity or division exist. The second is with an outlook like this we take our problems, sometimes called baggage, to the next church. Not only is this not fair to the new place, it will be added to in a similar area at the new church. The same heart that caused us to respond the way we did will continue to beat as it does until someone loves us enough to say, enough. We'll get through this and I am not going to give up on you or allow you to let the enemy get a hold. That my friends is the body of Christ. Tomorrow we will wrap it up with the fifth and final point and is also closely related to yesterdays and today's points. Join us then, and until then, Commit yourself to the Lord and His Will to consider others not just ourselves. Keep your eyes on the King!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 3 of the "Right Means"

As we approach today's point I wonder if we have really embraced the true meaning of unity and are willing to take the necessary steps to walking the walk and talking the talk of our Christian faith. I think that is why today's point can be so difficult is because it is the absolute of selflessness. Today's point is, "humility of mind, regard one another as more important." As you recall these are the words out of Philippians chapter two and the main theme is to "maintain the unity". How is it this can be so difficult when we share the same Spirit? The Holy Spirit who indwells each believer, and yet we still experience division and disunity. I believe it all comes down to humility of mind. When we begin to put the needs of others before ours, actively seeking to serve one another, and considering the Lords will, instead of ours. I think of 2nd Timothy 4 where we learn that men will turn their ears from truth and turn to myths. Surrounding themselves by a great number of teachers that will say what their itching ears desire to hear. I believe that these people are Satan's puppets and we as believers should be on guard. The enemies desire is to keep us from maintaining the unity that already exists among those in the family. Settle for nothing less than complete unity and let nothing get in your way of considering others as more important. The less self focused the more Christ focused we can become. The term "regard" is a verb and in the Greek means to have more than an opinion about, but carefully thought out conclusion based on truth. I love the quote that, Humility is that grace that when you realize you have it, you have lost it", so true and so funny.Why not give yourself the once over to see if your truly walking in humility and lifting others up appreciating their value before a mighty creator. Until next time, Word up!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Right Means day two

Yesterday we discussed rejecting selfishness and the importance of not allowing ourselves to tear others down. Today we take a look at the second point, which is forsaking empty conceit. This refers to highly exaggerated self-view. Selfish ambition pursues personal goals, empty conceit seeks personal glory. Romans 11:25 Paul warns that he would not want us to be "wise in our own estimation." The ancient Greeks viewed humility as a sign of weakness. But the main thing for us to remember is pride causes us to remove our eyes from Jesus and put on our self. By doing so we become even more susceptible to the other sins such as selfishness, jealousy, envy, strife, pride and empty conceit. Check yourself often as this creeps in unnoticed or disguised as passion, or leadership when actually it becomes about getting our own way. Blessings to you and my prayer is that you will discover the things that are holding you back and deal with them even today! Remember it is not about you or me but the Father.
Stay in the WORD

Monday, April 11, 2011

Unity is sweet fellowship

When we come together there is always the potential for hazardous results, especially if we have strong personalities in the same place. This past weeks sermon on "me Church" was a comical look at a very serious subject. How do two Christians get by our differences in a way that not only glorifies God but brings the two closer to each other and God? I mentioned three elements in Philippians 2:1-4. The right motives and the right markers were discussed but the third point was left off or church would have gone another hour. Although some are fine with that, others get fidgety and begin to lose interest. I wanted to quickly list out some of the main points to the third element, the right means.
The right means has 5 sub points and I will briefly touch on them.
First is "rejecting selfishness", and is listed first because it is a root of all other sins. Look at the example described in Isaiah 14:12-17. Seeking his own will above Gods, Satan fell. Selfishness comes with the idea of building oneself up by tearing others down. 1st Corinthians 3 Paul expresses his disappointment in the church in Corinth, still on milk when they should have been on solid food. Because of their jealousy and strife they were restricting their growth and unity. Jerry Bridges in his book "Respectable Sins" suggests four categories of selfishness. They are selfishness with our interests, selfishness with our time, selfishness with our finances, and selfish through our inconsiderateness. Pretty accurate from my point of view. Which of these do you find yourself challenged with? What are you willing to do to take care of it. Paul gives the solution in our featured text, PH 2:1-4. Check it out and let me know what you see and what your doing about it. I would love to hear from you. We will take a look at the second of these characteristics of the "right means", tomorrow. Until then humble yourself before the Lord.

Monday, April 4, 2011

What do your itching ears want to hear?

Paul warns Timothy in 2nd Timothy 4:3-4, that there will come a day when men will not tolerate sound doctrine but instead will surround themselves with a great number of teachers that will say what their "itching ears want to hear", and furthermore that they will turn their ears from the truth and turn aside to myths. Does this sound like today? And what about us? Do we fall into this category on certain topics or at certain times? Do you stand firm or try to water it down as to not offend anyone. I would like to challenge us to consider the time for "political correctness" is over, not that I ever really thought that it was right anyway. As we draw nearer to the glorious return of our Lord, is it not worth taking a stand and firmly planting your feet on the foundation of scripture. Take a chance to share with those around you. Remember that the only link in many cases between Jesus and the lost is you!! Be bold and fear not because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.
I know of a couple who took political correctness to a fault. Friends from a foreign country had come to stay with them and were Muslim. At meal time in an effort to keep piece the hostess not only prayed to Jesus but also to Allah. How shameful for any Christian to lift up any other name but the name that saves us. This is the very type of thing Paul is trying to protect the church from. Its time to join him with all our might and speak truth, unapologetically, winning the lost and building the body for the glory of Jesus! Are you in?
Till next time.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Million dollar gifts?

I'm not a huge reality TV fan, however I have seen the previews of a new series called "secret millionaire". I saw a clip from the first episode and was convinced that these people were trying to sooth some sort of guilt or needed a pick me up so they wrote a check and went on with life. Although I am still convinced of this to a certain degree, I neglected to really see the whole picture, until last night. I was sitting down relaxing after a long week and kicked up my feet, turned on the t.v. and "secret millionaire" was just coming on. I can't explain why I didn't change the station, as many of my more preferred viewing was on other channels. Nonetheless I stayed tune and once again saw a man who was admittedly lazy as a teen, come up with a great idea and recently sold his company for around 500 million dollars. As is expected he lived off poverty level income for one week, slept in poor conditions and tried to fit in with the homeless and what many would consider the outcasts. He tried to find ways to volunteer but wasn't having much success until he met a man who had a designer hat store, that he used the back room to put hygiene kits together and then took them to the projects and handed them out. Now many people give or serve and that is commendable but as they were handing out these bags a man with a walker walked by and had extremely bad shoes on. The man in our story, not the millionaire, took off his newer leather, and very expensive, shoes and gave them to this man. The millionaire began to cry and commented, I have never seen such selfless love in all my life. What a testimony to how God uses people. Those who acknowledge him and those who don't are still orchestrated together to lead us to the end result. Revealing the true character of God. Jonah fled from the call to go to Nineveh because he knew that God was a compassionate and loving God and God showed Jonah that very love by sparing his life and recalling him to go and do as he had been told. The moral of this story is the same as the ending of Jonah. God leaves Jonah with a question that we need to ask ourselves, 4:11  "Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left hand, as well as many animals?" Who has received the million dollar gift of the gospel message from you?
Until next time, keep serving!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

We'll see what really matters.

Each day seems to fly by so quickly and yet at the end of the day I'm left with a longer list of things that needs to be done than when I began. After enjoying a few days of this I asked myself, does it really matter?
Are the things on my "list" anything that is of significance or value. Out of the good, better, best grouping what if i lived my life in the best column? What would that even look like? My first inclination is to think that it means I would be happy everyday and every moment would be fruitful and invigorating. The reality is that it is not always cake and ice cream to live out of the best column. At times it seems so easy to question God when we feel like the course of action looks more difficult. Lets take a look at an everyday example. Food is the category for 5000 please. In the good category we have liver and brussel sprouts, the better category has lasagna, garlic toast and a cookie, the best column has ice cream sandwiches, chocolate souffle, cream puffs and after dinner mints. Now that sounds almost overwhelming but I have given this extreme example to show you how opposite our perspectives can be. Turn this around and you have a good source of energy and protein, the taste for some may be repulsive but none the less it is good for you. Now the better will always be just that. Better than the choice under it and not as good as the choice above it.
When you look at your life, your time management, and your values, do you live a life that reflects it? I know I have a ways to go on this.
Be on guard for those who think they have the fast track to living the "best" and expect you to join them. Only you can discern what it is God has for you and what is the best for you! Rest assured that God has already equipped you, before He calls you and has already considered your response. To use a simple example of this playing out in scripture one only has to read the book of Jonah. Four chapters of pure delightful, nail biting, edge of my chair reading. (As a side note I assure you everything turns out fine, for a while then blammo, Nineveh is destroyed. Be sure and follow up prescribed reading with Jonah book 2. Also known as Nahum.) This rebellious prophet spent more time and effort disliking the mission set before him and after disobeying Gods initial instruction, having dinner with a fish, he receives his second set of instruction. Remarkably similar to the first set we see Gods grace in forgiving and restoring this man to ministry. Are you ready to be restored and live in the best?
Till next time, live in the Word.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Review on Herman Who

One of the joys of my job is keeping up to date on resources. Most of the time this can be overwhelming. Making certain that the author or publisher are solid, the information is accurate and what kind of setting would be best for it, not to mention how it stacks up against the other similar resources. Often times in this process I run into quality resources that would be highly recommended. That is just such the case with my current review. When I heard the claim, "Give us 75 minutes and we'll give you a masters level class on hermeneutics", of course I was skeptical. I know Todd Friel and respect his ministry but come on it takes a lot longer than that to get to a masters level in studying scripture. Hermeneutics of course is the art/science of studying scripture. This is an important tool for the Christian as we study, that we come to correct conclusions at the end of our study. I have read many books and debated many people in regards to the studying of scripture and have narrowed it down to one main resource I recommend. That is until now. Herman Who? is the title of Todd's systematic training on hermeneutics. He is very thorough and clear as he teaches us a proper way of studying scripture. He walks the viewer through step by step and sure enough at the end of the video he has equipped the lay person with some heavy arsenal to dig in and study scripture. The claim is for the most part accurate. The thing they don't mention is it will be a lifetime of perfecting as are all methods. Although some think they have "arrived", we never quite growing, learning and perfecting our studies. The thing I really appreciate with Herman Who? is the emphasis on understanding the context and historical setting in which the author writes. Its kind of like the difference of reading today's town newspaper, or a Chinese paper from the mid 1800's. We would immediately understand the context in our local paper but to look back into a time and place we are not familiar with we have many hurdles to jump. We must understand the customs, political, economical, and social aspects to name a few. The more we understand about the author and the surroundings in which he wrote the better we understand the text.
Herman Who?, is well worth the time and effort and would be a valuable addition to your video library.
Until the next time
Pastor Mark
2nd Tim 2:15

Monday, February 21, 2011

Living on a Prayer

How often do I really rely on the power of prayer? Do I believe that God will really answer my prayers? these are the types of questions that most of us struggle with from time to time, but let me get down right personal with you and ask you a question. Who is it that you first turn to when things get tough. When you desire a kind and listening ear or just want to share your hearts desires? Even for myself the first name that often comes to mind is my wife. My thoughts instantly turn to her when my day goes rotten or great disappointment comes, and especially when I am anxious about something. Who is it in your life that first comes to mind when you have to talk to someone?
By now most of us have caught on and began to justify, I know it should be God but its ------. Listen, I know all about excuses and to be honest I have known my wife longer than I have known Jesus. Its natural to call on those that the Lord has blessed us with in our times of need. For instance if your pants were on fire you wouldn't call your banker but you would call the person closest to the fire extinguisher. If your cat is playing in the street and the neighbor kid is racing toward it in his camaro, you wouldn't call his mom but you would wave him down and try to get his attention. So why is it so hard for us as we grapple to hold the Lord as first place in our lives? Jesus Himself, in His great sermon on the mount, instructed His disciples to "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.(Matt. 6:33). He then follows this statement up in the next verse reassuring us. "do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Amen to that, huh? If you find yourself in life's throws and are facing crisis, discouragement or blessings you desire to share, start with the Lord. He cares more than anyone around us could. Now with that being said, I do encourage us all to be involved in life groups and to the fellowship of the saints. For a listing of life group opportunities and meeting times go to click on the life groups link and get involved! Until the next time, Seek the Lord!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Just a quick note

1st Thessalonians has come to mind several days already this week as people petition prayers for events in their lives. Some praises, some anxieties, and some outright panic. Not knowing what else to do they turn to a resource of unrecognized power. A "lifeline" of hope and encouragement. Of course many of us try all to hard to fix things on our own, without realizing that we're only postponing the inevitable. Of course v17, in the 5th chapter of Thessalonians, is snuggled in between 16, and 18. "No kidding Sherlock", may be your first thought. However v16 says to rejoice always, v17 pray without ceasing, and v18 in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. As family isn't it nice to know we can turn to our Father? Knowing that our siblings cry when we cry and laugh when we laugh because we're in this thing called life and we are interdependent, not independent. Why not reach out today and encourage someone around you, get involved with the family. You'll be glad you did. Till the next pastor pod, good day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

When is enough------- enough?

I've had many conversations with friends and family members considering, when is it "to much" or "not enough" when it comes to personal property. It seems so easy to use the guide of those around us and to look at what we have, compared to what they have, and think we are some how not where we need to be. Some believe they should have something they don't, while others border on guilt for "having to much". Most of us would say we could spot excessiveness or minimalists, but what would be the rod in which you would measure it. By our standard? Furthermore doesn't God own everything, and give unto who He desires and withdraws from who He desires? We could learn much in this area if we were only to take the time and study it out. Searching the Word for God's direction. I believe what we would find would surprise us. From Solomon's great wealth to the beggar at the temple gates there is a standard that we need to look at first. It is found in Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. You see when our greatest desire is to please God and live for Him in a righteous and worthy way, we will be satisfied. Satisfaction for the Christian should not come from stuff, whether to much or not enough, but from living for the Lord. When this is our intention, the stuff doesn't seem to be of any value. Now some of us use our stuff to minister to others, and some of us horde it, and hide it away, which Ecclesiastes chapter 5 says is vanity. Those that come after us will get our stuff. My hope today is that no matter which side you fall, that you will take a good look at how your living and shoot for righteousness. Who knows maybe your stuff can be of value in the process. Good luck!!
Till next time

Sunday, February 6, 2011

where is your loyalty?

Pastor Mark
The last month has consisted to a lot of smack talk about who's team is the best. A funny thing is that many of "their" teams are those sitting in someones living room watching the teams that did earn a spot in the super bowl. We make plans and invite guests to come and watch the game in our homes and eat way to much. We plan snacks, activities for halftime and prepare the house for our guests. Now don't get me wrong, this was my dream Superbowl. My favorite two teams since I was a kid growing up. Going into the game was a win/win for me. But I can't help but consider how much more important our life is and especially when we consider our eternity. Why is it we can be bold for our favorite teams, talking tough to anyone that dare puts down our team? Or how is it we can so easily switch teams because our favorite player switches teams or they start losing? When it comes to loyalty our first loyalty should undoubtedly reside in Jesus Christ. We should be bold and speak out as to our dedication to Him. I am so thankful that Jesus' loyalty does not sway with the moment as ours can at times. He is fully devoted to us and loves us with a love so great and so pure we struggle to understand it. Pro 21:21 reads he who pursues righteousness and loyalty Finds life, righteousness and honor. How interesting that if we pursue righteousness and loyalty, we will find life, righteousness and honor. Life of course is the crucial element. Remember all people are going to have all eternity, some to despair and torment seperated from God, others will experience the saving grace to eternal life. Do your co-workers know what team you are playing for? Do they know you stand firm and are loyal and unwavering for the Kingdom? Everyone is committed, so the question is what are you committed to?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

loving the unlovable

There was a song in the 80's, (I'm dating myself here), where the singer sang the words, people are people so why should it be you and I should get along so awfully. As a teen I liked the song but not till recently did I really pay any attention to the words. Sure we could cruise down the road singing along with hundreds of songs including this one, but do we really pay attention to what the message is? Simply put we are all created beings and although some have more power, wealth, or age we are still just people. people born with a sin nature and, as I have repeatedly said, sin is the great equalizer. It seems this message continues to present itself in my life in many forms, rather consistently. For instance my small group is going through Ecclesiastes where King Solomon has amassed a great wealth, built many great structures, including the Temple for God, and is wiser than anyone before him. Yet in all his wealth, wisdom, and power he wrestles with his flesh. Solomon displays a characteristic that is evident in most of us if not all of us. that is the characteristic of discontent. We suffer in varying degrees of this illness and in different ways but at the end of the day, as Solomon found out, we still look at the "what ifs" and the "if onlys". Paul puts things in perspective as he penned the words found in Php 4:11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am, and again in 1Ti 6:8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. David Platt in his book Radical, discusses the differences between our comfy living rooms and the mission field, (my paraphrase). How we have left the battle to others although the great commission commands us to make disciples. The key to this all is summed up in three words that Jesus Himself said are only second to loving God. Those words are, Love thy neighbor! (Matthew 22:39). Tomorrow we come together to worship God. A family of believers celebrating "LIFE TOGETHER". Let us not see people as we have in the past, in deed as our father once saw you, a sinner in need of salvation. See you soon.
Pastor Mark  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Getting started

Life together, yeah right. I barely have enough time for myself, my family, my job and everything else. I'm lucky if I make it to church once a month and now they want me to join a small group, attend a work day and then a guilt trip because I haven't gotten to know our new neighbors. Why do they expect so much of me?

Does this sound anything like you? I know each day brings its own challenges and yet we all are given the same amount of time to spend as we see fit. Much the same as a dog is drawn to smells, you are drawn to the things you find the most important. Really what we struggle with is priorities. Life's priorities! The squeaky wheel gets the oil and so do the things in your life. I think of the book of Acts and the beginning of the early church in that first century. Specifically in Chapter two of Acts. So much to do on top of the already demanding schedules of the Apostles. They were continually meeting together, devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles, fellowship, breaking of bread and praying. I can't speak for you but that seems impossible as we lay in our bed at night and wonder how we will ever get everything done the next day. Well here is the advice from our Lord and Savior in His great sermon found in Matthew 6:34 It says:
"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Proverbs 27:1 tells us not to boast about tomorrow for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

The point is God is the author of time. Give first to Him what He deserves and you will find not only your priorities changing but your time being blessed. But hey don't take my word for it, give it a try and let me know how God has blessed your time and your life. Until the next time I'm in it with ya.
Pastor Mark